Sometimes it’s wild to just pause and take a quick inventory of your life, and appreciate where you are today, where you’ve been, and the process it took to get here.
I had one of those moments in Wisconsin over the Fourth of July.
As you may have noticed from my Instagram Stories, I spend a lot of time on a boat….in a bikini. Nearly all, actually, and I’ve got the sunburn to prove it.
But there were many many, many years where, truthfully, I never dreamed I would ever make peace with my body to the point where I would wear a bathing suit confidently again.
Having recovered from a severe case of anorexia that nearly took my life, to say I had some “lingering body image issues” would be just about the understatement of the century.
Body dysmorphia is a real thing, despite what many people think. No, it is not a vein attempt for compliments, or a eye-roll-inducing cry for positive affirmations from a looks-obsessed, skinny girl. But rather, a misunderstood manifestation of eating disorders where the woman sees something different in the mirror than reality.
But anyway – my family was out on the boat, and my sister-in-law pulled me aside, and said how she was “overjoyed to see me so confident, and loving life.” She said she’s never seen me so happy — not just because of my special gentleman — but because my body is the healthiest its ever been, and I’ve fully embraced it, and am confident from the inside out.
We joked that it’s because I eat more avocados than my supermarket can keep on the shelves, but the truth is, she’s absolutely right.
I’ve finally made peace with my body.
After years of loathing the reflection I saw staring back at me, as the guilt and shame I carried from my past had filtered my eyes to see a hideous girl that didn’t deserve love — not from myself, or anyone else.
And I know that there are a lot of recovery warriors, reading that, who can really relate. The mirror is not a friend in recovery from an eating disorders — that’s why at inpatient they went so far as to remove all the mirrors in our makeup compacts upon arrival, because it was a “reflection-free environment.”
But I’ve done the impossible — I’ve made peace with a healthy, fully-recovered, menstruating (sorry guys), me.
You see, back in the early adoption phase of my recovery, “healthy” equaled “fat.” The dietician would refer to my “healthy weight range” and it was as though she was sentencing me to a lifetime at Alcatraz.
So to my girls who are in that state where “healthy” is still terrifying….take it from me, who is right, smack-dab in the center of my “healthy” range….not only am I happier now than when I was restricting and hating my body, but life is truly overflowing with goodness and blessings and joy!
I’m not cold and tired all the time. My hair isn’t dull and brittle, but vibrant and shiny! My skin isn’t dry and gray, and doesn’t pull across my face, making me old and drawn and skeletal. Instead, my face has life, my cheeks are full and my eyes are alive.
I have energy to do things! My breath doesn’t stink with ketones from literally starving. I can sleep restfully at night. My feet don’t ache with my heel bones pounding against the floor with no padding.
And I have a womanly shape! And love it!!
Not to mention that food is also so stinking delicious, and meal-times are FUN to share with your loved ones and friends, when you’re not paralyzed in fear and anxiety.
Life is incredible when you nourish your body, and it IS possible to make peace with your body.
So. How did I do it?
That is the million dollar question, and there are two very simple answers.
First — the practical things:
I stopped focusing on what my body looked like, and more on what it could do. This seems very strange, when the goal is body acceptance, to not think about appearance….afterall, that’s kinda the main point, right?
Well, yes. But the body is so much more than just its reflection. When I started jogging, I loved how my body became stronger – able to run, and jump, and sweat, and release endorphins that made me feel like a freakin’ rockstar.
But it’s not just exercise. I loved being strong so I could chase after my nieces and nephews, and pick them up, and play!
Which led me to think about the future…I want to have kids one day (God willing). And so being ABLE to have kids was of primary importance to me. And the fact that women’s bodies can bring life into this world….that is an absolutely AMAZING thing. I mean, I cannot believe we can do that. How awesome. So I wanted to do everything in my power, so that when that time comes, I am can.
And that means nourishing my body with adequate fat and protein and calories.
Other practical things: I THREW MY “MEASURING STICK” CLOTHES AWAY. And every recovery warrior will know exactly what I’m talking about … that one pair of jeans you used to wear when you were really sick, that you would try on occasionally just to check that a) you could still fit into them, or b) send you into a tail-spin of self-hatred. Yeah, THROW IT AWAY. DONATE IT. JUST GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE.
Throw away the scale. Take a break from the mirror (aka — get it out of the house). Don’t wear tight clothing — aka, I didn’t start wearing LuLuLemon until just this past year. And unfollow all those unhealthily-skinny girls on Instagram that many girls use as “thinspo” to feed their eating disorder.
Talk to the people you live with about creating a positive environment for your recovery so that you can thrive. This means, no body talk, either positive or negative …not about you — not about themselves. No “diet” talk. No weight talk. It’s actually surprising how much we talk about these things when you’re actively trying not to.
BUT LASTLY — and this is the most important thing.
The way I *truly* made peace with my body was when I realized Who my body actually belonged to.
I finally made peace with my body when I realized that it was God who made me, and not only am I a beautiful reflection of Him, but also – a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
My body is literally a temple. So is yours.
And therefore, what we do with it matters.
Taking care of it, nourishing it, loving it, respecting it — it is a spiritual act of worship.
It is a way to thank God for the second chance at life He so generously gave me.
It is a way to honor Him, and love Him, and give my life to Him in a tangible and very real way, every single day.
Sure, those practical tips are useful, and helpful in a user’s-manual kind of way, but real, lasting peace ONLY comes when you can see your body as the true gift and work of art that it is.
And this is the last thing.
All of that would sound pretty hollow — pretty cheesy, pretty “out there” — if the concept of faith is a foreign concept, which for many people, it is. And there’s no shame in that, either. Everyone is on a journey, and everyone — regardless of where they are in that journey — is welcome here.
But if that’s the case, then reading that….I would think to myself, big whoop. Why would I care? Why would that even matter?
God can be a very abstract, impersonal concept. And for a long time, when I was in the throes of anorexia, that was true for me.
It took me actively seeking Him out. I would read the Bible, listen to worship music, read faith-based books. All in an effort to seek Him. To make His presence real to me. To make that relationship real to me.
And the amazing thing, is that as soon as we make even the slightest effort towards God, He grabs our hand and pulls us in to His giant heart.
And that’s where the healing and the peace truly begins. And that is what I pray for you, reading this.
His love will change your life. It will change the world.
And it all starts with just your “yes” to letting Him love you. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So there you go. I had no idea this post was going to wander in this direction tonight, but then again, that’s just the Holy Spirit working for you.
I pray that someone, somewhere reading this, found it resonated with them. (And as I found out in Chicago last week, that actually does happen!!)
(And I’m saying this just as much for me, as I am for you)….know that you are a beautiful, loved, worthy creation, made by a Father that loves you more than your wildest dreams.
See you on Wednesday!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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54 responses to “Making Peace With My Body”
Your last piece about remembering Who your body belongs to was great. It made me think of something from acting, what I call the rock method. Trying to develop a nuanced portrayal of a character is sort of like trying to create a lot of eddies and backwashes in a stream. Trying to engineer each one is hopeless task. BUT, if you just put a rock in the stream, all those currents and eddies just happen. They all happen organically.
It could be an insecurity, a dominant emotion, or an overriding concern. It could also be remembering that our bodies are not our own. Some tactics to achieve need some coaching. Or perhaps it’s being taught what tools are available. But it all starts with the rock. Which you hit perfectly!
I’m just very happy for the young woman you are becoming and seeing you thrive!!!
Thank you so much Jeff! Yes! We are His creation!! And that can definitely be translated into a lot of different areas in life. The rock method – how fascinating. I love that thought – it just takes the rock, and everything else falls into place. You always have such incredible insight, Jeff. Thank you for sharing. Hope your week is off to a great start! Hugs and love Tony I and your girls xox
Well done dear lady, a long and difficult journey…but…in the end a very loving one 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋
Thank you so much Mark! You’re right – a long journey that was most definitely worth it! Hugs and love xox
Caralyn – ahhhhhhhhh – you truly are a beautiful reflection of Him! We see and feel the Holy Spirit radiating and speaking through you. Don’t ever let go of Him 💜
And I am rejoicing with you, for your special gentleman and for your fabulous lake vacation, and all that it entailed! Woohoo! I seriously love you 💗😁
Thank you so much Mindy! Oh my gosh you’re so kind to say that. Yes!! It’s always my prayer when I sit down to write that His words come through. Thank you with all my heart – yes me too. God is so good and I’m so grateful for this journey He’s taken me on and where it’s brought me to today! Hugs and love xox
A beautiful post and you so beautiful
Thank you so much. Hugs and love xox
You always look lovely, Caralyn, inside and out. 🌹
Aw, thank you John. What a kind thing to say!! Hugs and love xox
[…] Making Peace With My Body […]
Thank you Tonya for the link up! Hugs and love xox
I am blessed to have no firsthand experience with these topics in my family, so I learn much reading your stories. As a result, I rarely comment — but in this case: well done, sister! God bless you, your work here, and your journey.
Thank you so much J – I’m so glad your family has not been touched by an eating disorder. That is a blessing!! And thank you for your wonderful support, that truly means the world. Have a great night! God is good! Hugs and love xox
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Yes! Oh Myron, that is one of my favorite and most beautiful verses in the Bible! Truth!! Hugs and love xox
I love your advice. I used to keep super thin clothing in my closet in hopes of fitting into them one day. Then I realized, they were encouraging me to restrict and food restriction led me to binge eat. It’s wonderful to finally focus on taking care of my body instead of punishing it.
Hi Ang! Oh gosh thank you so much! Yes – that was such a freeing exercise to THROW them AWAY!! 🙌🏼👏🏼🙌🏼👏🏼🙌🏼👏🏼👏🏼 you’re spot on – it was a reminder of negativity! Positivity only!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox
Sometimes the Lord permits us to go our own way in life and experience pain in order to prepare us to be a witness and a blessing to others. And through your writings you are doing just that and will have joy as your reward.
You’re so right about that, Ian. It is so true – the Lord’s way is always the best, even if we don’t always understand it. Hugs and love xox
Beautiful post! I’m so thankful that the good Lord uses your voice to uplift His people! Please stay blessed, lovely lady.
thank you so much Susan! 🙂 Yes!! God is good! Grateful for you! Hugs and love xox
This is beautiful. Thank you for always being so open about all this.
Hi Greg! Thank you so much 🙂 God has certainly brought me on quite a journey! Hugs and love xox
Oh my, I just wrote a post on aging and my non-acceptance of my body and age. Your post just struck through me. Anorexia or Aging… the message of acceptance is needed throughout life. Thank you for your words here…
Hi Donna! Thank you so much for being open about that, and sharing your heart. I look forward to reading your piece! Hugs and love xox
I was really discouraged this evening because of a chronic illness flare, and your post was just what I needed to hear. Remembering who my body belongs to means I don’t have to worry about the aspects of my health I can’t control – God knows about them, and he’s taken ownership of them too, so I can trust him to make sure they don’t make me “miss out” on anything truly important he has for me. As always, thanks much for pointing me back to Him! ❤️
Thank you so much Kristina, for sharing your heart. Gosh, I am so sorry you’re going through that. and boy – do I know about chronic illness with my Ulcerative Colitis. Know that I’m praying hard for you!!! hang in there, warrior! Hugs and love xox
men**.. Oh man.. I can’t even type it. Sorry Caralyn, there is such a thing as too much info.. LOL..
However, all in all, I’m really happy for you. It seems that you’re pretty much back to the full restoration of your former self; prior to the eating disorder.
Well.. not quite.. I’d say more like a resto-mod; if I could use a car analogy here. You’re better than new.
It is good to see you shining for the Goddess you are.
Not liking what we see in the mirror is something that many of us can relate to. Even the most beautiful people on the planet will have those moments.
For the most part, we all look for some external thing to blame when in fact, we can only blame ourselves. I ate those pies, no one forced me to….
Anyways.. making peace with body is not just about being content with what you see in the mirror. It is also recognizing you don’t have to body shame yourself in order to make a change and you have the power do it. It is recognizing that unless some horrible external circumstances are the cause, we are all responsible for what happens to our bodies and how they look.
Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your kind words. Yes – you’re right about that – we’re all working on our relationship with the mirror – and it can be a long and difficult journey, as i found out! thanks for the kind words. Hugs and love xox
I loved your post! Indeed when we discover whose we are and how He made us fearfully and wonderfully, we can see ourselves through His eyes and love His good handiwork! Thanks for sharing!
amen to that, Ekua! thank you so much for stopping by and these beautifully encouraging words! Hugs and love xox
I hope you have some sense of the joy that your blog brings to people. Thank you for what you do. I pray every day that the loved ones I know who feel trapped by their bodies and minds can find the strength, courage, hope, and faith that you have. Have a great day, Caralyn!
Hi Amy! oh my gosh what a kind thing to say 🙂 Seriously, i am so touched, thank you. Yes! that is such a beautiful prayer, and i will certainly join you in that! after all, we are ALL God’s beautiful and beloved creation!! Hugs and love xox
May Gods grace and goodness continue to shine on you so you can be His light for others! Your vulnerability is an inspiration and so grateful you are sharing your story!
aw, thank you so much!! I appreciate your kind words – God is good!! Hugs and love xox
I’m so glad that you’ve made peace with your body. The issue of accepting ourselves, loving ourselves, is so deep. Sending love and compassion. Bless you for sharing your story and inspiring so many others. 🙏🙏
thank you so much R. You’re right – it is such a deep issue. God is good though, and has patience with us through it all while whispering the truth, until we can hear it! Hugs and love xox
You’re very welcome. I agree, the subject is so deep. Hugs and love to you, too.
I’m not dealing with those same issues, but I’ve been feeling far from Him. You’ve reminded me He is close, very close.
Hi Kathleen, thank you so much for sharing your heart. You’re absolutely right – God is so so close!! Praying for you! Hugs and love xox
It makes zero sense to me how you could ever not realise that you are a gorgeous young women. The mind has a way of blinding us from the truth. So happy that you are now at peace with your body. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. 🙂
Oh gosh, you’re kind to say that. thank you so much. Eating disorders really skew the mind, and that is the last thing to truly heal, even after the weight is back on. I appreciate your generous words! God is good! Hugs and love xox
Thank you for sharing this, we share the same heart in many ways. Well one I am a believer in a great big God, that I walk close with daily. I have went through what you are talking about in this last year after my breast cancer double mastectomy, and implants. I have had to get to a place of acceptance. It has not been easy either. I know my body is beautiful, but when I looked in the mirror I was hating what starred back at me. I have had to grieve what I lost. Being in sobriety, and a 12 step program has helped me as well my spiritual walk with God. I am just now as summer is here in full heat (100 degrees daily) learning to love myself again in my own skin. I didn’t even know I could go through this. My expressed it is very common. With Covid there was no one to talk to, I just have had to pray a lot. I found a bunch of cute bikinis, and I myself am not one to have worn those in my past life because well I haven’t always loved Lisa. I got a really really bad sunburn on fake skin built up to hold my implants. So I had to go in search of one that covered a little more. It is a sporty/cute look, and I absolutely love it. I today even with this recent sunburn set back can say I am coming around the corner. 8 years sober next month, 7 months with new to me breasts. I am okay because I am a child of God! I am
beautiful and wonderfully made🥰Thank you for sharing this post!
Hi Lisa, wow, thank you for sharing your incredible story. What a journey you have been on. Know that I will be keeping you in my prayers. You’re right – we are children of God and He makes all things new!!! and made us beautifully and wonderfully! Hugs and love xox
Thank you for allowing me share with honesty. I need to write about where I am, and was. Blessings
This same thing applies to fat people. The same self hatred, anxiety, etc… God reigns.
(I’m one of the fat ones.)
I love your Godly beauty, and honesty!!
Hi friend, thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. Amen – no matter the wound, God reigns!! Hugs and love xox
What a wonderful post! We are all truly bearers of God’s image. The packaging is not very important.
Thank you so much Jan! Amen to that! Image- bearers and light reflectors!!! Hugs and love xox
Love hearing about your victories…thank you for sharing!!
thank you so much 🙂 I appreciate you being in my corner! 🙂 Hugs and love xox
Hello. I have so enjoyed following your story and victory with eating disorders. A journey I have had as well. I love how you are also a woman of faith. I saw a post once and learned you were a singer, actress, etc.
I host a monthly zoom event called BREATHE. It intertwines creativity and faith. I invite someone monthly and interview them and also share about their creativity and in this case would love you to share about your blog. We also discuss a passage of scripture and have a creative application. You can learn more about it on my website.
If you are interested, would you be available for early December or January? I would email you questions in advance and have you share for probably 10 min. For more information, you can view website event page at https://www.createlamour.com/events-1
Also, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
my blog is createlamour.wordpress.com
Have a great weekend!