Thin Fit Healthy Happy A Mantra Gone Awry

Last week in therapy, my therapist asked me how I made the change from bingeing to anorexia... I explained how I had learned that exercising and starving could do the same things for me as bingeing and zoning out in front of the TV... To "help" me starve myself, I even repeated a self-generated mantra to refocus my attention on what I "wanted" whenever FOOD slipped into my brain... (Which happened often...) I still hear those words sometimes... "Thin, fit, healthy, happy"... I told my therapist that I wasn't sure how I had let the word THIN take precedence over all the others... She asked me what I thought. And shocker! I knew! :) I said I thought that becoming THIN would LEAD me to being fit and healthy and HAPPY... Wow...

Being thin... Losing weight... It's NOT a magic cure-all... It does NOT make one's life easier, or happier, or BETTER... If anything, in my pursuit of an ever-shrinking body, I only managed to further complicate my life. And while my body struggled on in spurts and stops and starts, my LIFE was draining away... Depression crept in... I set myself up for failure, and I FELT it... I was isolated. Trapped in my obsessions. Unable to choose to act as I once had done with abandon. It's a strange prison, an eating disorder... We, as prisoners, often view our own bars as of our own making... And in some ways, they are... But we didn't KNOW what we were asking for... We didn't KNOW that we were fencing ourselves in... We thought we were controling our lives. We thought we were showing self-discipline. Strength. Purpose. That we would be admired. Respected. And blame and shame would fall away. Oh the irony that the opposite occurred...

In middle school, I can remember reading the story about The Monkey's Paw... I am reminded that even when carefully crafted, planned, and plotted... We cannot know what we will get when we ask. On the other hand... The journey and experience of recovery have also brought lots of unexpected surprises... Rediscovered JOY... A patience and greater empathy for others. A feeling of connectedness. And yes, a falling away of shame. (A bit at a time, I'm shedding that monster...)

It's good to set goals and focus on what we want... But remember that even if we get what we think we want, it may not be what we NEED. ♥

Love,

Jen

So true! Yesterday at church I realized how uncomfortable it made me to be around thin, fashionably dressed young teenagers. I'm a college student. I shouldn't care about how middle-schoolers view me or let their mere presence make me feel so belittled. But it did. It made me realized, for one thing, how much it hurt to feel like an outsider when I was that age--chubby, unpopular, unattractively dressed, not seeming to have it all together with the cool nonchalance of the other kids I saw. I guess I thought being thin would make me feel better, more confident... would lead to all those other characteristics that the kids who felt comfortable in their own skin seemed to have. It didn't. I still feel just as uncomfortable in my own skin, just as much of an outsider, just as awkward, unloved, judged, and... fat. I totally relate to thinking that losing weight is the answer and finding that it takes you down a different path than you expected!

Thank you for this Jen. It is so true, and a perfect example of how the ED can kidnap our minds before we even know it! Also, I think anyone who has had, or has an ED will agree that there is NO weight that will be 'OK'..there is always another level to reach for, and it only leads you closer to possible death.
You are a true inspiration! I know that you are still working on things, and the progress you have made, while amazing, doesn't mean that it was easy, or that you 'feel' great all the time...YET! Thinking of you friend....HUGS..Jan ♥

wow so true. we do not know how fenced in we become with ED. it controls us.

thin soooo does nor equal happy. it doesnt especailly when you cant even see how thin you are or what you look like ( because of ED) . thin so does not equal happy. it soo is the oopposite of the truth. the thinner you want to get the more miserable you become. and then the counting calories and exercsie compulsion--well now who can be happy with that prison. it takes on a life form of its own. magazines promising us that well be happy if we are thin, oh they are such lies. such blatant bold freakin lies ...

happy is healthy; healthy is happy...

happy is so much more then a dress size--it does come from within and if you dont have it--well no matter how thin you get or even if you do reach that size--it will not make you happy. happy comes at any size. and does not go away with weight gain or a pimple...

love
maureen

Well said, Maureen! And yes, Jen you are such an inspiration to all of us and I love that you continue to write and share with us your recovery journey

thanks molly!

I inspired this post did I jen?

I have always associated being fit and thin with Healthy. Its hard to change the thinking pattern of something I have believed all these years. What I see in the mirror doesn't equal happiness for me. I want to accept where Im at but finding it harder every time I see my reflection.
I am TRYING to ACCEPT what I see. It seems to change from time to time when I see that reflection.

I know weight or size does not equal happiness.Maureen said it well society as a whole has brain washed us to think that being thin will make us happy. It does take us down another path.

yes grace–im glad you bright that up–society DOES brainwash us into thinking thin is happy and it is a lie.
how does counting every calorie and killing ourselves in workouts to get to a size --that is never good enough make us happy?
it really does not and when i feel better( i had a VERY bad stomach ailment recently on top of my regular stomach problem) so ive been so ill recently --but i will write a post on this topic cuz i think it needs to be brought to light. for every one here, and for our sanity. it needs to be discussed what lies the media wants us to beleive we dont have to give in, we dont have to be brainswashed…

thanks for seing that grace–as you are really doing well…

love
maureen

Grace,

:) We can't look for happiness in our bathroom mirrors, dear friend... ♥ Appreciating our bodies... ACCEPTING our bodies... I have great hope that these things will come in time. In the mean time, may we continue to seek to know and love ourselves, whatever package we come wrapped in. ♥

Love!

Jen

wow waht a great mantr---WE CANNNOT FIND HAPPINESS IN OUR MIRRORS .

wow this should be the theme for this site!

i think i ll use that as one of my many mantras, thanks jen...

thanks, Maureen! :)

i have a friend who is heavy. she has always been heavy- even as a child. she is active, eats healthfully, and is happy.
the thing that strikes me the most about this friend is that she oozes sexiness. i don't think there's a human- man OR woman- that doesn't do a double-take when she is present. it's her attitude. she dresses very nicely, not trashy- but definitely trendy and sexy. she holds her head high and commands positive attention.
when in her presence, people feel happy. she is confident, funny, loving, beautiful, and sexy.
i don't believe that anyone sees her and leads with the thought that she is heavy. what people see is radiance and happiness.
this friend of mine is truly one of the most beautiful people i have ever known. she accepts her body-type and works WITH it in a way few women can.... she is an example to us all...a torch-bearer...a woman embracing her curves, loving life, who is truly happy...and sexy as hell. :)
namaste
xoxo

Amy...I have known women such as this as well...a great example of self-confidence and a lover of life, I would bet!

I also wanted to add to this great string....that it's not only that we are NOT what we see in the mirror...it's that we don't evaluate our worthiness based on our weight, our shape, OR what we eat. That last one is, I think a hard one for many people..when the eating disorder becomes a way of staying 'clean', in terms of maintaining our virtue by eating only organic or 'healthy' foods, or what seems acceptable in the moment. I have always seen a religious component to an ED...it can easily become our religion..but in a very deadly way. Does this really serve you in any way? I can remember thinking that if I never ate sugar or white flour again (a very long time ago in the midst of my ED), I would somehow be 'good'. The truth? I nearly died trying to be 'good'.
Something to think about...love you all!! ♥

yes, jan---
weight, shape, what i seeeeee in the mirror... all very powerful links in my cryptic chain....but NOTHING compares to the strength and importance of the *WHAT i eat* link. no matter how good or how badly i'm feeling about any of the other, WHAT i eat is ALWAYS monstrously worrisome... and is VERY MUCH MY RELIGION.
sometimes when i try to think of my life without all my oddities [like times in the past---- or perhaps an ED-free future], i continue to find it difficult to see my life without my religion of eating the nirvana of foods...clean, organic, vegan, healthy, acceptable...blah blah fucking blah.
sigh. the long and winding road.....
namaste-
xoxo

I get it friend...one step at a time..you CAN and WILL move beyond that....I believe that with all of my heart...NEVER GIVE UP!! HUGS..Jan ♥

Funny... I never thought about the perfectionistic thinking as being a sort of religion... I think you're right! In trying to be "good", we tend to think we have to be PERFECT. ALL the time. Any indiscretion, although normal, feels like a failure. But I guess the religion aspect leads me to think about what we're trying to accomplish with these attempts... Are we trying to elevate ourselves? Even if only in our own minds? ♥ Are we trying, in some misguided way, to SAVE ourselves? To be and look and seem perfect when we really feel so very low? :0/ Religion to me, (and I hope I don't offend anyone...), is all about feeling safe and connected... Do our eating disorders do that? Well, no... They endanger us and disconnect us from everyone and everything. But the false promises Ed whispers... Those promises ARE of safety and connection... (sigh...) It continues to unravel. ;0)

Much love,

Jen

jen, skywriter---
i'd not thought of my perfect-food-worship as religion until jan mentioned it a while ago. the way i seek divinity and penance through food is VERY religious.
i understand your idea of religion: safety and connection. i think i, however, view my religious food components as ways to be a *better* person... very much like jan's description.
safety, connection, divinity, *good*... yes, the unravelling continues....
namaste-
xoxo

Jen and Amy...this is exactly what I mean..and it's not uncommon with an ED.
For myself, I could see the 'religion' aspect, and it did have a lot to do with needing to elevate myself in my own eyes, due to how negative my view was of myself really. For some it does go beyond how they view themselves, because the need to appear clean, whole, virtuous, etc. before others is so strong. Remember, most, if not all of this is subconscious, so not at all coming from vanity....love to you both...Jan ♥

no no, not at all from a vanity perspective.
it's all about my personal redemption in light of my desperate self-loathing... uuuuugh
namaste-
xo

I agree... Not vanity. ♥ If anything, I was simultaneously trying to force myself into seeing myself as a better person, and trying to earn, or deserve, others' love... Sad that I thought I had to do this... Sadder that I still carry that misconception. ;0)

Love,

Jen