Let Freedom Ring!
When I think about freedom, many things come to mind. But when I apply it specifically to my body and my mindset around my body, I start thinking about how diet culture and anorexia held me captive for so long.
I remember one of the first times I had thoughts about hating my body. I was ten. I had two very skinny cousins that we spent a lot of time with, including swimming at their grandparents' pool. I have a little inherited "pooch" at the bottom of my abdomen that they seemed to escape, so when I compared myself to them as a child in a swimsuit, I remember thinking that I felt fat next to them. When I look back at photos of myself, however, I see a very thin young girl looking back.
My journey into anorexia began in high school. I had lost a few pounds during field hockey and received compliments about it. This just fueled my desire for thinness and it wasn't long before I had "goals" to get down to double digits on the scale. I succeeded.
For years, anorexia was my security blanket. When things in my life became chaotic and out of control, what I put into my mouth was the one thing I could control. But my mouth didn't just shut down to what went into it. It also shut down to what came out of it. I would turn off communication with others and disappear into myself.
It was safe.
It was familiar.
And I thought I was in control.
Except I wasn't.
In one desperate attempt to bid anorexia adieu, I "left" the fitness industry. I unsubscribed from all my fitness magazines and my professional memberships (this was pre-social media days...). I stopped teaching fitness classes. I simply could not heal my body image issues looking at these "perfectly" sculpted women on glossy pages. Even in the professional trade publications, the women all bared their flat, six-pack abs in their little sports bras...because one of the gold trademarks of a true fitness professional was flat, preferably six-pack abs.
Me? I had just had my first baby and my abs were anything but flat. Try loose, flabby, and covered in stretch marks. I hated them.
But the break from the fitness industry did start me on my path to healing. It gave me a chance to focus on the magic of my body with breastfeeding. It gave me a break from the comparison trap. It gave me a chance to breathe.
Healing didn't happen all at once. Does it really ever?
While I got out of the crisis phase of anorexia, for many, many years, I held onto the anorexia mindset. Remember that security blanket? See here's the thing. It wasn't all about food and body image. Like any other addiction, there are roots to why you're using the "drug" in the first place.
My roots included not feeling good enough, not feeling loved, feelings of insecurity, feeling like I was unlovable, feeling like I had to be perfect, never feeling like I was doing enough (because I was a people pleaser, so in order to be loved, I had to be doing...a topic for another post!)... The list goes on and on, but these are all my limiting beliefs--beliefs that I picked up somewhere along the way in childhood and had dragged along with me into adulthood.
Bit by bit through the years, a little more healing would take place. Writing my book was one of those healing times. Leaving my husband was another, albeit followed by a setback into the abyss...
But healing and growth happen like that. Neither is not a flat, straight line. They're up, they're down, they're zig-zaggy and jaggy. And sometimes you slide backward. It's all part of the process.
Counseling also helped me, as did going through a Sozo. Google it if you're not familiar with what it is, but let me just say that it was emotionally draining and cathartic and wonderful and exhausting and freeing all at the same time!
More recently, coming upon the book, Intuitive Eating, I realized that I used the principles in the book to heal from the anorexia without realizing I was using the principles.
Since then, more healing and growth has taken place. I've had to learn to be kind to myself. I've had to learn to stop judging myself. I'm still learning. It's about the process and trusting the process. It's about being patient with yourself and giving yourself and others some grace. And it's about remembering who your Creator is and that He created you with a purpose. It is my responsibility to follow-through with that purpose.
A mindset of freedom from whatever limiting beliefs or societal norms (like diet culture) are holding you captive can begin today, simply by just choosing it. What will you choose?