Body Image · Holistic Health · Mental Health · Recovery

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.40.08 PM
I made this cake for my birthday a couple years ago, and you better believe I ate it.

I’ve thought a lot recently about the period of my recovery in which I attempted to heal my relationship with food while simultaneously fighting my body’s natural push to gain weight. I refer to this time as my pseudo-recovery and a place of limbo between my eating disorder and true recovery. I had one foot in the door of the eating disorder while the rest of me wanted so badly to leave it all in the past.

I stayed in this place for a long time and consequently struggled to fully heal my relationship with food for many years. I was committed to my recovery as long as I didn’t have to gain weight. While I attempted to intuitively eat during this period, I was very much on the “intuitive eating diet” in which I only allowed myself to eat if I was absolutely certain I was hungry. Eating from a place of pleasure and craving was still labeled as “bad” in my mind, and was something I associated with so much guilt and shame. During the first few years of my recovery, I was still very much a prisoner to the diet mentality and constant bad body thoughts.

As a therapist who works largely in the realm of eating disorder treatment, I see this pattern often in my clients. The desire to recover and heal may be strong, but the fear of weight gain is even stronger. There’s this thought that maybe, just maybe, I can recover without my body needing to change– that I can heal and eat “normally” while also staying a size ‘X’ or staying under ‘X’ many pounds. Many individuals struggling with disordered eating hold tightly to the hope of being the first to disprove the old proverb: “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

After many years of being stuck in this trap of pseudo-recovery, I learned a valuable lesson: true recovery requires letting go of the need to conform to body and weight ideals. As long as we hold on to the need to abide by society’s standards of beauty and manipulate our weight, it is impossible to truly heal from disordered eating. Real recovery requires surrendering to the unknown of how our body may change as we heal our relationship with food. In this regard, healing our relationship with food first requires that we heal our relationship with our body. Eating from a place of freedom and peace requires that we grant our body permission to change as it needs to during the process of recovery.

At some point in my recovery, something shifted in me that made the body acceptance piece finally click. One day, I finally sat down to really think about what was so alluring about society’s ideal body. I wanted to figure out how losing weight and getting fit would change my life.

And you know what? I realized it wouldn’t. I realized that my life would look exactly the same as it did at that moment in time even if I weighed ‘X’ amount of pounds fewer or suddenly gained a six pack. I realized that I would have the same quirks and characteristics, the same family and friends, the same career path, the same hobbies and interests, and pretty much the exact same life I currently had even if my body were fit society’s ideal image.

Then I thought, “but my friends, family, and partner would probably like me more if I had a thinner and more fit body”. I quickly realized that was a bold lie as the appearances of my friends, family, and partner have no influence on how much I like them. Furthermore, I know for a fact that I always become an uptight, irritable bitch whenever I’m obsessing about food, exercise, and my body. And that’s definitely not the type of person anyone wants to be around.

So there you have it, I literally couldn’t think of one single way in which achieving an ideal body would positively affect my life. I could, on the other hand, think of countless ways that the process of working to gain an ideal body would make my life miserable. I thought of the countless hours I had previously spent during my eating disorder in the gym punishing my body, the crazy obsessive feeling of counting calories to the decimal point, the constant insecurity about my appearance, the incessant thoughts about food, the hours spent planning and cooking meals I wouldn’t even enjoy, the deprivation of eating “clean”, the constant moodiness and feelings of shame, the guilt over eating one tiny piece of a forbidden food, the fear of going to restaurants with friends, the embarrassment of wearing a bathing suit, and the constant beratement of my self-worth.

After sitting with this drastically unbalanced pro/con list of working towards the body ideal, I suddenly realized that it just wasn’t worth it. It hit me like a bus and dawned on me that I didn’t have to fight anymore. My body was allowed to be okay at whatever shape, size, and weight it needed to be at. In a way I did beat the system proverb: I was allowed to have my cake AND eat it too, as long as I shifted what it meant to have my cake. I surrendered from the war on my body and the fight to keep my body a particular size. Instead, I decided that I was better off shifting my belief of what it meant for me and my body to be okay.

For me now, being okay has so much more to do with my health than my appearance. It includes not only my physical health but also my mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Addressing my health at this holistic level was the piece that finally allowed me to feel okay and make peace with not just my body but also with food.

I’ve slowly learned that being okay is a feeling and a state of consciousness– not a particular size or weight. It’s an experience within my essential self that I have the choice to tap into whenever I want; and, it’s definitely not something that I can determine through looking in the mirror or at the number on the scale.

Holistic Health · Intention · Mental Health · Recovery

What Is Recovery?

IMG_0256

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what recovery means to me. There are certain concepts that I associate with my recovery such as intuitive eating, body positivity, joyful movement, health at every size, self-care, emotional health, spiritual practice, wellbeing, and so on. While these elements are all fundamental to my recovery, none of them encompass the meaning of recovery as a whole to me. Rather, they have functioned as the stepping blocks of my recovery and items I know to focus on in order to remain holistically well and balanced.

On the other hand, when I reflect on my recovery as a whole, I usually arrive at a deep feeling of trust. You see, in order to stay on the path of recovery, I must constantly surrender to the unknown and accept that many aspects of life are outside of my control. For me, recovery has involved surrendering to so much– surrendering to weight gain, to my shifting identity and concept of self, to unexpected bumps and forks in my life path, to recognition of my mistakes and BS, to feeling uncomfortable and a whole slew of unpleasant emotions, and to the unknown of life after an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are largely about control, and my eating disorder provided me a way to avoid many unknowns in my life. When life felt scary and uncomfortable, I knew that I could grasp an element of control through manipulating my food intake and body size. I could restrict calories, exercise, and perfect my way through pain and crises.

Throughout my life I have constantly worried about being enough: being pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, fun enough, cool enough, laidback enough, talented enough, kind enough…the list goes on. I had the idea that if I could just be good enough, I wouldn’t have to face the possibility of rejection, pain, fear, and sorrow. I could control my emotions and evade such hardships through perfecting my life and identity.

This worked temporarily and provided me relief in the short term. And I mean VERY short term because I never actually felt good enough despite all my efforts and accomplishments. As soon as I met one goal, up popped a dozen more. There seemed to be a never-ending list of things I had to accomplish in order be enough and successfully avoid any possibility of pain in life.

In a way, the habits and behaviors I turned to in order to gain control ended up controlled me, trapping me in a cycle of constant worthlessness and futile efforts that never seemed to be enough. I stayed here for a long time. Years actually. In fact, at times I still find myself lost in this cycle for brief periods. It’s hard not to when you live in a society that preaches these beliefs. We are sent messages that we just need to be thin enough, rich enough, successful enough, cool enough, smart enough, etc. in order to master life and experience joy and satisfaction. It becomes easy to view such “enoughness” as the antidote for eluding the suffering of life. But it just doesn’t seem to work out that way.

That’s where recovery came in for me. Recovery meant surrendering to not being enough (by society’s standards), which strangely finally allowed me to feel enough (by my standards). Recovery provided me the space to decide for myself what it means to be enough and what I want my life to look like. It has meant choosing peace, compassion, and vulnerability over perfection, rigidity, and control. And it’s been scary as heck.

I am no longer able fall back on being thin, smart, and talented as a means to feel enough, and I am no longer able to turn to others for approval. Rather, I must tune into a deep sense of trust that I am okay just the way that I am. My recovery has become a practice of faith in a sense as I commit to a journey of trusting that my authentic self is good enough. I must constantly surrender to the unknown of what this journey looks like, and I am learning that I cannot control many things along this path.

Yes, this has come with more discomfort and a greater exposure to unpleasant emotions, but it has also opened me up to a tremendous sense of freedom and peace. I now choose not to measure my self-worth through my weight, size, salary, and strength. In fact, I have chosen not to measure my self-worth at all. Instead, I have a self-worth that inherently exists just as I do. This can be difficult to believe at times, especially when I experience spikes in insecurity and moments of incredible discomfort.

My default for so many years was the identity of “not good enough”, and I consistently turned to overcontrol and perfection to get my fix of temporary okayness and approval. It’s still difficult for me to bypass my past habits of control and instead trust that I am okay just as I am. But regardless of how hard and scary this journey is, I know that it is worth it. I trust that this is the only way I can stay on the path of real recovery and experience a life of peace and freedom.

Body Image · Happiness · Joy · Lifey-ness · Recovery

Your Body Is Not Your Art

Untitled

We are bombarded daily with messages that lead us to believe our bodies not only determine our self-worth but also our ability to be happy and engage in the world. The $64 billion and rising weight-loss industry promotes these messages, which encourage insecurity and discontent with our bodies and physical appearance. Society tells us that we must have flawless skin, toned muscles, flat stomachs, sculpted backs, six packs, the perfect tan, and countless other trivial attributes in order to have happy and successful lives.

And not only that but the weight-loss industry profits from these messages. Seriously, think about it, the sustainability of this industry relies on two principles:

  1. Making people feel insecure about their bodies and question their inherent self-worth.
  2. Producing products and programs that fail so people must return to them over and over again.

It’s both infuriating and heartbreaking to think about.

We’re led to believe that our bodies are our one masterpiece in life- a project that we must always work on, shaping and forming into a piece of art for other’s viewing pleasure and approval. We are pressured to obsess over our bodies as we attempt to perfect them and mold them to fit the societal standards of beauty and fitness. And who defines these standards? The same industry that sells products promised to help us achieve these ideals but designed to make us fail and feel not good enough in the end.

More than often, the media; fashion, fitness, and beauty industries; and the performance arts assert that only certain bodies should be valued for their appearance, abilities, artistic expression. They proclaim that bodies must be toned and aesthetically pleasing. Such messages are exclusionary and lead us to believe we cannot participate in certain domains of life due to the size, shape, and the overall appearance of our bodies. These are the same messages that not only lead to body dissatisfaction and a fractured self-esteem, but also to dissatisfaction with life in general.

We begin to believe that only certain bodies can dance, attend fitness classes, perform in a ballet, model on a runway, wear a bikini, and so on. These subtle (and not so subtle) hints about our bodies permeate every facet of life and lead to judgment, shame, fear, and withdrawal. They lead us to disconnect from our bodies and resent our bodies for not allowing us to participate in the world and experience joy.

But what if this didn’t have to be the case?

17360857_770071613168526_1036000779_n

Glennon Melton, author of Love Warrior, proposes that we reject the commonly held societal view of the body as a piece of art and something we must perfect and offer to the world for approval. Rather, she urges us to see our bodies as paintbrushes and vehicles for expression that allow us to transfer our insides onto the “canvas of life” in whatever way we choose to.

She asserts that it doesn’t matter what your paintbrush looks like, just make sure to USE it! Just as paintbrushes of any size and appearance function in their own unique and beautiful ways, so do the vast spectrum of human bodies. The inherent, unparalleled beauty and ability of each individual’s body adds to the diverse beauty of life and what we are able to create of it.

Our bodies function as a unique and unmatched vehicle for engaging in life. They are the paintbrushes that allow us to express, create, connect, immerse, grow, move, and inspire. The appearance of our bodies does not determine our ability to use them, and be happy and successful. Rather, the way in which we choose to view and use our bodies (and minds) determines our ability to be happy and successful.

“Happiness is a state of mind, not a smaller pant size.”

Happiness is not a toned muscle.

Happiness is not a six pack.

Happiness is not a certain hair style.

Happiness is not perfectly even, wrinkle-free skin.

Happiness is not the absence of cellulite and stretch marks.

Happiness is not the number on the scale.

Happiness is not the color of our skin.

Happiness is not a particular height.

Happiness is not a flat stomach.

Happiness is not the size of our breasts.

Happiness is not any physical attribute, achievement, or status.

Happiness is a state of mind that is accessible to all people regardless of appearance, ability, and any other social factor. All people have the right to be happy and all bodies have the right to participate in each and every activity and domain of life. These are the messages we need to spread.

Body Image · Holistic Health · Intention · Recovery

Intention

unnamed

My intention for this week is to focus on gratitude for my body’s ability.

I easily take my ability status for granted, especially at times when thoughts and feelings of insecurity are a bit louder for some reason or another. In the past when I’ve been stuck in my eating disorder, my attention has centered on aspects related to my body’s appearance and its alignment with the societal standard of beauty. I’ve viewed my body as something to be shaped and molded so that others would approve of it and hopefully like me more. Before recovery, I actually viewed my body as the only reason that someone would like me and thought very little of myself as a person.

I was not grateful for my body in the slightest sense and, consequently, I did not treat my body well. I put my body through hell. Starving it, stuffing it, pinching it, overexercising it to fatigue, fighting it, and weighing its worth on the scale. Its ability to sustain my life despite all my attempts to destroy its vitality still amazes me.

My body fought back over and over again and, at the time, I hated these efforts. It fought back through frequent binges, which I now see as attempts to nourish my depleted energy levels during my struggle with anorexia. My body significantly slowed down its metabolism to protect against the periods of starvation I put it through, which left me frigid and drained. My body attempted to eliminate my gag reflex to prevent my ability to self-induce vomit during periods of bulimia. It fought and fought and fought despite my attempts to break it down.

Through all my disordered behaviors and destructive actions, my body nonetheless persisted. And by some miracle, it came out the other side of a 7-year struggle with disordered eating with little to no consequences to my health.

Looking back on the torture I put my body through, I feel nothing but immense gratitude and tender love for its ability to sustain my living. I view my body in a different light now. I see its strength and perseverance through a lens of wonder, and I am constantly amazed by my body’s abilities and its will to survive.

Not only does my body allow me to engage in my life and interact with the world around me, but it automatically functions in a way that helps me live optimally. It knows to breathe in and how to carry oxygen to the millions of cells throughout my body. It recognizes the food I eat and somehow manages to digest and use this sustenance as fuel. It also knows how to get rid of the waste that my body no longer needs. My many organs function automatically without any conscious input from my mind. My eyes, ears, mouth, brain, and nerves somehow all work together allowing me to take in and sense the world around me. My muscles twitch in reflex to stimuli and potential danger to keep me safe.

When I decide to stand, my brain and legs (and I’m sure many other parts of my body) work together to make that decision happen. When I have the desire to pet my cat, not only am I able to do so, but I am also able to experience every sensation and feeling that arises during the activity. My body is able to become more flexible and stronger through activity and movement. I can decide that I want to learn to do a handstand, and I can work with my body toward this goal. Furthermore, my body intuitively knows its needs and signals them to me through sensations of hunger and fatigue. It directly guides me to care for and nourish it if I tune into these cues.

My body does so much for me and asks for so little in return. I often forget this. I also often fall ignorant to the fact that my body’s abilities are a privilege that some people do not have. It is easy for me to take for granted the basic functions my body performs for me, functions that some people’s bodies are unable to execute due to illness or disability. I easily overlook the way my body allows me to connect and engage with the world so that I may immerse more deeply into my life. I forget its role as a vehicle for my life and a vessel that allows me to engage with each moment.

So this week, and each week after, I wish to set the intention to practice gratitude and show love to my body for all that it does for me.

Body Image · Holistic Health · Mental Health · Recovery

Before & After

Before and after weight loss pictures have always irked me. And for multiple reasons.

First of all, whether on TV or social media, these pictures often portray a mostly nude person censored in such a way to hide their identity. Now I don’t have a problem with nudity, but it just feels strange to reduce another person to a headless body. This objectifying and dehumanising portrayal feels opposite to the celebration of health such pictures are attempting to depict. I’m all for celebrating a person’s journey towards health, but I don’t think these before & after pictures accurately honor such progress.

This brings me to my second point, which is that there is absolutely no possible way to determine the true health of a person through a picture of their body. Body size, shape, and weight are not accurate indicators of a person’s health, metabolic fitness, and wellbeing. Health is determined primarily by social factors as well as our genetics, actions, and behaviors- all things that are not apparent in a photograph of the body. Each person’s body is unique, and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

This is the principle behind the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement.

“Health at Every Size is the new peace movement. It supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors. It is an inclusive movement, recognizing that our social characteristics, such as our size, race, national origin, sexuality, gender, disability status, and other attributes, are assets, and acknowledges and challenges the structural and systemic forces that impinge on living well.”

Ultimately, the goal of HAES is to help all people regardless of size move towards a healthy lifestyle in their unique body. HAES aims to improve the quality of life for all individuals even if their weight does not fall within conventional height/weight guidelines. Therefore, HAES stresses the many behaviours and actions that a person can take to move towards whatever a healthy lifestyle looks like in their life, which includes a healthy relationship with food, movement, and body.

Some additional information about HAES from the Association for Size Diversity and Health:

There is considerable scientific evidence supporting the HAES approach and establishing that “obesity” is not the health risk it has been reported to be.

  • Weight and BMI are poor predictors of disease and longevity. The bulk of epidemiological evidence suggests that five pounds “underweight” is more dangerous than 75 pounds “overweight”.
  • Multiple studies are suggesting that a focus on weight as a health criterion is often misdirected and harmful.

So back to my initial point, I do not believe that before & after photos depict an accurate portrayal of a person’s health and wellness. We cannot accurately decipher how a person eats, whether or not they exercise, if they have a medical condition, if they smoke cigarettes or do drugs, if they drink in excess, if they feel mentally well, or any other aspect of their health by looking at their body shape, size, and weight. Therefore, I propose movement away from such photos in order to celebrate true health and a person’s journey towards it.

When we speak of progress, why not speak of increased ability, vitality, or mobility? Why not talk about feeling more engaged in life and excited about movement and activity? Why not share experiences of decreased pain and symptoms of illness? This is the kind of information that I believe most accurately depicts a person’s unique journey towards a healthy lifestyle. And we don’t get this information from a before & after picture.

People often say that they set health goals to feel better, not look better. Well, why not reflect that in the way we illustrate progress toward these goals as well?

So back to the headless before & after pictures that spread the message that health is depicted through the appearance of our bodies.

Here’s my body transformation journey toward my eating disorder, I mean, healthy lifestyle:

FullSizeRender
Before: 2007                                                       After: 2008

Awwwww, don’t I look happy to be skinny in the picture on the right! Damn, I must have been so healthy in 2008.

But you know what’s more accurate?

FullSizeRender.jpg

Yup, no one told me that losing 30% of my body weight in one year would come with a whole slew of other problems. What started as an innocent attempt to “eat healthy” soon turned into an obsession with eating “clean”, which soon turned into orthorexia, then anorexia, then bulimia…and the cycle just went on and on.

In addition, I found myself in a deep depression and often wished that I could just not exist anymore so that I would no longer have to feel any of the emotional and physical pain that I experienced on a daily basis. My days mostly consisted of obsessing over calories and eating only the food I regarded as healthy enough. And I was eating all the good stuff: lentils, beans, colourful veggies, fruits, whole grains- you know the drill, the “clean” things. Plus it was all organic and mostly local so it was super healthy, ya know?

Anyways, each night, I would plan out my workout for the next day. I was super active and everyone applauded me for being in great shape. I biked and swam almost daily, and went rock climbing a couple nights a week. Little did people know that I would briefly black out almost anytime I stood up too quickly.

I don’t even think I need to say it, but my body was not in the least bit healthy at this time. I lost my period for about 2 years, which is a symptom of disordered eating known as amenorrhea.  I fainted once while hiking and casually blamed it on altitude sickness rather than the fact that I was just not eating enough to support my body’s basic functioning. And I was constantly trying to avoid having to actually sit in my mental distress and self-hatred. My focus on weight loss offered a nice distraction from the emotional pain I was experiencing.


I don’t want to get into my full eating disorder story here. Rather, I want to make the point that it would have been impossible for anyone to decipher the true state of not only my physical health but also my mental health by looking at my “after” picture. Actually, people looked at me for a whole 7 years before anyone caught on to the fact that I had a raging eating disorder.

And this is why I think it is so important to shift our view of health to a holistic one that includes not only physical health but also mental health. You see, I’d much rather be at my all-time heaviest weight (or even higher) if it brings stability and peace to my mental wellbeing. And for me, addressing my mental health has required weight gain. It also required not exercising for over a year to heal my relationship with exercise and discover what joyful movement meant. It required that I eat candy and donuts often until I no longer obsessed about the “empty” calories or experienced tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety when faced with these foods. And finally, it required about 7 years of really intense psychological treatment to work through all of the emotional baggage that fueled my eating disorder.

So I really urge that we boycott the photos and instead highlight the true marks of progress and victories towards health and wellness.

Let’s celebrate being able to do a pull-up, walk around the block, cook eggplant for the first time, be sober for a week, quit smoking, experience less chronic pain, stretch, be self-compassionate, run a marathon, run a mile, walk a mile, bike in the park, go to therapy, pick up a child or pet, take a break, read for pleasure, improve cholesterol, take prescribed medications, resist ED behaviors, and other actions that move us towards whatever improved health uniquely looks like in each of our lives.

#truthbehindtheafter

Joy · Lifey-ness · Recovery

What Is Lifey-ness?

12469463_546034225572267_4581181633998185459_o

Lifey-ness means being filled with life.

It’s a word my former therapist used to say all the time. So no, I, unfortunately, cannot take credit for it.

It means immersion, connection, vitality, and engagement.

We all have lifey moments. You know them. They’re those moments when you feel more present in your existence. You’ve succeeded in escaping the inner chatter of your mind, and you find yourself purely in experience. That’s lifey-ness.

I strive to connect with lifey-ness as often as I can because I’ve found that it’s just about the most healing and joyful place for me to be.

Creating lifey moments has been a critical element in my recovery.

It means eating donuts with family and without thoughts of guilt.

It means hiking through Georgia mountains and feeling the soft ground under my feet (and not thinking of my calorie count).

It means doing cartwheels and handstands in the park.

It means eating a cheesecake out of a casserole dish for dinner on the floor of my apartment.

It means watching Broad City and cracking up with friends without thinking about the many other things I “should” be doing.

It means riding my bike to work and feeling the wind hit my face.

It means running my fingers through the soft, white fur of my cat’s underbelly.

Lifey-ness is every moment in which I feel like I am experiencing the fullness of my life rather than waiting for it to begin one day, which is how I lived for many years in my eating disorder.

And so, this blog documents my journey into lifey-ness and the things that bring me wholesome joy, connection, and wellness. Rediscovering a peaceful relationship with food and my body has been critical for me in connecting to my life and actually feeling like I am living it.

My goal is to help others connect with lifey moments and discover their authentic lifey-ness.

This blog will often discuss topics related to recovery and wellness, but I also want it to function as a general space for creativity, playfulness, adventures, and joy.

Body Image · Intuitive Eating · Recovery

Body Trust

a3c500a7feb42bee8548f6ceb167f006
– Nayyirah Waheed

I just finished listening to an episode from the podcast Food Psych this morning, which by the way is an excellent podcast about intuitive eating, body positivity, Health at Every Size, and topics related to making peace with food. This particular episode, titled “How to Trust Your Intuition about Food,  featured an interview with intuitive eating coach Daxle Collier in which she shared her experience in healing her relationship with food. Near the end of the interview, Daxle affirms that “if weight gain is a fear, then body trust is not possible. And if body trust is not possible, then the self-awareness and intuitiveness of intuitive eating is not possible.” These words hit me hard as they have been difficult for me to come to terms with in my recovery.

“If weight gain is a fear, then body trust is not possible. And if body trust is not possible, then the self-awareness and intuitiveness of intuitive eating is not possible.”

– Daxle Collier

I wholeheartedly believe in the healing abilities of intuitive eating, and I have basked in the freedom, peace, and lifey-ness that it has brought back into my life. However, for many years of my recovery, I put a condition on my commitment to intuitive eating. I would allow myself to eat “intuitively”, following my hunger and cravings, as long as my weight stayed in the range I was comfortable with.

I was following what many people have termed “the intuitive eating diet” (which is not true intuitive eating by any means). I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full while also ensuring that I did not “mess up” by eating past fullness. I rebelled against the diet mentality of good food and bad food, allowing myself to eat any food item I wanted- as long as I didn’t have “too much” or gain any weight. You see, I had put these limits on my dedication to intuitive eating, and consequently, I had limited my recovery and the extent to which I had allowed my relationship with food to actually heal.

This was neither food freedom nor truly peaceful. Every inch I gave myself came with a set of rules and limits. I could eat candy but not too much. I could have a bagel but only twice a week. I could eat out but had to take some food home as leftovers. Rules like this did not come from my body’s intuition. They came from my eating disordered mind that still looked for guidelines within a way of eating that urged for the eradication of rules and guidelines. I wanted to make sure I was doing this whole intuitive eating thing right, which in my mind was determined by my weight staying the same.

This led to a couple years in a place of limbo between my eating disorder and recovery. I was semi-committed and semi-recovered. And while it was better than having a full-blown eating disorder, it still sucked. I never felt truly free from food during this time. I was surviving but not thriving.

Flash forward to now.

My relationship with food is constantly evolving, but the one thing I’ve found true above all else is that I must make peace with my body in order to completely heal my relationship with food. This means allowing my body to be the weight it wants to be, even if that’s not where my head (and this fatphobic society) want. This has been a difficult process which has involved mourning the many false promises of the thin ideal as well as accepting the struggles that come with rebelling against a body-focussed world.

I strive to move towards body love, although I am currently in a place of practicing body acceptance. I have my good days and bad days still. But overall, the good outways the bad, and I notice it getting easier over time. I’ve learned that focussing on my body’s abilities and practicing gratitude helps me immensely. I’ve discovered that getting outdoors and connecting with something more in life helps to shift my priorities from my appearance to my true values. And I continue to learn more about my body and grow in my relationship with it daily. It’s a constant practice that I do my best to commit my energy to.

But the best perk of putting in so much hard work in the realm of body acceptance has been the shift it has produced in my relationship with food. Letting go of the constant fear of weight gain has allowed me to finally trust my body. Don’t get me wrong though, there are still days when weight fear pops up and I question my body’s food judgment; however,  I’ve learned to challenge those fearful thoughts and talk back to them. I ask myself the question: what’s really not okay in my life that’s leading me to hyperfocus on my body right now? This guides me to the true deeper insecurity that actually needs to be addressed for my healing.

Knowing that I can trust my body, I aim to allow my body to take care of food decisions for me (and leave my head out of the equation as best as I can). Yes, sometimes I “mess up” and eat beyond fullness, but that is intuitive eating. It’s allowing those moments to happen and showing myself compassion regardless. It’s allowing the freedom for flexibility and the permission to eat in a way that nourishes both the body and soul.

It’s allowing those moments to happen and showing myslef compassion regardless. It’s allowing the freedom for flexibility and the permission to eat in a way that nourishes both the body and soul.