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Do my fingers even work anymore?

I can’t recall the last time I sat down, fingertip to REAL GENUINE KEYS, and wrote something.

I like it. And I forgot how much.

I also FORGOT how much I dislike typing on the virtual keyboards our current “smart”phone reality (Because if my smart phone was really smart it wold cut me off after compulsively checkling it more than 2 times in a row and instantly self-destruct when I begin loading the comments section of any left-leaning political article which is of course everything I read :)).

There are others who, as much as they may enjoy my blog or others like it, like me, recognize that instant gratifcation at all times is really not in my best interest  :/ (Why-You-Should-Switch-to-a-Dumb-Phone)

I FORGOT how much I like using my brain to synthesize and make sense of all the comings and going on in the world (Especially THIS. YEAR. MY. GOD.) and why it’s in all of our best interest to learn as much about and occupy the “view” of one another as we possibly can.

I FORGOT how much I don’t know what’s good for me (ok, ok, let me toot my own horn. When it comes to food, I do know, so that’s a start 😉 )  Actually, let me rephrase. I forgot how necessary it is to my overall wellbeing to both take care of myself and actively VALUE that act. All of us, ESPECIALLY women since many of us are taught quite the opposite, need to remember or learn how to HONOR OURSELVES EVERY SINGLE DAY (thank you, Jenna Ryan).

And in line with that I forgot how much putting my needs first (not my wants and desires necessarily, but my neeeeeeds. See oxygen mask in airplane example) is, like, the BEST message I can send to my constantly observing children, a message I never really received from the well-meaning women of my youth who never received that message from the well-meaning women of their youth. (SIDE NOTE: Within reason, of course. I’m not about to  ignore my children’s immediate needs in moments of acute crisis or take them to The Cave in Philly because oggling scantily clad males with enthusiastic friends is like total chicken soup for my soul). (ADDITIONAL SIDE NOTE: The Cave is apparently closed!! Thank the heavens for Channing Tatum and high-speed air travel).

I FORGOT that I wanted to be a writer (and an actress) ever since I was seven or eight years old and writing in my own baby book (I’m weird, I know, don’t judge). And I still do.

I just forgot. And it’s never good, or at least it’s never good for MEEEEEEEEEEE to forget something like that. And it’s REALLY easy to forget when you are a mom. It’s just too damn easy for moms to forget what makes them great as WOMEN and as PEOPLE. I mean it’s not our fault, or is it dads really (but we need to heed their example – heaven knows they don’t forget they are people!). I just think nature must have set it up that way. Until our kids leave the nest we are somehow always in this obtuse hazy, sticky web of babies, poop, wipes, cloth and non-cloth diapers (in varying degrees of unnecessary guilt), kids and more kids (sometimes our own, sometimes others), breast milk, formula milk (also in varying degrees of socially-encouraged guilt for moms alone), sweet snacks of every nut, grain, wheat-full, peanut-free variety you can imagine, constant episodes of sibling rivalry, meltdowns whenever there aren’t two or three of everything (yes, it’s true non-parents it’s true!!), sloppy love-laden kisses, boatloads of laundry and dishes and “playdates” (my God I hate that word and my God do I participate for my own people needs and general sanity!), annoyingly overzealous and saddeningly underzealous grandparents, oodles and oodles of glorious oxytocin and undying love and devotion – and untold sleepless nights. More than this gal would like to count (And more to come on that. We will reach the promise land on this one I know it)…. But thmisunderstood-spider-9at’s ok with me, the sticky web part I mean.

And assuming someone has taken out the actual SPIDER from this spider web (I know they do good wise meme person but they still creep the heck out of me!!)…

I really do like the cozy chaos of a snug cocoon with my little nuclear family.

But it’s about time I pulled my little old laptop in with us too. I need her.

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There are a lot of things I was “warned” about while I was pregnant with Benjamin (ok, when I say warned I really mean gleefully promised). A future where I would “never” sleep again was by far the most popular fortelling, but I also received ample prophecies of “Get ready to never think about your needs ever again!” and “Look forward to no more sex – ever!”

To be fair, such prophecies did, in some ways, come to fruition (On a scale of 1-5, 1 being Queen Elizabeth status, my needs are squarely in the 5 category, most days). Nevertheless, such parental prophecies have not proven to be nearly as dire and full of misery as their commentators might have hoped.

And before I continue ranting past a comment that one would think is rather odd, I’d like to stop briefly and revert your attention back to it…
 
“Not nearly as dire and full of misery as their commentators might have hoped.

Now some of you might find it a very unusual idea that your friends would wish such ill will upon you. It certainly confused me during my 9 months of pregnancy and just before, when I was practically oozing babylove. I mean, it’s an honest question. Why would your supposed friends provide you with  ominous fortellings of sleep deprivation and sexual vacancy? Why, on top of that, would those utterings be underlayed with a sort of gleeful joy and bemusement? Why oh why would your friends be so cruel?

Well, in a nutshell, cause you deserved it.

Okay, okay, relax. I’ll dial it back a notch. I sure as hell deserved it, and I’ll tell you why.

I knew nothing.

No, not about everything, but about most things. Pretty much anything that didn’t directly affect my wants, desires and needs (and yes, this was within sobriety). I had things figured out as far as I was willing to take them, and I didn’t care to learn much more thank you very much.

I especially knew nothing about parenthood, but you would have thought I wrote The Baby Book. I, like many of my friends, was way more likely to place any blame squarely on the shoulders of the parent when I saw a tantrum-throwing child in the line at Target than at the screaming kid himself. “Wow, what a bad mom” was more likely to cross my mind than “Wow, what a jerk that kid is being, poor mom.” Today the first thought rarely crosses my mind (except in those rare local news extreme cases), and I’m inclined to give every mother of a child who is not on the nightly news (and even them too, sometimes) the benefit of the doubt. I have entered the land of the knowing.

Because the fact is simply this – there is ABSOLUTELY no way to prepare for parenthood. Much like childbirth, it is simply impossible to fathom what that state really looks like until  you’ve been there. Short from someone stabbing you repeatedly in the back for 15-30hrs straight, you can’t even begin to contemplate the pain of childbirth until that baby has been born. The same goes for parenthood and the reality of around the clock care. Even when you are off you’re still really on, or you miss being on, or you feel like you should miss being on, or you worry you’re on too much or not enough. And so on and so on. 😉

But you love your kid more than you love life itself, and that is what makes it ok. You’ll take all that this parenthood thing dishes out because of that love, and as each day progresses you get more and more of what you expected to get out of the whole deal. It starts to get more fair, more rewarding. And even before that happens you’ve found you feel more connected to the spirit of the universe than you ever had before. You see nature, life, everything through the eyes of your child, and it’s just plain beautiful. But life certainly doesn’t get any less constant. Parenthood doesn’t, well, stop. And though it’s never boring it certainly isn’t easy.

The problem is that YOU DON’T KNOW THAT YET.

But man do you think you do.

And there we are. 

……

………

So enjoy the sleep while you have it, and I’ll meet you on the flipside.

😉

“Yup, one is definitely enough.”
“Oh yeah, I’m not having another kid after this one – pregnancy is a cruel joke!”
“Why would anyone  choose to go through this more than once?”

– Statements made by yours truly prior to the birth of my first child


Flash forward, oh, three or four months…

“How long do you think we should wait – assuming I get a new job and everything is okay money-wise – before we start trying again?”

Statements made by me approximately 24-48 hours after the birth of my first child, Benjamin Parker Trott.

This, my friends, was and is to me the most amazing phenomenon. This 180 degree perspective change was clearly the result of an instinctual reaction so powerful that I can barely begin to put it into words. For it was able to minimize – no – to NULLIFY – the purchasing power of the nine months of pain, discomfort, frustration, and general state of miserableness otherwise known as Kelly Manion’s first pregnancy.

On top of that, the first three to five days of  Baby Ben’s life (ok, let’s be honest, the first 3 and a half months so far!) were no walk in the park. I mean, they were BEAUTIFUL, crazy, sleepless, extremely confusing, and full of lots of happy-making oxytocin, but definitely not easy. The fact of the matter is, no logical person would even begin thinking about fashioning a new embryo with that kind of shenanigans going on.  Such a notion would just be, well,  insane!

Nevertheless, less than a week into my stay in the love-laden, slumber-deprived land of motherhood, and I was ready to lay down my roots and start adding another branch to my family tree.

What was I thinking?

Well, the truth is I didn’t do much thinking at all – nor would have that been recommended. With less than 2 hours of rest per night I could have started a fire from frontal lobe short-circuits alone. So instead I nursed, cuddled, nursed some more and tried to sleep when my baby slept (this should be the mommy slogan of the decade). Meanwhile feeling both totally disconnected and completely at one with my new world. And within all of that the idea of adding another soul to my new brood (as soon as possible, mind you) just kind of casually crept in. No fanfare. No pizazz.  Just waltzed in like a seasoned waiter who fills a half empty glass of water as naturally and automatically as one takes a breath. Or, as one who has worked several years in DC’s overflowing SPCA, habitually anticipating the precise moment to tug the leash and prevent my DC animal shelter boxer-shepherd-jackrussel-mastiff mix from eating your $400 miniature schnauzer yorkie hybrid.

Schnorkie

Excuse me, your “Schnorkie.”

Having another baby just, well, seemed like the next right thing to do.

And though some may argue otherwise (because, as I’ve also learned, there are  no shortages of opinion in the monocratic land of motherhood), that feeling, and the thoughts and actions that it causes around the world each and every day – in bedrooms and on couches, in backs of cars, on tops of hoods and in between newborn baby cries – may reign supreme as mother nature’s greatest triumph.

That and those Moroccan climbing goats – they are pretty cool too.

Can you believe it? I’m a mama!

“Can you believe I actually made a PERSON?”
“This gorgeous little creature has everything he needs to grow up to be a walking, talking, doing, loving, creating, caring, unique human being. And he came out of me!”
“How is any of this even possible? It blows my mind!”
“God just look at those fingers, toes, and that skin – the softest I’ve ever felt!”
“He is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

I can guarantee that you – no matter how many babies you have been around in your life, how much babysitting you have done, daycares you may have started or episodes of Raising Hope you’ve seen – you too will think these EXACT same thoughts the moment you have your first child. And, at least for the first, I dunno, 50 years or so they tell me, you’ll keep on thinking them.

And, I know it was a little sneaky, but I had to adjust the title of the blog, at least a bit. The fact is that with everything I’ve been through the last, well, 12 months, I think it’s only fair that I get to make some changes purely in the interest of my own personal desires. 🙂

In light of that, I must say that it’s really rather interesting how quickly the opportunity to partake in completely selfish endeavors leaves you the moment you have a kid. Now don’t get me wrong – it comes back in varying increments as your baby grows and becomes less intensely dependent on you – especially if you have supportive family, friends or a significant other who wants to help you feel more like a human being and less like a human milking. But it isn’ t the same.

Your selfish endeavors aren’t, well, as gluttonously delicious as they were before.

They just can’t be. It would be like realizing you are an alcoholic, getting sober, and then going back to drinking. No matter how hard you try to be that blissfully ignorant person you once were there will always be that little voice in the back of your head reminding you of the reality of who you are. You simply can’t be as deliciously, gluttonously selfish as you were before that 3 month old bundle of cries, smiles, glorious snuggles and abundant poo came into your life.

But you want to know what the really interesting thing is? The thing that hits you the moment your child is born and that stays with you even after the cries enter in, the diapers begin to fill (or overflow), the sleepless nights begin and the questions of “Is my baby colicky?” start swirling through your mind?

You really, truly, undeniably and unquestionably wouldn’t have it any other way.

5 Tips to Get Over the Midday Slump

  • Avoid the intense desire to find a couch after lunch
  • Stay focused at work without copious quantities of caffeine!
  • Be even MORE productive after the clock strikes 3!
  • Watch below to learn the 5 tips and more

Watch the Tips:
http://www.myfoxdc.com/subindex/live_video/live_newscasts

“There are only two things I really can’t stand. Change. And the way things are.” – Unknown

Yes, we all feel this way from time to time (if not most of the time). You are not alone and you are in the right place. And to you return readers, I’m happy to see you all again!

For me, this year, and these past few months in particular, have been full of change up to my eyeballs. And change, as much as I can’t stand it sometimes, and as long as I’m trying to do the next right thing, is actually pretty darn good. It’s kind of like a jump start for my soul. And who doesn’t need a little jump start from time to time? 🙂

That being said, when it comes to our diets, change is better when it’s gradual. Even more important is what kind of change it is, and even what we call it. From what I’ve learned through my schooling as a Holistic Health Coach, there really is nothing good that comes out of the concept of “I can’t” when it comes to food. As in “My doctor says I can’t….” or “My R.D. says I can’t…”

“I can’t eat ice cream,” or “I can’t eat bread,” or “I can’t  eat after midnight,” etc. etc.  Yech. I hate those words, don’t you?


The whole concept of “I can’t,” or “I’m not allowed to,” simply gets your brain into that sad state that most people know all too well – Deprivation. And what happens when we start to feel like we are being deprived? Resentment, anxiety, fear, sadness, anger. Pretty much nothing good.

It’s much more useful to add healthier things to your diet. Better for your head, your heart, and your body.

As in “add in more fruits,” “add in more vegetables,” “add in more healthy fats and delicious grains and organic foods.” Do it for a day, or a week, or a month. Before long you’re too full and too satisfied to think about the fact that you haven’t had McDonalds in over a month and that, low and behold, you lost 10lbs and your skin feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And rather than feeling like you’ve lost something you realize you’ve gained everything! You’ve actually achieved the opposite of deprivation, Indulgence!  🙂

And boy doesn’t that get your serotonin pumpin’ ? 🙂

That being said, I realized that perhaps one of the best possible things I could offer my readers – especially you folks who like lists and following lists and all of that good stuff – is a handy dandy little Indulgence List. I know I throw a lot out at you here in terms of suggestions and advice, that it can be difficult to bring everything to mind when you take your next trip to the food store. So then, let’s make it easy! What follows is a nutritious, empowering, indulgence shopping list that you can print out and take with you during your next trip to the food store (PS – it’ll be much easier to follow this list if you shop at a natural foods store. Some major ones you likely have in your area are Whole Foods Market (I might as well just set up a cot in aisle 6 I’m there so often), Yes!, MOM’s (My Organic Market), TPSS if you live in the DC metro area, Trader Joes and many independent stores).

There is only one thing I require (yes, it’s the honor system here) before you begin using this list. Just one thing.

You must promise not to remove anything from your fridge or cabinets before or after you shop. Unless, ya know, it gets too crowded and you feel you must take something out to make room for all the fantastic new foods you’ve been adding lest your shelves collapse.

That’s all I require. I suggest that you make things more fun and interesting by breaking this list down to one category (grains, proteins, veggies, etc) per shopping trip. And once you’ve covered all the categories, and started adding a few things to your diet, then you could take a step back and see how you feel. The goal here is to expand your palate, increase your happiness and to indulge your senses with real, whole foods that nature intended for you to eat and to thoroughly enjoy with each and every bite.

Happy Shopping!

GRAINS:

The first rule of thumb is that Organic is best for your palate and your body. And don’t be afraid of the freezer section of your food store – the breads there generally have less preservatives and more real flavor!
* Sprouted Bread – found at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and other organic food stores – LOW GLUTEN & DELICIOUS!
*
quinoa (cooks just like rice and has more protein than other grains; and all the essential amino acids) – GLUTEN FREE!

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal grains for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


PROTEINS:

* organic nut butters (almond is best – no jif or anything you can find in giant – you want 1-2 ingredients, the nut and salt)
* eggs (organic, all-natural feed)
* kefir or yogurt (unsweetened, organic is best)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal proteins for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

FRUITS:


just about anything is great – try to buy organic b/c less pesticides
some really healthy and just plain delicious ones are…
* blueberries/raspberries/blackberries
* grapefruit (detoxing)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal fruits for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

VEGGIES:


* spinach
* chard (I LOOOVE this stuff in place of lettuce or sauteed like spinach in raw butter or olive oil)
* kale

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal veggies for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

OILS:


* extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
* extra virgin or virgin coconut oil

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal oils for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


BEVERAGES
:


* water and 100% juices (cranberry is great as it is very cleansing)
* teas are great – especially green!

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal beverages for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


SWEETENERS

* stevia
*
honey (raw is best)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal sweeteners for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

SNACKS:


* dried fruits and nuts are the way to go (the most nutritious are walnuts and almonds – preferably in the raw)
* fruit

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal snack foods for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

SUPPLEMENTS:


* high-quality multivitamin
* probiotics (there are so many kinds, just make sure it has acidophilus and bifidus in it and the culture count be in the billions)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal supplements for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

And live it up! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HELP!! – I Want to Change but I’m OVERWHELMED!

Contact me directly to schedule your FREE Health History:
www.learningtoloveyourbody.com
kelly@learningtoloveyourbody.com

(609) 306-7356

89lbs

I will eat what I want
and look as I please
and laugh as loud as I like
and use the wrong fork of my knife.
I had to learn strange and delicious lessons, lessons too few women learn:
to love the thump of my steps,
the implication of weight and presence and taking of space,
to love my body’s rebellious hungers,
responses to touch,
and to understand myself as more than a brain attached  to a bundle of bones.
I have to ignore the cultural cacophony that singsongs all day long, Too much, too much, too much.
– Marya Hornbacker, “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia”


When I was 17 years old I attached a lot of words to myself. Actress, Writer, Singer, Friend, Daughter (more like “bad daughter”). But the one that I stuck to myself the hardest, the one I wore like a badge of honor and believed defined my strength and power as a woman was Feminist. I believed, as Wictionary declares, in “the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes.” I believed that women were strong, good, even better. I believed that it was part of my job to dispel the myths of feminism and proclaim that nearly everyone, if they took the time to read the definition, would declare themself Feminist too. I idolized Gloria Steinem, protested the subjugation of women through a dreadful little thing called “heels,” and I spoke my mind dramatically and often.

And I weighed 89lbs.

Unfortunately, I can guarantee that half the female readers who peruse this blog have been there. Or they’ve been close to there. Or worse, some part of them has actually wanted to be there. Why? An indeterminate number of factors come into play, but there are a few constants. And even though I alone can’t cure Anorexia, Bulimia, or general chronic overeating and binging disorders, I will attempt to offer some simple steps that have helped me heal. If, however, you are aware that you are in the midst of a genuine eating disorder that the the thought of healing from terrifies you, you need to take yourself out of the driver seat immediately and let someone else guide you. And if your absolutely terrified of this prospect, you can simply tell someone you trust what is really going on with you, and tell them you need help. You can find more information at eating-disorder.com/Eating-Treatment/Resources.htmor call 866-575-8179.

Ok, so let’s break this down a bit.

CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL?

It’s a commonly held belief that eating disorders are all about Control. As in, a woman (or man), feels out of control in his or her life and said person’s eating patterns, the weight of their body, are the one thing that they can control, so that’s why they do it. This is only partially true. In the end, when the disease is very advanced, your daily activities amount to total focus on controlling what you eat, when, how much, etc.

But that’s certainly not all of it.

If it were really all about control than we’d be finding disorders like “Hair Straightenitis” (the chronic need to control the shape and structure of one’s hair) or “Brazillia Nervosa” (the chronic need to get Brazillian bikini waxes that results in an inaccurate perception of the amount of hair in your pubic area” or a whole host of similar “disorders.” 😉

If it were all about control, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa would have been epidemic in the 1950s, when a large majority of women had little control over their professional and personal lives, where choice was often limited to the color of the carpet or the cleanliness of the household.

If it were all about control, eating disorders would be epidemic in Saudi Arabia, where women are considered far below men on the socio-political meter and have very few rights and liberties.

Nope, eating disorders, at least at first, are all about POWER.

Or, at least, a misguided (and culturally fostered) attempt to gain it. And here’s how it often begins.

You’re a kid, just starting to grow into a woman. You’ve got the normal (good!) baby fat on you, and you are healthy. You don’t look at food as the “enemy,” in fact, you rarely think about food. You’re a little uncomfortable, ok a lot uncomfortable, with the changes that are going on in your body and in your life, like most teenagers. And you desperately want to fit in and be cool and be popular. You hear (earlier and earlier these days) that some of the more popular girls in school are going on “diets.” You decide that, in order to be cool and fit in, you’re going to go on a “diet” too. So you start restricting the amount of calories you eat. You say, “oh sorry, none for me, I’m not hungry” when someone offers you food (which is a lie). Within a couple weeks, you’ve actually lost a little weight. Somebody (often an adult female in your family or in another key role in your life) says, “You look good, did you lose some weight?” You think, “Huh. I wasn’t looking good before?” Unconsciously or consciously a seed is planted. You begin to believe that in order to look good and have people validate you (which, as a teenager, you desperately crave), you have to be thinner.” Ok. Got it.

So you lose a little more weight, and you get even more compliments.

The popular girls in school start to notice you a little more. Your mom may look at you more approvingly. And that little seed has sprouted into a baby tree before you know it.

Quite naturally, you start to see that every time you lose weight, more people seem to like you, and more people seem to notice you. Quite naturally, you begin to believe you have found the answer. You begin to believe that the key to getting everything you want out of life, the self-confidence you are sorely lacking, the love and approval you crave, is to lose weight. You begin to put “being thin” down as your highest goal. Nothing before has ever worked like this! You’ve found the secret to being successful, loved, cared for, approved of. They key to finally being powerful.

So you remain on what seems to be the most logical path. You lose more weight. You start to identify the feeling of being hungry (which you seem to be all the time these days), with being loved. And soon the feeling of being uncomfortable becomes very, well, comfortable.

You start spending a lot of time looking at women in “women’s” magazines, female celebrities on TV, “Super”models, and you see that they are all super thin. You also see that other people seem care about them, to NOTICE them. They obviously care about them and notice them enough to put them in magazines, on TV and in movies, and ask them questions about themselves. THEY ARE IMPORTANT, THEIR OPINIONS ARE IMPORTANT is the message you receive, and you are certain it is  because they are thin, or at least partially. So you begin to idolize them, to crave what they have.

And so you lose even more weight.

But now, people seem to be looking at you a bit differently. Their faces now have a look of concern. It is a different look than you’ve gotten before, but it’s still a look. They still seem to care about you, and now they seem to care even more(!), albeit in a different way.

They start telling you that you are “too thin.” They start asking you what is wrong with you. If you’re eating enough. And this confuses the hell out of you.

You think: “What do you mean, ‘what is wrong?,’  I’m not doing anything different than I was before. You liked me more when I lost weight, so that’s why I keep losing weight, so you’ll keep liking me more. So you’ll keep noticing me more. Duh! Why would you think I’d want to change that? I mean, of course I’m losing weight. The more weight I lose, the more you seem to like me. Right? How dare you tell me I should GAIN weight? Why would I do that? Why would I give up this power I’ve gotten? You clearly want me to be that insecure, scared girl I was before. Screw you!”

And so you keep on your path. And now, being thin, losing weight, being more thin, has become the sole purpose of your life. You’re not really sure how it became that, but it is. And since you have no tools (or don’t even think there are other tools) to attaining the (pseudo) self-love and (pseudo) self-respect that you believe being thin has givin you, you think that it is the ONLY was to attain what you want out of life. It’s the magic potion, and you won’t let anyone take that potion away from you. I mean, it worked before, right?

And you keep on the path. You may have to lie a lot, or all the time, to stay on the path, but that’s ok with you. It’s NECESSARY, you believe. The path seems to be a bit darker now, yes, but it’s the only path you know. And you become lost on this path. Quite naturally, you LOSE yourself on this path. It’s so dark you can’t even see what you’ve done anymore. You can’t even SEE your body anymore. Your body becomes completely detached from YOU. It is simply a thing, a vessel, to get what want, what you NEED.

And before you know it, before you see what has happened, you’re 89lbs and your mother is crying in the dressing room as you try on bras (for your much-smaller breasts than you had before you began on this path).

And you wonder, “how the hell did I get here?”

Anorexia is well, ironic. Bulimia is a disorder on which an entire separate entry could be given, and since my experience was primarily with Anorexia (simply cause my mom has really good hearing), I’m going to focus a bit more on that. But in the end, it’s all the same. Like other disease of addiction – alcoholism – drug addiction – gambling – it lies to you from day one. It tells you it’s giving you power, only to take all your power away. And, like all the other diseases of addiction, it’s progressive. And it kills.

What you read above is my story. So similar to so many others, but mine, and I own it. And I’m better, MUCH better. I’m never going to be 100% “healed,” I know that, and that’s ok. Being in recovery from another deadly disease, I’ve seen the great joys that come from digging out of the depths of despair and isolation into the light.

But I’m far from the 17 year old girl I was when I entered that dressing room that day. Eons and eons.

Today, most of the time, I love and value myself for who I am intrinsically, for what I have to offer the world.
Today, most of the time, I have genuine self love and genuine self-respect.
Today, most of the time,  I love my body not for how it looks but for what it does and that it’s mine. And I love the healing foods that I put into it.
Today, all of the time, I can gain weight (and even though it still irks me) and I do not feel like the world is crumbling around me. I have a foundation made from something far more precious.

This – my dears – may not seem like much.

But it really is Freedom.

And here is how I got from the girl you saw above to where I am today. So let’s start by looking at just why eating disorders are epidemic in the US today. And lets face it, it’s our fault.
The United States of America, in particular, provides the “perfect storm” for eating disorders with these three crucial ingredients:

  1. An appearance-obsessed culture that consistently (and effectively) sends the message that you are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough. Not enough, period.
  2. A current cultural “ideal” of a woman so thin that she can no longer get her period (i.e., have enough body fat and function to bear children) whose breasts are anatomically incompatible with her body structure, who must always remain “young-looking” to be considered valuable.
  3. The technical ability to send this message out to the largest number of people on a daily and consistent basis.

The good news is, you can get better in spite of all of this. Provided you take a few simple steps.

1. Start to look at food differently.

While I was consumed by Anorexia, I’ll saw food primarily as “the enemy.” It was merely a substance whose only function was to cause me to gain weight and to thus remove my sense of self-respect and self-love. In order to heal and find freedom from my disease, it was essential that I learn to see food and the eating of it for what it truly is and is meant to be: a pleasurable, necessary part of life which provides me with calories that can keep my body and brain functioning in a balanced fashion so that I can live to my fullest potential and as a spirit of the universe. And to enrich my life through the many social and personal experiences (like Thanksgiving, lunch with friends, celebration of a particular event in our lives, etc.) that occur every day. So I started reading. I couldn’t just throw out my controlling habits overnight, so I had to switch from controlling how much food I consume to controlling the types of foods – satisfying and nutritious – that I consume. I found out that good fats (like olive oil, raw butter, pumpkin oil) are good for you (they keep your brain functioning happily as well as the rest of your body), vegetables help you to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, yogurt and similar fermented foods help keep your digestive system happy, etc. I became a vegetarian, and though I am only telling you this because it was part of my journey, it was the passion that many in the vegetarian movement possess that allowed me to channel my strong emotions toward something that would ultimately help me rather than harm me. (Today, for the record, I am still a vegetarian who takes Cod Liver Oil and is a staunch advocate of the Raw Milk Movement)>


2. Throw out the scale (and avoid the ones in the gym or at your friend’s homes)

When one is in active eating disorder mode, “best” translates into “thinnest” in your brain. This is a FACT. You WILL give the scale the power to dictate how you feel about yourself once you take that first step onto it. Like the 1st step of the various 12 Step Fellowships, you must admit that you are “powerless over the scale.” This is always true, even years after you have escaped the worst parts of the disease. So KILL YOUR SCALE. Like the guys do that delusional printer/fax machine in Office Space, I encourage you to (if you currently own a scale), go gangsta on that pile of wires and never buy another one!

3. Limit your looks in the mirror

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I HATE mirrors. Why? Because if I didn’t have a mirror in my home, I’d be spending my time doing a lot more important things than looking in it everytime I pass.  Seriously, it’s a time wasting endeavor. I mean, many people regularly look in mirrors, but anorexics, bulimics, and many other amazing, fabulous, intelligent women who are stuck in the cycle of body hate, allow their gazes into the mirror, what they see back, to become a value-defining experience. And that shit is just wrong. Look, I’m not naive. I get that, in our-appearance obsessed culture, it is often vital to one’s survival in the workplace to have a presentable appearance. I can accept that. But one can accept that and still remain free from the vortex of the mirror. Lets be honest, you really don’t need to look in the mirror 20 times a day or more to remain presentable and “put-together.” Once in the morning before you go to work and perhaps after changing into more relaxed clothes in the evening, or before a date or another special function/event that’s about all you need. By now, you know your face and your hair well enough. You can feel if your hair is a giant tornado this with a simple touch of your head. The mirror only allows you to focus on minute details that nobody but you ever notices. If you have a giant piece of food on your face, someone will tell you, and you can carefully wipe your mouth after each meal without ever glancing in a mirror. This may seem silly, but it isn’t. When you aren’t spending your free time staring in a mirror, you are dramatically cutting down the amount of personal scrutiny you can have with regards to your body. I encourage you to throw out any full length mirrors you may have, at least for now. You don’t need them and they, like the scale, offer far more negative energies into your life than positive. So get rid of that full length mirror, and when you pass one in the bathroom at work, I suggest you give a momentary glance, if that. Make a commitment to washing your hands after using the bathroom at work and walking out almost in the same breath. I have done this myself and I can tell you it works. I can also tell you that once I start giving that mirror more time than it deserves, the vortex traps me again. It always wins.

4. Never read “women’s magazines” like Cosmo, Shape, Vogue, any of them. Ever!

Never say never? Never say never? Oh I’m saying never! Trust me on this. There is NOTHING good that can come out of reading one of these magazines. I don’t care if one of them contains an article on page 42 that will tell you how to live forever, you should NEVER open one up (thank god I don’t have sponsors and I don’t do this for money – phew!). I’m pretty damn sure if the secret to eternal life has been found, it’ll be covered in more news sources than f*^&*&g Cosmo. Your disease will have a field day as your self-esteem and your soul dies a little on every page. Remember this, the images in these magazines are NOT reality, and they are not realistic. It is common knowledge that 90% of these images are airbrushed, tweeked, and Photoshopped. In the end, the images you see on the page are far from the image originally captured on camera. I can tell you this now, but if you pick one up, you’ll forget it in a heartbeat. We are visual creatures. It’s virtually impossible to look at an image and in the same moment remember that the image is false. So accept that, and stay away. So just make a commitment to never pick one of them up, even if they are the only piece of reading material at the gym or in your dentist waiting room. You’ve got a very, very active brain. You know this. And your imagination can entertain you much more effectively than an article on cellulite surrounded by 30 Photoshopped models. Just Say No to Cosmo.

Look, I KNOW, I KNOW this shit isn’t easy. Especially if you’re right in the middle of the disease. And if you’re there, then you need, first and foremost, to break the cycle. But even after you begin digging out of the hole, it is just the beginning. Just the beginning of healing, of freedom.  But every step you take is, as Neil Armstrong says, one giant leap for yourself and for women everywhere. Cliche but damn true. And with every step, terrifying as it may be, you are breaking one link in your shackle. And as you break free, one day at a time, you begin to become in tune with the flow of the Universe, of life, of all that is Good and Right and True in this world.

Trust me my friends, the Rush of that flow, the Peace of that flow, the Love of that flow, is far more incredible than any pseudo-power that vomiting up your dinner or restricting your lunch to 125 calories or less, or whatever ritual you may have, could EVER begin to offer you.

And the less you focus on the appearance of your body, the less you lie to yourself and the world about your natural human needs for food and nourishment, the more you give other women (and men, I know many of you have this problem too) the freedom to do the same. The freedom to stop scrutinizing your body and start living in it. You know that saying “pay it forward?” Well it applies perfectly here. So, just once a month, or a week if your feeling frisky, to start, have lunch or dinner with a group (or even one!) woman. And try this:

Whatever you choose to order, thoroughly enjoy each and every bite.Don’t say “oh, I’m famished” after the first bite. Don’t deny your humanity or theirs with a lie. At least in that moment, that hour, ACT AS IF you were you as a child, before that first seed of your eating disorder was ever planted. Eat like that kid. Eat like a child of the earth. Don’t apologize for your hunger, kids don’t do that. When they are hungry the eat. Period. So enjoy each and every bite, taste every taste. LOVE that meal. And maybe throw in a gleeful grin and a wink at your gals every once in a while for good measure.

And remember, this isn’t just about you. By simply enjoying your meal and viewing it with the eyes of a child, you will be offering EVERY other woman there, and all the women she may know, and the friends of the women she may know, and so on and so on, the gift of freedom.

You will be breaking a link in their shackle and you will be taking a giant step towards decimating yours.

And that, my dears, is one hell of a RADICAL act. 😉