Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, Emotions, God, Recovery

Robbed and Reborn

I often say my eating disorder helped make me the woman I am today.  That statement is not false, as it developed at the start of my adolescence and carried me into adulthood.  My eating disorder comforted me through the stress of middle school; the pressure to be perfect in high school; fear of failure in college and the desire to be the best female officer in my military unit.  My eating disorder was the third wheel in my marriage; the shoulder to cry on during death of my father, and the driving force behind my postpartum depression and anxiety following the birth of my daughter.  While the eating disorder held and overwhelmingly large role in my life during my developmental years, it also robbed me of a plethora of youthful experiences throughout my life.  It took away time that I’ll never recover.

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As a 30-year-old wife and mother, I have grown to realize while most people my age where identifying their personalities, likes and dislikes, and exploring the world around them I was focused on food.  Nearly every memory I can conjure up over a 16-year span in my life involves food—or the fear of it—in some form or fashion.  It is almost as if my adolescent and college years were laser-focused on calories, food, exercise, and fear of public opinion.  I did all I could to remain the innocent and sweet girl the adults in my life knew and wanted me to be.  Very rarely did I push the boundaries of what was permissible and, when I did, it was under extreme peer pressure.  I never attempted to sneak out of the house in high school, despite having the perfect bedroom setup for such a feat.  I was never late to anything and panicked over timelines and deadlines.  I watched Center Stage on repeat, longing to have the body of a ballerina.  Instead of reading mysteries, romance, or what was popular, I was reading Reviving Ophelia and Stick Figure as triggers and an attempt to further normalize my eating disorder.  Something about reading books like that in adolescence hardwired my brain to forever only find eating disorder and recovery-based books interesting.

In college, when friends stayed out late, I was pulling late-night study sessions in the library because my fear of failure wouldn’t allow me to have fun.  Instead of bar hopping and enjoying my new-found freedom in turning 21, I would gym hop and spend hours exercising.  I didn’t buy beer for my birthday, I bought a second gym membership off campus.  Rather than participating in “Pizza and Real World” nights my friends would have in their dorm room, I pulled marathon sessions of HBO: Thin, Secret Between Friends, and Dying to Dance; making absolutely sure I burned every last calorie I had eaten that day.  Sometimes I would break down from extreme hunger and drive to Wendy’s in order to buy my favorite “binge foods” off the dollar menu, only to go home and purge.  Sometimes I didn’t even make it that far before I had to do the deed.  I remember how my thoughts raced in fear the night my roommate and her boyfriend brought home a Chicken Alfredo pizza; calories upon calories that I would have to attempt to eat and would subsequently purge.  Rather than attending a local fraternity party, I went running on the dark streets of Ypsilanti, Michigan late at night only to pass the fraternity party a friend was attending and he insisted on walking me home because he was worried.  All I could think about was how I was missing out on burning more calories instead of being thankful someone was looking out for my well-being.  When President Obama was elected in 2008, I watched his victory speech from the treadmill at my 24-hour gym…it was past midnight.  I was the only one in the gym other than the employee.  The eating disorder robbed me of a true college experience; made of bad decisions, pizza, and making fun memories with friends.  My memories involve all those things, but most are far from positive memories.

By the time I commissioned in the Army I knew I had a serious problem.  I would do training on as few calories as possible; fortunate not to become a casualty by means of mental illness.  Knowing I was my body’s biggest enemy while attending Airborne school at Fort Benning couldn’t stop me from restricting my caloric intake and purging before training to jump out of airplanes.  After nearly passing out on a five-mile formation run, and being forced to drink copious amounts of water by my peers in an attempt to keep me from getting booted out of Airborne school, I ate a little more for the duration of training…which was all of one week longer.  After I was assigned to my unit, I purged lettuce while on training missions out in the field in order to cope with the perceived stress of my job.  After going to dinner one evening with my superior officers, I purged in the restaurant bathroom then had an anxiety-filled meltdown on my cot later that night about what I had done and the fear of being caught.  The eating disorder robbed me of being the best officer I could’ve been by being healthy.

When I got married the eating disorder played a role in everything.  My husband is a saint for putting up with it—in many ways, he still does.  I didn’t want to have him feed me cake at our wedding because I didn’t want to eat cake.  We did the wedding ritual but that was the only cake I ate.  The eating disorder became my partner when TJ went away for work.  We lived our lives in three or four week increments at that time and each time TJ went away, the eating disorder returned full-force.  Then TJ would come home and I would have to resume eating like a “normal” person.  It was a vicious cycle. I would argue with him over food, my body, and how I viewed myself.  To this day I don’t know how TJ dealt with the grief I was giving him.  We have had to work hard to establish our marriage in recovery because TJ married a different person than the woman he is married to now.

Finally, by the time Vivienne came along, enough was enough.  My dad died while I was pregnant, and instead of restricting my calories or purging, I ate my feelings.  I ate everything.  I thought I was granting myself reprieve from the eating disorder in order to nourish a healthy baby, but really I just exchanged my traditional eating disorder behaviors for a new set of behaviors.  Instead of eating less to be “healthy” I was eating anything and everything in order to help numb out the grief.  I ended up giving birth to a nearly 10-pound baby girl, but she was healthy nonetheless.  The eating disorder robbed me of experiencing joy and a true emotional attachment to pregnancy.

While the eating disorder has given me many, many memories and robbed me of so much, it also gave me many positive things.  My senior year of undergrad I attempted to get help when my Army ROTC program forced my hand a little.  I attended therapy and an off-campus support group.  I still remember the phone call and conversation with the treatment provider at the Ann Arbor Center for Eating Disorders. Even though I was often a less-than-willing participant in my therapy sessions, I was given the first (albeit shaky) foundation for my eventual recovery.  In the support group, I met four brilliant and beautiful women with whom I formed a very strong friendship that remains to this day.  We called ourselves the Monday Night Enthusiasts because, let’s face it, when you’re spending time in therapy and support groups instead of partying it up in college, you connect with those who understand you and your situation.  Some of my best, happiest, and most fond college memories involve those women. (T-rex arm fight, anyone?)  Down the line, when I attended IOP in Columbus, I met another woman who I would call a best friend—more like another sister.  We barely knew each other in treatment, as she was leaving in my first few weeks of attendance, but down the line she lived with us and we formed an amazing friendship.  She helped fill the support gap when TJ went to work, offering me accountability in recovery after treatment.  I often think I wouldn’t be where I am today if she hadn’t come to live with us for those six months.

The eating disorder gave me the chance to go to treatment and truly get to know myself.  Over the course of two years I dug deeper into my past and myself than most people ever will.  I learned how to view the world through a different set of lenses, ones that allow me to love myself with open arms.  Being on this earth and occupying space in this body is a gift; one that many people take for granted every day.  Society tells us we should hate our bodies and compare our lives to everyone else—for these is always something better, right?  Recovery, which was only possible because I struggled with an eating disorder, taught me to value it all.  Value my experiences, my body, and my life.  That doesn’t mean it will all be pretty and wonderful, but with each experience is a lesson and it is up to me to value the lesson.  The eating disorder gave me the chance to be a healthy role model for Vivienne because I chose to recover.  I will continue to teach her to love her body, value her experiences, and see that life is a precious gift.

I used to wonder why God “made” me suffer from an eating disorder for so long.  It wasn’t to punish me or because He didn’t love me.  No, God wanted me to recover all along but it was up to me to choose when to fully immerse myself in the joy of recovery.  What was supposed to be “the best years” of my life were no where near what I am experiencing today.  Being a healthy, recovery-minded mom and wife are definitely the best years for me. Every day I see God using my struggle for the benefit of others and I realize all that pressure–16 years of pressure–was to help form a diamond.  A rough around the edges, uncut diamond that is still being shaped into a shining gemstone for Christ.

With Body Love,
Lane

This post is dedicated to K.K.M.  Your light was beautiful, bright, and will always be remembered.  I know you’re t-rex arm fighting in heaven.

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 Image, Body Love, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

TrIgGeRs

“Whenever you get TRIGGERED...get curious.
Ask why.
Dive DEEP.
That’s where the beauty lies.”

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Sometimes triggers feel like they can break me.  At the very least they shake me to my core and make me question my recovery; forcing me to examine my stance and stability–or lack thereof.  While I once had a running list of things that triggered me, those things now cease to exist and it is the random, small things that force me to dig deeper in recovery.

In the beginning triggers where the glaring, obvious things that often stand in the way of people trying to achieve solid recovery.  Some of those are still triggers for me and force me to step with caution in this dance I call life in recovery.  Triggers would often follow the “people, places, things” rule that those in recovery for substance addiction face.  However, triggers can often be other things such as songs, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and smells. Sometimes triggers are so random they sneak up on me and I feel like they are going to swallow me whole; forcing me to return to the “safety” and “security” the eating disorder once provided.

For the longest time I had to avoid Wendy’s fast food restaurant because in college I would go through the drive thru and order things off the dollar menu to eat and subsequently purge.  Wendy’s became a trigger for me once I started to move toward recovery my senior year of college, suddenly becoming off-limits.  A place could set me down the wrong path.

To this day the song Courage by SuperChick throttles me back in time to lying, hiding, and covering up my actions.  Telling everyone I was fine, I had eaten dinner before I arrived, or that I hadn’t exercised beyond the point of exhaustion more than once that day was a near daily occurrance.  I can still picture myself driving through the University of Michigan campus on my way to the Ann Arbor Center for Eating Disorders  for the Monday night support group listening to that song.  It was on my “triggering” playlist I kept on my old-school iPod Nano to spur me on toward a lesser caloric intake and unhealthy weight loss.

Numbers are still a trigger for me but it is no longer every number related to an eating disorder (weight, calories, numbers, etc.), just certain ones.  For example, I still avoid seeing my weight at the doctor’s office and I have no intention of returning to knowing it because, for me, it serves no purpose other than to instigate evil in my life.  Calories, however, no longer bother me as much as they once did.  Often I don’t even look at them unless they happen to be plastered on the menu at a restaurant, then it seems unavoidable.  When people rattle off their weight, pants size, or amount of time spent engaging in exercise I am often unfazed.  At least I no longer compare myself to others!

Sometimes I don’t have to dig very deep to figure out my trigger; I only have to HALT. I first learned about HALT in grad school when I was working under an amazingly brazen internship supervisor who was in long-term recovery for substance addiction.   She was seriously kick-ass–and still is!  Anyway, HALT was used to help those in substance addiction recovery figure out their triggers and I realized it applied to eating disorder recovery as well.  Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.  Most of the time what is triggering me fits into one (or more) of those simple categories.  Although, there is almost always more to it if the trigger is in the “angry” or “lonely” category.  A different internship supervisor in grad school always said anger is a secondary emotion so we need to dig deeper to find out what is really causing the problem.

However, I still have those random triggers that sneak up on me.

Today I had to dig a little deeper to find why something triggered me.  I had to ask myself why I was being triggered by something so seemingly small.  What was it?

A sore throat.

An absolutely random thing was triggering me to engage in an eating disorder behavior.  I swallowed a piece of the bread on my grilled cheese and it scratched my throat as it slid down.  The sensation was so eerily similar to the feeling of purging that I could feel the thoughts creeping in and encouraging me to go ahead and engage in that behavior.  The thoughts telling me to do it “just once” because I was already having an “off” day.  That’s when my recovery brain–MY brain–jumped in and thought, “Ah ha! There is the real issue; the ‘off’ day.”  But what about it had been so “off” anyway?  I started to think along the HALT line: I wasn’t overly hungry (since I was eating), I wasn’t tired, but I was feeling angry and somewhat lonely.

Realistically, one of my biggest triggers–if not the biggest–is anger.  Before going to treatment and learning how to feel and experience emotions again, all I ever felt was anger.  I would hold all my feelings inside until a situation that made me angry came along and I exploded; not usually on a person but on myself in the form of engaging in the eating disorder.  Makes sense right?  Not.  I allowed something someone else said/did to anger me (usually meaning I was hurt by their words/actions) and only hurt myself more instead of talking to that person.  I digress, I was feeling angry about things that made no sense to be angry about and determined it was really just feelings of frustration and stress instead of anger.

Aside from stress and frustration, I also felt a little lonely.  As I’ve stated before, we moved  to a new state and, even though we lived here once before, my family and my closest friends are still in Ohio (or Columbia, SC and Saint Vincent in the Caribbean…okay, I have a lot of friends but none in Charleston).  While I used to have almost weekly coffee dates with friends and a standing weekly lunch date in Ohio, I no longer have any of that.  I am usually quick to make new friends (as my sister says, I can make friends with a rock) but our current situation makes that a little difficult.  However, as I turned my mind toward the positives and reasons why none of this was worth throwing in the towel on recovery and allowing a lapse to creep into my life, I counted my blessings.

God is providing for our needs.
We have a place to temporarily stay while we finalize our new living arrangements.  We have food, shelter, and clothing.  We definitely are not “homeless” as I often lament to friends.

I am staring to make new friends in the one area where I branch out.
The Charleston Community Yoga center is ah-mazing.  From my very first class I felt welcomed into the friendly atmosphere.  I started to become a “regular” at a few morning classes and, as a result, met a woman who has a child the same age as mine and we have started planning to have playdates.  Hopefully once we get plugged in at a good church in the area we will make even more new friends.

Finally…

Any day in recovery is better than even one moment in the disease!
Yes, I get frustrated and stressed that God’s timeline isn’t lining up with MY timeline but that doesn’t mean this is an “off” day.  It just means His timing for our living situation hasn’t been met yet.  Patience, Lane.  Seriously, this small amount of time is just that–small.

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
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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, Recovery

Make Memories. Be Real. Be You.

I wasn’t sure what to write tonight.
I felt I had nothing profound to share, therefore I shouldn’t spend time typing a new post.  However, that is when I realized sometimes a post doesn’t need to be profound, it just needs to be real.

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This last week has been a struggle.  A struggle to eat, a struggle to accept my body, and myself as a person.  My meal plan went to hell in a hand basket over the last week, which is frustrating because I can see the direction that leads.  I also nearly stepped on the scale forward facing at my dietician’s office this week because I decided I just didn’t care anymore.  (Thankfully I have always been a strict rule-follower so I decided not to challenge her authority.)  I found myself questioning whether or not recovery is really worth it because, lets face it, I am burned out.  I am burned out from constantly figuring out my exchanges (the method which most eating disorder treatment professionals use to help clients with food rather than counting calories) and following all the “rules” that are set in recovery.  I find myself wishing to be nothing more than “normal.”  To me, being normal means I don’t have to take time away from my daughter to see a dietician, a therapist, and attend support group.  Being normal means eating what I want and not worrying about whether or not it will make me “over” in an exchange area and the guilt and embarrassment of admitting that to my dietician.  However, I needed to remind myself that most of society isn’t “normal” when it comes to food.  Most people have some sort of skewed view of food and an obscure relationship with it.  I’m learning to do something most people don’t accomplish in a lifetime–eating balanced meals allowing myself to have everything in some capacity.  On the days when I want nothing more than to be normal, I realize I don’t want that at all.  I want to be recovered, which is a much greater accomplishment I think.

In the middle of this week of struggle, the days in Ohio have been hot; weather I thoroughly enjoy.  The hot weather is something my daughter seems to really enjoy too, so I have been trying to live in the moment with her to get my mind off my own selfish struggles.  That means taking her to the pool and wearing my swimsuit in front of people, even though I feel self-conscious because my daughter wants to swim with me.  She grabs my hands, pulls me into the water with her and proceeds to get me to play.  And you know what, when I am in the water playing with her I am not thinking about my body.  I’m not even thinking about myself.  I am thinking about the fun we are having and the memories we are creating.  Along the same lines, I took her down to the creek at the back of our property last night and we picked wild mulberries.  Okay, I picked the mulberries, my daughter ate them as quickly as I could pick them!  Her innocence is so pure, sweet, and refreshing.  She isn’t thinking about if the berries will impact her body or not, all she knows is they taste sweet and delicious and she wanted more!

Adding to the memory making with my daughter, a true test for me came last night when she got in the snack cabinet.  She rummaged around for a few minutes and pulled out an applause packet for herself…and one for me.  Even though I had just eaten my snack in accordance with my meal plan, I was presented with an opportunity to set an example for my child: to eat a snack with her when she offers me food.  This was a chance to show her food isn’t an enemy.  Guess what?  I took that opportunity.  I not only showed my daughter food isn’t an enemy, I also showed my eating disorder that I am back in charge and it doesn’t get to win.  And you know what?  Today I have been back on point with my meal plan and tracking my exchanges.  After that seemingly small victory last night, I have a renewed hope for my own recovery and getting to a place in recovery where I am not only intuitively eating but also enjoying food with my family no matter what time of day.

My challenge for myself this week (and for you) is to live in the moment.
Make memories.  Eat a random snack offered to you by a toddler.
Swim without regard to what others might think.
Sunbathe. Pick berries. Sing.
Be you.

With Body Love,
Lane