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!

An Honest Look At Body Image Within Eating Disorder Recovery – Series pt. 1

No thigh gap, no problem!!

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 recovery. 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.

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

I use these words carefully, in that when I say “see ourself”, 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 ourself. 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!

Love yourself!!!

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, NOONE, 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 still it won’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, and all of this 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.

Therefore, with the holidays approaching, and the new year creeping up on us, I believe it is time to take this oh so difficult part of recovery 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 recovery….and with each other….we will get through this together!

As you move through this weekend, 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!

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.