Category Archives: Psychology

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Throw out Your Old Jeans!*

jeansThat’s right, I said it.

Yes, I’m talking about that all-hallowed, smallest-size-you-ever-fit-into jeans.

Yes, those!

(Or donate them to some nice organization. ¬†Whatever you prefer ūüôā )

I feel like that revered pair of jeans is a part of most women’s closets. ¬†They even made a Sex and the City episode about it (Remember, when Miranda fit into her No Excuses jeans from high school and instantly was able to flirt with a hot guy? ¬†Funny episode, but c’mon.).

Why, you ask?

If you hold onto a pair of jeans that is smaller than what you are now, you will always be comparing yourself to that number. ¬†You’ll always be wishing you were that size again. ¬†You’ll always be wanting to be smaller. ¬†And, as our great friend the Buddha taught us, distress and unhappiness take place when we reside in the “wanting” of anything. ¬†When we accept where we are now, we are happier (and I’m betting, if you actually want to lose some weight in a healthy way, it will come off easier when you stop thinking about numbers in general. ¬†Throw away the jeans, put away the scale, stop counting calories or fat grams or sugar grams or WHATEVER.)

A personal anecdote –

I had this size (bleep!) skirt that I bought sophomore year in high school. ¬†It was blue satin, was bought in Harvard Square, and everyone commented on how thin I looked in it. ¬†Years later, when I was a few sizes up, I still had it. ¬†It sat in the back of the closet and teased me. ¬†It taunted me. ¬†“Why aren’t you this weight?” it said.

So, I got sick of its bullshit and threw it out.

Today, I have a closet that’s full of stretchy, one-size-fits-most type clothing. ¬†It works for me.

Today, I’m throwing the question out to you guys – what tips have worked in your quest for good body image?

*Remember, what works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Join A Group!

talkingYeah, yeah, I know, everyone loves self-help support groups.  Everyone loves crawling on hands and knees out of their isolation and entering a room of strangers only to immediately become vulnerable.

But if this introvert could do it, so can you!  I promise!

If you are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, MEDA is a fabulous ED resource center that has weekly support group for a range of ED behaviors and a range of ages.  If you click here you can view the list of groups they currently run.

If you live in the NYC area, NEDA now hosts support groups.  Find out how to attend here!

And last but certainly not least, they do have Eating Disorder Anonymous meetings, albeit in limited locations.  Find out if they have one near you here!  (And if not, they have online meetings as well!)

Seriously. ¬†Even if you don’t make any lifelong friends (I didn’t, to be honest) you will at least be getting out of your house for the night, perhaps preventing binging behaviors. ¬†So try it!

Hi, My Name is Amanda, and I’m…Different.

normalIf nothing else, the following is true for me –

“Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.”

– Anonymous

*******

What I’m about to say goes against all advice given in any self-help meeting, but it’s how I feel, damnit.

I have often felt different than most, not a part of, less than.

Not always. ¬†Sometimes, I feel on top of the world, totally present, and I love everything in my life. ¬†And sometimes, I feel just like every other “bozo on the bus”, another nameless face in the crowd, which is honestly ok. ¬†But often, I feel…different.

Why?

Well, let’s pick apart the seventy different kinds of recovery I’m in. ¬†I can’t diet, I can’t drink in safety (in the words of Biggie, if you don’t know, now you know) and my therapist has diagnosed me with depression (that requires medication) and some trauma stuff for a long time now. ¬†Let’s say this: ¬†if you were a clinician, and you saw my rap sheet, you might wince a bit and say, “Jeez.” ¬†You might expect me to be doin’ a lot worse than I am now.

Cause I am doing pretty damn well for the “stuff” I have. ¬†I got my master’s degree, am successful in a field where I can turn my misery into someone else’s avoidance of said misery, and ¬†have a family of my own. ¬†I am fairly high-functioning; I am lucky. ¬†Or resilient.

But there’s something funny about high-functioning anything-ers: they can slip more easily between the cracks. ¬†They, in turn, can feel more different, because they mingle with the “normies” of society. ¬†At work functions, at family parties, at friend’s BBQs. ¬†They can be around people who drink or diet or binge or don’t experience the glory of mood swings, but it doesn’t make it any less hard. ¬†In fact, it can be a particular kind of hard because they’re often the sole “different kid” in a group of “normies”.

So that’s why I feel different.

Self-help groups tell you to identify as just another worker among workers, which helps sometimes. ¬†I’ll often use this example: I have a friend who is allergic to basically any kind of food. ¬†So, I try to remind myself, “Wow. ¬†She must feel the same way – like everyone is staring at her when she orders her food. ¬†Maybe she feels different than, too.”

(And I do realize there is no normal. ¬†And I do realize everybody’s got their thing.)

But I do think it can seem overwhelming to an individual when they realize –

“Hey! ¬†I need an everything-anonymous!”

Fun.

How do YOU feel different?  Is there something that sets you apart from the crowd?

eateverything

Three Reasons Why This Blog Will Never Be Popular.

eateverything

I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I can market this blog, make it bigger, more accessible, increase the traffic so it can reach more ED sufferers and those in recovery (from bad body image or an ED), and I’ve concluded –

This blog will never be popular.

This is not pessimistic, this is a realistic viewpoint.

And these are my reasons why:

 

1. ¬†Some readers think I’m pro-fat. ¬†I’m not. ¬†I’m pro-health. ¬†And sometimes being healthy also means being overweight. ¬†Given that the current trend is panicking about any “bad” foods or “bad” eating patterns, this “grey-area” blog is not going to go viral anytime soon in this all or nothing thinking world. ¬†(“Either you’re fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy!” ¬†Nope, nope, that’s just not true. ¬†And what about emotional health?)

 

2. ¬†People LOVE trends. ¬†LOVE. ¬†¬†What’s more appealing than a new quick fix all the cool kids are trying out? ¬†Let’s take an example – Paleo. ¬†(Just using that because it seems to be the “trendiest” right now.) ¬†Can some people turn this into a permanent lifestyle? ¬†Very few, I think. ¬†The thing about trends is that they’re never sustainable. ¬†History has proven it. ¬†Powdered faces with the hairline shaven back? ¬†Gone with the medieval times. ¬†Or something. ¬†White lipstick? ¬†My mother dabbled with it in the sixties. ¬†Paleo? ¬†Probably gone just as quick. ¬†

Now, is Paleo healthy? ¬†Absolutely, parts of it. ¬†But it’s the fact that it’s a trend that will ultimately be the demise of it. ¬†Something else will come along that people will latch onto and try. ¬†and it will be left in the dust. ¬†

My blog doesn’t focus on trends – it asks you to do the longterm, day-at-a-time work. ¬†The internal work, not the “change your outsides so you have a temporary high” work. ¬†

 

3. ¬†Diets Make Money. ¬†I could google it, but I’m going to assume that the diet industry makes millions of dollars each year off of people buying into their particular cookbooks, their programs, and low-carb cheesecakes. ¬†So, when I say they’re bullshit, this will obviously earn a quick snub from most viewers. Why? ¬†They invested money in a product and they don’t want to be told it was for nothing, or for little, or for temporarily. ¬†They want that investment to mean something. ¬†And I’m threatening that. ¬†

 

So, that’s part of why I think this blog will never be popular. ¬†

(Like not being popular has ever stopped me before….)

And an anecdote to finish this off. ¬†Recently, I was sitting with my therapist, and said, “You know, I think I’ve found the secret to a healthy weight and healthy life.”

“And what is that?” ¬†She asked.

“Not worrying about it,” I replied.

She smiled.

My Body!

Media Mondays: My Body Gallery

Happy Monday! ¬†I’m gonna take a break from my “media watchdog” status and post something from the media that is BODY POSITIVE – or at least, I think so. ¬†My fabulous friend Liz let me know about the My Body Gallery, a site that is dedicated to portraying an accurate depiction of what REAL women look like. ¬†The coolest part, in my opinion, is the place where you can type in your height and weight and see pictures of other real women. ¬†For the women I spoke to, this was a wakeup call – as in, “Hey I look better than I thought!” ¬†Why? ¬†Because often we view ourselves more negatively than we do others. ¬†However this could be a trigger for some – so you have been warned.

 

So click away!

 

Have a great Monday, folks!

keepcalm

Do You Want Your Blog Linked On Mine?

Hey all!

 

I’m looking to link a bunch of Recovery Blogs on my “Links” page. ¬†I’m all for the ED Recovery community connecting and supporting each other. ¬†So, if you want your link on my page, you should meet only a few requirements:

1.  Have a pro-recovery blog (no pro-ana or mia sites, please)

2.  On this blog entry, submit your blog URL.  I will post it!

3. ¬†Comment on another blog that’s ¬†linked on my “Links”¬†page.

 

That’s it…link up my friends!

 

 

spiritual_comm

Recovery Tip Tuesday: Spirituality

Welcome to Recovery Tip Tuesday, a weekly update about a skill that’s worked for me in ED recovery.*

*****

spiritual_comm

Spirituality. ¬†Why is everyone so afraid of it? ¬†Maybe because we’ve seen those religious extremists who’ve taken it way too far. ¬†Or maybe it’s because the word “God” (Dun-dun-DAH) is involved in it. ¬†Or maybe it’s because self-help groups which claim spirituality as its base struck us as cult-like. ¬†Either way, I personally find it unfortunate that some shy away from this, because your spirituality or God could be a can of tomato soup.

What do I mean?  Well, let me give you an example.  Right after treatment, I worked a job in Harvard Square at an upscale boutique.  I took the T home daily, and got off at Davis Square.  I had been feeling pretty lonely, and fairly lost, because of my recent necessity to quit my regular job to attend treatment.  One day, I had gotten off the T, and all of a sudden, time seemed to slow down.  I noticed everyone around me, walking, running home, all doing and participating in the same thing.  All humans, just trying to achieve the same simple goals, of making enough money to survive or thrive and to be able to enjoy life with their loved ones.

And I, suddenly, felt connected.  Because I was doing the same thing:  I was part of a whole.

And that’s spirituality to me. ¬†That feeling of connectedness that hits you unexpectedly, rendering you ever so present, aware, mindful, and humble.

And connectedness kills eating disorders.  EDs thrive in isolation.

That day was groundbreaking to me, because it reminded me I would never be alone, even if I was alone.  Who knows why it happened Рmaybe it was some higher power, or maybe, because I was finally feeding my body, my mind was able to be totally and beautifully present.

And I now attempt to utilize it daily. ¬†I’m not perfect, but I try. ¬†When I try to make the right choices about food, I remind myself I’m not alone. ¬†That if others who went before me could trust that eating full meals everyday worked and didn’t make me fat, so could I. ¬†I remind myself that if I need to stop a behavior, I can call someone or pray. ¬†Yes, that scary word, pray. ¬†(To me, prayer is as simple as a dialectical skill, a pause between a feeling and an action, so it’s not that scary anymore.)

What is your form of spirituality, if you have one?  Is it connecting to nature?  Is it healthy exercise?  What other recovery strategies have worked for you?

 

*  What worked for me may not work for you!  So proceed at your own risk.

(Image provided by adaliaconfidenceandsuccessblog.)

Media Mondays: Too Fat to Cheer, My Ass

Welcome to Media Mondays, my weekly post on something ridiculous and stupid I spotted this week that involved the objectification of women’s bodies. ¬†Please feel free to pass along stories you hear at any point; I will profile them on my blog.

 

******

 

This is Kelsey.  Kelsey dances for the Oklahoma Thunder.

kelsey

 

Kelsey was the subject of a literal poll taken by a literal news station (CBS Houston) regarding whether or not readers thought she was too fat to cheer.

Yup.

Since this story broke and it met a crapload of criticism, CBS Houston removed the post. ¬†Who in their right mind approved this? ¬†Someone from the 1950’s via a timewarp?

You know, the first thing I thought of was really inappropriate, but it’s what I thought and here it is:

It’s not like we’re posting pictures of white men and asking, “Do you think his dick is big enough to give him enough macho arrogance he has to embody to maintain his corporate asshole job?”

(So sue me. ¬†It’s what I thought.)

I’m thinking society has fallen pretty low to have to post pictures of women’s bodies for ratings, probably KNOWING that it would cause a firestorm, probably KNOWING that blogs like mine would cover it. ¬†They’re probably not that stupid.

(Or are they…?)

Argh. ¬†And then there’s the “this is nobody’s business but her own” duh viewpoint.

When will we learn?

(Image provided by landthieves)

 

Aya De Leon

Recently, my friend Liz sent me the link to this stunning blog entry.  In it, the fabulous Ms. Aya De Leon wittily takes on the media and its inability to make her feel her body is inferior.

Read and enjoy!

Pregnancy and Body Image: Some Surprises

I’ll never forget the way I felt when I saw the “Yes” on the pregnancy test screen. First there was disbelief, then panic, then later, after crying in a dazed state to my best friend and mother, joy. I had anticipated this for a long time; I had ALWAYS wanted to be a mother. But I anticipated this with dread and happiness simultaneously. Happiness, because I knew I would (minus the learning curve) be a great mother, and dread, because I didn’t know how I’d react to the weight gain, being in eating disorder recovery.

I seemed to worry less about my weight during the pregnancy. I think (and most doctors would shudder at this) I looked on it as the one time I could eat whatever I want and it wouldn’t matter. It was such an escape from my ED, in a sense. Society was cool with me getting bigger. I DID have to stop myself from calculating possible weight gain in my head, however (“If I’ve gained a pound a week then I’ll be X amount of pounds by nine months…AHHH!”) I was proud of myself though; I faced the numbers on the scale every couple of weeks and for the most part, left them at the OBGYN office. I didn’t hold back on eating.

28 Weeks
28 Weeks

But I worried incessantly about how quick my body would bounce back after. How long would it take to lose X amount of weight? Was I screwing myself by now by not curtailing what I ate? As soon as I gave birth, I looked down at my confused, tired stomach and wondered if it would ever change from it’s current war-torn state.

Still in shock...
Still in shock…

And I proceeded to have the strangest experience.  The weight dropped off like NOTHING.  I know, I know, you can call me a bitch if you want, but it was like a giant F%#$ you to my eating disorder.  I had been obsessing about how I would lose weight, and my body ended up taking care of for me. This began my admiration for the power of the human body.

I marveled at how I simply produced milk for my daughter. ¬†I was astounded by the healing powers of my body when I, six weeks later, was able to run a mile after, well….let’s just say: there were some blood loss issues. ¬†And I was impressed again, when my body truly resumed its pre-pregnancy form post-breastfeeding. ¬†¬†I have a trainer acquaintance who swears up and down that weight loss or gain is all hormone-related; I’m beginning to believe this. ¬†Hormones, in my opinion, are NUTS! ¬†(I’m sure my significant other, John, would attest to that. ¬†Notice that I’m not talking about the emotional piece of my pregnancy. ¬†That’s another book for another time. ¬†Ahem.)

Bottom line…I feel sexier now that I had a child. ¬†Even if I don’t look stereotypically sexier. ¬†Before you think I’m a total Pollyanna, you should know it’s not 80% of the day, when I’m in a shirt that’s been thrown-up on (holy acid reflux, my Fiona had) or my hair looks like Mom hair or when I’m wearing flannels next to John. ¬†It’s moments when I’m walking down the street to my job, and I realize, “I gave birth, goddamnit! ¬†And I’m still here!” ¬†Seriously, does anyone else take pride in that? ¬†I sure as hell do.

goofball.
goofball.

I think the other piece of it the lack of appreciation I had for my body pre-pregnancy. ¬†I just didn’t know what I had. ¬†This amazing, regenerating, life-giving machine that was capable of so much strength. ¬†But because I believed that it was just to be looked at…I hid it.

I don’t have perfect body image. ¬†No way. ¬†I have this little dimpled section of skin above my belly button that is a leftover physical mark of pregnancy. ¬†Do I wish it was there? ¬†Of course not. ¬†But I’m pretty damn amazed that I was able to push a baby out. ¬†I’m…proud of myself. ¬†I’m proud of my body. ¬†And after 14 years of criticizing my body, I’m pleasantly surprised at that.

I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. ¬†I’ve talked to friends who struggle with body image after giving birth. ¬†(I’m convinced whether you gain or lose weight during or after pregnancy is one big genetic, hormonal crapshoot.) ¬† I just wish for all of them that they can feel empowered after what they did. ¬†Cause I “still got it”, and so do you.