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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can loose hope AND power through the hard times!

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

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

You can struggle with self-love AND love yourself!

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

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

 

More Than a Number

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

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

“If only I were smaller”

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

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

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

“I would kill for that body”

“I wish I was a size smaller”

“I wish my boobs were bigger”

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

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

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

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

Two common misconceptions:

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

Two counter arguments:

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

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

 

The Grieving Process within Eating Disorder Recovery

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

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

Death of a loved one

Death of a pet

Divorce

Marriage

Moving

Starting School

Death of a former spouse

Graduation

End of an addiction

Major health changes

Start of a new job

Retirement

Financial Changes – positive or negative

Holidays

Legal Problems

Empty Nest

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

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

Loss of what you perceived your body to be

Loss of perceived control over your body

Loss of perceived control over your food

Loss of perceived control over your physical activity

Loss of a toxic relationship with food

Loss of the perception of what is healthy

Loss of the perception of what is perfection

Loss of the body that has been desired

Loss of the body that was controlled by ED

Loss of the safety within ED

Loss of a toxic relationship

Loss of identity

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

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

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

 

References

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

Awareness in Body Checking: Taking One More Step Towards Living a Body Positive Life

As another extension to my body positive series, today’s post is about body checking. Body checking is a very common behavior within individuals with Eating Disorders. What do I mean by body checking?

Body checking: Constant “checking”, looking, touching, and/or intensely focusing on a body part and/or section or area of your body. The “checking” is fueled by insecurities on how the individual thinks or feels that they look.

My Story: This is something that many individuals struggle with throughout their Eating Disorder. One main form of body checking is involves mirror checking….

It started at the young age of ten, when I went through puberty, every single time I went to use the restroom, whether it was in a public place, school, work, or at home, I would wash my hands, look in the mirror, suck in my stomach, and slightly lift my shirt, to check my belly with my hand in the mirror. Every time I looked at my belly in the mirror I hoped to find some sort of strength, success, and worth. It became so much of a habit that I did not even realize I was doing it. One day my nutritionist advised me to try to not “body check” for just one day, I broke down in tears after the first half of that day, because I never realized how much I actually “checked” my body. Little did I know that every time I lifted up my shirt and grazed my belly with my hands, I lessened my self worth, tore down my self love bit by bit, and further engrained an emotionally dangerous behavior into my life. I was constantly judging myself, comparing my self worth to that of what I “wanted” it to be at that time.

The difficult thing about healthy body image is that it does come last within ED recovery. Therefore individuals within ED recovery are usually done with, or working towards, finalizing their treatment before they even graze the surface of their physical and emotional self worth, before they learn about how to develop a healthy and positive body image. Having an emotional behavior such as thinking and feeling poorly about one’s body is not immediately detrimental to an individual’s health like that of using other ED behaviors, such a,s binging, purging or restricting, therefore behaviors ,such as, Body checking often go unnoticed and untreated, but it does effect functioning and an individual’s overall self-worth, therefore it is worth addressing and treating!

Body checking is a behavior, therefore a habit that can be deeply engrained within an individual’s functioning, and can be very difficult and scary, leaving and individual feeling vulnerable. Starting slow is the safest way to go about eventually ridding of body checking…

The first step is awareness and acceptance. The second step is slowly acknowledging your feelings while practicing this behavior. This is the safest way to approach to an emotional behavior, such as body checking. The third step is slowly, and safely eliminating the behavior from your everyday functioning, therefore taking it one-step at a time. If you ever feel too vulnerable, reach out to your closest support, go to your comfort box, and practice self-care, self-care, self-care!

As you acknowledge your body checking behaviors, I also challenge you to find a positive emotional behavior that you practice on a daily basis, for instance, the joy that brewing your morning coffee brings, listening to your favorite music, cuddling with a loved one, warming up by the fire place, lighting your favorite candle, any healthy behavior that make you feel your best! Please reach out if you have any questions or comments, don’t forget to subscribe, have a wonderful weekend, and self care it out my friends!

Fat Is Not A Feeling- Identifying Your “Fat Feelings” To Reach A Healthy Body Image

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!

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!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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

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!!

New Beginnings

“Beginnings can be delicate or explosive. They can start almost invisibly or arrive with a big bang. Beginnings hold the promise of new lessons to be learned, new territory to be explored, and old lessons to be recalled, practiced, and appreciated. Beginnings hold ambiguity, fear and hope(Beattie, 1996).”

This past week has been all about change and new beginnings. Sean, the furries, and I moved cross-country to start our new journey in Charleston, SC! We packed up our lives up North, drove a truck down to Charleston, moved in to our quaint apartment that we had never seen before, dove into our new jobs, and started our new beginning.

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Change….an anxiety provoking word for many. Change can be triggering to recovery, in that it can consume the mind, the soul and the body, leaving no room for self awareness, self love or self care….and that only leads to more stressful situations that can be damaging to recovery. Change also triggers feelings of control, in that when it comes to many aspects of life, personal control is unrealistic, which again, is more than intimidating and scary, causing for detrimental feelings and thoughts towards recovery. Therefore, taking steps towards managing the stress that comes along with change is crucial.

Perspective is important when it comes to change, in that it is possible to reduce some of that stress and fear by changing your perspective. Instead of viewing the situation as change, try looking at it as if it is a start to a new beginning. Instead of closing a chapter, you are just starting a new one. Instead of ending a journey, you are embarking on a new adventure…..there are no endings, only beginnings.

As Sean and I were unpacking our boxes, the anxiety quickly settled in…doubting questions overwhelmed my mind about our situation, our future choices, and what we left behind in the past. During this somewhat of an emotional spiral, I reminded myself that life is all about coping and perspective, therefore it was and is up to me to make the situation what I want it to be. Therefore, as I moved through the week I made sure to protect my recovery and embrace the new beginnings with these five easy steps in addition to changing my perspective.

  1. Bring a travel size “comfort box” everywhere you go!

-I have mentioned this plenty of times, the comfort box is EVERYTHING, and you can read more about it here.

  1. Make your house a home

-This is relevant to my recent major change/new beginning, in that moving into a new place is incredibly exciting but also filled with so many expectations. I say this, because I spend so much time at home, I am a homebody. I not only sleep, cook, drink, dine, and live at home, but I also work at home, therefore…. making my house a home is so incredibly important to my emotional and mental well being. Therefore, we unpacked, and set up the new place in about 2 days, filled it with our favorite things, and started to settle in!

  1. Create a safety net within your social life

-Friends. Everyone needs friends….and friends are so hard to find in your adult life. Even that one person that you can be yourself with is so important, in order to keep yourself accountable within this new beginning of your life.

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  1. Weekly goals of self care

-Setting goals has always been important to my recovery…and no I do not mean setting goals based around food or body weight, yes I know how your mind works! I mean goals about emotional well-being. For instance, I have set and, so far, met the goal of going to the beach ATLEAST once a week!
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  1. Letting go

-Let go of that fear, and those past stories that you are holding onto. Check out a previous blog post about Letting Go Here.

“Don’t let the lessons, the experiences of the past, dampen your enthusiasm for beginnings. Just because it’s been hard doesn’t mean it will always be that difficult. Don’t let the heartbreaks of the past cause you to become cynical, close you off to life’s magic and promise. Open yourself wide to all that the universe has to say ”(Beattie, 1996).

“Let yourself begin anew. Pack your bags. Choose carefully what you bring, because packing is an important ritual. Take along some humility and the lessons f the past. Toss in some curiosity and excitement about what you haven’t yet learned. Say your good-byes to those you’re leaving behind. Don’t worry who you will meet or where you will go. The way has been prepared. The people you are to meet will be expecting you. A new journey has begun. Let it be magical. Let it unfold”(Beattie, 1996).

Have a wonderful week, and if you are being confronted with any form of change, I challenge you to change your perspective, and protect your recovery during your new beginnings. Let’s Self Care it Out Everyone!!

References

Melody Beattie, (1996). Journey To The Heart, Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul. January 1. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY 10022.

 

Eating Disorders in Males-#EatingDisordersItsNotJustAWhiteGirlThing

Penn State Kicker, Joey Julius recently went public with his Eating Disorder. Julius spoke on his diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) with purging behaviors and bulimic tendencies. It is public figures, like Joey, that can be an inspiration, and voice for females and males around the country who are living with Eating Disorders. You can read Joey’s story here.

For today’s post, we are getting “a bit clinical” and tearing down those misperceptions and false assumptions about Eating Disorders.

So many individuals believe that an Eating Disorders (ED) is “just a white girl thing”, that ED is just about women wanting to be a certain size, that it about women who eat too many salads, its about rich girls who don’t appreciate what they have, it is just a thing that the spoiled, white, rich girl deals with….this list of misperceptions goes on and on and on….

The truth is that males live with Eating Disorders too, it IS NOT JUST A WHITE GIRL DISORDER!! Here are some truths behind those false assumptions when it comes to males and Eating Disorders, according to current peer reviewed, clinical research and the Diagnostic Statistic Manual volume 5 (DSM-5)

  1. Males represent 25% of individuals with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and 36% of individuals with Binge Eating Disorder (BED).
  2. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rates for any psychiatric disorder
  3. Approximately .3% of men within the US have Anorexia Nervosa
  4. Approximately .5% of men within the US have Bulimia Nervosa
  5. Approximately .2% of men within the US have Binge Eating Disorder
  6. In the US alone, 20 million females and 10 million males will suffer from a clinical Eating Disorder within the span of their lifetime.
  7. Clinical Eating Disorder behaviors, such as binge eating, purging, laxative abuse, and dietary restriction for weight loss, are just as common among males as they are among females.
  8. Eating Disorders are rapidly growing among male athletes, whether that be adolescent, high school, college of professional level.
  9. In a controlled study at 11 different Division 1 Schools, results showed that 13.02% of males reported Bing Eating on a regular basis, and 2.04% of males reported purging behaviors on a regular basis, such as vomiting, and laxative use.
  10. The prevalence of Eating Disorders in males is greater than estimated due to the stigma that males receive when seeking treatment, for what is misunderstood as a “white women’s disorder”
  11. Approximately 33% of teenage males use restrictive behaviors to lose weight

It is so important to get the facts straight when it comes to ED. The more we bring light to the truths behind Eating Disorders, the more we tear down that stigma, which will provide a safer space for ALL individuals, whether that be female, male, white, black, Asian, heterosexual, homosexual, to step forward and seek treatment and start their journey towards recovery!

Stigma, and those common incorrect assumptions about Eating Disorders majorly affect individual’s ability and desire to seek treatment, causing for higher rates in mortality for individuals with Eating Disorders. So lets talk about it, without shame, it’s time we created a safe space for all individual’s, including men, to open up about their struggles, and give them a chance to move towards recovery!

Below are some resources available for males living with Eating Disorders.

NAMED

Eating Disorder Hope

NEDA

ANRED

 

References

Allen, K. L., Byrne, S. M., & Crosby, R. D. (2015). Distinguishing Between Risk Factors for Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Purging Disorder. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(8), 1580–1591. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10964-014-0186-8

Statistics on Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating. (2016). Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/statistics-studies

Ten Facts about Males and Eating Disorders | N.A.M.E.D. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://namedinc.org/?page_id=287