Shopping with God in Rome

It’s not often that I will drop £350 on myself without pre-planning the expense, working it into the budget, rationalizing why I, and the items that I desire, are worth it.

It was a new and rare experience when I found myself freely handing over my credit card without any of these mind games going on. A spontaneous shopping spree on the 2nd day of the True You Italia retreat as we were wandering the streets of Rome.

Technically, we were looking for a place to sit and have a drink and a snack together (when in Rome…). My mission at the time was to get us off the main street and into the quieter alleys that were not so packed with tourists (those darn tourists).

As I paused to invite the others to cross the street, I looked up and saw a dress that caught my eye. It was an orangey mustard colour with a subtle blue flower print, the light material flowing off the mannequin in such a way that stirred something in me to try it on. To see if I would feel as beautiful in it, as the beauty the dress itself created.

Plus the price was right. 39 euros? I can do that.

So I meandered into the shop, browsing the racks, imagining how the gently feminine styles would look on me, keeping an eye on the price tag.

I found a navy pullover for only 19 euro made in a light viscose material, with long sleeves and a long torso, that made me feel comfy and softly sexy at the same time.

That was a definite yes.

Then something made me ask the sales assistant if I could try on the dress in the window… the reason why I had walked into the shop in the first place.

Maybe a different day I would’ve settled for the comfy sexy pullover, but the whole Retreat was about coming Alive… part of that means acknowledging and acting on my desires. And I had a desire to try on that dress.

The young man explained that the one on the mannequin was the last one in the store, he could get another one from a sister store, but would I like to try on the same dress different colour in the meantime?

Sure. Go for it.

And go for it he did.

I put the dress on and it was shapeless. Not what it looked like on the mannequin. A subtle disappointment creeped in… once again my desires don’t look good on me.

I showed my two amici, Liberty and Becki, and they agreed… something was missing.

The belt! The mannequin was wearing a belt!

‘I’ve got a belt at home’, I said.

The sales assistant, whom we soon learned was named Emanuele, perked up. ‘No, not your belt from home. I will get you a belt. Stay there.’

He brought over a blue leather belt that matched the sprinkle of blue in the dress. He lovingly tied it around my hips and flounced the material around it.

There.

Wait, you need the necklace.

2 minutes later I had my choice of necklaces to try on. I chose the one that felt most me.

Yup, that worked.

Something inside of me was awakening… I started to feel playful. ‘What shoes would I wear with this outfit?’ I asked. ‘Heels?’ I was picturing strappy stiletto Roman-esque adornments for my feet.

‘Ah, No. I will show you. What size are you?’

‘Ok good. Here, put these stockings on your bare feet while you’re waiting.’

Next thing I know, I am standing there with Emanuele down on his knees scrunching the soft leather of a pair of handmade boots around my calves, just so, to give the outfit the exact look and feel he could see for me.

Me? I had no clue boots could scrunch. Left to my own devices I would’ve rigidly kept them knee high. I was not expecting the inviting look, and the internal surrender, that came from the boot scrunch.

Again he eyed up his creation. ‘Something is missing’. He declared. ‘Stay here.’

I stayed and looked in the mirror. Definitely not an outfit I would’ve picked out for myself, but it was working. I liked what I saw.

He returned with a blue jacket that matched my belt, hand crafted from lambskin, as soft as a baby’s bottom.

Trust me, I was not expecting to ever try on a blue leather jacket. It just wasn’t in my view of what works for me.

But to my surprise, this more than worked.

Another look in the mirror and I could barely take in what I saw. It was like I was lifted from the page of a magazine. The outfit popped, and in wearing it, I did too.

Becki and Liberty were oohing and ahing. Turn here. Look that way.

I let myself be seen. Playfully and coyishly posing for them to admire. Hand on hip, knee bent, head tilted.

Something inside of me desired to savour this. Let myself receive the attention, care, and admiration of those around me.

Forget the outfit, this experiment in receiving was a whole new look for me. My norm is to downplay and shy away from compliments, and then crack some joke so as to dumb down the beauty.

I chose differently yesterday. And it felt damn good.

I felt like a woman. Like a divine being. I tried on the ability to receive, without any strings attached; without owing anyone anything or apologizing for my radiance.

I was empowered to own this moment, and so I chose to take that moment home with me. To own it for good; without figuring out where the £350 was coming from, or what would my husband think, or do I really need or deserve this?

It didn’t matter. Because being more of me is priceless. So is owning and living the truth of who I am…  a woman who can delight in herself, and let herself be delighted in by others. A woman who knows she is worthy.

And as I did that, something else changed in me. I let the walls down between me and Emanuele.

Because at first the cynic in me thought, hmmm, he’s a really good sales person. I better keep my eye on the price tag here because he’s up and cross-selling me, all for his gain ie commission. And although he’s doing a very good job, I’ve sussed him out.

But the more I let myself receive, the more the judgement melted away. I stood back and let him do his thing, because he was actually having FUN! Decorating and dressing me was not a job for him.

It was Play. His Art. I was his Creation.

I got curious about him… Tell me Emanuele, why do you do what you do?

I like to put the colours together for people. They would never think green goes with this, or blue goes with that, but then I put it together, and dey lahv it!

His finds joy in seeing others experience joy.

His True You comes alive as he helps others come Alive.

We asked if we could capture this moment on camera, and so Liberty asked him, ‘When do you feel most alive?’

And this is when it became clear our shopping spree was not really a shopping spree, but a Divine experience. A meeting with God.

‘When I pray.’

Here, in a women’s fashion boutique in Rome, was an openly gay Jewish man who admittedly talks to God (and sometimes Jesus…) and who comes most alive when he prays. (If that doesn’t mess with your view of who’s right and wrong when it comes to religions and sexuality, I don’t know what will.)

Not something I was expecting, and not something I can explain.

It brings tears to my eyes and sends me to my knees.

Because Emanuele, God with Us, was giving me more than a new outfit. He was acting out the gift from the Creator who likes to Play. Who likes to make Art. For whom I am It’s Creation.

And for whom You are too.

Dear ones, know that you are delighted in. You are loved. You are a work of art. Let yourself receive this gift.

Surrender to the work of Emanuele. You are already adorned by your creator. Regardless of your race, religion, sexuality, gender, number on the scale, bone structure, percentage body fat, health problems, emotional problems, your failures, your successes, your pains and your joys.

You are You for a reason. Let yourself come Alive.

Awaken to your own playfulness, your own creativity. Be curious about the world around you.

Let the walls of judgement, shame, fear, expectations, and perfection, fall down around you (those same walls that try to separate Christian and Jew and Muslim and gay and straight and married and single and divorced and you name it.)

Let the beauty of your True You shine through.

Please, I beg you.

The world needs your True You. It needs you, and me, to be like Emanuele; shamelessly and vulnerably letting ourselves be seen (even the parts that could easily have us hung on a tree) and sharing our gifts to the world. Lighting up others by just being our quintessential selves.

We all left changed that day. We wanted to take Emanuele home with us. And not because we’d be guaranteed a good-outfit-day 7 days a week. But because being around him touched something in each of us; awakened us to something bigger than us that we can’t explain.

And when we put down our guards enough to connect with what he had to offer, we were changed.

Truth is Emanuele is with us always. That spirit, the delight of something bigger than us that we can’t explain, is always with us. Just look around you. You will see it.

In the wind, in the waves, in a flower, in a child, in a dog sniffing and licking your face. In the laughter and the art of another soul walking this earth with you.

Emanuele, God with us, is With You.

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What you can learn from your 10 year old

Written by Liberty Bain for The True You Project:

My 10 year old started a new school this week. Last week was spent getting everything in order; buying uniforms, supplies and going to orientation. He loves his school bag from last year but wanted it to be monogrammed.  

Before we headed out on our shopping expedition, he showed me a creative design he’d dreamed up for how he wanted his name sewn onto the bag. His name begins with a W and his design included a lightning bolt.

When we arrived at the monogram lady’s shop, she laid the bag out and asked how big he wanted his name and what color thread he desired. At this point he started questioning her to see if she ever did special designs, etc. That’s when Miss Pat, as we got to know her, invited him to pull up a chair in front of her design computer and look through hundreds of possible lightning bolts. From there they perused different stitches and other options for his bag.

Five minutes turned into ten and ten turned into twenty. I got super itchy on the inside, thinking this was taking too long, and I thought about trying to hurry him up.  

I asked myself a question instead: What is it about this process that is triggering me?

I realized I have a tendency to rush through things that are important because I fear ‘taking too long’ will annoy people and I’ll end up feeling rejected.

Letting that old story go began right there in the shop. I chose to watch him live like he belongs and matters, to simply let him be who he was in the moment. I also got to practice getting comfortable with my discomfort.

After settling on the size and shape of the lighting bolt, he spent a full 5 minutes choosing just the right blue thread.  I almost rushed him here too, but watching his process I bit my tongue (again). His presence and trust astounded me. He never flinched about asking for more blue thread options or a bigger lighting bolt, and he didn’t settle for anything that he didn’t really love. Never once did he consider he wouldn’t be able to get what he really wanted. It clearly had not crossed his radar that he needed to hurry or that this was ‘taking too long.’

Observing my son, vulnerably and wholeheartedly, enjoying his next loving step totally inspired me.  He used a basic process that  included asking lots of questions, taking time, and making his best choice.

So I wondered: where can I apply a ten year old’s trusting principle of continuing to ask for what I want and how I want it?? How quickly can I shuck the lie that I need to curb my desires??

First, I need time and space to dream and practice creativity; to come up with my own lightning bolt designs for life.  

Then I want to trust that everything is conspiring to help me ask for what I want to become reality.

Everything might not turn out exactly how I want – but it won’t be because I held back or talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to annoy anyone or make them uncomfortable.

How about you? Where in your life do you need to ask for more!?

What are your unique designs you want to bring to the surface?
Where could you reframe ‘I can’t because…’ into creativity for how you actually could??  
Where is possibility hiding in plain site in your life??

How incredible would it feel to go for it?? Whatever IT is??

If the answers to all these questions feel like way long shots, reach out to me or Kendra for a nourishing session to connect you to your True You. Email us at trueyou.inspire[at]gmail[dot]com

#bu29days: Day 27: The ultimate Trust test

aka Why do you walk when you run? I thought real runners don’t walk.

aka How will you feel about your body if and when you put on weight?

One thing I haven’t talked much about is how my relationship with my body has changed. I have gone from trying to turn it into a machine, running every day, freaking out and potentially binging if I didn’t, routinely lifting weights and doing situps and pushups, to a much more intuitive way of working with my body.

I hardly run at all anymore. If I do, I usually walk part way through.

Gasp! This is sacrilege!

Trust me I know. I have definitely had the thought, and admittedly said outloud, ‘real runners don’t walk.’

That was my MO when my identity was that of a ‘runner’. Call what I did a ‘jog’ and you got ‘the look’ from a pair of devil eyes.

Runners RUN. They do not jog. And they most certainly do not walk.

This was my mentality when my self-worth was tied to how far and how fast I ran. Stopping to catch my breath was a sign of weakness. Stopping to smell the roses, not an option.

As I started to slowly lighten up with food, I similarly did about running. By the time I moved to the UK I was less rigid about running. I was playing soccer, going to spin class, and yoga.

While I was mixing it up, running was still my go-to activity for weight management and I suppose, grounding me.

When I moved to London, I quickly learned that ‘running’ and ‘working out’ is a whole different thing compared to NY. The city itself has a different vibe. The energy is different. People aren’t so driven, Type-A, on a mission.

In NYC pretty much every Manhattanite I knew had a gym membership. Its what you did, no question. Like paying City taxes.

In London, if pub memberships were an option, every Londoner would have one.

In NYC, as a runner, you had to be tight and toned; low percentage of body fat, cut muscles, as well as having the latest gear. Running around Central Park was like performing on a catwalk.

In London, people wobble and jiggle when they run. This was literally a foreign concept to me.

The only time I had known anything different was when I met this one woman in NY who carried probably 20lbs more than the average runner. Her legs were stocky and muscular, vs sleek and toned. Her arms had very little definition and her belly had fat rolls.

Yet she kicked my ass in every race we ever entered, including the marathon.

This challenged my whole paradigm. You could be fat AND a runner?

Not that I embraced the idea. Guilty as charged, I was extremely judgemental of other women’s bodies. Finding faults in others helped me feel better about my own body. Not something I’m proud of but true.

I remember walking to work one morning with my boyfriend at the time and asking him if my ass jiggled like HERS did.

Jiggles, wiggles, and wobbly bits did not fit into my idea of ‘acceptable’ for a runner, and for me. I was on a mission to eradicate any evidence of cottage cheese remnants on my body.

I jiggle all the time now. As my hardened attitude towards my body has softened, so has my body.

As my patterns with food changed, I ended up gaining weight. At first due to binging without purging. And I kept some of the weight on as I learned how to eat ‘normally’ again ie have an inclusive diet where everything was permissible. Be able to eat donuts, cheese on pizza, and burgers and fries without fear of gaining weight.

While you might not want to hear that weight gain was a part of the story, the reality is that by the time it happened, I was OK with it.

Letting go of the fear of fat, and letting myself put on weight was an integral part of my recovery and healing. I believe I had to experience the weight gain so I could fully believe the True You Truth of ‘I am not defined by what my body looks like.’

Saying that, for many years I still had this idea that I had to be running or working out consistently. It became less about my weight, and more of a habit, part of my identity that this is ‘what I did’. I would wake up each morning with the thought, ‘I have to go for a run today’, even if I had no intention of actually fitting it into my schedule.

But, like an addiction, the thought was still there, and I still saw myself as a runner. Even when I barely ran 15 miles a week.

8 years ago when I was living in London, and was one of the few Londoners I knew with a gym membership, I was running home from the gym and I had to stop and walk because I was in so much physical pain. My right knee couldn’t take the pounding without sending a lightning bolt charge through my body.

Turns out I had/have loose cartilage in between my knee and femur. The doctor said if I strengthened my quad muscles enough I’d be able to run again, but the immediate prescription was stop running, stop cycling, and do static strengthening exercises, like lie on my back and hold my leg in the air (yawn).

I was devastated at first, what? No more running?

Funnily enough though, my desire to get to the point where I could run again wasn’t strong enough to keep up with those boring exercises. I gave it a go at first, but quickly put them to the side.

I found satisfaction in what my body could do instead. Walking. It was my first foray into ‘slowing down’. Noticing the detail of the world around me that I used to whiz by.

I would cycle to work occasionally, but for 3.5 years, my physically activity pretty much came to a halt.

And I didn’t care.

I wasn’t worried about what I was eating, or how much, or trying to make up for the lack of exercise. I stopped having the false expectation that I would run today.

Another aspect of the healing that came after the bulimia was gone.

And crazily enough, I lost weight.

It was as if my body knew what was best for me, literally bringing me to my knees, to get me to give up trying to control it. And once it took over, it knew exactly what was best for me then too. It found it’s natural set point, with me literally doing nothing.

Leading up to our wedding, I did a 6 week yoga course.

The classes were very slow paced, the focus on settling into one pose at a time vs moving through a series of poses. The whole point was to slow down and be still, an idea I still hadn’t fully embraced, especially if I was paying to go to a class.

I wanted to be paying for exertion, sweat, and a raised heart rate.

But it was exactly what I needed. It set the foundation for me to reconnect to movement with my body. To listen in to what it wants, needs, and craves.

I now choose activities that my whole being is craving.

Sometimes, although rarely, it is a run. Or should I say jog. Because these days it is most definitely a jog 🙂

Sometimes it’s a bike ride, challenging my cardiovascular system and my thighs over the undulating hills where I live.

Often it is a walk outside, filling my lungs with fresh air and my mind with fresh ideas.

And each week, if not day, it will involve some degree of yoga.

What I love about yoga is that I end up connecting to parts of my body that I never knew existed before. I never knew I have little tiny muscles in between my ribs!

I love doing a simple forward bend, and feeling the ripple effect from my hamstrings, to my lower back, to upper back, shoulders, and my neck. 

When I first started doing yoga, I didn’t have an experience of this level of connection. I would do a ‘hamstring stretch’ before or after a run and I wouldn’t notice anything else going on in my body.

My understanding of my body was one of isolation. Everything working separately.

The connections I feel while doing yoga help me to connect to the shell I had been living in for almost 30 years. And whenever I am feeling tight in my body or my soul, you will find me doing one pose or another to feel again.

I’ve also found dance as a liberating form of movement. But for me, dance is less about connecting in and more about expression, and a form of play.

If you asked my 25 year old self to describe my 35 year old body, I would probably tell you that it is ‘out of shape’ right now.

Such a funny expression.

Out of shape? What shape, pray may I ask, am I actually supposed to be in? Square, rectangle or triangle?

How about, I am in the shape of my body. And the shape and fitness of my body is enough for it to do what it needs to do today.

I am happy with my body right now. I like the way it looks, even though it’s less muscle-y than it used to be.

I like the way it works, even though I get out breath quicker than I used to.

I’m also aware that the shape and size of my body is generally seen as attractive by the world’s standards, and so I  often wonder, how will I feel about my body if and when I put on weight again.

My answer is: I don’t know. But I hope that, so long as I still stay connected to my body, that I will still love it.

And I know I will be reminding myself of how my body got me to where I am today.

Of how it knew best about what I needed to let go of control, over the years.  Of how it has adapted to different levels of physical activity since then, and how it seems to intuitively know what kind of movement it needs on any given day, including some days where there is very little movement at all.

The word trust comes to mind:

I can’t say how I’ll feel, but I will continue to trust my body.

Whatever shape or size.


Something to think about: What is your relationship to your body like? What do you want it to be like? How can you let go of some control over it and let it do its thing? What does trusting your body mean?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

#bu29days: Day 23: Why your story matters

aka Why do I sometimes think my eating disorder wasn’t ‘good enough’

aka The audacity of shame

Over the years, and as I’ve been writing this blog series, I’ve noticed a big gaping hole.

Where’s the sob story? The trauma? The drama?

So I got spat on; big deal.

And a so-called friend called me ‘the thing’; yeah, and?

My dad questioned whether or not a I looked good in a bikini.  I felt different from my peers and wanted to stand out in a sport. 

Whoopty-doo.

When I saw that therapist in NYC and her diagnoses was,’ you’ll grow out of it,’ I assume she was thinking the same thing, ‘Where’s the childhood trauma I can pin the bulimia to?’ And since she couldn’t find a good enough reason why I ended up as I did, presumably, she thought I’d grow out of it in the same way I grew into it.

I’ve listened to the stories of others with eating disorders.

Some were physically beaten.

Some were pimped out by their mom, or experienced some other form of sexual abuse.

Some were neglected by an alcoholic parent and were passed around to family members.

Some have been in and out of inpatient care for 20 years.

Some have been binging and purging on a daily basis.

Some have had multiple stomach staples to shrink their stomach and control their weight.

 

I hear these stories and immediately two thoughts come to mind:

  1. My childhood wasn’t traumatic enough to lead me to an eating disorder. What was/is inherently wrong with me that got me there?
  2. My eating disorder wasn’t ‘good enough’. It wasn’t extreme or dramatic enough to warrant me really bringing any attention to it.

This is what’s so f*cked up about shame. It can make you feel shame about your shame not being shameful enough.

Yeah, you read that right.

But this is what makes any shame-based living so isolating.

We think our story isn’t ‘bad enough’.

And our reactions not extreme enough.

Neither are headline-worthy news.

Once again proof that we, as a person, are not enough.

That is a lie.

To quote another Liberty Bain gem, ‘We can have very different experiences, but it’s in the feelings that we’re the same.’

Shame is shame, regardless of whether or not you end up with an eating disorder, addiction, or you find a healthy way to respond.

The same with fear and with vulnerability.

Each of us experience these things at one time or another. Some are able to respond in a healthy way. Brene Brown calls this ‘wholehearted living’. Others of us haven’t learned how to do that. Yet.

What I would ask of each of you reading this today is this:

Regardless of how much drama or trauma you have or have not experienced in your life, accept that you are the same as the person next you.

Stop comparing and judging your story, your external experience. You are not better than someone else because you didn’t ‘go there’ or get ‘that bad’, and they are not better than you because they did.

Our stories serve a purpose. They are windows into our souls. And from a meeting of souls, healing can happen.

Your story counts for what it is. It is enough. It is the exact window that somebody else needs to access and heal their own soul.

Own it. Share it. Tell it. Stop hiding from it.

Your story matters.

 


To find and heal your soul through some more windows, check out The True You Project’s Real, Raw & Related interview series and Angela Barnett’s FABIK blog.


Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to experience first hand that your story matters. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 19: Willing to be willing

aka Was change easy for you?

aka How come the grass is sometimes greener right where I am?

I want to shed a bit more light onto what happens with decisions like, I’m going to stop purging, I’m going to start praying, I’m going to move to another country, quit my job, break-off this relationship, etc.

These were all key decisions in my journey, and while some felt easier than others, there was a common denominator across the board.

And that was the presence of fear.

When I had those two bathroom floor moments 18 months apart, one to stop purging, the other to start praying, fear was there.

Fear of not being able to have kids if I didn’t stop purging, and fear of how my life would turn out if I kept trying to do this on my own. 

In those cases, fear was a good thing. It got me to take action.

 

Fear has also led me to in-action.

When I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years, that was an overdue breakup by a good number of years. But I stayed in that relationship longer than necessary due to fear.

The fear of being single and alone. Would anybody else want me? If not, I’d have to face that voice of shame again. The grass was greener staying with someone who told me he loved me, even though at my core, I knew it wasn’t a relationship I wanted to be in anymore.

I resigned from a company that served me well for 10 years, but for 5-7 years, I had my eye on the door. My eye was there, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do anything about it.

I had dreams of being a personal trainer, going to grad school, being a teacher, or that yet-to-be-named job that hacks trails in the woods. Within my first weeks of arriving in London I took a couple steps towards these dreams. I attended an info session to become a personal trainer. I had all the materials, all the information, at my fingertips.

I couldn’t do it though.

The financial security was a big factor. As was the question: Would I succeed in a new environment? That was the bigger questions that held me back. 

I didn’t have the belief in myself that I could do it.

It was another 5 years when I finally did resign. By then a lot of healing had taken place and although I still was fearful, and was stepping into a lot of uncertainty, I did it.

In hindsight this is kind of funny in a really twisted way, but it was actually a binge on uncertainty. I got married, left my job, and left for a 9 month backpacking trip around the world with my husband all within 6 weeks of each other.

For 10 years I lay dormant, depriving myself of my dreams, in essence a ‘purge’, and then it was a case of, how extreme can you get?! (A pattern you’ll hear more about next week so stay tuned.)

The fear was still there though. Would it all work out? Was spending our first year of marriage while back-packing really a good thing? Each one in and of itself can create strain, would we last a double whammy? Would we run out of money? Would we know what we want to do with our lives at the end?

It was also coupled with excitement. The excitement of the unknown, and the possibility.

Park that thought there for a minute.

Because the other things that showed up with the Fear, was Shame and Vulnerability, the three amigos; Tom, Dick and Harry. These had brought me to those bathroom floor moments, and they were still there when the decision was made to go down a different road.

And while Fear can be a good thing and get you to take action, shame rarely will, and vulnerability, you gotta dance with it first, approach it with love.

So short answer, no, change is never easy for me. It either takes bathroom floor moments, or staying where I am for longer than necessary. I guess I have a high chronic pain threshold.

I am working on this though. Hoping that it doesn’t take 5 or 10 years longer than it needs to, to create the business(es) I’d love to have, to use my voice on platforms I’d like to share my message from, and to try out new things that I’ve always dreamed of doing… like going cross-country skiing.

I’m waking up to the fact that life is about LIVING. And LIVING can feel vulnerable and scary at times. But it’s worth it.

And so are you.

So here’s what I’ve learned about taking that leap, regardless of whether or not it has to do with an eating disorder.

  1. Change can feel scary.
  2. Change can also be exciting.
  3. Fear and excitement are like cousins, they stem from the same place and they both can lead you to action.
  4. Fear actions are ‘away from’ actions. That’s because the pain of staying where you are has become greater than the pain or fear of making the change. This is what happens in bathroom floor moments.
  5. Excitement actions are ‘towards’ actions. You don’t need bathroom floor moments for this. If you want to draw upon some courage without the break-down, look for the excitement and move towards that. Get curious. Be playful.
  6. A lot of times, the change is scary because we want guaranteed answers that everything will turn out ok on the other side (we’re trying to avoid vulnerability here.) The only thing guaranteed on the other side of change is possibility. Doors and windows exist that you didn’t know were there. The only way to see them though, is to cross over the line.
  7. Possibility shares a home with uncertainty. ‘I’m going to be completely exposed for who I really am if I lose the eating disorder, job, relationship. What will happen then?’ Instead of letting fear join in that question, as in, ‘What will happen then?!’, [zoom in on terrified look on face, and fingers in mouth biting on nails]… ask love to show up. ‘What will happen then?!’ [zoom in on eyes open wide and smile on face like when you first see presents under the tree on Christmas morning.] Oh wow! I don’t know?! What are the endless possibilities? I could write that book I am always reading in my head! I could teach English in a 3rd world country! I could get to know myself and my greatest talents and use them to help others (ding! ding! ding!).
  8. Shame will use this an opportunity to dig its claws deeper, and it will hurt. It will tell you that you don’t have what it takes to make the change. It will tell you you’re not worthy of having what you want. It will tell you that you are too broken, you’ve stayed too long, and that you have no chance of success. I find it helpful to realize that this is only true if we believe that it is true. It only stays alive if we feed it. Give it some air time, recognize the lies for what they are, and then tell shame his time in the driver’s seat is over. Sayonara dude.
  9. It helps to have a partner in crime. Ask someone to be in this transition with you. Someone who’s got your back regardless of the outcome. This is a version of unconditional love.
  10. It helps to remove items that are going to tempt you to stay where you are. I remember one Saturday afternoon I was picking out an outfit to go out in that night and I kept looking longingly at the pair of size 4 jeans that I had long grown out of. I always had in the back of my head, if one day I can just fit in them again… (sigh). They were bringing me down. So I donated them to my 13 year old cousin. Clear out whatever space you need in order to make room for something new. This is called letting go.
  11. Give yourself grace. Perfection does not live on the other side of change. (I know, I wish it did too sometimes.) If anything humility does. Learning how to navigate new lands, like a child learning to walk. You will fall. You will probably fail. But that is not a reflection on who you are, on your self worth. It’s taken me 35 years to realize that failure can be a good thing, and that I am not a failure just because certain outcomes don’t happen has planned. Guess what, outcomes that you couldn’t have dreamed up on your own happen instead. Leave the door open for that.

So wherever you’re at reading this, my hope is you don’t have to go through bathroom floor moments to say, ‘Allright already, I’m willing to change.’

Spare yourself the pain.

I get it though, you might not be ready to say, ‘I’m willing’, just yet.

If that’s the case, start here:

I’m willing to be willing.

or here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing.

or even here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing to be willing.

or

however many steps back from willing you are, be willing to take just one step closer to willing. You will get there.

Something to think about: Have you ever noticed that fear and excitement are related? What change for your life have you been putting off? Why? Can you be willing to be willing? Or willing to be willing to be willing? 🙂

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to practice being willing and finding the courage to face fears. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 15: What’s Love got to do with Food?

aka How you do anything is how you do everything. 

aka Why didn’t willpower work?

Let me ask you this? Have you ever tried sticking to a diet before? How’d that work out for ya?

Dieting takes willpower. And in my experience it doesn’t work.

I’ve tried a number of them.

The South Beach Diet, the Leek Soup diet from ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. I’ve tried eating only Superfoods.

They lasted from all of 2 hours (the leek soup was so boring and bland I ended up binging a few hours later) to maybe 2 weeks of eating cottage cheese and pineapple for lunch.

The problem with diets, is that you very rarely get to give yourself what you really want. It’s a condoned form of Deprivation.

When your desires are parked over there… with chocolate cake, burgers and fries, and buttered bagels… and all you’re giving yourself is cottage cheese and leeks, you are left wanting.

It’s a simple equation.

-10 +1 = -9  = still in lack

-10 + 10 = 0 = whole = complete = satisfied

I tried the different diets and restrictive eating in the years I was still purging. I was desperate for a solution and it was worth a shot.

The irony is, that what actually led to healing my relationship with food, was the complete opposite of your typical diet.

I had to let myself eat everything.

I know, you’re like, ‘Woah!’ Everything? Including Twinkies? And Pork Scratchings? And those really nasty cheese twists with E number whatever yellow and orange coloring and flavouring?

Yes. Everything.

Not only does that sound unhealthy, and slightly indulgent, I too can see the potential danger in opening up the floodgates for someone who A, loves food and B, was having some ‘slight’ problems controlling herself around food.

Here’s the thing though, until I gave myself permission to have whatever I wanted, this was my mentality:

  • I can’t have xyz.
  • I feel guilty if I do.
  • But xyz looks so good!
  • Stop thinking it looks good, it’s bad for you. It’s going to make you fat and you’ll binge (and maybe purge).

To break that down, you have control, guilt, the push-pull theory, fear, beratement, and distrust all in one.

I don’t see no Love.

And that’s because there wasn’t any.

When your relationship to food is built on that good vs bad lens, can and can’t, deprive and punish, fear and distrust…

the outcome isn’t going to be very loving, and it’s not going to work in the end.

Think about this, if that mentality was brought into a real relationship, say with your partner, or your kids, how would that turn out?

Disaster. Trust me, I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, how we do anything is how we do everything.

We have to bring Love into our relationship with Food.

And if we can do that, guess what, bonus! It will bleed into all other areas of our life too.

So instead of good vs bad, what’s the 3rd option?

  • I am allowed to have whatever I want, when I want it.
  • I get to choose what I want in the moment.
  • The food itself isn’t actually good or bad.

An experience of freedom, expansiveness, abundance, respect, choice trust, empowerment, truth, and dare I say Love.

I’m pulling up yesterday’s definition of Love. Let’s test it out in this scenario, just for kicks.

  • Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together. Surrender to the idea that you have to ‘get it right’ with food all the time. Maybe you’ll eat more than you really want at first, that’s OK. Babies fall when they are learning to walk. Adults can fall when we’re learning to eat (and live) again.
  • Love is giving yourself what you want. As in, the largest, gooiest, piece of chocolate cake on the table, if that is what you really want.
  • Love is receiving what you want. As in, don’t be thinking about how you’ll only have shakes tomorrow, or you’ll burn it off at the gym. Enjoy every single bite of it right there and then. Tomorrow you can decide what you really want for tomorrow.
  • Love is accepting your birthright to receive love. As in, stop depriving yourself of what you really want.
  • Love is engaging with beauty. Food is beautiful. It is colorful, smells amazing, tantalizes your tastebuds. And it nourishes you. Play with it.
  • Love is finding courage to face fears. Including the fear that the chocolate, or the bread, or the burger, is going to make you fat. Or that the sugar or the gluten is going to ruin your health*.
  • Love is being vulnerable. It means getting really honest with yourself about your weak spots. This doesn’t mean that you are weak. Admitting where you are is strength. Hiding from reality, not so much.
  • Love is speaking your truth. Who knows what yours is. Mine was, ‘I love food!’, something that I had been ashamed to say for years, considering how I had treated it.
  • Love invites in. It creates connection. Include others in the conversation about your relationship to food, body, and self.
  • Love does not judge. Including, ‘thou shall not judge the cheese on the pizza, or the grease on the french fries.’
  • Love does not condemn. Including the cheese, the grease, the fat, the sugar, the gluten, the white rice*.
  • Love is gentle. You don’t have to get it right on day one. We’ve got loads of time to play here!
  • Love accepts what is in the moment. I am trying this today and will see how it goes. Tomorrow is another day.
  • Love forgives, even yourself. Even when you fall back into fear and the deprive/indulge or control/release mode.
  • Love says come as you are. However many pounds of you, whatever size clothes, whatever health issues, no matter how ‘anorexic’ or ‘bulimic’, or ‘compulsive’ or ‘undiagnosable’ you are. Labels don’t matter to love.
  • Love says you are worthy. You are worthy of living freely with food, your body and yourself. You are worthy of the pleasure and joy and nourishment that food and this world offers you.
  • Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you. It’s OK to drop the ‘Food Rules’ book (and dare I say ‘Life Rules’ book?)
  • Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today. One step at a time works just fine.
  • Love speaks to you like you would a friend. You’d let your friend eat the cake without staring at her belly rolls and thinking, ‘How could she eat that when she looks like that?’. Right?
  • Love doesn’t give up. It cheers you on to keep going and find what works for you.
  • Love never fails. You will get there in the end.

I didn’t consciously know what I was doing at the time, but I started adopting this philosophy. I started to let myself have foods that had previously been forbidden; Cheese on pizza, red meat, salami, candy.

I started to explore more. What do scrambled eggs actually taste like? Do I like them?

I let myself have the ‘binge’ foods, like chocolate or ice cream, in broad daylight, without judging how many I had.

I started putting butter on bagels instead of eating them plain. And not in just any old way. I cut the bagel in half, spread the butter on, and then broiled it under the grill, just like we used to have as kids.

I started to find out what I wanted, listen to that, and give it to myself.

I began to heal.

*Note re: gluten and sugar: ?  I realize that a lot of food allergies and autoimmune conditions exist where it would be harmful to your body to eat certain foods eg gluten, sugar, etc. There is still an opportunity to bring love into the relationship. eg instead of the mentality that gluten or sugar is ‘bad’, what would love say? Probably something like this: ‘I want to take care of my body as best I can, and I’m committed to healing. Right now I am choosing to limit my sugar and gluten intake because that is what’s best for my body.’ Now you’re making a choice in line with your wants and desires, without fear, deprivation, or guilt.


Something to think about: Fear and love can’t co-exist. What are you afraid to let go of?How can you bring love into your relationship to food, and your life?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 14: Love never fails

aka What were some key turning points for you?

aka Where are your roots planted?

After that initial decision on the bathroom floor to stop purging and change my life, it was slow going.

I used a lot of willpower that first year. That was hard. It takes up a lot of energy. I think that’s why that year is so blurry to me.

I have vague memories of having plans to go out with friends, but as the day went on, and time got closer, I’d cancel my plans. Either because I felt fat, had eaten too much, or just plain and simply, because it was too much to be around others when I was dealing with myself.

One time I ate through a box of really nice muesli/granola type cereal from Whole Foods when I was at my parent’s house one weekend. I felt so guilty, I bought them a new box the next day. When I gave it to them, I told them why I had bought it and they graciously said I didn’t have to do that. But for me I did. I had to make up for what I had done.

Self-inflicted Retribution. There was a lot of that going on.

I remember going shopping for jeans. Now, this is a nightmare for any woman, let alone someone who is constantly battling with their body.

Remember when Joe’s Jeans and 7 for all Mankind were all the rage?

I really wanted a pair of 7’s. I went to Saks, Bloomie’s, and all the cool boutiques in the West Village, trying on every pair of 7’s there were. None of them fit right. Either they fit over my thighs and my bum but were too big at the waist, or I couldn’t get them over my thighs.

I finally ended up with a pair of Joe’s. They weren’t quite right… wrong color, not flared enough at the bottom… but they had to do since they fit my thighs, ass, AND waist.

Jeans shopping can be traumatizing. Shopping for those Joe’s did nothing for my self-esteem. Especially since, with the decision to stop purging, came inevitable weight gain since I was still binging on a regular basis.

I finally realized that this ‘food thing’ wasn’t just going to go away and I started to reach out for some additional help.

I talked to my doctor. He tried to hypnotise the fear of fat out of me. It was an interesting experience although didn’t quite work.

I went to see a shrink. She dug around in my past looking for some trauma to explain why I was bulimic, couldn’t really find anything (jeans shopping apparently doesn’t count), and her prescription was ‘You’ll grow out of it.’ While it was predictive, not so helpful at the time.

I turned to Barnes & Noble. I picked up the book, ‘Overcoming Binge Eating’ by Dr. Christopher Fairburn. I don’t remember the details of what it said, but I remember diving into it with gusto.

The most profound moment was when I was sitting at a sushi bar with a good friend of mine from college. I don’t know how the conversation got there, but I started telling her about my food issues.

She responded with, ‘Me Too.’

This blew my mind. I had known her since before my first purge! How did we just start talking about his now!? 5 years later!

She had been there all along yet we both struggled in silence. Which makes the struggle even worse.

That night, we didn’t have solutions for each other. We didn’t become accountability partners or anything like that. But in sharing a common pain, we bonded. We knew we’d be there for each other.

I suppose knowing that a friend of mine was in similar shoes, gave me the courage to start to open up with strangers. I went to a Body Image class that a church nearby was hosting. This was in hindsight, one of the best moves I made.

The instructor shared a story of how she had struggled with accepting her body the way it was, and had been talking with a counselor who had drawn the picture of a tree. She recalled the parable about how your fruit will reflect where your roots are planted. And she asked the question:

Where are your roots planted?

This question shook me.

One, I had no idea.

Two, I assumed no where good since my fruit consisted of dependency on exercise to feel good about myself, and indulging in food when I didn’t. And an internal battle to not make myself throw up afterwards. Maybe my roots are planted in a psychological war zone? The Gaza Strip of my mind; who’s going to own it today?

Three, it brought up a lot of guilt about my spiritual life. ‘I should be going to church. I haven’t read my Bible in years. Crap! This is God condemning me!’

At the end of the day though, I realized, that wherever I was planting my roots, wasn’t really serving me. It was too temporary, too focused on receiving the approval of others in the now.

I knew I had to stop worrying about what other people thought, and do what felt right for me.

If at the time I had asked my 35 year old self, where are my roots planted and where should I plant them instead?, this is the answer I would’ve got:

“Your roots aren’t planted anywhere. You look like a solid tree, but you can be easily moved by the wind. And, you use people and the environments around you to dictate what kind of tree you will be. You’re a Chameleon Tree. Whatever little buds of a root you start to sprout, is planted in the opinion of people around you.

So start planting real roots, and go plant them in Love. Planting them in Love and planting them in God may be the same thing, but not if you plant them with the God of your childhood that comes with harsh judgement and condemnation.

Stop judging and condemning yourself. Open yourself up to having a whole new understanding of Love, and God, and plant your roots in that.”


 

As I am writing this, it is a Sunday and it is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate Love (and chocolate.)

I am reminded of that infamous verse about Love that is often recited at weddings. Love is patient, love is kind, etc.

I am going to take a crack at adding to that list, based on the things I have learned about love over the past 10 years. This is what I would tell my 25 year old self about Love. 

Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together.

Love is giving yourself what you want.

Love is receiving what you want.

Love is accepting your birthright to receive love.

Love is engaging with beauty.

Love is finding courage to face fears.

Love is being vulnerable.

Love is speaking your truth.

Love invites in. It creates connection.

Love does not judge.

Love does not condemn.

Love is gentle.

Love accepts what is in the moment.

Love forgives, even yourself.

Love says, come as you are.

Love says, you are worthy.

Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you.

Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today.

Love speaks to you like you would a friend.

Love doesn’t give up.

Love Never Fails.

3 love never fails 900x900

Something to think about: Where are your roots planted? How can you start planting them in Love? What is love to you?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 13: What I wish they taught me in Psych class

aka How my future child saved me.

aka How long were you bulimic for?

aka So how did you go from pre-meditating binges and purges to not making yourself sick for the past 9.5 years?

That my friend, is a long story with many twists and turns.

It started though one Saturday afternoon when I was kneeling on my bathroom floor with my head over the toilet bowl. I was on meant to be on my way to catch the ferry back to Staten Island for some family event that evening. My original plan was to catch a mid-day ferry. That got pushed pack to 2pm, then 3pm, then 4pm as I couldn’t get myself together to leave my apartment. I don’t remember why, but I was binging and that was stopping me from getting myself home to spend time with family.

I think by the time I had made myself sick, it was 2pm or so. I and remember sitting there thinking, what the f*ck Kendra!? What are you doing with your life? You are so messed up that you can’t even stick to your plans and catch the ferry on time! This is a SATURDAY AFTERNOON!!!!! Why aren’t you enjoying yourself? Why are you at your lowest? What is wrong with you?

I know those weren’t the kindest words I could say to myself, but they got my attention.

Followed by: How are you going to ever have a family? How are going to raise kids if you can’t control yourself and you end up here in broad daylight? How are you even going to birth a child if you can’t keep your food down? What if you vomit up your baby while you’re pregnant?

Now, I know from a biological point of view, that would be impossible because my uterus and stomach are not connected. But that Saturday afternoon, it seemed highly likely that they were.

And something clicked. I vowed to myself that I was going to change.

Magic didn’t happen overnight. But that one moment, that one choice, was pivotal.

And with that decision to change, and more specifically, that I wasn’t going to make myself sick anymore, I took my first steps down a different road.

This happened sometime in the winter of 2004. I don’t remember exactly when, but I know was I training for the Boston Marathon at the time.

The events of the next year was a blur for me. Partly because I still had one leg in the Denial river.

I had previously accepted that I was bulimic. It was the year before that I first told anyone; my boyfriend and my parents. You can read about that here.

But, since I stuck to that decision not to purge anymore, my logic for a good year or so was this:

Zero throwing up + Zero use of laxatives = Bulimia Free

For the record: this is the faultiest logic I have ever come across. And unfortunately, it is pervasive in the world of eating disorders and disordered eating.

The accepted medical definitions of anorexia and bulimia at the time, laid out very clear behavioural criteria that had to be met in order to wear the label of anorexic or bulimic. I clung to those criteria for dear life.

I skimmed over the caveat (and slight fine print): It is important to remember that someone can still have an eating disorder or body image issues and not meet the diagnostic criteria.

As I mentioned, I first heard about eating disorders in a psychology class. We learned about them according to the DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is commonly used as a guide by doctors and psychiatrists to diagnose a person with a mental health issue.

The criteria at the time that I held on to, was that bulimia meant you had to purge twice a week for at least 3 months.

When I first experimented with binging and purging, this gave me license to proceed, because I knew that so long as I didn’t do it twice a week for 3 consecutive months, I was good to go. No problem to address. I had it all under control.

And on the flip side, when I made that decision on my bathroom floor not to purge again, it was back to ‘all is well’. No diagnostic behaviours present, meant no problem present. 

(Again, this is not how it works!!!)

But that is how I was still floating down Denial and making steps to recovery at the same time.

Except I didn’t really see it as recovery at the time. What was I recovering from? All I had to do with stop some (pretty messed up) behaviours, and I was back to an even playing field with the general population.

I didn’t have the Acceptance or Awareness that there was anything to recover from. It also somehow served me and empowered me to believe that everything was OK.

That belief served as a life raft that I was willing to hold on to. If at the time you had offered me a life raft for Low Self-worth, People-Pleasing, Co-Dependency, Sex Issues, Money Issues, and a variety of other self-worth related issues painted on it, I’m not sure I would’ve grabbed it.

Stop Purging. Yes, that one I could wrap my head and my arms around.

So for a year or so, I was holding on to that life raft, trying to stay afloat. Trying to go about life as if everything was hunky dory because the problem had gone away.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that the other life raft was the one I’d eventually have to hold on to. The first one could only take me so far.

I have no judgement for myself then, and neither for you if you need the simple and specific life raft right now. Stop Purging, Follow the Meal Plan, Run More, Eat Less, or some other tactical change might be your saviour right now. And if it is, hold on tight.

I would just ask you this: don’t let it seduce you into thinking that it can carry you forever. And when it loses its buoyancy, don’t freak out. It doesn’t mean that you’re back to square one again, it just means you have to find the next one that is going to carry you a little bit further.

I want to acknowledge that the DSM-5, published in 2013, has changed the criteria for bulimia to purging only once a week for 3 months at a time. It’s also added in new category that is essentially a catch-all in case you don’t quite fit into any of the other ones. It’s called Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED) and is defined as this:

‘According to the DSM-5 criteria this category applies to where behaviours cause clinically significant distress/impairment of functioning, but do not meet the full criteria of any of the Feeding or Eating Disorder criteria.’

The funny thing is, I’m not sure I’ve ever met the bulimia criteria for either DSM-IV or DSM-V. Three months is a long time for me to do anything consistently once a week, let alone twice a week, without missing a beat. But that’s just me.

I don’t remember what the longest stretch of time my consistent purging covered, and I don’t remember the most intense frequency. I do know that the fall of 2000 marked my first purge and August of 2006 my last (with an 18 month break in the middle, does that count?)

I also know that for at least 4 years leading up to my first episode, I was restricting and controlling with food and my body to get a desired outcome, and that from 2006 until 2008 I still had binging episodes, was restrictive with my diet, and was using exercise for weight management.

To quote Liberty Bain, ‘You can have an anorexic mindset, and not be anorexic.’

My bulimic mindset carried on past my bulimia. To be honest, I am still recovering from a bulimic mindset, and I learn more about its impact every day. (And I’m actually grateful for it too. It’s helped me learn how to live. More on that later.)

So to answer the question, how long were you bulimic for? My answer could range from never (according to the DSM), to my whole life (according to my mindset).

Personally, I wouldn’t worry about meeting or not meeting the criteria.

The only benefit that I see of the criteria, is for that time where you’re not sure what’s going on, you feel really alone because you’re not sure if anyone is experiencing the same thing you are, and you’re asking yourself, ‘What the heck is wrong with me?’ Then you can google what your behaviours are, or how you’re feeling, and now you have a name for what you’re going through. And now you’re not alone anymore.

Point being: Use the label if it helps you. There were times when it helped me.

But really, the thing I invite you to ask yourself the following:

  • Does your relationship to food, body and self cause you distress?
  • Do I adopt a control/release indulge/deprive mindset at all?
  • Does shame, vulnerability, and fear, lead me to try to change who I am and what I look like?

If yes, regardless of whether it is 1% of the time or 100% of the time, there is room to grow.

I wish those questions had made it into my Psychology of Adolescents class curriculum. Maybe I could’ve taken the shortcut, instead of the long way round.


 

Something to think about: What defining choices have you made in life? Would a label help or harm right now? What life raft would serve you best? What areas of your life cause you distress?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 9: You don’t need no stinkin badges

aka ‘Is that it? That’s what made you bulimic?’ ‘No, there’s more!’

aka What’s the big IF?

So, by now you’re familiar with Mr. Dick (aka shame) and hairy Harry (aka vulnerability) and you get how that might lead one down the Food = Coping Mechanism road, right?

Well, there’s one more missing piece.

It’s fear.

Fear of getting fat.

Fear of being rejected.

Fear of failure.

To start with anyway.

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes you need fear. It protects you. It keeps you from driving off a cliff, or walking down a dark alley. It can keep you safe. When it does this, fear is a nice guy.

Kind of like a Tom.

You can’t not like Tom.

Except that Tom has a dark side too. He’s slightly bi-polar and all of a sudden gets too protective and slightly possessive. He wants to keep you all for himself in his little bubble. For sure you’ll stay out of harm’s way, but you also won’t grow. You’ll stagnate. Even wither.

Here’s what I’ve learned about fear.

There have been times in my life where fear served me really well and kept me out of trouble. It’s kept me looking both ways when crossing. It’s kept me driving the speed limit when it’s pouring rain with gale force winds, even when I’m running late. It’s partnered up with my intuition to give me signals that hey, that guy’s not good for you.

It’s done well in protecting me physically, and I’ll throw it a bone here, emotionally and spiritually.

However.

Fear has also debilitated me. Created anxiety when I have felt extremely alone. Made me doubt and ultimately sabotage relationships that were inviting me to grow. He’s kept me procrastinating for hours, days, weeks, months, years, to make the call, the decision, that might just change my life.

Fear asks me to put on an act, some armour, so that my shame and vulnerability is shielded from the world.

In short: Tom sees Mr. Dick and Harry coming from miles away and tries to save the day.

Which is great in theory, except for these two things.

  1. The three of them duking it out turns into an internal shit storm. You don’t have to have an eating disorder to know this.
  2. You never get to have your own relationship with Mr. Dick and Harry if Tom does all the talking. You’re left unequipped.

I’ve only caught on to this recently, say the past 2 or 3 months. And it’s brilliant. Because now when Tom shows up, I’m like…

‘OH!!! Mr Dick and Harry are on their way! How can I prepare for them? What do I need to learn here? How can I grow?’

(OK let’s be honest, I’m not QUITE there yet. More like grrrr, clenched fists, a few expletives, possibly tears, and finally, I remember what I just wrote up there.)

Regardless of where you’re at now, the idea is that instead of letting Tom, Dick, and Harry, have their chaotic rumble, ask them to take their seats.

Here’s how this could’ve played out 15 years ago.

Tom, I get it. You’re worried that if I put on weight, I won’t be able to run as fast, and if I don’t run as fast and can’t perform, beyond that big ol’ F for Failure being stamped on my forehead, you’re worried that I might not have the relationships, the love and connection with others, that helps me thrive. I get it, you’re worried I won’t be able to survive with Harry hanging around.

Don’t worry Tom. I’d like to talk with Harry on my own.

Harry. I’ll admit, what you’re offering me does feel a bit scary… let myself put on weight AND run around the track half naked in spanks? But Harry, it only feels as scary as it does when Dick starts chiming in, so give me one sec.

Dick. We go way back so let’s just keep this brief. You might think that an extra 5 lbs is going to make me slow as molasses, that I’ll be ridiculed, and that it will prove that I am just ‘the thing’ and will never amount to anything. You’re entitled to your opinion. But guess what, that’s your opinion, and only your opinion. And here’s another thing, I figured out your secret; you need me to agree with you in order to stay alive. Sorry dude. Game over.

OK Harry, back to you. Here’s the deal. Yes, this is a new scenario for me and my body. Yes, it’s a change from the norm and I’m not sure how it’s all going to end. But I don’t need to know that right now. All I need to know is who I am when I get to the starting line. That I am strong, I am courageous, I am grateful for all my body has done for me so far. I am running with love, not fear. And I have everything I need to do what I need to do on the day. I have enough miles, squats, and situps, under my belt. I am enough. I’m going to have fun out there Harry, and whatever will be will be. Harry, I need you to know that I am ready to do this on my own. Without Tom and Dick around. So what do you think Harry? Will you dance with me?

Trust me, it’s taken me 35 years to even think about having that conversation with the three of them.

15 years ago, it was the shit storm. The fears of fat, failure, and rejection, consumed me. And here’s the crazy part: I didn’t even know it at the time.

That’s the other thing with fear. A lot of times you think you’re doing the right thing.

Why would putting on weight, getting dumped, flunking an exam, getting fired, or having a negative bank balance ever be a good thing?

I’ll give you one good reason:

So that you have first hand experience of this one simple truth: You do not explode into a million little pieces when those things happen. Your life does not end. It is not game over.

It can actually be the opposite. Those situations that Fear is trying to protect you from, can be the biggest game changers.

IF

And here’s the big IF.

  1. You (lovingly) remind shame that the outcome is not a reflection of your self worth.
  2. You dance with vulnerability.
dance
Dancing with vulnerability, just like real dancing, is vulnerable. And takes practice in order for it to be fun 🙂

Use the opportunity of being stripped down naked to remind yourself of who you are. Who you really, really, are. At your core.

Remind your quintessential self that you are beautifully and wonderfully made… even if you ain’t got no stinkin badges. 🙂

Something to think about: How does fear protect you? How does it hold you back? What do you know about your quintessential self? How can you dance with vulnerability?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 7: It’s (not) all about the Cheerios

aka When did you start binging?

aka Are you a control freak?

aka I’ve never heard about vulnerability and eating disorders. I thought it had to do with control.

Such a good point! That word does comes up a lot when eating disorders are talked about. I can’t believe I haven’t brought it up yet! 🙂

When I first heard about the link between control and eating disorders, it didn’t make sense to me. First off, my life felt very OUT of control. And second, I was binging and purging, which is like the most chaotic thing ever!

I thought, sure, if you’re anorexic. They’re controlling. They control and limit what they don’t eat to keep the weight off. But me? I can’t control what I’m eating and the weight is coming on!

I was a bit off. Here’s what I’ve come to realize about how control fits into the picture.

First, let’s check out the definition of control so we’re on the same page. ‘Control’ according to google: the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.

In my words: You do what you gotta do to get a certain outcome.

And what I see across the spectrum of disordered eating and eating disorders: You do what you gotta do to make the feeling of vulnerability go away.

Control is on the other side of the vulnerability coin.

It’s not that we’re all control freaks. It’s that we’re scared of vulnerability.

When you feel vulnerable, and that feels uncomfortable, you try to control situations so that you don’t have to feel vulnerable anymore. Duh!

And when the feeling of vulnerability shows up in your body in a place that you usually associated with food, food becomes an answer.

You either feel the hunger and eat (ie binge.)

Or you have a loss of appetite and don’t eat. (ie anorexic)

Or you feel the hunger and binge, but then try to undo the binge because there is more vulnerability and fear in the thought of gaining weight. (ie bulimic)

Trust me, I was not aware of this when I started to binge. All I knew is that I felt something in my stomach that resembled an insatiable appetite (you know, that one that got me to an 11lb baby).

And so I ate, and ate, and ate.

At first was a very mild binge. I remember halfway through Freshman year of college, sitting in my dorm room in front of my computer with a box of Cheerios next to me. I’d mindlessly, yet anxiously, move my hand from the cereal box to my mouth. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was practically a meditative act.

What were Harry and Mr. Dick up to while I was doing this?

Harry had reminded me that I had a paper due the next day that I hadn’t even started and I had no idea how to complete up to standard. And so Mr. Dick started hopping around with, ‘You really think you can succeed at an Ivy League school?’

Harry also reminded me that the guy I was supposedly dating hadn’t gotten back to me in weeks. Mr. Dick loved this one. ‘Ha! You think you’re worthy of having a boyfriend? You think you’re pretty enough? What about those cottage cheese thighs?’

The uncertainty of being in a new academic environment where excellence was expected, being stretched out of my comfort zone mentally, socially and physically, navigating failed romantic relationships while trying to keep my ego intact…. that all felt just a tad vulnerable.

That box of Cheerios? Comfort. It was a cereal that was always stocked in our cupboard at home. I was familiar with it. And it was safe. Not too many calories and low in fat. I could get away with a few extra handfuls in my diet.

And while from a health perspective, sure, I could get away with a few extra handfuls.

But the danger here was not in the behaviour in and of itself, but in the fact that it was a misfit response to a feeling.

Whether that feeling is vulnerability, loneliness, tiredness, boredom, sadness, grief, anxiety (which one might argue all fall under the vulnerability umbrella), a box of Cheerios does not solve the problem.

Acknowledging the feeling, talking with someone you can trust, and finding a fit for purpose solution does.

Now, I totally get it that this is not always an easy thing to do; unless you’re wired like my sister and wear your heart on your sleeve. I however, tend to filter my heart through my head before you get to see it. And it’s in my head where I can easily talk myself out of feeling the feeling, and in to avoidance mode.

I’ve had to learn to sit with the feeling. Allow for the pit in my stomach to be there. Here’s what helps.

  1. Know it will pass. As all things do.
  2. Breathe. Fill your belly on the inhales and force all the air out on the exhale. This physical movement in your belly helps soothe the tension.
  3. Write. Connect with what is behind the feeling. What are you worried about? What are you afraid of? What is true in the situation?
  4. Move. Dance, do some yoga, go for a walk. I recommend a physical activity that connects you to your body. Dancing and yoga is fab for this. I find walking a close 2nd, although more than connecting to my body it connects me to my soul. Running and cycling might work for you too. I used to use running as a tool, but I found it actually disconnected me from my body and became more of an escape. Find what works for you.
  5. Perspective. Talk to someone who will lift you up. Remind yourself of the truth of who you are: You are kind, beautiful, worthy, enough, and more.
  6. Face the music. This part is often the hardest, but trust me, the conversation isn’t going to get easier, the bank account won’t have more money in it, and the comments won’t be any nicer, by digging into some Cheerios. They will get easier when you remember:

2 enough as i am 900x900

 

Something to think about: How do you deal with vulnerability? Do you ever feel like a control freak? What do you think you are really worried about? What are you really craving when you start mindlessly eating? Do you like Cheerios? 🙂

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your True You. This February I’m co-hosting free weekly calls with Liberty Bain on Wednesdays; a time to have your questions answered and receive loving support about everything you’ve just read. Join us!