Stalking Some Pretty and Thin Person’s Pictures from 2012

Stalking Some Pretty and Thin Person’s Pictures from 2012

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Instagram/Facebook and somehow end up stalking some ‘pretty and thin’ persons pictures from 2012 thinking, “man… if I looked like that life would be so much better”? and then proceed to daydream about some skinny, beautiful fairyland where you would be such a better wife, brother, daughter, mother, father, student, teacher [fill in the blank].

Yeah, same here.

Let’s sit here and think about how absolutely flawed this pattern of thinking is.

First, I’m going to say what has been said one hundred million times before… YOU’RE LOOKING AT A HIGHLIGHT REEL. Behind every single human who has lived and ever will live is some ūüí©. Seriously, behind every “perfect” photo is someone who has gone through something absolutely horrible. They’ve gone to bed crying so hard that no more tears will come. They’ve broken someone’s heart. They’ve had their heart broken. They’ve done things they’ve regretted. They’ve made mistakes that you would never dream of making. All that is part of being a human for ya ūüíĀ.

You really just never know a persons story from what they post on social media. Maybe this person is currently doing some ūüí© that you would never trade for that ‘beautiful and flawless body’. For example, when I was right in the midst of anorexia, I cannot begin to tell you the number of compliments I received. “Your body is perfect”, “I would do anything for your legs”, “you’re looking SO GOOD”… but guess what? Behind the scenes was a girl who wouldn’t let herself sit still for longer than 30 minutes because she believed that it would slow her metabolism down (which I laugh at today because that thought process was one of thee most ironic things of my life). A girl who would scream at her mother for not letting her get her 3 workouts for the day in. A girl who would cry herself to sleep because she ate a single slice of pizza. A girl who spent the years following hating her body. A girl who still to this day struggles every now and then when she looks in the mirror. She still has to shut down the thoughts in the back of her head telling her she needs to change.

You tell me… does that sound like some skinny, beautiful fairyland where she reached all of her hopes and dreams? If you answered yes, hate to break it to ya, but you’re dead wrong. Life actually SUCKED trying to maintain that ‘perfect body’.

I’m definitely not saying that behind every good looking, thin privileged person is someone who has an eating disorder. Maybe their just living in a society proclaimed ‘beautiful body’, but going through some really crappy times with family, friends, work or school. Or, ya know, maybe that person IS in fact livin’ in skinny, beautiful fairyland where they have amazing relationships, a fun job, beautiful and well-behaved children, a perfectly decorated home with those little succulents & one of those paintings of their family without faces and enough money and time to go on gorgeous road trips every other week.

Don’t mean to break your heart, but maybe that’s just not meant to be your life. And THAT. IS. OK.
Truth is… their beauty and body weight is not what got them to that place. Even if we pretend and say that it was, that is their story. Don’t waste a single second of your life trying to chase down someone else’s story.

You were born into YOUR life, into YOUR body, with all your lil quirks and flaws for a reason. It is your purpose to find that reason. But hint: that reason was not to obtain that perfect bod with the flawless skin and hair and face. Think deeper.

I just came across an oldie but goodie quote the other day:

I love this quote, but I just want to add that even if you don’t find a huge advancement in the medical world, start a nationwide movement, or write a life-changing book… (which I’m gonna assume is 99.99% of us) you are still amazing and worthy and ENOUGH. You are enough just for showing up each day cause life is freakin’ hard, to say in the least.

Next time you realize you’ve scrolled into someone’s beautiful second cousin’s page and that you’ve been belittling every accomplishment of your life because they are stunning and wrote some really nice calligraphy… stop yourself. Remind yourself that you’re on a different journey and that your journey is just as noteworthy.

The Day Dedicated to Food

The Day Dedicated to Food

We’re coming up on Thanksgiving, and this will be the first year in the past five years that I’m not already absolutely dreading it. But for those of you out there that are feeling nervous for what’s to come on Thanksgiving day, I understand, and I hope I can offer some advice.

For me, Thanksgiving has been one of the most¬† t r i g g e r i n g¬† days of the year. When I was battling through disordered eating, I was horrified by the thought of eating until you’re absolutely stuffed. I dreaded the thought of everyone in the family eyeing down what was on my plate. I felt overwhelmed hearing comments about how many calories must’ve been in that dish, and hearing talk about how ‘so and so has gained weight’, or that ‘so and so looks so good after that new diet’. My entire meal would be spent frantically trying to plan out which items were the safest to eat, which items should be avoided, and how I could stop myself from eating before I became full. The rest of the day following the meal would be filled with regret and planning out a way to compensate for the ‘damage’ that had been done.

To put it simple, Thanksgiving during recovery can be pretty crappy. BUT I want to share some ‘dos and don’ts’ that I’ve accumulated through the years, and hopefully offer something that can help this year’s Thanksgiving be a little less crappy ūüėČ

РSkip meals 
It’s natural to think that skipping out on breakfast and lunch before Thanksgiving dinner will help to compensate for eating a large amount… but trust me– you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’ve probably heard this time, after time, after time, but I just want to reiterate it once more for ya– starving yourself before a meal will only make you¬†ravenous¬†when it comes time to eat. Skipping meals causes your body to feel frantic when it’s faced with food again, and you’ll be feeling even more fearful around food when it gets down to it. Listen to your body and eat a nice breakfast and snacks throughout the day before heading into the meal.

Same applies for AFTER the meal. Don’t go restricting yourself on Black Friday to compensate. Guess what? When our bodies give us hunger signals… it means its asking for food (shocking scientific fact, I know). You might leave dinner thinking that you ate enough food to last in your belly for days, but trust me. Our hunger signals aren’t mistakes, so *when* you get hungry the next day, feed yourself.

– Body check
One bad habit I picked up during my eating disorder was to frequently participate in body checks on my tummy. If my tummy felt or looked bigger than normal, it would send me into a panic. Little did I realize that your tummy changes multiple times throughout the day, and it’s not because you are gaining and losing weight constantly. If you’ve picked up this habit yourself, fight any urges to grab your body or check the mirror, because if you are a human being,¬†you’ve experienced bloat in your life. I know that I get a lil bloated after each meal I have, especially meals that are bigger than normal. Understand that you may experience bloat BUT remember this: bloat does NOT equal fat. You may have enough bloat to seem like you gained 10 pounds from one meal… but in reality, it’s just a bunch of gasses built up from digestion. Yum. ūüėÖ

– Worry about what other people say or do
Definitely one of those things easier said than done. But if someone makes a comment about what’s on your plate, talks about how ‘so and so’ looks, or can’t stop talking about things that are triggering to you… it says a lot about what’s most important to them, and what type of person they are. Understand that you don’t have to sit there and take it. Don’t be afraid to ask them to keep their comments about what you are eating to themselves, to not talk about the size of other people’s bodies, or any other triggering content. But if you’re like me and aren’t comfortable with taking that approach, you can either try changing the conversation, or simply getting up and leaving the area. It’s sad that we live in a society where talking about diets, calories, and bodies is the norm, but you can protect yourself by not engaging in these conversations.

– Stretch/move if you’re full¬†
When I was recovering from anorexia, I had a really difficult time dealing with fullness. My nutritionist advised me to try doing light stretching or going on a short walk during times where my fullness was making me feel anxious. Let me tell ya, this seemingly simple piece of advice was a game changer that I still occasionally use to this day. If you feel uncomfortably full, take a moment to stretch out or go on a short walk around the block. This not only helps your body feel good, but it plays as a beneficial distraction as well. However, it’s important to note that I’m¬†definitely¬†not saying to go on an intense run or complete a hard core workout if you’re feeling full as a means of purging. But simple movements like stretching and walking can help you feel more relaxed.

– Talk to someone
If you are struggling, reach out and talk to someone about it. Instead of sitting with difficult and consuming thoughts and feelings, getting them off of your chest and just letting someone know what you are going through can provide a sense of relief. If you don’t have anyone in your family that you feel comfortable talking to, try calling or texting a friend. You can even shoot me an¬†email! For the most part, people want to help. There are people would¬†love¬†to give you support through this difficult time, you just have to ask. I understand that it is a challenge to be vulnerable and share your demons with another person, but through my own experiences, opening up about my struggles has been the best help to overcome every demon I’ve had to fight.

РShow yourself kindness 
Maybe the day won’t go as well as you had hoped. Maybe you will end up breaking down or participating in disordered behaviors. If this ends up being the case, understand that it doesn’t mean you are worth any less. This doesn’t mean your story is over. Understand that¬†recovery is not linear. Just because you may have fallen down during a difficult time, it does not mean that you cannot get back up and fight again the next day. Do what you can to show yourself patience and kindness, because that is the only way you are going to be able to overcome.

I hope one of these little bits of advice can be helpful for anyone battling disordered eating this time of year. It’s not easy to work through the intrusive thoughts that come with an eating disorder, but the hard work is worth it.

Fat Phobia

Fat Phobia

You know that quote by J.K. Rowling: “Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil, or cruel?…” Well, fat phobia is when a person believes that the answer is yes.

For as long as I can remember, I was taught that being fat was something to be avoided. Fat was unhealthy. Fat was lazy. Fat was gluttonous. Fat was “letting go”. There was a fear instilled inside of me from a young age, and I became fat phobic. I won’t lie, I was fat phobic until quite recently (like… one year ago recently). I agreed with all of the stereotypes about fat people. I looked at them and would think things like¬†“they really should try to lose that weight”,¬†“how could they let themselves get like that?”, or¬†“don’t they know how UNHEALTHY it is to be that size?”¬†I would fear that people would think the same things about¬†me¬†if I gained weight.

However, it wasn’t until I learned some facts about people living in a bigger body that opened up my eyes. Did you know that a person’s¬†socioeconomic status, their¬†ethnicity,¬†mental health¬†status, and if they have¬†dieted¬†(!!!)¬†are just a few significant things that can determine how much that person weighs? That’s right, things¬†outside of a persons control¬†(besides the dieting).¬†Weight gain is not just the typical ‘eating ‘junk food’ every day and not exercising’ that we typically hear all about.

So why do we not talk about all of these other factors? Why do we only¬†really hear about ‘eating lots and being lazy is going to make you fat and when you’re fat your going to get diseases and die’? It’s because we live in a fat phobic society (YES another thing I’m gonna blame society for, lol. #ThingsTatumBlamesOnSociety). Just take a look at all of the messages around us — “Your secret to fat loss!”, “Get your body beach ready!”, “Look good to feel good!” or one I see every day driving to school “FEAR NO MIRROR” printed next to a woman’s stomach in a bikini. All of these messages breed¬†fear. They tell us that having fat on our bodies is unacceptable, and that we need to do something to change if we¬†do¬†have fat. These messages have become ingrained in our society and they perpetuate fat phobia. Because of it, more people have been, and will be in the same boat as I was– absolutely¬†terrified¬†of the thought of being fat. Judging other people because of their body size. Another person perpetuating the issue.

I feel like the worst thing about fat phobia is that it is something that tends to get brushed to the side and deemed¬†normaland¬†ok. Think about it; have you ever had those thoughts about someone else, or your own¬†self? Chances are, if (when) you have had those thoughts, they were met with reinforcement from the ads you’ve seen, from what you’ve heard other people say, and from what you’ve read online; all telling you that fat is wrong. Fat is to be avoided at all costs because fat will kill you. On the note of fat killing you, let’s check this out– If America is in an “Obesity Epidemic” that is killing everyone off slowly… why is the average¬†lifespan of Americans¬†continually on the rise? Wouldn’t you think that as the “deadly weight gain” of America rose, the lifespan would lower?

Even if obesity was lowering the mortality rate of America, there are still more factors that come into play than the fat itself.¬†Recent studies¬†have found that stigma surrounding obesity has a worse effect on a person’s health than the actual weight itself. Ironically, fear of fat should be scarier than the actual fat.

So, if you’re sittin’ there reading this post and are still skeptical… I don’t blame ya. Like I said, I didn’t want to accept that fact that bigger bodies aren’t “death wishes” until about a year ago because that’s just what I had been told my whole life. In the beginning, I didn’t believe what I was reading and hearing people say about Health at Every Size, and weight neutrality. I didn’t think it was possible to NOT take weight into account of health and wellness. But I was curious, so I dove in and started reading countless books (like¬†this one¬†and¬†this one), blogs (like¬†this one,¬†this one,¬†this one, and¬†this one,¬†to name a FEW) and peer reviewed scientific studies. It was hard to accept that everything I was taught while growing up was only about 2% of the whole picture regarding weight; but completely eye opening and life changing.

Fat is not the worst thing you can be. It’s not the worst thing that¬†anyone¬†can be. In a world that definitely seems to push the message that the contrary is true, its hard to accept. I feel ya there. But I challenge you to challenge yourself. Challenge what you’ve been told about weight. Challenge the way you think about weight gain in yourself, and in other people around you. Challenge the misconceptions that being thin is the only way to achieve health. Challenge the stereotypes. Challenge fat phobia.