The Ideal Body

I’m growing a little tired of the ideal body. Not necessarily that it’s a size 0 or 2 which, for the record, is only attainable by a small percentage of the population naturally (aka without starvation/radical measures), but the very notion of an ‘ideal.’ There seems to be ideals even in recovery- ideal recovery bodies, recovering for boobs or ‘the booty,’ getting perfect abs or toned arms, etc. There’s target weights, goals of growing a certain shape and stopping the recovery process there and it’s wrong.

I understand where these motivations come from, I do. I understand that having a healthy mindset around gaining weight and recovering is absolutely necessary for those who are in the depths of their eating disorders. I understand that it can be difficult for us to envision our bodies at a larger size and being beautiful so we focus on things like booties and boobs. It makes us feel better while we’re putting on the necessary pounds to save our lives.

Here’s my problem with it:

It’s still disordered. It still feeds your disorder just in a different way. That’s why it makes it easier. You’re catering to your ED, not breaking free of it. You aren’t embracing your natural shape that’s determined by your genetics. You’re still trying to change your body to fit some new ideal. Regardless of what the scale says, fighting your natural body is still hurting it. I don’t care if you’re naturally a 4 or naturally an 8. If you’re striving for anything less than that, you’re hurting yourself. There is absolutely no way you will ever be free of your ED if you don’t let your body settle where it’s naturally supposed to be. Where you’re optimally healthy. The only way your mind heals is if you let your body do what it needs to do. Trust me.

I was in quasi recovery for a long time. Years. I was better, but still not at my optimal weight. I was told I looked fantastic and healthy but I was dying inside. Both literally and figuratively. I still didn’t have my period, I was in pain a lot, my bones were weak, I had very little energy, my hair fell out on the daily and my moods were all over the place. When I reached a size 2, there was still no period. Size 4 and things were getting better but I still had body dysmorphia and some of my behaviors hadn’t gone away. I still obsessed over calories, exercising, stomach pain was still present and I was still terrified of certain foods and gaining weight.

Then I settled at a size 6. Something I honestly didn’t think I’d ever do again. Oddly enough, all of a sudden, the body dysmorphia went away, I didn’t go crazy over calories, I took a lot more rest days and didn’t really care if I was lazy some days. I didn’t compensate my food to make up for doing less, my appetite regulated and I never thought twice about going out to eat, having a drink, eating dessert, eating whatever I wanted, etc. I also started to really, really love my body. A lot. My stomach swelling reduced greatly (I still have some weight distribution taking place), my hair became strong and thick and I had the energy I was so desperately working for.

I could very well go up to a size 8 over the next while if that’s where my body wants to be. Maybe it won’t. An overshoot is also possible and maybe I’ll go back to a size 4 (I always fluctuated between 4 and 6 pre ed), maybe I won’t. Honestly? I don’t really care either way. That’s how I know I’m recovered. My body is what it is and it’s beautiful in it’s own right. MY ideal body is whatever body can walk all over the city as I don’t have a car. It can be intimate with my fiance, it can eat what it wants, it can do yoga, lift weights if I feel like it, work long hours and laugh until it hurts. My ideal body feels awesome most of the time, sleeps through the night, has very little anxiety, has clearer skin and beautiful hair. It had bright eyes, strong legs, finally has boobs again (doesn’t matter what size), and dances through the day. I don’t care what it looks like, I care what it feels like.

When you feel healthy and happy, that’s the reflection you see in the mirror. Your ideal body is whatever one provides you with the life you love most and nothing short of that. If you’re still looking in the mirror and hating your reflection, you’re not there yet. Give it time and trust your body. It knows what’s best. Please, relax, eat the food, and do your best to not stress over the shape of your body (easier said than done).

I can almost guarantee once you’re truly healthy, you’ll learn to love and appreciate the body you live in. It’s a miraculous machine, your body. It’s also incredibly beautiful.

 

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Girls Weekend

Happy Friday lovely faces!

Big weekend plans? Usually I’d say no but this weekend is different. My closest friends and I have had a weekend away planned for quite some time and it has finally arrived! Shopping, eating, having a few drinks, winery, casino, swimming. All the good things! I’m pretty excited.

I can’t even remember the last time we did a girls weekend. I used to always opt out of things like this because to be honest, they scared me. When anorexia crept in, I couldn’t handle being out of my comfort zone, not knowing what I was going to eat, not being on my usual schedule or anything else that interfered with my rigid rules and behaviors. I would be a ball of anxiety the entire time if I went so I simply didn’t.

As I got better, I started to be okay with things like day trips and family vacations that were planned to a T. I knew what restaurants we would be going to, what we’d be doing every minute and I was able to have some sort of control. This wasn’t recovery, it was managing symptoms the best I could while trying to have some semblance of a life. Unfortunately, the only way I was comfortable even doing this was if I knew a month or a few weeks ahead of time and I could restrict my food intake so that I could ‘save’ calories to be able to ‘spend’ on my trips. This enabled me to eat out and a little less rigidly than normal. I still felt the guilt though, believe me. I still hated that I had used any of the saved up calories.

It was miserable and a terrible way to live. Sure, it was better than doing nothing at all… but I had intense anxiety leading up to the trip and punished myself ahead of time to be able to ‘deserve’ the trip. Yikes.

Now that I’m in real recovery, I don’t have the rigidity of ED rules. I go out when I feel like it, I get together with friends unplanned and if a bottle of wine disappears along with all the cheese and chocolate some nights with my fiance or friends, that’s fine. I don’t hate myself for it or restrict the next day.

This morning as I was working and talking with my customers about my trip, I realized that for the first time in seven years, I hadn’t stressed about a trip or restricted and ‘saved’ calories for the weekend. I had literally spent the time anxiously waiting to leave. I was desperate to do all of the things we have planned, have some fancy drinks (as many as I feel like), eat at fancy restaurants, buy new clothes for the spring, and have an amazing time. I was saving money, not calories. I realized that I was legitimately excited about the time with my best friends, not terrified. I also made plans for immediately after getting back to have a night with a few other girlfriends who couldn’t attend to simply have some wine, cheese, chocolate, watch some movies and just relax.

That NEVER would have happened before. There would never be additional plans to consume MORE after a trip. Never.

Now? All the time.

It made me really, really happy this morning.

I hope this gives some of you hope that real recovery is possible, it is a real thing and it can be yours too.

Have you had any #recoverywin moments lately? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear them!!

Have a great weekend and remember to keep fighting the good fight!

5 Tips for dealing with Bloating in Recovery

Bloating. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of recovery. To be honest, we all experience it at any weight. Most of the time, it’s not super noticeable but some days, it’s a little more pronounced. Why? Because we eat and drink! When you consume anything, it’s taking up space in your body. It isn’t weight gain, it’s food and liquids being digested so that your body can use it’s valuable nutrients. It doesn’t last.

For those who are recovering, the bloat of food does last longer than the average person. This is simply because the digestive system has slowed down as a result of being starved for so long. It isn’t permanent, the body does speed back up but only after being provided with adequate nutrition and calories. Eventually your body will trust that it will be getting a steady supply of food whenever it needs and your digestion will kick back in to gear.

So, what to do about the bloating (which is mostly a combination of food, gas and water retention)? It can’t be avoided. It’s a necessary part of recovery which, for most of us, is the absolute worst part. It makes us feel huge and ugly and disgusting.

First, I want you to know that you are not huge, ugly and disgusting. Your warped perception of your body is likely making the bloating out to be something so much worse than what it is. Second, know that it will eventually pass. I promise. All that we can do is manage the bloat until the body does what it needs to do. Here’s some tips that helped me manage my symptoms:

1. Stop sucking it in.

I know you’re doing it. We all do it. We want flatter stomachs because they’re more flattering and attractive. Stop it. Stop trying to hold it in. Holding it in only makes it harder for your body to digest your food and move things along. Squishing your organs is not going to make it better. You’re only going to be more uncomfortable and slow the process. Let it out. Let your stomach bloat. I understand how hard this is, I understand how very triggering it is and how uncomfortable it is and that leads me to ..

2. Wear baggy, loose, stretchy and comfortable clothing

Leggings, yoga pants, flowy dresses, flowy tank tops, hoodies, all of the most comfy things you own or can get your hands on. Tight clothes are NOT a good idea right now. They will not make you feel good. They will make you feel worse. Wear whatever clothing allows your body to do what it needs to do and keep you comfortable. The baggy/flowy clothes help hide some of the bloat and you can feel a little less self conscious about it. Leggings are your best friend right now.

3. Avoid fibrous foods

Yes, yes. We want to eat healthy and give our body nutrient rich foods like vegetables and fruit and whole grains so it can be healthy. Just not right now. Right now, that fiber is making the gas situation MUCH MUCH worse. It took a while for me to wrap my head around this but honestly, you need to take a break from the veg. You need easy to digest food right now. Drink whole milk (raw if you can find it!!!!!), eat things like nut butter, butter, cream, white flours, easy to digest fruits, well cooked vegetables in small portions, preferably cooked in butter, etc. You get the idea. Fiber is not your friend right now.

4. Drink water

I am not going to give you an amount to aim for because, just like with everything, all bodies are different and require different amounts of hydration. However, being dehydrated is only going to make your bloating worse. Drink water when you’re thirsty. Drink slowly, don’t chug it. Keeping your body hydrated will help it hold less water.

5. Rest

Lay down, relax on the couch and let your body do what it needs to do. Resting will help move things along a little quicker as your body can put all of it’s focus on the repairs it needs to make without worrying about fueling other daily tasks. Rest when you can for as long as you can and try to enjoy it! Binge watching Full House, anyone???

 

Hopefully this helps! These things really, really helped my bloating symptoms. It wasn’t too long after I stopped trying to suck it in that the bloating lessened in severity for me. It’s a lot more comfortable to just let it out. Trust me. Keep eating the food and be kind to yourself. You’ll get through this.