There’s something aboout this time of year. As a person who notoriously hates *stuff*, I find myself mildly dismayed at how many things I just want now that December is here and everyone around me seems to be buy-buy-buying. Sometimes I think I want to fight the urge to get in the gift giving spirit, but this year I decided that instead of trying to convince my friends that seven pairs of underwear is the perfect amount to own (if you do laundry once a week) I will put a little energy into supporting businesses and artists that I think are cool. Is this me making lemonade out of my mental lemons? I think perhaps so!
Here are a few lovely things I’ve run across that I am certain at least one of your dear ones would adore.
- Any lingerie from Bluestockings Boutique. I am not a typically a lingerie type of femme (remember that whole seven pairs of underwear thing?) but I LOVED seeing all of these gorgeous things modeled by such an exciting gender spectrum of humans. A few of the bras are advertised as being specifically good choices for trans women (I believe because they are cut to fit broader shoulders) and I love that. The way the world is shifting to be more inclusive before my very eyes pleases me to no end. I might just buy my first fancy bra in celebration.
- This “no wrong way to have a body” tote by Rachele Cateyes makes me so SO happy. Rachele makes suuuuuper awesome work in general, and this is just one of many choices for body positive accessorizing!
- These Life Lessons Enamel Pins remind us of life’s little pleasures. I simply cannot resist.
- Um, a Thighs As Big as My Dreams Crewneck?! Yes fucking please and thankyouverymuch.
- Heidi Swanon’s cookbook, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel is simply gorgeous. In it, Heidi shares 125 recipes along with photographs inspired by her life and travels both near (Northern California) and far (Italy, Morocco, France, India, and Japan). Each page tells a new adventure, and the resulting recipes never fail to please.
- As a person who lives in close quarters with her partner, I know this I Need to be Alone door hanger would come in super handy. No matter how in love, its always nice to have a polite way to tell folks to leave you the heck alone, am I right?
- How many times have you shared a brainstorm sesh with a friend over a meal and reached for a scrap of paper to jot their brilliance down only to find gum wrappers and soiled paper towels? These Good Idea Napkins are a perfect solution to that age old problem.
- Because I hate stuff, especially wasteful stuff, I freaking LOVE a Titanium Spork. Yeah, I take it camping, but I also take it whenever I eat food on the run, because the thought of a plastic utensil in a landfill fills me with unicorn tears and broken hearts.
- Lastly, I can’t wait to proudly brag about my gainz with this Vegan Pizza Strong Tank. I received this one as a gift myself, and I couldn’t be more pleased!
Now, in case you prefer some good old fashioned reading recommendations to material gifts, here is my crop of November links!
Body Image, Self-esteem, and ED recovery:
Physical and Mental Health:
Just for Fun:
What’s on youuuuur Holiday wish list?
U.S. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I want to say a few things to my non-gender specific siblings out there in eating disorder recovery:
- It’s okay to eat. You don’t have to do anything to justify your eating. It is okay to be a person amongst people, enjoying the food.
- It’s also okay to have limits. From pushy relatives who make comments about your body, to pushy friends who goad you to eat more pumpkin pie than your stomach has room for, you can draw a line. “Here is my boundary” you can say. You can stick to your boundary with love. Anyone you disappoint by having boundaries is likely not worth keeping around.
- You don’t have to let what other people are doing, eating, and saying touch you. Draw up an emotional shield if this is a triggering time for you. You are safe, you are protected, and I know what it’s like to be afraid on a day that is supposed to be about gratitude and I know what it’s like to overcome it. You’ve got this. I am here for you.
- Exercise shan’t be punishment for what you consume on this day, or any day. Think of your food as nourishment, and fuel and on this day, acknowledgement for this stolen land we are partying on. Don’t think of it in terms of burpees and deadlifts and sprints. Exercise is for the exaltation of release. It is for the celebration of being in your body and seeing what your body can do. Don’t make exercise something you do to be a dick to yourself. Long term, you will appreciate yourself from refraining from that mindset, I promise.
It is my sincere hope, that you are with friends and family that make you feel loved and excited to be alive. It is my wish that you can find the perfect amount of full, and that guilt and shame won’t be prominent emotions around your meals. As I’ve said a million times, recovery is about progress- not perfection. Pat yourself on the back for successes and take note of the hard moments and use them as information.
I believe in you.
This was written for all people that have struggled with food and body image. It is for those who have had diagnosed anorexia or bulimia, sure, but it is also for the compulsive exerciser, the emotional eater, the chronic dieter, the person with a constant loop of mean body self talk. I use “eating disorder recovery” in the loosest sense of the word. This was written simply for those who have added stress around food and body during the holiday time. I love you all, and together, we’ve got this.
For the rest of my life, I will consider myself to be in eating disorder recovery. Although it has been years since I actively practiced any of the behaviors that made me categorically “sick”, the first thing that happens when I am tired, sad, or stressed, is that I notice myself having shitty dialogue with myself about the way I look. My brain remains very quick to judge my body, and although I do not accept the crap it comes up with, it’s still there. Holidays drive me batty for this reason.
This Thanksgiving I watched my dialogue around food and body rise and fall. I made a big and beautiful pile of greens for the potluck I attended and I felt happy and positive and strong. I arrived to my party and saw a gigantic table full of piles of food and I felt incredibly anxious and tired. I acknowledged the anxiety was still there (YES, after all these years, after all my skillz, after all my self love and teaching my clients to do the same) and I told myself that I could eat what I wanted, without emotional repercussion. I made myself a plate of food fit for the awesome weight lifting vegan lady that I was. I ate until I was full, and then I ate a little more. Dessert came and I had pie, because I wanted some, and because my brain told me I shouldn’t and I was so angry at the shoulds that I felt I had to. I felt sad. My stomach was not stoked. I was simultaneously proud of myself for enjoying the food with my friends, and pissed off that it was difficult to deal with my over full-ness in stride.
When I looked around after the meal my friends and I enjoyed, I saw that most people were really full. They were laying down, and watching movies, and doing puzzles, and farting tofurkey farts. No one looked sad about their fullness. In fact, an hour or so later the whole cohort went out to get pints of coconut ice cream. It boggled my mind. My friends ate as much as me and were in fact, more than fine. They were happy! Comfortable and hanging out and stoked.
That’s the thing about eating disorder brain. It takes you right out of your life and into your head. All through the meal I was only able to be half present because of the negotiating I was doing. ME. Been-in-recovery-for-a-long-ass-time-ME. Damn, that sucks.
The difference between in-the-sickness-recovery and in-the-wellness recovery is my ability to notice what’s going on and my ability to make changes going forward. I plan to do Christmas differently, because it is in my best interest to fucking love the people I’m with instead of having an argument with myself that no one will ever win. Here are a few tried and true methods of mental wellness that I am happy to remind myself of.
1. Make a gratitude list
Gratitude saves my ass on a constant and regular basis, and is the simplest thing that I often forget to do. Taking ten minutes to write things down that you’re grateful for straight up changes your disposition. I am spending my Christmas with my family first, and my partner’s family second. I plan to take a moment to not only write down everyday things that I appreciate, but also things I appreciate about all the people I am seeing. At the core of holidays is the desire for togetherness, so I am focusing on the people I am surrounding myself with.
2. Participate in whatever exercise doesn’t fuck your shit up.
Move your body, and keep your goals in mind. (If you are in recovery for anorexia and underweight, do not do high intensity interval training, for example.) When I am anxious, the first thing I want to do is go for a run. I allow myself that luxury because it doesn’t mess with my recovery overall, but I also take time to stretch and breathe deeply when I am done. The goal is to do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that you are on your body’s team. That might be walking, it might be yoga, it might be lifting, it might be a sprint. Do what you need to do, but do it because you’re trying to love yourself, not come out on top of a calorie calculation.
3. Tell someone
So much of what keeps people eating disordered, body dysmorphic, or self-hating is secrecy and shame. Because we live in a terribly fucked up society, chances are someone you know is struggling in the same way. Opening your mouth gives you the opportunity to support and be supportive.
4. Be assertive- with yourself and with others.
If someone is pressuring you to eat more or less, don’t take that shit. You are the boss of you, and you don’t need to be afraid to say so. For those concerned with how to gracefully decline more when you’re at capacity, a simple “No, thank you!” is totally great.
If you are pressuring yourself to eat more or less, that’s another opportunity to take charge. Do what makes your body feels best, do what makes you feel most connected to yourself and your socializing, and if you catch a mean thought, just let yourself marvel at it. “Who would say such mean bullshit?!” you can think. Then have a good laugh. Not you! No way, no how.
Please be kind to yourself and your body this holiday season. Let yourself talk out your internal dialogue, be a listening ear, and remember that I am just an email away. The chaos will end, just like it does every year, and when it is all done, you’re still going to be standing. How cool is that?!