Saturday, April 20, 2013

Body Acceptance

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my family has been coming to this same vacation spot in St. Augustine for years. Thinking back, I can't think of one year that I felt comfortable in my swimsuit. Every year I went on a spring break diet and exercise plan, but it only seemed to make me more self conscious. Meals were always dreaded because I knew eating would leave me feeling bloated and disgusting. 

One year I became so starved (or emotional, I'm not sure. Maybe both.) that I stole a jar of peanut butter and a half eaten box of crackers from the pantry and ate nearly all of it in secrecy. This incident was before my purging days, so I was forced to endure the guilt involved with binging. My entire trip was ruined as a result because I thought I was fat. I remember feeling really irritated with my family members who could eat three meals a day, plus snacks and still feel comfortable in their own skin. It did not make any sense to me. 

It's difficult for me to believe that I am even saying this, but for the past three days I have gone for walks on the beach wearing only my swimsuit. Before leaving for this trip, I was scared to death to simply buy a swimsuit and I hadn't even considered actually wearing it in public.

Here's the craziest part of all - I felt more confident in my suit this year than I ever have in my entire life. As I was walking, I kept thinking of all of the amazing things my body has done for me: It has recovered from a state of self-starvation, it has allowed my metabolism to work normally again, it has helped my bones grow strong again, and most importantly, it has allowed me to feel happiness again. I wasn't worrying about whether or not my body looked perfect - because we all know it never will - instead I was feeling proud of the hard work that has allowed me to enjoy those moments.

  
Body acceptance is a state of mind that I never thought I could reach. Ironically, however, now that I have been at a healthy weight for an extended period of time, I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever did while I was sick. My body image was actually worse 50lbs ago than it is right now.

 
My metabolism has also fired up again. Although it does take time and continuous eating to help the metabolism work properly again, it does happen. When I was restricting my calories, my body would cling onto every morsel of food I did feed it because it didn't know when it would receive fuel again, which causes the awful bloating. By eating regularly, however, not only do I feel better mentally and physically, the bloating has also gone away. My body has re-learned how to digest food - YAY! 

This is a huge step for me. By facing my fear of looking fat in my swimsuit on the beach, I have found a new sense of body acceptance. Amazingly, one year ago, my biggest fear was weight gain and here I am feeling better than ever before in my own skin. 


Progress.


14 comments:

  1. You are such an inspiration! Thank you for posting it.

    The only thing I didn't like is that you have numbers which can be triggering, but other than that your post is perfect!

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    1. I agree that using numbers is always a dangerous choice in an eating disorder recovery blog. However, that is never my intent. I never share my specific weights, high or low, but I do think occasionally using the amount of weight I have gained as a shock factor is effective. I do it to prove to others in the weight gain process that they can also reach a healthy weight and feel good about themselves. Weight gain is often one of the hardest parts of recovery, but in the end it changes everything. I do apologize if this was triggering to you or anyone else, but I would never purposely do that.

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  2. Really great to hear how your feel about your body, but honestly, I think your body is beautiful. So why not accepting? :) xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much! Hopefully you feel the same about your body! Acceptance is possible. ;) xoxo

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  3. I just breathed such a wonderful sigh of relief for you, because that is the first reaction I had to this post. You can see the calmness and overall awareness that just jumps from this. I love it. I have to say, a bathing suit is still really hard for me now that I am at a healthy weight. You give me hope that maybe soon I can rock it. I sure hope I can. And the bloating thing is so true, I remember constantly having problems making me more self aware. Now, I have more of a regular bloating, like you eat, ok a little bloat but then back to normal. I never thought it would happen.

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    1. It is a hard thing and we might not ever be 100% thrilled with our bodies, but there is definitely a level if acceptance that is so liberating! Thanks for reading! :)

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  4. You're a beautiful girl, Kelsi! You should be strutting your curvy, gorgeous body in that suit!

    Love, love you girl! Have a fabulous trip! xoxo

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    1. Haha love love love you too, Miss Kenzie!!

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  5. And all youve done is EAT? it just seems so impossible to me right now, that all that could be waiting for me if i just allow myself the freedom of recovery. But i feel, like you felt before... that body acceptance isnt something that i will ever get to. Is it really as simple as eat more and dont exercise. like really?!?! cos i keep thinking there must be some secret that i dont know about. haha....

    Still, this post is beautiful and everytime i read your words i feel renewed optimism that things will change for me too :) thankyou x

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  6. Well, there is a lot of work that needs to be done mentally, but yes eating is a huge part of it! And I found that once I hit a healthy weight I could think a lot more logically about body image and other distorted things... Hang in there. xo

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  7. Awesome :) I'm so glad to see you enjoying vacations and your new swim suit!

    This might sound weird, but your post a couple weeks ago when you first bought your new bathing suit really inspired me. Though I didn't buy one yet, I tried on a bikini for the first time literally ever in my life. First, during my ED years, I always thought I was too heavy for one, no matter what i weighed. Then even after in recovery I wouldn't because my stomach has some unusual qualities about it for someone my age due to the number of extreme and rapid weight gains and losses during my ED - despite my weight being stable for a long time now, I imagine it wouldn't ever go away without plastic surgery (which I will probably not ever be able to afford and I wouldn't feel comfortable with doing as a body image activist anyway). Your post first made me feel happy for you but sad for myself because I would never look like that in a bathing suit. But then I found myself questioning myself about what I "can't do" and my self pity and why despite my progress in body image I would still be clinging to this notion that I have to hide myself and punish myself....Anyway, when I tried on the suit I found myself thinking that it wasn't that bad, that there were even some things i liked about the way I looked in it. I didn't buy it, but I'm not counting it out anymore :)

    I don't comment on everything here because I usually end up going to check like once a week and I read a lot at once, but I enjoy each and every one of your posts. Though I've been in recovery and behavior free a pretty long time now, sometimes old thoughts and negative self image slip back, and I feel newly inspired in my recovery each time i read your blog. So for that i thank you and congratulate you on your progress and I hope you will continue writing! :)

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    1. Aw, hey - that doesn't sound weird at all! Good for you for trying on a bikini! That has to be such an amazing feeling. I think it's really important to keep in mind that everyone's body is SO different and what is a healthy weight for me may be completely different for another person. Your words made me a little bit emotional, if I'm being honest. For you to find a few things about your body that you like is such a HUGE step - remind yourself of those things every single day. Maybe someday you will buy that bikini. :)

      Thank you so much for reading, it really means the world to me to know that I am not alone in all of this. Old thoughts and negative self image creep up on me sometimes too, but a huge part of recovery is learning new ways to deal with those thoughts. Anyways, thank you again! Your kind words made my day. xoxo <3

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    2. You are very right in that bodies look very different in recovery, and I am trying to remember that :) Thanks for your very kind response my comment! :)

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