It's More than Just About Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are pervasive in today's Western culture. At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.. Every 62 minutes someone dies due to complications caused by an eating disorder (References 1, 2 & 3).
Throughout my years of practice, I could count on one hand the number of women who have been pleased with their appearance. I find this so sad... and it hits home.
A Long, Winding Journey With ED
I began my journey with body shame and eating disorders at 13 years old. Anorexia was the starting point, yet, over the many years I struggled, it took various shapes. My battle transitioned from anorexia to bulimia to binge eating back to bulimia and continued transforming, yet never fully letting go. It was always there.
At 25 years old I found myself in a residential treatment community for eating disorders in Florida. Bulimia had completely taken over my life. I couldn't work, couldn't socialize, couldn't feel... couldn't function. I stayed in treatment for 90 days and, while it did save my life, I was far from okay.
Years passed, bulimia and anorexia were at bay, yet my struggles were more internal than external. While I wasn't doing obviously eating disordered things, I was actively hating every inch of my body and my being.
I continued to go through many phases as a warred against myself; periods of excessive exercise; periods of dieting; periods of inactivity, binging and body shame... and repeat.
Through all those years I searched for hope, healing and answers to my suffering.
From joining various faiths and churches, attending Bible studies, going to intensive seminars, practicing Yoga and meditation, reading the books of spiritual teachers, daily journaling... on and on, year after year... I searched.
One thing I did discover was that I needed to help others even if I was suffering myself. At 28 I began a career in social services and later completed a masters program for psychotherapy. Amazing things happened along the way; I married my husband, fell in love with my two step children, enjoyed beautiful friendships, worked with incredibly brave people, and gave birth to my own little girl.
Yet, the truth is, disgust with my body never left my side. During graduate school I ran road races and a marathon, running myself right into adrenal fatigue. On my perfect fall wedding day I wished my belly was smaller, my shoulders slimmer, my legs longer. After giving birth my focus became fitting back into my "pre-baby-bump" jeans within three months.
In those later years living with body shame became more and more painful. I could see clearly how it robbed me of presence and joy, yet, I couldn't stop the obsession. Most painful of all was that I loved helping other people, yet, my own struggle caused me to feel inadequate... how could I help others if I couldn't even help myself?
It was when my daughter was one year old that I found myself, once again, in the grips of bulimia. The most profound pain, however, was not the eating disorder at all... it was the fear that I might teach my daughter to feel ashamed of her own body. With every ounce of assertion, I knew I could not do that to her. I knew I had to change.
What occurred after this was nothing short of a spiritual awakening. I had resumed my search for answers, reading a book, Mind Works by Gary. After studying his writing on underlying beliefs, in meditation one morning I realized that all of my beliefs around body expectations and beauty standards were not only misguided, but totally false. I suddenly understood that I was capable of letting it all go and living freely. It was a life changing moment.
From there, my awakening continue to expand as I experienced more confidence and self-love sprinkled with moments absolute joy.
I see my purpose clearly; to help other people find freedom from what holds them back, allowing them to actualizing who they truly are. Body shame is one of those walls that keeps us barred away from our dreams. You deserve so much more.
While I work with people on many issues that keep them stuck, eating disorders and/or body shame are a pervasive road block in the lives of women. In order to access confidence, self esteem and a clear vision for healing, body shame must be addressed. How can we reach for our dreams if we are ashamed of the one thing that everyone sees, the one thing that will actually carry us through our lives?
Releasing body shame and living in recovery from disordered eating can open the doors to confidence, joy, motivation and hope. Not only your body perspective is impacted... your entire world can change.
1. Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348–358.
2. Le Grange, D., Swanson, S. A., Crow, S. J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2012). Eating disorder not otherwise specified presentation in the US population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(5), 711-718.
3. Eating Disorders Coalition. (2016). Facts About Eating Disorders: What The Research Shows.http://eatingdisorderscoalition.org.s208556.gridserver.com/couch/uploads/file/fact-sheet_2016.pdf