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

Be Your Own Advocate

Whether within recovery from poor self-image, people pleasing, lack of self worth, or an Eating Disorder, having a voice for yourself is crucial.

Advocacy is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily seem natural to us, in that we were never taught how to assert ourselves, promote ourselves and look out for the greater good of our souls. We grew up with parents, or guardians of some sort as our advocates, teachers, coaches, tutors, aids, peers, counselors, and even companies and government officials who speak on behalf of us. Within daily life, as an individual, the only advocate is yourself.

It takes courage, adjustment, and self-acceptance, but the moment you start to advocate for yourself, the moment you begin to look out for the greater good of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, the moment you talk on behalf of your soul, is when you will truly be advocating for yourself, and this is self care at its finest!

If you don’t advocate for your emotional well being who will?! No one. Because, you, and you only, are the one who knows your limitations, boundaries, feelings, emotions and state of wellbeing. The absence of advocacy calls for compliance, blurred boundaries, lack of care for one’s self, and pure exhaustion.

You cannot live a happy and fulfilling life if you are constantly filling up someone else’s cup from your own supply, because that will only run you dry, leaving other people underserved in the end. Think of yourself as a barista…. you cannot properly and sufficiently serve others if you haven’t had the chance to stock up the fridge, prep the machine, or serve yourself! You must be your own barista, and serve yourself first, before you can serve others.

I am a recovering people pleaser, and self-advocacy is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and with constant practice and time I have greatly improved! For a very long time I surrounded myself with friends that required constant service, in that I had hardly any time, if at all, to serve myself, metaphorically speaking, they were overly caffeinated individuals, and being their barista, I was at fault. It took me to the point of a breakdown that I realized I needed to speak up for myself. When a friend asks to go out for drinks during a busy week with school and work, I can now practice self advocacy by saying “I cant tonight because I don’t have it in me, I love you but I can’t.” Or sometimes I even say, “Thank you for the offer but I just need to have some time with Sean/myself/family.” It is OKAY to serve yourself, to advocate for yourself, to be honest and possibly displease others!

Advocacy is crucial in so many areas of our lives…

In Eating Disorder Recovery…

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for trust

-Advocate for treatment when needed

-Advocate for nourishment when needed

With friends

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for closure when needed

-Advocate for your self-care

With Work

-Advocate for your time

-Advocate for your professional and personal boundaries

-Advocate for your gender rights

-Advocate for EQUAL pay

-Advocate for a raise

-Advocate for a promotion

-Advocate for security

With yourself

-Advocate for nourishment

-Advocate for sleep

-Advocate for luxury

-Advocate for health

-Advocate for wellbeing

-Advocate for happiness

-Advocate for recovery

Lets advocate for self-advocacy! God knows that someone needs to stand up for your wellbeing!

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!

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!

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.