I received an email after my recent interview appeared on Lisa’s Random Acts of Zen; an interview in which I talked about being single and my weight. And about the relationship between the two.
Emily Jean is a health coach and works with women who are wanting to give up the dieting mindset and just trying to find some peace with food, and love for their body. I thanked her for her approach but had to flag that I really couldn’t afford to work with her on my body image issues at the moment. Fortunately she was keen to just talk to me so we had a lengthy skype chat.
Former Diet Schmiet readers would know that I’ve had A LOT of therapy re my eating disorders. Freudian psychotherapists, to CBT and those specialising in behaviour modification, a dietician/psychologist and someone who specifically focussed on peeps with disordered eating. I’ve come a long way since my anorexic youth, bulimic 20s and self-hating dieting/bingeing 30s. But… well…
Emily Jean and I talked about my perfectionist black/white thinking, and the concept of ‘worth’ and being ‘enough’ – a biggie for me which I’ve spoken about here at length.
Interestingly I shared (with her obvs) some stuff which I’ve probably spoken about before, but not considered for a long time.
1. Becoming anorexic was the first time I excelled at anything. Not just becoming thin, gaining control over food and my body and stopping menstruating (etc) but I improved in my chosen sports and did a little modelling as well. I became visible.
2. While my confidence is no longer completely tied up with my body image issues, they’re still closely connected. I assume others are judging me poorly and that holds me back from doing the things I’d like to do. I realise this may not be the case, but it’s how I judge others who are very overweight: weak and pathetic (transference much?!).
3. I feel the need to apologise and make excuses for the person I’ve become. I feel guilty for taking up space. I feel I’ve let others (and myself) down. (Refer to 1)
4. I have a very strong mind / body disconnect. I find it almost impossible to describe how my body feels at any one moment. I’ve long known I’ve struggled to ‘live in the moment’ but being ‘present’ at all is problematic. After all, it’s far easier to wallow in the past or stress about the future than to deal with shit in the present.
5. Bingeing on food calms me and slows down my thinking. I’ve always thought my bingeing was about anger and shoving down feelings, but in talking to Emily Jean, I described a binge as calming – which was a surprise.
I suspect if I was a client of Emily Jean’s we’d do a lot of work on some of these new issues that came up during our conversation. However the two things that I took away from our conversation was: a new understanding of a reason why I binge; and how little I am mentally and physically ‘present’.
I’ve talked before about my busy mind and chronic insomnia as the only time all day that my mind ceases to be preoccupied with other stuff, is when I go to bed at night. Which is when I can start worrying and obsessing and planning and dreaming – which I know is a problem for many. I’ve already (re)started yoga and try to meditate a little, so think I’m on the right track.
Is the mind / body disconnect something others struggle with? Any other suggestions for being mentally AND physically present and living in the here and now?
Linking up with Essentially Jess and the IBOT team today.
It takes practice…choosing to notice and being curious. I have to remind myself to slooooooooow down so I can be aware and so I can track my thoughts and make the connection to how I feel when I think them. I also have to remind myself that it’s worth it…that I am worth it. And there’s also the it’s-journey-not-the-destination mindset…
Finally…reminding myself that it will never be something I am perfect at.
Yes… this post got a bit too long, but one of the things we discussed was the issue of ‘balance’ and what it would look like. Foodwise I said: Eating whatever I want, whenever I want – occasionally overeating – but not feeling the need to binge eat.
I’m shocking at it. Just dreadful. Sometimes it’s as though there is no connection at all- and certainly no boundary. The closest I get is when I’m exercising.
Hmm… that’s interesting Jo – exercising. I’ve never considered that but know I used to get a lot of joy out of the dance classes (faux Zumba) with an old instructor. She certainly encouraged us to be strong and confident in our bodies. I need to re-start walking as I think (given my location and the beautiful beachside surrounds) it helped remind me I was part of something ‘bigger’.
I also suffered from anorexia in my teens but have thankfully recovered. For me the opposite has been true, I have a very strong mind body connect. Such a shame your funds couldn’t stretch to seeking help with Emily. Therapy was a huge transformative benefit for me xxx
Carla, thanks for your reply and I’m really glad you were able to get the assistance you needed. I’ve had some great therapists over the years (and some not-so-great ones). I’ve moved around a lot which is why I changed them a bit.
I’ve delved into this issue with a few people lately. One of my friends, a chronic anorexic, is currently using a mindfulness app on her phone to help her with being in the here and now and not just in her head. She says that it’s helped a lot.
I actually saw reference to a mindfulness or mind / body connection app the other day and wondered about it. Emily Jean and I discussed a few other techniques – how to ‘come back to my body’ when I find myself getting bogged down in negative self-talk etc.
I have had body issues since I had my baby (just over 22yrs ago). When I got married I was 45kgs – having lost 7kgs in the 4 days prior to the wedding. For 5 yrs I hovered around the 50-55kg mark. Then I fell pregnant and all hell broke loose – I was hungry and I ate – cr*p ! And when I went in to have K, I weighed just over 97kgs. Since then I have had this constant yo-yo of losing/gaining weight. When menopause hit my hormones went totally out of whack and I got back up to just under 97kgs. I am now working my way down again. I have completed the I Quit Sugar program and feel so much better for it. K left for overseas on Sunday and I have joined a running program so that I can get back to running. When I look back at the photos of when I thought I was fat, I would give anything to be that ‘fat’ again !!!!!!
Last night was a classic example of mindless eating – which, this morning I forgave myself for because it’s done and in the past and there is nothing I can do to undo what I did. Mindful eating is something that I am working on. Eating when I am hungry rather than when I am bored is another thing I’m working on. Some days are great, some days, not so much !
Good luck – I know how weight issues can impact on every part of your life.
Thanks for your good wishes. Like you I wish I could be as ‘fat’ as I once thought I was!
Great work on joining a running program!
You and I have a very similar adolescence reading this. I was also anorexic to the point of stopping menstruating, and loved the feeling it gave me. For me it was about being the skinniest. I knew I couldn’t be the prettiest, but I could change my weight.
Body image issues are an absolute pain in the proverbial. How do you ever fully move past them? Some days it seems ridiculously hard.
True. At least I can acknowledge that I’ve come a long way. For much of my 20s I was incredibly preoccupied with dieting and food and my weight. I’ve obviously continued to struggle since then and felt desperate at times, but not consistently absorbed.
My body image issues changed the moment I studied fashion styling and understood how magazines and the media photoshopped photos. I have been up and down with my weight due to pregnancy and now that I’ve had my last baby I’ve got a very relaxed attitude to losing 20kgs of baby weight. Body image us a big issue for women for both curvy and skinny alike.
True. A few of my friends found they felt better about their bodies after having kids – perhaps realising they serve a number of purposes?! Not sure.
I struggle with the mind/body disconnect in the thought pattern that they are two different entities. The mind being the strong, dominant party, while the body is something to be controlled and ridiculed. I have a history of disordered eating that is still very much intertwined in the way that I approach food now.
Yes Tegan, the disconnect seems to be a common theme. #alas
I have never been able to balance my eating, not sure I will because the mind is so powerful, I’m an emotional eater 101, always have been. As for sleeping at night, it’s my biggest problem and I don’t do myself any favours in regards to trying to get to sleep. Please be kind to you lovely xxx
Thanks Emily. x
Is there really anyone who doesn’t suffer from body image issues? Not making light of it, but I think we all struggle from time to time and obviously some worse than others. You have been through so much Deb, I think you need to look it at from the point of how far you have actually come. Sure, you still have issues to deal with, but you are wiser and bit by bit you are getting there. Will you ever be totally free? Probably not, but I’m sure your strength will get you to a place where you can be at peace with these issues. Keep working Deb, you’re worth it. x
Thanks Jodi and you’re right… I think most people struggle with body issues – no matter how near-perfect they may be!
What a lovely woman Emily Jean is to take the time to have a decent skype session with you. I’m glad you found some value in your conversation and are feeling a little more on track. I am lucky enough to have always had a fairly stable weight and a good connect between mind and body. I do get down about my weight every now and then of course, but nothing to the degree of what you and some of the others commenting here today have. The only suggestion I could give is yoga. I always feel more present when I meditate. Visiting via #teamIBOT
Yes, I’ve restarted yoga and intend to go on a regular basis. I do a type of yoga which is very focussed on the mind / body connect (Yoga Chi Gung) – all about the breathing and slow movements.
Dancing always gave me a strong mind body connection but also ironically massively contributed to my eating disorder. Anorexia for me was also one of the few things I felt “successful” at! Sad to admit that but definitely true. Eating disorders are so complex. My brother said he did a meditation course to learn he is separate from his mind, body and his thoughts. That concept amazes me.
I do wish I was better at meditating. I know I’ve written about it here before – wondering if there’s some ‘right’ way to do it, but suspect any attempt is better than nothing!
Re the quirks post – your winter weather is our normal summer weather!! 🙂
Yes, I struggle being present all the time. I try to do formal mindfulness meditation sessions as often as possible and it’s funny how on some occasions my mind just blabs on and on and on. On some occasions it’s a little bit quieter.
I think my new hobbies – singing in a choir and salsa – are good ways of being present because when I’m doing then I can’t focus on much else. In a way, they are a way of grounding myself.
Oh yes Satu, they’re fabulous hobbies and definitely ways of grounding yourself. I had something written today about what I do to ground myself and then it just seemed wanky so I’ve shelved it!
Suggestion for a good read on mindfullness and acceptance is Dr Russ Harris (he is an Aussie…well English born Aussie) and his book The Happiness Trap. Helped to change my perspective on living life. Written simply, no jargon. Google search will lead you to him if interested. His thoughts on “urge surfing” are interesting. You can find him chatting on youtube too. x 🙂
Oh thanks Sandra. Will check it out!
[…] is obviously something I’m yet to master. I’ve talked previously about needing to ‘live in the now’ more and get less rumpled by events of the past or stresses of the future – and I suspect […]