Settling in to Set Point

33922420_10101869493462256_1564937270635528192_o.jpgSet Point Theory is defined as a range of weight the body has to perform the best. When trying to lose weight, the body will fight to maintain the particular weight range. … Ultimately the set point is the weight range in which your particular body is programmed to function at its best. Finding your set point and also being at peace with your set point weight can be challenging. I spent years fighting my body, trying to change my body into something it wasn’t. Even well into recovery I was still in a constant war with my own self to look a certain way.

One day, I gave in, I swept left on my Eating Disorder as Jessica Sprengle, one of my Revovery Idols would say) I decided to love my body for what it was and how it’s supposed to be. My Eating Disorder voice was Defeated. Being thin was no longer “in.”

My body may have changed, but so have I. I gave up a little, and got back even more. It takes serious courage and strength to basically defy gravity and do the opposite of what our society expects us to do. (Accept your body and yourself the way you are.)

I am present in my life and in my children’s life. I am actually happy, energetic, and ready for whatever life throws at me. I am not a prisoner in my own skin, I don’t live by the scale, I’m not a calorie counter, or nutrition label scanner.  I allow myself to nourish my body in the way that it deserves.

Being at my set point means my body is comfortable. My body can relax because it is healthy. It trusts that there will be a next meal, it doesn’t have to go into reserves or overdrive.  My weight does not spiral out of control in either directions because my body and I are settled, we are in sync and we are at our set point and i’ll choose set point over my eating disorder every single day because living with an eating disorder is not living at all. 

 

 

 

 

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Rainbows and butterflies

Like I have said before Recovery or being recovered isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a magical place where bad things never happen, stress goes away,  and you always feel beautiful, positive, and happy.

We need to be real, because this is life. REAL life.

As much as I can try to be positive, some times I just feel like CRAP, and that’s okay. I am a real person who has to deal with my emotions, feel all the feels, ride all the waves and  surf right on thru.

I have been feeling a little off the last couple weeks.

May has been a hard month for me with it being the anniversary of my brother’s death. Mother’s Day in general can feel a bit overwhelming for me too,f eeling like I am being pulled in so many directions with not enough time in the day.  I’ve tried my best to smile my way thru because smiling does genuinely make me feel better, this week was tougher.

Yesterday body image wise, I just wasn’t feeling it. I noticed myself body checking and comparing myself to others, and like I always do, I tell myself how silly I am being and that my body is absolutely fine. I know that my body is the healthiest it has ever been and I am nurturing myself in ways I never have before.

Last night my 6-year-old daughter had pulled the root out of her plant and was all upset. She was crying, I immediately scooped her into my arms and cuddled her. She was so sad that she hurt that plant. I tried to explain to her that it was no big deal. She didn’t know it would kill the plant and we would get a new plant. As I was hugging her I saw a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I did not like the way my body looked in my pajamas.

For 10 seconds, I thought about it. My mind was spiralling until I looked deeper into that mirror and saw that little beautiful girl who I love with my entire heart holding onto me and pressing her head into my chest. I was fixing broken heart. I was keeping her safe. I am her mommy, and she could care less what body looks like. Life is so much greater, so much deeper, and just more!

I have been thinking about that moment ever since then. This morning I woke up feeling much better and have been walking around all day today with a brand new attitude on a pretty rough week.

I will keep this moment with me as a reminder that the beauty in life is not in what we look like. I know this, and I know it over and over again, but when you lived with an Eating Disorder for so many years, although being fully recovered sometimes the thoughts can just creep back up.

These times are definitely few and far between, but every single time I can assure you that my response will be to shut the thoughts down. You can feel them, but you can’t act on them. These feelings will pass and this is not a set back. This is just life, and this is your life. You have the control to challenge and push away those feelings and negativity.

 

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Brenna

The Purpose Behind It All.

I often wonder if I had the ability to go back in time, or re-do things what my life would be like. I obviously know I am not a time traveler and I’ll never be able to change the past.

I am not religious. I do not believe in God or a hierarchy of any sort, although sometimes I wish that I did. I have friends and family that have so much faith and inspiration in all of this and it keeps them safe, a sense of peace,  and gives them hope. I envy that and wish I had a connection to something like that.

I have my eating disorder, and my recovery though, which to me has given me the power and the strength I need to live my life to the fullest every single day.  To give it my all, to do better, to be my authentic self, to love, to care, to be honest, and to believe in myself.

I know that my eating disorder and my recovery is my soul purpose in life. Recovery and sharing my story and my passion for helping others is what I am destined to do, it’s my thing, which leads me to my belief that

Everything happens for a reason.

I do believe this statement with every ounce of my heart. The reasons sometimes take a little bit longer to understand though, and sometimes they don’t even make sense.  

I have been waiting, thinking, pondering, desperately trying to figure out the reason that my brother died in that car accident and not me.

Years, I have spent feeling guilty, wishing it were me. It made no sense. I was the one who was barely hanging on, medically unstable, wishing I could disappear, in and out of hospitals, treatment centers, breathing, but not alive, drowning in my own depression. Why was it not me? All the signs would of pointed to me.

Going through the motions of the worst years of my life, when I was weak, empty, broken, and zombie like, there were days I didn’t care if I kept going, or if I gave up. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, I didn’t want to go to sleep at night. I was scared to be alive, yet petrified to die. I knew the road of destruction I was following would only lead to one place….

So again, I ask “Why wasn’t it me in the accident?”

Well, here’s what I have conjured up and I finally am able to believe and trust this theory because it’s mine.  It wasn’t me, it shouldn’t of been me. It didn’t need to be me.

I am here. I need to be here. I belong here. I am the one who is going to change the world with my story. I am going to help others fight their demons and beat their disorders over and over again. I am an eating disorder survivor, a body positive warrior, and a mental health advocate whose job is just starting to flourish. I have a job to do, and I won’t stop until my work is complete.

I have not yet come up with a reason for why Jordan can’t be here with me through all of this, but I do know wherever he is, he is still very much a part of my recovery journey because he lives right in my heart and that’s where he will always stay.

I no longer feel guilty. I know now that it shouldn’t of been me, although it shouldn’t have been him either, but figuring out the madness behind his death perhaps is something I am not ready to pass thru yet.

Continue reading “The Purpose Behind It All.”

We can make a change

While I am loving the amount of organizations and companies speaking up and trying to promote Health At Every Size, Eating Disorder Awareness, and Body Positivity. It’s what we are all working toward right? It’s size acceptance, body love, everybody is beautiful.

But wait, do we really get it? Are we actually doing a good job?

My answer: No, and here’s why.

You can’t offer a body positive article of clothing with the proceeds from that item going toward eating disorder awareness when the size of clothing prohibits certain size people from being able to actually wear the item comfortably or if it all. It sort of defeats the purpose. It’s not promoting self acceptance or body love, or positivity if not everyone is able to participate.

I am still learning every single day as well, and I’m making changes to my mindset.  We all are, but to be in this fight for size and weight acceptance, to continue fighting this stigma. We need to be all in. 100 % in. It is a complete life style change, a new way of thinking, brand new vocabulary. You have to educate yourself, your friends, your family, strangers, EVERYONE.

Thin privilege is real. People in heavier bodies should not have to fight for some of the same privileges, rights, and things that people in “smaller” bodies take for granted on a daily basis.

We can fight this battle if we don’t fully understand, we can’t fight weight stigma if we aren’t fully prepared.

  • Medical Care: This one really irks me beyond no other because I see it daily. I work at a doctor’s office where we treat people. All people for different medical conditions, and ailments. When someone in a heavier body comes into the office they should be given the exact same care as someone in a smaller body.  Chances are if we have the smaller bodied person, and the heavier bodied person both complaining of a sore throat, the smaller bodied person will get treated with the antibiotics without any hesitation or comment on their weight.  It’s a simple visit. In and out, no problem. But, the heavier bodied person, after maybe even having trouble finding a seat that will fit their body in the waiting room, maybe being embarrassed because the scale doesn’t have the capacity to hold them, or the blood pressure cuff isn’t big enough to fit around their arm might could possibly get lectured about their weight as if all of the complications before weren’t humiliating enough.  A sore throat is a sore throat. Same treatment for everyone.

 

  • I have never experienced judgement or shame when I go out to eat, I can order whatever I want and no one (except maybe myself) is judging me. If I order a salad, some people might say “Figures.” but if I order a huge plate of chicken broccoli and ziti, it’s acceptable, and actually could even be looked at as “cute.”  How do you think something like that would go for someone in a heavier body? I worked in a bar for many years, I could tell you but I think I’ll let you come up with your own scenario’s.

 

  • Shopping for clothing. I have never had an issue buying the clothes I want at the stores I like.  Something catches my eye, I go right into the store and get it or I order it right online. I am not limited to certain stores with select inventory and sky-high pricing. Everyone needs to wear clothing, and everyone should be able to wear the clothing that is in “style” or that fits their personal style without having to worry about searching high and low. We all know that clothing shopping can be stressful on its own (even though I wish I could fix that too for everyone.) I can’t.

 

  • I have heard that South West Airlines does not charge for extra seats. I have not flown anywhere In a few years but unless things have changed dramatically the seats were never overly accommodating and roomy.  Most airlines charge you for extra seating. I find this to be terrible, and I highly applaud south-west airlines and next time I fly I will make every effort i can to fly with them. I have already emailed customer service at south-west airlines to tell them how wonderful this is and how much I appreciate them being so supportive and aware of size acceptance.

Even if you are not directly dealing with these issues, you can help! You can support business’s that are supportive and offer accommodations for people in larger bodies. You can speak out against places that don’t. You can’t stop judging. These are just a few of the MANY horrifying examples of thin privilege that I know I have taken advantage of for most of my life without meaning to or realizing.

Like I said before, I am still learning. It’ a new outlook on life, but an outlook on life that will make this world a better place for all. Size acceptance, Health at every size, love and respect for each other as a community. It needs to happen, and it needs to happen now.

Who is with me?

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Eating normally in a world that doesn’t know what normal eating is

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I believe that my eating disorder and obsession with food was a little bit similar to an addiction. A lot of times Eating Disorders are treated with a similar approach to AA and the 12 step program.

Of course the two addictions are very different, but obsession, shame, isolation, depression, loss of control, are all serious factors of each disease. An alcoholic can recover and live a healthy life with-out ever having another sip of alcohol again. (I know it’s not that easy. I am always amazed by my friends who battle and conquer their demons and I could not be more proud of their stories and achievements.

Unfortunately, Food is something I can’t quit. No one can. Not only eating something you have to do to live, it’s a huge part of socialization, family life, and even work life, actually pretty much all of life. Having realtionships with food, healthy, or unhealthy is a relationship we all have to have. 

So, I try to eat like normally, but really what is normal eating? I have tried and tried to figure it out but between this diet, that meal replacement shake, the restricting of certain food groups, vegans, gluten-free, low sugar, low carb, low sodium, low cholesterol, over eating, under eating, mindful eating, intuitive eating, my brain could nearly explode.

 Here’s what I learned so far.

1.Short, sweet, and simple: I don’t think there is a definition of normal eating. I think I might of just spent a good majority of my recovery life and even my disordered eating life trying to find that magical normal eating solution because everyone has their own idea of health and nutrition and how they want to design their food choices.

2.I can’t worry or focus on what others are eating or why they are doing what they are doing. I have to worry about myself and what i’m doing. I also have to make sure I am not worrying or thinking too much about my choices because I don’t want food to take over my life. I want to enjoy my food, taste my food, and feel the positive effects of my body using the food as nourishment and even enjoyment, but then I don’t want to continue thinking about it the rest of the day.

3.Eating disorder treatment set me up with basic knowledge of what healthy eating should look like for me. I know the needs of my body. I know appropriate serving sizes, I know the balance of food I am supposed to have at each meal, and  know that ideally I should never let myself get too hungry or too full.  I also know life is not perfect, our days are jammed packed and things don’t always go as planned.   

4.For me, there are no forbidden or bad foods, there are no foods I don’t allow myself to have. Everything in moderation is what I do. I give into my cravings, I listen to my body. It’s okay to eat something for the pure fact that it just tastes good. You can treat yourself, You should treat yourself, and you should enjoy treating yourself.  You deserve it. 

Make your own idea of normal eating. If it feels right, it is right.

 

 

Thoughts

As I mentioned in my last post, This week was Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It was a crazy week for me, where I had events almost every single day and my main focal point and priority this week was promoting all of these events.

There was a storm yesterday so until today my mind was jut deer in the head lights. We are home today with no power and now my mind can rest, ponder, and reflect on this weeks journey.

What comes to my mind first is, just WOW. Wow to the incredible people I encountered, conversed with, and listened to this week. The eating disorder recovery community is pretty freakin rad, and here is why.

  1. I met so many different types of people this week all with unique and inspiring stories. Either struggling with their own disorder, in recovery, a family member or care giver to someone with an eating disorder, or working in the field of eating disorders, each person I met was dedicated to the same cause of eating disorder treatment, prevention, recovery, awareness, and education. I love that we all come from diverse back rounds, cultures, and even treatment back rounds, but we all can relate to each others experiences. We get it, and we connect, we listen to each other, we bond, we collaborate, we teach, we help.
  2. I am so thankful for the connections I have and continue to make as an Eating Disorder survivor, and recovery advocate. I am so proud of how far we have come fighting the stigma that has been associated with Eating Disorders, teaching the community, promoting health at every size, and in reality, just talking about something that so needs to be discussed.
  3. The stories of recovery I heard this week were powerful, brave, and triumphant. Each story unraveled for different reasons, yet each story touched my heart, and resinated with my beliefs and reasons for recovery.

Eating Disorder Awareness week is a lot. A lot of social media posts, blogs, links, campaigns, video’s and opinions across our news feeds. I believe in what we are doing, I appreciate the posts, it means something to me, this is my passion, this is my world. Do others? Are we promoting and sharing the right way? Are people outside of our eating disorder relm or sphere appreciating this, understanding this, and learning from us, or are they scrolling right by? I can’t help but wonder, but I also can’t help but not really care that much because if I can help even 1 person, change 1 person’s view or opinion, or educate even 1 person, I am doing my job. I know this EDAW week that I did that. We are in this together.

It’s been a long week, filled with a ton of emotions, flash backs, and even some scary memories. It’s part of the week. You took the good stuff with the hard stuff. In the end I feel proud. Proud of my journey, proud of my accomplishments, and proud of my future.

EDAW 2018 ❤

Over and out!

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NEDA Week 2018

Today (well really tomorrow, but whatever)marks the start of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018. This week has always been very special to me, but it was a silent special. This year I am anything but silent, and this year will be extra meaningful for me.

Over the summer I went completely out of my comfort zone and took a leap going public with my struggle with an eating disorder, and it was one of the best things i’ve ever done, the only regret I have is being ashamed and keeping my story silent for so long.

Believing that I am more than a number has been a challenge for me in my life, but I am at the point that I know it’s true. I am more than a number on a scale, an age, a height, my IQ, a bank account, a employee number, but there are some people who battle with this “number” struggle daily. My entire disorder revolved around counting numbers, calories, nutrition labels, adding and subtracting, and basing outlook for one day on the number I saw on the scale that morning. It makes me sad remembering how many precious moments and precious thoughts I lost counting and calculating numbers, and in the end it was never enough. A math equation that I would never solve.

Accepting yourself and accepting each other is something this world needs to work on. Everyone is different, every body is different, and there are different ways for each of us to be healthy people. We need to embrace Health at every size. Not all people in small bodies are healthy, just as people with bigger bodies aren’t always un -healthy. When we stop judging, we start loving, and we start living. I am so much more than a number, and so are you.

My HEALthy MIND knows my worth is measured by who I am, what I believe in, how I treat others and what I stand for as a person. Once my mind and my body stopped fighting each other, and got on the same page, I became a healthy person and I couldn’t be more thankful. {I radiate positivity, passion, love, life, recovery}

Happy National Eating Disorder Week to my strong, beautiful, passionate fiends at Project HEAL who legit inspire and amaze me every single day. You are seriously rock stars and I am blessed to have project HEAL and all of you in my corner. And happy NEDA week to my family and friends who never stop believing in me encouraging me, but most of all never let me feel like I am or was just a number.

#slamthescale #MyHEALThyBodyCan promote health at every size, Eating Disorder Awareness and prevention, recovery, bust most inportantly my body and my mind can live in harmony. #morethananumber #ProjectHEAL #projectHEALBoston #southshore #eatingdisorderrecovery #eatingdisorderawareness #eatingdisorderadvocate #mentalhealth #slamthescale #donewithdieting #wakeupweightwatchers #anorexiarecovery #bulimiarecovery #recoveryispossible #edwarrior #eatingdisdordersurvivor #selflove #coh #bodypositive #selfworth #dietsdontwork #recoverywarrior #beautifullybrave #bingeeating #NEDA #menwitheatingdisorders20180225_120017

Recovery Hero

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I was interviewed yesterday for a research study on Eating Disorders. I have told my story numerous times, I lived it, of course I know it. It was different this time. The specific questions this time were so much more intense. As I was thinking about my answers and saying them out loud, I was listening to my responses and I had moment of clarity. I was like “Oh my goodness, how am I even still alive?”

 

I was so sick. My eating disorder almost killed me. I knew it, I know it, but answering the questions and hearing this women’s responses was extremely powerful for me.

A lot of her questions focused on my reasons for seeking treatment each time. We talked about all different factors and my feelings during different times of my battle, and we talked about the people in my life who influenced my recovery. We talked a lot about my mom, my rock. My beautiful, strong, selfless mother.

My mom might just be the strongest person I’ve ever met. She’s endured more heartache and pain then anyone should ever have to, but she never stops smiling, and she never stops loving, and most importantly, she never gives up. She fought for me with every ounce of her being . She hugged me when I was un -touchable and she loved me when I was unlovable. She begged me every day to get better, I hated that I was hurting her, hurting everyone, but I wasn’t at that point yet. My eating disorder was killing me, and in turn it was killing her inside. As a mom now, I know that you do everything and anything to make sure your children are happy, healthy and taken care of. I now see how much hurt and pain I caused her, my eating disorder self was not my real self and my eating disorder self had the control, and that self didn’t care who or how many people I hurt along the way to reaching my never attainable goal of being “thin enough.”

I remember her sleeping by my bed just to make sure I was still breathing. I remember the hours upon hours she spent arguing with insurance companies to get me the help and treatment I needed. She was there every step of the way loving and supporting me.

My mother is my recovery hero, my hero in general. She’s the best person I know and I’d truly be lost without her. I can’t change the past, I can’t change who I was or what we all went through, but I can take the time to tell my mom how incredible thankful I am to have had her rooting for me, cheering me on, and advocating like no one has ever advocated for anybody before.

Mommy thank you for keeping me alive, thank you for never giving up on me, and thank you for showing me unconditional love and giving me the best role model to look up to as I mother your beautiful grandchildren.

 

Sharing My Recovery Will Never Get Old

Sharing my story of recovery has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. To take such a negative time in my life and turn it around into something positive is something I am so thankful for.

I was talking to my dad last night and he made a comment how he always knew I would turn my story around and I would do something good with it. My response to him was “Really dad?” and he said “Of course, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. ” Maybe he really believed that, or maybe that helped him cope with the intense stress and scary life we were all living during my disorder.  I told him last night, there were times I really wasn’t sure if recovery was in the cards for me, and when I said that my heart sunk. It sank for the younger me, and it sunk for all of the people I know who are struggling right now. Feeling like you are going to live a life trapped in this ongoing cycle, being a slave to your disorder and the mind games it plays on you is hopeless, draining, and exhausting.

Knowing that there are people feeling like that, gives me even more reason, even more purpose to continue sharing my story, to continue reaching out, to continue education, to continue fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness and eating disorders.

The more people I reach with my recovery story, the more people will feel confident in their own recovery, more family members will know that there is hope and this is just a minor road block and the destination to recovery is on the map.

I’ll share my story with anyone who will listen and I’ll continue to share it because you never know whose heart strings it’s going to tug at, you never know who has a friend of a friend struggling. Recovery is real and living eating disorder free is real. There is help, there are resources, there is support. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.  

I used to be ashamed of my eating disorder, I kept it hidden from so many people for so long. I even kept my recovery a tucked away. So many people worry that others will think differently of them. I thought that too, until I realized that my story could help someone. My story IS helping people. I’m not just sharing my story so that people who are struggling will reach out for help, I’m sharing my story so that others  who are recovered will stand up and share their stories too.  We lived it, we fought it, and we are better and stronger because of it.

If even 1 person hears my story and it means something to them, I am doing my job and I won’t stop until the job is done. I didn’t quit on recovery, and I won’t quit advocating.

27500169_177267126372861_523662961561793693_o“Recovery was the hardest thing I ever did. Recovery is the best thing I’ve ever done,  Recovery is my biggest accomplishment, and recovery is worth it.”

I wish People knew…..

I’ve mentioned before that it’s really important to be mindful of others. We all make the mistake of thinking we know something before we really do, and we all can be too quick to judge someone or something.

Here are a few things I wish people understood about Eating Disorders in general.

These are things I felt while I was deep into my disorder, through out my treatment, recovery, and now as a recovery advocate.

1.”Why can’t you just eat? ” Don’t say that. Never say that. It’s not helpful ad it’s insensitive. Seriously, if it was as easy as just eating, I would not be writing this blog.

2 There is no cure, or magic pill.  Recovery is different for everyone so asking “How long is this going to take? “not only makes you sound naive, it makes you seem non educated, and un-involved.

3. “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder”.  Here’s the big one guys. Let me tell you straight up: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY to have an eating disorder. There are so many people who judge how “sick” someone is by their weight.  This could not be further from the truth and it literally scares the crap out of me that there are even trained medical professionals who have this mind-set. So many people continue struggling because they don’t feel they are worth treatment. They don’t feel they make the “criteria” so they continue with their unhealthy behaviors just getting sicker and sicker, sometimes even getting positive feed back from other’s. I could go on and on about this, but I can feel my blood boiling and I might save it for a different blog post. An eating disorder is a terrible disease that torments your mind, body, and soul, it does not discriminate, and no matter the size or shape of your body, if you are struggling with an eating disorder, you are sick, and you deserve the same treatment, the same health care, the same support as anyone that fits the Eating Disorder Stigma.

4. Don’t comment on my body or my weight. Even things like “You look healthy.”or “You look better.” can be triggering to someone in treatment or recovery. Our bodies go through many different uncomfortable changes, we know it but are trying to deal with these changes as well as all the other emotions of recovery and letting go of our eating disorder. We don’t need other reminders that other people are noticing. Deep down we know you are just trying to be supportive, it’s just not helpful. Of course as people recover most of the time we have a higher tolerence for things, but it is still extremely important to be mindful of the trauma and stressors we have been dealing with.

5. Diet Talk. End it Stop it. I’m so over it. I still hate hearing about people’s diets.  I get it, it’s life. Everyone’s on some sort of diet, or shake, or fat. All the power to you. But forgive me if I really don’t want to participate in the conversation. Nutrition labels and cointing calories took over my life for way too long. Unfortunately, chances are that whatever you are eating I know the nutrition facts. I hate that I know it, and I wish I could erase it from my brain. I know what’s healthy, I know what’s not, but if I am eating something that seems out of he norm for me there’s no need to make a comment. I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full, I induldge on occassion, sometimes more, sometimes less. I don’t make comments about your meal choices, there’s no need to make comments on mine.

6. If you are supporting someone with an eating disorder, ask them what type of support they need. Do they need you during meal time, do they need you after meal time for distraction. Can you help them at the grocery store. Can you be their buffer when it’s time to go out to dinner with a group of people and not every one knows the situation? Do they need you to be the one to tell them they didn’t stick to their meal plan. Maybe they need you to come to a support group, or a medical appointment with them.

I know everyone wants to help, but there are so many different ways, and everyone is so different. Ask. Educate yourself. You really could save someone’s life.

With Love,

Brenna