This amazing and intense recovery story was submitted by April via email.
My name is April and when I was 8 I started having serious body issues. I started my period and didn’t really know why or what it was. My mother was not a very nurturing mother always competing with me about weight and clothes and she would take over my friends so they liked her better. I hated my body. I remember praying to die at 8. I always felt awkward in my skin never comfortable. I got the message early on that being fat like my aunt Kathy was unacceptable. I was told fat people were not worthy of love and were failures in not so many words. I started my first diet at 8 eating just an apple and orange every day for a week and lost weight. I saw the pride in my parents faces when I dropped weight. The next few years were a blur until I hit junior high. I had friends and I felt like I belonged but my body was an issue. I hated my body. I hated being in it. I would throw up but it was getting out of hand. Just when I felt stressed. I just sort of hated my body and then it was time for high school. All my friends went to one school I went to another. I was shell shocked. I had no idea how to make new friends. I hated my body and myself and was in awe of all the pretty girls. I turned inward. I was sad my old friends left no room for me in their life. My home life was a little scary as my dad and brother constantly fought. I would live in my room never coming out unless I had to. I also ate the same thing every day for over a year. Then that summer I turned 15 and the binging and purging took over. I became a full-fledged bulimic. I lost weight I was like 95lbs and I loved being thin and I was 5’2” and usually 113 to 110. My parents put me in a hospital for kids with behavior issues. This only pissed me off because all they said was get to 100 and you can go home. I got to 100 in two weeks they never put me in with the eating disorder unit they just stuck me with gang members and drug addicts. I was so angry at my parents. I had no control and I felt so alone. When I got out of high school I started exercising and running. I think started on anorexia. I would eat very little like an apple and glass of milk and then throw it up. From the age of 19 to 33 I was severely anorexic and bulimic and exercise crazed. I had no life, no friends, and just was waiting to die. My life was sad and lonely. I did manage to get a college degree, a paralegal certificate cause my dad wanted me to and then a master’s in business management. I quit any job if my weight came in question. I floated between 69lbs and 84lbs for that period of time. I thought I would die and I wanted to. I somehow married and had two kids. My kids are healthy but I was starving and binging and purging all through my pregnancies. I lost one but I blame myself cause I purged and was exercising two hours a day. Therapy after therapy couldn’t help me. I was married to a man that ignored me and treated me like servant. I realize now I picked that man because I could continue practicing my behavior because it went unnoticed. I started for some reason reaching out to people through FB. I don’t know why I did it but something in me changed. I saw my daughter being left out by my parents who treated my son like the number one grandchild and I just snapped. I thought I had to get better. I read the book by Portia De Rossi and one night I believe I heard the voice of God tell me to stop. I stopped. I stopped the crazy behavior and I stopped allowing a man to dominate and ignore me. I have had to cut out my parents because they are very sick and controlling and will never get help. I have had to get better for myself for my kids. The sad part is I had to recover alone with the help of God and the support of some friends. I am getting divorced but it is the right thing to do. Even if I end up alone forever, I have my health and my mind back. I am sad I wasted all those years and all that time stuck in an eating disorder without knowing how to lift the fog. I have no idea what the future holds for me but I know I am a good mother and I love my children and nurture them and will see they group up with love and self-esteem. I had to come to terms too with the fact just cause I got sober doesn’t mean I can get everything I ever wanted. It doesn’t mean I can turn back the clock and recover lost time with people. That is probably the hardest part. Letting go of the pain and the hurt that I caused myself is really hard to do but I am trying to and it feels so good not being consumed with starving and exercising or purging. Life is hard enough and surviving an eating disorder for 22 years was hard but I did it, so I think I can pretty much do anything. I lost so much time. 22 years wasted, and I don’t want to waste another minute, another day, another hour.
If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com
Positive Body Affirmations
Affirmations are statements that you repeat over and over in attempt to change your unconscious beliefs. Pick a few that you like and look in the mirror and repeat several times each day! If you can find some of these positive body affirmations that resonate for you and really allow yourself to see them, hear them and feel them, you might find some shifts in the way you think about yourself and your body.
1. My body deserves love
2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am
3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of
4. I love and respect myself
5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve
6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.
7. My body is a gift.
8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.
9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.
10. I will not give in to the voices of my eating disorder that tell me I’m not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.
11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.
12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.
13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.
14. I am worthy of love
15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.
16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is
17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.
18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.
19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.
20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.
21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.
22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.
23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.
24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.
25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.
26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.
27. Self respect is underrated.
28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.
29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.
30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.
31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.
32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.
33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.
34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.
35. Balance is the most important.
36. If I binge today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into recovery.
37. Recovery is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.
38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.
39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.
40. Having an eating disorder is not my identity.
41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.
42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.
43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.
44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.
45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?
46. I am good stuff.
47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.
48. My very existence makes the world a better place.
49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.
50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.
51. Getting older makes me smarter.
52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.
53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.
54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.
55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.
56. I eat for energy and nourishment.
57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.
58. I can be conscious in my choices.
59. I am stronger than the urge to binge.
60. I am healthier than the urge to purge.
61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.
62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.
63. I can be healthy at any size.
64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.
65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.
66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.
67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.
68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just be sometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.
69. My brain is my sexiest body part.
70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.
71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.
72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.
73. My body can do awesome things.
74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.
75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way god made me!
76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!
77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.
78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.
79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.
80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.
81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.
82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.
83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.
84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.
85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.
86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.
87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.
88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.
89. Taking care of myself feels good.
90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without bingeing.
91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.
92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.
93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.
94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.
95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.
96. My nose gives me the ability to breathe. Breath gives me the ability to be an amazingly grounded, solid person.
97. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.
98. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others.
99. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.
100. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!
101. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso
You might also find some use with:
Guided Meditation Download for Positive Body Image
*Photo credit to A Merry Life
If you are suffering with an eating disorder, you might feel disembodied. Lots of people tend to be in their heads, but those who suffer with eating disorders really avoid being in their bodies and spend lots of time up in their heads. Many try and avoid the feelings that they have in their body and even avoid the fact that they have a body because it’s so fraught. My clients with eating disorders are often very intelligent, intellectual, and constantly going over things in their heads, some would say, “thinking too much.” One client reported that she feels so wrapped up in her thoughts that she believes she’s missing the world around her. She told me that people often say “hi” to her in the street or at work, and she doesn’t even notice because she’s so lost in thought– soooo in her head.
But when you’re up in your head… who’s minding the store? If you’re constantly in your head, when do you get to be in your body. Are you avoiding your body? How can you you take care of a body when you’re not present for it?
I was talking to a client who said that she didn’t want to be in her body until her body is perfect. “But your body is perfect and needs love and support now,”
“No, after I lose 50 pounds, then my body will be perfect… then I can let myself meditate, do yoga, be in my body, but I don’t want to be in my body now. Yuck.”
And that’s the irony. She believed that she couldn’t be in her body until it was perfect, but unless you loved and respected your body, at any size, then how could you treat it well? How could you nurture and treat something with respect that you avoid, neglect, and hate? You can’t change something in order to make yourself like it. You know that with people, partners, and you know that with yourself. But unlike toxic people, you can’t avoid your body. It’s there, it’s yours. It’s important to embrace it. Or just be in it, not avoid it. Your body needs to be cared for and treated with love and respect.
So here’s a little exercise for you to learn to be more in your body.
1. Take 5 minutes, close your eyes and breathe. Notice the position that you’re in. Notice your feet on the floor, the bend of your knees in the chair that you’re in, the way your head feels… really let yourself feel what it’s like to be in your body. Stretch if your body wants to stretch, bend if your body wants to bend, roll your wrists, your neck, your ankles, whatever you need…
2. Next, do a body scan– Start by noticing the bottoms of your feet and slowly make your way to the top of your head feeling into each part of your body and noticing what’s happening. Itches? Cricks? Muscle tightness? aches? soreness? tingles? See what feeling (physical) is screaming out to you, trying to get your attention, and just be with that feeling for a few moments, without judging it, without trying to change it. Name it. For instance, your nose is itching, breathe into it and say, “itchy nose.” If your shoulders are tight breathe into them saying, “tight shoulders,” and just breathe for a few moments into whatever part wants your attention.
3. Then ask your body, “what do you need?” Your body might say, “more water,” or “more kindness,” or “more vegetable,” or “more fresh air…” whatever. When you are in your body, you know exactly what you need.
When you are in your body, you are more likely to nurture and care for it rather than treat it poorly with bingeing, restricting, too much exercise, too little exercise…
Try to do this a couple of times each week and see how your view of your body changes. All bodies deserve love, no matter what.
Other ways to be in your body:
- Go for a sensory walk– touch things around you, smell the smells, notice what you see… use all five senses.
- Get a massage
- Walk up a hill or go on a hike and feel your muscles working
- Drink a glass of water and feel the water going down through your digestive tract.
- Rub lotion into your hands and feel the sensation of rubbing your hands. Use scented lotion and smell your hands.
- Smell essential oils
- Give yourself a foot rub
- Give yourself a scalp massage
- Take a bath and close your eyes and feel the warm water on your body
- Jump into cold water. Jump into hot water. Jump into cold water.
- Touch your face and feel your hands on your face, massage your jaw. Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body. Because of that it tends to hold a lot of tension. Sometimes people binge eat to relieve that tension.
- Brush your hair.
- Jump up and down on your bed
What are some things you do to be in your body?
What if instead of being afraid of food or trying to control food or yourself, what if you made friends with food? What if he who was once the enemy became your friend?
If you have an eating disorder, you probably notice that a lot of what you deal with is fear. Fear of food, fear of parties with food, fear of being out in the world, fear of what people think of you, fear of how you look or how other people see you, fear of being liked or not being liked, fear of being good enough, fear of pain or emotional hurt, fear of gaining weight, fear of losing weight, fear of fat, fear of eating, fear of not eating…
But what if you disempowered the fear of food by making friend with it?
The other day, a client of mine was telling me that after every public speaking event that she speaks at, she sits down alone and eats an apple because she is so revved up and the apple helps her calm down. She said, “I know it’s just an apple, but still, I’m using food to dampen my feelings…” But here’s the thing. Food IS nurturing. It keeps you alive and nourishes your body. I asked her what it would be like to smile at that apple and say, “thank you for sitting with me and helping me to decompress after my event,” and then enjoy the apple. We then took that a step further and discussed what it would be like to talk to her food all the time. Like say, “hey brownie, I really want to eat you, but I’m afraid you might lead to a binge…” and then listen to what the brownie had to say. Maybe it would say, “I think that today I’m going to lead you into a binge, so maybe you should just avoid me right now,” or maybe it would say, “Yes, sit down and eat me slowly, I’m not binge food today,” or maybe it would say, “Eat half of me now and half of me later!” Or whatever it is.
This is obviously another exercise in mindfulness and intuitive eating, but it’s a fun way to embrace your food rather than fear it. It’s a way to think about what you’re putting in your mouth and a way to learn to create limits and boundaries around food.
So, next time you are ready to eat, sit down and check in with your food, “are you what’s healthy for me right now? if not, what do you think I need?” Food is something that is here to sustain and love you. Your body deserves love and the food that you eat should be loving. Try it!
I actually remember the first time I binged and purged. I was in eighth grade and we were at Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house. My grandma used to make these huge elaborate meals, with like 5 or 6 different pies and all sorts of mashed potatoes and stuffing. My cousin Jenny, who is a year older than me, was there. She was like, everyone’s princess. Everyone was soooo excited because Jenny had made the cheerleading squad at her high school and she was in the homecoming court. Up until that year, me and Jenny had always sat there during Thanksgiving and giggle and eat all the pies together. But this year, she barely paid attention to me. She wore these tight jeans and kept her portions small. She was like a real teenager. My mother looked at her admirably and said she was so proud of how beautiful Jenny had become. She also said that it was smart to watch her figure now that she was no longer a little girl. My mom then looked at me and said nothing as I scarfed down my third piece of pie. I had never really thought about it before. I mean that’s what we did on Thanksgiving. We ate my Grandma’s pies. Even my Grandma turned against me. “Eat less pie Emily! Be more like Jenny. Look how thin and gorgeous she is now!” I felt horrible. My own (not name brand) jeans were unbuttoned to make room for my swollen belly and I felt how greasy my hair and skin had become. After dinner, I excused myself to the bathroom and I don’t know how or why, but I began searching through the medicine cabinet. That’s when I saw the chocolate ex-lax. I knew what they did and I knew that I could use them to get rid of the pie. I don’t know how I knew to use them. I guess I’d heard of it somewhere… and so I took three pills. I remember thinking that I should take more than it said on the back, but I didn’t want anyone to notice that they were gone. The laxatives kicked in that night. I sat up all night running to the bathroom. And although my stomach felt ravaged and I was in terrible pain, after my bathroom trips, I would step on the scale and see how much weight I’d lost. It was amazing to me that the pounds were just dropping off. And that’s how it started. Later that week, I made myself throw up after eating a milkshake and onion rings from Burger King.
And that was my descent into the dark years of bingeing, purging, taking laxatives, and starving myself. I kept trying to be more like my cousin Jenny who showed up at Thanksgiving every year more and more beautiful, with perfect grades, the captain of cheerleading, with a football player boyfriend. And me, I became more and more isolated. I had put on a lot of weight and I wore all black, smoked cigarettes and had kept my hair dyed black and pierced everything I could. I didn’t really have a boyfriend, though I did sleep with a lot of boys, but no one wanted to get serious with me. I kidded myself into thinking that I didn’t care. But I was depressed. Really depressed. I used to cut myself on the arms and legs sometimes, just so that I could emote because I felt, I believed that I was completely alone. My grandparents seemed to tolerate me, but didn’t have a lot of interest or pride in me. And my mother sort of seemed disgusted by me. She knew about my activities with boys and told me that I had no self-respect. Food was a lot of what comforted me. I would eat full pizzas on my own after school and wash them down with diet cokes. I’d go days eating nothing, just drinking coffee and diet coke and eating pixie sticks to keep me going. Then I’d collapse, cut school and go to the donut store and eat a dozen donuts in the parking lot, wash them down with diet coke and laxatives, then throw up in the bathroom of the gas station, and then drive around town buying food to binge on and find gas station bathrooms to purge in. I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like my cousin Jenny. I wanted people to love me and I wanted to be beautiful and cared for. I thought that if I could get thin enough, I’d be okay. But my bingeing and purging continued all through high school, and shockingly, I still was able to get good enough grades to get into college.
I stopped purging in college, but became addicted to diet pills, marijuana, and sometimes even cocaine to keep me from eating. I finally lost all the weight I wanted to, but my body was breaking down. I suffered three fractures by the second semester of my sophomore year. I realized then that I had to stop with my eating disorder. But I couldn’t. I had no idea how to eat normally. I tried to eat three meals a day, but it always ended with me bingeing. I managed to stop purging, but I was still bingeing and then restricting. I did manage to graduate from college, but my grades really weren’t very good. I barely went to class and when I did, I didn’t pay attention or get much out of my classes. I really wasted my mother’s money.
After college, I tried a variety of things to help me lose weight. I tried different diets, I tried nutritionists, I tried a 12 step group with a food plan. But all of those things made me just binge when I fell off my food plans or diets. Eventually, I decided to start seeing a therapist. I knew I had an eating disorder and was ready for help. It was really hard at first because I felt like my therapist just couldn’t help me with the thing I most needed help with– I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to stop bingeing. I told her to just tell me what to do and fix me. She gave me lots of assignments, many of them were about eating 3 meals a day, whatever I wanted, but I had to eat mindfully. She sent me to a nutritionist who specialized in treating eating disorders, and she also recommended that I see a psychiatrist to help me get some meds that might help with my depression. I spent a lot of money. A serious amount of money between all those specialists. But I was desperate.
Talking to my therapist really felt like a relief. We talked through a lot of the pain, depression, and through a lot of my childhood. I realized that a lot of my eating disorder wasn’t about the food and it wasn’t about me getting thin. It was about me feeling really badly about myself. My Dad left my Mom and I when I was 5 years old, and I always thought it was my fault. The more I began to understand how I felt completely flawed my whole life, the more I understand that it was a myth– a story that I told myself. And that through that myth that I had conceptualized in my 5 year old mind, I began to act the way I believed I was. I tried desperately to get love and attention from men, but ultimately, I felt so worthless, that I let them treat me like crap– letting them have sex with me then ignore me the next day. My mother said I had no self respect, and she was right. But she never taught me how to respect myself. She never quite let me think I was worthy of love and admiration. I wasn’t any less smart or less beautiful than Jenny, I just believed I was. She had a mother and a father at home. I had no Dad and a Mom who was angry and felt rejected and resentful. She came into therapy with me several times as we discussed her own feelings of being worthless after my Dad left her for a much younger woman. As I began to understand my own sense of worth, I started to try and take better care of myself. I learned to sit with my feelings, I learned to HOLD myself with respect. That was huge. I didn’t have to be super witty, nor did I have to do everything for everybody to make them like me. I didn’t have to be anything. I just had to respect myself. And so as I did, my eating disorder began to have less of a hold on me. As I talked through all those things, I realized that the drive to be thin was really just a drive to be accepted. So I learned to accept myself. It has been really hard for me to accept all those lost years, it’s like my whole teen years and most of my 20s were stolen by my eating disorder. But in learning to accept, I’m just trying to respectfully mourn those lost years.
I’ve been 100% free from any eating disorder behaviors since September 18th, 2010. That was the day before my 28th birthday. I am not afraid of Ed any longer. I know that I have the tools to work through whatever life should hand me. And if I do relapse, I know that I can’t lose the recovery that I have.
*Name has been changed.
If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com
Do you ever do that thing, where it’s the night, but you’re somehow afraid to go to sleep? You’re kind of dreading it? You get up and go to the refrigerator, sit on the couch with your computer in your lap, looking at facebook, watching television, half-heartedly reading blogs, half-heartedly watching television, and eventually, you’ve gotten up and eaten a bunch of food that you weren’t hungry for and your body didn’t need, and it’s past 2am, and you’re so exhausted that you just kind of stumble into bed with a full, uncomfortable belly, feeling like crap. Do you do some kind of variation on it?
Sleep, food, and mood go together. When your sleep is off, your food is off, when your sleep and food are off, your mood is off. When your mood is off, your sleep and food are usually off.
One of the ways to begin to bring your life back to healthy is to start with your sleep. Go out and buy a nice, comfortable set of sheets and a new comforter and lots of fluffy pillows. Make your bed someplace that is inviting and luxurious. If you can’t afford new sheets right now, wash your current sheets and bedding and fluff it up, spray it with some lavender and try to give it a little bit of new life. At night, an hour before you think you should go to sleep, get into bed. Let’s say you want to be asleep at 11, get into bed at 10. Don’t turn your TV on, don’t bring your computer into bed with you. Bring a book, or a magazine, or your iPod. Listen to some relaxing music with your eyes closed or listen to a guided visualization, and just begin to let yourself relax. This isn’t about sleep, this is about relaxing your body. Sleep is a natural biological process that your body can do once you begin to relax your body and your mind. You might also want to get into the bath about 90 minutes before you want to be asleep. A hot bath with Epson Salts is a great way to relax your muscles and calm your mind and warm your body up for sleep. Try to think of a nice bedtime routine that you can do every night that will help you fall into a restful sleep. You might draw for 1/2 hour before you get into bed, you might bathe, you might write in your journal, but find something that works for you and do it nightly.
If you find that sleep is impossible, there are lots of natural sleep solutions like herbal sleep aids out there such as valerian, chamomile and skullcap as well as amino acids like 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan or a synthetic hormone of melatonin that you can ask your doctor or Naturopath about for help with sleep. There are also over the counter solutions as well as prescription solutions that your doctor can help you sort through. There’s no shame in finding something to help you sleep. Being sleep deprived leads to poor decision making, especially around food choices. It also leaves you looking for more energy and many people use caffeine and sugar to achieve this.
Think about the Gestalt of it, you need a healthy body, mind, and spirit. You can’t have one without the other. Even if you find that you’re just not able to get your food on track, just start with your sleep. You will find, that once your sleep is better, that it will be much easier to deal with food.
Did you hear? Did you hear? Vogue Magazine has decided to become ” ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.” And in that, according to the NY Times they have decided not to have any models in their magazine who are under the age of 16, nor any models who “appear to have an eating disorder.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m assuming it means painfully thin models. The new policy which has been enacted as of May 3 and thus, beginning their June issue, the following doctrine will be upheld:
“1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
“2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.
“3. We will help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
“4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.
“5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.
“6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”
The fashion industry is still not perfect, or even close to it, but I’m very happy to see that they are trying to take care of their own models by offering healthy food, emotional support, and by acknowledging the eating disorder issue. Now, obviously we cannot SEE if someone has an eating disorder. Most people with eating disorders don’t APPEAR to have eating disorders– they are secret, not obvious to most people. However, this is a good first step and I’m proud of Vogue for taking a stand on health. In 2006, the runways in Spain and Italy banned models with very low BMI’s from being on the catwalk and also banned ridiculously thin mannequins from being put in shop windows in order to disempower the perception that a very skinny physique is fashionable. Hopefully this trend continues.
I have this client. This smart, beautiful, funny, compassionate, wonderful client who has been suffering with food issues for a very, very long time. Once every few months, she has a plan. She’s going to cut out sugar, she’s going to do yoga 3 times a week, she’s going to meditate daily, she’s going to go to the gym after work each day. But in the next session, the one after she comes in and tells me these things, she admits that she’s not done anything different.
She’s not uncommon. Not even a little bit. Do you ever do this? Do you decide that you’re going to do a total 180? That you’re going to stop eating sugar, that you’re going to exercise every day, that you’re going to keep your house spotless, that you’re never going to drink alcohol again, that you’ll never smoke another cigarette, that you’ll take your vitamins daily, that you’re going to take your eye makeup off every night and start a perfect skin care regimen, that you’re going to stop biting your nails, and you’ll never snap at your mother/father/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/children, that you’re going to read the Sunday Times cover to cover every week, that you’re going to stop overspending, that you’re never ever going to binge again, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Fill in the blank.
It’s too much. You set yourself up for failure this way. Choose one small thing and do it for one month. Then, add something else. For instance, if you want to get into yoga, decide that you’re going to do one yoga class a week for 30 days. Then, after the 30 days, move onto 2 yoga classes a week. Then, after those 30 days are over, try for one sugar free day per week, then try for two sugar free days per week. Decide to floss your teeth every other night for a month, then move to every night, then add in a skincare regimen every other night, then every night. Just let yourself transform slowly. It’s easier and more sustainable.
Doing a little will set you up for success rather than failure. And you can become what you want to become. Slow is what makes things stick. When you do everything at once, chances are, things will return to the way they were.
What is one little thing that you can do for the next 30 days? I guarantee that doing one little thing will help you feel a lot different.
The very best way to lose five pounds in two days is to make a decision to take two whole days to stop dieting and chose to eat very slowly, very mindfully, and very intuitively, giving your body exactly what it needs to thrive.
I know that quitting dieting to get to a healthy weight sounds totally counterintuitive, but overeating is the other side of dieting, which means that when you choose to go on a restrictive diet, there is a very good chance that you are going to lose your momentum, then binge, and put on more weight than you took off.
Healthy, intuitive eating is the opposite of dieting and of overeating. If you really, truly stop dieting, just for a couple of days, and implement intuitive eating, your body will begin to settle into it’s healthy, comfortable weight. I know that it sounds unbelievable, but I promise you, it’s true. Quitting dieting is the sure way to find your healthy, natural weight and come to peace with food and your body.
One of my clients and I were discussing the other day how everything she’s done to her body over the past 25 years, all the diets, all the exercise, the thousands of miles she’s run, the millions of crunches she’s done, the bags of cookies she’s eaten, the loaves of bread and boxes of candy she’s binged on, the carbs she’s restricted, the low-fat diets she’s been on, the shakes she’s drank, the detox diets she’s done, the diet books she’s read, the leg lifts, the pilates classes, the workout videos, the gimmicks, the fads, the coconut oil she’s eaten, the kombucha she’s drank, the South Beach, the Weight Watchers, the Atkins, the Dukan, the Ex-Lax, the “as-seen-on-tv” exercise equipment and workout videos, the stress, the anxiety, the not leaving the house on “fat days”, the depression, all of it… it’s all basically been for something like five pounds either up or down. That’s it. In all the years she’s been dieting, she’s been either up five pounds, or down five pounds.
This client teeters between 130-140 pounds but hovers around 135. She hates herself at 140, likes herself better at 130 and struggles at 135, where she probably most naturally falls. And she has been at this weight since she was about 16 years old. And for all these years, she’s been trying to get down to around 125 pounds. Can you imagine how many pounds she’s lost and gained in the past 25 years? And the thing is, she really keeps coming back to the equilibrium of 135 pounds. Sometimes she’s 5 pounds up. Sometimes she’s 5 pounds down. But she’s never happy. She tries and tries and tries to get to 125 pounds. And she’s been trying and fighting with those pounds for 25 years. There’s no room for much else in her life. Her weight takes up most of her energy. And for just five pounds. Does that sound familiar to you? Is that you or someone you know? It’s not unusual, and for many people, it’s their whole lives. They strive to be a weight that their body just doesn’t want to be. They struggle with diets, they struggle with food and exercise, and they struggle with self image.
People spend so, so, so much time trying to lose weight, and all that work, all those years, for many it’s just for a few pounds. They’ve run 100 marathons, gone on a million diets, eaten 10 billion oreo cookies, spent hundreds of days fasting and dieting miserably, and yet… their bodies aren’t all that different. I call it the 5 pound paradox. All the work spent and, it’s usually around five pounds either way. Wouldn’t… acceptance be easier? By quitting dieting for 2 whole days and eating intuitively, there’s a chance that five pounds would drop off your body. But it would definitely drop from your mind, and that’s where it weighs the most.
If you didn’t have your weight to obsess on all the time, what else would you be thinking about and doing? Sometimes dieting and thinking about getting to a certain weight all the time is easier than dealing with what’s underneath, what you’re really trying to cope with. Dieting is a way of gaining control and coping with challenging feelings and situation.
What if you took the next two days and made a decision. No diets. No bingeing. Just for two days: “I’m going to eat slowly and mindfully, I’m going to implement intuitive eating, I’m going to eat what my body needs to be healthy, three solid meals per day. Whatever looks good. Whatever I want. No over the top thinking about it. Just giving my body what it needs three times both days.” After those two days, reassess. What is it like not to diet? What is it like not to obsess? Can you handle it for another day? Are you ready to let go of control? If not, that’s okay. But just give yourself two days. No weighing yourself, no measuring. This isn’t a free-for-all binge. This is, “pretend I’m a normal eater.” Think of the most normal eater you know. Your friend who eats three meals a day, orders what she or he wants without remorse, regret or overthinking it, Eats till she or he’s not hungry any longer, then stops. Try to embody that attitude for a two day experiment and just see how it goes for you. You might be surprised and you might feel liberated.