“Have You Tried That Cleanse?!”…..#OverIt

“Oh are you doing the cleanse!?”

“Have you tried the Whole 30?”

“You eat carbs!?”

“Do you do clean eating?!”

These are all questions I have been asked in the past week. No, I am not ever offended by these questions, as I believe that people are usually doing their best to exist in this world, and trying to connect on a deeper level. Yet these questions are incredibly problematic, why you ask? Because the diet culture is rampant and oh so wrong! Yes, a cleanse is a diet! Yes, the term “eating clean” is a diet culture term. Yes, restriction of ANY food group is all due to the diet-crazed culture that we live in! Also please keep in mind I am not shamming anyone who has chosen the diet life, if anything I am bringing to light the reality in which we live!

These concepts, such as, cleansing the body, eating “whole” and “clean” foods, and restricting ESSENTIAL food groups such as carbs and gluten, are incredibly destructive  to the human mind! Words have so much power, and these terms and concepts put labels on our daily nourishment, it claims one food as BAD and another food as GOOD, it says that what we are doing is either “clean” or “dirty!”

(Pancakes are not and “indulgence” and donuts are not “dirty”….they are energy, they are FOOD!)

It is so important for us to educate ourselves and be aware of these words, questions and concepts that are being thrown at us on a daily basis! Such black and white terms cause us to feel self-hatred and self-resentment for purely nourishing our body, and this causes for a fear in food! And as you know I am all about #NoFearInFood

The weight loss industry is a BILLION dollar industry…I wonder why we haven’t cracked the code yet? If ANY diet or cleanse EVER worked it would be a ONE-dollar industry.

Diets do not work; they are incredibly problematic for our youth and detrimental to our emotional and mental well-being! They cause for us to lessen our self-worth, they create a culture that breeds self-loathing and no room for compassion.

As you can tell, I am incredibly passionate about this topic, and I will be touching on it a lot more, as it is the season for diets…(sigh)!

In the mean time, if you are for ANY reason want to start a cleanse or go on a diet check out this easy and DELICIOUS meal that is a natural anti-inflammatory and has those “cleansing” qualities. Keep in mind that when I use the word “cleansing” I use it very lightly, hence the quotations! The body naturally cleanses itself, you do not ever NEED a cleanse, especially if you are going to substitute the cleanse for a meal. Therefore if you feel the desire to “cleanse” take these tips instead! Avoid those fad diets!

This meal has a great balance of fat, grain, vegetable, and goodness! So skip the diet or cleanse and go with this stuff!

(This is a typical lunch for me, a balanced meal with not restriction.)

-A toasted bagel (whatever kind you fancy!)

-An avocado (how ever much you like!)

-A good sprinkle of turmeric and fresh cracked black pepper (powder turmeric mixed with black pepper is a natural anti-inflammatory, liquid turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so it’s really preference!)

-Topped with sliced cucumber and butter lettuce or spinach (yummy and crunchy vegetables)

-Always topped with olive oil and some garlic salt! Yummy and nutritious!

Stay tuned for more and don’t forget to self-care it out!

The Power of Patience

“We want things so badly – that job, that check, a relationship, a possession. We want our life to change…. We try to predict, circling dates on the calendar, asking questions…. we forget that we don’t hold the answers” – Melody Beattie

Patience, this is a concept that many individuals struggle within our society. We live in a society that constantly craves the here and now, the immediate results, and instant gratification. We want, need and desire the concept of that quick fix, in that the media sends us messages that we can achieve results in one week or one day, we are flooded with before and after photos, and the concept of immediacy within every aspect of our life! How are we supposed to achieve self-care, self-love, and a safe level of health in a world that doesn’t allow the time to heal and take care of ourselves? How can we truly change and grow with this pressing mindset in the absence of time, quality and patience?

We cannot grow, change, heal and achieve recovery within this quick fix world; therefore we must change our mindset and monitor our expectations, in that change and recovery does not occur within a rushed environment. Full Recovery IS POSSIBLE, but it only comes with hard work and patience, if it were easy no one would have an eating disorder, disordered eating, body image issues, lowered self worth, and lack of self care and self love!

Patience is crucial and necessary within recovery. Self-love, self-care, and a strong and positive sense of self-worth come with time. Everyone is worthy of time to heal, grow, change and recover, but it only comes with time.

Recovery takes time although a good bit of this time is tough, tumultuous and has moments that seem to stall the overall process of getting better. It gets worse before it gets better, it seems too hard, too exhausting, and seems that it takes too long, but Recovery and self-love IS WORTH IT and it is BEAUTIFUL!

Recovery only occurs when an individual wants to recover, when an individual feels worthy of recovery, when an individual is whiling to go through the motions, to feel uncomfortable in order to grow, and take the time to work through the process. Recovery is not an instant transformation on Instagram or Facebook, it is not a before and after photo, it is not suddenly having the ability to eat a burger and fries in the absence of shame, guilt, fear, or purging, it is painful, and just plain hard…but WITH TIME, recovery is truly beautiful and amazing!

Ask yourself this; do we expect our broken bones to heal without pain, discomfort, and time? Do we expect our strep throat to go away after just one dose of medicine? Do we expect our heartbreak to disappear after one good cry or rom-com? NO! Why is Eating disorder recovery, self-care and self-love any different? We have to allow for time, and patience.

Be patient with your process, you are no less of a person if your recovery takes longer than someone else’s. You are worthy of self-love, self-care and health!

 

The Awareness Doesn’t Stop Here!

National Eating Disorder Awarness Week is coming to an end, but the awareness does not stop here! I got this tattoo almost three years ago, this tattoo represents, strength, beauty, self love, self worth, and recovery! After living with an Eating Disorder the majority of my young life, I can now say I am recovered! Full Recovery IS POSSIBLE, but it takes hard work, dedication, and desire to grow and change!

It was the most difficult and trying journey,  but oh my goodness was it worth it! Let’s continue to spread awareness, truth and education about ED Recovery! Below are three truths within ED Recovery, that I will touch upon throughout my future posts!

#NoFearInFood….What Does This Mean?

#NoFearinFood is another concept/statement/hash tag that you may see floating around the Internet and social media. This is a beautiful concept, yet one that is much more complicated than it seems, and one that affects almost every individual, eating disorder or no eating disorder.

#NoFearinFood, a simple statement riddled with a complicated message. What does this really mean?

Having no fear in consuming food in general

Having no fear in calories

Having no fear in a certain TYPE of food…despite allergies

-Gluten, meat, sugar, butter, dairy, bread, pasta, fat (just to name a few)!

Having no shame in eating food in general

Having no shame in consuming a high amount of calories

Having no shame in consuming a small amount of calories

Not imposing a greater sense of importance on food

Having no fearful  feelings after consuming food

Not imposing a sense of shame surrounding food in general

Not imposing a sense of shame surrounding a certain type of food

Not imposing a sense of guilt after consuming food

Having no fear in over eating food

Having no fear in binging food

Not using unhealthy behaviors after consuming food

Not having fearful feelings and a need to purge after consuming food

Not imposing restrictions on certain foods

Not imposing restrictions on eating at certain times during the day

Not working out for food

No dieting

#NoFearinFood is an incredibly complex concept, one that many struggle with on a day-to-day basis. The concept of food consumes us, especially when living with an eating disorder. #NoFearinFood is not just about ED life and ED Recovery, instead it is about obtaining a healthy relationship with food, in that food does not control us, it does not define who we are, instead it is fuel, it is nourishment, it is a necessity, yes it can be fun, but it is dependent of happiness!

One thing to keep in mind is to be easy on yourself, this concept is incredibly complicated, complex, strongly engrained, and intertwined within our lives. Therefore #NoFearinFood may be something to work towards, it is not something that will come instantaneously. It all starts with self-awareness, and self-love, no shame or guilt! Remember….

Food is fuel

Food is nourishment

Food is fun

Food is beautiful

Food is a necessity

Food does not define you

More Than a Number

Within the body positive world, it is often said that happiness is beyond the scale. This concept is incredibly difficult, if not, at times impossible to grasp for those deep within an eating disorder. An entire book could be written just on this concept, therefore in this short post I will touch upon this myth within the numbers.

How many times have you thought/said/heard these statements?

“If only I were smaller”

“I wish I was two sizes smaller, then I would be happy”

“If I could get to ____weight my life would be perfect”

“The only thing that I don’t have under control is my weight, and size”

“I would kill for that body”

“I wish I was a size smaller”

“I wish my boobs were bigger”

“If I had those hips I could rule the world”

Our society places so much importance on numbers, in that our clothing sizes and number on the scale determines success and worth, but do they? Does that number on the scale, bra size, pant size, or dress size actually determines success and happiness? The answer is 100% NO, happiness is not determined by a number, it is not determined by a piece of clothing, or a side by side before and after photo, happiness is from the core. Happiness is managed by feelings, emotions, expectations and our external and internal world.

In addition to the common misconception that a certain size or weight brings about happiness, there is also an assumption that numbers should bring about shame. We hide our dress sizes from our smaller friends, we lie about our weight when filling out our driver’s license, we bring about self shame and self blame when we are of a weight or size that isn’t “ideal” for ourselves or others.

These two assumptions; that numbers bring about happiness, and that numbers are shameful, are rampant within our society. But there is nothing in a number but a number this is the harsh and beautiful truth! There is nothing in a number. A number will not bring about happiness in any individual, eating disorder or not, and it is not until we rid of the shame that we coincide with numbers that we will truly start to understand this concept.

Two common misconceptions:

  1. The number on the scale, and the number on your clothing tag will bring about happiness and success
  2. The number on the scale, and the number on your clothing tag is shameful

Two counter arguments:

  1. The number on the scale and the number on your clothing tag is only a number, just a number, period, end, done. These numbers do not bring about happiness and success.
  2. The number on the scale and the number on your clothing tag is nothing to be ashamed about, because it is a number.

Bringing awareness to these misconceptions surrounding weight and size is a major step towards finding body positivity, acceptance, self-love, and true happiness. Let’s all try our best to rid of these misconceptions and replace self blame, self shame, and failure with realistic understandings towards numbers and the true origin of happiness.

 

Self Love, Short and Sweet

 

Here is my professional and personal take on self-love, I’ll make this short and sweet!

Self love is a new concept to many, in that it is not something that we were taught about in school, it is not something that was drilled into our minds much like math, science, and geography, instead it is a concept that is incredibly foreign to us. Why is this? Why is such an important and crucial concept so new to us within our adult years? I don’t quite have the answer to this, because the lack of self-love has fostered a world of negativity, hatred, illness, and self-loathing.

In a world filled with selfies, hash tags and filters, it can be easy to view self love as selfishness, narcissism, and fabrication…. and yes, this does exist, but this is not self love. Self-love is appreciating the person that you are, accepting yourself for your flaws, loving yourself for the good and the bad, loving the black and white while also embracing the grey! Self love is loving yourself, for yourself, not for someone else’s gratification, not doing it for likes on Instagram and Facebook, not doing it for followers, or social acceptance, instead doing it for YOU!

Because we haven’t been taught how to practice self-love, it may come as an overwhelming and intimidating task, therefore, practice patience, and give yourself time; you will eventually learn to love yourself! Therefore, the next time you take a selfie, do it for self love not selfishness, do it for self-appreciation, not to prove something to others! Below are a few ways to begin your practice of self love, and let me tell you….it is worth it, I promise!

Write yourself a daily love note

Journal words of love to your self-hatred

Smile when you wake up in the morning

Give yourself a hug

Wear something that makes you FEEL good

Do something that makes you FEEL good

Read a book

Cook a meal

Spend time with a loved one

Go for a walk

Wake up to watch the sunrise

Take a selfie for self-love

Light a candle and listen to your favorite song

Watch your favorite movie

Take a picture for self-love NOT selfishness or self-loathing

Take away negative self talk, such as, should, shouldn’t, good, bad, fat and ugly

Self-love is something that we ALL need, it is a non negotiable. Therefore, whether you are working your way through eating disorder recovery, trying to find body positivity, struggling with self-loathing and self-hating language and behavior, or just need a bit more self-love in your life, take a moment today, tomorrow, and the day after that to begin your practice of self-love! Be the model of your own life!

Why We Workout

As discussed many of times within this blog, exercise can be a sticky situation within ED recovery. Exercise is a beautiful thing, but only when practiced in a healthy and safe fashion, with good intentions. I used to work out to achieve a certain ideal, to look a certain way, to find a bit of self-acceptance in my reflection. I used to work out to sweat until I deserved that pizza, to push myself so hard that I was too exhausted to eat. I used to work out for what I thought was self-love, but in reality it wasn’t self-love, it was self-loathing, ring any bells?!

We say that we work out and exercise for self care and self love, but are we really doing just that? Or are we using this as an excuse to fit a mold, to fit an ideal? How many times have you heard, I worked out today, so I deserve that cookie, or I ran five miles, so I can go out to eat now. Or how about, I was so good today, I went to the gym, or I’ve been so bad I haven’t worked out so I can’t eat that. What is this? Why do we all of the sudden feel that food is to be deserved, why do we feel that we deserve FUEL and NOURISHMENT only after we push ourselves to the brink in the gym? This ideal is harmful not only to individuals within recovery, but for everyone, we do not deserve to eat, we do not eat for a reward, we eat for fuel and nourishment. Therefore, we need not work out for food, instead we work out for emotional, and physical strength, for an outlet, for mental health, and for self love NOT self loathing!

Why do I work out?

For the natural release of endorphins

To cleanse my mind

For a social activity

For emotional strength

For happiness

For health

For fun

For a mental and emotional release

For self care

For self love NOT self loathing

For recovery NOT an unattainable ideal

To gain strength NOT to lose weight

 

Why do you workout?

As you move through your week, I challenge you to ask yourself why you work out? Are you being true to your recovery? Are you truly practicing self-love and self-care? Lets allow ourselves a moment of truth and honesty and bring some awareness to the fact that food is fuel, exercise is for health, and they do not need to be tied to each other. You do not need to work out in order to eat that piece of pizza or that piece of bread, you deserve food because you are a human being.

Five Ways to Celebrate Recovery!

In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness week below is a handful of ways to recognize and celebrate your own recovery, as well as, spread awareness!

Your recovery hero is first and foremost yourself, which is a beautiful achievement, but there are also other heroes within our life that helped us through our eating disorders, were the catalyst to recovery, or maybe just influenced self-awareness. Whether your recovery hero knows about their impact on you and your recovery or not, take the time to acknowledge them! Celebrate your hero! This can be intimidating at first so here are some ideas on ways to acknowledge that special someone in your recovery journey!

-Make a picture collage and post it on social media, send it to them, or frame it as a gift!

-Make a playlist that embodies the spirit behind your recovery journey

-Write a letter to your recovery hero and send it in the mail or read it to them out loud!

-Treat your recovery hero to an afternoon with you, show them love, respect and appreciation through vulnerability and friendship!

-Give your hero a hug, and just say thank you!

Social media, in particular Facebook and Instagram can be incredibly triggering for individuals within recovery, in that it is a digital world created upon filters, editing, #hashtags, and fabricated moments of someone’s life. Therefore, instead of allowing social media to take you down, create an account that can only lift you up and inspire you! Creating a recovery account is done with the intent to surround yourself with real, normal images, as opposed to the fabricated filtered images we see on a regular basis. Therefore, following inspirational, real, body positive accounts, and fellow ED veterans can be incredibly rewarding and normalize your social media world again! RecoveryLoveandCare is on Instagram, therefore start out with following us, and slowly navigate your way through the #bodypostive #bopo world!

Set aside at least twenty minutes every day this week to celebrate you! Self-care is the key to a successful recovery, therefore self care and self-love must be practiced on a daily basis! Self care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, it can be as simple as running yourself a hot bath, going for a walk in the morning, painting your nails in silence, or dancing in front of the mirror while you get ready for work in the morning! Therefore, this week try to condition yourself to practicing self-care, set aside twenty minutes a day for seven days, and just celebrate yourself!

This is a moment for true reflection and honesty. Are you truly at a point of recovery, and if so are you still in need of professional assistance? This is a question that is not meant to shame or pressure anyone, instead it is meant to challenge our self-awareness, because self-awareness is a major component within eating disorder recovery. No, recovery is not linear, but are you truly at the point in your recovery that you do not need professional assistance? In other words, intensive treatment may not be needed anymore, but the weekly or monthly check in with your helping professional, nutritionist or primary care doctor is always helpful, and has been proven to help individuals through their eating disorder! So if you or a loved one is in need of a little extra help within their recovery, bring some awareness to the topic and have an honest conversation about the overall recovery process.

Lets have a real conversation about Eating Disorders, no shame, no stigma, and no embarrassment, just truth. Sit down with a loved one, or maybe even a stranger and discuss what everyone else is afraid to talk about! Starting the conversation will take us one step closer to healing!

Three Steps Towards Living a Body Positive Life

 

Number One:

This is a concept that I touch on a lot within this blog, because self-awareness is an underlying theme within all recovery processes. Within the mental health world, self-awareness is not only crucial for the client, but also for the counselor. Therefore, bringing a sense of immediacy and honesty towards your current, and past emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is a not only a beneficial, but crucial step towards living a healthy happy life within recovery. When you are in a safe space, take a brief moment to reflect on your present state. What are you feeling right now? Why are you feeling this way? Is this a constant feeling, or a new feeling? How are these feelings, emotions and behaviors affecting your overall process towards reaching body positivity? Take all of the time that you have and need for this step, this could be a simple process in the morning, or a continuous process throughout your day, it can be an inward conversation with yourself, or a written note in a journal, there is no right or wrong way of practicing this step, as long as you are honest and true to the process of self awareness.

Number Two:

As human beings, we often see in black and white, in that the world is good and bad, dark and light, heavenly and hellish, right and wrong, but in reality nothing is black and white, everything is grey. Therefore simply understanding that life is all a personal process within that grey area can bring you one step closer towards living a body positive life. For instance, it is not bad that you have that extra squish on your tummy, it is not bad that you have those stretch-mark’s on your inner thigh, it is not bad that you ate that bagel or had that piece of cake. Appearance is neither good or bad, it is all a part of who we are, it is all a part of the process we call recovery. My pouch below my bellybutton is no more or less beautiful than another woman’s six-pack; we are both within our own grey area, our own process. Therefore embrace the grey area, because the grey area is where all of the growth occurs! Remind yourself everyday that we are all in the grey.

Number 3:

Happiness is all relative right? Everyone has their own experiences with joy and the feeling of happy, although within recovery, happiness is usually focused around our health, our physical bodies, and food, because the first stage of recovery is usually stabilizing those aspects of our selves. Therefore, it is crucial to find at least one thing that you can find happiness through that does not involve food, or the physical body, such as, exercise. Finding a feeling of happy outside of food and the physical body gives your mind a break from the intensity of recovery, and also trains your mind to find ways to feel happy without food and exercise! Yes, these two things are crucial to live, but true happiness is completely dependent of those two things, and once you find genuine happiness without those things, you can eventually find safety with them in your life. What makes you feel happy that doesn’t involve food or exercise? What can you do once a day that can bring that feeling of happiness into your life? For instance, reading a book before bed, starting your day off with an affirmation, listening to a podcast or your favorite radio station on the way to work, cuddling with a loved one, watching your favorite show, taking a bath, etc., will introduce happiness without the dependency of food or the body, as these two things run parallel to one another!

When these three steps are implemented into your daily routine you will be that much closer towards living a body positive life! Remember this is a process, as is life. Recovery is all about the process, learning from the ups and the downs, understanding that it is not linear or easy, and it is hard work…. therefore, taking small steps like these will bring you closer towards a body positive self.

 

The Grieving Process within Eating Disorder Recovery

Grief is a feeling of despair, uncontrollable and inevitable loss, disappointment, pain, numbness and sadness, an experience that can last a moment or a lifetime, something that is not tangible and can cause isolation and a feeling of alone. Grief is a normal reaction to any kind of loss, as well as, all of the emotions that coincide with the grief, although some emotions may feel abnormal due to misunderstood or unidentified grief, they are not (James & Friedman, 2009). Grief has various definitions, as it is an experience that all individuals face, and in different ways, depending on their loss, and this can cause for confusion and conflicting feelings. These conflicting feelings are usually caused by change in some aspect of an individual’s life, such as, death, and in this case, loss of innocence and identity.

Grief is something that is experienced on so many levels, as the feeling the feeling of change and loss do not necessarily have to correspond with what we conceive to be a negative belief. Below is a list of the various forms of grief that an individual may experience within their lifetime (James & Friedman, 2009).

Death of a loved one

Death of a pet

Divorce

Marriage

Moving

Starting School

Death of a former spouse

Graduation

End of an addiction

Major health changes

Start of a new job

Retirement

Financial Changes – positive or negative

Holidays

Legal Problems

Empty Nest

The list goes on and on, in that most major loss evens in life do not have to be associated with death, there is loss of trust, loss of safety, loss of control, and several conflicting ideas and feelings come within a grieving process.

In terms of Eating Disorder Recovery, much of the process seems rocky, tumultuous, incredibly challenging and at times, unbearable. So much of this struggle has to do with the grieving process; our minds and bodies are reacting in response to grief! Below is a list on the various factors that trigger a sense of loss and grieving within Eating Disorder Recovery.

Loss of what you perceived your body to be

Loss of perceived control over your body

Loss of perceived control over your food

Loss of perceived control over your physical activity

Loss of a toxic relationship with food

Loss of the perception of what is healthy

Loss of the perception of what is perfection

Loss of the body that has been desired

Loss of the body that was controlled by ED

Loss of the safety within ED

Loss of a toxic relationship

Loss of identity

This list just touches the surface of the overall grief process involved in ED recovery. Our perception of grief as a society is incredibly black and white, and in reality grief is completely grey. Eating Disorder Recovery has so much to do with loss and grief, and you can’t truly move through the process of recovery without bringing awareness towards your grief reactions and grief process.

Therefore self-awareness is crucial to this overall process in order to safely and successfully move through recovery. Once self-awareness is implemented, compassion is incredibly important, in that compassion towards the mind and body will help you move through the grieving process. This is where self care comes into play, surprise surprise! To live a life without ED is living a life full of self-love, body positive thoughts and behaviors, and forming healthy bonds with the mind, body and other relationships through self-care, self care, self care!

So as we move into this weekend, I ask you to bring some self awareness to your grieving process within your own life and ED Recovery, be easy on yourself, and allow for compassion and self care!

 

References

James, J., & Friedman, R. (2009). Grief a Neglected and Misunderstood Process. The grief recovery handbook (20th Anniversary Expanded Edition). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.