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Mute Notifications From Your ED

Mute Notifications From Your ED

I’ve recently been trying to be more intentional about how much time I spend on my phone. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I find myself wasting time on social media, online shopping, or reading the news on my phone when I could be doing things that feel more valuable to me. One thing that has helped me is turning off notifications on many of the apps that tend to distract me. Apps are designed to get us to spend more time on them, especially by sending us notifications about new posts, new discounts, new products, etc. Without the notifications pulling me in, I get to be the one to choose when I engage with those apps.

Can you sense an eating disorder recovery metaphor coming? Mmhmm.

What if you could “turn off notifications” from your eating disorder? What if you could somehow mute some of the things that draw you toward putting more time, energy, thought, and worry into disordered patterns? Here are a few ways you can mute those “notifications” that draw your attention toward an unhealthy way of relating to food, exercise, or your body.

  1. Get rid of apps that serve your eating disorder. I can confidently say that, for the most part, apps that track calories are inherently unhelpful to your eating disorder recovery. Calorie tracking apps may be literally sending you notifications that make recovery more difficult. Too much focus on calories disrupts your ability to listen to your body and fuels deprivation and shame about eating. Unless your dietitian is asking you to track your intake in favor of your recovery, get rid of tracking apps. MyFitnessPal is NOT your pal.
  2. Throw out your scale. Every time you see that scale in the corner of your bathroom or peeking out from under your bed, it’s like getting a *ding* notification from an app. If weighing yourself is part of your eating disorder, even having the scale around can be an intrusive reminder that you “should” (according to your eating disorder) be worrying about your weight. Getting the scale out of your environment is a powerful way to mute those unnecessary reminders.
  3. Get rid of clothing items that serve your eating disorder. If you’re hanging on to clothing that is serving as a “goal” for changing your body, having those items is like getting notifications from your eating disorder every time you open your closet. Cleaning your closet and donating or selling items that don’t work for your body right now is a way of reducing chatter from your eating disorder when you get dressed each day.

Of course, I’m not saying you should be expected to be able to “turn off” all thoughts from your eating disorder. (I, at least, have yet to figure out how that might be done!) However, remember that there are ways you can be proactive in reducing the frequency of “notifications” popping up from your eating disorder. Just like a phone app, eating disorder patterns are designed to take increasing amounts of your attention, leaving you with less attention for other things. This is part of why an eating disorder might have been a form of coping with difficulty in life, and it’s also part of why an eating disorder can end up becoming so damaging. By actively removing opportunities for your eating disorder to grab your attention, you increase the mental space in which other parts of your life can flourish.

Even though it’s not always easy, you can decide to push “mute” on some of the things your eating disorder uses to take up space in your life. Making an empowered choice to put less energy into your eating disorder and more energy into the rest of your life can feel scary at first, but will ultimately be freeing.

Third Options

Third Options

Let’s call her “Amy.” Amy had come a long way in reclaiming a healthy relationship with her body. In this place, Amy actively sought for balance with healthy movement and living her life values. She navigated this space well. Until she signed up for a race. 

If you are familiar with eating disorders and vulnerability, you might think Amy lost her sense of balance at this point in her journey. You may wonder if her pursuit of a rigorous fitness goal led to a relapse in her eating disorder. Sometimes, this is what happens.  

That is not what happened for Amy. In her ongoing pursuit of balance, living her values, and protecting her recovery, she found herself in a unique situation that was a sharp contrast to her rigid and perfectionistic background. 

As race day approached, Amy found herself under-prepared and under-trained. She also found herself actively struggling with some intense body image concerns as she felt her body didn’t look like the runner she aspired to be. 

In our session, the week of the race, Amy shared her distress and debated her options. “I can either run the race, feel terrible about my time and performance, and feel disgusting in my body, or I can just skip it.”

As we discussed this situation together, we explored, “Is there a third option?”

Amy’s face broke into a smile, and she exclaimed, “I could start the race, and if I hate it, I can simply stop for coffee and walk the rest of the way!” She loved the idea of simply walking off the racecourse and into a nearby coffee shop if she concluded her body or her mind weren’t up for the task of completing the race. 

This third option allowed her to pursue her value around commitment and movement while holding these ideals with flexibility. It also allowed her to challenge her negative body image and show up for herself with compassion in the face of a grueling physical event where comparisons run rampant.    

So often, we trap ourselves in dichotomies, black-and-white thinking, and either/or options. These patterns are limiting and rigid. They diminish our ability to pursue our needs and growth with creativity and flexibility.

Asking ourselves about possible “Third Options” allows for expansion. It allows us to pursue what matters to us while releasing the shackles of perfectionism and rigidity. Sometimes we feel if we can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing at all. Third, options are a way to give ourselves permission to be messy, imperfect, and actively choose growth. I’m a big fan of jumping into the growth that really is only found in the messiness of the pursuit of what matters.

Amy ended up finishing her race. She walked a lot of it and had a fun experience. She did not achieve any time goals, but she pursued her values and challenged herself. She felt good about the result and herself in the process. 

While not the “point” of third options, I also suspect that, more often than not, when we pursue what matters with compassion and flexibility, we succeed better than we anticipate. And regardless of the outcomes, Third Options invite our own self-advocacy and growth. When faced with a dichotomy where neither option is satisfactory, let’s ask ourselves, “Is there a third option?” 

How to Love Your Body

How to Love Your Body

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Love is a verb.” In other words, if you love someone, you show that love through your actions. Your love is more than just a feeling; it’s a set of choices and behaviors that helps your relationship grow. Here’s a hot take: your relationship with your body can thrive off of loving actions instead of loving feelings.

What if the phrase “I love my body” referred to your actions instead of to your feelings?

Chasing the feeling of “loving your body” is likely to lead to a whole lot of dissatisfaction, thanks to the toxic messages we are constantly fed by the media, social media, the diet industry, etc., about what makes a body lovable. Even if you are in a place where you can challenge harmful messaging about your body’s worth, feelings of love for your body are likely to come and go, just like any other feeling. For pretty much all of us, feeling “in love” with your body, especially its appearance, is likely to be a fleeting experience.

That’s the power of body love as an action: It can be a consistent choice, no matter how you’re feeling. You can commit to love your body in actions on a good body image day or a bad body image day. You can treat your body lovingly even if you’re not feeling the love.

None of this is easy all the time, and if body love (in action or in feeling) is hard for you right now, I am holding SO MUCH compassion for you. ⁣

This might take practice and courage.⁣

It might take healing. ⁣

It might take accountability and support from others.

Some ways to love your body:⁣

  • Nourish it consistently.⁣
  • Let it have fun with movement.⁣
  • Allow it to rest.
  • Say an out-loud “thank you” for one of its functions.⁣
  • Take pleasure in one of your senses. Let your body ENJOY.⁣

What other actions help you make loving your body a verb?

We’re All Trying to Figure Life Out

We’re All Trying to Figure Life Out

I honestly believe it’s one of the bravest acts to pursue therapy and confront ways in which you want to grow and change. In the therapeutic space, I hope to offer my clients a safe place to feel seen, learn about themselves, and navigate growth. I honestly love my position as “support staff” to your life work. 

In my position, I share limited personal information. There’s value in this as therapy is about you, not me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But what I fear sometimes gets lost in this lopsided relationship is the shared common humanity between us. I think the nature of a therapeutic relationship can create a dissonant experience of feeling understood but also alone on your journey, as if I am a witness to your growth while I have already achieved self-mastery. 

I really want you to know that you are not alone. We are all trying to “figure it out.” I have expertise, and I am also very human. We are all humans together, in this messy, complicated experience that is life. 

I am not above you on the trail. I am not ahead of you on the same mountain. I am across the valley from you, climbing my very own mountain. As I climb my mountain, I can see you climbing yours. From my vantage point, I can offer support and guidance as I see perspectives that you may not yet see on your path.

I do not sit in judgment as some “wise guru” but rather as a fellow traveler. I am honored to be included and trusted to your internal worlds and hold seriously your trust in me and my ability to help you. 

When you sit on my couch, I do not want you to think there is some final destination for wisdom and growth or that I’ve found it. 

That said, I want to simultaneously hold that you and I, both, have worked hard for the wisdom we have earned. Wherever we each are, we need to remember how far we have come. I am no different from you. And if you find that I am helpful to you, I want you to know and understand that you, as you, have so much to contribute right now. We need to know that as rough, unfinished products, we are value added to this world. We can all be, “a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.” 

And the world needs you now. Not some polished version of you, but you in all your beautiful, messy humanity. And I’m right here with you. 


Finding the Balance Between Rigidity and Flexibility

Finding the Balance Between Rigidity and Flexibility

Throughout my life, many people have described me as a “go-getter” type of person. Although that may sound like a positive personality trait, I realized that my “go-getter” personality was infused with other, less helpful, habits such as being overbooked, overstretched, with high expectations for myself that were both overwhelming and unrealistic. I realized that the rigid thinking patterns that I was being praised for created patterns of avoidance and feeling inadequate regardless of what I had accomplished. I realized that although my intention behind the rigidity was to be the best version of myself, those same rigid patterns had inherently impacted my ability to grow as an individual and allow myself to live in the present moment.

As I reflected on my current thought patterns, I also explored the concept of flexibility. Flexible thinking embodies the ability to change direction and adjust to unanticipated circumstances. And although my rigidity served me in many ways, I knew that balance was what I needed to embrace the unpredictability and chaos that life throws at me. 

My experience in incorporating both rigid and flexible thinking patterns into my life got me thinking about how both rigidity and flexibility serve a purpose in recovery. The ability to balance the two incorporates the idea of a recovery mindset that is not possible when falling too close to one extreme. Being able to balance the two means having clear expectations and goals, while also being able to adapt when faced with unforeseeable circumstances. 

Here are 5 journal prompts that you can use to explore balance within your own life:

  1. How do I define success?
  2. What is the difference between feeling panicked and feeling prepared? 
  3. What is the first sign that I have become imbalanced? 
  4. What do I need to let go of that is out of my control today?
  5. What would my day look like if I were more present? 

Regardless of where you fall between rigidity and flexibility, there is always room for continuous growth towards where you want to be. 

Eating Disorders in Older Populations

Eating Disorders in Older Populations

Surprising research shared by Harvard Medical School is highlighting the risk for eating disorders over a lifespan.  While eating concerns were once considered something impacting a more youthful demographic, research continues to shine a light on the impact of eating concerns in those middle aged and older.  

But what would drive an eating disorder to reemerge or even begin as a person ages?

“The importance of body image seems to be a key feature that makes women either return to or start an eating disorder,” says Dr. Bettina Bentley, a primary care physician at Harvard University Health Services. “With aging, many women are also disturbed by the lack of control over the ways their body is changing.”

As we age, our bodies undergo changes that we may find difficulty coping with.  Aging can also bring up unresolved or even new issues surrounding body image. During menopause, women often gain weight, and these changes might make you feel like your body is working against you or is uncomfortably out of your control.   

Interestingly, some researchers are noticing that eating disorders peak for women during critical periods of reproductive hormone change, like puberty, post pregnancy, or menopause.  These fluctuations in hormones, combined with the unique social pressures women face during each of these times of transition, can create a prime environment for an eating disorder to develop in.

While an eating disorder brings immense risk at any age, there are special concerns in older populations.  Women with anorexia are seven times more at risk of a bone fracture than the general population, for example.  Middle aged populations are also more likely to be on medication for chronic conditions, which increases the risk of complications when engaging in disordered eating.  Other unique concerns to this population include an increased risk of pneumonia for those who force themselves to vomit and poor wound healing due to improper nutrition. 

If you find yourself beginning to fixate or feel intrusive thoughts about body image or eating concerns as you age, know that you aren’t the only one!  You are worthy of care at any age, stage, or phase.  If you find your body is changing, you are capable of changing with it, and learning healthy ways to respond to your new needs.  



Listening To The Nudge Inside You

Listening To The Nudge Inside You

Have you ever felt stuck in an old box? A box that once felt safe, but is no longer creating peace in your life. It is okay to be curious and brave to step outside and create a new space that serves the awareness that feels true to the person you want to show up as.

I have been working on creating peace in my mind, body, and spirit for the last few years. During this time, I have felt these little nudges, specific feelings of what I should work on to create the peace I desire in my life.

During this work, I have felt this nudge to work on authentically using my voice. Over the years, my voice has changed. I have grown and challenged my beliefs about my mind, body, and spirit. But using my new voice was a whole new ball game. I have created so much fear that if I use this new voice that feels truthful and authentic to me, I will be left and not understood anymore. Instead of being authentic to myself, I have suppressed my new voice.

But suppressing that voice left a feeling that felt heavier and heavier over time. I knew I could no longer live in the box with those old beliefs that once served me. I have learned new thoughts that could create peace in my life, and I was proud of those new beliefs. So I had to put the fear down, and thank that old self that once served me. I’ve learned it’s okay to step outside that box and become curious to all the new changes I’m experiencing. And it’s okay if those around me don’t understand. So here’s your invitation: you can step outside of your old box and into a new curious world that creates the peace you desire. 

Body Dynamics

Body Dynamics

This week a client shared her distress and self-judgment around body image concerns rearing their head after years of solid eating recovery and body peace. First, I tried to reassure her that body image concerns does not negate her progress and stability in eating recovery. Then we talked about how (sadly) normal it is to have a resurgence of negative thoughts and fears about our bodies. Our relationships with our bodies are dynamic and ongoing. Sometimes these relationships are harder than other times. When new or familiar body image concerns arise, I try to practice self-compassion and frame this as an opportunity for growth.

In our body acceptance group, Embodied, I invited group members to write themselves a letter from the perspective of their own bodies. If your body could speak to you, what would it say? While I did not share it with the group, I also wrote a letter to myself from the perspective of my body. I will share this letter here in hopes that you may know our journeys with our bodies are always dynamic and growing.

Dear Anna,

I am so grateful for our decades of life and adventure together. I really appreciate all the work you have done to see me, respect me, and love me. It’s meant so much to feel your care back, as I continue to take care of you. I love when you invite me to play. I love how much joy I bring you. I love scaling mountains together and drinking in all the beauty our mother earth offers. I love how you see me as more than your earthly companion; you hold me with so much love and see me as a source of wisdom and growth for you. 

Speaking of growth, I have a wish for you. As we have officially entered middle age, you notice how I am continuing to change. I know you tell me that this change is fine and expected. I also know you say this partly to reassure yourself that we’ll be ok. I know some of my health concerns are hard for you to accept but I appreciate your compassion as you try to be gentle with me and some new limitations. We’ve had to settle into a softer way of being in the world. I can’t operate with fearless abandon anymore and more is required for my recoveries. In this new space, you have noticed I have softened even more around all my edges. 

This is what I want from you at this point in our journey together. I want you to see and recognize that I am your soft place. 

We don’t need a world with more angles and edges. I offer you softness. We have done so many hard things together. And I am sure we will do even more. And now I want to invite you to find respite and comfort in the softness I offer you. 

Consider how your children love my softness. I am their soft home. They gravitate toward me, snuggling into me, sitting on top of me, and smashing their noses into my soft stomach, breathing in the smell of their mother. 

I am your soft home too. 

I know there are parts of my aging that are unwelcome. Like the grey hair you try to hide under blonde highlights. And the annoying paradox of middle age acne. I know as we age and move away from the arbitrary cultural ideal of youth, paired with my increased needs and limitations, it is harder for you to love me as fiercely as you have. 

I want to reassure you that I am still doing my best for us. I am navigating these new changes right along with you. I also want to remind you of what a privilege it is for us to grow older. Aging is a sacred gift and I am offering it to you. Let us age and understand that I continue to be strong for you, not in spite of, but actually IN my softness. 

I look forward to many beautiful years ahead together. 

Always yours,

Your body

If you feel you could benefit from more concentrated relational work with your body, I hope you will join me for our next session of Embodied: A body Acceptance Group. In this community, you will grow in your relationship to your own body as well as connect in healing ways with others who are on similar journeys! I am taking group sign ups this month and hope to hear from you!