Archive for Uncategorized

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.

 

Dealing with Bad Body Days

What do you do when you have a day where you’re not feeling good about your body?

Most people can relate to these kinds of days. Sometimes feeling bad about your body can seem like it comes out of nowhere, and that can be frustrating. One of the Foundation’s amazing guest-bloggers Ragen Chastain, posted in her own blog strategies to deal with your bad body image days. She provides 4 steps:

  1. Find the Source
  2. Acceptance/Gratitude
  3. Over, Around, or Through
  4. See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Read more about Ragen’s “Dealing with Bad Body Image Days” post.

Ragen Chastain

 

 

Ragen Chastain, creator of the blog “Dances with Fat,” has acquired some beautiful insight when it comes to body acceptance. She helps inspire and motivate people from all walks of life to love their bodies and be grateful for what they can do.

Anna Westin Act Virtual Lobby Day Delayed until Thursday, January 28

Delayed Anna Westin Virtual Action Day

5 Ways to Shut Down Body Bashing This Holiday Season

Posted by: Pooja Patel, Proud2Bme Contributor, at Proud2Bme

The holidays can be tough! Attempting to juggle the stresses of constantly being surrounded by food and people is A LOT, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or weight-related issues.

Everything from your mom slyly (in her opinion!) eyeing you from the corner in hopes of seeing your food intake to your grandparents asking why you’re not eating can create an uncomfortable environment. Here at Proud2Bme, we know that the holidays and their subsequent interactions can be stressful! So to help you out, here are some uncomfortable questions and statements you might hear and responses to help you combat them!

All responses are broken up into two parts: a scenario in which the people around you already know about your ED struggle and you don’t mind divulging (Do Divulge), and a scenario in which many people around you may not know your struggle and you don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing (Don’t Divulge).

1. Is that all you are going to eat?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to encourage me to eat more and challenge myself to make progress in my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo!
Don’t Divulge: Person X, thanks for your concern! Yet, this is what I feel comfortable eating right now. Let’s focus on the holiday cheer instead. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

2. Goodness—you have so much self-control, don’t you? I wish I had that!
Do Divulge: Unfortunately, it is not really self-control, but actually a disorder. I know that media is often centered around dieting so my struggle may just seem like a part of that; however, it is important to understand that it is not something to be praised, but something to be worked on.
Don’t Divulge: I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue of self-control. Let’s just enjoy the company, and enjoy being with each other! How is work going?

3. Are you eating more?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to make a joke or keep an eye on my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo! [Yes, this is the same as the response to question one—when someone uses negative language to question you about eating too much or too little, you don’t need to engage with their judgments; let them know you’ll only respond to responsible, empathetic language.]
Don’t Divulge: The more the merrier is what I always say! I hear you got into graduate school. How is that going?

4. Make sure to watch the holiday weight gain!
Do Divulge: I actually try to avoid talking about triggering things like weight gain in order to focus on my overall health and happiness! I find those things in reading and listening to holiday music. What about you?
Don’t Divulge: Oh, perhaps we shouldn’t worry about that, but rather enjoy the company and focus on our health and happiness!

5. Why don’t you just eat?
Do Divulge: Actually, my struggle with ED doesn’t just revolve around food. It also revolves around control, body image, habit and compulsions, among other things. So just eating doesn’t really solve the problem. I understand it can be hard to understand for those not experiencing it, but it’s important to realize that eating disorders aren’t just about food, much like gambling addiction isn’t just about money, or alcoholism isn’t just about being drunk.
Don’t Divulge: Person X, I realize that you are simply trying to fix a problem that you see, but it is not as easy as that. Thank you for your concern though! I was meaning to ask Person Y about something so I’m going to go and try and find them. See you later!

– See more at: http://proud2bme.org/

Mental Health Insurance Survey

Do you or a loved one struggle to get the eating disorder treatment or mental health care you need? Do you have insurance that covers the costs of your care?  Our friends at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) are fighting to make mental health coverage stronger.

 
Take the Coverage4Care survey and tell NAMI about your experiences.

 
The survey takes about 20 minutes. Your answers will help us advocate for better coverage for yourself and your loved ones. It doesn’t matter what type insurance you have, or whether you have insurance at all. We want to hear from you.

With your input, we can learn how the mental health parity law affects access to care for eating disorder treatment and other mental health needs. Together, we can make sure that you or your loved one is getting the treatment and support you are entitled to under the law.

Spread the word. Share this survey with your family and friends. Post links to your Facebook and Twitter.

The survey closes on Monday, December 14th, 2015 at Midnight EST.

Thank you for your help.