Thoughts on Anxiety and Eating Disorders

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Anxiety….

Let’s talk about it. 

How are you dealing? 

I’m talking about the type of anxiety that is crippling. The kind that adds a layer of depression and sorrow. The type that causes you to live in fear of the “what if”. 

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post… but I do want to talk about anxiety as it relates to an eating disorder (at least mine).

Anxiety was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up I had a lot of irrational fears and dark thoughts. I feared I was going to get kid napped or my parents were going to die. I had anxiety about societal expectations… anxiety about weight gain. I knew that a “thigh gap” was “idea”… and I remember the exact day and moment in high school that I looked in the mirror and saw my thigh gap was gone. And I felt disappointed at myself and fearful that I was ugly.  

Unfortunately, I carried this anxiety with me into my college years.

Anxiety caused me to do a lot of irrational things and make poor decisions. If you’ve read my other posts, you know my top priority in college was certainly not “wellness”- despite being in school for nutrition. (The irony… I know.)

Anxiety controlled my life and was the driving factor behind almost everything I did: my intense study schedule, my lacking sleep schedule, my extreme workout schedule, my calorically sparse diet, my social life etc. All of these things were driven by anxiety and fear. 

What drives you? What motivates you? Is anxiety the captain of your life? If so… then I submit that you have given away your ability to make decisions based on what you truly want. Your judgment is clouded with the fog of fear. You are robbed of your ability to truly enjoy anything without reservation. There is always an underlying uneasiness. There is an intensity in your soul. An intensity that never quiets down. 

Peace? What is this peace you speak of? What is joy without reservation? 

WHAT IS HAPPINESS APART FROM THIN-NESS?

Ahhhh… there it is. I thought that if I was miserable, at least I could be thin and miserable. I thought - if I don’t have control of the other areas of my life, at least I can have control in this one. If I cannot deal with my thoughts and fears of failure, then at least I’d have one source of my anxiety under control. I can’t fully control everything else… but I can control this one.

Unfortunately, control cannot fix anxiety. On the contrary, in my experience, control only perpetuated my anxiety. Even the idea of loosing control was terrifying. To try to control your anxiety by tightening the death grip you have on your life is an oxymoron. It does not work. Trust me, I’ve tried. That day will come when you don’t have full control anymore- when someone throws a wretch in your plans. When you boyfriend calls to say y’all are going to eat with friends- during the time you are going to work out. When you go to a party and they have only have “junk” food to eat. When you go on vacation and you are out of your own routine. Control does not ease the pain of anxiety- with food, weight, or anything else in life. It might place a Band-Aid on it- but it does not give you true peace- only the illusion of it. This will quickly come to light when the inevitable happens and you are placed out of control. At this time, the anxiety will be amplified. The tighter your control, the bigger the fall. 

With food, control only leads to a “loss of control”. Has anyone else struggled with binge eating due to restriction? In this case, you have control until you don’t anymore. At the point of binge eating, not only have you lost control… but you are completely out of control. This is what control does- we forget how to cope with life when things are not exactly as we have them planned. When our calculations and lists to do not add up, we loose our minds. 

This is why in my opinion and experience, controlling methods like Weight Watchers and the MyFitnessPall app do.not.work. Yes, they may work, in that they allow you to have the tremendous illusion of control… but they only give you a dependence on something apart from yourself. They lead you to feel out of control without them. Is that really even true control? I submit it is not. Yes, you are using them to control… but you yourself are not in control. 

When is someone “in control” when it comes to food? I submit that it is when one eats intuitively. To be in control when it comes to food is to not control at all! You have to release your mind from the burden of manipulation and you must rekindle that beautiful relationship between body and soul. When you relinquish control of food, then you take away the appeal of the “forbidden foods”. When this happens, the appeal of all the “bad” foods goes away. They no longer have that forbidden allure. They no longer entice you to come hither and eat all the things. When this happens, your mind no longer has to practice self control… because your body intuitively does not always crave those things. If you take away the issue… then it is a non-issue. But get this: you first have to allow yourself to be “out of control” to be “in control” . This means you may over do it the first few or the first few hundred times… but eventually that “honeymoon” phase of food WILL go away. Without you having to practice self control. 

To put anxiety behind me… I had to learn to relinquish control. I had to learn that life was better lived without maintaining a constant death grip. Without living in fear of the future or the “what ifs”. Life is unpredictable and unexpected- that is the beauty of it! This is the nature of life. You have to choose to embrace it, or live in fear of it. 

I for one am done living in fear. I want to pursue what sets my soul on fire and what fulfills my inmost being. I may fail and run into road blocks along the way… but there is progress in the regression. 

By letting go of control, I have experienced more freedom than I ever have. To learn to be at peace with things outside of your control is one of the greatest life tools. My mom has always told me: “it is what it is”. That phrase has always sent me into a rage… I was always like “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!” It implies that what happens happens… and we can’t do anything about it but accept it. As much as I hate it sometimes, that is true. Life is always going to throw curve balls but we cannot go on living in fear of them. They will happen… and we have to be flexible enough to dodge them or we have to be strong enough to heal from them. Either way, living in fear of them only cripples us and hinders us as we go through life. 

I know I'm not alone in this struggle. I know my story is not unique. I would love to get this conversation started, Are you struggling? Have you overcome? 

Practically speaking, things like morning routines, journaling, and meditation have all helped me in this learning process… but that is for another time.

Why I'm Not Quitting Sugar

Okay.

This is a post I’ve been wanting to sit down and write for a while now….

But I had to been in the right head space. Alas, I believe I am in the perfect space of being low key worked up but also chill. #wine

I titled this post “Why I’m not quitting sugar”. I am not writing this post because I need to defend myself, but because I want to reach a subset of women and men who have unwittingly created food fear in their own lies. People tend to see what someone else is doing in their "diet" and they automatically use that to make judgements on their own. This should not be the case. 

 

Rule rules rules. People love the damn food rules for the sake of "wellness”. People love to create a problem when there isn’t necessarily a problem. People love to demonize things and beat themselves up thinking they can do better and by golly they better “detox after the weekend”. They better “pay” for that. They better get their body “back on track”.

Now I will have to say, there is a time and a place for detoxes and sugar cleanses and the like; however, the majority of the girls I know and my own clients do not fall into this category of needing to “detox” from or quit anything. This is who I am writing this post for.

Another side note: Quitting certain foods does not automatically make you “cleansed”. Detoxes should involve encouraging your body’s natural detoxifying pathways. Detoxing can be done effectively if you support the liver in phase 1 and 2 of the detoxification process. This can be beneficial at times and for therapeutic reasons. But alas, this is not what I am addressing in this post.

Apart from a legitimate food sensitivity, allergy, or legitimate therapeutic reason, creating more rules and guilt and thus, morality around food is not necessary. I would even go so far as to say that it can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing. I see it over an over again- girls who are already struggling with developing a good relationship with food and their bodies thinking that they are doing something wrong and thus, feeling guilty for not “quitting sugar”.

Again. I get it. I know. Wellness is my jam. Sugar is not great for hormonal regulation, inflammation, and all that jazz. But oh my gosh… lets keep it all in perspective! Let’s remember that our emotional and mental wellbeing is arguably the first priority. If you’re worried about eating fruit, honey and even sugar … then I encourage you to take a long, hard look at your relationship with food. Ladies (and men): There is nothing wrong with enjoying sugar- of any form, without feelings of guilt. There is nothing wrong with “indulging” over the weekend without feeing the need to “detox” and extend certain diet parameters when the new week starts. Again, there is a time and a place for “detoxing” and sugar quitting, but when it comes as a detriment to your relationship with food- now is not the time. In my previous job, I worked with people who were downing 2 liters of soda every day… those are the kind of people who would benefit from an immediate sugar detox. I wouldn’t blink an eye to that! But to my ladies who are trying to heal their relationship with food and their bodies: please know physical healing and well-being does not have to come at the cost of mental sanity.

Why do I feel so passionate? Because I’ve been there. I’ve been scared of food to an extreme degree. I feared a lot of food— but probably sugar most of all. But I don’t any more. I use to think: I can’t eat sugar or it will negate my workout. Or, I can’t eat sugar or I will gain weight. Or, I can’t eat sugar because of inflammation and insulin. But guess what? I don’t think like that anymore because it was detrimental to me and unnecessary for me to put parameters on my diet. When I gave myself permission to eat, then I found I did not intuitively crave allllll of the sugar. So for me, creating a food rule around sugar actually made my crave it more. I don’t fear of weight gain with my sugar intake. Again, I’m not going crazy, but I eat “sugar” probably every single day in the form of something: be it a cookie, chocolate, wine, cocktail, honey, fruit… you name it. And guess what? I am physically well. Even more than that, I am emotionally well. I feel better than I ever have and THAT is what is important to me. Food is not driving me mad. Food is not my obsession. Food is just food. It is a joy… it is not an obsession. This happened when I learned to leave the food rules and the black and white/polarized thinking behind. This is the great thing about intuitive eating: You may indulge over the weekend, but then Monday comes around and chances are you will automatically tend towards the greens and such without setting up parameters for yourself. No need to punish yourself… just listen to what your body craves.

I think valuable intuition for anyone to have is knowing what is appropriate for them and what is not. For me, with a history of an eating disorder and extreme obsession with food and detoxes, unnecessary (non-therapeutic) food rules simply DO.NOT.WORK.FOR.ME. Well, I take that back… they work for me in the way that I do them and I do them well. When I make my mind up to do something, I will do that thing at any cost. But guess what? I’m a miserable person when I do that. I know myself well enough to know that if I ever restrict or create food rules for myself, then I crave those things all the more. It drives me mad and I feel suppressed. I feel a slave to food again. Any kind of rule, as well intentioned as it may be, is off limits for me. I don’t allow myself to go there anymore. I lived as a slave to food for so long that I’m just f******** over it. OVER IT.

Now hear this: I know quitting sugar and all works for some people. I know that it is necessary for some people. I understand breaking the cycle of sugar addiction and regulating hormones. TRUST. I get it.

@@But hear this: just because someone else is doing something for their own “wellness”, it does not mean you should.@@

What someone else is doing does not apply to you. If you fear that you are not doing something right because you are not creating food rules for yourself- whether that’s concerning gluten, sugar, alcohol, carbs etc, then I challenge you to step away from outside influences for now. Be kind to yourself and remember: you know you best. Do don’t think you are doing some sort of disservice or detriment to yourself by not eliminating this or that.

Just to reiterate: when I stopped creating food rules, the appeal of the foods I was scared of decreased tremendously. When your mind is not fixated on this thing that you cannot have, then you are free to actually decide what foods you truly enjoy and what you do not enjoy. You’ll find that while you may crave all of the donuts or all of the bread at first… those cravings eventually subside. The “honeymoon phase” goes away. You realize you don’t crave those things as often as you thought you did. It is a beautiful thing. (Read more about the journey to intuitive eating here.)

Furthermore, when there are no unnecessary food rules, you eliminate the possibility for guilt to sneak in. You eliminate the possibility for food to have morality around it. Food should not have guilt or shame attached to it. I lived in that space for too long and I am so so passionate about getting others to this same place of food freedom. When you have created unnecessary food rules for yourself, if you fail… guess what… there is guilt. That is what rules do. They create guilt and shame when you do not adhere to them.

Again, I feel like keep having to come back to this place: truly, some people need to abstain from food for medical and therapeutic reasons. I work with women who have to do this and we are careful to honor their physical needs but also ensure we do not damage their relationship with food. It is truly a delicate balance that requires you to place yourself in the right headspace.

My purpose in writing this post is to reach a certain target audience who are unnecessarily limiting their food choices for the sake of “wellness” at the cost of their relationship with food.  I believe our bodies and minds would be better served by making intuitive eating and a traditional food diet our priority. This way, our bodies are in a place to tell us what the truly need. In this way, there is no need for food parameters. You do not have to be out of control when it comes to food. That is the beauty of intuitive eating- it gets you to that place of food peace and wellness without having to compromise in other areas of your life. Because guess what? Sometimes I crave all the fruit… all the chocolate… and all the wine… and that is okay. I honor that shiz. #teamnofoodrules 

An Open Letter to All Males Struggling with an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating

 John.

John.

Dear male, 

I want to say I’m sorry. I never ever want to discredit or not recognize the struggles you feel in this area. Of course, I have never done this intentionally- but I do fear I may have done so unintentionally. I understand that you- like women, are not immune to societal pressures. Because I am a woman- I gravitated and resonate with women and their specific struggle and so I tend to to address them with the majority in my words. But please never ever think that I do not believe my words or the struggle apply to you as well.

I would be doing a huge disservice to the EDO (eating disorder) and EDO recovery community if I did not recognize our male counterparts. I love the strong community that women have built around themselves but let us not hype ourselves up so much that we exclude and further damage and isolate others. Males in this struggle need just as much love and support and encouragement as women do and unfortunately, their support community is much less. Let us all welcome each other with open arms. 

Unfortunately, EDOs are often wrongly stereotyped to a certain subset of women… I’m sure we are all well aware of what that is. But the wrongful pressures of society do not discriminate between race, age, or gender. We are ALL susceptible to the pressure of societal “expectations” and “ideals” to look a certain way. 

There is a huge cultural movement- body positive. This is an incredible thing. However, it is geared largely toward the female population and I feel this is unfortunate. Because the cultural female “ideal” is so extreme, it often overshadows the fact that there are unrealistic physical expectation for men to reach as well. To not think so would be ignorant. Do you think our boys and men are immune to this message? No. I say it again: Men are not immune to societal pressures or the development of disorder eating or eating disorders. Our men and boys are in dire need of the body positive, intuitive eating, and self love messages just as much as our girls. But because there is a smaller subset of them or because there are existing stereotypes about EDOS, their cry for change and for help is not as loud. I believe men are often stereotyped to be rough, tough, no body image issues, no feelings, no emotions… etc. All of these things may be true for a subset of men (hah), but the rest of them have actual emotions and actual feelings. They want freedom from food and body shape ideals just as much as women do. Unfortunately, men, do not get the support and comradely that women often have and they are left out of the grassroots societal movements in this area.

This topic is extremely close to my heart as I have had and have men in my life who struggle with body image issues, disordered eating and even eating disorders. It breaks my heart. The person who changed everything for me was a male. (Read his story here.) Unfortunately, he passed away. But I want to honor him in every way I can and in everything do. It would disrespectful for me to not recognize his struggle as just as valid as my own. 

Women, don’t we all just want grace? Don’t we all want to celebrate the fact that there is beauty in every one of us and that we don’t need to reach this arbitrary pinnacle of “perfection”? Don’t we all want to tear down these body “ideals” and replace them with individuality? Then we need to extend the same grace and message that we want for ourselves and our daughters to our boys and men. This body positive moment is a two way street. If we are to change the societal ideals it is gong to involve both males and females working together. We can’t just demand change in this area like its strictly female struggle. It’s not. 

This body positive movement is great. This ED recovery community is wonderful. But again: let us not leave behind our male counterparts. Let us bring them into our community and love on them. Let us be open minded when we talk and in the conversations we have. Let us not add to the stereotype that eating disorders are a female disease. 

I for one, will be more careful with the words I write and the pronouns I choose. I never want to be insensitive, exclude, or undermine the male struggle. I encourage everyone to do this same.

Let’s get this conversation going. 

Thoughts? Feelings? Let me know in the comments!

As usual, let me know if you have any further questions about my journey and experience with recovery, If you feel like you need additional support in this, I work with clients one on one in my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition

Eating Disorder Recovery: The First Step to Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is all the rage right now. It is a huge wellness trend that is sweeping the nation.

THIS IS INCREDIBLE.

I think women (and men) are finally fed up with being told we that need to follow diets and food rules to maintain our weight. I think we are realizing the truth: we are in fact, not out of control when it comes to food! Or at least, we don’t have to be. And the method we use to contain ourselves does not have to be restrictive. On the contrary, it can be the most liberating thing ever. Giving your body complete control by eating intuitively- that’s magic. Intuitive eating is founded by honoring our cravings with a whole, real foods diet. It is founded in eating to nourish our bodies- not in restricting calories. It is founded in honoring our hunger and satiety cues. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is restricted. You merely let your body guide you to the foods that it needs to be fully nourished and fully satisfied.

Unfortunately, many of us have become incredibly disconnected with our own bodies. In this case, our minds take over and tell our bodies what to eat and when to eat it. Diets and the food manipulation mindset have stripped away the innate wisdom we have to determine the right food choices. This makes intuitive eating difficult and downright impossible. 

The point of this post is to give hope to those who are discouraged or frustrated by this concept intuitive eating – particularly, those who are in the clutches of or recovering from an eating disorder. I feel like I am doing this population a huge disservice if I merely say, “Yea! Just eat intuitively! It’s great!” without giving merit to their frustration and guiding them in what to do about it. Because trust- I’ve been there. So with the rest of this post- I discuss the very first thing I did to start my journey to intuitive eating.

If it’s not already clear- learning to eat intuitively has changed my life. I now consider myself an intuitive eating dietitian, but it hasn’t been an easy or quick journey to get here. (You can read about my journey here.) I learned to ditch the disordered, manipulative eating behaviors and eat what and when I effing want. Everything I say here is based off of my own personal experience. I juggled extreme restriction and binge eating during my EDO, so the journey to intuitive eating may be different for you. However, I believe there are many out there who are in my old shoes. I hope this resonates with you.

So here it is: Begin the journey to intuitive eating by eating what you do not want to eat. Say whaaaaa? I know I know. This goes against the premise of intuitive eating and I believe this is why many are left feeling frustrated and defeated when they try to jump straight from eating disorder to “intuitive eating”. If you have not already begun the process of recovery, what you want to eat at this time can be translated as: what your eating disorder wants you to eat- not what your body truly needs. Your eating disorder will tell you to eat more broccoli, or celery, or egg whites. It will tell you to eat less or to eating everything in the house in one sitting. None of this is intuitive eating. It is simply impossible for one to go straight from disordered eating to eating intuitively overnight- so do not expect this out of yourself! You will only feel frustrated and disappointed. However, this is what you can do to empower yourself and start your journey to recovery and to intuitive eating: 

Don’t eat what you want to eat- eat the foods that you have placed “off limits”. In this way, eating can be scary, confusing and frustrating because there is an internal conflict between what your mind wants and what your body needs. But friends, do not think that there are certain expectations that you have to reach during this first step. Just take it day by day. Every day, challenge yourself to eat a new food that was previously off limits. Or maybe just eat more of a particular food. For example, if you usually to have one slice of toast for breakfast- have two instead. If you were use to eating PB2, challenge yourself to eat real peanut butter. For me, this was the very first step to intuitive eating: eating what I did not want to eat- but what my body and soul needed to be healed. I began by eating foods that I considered to be “fattening” or “off limits” or “trigger foods”. This included things like peanut butter, oatmeal, bread, egg yolks, chips, and actual milk instead of almond milk. I began by creating small challenges every day to eat a little more or to face a food fear. The only way you will be able to get to that place of intuitive eating is by eating foods that nourish and satisfy your body and by eliminating the fear around food. So, I challenge you to challenge yourself. Food fear and intuitive eating are mutually exclusive: the two cannot exist together.

Tackling food fear can be a daunting process. This stage can be extremely frustrating, confusing, and evening saddening. It can lead people to believe that intuitive eating is hard. It can cause people to give up and revert back. But remember: this is not intuitive eating- this is the journey to intuitive eating. And yes, it sucks. But take heart, friends: it gets better! The more you face your fears, the easier it gets. The more you shut down your eating disorder thoughts and desires, the more your true needs can shine through. Daily successes will amount up to huge forward motion and progress over time. As food fears subside, your mind will get out of the way and it will become easier for your body to communicate with you. Your body will learn to communicate and your mind will become more receptive to listening.

Eventually, as you eat more calories and more nutrient dense foods, your metabolism will speed up and your body will become receptive to this new normal. Your hunger cues will become more pronounced- learn to honor these. Eat when you are hungry and do not relish it or ignore it. Hunger is a physical manifestation of your body’s need for energy. It is talking to you- listen to it. Eat slowly and mindfully. Taking note of how the food tastes and feels in your mouth. Relish every bite. Eventually, you will begin to sense and honor your satiety cues as well- even to previously “triggering” foods. Yes- you may go over board a few times- or even many times, but have grace with yourself. This is a part of the process- it does not mean you should restrict that food. On the contrary, if you have a tendency to binge on a particular food, you should eat that food more often. Once your body realizes that it can have said food whenever it wants, the urge to binge eat will wane and eventually, it will be gone all together. (I wish someone had told me this years ago. This truth would have prevented a lot of heartache and late nights of self-loathing.)

Hunger and satiety cues are the most basic, fundamental commutation between your body and your mind. As you grow in your confidence with these, you will become more sensitive to other signals as well- such as cravings for specific nutrients or micronutrients. But again, this is certainly a process that takes time.

So alas friends—take heart! I and countless others have found such freedom in intuitive eating. The first steps to getting there are not easy- but don’t give up or mistake the journey for the destination. Have grace with yourself and take it day by day.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section! How did you begin your journey to intuitive eating?

Have questions about intuitive eating? Ask below!

If you want one-on-one intuitive eating coaching, I am now accepting clients at my practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition. Email me with any questions: hello@rootforfood.net

 

 

How to Love Yourself in a World that Makes Self Love Hard

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How do we grow to not care about the opinions of others when it comes to our own bodies?

I am not about to say anything profound or unheard of… I am not about to blow your mind.

I am just giving my own two cents on this question that haunts so many. This insight has come from my own experiences and my own journey to body acceptance. It is my hope that it inspires and guides you in your journey as well.  

For many years, I found my identity- my happiness and my joy (or lack of), in my physical appearance. If someone said I looked thin: *happiness*.  If I thought I looked fat or ugly (which was 99% of the time… ): *depression*. (Did I ever experience true happiness or joy in these things? NO. Appearance based joy is not true joy.)

Of course, I do not have it all figured out yet. I am still not numb to the world’s opinions or “ideals”. In a world where skinny, fit, “perfect” women are everywhere you turn…. I feel you, ladies.

I still feel the feels too.

What is different now is that I do not let someone else’s opinion of me define my worth or create my joy. Let me reword that: I do not let society’s “ideals” determine my own. I do not let society’s “ideals” define my own worth.

To get to this place, I have applied the following principles/practices to transform my mind and my opinion of self in relation to the world.

 

1. Challenge the expectations. Think long and hard about the expectations you have for yourself. WHY? Why do you have these certain expectations? Why do you feel looking a certain way is more desirable and thus, something to be sought after? What expectations do you have of others? Do you hold them up to the same set of standards?

You know what I’ve realized over these past few years?

The more we have grace with others; the more we will have grace with ourselves. Take a long hard look at yourself. Do you judge others for their appearance? This can be tough think about. No one wants to think of themselves this way. No one wants to be shallow. But when you confront your expectations and get real with yourself, you can point out their flaws and begin the process of tearing them down. To initiate change, we women must grow to support and build each other up. Not compete against or put each other down.

Of course, we all have different Gods. I am of Christian faith, and one of my most favorite verses is 1 Samuel 16:7b: “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I think the principle of this scripture applies - regardless of your religion. It is that beauty comes from the heart, ladies. What a wonderful principle for womanhood. Think about it. Let it sink in. Damn- what a relief! Our appearance does not define us. Not in the least. To grow a beautiful soul: what a more worthwhile endeavor.

What if we all had grace with one another instead of measuring each other up by the net worth of our own skin? Honestly, I feel like the economy would collapse because women would be too busy being badass unicorns instead of buying all of the beauty products, weight loss supplements, and the newest fashion.

So my first recommendation is to have grace the others. I believe that the first step in loving yourself is practicing by extending that same grace those apart from you. Do this long enough and it translate to your relationship with yourself. Don’t hold others or yourself up to a certain worldly standard of physical “perfection”. Because who are they to determine "perfection"? 

2. Change your vernacular. Replace negative self-talk with positive words of affirmation. Here this: the more you say something- the more you believe it. So talk sweet to yourself. Tell yourself how good you look! This is not cockiness. It’s confidence… and confidence is sexy. When you manifest something- you become it. When you talk down to yourself all the time, you will become low in self-esteem and uncomfortable in your own skin. When you complement yourself, you will radiate confidence. Confidence is beautiful.

3. Get naked! Okay- this one sounds odd, but hear me out. I use to be so ashamed of my own skin. Seeing myself naked in front of the mirror was painful. I was ashamed of me so I made it a point to be fully clothed all of the time- even when I was alone by myself. I spent very little time undressed. What I’ve learned: if we are going too be confident and comfortable in our own bodies, we have to do things that make us hella uncomfortable at first. So get naked. I challenge you to sleep naked, get up in the morning and do yoga or stretch naked, walked around the house naked, drink your coffee naked. (Just remember to shut the blinds!)  Replace your quick shower with a long, luxurious bath once a week. All of this will seem uncomfortable and foreign at first, but embrace your body in this way and it will become easier and easier. Your body will grow less foreign to you. It will be harder for you to resent it when you become comfortable and familiar with it. You will grow to be more and more comfortable and confident in your own skin- clothed or not.

4. Appreciate curves for what they are. All women are lovely! Just because one woman does not have any body fat does not make her any more or any less of a women. In the same way, just because one woman has body fat does not make her less of a woman. If you are the proud owner of some body fat- embrace it, lady! For you, this is a mark of womanhood. It is in no way a reflection of your worth or self discipline. We women are all created so uniquely different and for there to be one “ideal” for all women is asinine. Why are we all striving to be something we are not? Why are all women trying to achieve one “ideal”? I guess it is inherent human nature. Our mentality is that the grass is always greener. Well guess what?! Your grass is green- you just don’t realize it. Find value in your own lawn. 

5. Find your identity in something apart from yourself. Here this: if you find your identity in your physical self - life will suck. Just saying. Gravity and the aging process is a very real thing. So think long and hard: what is it that you live for? What is your purpose in life? What are your passions? Pursue these things with all you have. Can you imagine- chasing after life without being trivial about food and your body? All that time you spend obsessing could be channeled into a much more worth while endeavor: to pursue our passions and our callings in life. Being successful means different things to different people. Find what makes you tick. Find what sets your soul on fire and chase after it.

Unfortunately, women often confuse their identity with something that it is not. You are your soul. You are your heart. You are your sprit. You are not your body. Our bodies are mere skin and bones that host our being. That is a weird and abstract concept- but it is true and thinking of it this way reminds me that who we are on the outside is not the whole story.

6. Find soul activities. What do you do in your spare time? What do you do for fun? I feel obligated to mention here: many women abuse working out. I know- I’ve been there. When working out isn’t fun for you- time to lay off and incorporate some other activities. Find a hobby that is fulfilling and gratifying. Guess what? Burning calories is not the only worth-while investment of time. Paint, blog, write, rock climb, Frisbee golf. Find something you can do that is fun and fulfilling for you. These will bring you more joy that you realize.

7. Journal journal journal. Feel all the feels. The current ones, ones that come up, and feelings from the past that are un-dealt with. The more you are open and honest with yourself- the better. The point of journaling is to express yourself. To talk through the emotions: the good, bad, and the ugly. Journaling allows us to be real with ourselves. Are there inner struggles or past experiences that you have not dealt with? Time to deal with them. Doing this will free you up to live fully in the present. It will allow you to channel your emotions appropriately and allow you to express them in healthier ways than taking them out on your physical body. Journal daily and finish each entry with three things you are grateful for. Gratefulness goes a long way when It comes to your relationship with yourself. It changes your heart. It puts everything into perspective. It reminds us how good life is- even when we feel sad and defeated.

 

Like I said- this is nothing insanely profound. But self-love was not intended to be profound or unusual. Self-love should be inherent in all of us. In a world that has made self-love hard, let us defile the odds. Let us all have grace with each other. Let us all have grace with ourselves. Begin to apply these principles, and I promise- your priorities and view of self will begin to change. And that, friends, changes EVERYTHING. 

If you have a principe or practice that helped you get to the place of body acceptable and self love, I'd love to hear about it! Please comment below.

If you feel like you need more guidance in the area of food and body image, please message me. I work with disordered eating and eating disorder clients via my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition

 

The Mindset for Recovery: How I Started the Process

I’m writing this post as a follow up to my previous post. I have received some emails asking how I actually started the process of recovery from an eating disorder. Of course, what I’m about to say is all inspired from my own experience and what worked for me. Everyone’s situation is completely different and unique to them based on their specific disorder, weight, BMR, where they are mentally etc. What worked for me might not work for you. However, if you’re sick of living a slave to food- it is possible. I finally got it in my mind that I didn’t want to eat that way forever- I was tired of being a slave to food and I was ready to stop abusing myself. I saw a friend who had recovered and it inspired me to do the same. He encouraged me to start my recovery process by gradually increasing my calories. However, I didn’t do this systematically with formulas and calorie counting. While yes, calorie counting and tracking was still subconsciously taking place at that time, I tried to separate myself from those thoughts and not put any weight into them. I started by making myself eat more and fighting my ingrained tendency to eat less. I gave myself permission to eat the things that I always said were off limits like oatmeal and peanut butter. I tried to honor my hunger instead of relishing it. In the beginning I was still eating way under what I should have been eating at that time, but I was eating a lot more for me.. and it was a gentle and gradual way of re-introducing myself with food and the feeling of being full and rewiring my relationship with these things.

Just eating more calories isn’t going to fix an eating disorder.

I had to fix the root cause of the problem- which was my relationship with food and my body. This is why I didn’t force myself to reach a certain calorie number or what not— in fact, I had to force myself to do the opposite and not count calories. In hindsight, this was one of the best decisions I made. I allowed myself to give into my food cravings and tried not judge myself for them. This is the foundation for eating intuitively so I believe this is a good place to start if you can. For me, trying to “recover” using exact calories and formulas would have been a loosing battle. Letting go of the need to track was liberating and so incredibly necessary. Scary? Heck yes. But I had a trusted person helping me through this process that would always remind me how little calories actually mater and now much NUTRITION actually does matter.

Calories are vital to life. Why are we running from them?

I had lived my life trying to get below a certain calorie number each day, I didn’t want to change just to live my life trying to get above one now. Honestly, letting go of calorie counting is NOT going to happen over night. It is definitely a process when it is so ingrained in your mind. Just keep reminding yourself-- calories are mere numbers. They mean NOTHING from a moralistic standpoint. However, calories are very essential to life. If something has calories it means it gives you ENERGY. This is not a bad thing! You need energy for life- for you cells to function! For you to run and play and for your brain to think! Putting so much emphasis on calories is a sad lie we've bought into. To think calories alone can make us thin and happy is wrong on so many levels. Why do we think reaching an arbitrary number on a scale is going to make us happy!? Also, there is SO much more at play when it comes to weight maintenance than just calories. Calories do not equal fat! Calories equal energy and life. Putting so much emphasis on them is wrong on an emotional level and a biological level.

I kept reminding myself what my friend (counselor of sorts) was saying to me—eventually my metabolism will speed up again! When my body realizes it is no longer in a constant state of starvation, my body will begin to metabolize food correctly and efficiently again as fuel. In this way, calories are friends. Food is friend. Honestly, this was a huge motivator for me. I was tired of my TANKED metabolism.

Recovery is hard because eating intuitively is not possible in the beginning—we have TRAINED our bodies to survive on less. There is literally no mind/body communication- only the mind telling the body what to consume. If the communication between the two is not present, fluid and mutually respectful, then intuitive eating is not possible because your body cannot communicate effectively to the mind and the mind is not receptive to listening yet. Over the weeks and months and years I gradually increasing the amount of food I consumed and with every day it became easier and easier. The word “calorie” grew to have less stigma around it and foods become less morally charged as “good” and “bad”. Calories grew to have little meaning to me. Eventually your body will remember what it feels like to be nourished and your mind will begin to soften to the body’s innate wisdom. You become a nutrient seeker instead of calorie counter. Then you can begin to eat intuitively.

Next week I am going to address weight gain in recovery. Of course, weight gain is one of the hardest things to mentally cope with and I don’t have all the answers to any of this. But maybe in can help and speak to you where you are at.

It is my biggest passion in life to guide women along this journey to intuitive eating. If you have tried to recover over by yourself but you feel you still need to work with someone- check out my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition.