Saturday, October 23, 2010

Healthy Living... / Overcoming Body Image Obsessions

I recently did a circle journal page that another woman sent my way with the theme that she chose of Passion. I realized that another passion that I truly have and failed to mention, is one that I have had for so long, that it is such a part of me I forgot it is actually a passion. It just seems like since I can see this blog is turning into a description of me and my life, this should be included. :) So here I am sitting at my computer today - to briefly write about and tell you that this just remembered passion of mine is healthy living - IE Taking care of myself in every way, including physically...

In all my life, I have never smoked, drank coffee, tea or alcohol, taken drugs (seldom even take pain relievers like aspirin... though I don't entirely oppose them) etc. I have, however, had to establish good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. I have experienced eating disorders (97 % of women have some kind of eating disorder... so I feel very fortunate to now be part of the 3% of women who do not have an eating disorder); I have battled with my weight, and had to learn how to listen to my body. But because of a strong desire and commitment to taking care of myself so I can be as healthy as possible, I chose to study Nutrition in college and make taking care of myself and my family a priority. This has been an incredible blessing to me and my family!

The education I gained blessed me with the tools I needed to get out of obsessive thinking and behaviors which led to eating disorders; and helped me to have the moderation I needed to be physically healthy. I can not even tell you how much I LOVE having a healthy body and not have any obsessions with weight and body image in the least! I feel so incredibly free! (BTY ~ Wow... I just had an epiphany. I have another mental obsession and wonder if moderation is the key for me there, as well. I feel like such an airhead. (... I'll blame it on the blond hair ~ LOL) For months, I had a nagging thought telling me to do the thing I became obsessed with weekly rather than daily... I didn't listen, and perhaps that was my downfall. I need to listen to that inner voice!) Anyhow, moving on with healthy living...

I remember when I was in college studying nutrition to be a Dietitian (didn't finish... was only 12 credits and an internship away, with awesome grades, when husband finished school and got a job elsewhere... I went with him.). I realized I had an eating disorder, and I was NOT about to let anyone else know about it. I was, however, determined to get over it. So, as I learned, I took all the advice I was taught to give to persons with eating disorders to help myself get through (I'm so thankful to have learned early on!!! I am so blessed!).

"Corine, you're probably going to gain weight fast when you start to eat normally because your body is in starvation mode... Do Not Panic! Eat! You must eat when you are hungry to get over this, even if it makes you gain weight. Remember, your body will soon realize you are no longer starving it and will stop storing it for the next starvation once you are consistent enough to convince your body that you will not starve it again. Be patient. If you consistently eat, your body will figure this out and stop gaining hyper sensitively, and then you will lose the extra weight gained."

I reminded myself of this over and over again. I talked myself through this. I would scream and panic as I saw the scale increase... then remind myself again, "It’s OK. You knew this would happen. It is just part of the process. Keep eating when you are hungry, even if you keep gaining weight. It's only temporary. Your body will figure it out and stop making you gain weight every time you eat... as soon as it knows you are done starving it. You can do this Corine! I promise you, the weight will come back off... hang in there!" Simultaneously with talking myself into eating... I worked to establish good eating and exercise habits that would allow my body to be lean and healthy.

(Can I just take a moment to say I love being one of my own best friends? ~ I really am good to myself. ;D)

It's a little embarrassing to admit to this now. I was so afraid of getting fat. I gained weight every time I ate because I messed up my metabolism by under eating, then over eating (awful yo-yo) and playing mind games with myself to try to loose weight. My body clung to what I ate like it was the last meal. According to what I was learning in college, I needed to change my eating habits for my body to start behaving normally (ie not gain excessively ea time I ate). I was so miserable... always comparing myself to every other woman I saw and never happy with myself the way I was. I wanted to be able to eat a normal amount of food without gaining weight... like other normal women. According to what I learned, I needed to change my habits so that could happen.

Long story short... I did it. I ate... even though I knew I would gain weight in the short run, because I knew I needed to do it to get well, and it would come off in the long run. It was really hard. I was scared that it might not come off (you men can laugh… but our society and media teach women that lean and beautiful is what men want – and what makes women worth something! ~ and when a woman {or man} gets obsessed… it becomes a mental condition as well as a physical one). I didn't know for sure if it would work, I only hoped it would... but I was desperate to be freed from the mental agony I had caused myself; and took the leap of faith that these people knew what they were talking about and that what they were saying was right. I did gain weight, like I learned I would. I comforted myself with the hope that my body would eventually let go of the weight, and continued to do the things I learned I should do so it could happen... which including eating. Long story short... It worked! :D

It took a few years for my body and mind to get straightened out, but it happened. I became a normal eater again. I learned to listen to my body and take care of it. I stopped telling myself I couldn't have certain things. My “Don’t eat” list shrunk from a mile long list of everything fattening or sugary, to NOTHING. There are still some foods I don’t eat because I honestly don’t want to… (like foods that literally give me an allergic like effect or cause me to feel sluggish or fatigued. Actually, I even allow myself to have these as well... I just no longer want them). The key here is that I know I can eat them if I want to, which makes them less desirable (the forbidden fruit is tantalizingly tempting… and no one wants to feel deprived!).

Are you interested in knowing a few of the other changes I made to help me to become a healthy eater... which helped me to learn to love my body? “Love”…you ask...? Yes... I actually LOVE my body. Please don't get me mixed up with one of those women who are obsessed with their bodies and practically worship themselves... and just can't flaunt themselves enough - That is SO NOT ME! And I don't think I'm any hotter than the next girl. I just finally have sense enough to love my body and be thankful for it and good to it, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. I'm happy about it! :D I am almost 40... And my body ROCKS! (yours does too... ;D These bodies are amazing!) I don't know what I weigh, because ditching my scale was part of my personal recovery process... I Probably (of course) more than I weighed in high school, before having kids... by about, oh, I don't know, 10 pounds or so?? I really don’t know. (BTY- do you think I loved my body then like I love it now? Heck no! I thought it was fat back then. Crazy!!) I haven't weighed myself in so long that the last two times I got my license renewed they just jotted down the same weight that was on my last license because I hadn't weighed myself to know. My goal changed from weighing certain # of pounds, to being healthy. I haven't owned a scale since... I love it!

So, how did I change things… stop being obsessed with lean, and still actually attain it?

You’ve got to be kidding? This post is already too long; come back tomorrow for part two. ;) LOL ~ That’s right. I’ll post it for whoever is interested.


  1. I do believe........ you wrote this for me.......

    FREAKING OUT! As the scale moves up and up..... Between being so sick with the WNV and being super super under weight for five years, now having my hysterectomy and the weight flying on.... Trying to breathe......

    So obsessed with my weight. Not good I know. But there you have it. I'd rather not eat than gain weight. Not good. So I'm eating but gosh it's hard to see the weight piling on....

    I'll keep this post in mind. Thanks Corine for being brave and posting.

  2. Rachel - You. Are. So. Welcome!!! I sympathize with you... (as I'm sure you already know)!!! Yes, do remember to eat, even if you gain weight. When hormones get out of wack, weight can pile on temporarily; just don't mess up your metabolism and the weight will most likely come back down. When people starve themselves, ... things are sure to just get worse. No matter what happens... love yourself just as you are. Mental health is #1!!!

    *PS. I am flooring myself with bravery lately! :O Thanks so much for your appreciation. :)


There is a ripple effect in all that we do; what you do touches me, what I do touches you...

THANK YOU for your comments; you add so much insight and brighten my day! :)