Archive for December 31, 2015

New Year, Be You

By Kristine Strangis

Happy-New-Year-Image-01The New Year is coming, and while this time may bring joy, it also may bring stress. Having an eating disorder, it can be tough to hear all of the New Year’s resolutions because they are typically appearance focused, which can be very triggering. From losing weight to exercising more, these goals, while they may be helpful for one person, may be detrimental to a person with an eating disorder who is in recovery.

I personally believe that New Year’s should be focused on bettering oneself mentally. The way to do this is by focusing on the internal, or who you are, rather than external, or what you look like. Change only happens when we dedicate ourselves to the process and put our words into action.

Currently, I am dealing with a relapse on my recovery journey, but I am staying strong. After getting some tough love from my family, I decided to check back into outpatient treatment, and now I am working toward change. Therefore, for my New Year’s resolution, I have decided to work towards my recovery by taking some much needed time for myself. This is not selfish, but rather, self-compassion.  For example, I have been doing mindfulness exercises, such as meditation and coloring, in order to cope with my emotions in healthy ways, instead of using eating disorder symptoms. Small steps lead to big changes.

I am choosing to learn from this relapse. The fact that my eating disorder was coming back meant that something in my life was out of balance. So, one of the changes I have made is quitting my cashier job and instead, volunteering with my college’s eating disorder research center. I knew that I needed to do more fulfilling work that would align with my values. My education, and the fact that I have battled and still am battling with anorexia nervosa, has led me to finding my vocation in helping others achieve recovery.

I want others to know that recovery is possible. I say that I am recovered because I continue to be resilient. I keep choosing recovery and fight the eating disorder whenever it comes creeping back in. Recovery may be a long and hard journey, but it is well worth it.

Overall, my New Year’s resolution is to focus on my recovery while being true to myself. I know that the research work that I will be doing will help others recover and save lives, and that is what keeps me strong in my own recovery. So, as this New Year approaches, I will focus on making goals towards my recovery. Focusing on what I can change internally- with my mind, rather than giving into the eating disorder that tries to change me externally. The eating disorder thinks that changing physically will fix everything, but it does not. The eating disorder provides an illusory sense of control that is only temporary; but change from within is permanent and that is why it is so valuable.

This is my recovery journey, perfectly imperfect, and that is ok, as long as I keep staying strong.

So, what is your New Year’s resolution? Remember, focus on what you can change inside. If you are stuck, here are some ideas:
1.    Volunteer somewhere that gives you a sense of purpose
2.    Take up a new hobby (I recommend coloring books!)
3.    Challenge yourself to face your fears
4.    Work on loving your body as it is
5.    Reach out to your friends and family
6.    Journal more often
7.    Take time for yourself, practice self-compassion
8.    Work on your recovery, wherever you are in the process
9.    Do mindfulness exercises (meditation, yoga, going for a walk, etc.)
10.    Be you! (Do what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, this is what will enable you to find an identity beyond the eating disorder)

Never give up warriors! Recovery is possible, just stay strong and keep on keeping on.

Body-Positive Media

This week for Media Monday, we want to acknowledge that there is positive media, not all is bad. Advertisements, commercials, pictures, and music can reflect our diverse body types, showing that it is okay to accept and appreciate who we are. Enjoy and feel free to share any other body-positive media that you find in our comments section at the bottom of the page.


All I want for Christmas is to be thin… NO!

All I want for Christmas is to be thin…

That is the message that my eating disorder tells me every day. Nothing else matters, other than to have a “nice body.” If I have a nice body, than everything else will fall into place. If I am thin, my clothes loose on me, and I can feel more in control over what I eat than what my body and mind tell me, everything else will be okay. Everything in life will be fine if I just get thin….

No. Not true. Not even close to being true. How will changing the physical size of my body get me into grad school, be successful at my job, have a close connection with my husband, feel centered and happy in life? It won’t. Not even a little bit.

But… what my body size can do is allow me to compare myself to everyone else…

If everyone has this “expected body,” “average nice-looking body,” “the way the body is supposed to look body”- I don’t want to feel different. I don’t want to be the one everyone looks at as a sign of weakness, lack of discipline, laziness, defectively different. I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t fit the “average” body ideal, like everyone else. I don’t want to not be a part of. I don’t want to be not good enough.

So…I will concentrate and focus all my efforts to lose weight- to exercise excessively, to watch everything I eat- avoiding any food that could make me gain weight. I will obsess about food all day long, plan out what my next meal will be like- if I choose to eat or not. I will plan my day around going to the gym, and making sure that when I go I don’t waste any time- exercising only to lose weight.

NO! Not real! Not right. Not accurate. NO!

My body holds my soul. My body holds my hopes, dreams, goals, passions, brain! My body holds my intellect, my knowledge, love, compassion, and my peace.

My body has a purpose. It has a purpose! That purpose is NOT to present itself as thin and toned.  It IS the instrument to which I experience life. The apparatus that navigates me around this world. The mechanism that gives me the ability to connect my loving energy with everyone else.

So, my eating disorder’s perception of what is most important in life is way off. The ass-backward way of thinking- that having a thin body will make my life come together, does not actually reign true. This body that I have holds so much more value and has so much more meaning than the eating disorder allows it to have. My body (and my brain) will get me into graduate school, to be successful at my job, have a close relationship with my husband, and allow me feel centered and happy.

So what I want for Christmas, not my eating disorder, is to love my body.


What three things does your body allow you to do?

What does your body hold for you? Your hopes, dreams, memories, etc.?

Sexualized Advertisements and Unrealistic Standards

Submitted by Gage Phillips, as part of a class project

In our society it seems to be the norm that all products are sexualized. I found an ad for Cabo Wabo tequila, which has a very obvious sexual message- although there are no words used. This message says to me, ‘Drink Cabo Wabo and I’ll be part of your experience.’ In the ad a woman holding a lime between her perfectly augmented breasts and in text it says, “Take your best shot.” Now we all know how to take a shot of tequila; lick the salt, take the shot, bite the lime. So why does this advertisement have to sexualize a woman to get its point across?

I don’t think this is the best way to advertise their product because of the effects it could have on young and impressionable boys and girls. Young men are taught how an attractive female should act after a few drinks; while young women are taught that what matters are their looks. This picture gives an unrealistic view of the female body: her ribs show, her abs show, and her breasts perky and large. Now unless you have some extremely good genetics, these three traits don’t usually come as a package. That only leaves a couple options, Photoshop and plastic surgery. Giving off this image of a perfect body at unrealistic standards and proportions makes it impossible for girls to achieve. Because of media, they will constantly be questioning their beauty and why they can’t achieve what they think so many other women “have.”

While reading ‘Rereading America’ for my Writing and Research class I came across this text, “Sex in advertising is more about disconnection and distance than connection and closeness.” This advertisement is a perfect example of this statement. Not giving this woman a face leaves out any real connection. You don’t see a person but merely a sexualized object. When you can’t place a face on a person, the emotions of the person become meaningless. Psychological studies show that people feel empathy more when they can see emotions in a person’s face. Without giving this woman a face, they took the ability of the viewers to see any emotion out.

People need to be careful when interpreting advertisements. Ads affect our subconscious- whether we can control it or not.  If companies used realistic-looking people in their ads, rather than unachievable bodies, maybe there would be a change in how people portray themselves, for good.

  1. How realistic of an image do you think this is?
    1. Less than 5% of the population can achieve a body-type like this.
  2. Would this ad have the same appeal if the body part that was featured was different? If feet, knees, or a neck was used to replace the torso?

ICYMI* My Vow to Teach Positive Body Image

*In Case You Missed It: originally posted 01/30/2014 By Shannon Caswell

I struggled with an eating disorder in high school. While I have recovered at the age of 33, I would be lying if I said body image pressures were a distant past. In today’s society, it’s impossible not to escape the pressures, the expectations, and the assumptions. However, I have become more keenly aware of how I let it impact me and how I define beauty.

We see it everywhere.

Television shows exist whose sole purpose is to judge what people wear, what they look like, and how beautiful they look. Food commercials teach the key to success lies in what you eat. Even in the workplace, we endure studies promoting that attractive women in the workplace are more successful.

We see models in magazines, fragile and thin. They look happy. They look like they have everything. What most people don’t know is that for many, their ability to control how little they eat consumes their life, everyday. It’s the pressure they live with every morning when they wake up and every night when they go to sleep. They are told that their ability to control what they eat and how they look defines them and their success.

That becomes what we’re made to believe, and that is what young girls see. What they aspire to be. And it translates into how young boys grow up defining beauty in a woman.

As a mother of two young boys experiencing the world, the most important thing I can teach them is to love their body for which they were blessed. And I know this starts with me.

So I vow to teach them beauty is within. It is what you say. What you do. What you feel. And what you love.

I will tell them I love them, everyday.

I will teach them no one should be perfect.

I will teach them that the words ugly, stupid, and not good enough aren’t real.

I will help them to love others for everything they are. And more importantly, everything they’re not.

I will teach them to never compare themselves to anyone else. That they are unique and being different is beautiful.

Lastly, I will teach them self-awareness. I know we can’t escape what we see on television, what we read in a magazine, or how people will view us.

But we can change how we experience it.

How we live it.

And how we take it with us into the world.

That is my vow to my children.