“My body is a brilliant and resilient being that I can either choose to live in harmony with or live in war with. Just for today, I choose harmony.”
I’ve never done well with things changing. I like control, structure, and predictability. Recovery is none of those things. (Spoiler alert, I know). As I’ve been navigating this journey of recovery, just about everything has changed. One of the hardest changes is weight gain. Sure, it’s a necessary part of recovery, I get that. But, that doesn’t make it any easier. It is so hard to watch your body change into exactly what you don’t want it to be. These past few months I’ve been working really hard to accept my new recovery body. I know I’m not going to wake up one day and love this new body. Like everything in recovery, it’s going to take time. So for now, I’m learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Having a positive body image is not easy, especially with the way our world is. Everyone is so focused on the newest diet craze and always talking about losing weight. I decided to make a list of some of the things I have done to improve the way I think about myself. No matter who you are or where you are at in your journey, I hope these tips will help you like they have helped me.
1 – Get rid of scales and mirrors
Although scales and mirrors were not created to be negative, they tend to do more harm than good. Removing them from your environment removes the temptation to focus on your body.
2 – Wear comfortable clothes
Clothes play a huge part in positive body image. If you wear clothes that are too small or uncomfortable, it draws attention to the parts of your body you are trying not to focus on. When I wasn’t quite ready to go shopping for new jeans that fit, I wore leggings exclusively for weeks straight. For more about getting rid of clothes that don’t fit, check out my blog post from a few months ago called, “Keeping Sick Clothes Keeps You Sick.”
3 – Haircut!
Weight gain is often necessary for recovery. Instead of dwelling on the way your body is changing, find something positive you can change! Maybe you get a haircut, try a new makeup style, or get a new outfit. Find whatever it is that will give you that little extra confidence boost. When I got out of school for Christmas break, I decided to get 5 inches cut off my hair. I never expected that something so simple could make such a difference. I loved the change so much, that whenever I saw a picture of myself, it was the first thing I was drawn too.
4 – Yoga
I’ve mentioned this before, but yoga has been a huge part of my recovery. I first started yoga during my time at TK. Afterwards, I found a local yoga teacher and have only fallen more in love with it. Yoga helps me connect with my body and focus on the positive things it can do, instead of the negative. Even if you don’t think yoga is for you, give it a try! It’s a full hour where I am saying kind things to my body and feeling at peace with myself. Even on the worst body image days, I leave yoga feeling better than when I went in.
5 – Don’t play the comparison game
Eating disorders are all about comparison, even in recovery. The more your body changes, the more the eating disorder compares it to what your body once was. I often find myself looking at pictures from when I was sick. All that does is bring back the eating disorder voice that I’m working so hard to get rid of. Instead of dwelling on the comparisons, reframe those thoughts to something positive. When I find myself wishing for the body I once had, I think about how much stronger I am now. My body may be different, but everything else in my life is so much better. If you try to play the comparison game, you’re always going to lose.
I didn’t come up with this list on my own! So, shoutout to my friends, my favorite TK BHS, my treatment team, and my yoga instructor 🙂 Working on positive body image is a long process. You’re not going to wake up one day and love what you see. But that’s ok! Give yourself grace. Take it one day at a time and ask for support when you need it.
Your body is always changing. Appreciate what it is doing for you right now.
I’m proud of you. God loves you. You got this.