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

Posts tagged ‘exercise’

“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.)

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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.)

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 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.

“The Body Issue”

I no longer buy mainstream magazines, & it is now a very rare occasion that i would even pay a glance to their covers as i wait in line at the supermarket checkout. But, yesterday, this cover (on display in a newsagent’s window) caught my eye – ‘The Body Issue’. And i was suddenly filled with an all too familiar frustration.

While i have not read the feature, i feel it safe to make a few assumptions about it’s contents. Perhaps it will contain tips on dressing to suit your shape. Perhaps it will contain exercise “tips” (or according to the cover itself, tips to “exercise without trying”.) No doubt it will contain “tips” on how to diet. In fact, it was the words “7 successful women share their diet secrets”, right there under the words “The Body Issue”, that caught my attention in the first place. Right there, first up on the cover of the magazine, they are already linking their body issue to weight loss.

It seems that every “Body Issue” i have ever come across is some varying combination of fat-shaming, celebrated thinness, congratulatory weight loss, myth perpetuation (especially those linking health & attractiveness to weight), interspersed with “diet secrets”, exercise “tips”, etc… Where are the “Body Issues” with tips on eating for health AND enjoyment, rather than weightloss? Where are the tips on how to find a enjoyable way to move your body, while helping it to feel strong & healthy? Where are the tips on self-acceptance, self-love, & how to truly honour & nourish our bodies? Where are the links to support, for those struggling with negative body image? Why do these “Body Issues”, reflect less of the solution & more of the problem? Why do the words “Body Issues” seems so appropriate to describe these features? Perhaps it’s just more clever marketing.

Earlier this year, Who also published a”Body Issue”:

Here are some comments i made after Beautiful You alerted me to this issue of Who earlier in the year.

I found the quotes beneath each of these images (I viewed the gallery online), to be a bigger problem than the selection of images themselves (I don’t have a problem with the images themselves – these people have “real” bodies & they should be accepted – but I do have a problem with their seeming lack of diversity).

“The ideal shape for men is someone who has bigger arms than me,” says Lisa Curry (with Tom Williams).
Could this quote lead men to believe that they need to “bulk up” to attract a woman?

IAN “DICKO” DICKSON
ON LOSING 18KG AND COUNTING: “When I look back at pictures of when I was fat, I feel ashamed.”
So Dicko only made it into the body issue after losing weight? Would they have featured him at his previous size? By publishing his comment linking being overweight with shame, is WHO suggesting that this is an appropriate link for us to make?

TOM WILLIAMS
ON GROWING INTO HIMSELF: “At school and growing up as a young lad I didn’t look like the other boys. They had muscle. I was just lanky and lean. I’m lucky now. I’m about to turn 40 and I still don’t carry much fat.”
Was there something wrong with not looking like the other boys? Is there something wrong with being “lanky & lean”? This quote does seem to suggest that, as well as suggesting that the reason Tom is “lucky now” is because her “still (doesn’t) carry much fat.”

JODHI MEARES
ON GETTING BETTER WITH AGE: “When I was running [swimwear label] Tigerlily, it was so intense, I didn’t have the time to exercise. Now it’s a priority for me. I probably exercise for about three hours a day during the week.”
So becoming obsessed with exercise (which it seems Jodhi is if she is turning down lunch with friends in order to exercise), equates with “getting better with age”?

I don’t mind the quote they chose from Jodi Gordon, or the first quote from Lisa Curry…..

LISA CURRY
ON BUILDING A BUFF BODY: “It’s not for everybody, but I think strong women look fantastic. It’s a great feeling to continue training, eating well and looking after yourself.”
While I don’t think they needed to label it as “building a buff body”, I like Lisa’s description of her approach to health.

These quotes are simply that – quotes. WHO didn’t write them.
But they did choose which quotes to publish, & I think if they could not choose to publish any other quotes, they could in the very least have offered some alternative views about the links these people were making to their weight & their feelings of shame.
They could have acknowledged (in some way) that while some people might link their feelings of self worth to their weight, weight is not a true indicator of health or attractiveness, & they could have offered some supportive guidance on how to create a feeling of acceptance towards our bodies, & how to nourish them through healthy food & fun movement of our bodies.

I’m not sure if WHO included these tips in their article (as I haven’t bought the magazine & I don’t intend to), but I think it is something they may have neglected to do.
After all, it seems they might have lost their perspective on what good health really means, & I fear they have taken on board the links that were made in these quotes – if you are thin, you will not feel ashamed, you will be “better”, & you will be more attractive.

What do you think about “Body Issues”? What would YOU like to see in Woman’s Day or Who’s next “Body Issue”?