Our “BUTS” are getting in the way…How AND Why to Live an “AND” Life!

After a long and grueling week at my second, and final Residency in Chicago I am feeling more grounded in not only my professional skills, but also my personal skills on a level higher than I ever imagined possible at this point within my life! I learned that despite my mental and emotional exhaustion, despite moments of self-doubt, and feelings of being invisible in the midst of an obvious power differential, I was able to trust the process, and come out even stronger because of it.

Within our lives we constantly cut ourselves short from growth and change, and we stay within a place of comfort by avoiding the unknown.

We “yes, BUT” ourselves through life, by excusing out of the box or adventurous ideas with “realism”, we nod our heads when in reality we are saying no, and with this we stunt our lives and we cut off chances for opportunities and growth.

It is possible to live a busy life AND take care of yourself….trust me I test this skill out every single day. There are times within our daily lives when we believe that there is no chance for rest, there is not time for self-care, and there is no possibility for quiet…. “It would be great for me to go for a walk this afternoon, BUT I have to write that paper” or “I could go back to school and pursue my dream job, BUT I will have to quit my job, and it just isn’t realistic” or “I am really hungry, BUT I ate a few hours ago, so I should hold off”….What are these “yes BUTS” doing to our lives!? They are stunting us, harming us, forcing us to stay in a negative space that will only cause for comfort, and comfort and growth cannot coexist. We must lean into our discomfort, in order to allow for any growth or change.

“Yes AND” can bring us to a place of change, growth, bliss, positivity, and possibility! This week, for instance, I learned that I can be tired, AND adventurous, I can be distraught AND find clarity, I can make meaningful connections with people AND connect with myself, I can want to give up AND persevere through! I can dislike someone AND respect them. I can LOVE others AND love myself. The “ANDS” within our daily lives are waiting for us, they are opportunities waiting to happen, they are shinning bright and we only dull them down every time we “BUT” our way through the day.

You can be in recovery, AND revert back to unhealthy behaviors AND learn and grow in the process!

You can loose hope AND power through the hard times!

You can trust the process of recovery AND hate the process of recovery!

You can eat that muffin for breakfast AND have that pizza for lunch!

You can struggle with self-love AND love yourself!

You can be happy AND be within recovery AND miss your ED AND want to get better!

How are you “BUTTING” yourself through life? How is this “BUT” affecting your happiness, and self-care? Once you bring awareness to your “BUTS” try implementing an “AND” into your day, see how it feels! I promise you will thank me!

 

Trust The Process

My how time flies! I have officially been at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology as a Clinical Mental Counseling graduate student for nineteen months! I am currently embarking on my second, and last residency in Chicago, and there is finally a glimmer of practicing as a professional in the near future!

Residency week is filled with intense emotions, anxiety, professionalism, networking, and constant skills practice; it is truly an amazing experience although it requires intense focus, staying in the present, and trust. The program is all about “trusting the process”, we are constantly told to “trust the process”, and this truly doesn’t make any sense until you are within the process. I feel that this concept is parallel to life, in that when we truly live within the here and now, we must learn how to trust the process, no matter what that process may bring us at that time, as that is what the process is!

What if we went through life with only guidelines or the skeleton of a plan, truly lived within the present and ambitiously gave our full trust to the process of life? I wonder how this would look? Would we all find our meaning in life? Would we rid of the stresses of what could be, or what isn’t? Would we rid of the social implications of the “should” and “what ifs” within our lives?

As I embark upon this journey, and brand new process during my second Residency, so many emotions arise for me, and I am finding that the underlying theme is fear.

When I truly take a moment to reflect on these emotions I realize that this feeling of fear of the unknown is irrational, in that once I truly immerse myself into the process and into the present, the unknown will be no longer. Therefore, these thoughts of failure, imperfection, and the unknown are assumptions about the future. Once I embark on my present journey I notice that my true feelings are of content, curiosity, and calm, in that, while I sit here at a café at the Merchandise Mart I feel at peace within my present process.

Staying in the present doesn’t prevent us from feeling fearful, shameful, or saddened, instead it provides us with the opportunity to take our emotions as they come, and accept them as they are! Therefore, we experience, we learn, we change and we therefore grow! Trusting the process is not just a frame of mind but also a catalyst for growth!

Trusting the process is also trusting yourself, it is trusting others and trusting the concept of the present! The more we can allow ourselves to live within the here and now, and trust the process, the more we will grow into successful, happy and healthy human beings!

Whether it be that you are working through Eating Disorder Recovery, practicing self care, or just looking to live a life worth living, my advice to you is to TRUST THE PROCESS!

Trust the Process, and as always, Self Care it Out!

Healthy Is The New Skinny – A Five Star Book Review!

Healthy Is the New Skinny started out as a blog, website, and forum for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and demographics, who were in need of a new message that challenged the common conception that women need to be small in order to achieve success and happiness. The blog, turned into a brand, Instagram movement, clothing line, and now book! Katie H. Willcox provides a fresh perspective into the world of size shaming, consumer America, and the finding happiness within our lives dependent of our shape, or weight!

As a growing blog, and brand focused on body positivity, self-love, self-care and Eating Disorder Recovery, as well as, a developing Clinical Mental Health Counselor, I can proudly say that Healthy Is the New Skinny is a book worth reading! It is a safe and helpful read for ALL individuals, in that Katie has created a strong piece of work that is clearly based on research and awareness towards true self-love within a “picture perfect world”. We live in a world filled with filters, hash tags, likes, Photoshop, and fabrication, therefore books like Healthy Is the New Skinny are necessary and crucial within our journey towards a world filled with honesty, self love, self care, and health!

Healthy Is The New Skinny brings self-awareness towards media manipulation, the true working life of models, Photoshop, redefining beauty, creating a healthful life, choosing self-love, and spreading the love. This entire book is truly dense with information that does not come easily to the average American, in that we have been programed to think in a certain way, towards ourselves, towards others, as well as, towards consumer America.

We are living within a picture perfect world, basing our happiness off of what we believe is ideal, what we believe is true and real, when in reality happiness is dependent of these unattainable ideals. Katie touches on the words of Freud, in that the subconscious and conscious minds are what fuel our ideals and concepts of worth and beauty. We have conditioned ourselves to store certain images, messages, and concepts into our subconscious mind, therefore we must bring consciousness to what we are retrieving and absorbing and condition our thoughts and behaviors towards true self-love and self worth.

Self-love does not come from losing weight, gaining weight, Instagram likes, or food, instead it comes from a state of consciousness towards what we truly need, not what we desire. Once we tune into our conscious mind we start to become self-aware, and with self-awareness comes self-love. It is our thoughts, actions and behaviors that fuel our self-love, and with self-love comes true happiness and health!

Healthy is The New Skinny is a book that I would recommend to my professional colleagues, my academic peers, my fellow women, and all individuals living within Eating Disorder Recovery!

This is not a book that you read one time and put on display, this is a book that will endure wear and tear, it is a book that you will keep on your nightstand and reach for every night. This is a book that you will re-read over and over again, a book that you will recommend to others, share and appreciate on a day-to-day basis! Thank you to the HNS team, and Katie Willcox for producing a beautiful message, because in truth, Healthy IS the New Skinny! Go order a book now on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

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!

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!

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017!

This week is Eating Disorder awareness week! What does this mean?

There is an entire week dedicated towards educating the public and honoring those within their Eating Disorders and Eating Disorder Recovery. February 26th to March 4th will be focused on continuing the conversation about Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorders other specified, as well as, educating the public about the truth behind Eating Disorders, continued funding towards Eating Disorder treatment, honoring the recovered, and spreading love and awareness to those affected by Eating Disorders and those who lack an understanding of Eating Disorders and Recovery.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) host’s week of awareness, therefore I encourage everyone to visit their webpage. NEDA offers a plethora of ways to not only get involved within Awareness week, but also offers resources for those in need of extra support, see below for a list of services…

 

  1. Free online screening for Eating Disorders
  2. Local and online resources for those in need
  3. Ways to raise awareness and get involved within the recovery community
  4. Local and global walks in honor of NEDA awareness week
  5. Stories of hope
  6. Resources for treatment and insurance
  7. Public health concerns and a conversation surrounding the stigma of Eating Disorders

As we move into this week, I encourage everyone to take the time to visit this website and join the conversation!

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.