“The Anorexic Body”

I have been biting my tongue now for a while on the topic that I am referring to as ‘the anorexic body.’

The anorexic body, is how people who do not understand EDs, wrongly determine if someone is struggling with an eating disorder

So, let me ask you, being that I have been recovering from my anorexia for years now, how am I supposed to look?

Am I supposed to be rail thin and bony? Do you want me to have curves?

I have anorexia, so I should look like I have anorexia, right? Otherwise, am I really sick?

I am asking these questions for a reason. I am asking them because I am trying to figure out where this myth started that in order to have an eating disorder, you must look a certain way.

Granted, I know an obvious answer is media. Most often, when we see a skinny GIRL, the first thing that comes to mind is, “I wonder if she eats.” But, when we see a skinny BOY, its just assumed that he must have an insanely fast metabolism. The girl in the picture will go on to receive copious comments discussing her body shape. People will either comment things like- “BODY GOALS!” or “Gross, she does not look good at all she is a skeleton.” No one would ever dare to assume that the boy might be the one with the eating disorder. Nope, isn’t anorexia something only girls get?

I am not sure who or how these assumptions began about ‘the anorexic body,’ but it needs to stop ASAP.

People suffering with an ED are continuing to suffer because they do not meet the physical requirements of an eating disorder and therefore do not get proper treatment. It is as if there is a rule that if you don’t look the part, you’re not really sick.

I am curious about how we rooted the idea of the ‘normal/perfect’ body.

What is normal?

What is perfect?

How should my body look?

How should YOUR body look?

….does it really even matter?

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Acceptance

Dear body,

It’s been about 2 months since my last letter to you and I have some things I want to tell you.

It’s long overdue, but I finally accept you.

I love you, body.

I love your scars.

I love everything.

I was ashamed of you for so long, but not anymore.

I started realizing this the other day at work. I see my campers running around without a care in the world. They are all different sizes. Some are super tiny and others have a belly that sticks out. I look at them and all I see is beauty and potential. I do not look at them and see fat or failure.

These little kids do not worry about how they look. They just want to run around and eat Popsicles. They are excited and hopeful. They do not miss out on activities because they do not like the way they look. 

I wish I could go back to having the innocence of a 5 year old. I may not be able to change that, but I can change how I react to the changes my body makes. I am 21 years old. I need to accept that it is not normal to still wear jeans from my sophomore year of high school. I am a woman now, not a little girl. My body is growing the way it is supposed to be.

Right now, my stomach is so bloated. And I honestly am not triggered by it. I think of one of my campers who is so lovely in everyway. She has a belly and is so confident in herself and she is only six. I feel crazy for being inspired by a six year old, but my campers really are what helps me get through tougher times. 

So body, I’m glad we are friends again. I’m glad that you are getting the nutrients you need to grow how you are supposed to. Maybe it’s time we throw away those clothes from high school. It’s time we move on from this. 

Take my hand, body- we are in this together

I love you body,

Your friend always,

Liv

Fear Food Friday- Reese’s

I decided I needed to challenge myself even more, so from this point on, every Friday I will eat something that scares me.

The first time I did a fear food challenge for my blog was with gluten free bread. And guess what? I eventually ate all the bread and the coolest part?? IM STILL ALIVE! Amazing! I can eat food and not gain 9859034853pounds. I can eat food and it won’t kill me!

I had not challenged myself since then. I had an occasional cup of ice cream, but other than that I stuck to what made me feel safe.

SO flashback to me at CVS Wednesday.

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I turned to my bff and said “hey take my picture I need to blog this.” I was really not nervous here. It was kind of a rash decision to buy the chocolate. The dude was waiting for me to give him my debit card, but something inside me said that this is what I need to do. I need the chocolate. Anxiety level at this moment: 1.5/10.

The candy had been sitting in my fridge for a few days and I honestly hoped my mom would accidentally eat it so I wouldn’t have to. She did not eat it. So my anxiety level is at a 4.

Thursday night I drank with some friends so on Friday I was not wanting to eat this candy. I drank my calories yesterday. I needed to cleanse.

I really wasn’t too excited for this. I spent more time taking pictures of myself with the candy bar than eating it, but hey oh well. I had to make sure that post 6 mile walk/run sweaty Liv looked decent enough.

Reese’s used to be my FAVORITE. I want to enjoy them again. Anxiety level 6/10

So once I finally decided the lighting in my pictures was right I went back to the main point of my mission. I tried to think of excuses to avoid eating it. I looked at the packaging to see if I was allergic to it all of a sudden, but there was no way out. I committed to this.

I will just eat one I reassured myself with my anxiety level reaching a 7. I looked at my dog sitting next to me for support and he looked so excited to eat this piece of peanut butter and chocolate. It helped me realize that food is not my enemy. So I took a bite. And guess what? I ate BOTH of them and IT WAS SO DELICIOUS.

Wow! I am still alive, my clothes still fit, and I REALLY enjoyed eating the candy. Overall happiness experience? 10/10.

Any ideas for next Fridays fear food? Leave a comment and let me know!

I Think (insert relation) Has An Eating Disorder

I cannot speak for everyone on this because this is strictly just my opinion. I am NOT an expert so please do not assume what I am saying will work for everyone. Also if you enjoy this post please share this with others. You never know who it could help. 

We never know for certain what someone else is going through. This is a challenging part of life. When someone we care about is hurting we want to do anything to take the pain away. We say things like, “I know how you feel.” But do we really? How can we feel the pain for someone else when we have no idea what their inner demons are like.

It is no different when it comes to eating disorders. People need to understand that EDs are not a phase. It is not a diet or a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are a serious disease.

Eating disorders affects more people than most of us are aware. Your neighbor, friend, child, the person you sit next to every morning on the train could all be suffering and not even be aware of it. Those fighting with an ED do not know how disordered their relationship with food truly is- and that is what makes this so dangerous.

Only a trained professional should diagnose someone with an ED, but that does not mean you cannot intervene and help this person get the attention he or she needs.

Before you intervene, it is important to ask yourself why. Why do you think this person may have an eating disorder? If your response is “because they just LOOK anorexic” maybe reevaluate and think about more behaviors/symptoms. SKINNY DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL EATING DISORDER.

Maybe you notice at meals they push their food around the plate or always try to avoid eating in public. Maybe they go to the bathroom immediately after meals or you see them working out constantly. Overeating or eating in secret. Obsession with numbers, wearing baggy clothes, becoming less social. Always cold and tired and losing motivation to do things that used to bring so much joy. These are the things to look for- not just the size of the body.

If you notice these behaviors it is important to take action. I try to think back to when I first got help. I had teachers in high school invite me to eat lunch with them. My friends would try to get me to go out with them. No one forced me to eat- it was just encouraged. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to get them to realize on their own that a problem exists. Granted it is much easier said than done, but I was the one who eventually realized that I needed to seek treatment the first time I really began to struggle. Having coaches limit my playing time in games and close friends casually asking me if everything was alright began to help me realize something was wrong.

Sometimes it is okay to be assertive. Sometimes the person suffering may need this more intense wake up call. During relapses I certainly received some lectures that at the time made me so angry. But now I look back and I am so thankful it happened. They may be “mad” at you during that time, but it doesn’t last; soon they will be immensely thankful. I put mad in quotations because it is not your friend that is mad- it is the eating disorder. You acknowledge she exists and she is not ready to lose control.

Eating disorders are a touchy subject, but there is not nearly enough awareness on them. Early intervention can save so many lives. So if you think someone may be struggling try and get them to talk to a professional. Do whatever it takes to get them to be aware that they are sick. It is so important. It is life altering.

He or she may be upset with you at the time, but I would rather have a friend be angry with me for acknowledging they had a problem than dead because the eating disorder won.

Body Shaming Goes Both Ways

This is controversial so I will probably get some hate for this one, but this is something we do not talk about enough.

The other day I went to a party with my best friend. A comment I heard someone say about me, really stuck with me and I cannot seem to move on from it. It was something that I heard adults saying about my body.

We were going to a twenty-first birthday party and when we got there, they were grilling out. I ate dinner before I got there so when I was asked if I wanted anything I politely declined.

They told me to let them know if I got hungry later and if I wanted a burger. I let them know that I am a vegetarian and allergic to gluten. They just looked back at me and said “wow that must be a horrible diet to live on.”

I hear that a lot so that part did not bother me. What bothered me was what I heard when they thought I could not hear them. I heard them talking about my body.

The wife turned to her husband and said something along the lines that he should try being a gluten free vegetarian as well so he could lose a couple of pounds. The husband chuckled and responded with the remark, “well, I certainly do not want to whither away and be as skinny her. I could break her in half”

Normally when I hear comments about me looking skinny I feel good. It fuels Ana. But this time it made me feel sick. I am genuinely trying my hardest to gain and maintain my weight. The past couple of days I have been feeling pretty comfortable with the way I look, but when people point out that I look too skinny it really bothers me.

This is normally when a lot of people roll their eyes at me and say something like. “Oh boohoo, someone called you skinny. Such a horrible thing for someone to say.” But they do not get it. I do not go up to people and say, “Wow! I should eat like you so I can be fat!”

Society is so aware to NEVER call people fat, but we throw around the term skinny all the time.

I need to give my mom a quick shout out here: so Hey mom I know you are reading this and you’re probably so confused because I always try to get you to validate whether or not I look over or under weight. By feeling this way toward the remark I overheard, I know it is a way that I am recovering.

I do not want this validation. I do not want people telling me that I am a “skinny mini” anymore. Because I am more that. In reference to my post “I am more than just a body” being defined by looks is not how I want to be remembered.

I know I am not alone in this. I have friends that share with me how frustrated they get when they hear from people “wow teach me your ways so I can look like you!” or the common “what’s your diet? How can you eat that and NOT gain weight” Some people are just born with faster metabolisms.

Body shaming goes both ways. Body shaming affects all body types. So while some may think it is a compliment to point out how skinny someone is, sometimes its better to say nothing at all.

Dear Body,

Dear Body,

Wow, we sure have been through a lot this past decade. From petty injuries, some major surgeries, and well from the poor way I have been treating you. I want to say sorry to you body. I am sorry that I have taken you for granted. I am sorry that I have put so much hate and pain towards you. I am sorry for all the laxatives, for depriving you of food and water, pushing you to the point of passing out and collapsing.  i’m sorry for breaking your skin and turning you into a dead girl walking. You have been nothing but good to me. You provide me long legs for running and dancing. You give me arms so I can hold those dear to me. You give me a heart beat so I can live every day to the fullest.

But I haven’t been treating you well. Now we are both suffering. If I could go back and change things I would. I remember we always had that goal to play collegiate soccer- too bad we were too malnourished to properly train. You do not deserve this pain I have put you through. So many people would be so thankful to have you, body. I have been taking you for granted and I hope you can forgive me for this.

I promise I am trying to change. I am trying to give you the fuel you need. I am trying to take care of you so we don’t keep crumbling and breaking. I love you body. It took me awhile to realize this, but I really do. You and me are a team. It’s time I start playing my part.

I can’t promise that this is going to be a quick and easy recovery, but I can promise that everyday I will do better to get better. I do not want us to suffer anymore.

With my deepest condolences and greatest amounts of love,

Liv