how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

For those of you who don’t know, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with an ED-NOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. I was taken aback by the diagnosis, but before I could argue I was flung into therapy, nutritional counseling, and was prescribed some anti-depressants to treat the disorder.

I’m happy to say that this diagnosis was seven years ago and I have yet to relapse. Huzzah! However, that said, I don’t really like to say I’m “recovered”. I know full well that, out of nowhere, dark thoughts can sneak into my brain and make me adverse to eating. Just a few months ago, before I got pregnant, I was having a really hard time at work and my go-to solution for it was to not eat dinner. This sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t struggled with disordered eating, but it hit me like a freight train in the dark.

Even though I didn’t want to, I immediately told my husband how I was feeling, so I could have someone in the room speak some reason into me. It worked, but it felt uncomfortable and wrong. Like I was faking it.

But here’s the thing — the majority of my ED recovery was exactly that: me faking it. I’d been eating in a disordered manner for so many years (12 years at the time of diagnosis) that anything other than that seemed wrong. But after faking it for a while, it became more natural, and now, I fake it less.

I might almost say I’ve made it. (Almost.)

I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now, and just like I experienced with my first pregnancy, my mind swings back and forth between feeling beautiful and proud of my round belly, and horrified at the changes and the lack of control I have over my expanding frame. And this would happen to me throughout my ED recovery, too. I would swing back and forth between happy to be healing and terrified of relinquishing control.

And now, halfway through my pregnancy, I sometimes feel the need to physically fake loving my body when my brain can’t, in hopes that it will eventually catch up.

If you ever find yourself in a position like that, here are some ways to fake it until you make it. (And you WILL make it, I promise.)

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1. Exercise

I know. Sounds gross, especially when you look down and aren’t happy with your body. But seriously, exercise not only releases endorphins and other happy hormones in your body, thus making you a more pleasant person in general, but I always feel more confident in my own skin when I’ve gone for a jog or tackled the yoga mat.

2.  Shower/Bathe in the Dark, But Not For That Reason

I’ve bathed in the dark because the sheer thought of laying eyes on my naked body has repulsed me. But lately, instead, I’ve been showering in the dark so I can’t focus on how my body looks at all, but how it feels. I turn the water just the temperature I like it (scalding, actually) and close my eyes, and allow my body to feel good. And then I say a prayer of thanks for legs to hold me up and skin to feel the hot water. (And, at this time, a body that is strong and healthy enough to build/care for another human life. Regardless of how unattractive I might feel, that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.)

3. Stay Naked

I had a roommate in college (whom I lived with when I was diagnosed) who always had “naked time” after her shower when she would just lay in bed and relax. It sounded weird to me at the time, but I gave it a try, and there is something sweet about letting your clean body be just the way it was created for a few minutes without rushing to cover it back up again.

4. Apply Lotion Everyday

The sheer act of applying lotion to your body is a very practical way to love yourself. Check out this post about the lotion challenge and give it a try for yourself. Pick out something that smells divine and commit to putting it on everyday and evaluate how you feel about your body after a day, a week, a month.

5. Open Yourself Up to The Love of Others

This one is always the hardest for me, but is ultimately the most rewarding. Whenever I’m feeling particularly down on myself, I will ask someone close to me why they love me and then listen to their whole answer without responding. When they are done, I won’t argue with them. I won’t try and dilute their words. I just say a very heartfelt, “Thank you.” And let their words be true. Because they are, even if they don’t feel true to me.

Those are just a handful of things I’ve thought of over the past week. What do YOU do to love your body, even when it’s hard?

words to live by: demi lovato.

A couple years ago, while discussing popular music and culture, a girl in our youth group said something to my husband that, upon his retelling of it, left me dumbfounded. It was something along the lines of, “Demi Lovato is a bad person because she’s in rehab.”

If I would have been around, I would have lost it. I would have said something horrible like, “People like you are the reason that people like Demi Lovato hate themselves.”

Then I would have launched into some sort of theological diatribe about how, technically, we’re all in rehab for SOMETHING and that realizing that you need and want help for your problems should be celebrated and not condemned.

Maybe that’s why I’m not in youth ministry anymore.

But I digress.

Last night I gave in to Cosmo’s temptation and purchased their August issue simply because it has Demi on the cover. It also promised a “shocking” interview with her which… eh.

Shocking probably isn’t the right word. Anyone who has followed Demi’s story (like myself) won’t be shocked. But there was one paragraph that made me stop and mentally high five her.

[Sorry. There’s a bit of profanity.]

demi_lovato_cosmo_quote

 

Underlined emphasis mine.

a story about superlatives.

A few weeks ago, I got invited to join a Facebook group for my 10-year high school reunion because, evidently, I’m a lot older than I feel or would care to admit at this point in time.

It’s so fun to interact with these people again. No matter where we eventually ended up, we all have this crazy past experience in common — a collection of four years in which we all tried to grow up too fast but also be young and stupid at the same time, yielding countless memories of euphoric highs and heavy lows.

Naturally, senior year was my favorite. By the middle of the fall semester I’d already been accepted to all the colleges I’d applied to, so I tried my best to enjoy my final days in high school as much as I could.

(Read: I slacked off and, uh, let my hair down, if you will.)

One of the most fun parts about senior year was, of course, the Senior Superlatives for the yearbook. I’ll never forget the day we were filling out our ballots. The room was all abuzz about Who are you voting for Biggest Flirt? Best Hair? Most Likely to Succeed?

Then, of course, Best Looking.

“Oh, I don’t know who to pick,” I told one of my guy friends.

“I’m picking you,” he said.

“No you’re not!”

“Yes I am. Watch me.”

Sure enough, he wrote my name in on his ballot for Best Looking. My name. Mine! For Best Looking!

For an insecure girl battling an eating disorder, that was the best news ever!

Now, to be fair, he probably only did that because a) in a class of more than 500 people it’s hard to think of one person and I happened to be sitting right in front of him at the time or b) because he wanted to be nice or c) he wanted to get into my pants and I had no idea.

Still, I was very flattered. So flattered, in fact, that I couldn’t wait to tell my boyfriend.

My boyfriend at the time was a year older than me, already knee-deep in his freshman year of college in another state, and, as I would later discover thanks to the at-the-time-very-newfangled internet, absolutely cheating on me.

“I got voted for Best Looking!” I almost screamed into the phone.

“Oh?” He said.

“Yeah! Isn’t that wild?”

Then, without missing a beat, with the flattest voice, he replied, “Your class president should win that category.”

If I’d had a mouth full of water, I would have done the most epic spit take.

“I’m sorry?”

“Not to be mean, but she is the prettiest girl in your class.”

“Are you serious right now?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. First of all, he was right. She was definitely the prettiest girl in our class. Second of all, she was a friend of mine, and he knew that. Third of all, I was his freaking girlfriend! Anyone with a brainstem knows that, regardless of the validity of a statement like that, you don’t bloody say it!

“Yeah, I mean, no offense. If she weren’t in your class I’d vote for you.”

Nice save.

For the record, I am still friends with this beautiful girl. I never told her this story but I wish I would have because I know we would have laughed our faces off about it. Perhaps at the reunion?

Ten years later, I’d all but forgotten about this little exchange until the Facebook group brought back a tidal wave of memories, both great and (like this one) less than great.

To be honest, I don’t remember who won Best Looking. Or Most Likely to Succeed. Or Best Hair. (And I have no idea where my yearbook is — oops — so it’s not like I can look this stuff up.) But, you see, here’s the thing.

Ten years ago, my life hinged on whether or not people found me attractive. If they did, I felt like I was worth something. If they didn’t, it was crushing because I was convinced it meant I was useless.

Today, I know that isn’t the case.

I have a wonderful husband and a devastatingly beautiful son and a life that is so full, so abundant, that it has exceeded any and all dreams and hopes I’d ever had for myself.

I am radically loved by so many people. My God and myself included. And I am grateful.

So. Here’s a message to all you young ladies in high school right now who are praying to whomever you worship that you’ll be voted Best Looking. Or that your boyfriend won’t cheat on you. Or that you’ll lose ten pounds before prom. Or that you’ll go from a B to a C cup by your junior year.

Listen to me. Listen good. 

I know all of this seems important. Like earth-shatteringly important. And I’m not here to tell you that it’s not because it was for me, too. But what I am here to tell you is this:

Just wait. It gets so much better than this.

Ten years from now, you will look back and laugh at yourself for ever thinking (or caring) that you were fat or ugly or lonely. You will look around you and see all the blessings you have because of your brain and your heart and your talents and your demeanor and you will wonder why you ever thought any differently. So just hang in there.

Oh — and for Christ’s sake, eat something.

what i noticed for nora: a mystery.

Dan and I have (finally) resumed our running routine. Three days a week, when Dax first stirs, we go get him, I nurse him while Dan changes into running clothes, then while I change Dan gets Dax ready, then we head out the door with the jogging stroller.

We’ve orchestrated this little routine because it leaves little room for complaining or excuse-making. If Dax is awake, so are we, so we might as well run.

At the end of our run yesterday, as we were coming back into our apartment complex, we ran past a few trees that we see everyday but I never really “noticed” until then. I made Dan stop.

“Give me my phone,” I said breathlessly.

“Why?”

“Because I have to [GASP] notice something for [GASP] Nora.”

Dan handed me my phone and I snapped a picture of these little beauties.

babyoranges

In the picture, they look like oranges. But they’re not. Look at the size of the leaves for reference, and you’ll see that these tiny, orange fruits are no bigger than sweet peas. But they’re orange. And on a tree.

And I have no idea what they are

Since I haven’t lived here a full month year yet, I have never seen these things go through all the seasons. (By the way, in Naples, there are a grand total of TWO seasons: snowbird season — or just “season” — and off season.) It will be exciting to see them bloom and grow and ripen over the next few months to find out exactly what they are.

These little orange bulbs remind me of my own “season” of life. Like these tiny fruits, it is a mystery to me, currently in the very early stages of blossoming. I don’t know what it will turn out to be like once it’s ripe, or how long it will take to get there. All I know is that at this moment it is new and fresh and beautiful and intriguing and I’m eagerly awaiting the impending harvest.

 

what i noticed for nora: banyan trees.

banyan_tree

If you’re coming to visit us on a weekend, I’m going to take you to the Farmer’s Market on Third Street South on Saturday. (But you’ll have to get up early with us because it’s from 7:30 to 11:30 in the morning.) Not only are there tons of stands with organic produce/meat, there are also homemade jewelry stands, arts and crafts, and even a woman who sells homemade organic dog and cat treats!

Oh and don’t eat breakfast because we’re going to get s’mores beignets from the sweet Dutch man in his food truck. (I may be turning into an organic/clean food Nazi but I can’t refuse fried dough just yet.)

To get to the market, we have to drive down Broad Street, which is lined with these GORGEOUS banyan trees with twisty roots and sturdy trunks and limbs that stretch for days.

According to some random Welcome to Naples! signs that are posted all around the city (still not entirely sure where the city limits are for this reason) Naples is nicknamed Tree City, USA. It’s quite fitting, as you can’t turn your head without laying eyes on at least 100 palm trees.

But these trees are special to me. The first time I saw them I literally gasped at their beauty.

I’m not entirely sure my picture does them justice but just trust me on this one.

introducing: what i noticed for nora.

Moving to a new city is exciting, but the emotions of what you leave behind can definitely cloud your view of your new home. I’ve lived in Naples for fourteen days now, and I’ve absolutely been blinded to the beauty around me by the overwhelming sadness of leaving Tallahassee behind.

A few days ago, I was able to catch up with my good friend Nora on the phone. It was so nice to hear her voice and, for those precious minutes, Tallahassee didn’t seem so far away.

Nora, a Detroit native currently living in Tallahassee but who has lived in countless other places around the globe, is no stranger to this phenomenon and, in order to replace sad feelings with grateful ones, suggested I try to notice — like really notice — at least one beautiful thing a week about my new home and to write about it. I thought that was a good idea.

This week’s WHAT I NOTICED FOR NORA , or WINFN, (if you say it fast, WIN-FIN!) is a bit cheat-y because I actually noticed it before I talked to her. And how could you not?

Along the southwest coast of Florida, the sunsets are to die for. The few I’ve had the pleasure of ogling have left me breathless and thankful.

sunset

 

susnet_porch

[Full disclosure: I did take these pictures with Instagram but no filter! Swearsies! The sunsets here are just THAT pretty. For more sunset pictures (and a thousand pictures of my kid) you should follow me.]

I think this practice is good for anyone. Not just those of us who just moved to a new town and are desperately trying to figure out where/what/how/when/why everything is. Even if you’ve lived in your town for a while, try this. Try to discover something beautiful — even if it’s something small — about where you live and take a picture of it. This will force you to really notice it for all that it is. Creation. Splendor.

A blessing.