Hey, long time, no write. Sorry about that. I was mega-busy with the end of the semester, then the day after I got my grades in, I made my way to Cleveland. I always think I’ll have some downtime when I’m home, but that never ends up happening. When I do get a break from family dinners, friend catch-ups, etc., I’m usually trying to cram in some work (this week, syllabus planning). But this post felt important to make time to write (for my own self-care, and, if you battle similar demons, for yours as well). If you participate in any kind of late winter celebrating (regardless of the form it takes), it’s quite possible that you’ve experienced any or all of the following: eating or drinking more than you normally do; seeing family members you don’t see often who make comments about your appearance or other people’s appearance (whether the comments are meant to be “good” or not); hearing friends, family, or celebrities talk about how “bad” they’ve been during the holidays and all the ways they will be “better” in the new year.
And if you have a history of EDs or body dysmorphia, you’re probably feeling triggered as fuck.
This past week, I experienced all of the above. A couple days into Christmas cookies after dinner, I started getting that weighed-down feeling that convinces you you’ve gained ten pounds in 48 hours. I started noticing my stomach (by “noticing” I mean obsessively looking at it, lifting up my shirt when I sat down to see how much “damage had been done” since I looked last, etc.).
When I didn’t hear a bunch of “You look great”‘s from family and friends, I convinced myself that this was because I looked terrible. And when I did hear, “You look great!,” I convinced myself that last time they saw me, I looked terrible. (There’s no winning with an ED thought pattern). When women I was with lamented about how much weight they’ve gained, I joined them, adding to the toxic chorus of female voices that might actually be saying: “I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself.” And when those same women said, “Next week, I start my diet,” I affirmed that I would too.
ED’s are hard to shake. Even after reading Lacy’s super rad holiday survival guide, and years into my recovery, weeks like these still really mess me up. And after acknowledging that I am in a bad place, I’m still left with that annoying and pervasive contradictory dilemma. On one side, I’m all, “Well, I’ll feel better if I lose these few extra pounds I (may or may not have) gained, so it’s not so bad to commit to start fresh on Jan 1,” and on the other, I’m all, “RIOTS NOT DIETS.”
I’m not saying I have all the answers to avoid this (though, Lacy’s post is a good place to start), but I have managed to find some decent ways to cope with it when it happens. Here are some things I’ve done/am going to do to help re-set.
1. Decide what foods make you feel good from a health-perspective, not a weight-perspective, then eat those foods. Maybe this means no more nightly xmas cookies, maybe it means more green juice, but don’t do those things until you’re in a place where you’re doing it to feel better, not to lose weight. Otherwise, the self-loathing will cancel out the benefits of your green juice.
2. Talk to a friend (or a health coach) who understands. I feel super lucky to have a handful of ladies in my life who I can turn to talk about these things, and when I do, I feel like a weight has been lifted (apt metaphor!). If you’re feeling a little alone on that front, consider booking a session with aforementioned bad-ass body-positive health coach Lacy Davis. I guarantee you that talking to her will help; (you can hold me to that).
3. Skip the Get Thin for 2015 women’s magazines. Read stuff that makes you feel awesome instead. Your favorite fiction, or Buddha books, or interviews with Kathleen Hannah, or whatever. Really anything that doesn’t make you hate yourself is better than those magazines.
4. Move your body. I am obviously a devotee to the Church of Physical Activity. For me, moving my body means morning workouts and yoga, and walking as much as possible the rest of the day. Maybe for you it means dancing in your bedroom. Maybe it means chasing your kid or your dog. Maybe it’s sex. Whatever it is, find some way to get some physical activity in–those endorphins will help dismantle the toxic thoughts.
5. Remember that everything is temporary. My favorite lesson! My most easy-to-forget lesson! When you feel stuffed after eating awesome food with friends and family, remember that the stuffed feeling will go away soon. Remember that you’ve felt like this before, that you swore you’d never be able to shake the stuffed-guilt you have, and then remember that you actually did shake that feeling, and that you will again. Instead, focus on how good it tasted and how fun it was to share with others, drink a glass of water, and keep going.
What else do you do to shake bad feelings that are common after holidays?