Friday 15 December 2017

What you need is not a “ new you” but to embrace “You” in 2018!

Probably you have noticed one of those advertisements with the suggestions that you need a "new you" -New Year, New You!- they say.

How do you feel about this suggestion, does it fill you with excitement ? Or perhaps it gives you feelings mixed with dread and shame. To propose that you need a “new you” suggests that you are not good enough. Since you already feel not good enough about yourself the suggestion that there can be a new you, might sound inviting. 
But hang on, how many times have you tried to get to that “new you”? Take a step back and think about what happened the last time when you've tried to change yourself because you felt bad about yourself....
 If you are similar with most of us, you might had some disastrous result with all that changing business. 

I wonder, if you know why...(?)

This is what I’ve realised when I tried to become the new me. 
 Firstly, I cannot make a positive change out of something that is fuelled by self-hatred and negative self-talk.

When you want to change the most important thing that you need is encouragement, positive support and love. 
If you are blessed with loving people around you,  you may have the right support system, But even if you have all that love and support from the outside but you still have those negative self-talks on your inside, you will find that the only thing that is going to change is the level of your frustration with yourself. 

My second big discovery was, that I actually did not need to become "new"!
 Yes, I needed some change in my life..and I believe I will always have something that needs to be improved.

However, it is not to become the “new me” that would change all those things that needed to be improved in my life. I have habits that need to change and I can do that with one step at the time. And that has nothing to do with me becoming something that I am not. If anything, I need to be me, so that I can take full ownership over my achievements. 

I encourage you to instead of fighting becoming a 'new you', to embrace and accept yourself first! That is crucial for improvement. When you accept all the qualities that you have you will be able to see yourself with compassion and love. Self compassion is an important element of self esteem. Once you believe in yourself which has nothing to do with ability but more so being available to embrace yourself and whatever else is coming with it, then you can take steps in a new direction. And that would change those habits and qualities that you would like to change. 

You will be able to do it for the only reason that matters and that is You! Not because of what other’s think or what comes from society but because of what you want for your own self. And that might be; is to have a happier, fuller and healthier life.

Get excited about those new steps, and pat yourself on your shoulder because you've not just recognised that you need to take new steps and perhaps a different path in your life, but because you are willing and ready to do so!

So, embrace yourself and own who you are and if you want to improve do it, because you want it, and not because you are manipulated into thinking that you are not enough. 
                                             Who You are is good enough!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Full recovery IS possible!


What does being 'recovered' from an eating disorder mean? At this point in time, we do not have a definition for recovery. It has been said that everybody has, or should have, their own idea of what being recovered means to them; therefore, each individual person can set goals based on this. Perhaps you can take a moment and collect your thoughts about what recovery means to you, and check how far you are from that place.

Once you enter the "I am recovered" status, you are out there to be looked at as an example. Unfortunately, this can come with being judged by others, while they are wondering whether you really have recovered. This is something that you cannot avoid, and you will have to learn how to handle. The best thing to keep in mind is that we should not worry about what other people think about our recovery and/or how they see us. Believe it or not, that doesn't matter at the end of the day. But there is one thing that matters, and if it isn’t obvious, that is you! You are recovering for yourself, not for anybody else. I want to challenge you to ask the following questions: "Am I recovered? Am I free?"

If your answer is "no", there is no need to beat yourself up for it. You can recover! 
What would need to happen in order to get there? Whatever it may need to take one thing is sure it needs time, effort and consistency. And most importantly you need to believe that you are worth all that. I was told numerous times that there was no way I would ever recover. Honestly, even myself did not believe in my own recovery. Yes, there was time and even during my recovery that doubt sneaked in and I did not believe that it was possible to be recovered. Now I know, it is part of not just recovery but life itself. Doubt is part of being human, so if you ever doubt in anything even things that once you felt so confident and strong about, well then : welcome to the human race! However, when you put all of the energy that you put into your eating disorder, instead into your recovery then, you can and you will recover.

If your answer is "yes", this is great news! You must be living your life to the fullest; with all the challenges, ups and downs, and joy that life throws at you. I am thrilled for you! 

You might be in an “in between stage’ or rather confused wether you have recovered or not. And as frustrating as it is, it is important to recognise it. 
There is so much idea about recovery but I really want to emphasise on the importance of your own meaning of recovery. That should be the only goal that you want to march towards.

Why? Because that is the ultimate goal if you really want to live and enjoy Your life.

I have been there myself, when I thought I was recovered, and I said that I was recovered; when in truth, I wasn't. Having said that, I know that it was part of my recovery. So, I did not have to feel guilty about my confusion, but I still did. You see, once I declared that I was “free” those who, were still fighting for their own freedom, looked up to me, I became a walking example.
I had to be honest and admit that I was still steps away from that freedom. The realization of that was rather hard because I wanted to be there. I wanted to be recovered, I wanted to help others, and I longed to be an empowering example. 

You might have realized that it may not be that simple to know whether you are recovered or not. I am hard on myself, and I wanted to have the "perfect" recovery. Just as perfectly as I was obeying my eating disorder, with the same perfection, I wanted it out of my life!

Let me share with you what it looked like when I thought I was “recovered” looked like for me:
I ate “healthy food” by the standard that is set by the experts, and I no longer counted calories. I exercised, which consisted of mainly running two or three times a week, and what I considered that to be "normal". But If you would've asked me whether I ate because I ran, or I ran because I ate, the answer would have been the latter. 
Moreover, I had a two-year-old son at that time ( now I have 5 children), so, I must have been recovered, right? Especially, considering the fact that during my anorexic years, I was told that I would never be able to have children. I amazed everybody with how "well" I looked despite of having a baby. Suddenly, I became the "good" example, and the inspiration to all new mothers out there. I was complemented and told that this is how all mothers should look! Did that make me feel good? Well, yes, at first. Eventually, I started to feel uncomfortable. Then, I began to ask myself the question: "Are you really recovered?"

The truth was, that if I didn't have time to do my "recommended" amount of exercise, or eat that "heathy" meal, I was tense, grumpy, and hard to get along with, to say the least. 

I told myself that it was important to have “me time”.  I told myself that I needed to relax and get the tension out of my system. So, I justified the need to run. While that is true, and self-care is incredibly important, The truth is there are different ways to achieve calmness and that doesn't have to be involved with pulling weights and running miles. 
The reality was that I traded my eating disorder for being "super healthy" and a "super woman”/ “super mum”.

 To clear any confusion here, I am not saying that you cannot enjoy sports or working out once you have made your recovery. I just hope that you might have noticed the enjoy part that I think should be included. I believe being “recovered”, especially for me, means that I enjoy whatever activities I do, and I don't freak out if, something comes up and I cannot do them. I eat and you enjoy it, but not whilst thinking that eating is only ok because at some point I will workout. It is okay to eat and enjoy it, even if I cannot walk 5 miles after I ate. I do not need to earn my food. I also don’t label food, so I am neither satisfied neither triggered by what I eat. And it is ok to look "good" (whatever "good" means), just as it is ok to look tired or stressed. It is ok to have a bad hair day, and believe it or not it is ok to have a bad body day. We all have them; there is no human being who feels completely satisfied in their body every single day.

I believe, when you are recovered, you actually enjoy whatever you do and you have developed coping strategies for those not-so-good days. You can accept that just because you are recovered, it doesn't mean that you will never have bad days. You are not going to be immune to hard times, but you can cope with whatever life throws at you.

You no longer need to do timeless workouts to prove your worth, or shop until you drop to make yourself feel better. You don’t need to lock yourself away and hide, or do whatever it is that does not give you lasting peace and satisfaction. You no longer have to be the toughest kid on the block, nor do you have to have everything together 100% of the time.

When you are recovered, you feel free to be who you are! When you are recovered, you can show your feelings, such as anger, sadness, and joy. When you are recovered, you can, and you do, embrace yourself; including your imperfections.

Are you there yet? If not, don't stop until you get there because you are worth it!