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

******

 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, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Pregnancy, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Faith, Food, and Faulty Thinking

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are you’d never think a negative thought again.”

******

Thoughts have the ability to determine our day, even our outlook on life.  Our thoughts, when verbalized, have the ability to shape the minds of children and support or break down others.  Thoughts, especially in conjunction with words, are the most powerful weapons in the human arsenal.  Sometimes thoughts feel so uncontrollable, so overwhelming and demeaning to ourselves that we act based upon those thoughts.  This is the case with me when eating disordered thoughts once controlled my life.  Sometimes the thoughts are still powerful and it takes all the remaining mental strength I have to reason with myself and convince myself that an eating disordered life is no way to live.  Due to my own faulty thinking regarding food and body image when I am being controlled by the negative eating disordered thoughts, I am able to recognize the potential dangers in others when they verbalize their faulty thinking.  

In September I was added to a group on Facebook that seeks to support women on their weight-loss and healthy eating journey though a biblically based plan.  In order to protect the women of that group I will not name the plan or the group but the basics are this: balance your blood sugar through different types food/fuel combinations; typically resulting in weight loss but at a minimum resulting in change in energy level.  The principles are solid and I have reaped some of the benefits of utilizing this notion in conjunction with the knowledge base I have from working with a dietician for 18 months.  I have more energy and I’m less sluggish when I follow the food combinations outlined by the plan but I have not, and will not, go “all in” as so many in the group say.  I see the faulty thinking in this.  Food becomes about rules, competition with self and others, and all too often becomes about the weight loss.  Daily in this group women post photos of their feet standing on a scale to show how much they weigh or body comparison photos demonstrating their weight loss over the last few months.  I shake my head because I know weight alone does not signify health.  In fact, multiple women in the group have commented that since starting the plan and going “all in” they have lost a significant amount of weight (in too short amount of time, in my opinion) and, as a result, are struggling with hair loss.  That raises a red flag to this woman in eating disorder recovery.  Hair loss in the land of eating disorders symbolizes a lack of nutrients, and potentially a serious caloric deficit.  In fact, when I was in treatment we had a lengthy discussion about weight loss and hair loss.  The body is preparing for starvation.  This is not something I want.  I happen to like my blonde hair and would prefer not to lose it.  

Women also post almost daily about being discouraged, hating their stomaches/thighs/etc, and begging for tips on how to make the plan really work for them to lose weight.  It seems very reminiscent to pro-ana discussion groups in which I once found “support” and encouragement.  However, this group does it to “glorify God” by taking care of their bodies, as they are a temple for God (1 Corinthians 6:19).  I am not mocking the faith of these women, as I believe in God and have a strong Christian faith, but I believe most of them are not doing it for this reason alone but also because they absolutely hate and are ashamed of the way they look.  Some women who utilize this plan have been urged by medical professionals to lose weight or death and disease will ravage their bodies and, as a result, lose weight and truly become healthy.  Everyone has their own motives but I know not everyone has pure intentions and use the group as a means for comparison, self-deprecation, and a motive to lose more weight.  

The most worrisome posts to me are the ones where emotions are clearly tied to weight and body size.  Women who say they cry because they gained two pounds instead of losing two or saying they “feel fat” because they aren’t dropping clothing sizes.  These are borderline eating disorder thoughts, especially when combined with the strict rules being followed when going “all in” on the plan.  So often the “rules” associated with the plan remind me of the rules I followed when I was living in the eating disorder, which is what scares me for these women.  The most disturbing trend I keep reading and seeing in this group deals with the children.  Women post selfies standing sideways in the mirror often but the photos that really rip at my heart are the ones where these women are posing with unhappy, self-loathing faces (words to match) and their child is standing beside them, silently observing the self-hate and learning these behaviors.  I’ll be the first to admit that I still fall into the trap of body-checking by standing sideways in a mirror (when I have access to one) to determine whether not I like how an outfit makes me look but I never, NEVER do it in front of Vivienne.  However, some day she may catch me doing it and it is for that reason I need to continue to strive to change my behavior.  I can still clearly picture the photo that hurt me the most and it is of a woman who is doing just as I described and her daughter, the same age as Vivienne, is standing beside her with a sad face, too, while clutching her blanket.  Is this really what we want to teach our children? 

I know it isn’t what I want for Vivienne.   I don’t want her to look at her body after it has birth babies and hate what she sees because her stomach is no longer flat and her breasts aren’t perky.  We were all created unique in God’s image and that uniqueness extends to our bodies.  Some people are built to be heavier than others.  We aren’t all going to look like models, have well-defined muscles, or absolutely zero cellulite.  Sometimes we forget that while God created us with different personalities He also created us with different bodies, but all are still created HIS image.    All I can do is strive to take care of my body to the best of my abilities in this life I have been given.  I can’t get bogged down by playing the compare and despair game and I don’t want to pass that game on to my daughter.  

It is time to change the conversation.
We, as women, have a responsibility to the young girls in our communities to teach them to love who they are, regardless of body size.
We, as mothers, have the chance to change how our daughters look at themselves in the mirror and the dialogue they have about their bodies.
We, as Christians, have a responsibility to celebrate all bodies and the uniqueness God created.

No two people were created exactly the same and that is something we should celebrate!
It is time to quit playing compare and despair.  
It is time to teach our daughters that bodies change over time but their abilities should still be praised over appearance. 

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

******

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)

******

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

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.”

******

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.

******

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.

images

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, Body Image, Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors are liars.  They tell us what we expect to see.
-Susanna Fraser

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Too many times I have looked in the mirror once and thought, “Wow, I look great!” Only to turn around not even five minutes later and think, “Crap.  I look like I just gained 10 pounds.”  How is that even possible?
It is simple: my mind, the mirror, and my eyes play tricks to create my perception of myself.

My Mind: The mind is powerful; dependent upon how we use it.  All too often I use my mind in its negative capacity instead of for the good of myself and others.  Prior to looking in the mirror I am already experiencing some sort of feeling, positive or negative, that will greatly impact how I view myself once I step in front of my bathroom mirror.  When I get dressed for the day or to go out on a date with my husband, I am telling myself I am confident, attractive, and on top of the world.  I’m not even thirty and I have accomplished much and been many places.  I am loved. I am beautiful.  I am a child of God and I am bringing up my daughter to know His love.  Even typing that now makes me sit a little taller in my (not so comfy) desk chair.  What I say to myself has the power to increase my confidence or break me down.  Once I see myself in the outfit I have chosen I usually step away to do something else, coming back to double check my appearance before leaving.  By the time I return to the mirror, which I realize I really need to NOT do as it is incredibly vain, doubtful thoughts have crept in and my perception changes. Whether I am consciously thinking the negative thoughts or not, they are there.  “Maybe this outfit doesn’t flatter my body.  Maybe I should change.  I will just go double check.”  For my mind, double checking spells doom for my mood and mindset.  Instead of feeling like the confident, successful, beautiful mother and wife I am, I find myself feeling frumpy, unhappy, and disgusted.   My mind plays tricks and I bet yours does too.

The Mirror: By definition a mirror is “a reflective surface, now typically of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image.”  I am inclined to say I disagree with this definition.  While the mirror may truly be glass coated with some metal something-rather, the image is anything but clear.  The image is clouded by our judgements of ourselves.  It is merely a reflection of what we want to see, or what we think we see, and our mind makes the image unclear.  We do not accurately see ourselves because we are simply looking at a reflection; a trick made of glass and thoughts.  One lesson I am learning, over and over again, is to trust those around me.  I am learning to trust my husband when he says I am beautiful and I don’t see myself has he does, or as God does.  I am learning to trust my friend when she says I am beautiful because I care for others, I show love to people in my path, and I am an inspiration.  The mirror doesn’t reflect any of those things.  The mirror only reflects the outward appearance upon which my own harsh judgements and the judgements of those who do not know me are reflected.  

My Eyes: I always used to say my eyes were my best feature when asked what I liked best about myself.  However, I don’t find that to be true anymore.  While I still love their sapphire blue color, they are not the best part of me.  My eyes don’t speak to who I am as a person and they are part of what plays tricks on me. Lets review how the eye allows us to see things:

The Eye

How can something that takes a real-life object and turns it upside down in a normal setting show us anything close to reality when it is looking at an image on a metal coated piece of glass?  Simply put: I don’t think it can.  Now, I obviously do not have scientific proof of this but I believe it to be true.  While our eyes are amazing and they allow us to see the world around us, when it comes to seeing ourselves they aren’t much help.  We either have to look at the mirror or a photo, which still is not an accurate view of ourselves.  Our eyes play tricks. They work in conjunction with our preconceived thoughts and judgements to show us what we think we see.

I would like you to really listen to the song on this post.  My favorite lines are repeated over and over throughout it:

“Hey you in the mirror, I like you!”
“I’m feelin’ mehself!”
“Nobody don’t have to love me because I LOVE ME!”

I am the culprit of my own mood, good or bad, and as long as I stand in front of the mirror (as much I am trying to decrease that practice) and tell myself I am sexy, special, and love myself my mood is likely to be good….along with my confidence. 

With Body Love,
Lane