Tag Archives: eating disorder

How letting go of the desire to control everything slowly granted me emotional freedom

I am investigating the importance of speaking my truth. And acknowledging, allowing, and accepting my emotions.

We hear that a lot. At least I do. From teachers and coaches and writers and influencers. And sometimes it makes sense to me but sometimes I’m like “I know I’m saying this thing that is GOOD but I don’t fully understand why.”

And last night something came together.

Last night I started to further understand – in my body and soul – the importance of not only speaking my own truth, but acknowledging, accepting, and allowing my feelings instead of shaming myself for having certain feelings {i.e. sadness, guilt, despair, etc.}

Sometimes I am afraid to say how I feel because I am scared to let people down. I am scared of messing something up. I am scared of causing someone pain. I am scared of upsetting something.

And so what does all of the  above really mean?

It means that I sometimes find myself terrified of speaking my truth and my feelings because I don’t want to lose control over a situation.

For a long time this was my default. And so, I would remain silent. For fear I would cause an upset, to myself or another person. I was afraid I’d lose control.

And so, I remained silent.

Silence is still sometimes my jam. But it doesn’t always serve me.

And I’ve spent a huge portion of the last decade learning about my own emotions. Primarily, what exactly to do (or not do) with them.

What I realized in that instant I uttered those words [I am afraid to say how I feel because…] is that I internalized the feelings, the hurt, the discomfort , and the pain.

And all of that discomfort materialized into more visible symptoms like anxiety, panic, and an eating disorder.

So what’s the point of even coming to this conclusion?

The point is that I see even greater value in being able to acknowledge and allow my feelings to process and to express them when a situation calls for it.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bit my tongue and not said how I felt or what I thought because I feared judgment and I feared my world spinning out of control.

Freaking Control…

So now it’s about loosening the reigns on control. It’s about stepping into the emotions because when I do just that, they aren’t so scary or overwhelming and, usually, after giving them some of my attention (not ALL of it) they slowly fade away.

I don’t suppress them anymore. I don’t pretend that I don’t feel these uncomfortable icky feelings anymore. (And I used to because in my mind that meant I had no control over myself >>> which inevitably led to an eating disorder.)

I recognize that I too am human. I recognize that the emotions I deal with on a daily basis are part of the human experience.

While it may take me a little longer than some to move through emotions, I’m ok with that. I’m learning. I’m being patient with myself.

I’m also learning that emotions don’t have to take the lead! Which means… I’m stepping into my power.

I soften to what I feel. I surrender. I don’t give up on myself. But there’s something in THAT [the softening and surrender] that, for me, let’s the emotions feel less scary. I remember that they, like all things, will eventually pass.

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Running to celebrate; not punish.

It’s been two years since I’ve done any races. It’s been two years since Chicago Marathon.

Until today.

Initially I wanted to give myself one year. One year without any big races. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t sitting right with me.

Like I was starting to use the races as an excuse to exercise, excessively. Yes – each race taught me something invaluable about myself and how to approach life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

But it was after Chicago that I felt something twinge. I felt like something needed shifting. I wasn’t totally sure what it was. But I knew I needed to take a step back.

I knew that – while I was nearly 10 years in recovery from my eating disorder – some old habits were coming back to haunt me.

My old habits were (not so) thinly disguised in my love affair with endurance races: anything from a 10K to an Ironman and everything in between.

Shortly after letting go of my desire to click “Register” on anything and everything my wallet could endure, it dawned on me what I wanted:

I wanted to run/bike/swim/move again with a different approach.

I wanted to be able to run a race not so I could eat an extra piece of pizza (or pizza all week).

I wanted to run a race to celebrate my body and celebrate life.

Last night just before bed I was walking Daisy and on the phone with my friend Emily who decided to join us and go up to New Haven to run the Half Marathon. I decided then that I’d run the 5k the next morning. Simple, short, and sweet.

I had no expectations. I had a pretty good feeling I’d finish. And – bonus – I got to spend the morning with some pretty swell people I love.

In my imagination I saw my “coming out” {of race retirement} race as a big to do. At the very least a half marathon or an Olympic distance triathlon that I’d spend months training for (and probably blogging about in anticipation).

I joked to Emily when I agreed to doing the 5k that it would be my coming out of retirement race.

But what I felt this morning, running the 3.1 miles, far exceeded my wildest dreams.

I realized that over these last two years I have finely curated or crafted (can I even say that?) a fresh, lovely, deep-hearted, spirited, compassionate relationship to movement. In this instance to movement of the more intense variety like running.

The 5k hurt at times. I listened to Daft Punk the entire time because a) I love them and b) I wanted to and c) figured I could use all the help I could get being that I haven’t been running much. At all.

It also felt wonderful. I let myself run at a challenging (but not too challenging!!) pace. I knew right there that I had done it.

It was in the time that had passed since Chicago Marathon 2015 that my relationship with exercise has gone through a massive overhaul. And I can say the same about my relationship to my body.

I didn’t want to return to a race until I felt really ready. Until I knew that it was for pure fun. Until I knew it was to remind myself of my strengths and all that I am capable of. Until I knew that it was to celebrate my body and the life I get to live.

Whether the choice was conscious or not, something in me knew it. Today was the day.

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So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

Asked one very intelligent student of mine at the recovery center one night during a special Q&A class during which I already shared much of my recovery story. I said I never went to treatment and rarely sought out therapy during the throes and early days of my eating disorder. (I do recognize the value in BOTH of these things, I just was not aware they were even available to me. And so I healed myself through the worst of it.)

In response to her question…

Messy. Is the word that flew out of my mouth.

Shit, I thought to myself. Should I have really said that out loud? It felt like the most honest response because, well, my early recovery was a fucking mess. And I had to make peace with that and the fact that, as I quickly learned, recovery is not linear and it takes many many different forms.

I paused then explained:

Everyone’s recovery path is going to look different and I did not know what kind of help was available. No one in my little college world talked about this stuff [Eating Disorders] except in the context of “it’s an easy way to stay skinny.” My recovery might have been expedited had I been aware of help available or had I not been so ashamed. [There’s that buzzword: shame!]

I didn’t tell most of my friends, I didn’t even tell my mother because I didn’t want her to take on the burden. In retrospect, I wish I had gone to more people because now, over 10 years later, I’m learning the value of being vulnerable and asking for help.

I went on to further explain, my recovery was beautiful and multi-faceted. My recovery was introspective. My recovery was difficult. My recovery looked like surrounding myself with people who lifted me up. It looked like me in my bedroom surrounded by yoga books, putting together sequences, noticing what felt good in my body and what didn’t. My recovery smelled like patchouli and armpit body odor and looked like the tiny yoga studio in Bloomington that accommodated 15 students at most. Always cheering each other on. (And, by the way, it never looked like cute yoga outfits.)

My recovery looked like brutal honesty with myself and daily reminders that I was making a choice to get better. My recovery looked like trust in myself that I could do this. My recovery looked like my college boyfriend as my rock, a person who believed in me, reminding me to believe in myself. It looked like the one tiny old woman therapist who told me “one day at a time, honey.” Those words were gold. It looked like undiagnosed depression and massive bouts of what I now know were anxiety attacks.

And those were just the early days. My recovery from an eating disorder turned into recovery from negative body image and body dysmorphia. And then recovery from not believing in myself. And now it is recovery from any thought, belief, person, or thing that does not bring me to light.

My recovery looks like setbacks sometimes. It looks like hours spent talking to a therapist and life coach. My recovery looks like journaling and writing and meditation. It looks like time spent in the woods. It looks like allowing myself to feel pain and uncomfortable feelings, but not to dwell in them. And if I notice I’m staying the the pain for too long, my recovery now looks like asking for help. A helping hand to pull me out of my hole.

So now my recovery looks like feeling ALL the feelings. Even the ones I thought I had done away with years ago. It looks like processing old breakups and the losses of friendships. It looks like celebrating my triumphs today and from years back. It looks like bidding farewell to always trying to control and avoid pain so that I’ll only feel good happy things.

I am pleased to share with you that today, my recovery looks like imperfection. And I’m beyond OK with that.

What does your recovery look like? Please share below in the comments!
And sign up for my newsletter to receive a totally free body image coaching consult today. XOXO

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I remember…

I remember..

Ballet class.

And trying to squeeze into my pink tights and black leotard.

I remember…

How the tights made an impression around my belly, that no leotard, skirt, or dance shorts could hide. To my great disappointment.

I remember sucking in my stomach because I believed having any kind of belly made me overweight and therefor “bad.”

I worried that I was the biggest girl in class.

I remember comparing myself to the other girls.

I wished I had slimmer, streamlined bodies like theirs.

I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a flailing mess of a 10 year old girl.

And when I think back to this girl who hated the sight of herself so much, I give her a soft pat on the back and a giant hug. I tell her she is enough, exactly as she is. Smart enough. Strong enough. Beautiful enough.

I tell her it’s ok to have the extra cookie at snack time. She’ll grow into her body and one day look back at photos of herself and be amazed by what a dancing fool she was!

I tell the 10 year old version of me that one day she won’t care about doing sit-ups or eliminating all the fat from her body. And that it’s gonna feel so freeing!

And she’s going to look to other women for support and inspiration, instead of comparing herself.

This is a small part of my story. And I can’t help but think, some of it might resonate with you. Or your children. It’s why I created my Raising Role Models program.

Where we, as adults, provide the best opportunity possible for the children and youth in our lives to grow up with self-esteem and healthy body image.

Please take a look at the mini training I put together. In it I offer 3 shifts you can make TODAY, on your own that will shift not only your own body image, but also your child’s.

Click here to watch my Raising Role Models video.

And if you’d like to learn a little more, I encourage you to sign up for a free call with me this week by clicking the link below.

Click here for your free call with me.

With love, always,
MC

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Opening Up About My Experience in Relationships

This morning I woke up feeling shitty.
Migraine and broken hearted.
Not just over my most recent split, but all of them.
There is a voice in me saying – come clean.
You’ve hidden all of this for far too long to keep it up and put on a brave face.
My heart is full of scars that have not fully healed and it’s coming to a head.

All of it.
The men. The relationships.
The stories I’ve clung to that have built up resentment.
The roles I not only played but also identified with.

Whenever a relationship took a turn for the worse, I’d turn to food or controlling my appearance somehow [running, over-exercising, or dieting].
I focused on: how do I control?
Instead of: How do I leave room to heal?
It was always brush it under the rug.
Drop them. Drop him.
Let him go.

Well, I did let him go. Every time.
Maybe a little too much.
I moved right on to the next one. Without a second thought.

But the residual pain clung tightly – wrapped around my heart.
Tighter and tighter as time passed.

And it brings me to right now.
Piles of relationships and breakups never fully processed.
All of the pain is coming to the surface.

I bounce from one memory to the next in my dreams and in meditation.
Uncovering decisions I make now that are based on past experiences.
Not always proud of the way I treated people.
Often wishing I’d let myself be single and process.
And witnessing the shame I feel about not processing these break-ups the “right way.”

Now I’m processing them in my way.
On my terms.
In my own time.
I’m giving these experiences the attention they deserved.
Maybe they should have received this attention years ago.
But I’m here now and doing the best I can.

I’m grateful that something in my last relationship called this to my attention.
Maybe because of the mild depression I felt in the springtime.
A clear indication that there was pain that had not been dealt with.
Maybe because I started finding my voice and stepping into my power.
For the first time clearly articulating my deepest desires.

This is not easy stuff to share.
The easy way would be to brush it under the rug and keep the notes in my journal and tell the world “I’m fine.”
The more difficult path is doing this: share.
Share and tell my truth.
Stop withholding from the world and from myself.

Because … Why on earth would we ever cover up any parts of ourselves?

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Thank you yoga, Thank you teachers.

It’s International Day of Yoga. My friend reminded me last week with a little nudge, nudge and soft encouragement that maybe I should do something for it.

 

I don’t have any special class or event planned and I’m hoping I’ll make it to class tonight or even to my mat to move a little and meditate. But what I will do, what I will honor is what this practice has done for me. And what I have been able to do for myself by way of my yoga practice.

 

I used to squeeze my thighs so hard to try to get them to look more stick-like. I’d pinch my belly fat and imagine how much better my life would be if I could just cut it off. I calculated every calorie going into my body and how each calorie (and then some) would go out. My mind was consumed and I was completely obsessed. My obsession with food and how I could control my body took over my life.

 

Yoga sandwiched my eating disorder. My practice began when I was 16 and my eating disorder was full throttle around 19 – so I was practicing yoga all through my disorder. But what I know now is that during a lot of that time, I wasn’t really practicing. I was going through the motions of yoga. Showing up, rolling out my mat, bowing my head and saying namaste at the end of class. I nailed poses ease because I’m fairly strong and fairly flexible and have always had great proprioception. What I wasn’t doing though was connecting. I was completely disassociating from my body and for a while there, I was using yoga as just another form of exercise to burn off those calories.

 

This all shifted when I found a small studio in Bloomington, Indiana and a teacher by the name of Wendy. I didn’t even know what style of yoga we were practicing (turns out it was astanga) add to be honest I can’t tell you a whole lot of the asana that I learned – but what stays with me to this day is the feeling of entering into a safe space. It was always quiet when I walked into the building, up the stairs and turned the corner. Everyone spoke with a hushed tone as we set up our mats and gathered our props. The space and the time was sacred.

 

Wendy didn’t tell me how or what to feel. She instead created opportunity for me to feel. I kept returning to her classes, as often as I could fit them into my schedule and budget. It was in this space that I remember looking at thighs and bursting into tears because for the first time I saw them as something other than “too big.” My thighs, for the first time ever, were strong and beautiful and amazing.

 

I came home to my body for what felt like the first time. That was inner peace. That was my invitation to heal and no longer allow myself to stray and disassociate from my body and being.

This was the tip of the iceberg and there have been many more teachers since then who helped facilitate my healing – and still do to this day. So, I can’t stress this enough but  … Thank you teachers.

 

IMG_9114On this international day of yoga I also want to acknowledge the practice for what it has brought me – healing and inner peace. Eating disorder recovery is not a one and done deal. It takes time and it too is a part of my practice: staying the course, staying connected, noticing when I get triggered, and repatterning my responses.

 

Thank you yoga.

 

I would love to hear from you: How has yoga impacted your life? Whether you just recently got your feet wet or are a long-time practitioner – what have you noticed?

 

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Why I’m Not Doing Any Big Races in 2016

 

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I made a routine visit to my chiropractor last August, who also happened to be my running coach for Chicago Marathon. We started the visit with the usual: checking out my posture, alignment, palpating my upper hips, shoulders, and ribcage.

My face went flush when he remarked I lost weight as most marathon runners do. Over the previous weeks I noticed my clothes fitting differently but it wasn’t until it was confirmed that I had lost weight that I allowed myself to believe it.

Strangely, what was intended as an innocent observation by my coach became my obsession. I was on such a high from my coach’s innocent observation and inspected subtle changes in my body as mileage piled on each week… 6 miles on Tuesday,  8 miles on Friday, and 18 miles on Sunday. Every mile was like money in the bank: An investment to maintain thin.

With every additional mile it was like money in the bank that I would maintain the weight loss. An investment to maintain thin.

Meanwhile, in the height of summer I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, taking naps daily as my body often crashed half-way through the day. I pushed myself through nearly all my runs to maintain my training schedule and, as much as I hate to admit this, I liked this new thinner version of myself! I was keeping the weight off by running like a maniac.

Bloodwork showed my iron levels were extremely low, and my doctor cautioned me not to proceed with the marathon training as it could jeopardize my health by pushing myself too hard.

My solution was to take supplements and adjust my diet so that I got enough nutrients. Not once did I deprive myself of food while training. I ate, and still can eat, like a horse. But in the back of my mind I knew this “diet” was also beneficial for weight-loss so, in making this diet change I was in a win-win situation: increase my energy / iron AND keep the marathon weight off or, even better, on a steady decline.

I finished Chicago Marathon and had the time of my life. Thanks to the training program specifically designed for me by my coach I felt strong and capable. In the days preceding the race I got the post-race blues and scrambled for “what am I gonna do next?!”

I love the thrill and challenge of a race and I love running. The training is tough but strengthens me in so many ways beyond physical and there is an exhilaration around race day like none other. My foray into endurance sports has not been entirely a means to a weight-loss, body fat deprivation end.

But as I got off my high Chicago Marathon horse I started noticing something: I was terrified of when the weight would come back on. (I know – the amount of weight is negligible and something few people would notice.) Once my body recovered I started running again and tracked how many days per week I was active and constantly questioned myself, “was it enough?”

About one month out from the race, my jeans tightened around my waistline. I stared at myself in the mirror and said FUCK. It was too late. While I was busy getting my social life back in order, those pounds piled right back on and I said hello to a familiar friend: the bulge around my belly and my expanding, softening love-handles.

I turned to more yoga classes, meditation, and in the hopes that I would find salvation and solution to my “problem” I pinpointed my next race: a  half-marathon trail race in mid-Spring.

Meditation took up more of the time that I once filled with running and with the help of that practice I realized how obsessive I became about my body’s softer, post-marathon shape. A trail race is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now I found myself posing the question: is this the healthiest thing for me to do? Is this really the answer?

Once you have an eating disorder you are never wholly “cured” from it. Yoga healed me and pulled me out of a deep, dark hole but I always knew I was never immune to bulimia residue surfacing as I got older and here I saw I was absolutely right. Running and a packed training schedule took the role of purging.

So as I enter into 2016 and consider my “race calendar,” I proceed with caution and curiosity.

Call it a resolution, an intention, or a goal – this year I will mindfully approach the endurance athlete within me. As I visit a race page I will pause and ask myself what are the motivating factors compelling me to click “Register” and hand over the following 4 months of my free time to training.

My body has settled into what feels like my normal shape and size (but then again, what is normal?) and I have voluntarily taken an indefinite break from running and excessive exercise. I’m listening to my triggers and when my boyfriend tells me he likes the softness of my love-handles I do my best to believe him and see my body from a much kinder place.

For any endurance athlete out there, I am not writing this to discount or discourage your sport. I am merely noticing my own experience and how my love of running combined with a “never give up” attitude took me far beyond my limits and into dangerous territory that was no longer serving me. It’s time I take a few steps back and recalibrate in the hopes that I can revisit my running shoes while maintaining a deep love and respect for the shape of my body.

All in due time.

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It’s Safe to Feel What You Feel

2442995055_97a02d8124_z It was my second class this week at the eating disorder treatment center.

There was already a palpable tension as I walked in, like the feeling of seeing a someone hold a knife over someone’s chest the moment before a major surgery…you just don’t know what might happen.

A soft sobbing shape quietly whimpered.  Women filtered in to do yoga with heads hung low. The crook in their torsos and abdomens hinted at a deep dark secret concealed below the layers of uncomfortable skin and shame.

Arranging the women so everyone had their space, pillows, blocks, etc., I placed a kind hand on the shoulder of the crying woman. A gesture to ask “are you alright?”, and let her know “you’re going to be okay”.

As I settled in to teach, I had an urge to spill my guts to these these women.

Read the full piece on Elephant Journal by clicking here.

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Apparently I haven’t made myself clear … Yoga Saved Me

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with Brett and some friends. We were having a great time, laughing and joking around about … eating disorders. To be absolutely specific, it was about making yourself throw up and that transitioned to eating disorders.

I guess, thank god, I am finally at a point in my life where sometimes, SOMETIMES, I can step back and poke fun of my former self and the way that I used to operate. The harsh reality is that when you are dealing with an eating disorder, the disorder itself is not so funny, and life becomes less funny because you are constantly criticizing yourself.

treestluciaBut I digress … as the conversation started to get a little more personal, my friend paused and then asked me, “Maggie how did you get over all your stuff?” In this case “stuff” was keyword for “bulimia.”

“Yoga,” I replied.

“What? Brett?” my friend asked, misunderstanding my mumbled answer amidst the chaotic restaurant.

“No, I got over all my stuff because of my yoga practice,” I replied, a little bit louder now.

Thinking to myself, isn’t it obvious? Doesn’t everybody know that? But clearly that is not the case because I have never truly shared my full story, except for with a select few.

I’m still building up the confidence to really let it all out but even saying it at the dinner table that night, where two people who were not privy to my triumph over an eating disorder with yoga, made me flush with pride.

So this is me starting to open myself up and share my story with you. Finally.

 

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