She took the leap and built her wings on the way down: Life after an eating disorder

Today was an awesome day!! I was live on Relevant Radio for an hour which was a beautiful opportunity to showcase Made in His Image! I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity! You can go to their website and listen to my interview if you would like. Below is a question I am asked frequently, so I wanted to address it today on our blog.

Is a full recovery possible? 

I think it depends on what you mean by recovery. Here is my thought process.

The word recovery means restoration or return to health from sickness. What if you were in a car accident in which you broke your left leg? Your leg would be put in a cast and you would walk with crutches. When your leg healed, the doctor would remove the cast and you would proceed with various physical therapy exercises. At first, it would be painfully to apply pressure to your left leg and you would unconsciously use your right leg to support a majority of your body weight when walking. As you process in physically therapy and your bones heal, it will become easier to apply equal weight to both legs. Eventually, it will feel normal again. So does this mean you are fully recovered? In my opinion, no, and here is my logic behind it.

As your left leg heals, scar tissue will also form, which can easily prevent range of motion, among other variables. Even if you were to get the scar tissue surgically removed, it will still be different from your right leg. So what does that all mean? It means that your leg is in remission, it is as normal as it can be. You might not be able to turn it a certain way or bend it as usual.

Life after an eating disorder is a life in remission. Yes, you can be recovered, but you could always slip again. Just the same way a patient with cancer can always get cancer again. No doctor can tell a cancer patient that they are not going to have cancer again. Now I don’t want this to discourage you, so please read on. I can tell you from experience that I have gone weeks and months without thinking about my past habits in regards to food. But, I still have my memory and sometimes I do think about where I have been and where I am today, which is only natural.

I want to clarify what I mean about being in remission in regards to eating disorders. Everyone has certain tendencies and ways in which they cope when stress, sadness, loneliness, grief and change. In relation to eating disorders, some people over eat and some under eat when these emotions arise, both are disordered. As you go through recovery you learn how to deal with stress in a proper manner, a manner that will not incapacitate you from carrying out everyday tasks. Also, unlike cancer, you make the choice if you are going to relapse again or not. As you go through recovery, you will learn the correct way to act when stress occurs and you are left with the choice to either act upon what you learned or your impulses. To live in recovery requires on act of the will, but the more you make the right choice the less you will think about it. For example, I don’t give it a second thought to have dinner and then a bowl of ice cream. In the past, I would make a conscious effort to sit down and eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner, it was more like a chore than a treat. Of course if you are just starting out on your recovery process, focus just on eating dinner.

If you want to be free, if you want to be normal again, eat out with your friends without worrying or wondering if you will go home to over eat, than turn to God. He is the One who can help you control your tendencies and habits. Surrender to Him and I guarantee you it will be okay. It takes courage and strength to do this and if you don’t feel as if you have the courage, then ask for it, because it’s yours for the asking.

MIHI exists to help you recover, please email or call us today. We want to help YOU!

To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often. – John Henry Newman

Let’s Do the Darn Thing

One day it came to me, what would happen if I put all of the energy that I use to keep my eating disorder alive towards recovery? Actually, scratch that, what would happen if I just used a fraction of that energy to channel towards getting better? I would be a changed person, I’m sure of it. But ouch, that would be really hard work! On the flip side, I can’t live like this forever right? I mean let’s be real, I’m miserable. I’m destroying relationships, slowing killing myself and disrespecting the body God gave me to care for. I’m stronger than this. 

I need to change. Alright, let’s do this. Let’s do the darn thing. Let’s recover. 

What about you? Have you ever approached the thought of recovery like that?

Do you know what?

You are strong! Do you know how much physical exertion it takes to exercise without any fuel in your system? How many hours a day you spend on planning how you will avoid meals with friends and what you will and will not eat? The hours you obsess over counting calories? The relationships your eating disorder has severed? The amount of money you have wasted on binge foods, laxatives, etc? The amount of time you have put into keeping your eating disorder a secret?

The above list is not meant to discourage you, on the contrary, it is written to empower you. I want to challenge you to take just a fraction of that energy and channel it towards a positive change.YOU CAN DO IT!!! Recovering from an eating disorder isn’t about being perfect. It’s about making smart daily choices, even if you don’t feel like doing them, because those choices will turn into a habit, which will cultivate a lifestyle change. And this takes time, so please be patient with yourself.

Remember, the scale can’t measure your strength, beauty, courage, determination, perseverance, joy, love, gentleness, compassion, athletic ability and purpose. So you see, your validation of beauty and sense of acceptance, is not the width of your waist or the number you see on the scale.

It’s in your worth as a daughter of God.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Snapple (Interesting I know)!

After hearing that I use to work as a baker in Nashville, a lot of women asked, Who was the cutest famous guy who ever came into the bakery? Ahh, that would be Jake Gyllenhaal! He ate one of my muffins too. And yes, his eyes are every bit as gorgeous in person as they are in the movies!

I promise the message of this post is not beauty of Jake Gyllenhaal’s eyes, although they are exquisite. So, read on and be inspired (hopefully)!

It is HOT in Nashville and the other day after running I was craving some juice, or something with sugar in it. My favorite post running drink use to be orange juice, but then I went to the dentist and I have 8 cavities (I’m so embarrassed). They said I should try not to drink orange juice anymore. Yes, your mother is right, you really do need to go to the dentist during college. (And you can also please pray that I get some money to pay this dentist bill)!

So, I stopped and got a fruit punch snapple, which probably isn’t any better for my teeth than orange juice, but I wasn’t thinking. That will be $1.15, the cashier said. As I handed her the money, my eyes caught the front corner of the bottle, This bottle contains 200 calories. Wow, God is amazing!! I’m so blessed that I can buy this, and drink it, without thinking twice about those 200 calories. I turned to the left, reached for the bottle and said thank you. With my left hand, I gently pushed the door open to exit the store, as my right shook the snapple.

MIHI yearns for you to live in freedom!

Everyone likes to be in control. And when the control we desperately seek is slipping from our grasp, we cling to its remains as if it were a life-line. What are the fears associated with losing control in regards to eating disorders?

Perhaps it’s admitting that you aren’t right? Or that you don’t have all the answers or aren’t smarter than doctors and dietitians? Perhaps it rests in reaching out for help and admitting that you aren’t weak to ask for help. Or maybe your fear is with God? Perhaps you think He desires your unhappiness and you are convinced He wants you to blow up like a whale? Perhaps you doubt His love for you?

Maybe something from your past plagues you and your eating disorder is all that you can control and if you let it go the unknown would terrify you? Perhaps you fear that if you stop exercising you will let yourself go? Perhaps you fear that you aren’t worthy of three meals a day? Or maybe your fear rests in self-control, and if you start eating again you won’t have the strength to stop? Therefore ,you convince yourself that it’s better to not eat at all if you are going to over eat? Perhaps you fear that if you start the day with a healthy breakfast you won’t be able to stop eating after that first meal and the rest of the day will be a disaster?

Does that sound about right?

So, what are you holding on to that you need to let go of?

There is a beautiful world out there waiting for you to discover, without the incumbrance of an eating disorder. But you have to make that choice. Recovery is possible and MIHI wants to help you. What are you going to do about it?

I use to be 35 pounds lighter than I am today.

The other day when a young woman told me that her number one goal in life is to be thin, my heart ached for her. Ladies, I am alive today to tell you that there is more to life than a number you see on a scale.

Our society defines beauty as a number on a scale, a dress size, inappropriately clad swimsuit models, pornography, the number of calories you eat in a day and the fact that you don’t eat hamburgers or ice cream. And each day, millions of girls and women from every country, get on a scale and hope to quench their yearning for happiness and success through the number that flashes back at them. I speak from experience when I say, that is fleeting beauty. I use to be 35 pounds lighter than I am today and could have easily died. My life, your life, is a miracle: cherish it.

It took me a while to comprehend that seeing my ideal number on the scale would never fulfill me. It’s so empty and tiring. The scale can’t measure your strength, beauty, courage, determination, perseverance, joy, love, gentleness, compassion, athletic ability and purpose. So you see, your validation of beauty and sense of acceptance, is not the width of your waist or the number you see on the scale. You aren’t your hair and skin color. You aren’t your shoe size or lipstick shade. You are not the number of miles you can run or sit-ups you can do. You aren’t the number you see in your jeans or the number of calories you consume at lunch.

What you are radiates from the beauty of your soul. You are beautiful because you are compassionate and sensitive. You are beautiful because you love passionately, have a gentle spirit and giving heart. You are beautiful because you find your worth in God the Father. You are beautiful because you are His daughter. You are beautiful because you embrace the challenge to be an authentic woman. Authentic beauty flows from the heart onto the face. Authentic beauty is compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, modesty, courage and strength. Authentic beauty is the Blessed Mother. Let us seek to mirror her beauty.

“Mary was not ‘full of grace’ because she was beautiful; she was beautiful because she was full of grace.” – Fulton Sheen

The “What If” Game…

Even if I live to be 100, I will never forget where I was when I gave my eating disorder to God. I was sitting in an empty Church, praying, actually more like begging, for the grace to let it go, to really give it to Him. There was a part of me that desperately yearned to hold on to it, and another part that was exhausted from the illness. I can’t go on like this. Help me, please help me, I prayed. I sat there in silence, as I gazed at a picture of God the Father. I told Him everything, all my fears, feelings, joys and sorrows. Then I cried.

I just want to be normal. But really, what is normal? There is no generic normal, everyone is different and every body reacts differently to food, exercise, etc. I knew that in my head, but it was hard for me to believe it in my heart. I thought surely I was going to blow up to 300 pounds (TWISTED thinking at it’s finest right there).

Despite it all, I closed my eyes and told God I wanted to be the weight that He designed me to be. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to enjoy life without having to count calories or worry about food, etc. I wanted to enjoy cookies and ice cream. I wanted to put half and half in my coffee like a normal human being without thinking twice about it. I wanted to lick the bowl after making brownies and not worry. I wanted to drink orange juice again.

I WANTED TO LIVE.

I’m not going to tell you my road to recovery was easy. Because it wasn’t, it took tremendous discipline and grace and I owe it all to our Heavenly Father. I fell along the way. But when I fell and was tempted to give up, I got up and keep fighting. And I desire to inspire and encourage you to do the same. Take some time in prayer, talk to Him, give it to Him. Ask for the grace to let it go and to let Him transform your cross into beauty.

I know it’s A LOT easier said than done, but isn’t it worth a chance? Give God a chance, I promise you He won’t let you down. And despite it all, isn’t it worth the alternative, of holding on to your eating disorder forever?

What if you just let it go? Give it to God. Let Him turn it into beauty.

I felt like I was experiencing my own Human Experience

Dear Made in His Image,

Today, I went canoeing with my friend. I haven’t been too confident about my body but I’ve been “sober” and haven’t purged. I am not so phased with numbers. On the water, I realized that there is no way I can think about how I look when I am out on a beautiful lake canoeing. I felt like I was experiencing my own “Human Experience.” I actually felt happy to be so muscular and was thankful for my body type. I always sit up front when I canoe. Without my body, I couldn’t move the canoe.

Yesterday I gave money and food to a homeless man sitting outside a church. I didn’t hesitate. It was instant! I also attended a youth meeting and did Scrutatio. I’ve never been before but I spoke up first when asked to share what God revealed to us. I’m working things out and I’m going to get through this. I trust God so much. His name made me whole. I just wanted to personally write you because you’ve truly changed my life. THANK YOU! I can’t wait to meet you one day.

I receieved this hand written letter from a beautiful and courageous woman involved with MIHI. I love how she referenced The Human Expereince…these ladies learn quick!

Blessed be God! The Father is using Made in His Image to change lives and MIHI is humbled to walk with you in your journey of hope and healing! If there is anything we can do to help you, please do not hesitate to contact us. MIHI exists to serve you!

Positive Corner:

Last night, I went out for frozen yogurt with my sister. She’s been asking me to go for several days, and I keep getting nervous and telling her no, but I finally said I would go and I actually enjoyed it. – told to me, by one of the beautiful women MIHI helps hold accountable

This was a HUGE step and I AM SO PROUD OF HER!!!

Dear Made in His Image, I just wanted to let you know that I had my first initial session with Catherine today (Made in His Image’s counselor). I like her theory that everyone has a hole in their heart and her goal is to build a foundation around the hole. I’ve never thought of it like that. I think she is a great fit for me. Thank you so much for recommending her! 

To all the women involved with MIHI: I just want to tell each of you how exceedingly proud I am of you. You continue to astound me each day by your courage, faith and perseverance. You are AMAZING!!! Keep up the good fight! Always HOPE and know how loved you are by the Father. There is nothing that MIHI wouldn’t do to help you – we are here to serve YOU and you are so loved

Recovery: Physical Touch and Eating

I want to tell you a true story.

Someone asked me, If I make a mistake in my journey of recovery, does that mean I’m back where I started from? In my non-professional opinion, no, it absolutely doesn’t mean that.

I use to have an extremely hard time letting people display simple forms of physical touch towards me – such as hand shakes, hugging, sitting close to me and letting someone braid my hair, just to name a few.

I remember the first time I let someone braid my hair after the abuse had stopped. I wanted to work hard at getting comfortable with simple displays of physical touch, so I asked someone to braid my hair into two french braids. I hated how it felt that first time. Then, after some time had passed, I asked her to braid my hair again. This time it felt better, but it still wasn’t normal. I asked her a third time, and this time in an appropriate way it felt good to let someone braid my hair. Afterwards, I felt guilty that I liked letting someone braid my hair. I scratched my head forcefully and frantically unraveled the braids. I need to calm down, it’s just a braid, I told myself. Then my friend re-braided my hair, and even though I didn’t like how it felt this time, I tried my best to sit still.

Time passed, and I actively worked on looking people straight in the eye, while firmly shaking their hand, and letting people hug and sit close to me. Before long, she braided my hair for the fifth time, and I was more comfortable than the last time.

This same method could pertain to an eating disorder. I vividly remember the last time I drove my body through rigorous hours of exercise. Or when I would starve myself for weeks and survive on next to nothing. As I started to recover, I took steps forward, as well as steps back, just like the braid example.

There were days that I thought, surely I have this whole eating disorder recovery down. I’m eating three normal meals, even a snack too and I’m only running normal miles. I can totally do this. But then fear would inch its way into my mind, because after eating normally, I often felt fat. I’m not eating tomorrow to make up for what I just consumed. This cycle would repeat itself frequently, but as time passed, and I continued to work hard, the periods of starvation lessened, as I formed new habits.

Just because you have a moment of struggle, defeat or a bad day in your journey to recovery from abuse, an eating disorder or anything doesn’t mean you haven’t made progress towards freedom. Don’t be to hard on yourself and take it one step at a time, life is a journey, embrace the change. But when you do fall, dust off the dirt, as you rise to thank God and begin again, always embracing each opportunity in life to seek beauty.