“Strong is the new skinny” is just another number. A level of achievement. A nebulous idea of what “strong” can be with the accompanying visual garbage like #fitspiration. It’s like our thin obsessed culture says, “Look, shiny object to achieve!” But striving for strong (and what we see in those images: healthy/skinny/fit/able-bodied/light skinned/able to afford the gym, “clean food,” etc.) is a distraction from the real issue: our culture says fat folks (and all other marginalized/unseen groups) don’t matter.
In the not too distant past, holiday mint M&M’s and I were Netflix and chilling (like, in an actual chilling on the sofa way). Things were going well until the bag was gone. Love affair over. Mindless munching turned into a guilt mudslide of thoughts. My self-worth felt as depleted as a that family sized bag of candy.
My first thought: “What the absolute FUCK is wrong with me?!”
Maybe your binge looks different. Maybe it’s bigger. Maybe it’s smaller. But whatever remains of the food fiasco you’re dealing with, you leave the experience defeated about your chances of recovery, health, and happiness. “My whole future is RUINED because of ME!”
My second thought (and the blessing of some good training and experience):
Guess what? This is a normal part of recovery!
When I discovered yoga, I was deep in the throes of an eating disorder. I didn’t know it because I believed that what I was doing was healthy. It’s yoga. How can it be bad for you? Besides, I wasn’t binging as much. I wasn’t not eating. I was feeling less anxious, which for me, was an incredible blessing.
The style of yoga I chose was intense: hot, sweaty, fast, difficult…in front of a mirror. The style reflected a lot of how I lived my life: fast, always taking on challenge, always “busy,” consumed by body checking (the mirror, the scale, the pant size).
A lot of what I know now about yoga is this: don’t always pick the style that matches your personality. Intensity breeds intensity.
For a perfectionist there will always be one more step. Something that holds them back: another training to take, more education, a better looking body, another diet plan, better grades…whatever the gold star is. Perfectionists often wait until conditions are just right to get going or do nothing at all…and then beat themselves up in the process. Perfectionism is a constant struggle.
”I need to lose five pounds before I feel ready to wear a bathing suit in front of anyone.”
“She’s got 50 more ‘likes’ than me on Instagram. I can’t do anything right.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that job. I’m not qualified enough. I need to sign up for this certification that takes a year and a half and costs a few thousand more dollars.”
“If I can’t do it in a way that satisfies me (or what I perceive satisfies others), I’m not going to do it at all.”
Stay with that noise long enough and it’s no wonder many perfectionists find themselves anxious, depressed, and disappointed. When perfectionists finally reach their goal, it’s often not satisfying. The striving was what gave energy. In order to displace the anxiety and depression, they come up with another goal.
But you want to know what’s really happening?
Today seemed like the perfect time to pull you out of the closet to complete my look. I’m a fan of your patterned sleeves, cinchable waist, and how you keep me warm in my overly air conditioned office. It’s September! Bring on the boots and trendy outerwear!
But I won’t be wearing you. You don’t fit my arms.
Today, I got my wedding photos. The images radiate joy, excitement, bewilderment (mine–holy shit, we’re really doing this!), and so much love. They capture the essence of our ceremony as we said our vows amid lush summer blooms and sweet smiles from family. Our photographers graciously carpooled with us to our reception site and took candid shots of us toting flowers and dancing shoes.
They got the sentimental tears and loving eyes of family as we thanked folks for their kindness and support. And they got the band. You guys, the band. Talk about a party!
And the whole time, one person was missing. My dad.
Before I started school to become a counselor, I didn’t have much personal experience with therapy. Don’t they talk to you in Serious Voice? Are you supposed to lie on the couch? What if they can read my mind?! A few therapists of my own and lots of counselor friends later, I learned a few things about counselors that might surprise you. Here are a few behind-the-scenes secrets…
It’s so easy to forget to move or take breaks during the day unless it’s a natural part of your job. Here’s a brief sequence of movements–that you don’t even have to get our of your chair for–to help get things going.
Here comes another useful tool for finding calm in the chaos. I give a little intro at the beginning about how alternate nostril breathing is helpful to the brain. Start the video at 1:20 to get to the meat of it.
There’s a myth out there that meditation takes time…not true. Here’s a guided meditation for when five minutes is all you have.
(That’s five minutes in the car pool line, waiting for your pasta to cook, or taking a quick break).