The above photo is from a few months after my battle with bulimia. I wasn’t doing the work, I just stopped throwing up. And I still looked completely miserable.
Regardless of how much work I have put in into loving myself over the years, I can still look at myself in the mirror and pick out reasons to not love my body. I can pinpoint them and mock them for not being “perfect” like they “should” be.
But that is absolute and total bullshit. My body is configured the way it is because it serves a purpose. It allows me to live and breathe, and any other judgement I pass on it is merely voicing the brainwashing tactics of the media.
So for this week’s exercise, I want you to do what I did when I wanted to stop harming my body with bad eating habits. I want you to stand in front of a full length mirror, naked, and complete a body scan.
Start from your toes, and thank them for the purpose they serve as a functioning member of your body, and name that purpose. Move to your feet, up your ankles, to your calves, knees, thighs, butt, hips, stomach, and so on. Thank each part of your body for what is ACTUALLY does, without any scrutiny, and appreciate your body for moving you through life.
I think the biggest reason why I abused my body so much is because I didn’t see it for it’s purpose. I saw it as an image, instead of a vessel for important work. I saw it as “too” this or “too” that, instead of the machine that carries me through life. When we start to take note of the reality of things, away from the messages we receive through the media, we can gain our own clarity and peace. Stay appreciative, and stay witchy ( *)
I imagine being totally in love with my body like a unicorn running through a Lisa Frank- style field of neon daisies. Beautiful, but unrealistic. Being an American woman, hailing from a city like Los Angeles and living in a city like New York, there will always be times when I feel like I am “less” because of my appearance.
But let me tell you, I have made leaps and bounds from where I was.
My body image issues started YOUNG. As a kid, I was relentlessly teased for being too skinny, being called names like “skinny bones Jones” (eye roll.) When I hit puberty, everything fell out of place and I began to notice large changes in my body. My breasts grew, my thighs widened, my hips popped out, and most devastatingly of all, my stomach got a little layer of fat on it. One that I had never been accustomed to before.
I had a swing set in my backyard, and I remember distinctly comparing thigh sizes with my neighbor. Two 12 year old girls, talking about the circumference of our thighs.
Once the tone was set, I had instant gratification for the drugs I was introduced to in the later months of me being 13. They made me SKINNY. And that was part of the reason why I did them for so long. I loved going back to my pre-pubescent weight. I wanted to be thin over everything.
Once I quit using hard uppers at the age of 17, I noticed a stark weight gain over the span of three years. Coupling heavy drinking with 2 am burritos will do that to you. And this was during the rise of social media, so pictures began to blast the internet. It was heartbreaking to look at pictures of a double chin, flappy arms and thick thighs. The only upside was my 36 D chest.
So, unwilling to give up drinking, I decided to dangerously crash diet by counting up to 600 calories a day, and then shoving my fingers down my throat if I cheated with one too many grapes. Over the course of a few years, my diet just became binging on Oreos and potato chips before vomiting up every morsel. I had my cake and ate it too.
It wasn’t until about a year before I moved to New York that I cut ties with my bulimia. It took a lot of will power, but I stopped throwing up. It became too dangerous anyways, because too many people had suspicions, the toilet became clogged more and more often, and my throat started to bleed.
But that didn’t change my relationship with food. No no. I still ate the way I did as a bulimic. I still had fatty foods and midnight binges. I just didn’t throw up anymore. So I gained weight.
Moving to New York allowed me to continue to eat pizza and bagels without much consequence, because I walked everywhere and thus lost some of the weight. But honey, it catches up to you, and regardless of the weight gain, I was headed to a heart attack at 30.
So, as you can see, I had all of the impulsiveness of the King of Wands reversed. Every reaction to a spot of weight gain had a drastic and unhealthy solution that led me down a road of destruction, synonymous with how I was feeling inside. I projected it onto my body.
With a vision of the Empress in mind, a beautiful and feminine ideal, I tried to cut corners by just getting there visually. I didn’t work from the inside out. And the outside in is a dangerous illusion.
Which brings me to this current cleanse that I have just completed. After reconnecting with my mind and soul after years of heartbreak and delusions, it was time my body followed suit. I asked a friend to create a cleanse that moved into a healthy lifestyle diet so I could treat my body well and give it the TLC it deserves. After 6 weeks into this lifestyle change, I feel better (and look better!) than ever before.
I have finally started to treat my body with respect. Giving it raw foods and veggies, lean, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates is the way my body is supposed to function. And though my upcoming vacation inspired me to make a decision to change my diet for the better, I’m glad I did. Because who knows how much longer I would be eating a Family Size bag of Lays Potato Chips before I landed in a hospital bed.
I hope my story has inspired you to take a look at how you treat your body. There is nothing wrong with indulging every once in a while, but the main focus is to take care of your body so it can take care of you. Your image isn’t what is important, it’s your mindset. So remember,to take care of your bodies, love yourself, and stay witchy ( *)
As my Euro trip comes to a close, I want to touch on an important issue for most every woman on vacation, and that is allowing yourself permission in terms of diet and exercise.
Yes it is the New Year and I’m sure most of you have weight-related resolutions, but let’s get this shit straight: you are human, and excessive rigidity always fires back with a huge and devastating relapse.
As a woman with body image issues, going on a month long Euro-trip devoid of exercise and full of heavy meat and potatoes can really take its toll on you mentally, especially when you’re used to a pretty regular regimen of running, yoga, and vegetables. But along with self permission comes moderation, and we all need to remember that it’s ok to allow yourself to enjoy life.
My sister and I have been walking between 2 and 8 miles a day and eating a budget-friendly diet, so while it may be rich in red meat and starch, it is also in small portions and surrounded by smaller healthier meals. This constitutes for moderation, but I digress.
In situations like this, it is very easy to beat yourself up for not eating a superfood for every meal, especially when you see European beauties in tiny Brazilian bikinis at every thermal bath in Budapest. It is easy to compare your body and blame yourself because you had a hot meal. But this is not conducive to your mental well being AT ALL. That will not make you feel better about your body, make you skinnier, make you have less cellulite. And dieting on vacation is just as inane. You’re here to experience life and the cultures, eat their food and socialize, and just plain have fun. Focusing on your body image and what you ate for lunch takes away every bit of beauty because you’re focusing on the wrong damn thing. So this is where self permission comes in. You need to allow yourself the modest freedom to enjoy life. You aren’t a glutton. You’re on fucking vacation.
So next time you feel like you really want that pistachio cheesecake after you’ve been eating really well, let yourself have it! You can’t starve yourself into a better you, trust me I’ve tried. Next time you’re tired from working late and can’t muscle up the energy to run 5 miles in the morning, allow yourself to sleep in a little later and do a 30 minute kickboxing video. Or, allow yourself the day to recoup. It’s not the end of the world. Changing your diet and exercise routine is a lifestyle change. It’s not a quick fix, but when you eat well and exercise over all, you’re definitely going to deserve to have treats and rest days. Moderation is key, and self permission is part of self love. Stay witchy ( *)