Earlier today, I had my friend Kelly take photos of me doing tree pose after lunch because I was excited to show her my progress, and also, I was excited to visually see my progress myself as I have been practicing more yoga these days!
What I learned right away was that I could keep my balance in tree pose much longer! I feel like I’m becoming more rooted every day. Yoga has really helped me feel more comfortable in myself and ignited a spark in me to do more with my body, but overall, to come back to balance and to be mindful of what feels good to my mind and body.
What I learned next is why I felt compelled to share…
I said to Kelly and our other friend as we started driving home, “I look so healthy!”. I didn’t know what I fully meant until I started unearthing my past. And now that I’ve processed it, it’s really cool to see “looking healthy” take on a new meaning in my life.
In an ill mind, quite common for those still entrenched in an eating disorder, being told that they look “healthy” can be a trigger, as many of us learn that it can be synonymous with “fat”, and “fat” is the greatest fear for many struggling.
“Fat” of course is not the greatest fear. It can feel so. It’s a valid fear in a hurting brain.
The thing with eating disorders is that there is always underlying pain, discomfort, trauma, heartbreak, shame, etc. Worrying about becoming fat in recovery, which can come up because our bodies finally begin finding natural set points through proper nourishment, though valid, can sometimes be a surface level fear that conceals the root issues. I’d like to note that this fear may not be true for every single person in eating disorder recovery, but it’s certainly a common theme among many who seek recovery. No matter what layer or root you’re looking at it from, these are real and valid struggles.
Telling someone they look healthy is fairly normal and is especially a compliment to someone you may not have seen in a while. I also hear it every now and then in every day life. It seems like a normal comment in this culture. But at the same time, to ears that are in denial or struggling deeply, being complimented on a feature we feel insecure about, or being complimented on what we look like to someone else, even with good intentions, can trigger body image issues.
It’s been rewarding for me to as I let go of my past struggles to come to terms with the fact that 1) “healthy” is just a word and 2) the person saying I look healthy has good intentions and feels happy for me.
What is really beautiful and empowering to me today is that when I said that I looked healthy today, I meant that I look and feel healthy! And what matters more than what we see is how we truly feel inside. And I feel lighter. And more fulfilled. And happier.
This is healing.
Thank you to my friends for being part of my healing process today!!
Thank you to my heart for being open and willing enough to embrace this positive change. And thank you God for leading me to today and for never leaving me.
If you know someone who struggles with body image or has an eating disorder, please be mindful of your language when around them. Ask them what helps and if they have any things that would be helpful to avoid. Focus on the feelings instead of physical attributes. It matters. The battle is mental and emotional, and can sometimes show in more obvious ways on one’s body, but that’s not the whole battle. So be mindful. NEDA and Project HEAL have wonderful resources on how you can support a loved one.