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!

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!

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

Recovery Love and Care

Self Love, Short and Sweet

 

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

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

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

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

Write yourself a daily love note

Journal words of love to your self-hatred

Smile when you wake up in the morning

Give yourself a hug

Wear something that makes you FEEL good

Do something that makes you FEEL good

Read a book

Cook a meal

Spend time with a loved one

Go for a walk

Wake up to watch the sunrise

Take a selfie for self-love

Light a candle and listen to your favorite song

Watch your favorite movie

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

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

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

Trust the Process

Find your Flow and Growth within 2017

Happy Day to everyone!! 2017, I have positive, healthy and manageable expectations for you!…..oh my….even I rolled my eyes while writing that!

What I mean is that, as we move into this new year, I remind myself, and others, that a specific day and number do not dictate the outcome for the next 365 days of life! Instead, our thoughts, words, and actions affect the present and future, therefore having healthy expectations about this “new year” is incredibly helpful to our happiness, because, yes, we will set out a new plan and goals for ourselves, but we will have ourselves to thank for bringing any change to our current life flow.

I use the word expectation fairly often within my blog posts, and I do this because expectations can either set us up for success, and reality, or failure and disappointment, therefore when a manageable, and positive expectation is set, only growth can occur…no matter the actual outcome. As you set these expectations for 2017, I encourage you to change your train of thought and consider your current situation. Within your life, are you allowing flow? Are you truly experiencing the present, and flowing through the reality of your individual experiences? In other words, within this New Year, instead of setting expectations consider your flow, allow flow to occur, allow growth to occur.

  

 

 

 

 

 

I have been capturing different photos of water recently, because I find that it is the perfect description of life, of recovery, of growth and flow!

Eating Disorder recovery is not linear, in that it ebbs and FLOWS, there are dips and plateaus and peaks, but every experience is a part of recovery, because no matter what, we learn, and grow. Recovery is not linear, and it does not look or feel the same for everyone, remember this.

I say this, that recovery is not black and white, right or wrong, good or bad, but there are times that I do not apply that to myself. This is a common quality within individuals with eating disorders, we are selfless, we give more than we get, we give more, if not, all of our care and love to others, leaving nothing for ourselves, therefore ending up completely drained. I have been caught up in this spiral many of times, especially recently. I have been giving all of my care, emotional attention and knowledge to others within recovery, or others having a hard time within their lives, so much so, that I have drained myself. Yes, I have been practicing self care, but when I do so, I feel so emotionally drained that I have very little to run off of, in other words at times I feel as though I have been talking the talk….but not walking the walk.

I have felt somewhat of a disconnect from myself and my recovery self….when in reality we can be one! I do not have to put on my “recovery glasses” on to truly delve deep inside the secrets of ED recovery, rather, I need to take a step back, look at myself (literally and figuratively) and find where and what that disconnect is! I need to confront that disconnect, and be honest about it, without shame! I can help others while also helping myself and I can love others while also loving myself. I think a big part of me has been fearful that my readers would doubt MY FLAWS within their own recovery. But in reality, I can also go through those ebbs and flows, when I am in a ditch I can use my strength and knowledge, learn from that low point, pull myself up, and grow in the process of doing so!

I am no perfect picture of Eating Disorder Recovery, as there is not a perfect picture! Therefore, as I move through this new flow, this new process, this new year, I will cherish every moment, as it only allows me to grow, and mend that disconnect that has been lingering for a while now. Instead of setting expectations for this New Year, I will embrace my new flow, my growth with every high point and low point, and heal every wound with intentions, acceptance, recovery, love and care….and I encourage you to do so as well!

Happy New Flow my friends!