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.
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
MAGIC TOOTHPASTE? Yes! I am in love with this superior whitening toothpaste. It keeps my smile sparkling, without sensitivity or bleach! I made a website where you can directly order this miracle product! So if you want to give it a try, you can go ahead and grab a tube for yourself. I promise, your smile will thank you!Get a tube!
Be sure to check out my affiliate, Audible. Listening to audiobooks while I cook is literally my new favorite thing. And just for you, they’re offering a Free 30-Day Trial Membership. And with this free membership, you’re going to get 2 free audiobooks! Literally. Free. It is the best deal ever. And if for some reason, you decide it’s not for you, you can cancel within those 30 days and it’s zero money out of your pocket, plus, you get to keep the 2 audiobooks. Soooo…it’s pretty much a no brainer. Plus, it’s a free and easy way to support this blog! So thank you!!
@beauty.beyond.bones – Instagram
For Podcast versions of my posts, please check out Patreon! It’s only $2 a month!! You make this blog possible 🙂
And really quickly, I’ve had several questions concerning my Amazon link (amazon.com/shop/beautybeyondbones) — You do not need to buy one of my specific highlighted products on my page, in order for it to “credit” my account. Any purchases that you search or make from anywhere on Amazon, after first visiting my Amazon page, will credit this blog and help support this blog ministry. I am truly so grateful and appreciative to those of you wanting to do so! So thank you! Again, it is an absolutely free, and easy way for you to help keep this blog going!