Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Journaling, Recovery, Uncategorized

My Demon Has A Name

I’m calling out my current demon for what it is: depression.  While this isn’t directly related to body image, depression can indirectly impact my mood, self-worth, and all other aspects of my life.  Until today I didn’t realize what was happening; until today I didn’t know to call my demon by its name.

******

Two years ago at this time, January 2015, I was in treatment at The Center for Balanced Living; chipping away at the emotional baggage that accompanied a 16 year battle with an eating disorder.  I felt safe and surrounded by treatment professionals as I unloaded that baggage, learned my triggers, and exchanged all of it for pieces of my “new” personality and purpose in life.  Two years ago The Center was helping me along by calling out my demons when I couldn’t and walking alongside me as I found my way through the dark.

One year ago, January 2016, I was still in treatment but on an outpatient level.  Each week I drove to Columbus to see my outpatient therapist and dietician; further chipping away and the old and making room the new.  When my demons came calling my team was there to help me call them out and cope with the subsequent feelings and negative thoughts.  The hard work was getting easier and I felt more confident with each trial that came my way.  Support meant steps toward success.

Today, January 2017, I am out and “on my own;” having been completely discharged from treatment since April 2016.  There are times, lately more often that not, that I question whether I was fully prepared to step out on my own when I did.  At the time I felt healthy, strong, and emotionally able to knock down all my demons through positive thinking, coping skills, and Christ.  However, today I am not so sure.  Today, and nearly every day for the last six weeks, my demon has come to call and I’ve answered instead of fighting.  I’ve allowed depression to seep back into my life through the unsecured cracks in my recovery walls.  I stopped using coping skills, convincing myself I no longer needed things like journaling, yoga, or “me” time to decompress.  I threw myself to the wolves and the wolves have been winning–but today I am calling myself out.

******

The week before Thanksgiving my husband lost his job.  He was, at that time, the sole provider for our family; working weeks away from home in the oilfield.  Then he lost his job and our world was turned upside down.  I called the marina where we live to explain the situation and see if I could work there to help our family along while he figured out what was next for his career.  Graciously, I was given a job as a dockhand doing physical labor for $10.50 per hour.  Well, it was something, so I agreed in order to help support my family–benefits would not be included.  Despite having two degrees I do not hold a social work license in the state of South Carolina, so finding something in a related field would be nearly impossible; for most other jobs my degrees rendered me “overqualified”.  So now I find myself chipping oysters off cement pilings and washing dock boxes, lost in a sea of depression.

Each day I put on my happy face, staff t-shirt, and walk to work; returning at the end of the day exhausted and on the verge of tears.  Much of my depression can be chalked up to anxiety.  I constantly stress and worry over my much younger co-workers talking about me (doubtful), whether or not I’m making big mistakes (usually I’m not), and how long I can keep up this job before I have a breakdown in the employee bathroom (seriously, not much longer).  I put my headphones in and listen to praise and worship music as I chip away at the oysters, begging God to help me handle this anxiety and depression that, at times, seems almost debilitating.  Over the last few days some revelations have occurred during these oyster-chipping-worship hours, causing me to realize I have to confront my demons head-on and recognize where I am in life.

  1. I took being a stay-at-home-mom for granted, as well as the ability to freely write whenever I wanted and now I’m mourning that loss. For the last three years I’ve been a full-time mother and more often than not I was frustrated by the end of that day that I wasn’t doing “more” with my life.  I would clean up messes and meet up for playdates while wishing I could be doing something else.  At the same time, I had the freedom to write and work on my future (hopefully) Kindle Single but rarely did because I was convinced I had writers’ block or something of the sort.  Now I find myself wishing I could be the one running my daughter to school, dance, or a playdate at the park instead of soaking up the strong scent of bleach into my skin.  Lately I’ve been praying for God to give me a second chance at both of those things, as He is the one who gives and takes away.  I don’t always know His plans but I know He has a purpose for me being where I am in this moment and while I pray He changes it, I know He has me right where He wants me.  Clearly there is a lesson to be learned in all of this.
  2. Self-care and the use of coping skills is not a bunch of bologna.  When we moved aboard our boat I stopped doing yoga every day.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have time or space, we live on a catamaran so space isn’t really an issue; it was because I was convinced I no longer needed yoga to center myself and start each day balanced.  I thought being on the water every day would be life-balancing enough but, until recently, I didn’t realize how wrong I was.  I need daily yoga in my life for balance and mental health.  The same goes for journaling.  While I greatly enjoy writing for BBA and our family sailing blog–McKelveys on the Move–neither one can replace my trusty pen and paper journal for my mental health needs.
  3. Wishing my life and current situation could be different won’t solve anything.  Wishing for circumstances to change is a lot like crying over spilled milk; as you cry the spill seeps everywhere creating a bigger mess than the one with which you started.  Right now my life looks a lot like spilled milk that I’ve been crying over instead of cleaning.  Each day I wish my situation was different, that my husband had a good job again, and I would given back that time to write and play with my daughter every day.  Wishing for all those things doesn’t change where I am but only seeks to further my depression and squander the time that I do have doing the things I love.  So today, I’m going to stop crying over the spilled milk and start cleaning.

******

No where in the unfinished, utterly unwritten Book of Life does it say I have to love my job or be thrilled with my current situation.  It also doesn’t say that I have to be happy go-lucky 100 percent of the time.  What I am choosing to write in my Book of Life is this:

Depression comes and goes, the only thing that remains constant is Christ.

My current situation isn’t the most favorable but it is part of the greater plan for my life.  Aside from trusting God I can do my part to ensure the demon of depression stays at bay by committing to doing yoga, journaling, and appreciating each moment and opportunity for what it is.  While that is often easier said than done, choosing to make a commitment to my mental health is important; no one needs to read about the woman who had a mental breakdown in the employee bathroom…but if I do, it won’t be the end of the world because this is my life and so much of it has yet to be written.  This small paragraph in my book won’t last forever but there is always something to learn from every word.

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized

My “Friend” Gym

In the dark of the “Cardio Cinema” at Gold’s Gym I struggled to fight back the tears that started to come to my eyes.  My mind still isn’t healthy enough to do this, I admitted to myself in utter defeat.  The workout seemed easy enough but fighting back the demon that still plagues my mind is another story.    

******

I found a rabbit hole and couldn’t resist the shiny object at the end:
thinness and weight loss. 
Instead of following my recovery mind, I followed the eating disorder right down that hole.  That stupid, big black hole. 

In a matter of weeks I could feel myself slipping and, once again, becoming a woman possessed by workouts, “clean” foods, and my body.  Things I thought were long gone and replaced by more enjoyable life experiences such as happiness, writing for BBA, and health.  I wanted to build my strength and cardio endurance so hoisting the sails on our floating home would be a little less tiring each time I did it; fully acknowledging the risks associated with entering a gym.  In my case the risks are not so much physical as they are mental and emotional, but I thought I put a good support system in place.  I didn’t hide my gym membership from my husband and I even decided to start going with a friend who is in excellent physical condition to help me get back at it.  We set a time limit, and often broke it, but had a plan for our time at the gym nonetheless.  I couldn’t just exercise endlessly without accountability.  That was my plan.  My plan had one major fault: my brain.

By entering the exercise arena again, I opened up a corner in my brain that allowed the eating disorder to slowly creep back into my life.  I could “hear”  it before I wanted to admit it was back.  The voice telling me not to eat because I had done such an excellent workout that I shouldn’t poison my caloric loss with more calories.  Red Flag.  Talking myself into eating over a grumbling stomach; knowing I had only eaten twice but now it was after 7pm so I shouldn’t eat anything more.  Red Flag.  My brain telling me to just make some green tea and sip on it until I am no longer hungry.  Maybe I should.  Maybe then I could actually lose some weight.  Red Flag.   I found myself obsessively looking in mirrors and reflective surfaces with a consistency I haven’t had in months, berating my body and appearance.  It took over my mind every time I saw my reflection with a vengeance for giving it up in the first place.  Red Flag. I found myself utilizing the same old excuses with family and friends who voiced concern over my return to the gym, reassuring them I knew what I was doing and I was ready for this.  Red Flag.

Red Flag.
Red Flag.
Bright, red, you-can’t-freaking-miss-it flag. 

My recovery mind was fading into the background fast; replaced with thoughts dominated by the eating disorder instead of the real me.  But why?  Why now?
I’ve been doing well for so long…

I returned to the gym during a period of high stress.  Mistake número uno.  My sister and the son of my Army Soulmate/BFF were having surgery and I was stressed.  I needed an outlet and I felt my life was too hectic to sit down and write.  Instead of utilizing safe outlets such as yoga, writing, and paddleboarding; I opted for one of my bigger triggers because I thought surely I was ready for a triumphant return.  

I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to be with my sister and Army Soulmate for the surgeries; requiring I stay at a hotel.  Only I didn’t stay at a hotel.  I stayed at this quaint little place, Family House, for people who have loved ones at local hospitals.  Upon walking into the place it felt eerily like walking into an eating disorder treatment facility; a feeling that made me want to rebel against recovery with every fiber of my being.  The large kitchen with two industrial size refrigerators, large sinks, and multiple microwaves screams community meals.  The environment is meant to feel inviting, like a home, but instead feels like what it is–a place where people stay when something serious happens.  I stood in the oversized kitchen after both surgeries had been completed and I had been up for 18 hours, when my mind flashed back to my time at the Center for Balanced Living.  At least this time my food wasn’t being checked and re-checked for meal plan accountability and I wasn’t going to be watched while I ate.  I suddenly felt devious.  I could sit alone at a table where I could eat as slowly as I wanted and throw out food without the need to hide it first.  What I couldn’t believe was that I was even entertaining this thought.  I sat at the table, playing with my food, and eating it incredibly slowly; pushing the thought out of my mind that I might actually be starting to struggle again.  Despite being very busy while in Pittsburgh, I made time for exercise because I couldn’t “undo” all the hard work I had recently been doing.  

All these red flags and I kept ignoring them.  Excusing them away and dismissing them as paranoia.  I mean, when will I get my life “back” if I don’t start now?  I do enjoy the occasional run and the feeling of  being back in the gym, but I went too hard too fast.  The safeguards weren’t enough because I started out doing too much too soon. I didn’t ease back into the gym, I went at it like my mind and body were fully healed and not susceptible to relapse.

I was wrong.

Healing from an eating disorder doesn’t happen overnight.
Recovery and healing happens over years; marked by struggles, slips, and points of higher learning.
My experience in the gym is a point of learning.  Learning I am not able to exercise daily like I used to because my mind isn’t ready for it.
The trigger to return to the eating disorder is still there, lying in wait, for me to choose it.
I chose it.
I tried to ignore it but thankfully I’m stronger than that now.  My husband is stronger and knows when to call it to my attention.
Together we won’t let the eating disorder retake my life.

******

On a similar, yet slightly different note, I hate myself a little for supporting a business that thinks posting crap like this is appropriate, but it is what it is.  Besides, I haven’t been a “girl” in quite some time…I’m almost 30!   

golds-crap

I much prefer the cover image I’ve chosen from Women’s Running Magazine that both demonstrates and states that weight doesn’t matter.  Because it doesn’t. 

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, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Hope, Joy, Love, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Uncategorized, Weight

No Mirror, No Problem…Or Is It?

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” 
-Ernest Holmes

******

While the above quotation isn’t exactly about a mirror I have come to believe the same idea applies to looking at oneself in a mirror.  The reflection is really a reflection of what we think we see.  Combine that trick, or distortion, with what the viewer wants to see and we can create a recipe for body image disaster.  The mind can play tricks on us in many ways and, for me, I’ve come to realize the mirror is just one way my mind tricks me on a daily basis.

I have a problem.  Even though I no longer struggle with food or eating disorder behaviors, I still have a problem.  My problem is with the mirror and how my reflection distorts and greatly impacts my body image.  Even though I no longer give the eating disorder power in my life, the struggle with negative body image and the power I give the mirror can still spell disaster for my body image on any given day.  In our society we are taught from an early age the mirror and the scale are not our friends but rather our frienemies.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait.  What?  The mirror and scale are absolutely my friends; they tell me how I look and whether or not I need to lose weight or change clothing in order to look better.”   To which I would reply, “No, no.  That is how the mirror and scale hold negative power over you.  Society wants us to believe we need these items in order to better ourselves and to ensure we look the best and hide our ‘flaws’ in the best possible way…but they are not our friends.”  From an early age we are taught to use these items to help us pick apart our bodies and find what we need to change.  Sometimes the obsession with the scale and the mirror can go too far, such is the case with me.

Sad Frog

While I haven’t owned a scale in 16 months, I still have mirrors in both bathrooms in my house.  Not only that, but windows and other reflective surfaces have become mirrors for me.  For the longest time I had the mirrors in my house mostly covered with collages and positive phrases.  I left a small little section at my face level uncovered so I could do my hair easily but that was it.  However, once we put our house up for sale I had to take down the mirror coverings and suddenly the little power I regained from the mirror was sucked away, as I again became a slave to checking my body and appearance.  I would feel fantastic about myself, my clothing choice, and my body only to look in the mirror and be greatly disappointed by what I saw.  My hips were too wide, my belly too large, my arms not toned enough…the list would go on until I walked away feeling dissatisfied and significantly less confident.  I was comparing my current body to the body I had when I was 21 and very much struggling with the eating disorder.  My mind was playing tricks on me.  My mind wanted me to see what once was instead of what is; therefore forcing me to relinquish my power and positivity and exchange it for negativity and loathing.  My mind then gives way to the remaining part of the ED by telling me I could be that image in my head again if… Which is the point where I have to remind myself my body has greatly changed and even with a rigorous gym schedule that could be will never be a reality again. The only reality that comes with that could be is a full blown eating disorder. 

The other day I decided to add up how much time I spent checking the size of my body in the mirror, as well as the amount of time I spent before I looked and after just thinking about my body size.  It was a shocking 30 minutes that I spend, on average, looking at myself and thinking about my body size.  THIRTY. MINUTES.  Now, I am a mother to a toddler so my time alone is very precious and oh the things I could do with 30 extra minutes!  That alone was enough for me to determine I need to take drastic action to break this bad body image habit for good.

I decided I am going to stop looking the mirror for the next 30 days.

On the rare occasion I decide to wear cosmetics I will use a very small (think the size of your hand) mirror to apply mascara so I don’t stab my eyeball.  I mean, I kind of like being able to see and all.  Other than that, no mirrors (or windows, cars, or any other reflective surface). It has only been 24 hours and I can already tell this is going to be a challenge that will, at least in the beginning, require a SIGNIFICANT amount of thought.  Have you ever tried brushing your teeth or washing your hands without even casually glancing up at the mirror?  It is really hard! However, I know I need to take this drastic action in order to reclaim my precious time and create an even more positive body image.  I am eager to continue to engage in this challenge and just see how my thought process plays out.  I can honestly say that even without looking at my appearance for 24 hours I already feel a little different–better–about my body.  I keep telling myself to “see what Jesus sees” when I start feeling the urge to look in the mirror.  I recount my many positive attributes to pass the time until the urge to check my appearance passes and, you know what, I actually come out feeling better about myself because I have to do this quite often right now.

Do you think you could go 30 days without looking in a mirror?  
How about just 24 hours? 

I encourage you to give it a try and see what avoiding the mirror does for your body image just 24 hours after that last fateful glance at your body.  If you decide to try it, share your thoughts in the comments below,  I would love to hear what you think!

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, Uncategorized

Mess, Stress, but I’m BLESSED

“It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” 
-Lou Holtz

******

My life for the last 14 days has been utterly defined by mess and stress.  My house was nothing but a giant mess for most of those 14 days, as I vigorously cleaned, organized, and de-cluttered on a daily basis in order to prepare our house for the market.  The realtor came today to take photographs and I couldn’t be more relieved that part is over.  In the last 14 days I’ve moved furniture around the house and out of the house. I’ve given away more stuff than I ever thought possible, and realized my house contained A LOT of dog hair.  Seriously, I probably could’ve made a third dog from all the loose hair I cleaned up in random places…and trust me, I vacuum on a regular basis.  What does all this have to do with my body?  Everything. 

Stress can make or break me in recovery.  When I was in high school, college, and even in the Army I told myself I liked being stressed; I wasn’t really living my life if it wasn’t stressful.  It saddens me that I truly believed that until I started really uncovering the truth about my eating disorder in recovery.  I learned that stress was a way for my eating disorder to make me believe I need it in my life.  The truth is stress is the mask my eating disorder uses to get into my life.  It creeps in when I’m overloaded and before I know it I am engaging in behaviors and slipping up left and right.  Well, not this time.  Don’t get me wrong, the last 14 days haven’t all been sunshine and rainbows; my meal times have been off and I’ve broken down crying more than once thinking I would never get everything done in time.  It is moments like that–the crying, utterly overwhelmed moments–when I used to throw in the towel and run back to the eating disorder to “get me through” the tough times.  I used to think, “I’ll only do this until this stress passes.”  Believe me, the temptation was there, “I could use ED and coffee to just get me through the next few days then I can quit.”  However, I’m smart enough now (and strong enough) to know it never works that way.  I can never “just” do it for a short amount of time.  That rabbit hole is closed and I have no desire for it to be open again.    

Even though I didn’t turn to behaviors to get me though the last two weeks I also didn’t exactly take care of myself either.  I stopped doing yoga.  I started going to bed well past midnight (usually 0100 or later) and getting up at 0730 with my toddler to do it all over again.  Oh, and that 0730 was negotiable as she hasn’t been sleeping well with all my stress, anxiety, and the constant changes so several night she woke up at 0430 and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  Talk about one sleep deprived Momma!  I slept more than that when she was an infant! I actually think I slept more than that in the Army. Needless to say, not only was my house a mess but I was a complete mess.  I wasn’t taking care of my mental well-being and, as a result, my physical well-being suffered too.

Without yoga to relieve tension my body began to ache.
I carry stress in my back and when I got on my mat tonight, (for the first time in almost 21 days) I felt it.

Without sleep I became irritable and easily angered.

Even though I was sticking with my meal plan, albeit at odd times and random food combinations, I was also stress eating certain “once forbidden” foods and that was adding to my stress.  I was CONVINCED I was gaining a ton of weight and my dietician got more than one late night (think 0100 0r later) e-mail about it.  (For the record, I actually have no idea whether or not I’ve gained weight over the last few weeks and tonight I realized it doesn’t matter.)

Even though I’ve been very stressed and I am also very blessed.

I’m blessed that I’ve been able to live in such a beautiful home for the last 2.5 years.
I’m blessed that I’m in solid recovery and I can realize when I’m not treating myself well.
I’m blessed that I have a wonderful husband who tells me to slow down and take care of myself.
I’m blessed that I have a loving family who offers to watch my toddler for a few nights so I can sleep and put the finishing touches on the house.
I’m blessed by that toddler who, without knowing, makes me take breaks for playtime and cuddling at bedtime.
I’m blessed that I’ve discovered yoga is the link to taking care of my mental health and centering myself.

While the next few months could continue to be stressful, as we *hopefully* find buyers for the house, go into contract, and move, I know I need to absolutely make taking care of myself a priority.
Yoga needs to happen.  Sleep is a necessity.  Nourishment is a must.

All the stressors I’ve been managing are really just blessings in disguise.
That will be my mantra for the weeks and months ahead as I move forward in recovery and life.  

With Body Love,
Lane

P.S. For those who were wondering how the house turned out…it looks GREAT!  My dogs, however, are unimpressed with the new yoga location in the basement:

IMG_6171

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

15 Things I WILL Do in 2016

CHALLENGE
a call to take part in a contest or competition

******

So, I’ve been absent from both the BBA blog and Facebook page as of late and here it is–almost a month since my last post! For those who don’t know me personally, we (my little family and I) have been getting ready to move and have been SUPER BUSY getting our house ready for our next endeavor.  However, I have not forgotten about the BBA community and what I sometimes call “my second child” when I refer to the blog.  In fact, I’ve been creating a challenge for myself (and you, if you’d like to join) and it is finally time to share that challenge! Are you ready?  Please say yes because I am EXCITED and ready to dive in head first for this one!  

On my birthday my amazing husband took me to a bookstore in Columbus.  Not just any bookstore, a bookstore with OVER 30 ROOMS of books!  Now, I am somewhat of a bookworm, a nerd, a person who loves to get lost in some literature so this was a great birthday gift; especially when I walked away with Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker.  It is an amazing, empowering, and completely-body-positive read that I HIGHLY recommend to each and every one of you but especially for those who fill the “plus size” category.  Throughout the book Jes gives readers little challenges that are from her blog post “25 things fat people shouldn’t do” .  Intrigued by this, I decided to develop my own list of challenges, as some of hers didn’t exactly apply to be (because I either already do them or they aren’t really my thing anyway).  Are you ready?  Drum roll please….

  1. Wear bold patterns
  2. Wear bright colors
  3. Wear bikinis
  4. Eat dessert in public
  5. Wear leggings/skinny jeans as pants
  6. Wear horizontal stripes
  7. Wear a tight fitting dress
  8. Dance
  9. Follow their dreams and be successful
  10. Be happy and confident in themselves and their appearance
  11. Do cartwheels
  12. Swing into the water (rope swings)
  13. Swing on a swing set
  14. Do yoga (**for me, in a group setting**)
  15. Jump

This list was derived from things I found on the internet that fat people, particularly women, “shouldn’t” do, as well as the list Jes posted.  Well guess what, I am going to do them.  I am going to do all 15 of them in the calendar year 2016.  While some of these I already have done, I am challenging myself to doing them a little differently.  For example, wearing leggings.  If you follow BBA on Facebook you know I love leggings and even have some that are bright patterns; however I have one pair of leggings that will be particularly challenging for me: red leggings with pieces of cake on them.  Yes, the design looks like little squares of cake.  I thought they were cute but of course my brain says, “You can’t wear those!  You look like all you do is eat cake all the time and then people will think the same thing.”  Um, newsflash dear brain, people will think all I do is eat cake if they want to regardless of what my leggings have on them; therefore I will wear these leggings in public sometime soon!

As I embark on this new *challenging* adventure I’m asking you to take this journey with me!  If you decide to accept this challenge, join me in posting your challenge photos on the BBA page as you complete them.  Share your photos on Instagram using #BBAChallenge.  Make some of your own challenges that fit you and share those with the BBA Community on social media.  I look forward to seeing people step out of their comfort zones and step into a challenging, confident new direction!

 With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, 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, New Year, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Who I Am

“What would happen if I never tried to lose weight again?  What would happen if I never tried to ‘better’ myself or get ‘healthy’ again?”
-me

******

This song is from my daughter’s favorite movie, The Pirate Fairy. After watching it several times I finally listened to the words and realized I actually really love this song.  Take a good listen and you’ll see why…it is all about embracing who you are and what you love.  This song has been my inspiration to be pretty bold with some decisions lately…

Yesterday I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan to meet up with some college friends for a girls afternoon.  I wore an outfit that challenged me: patterned leggings, a tighter fitting shirt, and boots.  I wanted to be comfortable for the drive but I also wanted to dress nice so this seemed like a feasible option.  Generally I felt comfortable walking around but I definitely had moments of insecurity.  Why am I telling you this?  Because I realized I happen to like patterned leggings even though they aren’t labeled “socially acceptable” for bigger ladies to wear in public as pants.  I also decided I don’t care.  It is all part of embracing myself and my likes in this new year while continuing to figure out what all those likes really are, regardless of societal stigmas.

IMG_5339

We went out to eat and I challenged myself to order something out of the norm for me.  Completely out of the norm.  While at a quaint Italian restaurant I ordered spaghetti (gluten free, of course)…and enjoyed it.  Typically in public I order a salad because that is “socially acceptable” for someone with a larger body, as it signifies a desire to get “healthy” and “lose weight” to better oneself.

I’m going to call it:
bullsh*t

On the drive home I was thinking about the challenges in the day and it hit me–hard–what would happen if I stay a size 16/18 forever and never lose weight again?  Usually this thought would freak me out and make me want to find a scale and weigh myself ASAP to make sure I’m not gaining weight and get my “head on straight” aka back to wanting to fit in with the societal norm of trying to lose weight to get “healthy”.  However, this time was different.  What if I never tried to lose weight again? Never tried to “better” myself and get “healthy” again?

I WOULD BE SO HAPPY! 

While I am generally a very happy person these days I still struggle with body image and being labeled “fat” or “plus size” by media and societal norms.  But really, what is so bad about that anyway?  Is that really the worst thing in the world to be?  The answer is no. 

I am more active than many women I know, including several who are much smaller than me.  Thanks to yoga I am flexible, strong, and have great breath control.  I sleep great and I feel great.  My body weight and size in no way hinder me from doing yoga.  Very rarely do I need to modify poses to accommodate my body and when I do it is usually a stability issue. (read: I am still not good at tree pose.  I am a very wind-blown tree.)  My body is healthy and strong enough to walk long distances, often while carrying or pushing my child.  Embracing my body at this size gives me freedom and happiness.  I don’t have it down pat.  I definitely still have days where I really struggle with that embrace factor.  However, if I eat spaghetti at a restaurant or a cookie at home the world won’t end.  Just because I am bigger than society finds acceptable doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to enjoy the little things in life.  I will never be a Victoria’s Secret model, or a model at all (not my thing) but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to wear whatever outfit or swimsuit I want.  I determine what makes me feel comfortable and attractive.  If I want to wear leggings as pants…I’ll surely be comfy!  If I want to have dessert at a restaurant…so be it!  Although, for the record, the dessert at a restaurant piece is something on which I am still working.  

If someone wants to make a judgement about me based on my body size and food order I feel sorry for them because they have their own serious issues.  Health can come at any size and I am healthy.  I strive to be kind and compassionate toward others.  I am a dedicated and loving wife and mother. All of this is not determined by my body size.  It isn’t determined by the food on my plate.  All of these things are infinitely better than being thin, angry, and unhappy because I am trying to force my body to conform to an unattainable societal ideal.  

So why do I still get upset about my body size?
Because I am human.
I get sucked into the poo the media peddles in hopes I will spend money to get thinner and embrace the “new year, new you” concept.  Not this time, diet and fashion industry.
New year, even more awesome me.
This year is all about embracing and celebrating the REAL me that already exists.  The me that doesn’t have to lose weight to be happy because I am already happy.  The me that is a million great things that have nothing to do with body size.  This year is about embracing my new found freedom to simply be myself, regardless of body size and weight.

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, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Crushed and Created: 1 year in recovery

I’m not the me that I started with/I’m freer and I’m wiser and I’m stronger
What I thought I could handle/What I thought I could take/ What I thought would destroy me
Leaves me stronger in its wake
Crushed and Created, Caitlyn Smith

*****

I entered Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) at The Center for Balanced Living one year ago today.  One year ago I was making some of the worst decisions of my life and completely living in my eating disorder.  I was engaging in eating disordered behaviors in front of my daughter, who I (foolishly) thought was not picking up on anything because she was only 17 months old.   I teetered on the edge of wanting recovery and wanting to remain exactly where I was and, had my daughter not been depending on me every day, I probably would have chosen to remain exactly where I was.  In many ways I owe Vivienne my life because she is the reason I chose recovery in the beginning.  I was doing it for her, for my husband, for my marriage, but not for myself; that came later.

Recently I found my meal logs I had to keep and bring with me to my intake assessment at The Center and I was astonished at what I was (not) eating.  I was a mess to say the least and continuing to burn as I kept falling further down.  Standing in my kitchen looking at the documentation of how sick I really was brought tears to my eyes because, the day I found those was the day after I had been told by my therapist I could step down to sessions every other week.  It was the day after my dietician told me we were beginning work on the final “layer” of my actual “food” recovery and committing to get me through my last fears and challenges.  In 12 months I did a complete 180 in my attitude toward food, my body, and my recovery.  Now I don’t put much thought into my meals and snacks, or the times at which I eat them, even though my “commitment to my health” still hangs on my kitchen cabinet.

IMG_4653

Looking back, this year has probably been the hardest year of my life.  I have been forced to face demons, misguided truths about myself, and memories from life experiences I never before allowed myself to face.  BUT it has all been worth it.  I am stronger, healthier, and more in love with my life than I have ever been.  I have learned to know and understand myself on a level many people never get to experience.  I’ve spent countless hours in individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, support groups, and at appointments with my dietician.  I have also been to the doctor more in the last year than any single year in my entire life because I actually care about my health now.  For the last year of treatment the expense has reached over $22,000 (thank God for insurance) for my outpatient appointments and IOP, but the benefits are priceless.  I understand my body and appreciate it more than I ever thought possible.  In the last year I have gone from sitting in a treatment center having my food monitored, watched while I ate, drinking Boost supplements to make up for food I didn’t eat, and even accompanied to the bathroom to ensure I wasn’t purging; to being nearly behavior-free for two months (I had a one-week slip two months ago or it would have been four months) and purge-free for so long I’ve lost count.  I have met women who will surely be life-long friends and others who came across my path when we needed each other most.  Women who were there to support me when I needed it, cheer me on in my successes, cry with me when I struggled, and laugh when we couldn’t handle the stress any longer.

I made the decision to take ownership of things that happened to me and things I have done.  I went from hating my appearance, hating my body, and not wanting anyone to see it…ever…to running this blog and subsequent Facebook page about accepting and learning to love my body.  I don’t hide my body from the world but wear what I want that shows it off.  My stretch marks tell a story and I am proud of them.  My body is a beast and it is awesome.  And I’ll let you in on a secret…so is yours.  I am proud of my body because it is a survivor.  I am a survivor. I am a fighter.  I’m a survivor of a long battle with an eating disorder, a survivor of sexual assault, and a survivor of self-hate.

Today I am thriving.  I am happy, joyful, and full of life.  While I wish I would have started “living” my life sooner, I am living it now.  I am enjoying life on a daily basis and experiencing true confidence, acceptance, and love.  My little family is moving forward with plans and dreams we had years ago, hindered by life events and my eating disordered challenges.  My husband is incredibly amazing because he married me and continued to love me when I was at my absolute lowest.  Now he gets to rejoice with me in discovering this “new” radiant woman.  For the first time in my life I am making complete wise-mind decisions; meaning the eating disorder thoughts aren’t part of my decision making.

So, here I go, plunging forward into a life where I am truly living instead of existing.
I have been crushed and created, melted and made, broken and built up.

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, Postpartum Body, Pregnancy, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

The Great Awakening

Awakening:
a recognition, realization, or coming into awareness of something

******

Earlier this week I had a “great awakening” regarding my body and recovery.  While I have experienced many  “awakenings” over the last year this one hit me right between the eyes.   The same eyes that still search for anything that could be used as a mirror (a full-length window, for example) to look at my body and see if it has changed; if it has puffed out or slimmed down.  Despite the knowledge my meal plan hasn’t changed, my clothes still fit the same, I’m not over exercising, and I am completely devoted to recovery.  Therefore, I know my body has not changed but my brain sure is trying to change how I view myself.

My friends are getting pregnant, nursing babies, and adding to their families.  So. Many. Pregnant/Second-Time-Mom. Friends.  Such is the nature of life when you’re nearing 30, your friends are married, and most of you already have at least one child.  While I was lamenting to a friend about how I sometimes get a twinge of jealousy when a friend tells me she is pregnant, posts photos of an adorable baby bump, or shouts to the world she has a new baby, I don’t think I could handle being pregnant ever again.  (Recalling memories of late night feedings, sleepless nights, bottles, puke, etc. also help me remember why I don’t want to do the infant thing again.)  I digress, we were talking about my friend’s adorable, beach-ball-perfect, make-you-want-to-get-pregnant baby bump.  I certainly didn’t have that when I was pregnant.  I often wonder if I got pregnant while in sustained recovery would it be any different? I sighed and told my friend it probably wouldn’t be different because I don’t have a lengthy torso.  Well, I’m just plain not lengthy in any regard (I stand a whole 5’4.25″) so a baby doesn’t have anywhere to grow but out…way out.

This was me, 7 months pregnant, the day before my grad school hooding ceremony…

Pregnancy Photo

Recalling a conversation I had when I was pregnant, I realized I showed so quickly and carried my daughter the way I did because she was squished in my short torso.  My friend with the adorable beach ball belly is much taller and her baby has more room to grow before protruding outwardly.  My body, my skin, stretched to accommodate the growing little life in the best way it could…and that is the great awakening.

A saying often stated in various articles, books, and by professionals, “each person and each pregnancy is different.”  My pregnancy and body are no exception to that saying.  So my belly sags and I have more stretch marks than I would like but that is my reality of pregnancy and my post-baby body.  That doesn’t make my body any less beautiful or less worthy of love and respect from myself or anyone else.  God allowed me to grow a human, to become a mother, and that is far more important than having a “perfect” body or one free from all signs of carrying my child.  My body looks exactly how God planned it for me at this stage in life.  My torso isn’t long and glamorous.  I didn’t carry my daughter in a way that would make the paparazzi chase after me…and that is okay.

Instead of having a body others would covet…
I carried a healthy baby for 40.5 weeks.
My body has been a battlefield of my own creation and it has carried one of God’s divine creations.
My body is mine; designed just for me and provided the perfect home to my daughter when she needed it.

So, I have some serious stretch marks, a scar from a c-section, and some saggy skin.  Oh well.  My body is still a beast and still worthy of my love, care, and respect.

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, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Crossroads

Every morning we are born again.  What we do today matters most.
-Buddha

******

Every so often in eating disorder recovery I find myself at a crossroads.  I can choose to keep fighting or I can choose to give in and allow the eating disorder a prominent place in my life again.  Sometimes the two roads blur and I stall at the crossroads because neither route seems to be the clear path.  The longer I stand at the crossroads and stall, the harder the decision becomes.  I know recovery offers the freedom I so desperately want, but there is that part of me, however small, that is still afraid to completely give up the eating disorder; regardless of how much of the recovery freedom I have already experienced.  In order to choose the recovery path I have to break up with the eating disordered part of my brain…repeatedly.

A few weeks ago I found myself, once again, standing at this crossroads.

After two solid months without hearing the eating disordered voice in the back of my mind or engaging at all in eating disordered behaviors, I came upon that crossroads quickly.  I stalled so long that with each passing day it seemed more difficult to choose.  I knew recovery was the right path, the path I have wanted all along, and I had to force myself to take the first few steps down the disordered path again.  After a short time the disordered path again became comfortable, providing the emotional comfort for which I was longing, and setting me up to make it harder to get back on the recovery path.

I spent three days writing out the eating disordered thoughts, never reading them because I was afraid to look back.  I was afraid I would look at the words on the page and it would awaken the recovery warrior in me.  I was afraid the abusive eating disordered voice would jump off the page and snap me back into recovery.  But isn’t that what I’ve wanted for so long?  Recovery and the freedom it provides?  While the answer was, is, and always will be a resounding, “yes!” it did not change the fact I was afraid to look at what I had written.  After an additional day debating whether or not to read my own writing, I opened my journal and began to pour over all the hateful, negative, mean, and horrible things the eating disordered part of my brain told me in an attempt to regain control and go back to the eating disorder.  My heart broke because I allowed myself to take those vile words as truth for several days before the recovery warrior was again awakened within me.

What helped me make the decision to turn down the recovery path this time?  My husband.   After putting up with the clearly eating disordered mind he got out a plate, put veggies and chicken on it (while I was arguing at him because I didn’t want it) and put it in front of me.  He said he wasn’t going to let the eating disorder keep controlling me and the only way he would get his wife back was to feed her; nourishing her brain and body.  I love him.   He is my rock and always wants what is best for me, even when I don’t want it for myself.  Not only was he taking care of me but he was being Mr. Mom to our daughter while I was being selfish in the eating disorder.

I couldn’t have married a better, more supportive man.  He reminds me that my body is beautiful when I can’t see it because he sees the mother of his daughter and stretch marks that tell a story.
And you know what?
He was and is right.

My body is beautiful, my stretch marks do tell a story, as does the rest of my body.
It tells MY story.

With Body Love,
Lane