Archive for Love Your Body

How I Broke the Cycle: Living Life Without Restriction

By Amy Hastie

Physically, I may have looked “healthier” during those times, but in reality, I was still living a life full of rigid rules around what I could and couldn’t eat. It was exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and destroying me from the inside out.

I can vividly recall the first time I decided to restrict my food intake.

At 17, someone sat me down and told me that I should exercise more often and reconsider my food choices. I initially felt deflated, self-conscious and hurt, but those emotions soon turned into an overwhelming desire to change. I distinctly remember writing a letter to my best friend at school the very next day, excitedly boasting to her about this revelation regarding my lifestyle and how I was going to cut back on everything that I ate as part of a magical transformation. It was going to be amazing!

Looking back, it seems utterly frightening to me that I had been so determined and self-assured that I was doing the right thing, despite all of the potentially dangerous risks to my health. This particular teenage diet didn’t last longer than a week, but it instilled in me a lingering awareness of inadequacy in relation to the foods I chose to eat and how much I weighed. It’s like my eyes had been exposed to a horrific image that was etched in my mind and could never be erased.

A couple of years later…

When other things in my life seemed out of control, I made a few more attempts at diets. Again, nothing stuck until the year leading up to my 21st birthday when I fell, head first, down the dark and destructive hole of Anorexia. What followed was more than a decade of severe bouts of restriction, chronic dieting, and incredibly harmful physical behaviors.

There were months, sometimes years, within the past decade when I wasn’t being entirely controlled by Anorexia, but still being intensely dictated by diet culture. Physically, I may have looked “healthier” during those times, but in reality, I was still living a life full of rigid rules around what I could and couldn’t eat. It was exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and destroying me from the inside out.

I feel ashamed to admit this now, but up until recent times, I ate the same thing for dinner every week-night for about 10 years. Every single week-night. No deviations. No adjustments. No tweaks. The same. It was monotonous, a far from nourishing meal choice and a devastatingly obvious coping mechanism. Family and friends would often ask why my husband and I didn’t eat dinner together at home. I always used to brush it off by saying we had very different tastes. That wasn’t true at all as we actually shared many similar loves in food. However, the thought of deviating from my “safe” meal on a week-night scared me more than just about anything else in the world.

Then something finally changed for the better.

I had hit breaking point in the lead-up to our wedding. When it was all over, something began to shift in me, but in a good way this time. On my honeymoon, my husband and I ate a variety of exquisite food every day and every night. Part of me waited for a drastic change, something to go horribly wrong with my mind or body. Nothing did. In fact, with each delectable consumption, the better I seemed to feel mentally and physically. The only effect was the thrill of tuning into my hunger and honoring it fully.

amy longstaff

During the honeymoon, I realized I was beginning to create an infinite distance from restriction. I was at a coffee shop, and I ordered a delicious beverage. The friendly young guy taking my order gave me a nod as he was writing it down and said, “Yeah! It’s Friday! Why not, right??”. I think I nodded in agreement with the well-meaning gentlemen at the time, but as I walked away, I found myself marveling at my progress. I had, without thought or hesitation, just ordered the drink I wanted, having no reason to choose it above its scrumptious taste. I hadn’t selected it because it was the week-end or even considered it to be a treat in the first place. I just had it because I felt like it. It may sound simple, but this kind of mental progress is huge for anyone who has endured what I have.

Decisions like what to order had not always been that natural. Menus were overwhelming, regardless of whether it was a day of “clean eating” or one where treats were “allowed”. While my friends and family would look at a menu in excitement (or simple indifference), Anorexia would sit with me and meticulously calculate the meal that would do the least “damage”. It was a consistently agonizing process, and one I certainly do not miss. After that day in the coffee shop, I started to perceive menus as lists filled with infinite possibilities of satisfaction, not rule books.

I told myself that when we returned from our trip, I would continue this new-found lifestyle … and I did. It was like that indignant feeling I had when I first decided to diet at 17, except this time, I took a stance on always eating exactly what I wanted. I vowed to never restrict again because this new way of eating (of living!) was far too liberating to give up on. I began reintroducing beloved old favorites or tasting entirely new ingredients. Foods I had once banned for making me feel “out of control” were no longer scary because they weren’t “off limits” anymore. I had legalized them indefinitely. It was all so wonderful and invigorating.

As I continue this intuitive eating journey, the next challenge is learning to cook...

Despite being 33 years old, I am well and truly back to basics, teaching myself how to prepare all kinds of new and gratifying meals. It’s certainly not easy, (I have already inadvertently created some minor kitchen fails!), but it is the power of choice over restriction that pushes me to persist with my culinary ventures.

The most life-changing aspect of my recovery has been the new-found belief that I am not only worthy of all foods today, but tomorrow and every day of my life. After so long, I have learned to listen to what my body instinctively wants, just like I used to as a little kid. Now, there are no “treats”, no “cheat days” no “naughty foods”. Anything and everything is quite literally on the table, and I am loving every single minute of it.

 

The Dreaded Scale

By Katy M.

Why do we ask ourselves so many questions on what we should weigh and what size we should be?

So many people step on the scale daily to see if they’ve lost or gained any weight, asking questions like: What does the scale say? Am I the right weight for my height?

If you think about it logically, the scale doesn’t tell us anything of real value.

It's a number. 

A figure that means nothing when it comes to our own worth.

My favourite quote is:

The number on this scale will not tell you what a great person you are, how much your friends and family love you, that you are kind, smart, funny and amazing in ways numbers cannot define. That you have the power to choose your happiness, your own self-worth.

This quote is more accurate than any scale you’ll step on. When I believed in the dreaded scale, I was still unhappy at my lowest number. I was hungry and miserable. Eventually I understood that if you are happy and comfortable in your skin, you do not need to be a certain size because there is NO such thing as “the correct size”.

If you read celebrity magazines, you’ll see they are constantly criticising someone’s figure. This is not how life should be. Life is so much more than what you weigh; it is you as a person!

We are all beautiful with or without that number on a scale. It’s time we all start believing it.

 

scale

The Badge

*Trigger Warning: Some of the content shares graphic depictions of experiences regarding Anorexia, using size and body specific language. Please read at the discretion of your own mental health and emotional wellness.*

By Emily P.

For seven years, my ribs were a badge of honor. When they peeked through, I was powerful. As though the wars I fought with my body were worth the pain. Badge

I earned that badge by skipping meals, throwing up, and hiding my food. My stomach flattened and my ribs rose. Sometimes, I imagined them bursting past my skin, and that felt strangely comforting.

I didn’t care that I froze when the air conditioning switched on. I ignored the bulging wads of hair that fell from my scalp. I disregarded my stinking breath and the blurred vision when I stood up. As long as I saw those ribs, I was superb.

But during my second year of college, I slowly morphed out of counting calories and obsessing over portion-sizes. I grew tired of my brain’s daily acrobatics with food, and I changed my focus.

I focused on friendships, creative projects, school, hard work: anything that pushed the eating disorder out of my skull, little by little.

Today, I don’t obsess over that badge anymore. I eat until I’m full, and I’ve learned to mostly love my ever-changing body. But there’s always a meek question that protrudes through my thoughts: Will I ever relapse?

It’s frightening to think about.

I cried the first time my double zero jeans felt tight. My brain set off an internal hurricane when I couldn’t pull them past my thighs. Learning to love my health and myself, that was a strenuous fight. And I don’t want to fall back into my former mindset, to fall back into Anorexia.

But there are moments. Moments when I see a bit of my rib in the mirror and a glimmer of pride emerges.

That’s when awareness snaps over me and I push that pride aside, concentrating on self-love.

I used to view Anorexia as a lightswitch that you could click off. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

But there are moments. And maybe there will always be moments. Moments signaling that the fight’s not over. Moments that morph my ribs back into a badge of honor.

It helps to acknowledge moments like these. Understanding these mental changes and actively thinking about my health, that’s how I cope.

And while people deal with Anorexia in different ways, I wonder if the feeling of uncertainty is universal. As I fight and look past my former badge of honor, I accept that my mentality isn’t black and white. That while I am better, I’ll strive to work through the gray.

To look back on the badge as a distant memory. To develop a new badge of honor: my health.

What is “Healthy”?

By Bethany C.

We live in a society that constantly tells you how to live, how to act, how to eat, how to dress, how to love, and how to be healthy.

Today, “Healthy” is choosing the salad instead of the French fries you’ve been craving all day. It is staying on the treadmill a couple extra minutes because you know you are going on a date, and those always end with some type of dessert. It’s the gluten free cookie that tastes like cardboard instead of the regular cookie, and it’s ordering a non-fat, sugar free skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks on your way to work instead of eating the Poptart that has been calling your name for the past 3 days (not speaking from experience or anything *wink wink*).

Growing up in today’s culture is full of a lot of really great things, but it also makes the positive “self-talk” and “healthy” eating decisions that much more challenging.

I recently read this book called Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary program that works. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. Whether you’re tired of trying to diet and failing, or wanting to find something that makes eating food fun again, READ IT. enjoying your food is good for youMy outlook on the term “healthy” changed drastically. In the book, it talks about how it is more effective to listen to your body and hunger cues and simply eat what your mind and body is craving.

Stop what you’re doing and think about what your body is craving right now. How much more satisfied do you think you will be if you eat “it” instead of eating a salad and then just snacking to try and find that satisfaction your body wants from the food you’re not giving it?

I’m a nutrition major, so I am not saying you should eat a cookie or 3 for every meal, every day, but if your body is craving a cookie at 10 AM and it’s distracting you, do your body a favor and EAT THE DANG COOKIE. In the long run, that cookie is going to do your mind, your body, and your soul more good than neglecting that craving and causing yourself to be unsatisfied the rest of the day. I love my body and I strive to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. So eat a cookie, take a bath, and join me on this intuitive eating journey.

Accepting My Body. Finally!

By Katy M.

Your body is remarkable and can do remarkable things.

Each body has a different figure, shape and size. Not one is the same, so cherish your body without comparison, and always remember there is no wrong way to have a body!

Since I’ve recovered from my eating disorder, I love sharing body positive words I’ve heard. Like many people, I struggled, but one thing I discovered through my recovery was yoga.

It’s fascinating when you experience what your body can do. 
katy yogaWhat I loved most was how everyone in my class was different yet all beautiful while throwing themselves into different poses. Now I practice yoga every week because it makes me appreciate my body, and helps me recognize the strength that I have physically and mentally.

 

 

There are so many ways you can appreciate and enjoy your body! 

These are some rules I personally follow that help me:

  • Be your body’s best friend – I repeat positive affirmations and quotes to myself like, “your body is unique and special and gorgeous!”
  • Listen to music – I listen to certain music that helps lift my spirits on a down day, like Ed Sheeran’s lyrics: “Just remember life’s not about fitting in your jeans; it’s loving and understanding and positivity.”
  • Focus on what your body can do – How it moves and how lucky we are to have our body!
  • Don’t read celeb magazines – They are filled with people saying that you are too thin or too fat – we are all beautiful and different.
  • Avoid stepping on the scale – There was a time in my life when I stepped on the scale 6/7 times a day. This is such a waste of my time. If I am happy in myself and my body, weight doesn’t matter. Remember, “You are much more than a number. The scale says you are the numerical value of your gravitational pull. It will not tell you how beautiful you are, and how much your family loves you.”
  • Write down motivational words – I created a book filled with positive affirmations, quotes, and lyrics I find inspirational, repeating them to myself when I need to. Here are a few quotes from my book I’d like to leave you with:
“Don’t let the past dictate your future, create a life that brings you health and happiness.”all bodies are good bodies

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

and finally…

YOUR BODY, YOUR RULES! <3