**TRIGGER WARNING: Weight loss talk (no numbers)

Why do we pretend stepping on a scale is harmless?

Aside from a child (who hasn’t been indoctrinated into our weight-loss obsessed culture yet), I have never met a human who could step on a scale without trepidation or explanation (“I had a big dinner last night!”) For many people, the scale directly impacts their mood, what they will allow themselves to eat that day and how hard they need to push (punish) themselves at the gym.

“I lost weight! I feel great!”

“I gained weight. I feel terrible.”

“I felt great because I thought I lost weight. But the scale said I gained weight so now I feel terrible.”

The scale has a tremendous amount of power because of the value and moral purity we attach to losing weight. For decades, courtesy of diet culture and an eating disorder, I was a true believer. I believed in the ultimate and absolute healing powers of weight loss. I thought losing weight would fix everything. Cure my anxiety and depression. Cure my eating disorder. Heal my often debilitating self and body hatred. I thought when I finally lost the weight I would be smarter, healthier, more beautiful, a better mother and finally feel like I belong. I believed losing weight was the key to living my best life.

And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t maintain a constant state of weight-loss. (Spoiler alert: No one can.) The scale served as frequent and potent confirmation that my body wasn’t worthy of love, connection or belonging and neither was I.

When the scale is the ultimate arbitrator of your value and self-worth it is not just harmful, it is trauma. I call it Scale Trauma. And we need to start talking about it. Especially within the context of eating disorder recovery, where patients are experiencing treatment sanctioned scale trauma on a regular basis.

Scale trauma is the eruption of stress and anxiety that occurs before, during and/or after stepping on a scale. The stress and anxiety can be so consuming it overwhelms one’s ability to cope.

For the thirty million individuals in America battling eating disorder thoughts and/or behaviors, stepping on a scale can cause overwhelming physical and mental stress, anxiety and depression. The ACT of stepping on the scale is the trauma. Knowing the number (number trauma) is a separate trauma akin to pouring kerosene onto an already raging fire of eating disorder thoughts. I distinguish between the two because there seems to be an unspoken fallacy amongst the eating disorder recovery community that “blind weigh-ins,” where the person on the scale doesn’t see the number, are benign.

In eating disorder recovery, stepping on a scale is never benign.

During the many years I suffered with an eating disorder and struggled with recovery, knowing I had to step on the scale when I went to the doctor was intolerably stressful. For days and/or weeks leading up to the appointment, my anxiety would turn into a hurricane of eating disorder thoughts and behaviors as I stressed about what the scale might reveal. To be clear, I almost never knew the actual number because my weigh-ins were “blind.”

But “blind weigh-ins” were rarely blind. Either the number slipped out or the doctor’s mood and behavior indicated what the scale said about me. Most of my primary care physicians let the number slip out in one way or another. The only thing I thought about during and after the visit was my weight gain or weight loss.

The number didn’t usually slip out with my recovery providers, but I always knew if my weight was up (my doc was so proud of me and super positive) or down (my doc seemed distant and didn’t trust me). Whatever the number, I knew that number defined me in that moment. Whether it was a therapist or nutritionist, he or she used that number to determine if I was complying or not complying with treatment. The underlying distrust between us was palpable and completely antithetical to recovery. Rather than focus on the feelings and emotions triggering my eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, we were both distracted by my weight.

Scale trauma is real and we cannot afford to ignore its negative impact on eating disorder recovery.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that one of the reasons I am Recovered today is because I wasn’t exposed to scale trauma during my recent recovery. I haven’t stepped on a scale in two and a half years. In fact, my therapist and I never used my physical appearance as a metric to track my progress (this was hard for me but important). The focus was on my thoughts and behaviors. I didn’t feel shame for having eating disorder thoughts and/or behaviors during recovery because I knew having them, confronting them, challenging them and diffusing them was part of recovery. She and I tracked my progress by how my thoughts, language and behavior evolved. Removing scale trauma had a positive impact on my recovery because it opened up space to heal.

This isn’t a call to action to remove all scales from eating disorder recovery (although wouldn’t that be awesome!) I recognize the use of scales in eating disorder recovery is deeply ingrained and even well-intentioned. This is a call to action to start talking about scale trauma. To acknowledge and address the negative impact of scale trauma in eating disorder recovery and start talking about other, less traumatic, metrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……

Hi Friends,

I’m popping back in for a moment because this is a very important week, Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I love the catch phrase, “It’s time to talk about it.” It is time to talk about it. It’s time to break through the stigma. So many people suffer in silence. Afraid they are too different, too sick, not sick enough, too different, too “normal”, too fill-in-the-blank.

If your relationship to food and/or obsession with the size of your body dominates your life and dictates your thoughts, choices and actions you deserve help. You are not alone and you do not have to do this on your own. I know I couldn’t.

A full and complete recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

Reach out. We are here.

If you have questions or are looking for resources please visit the Helpful Resources (click here) page or send me an email at roadtorecovered2015@gmail.com.

 

 

Hi Friends,

Today is my birthday. 🙂

I worked incredibly hard to get to forty-one. Over the past two years, I recovered from an eating disorder, healed my relationship with food and learned to love who I am, as I am. As I’ve gotten stronger, I’ve discovered the confidence and ownership that comes with using my voice. I’ve used my voice to stand up and speak my truth. It has been rewarding and excruciating.

And right now, honestly, I feel a lot like I did in the above picture (me, age 7). Exhausted. “Collapse before I can even get comfy on the couch” exhausted.

So, I’m going to take a little break from the blog. I’ll be back, to be sure, I still have a lot to say. But I need sometime to get comfy to rest and recharge.

Thank you dear Friends, for being so understanding and supportive.

See you soon…

 

I’ve been a bit quiet this week, which I will talk more about next week. Today I want to talk about the awesomeness that was last weekend. Oh, last weekend. A touch of Spring in the midst of winter. It was glorious. We spent most of the weekend outside taking advantage of our free Spring preview. On Friday afternoon, Harrison and I enjoyed a lovely stroll over to pick Wyatt up from school.

 

Friday: Walking to school to pick up Wyatt

Then we had a fun playdate at the park with some dear friends. Later that night we celebrated Circle of Friends’ 50th Birthday! It was an amazing event our whole family enjoyed.

The next morning was gorgeous so we met some friends for a morning hike. After hibernating indoors all winter, it felt amazing to get outside, get into nature and make our own discoveries (we’ve watched a fair amount of Dinosaur Train this week).

It turns out six, four and two year olds don’t want to hike for more than 40 minutes so we ended up at McDonald’s. The kids played on the slides and the grownups got to talk and enjoy some coffee (and a smoothie). When we got home the boys continued to play outside while I straightened up the kitchen (and jammed out hard to The Hamilton Mixtape).

That night we headed over to our friend’s house and had the best steak tips ever. If you haven’t tried the steak tips from C & C Butcher on Manchester, I highly recommend them. Steve and my brother stumbled across C&C Butcher a year and a half ago and we’ve been loyal customers ever since.

On Sunday, Mom and I headed to the Fox to see Something Rotten. I upgraded our seats so we sat 9th row center. Sitting close enough to see their faces made a huge difference. We absolutely loved the show. It was raucous, fun, creative and irreverent. Oh, and Adam Pascal played Shakespeare! I got to see him play Roger in Rent (twice) back in 1996. Seeing him perform again was such a treat. His voice is like butter.

Looks like we are in store for another Spring-like weekend. Have a good one Friends! I’ll see you on Monday 🙂

 These are my loves. Everything I do revolves around these three boys. They are my heart. Everything I do leads back to them. This is my current favorite family picture. We took it on Saturday before we met up with some dear friends for a hike. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here, but my boys love sharks. Especially Harrison. I cannot tell you how many family pictures we have with a “shark photobomb.” I wouldn’t have it any other way.

♥ Happy Valentine’s Day ♥

 

Hangin’ at Urgent Care on a Friday Night

Like a lot of families, our family has been dealing with a sickness bug for the last couple months. Poor Harrison has gotten it twice since Christmas. It started with a low-grade fever on Monday. On Tuesday, I took him to the doctor and everything looked fine (no fever, ears looked clear, lungs sounded clear, throat wasn’t red). But, of course, by 5:00pm he had a fever and a cough. I kept him home from school on Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon he seemed much better.

Then at dinner, he complained of his ear hurting. I asked which ear and he tugged at his right ear. He lamented that Wyatt put something in his ear. I looked suspiciously at Wyatt and had trouble reading his demeanor (is he guilty or daydreaming about Star Wars?)  I checked out Harrison’s ear (as best I could) and didn’t see anything in there that shouldn’t be in there. But he did look to be in some pain. So I very calmly asked Wyatt if he put something in his brother’s ear. Wyatt sheepishly responded, “I don’t know.”

Super. I spent the next twenty-five minutes trying to Sherlock Holmes my six-year-old. After asking him the same question ten different ways and having him draw a picture of what exactly he put in his brother’s ear (he kept saying “goop” and I’m like, “You did not put Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website in your brother’s ear!”), Harrison confessed that Hamish put something in his ear.

Hamish is our dog.

I’ll never get those twenty-five minutes back and I am at peace with that. Harrison was fine. No more complaints. No fever. No trouble at bedtime. So the next morning (Friday) I took him to school. At pick up his teachers mentioned he was a little off, which I attributed to him coming off a cold. We went home and rested for the remainder of the day.

Then at dinner (much like the night before) Harrison started complaining of ear pain again. I asked him which ear and he tugged at his right ear again (uh oh…). This time he didn’t try to blame his brother or our innocent dog (uh, oh…). He just winced and whined (kinda like the night before). But unlike the night before, Steve, the level-headed realist of our family, was home. He suggested one of us take him to Urgent Care to get him checked out.

My intense mom guilt required that I take him to Urgent Care. So off we went (Steve and Wyatt went to Bingo Night). By the time we pulled into Urgent Care, Harrison had stopped complaining about his ear and was instead complaining that his hair hurt. Being four is hard.

Thankfully, Urgent Care wasn’t that busy at seven o’clock on a Friday night. Harrison got right in. The nurses and paramedics showered him with attention which was awesome. The doctor was kind and patient with Harrison, who had a surprising amount of questions for him ranging from, “What’s that?” (a stethoscope) to “Do you have any (pet) dinosaurs?” (No).

It turned out my sweet boy wasn’t just yanking my chain on that ear pain, he had an ear infection.

Oops…. Being a mom is hard, friends. And that mom guilt can be a doozy. This wasn’t the first time I missed an ear infection and it probably won’t be the last. All I can say is thank goodness for Urgent Care, pink medicine and the grace-filled heart of a four year old.

 

Happy pants.

My friend Jen invited me to her LuLaRoe party last week. I’d been hearing rumblings about LuLaRoe for the last few months, but didn’t know too much about the company. I went to Jen’s house with an open mind, looking forward to some girl-time and shopping.

And, it was great! Jen’s living room transformed into an amazing pop up boutique full of bright colorful clothes. There were racks of dresses and shirts. And leggings….Oh the leggings!

The leggings are so soft and unique! They looked kind of small so I wasn’t entirely sure they would fit but they stretch nicely and fit like a glove. The leggings are soft, comfy and colorful. And they come in two sizes so they fit women of all different shapes and sizes (xxs – 2xl). I LOVE inclusive brands that make clothing to fit women in larger bodies. They even have size diverse models on their website (check it out here.)

I found these awesome octopus covered leggings and instantly fell in love.

If your interested getting your shop on, check out my friend Claire’s page here. Claire’s based out of California, if you are looking for a local consultant you can check out Dae Chocran’s VIP LuLaRoe page here.

Happy Shopping!

 

 

 

 

 

There is something remarkable about talking to thirteen year-olds about eating disorders. They’re old enough to understand the complexities of a very uncomfortable subject, yet young enough that they aren’t yet fully engulfed by society’s obsession with weight loss and diet culture.

Shame is a pervasive side effect of weight loss and diet culture. Shame often manifests as defensiveness or silence. There isn’t a lot of defensiveness or silence when I talk to middle schoolers about eating disorders. They often blow me away with their insightful and thought-provoking questions.

I had the privilege of presenting an eating disorder awareness program at a middle school last week. As I walked through the halls of the middle school after my presentation, a few posters caught my eye. They proclaimed, “You’re beautiful!” “You’re amazing just as you are because you are beautiful, smart, talented and funny!” “Don’t let anyone tell you aren’t beautiful! Because you ARE!”

The primary focus of the positivity campaign was reassuring students they were beautiful. Most signs were posted in and around the girls bathroom so girls were the target market.

My heartbeat quickened and my face reddened with anger. I just had a wonderful dialogue with amazing kids about how our bodies are vehicles, not objects. We talked about how what we do, what we say and how we treat others are the foundation of our value and self worth.

But there it was. “You’re Beautiful!”  Despite all I said and all we talked about, when those kids roam the halls, check their phones, watch tv, read magazines, go to the movies, they will be told in subtle, and not so subtle ways, that being beautiful matters. Repeated exposure to this singular message convinces people that their value and self-worth start with how they look.

 

The hard truth is those messages start long before middle school. We start indoctrinating girls into our culture’s obsession with physical appearance at a very young age. As a child, the word “beautiful” doesn’t mean much. Playing and having fun take precedent over looking “beautiful.” But as she grows, she hears the word “beautiful” (or variations like: cute, pretty, adorable) more often. And while beauty can describe different things, she most often hears it associated with her physical appearance. She has pretty hair, she looks beautiful in her new dress, she has a beautiful face, beautiful smile, beautiful eyes, beautiful skin. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

As she gets older, the first, and often only, thing people remark on is her physical appearance. She may be smart, talented, driven, witty, kind, compassionate and/or courageous but people don’t remark on those qualities as often as they remark on her beauty. How she’s growing into a beautiful young lady. It makes her feel good. So she starts focusing on her appearance.

She starts commenting on other girl’s physical appearances, too. She notices that telling another girl she looks pretty makes the girl’s face light up more than telling her she is kind, smart or a good friend.

She’s not conscious of it yet, but she accepts that physical beauty brings not only social acceptance but an elevated social status.  Beautiful people all seem to have one thing in common: thinness. Beautiful (thin) people are healthier and happier than everyone else.  Beautiful (thin) people get to follow their dreams and live their best life. Popular (thin) girls are beautiful. Famous (thin) girls are beautiful. Successful (thin) women are beautiful.

She doesn’t just want to be beautiful anymore, she has to be.

As she enters adulthood, any success or accomplishment is often tempered by how she feels about her physical appearance. She wins a scholarship based on her academic achievements, but she’s mortified by how ugly (read: large) her face looks in the in the official photo. She vows to lose a few pounds. Or she receives a well deserved promotion, but feels self-conscious running her first meeting because the scale told her she gained a couple of pounds that morning. Again, she vows to lose weight. Or she successfully argues a motion in court, but is deflated when opposing counsel says she’s unattractive. To her, unattractive translates to overweight, so, again, she vows to lose weight.

She’s trapped. Unbeknownst to her, she’s always been trapped. Trapped by our culture’s misguided value system that tells her what she looks like matters more than what she does. She’s unhappy. She fights to maintain “beautiful.” She diets and works out. But she often feels like a failure. It’s her fault she can’t keep up.

It is not her fault. It’s not ours either, unless we fail to accept responsibility for this dangerous narrative. We have an obligation to ourselves and the next generation of girls to flip the script.

Rooting the foundation of our self-esteem in our physical appearance is misguided and dangerous. Our societal obsession with being beautiful often leads to disordered eating and/or a full-blown eating disorder because at some point, long before we were born, society determined thinness was a prerequisite for beauty. Consequently, women feel they have to make themselves beautiful before they can start living and enjoying life. Like being beautiful will protect them from something or make them more acceptable.

In a society that profits off our low self-esteem and preoccupation with beauty, let’s stir things up. Let’s teach girls that the foundation of a her self-esteem rests in the power and potency of her voice. Let’s empower her by showing her that her thoughts and actions matter. That she can lead, govern, invent, innovate. Let’s talk to girls about connection, compassion, empathy, shame resilience and creativity. Let’s encourage them to follow their interests in math, science, art, theatre, politics, children, technology, party planning, athletics, music, business, etc.

As women, we have a tremendous amount of power. Let’s use it. Let’s start posting signs like:

Your voice matters!

Kindness and compassion connect us!

You belong.

You matter.

We belong to each other.

You are worthy of connection and belonging.

Including others makes us stronger.

Be unique! Be different! Be YOU!

 

 

 

337: Dinner Crew, (top pic)  Me, Jean and Laura

One of the best things about starting this blog is that it’s connected me with amazing people and experiences. A couple weeks ago I posted about my love affair with Blue Apron. It turns out my neighbor Laura also loves Blue Apron and cooking in general. She mentioned a local meal prep place called Time For Dinner (you can check out their website here) and suggested we go.

Yes, please!

Laura and I figured out a day and time that worked, signed up for spots via the website (only two spots left for the day and time that worked for us, whew!) and picked our meals (you can pick four or six meals). I picked four meals because I wasn’t entirely sure I’d have enough freezer space. Plus, I didn’t know how the meals were packaged. Per the Time for Dinner website, each meal served eight. And since it’s just me, Steve and two fairly picky little people, I had to consider the “leftover” situation.

One of the really cool things I discovered about Time for Dinner is that each “spot” is really two spots. So my mother-in-law, who happened to be in town on our prep day, got to come too.

We all had a blast!

The Time for Dinner wizards have meal prep down to a science. They have a couple of work stations for each meal and you go from station to station to prep and package your meals. Each station has detailed instructions on how to package each meal. I absolutely needed this. Anytime I  thought I had a question, all I really had to do was re-read the instructions. I’d like to say it was so easy a toddler could do it but I feel like that might be insulting to a toddler. It was so easy that I, an incredibly inexperienced chef, could do it.

We packaged each meal in two separate containers. So instead of four meals, I got eight (each meal serves four)! And they all fit in my freezer (huzzah!) Finally, we labeled each meal with specific thawing and cooking instructions.

 

336: Freezer packed delights.

 

It was such a great experience and I LOVE having a few meals at the ready. Tonight we’re having the chicken and dumplings. I’ll keep you posted….

 

 

339

On March 1, 2017, the Missouri Eating Disorder’s Association (MOEDA) is sponsoring a screening of the film Embrace as well as a panel discussion after the film (I’m on the panel 🙂 ).  It’s a phenomenal documentary about letting go of the often deeply embedded belief that our value and self-worth rest in our physical appearance. And that “to be healthy” we have to look a certain way (which requires us to eat a certain way and workout a certain way).

In the film, Taryn Brumfitt and several others talk about embracing our bodies as a vehicle to realize our dreams. Our bodies are not meant to be ornaments. Our bodies aren’t for decoration. They are for doing. Getting involved, living life.

So often we get trapped in the mindset that there is a prerequisite to loving our bodies. That our body has to look a certain way before we can present ourselves to the world as happy and fulfilled. I.e. We have to have the dramatic “before and after” photo showing how much weight we’ve lost or how ripped our muscles are to prove how happy we are now.

I was trapped in that mindset for most of my life. Especially during recovery. I thought, “How are people going to know I’m Recovered and happy if I don’t have a proper “after” photo?” “How are people going to know I’m happy and healthy if I don’t lose weight or have six-pack abs to prove it?” That thought tormented me for a long time.

At some point, it dawned on me that it doesn’t matter what other people think of my body, all that matters is what I think about my body. And I can like, even love, my body just as it is right now. Everyday can be my “after” photo.

338: My “after” photo.  No make-up, no filter, no dramatic change in my body. The only dramatic change is my mindset. Special thank you to Michelle of Sunshine Designs for this amazing shirt. Check out her incredible work here.

Embrace is an incredibly moving and captivating film (I got to see it at a screening a couple months ago). I highly recommend it for everyone. The film isn’t specifically about eating disorders (although they are discussed). The primary focus of the film is on how incredibly powerful body acceptance can be. And what a tremendous impact it can have on your life and others.

I would LOVE to see you there! Tickets aren’t sold at the door so you have to buy them via this link:   https://gathr.us/screening/18992

**UPDATE: If you follow the link it looks like the screening is sold out. You can click on “Alert me when or if tickets become available” and put in your name and email. I am pretty sure MOEDA will release more tickets.