Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery is possible.

Posts tagged ‘beach’

“Taking Care Of Myself” Is Not A Euphemism.

I’ve just finished reading a great post from this ain’t livin’, ‘On ‘Taking Care of Your Body’ and Value Judgments’, & it got me to thinking – what does “taking care of myself” mean to me? Because while others may use those words as a euphemism for how “healthy” (aka thin & toned), or appealing i may appear to them, the truth is, that how i take care of myself , & the level to which i do so are very personal, & have very little to do with how other people define “taking care of themselves”.

So what does “taking care of myself” mean to me?
It means:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Spending time with friends
  • Speaking to myself with kind & loving words
  • Taking time out to relax (jigsaw puzzles, DVDs, colouring books, board games, or reading work great for me :))
  • Connecting with nature
  • Eating lots of fresh fruits & vegetables (oh how i love a big fruit salad or a fresh vegie juice!)
  • Moving my body in fun & gentle ways – like going to the beach, dancing, or even climbing trees! 🙂

It means making time for, & allowing myself, to nourish not only my body, but also my soul. It means being gentle with myself, & seeking out balance. And it has nothing at all to do with what i weigh or how toned my arms are.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
What do those words mean to you?

(Images via: We ♥ it.)


Day 2: Joyful Movement

Welcome to Day 2 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) 🙂

So lovely to see so many new names visiting my blog & the lifeinfullcolour Facebook page – it’s great to have you along on this adventure 🙂 Today’s theme is Joyful Movement, but if you are just joining us, feel free to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1 🙂

I have always loved moving my body, & especially like “outdoorsy” type activities.  I love hiking, kayaking, cycyling, running, & going to the beach. I like team sports like netball or cricket (on a social level), & i love all kinds of dancing. Kickboxing is also really fun 🙂

When i first began struggling with an eating disorder, i was still engaged in these activities, though my motivation & focus began to shift – instead of exercising for enjoyment, i began to exercise for weightloss. Instead of long peaceful bike rides around the park, where i would enjoy observing the people & the trees, & breathing in the clear air around me, i began to ride laps, around & around & around the block, oblivious to the world around me, & focused soley on how long & how far i could push myself to burn more calories. Instead of running to clear my head, & observe the power & strength in my legs & the sound of my feet on the pavement, i began to run as a punishment for “being fat” or “eating too much”.

As my illness progressed i eventually gave up all of those “outdoorsy” activities that i had loved so much, in favour of daily workouts in the gym, where i could time my workouts, & monitor how many calories i was burning – there were no pleasant distractions there to break my focus on ‘thin’. Exercise had become a compulsion, rather than a joyful pastime, & i exercised through both illness & injury. Exercise had become “torturcise”*.

The sad truth is, that you don’t need to be struggling with an eating disorder in order to have an awkward & conflicted relationship with exercise.

It is incredibly rare to hear any sort of talk about exercise, without hearing talk of weight-loss. This focus on exercise for weight-loss shifts our focus, & turns the movement of our bodies away from pleasure, & toward the path of tortucise. TV shows like The Biggest Loser (oh how i despise that show!), as well as more general advertising for gyms & exercise equipment, tell us we “should” exercise, & promote a “no pain, no gain” approach that focuses solely on weight-loss, rather than total body health & vitality. There is certainly no talk from them about exercise for enjoyment, & with a “no pain, no gain” message & images of people huffing & puffing, & slogging it away in gyms, is it really any wonder that so many of us dread exercise?

(Me, at a playground in Melbourne in 2009)

As a child, i was never concerned with “exercise” – i don’t even recall using the term! To me, those sorts of activities – riding my bike, going swimming – were simply “play”. I loved going to the park & swinging on the swings, i loved climbing trees, & not once did it cross my mind that “i have to do this” – i did these things because they were FUN.

Do YOU remember what it felt like to play?

Day 2 – Joyful Movement:

My challenge to you today, is to PLAY! 🙂

  1. Remember
    Think back to when you were a child – what was your favourite outdoor play activity?
    Did you like climbing trees?
    Swinging or sliding at the park?
    Did you like playing tag?
    What about going to the beach?
  2. Connect
    Try to connect with the feelings you had while you were engaged in those activities.
    Did you feel excitement?
    Did you feel joy?
    If so, you have found your play activity for the day!
  3. Make time to play! 🙂
    If your joyful play activity was climbing trees, your challenge is to go exploring – seek out the best climbing tree you can find, & climb it! 🙂
    If your joyful play activity was swinging or sliding, find a playground with some lovely big swings, or a long twisty slide, & have a go! 🙂
    Find some friends to play tag with, or if you have children in your life, play with them! Share your playful joy 🙂
  4. Remember – there is no age limit on play.
    Despite what society might tell us about needing to “grow up” & “be an adult”, play can be an enjoyable & health-promoting activity for everyone – of any age! So get out there & have some fun! 🙂

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Joyful Movement will be permeating my posts. And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Joyful Movement Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! 🙂

(Images via: We ♥ it.)

*The word “torturcise” was used in the book ‘Biting The Hand That Starves You – Inspiring Resistance To Anorexia/Bulimia‘ in reference to compulsive exercise.

Things To Be Thankful For – Kick-starting The Year With Gratitude

  • Carpet picnics, with amazing salads & beautiful friends
  • Raw vegan cheesecakes

    (And yes, i did eat all of these! 🙂 Not all at once though!)
  • Lazing on the grass by the beach, with a book & an ocean breeze
  • Oh-so-juicy nectarines
  • Cuddles from my sister
  • Kitty cats in party hats
  • Sunshine
  • Fresh vegie juices
  • Being called “darling” by the lady at the fruit shop
  • This amazing drawing from my little sister C.! 🙂
  • Kitty cat cuddles
  • Bright Summer dresses
  • An amazing new pillow – firm & fluffy all at once!
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Lovely big bunches of local organic basil
  • The delicious almond & basil pesto i made from it 🙂
  • My ‘recovery’ playlist
  • Some beautiful new cushions for my bed 🙂
  • Big balls of string
  • Hot glue guns (i got crafty ;))
  • Laughing out loud 🙂

What are you thankful for this week?

Don’t Put Off Your Happy Life

“We give up the things we love, in order to chase what society tells us we need to be happy. But we will never find happiness through the giving up of what we love – in fact, it is only through a loving participation in those things, & through loving ourselves that we will ever find true happiness.” ~ lifeinfullcolour

I recorded this insight in an email to my psychologist during my trip to America, back in August – a trip which was filled with insights & growth, & one of the most recovery-strengthening experiences of my life.

I had been reflecting on my recovery, & all that i had gained thus far during my journey (both my broader recovery journey, as well as my physical journey to the US), & i realised, that the things that i was now able to find so much joy in, had always brought me joy, but more importantly, had always been available to me.

When i became entrenched in my eating disorder, i began to give up a lot of the things that made me happy, in order to chase society’s thin ideal. I gave up going out with my friends, i gave up going to parties. I gave up inviting people over for dinner, i gave up eating dinner. I gave up going to the beach, i gave up going to uni, i gave up going anywhere at all. I gave up all of these things & more, because they “got in the way” of my eating disorder. Now when i look back, i realise that i had actually let my eating disorder get in the way of my life.

I realised while i was in America, cooking & enjoying meals with friends, swimming, going out, meeting new people (experiences i had reclaimed during my recovery) that i don’t need to be thin in order to do these things. I don’t need to be thin to be happy – i can be happy right now. And knowing that it is possible for me to be happy right here & now at this weight, makes it easier for me to resist those voices that say “lose weight & you will be happy”. I have the experience now to say that being thin in no way guarantees happiness, nor does being a higher weight guarantee misery. When i keep this is mind, it makes it easier for me to “yes!” to life, rather than no, to get out there & do the things i love – the things that bring me joy – & not let my appearance hold me back.

So my challenge to you today, is to think about what it is that you would really love to do – & go out & do it! Don’t let your weight, shape, or appearance become an excuse for not living your own happy life.
Life may be a rollercoaster, but it has no height (or weight, or any other) restriction that you must meet before you can hop on – in fact, you are on that rollercoaster already, so you might as well enjoy it!

Your mantra for the day?

I will not use my appearance as an excuse to put off my happy life. I live my life fully & with joy, right now – i will not wait to be thinner/more toned/more anything in order to be happy.

What will you do today to live a happy life?

Breaking All The Rules

When it comes to the beach, society seems to burden us with a long list of unwritten rules.
The most common of which seem to revolve around body shapes & sizes, & who, depending on those shapes & sizes, is allowed to participate in the joys of this beautiful ocean environment.

How many times have you agonised over what you might look like on the beach?
Whether that tummy bulge is too prominent for a bikini?
Whether those jiggly thighs should be hidden away beneath boardshorts?
How many times have you missed out on the joys of the beach, because you believed your body simply wasn’t good enough to be present there?

Yes, there is pressure from society to follow these ‘rules of acceptability’, but who makes up this society?
I do.
And you do too.
We are the people that are helping to create & enforce these invisible rules.
And guess what – they aren’t going to change unless WE change them.

I love the beach.
I love the smell of the salt spray in the air.
I love the sound of the waves breaking, & their foamy white crashes over mossy green rocks.
I love the feeling of soft, warm sand between my toes.
I love the way the crisp, cool water leaves me breathless, as i first wade out from the beach.
I love the clear water, & the shadows that dance on the sand beneath my feet.
But most of all, i love the waves. In fact, i adore them.
I love to watch them roll in towards me, & i love picking which ones to jump or swim under.
I love swimming right out beyond the other swimmers, to where the surfers sit resting on their boards waiting for that perfect wave.
I love to fight them for it 😉
I love that when i am in that water, i am entirely present & completely in the moment – there is never another thought in my mind outside of that wave rolling in towards me.

Today, i needed that peace.
Today i needed that calm.
But what about those rules?

Well, pretty much – they suck.
I do not exist to be asthetically pleasing to others.
It is not my job to manipulate & modify my body shape, or pick out clothes (including a swimsuit), based on what will make others feel comfortable.
It is not my job, & i have given up on trying to make it so.

Today i went to the beach, bulgy little tummy, jiggly thighs & all.
I went swimming in a t-shirt & knee-length leggings, because i don’t own a swimsuit that fits me.
Yes, people looked at me a little funny, when i first put my towel down, & trotted off to the waters edge with my clothes still on.
But guess what? They didn’t really care. And even if they did, i didn’t.
I do not exist to be asthetically pleasing to others. I exist for my own reasons.
And one of them, is to live joyously & with freedom.

Jumping & diving, over & under those waves felt amazing.
Bobbing around in the cool clear water, i felt strong & relaxed at the same time – my body felt strong & my my mind was clear.
It was exactly what i needed – a beautiful, healing moment.

Next time you go to the beach, & you find yourself agonising over those rules – stop.
And take a moment to consider if there is anyone who would truly benefit from you following them.
Then, consider who might benefit if you didn’t.

Be brave. Break the rules.
I guarantee that a world of joyous new opportunities will open up to you.
And by opening yourself up to those experiences, you will be helping others to break those rules too.
Show people that you don’t always have to do what society deems acceptable. Help change what acceptable means.
We ARE society. We have the power.

And when you get the chance to swim (or dance, or sing, or anything else that fills you with joy), i hope you throw those rules out the window – i hope you choose to swim.
It was certainly the best decision i made all day 🙂

It’s just really struck me this year that:

a) it is not my responsibility to make other people feel comfortable with my appearance, &
b) by obeying these unwritten rules that society has created, i am helping reinforce them – i am taking part in their creation & maintenance.

To heck with rules – i’m gonna swim! 🙂