Tag Archive | Your Words

Book Release!

My book, Behind the Mask: Our Secret Battle, is in production and will be ready for purchase late November or early December 2012. Women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s who have suffered with lifelong low self-esteem, disordered eating, and body image issues, who have defined themselves by their weight, and experienced the relentless psychological “tug of war” that accompanies these issues, will relish this book as a means to help them deeply understand and appreciate their eating behaviors as a coping mechanism that no longer “serves” them, and as a hands-on skill-building tool.

Behind the Mask first details specific issues that many women struggle with during various stages of life that play an integral role in their disordered relationship with food, through the voices of two adult women with lifelong eating issues and the connections they have made along the way. It then provides my professional detailed three-phase approach to acquire the skills necessary to eat in a more peaceful way, find one’s voice, and practice self-acceptance and self-care. It is a book of connection, hope and tools for recovery.

 

Stay tuned for more specific information on how to purchase the book!

 

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Three Words

How many times have I heard these phrases?

  • I can’t.
  • I won’t.
  • It’s too hard.
  • I’ll never get there.
  • I don’t know how.
  • What if I’m not happier when I am recovered?

 

Ask yourself: Do I really want to get better or am I on the fence? Do I only want to get better when it is “easy” enough to do the work? What do I need in order to make recovery happen for me? What’s holding me back?

Take out a piece of paper (or create a word document) and make two columns. In the first column, write down all the reasons you want to keep your eating disorder. What do you get from it? In the second column, write down all the things you could do without your eating disorder. What do you want your life to look like? What have you been able to do during times in life when you weren’t so bound to your eating disorder’s rules and demands? Fold that piece of paper in half so that you can only see the reasons you want to get better. Place the paper somewhere where you can look at it every day.

Then, take out another piece of paper and get out the boldest marker you can find.

Write down at least three words that represent what it will take, each and every day, to win your battle with your eating disorder or what you hope to attain when you are better. Maybe you will need to post these words in your kitchen, or your bedroom, or your car, or in your mirrors. You need to see these words every day to remind you what you need and what you are striving for.

When the work is hard and you want to quit or feel you “can’t” do it, look at the column of positive things you will get when you are better, and remind yourself of your three words!

My three words are:

THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS

I’d love to hear what your three words are!


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Owning My Recovery

The following post is from a client of mine. Thank you for writing this, PR. I think that many will find inspiration in your words.

A year ago I wrote a post titled Awake and Alive and I talked about the “pink cloud” I found myself in after committing to recovery. Today, I want to write about owning my recovery after a full year of struggling and fighting to stay “awake and alive”.

The “pink cloud” I experienced a year ago was the initial burst of good energy and happiness that followed my strong commitment to recovery. It was my first glimpse of how amazing my life could be without my eating disorder. It was the first feeling of freedom from the obsessions and rituals of my eating disorder. Unfortunately, the “pink cloud experience” didn’t last. It wasn’t that I gave up. It was just the natural evaporation of the cloud; as all clouds go. All was not lost though. Having the “pink cloud experience” showed me what my life could be like. It was a gift that gave me the opportunity to experience the beauty of life without my eating disorder. But gifts offer only fleeting moments of joy. True and lasting happiness comes from hard work and sometimes struggles through which one begins to establish ownership over their accomplishments. And that is what I’ve been doing for the past year. Struggling and fighting to own my recovery. Struggling and fighting to solidify my recovery and make it my own so that it could not and would not evaporate.

I will not whitewash the hard work of taking ownership of my recovery. There were times where I wanted to give up and times where I almost did give up. Then I would have to weigh the pros and cons. Did I really want to go back to my eating disorder with its obsessive, isolative nature? Or, did I want to continue on the road to recovery? I knew that the road of recovery was the only place where joy and happiness could be found. Yet, it was also a road full of obstacles, bumps, ditches, and boulders. Walking this road was tiring and sometimes I didn’t feel like going on. The battle of whether to continue the struggle or take the easy slide down was constant. And yet, amidst the tears I found moments of joy, beauty, and freedom which I knew I would never find elsewhere. By holding on to those nuggets of pleasure I managed to continue on.

There were days where bad body image skewed my ability to think clearly. Those were days where my perspective on life would become distorted and I would imagine that my happiness would only come from being a specific shape or size. On those days, I would cry and pound the walls in fury. I threw tantrums rivaling a two-year old. I hated myself and hid under the covers refusing to meet the world. And yet, despite the fear, terror, and self-hate that consumed me during those times I continued to walk on the road of recovery. Using reserves of strengths I never knew existed within me, I pushed onward.

Sometimes, the demands of my life overwhelmed me and I thought it would be impossible to go on. I needed my eating disorder to help me control my anxiety, and depression. I would dream about how nice it would be to use behaviors that would make me forget about everything else. Yet each time these thoughts surfaced I would force myself to see the bigger picture. Using behaviors and going back to my eating disorder was a packaged deal. Along with it, came the obsessions, rituals, and isolation. Later on would come the strong winds of depression and an inability to access the joys in my life. Did I really want to go back there? It was a question I faced again and again and again.

Owning my recovery meant learning to rely on myself for strength, encouragement, and love. This was perhaps the most difficult part of my recovery. When faced with challenges, I forced myself to go deep within and use my own resources to move forward. I built a support system for myself and wrote a list of activities that would distract as well as soothe me. Then, I made sure to use the list when the going got rough. I fought my eating disorder using every skill I could remember and created some of my own. I found the voice of my inner self and allowed it to speak against my eating disorder. I cried and laughed, learning to show and experience a range of emotions. I put words to my struggles and found new insight in every challenge. I made sure to learn from every mistake and used each experience as a stepping stone to greater heights. Most importantly, I learned to put the focus on myself. Recovering from my eating disorder was my responsibility. It was my fight, my struggle, my challenges. I was the most important person in my life and I came first. All the time, every time.

Today, I stand proud and tall on the top of the mountain. I see other mountains in the distance and I know that I must continue to climb. But today I am taking the time to notice and experience the joy of owning my recovery. I have scaled the mountain that is my eating disorder. I know there is no going back. The world stretches out before me, beckoning with all its beauty and hope. There is so much to live for and I am full of true joy and happiness. Life is beautiful. My life is beautiful. I hug myself and smile. I own my recovery. It is strong and solid beneath my feet.

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Struggling to Stay on the Road of Recovery

The following is a poem written by a client. Thank you “P”. Keep climbing. You CAN do this!

It’s a process I’m told,

So keep holding on,

Sometimes I feel like I can’t,

The journey is too long

The end so far away

Keep going, I’m encouraged

By others who are further along

Sometimes they inspire me

Sometimes I’m jealous

Sometimes I feel like a failure because I can’t be like them.

Keep going they say

One day you’ll be on the other side

But there is a chasm so wide

And sometimes it seems impossible

For me to get to the other side.

Keep going, you can do this,

But the struggle is so intense

The road so bumpy

And just when I regain my footing

The road forks off and I must choose

And sometimes I can’t figure out which direction to take

Keep going, keep going

The road is so dangerously close to the cliff

Sometimes I look down and the rocks below loom up too close

I lose my footing

And I try to grab onto something, anything to arrest my fall

I get scratched on the way

And everything hurts

There’s a hand from above that reaches to help me climb back up

But the climb is exhausting

And the hand can only do so much

The work is mine

You can do this, yes you can

I shake my head

It is easier to drop to the rocks below

And rest my weary bones

I ache all over

I cry

I’m here for you, I’m told

The hand reaches to comfort me

But I push it away

I don’t want to begin the climb up again

I want to sleep

Come, I’ll help you climb

A rope is lowered

I take a deep breathe

And begin the climb again

 

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I Just Want To Have My Ice Cream!

A patient of mine who struggles with binge-eating and who also has been a casualty of years and years of dieting came in this week and was clearly excited (well, maybe not quite excited) to share with me a “successful food experience” from the past week. She is getting much more adept at distinguishing between her healthy voice and the critical voice of her eating disorder.

She described a day when it was really hot and humid (this isn’t hard to imagine for Jersey in June). There is a “famous” ice cream store in this area called “Hoffman’s”. It has the best ice cream and people come from great distances to enjoy it. She decided she would take her children there to get them ice cream since she was in the area. When they arrived, she had an internal conversation that went like this:

“You don’t want any ice cream.”

“Yes I really do.”

“Do you really want ice cream?”

“No…I guess I don’t.”

“Why would you want ice cream when you constantly complain about your weight?”

“You’re right. I hate my body. I don’t want ice cream.”

“That’s right. You don’t. You will never look the way you want by eating ice cream and other foods like that.”

“But it’s so hot out and I know I won’t be coming back for a while.”

“Everyone here will look at you if you order it because you don’t need it and shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

“You’re right. Everyone will notice me and be making comments about me under their breath. I’ll just get ice cream for the kids.”

“Just buy the kids their ice cream and go home.”

“It looks so good. I’ll just order a ‘small’.”

“You will regret it. I promise you.”

“I might regret it, but I might regret more if I leave without having any.”

“You are a fat pig. Don’t get the ice cream. As soon as you walk out of here, you will beat yourself up.
If you get it, you better not eat dinner.”

“Ok, maybe I’ll get it and skip dinner.”

“You know you can’t do that. That never works. You are too weak. You’ll eat the ice cream, still eat dinner and you’ll end up bingeing and ruining your day. Don’t get the ice cream.”

“I’m so sick of the same old stupid conversation. I’m sick of arguing with you. I’m sick of feeling bad about myself. I’m sick of listening to you. I’m sick of feeling this way. I want the stupid ice cream. I’m entitled to make this choice. I just want to have a nice day with my kids. The ice cream is not going to make or break my day. I can eat ice cream whenever I want. I will never diet again. I’m taking charge of this eating disorder. I will not be bullied into avoiding foods I like and then bingeing because I feel like a criminal. I’m working hard at recovery and I’m not going to let one dish of ice cream on a hot sunny summer day turn into a battle ground where I lose AGAIN!”

This conversation with herself lasted about 2 minutes. It was a loooong two minutes. She went up to the counter, ordered her kids their ice cream, ordered herself a dish of “Rocky Road”, paid for it and walked out. She sat outside with her kids, and enjoyed her ice cream. She ate most of it but at some point she was a little full so she got a lid for it and took the rest of it home. She had never done that before. In the past, she would always finish it, even if she was full, because she would feel so guilty about eating it in the first place and would swear that she would never buy it again. On this day, she made a deal with herself that from this day forward if there is a day that she wants ice cream, she will drive to Hoffman’s and get herself ice cream.

On that day, she successfully took the power away from the food and away from her eating disorder. She had mixed feelings after the whole incident was over. She felt victorious, but also a little guilty, sad, and exhausted too. You see, although her ice cream adventure was ultimately a success, the struggle is still there. Conversations like this will happen in her mind again and again and again. Each time they happen, she will have to fight with all her energy. Her eating disordered voice is very loud, critical and unwavering. She has to fight equally as hard for herself, against it. In time, her skills will get better. Her own voice will get stronger. It will not happen over night. Her eating has been an issue for her since she was 5 years old. She is 45.

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Awake and Alive

Originally posted on 11/17/2010

The following post is from a client of mine who is an extremely courageous, warm, loving human being, who is finally discovering herself separated from her eating disorder. I’m proud of you, PR!

Lately, I’ve been pinching myself to see if I’m really awake and alive.  I’m so afraid that it’s all a dream, a mirage, and that soon I’ll wake up and my recovery from my eating disorder will fade away and I’ll be sick once more.

It’s just that for the first time in my life, I thank God when I wake up in the morning and face the day with joy.  For the first time, I’m loving life and laughing with pure happiness untainted by obsessions and illness.  For the first time in my life, I see a future bright with sunshine and rainbows.  Oh, I know there will be hard times ahead and there will be days when the familiar feelings of self-hate and depression will come back.  I know there will be days when the black cloud descends and I may feel like I’ve fallen off the cliff again.  But I also know that when that time comes, I will be able to recognize the pit that lies ahead and use the skills I’ve learned over years of therapy to keep my head above the water until the waves pass.

I know I will be able to do that because for the first time, I believe in myself and in the strength I possess and in the potential for greatness which lies within me.  I know this sounds idealistic and “honeymoonish”, almost like my head is inside a pink cloud which will soon evaporate.  I know some people would read this and be cynical about my seemingly shallow understanding of what recovery is about.  But that would be because they don’t know my story.  They don’t know the story of suicide attempts, hospitalization, weight gains and weight losses, severe depression and a difficult, sometimes impossible climb through mountain ranges before I reached this peak.  In either case, I’d rather be in a pink cloud, which may soon disappear, than back in my eating disorder where I’m stuck inside a black cloud which never goes away.  Besides, during this time that I’m in the pink cloud I’m slowly building a fence around myself which will protect me during those times when I get too close to the edge of the cliff.  And during this time, I am reinforcing that fence every time I win over my eating disorder.  So I’m glad to be inside a pink cloud right now.

I’m finally standing on my own two feet; something I never dreamed was possible.  I never could imagine what life would be like when I no longer listened to my eating disorder and followed its directions.  I wondered how I would manage without the support I received through intensive, weekly therapy.  And that’s why I keep pinching myself.  Because I’m finally basking in the sunlight which for so long seemed totally out of reach.  I’ve finally exited the narrow tunnel of my eating disorder.  I’m finally awake and I’m finally alive.

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Sliver of Light

A powerful journal entry by CRK, who is beginning to experience hopefulness!

When I’m absorbed and drowning in the excruciating discomfort and helplessness, It’s virtually impossible to see any vestige of opening to thick encasing infinite black cavity of suffocation. In those moments it’s even harder to acknowledge the concept hope exists.

But in the moments of clarity (however fleeting) it’s undeniable. The shimmering beacon of hope, love, and reward for the pain and challenge is revealed and i cling onto it with every breathing fiber of my essence. The benefits to the pain I had to go through are made apparent and it fills me with a surge of boundless joy, of love, and of fortunateness to be blessed with this unique life I’m granted.

However intensely i dread the pain of existing and i acknowledge its still there (even in the moments of inspiration) when i could finally see the glittering blaze of light, there’s no denying the love and even benefit of what i had to endure to be complete. All the suffering, discomfort, and despair finally culminate into  a stunning ingenious work of art, a master plan. If not for the pain and darkest moments of despondency and utter helplessness there’s no way i could acquire the value and deep quality of the lessons i learned about life and it’s meaning. There’s no way i could’ve been able to appreciate the insight i was granted through the blackness.

The blackness remains, but in this moment I’m empowered with the clarity of not only the worthiness to go on and keep striving for life, but to accept and appreciate the blackness for it’s priceless potential for growth.

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LIPIDS!!!!!

Let’s talk about LIPIDS, a misunderstood group of molecules that are CRITICAL to the functioning of the human body and are an ESSENTIAL part of your diet!

Understanding the Functions of Lipids in the Body

There are many functions of lipids in the human body. Many people tend to place a negative association with the term “lipid”, simply because it brings to mind the word “fat”. This “essential” nutrient is crucial to the intricate functioning of the body. The term lipid applies to a group of molecular structures which includes fats and oils, fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E, and K, sterols, fatty acids, and phospholipids. Let’s take a brief look at the major functions of lipids in the body.

 Storing Energy

An important role that lipids play in the human body is to store energy. It is no great secret that the body gets most of its energy from carbohydrates, but what many people don’t know is that if it weren’t for lipids, we would have to replenish our energy reserves after every hour spent being active! Lipids make it possible to make the most out of the carbohydrates we consume so we don’t have to “use or lose” that energy. So because of lipids, the body is able to store the energy produced by the foods we eat as sort of a “reserve tank”.

Also, during all those hours of the day that you are sleeping (and not eating), your body relies on whatever fuel you have stored up during your daytime eating as the fuel it depends on. Remember, your body needs to work 24 hours a day and you only eat while you are awake. Your heart, brain, liver, kidneys etc need to be FED all day and all night long. Also, if you exercise, the fuel your body wants to use after a brief period of time comes from the fuel that is stored in these cells. If you don’t store fuel in the fat cells, your body would inevitably rely on your muscle tissue as its fuel source. And, you don’t want that to be the case.

 Cell Membranes

One of the little known facts about lipids is that they’re responsible for the protection of each individual cell. This protection comes in the form of the cell membrane. The lipids form a protective barrier that keeps the important cellular information inside the cell while keeping destructive substances out. For instance, oxygen, glucose, enzymes, and hormones are allowed to enter through the membrane while harmful chemicals are not. All this is due to the wonderful lipid cell membrane.

 Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are known as fat-soluble vitamins because they are molecularly lipid-based. These vitamins are stored in the body’s fat tissues as well as the liver and are very important to the human body—hence the reason they are called “essential nutrients”.

Vitamin A improves eyesight. This vitamin helps our eyes to distinguish light and color, and a deficiency in this vitamin can lead to vision troubles—particularly at night time. As for vitamin D, it is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. If it were not for vitamin D, our teeth and bones would never grow to become as strong as they should be. Vitamin D also helps to fight off autoimmune issues. Vitamin E is often associated with the health of hair, skin, and nails. It also plays an important role in other areas of the body. For instance, vitamin E can both protect against certain cancers as well as improve cardiovascular and circulation health. It is a powerful “antioxidant” and as such, it boosts the immune system. It can also lower cholesterol levels. Vitamin K is necessary for liver health and also helps the blood to clot. Every time someone gets a scrape or cut, vitamin K helps the blood clot, allowing the wound to seal up and heal.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is the ingredient that helps you make your male and female hormones. It helps separate the boys from the girls. (It is also a part of all the cell membranes.) It is an ingredient in bile (the stuff that helps you digest fats and help you get rid of waste products). It helps make a covering called the “myelin sheath” that surrounds and protects your nerves and brain cells.

Cholesterol comes in two basic forms: high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein, or HDL and LDL cholesterol (“good” and “bad” cholesterol). HDL (“good”) cholesterol is vital to the body as it makes those hormones and it transports the LDL cholesterol to the liver where it can be broken down and excreted from the body.  This type of “good” cholesterol is found in whole grain, fish, and nuts, and increasing these foods can actually lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Shock Absorption

A layer of fat surrounding the vital internal organs is essential as a protective mechanism against injury.

 Now let’s look at the function of lipids in the foods we eat.

  • Lipids contain more calories (gram for gram) than carbohydrate or protein, which makes them a “nutrient dense” food.
  • Lipids in food help create satiety which why you feel more satisfied and full after a meal containing lipids.
  • Some of the ESSENTIAL nutrients (essential fatty acids like omega-3s) are soluble in lipids and therefore primarily found in lipid-containing foods.
  • Essential fatty acids found in lipids-containing foods have amazing functions like improving heart health, brain health, lowering levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, defending against cancer, reducing inflammation in arthritis and asthma sufferers.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are primarily found in lipid-containing foods.
  • Lipids contribute to the aroma and flavor of food.

 

Some of the best foods that contain valuable lipids are:

  • Nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
  • Certain fish – salmon, mackerel, tuna
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Oils such as olive oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil, canola oil
  • Soy foods

So, the next time you find yourself wondering why you need lipids, aka “fats”, in your daily diet, remember that fat is a NUTRIENT. Without it or without enough of it, all these jobs won’t get done. Human life would cease without these amazing molecules!

Give your body the nutrient that makes up your cell membranes, protects your heart and brain, provides you with essential vitamins and essential fatty acids, provides a valuable energy source when you sleep and exercise, helps you make your male and female hormones, helps make food taste and smell good, promotes satiety, and provides great nutrient density. Whew!!!!  What an amazing nutrient!

After writing this post, I think I’ll go make myself a fabulous snack of dark chocolate Dove hearts dipped in peanut butter!

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Weathering the Storm

A beautiful post by J.J.

Not knowing who you are is scary, a whole world operates around you and though you play your role you can never help but wonder if you’ve been cast as someone else’s character. The wrong role perhaps or has it simply been too long and you are now a stranger to yourself.  In beginning my recovery I am not sure I can put a proper word to the unease I felt towards the many characters I thought I had been cast to play. I did not have amnesia, for I knew all the people around me, drove the same route to work and performed mundane tasks with ease.  However I was left with no identity, just trapped somewhere in between my eating disorder and small bursts of readiness for recovery. My small bursts of readiness however included willingness to eat, to not purge or abuse exercise and laxatives. I never willingly submitted to feel, to cry, to lose everything. There would not be a proper replacement waiting in the wings; I would have to stand alone stripped of my armor clinging to pieces of a life that were never truly mine. I would have to write my own script not memorize and perfect someone else’s.

I always thought I my attempts were valiant, that I was “doing” recovery, really putting in my all and fighting to combat the negative eating disordered thoughts. My eating disorder was still so transfixing however that I was clinging onto any piece of it I could and so it really was no wonder (to anyone but me) why REAL progress wasn’t being made. “I’m eating” I would whine and in response it would be that’s so wonderful but try harder, dig deeper. “I’m gaining weight!!!!” I freak out and cry and I would hear resounding from my treatment team, it is necessary for your recovery, fat is not a feeling you are having FAT feelings. In these moments I wanted my eating disorder like a knight on a white horse to come in and save me.  Texts and frantic voicemails were sent out to my treatment team, at times unanswered leaving me feeling hopeless, abandoned, unloved. All feelings I have felt in the darkest times of my eating disorder and all reasons why I swore to never break down the walls I so carefully constructed. I wanted to tear them apart at times, telling them how they did not care for me, how they lied and how they found another client they liked more than me. My eating disorder would never do that to me, as long as I followed its instructions to the tee it would never put me down; and I follow directions really well. Though time passed (I did not want to be THAT client), as did my feelings and I learned feelings truly can wash over you like a wave. Harsh and pounding at times, the riptide unbearable without support and at other times calm and slow with a rhythm you can tune in to. I slowly began to communicate not through my eating disorder but with words, I still sent texts and frantic voicemails though when unanswered tried to assure myself it was okay. They were helping me to fly on my own and I needed to do so. I feared that without them and their constant supervision I would be forgotten, a lost memory. That the impact they had on my life would last forever and I was only one of many to walk through their door. I still do fear this at times, though my wall is now low enough to peer over yet still high enough for my safe shelter.

I have learned about love and loss and change (I still do not like change, but I am learning it does not end the world) and feelings. I have learned that it is okay that I am a little outgoing and loud at times. That I am a still a work in progress and give great advice but still seldom take it. That not everyone will like me but I do not have to change for them as much as I will want to. I have learned for those who I grow close to I do not need to keep such a tight leash for my fear they will flee, it is I who has to work on my fear of being forgotten and abandon. The people I have in my life now are incredible, more amazing friends and mentors than I ever imagined would enter my life. Perhaps that is part of the fear that finally now in my 20’s I feel loved and I believe I have people in my life who care. Losing that is terrifying. I am still learning that recovery does not mean losing these incredible people only changing the relationships we have so that they are not centered upon my eating disorder. I do not have to remain sick or relapse to have these relationships remain in my life and I am working on changing that tape in my head. Finally though not lastly because the lessons I’ve learned and insight gained is immeasurable and I could fill so many pages but finally I learned I can, I will, and I deserve…

Laughing my own laugh is beautiful, being engaged in a conversation and not wondering how your thighs look is crazy but wonderful. The mirror and I are still not the best of friends; I do not expect to be. However my actions now do not reflect the state of mind I am in- I am fighting, talking back to my eating disorder (out loud even!) So I was wrong, all those beginning attempts at recovery. It is not about just eating or gaining to a healthy weight. Recovery hurts-you must challenge your mind and unlearn habits that have been in practice for years.  The work does not end at weight gain and challenge foods, it is a whole new beginning of finding yourself all over again. “I’m OK” is written in your face and yet inside it may hurt more than ever, like the wave this will pass. Take renewed strength with every low tide never giving up. In the words of someone whom I admire very much, your worst day in recovery is better than your best day in your eating disorder. I’ve always tried so hard to define recovery, to create this beautiful prose with words so eloquently putting to text all that it causes us to feel. Though I’ve come to realize the definition is ever changing and growing, much like our very own recovery paths themselves. As I learn new lessons and gain new insight the definition grows and my recovery horizon broadens. Happy still feels so foreign, doing what it right seems wrong on all levels.  My eating disorder owned me for a little more than eight years, eight thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays without cake. It will take me longer than eight months to rebuild and to learn who I am, to accept myself.  I want it this time, for me and so I will weather the storm I will not allow it to wither me.

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Mirror Mirror

This post is from a guest blogger! Thank you!


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the healthiest one of all?”

The other day, I looked into the mirror in my bedroom while getting dressed.  The mirror is a kind of large “in your face” mirror which is hard to ignore sometimes.  I can’t get rid of it because it’s part of my bedroom furniture.

In either case, I looked into the mirror and did not like what I saw.  I don’t think I need to go into detail.  Most of you reading this have some idea of what was probably going through my mind in terms of body image.  So I stood there, turning this way and that, pulling my clothing in different directions to see if there was some way to change the image looking back at me.  Of course, the voices in my head started clamoring for attention and telling me that I was ugly and fat and that my neighbors and colleagues and friends were probably disgusted by the way I looked.  Especially because I looked “different” a few months ago.  The voices told me that people were probably pointing fingers at me and saying things like, “She has no self-control.  Look at how fat she’s become”.

The voices were getting louder and I knew I needed to get away from the mirror.  I knew I was getting too close to the edge of the cliff and that if I wasn’t careful I would slip down.  It might not be a bad fall I reasoned.  Perhaps it would be ok if I just hung my feet over the ledge.  But even as that thought past through my mind I knew I was fooling myself.  The ledge was too narrow to sit on and swinging my legs over the fence would inevitably cause me too fall down with no guarantee that I would land feet first and not break a bone or two. 

And so, as these thoughts past through my mind, I reluctantly tore myself away from the mirror and walked out of my bedroom.  And then the singsong, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is prettiest one of all”, flashed through my mind.  I thought of the childhood fairytale where pretty Snow White was pursued by the bad witch because of her beauty.  And then suddenly I realized that repeating the witch’s refrain was causing me untold suffering that would inevitably end in destruction.  Why, I wondered, was I so bent on having the prettiest, thinnest, most perfect body?  Why, I wondered, was I angry at the “pretty Snow Whites” in the world?  Just as the storybook portrays, Snow White’s beauty was, in actuality, a reflection of her inner beauty and kind nature.  And perhaps that was what the witch was jealous of.

And so, as I continued to contemplate and theorize, the singsong changed in my head and became, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the HEALTHIEST one of all?”  That was a question I could answer with pride because I was fighting my eating disorder and allowing myself to embrace health.  I was working hard on accepting my body with all its “imperfections” and most of all, without expending energy on becoming the prettiest one of all, I was finding and connecting with my inner self.  I was spreading joy to others and allowing my inner beauty to come forth.  And that, I knew, would one day help me turn into a real “Snow White”.

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Spirituality and Recovery

This is a beautiful post by a beautiful person!!! Thank you PR!!!!

I’m religious, but for years I didn’t consider myself spiritual. I know most people think that religion is synonymous with spirituality but believe me, they absolutely do not go together.  I’m proof of that.  I did everything my religion asked of me but my heart and soul were not into it and many times I considered leaving my faith.  That was especially true when I was in the throes of my eating disorder.  My eating disorder was always telling me that if I would stop participating in religious traditions and rituals I would have more time to invest in using eating disorder behaviors to reach my goal of being the perfect me with the perfect body.  I believed my eating disorder and broke every rule in the book listening to the voice in my head.  I stole food to binge on.  I weighed myself every day, including Saturday, when I knew I was breaking the Sabbath.  I didn’t make blessings on food because food had no meaning to me.  And most of all, I grew angry at God for destroying my life by making me fat and ugly.

Now, I know most of you reading this are waiting for me to say that one day something clicked in my head and suddenly I had this brilliant “ah ha” moment.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and as most of us can attest to, it usually doesn’t happen that way.  Instead, I gradually began to tune into a different voice inside my head.  Actually, it was more the voice of my heart and soul but I didn’t know that at that time.  I just heard a different voice in my head that kept reminding me of  the goals and dreams I had.  It helped that I was forced into listening to that voice because I had set my schedule up around healthy activities which were a constant reminder that I was climbing towards a goal.  I truly believe that setting goals for myself is what ultimately unearthed my spiritual self. 

Spirituality, according to some views, is a burning desire within each one of us to give our lives meaning by becoming a “somebody”.  This fire within us is an inborn trait and is the impetus that drives us towards fulfilling our goals and dreams and finding a place for ourselves in this world.  Thus, spirituality is very different than religion, though for many people religion is a manifestation of their spirituality.  For others, spirituality is a connection with their inner selves, their souls, and their belief in the value and meaning of their lives. 

Listening and responding to that voice in my head, reminding me of my goals, became a constant dialogue between me and my soul which slowly allowed me to peel away at the layers, upon layers, surrounding my inner self.  Gradually, I began to sense that inborn desire to become a “somebody” in this world and recognize that my eating disorder was the barrier between me and my spiritual aspirations.  I was then faced with the most difficult decision of my life.  At this fork in the road, would I turn a blind eye to my newfound soul and continue to destroy my inner self by using eating disorder behaviors, or would I begin the arduous climb out of the dark pit of disorder and allow my spiritual self to begin basking in the sunlight waiting for me outside the pit.  The decision was mine to make and yet, how I wished it was not one I needed to face. 

Giving up my eating disorder was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  And I still struggle and fight against it every day.  Yet, becoming one with my spiritual self, with that inborn desire to find a place for myself in this world, has made me whole and has given me the greatest gift of healing.  When one is at ease with themselves, in a physical and spiritual sense, then disease, which is the dis ease of dissonance with one’s inner self, can not rule.  Instead, the healing power of the inner self can come forth and help one reach for the stars.

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Abandoning Denial – A Poem

This is a poem written by a  client of mine who is facing her recovery.

Denial has been my

balm.

It has soothed me,

telling me that

everything’s alright.

When people ask me

if I feel okay

I say “Sure, I’m perfectly

fine.”

When people wonder

if I’m feeling down

because of lack of

food

I say “No, it’s just

the weather.”

But today I cried.

Today I let my emotions

come out.

I let all the truth about Ed

be revealed,

and I admitted how much

I hate him.

I cried as I told

of how depressed

and despairing

he makes me

feel.

I cried as I related

how tense and irritable

he causes me

to be.

I cried as I talked about

the stress he has placed on

my family;

the tension my two

young children feel;

and the unhappiness in

our home.

I cried as I admitted how much

I hate him.

I sobbed as I

abandoned Denial.

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Duped!

The following is a true account of a client’s experience, one that was very frightening but provided her with enormous insight about her eating disorder. Thank goodness she is safe. We can learn several life lessons by reading this remarkable story.

Today I had an experience that will probably take a while until I forget. That is in part because it made me one hundred and eighty dollars poorer, but mostly because it left me feeling foolish, vulnerable, and taken advantage of.

I had to be in Manhattan this morning. I had finished my business there, and was heading back to the Lincoln Tunnel to get back to Jersey. I was stopped at a red light when a guy motioned to me through my window that my car was emitting smoke from the front. I had actually noticed that my temperature gauge was slightly above normal, so I decided to pull over. The guy who had kindly told me about the problem came to the side (ever so nicely) and told me that he was a mechanic. He even showed me his truck across the street. (You’re probably screaming at me at this point, “Lady, get away from him!” but I was stupid.) He asked me to open the hood of the car. Of course, I complied. He looked inside the hood, told me I must have gone over some pothole or something, and said my engine fluids were leaking. He told me he’d fix it for me right then and there, but he’d need some water. (You’re holding your breath; I know.) So…. He sent me off to buy water, and I went. (Don’t worry, I locked my doors, closed my windows, and took my purse and cell phone… That much I did.) When I came back, he was under my car, with fluid all over the place. He told me that the engine pins had come loose when I had gone over the pothole, and that’s why the engine had been leaking, causing it to overheat. Possibly true, but how am I supposed to know? Off in the city myself, in the street with some big bear of a stranger, placing my implicit trust in him. At that point I knew I was crazy. Whatever it was though, I didn’t know how to get myself out of the situation anymore. I felt really stuck. He had my car in his hands! If I started arguing with him, he could really botch up my car. So I let him continue… And “fix” up my car. Then of course bargaining time arrived. He asked for two-forty. I managed to bargain him down to one-eighty. I had paid a price for my freedom.

I’ve been thinking about the incident all day, and I decided that there’s a huge lesson to be learned from it. My eating disorder is not all that different than that “mechanic” who was so quick to take advantage of me. The eating disorder sees when and where and in which situations I am vulnerable in, and it rushes in to “protect” me, to “help” me, to “save” me, and to “fix things up.” It uses every situation as an excuse to stick itself in and try to get me back as a friend. Very often though, my eating disorder is the very thing that creates the problem that then has to be resolved! And then it goes and does a very patchy job of fixing it up (that then has to be taken apart by the professionals and fixed up once again… Which I’m afraid might be the situation with my car right now). In essence, if I felt so duped by that guy in Manhattan, shouldn’t I feel the same way about Ed? He’s doing exactly the same thing to me every day – creating problems (I’m not saying where none exist, but definitely creating more), then pretending to fix them, doing a terrible job of it, having me pay for it all with my body and soul… He’s duping me every moment that I live with him.

            I’ve been duped.

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Risk Taking

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil.

The first seed said “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me…I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of Spring…I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”

And so she grew.

The second seed said “I am afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts…what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it’s much better to wait until it is safe.”

And so she waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

The moral of the story is:  Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.

 

Written by Patty Hansen and published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart

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Inside-Out Beauty

Recovering from an eating disorder is a tremendous challenge, one made all the more difficult in a society with such an extreme fixation on external appearance. We are bombarded with messages telling us that we can only be successful if we are beautiful. Unfortunately, the definition of beauty in Western culture is very narrow: to have “arrived,” we are told, you need to be below a certain age, under a certain size, have a certain skin tone, etc. Yet no matter how many ads we see for miracle creams and Botox, we all know that this brand of beauty doesn’t last forever. Does it make sense to invest so much time, energy, and money towards something that will inevitably degenerate?

I believe that beauty is important, and that working towards it is a worthwhile endeavor. I just choose to define beauty differently. It may be partly about external appearance, but it’s about what’s inside, too. And what’s wonderful is that when you work towards enhancing your inner beauty, you are left with beauty that is eternal. 

Think about the beautiful people in your life. Are they all under age 40? Do they all have model’s figures? Perfect skin?  To widen your definition of beauty, reflect on these tips for timeless beauty by Audrey Hepburn:

  • For lovely lips, speak words of kindness.
  • For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
  • For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
  • For poise, walk with the knowledge that you’ll never walk alone.
  • People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.
  • The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
  • True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows. And the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.

This  post was written by a guest blogger, Dina Maierovits, MS, RD. Dina works in private practice in Toronto, where she provides nutrition counseling for individuals with eating disorders and other nutritional concerns.  She received her Bachelor of Science from Charter Oak State College and her Master of Science in Dietetics from Eastern Michigan University.

Prior to her career as a registered dietitian, Dina worked for several years as a high school teacher. She is passionate about eating disorders prevention and combined this dedication with her love for teaching by developing NUTRITION, a high school curriculum covering a range of topics related to nutrition and body image. She is also the designer of ReClaim, a bi-level community education program to reduce the incidence of disordered eating in high school students. She is currently producing a documentary to promote media literacy in teens with the goal of promoting positive self-image. Dina can be reached at dina@totalnutrition.ca.

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