The Every Body Is Beautiful Project

My Body Is Changing. It's Difficult. Here's How I'm Dealing.

RecoveryOphelia's PlaceComment

For many years, I teetered on the edge of recovery from my eating disorder. I was no longer bingeing and purging, and I rightfully felt proud of that accomplishment. But instead of gathering steam and continuing to heal, I began treading water. Although I was no longer exhibiting bulimic behaviors, I was restricting my food intake, and I continued to obsess about food, my body, and exercise the majority of my waking hours.

It was exhausting.

So when I bravely took the next steps to healing my body, my brain, and my spirit, I was very ready to leave behind the constant internal dialogue of meal-planning and body-shaming. Real recovery is amazing and freeing, but can we real-talk for a minute?

It’s also difficult.

Real recovery is so much more difficult than staying in a pattern of “kinda-sorta-recovered.” One of the biggest adjustments along my path is that my physical body is changing. That’s a very beautiful thing — it’s rebuilding muscle mass, getting stronger, and learning what it means to truly be well. It’s okay that it feels scary at times, too. I do not weigh myself (and I ask that doctors don’t share the number with me, either), but I do notice softness and roundness in new places. Most days, I love this physical manifestation of a more gentle way of being in my body. Some days, it feels… harder.

So I made a decision for my emotional health and my continued recovery.

I no longer put my body on display — for others or myself.

This has been the most radical change for me as I work through the process of recovery. Through journaling, I realized that a big source of my anxiety came from feeling obligated to show and share my body with others. Neither I, nor you, nor anyone else has that obligation.

This is not about hiding, or feeling ashamed. This is my way of taking back the power my eating disorder once had over me. I am getting to know all of the lovely little spots in my body — both new and old — on my own terms.

To regain autonomy and privacy over my changing body, I took a social media break for a couple of months. When I came back, I did it on my terms. I used to share snippets of my day and myself without censor —bathroom mirror selfies, gym pics, yoga snaps, and everything in between. Now… I mostly post pictures of trees on my Instagram account. While there is no right or wrong way to conduct yourself on social media (I applaud and empower you to share those selfies if it works for you!), I feel better when I keep the majority of details about my physical form private.

cozy-at-home

I also stopped teaching yoga. This was a hard decision. I love yoga asana, and for many years I dreamed of being an inspiring teacher to others. Although yoga is about SO much more than the physical practice, it’s hard to balance that deeper meaning with students’ desire for a sweaty workout. Being a yoga teacher in this era often means leaning more on the physicality than the spirituality. That just didn’t jive with my desire to be less physically active as I repaired and renewed.

Another reason I took a step back: As I embraced real recovery and all it entails, standing on display in front of a room of people began to sound… not great. Actually, it sounded terrifying and awful. It made me feel ALL the nervous feels. So I swapped my leggings for harem pants, and I covered up my crop tops, but I still wasn’t comfortable — so I took a breather. Now, when I have a challenging time feeling at peace in my body, I don’t have to deal with the added stress of doing so in a public way. It’s a big relief.

It is my hope that once I’ve had some time to settle into a more loving and nurturing place with my physical self, I will step back into the role of the teacher. And when I do, I know I will share the lessons I’ve learned with kindness and compassion.

There is one final way I’ve stopped putting my body on display: I largely ignore my physical appearance when I’m alone. I still enjoy getting dressed up for an occasional night out, but when I’m home I try to ignore my physical form in favor of my emotional, spiritual, and mental selves. I favor cozy sweaters, and sweatpants on the baggier side. I walk by mirrors without glancing at myself. In fact, I make a conscious effort not to look at my reflection at all once I’m home for the evening.

I want to be clear: There is no “right” way to recover from an eating disorder, disordered eating, or body dissatisfaction. The key is to listen — to really listen — to your heart, and to honor what it is telling you. This is my truth. What is yours?

rochelle-bilow

Rochelle Bilow

Human being ❤️