Interview With Dana Suchow From Do The Hot Pants!

Okay everyone, I am thrilled and giddy with excitement to share this post with you! I had the privilege to meet with and interview Dana Suchow of “Do The Hotpants” via Skype this past month, and let me just say it was so enlightening and empowering! Dana is a fellow ED warrior, fellow feminist, and advocate for ALL women, and I am 100% confident you will gain some knowledge about body image, self-love and womanhood within this post! Dana now lives in New York City, has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and has appeared on Good Morning America and The T.D. Jakes Show, and she’s been featured in The Huffington Post, Vogue, Marie Claire, Seventeen Magazine, ABC News, and Yahoo!

Dana Suchow from Do The Hot Pants!

I have participated within the body positive and Eating Disorder Recovery “world” on Instagram for about a year now, and since, I have grown so much appreciation for certain accounts, one of my favorite being @DoTheHotpants!

Do The Hotpants was started by Dana Suchow, a fashion blogger turned speaker, activist and event producer. Dana came to the realization that the fashion industry was fueling her eating disorder, and that the unattainable, unrealistic, and unhealthy beauty standards she was surrounded by were toxic to her wellbeing. Dana touches on the hard and sometimes “sticky” topics within our society, and she does it with so much grace and power! Over the years, she transformed her blog into a safe space for ALL women to talk about the underlying feminist issues that ignite body image issues, Eating Disorders, and various forms of prejudice within the world of women! Dana now also leads workshops, and feminist events that support all self identifying women in need of spaces to talk about tough topics like body image. Dana’s most recent endeavor is her Makeup Removal parties, where she empowers women to learn about why we wear makeup and to ask difficult questions about whether or not our “self love” beauty regimens are truly a manifestation of our misogynistic society.

When I asked Dana about the beginning of her body positivity and feminist “journey” she shared the personal struggles she experienced as a female.

Dana Suchow from Do The Hot Pants!

“I struggled with body image for a long time, not exactly with just my weight and Eating Disorders but with beauty! When I started getting zits I was immediately sent to the dermatologist, and I began living under this microscope. I developed this hyper awareness of my body, my existence, and how people viewed me and interacted with me based on my looks.”

Dana then went on to explain that she started Do The Hotpants as a fashion blog. “I was already deep in  my Eating Disorder when I started Do The Hotpants. I had Bulimia and before a photoshoot for the blog, I wouldn’t eat, and I would exercise… I mean I would run for two days before we would do the photoshoots, and then when I’d edit the photos I was seriously photoshopping them! Covering up all of my acne. I was terrified of being seen! I was terrified to do photoshoots, and I noticed that the pressure and stress of having the fashion blog was exacerbating my Bulimia and my hate for myself. It wasn’t creating any self love and I was constantly comparing my body to thinner and prettier bloggers, because the fashion industry is focused on thinness and youth and clear skin and height. I had privilege, but I didn’t have all these things.”

Dana then discussed that she knew her privilege: her thin privilege, her white privilege, her financial privilege to start a fashion blog in the first place, and the fact that she fits many of society’s beauty standards. But with all of that being said she still struggled with her battles of body image and her Eating Disorder recovery.

“Fashion was triggering me, rather than helping me, so I started to talk about what I was going through with my readers and followers. I started to discuss my insecurities, and I began slowly showing cracks in my hyper polished exterior. People started to really resonate with me and my vulnerability. And after a while, I did this post called Photos I Wish I Didn’t Photoshop, and it went completely viral! That truly catapulted me into body positivity and helped get me out of fashion. It made me focus on what would end up being a much healthier direction for me in the long run.”

Dana Suchow from Do The Hot Pants!

“In the body positive movement, I learned that body positivity and fat activism is a feminist issue. And through my eating disorder recovery, I learned how society hates women and women’s bodies. And once I discovered feminism I learned about all the intersectional layers of hate that different marginalized women experience. Things my white, thin, cis, or able-bodied privilege allowed me to remain blind to for so long. I began seeing violence against women and control of women’s bodies everywhere I looked, and that is why I always say that if you truly want to get over your Eating Disorder you have to understand feminism and fat activism. Self-love will only get you so far, but you have to fight against the miseducation and fear of fat and that our sexist and capitalist society have created. Because you can love yourself, but once you turn on the TV or see an advertisement, all the things you’ve worked so hard on can go out the window in a moment.”

When I asked Dana about the concept of self-love in relation to these unattainable beauty standards within our society, she touched on her experience as a “junior feminist.” As a side note, Dana recently stopped shaving her legs, and has received mixed reviews via social media from fellow women.

“I get a ton of love, but I’ve also received some flack for not shaving. For instance, when I first stopped shaving I believed that all women shave because of the patriarchy, and you know what, I still question people who say they shave because they like smooth legs. I still question people who say they put on makeup for the gym out of self love. And I’m not talking about make-up as an art form, I’m talking about the daily pressures women feel to be beautiful without looking like we’re trying. If you lived in the woods sequestered from society would you shave your legs, would you wear makeup, would you be working out…? Those are the questions I’m asking.”

Dana Suchow From Do The Hot Pants!

“And I’m the first person to admit that I wear makeup, I take kickboxing classes, I even got my armpits lasered, but I’ve never truly done any of these things for self-love. I can say that I got my nipple hair lasered off for self-love, but when you look at the root causes, it’s about marketing, it’s about porn, it’s about internalized misogyny, it’s about classism and racism and unattainable beauty standards for all women regardless of who she is. But I will say this over and over again, that until we live in a world where a woman without makeup and woman wearing a full face of makeup are both treated the equally, I 100% support women wearing makeup, and I myself will continue to wear it also. Not wearing makeup and not shaving isn’t my message. My message is: Why are you doing it? I want women to question why we do things, that’s all.”

Dana made a beautiful point that feminism and feminist causes are not meant to shame women for falling into beauty standards, instead she is calling women to delve deeper into WHY we are following rules we didn’t make about how to live and function in this society.

“Do what you need to do to feel safe and valued and loved and sexy, because this society has already defined what sexy is. But don’t lie and say that it’s because of self-love when it might isn’t. It’s OK to adhere to something because it’s a societal standard and we want to fit in! Because at the end of the day, not everything has to be for feminism and self love. We can also be playing by shitty rules simply to survive, because we didn’t make the rules but we have to play the game.”

I asked Dana how she practices self-care within a society that tries to define self care and self love as adhering to society’s beauty standards like getting facials or shaving or painting our nails.

Dana Suchow from Do The Hot Pants!

“It is so hard as an influencer to feel bad about my body, especially as a privileged body, but I still get those feelings, and they are valid and very real. But at the same time, I can’t give them too much power! I can’t let these feelings take up all of of my mental space! So a lot of times self care for me means sharing what I’m experiencing with a friend or family member that I feel safe with. Even with an online community if that feels comfortable. Sharing is a great form of self-care, because when we share our struggles and find community, we realize we are not alone, and that allows us to take our power back from those internal voices that tell us we’re unlovable or different. Sharing is a non classist way to practice self-care, because many people can’t afford manicures or facials or new clothes, but there’s always someone who will listen to us.”

“Self-care for me used to be going to the gym to get my stress out and over the years it’s evolved to taking naps, or going out for a cup of coffee with a friend, or sharing on social media! I am not saying that going to the gym can’t be self-care but I do think that is a slippery slope and I don’t believe we need that type of exercise in our lives to love our bodies.”

Dana made it clear that she has knows she has the privilege of being a spokesperson for body positivity and feminist issues, because while she is a disenfranchised women, not all disenfranchisement is equal, and she still has financial privilege, white privilege, thin privilege, and a cis body. But speaking about her experience with Bulimia and as a woman in a sexist world that wants all women to hate their bodies, she has connected with so many women going through the same struggles who felt completely alone before connecting online. Dana also makes sure her messages are always intersectional and that her platform discusses the disenfranchisement of all women.

“We have been trained to think about our bodies, and not our status in the world! I always say we need to focus on our wage gap not our thigh gap!”

And with that, I challenge you to dig a bit deeper today, ask yourself if the things you believe are self-care, are truly self care. Ask yourself WHY you think one body type is more beautiful than another. And today I challenge you to learn about body positivity, fat activism, and feminism, because we need all of you on board to change the world.

Dana Suchow From Do The Hot Pants!

#selfcareitout!

Learning How to Love Your Body....on the blog!

Learning How To Love Your Body

Learning how to love yourself, learning how to love your body, loving your body more, love your body, love your body love your body…..I could say it over and over and over again, but it will not happen unless you WANT it, unless you WORK for it, unless you want to make the sacrifices to truly love yourself! No, I am not talking about dieting, going to the gym, and transforming yourself in order to love yourself, I am talking about truly loving yourself down to the core! Loving your body for what it is NOW, because in the end that is all you have. You have you. You have your mind, your body and your love for yourself. This takes desire, will power and a level of discomfort! But I am going to tell you, lean into that discomfort, embrace this feeling of uncomfortable and dive into a life of loving yourself!

Encourage Self Awareness to love your self and love your body

Self Awareness, this is a concept that I touch on a lot within this blog, because self-awareness is an underlying theme within all recovery processes. 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 and just in general.

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.

Love your curves, your bumps, your insecurities! Embrace!

  • Sometimes it is just asking yourself if you love yourself, and if so, what do you love about yourself? Whether it is your smile, your positive demeanor, your hair, your sensitivity, whatever it may be….sit with it for a while! Enjoy that part of you that you love!
  • Once you can identify one aspect of yourself that you love, identify one physical attribute and one personality attribute about yourself that you love, that you adore! It is OKAY if this takes you a while, because it takes time to love yourself in a world that doesn’t allow us to do so.
  • Once you identify both a physical and non physical attribute that you love about yourself, try and pull them apart, how are these attributes totally dependent of one another? Does your smile have anything to do with your success? Does your hair have anything to do with your sensitivity? The answer is most likely no, your physical attributes are completely separate from your non physical attributes, your worth is not defined by your body!
  • This level of awareness takes time, it takes WORK and it takes WHILL! You can do it, you are deserving!
  • You CAN and WILL learn to love your body, learn to love yourself! YOU ARE WORTHY AND DESERVING OF SELF-LOVE! Love yourself, love your smile, love your laughter!

Embrace The Grey in order to love yourself

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. Once you embrace the grey you are that much closer to loving yourself, towards loving your body! For more on embracing the grey in a black and white world click here! 

Learn to love yourself! Embrace the gray....embrace all of the colors!

Find Your Happy

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! Once you find that happy you will start to love yourself that much more! Your mind will have some compassion towards your body , and you will find self-love! For more on happiness within finding body love, click here!

Find your happy!!

When these three steps are implemented into your daily routine you will be that much closer towards living a body positive life, you will be that much closer to loving your body, to loving yourself as an entire human being! 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 love your body, and loving yourself! As always #selfcareitout!

For more posts on self-love click here, and here!!! Oh and here!!

Selfies for Self Love

Lets Talk Body Image! Ways to Love Yourself More and Live a Self-Compassionate Life!

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Body Image.

This is a tough one….I have said it before, and I will say it again and again….positive body image ALMOST ALWAYS comes last within Eating Disorder recovery, as well as within any journey towards self-compassion. Loving what you see in the mirror, appreciating your size, your weight, your natural curves, and appreciating all of the beautiful flaws within your physical image is so much harder than it seems.

Keep reading to learn how to obtain a positive body image in the absence of weight loss and dieting, as well as, suggested resources to reach a level of self-compassion and positive body image.

Sandy Smiles and Body Love!

The Truth.

The truth is that happiness does not come from weight loss, it does not come from that summer diet or beach diet, losing those five or ten pounds does not foster a feeling of happiness. Happiness does not come from dieting, #bodygoals, or a new workout regimen (Check out this post on the power of the scales and numbers within our society). Most of the time these concepts are so often combined, but in reality happiness, weight loss, and body image are all independent of one another. You can be happy, and not lose the weight, but still have a negative body image, just like you can be unhappy, lose the weight and have a negative body image….these concepts are not tied together! The majority of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. 80% of thirteen-year-old females have tried to lose weight. Our culture is driven by the concept that weight loss and dieting can create a sense of happy and confidence…when in reality, that is just not how it works.

National Eating Disorder Awareness! FACT Friday! RecoveryLoveandCare.com

Nation Eating Disorder Awareness! RecoveryLoveandCare.com

Check out FACT Friday for more!

Finding a sense of self-compassion and self-love for those love handles, for those stretch marks, for that back fat, and belly pooch, is a true sense of positive body image. Accepting your body and loving your body for what it is, appreciating your body for what it does for you…. THAT is achieving a positive sense of self and body appreciation!

So many individual’s struggle with this aspect of Eating Disorder recovery as well….in that the mind can get away from us at times. We start to become emotionally and sometimes physically consumed by the unrealistic perceptions about how we currently “see” ourselves, how we want to “see” ourselves, how we “see” other’s in comparison to ourselves, and how we believe other’s “see” us. Yep, it sounds exhausting, and maybe even ridiculous, but this is the mind of someone within Eating Disorder recovery.

How to Get a Beach Body....#selflove

I use these words carefully, in that when I say “see ourselves”, or how “we see others”, I mean this literally, because that is what we are doing, I do not mean how we look, or who we are, instead I mean how we perceive ourselves. At times it seems that the physical self is somewhat dissociated from the emotional self, in that our appearance is wounded and therefore separated from the rest of us. In order to recover one must be ready to mend that wound, and finally introduce that physical self to the emotional self, and be ready to fight for a positive body image and finally be whole!

It’s All About You.

You may look one way to someone, and another way to someone else, but all that truly matters is how you perceive yourself and this is why a positive body image is so incredibly difficult to obtain. NO ONE, and I mean, NO ONE, can change your mind about how you “see yourself”, EXCEPT for YOU. For goodness sake, Justin Timberlake could declare your beauty to the entire world, tell you that you are perfect, skinny, curvy, a bombshell, whatever…and it still wouldn’t matter, because you won’t believe it, not until you can believe it.

It’s up to you, to do the work to literally retrain your brain, to eventually train your mind, and emotions towards how you “see” or perceive your body. Throughout recovery, you are taught to rid of your unhealthy behaviors, cope with life’s obstacles in a healthy manner, practice self care, love your inner self, and nourish your body. All of that is a major triumph in itself….but to love what you “SEE”, to rid of that negative self talk, and accept that person staring back at you in the mirror….now that is AMAZING! I promise you, that this is possible, you can fully recover from your eating disorder, and by this I mean love who you are, as well as, love your perceived self.

Selfies for self love!

Therefore, with the summer upon us I believe it is time to take this oh so difficult part of life by the reins! As a collective force, we are going to start “seeing” ourselves with love, and true admiration….we are going to become inspired by what we “see” in ourselves. Throughout the next couple of weeks, I will be posting about the various components that relate to body image conception and eating disorder recover! We will get through this together!

Lets Do This.

As you move through this week, I challenge you to commit to working towards true self-love, in that, you will work towards loving what you “see” as much as you love who you are. Start to wrap your mind around the fact that this is possible, and you will get there….we will get there together! Below are some recommended books and resources to assist you on your self-love journey!


To come: Clinical depictions of body image and eating disorder recovery, ways to implement self care into your healthy body image initiative, outside resources to keep you motivated, and personal and professional tidbits about body image conception and working towards full recovery. See More Here!

 

Road Trip Self-Care Kit!

Self-Care On The Road – Road Trip Self-Care Kit!

Keep reading to learn my tips and tricks for maintaining self-care and protecting your Eating Disorder Recovery while on the road! Self-care is so very important, especially while we are traveling! Self-care can be used as a preventative practice in place of unhealthy behaviors, such as restriction, dieting, overexercising, binge eating, purging, etc. We can live a life filled with self-love, self-compassion and body appreciation through the constant practice of self-care!  More on my road trip self-care kit below!

Recovery Love and Care is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post is not sponsored by any of the independent brands, I am just a HUGE FAN of the products and wanted to share them with my amazing readers!

This past weekend Sean, Gio and I drove from Charleston, SC to Washington DC to celebrate my younger sister’s college graduation! What a fabulous weekend it was, filled with family, food and fun! We made it a quick trip because Sean had to work on Monday; therefore we made somewhat of a “guest appearance” in DC.

My best friends just so happen to also be my sisters! #girlgang
My best friends just so happen to also be my sisters! #girlgang
Recovery Hero and Self-Care Buddy!
My Recovery Hero, my love and my self-care buddy!

Even within hectic weekends on the road, it is so very important to implement a safe self-care routine to ensure healthy behaviors and body appreciation! And for anyone within Eating Disorder Recovery, maintaining a self-care routine is that much more crucial, as it ensures a continuous and SAFE recovery!

No Fear iIn Food! A delicious start to the day! Coconut milk latte, a freshly baked butter croissant, and banana.
A delicious start to the day! Coconut milk latte, a freshly baked butter croissant, and banana…. Remember, no fear in food! Some fat, grains, fruits, protein, and sugar…the perfect meal!

With a total of 16 hours in the car, and an intensely scheduled weekend, it was needless to say that we were incredibly exhausted and sleep deprived! I am ALWAYS down for a good party and celebration, especially when it’s with my family…but with that comes transition, and with transition comes stress! Remember both good and bad things can cause stress; any state of change causes discomfort and creates a feeling of an off kiltered world. Stress can cause for emotional triggers and can lead to unhealthy behaviors and/or coping mechanisms. Therefore, it is up to US to take care of ourselves and prevent this transition and change from causing TOO MUCH discomfort. (For more about prevention within recovery click here).

All inclusive Girl-Gang!!
This girl-gang is all inclusive!!

As I have touched on previously within the blog, I am a huge proponent of the “comfort box” as a healthy coping mechanism within Eating Disorder recovery (make sure to check out this post to read more about the comfort box). If you are a newbie to the blog, the comfort box is pretty much a way to train the mind and body to use safe, healthy and alternate forms of coping to work through anxieties surrounding food, body image conception and stress. With that, I have used this notion of the comfort box, and weaved it into my transient life as a busy woman!

I have implemented self-care into my daily life through the use of self-care kits. I carry these “kits” in my purse; keep them in my desk, by my bedside, in my workbag, and even in my car! Below is a picture of my most recent self-care kit for this past week’s road trip!

Road Trip Self-Care Kit!
Road Trip Self-Care Kit!

1. Healthy Is The New Skinny is my bible these days, hence all of the post-it notes! Make sure to check out the book review here!
Healthy Is the New Skinny: Your Guide to Self-Love in a “Picture Perfect” World

2. Sheet masks are my favorite form of luxury self-care. This brand, (Tony Molly) I’m Real Mask, is amazing, and so much fun! The pack consists of 11 individually wrapped sheet masks, with a large variety of ingredients and purposes. One of my favorites is the Pomegranate (pictured) for elasticity, the red wine for pore care, and the broccoli for vitality!  Each mask, in addition to their fun ingredients and names, provide an enormous amount of hydration and nourishment to the skin. The masks always leave me feeling refreshed, revitalized and relaxed! AND they are cheap, at less than $11 per package…thats $1 per pop!
[Tonymoly] I’m Real Mask Sheet Package + Egg Pore Nose Pack with bonus Oil Blotting Paper – Best Korean Beauty Products, Facial Skin Mask. Pore Tightening Blackhead Minimize

3. Body cream is always a must….Juara (@Juaraskincare on Instagram) is a FABULOUS and AFFORDABLE option, I love it because of it’s natural ingredients, such as, avocado, turmeric and ginger! Pictured is a travel size of their Candlenut Body Creme, but the full size comes in a decadent jar for a small price of just under $27! (Reminder that I am not sponsored by these brands, just a huge fan)!

Juara Body Creme, Candlenut, 7.5 Ounce

4. I always need a good podcast on a roadtrip….Boss Girl Creative is my most recent obsession, you MUST check it out!….

5. Coffee, this of course, is within my everyday routine! I prefer to add some protein into my coffee, either soy milk or, even better, coconut milk….yum!

6. A cute hat to shade my face while driving in the sun is a must! You can find more like these at The Charleston Weekender.

7. Essential Oils are a HUGE part of my daily self-care routine, I prefer lavender to help me sleep and relax, and peppermint to energize and start the day off on a fresh note! Make sure to check out my past post on essential oils.
3-Pack Variety of NOW Essential Oils: Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender

~Self-care is so very important, in that we must listen to our bodies and treat ourselves with respect and love like we do others!~

We must hydrate and nourish our bodies, minds, and souls, and with some extra self-care we can do that! I encourage you to create your own self-care kits, it is a HUGE STEP towards self-compassion and self-love!! #SelfCareitOut my friends!

This little guy made everything that much better this weekend! #recoverypuppy!
This little guy made everything that much better this weekend! #recoverypuppy!

My Recovery Kitty – The Saga of Lilly!

Buckle in for a funny and plot twisting post, you’ll be shocked at what happens!

At the very beginning of my Eating Disorder (ED) Recovery, Sean and I moved in with one another. Maybe I should be clearer, I moved in with Sean and three of his friends, and yes, I know what you are thinking… Why would I ever do such a thing?!!

Yes, it was chaotic, extremely trying and oh so difficult, but it worked! But that is for another post, this post is about my first little fur baby!

This was 4 years ago! I had just moved out to Jackson….and the journey was JUST beginning…I had no clue what I was in for!

When I moved into Sean’s place I decided that I needed something that I could call my own, something that I could love, hold onto, take care of, something that wasn’t connected to anyone else, and that wasn’t related to food, or my body.

The Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, WY, had just received a litter of kittens, and it just so happened that I was a crazy cat lady…so it was really meant to be! Sean was on board, after a bit of convincing…and it was decided! I was going to be a kitty mother! I specifically wanted a boy, that was my only requirement. I went to the adoption center and played with all of the tiny creatures, and picked out this little black kitten, he was PURRFECT (lol…too corny)? Sean made a separate visit to the adoption center, and unknowingly connected with the same kitten, and the deal was done! We named the adorable little man Liam, and counted down the days until we could take him home!

Liam’s first week home! Look at those saucer eyes!!

I took Liam home when he was about eight weeks, he wasn’t drinking his mother’s milk anymore, and they therefore allowed us to adopt him! Liam was about the size of a tennis ball, his fur was all-scraggly and his eyes were as big as saucers! I fell in love, and a small part of me started to heal with that newfound love and connection. My purges were less frequent, and I wasn’t constantly thinking about recovery, instead I was focused on this new little, but oh so big, love!

Only a few days went by and Liam got really sick, and I mean really sick. It turned out he had a parasite that is common in feral born cats, and most often ends in death. I was determined to keep my new little baby, nothing could take him away from me! I stayed up nights with him, cleaned him in the bath, spoon fed him and hydrated him to the best of my abilities. I took Liam to a different vet to get a second opinion, and they prescribed some intense antibiotics and fluids for my little 2-pound bundle of love. With a lot of patience, perseverance, fluids and love, Liam finally got better, and with every day so did a small piece of me.

Sweet little man! This was him at about nine weeks!

A couple of months went by, and Liam started to change. His attitude and overall demeanor completely shifted, in that he became protective of his food, he would hiss and bite every time we tried to pet him, and he never wanted to play. The anxiety started to weigh on me, this little kitty was getting in the way of my relationship, was causing me more stress than joy, was testing me! But I kept reminding myself that this was a sacrifice, this was the cost of being a kitty mother, unconditional love! Remember patience is so crucial within the most trying of times (Click on the link for more)!

I was counting down the days to Liam’s appointment to get “fixed”, the vet advised me that getting neutered usually helps the testosterone levels, therefore it might alleviate some of his behaviors, although it is best for male kittens to wait at least three months.

The day of Liam’s neuter appointment finally arrived! I brought Liam to the vet, they put him under a mild anesthetic, and began shaving his under belly. The vet advised me that I could stay in the room, as it would be a quick “snip, snip.” I sat there for a while, and the vet tech hesitantly asked me if Liam had been neutered already, I said no, as he was adopted at the young age of eight weeks. The professionals kept feeling around, and abruptly said…. “welp, um it’s a girl!” I paused, shook out my ear, and laughed “right!” thinking that they were joking, and after a few moments I quickly realized this was no joke! “Jayne, your cat is a girl, we are going to have to do this quickly, as a spade takes much more time, precision and need for anesthetic”

The vet tech pretty much pushed me out of the room, and told me to return in a few hours, they would call me if there were any complications. I, on the other hand, was a mess. This verdict tore me apart, my little baby boy, was not a boy, he was a girl! I was obviously not crying because of the social norm that gender is, instead my tears were coming from a place of uncertainty, in that I had put my heart and soul into something and now that something changed.

Those eyes!

Once I collected myself, I returned to the vet, and picked up Liam, it just so happened that poor little baby, girl, Liam had been in the middle of heat, and was in so much pain that she was coping the only way she knew how! The craziest thing was that two different vets had informed me that Liam was a boy; he apparently had two little fur toughs at the base of his under belly that shaved right off! The poor thing was hurting for the past couple of months! Liam was coping by biting, scratching and growling, he was hurting me because he was in pain. This behavior was synonymous of my ED, my behaviors were only manifestations of anxiety, stress, perfection, and pain….I was hurting my body because my perception of the world was hurting me, I was in pain. 

Happy brother and sister moment! Poor Gio had a little eye issue!

I brought Liam home, and quickly shed of my sociology background, rid of the notion that gender is a social norm, and got Liam a sparkly pink collar to go with her new name; Lilly…. for some reason this made me happy, probably a confirmation of the misogyny of society.

She thinks she is royalty!

Lilly started to recover, and her true personality started to shine through! She was a sweet, incredibly sassy, kitten with somewhat of an attitude problem! Lilly grew to LOVE her adopted Kitty dad, Sean, and rebel against me, her mother. She would scratch me, bite me, ATTACK me, and then go and cuddle with Sean, like the typical angsty teenager! For a brief period we allowed Lilly to be an outside cat, but when she came home one day all bloody and tore up from being hit by a car, Lilly quickly became an indoor cat again! I know…the drama!

She chose her Dad’s team over her moms Blackhawks….

The saga truly goes on an on, Lilly continued to test me, and with that I grew stronger. I was able to take care of something, watch a small being, MY small being almost die, come back to life again, change personality, and truly REJECT ME, and with that came so much pain, so much discomfort and so much growth.

Yes, we even tried walking her!!!

Lilly’s journey was symbolic of my Eating Disorder Recovery. It was tumultuous, painful, confusing, what seemed like a near death experience, challenging, forever evolving, uncomfortable, and beautiful! With pain, and discomfort came change and growth. Change cannot and do not exist within a state of comfort.

A game of “where is Lilly?”

Believe it or not, Lilly was a MAJOR part of my recovery. She tested me in so many ways, she pushed me to reevaluate what I believed was healthy, unhealthy, important, not important, life or death, Lilly taught me a new kind of love, one of constant challenge and testing, My recovery kitty reminds me everyday what unconditional love looks like, feels like, and let me tell you something, I have learned how to love myself, unconditionally…. and that is self-compassion at its finest! So thank you my little Recovery Kitty, I love you Lillykins!

This was when Lilly was an “outdoor” cat, she would go outside for about 15 minutes and come right back in! I miss this little bungalow we lived in!!
Lilly and Gio are the best of friends…their personalities shine through in this photo!
Soapy Self-Care

Soapy Self-Care – The Three Tiers of Self-Care

Self-care is a complex concept, similar to many of the topics that are discussed on this blog. I will break down this concept into three tiers as well as, provide an example of a multi-tiered practice of self-care that I use on a nightly basis!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.Simplistic Self-Care is the purest tier of self-care and is also the most difficult to practice, in that it goes deeper than surface level. This level of self-care is introspective, it requires a level of self-compassion and self-awareness, it is allowing yourself to live in the grey, rather than a black and white world. For instance,

-Allowing yourself to feel multiple emotions at one time

-Feeling happy AND anxious AND regretful are all acceptable and rational feelings to have!

-Allowing yourself to cry when you are sad

-Allowing yourself to laugh and smile when you are happy

-Allowing yourself to eat when you are hungry

-Brining awareness to your fears and sitting in the discomfort of your emotions

-Having love and compassion for your flaws

-Taking care of your inner self and wellbeing

-Loving yourself for all of your flaws, inward, and outward

-Giving yourself the TIME to think and feel

-Doing what is best for you at a specific moment

-Calling to your needs

-Listening to your body and your emotional ques

Sometimes some cuddles with my pup is what I need for some introspection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.Luxury Self-Care is the second tier of self-care and it touches more on the surface, although it is is incredibly beneficial and important to your wellbeing! Taking care of yourself in a more tangible way is just as important as taking care of your emotional well-being, in that the two usually go hand in hand. For instance,

-Getting your heart pumping and endorphins flowing through a safe and healthy practice of exercise

-Aroma Therapy

-Having that glass of wine when you need to wind down

-Painting your nails

-Reading your favorite book

-Going for a walk after work

-Having your morning cup of coffee

-Snuggling with your loved one

-A ritual practice of yoga, and meditation

Getting your heart pumping doesn’t have to be strenuous or torturous! Do what is right for YOU, and that is self-care! Listen to your body…
Me post exercise, sweat, sunspots and all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.Self-Care For You is the third level of self-care, and it is when you allow others to take care of you, as we are constantly giving and providing for others. This is also considered luxury self-care, and is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the other two tiers, for instance,

-Getting a massage

-Having someone make you dinner

-Going on a date night

-Sharing your feelings with someone

-Getting your nails done

-Having a girls night

-Going out to the movies

-Going out to dinner

-Getting a babysitter

-Getting your hair done

With all of that being said here is one way that I am able to implement a multi-tiered practice of self-care on a nightly basis!

Mindful Face Washing:

As I look in the mirror I think about all of the stresses, anxieties, and annoyances that I experienced that day, I then decipher which ones I want to shed of. I chose those instances and stressors and wipe away my makeup, and with each wipe I clear away that stress. As I lather my face with face wash I think of all of the emotions that were fostered due to those stresses and as the suds gather so do my emotions. As I collect the warm water in my hands I think of the power of letting go, and with each splash of water I cleanse away those emotions. Once the water runs clear I diligently watch as each droplet of water goes down the drain, ridding of all stress and negative emotion from the day. I then look in the mirror and pat my face dry, and with that I confirm my gratitude’s from the day.

My Soapy Self-Care! I LOVE my Foreo-Luna!
A Good Robe Never Hurt Anyone!

Mindfully washing my face is just one way that I practice a multi-level of self-care! Try it tonight, and let me know how it works, and as always #selfcareitout!

 

 

What WOMAN Means To Me – Pt. 4 with Claire Mattingly

It’s that time again! I am so anxious for everyone to read this post, not just because it was authored by my sister, but also because Claire is a strong, empowering and amazing person. Claire is my younger sister, and she is truly what I hope to be like when I “grow up!” Enjoy!

To me, WOMAN does not refer to a single individual, nor simply myself, but a powerful patchwork, a sisterhood. This sisterhood is comprised of women who care for, listen to, and protect each other. My mom, my sisters, my friends, my guardians.

I am undoubtedly proud to be a woman, but society weighs on me because of it. I am constantly made aware of the lower position my gender affords me. I’m told, “you’re not like other girls, you’re cool,” and I’m expected to react to this attack on my sisterhood as if it’s a gift. I’m told, “don’t get so emotional,” when I’m simply expressing passion. I’m told, “not everything’s about feminism,” when I try to address blatant misogyny.

I’m told. I’m told. I’m told.

I don’t wish to tackle the patriarchy in this moment, but instead to honor the sisterhood. Because the best way to combat the above intrusions is to support each other as women. So often, we’re tempted to put one another down. It’s an impulse that stems from the societal teaching early on that other girls, and later, other women, are your competition. Competition for love, success, and happiness. As if it’s a zero-sum game. I reject that. We all need to reject that.

Women are my strength and inspiration. In my 21 years, I have seen how powerful we are together: The compassion, smarts, and joy we produce when we are in sync is, to put it lightly, kick ass. I want to take more time to nurture and appreciate that bond. I want to make a daily effort to hear each other, to defend each other, and to respect myself just as much. I hope you do too.

So to me, I will reiterate, woman means family.

-Claire Mattingly

Check out the rest of the series here!

What WOMAN Means to Me Series Kick off 

What WOMAN Means to pt. 2- with Asia Vianna Mack

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 3 – with Gissell Reyes

What WOMAN Means To Me pt. 5 – with Becca Schutlz

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 6- with Ireana Nathan

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 7 – with Emily Dell

“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!

Bay State to Broad Collaboration – A New Take on More Than Just a Number

Bay State to Broad’s original post….

More Than Just a Number

I’m so excited to feature one of my sweetest friends on Bay State to Broad today!

Jayne grew up just outside of Chicago. I grew up just outside of Boston.

Jayne transferred schools after her freshman year to The College of Charleston. I transferred schools after my freshman year to The University of South Carolina.

Jayne and I both decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy. We were paired in an apartment together more than 4,000 miles from home.

After college, Jayne and I went in opposite directions. I went back to Massachusetts, while she made a cross-country journey to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Five years later, Jayne and I live just a few miles down the road from each other in charming Charleston, South Carolina.

Week three of friendship! Wine tasting excursion through the hills of Tuscany. (Hashtag babies.)

Jayne blogs over at Recovery Love and Care, a blog, website, and brand that helps those with Eating Disorders and their loved ones move through the journey of self-care, self-love, and recovery. She is working towards obtaining her graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and is planning on becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.

While you may not think our blogs have much in common, she got me thinking about the idea of our lives being “more than just a number.” In the case of Eating Disorder recovery, this concept often equates back to weight, size, and body image. But numbers sneak their way into nearly every aspect of our lives, and we often think of them as defining factors of success, happiness, and worth.

Clothing size
Instagram likes
Social media followers
Bra size
Salary
Weight
How many people you’ve slept with
Age
GPA

Society – one that is edited, filtered, and oftentimes seen through a lens – uses the above numbers in an attempt to indicate our worth or to paint a surreal picture of “perfection” we feel obligated to strive for. How many times have you joked with your friends about deleting an Instagram photo if it didn’t receive enough likes? Or maybe you’ve let your salary, weight, or age – all very different things, mind you – define you . I know I have, probably more times than I can actually count.

Jayne is here to remind me that my self-worth, beauty, strength, and overall awesomeness is not defined by a number. More than a Number.

Healthy Is The New Skinny Book Review

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!