A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation – Salty Hair, Tanned Skin, Sandy Bottoms, Soft Bellies and Smiles!

Oh Vacation….what an amazing and delightful concept! Some say that vacation is a state of mind, some say it’s important to make life your vacation, but I have a whole different outlook on this holiday from life. When I used to think of vacation, I would picture perfection…perfection in every way. The perfect views, the perfect food, the perfect swimsuits on perfectly tanned bodies, perfect memories to laugh perfectly at in the future. Picture perfect everything, a vacation from the imperfection that we call life, a vacation from busyness, ugliness, messiness, stress, hatred, and self loathing, a vacation from the shackles of my Eating Disorder. But in reality, these perfect expectations only tightened those shackles even more.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
White sand, and blue water!

But isn’t this how so many of us look at vacations, or holidays? We expect perfection, and once this ideal implodes so does our ability to adapt. The bathing suits, sandals and sarongs that we pack unfold into unrealistic expectations, stress, worry and imperfection, when in reality, a perfect vacation is imperfect….just like life! This past week was the first vacation that I have taken away from those perfection ridden expectations, it was the first vacation I took in the absence of my Eating Disorder and in the presence of self-compassion, self-forgiveness and imperfection….perfectly imperfect!

You may be wondering what I mean by a vacation free from my Eating Disorder…..and what I mean is this…

I wore a bikini on the beach with confidence and pride

I stood tall on my paddle board proud of my softer belly and stretch marks and cellulite

I didn’t work out, because I simply did not want to

I ate when I was hungry, and drank when I was “thirsty”

I stayed up late and laughed until I cried

I hopped on a paddle board and giggled every time I fell off…which was a lot

I made mistakes and held too high of expectations, and it was OKAY….my vacation did not implode

I cried until I laughed

I let go

AND….

When I returned home I did not kill myself at the gym, instead I went for a walk on the beach and nourished my body with food. I was gentle with myself…I eased myself into the reality of life.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
Wet hair, tanned skin, sandy bottoms and soft bellies!
A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
Imperfectly Paddle Boarding!
A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
Shrimp all day every day!

The Trip

My parents took my two sisters and all of our significant others on a beautiful and luxurious trip to the Emerald Coast. This was one of the most special vacations I have ever been on. It was the first time our family has taken a trip together in about six years, with no agenda, no holidays, no weddings, just us. We played in the water, walked on the beach, drank lots of pina colodas, chardonnay and mojitos and ate amazing sea food, fried treats and fresh sweets, we laughed until we cried and we cried until we laughed….it was perfectly imperfect….!

I thought I was taking vacations the past twenty six years of my life….but it was never vacant from my Eating Disorder. Every vacation or trip I took was ridden with expectations, harsh judgement on how I looked and felt. My Eating Disorder put restrictions on not only what I could eat, and what my body could do, but also, what I could and could not wear, when, where and how I laughed, it consumed my every move, and nothing was ever perfect enough, imperfection was not an option, and therefore expectations were never met. Vacations were not vacant from stress instead they were filled with triggers and shame.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
So much laughter this trip!

What Was Different This Time?

This past week, on the white beaches of the emerald coast, I was free from those shackles, I was free from my Eating Disorder, because I chose freedom, I chose recovery. Full recovery is possible, it is hard, it seems impossible, at times, it does not seem like a choice….but it is! With hard work, a treatment team, support and determination I chose to be free and to let go! I can now go on vacation, and wear a bikini, have a soft belly, eat and drink whatever I want and have no shame when I return home! I eat when I’m hungry, work out when I feel like moving, drink when I’m thirsty, sleep when I am tired, cry when I am sad, and laugh when I am happy! I have a bikini body by simply putting a bikini on my body! I have a beach body by simply having a body and going to the beach! I went on vacation by vacating my expectations, and perfections! I had a perfectly imperfect vacation…and it was imperfectly wonderful! I dare you to try approaching your next vacation or holiday with imperfection!

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
Beach Body: Have a body, go to the beach

Read more about my tips and tricks while on the go here! 

And, as always, #SelfCareItOut!

Netflix Feature Film To The Bone – A Safe Viewing Guide!

I am providing my unique and educated perspectives and opinions on the Netflix feature film To The Bone. This is an incredibly controversial topic that I feel must be addressed, and I would like to preface this with this simple statement…. I, in no way recommend an individual within their Eating Disorder, or within the beginning and/or fragile stages of recovery to watch this film, just as much as I would not condone an individual who experienced trauma and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), serving our country overseas to watch American Sniper, as these Hollywood depictions of mental illnesses can be incredibly triggering to those experiencing just that!

To The Bone - A Safe Viewing Guide

My Opinion on To The Bone

I most likely will dissatisfy and possibly upset many within this post, as my opinions regarding this film do not necessarily coincide with the majority opinions within the Eating Disorder community. I actually liked this film, although I found several triggering and falsifications within the film….granted each and every story is different and we must start somewhere! If this is where we start talking about Eating Disorders….then I am in support! FYI: the Eating Disorder community is not necessarily  pleased with this film, in that Instagram gurus and fellow #EDWarriors have written several posts about the dangers, dislikes and falsities of the film….and to be clear, I do not necessarily disagree with these opinions! I absolutely believe that Hollywood has a knack for glamorizing mental illnesses, falsifying symptoms and fabricating truths, but that unfortunately is the definition of hollywood, people want an escape, people want to feel taken away by a film! Therefore, I will say this again, I DO NOT recommend or condone any individuals who feel vulnerable within the topic of Eating Disorders to watch this film, as it may be triggering! With that being said, here are my thoughts and tips in regards to viewing this film

The Film

The film focuses on a story of a twenty year old, heterosexual white female who has Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Ellen, the main character, depicts the stereotypical image and description of what an individual with an Eating Disorder “looks like”, emaciated, female, and white. This is absolutely a valid depiction of many individuals within their Eating Disorder (ED), although this exact stereotype is why so many cases go unnoticed; that is 50% of ED’s go unnoticed within primary care! With that being said, the film does depict other body types, ages, sexes, genders, and races, as ED’s do not discriminate!

Let’s Talk About it! 

The film focuses on one small aspect of Eating Disorders, in that the all encompassing process of Eating Disorders spans over years, sometimes decades! The plot focuses on a specific moment within the character’s treatment. Ellen, played by Lilly Collins, is admitted into an exclusive, and “radical” inpatient treatment center ran by a doctor, played by Keanu reeves. This treatment center is drastically different than that of a typical inpatient setting, in many ways, although that is not necessarily what this post is about! I am not writing this to review the movie, nor to shed light on the falsities and fabrications within the script, rather I want to talk about safe ways to watch and talk about this film!

Not a Film Review

This film is on Netflix, therefore it is accessible to many! Hence, seeing that I am not a film critic, and instead an advocate for Eating Disorder Awareness and healthy and safe practices of self-care, I have laid out some viewing and talking points for you! With that being said, whether you are a mother, a grandmother, a father, a son, a brother, a sister or a friend, I highly recommend reading these tips, as this movie can cause for triggering thoughts and emotions surrounding Eating Disorders, body image and mental health.

Safely View This Film With Six Steps

***I will say this again, I do not encourage individuals within their Eating Disorder or in the beginning stages of recovery to watch this film, as it may be triggering….just because it may be “relevant” does not mean you have to watch it!

To The Bone

1.Make sure that you are viewing this film in a safe space. Are you surrounded by people that care for you, or that you care for? Are you around friends, family or loved ones? Are you mentally and emotionally prepared for severe visual depictions of Eating Disorders? Ensure that you are feeling safe, whether that means you are surrounded by people that you trust, or maybe you are providing that support for someone else!

2.Have the remote in hand. Pause, rewind or maybe even fast forward the movie when you feel you need to process or absorb something! If you are watching this with your daughter, pause the movie at times where she may show discomfort or confusion and start a dialogue surrounding the feelings and emotions brought upon by the film. This film can cause for people to notice behaviors that they never realized they were practicing, such as body checking and food rituals, therefore if your loved one asks questions regarding these behaviors lend an ear and listen to their concerns. Afterwards, reach out to Recovery Love and Care or a clinician for professional advice!

3.Fact check and perception check! If you are watching this with a loved one or younger person, make sure to provide proper information and education regarding behaviors and symptoms surrounding Eating Disorders. Talk about the concept of body image, and process the feelings that may arise from the character’s depiction! Eating Disorders exist in ALL bodies, fat bodies, skinny bodies, “normal” looking bodies, black bodies, brown bodies, old bodies, young bodies, male bodies, female bodies, trans bodies, able bodies, rich bodies and poor bodies, therefore make sure to educate in a proper manner to supplement the images seen in this film!

4.Set aside time before and after viewing the film to process your thoughts, whether that is via a journal, text, phone call or face to face conversation! It is so important to give your thoughts and feelings a name, it will help foster a sense of understanding and safety surrounding this movie. This movie was meant to start a conversation, and there is not wrong one to have, because your feelings are your feelings! Process in a safe environment! I recommend either sitting down with a loved one and having a conversation, or journaling your thoughts!

5.Keep yourself and others accountable and encourage conversation! No, there is no wrong or right way to “feel” before, during or after viewing this film, although the conversation regarding the education surrounding Eating Disorders is crucial! Remember….people with Eating Disorder’s are not selfish, and they do not “choose” their disorder, Eating Disorder is a mental illness and serious addiction that requires clinical treatment and intense recovery, placing blame and fault is counterproductive and quite pointless – instead focus on help, and lastly, Eating Disorders exist in ALL bodies, all ages, sizes, races, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, genders, sexes and sizes…!

6.Question WHY you or your loved ones are watching this film. This statement is in the absence of shame, and instead to challenge your motivations behind this viewing. Is it to educate yourself? Is it to form an educated opinion on the reliability of the script? Is it for entertainment? Or is it another voice telling you to watch it….maybe it is your “diet” voice, that “Eating Disorder” voice, or another toxic and sneaky reason why you “want” to view this film. That is all OKAY….but if it IS your ED voice, or you are watching the film to pick up new habits and indulge yourself in toxic thoughts, I challenge you to combat that voice. You are bigger, better and stronger that that voice! This film is not a “funny” movie, it is not a “feel good” movie, therefore, again, I ask you to question your motivations behind viewing this film! Make sure you are staying safe and true to your own voice!

 For more posts like this click here, here and here!

Fat Is Not a Feeling!!

Fat Is Not a Feeling – Identifying Your Fat Feelings and Finding Freedom in Your Body!

Finding a positive and healthy body image is so incredibly challenging…especially when you don’t FEEL as if you look your best! But first let me remind you…FAT IS NOT A FEELING! Once you can come to terms with this concept, you will feel free from this socialized stigma that comes along with the word fat. You will find freedom in your independent body, you will find love and truth with who you are and what you “look like.”

But Why?

Each and every one of your feelings and emotions is valid, therefore, once you identify your ACTUAL FEELINGS….NOT YOUR FAT FEELINGS you will be on your way towards a healthy body image!

Fat Is Not a Feeling!!

Whenever I “feel” fat….I always need to remind myself that FAT IS NOT A FEELING…and when I forget, which admittedly is quite often, Sean reminds me, my support system reminds me!

Identify Your Feelings

Once I remind myself that fat is not a feeling, I first refer to my trusty vocabulary wheel…which I basically have memorized…I then identify my feelings. I suggest you give this baby a good look, because it is gold!

feelings-wheel-1

Once you can identify your “fat feeling” through a broader vocabulary, it is that much easier to face that feeling and/or feelings.

Facing your feelings looks different for each and every person, and is dependent on the situation. For instance, there are times where I find that instead of “feeling” fat, I feel vulnerable and powerless. I then identify what I NEED based off of these feelings….in the moments I feel vulnerable and powerless I usually need extra love, whether that be self love, or love from another being. Sometimes I lay down with a good book and cup of tea, other times I cuddle up with my dog Gio and a glass of wine, other times I just blatantly tell Sean that I need a bit more love, and ask for a hug!

Celebrate you!!

When you “feel” fat try thinking of what you truly NEED. Most often what you need is happiness, and then ask yourself how you can TRULY achieve that happiness! What will bring you to an emotional level of what you NEED? Try identifying your feelings, then identifying what you need, and then identifying how you can get that, is it self-care? Is it sleep? Is it a hug? Is it a good cry?

Live an AND life

Here is another thing to keep in mind…it is possible, and more often than not, very likely to feel more than one feeling! Therefore, instead of using BUT, use AND. For instance, you CAN feel sad AND happy at the same time; you CAN feel guilty AND confident at the same time! Once you identify your “fat feeling” as a valid feeling, you may find that you have several feelings flooding your mind and body….and once you identify those feelings, you can face each one head on in a SAFE AND HEALTHY way.

If you do not feel that you are in a safe place to identify and face your feelings alone….then do it when you are safe, when you are with a loved one, when you are with a helping professional, and then once you are safe, you can slowly learn how to gain the courage to face those “fat feelings” on your own.

The more you face your “fat feelings” the more often those feelings will change to “healthy body” and “body positive” feelings.

Find Freedom in “Fat”

Once you identify your fat feelings, and come to terms with what you NEED, YOU CAN AND WILL FIND FREEDOM! Separating your feelings from your perceived “fat” is a beautiful thing, but taking away the stigma of being “fat” is an entire different type of freedom! Why is it bad to be fat, why is fat a bad word, what is fat anyway? Find freedom in your own body, in your own state of health, in your own beauty ideals! You can find freedom in the socialized concept of “fat”, the fear of fat no longer needs to exist!

Choose Freedom!
Photo: Aneris Photography

Recap

  1. Your feelings are valid
  2. Fat is not a feeling
  3. Identify your “Fat Feelings”
  4. Identify that you can feel multiple feelings at one time – use AND instead of BUT
  5. Find self-awareness through ACTUALLY feeling your feelings
  6. Face your feelings
  7. Practice self-love and self-care
  8. Find freedom in “fat”

This is one small step towards finding a healthy body image! As you move through your weekend, remember that you are capable of loving yourself from the inside out and the outside in!

Self Care It Out Everyone!!

For more posts like this click, here, here, and here!

Interview With Dana Suchow From DoTheHotPants!

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 “DoTheHotpants” 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!

DoTheHotpants 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.”

Do The Hotpants

“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!

 

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!

What WOMAN Means to Me – Pt. with Becca Schultz

Becca Shultz is an amazing soul, she is an inspiring presence and I am so very honored that she has written a post for this series! As an empowered WOMAN, Becca has now taken it upon herself to spread the powerful inspirations and ideations that she has been taught by women in her life. I came across Becca’s Instagram page, Becoming_Becca.Again_, and it blew me away, Becca is not only powering through Eating Disorder Recovery like a boss, but she is also busting through the feminist world and making it her own, while advocating for ALL! I hope you enjoy this incredibly depiction of what WOMAN means to Becca.

 

“Being a woman.” Where do I even begin? I hope I don’t jumble some of my words, I do struggle with self-confidence a lot.

For so long I never really thought about or pondered on the fact of what it truly means to be a woman, to encompass the feminine spirit.

Growing up in a society that has it’s set standards of what being a woman “really encompasses” has caused me to feel confused throughout the majority of my life, questioning where I stood in society, and if my role in society was important or not, and I know that many women feel the same way about this no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, skin-color, or gender someone is or the sex they were assigned at birth, and the list goes on and on.

Ever since I entered recovery for my eating disorder and other mental and emotional illnesses, I really started to see the actual woman that I was, not the woman that society wanted or still wants me to be, and once I found my space in the community of self-love and intersectionality on Instagram, I actually found my voice, as they say, and that my voice actually does matter.

Crossing paths with so many inspirational and powerful women through Instagram and of course within the world in general (one of them being my bad ass mom!), I feel like I finally am using my voice, believing in the things that I BELIEVE IN, not what my family or others want me to believe. I am an intersectional feminist and it feels good to finally say it. I am so proud of myself in regards to the woman that I am becoming every day, and I thank all of those that have crossed paths with me showing me the way to who I am becoming.

I am more than my hair, my looks, and my legs. I am more than my body! I am an intersectional feminist that is learning every day…learning every day how to be a better citizen and woman to those around me. Taking action to derail patriarchal standards that have created unrealistic expectations that make me and so many around me feel inferior and not good enough.

I am so honored to have this opportunity to do a write up for this amazing blog. My hope is to continue to be the change in this world that needs to happen, to inspire my nieces and nephews and future children to keep fighting for what is right.

I want to give a special thank you and shout out to one of my biggest inspirations, Dana Suchow (@dothehotpants). Thank you for giving me the strength to start “being me unapologetically.”

-Becca Schultz

Check out the rest of the series here!

What WOMAN Means to Me Series Kick off 

What WOMAN Means to pt. 2- with 

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 3 – with 

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 4 – with Claire Mattingly

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 6- with 

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!

What WOMAN Means To Me Series – Pt. 3 With Gissell Reyes

Gissell Reyes is another dear friend of mine, fellow woman warrior, future colleague and fellow sister! I am overwhelmed by her beautiful depiction of WOMAN….go ahead and indulge yourself in this amazing illustration of What WOMAN means to Gissell….

Defining your womanhood is unique to yourself. This is one woman’s perspective on what it means to be a woman. Using this word to define the manner in which we keep our relationships with your loved ones and friends, what you give of yourself to those relationships, and how you maintain your balance with both.

Being a WOMAN in today’s society means many things but these definitions belong to society.

 

My definition is my own, just as your definition is wholly your own. When I think of my womanhood, I think of the relationships I maintain and my role in these relationships. Beyond my biology, I am a woman because I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a partner to my boyfriend. All of these relationships have a specific meaning that makes it unique to my idea of a woman.

I am a daughter, different than a son because women are closer to their families. Traditionally, we stay closer to home even as we build our own separate families. There is a saying about this: a son is a son until he gains a wife but a daughter is a daughter all her life.

I am a sister. I am loyal and protective and the keeper of memories. Sisterhood comes from a bond that is soul deep. It is formed through the sharing of adventures and of secrets and of life. To be a sister means to give of yourself for the betterment and wellbeing of your sister. You share your soul with your sister. While your children are your heart walking in the world outside your body, your sister is a piece of you doing the same thing. This is the same for people you chose to share a sisterhood with, your close friends that sub in when you don’t have a sister or are apart from them.

I am a partner. To be a girlfriend or a partner or a wife as a woman means you share yourself with another person. It means that you take care of the other person with compassion and support. To be a woman in a relationship you walk a fine line. You give of yourself without losing yourself. It takes balance and self-awareness to be a woman in a healthy, thriving relationship.

In reality, it takes balance to be a woman in general. In today’s society, women are told how to look, how to act, how to feel, it is more important than ever to find balance and be confident in your own identity. For me, what woman means to me goes beyond the superficial. It is, at its core, about how I maintain my relationships, about what I put into them. It becomes a part of the identity I create for myself. The goals I have and the achievements I accomplish are defining characteristics of the kind of person, the kind of human being I want to be. But what I put into my relationships is what woman means woman.

-Gissell Reyes

For the rest of the series check it out here!

What WOMAN Means to Me- Series Kick Off!

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 2 – with Asia Vianna Mack

What WOMAN Means to Me pt. 4 – with Claire Mattingly

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