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

Posts tagged ‘body acceptance’

I Don’t Have An Eating Disorder

“I don’t have an eating disorder.”

I have uttered those words so many times in the past 4 years.

“I am not sick. I am not thin. I don’t need treatment. These is nothing wrong with me. I am fine, fine, fine, fine, FINE.”

Even after multiple hospital admissions due to complications from my disorder, even after starting treatment, i was still in denial for a very long time.

“I don’t have an eating disorder. I just have “food issues.””

In fact, it was not until my second year of treatment that i was able to admit to having an eating disorder. It was not until then that i could say those words & not feel like a fraud.

My thoughts last year, had been to finish up with treatment in December, just before the holiday break. Therapy had been going incredibly well & i had made a lot of progress, & my psychologist was also about to resign. My ED behaviours were under control, & any lapses were only momentary. My life was not lived according to the rules devised by my disorder, & i felt ready to pursue the next chapter of my life & my recovery on my own. Things came up however, & i felt rather overwhelmed – my biggest, & really my only lingering trigger for ED behaviours – & although i had stopped seeing my psychologist, i continued my connection with my dietitian.

Yesterday i met with my her for the first time this year – it had been 5 weeks since we’d last met. Those 5 weeks had been challenging for me in many ways, but not overwhelming. I had managed to navigate my way over, under, around, & through any challenges that had popped up, & i had resisted any urges to return to my disordered behaviours. I had enjoyed blogging here over the holiday break, & it had helped to keep me afloat during those challenging moments. It was not an easy time, but i got through it – the wonderful story of my life these days! 🙂

When we met yesterday, keeping in mind my progress, & my thoughts on finishing treatment, my dietitian asked me what i would like from our sessions – what did i need? Where to from here? It was a simple question for me to answer, & a joyous answer to give 🙂

“It might sound funny, because i guess i have known this for a long time, but it hasn’t really hit me until now… But i really do know what i am doing with food now. I know what foods make me feel energised & strong. I know which foods don’t. I know how much i need to eat to feel good, & how frequently. I know what it’s like to feel hungry, &  satiated, & i can respond to those cues – the way i eat now is determined by how i feel, rather than a set of ridiculous rules.  And i found myself thinking, “What else is there? I don’t think there is anything else.””

She agreed wholeheartedly with me, & with that we decided to meet once more, in a month, & if all is well to say our goodbyes 🙂

I have come to realise over this holiday break (& again, it sounds somewhat strange, even to me, that this realisation is only just “hitting me” now), that i don’t have an eating disorder. I am well & truly in recovery from an eating disorder.

I am no longer afraid of food. In fact, cooking & eating food is one of the greatest joys in my life! Most people i know would not hesitate to call me a “real foodie!” – a claim that is undeniably true yet equally shocking, for those who know of my past. In fact, it is true, that i have now discovered a freedom around food, that many of my friends & family are yet to acquire for themselves. Most of the time, i am able to eat very intuitively, eating what i want, when i want it, & trusting my body to balance everything out – i eat for enjoyment as well as nourishment. I love cooking & sharing food with others, & i love trying new foods. I. Love. To. Eat. 🙂

I am also incredibly accepting of my body now. Sure i have days where i look at myself in the mirror, & my eyes zone in on my thighs or my tummy, & i find myself thinking “My thighs are so fat. My tummy is so bulgy. I would look so much better if i lost a little weight”. Sure i have days where i feel utterly miserable based on whether or not i can fit comfortably into my jeans. But these thoughts & feelings now rarely dictate my behaviour – they don’t dictate how much i eat, how much i exercise, or whether or not i can leave the house. They don’t dictate my worth as a human being, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter… I am lovely, & i am loved, & those things do not change in relation to my jeans size 🙂 It is now much easier for me to resist the urges to manipulate & reduce my body’s shape & size, because i know that those things have no bearing on who i am as a person – i know that what i look like does not make me any more or any less of a remarkable human being, & my self worth is no longer tied up in my appearance & my ability to manipulate it.

After 3 years of treatment, i am now able to say “i don’t have an eating disorder”. I can say those words & know deep within myself, that these are no longer words of denial. They are not a denial of my current state of health, nor are they though a denial of my past. I don’t have an eating disorder, but i did suffer greatly with one in the past. There are still some lingering symptoms & signs – the way restriction still pops into my head as an option when i’m feeling overwhelmed, the lingering digestive issues that my body & i are still working on healing, the struggle i have to moderate my level of activity…. But i do not have an eating disorder. Today, no words have ever felt truer than “I am in recovery.” 🙂

(Images via: We ♥ it.)

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Day 6: A Continuing Exploration Of Health At Every Size

First of all, an apology to those of you who have been hanging out for this final post in lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) – i have been away for the past few days, & unfortunately didn’t have time to write up this post before i left.

Thankyou for being so patient! 🙂

If you are just joining us now, you might also like to go back & try the challenges from my previous posts in this series:

These posts were intended to give you a small taste of what life might be like if you ditched the deprivation & guilt that comes from a dieting approach to health & beauty. It was my hope to give you a taste of the alternative – a non-dieting, health at every size approach, which honours your body’s internal wisdom, & nourishes not only your body, but also your heart & soul. I wanted to remind you that you are worth looking after – you are deserving of your own kindness, love, & respect.

There is so much more out there to discover & learn about ‘Health At Every Size‘, & today’s post is about encouraging you & sharing a few simple ways that you might like to continue exploring the idea of HAES 🙂

A really great place to start learning more about a Health At Every Size approach & exploring what that could look like for you, is following blogs that encourage a non-dieting, self-nourishing approach to health. Sites that help you to dissect the messages you receive in the media & elsewhere about what it means to be healthy or beautiful, & give you an alternative perspective or course of action. Sites that remind you that you CAN be happy, & you CAN be healthy, no matter what your jeans size, & give you the encouragement & support you need to believe it.

Two of my favourite blogs, & two that you simply must explore, are Beautiful You, & Dances With Fat. Each of these blogs have really helped me to dissect the messages i had been recieving about my beauty & worth & helped me to unhinge these from my size & shape, realising that they are in fact two separate things & that my beauty & worth is not dependant of my size or shape.

Beautiful You taught me that i am worthy of love, respect, & self-care, right now. Exactly as i am. No exceptions – & certainly not an exception based on my body size! Dances With Fat taught me that it IS possible to be fat AND healthy, but more importantly, that being fat is not a reason to give up your life to dieting – you can live a beautiful & rich lifeinfullcolour WHATEVER size you are! 🙂

There are SO many other wonderful blogs out there though, & i encourage you to seek them out. A great starting point is to check out Medicinal Marzipan‘s list of Body Image Warriors, & Nourishing The Soul‘s list of Nourishing Blogs. Also, keep an eye out on lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page for shout-outs & links to other great pages 🙂

If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating, & perhaps starting your own journey towards normal eating, it’s really important to have support, & there is no better place to find that it than from a qualified dietitian. If you are in Australia, try the Dietitians Association Of Australia, or if you are in America, The American Dietetics Association.

Experiment with different foods. Rediscover old favourites. Make time to cook. Share a meal with friends. Go out for dinner at your favourite restaurant. Try a new restaurant. Notice the different textures of foods. Notice the different flavours. Eat by candlelight. Eat in the sunshine. Eat what makes you happy. Listen to your body. Eat what makes IT happy. Stop being so angry with pizza. Stop being so angry with yourself. Forgive. Enjoy 🙂

If you want to find joy in movement, forget what you’ve been told about “exercise”, & think outside the box. Think back to when you were a kid – play. Explore different ways of moving your body. Try rock climbing, soccer, hula-hooping – run off & join the circus! Dance, swim, bounce on a trampoline. Try yoga. Do somersaults. Cartwheel. Walk, skip, jump, & twirl. Swing, slide, or climb trees. Move because it is fun. Move because it makes you feel strong. Give up the torturcise. Explore & discover what makes YOU happy! 🙂

Remember –

And most importantly?
Remember that you CAN be happy, AND healthy, at any size! 🙂

Thankyou all for joining me this past week – it really has been wonderful to have you here 🙂 I hope you have found some enjoyment & value in my challenges this week, & i hope you they have been helpful in giving you a small taste of what it would be like to ditch the deprivation & guilt, & begin to nourish your body & mind. If you would like to share your thoughts with me on any of these challenges (or on anything else!) feel feel to drop by & leave a comment on lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page, or shoot me an email 🙂

Have a beautiful, glorious day 🙂

Day 4: Self-Acceptance

Welcome to Day 4 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) :)

Today’s theme is Self-Acceptance, but if you are just joining us now, you might like to go back & try my Self-Care Challenge from Day 1,  Joyful Movement Challenge from Day 2, or my Intuitive Eating Challenge from Day 3 🙂

(Image via: We ♥ it.)

In Day 1: Self-Care, i recalled the times when i had neglected my own needs in favour of taking care of others. What i was really conveying through that behaviour, was a belief i had that the needs of others were more important than my own – i didn’t feel that i deserved the same love & care that i was giving to others. I never felt deserving, because i never felt “good enough”. I was constantly striving to be better, more “perfect” – i felt i had to “earn” self-love & the love of others.

“You are not good enough” was a message that permeated my life, & i spent so many years trying to become “good enough”. I studied things i had no interest in because “i should”. I tried to get top marks because anything less was “not good enough”. I tried to change my appearance because there was always someone telling me i could look “better”. Can you relate to any of these things?


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

In all those years of trying to become “good enough”, it never occurred to me that i had the power to change what “good enough” meant. It never occurred to me that i could just stop & say to myself “Hey, you know what? You ARE good enough – who you are right now is good enough. You don’t need to change a thing to earn that.” It wasn’t until a year or two ago, that i realised the power of self-acceptance – “I might not fit everyone else’s definition of “good enough”, but that is okay. I am okay.”

To me, self-acceptance isn’t so much about accepting the way you look, as it is about accepting yourself as a person. I found that once i had learnt to accept & love myself as a person, it was a very natural progression to accepting my body. Once i realised what an amazing human being i am – & that i am worthy of acceptance & love exactly as i am right now – i stopped wanting to change myself, & that included changing my appearance. I realised that i don’t need to be flawless in order to be loved, & that it is entirely possible to love & accept who you are without loving your appearance.

The funny thing is, once i learnt to love myself as a person, once i stopped being so afraid of showing my true self, my true beauty was revealed to myself & the world – once i had learnt to love myself, i learnt to respect myself, & that was reflected in how i looked after my own body. Instead of looking at a pretty new dress & thinking “I don’t deserve it” or “I’m not thin enough/pretty enough/good enough to wear that”, i began to think “I’m worth it” instead. As Medicinal Marzipan says in her brilliant post “Thoughts On Being A “Pretty Fat Girl”“:

People will be attracted to you if you love yourself. That is a fact. And it often has very little to do with your actual weight. Because when you love yourself: you stand differently, you smile like you mean it, you extend kindness and warmth because you can see outside of your little shell of pain, and you dress in a way that is both comfortable and flattering instead of trying to hide your body away or make it something that it’s not.

And it’s really not about having a pretty face. It’s about having a compassionate and loving heart, and teaching yourself to accept your perceived flaws and make the absolute best out of every moment.

My challenge for you today is to explore your magnificence. Yep, you heard me – YOU are MAGNIFICENT 🙂

While self-acceptance is not just about accepting the parts of ourselves that we do like, it can be a good place to start. When we are caught up in thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve this”, it is easy for us to forget what it is we do like about ourselves, & to forget that we contain any wonder or magnificence at all.

Day 4 – Self-Acceptance:
Get your pens & paper out for today’s challenge, because it is list time! 🙂

  1. I am awesome because…
    Write a list of things you like about who you are as a person.
    Perhaps it is your compassion or kind heart, perhaps it is your quirky sense of humour, or perhaps your generosity & goodwill.
    Perhaps it is something entirely different! 🙂
  2. My body is awesome because…
    What do you like about your body?
    I like my quirky wayward eyebrow, & my pudgy little tummy.
    Perhaps you like the colour of your skin, or a special birth mark.
  3. I am good at…
    Instead of focusing on what you “can’t” do, or what you find challenging, focus on what you can do – each & every one of us has our own special talents 🙂
  4. I am learning to…
    What are you learning about yourself & the world around you?
    How are you growing & changing?
    Perhaps you are learning to play a new instrument, or perhaps you are learning something more intangible – to live a lifeinfullcolour perhaps? 😉

Aim for a minimum of 5 answers in each category, but feel free to write 50 if you’d like to! 🙂
And try not to beat yourself up too much if 5 seems difficult – many of us have been so conditioned to believe that we are not “good enough” that it can be difficult to see past that to our talents & beauty. But if you give this challenge a go anyway, that gives you some other things to add to your talent list – determination & bravery! 🙂

Try to keep your focus on these things throughout the day 🙂

Perhaps for an extra challenge (i know, i’m tough – aren’t i? :P), you might like to try practising some positivity – after all, there is no better way to change an “I’m not good enough” into an “I am awesome – just as i am” 🙂 (Which, you are – just so you know ;))

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today – & prepare yourself for a bombardment of posts inspiring self-acceptance & self-love! 🙂 And please feel free to share with me there, or here on the blog how you have found today’s Self-Acceptance Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

Protection From Fear, Through Shame

I have an appointment with a psychologist in the morning, at the ED clinic where i have been attending outpatient treatment since my diagnosis. I have met this lady just once before in the week before Christmas, not long after my former treating psychologist resigned. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but i survived it. I felt my fear, & it did not kill me.

Thinking about my appointment tomorrow, i am again filled with fear – although i didn’t realise that at first. At first i just felt fat. And i am feeling fatter & fatter as time wears on – my thighs suddenly seem much larger, & i am acutely aware in a way i was not previously, of the way they brush together as i walk. My clothes feel tighter, & the thought of picking out something to wear tomorrow that will “fit” me, causes them to squeeze tighter around my body – You don’t have anything to wear. Nothing fits you. Your fat is bulging out everywhere – you can feel it. See it? You can’t go out looking like that. You can’t go out with your fat bulging out everywhere. Disgusting…. neg’s voice (not overly abusive, but niggling) encourages an urge to check my body – to size it up in the mirror & make sure nothing has changed. I resist. I resist for two reasons; 1) I know that if i look in the mirror, i will only see what neg wants me to see, & 2) He’s lying – & i can recognise that without the aid of a mirror.

neg used to win these battles with me time & time again. Mornings were HELL. My ex-partner G. would agree, that getting me to leave the house was painfully difficult. neg had so many rules for me – You cannot leave the house without having a shower. You must shampoo your hair twice, then condition it once. You are only allowed to use this one brand of shampoo & conditioner…. There were many, many others. Picking out an outfit was the most traumatic part of the morning – i would try on dozens of combinations of clothing, checking each one in the mirror as i went, trying to find something “acceptable”. Your stomach is way to flabby to wear that top. Those pants make your thighs look huge. You can’t wear a sleeveless top – look how fat your arms are! Disgusting! After what could sometimes take hours, i would often end up in tears, resigned to the idea that i couldn’t possibly expose the world to my hideous body, & should stay at home instead. If i did make it out of the house, it was usually in black skinny jeans & a baggy black hoodie, hoping i wouldn’t draw any attention to myself.

As time went on, & i progressed in treatment (most notably once i had re-nourished my brain), neg’s voice became softer & less threatening – more of a niggle than the violent & foul-mouthed abuse i had become so terrified of at the height of my illness. It was then that i began to notice a pattern to neg’s abuse – while there was almost always that niggling voice in the back of my mind, there were other times when his “anger” flared up again, & it was back to the screaming criticisms & torment of the past. These days, i found, were usually days on which i had a therapy or dietetics appointment scheduled. neg’s abuse on those days saw me cancel a lot of my treatment appointments.

There was one day though, when i decided to push through the torment – i followed neg’s rules around my ‘leaving the house’ routine, but when he said that i had absolutely nothing even close to acceptable to wear, & that i couldn’t possibly go out looking the way i did, i went out anyway. And that’s when the real trouble started. During my 40 minute trip to the ED clinic, neg hurled abuse at me – You are repulsive! Look at you – you’re disgusting! How DARE you go out looking like that?! But his abuse wasn’t only related to my appearance – You aren’t even sick – you’re just wasting their time. There are so many sick people out there, & you are just taking up their space. You are so selfish! They hate you there you know…

I had always known that if i “disobeyed” neg’s orders, i would face a cruel backlash – that’s why i followed his rules for so long – but for some reason, that once day, i found it rather interesting to observe how this “backlash” was playing out. First he criticised my appearance & told me i should stay home. Then, when i left home anyway, he criticised my appearance again in the hopes of getting me to turn back. When i again failed to react in the way i was “supposed” to, he left appearance & shame aside, & focused on guilt instead, hoping he could convince me that i was undeserving of treatment, & cancel my appointment. I realised that this really was his goal in every case that morning – for me to not attend my appointment. And this left me curious – what was it about going to therapy that day that scared him so much?

Tonight i am asking myself that same question – what is it about attending this appointment tomorrow that has me so scared? Why has neg’s voice reappeared to protect me? Even to me that sounds somewhat strange – this idea that neg is protecting me – considering the violent & foul-mouthed abuse he can hurl in my direction, but that is exactly what he is trying to do right now – he is trying to protect me from my fear, through shame. Trying to make me feel so bad about myself, that i won’t want to leave the house, & will therefore avoid whatever threat awaits me in my psychologist’s office.

Thinking back to the day when i first asked myself that question – what is it that is scaring neg (me) so much? – i remember sitting with my fear in the waiting room. I remember sitting with it in my therapy session. I sat with it, & i felt it – & it was horrible. But when i think back to that day, there is something i remember more than my fear, & that is the freedom i felt after leaving that appointment. But it was not the leaving the gave that me that relief, it was the fact that i had been there. I had talked about some scary stuff, & i had felt uncomfortable while i did so, but they were things that needed to be said, & once they had been, they were gone, & i was free to go about my day in peace. neg was quiet for the rest of the afternoon – in fact i didn’t hear a peep. The threat was gone, not through avoidance, but through confrontation.

I know that getting to tomorrow’s appointment will be hard – i know that it will very likely be a “fat” day, & i know that i will face some of that internal torment & abuse from neg. But i also know, that i can face my fear & feel it – i CAN feel that fear AND go to my appointment. And i also know that, as with everything, this fear shall pass.

How can you confront your fear today?

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?


The Start Of Something Big

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
~ Thomas Jefferson

While people the world over, will be using January 1st as a kick-start to achieving their resolutions, i’m going to use this day to kick off a reVolution.

I am joining hundreds of others in a revolution that will flood the blogosphere & social networks with Health At Every Size (HAES), body-accepting, & self-loving messages. At a time when diet, “fitness” & other weightloss companies will try to saturate us with negative messages about our bodies & make us false promises, we are fighting back – we are saying “Enough!” to body image bullying. We are taking a stand. And you can too.

Throughout the month of January, i will be exploring & embracing a Health At Every Size (HAES) approach to health.

Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

I will be posting quotes, messages, videos, images, & articles on the lifeinfullcolour Facebook page that inspire body acceptance, self-love, & a HAES, non-dieting approach to health. I will be sharing here at lifeinfullcolour, the steps i am taking to honour my body & my mind, & offering small, achievable challenges to help you explore what it would be like to nourish your own body & mind.


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

Take a stand. If you are tired of diets, if you are tired of the negative, body-bullying messages we are bombarded with, if you are tired of feeling afraid of food, tired of living a life of deprivation & denial, join the revolution! You can be a part of something big.


Another Splash Of Colour

Why hello there lovely people 🙂

Just wanted to let you know, that lifeinfullcolour now has a Facebook page!

I wanted to create a space where i could share even more with you – those exciting developments in the field of eating disorders, those interesting articles & blog posts on self-love, media literacy, & body acceptance…..all those little things that are not quite big enough to post about here, but simply too good not to share.

I’ll also be posting my some incredible quotes & encouraging images, to help bring a little more colour to your day 🙂

I really hope you will join me over at lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page.

Until next time – have a super shiny happy day 🙂