‘Often goodbyes require us to recognize a situation that’s no longer serving us and venture out from the comfort of the familiar to the uncharted waters of a new hello. When we follow our heart, listen to what makes us feel expansive, we always know what the right choice is. And I firmly believe that if you are brave enough to say goodbye to what’s not serving you – the universe will make sure to reward you with a wonderful new hello!’ –Cassandra Bodzak
Cassandra Bodzak is an internationally renowned meditation and wellness teacher. She is a #lightmaker, speaker, and healthy living expert from ABC’s The Taste + SHAPE.com. She is one of my true inspirations of motivation. Check her blog out here!
Making the decision and taking those first steps of recovering from my anorexia and depression was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
Yet, recovery as tumultuous as it was, has given me so many valuable lessons that I want to share with you!
I was scared and reluctant to leave her because Ana had become such a huge part of my life.
Having an eating disorder is not only about ‘food issues,’ it’s about how we use food to cope with our life.
Cassandra is right though, in order wound up the courage to take that first step in deciding that I wanted to be leave Ana behind was to realize that keeping Ana in my life was no longer serving me anymore.
Maybe some of you can relate to this:
I turned to Ana when I felt life was spiraling out of control. With Ana, food became a symbol of having control over all aspects of my life. I could ‘control’ how much I decided to eat, when, how, and what to eat.
Ana was confident.
I turned to Ana when I felt insecure, I could hide under her authoritative (& critical voice).
Ana was familiar.
Life was predictable with Ana. There was a set routine, set portions, set meal times, nothing could catch me unguarded or hurt me.
Ana had become my friend. She was always there when I needed her.
Ana had become my hero.
When I felt weak, she was so strong. Her determination to always go the extra mile in anything she did and could overpower any biological impulses (who needs sleep? Or food? Or the ability turn down dark chocolate??) always impressed me.
Yet Ana had also become the bad boyfriend (you know that oh so cute guy that you know he’s not right for you but still cannot help keep on coming back to?). As much as I couldn’t get enough of her, I needed to realize that she had caused enough pain and havoc with my life that I needed to get out of this relationship fast.
I needed to leave Ana and come back home to myself. 🙂
So, I want to start off this recovery series by giving you some motivational milestones that you will gain and keep you going through your recovery as you decide in taking those first steps go through in embarking on your recovery journey.
Some of you reading this will have already taken those first steps of deciding to leave Ana, or Mia, or Xia (orthorexia) or even if you feel you are stuck in a diet mentality, and I want to give you a really big hug if you have because those first steps are the most scariest ones to make!
Here are Your Motivational Milestones!
1.Re-discover yourself on a deeper & authentic level.
An eating disorder is not only about food issues. Food is only a symbol that our mind latches on to help us cope with our life. Each of us has a uniquely personal relationship with food and through recovery, we will be able to recognize the thinking patterns (more on this will be written in a Mindful Monday’s blog post) that may be unhelpful to us. Through this awareness, we will be able to ‘break free’ and welcome a better way of thinking to live our lives.
2. You’ll learn to cultivate the one of the most important relationship that you’ll ever have in this life.
The relationship with yourself.
When I was deep in the arms of Ana, I had subconsciously abandoned myself. I chose to ignore my most fundamental needs, food, sleep, emotional and social needs. Having growing up in an unstable home many emotional tragedies seem to occur, I had unconsciously sought security in my relationships. I would often go out of my way to do anything to make that other person to be happy and always felt guilty to saying ‘no’ or disagreeing to something that didn’t resonate well with me. I sought validation in pleasing others. I would feel guilty if I wanted to take some time off to just spend time doing my favorite things because I never learned how important it was to take care of my own well-being.
This unhelpful pattern of thinking latched on to Ana. As I continued in losing more weight, and making Ana happy, I continued on choosing to leave myself behind. I needed to learn to tone down that critical head of mind and begin loving myself.
Through recovery, I learned the importance of cultivating a healthy relationship with our own body, mind, and soul. That there is no need to feel guilty in taking care of yourself.
We cannot take care of others when we are running on empty.
We need to keep our cups filled. It is through self-care we do that.
Begin honoring your needs, learn not only to feed your body’s needs, but also your soul. Listen to your heart’s calling. It will never lead you astray.
3. Happiness is not a luxury (that we can’t afford), it’s a necessity!
There is a biological benefit when we learn to feed ourselves regularly. With enough food, the neurotransmitters in our brain will be able to secrete serotonin, the chemical feeling that makes us feel good and happy.
I’m talking beyond your biological chemistry though. Our feelings is inextricably linked to the thoughts that we think. If you start thinking or imagining something sad, you will begin feeling sad, if you start thinking fearful things, you will feel fear.
Every emotion that takes root starts of with seeds of thought.
Ever heard one of these sayings?
‘I don’t have time to play, I need to work.’
‘I don’t deserve to be happy, I’m not a good person / I’m damaged / I need fixing.’
With recovery, you will be able to gain an awareness of the thoughts that are making you feel negatively. For me, it was practicing to identify the thoughts that were coming from a state of fear or criticism and challenging these thoughts that were making me feel joy-less from thoughts rooted in love.
Fear: ‘I can’t eat this, I don’t deserve it.’
Love: Food is to nourish my mind and body. I can and will eat when I feel hungry. It is not a reward mechanism.
Fear: ‘I can’t eat this, it will make me fat.’
Love: How rational is this? I will not be fat from eating a balanced, healthy, meal.
Fear: ‘I can’t eat this, it’s too much for me to handle.’
Love: What is the situation that is overwhelming me at the moment? Usually it is not the food that overwhelms us, it’s about the situation that we are in. Maybe it’s a lot of work to be done, or an event has happened that tugged at your emotional chords. When we start to be aware of this, we can stop turning to food for the source of our comfort.
Fear: ‘I can’t go to bed, I need to work.’
Love: It’s okay to take a break, to take a nap, or even to make 8 hours of sleep a priority. Sleep is essential for maintaining our well-being.
Fear may be our default pattern, but recovery will enable us to practice thinking from love. ‘We are wired for love.’ as Dr. Caroline Leaf , a leading neuroscientist in the field of the mind and body connection says. Thinking from love is will enable us to feel and be happy no matter the situation that we are in.
Joy is our heart’s inner work. It will not be found in our external circumstances.
4. To be well, mentally & emotionally & physically
Being well is different to only feeling well. The difference is that we will encounter feelings of feeling well or feeling unwell on a daily basis, but being well will allow us to maintain a healthy equilibrium even when we go through the ups and downs of life. I was an emotional, mental, physical wreck in my anorexia, I could be crying endlessly for no reason and in physical pain 24/7 because I was constantly numb from being frozen and could not sit or sleep well since my bones were sticking through my skin.
Frankly, I had enough. I wanted to be well again.
Recovery will provide us with stability. We will be able to be aware when our thoughts are taking us down a mindless path that will make us feel overridden with guilt, stress, anxiety, pain or sadness. We will be able to make the conscious decision able to go back to our healthy equilibrium and continue living life positively.
5. Regain back your social life. Your friends miss you!
I avoided going out to dinner, lunch, coffee invites since I knew there was going to be food involved. Ana had become such a secretive part of my life that I was ashamed of it. With recovery, you will be able to overcome your food anxieties and reconnect back with your friends.
6. Food freedom!
Do you remember the time you can eat whatever you wanted, anytime you wanted, and not have a single worrying thought??
Food is such an important part of life. We need it to thrive, to grow, and to nourish ourselves.
I love taking that spontaneous run up a mountain and then getting my favorite frozen yogurt slathered in all sorts of yummy delicious toppings on the way back home.
Or going to the movies and getting my favorite caramel popcorn. Or ordering pizza on a Friday night.
Or even taking a trip and being able to taste the local cuisines there.
Food is a part of life. With recovery you will be able to eat whatever and whenever you want again and find freedom in your relationship with food.
7. To be free to pursue your dreams!
With one step at a time, and daily practice, I broke fre(ed) from my eating disorder and left Ana behind.
I want you to believe that no matter how hard or impossible it seems, that through commitment and daily work, you can break free.
Through learning to be aware of my own thinking, not only it has helped me break free from my eating disorder, but it also helped me to break free from any unhelpful patterns of thinking that were stopping me from growing, learning and maturing from the experiences that life gives us.
I am no more crippled by a continuous cloud of worry.
Yes, I still have those cloudy days, but I have learned to let the sun shine through them.
My anxiety attacks have lessened considerably.
I have learned to stop the need to control every single outcome of life and just embrace them as they are.
I am learning to be okay with uncertainty.
I learned that the only failure we feel is only when we attach that moment or circumstance to our own definition of self worth.
Our self-worth is not tied to any external circumstance, no grade, no number on a scale, or measuring tape can define who we are.
These learning lessons have enabled me to live life with greater flow and with less resistance, but with more joy, hope, excitement, and passion.
These 7 are just the significant milestones that I have learned throughout my recovery process.
Recovery is a very personal experience to each one of us and I would love to know what milestones have you experienced in taking the steps to recover?
Some of the Topics I will be blogging on in this recovery series:
-Overcoming food fears / anxiety
-It’s okay to not be superhuman-ly perfect.
-Mindful meal meditations
-I. Can’t. Stop. Eating. (Emotional eating)
-Loving and caring for our bodies
-Unhelpful patterns of thinking
-Nourishing your body well
-What does ‘fat’ mean to you?
-2 steps back, 1 step forward, getting back to recovery when you relapse
-Breaking the rules / routine and learning to listen to your body’s natural needs
Do you have any other topics issues that you want me to answer to?
Feel free to comment below or email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to answer any of your questions!
Here is your Wellness to Go to kick off this recovery series:
Throughout our life our bodies may be in a state of ‘dis-ease’, as Louise L Hay calls it. However, we have the choice to put our bodies back at ease!
Your motivational milestones:
- Re-discover yourself on a deeper & authentic level.
- You’ll learn to cultivate the one of the most important relationship that you’ll ever have in this life. To love yourself!
- Happiness is not a luxury (that we can’t afford), it’s a necessity!
- To be well, mentally & emotionally & physically
- Regain back your social life. Your friends miss you!
- Food freedom!
- To be free to pursue your dreams!
If you feel called to, please do share this blog to your friends or family member that you know who may be struggling with an eating disorder.
It is my greatest hope and wish that we can break fre(ed).
That we can cultivate a healthy relationship with food and our bodies;
To break free of the unhelpful thinking patterns that have held us captive and stopped us from embracing the beautiful person that we are; and
Begin to live a deeply fulfilling life that satisfies and delights our hearts.
This Be Fre(ed) series is dedicated to helping those of you who may be struggling with food, or body image, or feel trapped in their minds with negative / harmful thoughts that may be weighing you down.
I want to get to know YOU more, what are some of the struggles that you have with food or body image? If you are recovering from an ED, what are some of the difficulties that you have been encountering?
Feel free to comment below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me via Instagram @wellnesstogo, Facebook, or Twitter @thewellnesstogo. I read every single email, or comment that comes through and will answer to your questions! I am here to serve you so that you can find food, body, and mind freedom, and be the healthiest, happiest and most loving version of yourself!