Here’s a picture of my body….

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Oh, I’m sorry (#notsorry), is this not the picture you expected? I bet you were hoping that the picture I was going to post was one of my body – and although my right hand is most certainly a part of my body, it’s not the part you really want to see – is it? No, no, you want to see a picture of the parts that “count” – my stomach or thighs – right? The parts you can compare to yours. The parts that you can say are either bigger or smaller than yours, the parts of me that get into your head and won’t get out – because, be that my parts are better or worse than yours, you compare your parts to mine – I call it the game.

Do you know about it? You probably do. You are probably such a great player of the game and don’t even know you’re playing it. It’s a game that is taking the world by storm, a game that kids are starting to play at younger ages each generation…. It’s the comparison game. We do it all the time. I was a great player of the game, and honestly, to this day, despite an undergrad and Master’s degree teaching myself and others how to stop the game, I still catch myself playing it.

It’s a sneaky thing this game…..it may start innocently enough by looking at an Instagram photo, or perhaps looking at the sculpted arms on your workout instructor, or the airbrushed body and whitened smiles of 26 celebrities starring at you as you push your grocery cart of diet/fast/healthy/comfort/____(insert food type here) food through the checkout, and the next step is thinking about that image you just looked at and wondering why you aren’t skinny as/fit as/strong as/stylish as/rich as/happy as/ (insert your choice of ” ____ as” here) and then you continue to scroll through more news feed looking at other things you don’t have and start to feel slightly less confident about yourself than you did before you looked at those images….but despite feeling a little less confident about yourself and telling yourself 5 things you love about yourself, you go back for more (how can you help it when the images are all so close within reach), you continuing looking at others Intragramed pictures of perfection, flipping through the pages of heavy airbrushed magazines and growing slightly more uncomfortable in your own skin with each image.

Now let me say, the thing about the game is that it’s not your fault that you are a player in it. We are born into a world where we automatically become part of the game without knowing it. It’s the “devil on our shoulder” or, as I call it, “the voice of ED” (eating disorders/disordered eating), telling us that we must be fitter/happier/more successful/richer/thinner/better/better/better and that, compared to others, we are fat/ugly/lazy/not good enough/worthless.

So here is my plea. Stop the game. *Get out of the game or the game will get you. How the game gets you will look different for everyone, but sooner or later, you will be gotten. Stop looking at images of the lives of other people – you are only seeing their highlight reel, not the behind the scenes of their lives. Start being thankful – purposefully thankful for what you do have in your life. Do you have a hand that can write meaningful words? Those that don’t would tell you to be grateful. Do you have legs that can move you from here to there? Cherish them, those that can no longer walk would want you to. Do you have a roof over your head? Celebrate it, so many long for that luxury. Do you have someone you love and someone who loves you in return? Hold on to them and be thankful – for there are many who have lost those they have loved.

And once you have stopped the game start changing it for others. For mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, for those you love that you want to see thrive in this world. Be mindful of what you post and what you expose yourselves to. We may not be able to avoid magazines at the grocery store aisle, but we can compliment people we see in the grocery store (and beyond 🙂 on something other than their appearance, and we can start being the change this world so desperately needs.

If this post spoke to you and made you think about the lenses you see the world through – please post a picture of your right hand as a sign that you are making a small step towards stopping the game and starting the change.

People of the world – raise your right hand!

Scale back.

I most enjoy questions, whether they come from a client, a reader, a dear friend or a totally stranger (hoping of course that stranger speaks some version of English or is very clever at charades as I only know 5 words that are not of English origin).

One of the questions I was asked recently was how often I weigh myself.

My answer? Every hour on the hour.

Ok ok ok ok, confession, of course I don’t do that craziness, I actually haven’t weighed myself since before Lily was born (almost 5 years). Of course during pregnancy I had to do the weigh-in at check ups, but that was never a big deal, it went hand in hand with things like taking my blood pressure and hearing my girl’s precious beating heart.

Why don’t I weigh myself?

The reason I don’t weigh myself is that it tells me absolutely nothing about who I am. It only conveys to me my pull of gravity on earth and that is all. Seriously, that’s it.

A scale can’t tell me how smart, funny, awesome, loved or loving I am….it can’t tell me if I am a good mom, wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter or aunt….it can’t tell me what I value, what my personality traits are, if I have good morals….it only can tell me one of many measurements about my physical body.

Now lets rewind the clock 20 years ago (or so) shall we, and ask the same question….

The answer to that question would be daily (if not more).

I would secretly sneak the scale out of my parents bathroom and weigh myself, often more than once a day, obsessing over the number. It would literally play like a film reel in my head all day (what a boring movie hey?) If it was anything more than what I wanted it to be (which it ALWAYS, ALWAYS was, which is just outrageous because I was anorexic, literally), it would ruin my day. That’s it, my day would be over and I would be done. A grouch. Grumpy pants Mc Gee, miserable. At that time the scale didn’t just tell me a small part of who I was, I let it tell me exactly who I was…..worthless, no good, untrusting, fat (again, i was absolutely not these things, but I let the scale tell me that I was), insignificant.

Looking back, I cannot believe the sadness I let creep into my life because of a freaking scale….I mean honestly, I felt a scale told me that much about myself. That is ludicrous! What if I put that much emphasis on another number that measured something about my physical body, what if one day instead of the usual 37.0 degrees, it said 37.1 and I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror because of that 0.1 degree difference? Or what if my blood pressure was 70 beats per minute on Tuesday when on Monday it had been 71 – would that have been the end of me, would that 1 extra beat trump all other positive thoughts I may have had about myself, disabling me from carrying on as a contributing member of the human race?

I know, you think I am blowing this WAY out of proportion….but am I? Why have we allowed a simple electronic device rule our world in such a major way? Who chose the scale instead of the blood pressure machine or the glucose testing kit? Each one of these contraptions can tell you something about your health, but for some reason the world has said (and we, for the most part have willingly obliged) that the scale has the first and last word on exactly who we are….when did we get so scale crazed?

Are you scale crazy? Perhaps it’s time to throw yours out with the trash? Perhaps its time to limit stepping on the scale to doctors visits? Perhaps it’s time to put a post it note on the screen reminding yourself who you REALLY are and what the scale CAN’T tell you. Where ever you are at, I hope that you know you are so much more than a silly number.

 

Life Without Ed

For those of you who have not heard the name Jenni Schaefer before, I would highly encourage you to get to know her name. She is an ambassador with with National Eating Disorders Association, a gifted singer and song writer, and a survivor of disordered eating.

In her amazing book “Life Without Ed” she writes short, concise chapters dedicated to divorcing oneself from an eating disorder – or “Ed”.

To think about an eating disorder in the context of a tumutulous, controlling, abusive relationship as Jenni describes in her book gives one a sense that they can say “no” to the voice of Ed in their head. Ed is persuasive, smooth, convincing, attractive, comforting and familiar – just to name a few characteristics; however, he is also oppressive, manipulative, lying, deceitful, vindictive and ultimately, deadly.

They say it takes an abused woman and average of seven times to leave her partner, with Ed, life may not be that much different for those that try to separate from him on their own. Yet, for those that have a “safe house” to run to, including a support system that includes family, friends and a team of eating disorder specialists and the self determination to divorce Ed and live the life they dreamed of, a life of freedom and fulfillment, it doesn’t have to take more than one shot at separating yourself from Ed. Yes, there may be setbacks, relapse and plain ol’ bad days, but ultimately, with diligence and an unwavering commitment to health, Ed can be left in the dust and life can be lived to the full.

Check out more of Jenni Schaefer at http://www.jennischaefer.com/