Note: I recently gave a talk at South Dakota’s FIRST annual yoga conference on the topic of self-acceptance and healing your relationship with food. Rarely have I opened up about my past, but when I did at this event, I was approached by several women who could identify with everything I had gone through afterwards.
I’m writing this for them. I’m writing this for the approximately 75% of women (U.S. statistic) who have disordered relationships with food and their bodies. I’m writing this to hopefully shed light on how chaotic we, humans, have become in regard to striving after ‘perfection’ – which doesn’t exist, by the way.
I’m sharing my story in all vulnerability to inspire YOU, hopefully, to look at yourself, your body, and your past and future differently. You are worthy of love, and you don’t need to do ANYTHING to earn it.
You are enough as you are, and you DO deserve to live a life you love. xo
My Low Point
I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. I was clinging, white-knuckled, to the sink as I peered at my reflection in the mirror. Swollen, puffy cheeks caught my attention, as did my red-rimmed eyes which were overflowing with tears.
My throat hurt. So did my esophagus. Oh, and of course, my heart.
I remember staring at myself as if I were looking at a complete stranger. Or, at least, that’s what it felt like. I reminded myself, ‘This is the price you have to pay to be pretty’. ‘This is what you have to do to be worthy of love.’
Earlier that evening my body had caved into the desire for food – apparently not satiated with the 200 calories consumed in the two days prior, and I binged on likely 4,000+ calories of food.
My body was hurting. She was starving. And I hated her for it.
So, after I consumed more than my stomach could hold, I ran downstairs, played the music nice and loud, and stuck my fingers down my throat to inspire my body to throw up. Twenty minutes later, there I was.
I sunk down onto the floor, collapsing my head onto my knees. I wanted to die. I hated feeling as if I needed to be 3-4 sizes smaller with perfect skin in order to be loved. But yet, isn’t that what I had convinced myself of?
I had developed a full blown eating disorder at age 15, and it had manifested as bingeing, purging, anorexia, over-exercising and body dysmorphic disorder. Most days, I tried not to think about food as my stomach swallowed itself in anxiety and fear. And when I got home, I did everything I could think of to resist the primal urge to eat.
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” I reminded myself as I obsessed over countless pro-ana sites.
Of course, anyone who knows about this behavior – or the human body in general – knows starvation isn’t sustainable. Bingeing, in the end, was inevitable.
Throughout the self-sabotage, I had lost approximately 40 pounds and was receiving SO many compliments from friends and family members that I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep looking pretty and thin, even though it was killing me to do so.
Few people know this, but in the time period that I was hurting myself by starving, then bingeing and purging, I started developing gruesome sores (in intimate places…) that would not heal. They hurt so bad, and I feared to tell anyone about how much I was suffering.
In addition, my hair started falling out, my skin got worse (one of my main triggers, having suffered from cystic acne since age 11), and I couldn’t control my emotions. I was becoming a human train-wreck.
I’m not telling you all these horrendous details to scare you or bore you. I’m letting you into what it was like, suffering with an eating disorder which to an extent still affects me to this day, because I know there are SO many women who can relate.
More often than men, we are bombarded with messages by the media that we are NEVER enough. Not skinny enough, not muscled enough, not toned, too fat, too tall, too short, etc… And it’s bullshit.
Excuse my language, but it’s bullshit! I’ll get into that later, but first, let’s continue…
How It Changed
I’m lucky in the way that I knew within a short period of time that I had to change my destructive behavior or else it would destroy – and likely kill – me. But this knowing didn’t develop by itself, if I am to be honest.
It was during the last time that I purged that, while my fingers were stuck down my throat, a voice outside of my body yelled, “You’re done!”
It was so startling that it knocked me back on my butt, and something inside me KNEW that I was. Suddenly, a strong realization rushed over me: I needed to learn how to live and eat healthily, or else I was doomed.
All of a sudden, the desire to achieve the ‘perfect’ body paled in comparison to the many things I wanted to – and knew I would – accomplish. How vain to focus entirely on something as superficial as appearance! (Yet, it’s difficult not to do because we’ve been conditioned to obsess over physicality as a means of survival.)
From then on, I started using my free time to furiously research healthy diets that would allow me to maintain a balanced weight. Yes, it started out from vain desires, but what I eventually learned changed the course of my life forever.
Psssttt – that’s also why I’m GRATEFUL I experienced various forms of eating disorders. It led me into the field I work in now.
The more I surrounded myself with holistic nutrition wisdom, the more I realized that our bodies are beautiful, complex, and intelligent creatures that will do what they must to survive. Furthermore, it became a well-known fact that when we TREAT them well, many of the symptoms (including acne and being overweight) tend to disappear on their own.
Take acidity, for example. When we eat too many refined foods, animal products, white flour products, refined sugar, and low-quality fats, our bodies pull calcium from the bones to buffer the acidosis. In addition, our bodies hold onto water to buffer the acidity. This compromises our kidneys and adrenals, which can further result in reduced efficiency of our organs (and result in metabolic damage).
As I experimented, I began researching about vegan, vegetarian, and paleo diets and learned that we MUST adhere to nature’s laws in order for our bodies, minds, and mentalities to match the goodness we all strive to be.
Being overweight, developing cancer, getting acne, etc… – those are all symptoms that the CONDITIONS were are presenting to our bodies are NOT optimal. I could go into this more but I won’t because I don’t want to stray from the focus of this open letter. If you’re interested though, be sure to check out the ‘4 Facets of Healing’.
Basically, there are a few things you, as a woman affected by modern culture, need to know, and they follow:
- We are being sold near impossible ideals and are living in toxic environments which do not support (help create) them.
- You ARE beautiful as you are and there is NOTHING you need to do to validate this.
- Feeling worthy is a CHOICE. It’s not an easy one nowadays, but going against the grain is worth it.
- Beauty stems from within and isn’t measured by what you look like. It’s measured by the amount of passion you retain for your life’s purpose and the compassion you nurture and share with the world.
- Now more than ever, the world needs strong, powerful women to embrace their femininity and declare that they are enough.
If you are one of the many women who fears or hates her body, I ask you in fervor to PLEASE be kind to her. She is an intelligent animal, as Jenna la Fleme so beautiful explains, and it’s necessary for the highest aspect of you to be-friend and listen to her.
Take a moment in meditation, while on a walk, or even while journaling to hear what it is your body is trying to tell you. Honor the fact that we are part of such an INTELLIGENT universe that we CAN communicate with the Earth and our sacred selves – physical to highest.
If you are struggling to love yourself, tune out from mainstream media, spend time in quiet contemplation, and FACE the fears and conditioning that have led you to believe you are not enough. More often than not, they were projected by our own mothers and maternal figures as they suffered the same conditioning.
For generations women have faced oppression and persecution for honoring their sacred selves, and even in today’s modern world we still are shamed for embracing our sexual nature and honoring our drive and passion which flows from Source.
You, lovely, are SO much more powerful than you know. And by honoring the many aspects which make up the ‘whole’ of you, you will help change this world.
It’s not easy to overcome the superficiality placed upon us by society, but if you can go deeper and connect to the Goddess within – reaching out to other awakened sisters for support, you can break free from the barriers and restrictions that have plagued our ancestors for eons, as well.
When it comes down to it, our fear to accept our bodies comes from a fear to fully accept ourselves. But in that vulnerability comes such POWER, and it is my hope for YOU that you offer yourself a little bit of kindness more and more each day, so that you may come to know how magnanimous you are.
If you ARE suffering from an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, please reach out to family members, friends, or specialists (possibly at a center) who can help you overcome your restrictive, unhealthy habits.
You DO deserve a life you love. And the first step toward healing comes with you acknowledging this, because I KNOW you know in the depths of your soul that this is what you want. You want to feel courageous, kind, and divinely inspired, as everyone on this planet does.
However, you must first decide that it is possible. Only then will a new path present itself and the journey begin to unfold…