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!

Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill

Wise, wise words from an old friend of mine (at least I like to think we would have been friends back in the day), Mr. Winston Churchill.

One of the hardest struggles in recovering from an eating disorder is the frequent feeling of taking two steps forward and three back. Be it a rogue comment from a cashier, an overwhelming feeling of panic surrounding a meal, an unexpected life event can all send an individual with an eating disorder reeling and feeling like they are back to where they started, just when they thought they were making progress.

An eating disorder (ED) often grabs a hold of a one’s life slowly, and at first it can be so seductive, he (ED) eases his way in, “oh, wouldn’t it be great to lose five pounds”, “I think I’m going to try going (insert favorite diet fad here)”, “I think I’m going to start training for (insert exercise option here)”. For most, those statements wouldn’t be a big deal and after a five pound loss, or a shift in what the composition of your dinner plate looks like, or once a race is complete, it’s onto the next change, like putting a deck on the patio, planning that trip to Europe, or thinking about a career change. For others, it can be the start of opening the door just a crack to let ED in to their life, and once he’s got a foot in the door, it’s only a matter of time before he makes himself extremely comfortable in your house (a.k.a. your body) and he starts rearranging your life around his agenda and before you even know it, you’ve been taken hostage, ED is in complete control.

I really don’t believe anyone sets out to have an eating disorder. They are truly horrible and take up room in every ounce of your being when they are full blown. They make you miserable, sad, depressed, anxious, isolated, trapped.

Having ED move into your life is really like being in an abusive relationship – you never entered into it thinking every detail of your life would be taken hostage and controlled, but alas it happens, and though you want to leave the relationship, ED locks all the doors and dangles the keys in front of you and tells you there is no way out. But I am here to tell you, there is a way out ED, there is always a way out.

See as much as I don’t believe anyone sets out to have ED control their life, I also don’t believe ED attacks weak people, that is much too easy for him. He attacks those who have the most to offer this world. Those with a message, a sense of purpose, those who want to better the lives of others. ED wants to get in their way and stop the positivity and greatness that would be spread through those he attacks. So even in the darkest room, there will always be a glimmer of light for those trapped by ED and all you need to do is move to the light and chip away the wall until more and more light begins to break through. It may take weeks, months, years to chip away at ED’s barriers – after all, it took him that long to move in – but over time, the walls will be broken and light will burst forth for all to see and ED will have no choice but to get the heck out of there and let your light shine!