Struggling With Body Image

I want to preface this post by saying that it is darker in mood. Recovery isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. I want to be honest and true to myself by sharing every stage of the journey- because it’s important to be real.  

They say that body image is the last to go in recovery. I don’t know how accurate that statement is for everyone, but for me it definitely holds a lot of truth.

I have been struggling with body image and body dysmorphia these past few weeks. I write posts about reframing the negative thoughts, but in all honesty, it has been hard to practice what I preach.

It started about a week and a half ago after an eventful weekend where many pictures were taken. I saw pictures of myself and the thoughts just started pouring in:

“Your thighs are fucking huge, you need to start running more to get leaner. Just lose 5 pounds, no one will know…”

These thoughts and similar ones have been streaming through my head for almost two weeks. It sucks, and I have been trying to distract myself for a while and push the thoughts away, but that only makes them louder when they do come back.

It’s embarrassing for me to write this, to admit that I think I look fat or am unsatisfied with my body. My thighs in particular bother me. I have been insecure about them since I was a little girl, and throughout the years in my eating disorder and now in recovery, they have been the area of my body that I fixate on in a very negative way.

I know logically I am not fat. I know how much I weigh and the number on the scale tells me that there is no way in hell that at 5’4 and 20 years old that I could ever be fat. In fact, logically I am on the smaller end.

But I just don’t see it. And is scares me.

It scares me that, apparently, I don’t see myself how others see me- for how I really look. It scares me that I can look in a mirror literally minutes apart and see something completely different each time. I feel crazy, which makes it incredibly difficult to talk to others about my body image woes, because they just say I look  “great/beautiful/hot/perfect.” But I just don’t see it.

I had a very good therapy session the other day. We analyzed the pictures together and while it was difficult, I gained a lot of insight from it. I am putting all of my self worth into this tiny area of my body. Not only that, but I am letting this 1% area of my body to ruin my mood. It’s ridiculous!

Finally, I showed her the Instagram account of a woman I look up to, Taylor Chamberlain. She has overcome an eating disorder herself and is now a dietetics grad and a very successful bikini bodybuilder. Her approach to health and fitness is so healthy and her physique is #goals. We have a similar build and I aspire to build a similar physique someday. Anyway… I showed a picture of her to my therapist and said “I think her legs look incredible and would love to have legs like her.” To which my therapist pointed out that this woman’s legs are bigger than mine are- so how is it that I think this woman is so beautiful and I like her legs- but my own legs are “fat.”

See the issue?

It is not about weight or the size of my thighs. It is about accepting myself and knowing that I am enough.

I hold myself to these expectations (in all areas of my life, not just body image) and put ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to “have it all together.” In doing that, I am missing out on the present, and forgetting to be grateful for where I am in the moment. I need to start loving myself right now, and being okay with where I am and trusting that I will get where I want to be.

Thank you for listening to my rambles, I hope it wasn’t too doom and gloom today.

Tell me…

Do you struggle with body image?
What has helped you cope when you are struggling?
And lastly, tell me something you love about yourself!

 

linking up with Thinking out Loud on Amanda’s blog.

NEDAwareness: I Fight for Her

In honor of NEDA Week 2017

I fight for her

There will be hard days in recovery. Sometimes I contemplate restricting or over exercising. But, there is something inside me that keep me fighting, a fire inside me that refuses to succumb to anorexia.

It’s her. And all those like her.

She is the reason I advocate for eating disorder recovery and awareness.

I fight because I never want to see another innocent little human go through the struggles that I did. I don’t want her to think that her worth is based on her body. Rather, I want her to be strong and fearless, and refuse to succumb to the standards of society.

I fight for my future children. They will look up to me, and see a strong woman. I will teach them love and confidence by emulating it. I want to be their role model; show them that true beauty shines from within.

This is a letter to my inner little girl, and all the sweet, beautiful little ones out there. It’s time to talk about it #NEDAwareness

Dear Sweet Baby Girl,

Do you know how beautiful you are? From the moment you were born, you have been perfect. You are perfect because you are imperfect. Your beauty is in your flaws.

Sweet girl, you need to know that your self-worth does not depend on your body. You are not an object be desired or lusted after. You are a person, with a beautiful heart and soul and intelligent mind. Baby girl, you were put on this world to live, to love and to be happy.

You are not on this Earth to please every person you meet. People will come and go in your life, and you cannot possibly please all of them while staying happy and healthy yourself.  Please baby girl, know that anyone who brings you down is not worth the time.

Be yourself little one. Be authentic and unapologetically you. People love you for your personality- not just for your beautiful face and definitely not for your body. It is your smile and joyful laugh, your caring nature- how you make them feel- that is why they love you.

Most importantly baby girl, you need to learn to love yourself. You are worth the love. Do not hurt your precious body trying to fit an impossible ideal. Your health is your greatest wealth and that you can never be truly happy by placing your self-worth solely on your body. You are so much more than that.

I know you will learn all of this someday. I hope you learn it sooner that later. Life is too short to be unhappy baby girl. Your life is precious and your future is so very bright.

Selfies: An Exercise in Self-Love

Self-love is a concept that I have struggled with for over half my life. Since choosing “real” recovery, it is something that I am constantly striving towards. I have come a long way in how I view myself and my body, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Pictures of myself are one of the things that triggers my eating disorder voice, or “inner critic”, to start in on the hate. It’s awful the way I can talk to myself sometimes, and when I write is out, it is truly horrifying.

I would never speak to anyone else the way I speak to myself, and I know that I have a distorted perception of my body.

So I decided to do a little exercise. The only way to stop the hate, is to counteract it with love.

At first this exercise will make you roll your eyes, but hear me out: Counter the hateful comments with a comment made out of love.

Selfies: An Exercise in Self-Love

Inner Critic: “I don’t look fit at all.”

Voice of Love: “Girl, you look strong and healthy!”

*It is ridiculous for me to think I could be fat or big. I have gained 14  much needed pounds since August. Logically I know I am not fat or “big” based on my height and weight, but my ED/Inner Critic can be ruthless. 

Inner Critic: “My cheeks are getting chubby, my eyes are too squinty.”

Voice of Love: “I like my hair, and I am so lucky to have such a handsome, amazing boyfriend who loves me.”

*This was taken on Valentine’s Day, a day meant for love. Remembering how much I have to be grateful for also helps to silence my inner critic.

Inner Critic: “Ugh I have huge bags under my eyes. What made me think I should take a selfie- I look like crap.”

Voice of Love: “I am aloud to love myself and take pictures when I feel like it.”

*I took this while I was writing this post. Tired after a long day, but wanted to make a point that selfies can be a part of the healing process. 

It is powerful to write out these hateful comments, it makes you see how degrading they are. Not only that, but they serve no purpose other than making you feel awful about yourself.

After you write down the comment from your inner critic, find something positive or loving to say to yourself.

The Take Home

It may be difficult at first. But look at the selfie or picture and tell yourself something that you would tell a friend. Compliment the person looking back at you in the picture. Tell her she is beautiful, that her eyes are full of sparkle, or that she is owning that little black dress.

The more you practice looking at a picture and shutting down any negative comments by replacing them with positive messages, the easier it will become. The goal is that one day, that inner critic will no longer even make a peep. You will automatically look at yourself with loving eyes, full of compassion and self-love.

 

 

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud this week.

Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway

This is the mindset that brought about my recovery.

From November of 2010 until August of 2016 I was afraid. Change was needed, but my fear overwhelming.

I feared losing control, gaining weight, feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t know who I would be, or how I could cope without an eating disorder. It unnerved me to even ponder letting go of my food rigidity and exercise addiction. I was afraid to trust my dietitian, treatment team and ultimately: My own body.

My eating disorder was a coping mechanism for 6 long years. Even when I seemed to be doing okay (i.e. not in a hospital or treatment center of some type), I was still very much in the grips of anorexia. It kept me “safe” and I felt in control. That is, until it didn’t.

Finally, I reached a point in my life where I knew I would lose everything if I stayed in my disease. It was the Summer of 2016, I was wasting away to skin and bone. I could just envision what would happen if I did not change:  I would lose the ability to go to college, my boyfriend who I love dearly would probably move on, I would be sent to a treatment facility against my will… and the crushing reality- I could die.

Fear and Faith

Fear stems from a lack of faith. Whether you believe in God, the powers of the universe or nothing, fear arises when you face uncertainty and are scared to move forward into the unclear future.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is trusting in advanced what will only make sense in reverse. And that is what I did.  I set aside my fear, and trusted the process.

That first step will be intimidating. This is where “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” comes into play. You put your head down, dig deep, and listen to that whisper inside you that says, “I can do this.”

Afterwords, I can tell you from experience that it will feel like the weight of the world is lifted off your chest. You will have a lightness about you because finally, after years and years of being alone, you finally have put your trust into something outside of yourself. For me it was God and my dietitian. I knew neither of them would fail me. Deep down my fear of staying in my eating disorder was greater than letting it go.

I wish I could make anyone struggling in life let go of their fear and trust the process. But I cannot. The reality is you must choose to change on your own. My hope for anyone reading this is that it does not take you 6 years. I pray that you may find your mustard seed of faith, and let it grow. I promise, the other side of fear is a beautiful place to be.