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

Posts tagged ‘self-love’

“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.)

If You Had Told Me Life Could Be This Overwhelming Beautiful, I Never Would Have Believed You.

To the -oh-so-lovely M.
[my mermaid – the dietitian who swam beside me during my first year of treatment],

You saw me through my first year of treatment, holding my hand as i took those first shaky steps towards recovery. You helped me to consider that my worth was greater than any number on a scale – that i deserved to recover. While it took me much longer to truly believe this, you helped to sow this seed of value in my soul – one which i would continue to nurture over the next two years, into the beautiful, flourishing blossom of self-worth that rests in my heart today 🙂

[From the ‘thankyou’ gift i made for M., when we finished our work together.]

To the brilliant M.C.
[the psychologist who gave me the space to discover ‘me’],

You were the first person to provide me with a space that was truly my own. At first I didn’t know how to fill it – it took me quite a while before I learnt how to “just say whatever comes to mind”. When we first began our meetings together, I filled them with the expectations & offerings of others, but as time went on, I realised that this was not a space for the ideas of others – it was a space for me to discover my own. And it was in these meetings, that I began to discover myself – one beautiful, hidden piece at a time 🙂

Thankyou for being consistent.
Thankyou for being reliable.
Thankyou for being here when I needed you to be, & thankyou for the times when you weren’t.
Thankyou for your silence, even though it made me uncomfortable.
Thankyou for your words.
Thankyou for the pushes when I needed them, & for supporting me when I needed to stay still.
Thankyou for helping me to feel safe again.
Thankyou for teaching me that crying is actually okay.
Thankyou for your lack of criticism, but thankyou also, for not always agreeing with me.
Thankyou for your reassurance.
Thankyou for giving me this space, & the time to learn how best to use it.
Most of all, thankyou for helping me to feel worthy of filling it.

[A bag i sewed as a ‘thankyou’ gift for C.T.
Yep – those are my feet!]

To the beautiful C.T.
[the dietitian who helped me explore an exciting lifeinfullcolour during my 2nd & 3rd years in treatment],

You taught me about so much more than food & eating. In teaching me to trust my body, you taught me to trust in myself. In encouraging ‘experiments’, you helped me to replace my fear with curiosity – & that curiosity has led me to discover beauty & wonder in every place I look. You helped me discover the things I value – you helped me to discover MY value.

Thankyou for your encouragement.
Thankyou for your smile 🙂
Thankyou for your patience – especially in the face of my many shoulder shrugs & “I don’t know”s.
Thankyou for your flexibility – for allowing me to work with you, in a way that worked for me.
Thankyou for your humour.
Thankyou for sharing you enthusiasm for nutrition with me – & for helping me to uncover my own shared passion.
Thankyou for your metaphors, analogies, & crazy hand-waving.
Thankyou for recognising, that the smallest of steps can sometimes be the hardest to take.
Thankyou for celebrating those steps with me 🙂

[Every cloud has a silver lining…]

M.C. & i had already said our goodbyes back in December after he moved on from his work at the ED service, but i had still been keeping appointments with C.T. C.T & i met again this past Tuesday, & although we had been working together for a couple of years now, there was something very different about this particular meeting…. This time our appointment was not for my ‘treatment’ – this time, we were celebrating 🙂

Three years after entering treatment for an eating disorder, i was ready to move on. And so, on Tuesday, the 8th March, 2011, after a beautiful celebration, i walked out of C.T.’s office, & through the door of the big cream building that was now so familiar. I walked out of that building for the last time as a client of the Eating Disorders Service & into the sunlight, ready to embrace the next exciting chapter of this beautiful lifeinfullcolour 🙂


[C.T. & i celebrated my recovery with my favourite raw, vegan chocolate cake 🙂
We even wore party hats ;)]

To those who have not experienced the devastation of an eating disorder (whether directly, or indirectly), there is little i can say to convey just how heart-wrenchingly painful, & overwhelmingly exhausting the journey to recovery can be. So many times i feared that i would never recover, or in moments of relative stability, found myself thinking that ‘this is as good as it gets’. But as overwhelmingly challenging as this journey has been, it has been equally beautiful. And you know what? My life becomes richer & more beautiful every day 🙂

I often refer to my recovery as a journey of self-discovery. I have learnt so much about myself – my likes, my dislikes, my strengths, my passions, my dreams… I’ve just begun to uncover my potential, & it is far greater than I could ever have imagined. I am vulnerable, yet strong, & more resilient than I know. I am beautiful, passionate, intelligent, creative, magnificent! And I have a courage that roars like an open fire in my heart.

For so many years of my life, I truly & deeply hated who I was, & I didn’t think that could ever change. But you know what? I really do love the person I see now – a magnificent, complex being, full of surprising beauty – & I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life getting to know her better 🙂

I feel such immense gratitude to be here now at this point in my life, & for every beautiful, scary, & painful moment that has led me to it. Sometimes I feel as though my heart might burst with all of the hope & joy & love it holds nowadays. I am grateful to have had these 3 years to heal, & to begin this incredible journey of self discovery, & I am especially grateful for having had access to the treatment I needed to save my life. I feel truly blessed to have been able to work with such an incredible team of people, & i am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped support me on this journey – i would not be here without you.


We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh how we fought, but still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together
Sia, ‘The Fight’

With much love, & gratitude,

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! :)

Day 1: Self-Care

What better day than a Self-Love Sunday to kick off this exploration of self-care! 🙂


(Image via: Jen Lemen.)

For the first 20-something years of my life, i confused self-care with selfishness.

I had always felt such a deep need to be of service to people. Being an empath, i have always felt the pain of others as strongly as if it were my own, & in my deep desire to see people freed from that pain, i took on the role of counsellor, nurse, or whatever else that was needed of me to see them through their struggle. And while empathy & compassion are beautiful gifts, & caring for others a noble action, i found myself feeling drained – both physically & mentally. In my taking care of others, i was neglecting to take care of myself.

I was emotionally exhausted, & overwhelmed – i wanted to continue helping people, but i was simply too tired. I had “burnt myself out”. And while it made sense to take some time out to “recharge my batteries”, the thought of doing so was incredibly challenging for me to follow through with. When i thought about taking some time out for myself, i felt guilty, & i think this is true for many of us.

Do any of these beliefs ring true for you?

  • Putting my owns needs first is selfish
  • I can’t say no when someone asks me for help
  • People won’t like me unless i am self-sacrificing
  • I don’t deserve a sleep-in/massage/nice meal/nice clothes/etc
  • I don’t like spending money on myself
  • I should be helping others


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

The truth is, there is a big difference between being self-loving & being self-centred. A self-centred person is someone who is focused on their owns needs at all times, & is often oblivious or simply disinterested in the needs of others. They expect others to care for them & fulfil their needs, without ever returning the favour. They use other people for their own benefit, & often lack deep & meaningful relationships.

A self-loving person on the other hand, is not oblivious to the needs of others, but rather, recognises that without attending to their own needs first, they will be unable to attend to the needs of others. A self-loving person shows compassion not only to others, but also to themselves, & takes the time to listen to their needs, & attend to them with nourishment & a loving care.


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

Once i had “burnt out”, i was no real use to anyone – i had used up all of my energies, & had nothing left to give, either to others, or to myself. As Leslie Lobell says at The Art Of Loving; “You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself, first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without ever refilling it – eventually, it will run dry. Like that vessel, we, too, need to refill, recharge, and re-energize. We need to replenish ourselves, by loving and giving to ourselves.” And, so i began to “fill myself up”.

Now self-care is very much a part of my everyday life. Of course i have days where i overwork myself, where i take on too much, or give too much of my energy away to others, leaving little for myself. Of course there are still days where i feel tired, overwhelmed, or emotionally drained, but it is in these moments that i am reminded to stop, take a breath, & listen to what my body & my mind needs from me to recharge.


(Image via: ABC creativity)

So here is my challenge to you –
Day 1 – Self-Care:

  1. Stop.
    Stop everything. Do not try to multi-task. Give yourself this moment to truly focus on YOU.
  2. Get comfy.
    Find somewhere quiet. Get comfy, & take a deep breath. Clear your mind.
  3. Ask.
    What do i need right now?
    What is my body telling me it needs?
    What is my heart & soul asking me for?
  4. Listen.
    Put aside your “should”s, put aside your “need to”s – let those thoughts float by as if on a cloud. Listen to your intuition – what is the true answer to your questions?
  5. Do.
    If your body said it needed a cat-nap, go to sleep. Do not wait until you have finished what you “should” be doing – you’re body needs it’s rest now.
    If your mind told you it needed stimulation, make time for yourself now, to read that book, finish that jigsaw puzzle, or engage in that friendly debate.
    If your soul asked you for connection, call that friend for a chat, or go out & meet with them.
    Whatever your body & soul have asked from you in this moment, nourish them by fulfilling their request.

Be sure to pop on over to lifeinfullcolour’s Facebook page today, where our theme of Self-Care 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 Self-Care Challenge – i’d love to hear about your experiences! 🙂

Live. Love. Eat. – A 6-day Exploration Of HAES

On January 1st, i wrote an entry where i posted the following:

(Throughout the month of January) 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.

While i have been posting my usual bits & pieces over on the lifeinfullcolour Facebook page, i feel i have been neglecting the second part of this statement – to ‘offer small, achievable challenges to help you explore what it would be like to nourish your own body & mind.’ Which is why i am making a fresh commitment, & inviting you all to join me for a 6-day exploration of Health At Every Size (HAES).


(Image via: We ♥ it.)

The adventure starts tomorrow, & each day will have it own theme:

Sunday: Self-care
Monday: Joyful movement
Tuesday: Intuitive eating
Wednesday: Self-acceptance
Thursday: Connection
& Friday: A continuing exploration of HAES

Each day, here on the blog, i will be offering you a small, achievable challenge that relates to the theme for that day. I will be carrying that theme on through my posts on the lifeinfullcolour facebook page, so be sure to check it out so you can follow along & share in the adventure 🙂


(Image via: borrachoswallyincanada)

I am really looking forward to kicking this off tomorrow, & i hope you will join me in exploring what it might be like to leave the deprivation & guilt behind, & begin to nourish your body & mind 🙂

See you in the morning!

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.