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Anorexia Recovery: How food changed for my kids

The best intuitive eaters on the planet are kids. My job as a mom is to protect my children’s innate ability to feed themselves well. I wasn’t very good at this until the last year and a half while going through eating disorder recovery. It turns out that anorexia not only affected me, but also my children because I was super controlling of their food and portions. I watched their sugar, fat, and carb intakes; was hyper aware of fruit and veggie consumption; had strict rules about treats; managed snacks; and controlled how much/little food went on to their plates.

That was a lot of work, and really, in the scheme of culture totally normal for a parent wanting their kids to eat healthy. However, it caused stress at meal times. My kids weren’t good eaters–picky, whiny, and adverse to trying new things; everyone seemed hungry all the time;

When I went into eating disorder recovery, I had to relearn how to feed my family and reteach my kids what it really means to eat well. We follow the Ellen Satter Institute principles, which center on getting kids back to their intuitive ability to eat. Do kids need structure? Yes. Do they need to be hyper controlled? No. The nutshell of how this works:

~ Parents choose what and when kids eat

~ Kids choose if and how much/little they’ll eat.

As a mom I had to learn how to:

  1. Give my kids lots of choices of all the nutrients (including sugar, fat and carbs)
  2. Pull back on controlling what my kids put on their plates
  3. Teach my kids how to tune in with their bodies

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What this looks like in our house

We have zero food rules. All nutrients are treated equal, which means ice cream, cookies, and treats have equal value as fruit, veggies, and whole grains. When we don’t put food on a pedestal to be earned or treated as the holy grail of all things yummy, the interest and desire to eat the treats becomes more even keel.

There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food nor “healthy” and “unhealthy.” We have play food and serious food–all of it good and healthy if our bodies are hungry and asking for them.

We have a zero-pressure environment at meal times. All the choices are put on the table  and then we tune in with our bodies. “What sounds good? Maybe start with a little and see how you feel–if you want more, have more. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. Maybe try a different choice on the table.”

No one has to eat everything on their plate. You don’t have to  try anything if you don’t want to; you can try everything if you want to. Decide what sounds good to you and eat that. If a plate of cookies sounds good… go for it. If your body doesn’t feel good later, we’ll talk about it and see if maybe next time we try less cookies in combo with another choice like chicken or fruit. Maybe our body would like that better.

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What mealtimes look like

Breakfast:

Eat whatever sounds good. Sean typically eats toaster waffles w/syrup or peanut butter; sometimes he’ll have an egg too, if he’s in the mood.

Haley usually eats one or more of the following with a bowl of chocolate ice cream on the side:

  • 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Leftovers from dinner
  • Bagel and cream cheese
  • Bacon if it’s freshly cooked

Yeah. That’s right. Sometimes her breakfast is a bowl of ice cream with bacon on the side. Crazy? From a cultural perspective, yes. Biologically speaking, though, her body is reading and absorbing fat, calcium, Vitamin D, sugar and protein–all necessary nutrients to get her metabolism and brain up and running in the morning.

Lunch

Both kidlets get an apportioned amount of dollars  per month in their hot-lunch account. Each day they pick what sounds good–either the hot lunch choice, as per the monthly menu hanging in our kitchen, or whatever sounds good for home lunch. Home lunch will range from dinner leftovers to mac and cheese to a bologna sandwich. They make their own lunches with minor assistance from me. Once in a great while, depending on what’s happening, I will make lunch for them and they are over the moon.

Since ditching the food rules, the kids choose home lunch more often than hot lunch (averaging hot lunch about twice per week).

Snacks

We have a snack shelf in our pantry. They pack their home lunches from that shelf and have free access to the shelf whenever their bodies say “I’m hungry.” After school, they do have to have their snack eaten by 4:15 so they have appetites for dinner later.

I try to keep a bowl of “easy fruit” on the table at all times– grapes, cherries, blueberries–which I refresh every couple of days. Sometimes I switch to carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes. The whole family will graze on these as we’re coming and going through out the week.

Every night we have an optional “last snack of the day” between 8 and 9pm. Sometimes this is something as simple as string cheese or something off the snack shelf or it could be  more involved, like a hot dog or quesadilla. It just depends on the activity we had during the evening. No one needs to go to bed hungry, and, in fact, we find we sleep better when our bodies have fuel for the work it does while we sleep.

Dinner

Dinnertime is where intuitive eating really takes charge. Lots of choices and no pressure. Here’s a visual of what last week’s dinners looked like:

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Monday: Pizza Chicken; arugula salad with the toppings (mandarin oranges, strawberries) separate in case someone wanted fruit but no lettuce; whipped cream (for the strawberries if you want); Go-gurt, Jello, and chocolate pudding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday: My husband cooked Steak & Veggie Kabobs; rice; arugula salad with tomatoes; sliced strawberries. Not much else for choices that night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday: Broccoli Chicken; rice; baked beans, leftover popcorn from snack time; applesauce; cheese and crackers. This night was a total jackpot on the choices! Haley sampled a little of everything; Sean loaded up on cheese and crackers, baked beans, and a little broccoli chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup; grilled cheese sandwiches; grapes; cherries; pickles. There was also ice cream, but I kept that in the freezer with expressed permission to grab some if desired. Sean’s baseball game had been cancelled due to rain, so we had a rare night at home! I took full advantage of the time by making something a little more time consuming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday: Sloppy Joes; ABC Salad (arugula, bacon, and cheddar cheese); grapes ‘n’ strawberry salad; Spongebob Squarepants fruit snacks; Chips Ahoy. Need I say more here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday: Pizza night! Forgot to take a picture.

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Sunday: Spaghetti Mac w/cheese; chocolate pudding; Jello; grapes and cherries; Go-gurt. I was running low on groceries that day and kind of made up the pasta dish. It was essentially elbow macaroni with meat sauce and shredded cheddar.

It took several months to find a new rhythm and sometimes we run into hiccups if our routine is thrown off, but removing the rigidity and rules (yet still keeping structure) has changed my kids for the better! They eat a variety of foods, including trying more new things; meal times are fun and relaxed; there’s no more begging for treats and snacks; they’re learning how to listen and respond to their own bodies. Now that they’ve reconnected to their intuition, food is fun, nourishing, and enjoyable as it was meant to be!

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No Longer Divided: Loving the LGBTQ Community

I grew up believing it wasn’t okay to be homosexual or bisexual. I had no idea what transgender was until a few years ago. I confess I am still learning the intricacies of what “being trans” really means. I assumed, though, that transgender probably wasn’t okay either, according to the Christian doctrine in which I was raised.

A few years ago I noticed what I had learned in my Christian faith wasn’t matching the feelings in my heart. I was hearing that living as LGBTQ is against God’s will and truth, but I was feeling God’s grace, mercy, and love is applicable to everyone. I’ve sat back for several years now, watching, listening, reading, praying, trying to sort out the confusion within myself. I’ve kept quiet on the matter believing that adding my voice to such a divisive subject only helped widen the chasm between the two sides– it’s right, it’s wrong. It’s sin, it’s not sin. They deserve, they don’t deserve. I’ve seen the Bible verses and analyses for both sides of the topic. I’ve also learned in my own life nothing about God or His word is as clear cut as it appears.

I’ve tried on “hate the sin, love the sinner.” While it seemed to make sense on the surface, it didn’t fit my heart either. To hate a sin means I have to judge something as sinful. It is not my place to judge something as sinful let alone rally around my hate of it, because I am sinful all the damn time. To hate someone else’s sin makes me a judgmental hypocrite. This quote also asks me to put conditions on my love. “I love you, BUT…”  I can’t love that way; I don’t want to be loved that way.

So, I did what I always do when I am confused. I turn to Jesus. What does He have to say to me about the issue: “A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you.”

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When I look at Jesus, he never threw anyone’s sin in their face. He loved people–radically–despite their sins. He healed them. He talked to them. He ate with them. He stood up for them. He never shamed or condemned people for their sin. Jesus didn’t avoid or withhold respect from people who were seen as immoral or distasteful. He totally disregarded the lines of discrimination and segregation, going out of his way to be in the presence of and love folks who were seen as living “ungodly.” If being LGBTQ is sinful or a religious abhorrence, I Walk to the crosswould never know it by watching Jesus.

Secondly, I don’t need to wrestle with the question of whether being LGBTQ is sinful because it doesn’t actually matter. It’s not my job to decide if other people are sinning or how they are sinning.  The command is to love the same way He did. That’s it. No conditions.

I don’t yet fully understand what being LGBTQ means and what the culture looks like for different gender identities. I am in process of learning. But the Jesus kind of love doesn’t require me to understand. Radical love means I accept, honor, respect, protect, and support people even though something about their lives jolts my brain in a different way. While my brain might be challenged my heart isn’t.

My heart hurts when I see the suicide rates for transgender teens; hear stories of families kicking a child out of the home because of his/her sexual orientation; sense cold tension between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters because of gender conflict. My heart breaks when I hear of churches who either won’t welcome or welcome-with-conditions people of the LGBTQ community. Putting conditions on someone’s welcome into a church is a side door to discrimination. Partial acceptance is 100% hurtful to anyone, including Jesus, searching for a fully embraced relationship.

I believe every person has a right to live proudly, safely, and equally with dignity as who they identify to be. That’s just good humanity. As a Jesus follower, I get to offer a special kind of love in addition to all that. I see my faith as pathway to loving LGBTQ lives, not an inhibitor.

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For me as a Christian, to tell someone it’s wrong to be LGBTQ and/or to hatefully chastise them for living what’s normal for them would be no worse than someone telling me it’s wrong to identify myself as a daughter of God and/or to hate on me when I pray to or write about God.  I love my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and fully support them in who they are because God does. I believe He loves them and holds them close. I believe He is grieved by the hate, discrimination, and rejection they face in our world, especially by the church. LGBTQ folks are adopted and adored children of God just as I am. Their desires are the same: to be in relationship and to find happiness. There is no greater happiness than feeling the full embrace of radical love.

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My friend sent me two links to insightful, enlightening, and articulate perspectives from transgender young people, one male (Liam Posovich) and one female (Nicole Maines). I encourage you to listen with an open mind and really hear what they’re saying. My heart was absolutely moved.

Maines:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nicole-maines-tedx_us_57360103e4b060aa781a22a3

Posovich:

 

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Have scale, will destroy

One of the symptoms of an eating disorder, or even disordered habits, is an obsession with the bathroom scale.

Almost like a drug, I craved weighing myself everyday, multiple times a day. I would weigh myself in the buff, first thing in the morning; I would weigh again in the middle of the day (often to my horror weighing more because of gravity and wearing clothing); sometimes I would weigh myself at night to confirm whether or not I had restricted enough. If my weight was up, then I made a firm decision to exercise and restrict calories even more the next day.

I had to weigh myself. I had to make sure I was keeping in control. That my weight was either staying the same or dropping lower. If I couldn’t weigh myself, I would wring my hands with anxiety, swearing up and down that I was gaining weight by the minute, until I could step on the scale again. It was only when I saw the numbers that I could quasi-relax. Even if the number was up, I knew what I could do to control the number back to where I wanted it.

Right before I went into anorexia recovery, my husband removed my scale from the house. I was pissed. I went through anxious withdrawals, tears, cravings, and a lot of anger. It was two months before my anxiety about weighing myself began to fade. In recovery, my therapy team took “blind weight” measurement (they saw the number, I didn’t) to track my progress away from death and back into healthy range. Once I was out of danger, they stopped weighing me.

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve seen my weight, and I don’t plan on ever knowing how much I weigh. My doctor knows, and she is the only person who needs to know.

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AnneRecently my friend Anne and I had a long conversation about body image, weight, Weight Watchers, food struggles, and scales. At the mention of getting rid of my scale, Anne immediately declared she could never get rid of hers. As we dug deeper into the conversation, her anxiety about not being able to track her weight revealed a lack of trust in her own body–a fear that if she couldn’t weigh herself then surely her body would would creep up in pounds.

Anne’s fear mirrored my own past fears. It’s a fear our culture struggles with as a whole: if we don’t keep track of our weight, then we’ll get fat and that is bad. Shameful. Unhealthy. Terrible.

Thing is, the scale doesn’t make us fat or keep us thin. It’s simply a combination of metal and plastic and glass and numbers. The scale has no real power, but we tend to give it the power to destroy our body trust, sense of beauty, and self-confidence.  We hear all the time, “the number on the scale doesn’t define you.” Yet we cling to the scale, allowing our feelings and belief in ourselves go up and down with the numbers.

No one needs a scale. If you have a health condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, that depends on you maintaining certain body weight, I have three points:

  1. Your doctor can weigh you.
  2. You can measure blood pressure and blood sugar without a scale.
  3. Your body talks to you. You don’t need a scale to tell you that you don’t feel good or that you feel amazing. The way your clothes fit will let you know whether or not your body shape is changing. You don’t need a scale to tell you that your pants don’t fit or that your shirt looks fabulous.

You can trust your body, friend.

Scale smash 2Anne and I didn’t want the scale to have power over our bodies or minds anymore. So we destroyed our scales. (Turned out my husband had hidden our scale in the deep recesses of our garage, so thankfully I had one to smash to smithereens!)  Anne and I reclaimed power, confidence, beauty, and trust back within our selves by turning the rubble of metal, glass and plastic into art.

It was an empowering, freeing, and cathartic morning. I Scale Smash 1highly recommend that everyone do it! People have been smashing their scales around the country in an effort to raise awareness about eating disorders and negative body image for a while. In fact, check out this story behind the Southern Smash, which is a non-profit organization annual event.

 

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Mine is on the left; Anne’s is on the right. Our scales are unrecognizable. Glass, wires, and gizmos from the scales turned into colorful and meaningful messages from within ourselves–something far more valuable than a scale could ever express.

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No More Secrets–Released!

Juicy title, huh? All the credit goes to my pal Julie Steck who is releasing her memoir today titled, No More Secrets. *cue applause and high-pitched whistles*

I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy and know for a fact this book is worth the read. But before you decide to invest your precious time and money, why don’t you get to know the author a little bit? Julie was a good sport in an interview with me recently. Releasing a book is a serious deal in a writer’s life, but not so serious that I won’t pry into an author’s thoughts about mermaids, breakfast for dinner, and who would be invited to a red-carpet, Hollywood-style book release party. Enjoy!

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L: You wrote a book… with pages, chapters, front and back covers. I mean this thing has a copyright page; it’s legit! How does it feel to say “I wrote a book.”?

J: You know, writing a book is something I’ve dreamed of for years. I’ve imagined how I would feel to actually be an author. I am stoked and honored about releasing this book and sharing this journey.

L: What does your writing space look like?

J: My writing space looks like my bedroom. It’s a secluded space, two closable doors away from the chaos of my living room, so it’s quiet. I can sit on the couch with my laptop or pen and paper (which is how I start every first draft) and write.

L;  Okay, let’s pretend we’re at the park with our kids and my youngest comes up to us all, “Mama, I’m hungry and hoooot.  Can we go now?”  I tell her we’ll leave in two minutes—which is exactly the amount of time you have to tell me what your book is about before my kid melts down. Go.

J: Ok, so I became a Christian at three years old and always grew up in church. I never really had a dark period where I turned away from my faith, but I never really knew the Julie before Jesus. I mean, what exactly did He save me from? Did I have an “old self” at three years old? And why do I still struggle with sin? As I look back over my life, the stupid and sinful things I’ve done, I didn’t do before Jesus. I did them knowing Jesus.

Well, a few years ago, some friends of ours got tangled up in an affair. I never saw it coming and it really rocked me. I realized that if they could fall, so could I. So I began to pray that God would show me areas in my life that needed to be dealt with so I didn’t fall into the same trap.

I found out God answers those prayers! He showed me alright. He unearthed my buried secrets, you know, the ones I didn’t want anyone to see, and He asked me to deal with them. In the end, He showed me His true, undeserving grace and my desperate need of it!

L:  What’s your favorite zoo animal and why?

J: I think meerkats have to be my favorite. They are so cute, seem to have big personalities and I love how there’s always someone on the lookout for predators.

L: Fill in the blank: “If you are someone who___________________, then you should totally read my book.”

J: Works in ministry

L: If you had a whole day to yourself and unlimited funds, what would you do with your day?

J: I would drop off my kids at a friend’s house, and jump in the truck with my husband for a day in town. We would eat lunch at Babe’s Chicken, go for a walk at the walking trail, then go see an action/suspense movie in the theater. By then we’ll be hungry again and will sit down at Cheesecake Factory where we’ll order some appetizers for dinner and Oreo Dream cheesecake for dessert.  Then it’s time to drive back home.

L: What scares you the most about people reading your story?

J: I hope people don’t read the first four chapters, judge me for sharing, and not read the rest of the story where God showed up and taught me His grace. Also, I can be nervous that the people who know me will think differently about me, now that they see what I’ve struggled with or they’ll try to figure out who the different people are that I refer to in the story.

L:  If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

J: Even though I don’t drink coffee (please don’t hit the screen!) I would have to say Beth Moore. I did several studies of hers when I was newly married and eager to know God more. I have always wanted to tell her how much her Bible studies meant to me. I actually had a dream that this book paved the way for me to be able to do that. I don’t know that that will happen, but it made me smile!

L: What was the hardest part about writing your story?

J: Chapters 2-5 were extremely hard to write and even harder to edit. My first draft wasn’t nearly as vulnerable, but my editor repeatedly said, “This is specific, yet vague. Can you expound anymore on this?” In my mind I thought, “No!! Being more specific means I have to tell the whole story and I’d rather hide behind all I learned rather than share that!”

After I prayed about it, I felt led to share the whole story. So I went back and included the specifics about how I struggled and was tempted to think about a man other than my husband. I included the specifics of my past that can haunt me, and the shame that rose up inside me. I didn’t add those details to air out all my dirty laundry for all to see, but to point to what Christ has saved me from.  When Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand throne of God,” it means that because Jesus went through with the Cross, I don’t have to carry my shame around anymore. It died with Christ and now I am a new creation.  

So my hope is that being specific connects my journey with others better than if I was vague and you were left to guess what I was talking about. If my journey can help one other person, it’s worth it.

L: Do you believe in Big Foot? What about mermaids?

J: No. Only in the movies.

L:  What’s the best part of your book?

J: Of course…all the juicy details! No, seriously, my favorite part is chapter 6. After I’ve taken everything out of my trunk, and dealt with my fear issues, I begin to seek a faith void of fear. In this chapter, I describe my relationship with my grandparents while I was growing up. It was such a special one! As a kid, when I walked through their door, I became the most important person in the world to them. They were never too busy or tired to spend time with me. But 25 years have past since then and my grandmother has gone to be with the Lord and my grandfather has advanced dementia. I discovered so much of my identity as a person was wrapped up in them. So as their influence in my life faded away, I felt this void in my heart, like I didn’t even know who I was without them. One day on a hike with my husband, I felt the Lord ask me to let Him fill that void now. Talk about a tough hike!

Also in that chapter is the story of our trip to Kenya and how God used a heron on the Indian Ocean to teach me that He sees me, and knows when I sit and when I stand. Oh, it’s my favorite chapter!

L:  No More Secrets sounds really juicy. How did you come up with that title?

J: It actually just hit me one evening while I was blow drying my hair. The original title was Out of the Shadows and into the Light, but that just didn’t have the zing I wanted. No More Secrets will grab your attention!

L: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

J: I’d have to say squirrel-n-dumplings my oldest cooked up. It’s one of those things I never knew I’d do as a mom!

L:  Was there anything unexpected that happened in the process of writing, editing, or creating the book?

J: I think the whole journey was unexpected! I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never envisioned this topic would be my debut!

L: How do you feel about breakfast for dinner?

J: Hang on while I clean up the bowls of oatmeal on the table from dinner….! Breakfast for dinner is a regular at our house because I love breakfast food, but I’m not a morning person. It’s really hard for me to cook a big breakfast first thing, so I like to serve it for dinner, that way I’m not grumpy when I cook.

L:  What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your story?

J: As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be tempted. Often this temptation comes in the form of what we thought we could never do. Temptation itself is not sin, but temptation is not something to take lightly or think we are strong enough to handle. It wants to destroy us!

I love my husband’s illustration I share in the book about living life in a round room. A round room has no corners. Everything must be brought to the center and dealt with. It’s much easier to handle difficult issues when we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

This topic isn’t talked about much in the Christian community, especially when it comes to thinking too much about the opposite sex. That’s almost taboo. My prayer is that we can find the courage to talk about these issues and get them in the light. I see affairs affecting more and more families and it all starts in the mind. We have to figure out how to handle our thoughts and the temptations Satan sets for us, otherwise they turn into sin and eventually death.

L:  Which do you fancy: paper and ink books or books on Nooks?

J: That depends. I love the feel of paper-back books and actually turning the pages. But, I like to read on my Kindle at night and load books on there when I travel.

L: If you were to have a red-carpet Hollywood book release party, who would you invite?

J: The cast from Anne of Green Gables.

L:  What else do you want people to know about you or your book?

J: I didn’t write this book to prove some point or be famous or make some top 10 list. I truly wrote this book because I felt God asked me to share my story. So I pray that this story can help someone realize a temptation they are facing and be able to overcome it with the victory of Christ.

L:  If God said he would oblige to answer only one question for you, what would you ask Him?

J: For there to be brownies and ice cream in Heaven!

Body Love Manifesto

 

Body trust–letting go of control that forces my body to fit into the shape it wasn’t designed to be. Rather, a harmonious flow between my body and me; cues and responses passed back and forth on the tides of intuition.

Body love– relaxed joy at what I see in the mirror and how I feel in my skin. Genuine comfort in the size, shape, and strength that make up my unique physique. Choices I make that take care of me. Deep belief that I am a beautiful being.

The world doesn’t agree with these things. It doesn’t know or encourage body love. It shames if my body is too big; it favors if my body is small. Work harder, longer, sweatier, or I won’t be good enough. Valuable. Beautiful. No matter how favorable I am, I could be better, smaller, fitter, healthier. Larger bodies are no good; smaller bodies are not good enough.

What’s so bad about living in a larger body? Why is a smaller body better? It doesn’t make sense that size even matters.

Fit and fresh and fun in any size is how we’re designed. What does fit mean anyway? Culture demands “health” be a certain size. But for me, that size does not apply. I move and breathe and sleep and eat in the home I’ve been given–this body of mine doesn’t fit what culture demands. And that’s okay. The world doesn’t have a say in what my body wants for me–it doesn’t get to say what healthy is for me.

Healthy means I find what feels good, eat what sounds good, and listen when my body says ‘I’m good’.

I don’t force or slam my body into shape. I love my body in strong, gentle movements. I notice each stretch, each breath, each movement it makes. I notice pleasure when something tastes good, smells good, feels good. Pleasure is a natural gift, a healthy sign that I am alive; a symptom of body love.

I find balance, focus, strength in pace with my body.  I flex intention with each breath in, I smile in gratitude with each breath out.

When my body talks, I listen. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full, I stop. When I’m tired, I rest. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m happy, I dance. When I’m stressed, I take a step back. When I’m angry, I choose my words wisely. When I’m injured, sick, or depressed, I slow down; I nourish my body, mind, and spirit gently and intuitively, trusting my body back to health.

No one knows my body better than me, except for the good Lord above, and He designed this body–my body–with intentional love. To be loved. To receive love. My body, so uniquely designed for me, thrives on food, grace, movement, and love. No one else gets to say what that looks like or feels like. There are no rules to follow. No lists of what I should and should not do. No foods that are allowed and not allowed. No physical regimes that I must or must not follow.

Body love is between my body and me, a harmonious trust inside of me.  Harmony honors health; health honors harmony.