Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized

Identity

“Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.”
-Doug Cooper

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 Identity.  This is a concept with which I have struggled in recent months.  For nearly two decades my identity has been wrapped up inside a neat little package I refer to as the eating disorder, and subsequently my recovery.  When the satin bow on that neat little package was untied it led to the contents spilling out over the table like puzzle pieces without an order.  Each facet of my life lay before me, upturned and mixed up, waiting for me to pick it up, examine it, and set it in its proper place; in hopes of uncovering my true identity somewhere in there, or perhaps when the puzzle formed a picture.

I started this blog when I was merely months in true recovery after leaving treatment, and it has provided an outlet for my thoughts as much as it has provided inspiration for people who read it.  Each day I grow stronger in my recovery and take more steps away from the life that once defined me; almost as if I am stepping out of my old body and life to move forward into a new one.  Taking off my mask and revealing my true self.  The eating disorder was the mask for so long and the space between the mask and my face formed the majority of my identity for the last two years–my recovery.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) and usually I flood my social media accounts with facts, stories, and information about eating disorders, treatment, and statistics.  Not this year.  My choice to not participate wasn’t a conscious one, it just happened.  My newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram have been bombarded with NEDAW images, sayings, and statistics; yet I have not shared any of them.  It isn’t because I no longer care about individuals struggling with and recovering from eating disorders–not at all–but my identity is not longer wrapped up by the satin bow of recovery or the messy puzzle of the eating disorder.  I still greatly care about and pray for individuals who have not yet discovered the freedom recovery will bring.

I have found myself writing for BBA less and less over the last six months, as I have been stepping away from the eating disorder and recovery communities more and more.  Writing for BBA only once each month wasn’t a choice I made with logic or reason, but it one that has happened as my life is being lived.  Eating disorder thoughts no longer dominate my mind and a “proper” meal plan isn’t something that I cling to in order to give me normalcy while eating now.  My exercise isn’t obsessive or damaging to my recovery and my body does not define me.  I’ve started to leave the role of eating disorder recovery advocate and step with my whole heart, mind, and body into the roles of Christian, mother, and wife.

Earlier today I found myself sitting with a friend and discussing this very topic over coffee.  Identity can be confusing for adolescents and young adults, sure, but it can be equally confusing for adults; especially those impacted by trauma or mental illness.  My friend and I talked about finding our identity in Christ and what that actually means.  Whether or not you are a Christian, or have a Higher Power at all, your identity is found in your personality, beliefs, etc.  While I do not hold the answer as to what it means to have my identity in Christ, I know my “roles” fall under that identity.  My confidence comes from Christ and knowing I am created in His image.  Outward beauty holds no power over my heart and the acts of kindness I can perform for others.

Struggling with my identity 0ver the last several months culminated itself today when I realized my identity is found in more in my heart than anything else.  My identity is my calling and purpose.  Christ has given me a heart for people society tends to overlook or despise–inmates and individuals struggling with substance abuse–and how I focus my heart, energy, and attention speaks to my identity.  I still love and care about the eating disorder recovery community, as it helped form who I am today and I’m eternally grateful for the individuals God placed in my life to help get me here, but it isn’t the biggest identifier of who I am anymore.  My BBA posts may not be as numerous as they once were, but they will still show up every so often, as I wholeheartedly believe everyBODY is beautiful.  There are self-acceptance and body-acceptance lessons to be gleaned in every day life and when a lesson smacks me in the face, I’m going to share it.

My identity is in Christ and the courage I have to serve the community He placed in my heart many years ago.  My identity is found in the life I lead; not in my body, recovery, or past history of an eating disorder.  For me, this is not my identity anymore but a building block to help form who I’ve become.  I may live on a sailboat and enjoy sailing, but I don’t identify myself as a sailor to define who I am any more than formerly struggling with and in recovery from an eating disorder makes me a person with an eating disorder.

In the last six months I’ve found the courage to “let go” of the mask, and the space between the mask so my identity could emerge.  It has been there all along, waiting for me to realize that my identity is found in the calling Christ placed in my heart long before recovery was on my radar.

 Identity.

Yes, I struggled with an eating disorder for 16 years, and yes, I am in solid recovery after two years of ridiculously hard work, but neither of those things solely define me anymore.  Christ defines me.  The heart He has given me for the incarcerated and addicted population helps define me.  My role as a mother and wife are part of my identity.  I will continue to write for BBA but I no longer feel like my recovery or being a writer for BBA is the biggest part of my identity; a feeling that is even more freeing than recovery itself.  As my husband said when I explained all this, “I’ve waited for years to hear you say that.”

I’ve waited years to feel it.

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Joy, Love, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

The Mountain and The Molehill

Two years ago I was ending my time in intensive treatment and facing outpatient treatment.  I was working hard identifying my triggers, creating a bank of coping skills, and spending more time at treatment-related mental health, medical, and nutritional appointments than I ever thought possible.  My life changed in many ways when I made the decision to finally get serious about getting better, and the mountain I thought I was facing has become nothing more than a molehill.

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Prior to entering treatment I knew I was staring  at a mountain before me.  I was preparing to have my way of life taken away in order to teach me how to face life in a healthy way.  At 28-years old my food was monitored and carefully portioned, followed by being watched by treatment professionals as I ate it all within an allotted time.  If my nutritional needs had not been met during the day I was given a Boost nutritional drink to supplement.  I was prevented from using the bathroom after eating, and told not to exercise.  My life was getting turned upside down, voluntarily, but it was anything other than pleasant.  I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to face life without the close “companionship” the eating disorder provided.  With each new challenge I conquered, I climbed a little higher up the mountain and toward full recovery.  I slipped and stumbled along the way, sliding back down the slope and often feeling like I was starting over.  However, with every slip I was never back at the bottom staring back up at the mountain in its entirety.

Fast-forward to one year ago when I was in outpatient treatment, still working diligently with my therapist and dietician to reach my nutritional and mental health goals.  One year ago I was close to ending my time in therapy while sorting through the remnants of my past trauma and striving to overcome anxiety.  I was struggling to eat in restaurants, sit with my back to the door, and go out in public to crowded areas.  I worked hard with my therapist to identify what made me anxious and how to cope with it when the symptoms of anxiety would arise.  At the same time I was working hard with my dietician to become comfortable eating in public and eating foods that were challenging to been seen eating (i.e.: pasta).  Nothing about recovery has been easy but it has been completely worth it–and the journey isn’t over yet because I am still learning.

Now, nine months discharged from all types treatment, I am still working to stay strong in recovery but these days the challenges don’t look like a mountain but more like a molehill.  While there isn’t a giant mountain for me to climb, I do stumble over the molehills from time to time.  I have to work hard not to fall on my face as a result.  For example, it took me a few months after moving on our boat to realize I wasn’t giving myself the time for self-care that I did prior to moving aboard.  Instead of crafting, journaling, or doing daily yoga and meditation I was constantly rushed with adjusting to life on the water.  As a result, I fell over that molehill and spent a few months on the ground in a relapse state.

My recovery is nowhere near complete, as I believe it is a life-long learning process, but what I have learned about myself is worth the fall.  I thought I didn’t need the amount of self-care and meditation that I once did, but that is the beauty of recovery–I am always evolving and proving myself wrong.  I thought I didn’t need intensive treatment in 2014…I was wrong.  The memory of my therapist and dietician talking on the phone, and coaxing me to call the treatment center while in a therapy session, will forever be burned in my memory.  Only after a month of intensive treatment did I realize I spent so many years of my life trapped in a disease and in need of recovery.  Then, as I continued to meet with my dietician even after ending treatment with my outpatient therapist, did I realize my thoughts surrounding certain foods and my body image still needed work.

Today, I love being in recovery and continuing to learn more about myself and this life.  There are times I wish I could talk to a therapist, but that is when I remember I harbor within me the ability and strength to pick myself up from stumbling over a molehill and learn from it.  I’ve come a long way from the scared woman I was in 2014 when I passed through the doors of the treatment center.  My triggers are fewer than ever before.  I mean, I am sitting here watching the Miss Universe pageant while I type this; something I couldn’t have done even last year.  (Which, by the way, Miss Canada was just interviewed about body shaming and loving who she is in her own skin. LOVE!)

Regardless of stumbling over a molehill a few times this year, I love myself more with each passing day.  I grow stronger with each new revelation about my body, myself, and my life in recovery.  Being confident in my body and who I am as a woman helps me enjoy life with a passion I’ve never before experienced.  My personality has grown and I’ve developed likes, dislikes, and favorites that I never had the opportunity to do before.  I may look vastly different from five or ten years ago (see photo below) but I feel more beautiful than ever.  I don’t often post photos from when I was sick, but in this case I look at the photos in amazement.  My eyes are brighter, my smile is genuinely happy, and I am truly living life instead of existing in it.

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L to R, Top to Bottom: 1. The absolute lowest point in my eating disorder; 2. Two weeks prior to entering treatment in 2014 (my eyes look hollow, sad; 3. June 2016;  4. July 2016–happy, healthy, strong, and confident 

My body is this beautiful, unique instrument with which I get to experience life and nothing, not even the eating disorder, can take that from me.  

With Body Love,
           Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Forgiveness, God, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized

Faith and Forgiveness

“This is the body of Christ broken for you,” said the layperson, as I tore off a piece of bread from the communion loaf.  I took a few steps to the side, “This is the blood of Christ shed for you.” I dipped the piece of bread into the cup then put it in my mouth as I walked away.  “Surely the body and blood of Christ has calories,” my 13 year old, very eating disordered brain reasoned. I held the bread dipped in grape juice in my mouth until I walked back around to my seat, where I promptly spit it out into a tissue; feeling only slightly guilty. 

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I grew up going to church; the same little Methodist church in which my mom was raised and where her entire family attended (still attends) church.  I liked the ritualistic, methodical nature of it all but I didn’t understand the deeper meaning.  While I believed in God I didn’t care to dig much deeper than the surface.  I didn’t read my Bible, in fact I didn’t have the slightest clue where the books where located much beyond Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy… five books.  I could easily locate the first five books and Psalms because it was somewhere smack dab in the middle.  While I believed in God and believed Jesus died for my sins, I was not finding my worth in Christ but in food, losing weight, and being thin.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my husband about my faith and why I am so silent and unwilling to openly share my beliefs.  I rarely write about them on this blog and I don’t openly share them on social media very often either.  I was afraid.  I feared judgment by others for my outward showing of faith because I lived most of my life in a less than Christian manner.  Quite honestly I feared the meme that sometimes circulates on social media would be what people thought about me:

E Card

Only my “wild” live-for-yourself days weren’t in high school but in college.  In many ways I put on airs; in front of large groups of people I was this demure, sweet girl from the middle of Amish country nowhere Ohio while secretly going to parties, and going beyond what any true Christian girl would with boys.  My dad walked out on my 17th birthday and instead of finding comfort in God and looking toward my heavenly Father I turned toward earthly comforts–most often found in the growling of my stomach and the attention of men.  I felt abandoned, unloved, and unworthy of being loved by my dad so I found it where I could.  When I went to college this pattern of beliefs and behavior was amplified by a culture where drunkenness and intense sexuality was widely accepted and eating disorders ran rampant.  Instead of really searching to find a church home, despite one of my closest friends always inviting me to her church and praying for me constantly, I found my own path to the bottom of alcohol bottles in place of food.  I exercised a lot because I knew that a thinner but still muscular physique would be attractive and I could feel wanted.

My brain suffered from my lifestyle.  As I’ve stated in other posts I lack memories from my 16 years in the eating disorder because my brain was starving.  My brain was starving, sleep deprived, and drunk.  I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes went to Catholic Mass with friends to feel better about what I had done before going back out on Saturday night and doing it again.  In reality my relationship with God was almost nonexistent because I was so angry with God for what had happened to my family.  I was a good faker about how I believed and loved God but in reality acted in any way but faithful.  My body became my enemy, despite the knowledge that my body is a temple for God, and the weapon of choice for God’s enemy to turn me against Him.  The war waged on with the eating disorder but instead of battling the eating disorder and trying to get better I was battling God.

After college I did what I used to do so well and ran from Michigan down to Savannah, GA where I was living with a man I met through a friend in the Army.   He, like me, was an Army officer and gave me so much attention it was easy to continue using my body as a weapon against God.  I continued in the eating disorder and continued to be sexually immoral.  He was a believer, but a believer like me–on the surface level.  It was easier and more fun to indulge in a lifestyle against the Bible than to follow as God commanded and save sex for marriage.  Before too long I realized his attention for me was a drive for control and he wanted to control me, my actions, and my career by advising me not to be the best officer so my career could tank and I could get out.  I got out, out of that relationship and moved to another state.

Enter my husband.  My husband who wasn’t just a surface level Christian but a true believer in the Bible and teachings of Christ.  TJ invited me to go to church with him and I did.  I started to go to church again and actually listen to the teachings.  I started to read my Bible like I never had before and started to realize the eating disorder was a weapon against myself and God but I wasn’t ready or able to stop it just yet.  I also realized that my actions over the previous four-and-a-half years could be forgiven.  I prayed for forgiveness for my actions often but never really forgave myself.  My past was a big, dirty, shameful secret.  A secret I shared with my husband before we got engaged and married but a shameful secret nonetheless.  I had treated my body poorly not only by starving it, purging food, and overexercising but by how I had allowed it to be something for the Devil to use to turn me against God and the teachings of the Bible that I had held true until I was 19 years old and in college.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after TJ and I had this conversation about my fear of sharing faith I realized my prayers for forgiveness had been heard.  My sins during that time in college when I was a very lost, very ill sheep from God’s flock had been forgiven long time ago when I first asked and I didn’t need to hold it against myself anymore.  My forgiveness isn’t greater than God’s forgiveness.  I’m healthy now.  My body and brain are healthy and God was one of the biggest proponents for getting me through the eating disorder.  My faith grew stronger over the last two years and that means the secrets that continued to plague my mind and make me feel unworthy of being able to share my faith needed to be shared.  I might have grown up believing in God but I got lost along the way and turned my body into a weapon to wage war against myself and God.  I’m not perfect, I never was and never will be.

Striving for perfection nearly killed me and did kill my faith in the process for a few years.  My body isn’t a weapon but an instrument through which God uses me to spread His love and message of forgiveness.  I believe God has forgiven me for using my body against Him and for mistreating it for so many years.  I kept from my body the physical and spiritual nourishment needed for my survival.  I had forgiven myself for struggling with the eating disorder long ago; realizing it played a part in turning me away from God but He has since used it for His greater glory as well as the good of myself and others.  However, I had not truly forgiven myself for my sexual immorality until a few weeks ago.  It was a grudge I held against myself in silent shame and it was hindering me from outwardly sharing my love for Christ and my faith.  Judgment from others may come because people may not have forgotten my actions in college, but I know the greater truth:  God has forgiven me.

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving even though we have rebelled against Him.”
Daniel 9:9  

Forgiveness

My past holds no power over me now because I keep no secrets.  Everything I’ve done, experienced, and survived make up my story that God uses to show is unconditional love for His people.

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

ED, The Sneaky Devil

I found myself standing in the cold plastic surgery center; looking into a full length mirror while a doctor measured and pinched my very pale, saggy, three years postpartum abdomen.  I suddenly felt vulnerable, exposed, and insecure; incredibly aware that the eating disorder had found a small window of opportunity and taken it.

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If you have been reading my blogs long, you know I start my posts out with a quotation, usually of the inspirational variety.  Today, however, I started it out with my own words and my own experience.  I, Lane McKelvey, went to a plastic surgery center to get a consultation about my stomach; the one part of my body where true body acceptance is often so elusive.  The small eating disordered voice preyed upon that insecurity and in a moment of weakness I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment.  An appointment the healthy, wise-mind, recovery-oriented part of me rescheduled twice before I actually went.

Driving to the surgery center I was nervous, a little anxious even, contemplating whether I could even maintain this blog if I went through with the suggestions from the consultation or if I would be another sellout to society.  I mean, I had already rescheduled twice, wasn’t that proof enough that I wasn’t even certain I should go?  Apparently not. Apparently the eating disorder had the wheel and I was heading for the surgery center regardless of the nagging, healthy voice in the back of my head.

Upon arriving at the surgery center it was pouring down rain; the heavy afternoon rain that comes with the Lowcountry summer heat.  I ran inside and thought I might have been in the wrong place because the waiting room looked and felt more like a spa than a surgery center…except it was cold.  Why are doctor’s offices always so cold?  Glancing around I saw autographed photos from Miss USA contestants, models, and local “celebrities” thanking the good doctor for making them “perfect.”  The receptionist with her very perky breasts and nonexistent wrinkles gave me a nice welcome packet; which included a pamphlet about the services offered, a pen with the doctor’s well-chiseled face on it, a drink koozie bearing the logo and name of the surgery center (in case all my friends want to get some work done), a gift certificate for a free microdermabrasion (still not sure what that is exactly) and a magazine called New Beauty.  I suddenly felt like a fraud and I knew I had been duped.  I mean, the magazine even had an article in it called “Striving for Perfection”.  Yeah, this was not my kind of place.

Frantically I sent my husband a text telling him my insecurities about even being in such a place and contemplated walking out but it felt like it was too late, I had to go to the consultation.  I also conveniently left out the part where I felt like I had been tricked by the eating disorder and tricked him as well by saying I was going in to learn more about taking care of my belly fat, “since it squishes your organs and is so unhealthy” (quotation courtesy of the eating disorder).  I silently cursed myself for not catching it sooner–ED had been really sneaky this time.  Somehow that sly devil found a weak spot in my defenses and preyed upon it until that spot collapsed and I was standing in an office being pinched and told how my body could use some changes to be perfect.  I thought to myself, “Damnit, Allie was right.  This was ED all along and I didn’t believe her.  I thought I knew for sure this was just me trying to make myself a little healthier and it wasn’t all about the aesthetics.  I haven’t even seen myself in a full-length mirror in months, maybe even a year, and now I’m doing it with someone else.  What. The. Hell?” 

“You’re an excellent tummy tuck candidate,” the doctor said, snapping me back to the reality of the situation. “Sagging, excess skin and these pockets of fat could easily be taken care of with a tummy tuck procedure.”  Walking back over to the table filled with “before and after” images of women who have done everything from a tummy tuck to the latest trend of CoolSculpting to rid themselves of fat, the doctor also tells me I would be a great candidate for the hCG weight loss program.  “Oh sh*t, I’m in trouble now. Is it inappropriate to cover my ears?  Weight loss program?”  My healthy brain swirled but the eating disordered part was all ears; “A rapid weight loss program promising no less than 20 pounds lost in 40 days?  COUNT ME IN!”  I finally escaped the consultation with more handouts on the suggested procedures and the hCG weight loss program.  I couldn’t get to my car fast enough.

Sitting in my car in the rain I was extremely sad about what I had just done.  Not only had I been tricked and gone to a consultation with a plastic surgeon–something I am usually adamantly against–but now I felt like I was the worst looking woman in the world.  My body image tanked in a matter of minutes because I listened to ED without even realizing it. Doing the most responsible thing I could do, I drove to the nearest outlet mall and went shoe shopping to try to take my mind off the very tempting weight loss program offer…it didn’t work, but I did end up with some cute (and comfortable) wedges.

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I got back in my car and began researching the hCG diet.  I found the following:

The hCG diet consists of three stages. The hCG Diet stages are:

Loading — 2 days of eating fatty, carb-filled foods.
Burning — 26 to 43 days of a 500-calorie diet, depending on your goal.
Maintenance — 3 weeks of a starch/sugar-free diet.

Record your weight each morning, and if you have gained more than two pounds in any given day, you should skip a meal. This helps your body regulate your appetite and weight.

hCG can be administered as daily injections.

As I drove away I started contemplating what I just read.  A highly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day?  Skip a meal?  Was I really considering spending $600 to open Pandora’s Box and potentially undo the two years of hard work I’ve done?  Finally, my brain kicked in, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?  This is the anti-meal plan.  This is the anti-Anne, anti-CBL, anti-recovery plan.  You just spent two years learning you don’t have to cut out food groups and living on 500 calories is not only stupid, but deadly. DO NOT DO THIS.”   As I was having an internal debate, okay less civilized, an internal battle a song I hadn’t heard in a very long time started playing on my iTunes: Courage by Superchick.

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like, “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came.”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Somedays I’m still fighting to walk toward the light

In case you hadn’t noticed by my usual musical background to my blogs, I am a very musically oriented person.  Courage is the song that is playing today.  As soon as the song began playing and the lyrics hit me I started to cry.  This is NOT what I want for my life.  I don’t want to go back to the eating disordered life.  I don’t want to tempt it by further considering this weight loss program as an option.  I have no desire to go back to treatment, to monitor every bite of food I consume, or sit in group therapy trying to figure out how to cope.  I don’t want to have weekly weigh-ins, therapy sessions, and the loss of trust from my family.  The secrets, lies, depression, anxiety, stress, struggle, and darkness that accompany the eating disorder are not what I want.  A 500 calorie diet and daily weigh-ins, even with the promise of hCG as an appetite suppressant, is too much like an eating disorder.

 It is an eating disorder.

Coming “clean” about this is somewhat embarrassing.  I thought I knew all the tricks in ED’s playbook…but I missed this one.  This shows that I am human and recovery is anything but perfect.  While the ED voice is almost nonexistent most of the time I still have to remain diligent to ensure he doesn’t get let back into my life.  Today was a little too close for comfort but this is recovery.  This is the very real struggle people in recovery, even solid, long-term recovery have to fight for life.  In a world where doctors make money preying on the insecurities of people, we must always remain diligent and true to who we are and the people we have become in recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Motivation, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Motivation

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

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I found myself sitting in Starbucks a few days ago with a woman who is walking her own eating disorder recovery journey.  I respect all people who walk this journey, as they are courageous enough to fight a difficult fight, but this woman in particular.  She had never met me but reached out online and asked to meet up while I was in town.  Naturally, because I love sharing my story and learning about others walking a similar road, I agreed and found myself sitting across from her talking about our recovery road.  That is when she asked me the question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, “What was your motivation?  I find myself wanting to give in sometimes and resorting to old behaviors.”

What was my motivation to recover?

My immediate answer was, “Vivienne, my daughter.”  At least Vivienne and TJ, my husband, were the initial motivators but upon further reflection after leaving Starbucks I began to dig deeper and remember my bigger motivators when I was in the depths of the disease.  Sometimes it is hard to recall what I was thinking at that time because my world was spinning so fast and I was working all day, every day to recover.  My motivators changed like the tides but I boiled it down to be concise enough to fit on this post.  So, to the woman I met in the coffee shop, I hope you see this post and know this is how I would answer your question if you asked me again.

External Motivation:  This was the initial motivation that got me into the doors of the treatment center; the motivation that made me reach out to a therapist and dietician in the first place.  I’ll admit, when I started working with Amy (therapist) and Anne (dietician) it was for external factors.  My doctor said I needed a therapist to help deal with postpartum depression and eating disordered behaviors; in order to appease TJ and my doctor, I found one that worked with eating disorders, too.  I knew I wasn’t being the wife and mother I could be and I needed help to figure it out.  So, off to therapy I went.  When I decided it was time to see a dietician I picked one that worked with eating disorders but I wanted lose weight, not necessarily deal with all the eating disordered behaviors.  My external motivators that got me through the doors of both outpatient and IOP were TJ, Vivienne, my desire to lose weight, and my desire to appease people in my life. While those are not the best motivations, they did start me on the path to true recovery.

Internal Motivation:  This is where my goals for myself, my family, and the dreams that extended beyond my body came to play.  These motivators weren’t present in the first half of my time in IOP but really started to show themselves during the second half.  Once my body was starting to replenish the much needed nutrients I began to untangle the web of myself.  The eating disorder started when I was so young that I didn’t really get the chance to figure out my true likes, dreams, and personality.  Once I started to see beyond the external motivating factors that got me into treatment I began to see the motivating factors within myself; my driving forces to recover.   During treatment I realized the primary emotion I ever let myself feel was anger; which, as I learned during an internship with recovering drug addicts, is actually a secondary emotion.  Anger always masks another feeling, and in my case anger seemed to mask every other emotion possible.  IOP helped me start to experience feelings of true happiness and I wanted more of it. I began to have more positive life experiences and started figuring out my goals and passions; such as my sense of adventure (I am an adrenaline junkie) and love of helping others.  Radical body acceptance was introduced and I ran with the idea of accepting my body and myself exactly as I was at any given moment.  I started to let myself dream again and one of those dreams was to move to an island in the Caribbean with my little family.  This was a dream my husband and I shared when we first got married, but as I drifted back to the eating disorder I slowly let myself forget about the Caribbean until I was near the end of IOP.  I wanted so much more than to be sitting in weekly appointments with a therapist and dietician for the rest of my life.  I wanted to be free to explore new countries, cultures, and not be afraid to try the ethnic foods of those cultures.  I wanted to truly enjoy my life instead of merely existing in it.  

Spiritual Motivation:  God is the center of my life and marriage.  I hold tightly to my Christian values and beliefs, and I believe with all my heart God is the primary factor that got me to this point where I can say I am recoverED.  While I do not discount my own hard work and diligence, I looked to Christ for my strength at the times when I was my weakest. My husband and dietician were adamant God was going to use me and this struggle for a greater purpose when I was stronger, and I see now they were right all along.  God has granted me with the ability to write well and the vulnerability to be completely honest about my journey; two things that, when combined, create a greater purpose for my struggle.  God lit a fire in my life when He led me to this path of recovery–a fire to live a life so full of purpose that now I can live it fully for Him.  I get to share this recovery story with anyone who reads this blog, follows BBA on Facebook, or meets me in person and give all glory to God in the process.  God gave me a passion for sharing my story with others and some extremely big dreams for my family that could only be carried out when I was in full recovery.  I am now in that place and those dreams are being fulfilled.  

Musical Motivation:  I’ve always been drawn to music and I love singing.   My mom told me ever since I was an infant I needed music to go to sleep, so it isn’t a surprise that I created multiple recovery playlists to help motivate me.  On the 45 minute drive to IOP, therapy, or appointments with my dietician I would have a recovery playlist blasting loudly through the speakers of my Honda Pilot.  Songs from several different musical genres all came together on my lists: Christian hymns, Christian pop songs, country, rap, SOCA, reggae, secular pop…I have a rather eclectic music collection.  Some of my favorites are as follows:

You Make Me Brave–Bethel Music and Amanda Cook (Christian)
Diamonds–Hawk Nelson (Christian)
Beautiful, Beautiful–Francesca Battistelli  (Christian)
Crushed and Created–Caitlyn Smith (pop/country)
Monster–Skillet (Christian Rock)
Fight Song–Rachel Platten (pop)
Lose Yourself–Eminem (rap)
Part of Me–Katy Perry (pop)
Hearts of Warriors–Casey Montana Rogers (country)
Cleanin’ Out My Closet–Eminem (rap)
Phenomenal–Benjai (SOCA)
Wild Child–Kenny Chesney (country)
Ah Feeling Mehself–Patrice Roberts (SOCA)
Soul of a Sailor–Kenny Chesney (country)
Surrender All–Matt Boswell (Christian, currently playing with post)

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If I could re-answer the question about where I got my motivation I would say it was (and is) three-fold with a fourth bonus.
My main motivators were
external, internal, and spiritual
but musical motivation is always a bonus!

External motivation is what got me through the doors and into treatment but internal and spiritual motivation were what kept me there for the long haul. 

What motivates you in recovery and in life?

Find your fire, your passion and keep fighting for it! 

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Bikini Body, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Exercise, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Weight

Symbolism and Self-Acceptance

Rising out of darkness, the lotus flower emerges to float on top of the water;
unstained by the mud that binds it.

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After a long weekend visiting family in a very health-conscious city (i.e.: people always running and biking regardless of the time of day, and gyms on every corner), I found myself really struggling with body image and wanting to return to eating disordered ways.  RED + FLAG.  For the last two months I haven’t really struggled with the eating disordered thoughts or body image nearly as bad as I did for the last few days.  Feeling in such an awful place about my body made me question why I am even running this blog and Facebook page.  However, last night I got some serious rest and this morning I woke up with a new frame of mind.  While I am still struggling I am ready to fight harder again because that is recovery: moments of fighting hard, tooth and nail, to remain in recovery and learning to love myself and my body along the way.

This is the official BBA logo, designed by Megan Anderson
This is the official BBA logo, designed by Megan Anderson

 I have also been thinking a lot about the symbolism behind the BBA logo and what it means for me in recovery and with my body acceptance.

The BBA logo is rooted in deep meaning and symbolism; everything from the lotus flower to the color scheme was chosen carefully and to represent something.  The lotus flower sits delicately, cleanly on top of the water after it comes up from the muddy bottom and murky water that holds it in place.  It is rooted firmly and opens with the rising sun.  A new day, a new beginning for the lotus flower.  The flower is unstained by the mud from which it rises. Beauty rises out of darkness.  Body acceptance is beautiful, especially when it comes from the darkness of self-doubt, self-hate, and struggle to love.  The lotus flower in the logo is not fully open, showing body acceptance and love is an ongoing journey.  It takes time, patience, and continuous effort to learn to love myself; just as recovery times time, patience, and continuous effort.  Neither body love or full recovery came instantly when I stepped into the sun and started living in the truth.  Like the lotus flower blooming in the sun, petals open slowly and each one is examined in truth (sun) before the flower is fully open and the heart is revealed for the world to see.  I am like the lotus flower not fully open.  While some petals have received the sunlight others are just beginning to open as I figure out what triggers me most and causes me to feel such dislike for my body.

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The blue and purple hues used in the logo also hold meaning for me.  Purple is my favorite color but, as I wrote in a previous post, I believe purple to be dreamy and daring.  The color blue, especially light blue, is calming and comforting to me.  While purple represents the side of me that dreams of full recovery and body love, blue represents the calm state of mind it takes to practice radical body acceptance.  

Finally, the water under the lotus and the droplet of water above it represent sustaining life and relaxation.  The ocean and water speaks to me and calms me.  Much like a lotus bobbing on the water and making ripples, becoming a body acceptance advocate also makes ripples.  It isn’t a commonly embraced concept, as we are a society fixated on changing our appearance.  BBA seeks to make waves.  Water is also sustaining.  We need water to survive and water helps give life.  The water droplet coming down on the lotus helps sustain it, such as food, water, and God help sustain me.

While the last few days have been a struggle, I needed to return to the root of why I started this blog.  It is an honest look at radical body acceptance through the lens of eating disorder recovery.  This is the honest side of it.  I still struggle; I haven’t perfected this process.  I have days when I don’t even remotely love my body and it is difficult to practice radical body acceptance and find the things I do like and appreciate.  There are days when I don’t want to fight for recovery because it might be “easier” in the moment to go back to eating disordered ways and just let go of the rope in this tug-of-war.  However, I don’t let go;  I keep pulling and practicing radical body acceptance no matter how difficult it is.   I find the things I do appreciate and hold on to those.  I see the sunlight as I am rising from the muddy, murky waters of the eating disorder and self-hate to examine my petals in truth.

This is the truth:
I don’t appreciate my body all the time, but I am learning.  I fight to find the things I do like, even when the eating disordered part of my brain says there is nothing to like or love about myself.  I appreciate that my body could take my daughter trick-or-treating last Saturday in that health-conscious town because I enjoyed living in the moment with her.  I also appreciate my brain and heart for fighting to fully recover from the eating disorder that bound them in hate for so long.  What is your truth today?

Radical body acceptance is a journey on which anyone can embark.
So why not start today?

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery

Self-Discovery and Encouragement

Encouragement: 
the act of giving someone support, confidence, or hope 

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All too often I talk to people I met in treatment who haven’t yet experienced this part of recovery:
 true self-discovery and the lack of eating disordered thoughts  

One of the most amazing aspects of recovery is it has opened my mind and given me time to think about more things than food, weight, and exercise.  My mind has been able to wander and critically think about what I like, what I want to do with my life, and where I want to be.  I’m not only unearthing a new appreciation for my body but also a passion and a purpose for my life.  I’m enjoying new experiences, trying new things, and loving with my whole heart instead of just the part that isn’t consumed by the eating disorder.

You know what I discovered a few months ago?  I love the color purple.  I always thought my favorite colors were light pink and light blue because blue brought out the color of my eyes and pink looked nice with my blonde hair.  I thought they were my favorite colors because they made me look good, not because I loved looking at them.  Purple is calm and relaxing to me, especially the darker hues.  When I think of the color purple it seems dreamy and daring all at the same time; much how I see myself these days.  I see myself as a dreamer, uncovering the thoughts that I have never allowed myself to think and daring by making plans and taking chances on my dreams.  In someways I feel like a new song that fits me is “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney.  (Why, yes, that is the song you are hearing.)

I really like cooking.  Before recovery I always thought I hated cooking but in all honesty I never gave it a real try.  I had my “safe” and eating disorder “approved” foods, from which I would not often stray when cooking for myself.  If I allowed myself to cook when I was actively living in my eating disorder I might have liked it then and wanted recovery, which was not an eating disorder approved mindset, so I avoided cooking.  Since I’ve grown stronger in recovery I’ve really started experimenting in the kitchen, especially as of late.  I made homemade bread (more than once!), cinnamon rolls, and actually opened the cookbooks my mom gave me over five years ago.  I even bought enough ingredients to make 20 (yes, 2-0) freezer meals for my crockpot.  The crockpot we received as a wedding gift four years ago that I hardly used because “I didn’t like cooking.”  I even made a healthy, wise-mind decision to stop eating gluten (for legitimate health reasons) and have taken an active interest in cooking gluten free meals.  I must say, the gluten free veggie pizza I made the other night for dinner was ah-mazing!  It is definitely a learning process but I still really enjoy cooking even though I have to use really random flours now.

I hate running…and lifting…and zumba.  These are activities that never brought me true joy.  I did them in an effort to lose weight, tone up, or punish myself for calories eaten.  I have friends who love lifting and friends who love running…and those really crazy friends (just kidding) who love zumba…but that is not for me.  I have found the physical activities that make me happy, that I look forward to doing, and I stick with those.  Swimming.  I love swimming.  When I hit the water the world disappears.  I am alone with my thoughts to problem-solve, dream, and relax.  If I notice an eating disorder thought starting to creep in I stop swimming laps and start “mermaid swimming,” as my dietician calls it; which is really just playing around and lazily swimming.  Swimming is a safe place and the eating disorder thoughts that might still be lurking around in my head are not welcome when I am swimming; they don’t get to invade my safe place. Before recovery I liked swimming but rarely did it because I didn’t want anyone to see me in a swimsuit and judge me.  Now I just don’t care.

I love writing.  This one might seem obvious but I didn’t realize I loved it (or that I was any good at it) until I entered recovery.  Writing allows me to clear my mind, express myself, and encourage others.  When someone tells me they have been encouraged by my writing it makes me smile but makes me appreciate my recovery that much more.  I thank God for blessing me with this gift and being patient with me until I was ready to use it.  I only hope He continues to use my writing to help encourage others.

I love being a stay-at-home mom.  I have said before I did not fully appreciate Vivienne for the majority of her life, but now I do.  I wasn’t thankful for the opportunity to be home with her on a daily basis because all I could see was the money I “wasted” on graduate school because I wasn’t using my degree; completely forgetting degrees don’t expire and I can always have a career later.  Now I love playing with Vivienne and structuring her days at home.  Mozart Mondays, Witness Wednesdays (we do random acts of kindness around the community), and Field Trip Fridays maximize my time with her and allow me to teach her about our faith and to be a good servant for Christ.  She is my “career” and my main “mission field” for Christ.

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Finally, I love how resilient my body is when it is healthy.  I love how clearly I can think when my judgement is not clouded by eating disordered behaviors.  Decisions that, in the past, would have been made with great difficulty seem easy now.  I am so thankful for my body’s ability to heal itself.  While my brain is still making new pathways and erasing old habits like a bad mixed-tape (you know you remember making those), I am consistently reinforcing recovery oriented behaviors because the choice is easier.  Most days I don’t even have to think about eating all my meals and snacks because I actually want them now.  There is no debate about whether or not I should eat, I want to eat.  My body is beautiful and amazing all the same time.  I look at myself now and my thoughts are not dripping with disdain for my body but with positivity and joy.      

Recovery has allowed me to discover parts of myself I never knew before because my personality and my likes/dislikes were masked by the eating disordered brain.  I know myself better than I ever thought possible and I have days where the eating disorder doesn’t even cross my mind.

Recovery, and days without the eating disorder taking over your every thought, are absolutely possible
.
You can do this.  You can recover. ❤

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Bikini Body, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Weight

Radical Body Acceptance Reality Check

Bad dreams are ghosts of our fears and worries haunting us while we sleep.
-Maria Snyder

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Food dreams.  The dreaded food dreams.  Most people who have struggled with an eating disorder at any point in their lives know exactly what I am talking about.  For those who are fortunate enough not to know about food dreams here is a brief description: Often while I was in the grip of the eating disorder I would have crazy, vivid, and sometimes scary dreams about food.  I always said I never dreamed, at least I could never remember them, unless they were about food.  My food dreams were more realistic and memorable than any other dreams I might have had.  The food in the dreams might have been something I was not allowing myself to eat, such as sweets, or any food at all if I was really struggling with restricting.  I realize (now) my body was trying to tell me it was starving; that it wanted and needed food more than sleep.  Once I began to follow my meal plan and truly nourish my body the food dreams stopped.  I haven’t experienced a food dream in several months and I can only attribute that to keeping my body nourished instead of starved.  However, I was completely caught off-guard the other night when I woke up suddenly after experiencing a weight dream.

Immediately I felt a little bit of fear because I believed my brain was replacing my food dreams with weight dreams.  I feared my sleep would now become haunted with weight dreams frequently.  Instead of speaking to the physical deficit nutritionally, my brain seemed to be speaking to the emotional deficit I have regarding my body weight and size acceptance.  When this dream happened we were on vacation.  The entire trip I had not experienced any negative thoughts or feelings toward my body until the day the dream occurred.  For some reason, earlier that day, I began struggling with the negative emotions regarding my size and weight.  I was struggling to find the radical body acceptance and only saw the the weight I’ve been carrying since having my daughter.  Looking back at photos from the week I began to harshly critique my body in all of them.  I found every thing I thought was a flaw and picked it apart.  It was as if I had forgotten every bit of radical body acceptance I had been practicing over the last several months.  Instead of seeing the joy I felt while digging in the sand with my daughter or the on-top-of-the-world feeling I experienced while standing on the Point Udall sign in St. Croix, USVI, all I saw was my physical body…and I hated it.    

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Not only was I just seeing my physical body and hating it, but I was not appreciating it.  Earlier in the week we hiked in the rainforest, in 93 degree heat, and I carried our daughter most of the way.  However, when I saw the photograph of us after the hike I zoomed in on the parts of my body I thought looked terrible and wanted to make sure that photo never saw the light of day.  What I didn’t see in that moment is that my body is a beast.  If I had tried to carry her in heat like that last year, when fully engaged in eating disordered behaviors, I would have been wiped out for the remainder of the day.  My body is amazing.  I have worked too hard on radical body acceptance to let photographs take me back to self-hate.  A photograph can only show a still-life image of a moment in time but it cannot show the joy, love, laughter, and life being lived in that moment.  It is not a realistic representation of the moment.

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What I realized while looking at those photos was that I needed a radical body acceptance reality check.  Since when was my physical appearance more important than my physical ability?  When did that become number one again?  My body is a machine, a work of art, and the vehicle to help me achieve my dreams.  I love my life and I really love my life being lived in recovery.  I love being able to hike while holding my daughter, to laugh while digging in the sand, and to experience joy looking out over God’s beautiful creation.   When I place importance upon physical appearance instead of physical ability and appreciation, I lose sight of body acceptance.  I lose sight of all the things I am able to experience by living in this very body; this very unique body.  So this is my radical body acceptance reality check.  

Do you need to conduct your own radical body acceptance reality check today?  

With Body Love,
Lane

PS: BEAUTIFUL BODY ACCEPTANCE IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!  If you are on Facebook follow the link and “like” our page to help fill your newsfeed with body positive and body acceptance posts!  Be sure to check out the official BBA logo and cover photo art designed by Megan Anderson.  

Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

Bumps and Lessons Learned

I have really struggled to update lately, as I’ve really been struggling with my own body/size acceptance and what that means on my recovery journey.  I knew if I wrote about body acceptance it would be nothing but hypocritical at this point and I am not about to do that.
Therefore, I knew if I had anything to update it would be this:
what I have learned from these bumps along the road of recovery. 

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Bumps in the road are inevitable.  Days where I don’t fully accept my body or my size are inevitable (at this point).  However, those bumps and rough days don’t mean I have to shut down because even through the difficulty there is always something to be learned.  And it has only taken me several weeks to learn that there are lessons to be learned.

  • I am not my sister’s (or friend’s) keeper.  I am Lane.  I am but one person and I am only in control of my own thoughts, actions, and behaviors.  Giving too much of myself to others who are also in recovery only leads me down the road to my own downward spiral.  I can be a support.  I can listen if someone needs to vent.  But ultimately it is not my job to “fix” them or to constantly hold them accountable.  Some days it is hard enough to make my own correct choices without the added self-induced pressure to ensure others do the same.  I’ve adopted the phrase “not my circus, not my monkeys” to help me reframe this issue when I feel my maternal and social work instincts start to kick in.
  • I am perfectly imperfect. If one thing is for certain, it is that I am not (by any stretch of the imagination) perfect.  Therefore, neither is my recovery.  Just like me, my recovery is perfectly imperfect.  There WILL be bumps in the road and it is up to me to try to navigate around, over, and through those bumps (or man-eating potholes).  To pick up the lessons from the bumps and apply them to the road moving forward because if there is one thing I know now, those pesky little bumps will pop up when I least expect them!
  • Recovery takes dedication and diligence.  I got complacent.  I thought I didn’t need the safety measures I put in place several months ago.  I was ready to take those dang training wheels off and try my hand at not planning my meals and snacks for the next day before I go to bed the night prior.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  I am still in the training wheels phase of recovery.  I still need that much food accountability in my daily life to help me keep clear of bumps.  I let my guard down and my eating disorder saw the chance to jump right in and take the wheel; steering me right into a relapse and several subsequent small lapses since.
  • Recovery takes time and patience.  See previous bullet point.  No, seriously, I got in a hurry.  I want to be at the end of my recovery road and reach a point of saying “recoverED” right now.  It isn’t a quick process and it certainly isn’t painless.  I need to learn to slow down and focus on the task right in front of me and stop trying to sprint to the finish line (I never was a very good sprinter).
  • Recovery takes a team.  I can’t do this on my own.  As much as I don’t like asking for help I need to reach out and use the supports that are right in front of me.  I have an amazingly supportive husband, who is always asking what he can do to help; an excellent treatment team who go above and beyond to help me in times of crisis; and I have God and my faith.  I will admit, I’ve been slacking in utilizing all three of those during the most recent relapse/lapses.  I stopped telling my husband what I needed, I tried being more deceptive with my treatment team, and I stopped praying meaningful prayers where I asked God to help me through.  I created my own perfect storm.  God placed these people in my life because He knew they would be there to help me when I needed it most.  Now I just have to stop being so stubborn and prideful and actually reach out to them when I need help.
  • Self-care is of the utmost importance.  Just like I stopped praying (and attending church for the last several weeks), I stopped caring for myself.  I stopped doing things that helped me relax and enjoy life.  I stopped my nighttime routine of stretching, breathing, and praying.  I stopped my morning routine of  waking up before my daughter to do yoga, pray, and read the Bible.  I stopped writing and journaling.  When I stopped doing those things I enjoy, that help me appreciate my life, I stopped caring for myself and left a big void that needed to be filled.  How do I fill that void?  You guessed it, I use my eating disorder.

I’m sure there are many more lessons I’ve learned from the recent bumps but that would make this post way too long (it already is).
As I think of them I will add them to my journal because I want to be reminded of what these bumps have taught me about myself and my recovery.  

With Body Love (I am getting back to that),
Lane