Resiliency ReflectionFebruary 22, 2020
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is a 2020 Featured NEDAwareness Week Partner. The following is a YBIC National Eating Disorders Awareness Week post that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. The shares included are from those who have first-hand experience with disordered eating or from those who are called to share their body acceptance journeys.
Taking the time to reflect on our own resiliency is a therapeutic tool I truly believe in, and yet even as my “therapist self” it felt quite difficult to unpack and process a childhood & adolescence often consumed with…well what I was consuming. When reflecting upon topics that trigger our trauma, I feel it is natural to often get glimmers of memories, feelings, or sensations from the past rather than a fully concrete timeline. So, rather than tensing into the need to control even the eloquence of this narrative, I’ll relax into getting real.
Here’s what I remember from the past that has circled back to my personal body acceptance, sustainable nourishment, and joyful movement journey: that even from a young age when I was deemed “underweight” to a slightly older age when I became deemed “overweight,” my relationship to food was often medicalized (yes in addition to the multi-layered transformational trauma held within my family lineages around it).
Whether I remember many years of not being able to taste food when young (thanks, tonsils & adenoids) to a strong memory of not being able to eat food for an overly extended period of time during childhood (2 weeks thanks, tonsil/adenoids surgery) – coupled with negative messaging about stretch marks to positive messaging about diet & weight loss – it was all medically reinforced. This of course reinforced the shame general society was already causing me to feel about my body being too big and would eventually lead me through years of excessive dieting and disordered eating… all while being diagnosed and coping with a debilitating chronic illness/autoimmune disease that manifested itself directly in the center of all of these dynamics: my digestive system itself!
I will never forget that in even the deepest depths of my physical excruciating pain in the process of finding out I had Crohn’s Disease: I was most heartbroken over the fact that I hadn’t lost a significant amount of weight like most other patients who actually become emaciated because we cannot physically digest/absorb nutrients while in an active flare. My 14 year old brain so deeply entrenched in diet culture within a culture Puritanical New England rigidity and anxious perfectionism saw this as her chance to get skinny – the only problem was it wasn’t working! It took me years of somatic therapy and self-exploration later to realize that my body being bigger wasn’t in fact a problem, it was a resilient AF survivor who is on a continual healing journey of also being a thriver!
Recently, when going through a chest of drawers in my old bedroom at my parent’s house, I came across my “Optimum Weight For Life,” food diary journal, thick instructional packet of restrictions, weight loss tracking etc. co-signed by what is deemed the number one children’s hospital in the entire world! I took a moment to honor all of the school lunches I didn’t enjoy & did restrict, all the afterschool binges from being so hungry, all the praise I received from doctors/nurses/teachers/peers/family. Then I remembered all the moments of resilience then and times of true nourishment since then; how I’ve worked extremely hard to release the diet culture and fat phobia internalized deeply within me, to thank my body for keeping me alive and to honor the food I eat for being so absolutely delicious!
Rachel Otis is a Somatic Therapist, Activist, & Writer who works directly with the mind-body connection infusing sessions, retreats, & articles with radical self-love, exploration, and expression; providing healing pathways of somatically-oriented coping tools and resources (including yoga, art, self-touch, guided meditation, breathing techniques). She is passionate about creating a more sustainable, socially-just future by infiltrating oppressive systems to create change from the inside-out for ALL bodies!
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