My amazing body

Today's post was inspired by another blogger and what she entitled, "MY perfection". I encourage you to click on the link and read her short view of what her perfection is. And here is mine.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week and leading up to it was racking my brain thinking of something amazing and inspiring to write about regarding body image or eating disorders. But, truth be told, I just don't have it in me. Maybe I'm taking a break from writing about my own struggles, maybe I'm so far into recovery that my mind refuses to go back there and dig up the old painful memories. I'm not really too sure.

But, here's the honest to God truth: Every morning I turn the shower off and open the shower curtain. Directly in front of me is a large bathroom mirror, so I get to see myself naked everyday. It's not the same body it was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even 3 years ago. Three years ago today I was almost 3 months pregnant with my son, my first child. My disordered eating and exercise behaviors were ending. I don't think I knew it then. I wanted it to be over, but wasn't sure if I would relapse after my son was born. I'm proud to say I didn't. I kept going forward with giant steps, steps bigger and scarier than I ever imagined.

So back to the mirror. I heard once that if you can hold a pencil under your breast, you need a boob job. (Whaaat?) I'm pretty sure I can hold an entire pack of pencils under mine, and I still don't "need" a boob job. I have belly fat that spills over and my son loves to poke it and say, "Squishy belly mommy!" There are veins on my body that look like road maps, I have stretch marks, and even cellulite on my thighs. I am reminded every day of my sons birth from my pink, uneven cesarean scar. But, I ask you, someday at my funeral, will anyone say, "Such a pretty face, too bad she didn't lose that baby weight." or "That cellulite and stretch marks were a real eye sore."


Because at my funeral, I hope to have touched enough lives that people will tell stories of what I meant to them, how I bettered someones life, how the values I instilled in my children's have helped shaped their own lives. That's all.

I'm not saying let's all throw away any notion of wanting to look good and feel our best. I know it's important, I get it. But, what's amazing to me now, today, isn't the same amazing it was even 5 years ago.

So, bring on the cellulite and stretch marks. I got the privilege of pushing a baby out of my vagina! Now, THAT'S what I call an amazing body. I love my body now, with all of it's so called "flaws and imperfections". It's pretty awesome to me...and for reasons that might not be what others think.

Photo courtesy of author (that's me!) taken by Kristina Chartier Photgraphy

Book review: "It's Not About the Food" by Esther Kane

I finally finished a book that I started months ago and I'm so glad I did. I loved it so much, I re-read some of my favorite chapters. The book is "It's Not About the Food: A Woman's Guide to Making Peace With Food and Our Bodies" by Esther Kane, MSW. Every chapter in this book spoke to me in some way or another. I loved reading her story, in fact, it sparked a past blog post of mine when I discussed my questioning if we can ever fully recover from an eating disorder. Esther's vulnerability and authenticity were inviting, which is always nice, especially when reading a self help book. It really made me feel like, "Hey, if she feels this way too sometimes, then I guess I AM doing a pretty good job!"

After telling her own story, Esther talks about types of disordered eating, which I think is imperative for those seeking help. She discusses Binge Eating Disorder and Orthorexia Nervosa, two eating disorders that aren't as well known to a mainstream audience. Next is an excellent chapter on why diets DON'T work which was full of fantastic information on many popular diets and what they do physiologically to one's body. So, if you're a science nerd like me, you'll eat all that stuff up (no pun intended).

Mindful eating came next, which I found particularly interesting because this is something I need to work on. My latest and greatest excuse is that I have 2 very small children, so I'm lucky if I get to go to the bathroom alone, let alone have the time to enjoy a meal and be mindful about it. She lays out a "Top Ten" list for mindful eating with tips such as "Take a few deep breaths before you eat to calm and center yourself" and "Turn off the phone at mealtimes so you won't be interrupted". Basic, helpful tips!

The "Food-mood" chapter hit home for me because she talks about perfectionism and boundaries. THANK YOU, Esther! To see how these two things correlate with eating, you'll have to read the book, but I can tell you, this chapter had the best exercises in getting to the nitty-gritty of why we over eat and I should say why we under eat as well.

Meditation and relaxation comes next and I couldn't agree more that this is key in finding your mind/body connection.

"Changing Our Minds" looks at the inner voice and conversation we have with ourselves. I cannot emphasize how important this is in healing our issues with food and body image. I think there is a real thing called being addicted to self hate that many people don't even know they have. Esther says, "We may have all the money in the world, all the success we could ever dream of and even be perfectly healthy yet still feel absolutely miserable with ourselves and our lives". I saw this first hand when I used to be a personal trainer at a gym, especially with women. It broke my heart that I saw women sweating on the stair master or lifting weights, coming to me with questions about their workout and would give me snipits of their personal life. I would see time after time, their lack of self esteem, a lost sense of self. I wanted them to improve their lives more than they knew, however it was beyond the scope of my job there, which was the reason I left and pursued life coaching. However, I digress!

In her last chapter Esther gives us some fascinating history of the female form and we became to be so "body obsessed" in the western culture. And she closes with more exercises to help us love our bodies.

Esther suggests nothing drastic, nothing too scary, everything is completely doable. My favorite thing about this book are the practical exercises in almost every chapter. She asks powerful questions which encourage the reader to think critically about things they probably have never thought about before. So many books are just talk, talk, talk and many of them are fabulously helpful, but a lot of times we walk away and the next day remember nothing we have read. But, this book, with all of its powerful exercises, is different.

There is life after eating disorders and body image issues CAN be improved. I 100% recommend this book to anyone (everyone, really) who has had issues with food, eating, body image and/or self esteem. You will undoubtedly learn something and if you put into action her advice, you're issues will improve.

What being a girl means to me

I have been called a lot of things in my life. Off the top of my head they are: sassy, agressive, obnoxious, loud mouthed, too-smart-for-your-own-good, fiesty, tough and bitch. As I was growing up and trying to find my place in this mad world, being called these things was somewhat devastating. As girls, we are taught and encouraged to NOT be any of these things. That embracing the qualities of femininity is the right thing to do. Soft, quiet, emotional, to be seen and not heard. As a young woman it was all very confusing. I learned very quickly that I could get away with things just for being female, but it really wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.

I remember being in high school and having firm beliefs about certain things. Sadly, most of the time I didn't speak up because I didn't know how to articulate things perfectly and back then I thought everything needed to be perfect, so I shut up. Well, maybe not that I shut up, mostly just channeled my high-strung energy in the wrong direction. But, where I'm going with this is that I can remember always being "shushed". I felt more important if I sat back and was just pretty. Like a Christmas ornament. But when I finally learned to embrace all of those things, to not be ashamed for wanting to speak up, the flood gates opened and I could. Not. Be. Shut. Up.

I get my outspokenness from my mother. However, she looks at it as sticking her foot in her mouth. I believe in her generation, her view of feminism was what was seen on TV or heard about from adults conversations. Bra burning, man hating, hairy arm pitted ladies. Being outspoken was not something that was attractive. Even now, I see her hesitate when she wants to speak her mind. My mom was married at 17 and the mother of 2 by age 20. She is one of the strongest, most powerful women I know. But still, I believe she looks at speaking your mind as a masculine trait, one that is not seen as "right" in others eyes.

I recently watched a moving speech from one of my heros, Eve Ensler. She states:

...the verb that's been enforced on girls, is the verb "to please". Girls are trained to please. I want to change the verb. I want us all to change the verb. I want the verb to be educate. Or activate. Or engage, or confront, or defy. Or create. If we teach girls to change the verb, we will actually enforce the girl inside us, and the girl inside them. 

If I am lucky enough to have you read my blog, even if it's just this post, I want to tell you this: If you have a daughter, or a niece, a sister, mother, aunt, any girl or woman in your life, it is imperative that we teach them to speak up. Teach them to be proud of what they believe in, teach them the power of education, the power that they hold, just by being female. Being female is no better than being male, but it's not our JOB to please everyone. Some things may come out of your mouth that are less than perfect, but don't run and hide under the covers. Vulnerability, honesty, love, compassion, empathy...all of those are beautiful and strong. Yes, strong. 

So don't "shush" girls, and if you see one being "shushed", say something. And if you are a girl or woman reading this, trust me when I tell you again it's not your JOB to please everyone. It's a part of life to piss people off, have people disagree with you and yes, sometimes, someone may not like you (gasp!). It's okay. Speak your mind. It's well worth the effort. 

Photo courtesy of natashalcd