Monthly Archives: December 2012

Day 9: Falling In and Out of Old Traps

Guilty WomanI’m so annoyed at myself. I’ve let myself get focused on the external results of my tummy love project, instead of the internal. Yep, that’s right. I’m focused on the way my stomach looks. Augh!

Going with the theme of being gentle with myself, a couple of “life things” have occurred that may have affected this:

  1.  I got sick.  I got some weird bug where I have a cold, dry, tired eyes, extreme fatigue, slight earache and dizziness.  Not only does this limit the amount of cardio I do (which is STRICTLY a spiritually-beneficial exercise for me that I do once a week), but illness has never really contributed to anyone’s good body image, methinks.
  2. The holidays.  And it’s not the extra food I’m talking about.  I loved that part of it!  Holidays=stress and expectations,more time spent with family members, which brings up old family issues and emotions.  Emotions typically lay under the blanket statement, “Ugh, I feel fat.”  Fat is not a feeling (although an old college classmate liked to argue with me about that ad nauseum), and there are usual genuine feelings and negative self-concepts that underlie that body image.  I’m not going to get into specifics here, but you get the picture.

So, how do I get back on track?

  1. Doing goofy things like punching the muscular wall in my stomach that wasn’t there 10ish days ago and going, “HUAH!“.  No, really!  For some reason, having muscles doesn’t trigger me either way – it just makes me feel strong, internally.  When I used eating disordered behaviors, it was all about losing weight (including muscle, if it meant the number on the scale would be lower.)  So doing that reminds me I have made internal progress.
  2. I’ve talked to my tummy too.  Yep, no shame!  Somewhere I read that utilizing positive mantras specifically for your stomach would increase your body image.  It works!  You can say something as simple as “I accept you.”  I just haven’t done it as much as I did in the beginning, so of course it’s not working.
  3. Usin’ the self-talk.  This is sort of an off-shoot of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) where you can coach yourself out of irrational thought processes.  For example, I might say to myself, “Amanda, the more I focus on the way my stomach looks, the more I’m missing the point.  Also, focusing on its appearance will just wake up my ED thoughts, then they’ll say you’ll never look good enough, so then you’ll give up on your awesome tummy-love project.  Which would be silly”.  And so on.  It turns out talking to yourself doesn’t mean you’re crazy!  As long as it’s not out loud.

Anywho, I look forward to getting back on track.  I do think some bellydancing may be in order this week!

(Image provided by blindgossip.com)

Can We Talk About Anne Hathaway For a Minute?

dried oatmeal paste works!
dried oatmeal paste works!

Sister please.

By now, we ALL know that Les Miserables (the movie adaptation) is pretty kickass, minus some Russell Crowe what-the-eff-ness.  And by now we ALL know that Anne Hathaway, poor dedicated perfectionist Anne Hathaway, starved herself by eating 500 calories a day to become dying-Fantine-skinny.  To be specific, she ate two dried oatmeal paste squares a day. 

Good for you, Anne Hathaway.  Good for fucking you.

Before we get into the barrage of, “Oh, that’s Hollywood!”  or “Well, she was a starving character!”, let me lay this on you.

1.  Keep your twisted diet secrets to yourself.  The fact that you told people this tells me you have some sort of martyr thing going.  (“Oh, look at me!  I almost died for this role!”)

2.  A world where women get rewarded by Oscar statuettes for getting to a weight where they can’t reproduce is fucked up.  Period.

And this is coming from a woman who loves Les Mis.  I have, in fact, been known to belt “On My Own” in the shower and at previous auditions.  So I know alllllllllll…..lllllllll about the musical and who Fantine is blah blah blah.  And I’m sure Anne is fantastic.

Now, backing up, to be fair…what is my part in this?  Did I seek this out?  Not really.  I hopped on Facebook and there was the headline, “Les Mis Director Begged Anne Hathaway to Stop Losing Weight”.  I am in recovery from an eating disorder, so yeah, I’m fucking triggered by this shit probably more than the usual person.  But I’m willing to bet all this body image stuff sits in the backs of you normies’ minds, too.

And lastly, I’m just sick of even bringing this shit to light.  I feel like it draws more attention to it and glamorizes it further.  Apologies for the crude language…I’m just sick of being inundated with messages of starvation that induce guilt as I sit here eating hummus and pita chips.

Hollywood, go fuck yourself.

(Image provided by stylebistro.com)

Day 8: Dealing with Reality

The love is growing...
The love is growing…

Hey all.  I said I’d post 30 days of Tummy Love, but I didn’t say they’d be consecutive 😉  My daughter got the croup for a couple of days, so I had to take time out to help her mend.  But I’m pleased to report I didn’t stop the belly strengthening part of my TLP (Tummy Love…yup, you get it).

So, I am also happy to report the following progress:

  • I know where my stomach muscles are!  (This may seem silly, but years of slouching and hiding your stomach can actually render one’s abs MIA.
  • I am proud of my stomach, about 50% of the time.  Not because it looks different, but because I’ve been taking care of it.  It’s amazing what a little self-care will do for a self or a body part!

That’s pretty amazing for a lady who resented and hid her tummy a little over a week ago.

The downfalls I have to watch out for?

  • I walk a fine line between self-care and old ED behaviors when I utilize strengthening exercises.  So far, I’ve only done 10 or so min a day.  My head though, is another story.  (“Maybe you should do it two times a day!”)  Which leads to 3, and 4…oy.
  • I also walk a fine line between feeling good because my stomach is changing its appearance and feeling good because its confidence is building.  Whenever I start to get a “high” off the possible visual changes I utilize some self-talk to remind myself the high from good self-esteem is infinitely greater than the high you get from appearances.  It’s worked so far.

I look forward to filling my belly with delicious foods over the next coming days – my mother’s bell cookies, a 7 fish Italian Christmas Eve, and peanut butter fudge.  I also look forward to listening to my appetite and continuing my self care.

Merry Christmas Eve ‘Eve, everyone!

(Image provided by Google Images.)

Day 6: Staying Present with Belly Meditations

So, as evidenced by my skip in posts yesterday, I admittedly have been struggling to post every day this month – Christmas duties have tied me up, and the tragedy in Connecticut really hit me hard for some reason.  So today’s going to be short and sweet.

In my day to day travels, I have a hard time staying present – I really have to work at it.  Probably seems strange for a therapist, but it’s true – my main coping skill now is “checking out” into that place most people call “spaced off”.  So I really liked this belly meditation I found on meditationiseasy.com.  This Vipassana meditation draws awareness to your belly and slows your cognitive mind down.  Check it out!

Watching the belly:

      Have you seen the pictures of laughing Buddha ? These pictures are the specialty of Japanese traditions. In contrast to the image of Buddha as a serene enlightened prince, this images depicted his as a jovial, corpulent person who has a significantly large belly. Though the picture seems funny, in reality it contains a very subtle message. The message that the belly has an important role to play in meditation.


The belly is considered as the location of the hara centre. Just behind and below your navel (belly button) lies the hara, which is a point of consciousness that is considered as the center of your subtle body. By focussing our attention on the hara centre, we can easily attain a meditative state of mind. As you meditate upon hara, your thinking process starts slowing down on its own. You achieve a state of choiceless awareness.

The ‘belly watching’ form of Vipassana meditation involves focussing our attention on the breathing process felt around the belly. Whenever we breath, our belly moves up and down. This movement of belly is a continuous process. Just like breathing, this movement (of belly) also goes on continuously. And we can use this movement to attain a meditative state. Let’s see how:


Sit quietly at a comfortable, peaceful place. Close your eyes and take few deep breath. Now focus your  attention on the area  around the belly. See how it goes up and down along with the breath.  Just be watchful of the belly movement as it comes upward & downward during the breathing. Focus your whole attention on this belly movement.

Keep watching this belly movement. Within a span of few minutes, you will realize that your thoughts have gradually started disappearing from your mind. You will feel a state of increased awareness. Be a witness to the changes in your body during this meditation. After 15-20 minutes, stop this belly meditation stop watching the belly movement and come out of this meditation.

  Practise the above meditation daily. As you practice daily, soon you’ll start recognizing the presence of a hara centre – a sort of ball of consciousness around the belly. That will help you increase the awareness of your inner self which is the main thing  in meditation.

Day 5: Gratitude

Today, I took my daughter on a walk.

Before we went outside, I bundled her up against the cold December air in her blue fleece with the snowmen on it.  I then put on her pink Minnie Mouse mittens, and strapped her in the stroller.  She kicked her legs in anticipation, and got her usual impish look on her deliciously round face.  I kissed her cheek; her skin smelled so familiarly sweet.  I can smell that smell when I’m away from her. 

We made our way to the park.  I pushed the stroller with one hand while walking alongside of it so she could see me.  She grinned, because she knew I was there.  Her nose turned pink with the cold.  When we got to the park, she shrieked with joy.  She knew this place, this safe place.

I placed her in a swing.  I pretended to fall over every time she swung forward; she laughed uncontrollably.  She leaned back in the swing and peered up at the tree branches, smiling; the sun shone through the park, lighting up her electric blue eyes.  Her fine brown hair blew in the wind.

(If I could tell you how aware I am of how ephemeral these moments are, you would be amazed.  They are like snapshots.  Here and then gone.)

That is all any of us have.  Days at a time, moments. 

I’m forgoing the usual body image ideas to acknowledge the loss that occurred today.  May I also suggest, that the same gratitude we are expressing for our children’s safety today, can assist us in our everyday lives.  Do not bemoan your imperfect self, for it’s still here.  It’s still breathing and loving and hurting and here.

And may God shine some grace on those families in Connecticut.

 

Day 4 of the Tummy Love Project: I’m Not Faking It…

RenoirI have to keep it real here. My body image today? Not peachy keen. I don’t know if it’s because I’m at the end of my work week, or the fact that I saw those barftacular Christmas Victoria’s Secret Ads today or whatever, but I’m admittedly having some trouble feelin’ the tummy love today. I fear that today I’ve let the way my stomach looks override the way I’ve taken care of myself over the past few days, and that’s unfortunate. That’s a way of thinking I don’t want to slip into. Focusing on outside validation (whether my stomach is washboard or flabby) is a mini-death to my spirituality.

And isn’t negative body image so stupid, in a sense? For instance, someone thinks they’ve gained 10 lbs in a day. Probably not possible. I’m sure a lot of what we perceive about our bodies is just simply made up.

I am going to try to reset myself tomorrow, but in the meantime, I turn to Botticelli and Victorian women for inspiration.

What do I mean, you ask?

Society’s standard of what is beautiful has changed over time, and this fluctuation tells me NONE OF IT IS REAL. None of it. The crunches we force ourselves to do to appear just like that celebrity we admire? A construct of the mind. The boob job some chick got? A construct of the mind. Boobs are for feeding, people. What is physically beautiful is made up and means nothing, in my humble opinion. Health, on the other hand, means everything. Check out the fluctuation throughout the years, per thesite.org:

1800s to present day

During the Victorian era, the ideal body type for women was plump, fleshy, and full-figured. They wore restrictive corsets, which made waists artificially tiny while accentuating the hips and buttocks. These corsets also caused a variety of health problems with breathing and digestion.

1900s-1950s

At the start of the 1900s, slenderness became more fashionable. There was an increasing interest of women in athletics and physicians began to see body weight as a ‘science’ of calorie counting, ‘ideal weights’, and weigh-ins. At this time the physically perfect woman was 5’4″ tall and weighed 10 stone.

By the 1920s, the Victorian hourglass gave way to the thin flapper who bound her breasts to achieve a washboard profile. After World War I, active lifestyles added another dimension. Energy and vitality became central and body fat was perceived to contribute to inefficiency and was seen as a sign of self-indulgence. By the 1950s, a thin woman with a large bust line was considered most attractive. The voluptuous (size 16) Marilyn Monroe set a new standard for women who now needed to rebuild the curves they had previously tried to bind and restrain.

1960s-1990s

By the 1960s, slenderness became the most important indicator of physical attractiveness following the arrival of model Twiggy. She weighed in at a shapeless six and a half stones, and had the figure of a prepubescent boy.

Despite an American public with increasing body weights, Playboy magazine increased the promotion of slimness between 1959 and 1978. ‘Miss America’ contestants were also found to be thinner over time, and winners of the pageant after 1970 consistently weighed less than the other contestants. In 1975 top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average women. Today they weigh 23% less, a size achievable by less than 5% of today’s female population.

Between 1970 and 1990, there was an overall increased emphasis on weight loss and body shape in the content of a popular women’s magazine, as well as a shift to using thinner less curvaceous models in their photo shoots. The 1980s beauty ideal remained slim but required a more toned and fit look. Women could no longer just ‘diet’ into the correct size; there was a new pressure to add exercise to achieve the toned look.

The 1990s body ideal was very slim and large breasted, think Pamela ‘Baywatch’ Anderson, an almost impossible combination for most western women.

Looking forwards
Today in our modern Western society, ‘thin is in’ and artificial means such as liposuction are often used to lessen the appearance of hips, buttocks and fat in general. Many celebrities have made being ultra thin trendy; and we’re not talking about women who are naturally skinny, but ones who’s weight has plummeted as their fame rises.

But at the same time, the curvier figure appears to be fighting back and with Trinny and Susannah fighting the cause for loving your body whatever size, the trend may well reverse as we see big as beautiful once again.

Day 3 of the Tummy Love Project: Belly Laughs

nuff said.
nuff said.
What a great evening. I had a rare night tonight in which, well, I went out. It’s amazing the things that are fun after you become a mom and sleep 3 hrs a night and wear oatmeal to work. Anywho, I spent some time with some friends, ate great food (our table did incredibly well with decreasing the mini cupcake supply), and poked fun at each other. By the end, we were roaring with laughter at some of the shenanigans that were going on. I also reminisced about a year earlier, at the previous year’s work Christmas party: I had gone into labor during it. My belly, much more rotund than it is now, was ready to pop then. It was a nice memory (especially because my early contractions weren’t that bad!)

The belly laughs we had tonight reminded me of the following exercise. It sounds goofy, but I’ve tried it in theater warmups before and it is pretty amusing. Try it!

1• Invite some friends to join you—the more, the better. Arrange yourselves on the floor so that you’re lying at right angles to each other, one woman’s head resting on the next woman’s belly. (The first one in the chain will have her head on the floor; have a pillow handy for her.)

2• The first woman says “Ha!” The next woman adds another “Ha!” and so does the next and the next, passing the lengthening list of ha-ha’s down the chain.

3• Be sure to play a number of rounds, changing places so that the first woman has a chance to be in the middle of the chain. And if you aren’t all breaking up into belly laughs, start trading your bawdiest jokes!

(Resource provided by The Woman’s Belly Book. Image provided by

Day 2 of the Tummy Love Project

The Solar Plexus Chakra.
The Solar Plexus Chakra.
So, I woke up this morning with pretty bad back pain. Apparently, finding and embracing your abdominals after 2-3 years of ignoring they exist means some hit and miss on using the right muscles when strengthening. It is STRANGE, I tell you, how I pretended they didn’t exist without knowing it. And because of this, I had some major shame attached to them. (“I know I have this stomach that I hate, but I’m going to hide it behind bad posture and pillows in front of me.”) Think about it – emotions are the same way – if we reject jealousy, for example, we shame it and think it’s “bad” and hide it from others.

So, needless to say, the first step in my journey of “tummy love” begins with simple awareness. So, I did the following things –

  • sat up straight
  • let my stomach expand in all its glory
  • caught myself when I went to put a pillow in front of me
  • and breathed into it.  Good, deep breaths.

You have no idea how much this helped.

It was like, “Hey there stomach, nice to see you after mistreating you for so long!  I acknowledge that you exist, and by doing this, I see you the way you are.”

Acceptance.  Simple presence.

I’m sure some judgmental yoo-hoo out there thinks I’m wacko, but I’m cool with that.  I’m done with the body hatred, and I’m willing to do anything to get rid of it.

*******

I turn to chakras for today’s inspiration.  We have 7 chakras, and the 3rd, the Solar Plexus, is your core.  According to www.chakra-anatomy.com, it “is the center of your self-esteem, your willpower, and your discipline…. it allows you to transform inertia into action and movement. It allows you to meet challenges and mover forward in your life…it is the centre of your self-esteem. Every time you judge or criticize yourself, you deplete this chakra and weaken your willpower. Self love, self acceptance, and acknowledgement of your own worth are the building blocks of the third chakra.”

Now why would I want to hide something like that?

(Image provided by www.chakra-anatomy.com)

 

The 30 Day Tummy Love Project!

tummy love

I had an epiphany in the shower this morning.  (Don’t all good ideas happen there?)  I had just tried on a dress for an upcoming wedding, and as I gazed at my figure, I felt the old familiar self-hatred creep in.  Mostly for my stomach.  I realized, that while most other areas of my ED recovery were solid, my self-hatred for my stomach was high and still existed.  Why?  Because my unconscious coping mechanism, until now, was ignoring it and pretending it wasn’t there.  Because I have so much shame attached to my stomach.  By society’s standards, it’s not just imperfect, it’s not desireable.

If you think about it, isn’t ignoring someone a horrible thing to do to anybody?  And if we are, in the interest of self-love, going to treat our bodies with the same compassion as we do to other human beings, isn’t ignoring a body part just bad for its self-esteem?  Why not radically change the way we think about a certain body part (even if we don’t believe it at first) and send gigantic amounts of self-love towards it instead?

So that’s what I am doing.

I am launching the “30 Day Tummy Love Project” – a project designed to increase my awareness, cognitions, and compassion towards my tummy.  I will:

  • blog once a day (I will!  I will!) about the self-love activity I did that day for my tummy.
  • engage in strengthening activities for my core muscles (note: in the means of taking care of it, NOT in the means of shrinking it.  My recovery has always included healthy exercise)
  • read “tummy love” literature
  • engage in meditations which allow me more presence with my body/tummy
  • and other inpiring shit I haven’t thought of yet.

I WON’T:

  • Check if I lose inches or pounds
  • aspire to 6 pack abs (like Peyton Manning once said, no one can really get those)
  • compare my tummy to Kate Moss’s, or someone else’s
  • Body-check
  • Change my diet (except, perhaps ADD in healthy food in addition to the christmas cookies I consume during this month.

And my last plea is, PLEASE, join me and love your body or body part you’ve ignored because of years of mistreatment.  And, if you have any suggestions for self-love activities, PLEASE share them.

Love to all of you!

(Image provided by Google Images).