Holistic Health · Intention · Mental Health · Recovery

What Is Recovery?


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 · Holistic Health · Intention · Recovery



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.