I chatted with my mom recently, and told her that I’m pulled in a new direction. I’m shifting my focus on eating without fear, especially after disordered eating and chronic dieting.
“Now that I’m not fearful about what I weight and what I eat, I realize the freedom I missed out on for so long,” I said.
“You faced that even after your eating disorder? I didn’t know that,” she replied.
I had hidden and normalized my pain so well that even those closest to me didn’t know that weight anxiety ruled my life for a decade.
I struggled with anorexia at age 11, and “recovered” a year later. But my recovery wasn’t complete.
I only had reached the place where many women live their whole lives: internally obsessing about food. This may be normal, but it’s not healthy.
All the time, I talk to otherwise confident, successful women who struggle with body image and and, often, a history of disordered eating.
They’ve tried countless diets, food rules, and fitness plans and they STILL feel unhappy with their bodies. The only thing that’s happened is they’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.
I know how much this drains their mental energy and joy because I had that same fear around food and weight.
Agoraphobia is an irrational fear of crowds and need to control one’s social environment. What’s the term for an irrational fear of food and need to control one’s weight?
That’s what I had.
It didn’t matter what I looked like on the outside, and it didn’t matter that other people thought I was thin.
What mattered was my need for perfectionism and control.
What mattered was how I linked my self-worth to my weight.
What mattered was that I was afraid of food, because it changed my body, which changed the degree to which saw myself as lovable and valuable.
Body Dysmorphia and Comparison
I knew my body image was distorted by the media and a toxic beauty standard, but that wasn’t enough to have a healthy relationship with my body.
That’s because weight anxiety is an internalized belief: a belief lodged so deeply in our subconscious that intellectual reasoning isn’t enough to change it.
After anorexia, I had stopped weighing myself. But still, I started each morning by reading the bad news of my belly, standing sideways in my bathroom mirror.
On good days, my belly looked acceptably small. On bad days, I perceived myself as bloated or heavier.
Yes, I let a random body part set the tone for my day.
If I wasn’t trying to lose the “last few pounds” I was worried about gaining them back. I couldn’t imagine eating a single meal without considering the repercussions it would have on my weight or bloating.
I swallowed the lump of jealously that rose in my throat as I watched other people eat “normally.” I couldn’t imagine having that freedom.
Further, I was a ballet dancer. I never danced professionally, but spent much of my time in dance environments. I compared myself to the “ideal” dancer body, a body typically achieved through disordered eating.
You don’t have to be a dancer to face this same toxic comparison. Those in performing arts, the fashion industry, fitness environments or just scrolling through social media are sucked into this dangerous game.
It doesn’t make you a weak person if you succumb to body comparison or strive after a beauty standard you know is impossible. It simply makes you a woman living in the 21st century.
For years, I knew that my weight anxiety was irrational. I entertained the idea of loving and accepting my body the way it was, weight fluctuations and non-ballet thighs and bloating and all.
But I held back on that acceptance, because I refused to give up control. I believed the only way to be adequate, desired, and accepted was to succeed in controlling my weight (along with the rest of my body I was trying to control with beauty products).
Then, gradually, I began to want freedom in my body more than I wanted control of my body.
Body Control to Body Connection
That desire took me down the same rabbit hole I’d been on when I healed my autoimmune disease. I researched, read, reflected, adopted new mindset-shifting techniques, and went miles and miles outside my comfort zone.
Finally, I made the shift from body control to body connection. This means my choices around my food, weight, and appearance are now motivated by LOVE, not FEAR.
And if there’s one thing every religion and mystic tradition agrees on, its that only love can set us free.
I now enjoy freedom around food, freedom from dieting, and freedom from weight anxiety.
It’s absolutely delicious.
A New Direction
Our culture indoctrinates us into body control, and too few of us ever escape that paradigm. I want to change that.
I created Empowered Sustenance after I healed an autoimmune disease that my doctors called “incurable.” I plunged into alternative modalities like ancestral nutrition and holistic lifestyle changes, and freed myself from medications and chronic illness.
This alternative route took courage and determination because these therapies were considered “radical” “unproven” and “unscientific.” But they worked for me, and I felt compelled to share my journey.
Now, I’m repeating that process, and am shifting the focus of Empowered Sustenance towards body confidence.
I’ve accomplished healing that many consider impossible: I’ve achieved body confidence and a peaceful, intuitive relationship with food after years of disordered eating.
As before, my approaches are ahead of the curve, and may be considered radical and unscientific. Once again, I’ve analyzed my and put it into simple, actionable steps so you can have a head start on your healing journey.
GET STARTED WITH INTUITIVE EATING
To get started, I’ve put together a free masterclass for you, to teach you the basics of intuitive eating.
If you’re ready free yourself from food obsession, emotional eating, and weight anxiety, this class is a fit for you!
Click below to watch it:
5 Shifts My Clients Use to Overcome Food Fear and Weight Anxiety
Can you email me the 10 minute meditation you use? Thank you.
Hi Colleen! I’m glad you’re interested. That meditation is an exclusive perk of being in the Facebook group.
Thank you so much for the wonderful post.