UNpodcast 115: Trust: The Secret to Recovery

UNpodcast 115: Trust: The Secret to Recovery

TL;DR: Go listen to this week’s podcast with Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson! There’s a moment in recovery when it suddenly clicks for you that there is nothing romantic about your suffering, and that loneliness and desperation are no longer a badge of honor or an exceptional trait. There’s that moment, and it’s the moment when you start to reach out for help…only you’re so stuck in your old patterns of thinking or the depression and anxiety are still so strong or the eating disorder voice is so loud or the drugs or alcohol or binge foods keep calling even though you’ve told them to forget your number… …It’s the moment when it seems like everyone else seems to get it but you just don’t. How do I do it? You frantically ask Google. How do I do it? You email the coaches. How do I do it? You cry to your therapist. HOW DO I DO IT WHEN I DON’T KNOW HOW? Recovery is hard because there’s no handbook that says: you must do exactly this and you will definitely recover. You must do exactly this and you’ll know that it’s working because you’ll feel X, think Y, and look Z. There are definitely tools you can use. Gratitude is a big one. It’s one of my favorites. But gratitude can’t always erase years of pain. That’s where trust comes in. This is especially hard if you’re not a religious person. Faith—of any kind—can seem like a joke. There’s no order to the universe, so how in the heck can I trust it? There’s only one answer to...
UNpodcast 114: Why You’re Still Recovering

UNpodcast 114: Why You’re Still Recovering

TL;DR: Go listen to today’s podcast with Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin! As a writer, I’m a little obsessed with semantics (which, according to Wikipedia, is defined as “the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.”) I really do, however, that words hold incredible power often when (and even especially because) we are not thinking about them. I wrote one of my most important blog posts ever on why I’m no longer calling my recovery a recovery (and I’m calling it a “discovery” instead), but I think the word “recovery” warrants some revisiting. To recover literally means to “get back,” as I discussed in that post, but I think it has some secondary means that we need to address. Because eating disorders have an extremely and alarmingly high rate of recidivism (or relapse). And so does “non-disordered” dieting. The amount of time we spend getting on and off of the proverbial wagon is exhausting. And I think that one of the big reasons we do that is because the idea of “re-doing” the process is written into the word. REcovery. We’re doing it over and over again, because we’re being trained to “recover.” Whether you’re going into treatment for an eating disorder or just trying to stop dieting on your own, you’re practicing the act of recovery instead of actually experiencing change. And the more you do it, the better you get at it. Say the right things to your therapist. Change from vegan to Paleo. Become “strong not skinny.” Do a different cleanse or detox or clean eating challenge. Run less and lift more. Defend your thought patterns. Defend...
Body Love is a Fairy Tale, or Why I Don’t Want Happily Ever After

Body Love is a Fairy Tale, or Why I Don’t Want Happily Ever After

Have you ever said a word so many times that it seems to have lost all meaning? You know—when all of the sudden, the sounds made by that particular combination of letters seems alien and unreal? I’m beginning to feel that way about the word “love.” I see it written in the body positive community so much—self-love, body-love, love, love, love—that this very loaded word seems to have deflated a bit in my estimation. Love is loaded, because it’s a word exalted by poets. It suggest something enduring, unbreakable, and whole. Love is a word that suggests that something has finished, completed. Achievement unlocked: I’m in love. I think some of this comes from the oft-repeated story “told by” Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium: human beings were once creatures with two heads, four arms, and four legs, attached at the center. They were powerful enough to challenge the gods, and when they tried, the gods punished them by splitting them in two. That’s why we desire sexual union so badly—because it is only in the moment when we embrace that we complete the circle and feel powerful enough to challenge the gods again. So love is a loaded word. When we apply it to body positivity, it’s the same thing. Body love is all about this magical actualization, a never-ending orgasm of perfect happiness. The other day, I read an article posted by the fabulous Melissa A. Fabello on Ravishly regarding this topic—the potential impossibility of lasting, constant body love. Because the thing is, love is supposed to be this constant force. It’s the end goal and the ideal state....
UNpodcast 113: Food and Magical Thinking

UNpodcast 113: Food and Magical Thinking

TL;DR: Go listen to today’s podcast with Dr. Emily Deans! Food can be medicine, but it’s not the only medicine. In fact, the idea that food is the only medicine we need is bullshit. Food is a necessary part of our lives, and certain foods make us feel better than others. We all react differently to different foods because our bodies are all composed of infinitesimally small differences that can create exponentially large effects. If food were medicine, I would not have to be on thyroid drugs. If food were medicine, my periorifical dermatitis flare ups wouldn’t have to be treated with antibiotics. If food were medicine, then we’d never have needed to invent vaccines (however you feel about them) because we would have been able to eat our way out of polio. We’re living in an age of magical thinking when it comes to food. People like the Food Babe are able to go from having a pretty sane idea about food quality (we should eat as close to the natural state of things we can if possible) to food-fear mongering guru with a series of endorsements from and affiliate links for slightly less processed “organic” versions of our favorite “unhealthy foods” because of this magical thinking. Food can be medicine in many cases. It can be good preventative medicine sometimes. The actual nutrients in things that don’t come wrapped in plastic can be neuro-supportive and health-boosting. But it’s not the only answer. Because here’s the thing: we don’t live in Eden or in the pre-agricultural era. We’ve long since passed the Middle Ages, but we’re still trapped...
UNpodcast 111: Your Fitspo Sucks. Here’s Why

UNpodcast 111: Your Fitspo Sucks. Here’s Why

TL;DR Go listen to today’s interview with Roz The Diva….and if you’re in NYC, go to her Dangerous Curves Plus Size Pole Competition on August 9! Get tickets here: dc2015.bpt.me/ Inventory time! Do me a favor and make a list of your favorite health and fitness role models. Pull up the pictures of all of the bloggers, podcasters, personal trainers, Instagram yogis, fitness models, Pinterest fitspo ads and put them side by side. What do they look like? Chances are, they’re mostly white and mostly young and mostly thin or lean (and entirely cis-gendered). Now expand your photo collage: add in all of the marketing you see for fitness and health food, products, or services. What do the people in those ads look like? Chances are, they’re also mostly white and mostly young and mostly thin or lean (and entirely cis-gendered). Why does that matter? One of the biggest systemic problems in the health/fitness media today is the lack of representation of people. Even when we see “real women” ads they’re still usually white, usually “plus sized” (so, like a size 6-10 with an hourglass), and usually young-looking. Maybe there will be one black woman thrown in there for diversity. This is a problem, because one of the reasons that we all feel so sad and out of control and unhappy with our bodies (eating disorders notwithstanding) is that, unless you’re white, young, thin/lean, and cis-gendered, you will never see someone who looks like you being made a representative of success in fitness and health. This is awful for a number of reasons, but the one I want to...
UNpodcast 109: How to Be Happy

UNpodcast 109: How to Be Happy

TL;DR: Go listen to today’s podcast with Gillian Mandich! Happiness is a weird thing. Everyone says they want it, people on instagram seem to be it all the time, but no one seems to know how to get it. I mean, what is “happiness” really? When you look at the definition, it’s just “the state of being happy,” which is less than useful. I went and pulled up thesaurus.com (which, as a copywriter, is my bible) and got the following words associated with “happiness”: Bliss Contentment Delight Enjoyment Euphoria Glee Optimism Peace of Mind Pleasure But none of those words mean quite the same thing. I see “bliss” as a peaced-out nirvana state you enter, eyes closed, when the first bit of perfect chocolate hits your tongue; “contentment” a sense of general wellbeing and “I can roll with this.” “Delight” is an “eyes lit up” sense of childlike wonder and pleasant surprise; “euphoria” is a can’t-sit-still sense of almost-manic, light-headed excitement. Etc. So what is happiness? Is it any of these things? Is it all of them? And how can you exist in a constant state of any of these when the whole purpose of being human is to change, react, and experience more than one emotion? One of the hardest things about recovering from disordered eating or body image issues of any kind is the desire to stay the same. All the time. To achieve a state and exist in it unendingly forever. That’s one of the biggest sells of dieting: the after picture. It’s a state of stasis that says: “I have achieved, and this is who...