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.

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    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.”

    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    A Mind That Won’t Shut Off

    I love writing about my successes and how far I’ve come. But I have to be real and talk openly about the days I feel like going backwards.

    It feels like a chore to write when I’m sad and urgy—of course because the seemingly easiest thing to do is give into the urge.


    With recovery, we learn very well that binging, purging or restriction isn’t going to make us feel better—it actually makes things worse. But somehow, 7 years later, I still tamper with the idea of doing it “just this once” to make my anxiety go away.

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    “Just this once” is nonexistent to an eating disorder.

    Therapists have called it a “quick fix” if we give into urges. By binging all day, I’m temporarily distracted from my anxiety. They  say I’m “putting a band-aid on a wound.”

    And then if I skip dinner because I ate too much today or I feel fat, I’m told “it’s not the right thing to do.”

    Well, it’s actually not a band-aid. That is way too simple. I’m literally injecting myself with Novocaine and then pouring gasoline on the wound. I’m making the original problem worse, and adding more levels of pain. And I’ve chosen to numb myself the whole time.

    And sure, it’s “wrong” to deprive myself of food. Because my body needs nutrients and yada yada yada.. But more importantly, when I wake up tomorrow and still think I look fat, I will spiral into a deep depression. I will feel like skipping one meal isn’t enough—I’ll stare in the mirror and expect to like it because of the deprivation. But I’ll scowl at my stomach and pinch my imperfections (so I’ve now indulged body dysmorphia). What if I wake up and DO think I look thinner?  Now that’s where I get fucking addicted and never want to stop skipping meals. I’ll compete with myself to eat “better” (an old ED term-all food is good food) or less than the day before. Because I don’t want to undo what I did to make my body look like this (obsession sets in).

    Why am I going into such detail about giving into urges right now? It seems unhealthy to talk about it with such scrutiny. But Renfrew does say: “approach, don’t avoid.” And I’m being real.

    I really need to acknowledge what I avoided tonight. I almost spiraled down one of those paths and gave into binging and purging. Thankfully, I didn’t.

    I had just gotten home from a full day of work. I had 45 minutes to decompress (or in my case, worry) before I had to leave for training at my new job.

    I have so many concerns about my new job, I love it, but I’m so scared of (god forbid) making a mistake.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.41.44 PM.png

    As these thoughts were playing on a loop in my head all day, I chose to continuously eat and ignore my fullness cues at the daycare.

    Going through recovery helps keep logical thoughts like: “EATING WILL NOT HELP YOUR ANXIETY” front and center of my brain. Then I am usually more prone to pick a healthier coping skill than what ED wants me to do.

    But today ED was yelling back at me: “you don’t have time for another coping skill. You have a full time job, and then you have to go to a new job that you clearly aren’t good enough for. When exactly are you going to find time to cope. You’re going to be so exhausted this week… Oh, by the way, you’ve gained weight…You’re hopeless and worthless and fat. So, here’s some food, at least it will help shut me up…”

    I walked in the door when I got home from work and immediately went to the kitchen. Rummaging through the cabinets; opening the fridge 4 or 5 times; “should I go right for the binge and purge or should I pretend ‘I’m just going to have a little’ for the next hour until I get so full I have to purge.” If I chose the latter I can say: “It happened so quickly. I just wanted to have a little.”

    (BTW, this sounds like I’m manipulative and don’t really want to get better. But, I’m only capable of this raw honestly in retrospect. I, of course, didn’t want to binge and purge when I got home. In that moment when I walked into the kitchen, my brain was moving so quickly I couldn’t think about logic. I didn’t care about the outcome of my actions. And I would have sworn up and down that ‘I’M JUST GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE!’ …and I will genuinely mean it.

    But I’m going for food, not out of hunger, out of anxiety. And when I take that first bite, that’s like an alcoholic smelling someone’s unattended glass of whisky. It’s impossible to stop there.

    But addictions are all about breaking the patterns…defying impossibilities…)

    I took my first cup of granola upstairs. Many times before I would have finished that first cup, gone back for more, again and again until I purged. Today I finished the food and said NO. I laid my head down, set my alarm for 45 minutes, and closed my eyes.

    Of course, now without any food to comfort me, my thoughts got excruciatingly loud again:“You are so fat. Think about how much you ate today. OMG, you didn’t go over your notes from last week’s training.You’re going to make a fool of yourself when you try to help a new client today. You’re a mess. You need better priorities. You left work fifteen minutes early today, you are so goddamn annoying to your co-workers at the daycare. Remember what the scale said at the doctor’s office last week, I bet your more than that now…“

    Sleep. Alarm.

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    annnnnndddd ED doesnt skip a beat: “…Oh you feel that? That’s your stomach because you filled it with so much crap today. You have to get up now and put on nice clothes. You’re going to look gross in them.”

    I got up, knowing that I no longer have to be alone in my house with the potential to binge. All I have to do now is get ready, get out the door, blast some music in the car to shut ED the fuck up, and make it into my new job.

    I put on some pretty lipstick and looked at my full length mirror. No, I didn’t see my body: I saw the beautiful artwork I made in Renfrew. I saw the vision board of my future home, I saw a collage of women I admireimg_94091.jpg

    all of whom have smiles and absolutely beautiful bodies. I grabbed my keys and went downstairs to go to work. Just then I got a phone call.

    “Hey Tash, you don’t have to come in. The day has been really slow. By the time you get here, we will be closing up.”

    I couldn’t believe it. 

    Can you imagine if I binged and purged and then got that phone call?

    I would have slipped backwards (which is ok, it can be forgiven and it helps us grow sometimes) but I would have felt so defeated.

    Using symptoms to get through the anticipation of facing something that, in the end, I wouldn’t have to do?

    I am so grateful I didn’t have to say “I binged and purged for nothing.” I am so grateful I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way.

    Instead I got to say: I slept off the urges, I ignored ED as best I could, I pulled myself together and NOW I can even act on the “better” coping skills I wanted to do earlier.

    So here I am. Writing my feelings and being a badass.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 10.09.59 PM.png

    I know urges can come on strong when I work long days, and they will probably be there as I transition into my new job. It’s not pessimistic to say this, it’s being prepared.

    So tonight, I stayed in and I ate dinner: I had salad.

    Then I ate ice cream.

    Fuck you ED if you think the ice cream was a bad choice.

    Fuck you ED if you think the salad was a good choice.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 10.17.10 PM.pngI need to remain non-judgemental, but I just love Ron Swanson.

    If I’m going to beat these urges I need to stop letting ED dig up old beliefs about food. I need to stop letting him dictate what I eat.

    Avoiding certain foods will not make me happier with my body. And I am not a walking, talking balloon that inflates every time I eat. I’ll eat what I crave when I’m hungry. And when I’m done, I’ll be in the moment, coping with whatever tools I can find. That can mean a baby at the daycare, a funny friend at work, my notebook when it’s naptime, a friend to text when I’m vulnerable. I can find other coping skills if I look for them–even if I’m working myself to the bone. 

    Less ED, more LIFE.

    Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery

    Coping with Change

    I’m listening to the wind howl. I love any sound the weather makes.

    And I hear my fingers typing on the keyboard. I usually have some sort of cartoon on in the background, but right now the silence is encouraging me to write.

    I’m laying down with a stuffed puppy perched between my arm and my cheek. Laying like this is hurting my neck and I can only use one hand to type. But the comfort of holding my puppy is worth the awkward position.

    I wonder why such childish things bring me peace of mind (for instance, my stuffed animal, Eve, yeah she has a name).

    I could find a fun series to watch on netflix, or I could try being an adult and watch the news. 

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    But instead I choose to watch the same cartoons I’ve seen hundreds of times.

    There’s still a kid in most of us. It’s that carefree attitude–that says nothing else matters except Ash capturing another pokemon. Children do not carry a worry in the world. They find joy in the simpliest of things. A child will cry about a scrapped knee, but be distracted by an insect two seconds later and forget the pain. 

    So, I’ll pet my fake puppy and watch My Little Ponies. I know that it’s weird, but it’s  what I like. No shame in finding your happy.

    But I do find it curious how different people decompress after a long day. My boyfriend watches sports, or literally flips through channels until he stumbles upon an action movie he’s probably already seen. 

    My sister is addicted to “Shameless.”

    And my mom (like most moms) watches HGTV.

    The truth is, I have a hard time finding anything to do without my mind wondering.  Plus, my phone usually gets all my attention anyway.

    We might all have that problem, especially before going to sleep. 

    And most times (unless I’m being super aware and seeking out helpful articles and positive instas) the phone isn’t healthy for me. I usually end up seeing a picture that makes me mad like a photoshopped fitness model. Or I’m suddenly stalking some random person I met once.

    I wish I knew how to meditate. How to melt into my pillow and just breath. It’s allegedly great for you, but I always end up passing out.

    I also wish I could muster up the energy to do some yoga right now. It is so peaceful, and I love feeling my body stretch. But doing anything besides being under my covers at the end of a long day feels like toooorture.

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    It’s just so strange that I don’t always know how to relax. Especially since, I’ve literally thought about nothing BUT this moment all day at work. Being at home–able to do whatever I want. 

    And then it’s even weirder how the things I planned to do can feel like even more work (like moving to do yoga)…

    Or blogging. Now that I started, I’ve genuinely found peace in writing tonight. But every moment leading up to this was spent whining to myself: “Ughh, I don’t want to write..that means I have tooooo thinkkkkkk…”

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    The ironic part is: if I don’t write, I’m thinking about everything and anything anyway, at least by writing I get to choose my thoughts (and I usually like to keep it positive).

    So tonight, before I picked up my computer, my mind kept going back to one thing:

    I’m in a transition right now. I’m learning new skills—being trained for a new position in a completely new career path. They are using words I don’t understand, and a program I’ve just been introduced to. I’m feeling overwhelmed. There’s so much that these people know, and I don’t. It’s like a foreign language.

    My friends all tell me they’ve experienced this in their current jobs. Everyone goes through this transition period. That helps. But still…

    Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.49.39 PM.pngI’m looking; I’m listening; I’m taking notes. My chest is tensing up even as I talk about it.

    I’ve had this passing thought: “What if I get fired? What if they don’t like me? I need to quit everything and pop out some babies.”Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.17.32 PM.png

    My boyfriend pointed this out to me earlier: “you have AMAZING patience. But none for yourself.”

    I need to KNOW EVERYTHING THEY ARE TRYING TO TEACH ME NOW!

    But the truth is: I want to stick it out. I can’t wait to retain and understand everything. I know I can be close to my new co-workers and form great bonds and make them smile. And I cant wait to look back and be proud that I now know everything I didn’t IN THIS moment.

    I’ve been sick with a nasty stomach bug. And in some ways I believe that was a saving grace. When I wasn’t in training, I was resting. I had to, my body was shutting down. I couldn’t even overthink.

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    There’s something about trying to look like you aren’t about to throw up, that takes your mind off of worrying if someone new likes you.

    Life is great. There’s no such thing as coincidences. And there’s always another perspective to take.

    This past weekend when I got sick. I first thought: “REALLY?! For my first week of training?!”

    But, as you can see, it clearly worked out.

    I don’t know how I was able to get through everything. Well, no, actually I do know…

    Supports. Faith. Positivity. and a little bit of sulking (I don’t like to bottle shit up, in recovery I learned it isn’t healthy)

    Supports will get you through anything.

    Unfortunately, I’m alone tonight. My boyfriend has stayed with me the past few nights because I’ve been sick and I’ve been nervous about my new job. But I told him I’d sleep home tonight, that I’m doing better and I’ll be ok. Because I want to be. Sure, its easier with him, but goddamn, I’m an independent woman.

    I’m having a harder time falling asleep since I’m no longer so sick and drained. So my worried thoughts aren’t shutting off so easy. My puppy, the wind, and keyboard clicking will hopefully fill me with the peace I would like to find on my own.

    No ED tonight. No ED the past few days: thanks in part to my sickness, my loved ones, my excitement, but most importantly—my strength.

    I’ve had to deal with very intense emotions in the absence of ED. But then I remember how exciting it is to not constantly have to fight him. I’d rather feel genuine emotion than the distraction of urges.

    And how exciting to look back one day and realize I learned everything I need to learn in my new job, WITHOUT using ED to cope. Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.27.01 PM.png