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

Posts tagged ‘deprivation’

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 3: Intutitive Eating

Welcome to Day 3 of lifeinfullcolour’s 6-Day Exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES) :)

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

When i was very entrenched in my eating disorder, it was clear that i was not eating intuitively – my body & mind were starving, but i continued to ignore any signals of hunger. Other times, i would ignore my body’s signals of fullness. When i entered treatment, & began my journey to normal eating, it was of course extremely difficult, but that difficulty was made worse by the fact that by that stage, i was completely unaware of what it was like to feel hungry, & what it was like to feel full. After ignoring those hunger signals for so long, i could no longer recognise them. The simple message of “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” was impossible for me, because i didn’t know what hungry or full was. And so i relied on a meal plan for quite a while, until those hunger signals returned to my awareness.

You don’t need to have suffered an eating disorder to have a complicated relationship with food & eating, or to be confused about whether you are hungry or not. Messages you may have received as a child, such as “eat everything on your plate”, can conflict with the dieting mentality of our adult world. With so many mixed messages around what we should or shouldn’t eat, how much, how frequently, it is no wonder that we feel confused!

Do any of these statements ring true for you?

  • I always “clean my plate”, eating whatever is on it, even if i am not hungry
  • I sometimes feel hungry, but don’t allow myself to eat because it not breakfast/lunchtime/dinnertime yet
  • I try to restrict my eating, & often feel hungry, but i try & use my “willpower” to ignore those signals
  • I sometimes eat beyond my hunger, & keep eating, even though i feel very uncomfortable
  • I avoid eating foods i really love, because they are “bad”, “fattening” or “unhealthy”
  • I sometimes binge on the foods i love, because i don’t let myself eat them very often
  • I find the message “eat when you are hungry, & stop when you are full” to be a real challenge
  • I often feel guilty about eating

What is “Intuitive Eating”?

Intuitive eating looks much the same as “normal eating“. It teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with food & eating, by encouraging you to trust in your own body’s wisdom. It teaches you to distinguish between physical & emotional hunger, & to make food choices that honour yourself & your body’s needs.

Intuitive eating helped free me from a fear of food. Most people who meet me now, would have no idea that i have struggled with an eating disorder, that i would cry over dinner, or could take 3 hours to eat an apple (yep – that actually happened once!). I am now able to recognise my hunger & satiety (fullness) signals, & i am able to trust in my body to look after my health & maintain my weight. I have a freedom around food that i never thought possible, but it took a lot of hard work to get here.

Intuitive eating can be really difficult, or even scary, but it IS possible to find peace in food & eating. 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 dietician. If you are in Australia, try the Dietitians Association Of Australia, or if you are in America, The American Dietetics Association.


(Image via: StumbleUpon)

Because i am not a qualified dietitian, i am not going to encourage or challenge anyone to change their way of eating. Instead, my challenge for you today, is to try & reconnect with your hunger & satiety signals.

Day 3 – Intuitive Eating:

  1. Notice
    Throughout the day, try to notice what your body is telling you about how hungry or full you feel
  2. Guage
    Using the hunger scale below, see if you can work out where you hunger fits on the scale

     

    • 10 – Stuffed – nauseous, ill, cannot eat any more
    • 9 – Very Uncomfortable – tired, bloated, may need to loosen clothes
    • 8 – Uncomfortably Full – feel you have eaten too much
    • 7 – Full – cannot comfortably eat any more
    • 6 – Comfortable – not hungry, not full – satisfied, but could “squeeze in” a little more
    • 5 – Slightly Hungry – begin to notice hunger, thinking about eating
    • 4 – Hungry – ready to eat
    • 3 – Very Hungry – stomach is rumbling
    • 2 – Extremely Hungry – irritable, unable to concentrate
    • 1 – Starving – weak, light-headed

Today’s challenge is all about exploration & awareness – try not to have any judgements around where you fit on the hunger & fullness scale at any given moment. Instead try to approach this challenge with a sense of curiosity & exploration, & remember this is not about changing how you eat, but about simply noticing your body’s experience. If you find this challenge particularly difficult, please seek out support.

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Intuitive Eating 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 Intuitive Eating Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! :)

(Unless specified, Images via: We ♥ it.)

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.


New Year’s Resolutions

Giving up on giving up

Why is it that New Year’s Resolutions are so often about giving something up? Giving up smoking, giving up food, losing weight, etc. By “resolving” to give something up, we are setting ourselves up to feel deprived, & feelings of deprivation rarely do anything to enhance our mood. In fact, our desire for satisfaction is so strong, that any feelings of deprivation we may have are likely to see us rush right back into the comforting arms of what we have “given up”. We want to feel satisfied, & why shouldn’t we?

Now, i’m not saying that you should keep smoking, or continue to engage in behaviours that are otherwise damaging to your health or well-being – if you are keen to make positive changes in your life, then by all means, go for it! But perhaps it would be helpful to think of thee changes in a different way – rather than “giving up” something, what if we were to gain something instead?

What if, instead of “giving up” smoking, your resolution was to increase your cardiovascular health? To breathe more freely & deeply? To save money? What if, instead of losing weight, your resolution was to develop a deeper connection to your body? To nourish yourself? To find a fun new way to move your body? What if your New Year’s resolution was about increasing your positive experiences, rather than trying to eliminate others?

All or nothing – or something else?

“Resolution” sounds so final – so all or nothing. It sounds so rigid – so inflexible. While setting goals is great for giving us a sense of purpose & direction, “resolving” to do something doesn’t leave much room for error or adjustment. When we set ourselves up to feel deprived, we make it difficult for ourselves to maintain any changes we make. So what happens then, if we have resolved to maintain this “deprivation”? How do we feel if for some reason we were not able to maintain those changes?

Most people i know who make New Year’s resolutions, feel guilty if they were unable to maintain the changes they had resolved so adamantly to adhere to. Even if it was through no fault of their own, they blame themselves – they blame their lack of “willpower”, their “lack” of organisation, or any other of their perceived “lackings” or “inabilities”. They approached their resolutions with an all or nothing attitude, & did not allow themselves the patience & flexibility they needed to really grow & develop, or to learn new skills. There was no contingency plan, & no space for wrong turns.

A resolution to recover

I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but on December 31st, 2007, i made a resolution for the upcoming year. I was sharing my evening with friends, & when one of them insisted we write down a resolution, i felt obliged to join in. I had recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder, & was awaiting treatment at a specialist eating disorders service.  My resolution that year (although i can’t remember it’s exact wording), was to “give up” my eating disorder – to stay out hospital (which was, at that time, a regular occurrence), leave my ED behaviours behind, & find happiness & health. I know, right? Talk about setting myself up!

The resolution i made (while well-intentioned), went against every piece of advice i have given here. First of all, i set myself up for some major deprivation – i was completely entrenched in my disorder, reliant on it in so many ways, & stuck in a pattern of behaviour that had just as much to do with physiology as it did with psychology. I was in no real position to “give that up” yet.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a very long process, but my resolution seemed to ignore that fact, & insist instead, that i could recover by the end of the following year. It left me no room for the backward & forward steps of the recovery dance. It left me no room to test out new skills & techniques. No room to seek medical help if i needed it. It didn’t really leave much room for anything other than “success”. Needless to say, i did not keep my resolution that year. Within weeks i was back in hospital again to be stabilised, & i continued to have multiple emergency room admissions throughout the year. I was not able to “give up” my eating disorder behaviours, & health & happiness continued to elude me.

Despite how it sounds, i did make some incredible progress in that first year of treatment. It was a year of progress, not perfection – the beginning of my journey to recovery, with steps taken bite by bite. These changes could have been the result of a more powerful resolution – a resolution that focused on that idea of progress, rather than absolute perfection. And it is this idea – progress, not perfection – that now helps to guide me through my goal-setting.

A change of wording can make all the difference

Since that December back in 2007, i have not made any new resolutions – New Year’s or otherwise. I have, however, set myself some goals. To me, goals are much more flexible than a resolution. While a resolution is by definition fixed & unwavering, goals can be adjusted, or changed completely. A goal, is something you would live to have, or do, or be – it is something to strive for. But if you decide one day, that you no longer want to have that thing, or that you want to do something different, a goal provides you with the flexibility to change paths.

My goals for next year?

  • Above all, to be gentle with myself
    Which for me, means to continue developing my self-compassion, to acknowledge that i am still learning & growing, & to be forgiving of myself. It also means learning more about setting & maintaining boundaries, & practising saying no (or yes!).
  • To continue the practice of intuitive eating
    To continue the practice of connecting with my body & it’s needs, & providing it with nourishment in a way that is life-giving & enjoyable
  • To continue experimenting with different ways of moving my body
    Perhaps i will try yoga this year,or take a dance class. Perhaps i will spend more time hiking, or kayaking. Or perhaps i will discover something completely different!
  • To continue to find new ways of learning, & exercise my mind
    I have planned to go back to university, to explore  a different way of learning, & to engage my mind in learning more about a variety of different subjects. The idea of exercising my mind in new ways is very exciting! 🙂
  • To continue exploring ways in which i can give back to my community
    I really love volunteering with Vinnies Youth, but it would be nice to explore some other ways to spread the love 🙂
  • To continue exploring ways in which i can be involved in the discussion around eating disorders & their treatment
    Including continuing my support & increasing my involvement with the National Eating Disorders Collaboration & The Butterfly Foundation here in Australia, as well as increasing & maintaining connections to others who are passionate about these issues.

For all of my use of words such as “exploring”, or “practising”, it may seem to some that my goals are rather wishy-washy, or that they would be easy to “back out of”. While i am a huge believer in the power of positive affirmations & a “can do” attitude (which i hope to post about soon), i find, with the flexibility i have offered myself, i am much more likely to achieve these things, as i have given myself no rights or wrongs – no absolutes. These goals help create a sense of curiosity & exploration around the coming year, & allow for growth & development in whichever direction it may take.

Hope for the future

What do you think of New Year’s resolutions?
Have you ever made one? Will you make one for the coming year?

What are your goals for 2011?
Will they be flexible & forgiving? Will they allow you the space you need to change your mind, take a detour, or find a new path?
Will they focus on progress, not perfection?