Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Dear Trolls

My best friend tagged me in a blood boiling FB post about body image today.


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First I laughed, wondering what the conversation could possibly say. But then I read it and those two mean girls really enraged me.

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I proudly (and somewhat immaturely) responded to Sara’s Wolf-Pack call. And of course, nothing I said could stop them. I learned my lesson and I will never engage with trolls again.

Here is a letter to that specific troll: the one who responded to my very thoughtful and (reluctantly) kind explanation as to why it is not okay to judge anyone.

Writing letters that never intend to be sent is a very therapeutic tool. Especially when you can’t seem to let go of the hurtful things they said.

comment:

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Dear Troll👹,

I don’t agree with many things that were said in this conversation. And I usually don’t fight with people over the internet. But I wanted to reach out about something you said that resonated with me. It was regarding people trying to be their “best selves.”

I thought that way for most of my adolescent/adult life. After I was bullied for being fat, I read this book called “The Secret” which was all about the power of intention.

One of my goals was obviously to lose weight at that time. I figured, “Why would I wanna accept being bullied about this , if I have the power to change it?” 

So when you said: “don’t give in to ONLY accepting yourself” 17 year old me would have said ” AMEN SISTER!🙌🏻” to that.

At that time in my life, I started doing research and as you said: “80%food, 20%exercise” .. which led to more research: “what foods burn belly fat, what exercises target your lower abs.” 

I lost a ‘healthy’ amount of weight and was praised for it, of course. None of it was considered a mental illness until I began purging. I started purging because I felt unbearable guilt over eating the “unhealthy foods” my research told me to “STAY AWAY FROM.”

I was afraid of getting fat again. Things escalated. You don’t need to know the whole story.

I eventually had to drop the whole “change instead of accepting” attitude; because the desire to change was LITERALLY killing me.

I NEEDED to accept my body or else I wouldn’t recover.

I went to treatment and I met a lot of other girls, of all shapes and sizes. 

Some you would probably consider obese. However, they also suffered with the same refusal to eat (They hate themselves for eating. Because they are told not to accept/love themselves)

It isn’t black and white. You say binge eating is unhealthy. I go through that, but would you ever assume it because of my body type? ..And by the way, most people DON’T want to admit to binge eating because of the labels people like you place on it: “lack of will power, lazy, making excuses.”

I don’t think the type of research you’re doing about weight/health is accurate. It hasn’t helped our society. It has just spiraled girls into more confusion.  How and when are they allowed to love their bodies?

Health isn’t actually food/fitness. It’s about listening to your body. But people don’t trust themselves around food anymore because they are afraid it will make them fat.

But–are you ready for this–there’s no food that can MAKE you fat. Super foreign concept, right?! It’s actually the compulsions and the thoughts around those ‘unhealthy’ foods. The thought that by eating them we will be obese and undesirable.

THE BOTTOM LINE: who cares if you are fat?!  You say: “its unhealthy.” Okay, that’s your (ignorant) opinion. But does unhealthy mean someone should be trolled or told not to love themselves? I drink wine every damn day. Lots of people think that’s unhealthy. But I doubt ANYONE would get mad if I hash tagged “WINO AND BEAUTIFUL.” So why are people so angry about #BigAndBeautiful?! Let people live their damn lives.

Back to my initial point, (I tend to spiral when addressing this topic), competing with your old self to become better doesn’t work for everyone and can actually do serious damage. I know it’s a lot to ask for strangers to try to change their perception–buttttt I have made that my life goal after all.

God forbid you ever find yourself talking to someone who secretly has an eating disorder (or any other mental illness for that matter), your “motivational” words can end up digging them into a deeper hole. That’s why we have professionals… you don’t need to share your opinion. Beside for being mean, you are just totally wrong. And yes, I am entitled to call your opinion WRONG.

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Posted in anorexia, binge eating disorder, Body Image, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Recovery, Renfrew, Social Media

What Kind Of Eating Disorder Do You Have?

Theres a huge lack of awareness around eating disorders. I do see a shift, however, happening in the media. Celebrating all body types has been a wonderful, much-needed new fad (hopefully one that sticks around).

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Even some professionals lack awareness.

Ideally, all doctors/counselors should be educated on eating disorders, but I understand that they have a heavy caseload: dealing with limitless medical issues.

However, specialists in the field have no excuse, and one should not say they “specialize,” unless they have adequate knowledge and experience.

It takes years to become a specialist and you are directly affecting the lives of those suffering from the mental illness. That is a lot of pressure and I admire the individuals who choose to pursue it.

They know how fragile and complicated eating disorders are. They encourage and challenge, and they put up with a lot. They seem to also be constantly learning from patients and evolving themselves as therapists.

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(To make a shout out, my life has been forever changed by the professionals at both Mount Laurel Renfrew and Ridgewood Renfrew.)


However, there is one person that did not have such a wonderful impact on me. She was a therapist in a group setting. She was constantly lecturing and not listening to the very crucial things—we as patients—needed to say.

When other therapists/counselors sat with us in a session, I felt as though they were sitting BESIDE us.

This particular woman seemed to sit above us, looking down at her ‘specimen.’

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No matter how educated a person is, they cannot possibly understand the ins and outs of an eating disorder unless they have experienced it themselves OR are open to continuously learning from those directly affected—which she wasn’t.

During one of her spiels, she listed symptoms of our eating disorders. As she said “binge” she pointed to the heaviest girl in the room. I saw my friend’s face fill with embarrassment as she realized the therapist was pointing to her. The therapist then mentioned “resticting,” and her finger went to the tiniest person in the room.

Needless to say, this seemingly innocent action followed my friend out the door, as she cried to me in the parking lot. And I’m sure it followed her into the next day as she chose what to (or to not) eat.

That therapists enhanced her feelings of inadequacy. She also validated the impulse to compare herself to others. And she was unknowingly supporting the restrictive mindset. “You aren’t good enough, unless you restrict. And you’re absolutely worthless, unless you LOOK like you’re restricting.”

I wish I was in charge that day, I would have blindfolded everyone, INCLUDING the therapist. Then I’d have everyone list the complex thoughts we have around food. No one would’ve been able to tell who said what. A body type does not define what kinds of urges you have or the symptoms you use. 

Blind-folded, we would have all admitted to skipping meals because we didn’t think our bodies NEEDED or DESERVED any more food. We would have all agreed that food is the predominant thought in a day. I’m sure all of us have either experienced vigorous exercising, taking laxatives or attempting to throw up because we couldn’t stop thinking about the calories we consumed. And I know none of us feel completely comfortable eating in public–fearing judgment from others.

No eating disorder can escape restrictive behaviors.. We all feel the same self-loathing shame that comes from eating.. And most eating disorders involve purging (which is not  always in the form of vomiting, as we were taught to associate with bulimia).

I am very transparent with my eating disorder. This doesn’t mean I lack embarrassment with all the thoughts and behaviors I share. I am actually highly self-conscious about the things I’ve exposed. But I choose this way of life for a reason. I can’t complain about ignorance, while doing nothing about it.

A common question I get upon revealing that I have/had an eating disorder

(I still have no idea if I consider myself “recovered” or ”in recovery,” that’s a question for another day)977dada99a6acfbc50670fed98b01163

..But everyone wants to know: what kind of eating disorder I have.

People are very kind and always include, “if you don’t mind me asking.”

I absolutely don’t mind discussing anything eating disorder related. If a question is triggering, I would actually like to answer it and let the inquirer know WHY it is so triggering. Or why, perhaps, some others wouldn’t want to talk about it.

I was formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist at 18 years old. I went to him because I wanted to stop binging and purging. He diagnosed me with bulimia. 

It wasn’t until later that I realized I had also experienced “anorexia,” in the years prior to that diagnosis.

My junior year of high school, I started dieting with the intention of getting “bullies” off my back.

I wanted to feel better about myself and I didn’t want them to have a reason to make fun of my body. 

I counted calories, fasted occasionally and weaved out any “unhealthy” foods I read about. This continued for a while–waaaaay before I binged and purged the first time.

My eating habits were viewed as “normal” by most in high school. (To this day, I see other people engaging in these habits. I don’t have all the answers, and I often wonder: do they have an undiagnosed eating disorder or are they simply missing that addictive gene that I unfortunately have?)

Many of my close friends and family have apologized for not catching onto my eating disorder at that period in time; acknowledging now, that it was disordered.

None of my thoughts/urges or behaviors were actually labeled as disordered—until I made myself throw up.

“Binging and Purging” are the actions that solidified a problem. Now, suddenly, my so-called dieting was labeled as restricting. Because no one can turn a blind eye to self-induced vomiting.

I learned about the negative side-effects of ‘not eating,’ so I slowly replaced my goal of ‘restricing’ with ‘clean’ eating. All of my therapists supported this mentality shift.

Obviously, they were not specialists.

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For that reason, I understand why none of them were able to point out how helplessly I clung to a restrictive mindset.

I still counted calories, even if my goal wasn’t to eat as little as possible. I occasionally replaced meals with bars and smoothies. I only ate organic and non-gmo foods. I needed the control of knowing every ingredient going into my body. And I exercised much more often to compensate for the increased intake. 

I also lived somewhat of a double life: the foods I ate in secret during a binge and purge episode. And the everyday foods I ate when I was “being good.” I loved myself when I was working out and I loathed myself if I didn’t have the energy for it. My thoughts were so vastly different depending on which version of myself was in control. 

That stage lasted for 3 years (until I entered treatment).

Knowing what I know now, the proper therapist would have explained how I was merely finding loopholes in the ‘anorexic’ and ‘bulimic’ illnesses I learned about. My eating disorder was still in full control.

And since I was not seeing a specialist, no one was catching on to these new, sneaky methods. 

These behaviors are most commonly known as orthorexia.

However, treatment taught me that the diagnosis doesn’t matter. It is an irrelevant, outdated, and often inaccurate category to place us in.

It has taken many years to put an end to the self-induced vomiting. I live with health issues that can make my urges feel unbearable. Things such as acid reflux and a slow digestive track add to the difficulty of keeping down my food. But I can never use those obstacles as an excuse to purge.

I am very proud of my progress. However, without purging, I’m sometimes left sitting with the embarrassment and discomfort of binging. 

Binging has been the last symptom to leave me. And sometimes I feel it’s the most shameful. It’s wrongfully associated with lack of discipline. And I think most of us have heard the VERY ignorant and appalling comment: “I wish I could throw up after eating all that.” 

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Which leaves someone in recovery wondering, “why on earth would I stop myself now that I’ve binged.. even if it does mean i’m going backwards..”

So now, for me, is the most accurate diagnosis binge-eating disorder?

I don’t want another label. Another diagnosis. Yet another phase of my eating disorder.

But the only way out is through. 

Do you see the problem with grouping eating disorders into 3 or 4 various categories?

All eating disorders overlap. There is no prototype. There is no specific code of symptoms that each type of diagnosis engages in. We have ALL been there.

Walk into a treatment center and look around. Most “anorexic” women/men will not show the body type of the actress in “To the Bone.” 

Painstakingly OBVIOUS (as the media portrays it) ^

Tell me, is it really that obvious?..^

(Sidenote: I am not against the movie, To The Bone. I support the idea of spreading awareness, but they DID indulge a pretty bad stereotype during casting).

The diagnosis is irrelevant. Even the symptoms themselves aren’t a priority. Dig up the emotions. Find the solution.

Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Getting Ready Flow Chart

One of the most important things for recovery is getting yourself out of the house. This helps us out of our self-destructive though patterns.

It wil also remind us WHY we are fighting for a life outside of ED.

What works for me may not work for everyone, but this is a routine I developed when I first entered treatment. And I still use it today.

It is my tried-and-true method when I am too depressed to leave the house, but it is also helpful in other situations.

Here are a some definitions that you should learn in order to fully understand my chart:

POWER STANCE: a friend told me about an article she read, it explained that those who stand with their backs slouched, arms crossed over their chest and eyes to their floor give off an insecure vibe which does not attract others. The POWER STANCE exhibits confidence. Shoulders rounded, chest and chin are up, hands on your hips. Now we are not necessarily confident people, but we have a favorite saying: FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. And we can fool a lot of people with this stance (even ourselves). It felt silly to stand that way at first, but as I realized that it did indeed have the effect I was going for–I now use it every time I feel insecure. And trust me: you don’t LOOK stupid. It’s actually empowering to engage in a positino that looks like we are filled with confidence.

SAFE OUTFITS: I coined this term one day during treatment. I caught a glimpe of myself in the mirror (reflections were something I had been avoiding since they brought me nothing but self-loathing) but this particular day, for the very first time in recovery, I thought: wow, I look pretty.” I went to my journal and wrote down exactly what I was wearing. From that moment forward, if I felt confident (or at least comfortable) in a certain outfit, I would keep a note of it. Then on days that I was having trouble pulling myself together, I would grab one of those outfits out of my closet and throw it on so I could leave the house.

 

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Posted in anorexia, binge eating disorder, Body Image, Body Positive, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-love, Social Media, Writing

Eating Disorder Declarations

Today I reflected on the disordered declarations I used to make every morning while in my eating disorder.

I would spend hours scrolling through fitness instagrams. Updating myself on the latest health trends, finding exercise gurus to follow, and pinning vegetarian recipes.

I would go to sleep with all this newly-found inspiration on how to be thin and active.

It felt exhilarating to create a flawless routine for myself. Thinking: “this time it will work. If I follow this plan, I will never have another unhealthy craving. And I will never want to stop exercising.”

Oftentimes, I fell short of my goal. My motivation to work out would inevitably dwindle, and I’d eat things that caused severe guilt.

I failed yet again. Somehow all these beautiful women I read about could do it, but I wasn’t good enough to keep up.

My personal eating disorder often included binge/purge cycles that crept in about a week after I implemented my strict diet and exercise regimens. And I aways wondered, with such intense self-loathing, how could I allow myself to get to this point, again? What am I doing wrong?

“I just have to try harder,” I would think, as I scrolled though more Pinterest pages and found new ideas on how to tighten the reigns on myself.

I’d spend a long time reading and pulling tidbits from everywhere: what women ate, how they exercised, how much water they drank, how they kept their motivation.

Another night’s sleep would pass in anticipation that… “tomorrow I’ll be good.” and “this is the last time I’ll have to start over.”

Years later, in an eating disorder treatment facility, one of the first steps I took was deleting all accounts that fueled my desire to be thin and fit. I could not allow myself to look at anything that made me feel as though image was ‘all-important.’ This even meant unfollowing certain friends. I made a conscious effort, which was very difficult, to not indulge in the health/fitness and diet culture. I had to be really serious about it.

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Two years later, I hold true to this. However, I still see fitness models and seemingly flawless women all around me. I do not seek them out, but it is truly unavoidable (especially with social media.)Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 3.00.55 PM

I do not speak about it, but I overhear conversations pertaining to the subject. How people plan to lose weight. I hear many people confidently boast about their work out routines, and others “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” at their “dedication.”

I know the truth: coming up with ways to change my body is an absolute waste of my energy and time. I am a better person when I am not trying to be like others. I am proud that I want to obsess over the beautiful/unique aspects of myself, and not pick apart my flaws. My core belief is that self-love is all-important.

But that doesn’t change how hard it is to deal with the fitspo pictures that pop up and conversations surrounding food and body.

When ‘Jill’ talks about how many miles she ran today: I hear the remanence of my eating disorder telling me how flabby I’ve become since I stopped putting so much energy into working out.

When my eyes graze the cover of Women’s Health and I see that another actress dropped ten pounds and gained lean muscle, I wonder: why the hell would I give up focusing on what I’m eating everyday.

I noticed today that my declarations, although lessened, have not stopped completely. They are not as loud and intentional, but they do remain in the back of my head. It’s the little voice that says: “maybe I’ll just give up my mac and cheese.” IMG_8912

or “I have to start using my pull-up bar again.” or “no more desserts for the next two weeks.”

I made a couple of these subtle declarations in therapy.

My therapist stopped me. She reminded me that focusing on food is my way of regaining control in some area of my life. And although my eating disorder isn’t as obnoxious as it once was, it’s still successfully convincing me that I have an inadequate body and I need to change.

If that little voice starts to plan anything related to food or fitness, shift my thoughts and start planing other things: such as what do to with my free time. Start imagining the canvas I plan on painting when I get home from work. Or what facial mask I’ll wear while I pick out a color to paint my nails.

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Declarations aren’t quite as bad as I once thought they were.

I can still wake up exhilarated to start or continue something. But, let your declarations be constructive and worthy of your time. Let them be soulful and artistic. 

Look forward to your current life, do not plan on changing yourself.

“I declare that I will use my experiences to write more” …

Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Letter to a Parent:

I know you love your daughter, and this may be hard to hear, but I’m concerned about how she feels about herself.

You’ve raised someone who is very strong and level-headed. You may think she engages in irresponsible activities, but going out on her own and exploring new experiences is normal for a young woman.

She doesn’t mean to get herself into dangerous situations, and when it does happen, getting punished or yelled at will not work.

She needs to be heard.

Your daughter has the belief that she is not good enough. She is not good enough unless she is thin. She will not be desired unless her body is fit and perfect. So maybe she felt the need to skip dinner. 

Then she went out drinking on that empty stomach. Her tolerance is lowered, but she doesn’t mind because the lack of food makes her stomach flatter. And therefore, she feels pretty.

Does your beautiful baby only believe she is wanted because of her figure? Does she not have enough confidence in her intellect or wit? Did someone allow her to believe that most others find fat gross; that even a full stomach is unattractive?

These beliefs will kill your daughter. They continually put her in dangerous situations (like the one outlined above). But they are also draining her of the ability to enjoy her life.

Please do not let her life boil down to one goal: letting others think she is perfect and happy. What kind of empty existence will that be?

There is no use placing blame on how we got here. We don’t always know where these thoughts come from, but you have a job now, to reverse her way of thinking.

Bring life back into your daughter’s world, bring her true happiness which derives from loving every inch of herself.

Unconditional love, which your daughter is completely deserving of, means that she is loved always and regardless of what may come.

Do you think she hasn’t noticed that she’s gained weight? …In this society? 

EVERY time you see her, you need to say: “You are beautiful.” She may roll her eyes. She needs to hear it.

Teach her: I am beautiful now, I was beautiful then, and I will be beautiful later. Do not let anyone let her feel LESS THAN even if she has changed. And never allow your daughter to put HERSELF down. Do not even allow her to think she NEEDS to lose weight. No one needs too.

Some parents believe they need to teach “healthy eating” to their children. Be careful. Eating disorders are running rampant and hiding within many “health/fitness” fads.

Your daughter is not a computer. You cannot program her to eat the foods that you (or Dr. Oz) considers healthy. She is human, she is vulnerable, she is imperfect. If there is any weight talk, it needs to be done in front of a professional: a specialist in eating disorders or a nutritionist. 

It is not shameful to seek out help. Young girls today have so much pressure on them to be thin, fit and perfect. Do not be part of the problem. Do not be blind. End the stigma. Your baby is beautiful, and the ones who love her will see it regardless of size. Schools are not instilling this, social media is not instilling this, YOU need to instill it.

And for all those daughters: if you do not have a parent that will be receptive to this letter; or in case your parent was not around to say it:

I am so proud of you.

You are so strong for enduring the things you have gone through.

Society is very hard on women and YOU are so brave

Do not fear being yourself. Do not fear standing out.

There is only one you. And you are on this Earth because the world needed your spirit, mind and heart (not your body).

Do not change for anyone.

If you think you need to change your appearance, please work on your thoughts instead. Someone planted the notion in your head that you are not good enough the way you are. Remember, whatever perceived flaw this ignorant person pointed out, will be adored by somebody else who loves you.

You are deserving of everything you want in this world.

You are beautiful.

You are loved unconditionally.

You are loved when I seem angry with you. You are loved when you are sad. You are loved if your body changes. You are loved when you are being irrational, rude or unpleasant. You are loved when you feel undeserving, guilty or flawed. And yes, you are loved if you gain weight. Because it doest matter how you look.

You are always deserving of love, no matter what you may feel about yourself.

You are loved.

Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

Weight Talk: Part 2

I want to address something that is controversial.

I cannot seem to change someone’s mind when they tell me they want to lose weight. I can ignore a stranger, but what about a friend? Unfortunately, I cant send everyone through Renfrew, as much as I’d like to. (By the way, the things I learned in recovery should be incorporated in schools. Self-esteem is way more important than whatever activity I did in 4th grade gym—just my opinion).

Weight loss and body conversations are extremely difficult for those in recovery.

But, if people are going to keep talking about it, I at least need to address it. And hopefully, I can help influence someone’s way of thinking away from”dieting.” 

But first: what drives you to want to lose weight? Will it make you happier? Finally get you a partner? Land you a better job? You will not get those things after achieving your so-called ‘dream body’–TRUST ME.

And I want readers to know that I don’t approve of anyone wanting to lose weight. It’s not necessary in order to be happy or grateful in life.

During my personal journey, I’ve suffered with restricting, purging and binging. These coping skills I developed around food have helped no matter what symptom I wanted to use.

I implore you to take the power back from food by using these…

WORDS FROM MY OWN DIARY  WHEN THINGS GOT TOUGH AROUND FOOD:

  1. I absolutely HATE body talk. I even despise phrases like “weight-loss” “being healthy” or “getting fit.” Those words have been abused by social media and twisted to imply “not good enough where you are.” And being reprimanded for what you eat should not happen no matter what weight you are.
  2. Don’t exercise out of self-hatred. I had to stop for almost a year because of this rule. My best friend said to me: “You will be just as beautiful if you never exercised another day for the rest of your life.”
  3. Repeat to self: I am still beautiful and loved if I never exercise another day for the rest of my life.
  4. Don’t body check for results, ever. No stepping on the scale, squeezing your body, trying on old jeans. And STOP looking at your body sideways every time you go to the bathroom. Ed’s the one telling you to do that. Tell him NO. Your body will change at its own pace if your nuroushing it the right way. Don’t let ED turn you against your body’s ability to take care of itself.
  5. You can say no to food without feeling deprived. I seem to always want cookies when I crawl into bed. I know I’m looking at it as comfort for getting through a long day. But I really have to learn to enjoy my bed without the cookies.
  6. And then say yes! I can eat those cookies at night sometimes. And I should have them in the daytime, too, even if I don’t crave them. Why? Because it reinforces that there’s no such thing as a “reward” “cheat” or “comfort” food. No food can “ruin your day.” I HATE hearing “I’m being bad today” just cause someone ate some chocolate. NO FOOD TURNS INTO INSTANT FAT ON YOUR BODY.
  7. I time my meals sometimes: 20-30 minutes. Its what we did in Renfrew. And I don’t find electronics or distractions to be the devil during meals. When I’m eating with a friend, I make sure to put down my food while I talk to her. Those little breaks help my fullness settle. I put on the tv when I’m alone and take turns between paying attention to my food, and giving a few minutes to the show. I think the key is to not do both at the same time. And I HATE that diets have abused this method as a way to try to trick our bodies to eat less. Honestly, ED is usually the sneaky voice trying to make us eat fast. He’s saying, “eat it before I can tell you how fattening it is!” or “there’s a bunch of other foods calling your name once you finish this!” Go slow and be aware while you eat so you can catch this voice chiming in.
  8. Wait for your hunger cues. It’s more satisfying (taste-wise). Also, I learned that if I stop trying to PLAN my next meal, my hunger cues will also tell me what I’m craving.
  9. Don’t live and die by rules. Treatment told us to eat every 4 hours. It’s a good guideline, but sometimes I don’t get hungry until 5 hours later. Sometimes I’m hungry after only 2. But when you don’t know if your hungry/full, this is a good reference to see if you should be eating.
  10. Contrary to ridiculous belief, your body DOES burn food in your sleep. Sometimes I stay up till 11 and I get hungry. Well duh, my dinner was at 5. EAT, TASH. Don’t feel guilty because of the hour. Your body clearly needs it for its next function. YES, your body needs energy to sleep just as it needs energy to run or jump or think.
  11. Always eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. This rule isn’t optional. I learned that every time I skipped a meal, it came back to bite me: whether it was after the weekend ended, later that night, or even at the next meal because I was famished.
  12. Snacks are cool. A pop tart here, cheese and crackers there. At one point I incorporated so many snacks that I lost my hunger cues. I learned not to habitually plan for snacks, the way I do with meals. At the very least, eat breakfast lunch and dinner, then take it moment by moment. When you get hungry, then incorporate your snack. 
  13. NEVER COMPARE. Not to someone else’s meal. Not to what you ate the day before. Not to someone else’s body. NEVER. It’s the fastest way to make yourself miserable. 
  14. If you have a favorite ritual–don’t stop it. I love my DD coffee in the morning. People sometimes talk about “all those calories,” and it used to really bother me. But honestly, Ive been having my pumpkin spice/butter pecan flavored cup of joe since the beginning of recovery and my body hasn’t blown up. And you never know, maybe the person telling me how bad my coffee is, has their own separate ritual: so, please just don’t listen to people. Its moderated. Its one cup, you can make your pleasures moderated, too, if that will make you feel better.
  15. Another example of a ritual I’ve grown to love is Sunday take out night. That doesn’t mean I only have take out on Sundays: remember, theres NO such thing as a “cheat” food/day. But, grabbing Chinese food, putting on a movie and laying with my boyfriend eases my Sunday scaries. And the food isn’t the root of the comfort, it’s the atmosphere, the care-free vibe, the company, and yes, the yummi-ness. So, again, don’t deprive yourself of things you’ve grown to love. That’s why diets don’t work. They want to cut things out that feel right for you. Good/bad right/wrong doesn’t exists.

I hope I didn’t convolute anyone’s way of thinking. I know that ignoring the elephant in the room isn’t going to make it going away, so I would rather finally address the very thing that has bothered me and will NOT seem to go away: weight talk.

    Please contact me if you want any advice, or have any questions. I want nothing more than to help.


    Email: natashalavolpe@gmail.com


    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Weight Loss Talk

    Bodies are vessels, they are superficial. And by changing your shell, it cannot make you any happier. The idea is often: “if I lose weight, I will become desirable.” Since this isn’t true, no goal you reach will satisfy you. It is a bottomless thirst.

    …Which is why eating disorders involve both restricting (the only percieved way to earn love/acceptance) and binging (after realizing that the deprivation isn’t filling your emptiness).

    We have to learn to change the inside. Change your thoughts. Wake up every morning and say I am beautiful. I love my smile. I make people laugh. Love your toes or freckles if that’s the only thing you can find. 

    This will feel like a lie at first. But I HAD to keep finding reasons to love myself because of how bad I wanted recovery. I HAD to keep trying in order to rid myself of a life-threatening illness. 

    I did my makeup in a small mirror, as to not be sucked into EDs body obsession. I took my time and put together nice outfits. I played with my dog when I was sad. I painted instead of numbing myself with urges. I did what I had to do to feel GOOD about myself everyday. That’s my priority. And it’s not vanity, it’s self-love. (In reality, EVERY person should be doing this, not just those plauged by ED)

    Think of yourself as a four-year old and imagine saying harsh ED-driven comments to her. Do you find it disheartening? Good, because that four year old is still you. Don’t beat her self-esteem down anymore.

    You are and were always worth being told your beautiful and if you have to be the one to tell yourself, then that’s exactly what you need to do.

    I teach my children at the daycare “If someone tells you that you look beautiful, you do not say thank you, you say: I know.” Do not even question your own beauty. Because there may be a day when someone tries to tell you that you are not (sometimes that bully even lives in your own head) and you need the courage and confidence to tell them that they are wrong.

    And please do not think I go completely ED-free all the time. He can still make me feel uncomfortable and flawed. Sometimes I cry when clothes don’t fit me anymore. I still get insecure when wearing tight shirts. But I recognize that ED is the one bashing my body.

    And when I really think about it, I love my body. I love it for carrying me and keeping me alive through my eating disorder. I love it because it is the only one I have and the only one I’ll ever have, and it is the same shell at 120 pounds and at 300 pounds. I need to nourish it always because it is always loving me, everyday that I breathe.

    I demand that everyone stop using the phrases: “losing/gaining weight.”

    When we change our bodies, there should be one thought attached to it: comfortability and vitality. And, depending on where your body is: it may need to go UP or DOWN in weight to achieve this. Unlike the media preaches: not all of us need to go downward in size. Most of us are fine just the way we are. 

    There has pretty much been a negative connotation attached to weight-gain. We have made it seem shameful to put on pounds. But, it is most certainly NOT A BAD THING. And we have attached adoration and praise to losing weight. As if it always involves willpower and impossibility. When in fact, losing OR gaining weight can=fatality. Just as either one can=life and nourishment.

    Stop referring to a body as something that “loses and gains weight.” If you are tempted to say something like that: change the phrase to something that does not have a negative predisposition.

    All I want to do is preach self-love and body-positivity. And in those moments of self-doubt, remember there are more important things than our bodies. Put on a funny movie as a reminder not to take life so seriously. Or go on an adventure with a friend. Use those times as a challenge to rediscover whats really important in life.

    CLICK FOR PART 2

    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Weathering The Storm

    “The Perfect Storm”

    My therapist actually used this phrase when referring to why someone would develop an eating disorder.

    “It’s not just one big thing that causes it,” she says, “it can be a lot of things happening all at once.”

    A couple weeks ago I went on Vacation. The days leading up to this event were both exciting and nerve-wracking.

    Exciting for obvious reasons: Disney land! No work, sleeping in, and I get to spend quality time with my family.

    And nerve-wracking due to the lingering control ED has over me. Smaller clothes, “bikini season,” diet fads. Stuff like that.

    Before recovery, ED would make me restrict before vacation. I remember increasing my already vigorous exercise routine. I dreaded the thought of being surrounded by beautiful, thin girls in their bikinis. Simultaneously, the thought of my own body made me cringe. So, naturally, ED made me work harder to change my own skin.

    I honestly would do anything to feel the excitement others had about going away. But while they were anticipating adventure, I was overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.

    Thankfully, vacation thoughts POST-recovery are much more up-lifting. And with much gratitude, I can say I do feel that sense of excitement I always wanted.

    However, EDs way of thinking has been ingrained in me for seven years, so I can’t expect all of them to dissipate after only 2 years in recovery. But, I do my best to shut them down when they creep in. 

    This can be challenging because even those WITHOUT an eating disorder tend to have disordered behaviors around this time of year (due of course to society’s impossible expectations of women)Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.08.40 PM.png

    It isn’t uncommon for women to change their exercise/food habits with the season. Not to mention all the negative self-talk that goes along with it.

    To give an example: A co-worker of mine was talking to me about the warm weather approaching. Another co-worker chimed in. She was eating a salad and said “I know! Bikini season is coming. That’s why I’ve been eating like this. It’s time I get my life together.”

    The weather and how to nourish your body are completely separate things. Yet, people pair them together. It is disgusting how normal this is. Not to mention, getting one’s life together should not be associated with losing weight!

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    Mind you, she said this in front of a 10 year old girl, who can very easily pick up on those ideals—this bothered me most.

    I used to partake in that way of thinking to such an extreme, that I developed an eating disorder. So obviously, it makes me angry to hear others passing those ideals along (… you never know who’s delicate mind you are influencing).Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.14.15 PM.png

    Often times within my own head, ED will seize an opportunity like this to tell me I should go back to him: “It’s not disordered. Everyone’s doing it. They are just taking care of their body by making sure they look good. And that’s what is important in life, after all. That woman is going to feel good in her bikini. SHE’S earning herself confidence for the summer time. What will you feel on the beach, Tasha? Fat. Because you decided to give me up…”

    Of course, HE IS WRONG. But he is sneaky and mean, and I have to keep my guard up when other women say things that he agrees with (which, like I said, does happen in this society). 

    (Just a tip: pay attention to the people in life who tend to follow ED’s standards. Those who do not follow ED do not put their worth in their image, and tend to have a much happier life. Those are the people you need to surround yourself with.)

    So I know that the warm weather can be challenging. And vacations trigger past desires to restrict. And finally, going away tends to mean dining out every meal.

    All of this may seem like a “storm,” but I can tooootally handle it (a little positive thinking there…)Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.16.15 PM.png

    But, seriously, I have my supports, my therapist, a plan, my journal! And I’ve conquered two summers in recovery. Easy, peasy.

    During the past two years, I have conquered almost every fear food. I have take out with my boyfriend weekly. I haven’t binged, been tempted to look at the calories, or purged at a restaurant in a very long time.

    As I said earlier, there are people that do not follow the recovery standards that I follow, and we cannot always avoid people like this. My example above was work, and this time its family.

    This vacation involved going out to eat everyday with someone who doesn’t eat carbs, diary, or fats. ED loves comparing my plates to hers. He likes to point out (very often I might add) that if you take my recovery meal plan and cut it in half: you have what she eats. (“Which is why you, Tasha, are fat,” ED adds)

    Okay, this is sounding more and more like a storm. But seriously, I am strong, and I’ve been challenged before. I CAN handle this.

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    Due to all my anticipatory anxiety, the idea of packing became very difficult. I procrastinated until the very last minute. And eventually an hour before our flight, I just throw all my summer clothes in my luggage.

    We finally landed in Florida. And my anxiety was replaced with excitement. With the new, challenging weather, I chose “SAFE” clothing to wear. For instance, stretchy yoga pants, loose shirts, and a flowy romper.

    When I finally worked up the nerve to pull on a pair of shorts, something happened that i absolutely did not prepare for. They were too small. Non of my old summer clothes seemed to fit me.

    My storm just went from passing thunderclouds to a whole world wind of emotions. I tried to hold it together as I finally picked out the “least tight” pair… I used my skills. I sat on the bed, I breathed deeply—in and out, in and out. I closed my eyes and tried to meditate. But all I could think about was the fact that my cheeks were probably hanging out of the bottom end of my pants.

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    Finally, as we drove to dinner I started severely panicking. Now how am I going to handle all ED’s other little comments in the restaurant if I cant even shut him up about my body right now. I’m not strong enough to handle ED wanting to compare plates while I’m being suffocated by my clothes.

    ED’s voice chanted “your fat, your fat, your fat, your fat.”

    Finally I burst into tears. My dad motioned my mom and sister to go into the restaurant so that he could sit in the car and listen to me.

    I told him about all the challenges. The restaurant struggles, the uncomfortable heat. And finally how my clothes not fitting were the last straw.

    I told him how upset I was that I gained weight, how all my fears came true about recovery, and that recovery may work for everyone else but it doesn’t seem to be working for me!

    I was allowing all of my natural fears and emotions to surface which was alleviating the pressure.

    On a different note, sometimes I feel bad when I talk about my supports because I know not everyone has someone to talk to. And honestly I was very lucky to have my dad in that situation. He was the perfect person right in that moment. But, when I’m in my right mind I do truly believe that we are sent down paths for a reason. The right coping skill will be there when you need it and when you have faith in your recovery and in yourself. This is just one example, but breakdowns have happened when I was alone in the past. In those moments, my journal or painting was the coping skill that helped shift my mood—and I’ve curbed intense urges on my own. It is absolutely possible to do it on your own. Just know when you need to reach out as well.

    My dad then used very careful words to respond(which I appreciate, when ED lives in my head, I get very sensitive).

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    He wanted to address my weight, since in that moment that seemed to be what was upsetting me the most.

    My dad then went onto explain all the things hes noticed about me lately. I just started a desk job (no more on my feet all day running around with children).

    How I’ve just had to learn 2 brand new jobs, because along with a career change in the office, I started bartanding.

    He acknowledged the difficulty of having to be around people that tend to focus on their food intake and body image.

    He was proud of me for getting through a challenging winter.

    He validated how difficult it must be to know when you are eating out of emotions or hunger and learning when to say “yes or no” to food in recovery.

    He understood the difficulty of trying not to hate exercise after learning the hardship it caused me prior to treatment.

    He called it a storm.

    And he brought to my attention how strong I am for enduring it.

    I had dinner in the restaurant soon after. And honestly, I have no idea what I ate which is the best part. I just know I was with my dad that night.

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    My vacation was a whirl wind of challenges and emotions.

    But that’s not ALL it was.

    I bonded with my dad in a way I never imagined. At 25 years old, my dad can still pick me up when I’m an absolute mess.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.38.40 PM.png

    And there were some amazinggggg ED-free memories. On the rides, at Cinderella’s castle, even slurping up my ice cream cone while I watched a parade.

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    Seriously–I could even thank ED. When he interferes in my life, it allows me to open my heart up to supports, it makes me grow as a person, and it gives me strength for life’s next challenge.

    Look, there will be storms. You just need to have faith that you’ll know what to do when they hit the hardest.

    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Progress

    Progress.

    Progress is fun because you get to see yourself through the looking glass. Reflecting on an image of where you were and how far you’ve come.

    Really think about that.

    Time seems to move so slowly when we want something. Especially if you want it REALLY, really bad. Moments drag when you remember you still have so much waiting to do, so much time ahead of you before you get what you want.

    But then suddenly—one day you are there. And it happens out of the blue. You’ve almost forgotten the feeling of yearning for it; The feeling of not having it; The feeling of never thinking you could get there.

    Gratitude kicks in. Amazement kicks you. You’re proud and you want to share that pride.

    How does someone celebrate progress? Well, pictures help. Back to back images of the change you’ve made.

    Your mind probably automatically went to fitness pics, right? Weight-loss, muscle gain. But I don’t celebrate that kind of change in my life.

    And I’m torn because goals are something to be proud of, and I know many people truly believe that working hard for their body progress should be celebrated.

    To understand my point of view, I’ve got to take you a few years back when I had my own body goals. I’ll try to speak about it unbiased. My life was very different than today, and my point of view about body image was vastly different as well. I thought it was ok to want to change my body.

    I would think about my body goals moments after waking and much of my day was structured to reach that goal. My morning smoothie, fluid loading with water, pilates, HIIT workouts, the gym, morning push ups—things like that. I wanted abs, strong arms, thin legs and agility.

    I planned my meals, my workouts and compared myself not only to those around me but to my past self: I just wanted to be better.

    Again, objectively, I’ll tell you what my thoughts were when meeting (or even seeing) another girl

    “I’m skinnier than her.” I would get sick satisfaction from that. And if they happened to have a fitter body than me, I’d feel like shit.

    When food, fitness, or health came up in conversation, I was like a kid in a candy store (twisted idiom for this topic). I’d light up and feel like I could school anyone on the topic. I liked showing off my muscles to guys, I liked teaching women how to eat to lose weight.

    Alright, let’s bounce back to the present. I am the polar opposite now and very passionately so. Why? Because today I am recovered from an eating disorder. In the above description, I was in the depths of my disorder. 

    Back to explaining why I respond the way I do to body pictures. It was really shitty the way I automatically grouped woman into two categories: skinner or heavier. It was exhausting to wake up and feel like I had to start my exercise routines all over again when I had done so much the day before. I filled up on water with the pleasure of knowing I could potientally skip my next meal if I got full enough. I thought I was better than the girls who were uneducated about the ingredients in their food. God, I sound like I was such a shitty person. Those aren’t things to be proud of. But I wasn’t a bad person and neither are others who may still have those very unfortunate thoughts. We just have to recognize them and change it. 

    At that time, I picked the wrong thing to pour my worth into. The pictures I took of my abs made me happy. The scale made me happy. But you can’t keep that kind of lifestyle up. It sounds perfect on paper (why cant everyone do that, right!) But life gets in the way.

    Work would make me too tired for my pushups. I would be too hormonal to say no to cake. I would be too self conscious to go to the gym. And then my flawlessly planned routine would be destroyed. And I hated myself for not having the willpower to reach my goals faster. I felt Iike I was neglecting my body. And with that, went my confidence, my self-love, my worth.

    There are two definitions of health. There is the “fitness/squating fad, clean-eating, body obsessed health” and then there is the “comfortable in your own skin, knowing balance for your mind/body and soul health.”

    If you have a goal to be healthy—I hope you reach it. But, if it involves telling me how many pounds you lost—then thats the “bullshit healthy” and I don’t want to hear about it. If it involves showing me pictures of your abs four months ago, compared to your more sculpted abs today, then again, don’t mind me if I just stare at you unamused. I don’t care about that kind of progression.

    It tends to demean your past body, and with that, all body types who may still look like that. I just don’t like comparing bodies in any type of negative way. They change from and there should be no shame or guilt in going up or down. Your vessel always deserves love.

    But like I said, progression is fun. And it gives us the ability to be proud. So how can I look at my progression? My recovery progression, the real kind of “healthy” progression…

    CLICK EACH PICTURE FOR THE CAPTION AND AN EXPLAINATION OF MY PROGRESS.

     

     

    Posted in Anxiety, binge eating disorder, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Social Media

    “Wow, I’m Not the Only One”

    I had another rough day yesterday. Good things happened, I snuggled a toddler. I laughed with my co-worker. I went to therapy and I bonded with my sister.

    But my overall feelings toward the day were exhaustion and slightly annoyed.

    I wanted to write, I also wanted to do pilates. But, I was too tired by the time I got home-after a 13 hour day filled with screaming toddlers and not very nice people.

    I was happy to curl up in bed and looked forward to falling asleep to My Little Ponies.

    Shit, I left the remote in the bathroom. I was not getting back up to get it.

    I covered myself with the blankets and decided to scroll through my phone.

    I have a personal Instagram account and a recovery account. The recovery account is always used for good—I follow inspirational badasses that post about body love and all that good stuff.

    The personal account I hate admitting—but can be used for evil. I don’t mean it! In fact, one of my goals when I first started recovery was to unfollow anyone who didn’t make me feel good about myself. This involved people that post constant diet/body posts; people that talk badly of themselves or others. And  those people that tend to obsess over making their internet lives seem perfect and flawless—not to call anybody out but you know the ones. They make an identity out of their insta-popularity, and want to see how many likes they can get on a new photo of their flawlessly positioned squat.

    More power to those people for all the beautiful selfies—but your posts sometimes make me feel shitty about my humanly cellulite ass so I don’t want to look at them.

    Anyway, I was scrolling through my personal account and I saw a photo of my friend working out. (These pictures usually don’t bother me, because the friends I follow aren’t disordered: they don’t crowd their pages with these posts, and they don’t make an identity out of it.)

    But last night the photo I was looking at triggered me. Mostly because (and I hate admitting this, too) but she experienced an eating disorder as well, and I felt like she was winning. Winning what? God, I don’t know. Can she really have recovery and work out as much as her instagram shows?

    God, it really triggered me. I missed the high I used to get when I was back on a workout binge. The lightness I’d feel as long as I was eating only low cal and “good foods.”

    I kept scrolling through her page.

    Then I started clicking on some other pages: I saw bodies upon bodies of perfectly sculpted humans. Working out, accomplished, smiling, flexing: shit that I clearly am not in this m moment.

    I, on the other hand, was drained, feeling bloated from ice cream (that I wasn’t feeling guilty about till this very moment), feeling full. And feeling ashamed of my “recovery body.”

    I texted my boyfriend the words that ED was whispering in my ear “fat, lazy, shame, guilt, over-eater, emotional, girly, embarrassing, failure, ugly”

    Luckily, I am recovered enough to hear my own voice, as well. And I texted those emotions, too. 

    I, Tasha, felt: pride—that I listened to my body tonight and laid down instead of forcing a workout after a long day.

    Relief—that I don’t have any urges and that I don’t remember the last time I body checked because my goal is no longer to manipulate my body.

    And anger—towards this instagram that claimed recovery but mostly shows photos of working out and ED’s old list of “good foods.”

    That is not what recovery means to me.

    I know I gave into ED last night and looked at a lot of glamorous photos of women. 

    And I shouldn’t judge whether they are healthy or not.

    I know that the part of me getting angry at the damn internet is the part of me that doesn’t love myself. It should not bother me what other people do. Or how other people choose to show recovery.

    Maybe I can add more to this article another day, and finish it on a more positive note. But for now, I’ll end it like this. And I do apologize if there’s anyone I offended. But, lord I hope that I can touch someone that stalks those beautiful, flawless people, those flexed abs and happy faces after their killer workout—I hope you read this and take my advice. Stop looking. I don’t really think recovery should be like that, and don’t feel bad if yours isn’t. My recovery is a fucking hot mess. What do I beleive? That there is always something missing on those accounts. Something about their mind, body or life that they don’t want us to see.

    By revealing my shitty, embarrasing, not so pretty parts of recovery, it’s the only way I can help other fighters say: “wow, I’m not the only one.”