As some of you know, I have been a BIMGA (Body Image Movement Global Ambassador) for a fabulous lady named Taryn Brumfitt. I first came across her Facebook page back in 2014, and after reading the story behind her unconventional Before and After photo, I was intrigued.
I immediately felt a sense of camaraderie between us as so many parts of her story, I can relate to. Like me, she has gone from “body loather to body lover”. I had already changed my coaching focus from health/nutrition to supporting women to love and accept their bodies. I realized this was my true passion and what really lights my fire. I admit that I was a bit jealous of Taryn’s popularity but I quickly changed my perspective and thought, “How awesome is this that I know someone who has the platform to inspire people all over the world, to love their bodies!” When the opportunity came up to support her mission, along with hundreds of other women around the world with the same goal, the decision to join was a no-brainer.
Over the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of getting a first-hand sneak peek into what has been going on in her world, and the biggest news is that through donations through Kickstarter,she was able to create and direct a body positive, inspirational and transforming documentary called Embrace. You can watch the trailer HERE. This will be showing all over the world, starting in Australia where she is from, and next coming to the U.S! Eventually it will make it’s way to many other countries.
Which brings me to an invitation……for those who live in Arizona, I invite you to attend your own private screening of Embrace, in Phoenix, AZ, at Desert Ridge AMC 18, on Tuesday, September 20, 2016. If you cannot attend this one, there are plenty others in the Phoenix area, and all over the country. If you live outside of this location, then please check the website to find out where it is playing in your area! http://bodyimagemovement.com.au/see-embrace-in-the-usa/
WARNING: This will ONLY happen if we reach our tipping point of over 58 reservations! Tickets are only $11 each and you will not be charged until the event is secured! What are you waiting for? Get your tickets now and I will see you there!
**A lot has happened since my last post back in December of 2015. There is a reason I had been taking a break from my blog. To get an update on me, please keep reading…. So…. I lost we…
**A lot has happened since my last post back in December of 2015. There is a reason I had been taking a break from my blog. To get an update on me, please keep reading….
So…. I lost weight.Not just a couple of pounds but at least 10 pounds have been shed from my body in the past 1 to 2 months. As a result, I am freaking out….and not in a good way. Why in the heck am I feeling negative about weight loss, of all things? Because it was unintentional and completely unexpected. I was already small and now I weigh under 100 pounds. Not good. Not good at all.
I first noticed the weight loss when I went to visit a Rheumatologist as a new patient. You see, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia back in 2010 but when I went gluten free in March of 2011, my pain miraculously disappeared (I did have occasional aches from stress or if I unknowingly ingested a small amount of gluten).
However, back in March of this year (2016), my pain came back and with a vengeance.( In fact, I am in a major flare today, as I type this.) I was still faithful to my 100% gluten-free diet so I felt like my body had betrayed me. I was utterly confused and frustrated. When I realized the pain and fatigue was not going away I decided it was time to see a doctor again. That is when they weighed me and I realized I had lost 7 pounds, but I did not think to mention anything at the time about the weight loss. The truth is, I was happy about it at first.
Then, I noticed how baggy my pants were getting on me. I mean, they were practically falling off and I did not want people to give me strange looks.On top of that, I couldn’t really afford to buy all new clothes! A flashback came to me of when I had anorexia in college and I got a twisted pleasure out of knowing my clothes were so loose. This was in part because I thought I was fat even though when I started college I weighed only 110 pounds. I had body dismorphic disorder and felt compelled to starve myself.
The fact that I have come to now realize that I don’t want to lose weight is a testimony to how far I have come in the past 20 years. (wow, has it been that long?) However, good old ED (the name for eating disorder) is very sneaky and has found his way out of his cage. With an evil laugh, he tries to tell me, “look at that thigh gap you have now, you should keep that and not eat so much.” Or, “you should be happy that you have lost inches in your big belly”. Ugh. “Go away, Ed!!” I yell in my mind.
Sigh…I wish that ED wasn’t the only villain trying to rent a room in my brain. My main intent is to talk about another enemy; one who has a greater hold on me.
This is the only time I wish I could build a wall to keep someone out. That “someone” has been torturing me a whole lot more than ED lately. This “person”, who does not deserve to be my “tenant” is my four-letter- word- enemy. Her name is Eris. Why Eris? Well, according to Mythology, Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos and discord.
So the battle is between Myself, the “goddess” Kellie, and the evil goddess “Eris”….. or in other words…. OCD. Yes, I was diagnosed with the contamination form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) back in January. It has helped to give my OCD a name. I am not my illness. My thoughts are not me…..they are sneaky, conniving Eris, trying to ruin my life.
It is probably fitting that the spelling of Kellie, means “warrior woman”. I have been in a battle with Eris and will not surrender. At times I wish to wave my white flag and just give up on life. Thankfully, I have fellow warriors in my life who have my back and who love me despite of my setbacks, but who at the same time, encourage me to fight for a better life.
It is hard coming out of the mental health closet. Many people know that I have battled eating disorders. However, hardly anyone knows about my secret struggle. I have an intense fear of germs which has been gradually getting worse over the years. My compulsion is constant hand washing and sanitizing. Imagine the whole world has Ebola and you are in a bubble and cannot touch anything unless you want to get sick too. That is how I feel. I don’t worry about Ebola necessarily, but I feel like I cannot touch anything; especially not in public, for fear of contamination. I know this sounds crazy, but at least I am not alone. Many people struggle with it, including Howie Mandel who is famous for his “fist bump” and who openly talks about how OCD affects his life.
I think the reason it has seemed taboo to talk about OCD is because it is not very well understood. Many of us sufferers feel irritated when we see posts about people making light of the illness, calling it a quirk or laughing saying, “I’m so ocd” when they are really just perfectionists and like to have a clean house or an organized closet. That is nowhere near close to the mental anguish we feel. (and don’t get me started on those Facebook quizzes)
Okay so, now that I got that news out-of-the-way, on to solving the mystery of both my Fibromyalgia coming out of remission, and my very strange, unexplained weight loss.
One theory is that my medication, Sertraline (generic for Zoloft) could be causing it. I read that extreme weight loss is very rare with Zoloft but I guess I could be that one rare case. Lucky me. (Don’t worry, I have told my doctors about all of this and they are monitoring me so we can figure this out.)
I am not sure about the pain and fatigue. Perhaps the meds triggered the Fibromyalgia to come back?? I personally believe that it’s a result of a culmination of stress; especially the stress of the OCD as it has been pretty severe in the last few months.
I am seeing a counselor but Exposure Response PreventionTherapy (where for me, I have to touch things and delay hand washing) has been literal hell. It’s worse than stepping on a ton of Legos barefoot in the dark. Maybe even worse than going without my coffee for a whole day!! It DOES help though….. if I put the work in. In fact, I have made quite a bit of progress! (as much as I hate it, if you yourself have OCD, I highly encourage you to do research on ERP. It is known as the gold standard for OCD treatment.)
The Zoloft seems to help my anxiety however. I have only had one panic attack since I started it. I used to have them on a regular basis, especially when I worked as a health assistant to the school nurse. What was I thinking??? I must have been taken over by aliens when I decided to work with sick kids, knowing full well I have a fear of germs. There were days that I was panicking in the car and thought I was going to die. (otherwise, it was a good job)
Here comes the part that is the hardest to share: I quit my job at the end of Feb. after battling suicidal thoughts and depression. One very late night, I was very close to choosing to harm myself. It was shortly after that, when I knew how badly I needed help and I started on the medication. I used to hate the thought of taking medication but now I feel no shame in it. (and I am so thankful I told my husband and chose not to end my life that night!)
So, what is the point of me telling you all this? Because first of all, I greatly value authenticity. It’s a huge goal of mine. I want to be honest and transparent. A good coach (or anyone!) is someone who talks about his/her struggles so people know they are not alone. Also, I want to break the stigma of mental illness.(In fact, May is Mental Health Awareness Month!) I want people to know there is no shame in talking about it. It’s just like talking about cancer or diabetes. It should be natural to discuss openly but society makes it awkward and shameful. I encourage you to at least talk about it with a friend or family member. We don’t all have to blog about it, but it’s essential to our well-being to let people know how we are doing (those whom we trust and who love us) so they can support us the best that they know how, and also, in talking about it, others know that they, too, can be brave and ask for help.
I used to think I had to have my act together at all times. I worried about what people thought of me. Now I say, “f**k that.” None of us are perfect and we all have a desire to feel accepted and understood. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Support and accountability is important. Feel free to keep me accountable. (eek!!) And… feel free to reach out to me as well. I am happy to provide a listening ear if you want to talk about any issues you may have that you feel are keeping you from fully enjoying your life.
I sometimes think about all I have been through and realize just how much I have survived. I am a warrior and I will continue to fight for survival. Will you commit to being more transparent and join forces with other warrior “gods and goddesses” in this battle toward letting go of the stigma and discovering greater Self-Compassion, Love, and Acceptance? See you on the battlefield. 🙂
~Kellie M., Body Acceptance Life Coach, Author, and HAES advocate
What is YOUR mental health story? I’d love to hear from you! If you feel guided, please comment below.
By the way, here are some important links to check out:
OCD Info: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
Treatment for Eating Disorders: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/treatment
Crisis Hotline/suicide prevention: http://www.crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html
Awesome website about mental health (also talks about chronic illness): http://themighty.com/category/mental-illness/
It is no surprise that Steve Harvey’s big blunder is trending right now. He announced the wrong winner at the recent Miss Universe Pageant. I felt bad for Miss Columbia who had to take back the crown.
Then I thought, “Is that really the worst that could happen?” I made this post on my Facebook page:
I saw that the wrong winner was announced on Miss Universe. That’s terrible. However what is MORE terrible is the fact that this competition is even still around. 😟
and I tweeted this:
The truth is, I am disappointed that Pageants such as Miss Universe and Miss America are still going strong. Why is that? Sponsorship money? I am sure the ratings are great. The fact is we still like to drool over pretty women and wish we were them. As a society, we still glorify the woman’s body as a sexual object and that’s not okay with me.
These pageants are anti-women and here is why.
- There is no body diversity. I know there is more to the pageant than the swimsuit competition. They do have the talent portion and the “Presence and Poise” (wearing a glamorus evening gown). But to me, it’s not about WHAT they wear, it’s that each woman looks the same. They are all a size zero, stereotypical model body type. Who knows what they put themselves through to look like that. I want to know the statistics for eating disorders amongst the contestants. Upon looking at this website, I was floored that they had the audacity to say this:
The Miss Universe Organization empowers women to develop the confidence they need to achieve their personal best. A confident woman has the power to make real change, starting in her local community with the potential to reach a global audience. We encourage every woman to get out of her comfort zone, be herself, and continue to define what it means to be Confidently Beautiful.
So, Miss Universe organization, in other words, it’s great to be confident BUT…. we must have a flat stomach, tiny waist, big boobs and a thigh gap in order to be beautiful. Thanks for the hypocrisy.
Why don’t we see bigger women showing off their bodies at these competitions? They don’t allow it. It’s not their definition of beauty. I’m sure it’s because they think fat women are lazy and not taking care of themselves. The mindset is, “How dare this person who surely must binge every night, represent what it means to be a true American!” (or insert whatever country you are from).
2. The second biggest reason I abhor these pagents is a result of the objectification—being exposed to the industry (not just pageants, but models in general) can be a huge trigger for eating disorders. I know that eating disorders are complex and don’t result from simply looking at skinny women; however, sometimes we don’t realize how these little things can add up in a young, impressionable girl’s (or boy’s) mind. Imagine what is going though her head when we watch and comment on how beautiful they are. An obsevant girl will notice that their bodies are all the same. She might compare her body and feel ashamed or less than. Even if it’s not an eating disorder trigger, it may lead someone to want to go on a self destructive diet, or never want to wear a swimsuit. It’s not fair that we are letting society dictate what is okay and it’s certainly NOT okay for young girls (and boys!) to think that they need to look like that to feel beautiful and confident. It’s important to remove anything in our life that is a trigger for body hatred. For me, letting go of certain objectifying magazines has been a big help in redirecting my focus toward body acceptance.
3. Lastly, it encouarges unhealthy competition. Why are women competing against each other anyway? I want the focus to be on love, peace and acceptance. Besides, if someone wants to be in a real competition, they can go on shows such as The Voice or America’s Got Talent (assuming they really do have talent). I know I have done enough judging and comparing in my life. I finally feel free to love myself and not worry about how I stack up to other women. We are all in this struggle of life together and should be lifting one another up, not tearing each other down based on something superficial.
And after all is said and done…. we could have 20 contestants who are all bigger sized and into Fat Acceptance Activism and it would STILL be sexually objectifying. Why? Because they are being judged for WHAT they are instead of WHO they are. (and who we are cannot be judged) They are being put on display like tophies to be gawked at. We are not prizes to be adorned, we are beautiful souls who should be cherished.
So enough with the fake smiles, starvation diets, spray tans, and skimpy bikinis. My deam is that these competitions will be banned someday. But for now, we can simply decide not to watch and instead focus on how incredibly amazing we are.
Body Acceptance Life Coach
You are in for a treat today as my very good friend from England has shared her story and created this beautiful YouTube video just for us! She is an artist, a writer, a musician, and all around beautiful person. Her story represents all of us women. We are warriors and we are survivors. Do you believe that? Do you live as if you are? Perhaps you are struggling with an eating disorder. There is hope! Perhaps you are struggling with accepting your body just as it is today. Do not let society get you down. We can fight society’s messages that tell us we have to be stick thin to be happy. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Her story is shared below but I really hope you will also watch her lovely video. Enjoy!!! Thank you so much, Ruth Calder Murphy! And don’t forget to check out her Facebook page, Paradoxologies!
I’m a warrior and a survivor. I’ve wrestled with and fought against the voices – the ones that come out of a crazy culture that’s determined to convince us all that we need more than nourishment, warmth and love to be alive happy. The voices that tell us that, in fact, we need first to feel utterly dissatisfied with ourselves and our lives, then we need to plaster over that dissatisfaction by striving to align ourselves with their ideas of “perfection”, thus locking the dissatisfaction, anxiety and – ultimately – despair underneath the layers… I’ve fought those voices – the ones that are made to sound increasingly like my own; the imposter voices in my head – and, nowadays, I can finally – after many years – look them full in the face and see that I’ve beaten them. They still shout the same things, but I can see through their words to their hollow, empty heart.
During my adolescence – from the age of 9 – I developed eating disorders. These grew out of a sense of deep-seated unhappiness and a desire, essentially, to disappear. By the time I left secondary (high) school at sixteen, and went on to sixth form college, these had become full-blown anorexia. My weight dropped to five stone (70lbs) and I began to self-harm in order to pinpoint a feeling in the swirling confusion of starvation.
Throughout my twenties, I battled the demons. Writing poetry helped to bring focus and shape into the chaos, and later on, so did painting. I also found enormous freedom and release in running. Running was never a part of my disorder; it was an escape from it. Whilst I was running, I didn’t have to think about food (or lack of it) or my size or shape. I didn’t have to think about self-harm, because I was fully present in my body, able to focus on all the exertions of it, whilst simultaneously being able to free my mind to be, in a sense, “out of body”. Running and the creative arts saved my life and not only that, they helped to make my life something I wanted to keep.
On the threshold of 30, I got married and over the following five years, gave birth to three children. Life got more complicated – and more precious. During this time, Gradually, I began to become aware that the voice I’d heard in my poetry and art and through my “out of body” running was – and is – my true voice. That it’s the articulation of my true self and that it’s vibrant and real and authentic. That, in fact, it is – and I am – beautiful. I realised that it’s a manifestation of the real me, and that all the other voices – the ones that sound like me but aren’t really, the ones that come from the crazy culture – are lying. Alongside this was, and is, the deep desire to unmask and emasculate those lies to my children so that they can tune in to their own true voices and know their own minds and strength, however often society tells them that they are not enough.
Now I’m a year into my forties and I’ll finish where I began: I’m a warrior and a survivor. As such, whatever our crazy culture tries to sell me (literally or metaphorically) and however much it tries to make its voice sound like my own, I’m not buying. I am who I am, whether running or painting or writing or sleeping. I am who I am and I am enough.
Welcome to Story #4! This story is about truly accepting ourselves and being who we really are without shame. Society tells us women to shrink, to hide our quirks, and to hate our flaws. If we grow up feeling like we are not enough or worthy, this will cause great distress and may result in eating disorders, constant dieting and perfectionism. This is not the abundant life we were meant to live! We are “perfectly imperfect” and that is okay. We will never measure up to society’s ideals, because it’s totally unrealistic. Once we can find freedom to be ourselves and to accept who we are, we will find peace within.
Thank you, Debbie for sharing your story!! I’m sure it will inspire others as it had for me. Miss the other stories? Read Story #1, Story #2 and Story #3. And please leave a comment below for these beautiful ladies to express how their story resonated with you!
Our stories connect us. I’ve been traveling about sharing my story with others. What I have learned from this is just how connected we all are. My story is another’s story. My story is also the WHY of my business. It’s why I became a health and life coach.
For most of my life I lived in a turtle shell of low self-esteem, terrible body image, and truly hated who I was. Ironically, I had no idea who I was because I had lived my life by every one else’s definition of me. I grew up with a mommy dearest. I was deathly afraid of my mother and lived my whole life in fear. Every single thing about me was picked apart, every physical feature, every emotional aspect, everything. I grew up feeling completely and totally flawed. At 17 I left home and went to college. It was the most exciting time in my life because I felt that once I was away from her I could live my own life. It was great, however, all of those messages I had heard throughout my entire life came along for the ride. The tapes played continuously in my head, “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.” I took over the role my mother played in my life and began to not only believe the messages but to speak them to myself. I picked myself apart. Criticized every thing about me just as she had done. At 19 I married my high school sweetheart who basically was another version of my mother (funny how we do this). I was never enough.
By all outward appearances we looked like the perfect couple and family. We had a beautiful home, three amazing and wonderful children, nice cars, the whole package. But the truth is, I was slowly dying a very painful emotional death. After 20 years of marriage, I left and started my life over. Once again, I thought I could live my own life outside of this emotional abuse and once again the messages followed. I soon realized that I had no clue who I was. Everyone else in my life had defined me and I had let them. I started a journal, something I have each of my clients do. The journal was only about me. I wrote down my favorite everything, day of the week, ice cream, song, poem, food, etc. Anything that I could think of that was only about me, I put it in my journal. I cut out pictures and words that resonated with me. I wrote down song lyrics and poems that spoke to me. Little by little my true authentic self started to emerge but in truth, I didn’t know how to love myself. I still critiqued myself. I still compared myself to others. I still felt like I was not enough.
I am a true believer in the power of the Universe and how we are put in front of the lesson we need at just the right time. The turning point lesson for me happened early one morning as I sat browsing the internet. I stumbled across a Louise Hay video. She was sitting on the floor with a group of people talking to them about the importance of self-love and self-acceptance. I was so touched by her words. She asked them to do an exercise. She asked them to stand in front of a mirror and to truly look at themselves. She asked them to look in their eyes, to look at their bodies, all of the parts, and to really see them. Then she asked them to repeat this affirmation daily, “I love and accept myself just as I am.” She asked them to do this exercise daily until they truly believed it and felt it in their deepest being.
After the video ended, I knew it was what I had to do for myself. I paced my house, crying in a near panic because I actually did not think I could look in the mirror. I didn’t think I could truly see myself. I had stood in front of the mirror for years and never seen myself. I had looked passed myself to do what needed to be done. I thought that if I ever truly looked at myself, all of those messages and definitions I had heard and spoke to myself might actually be true. I was afraid the true view would only validate that worst fear. After many tearful minutes, I made my way to the bathroom. I stripped off all of my clothes and with my eyes shut I stood in front of the mirror. With tears streaming down my face, I slowly opened my eyes and stood looking at myself. I stood looking until I truly came in to focus, until I truly saw myself. What happened was not at all what I had expected would. I saw myself for the very first time. It was like welcoming a long lost friend who had been missing for years. I looked deep into my eyes and saw the pain that resided behind the smiles that I had always used to cover it. I looked at my face, and through the tears saw a young girl who desperately just wanted to be loved. I looked at my arms and small hands and thought of all the ways that I had used them. I thought of how I had been able to hold and nurture my children, to hug my family, my friends, even strangers. I looked at my short legs and realized that I never have to ask them to take me where I need to go. I looked at my belly, round and fleshy and praised it for carrying, nourishing and nurturing my three babies. For the first time, I saw all of me. I began to find great comfort in seeing myself. Then I said,
“I love and accept myself just as I am.”
I repeated this exercise daily. Ever time a negative thought popped into my head, I repeated this mantra. It was a daily journey to fight my way out of the self- loathing and destructive mess I had created but I continued because for the first time in my life I felt worthy. I felt that I was enough. Recently I discovered this quote by Brene Brown, “You either walk inside your own story and you own it, or you stand outside of it and hustle for your worthiness.” This quote hit me so deep in my soul. After years of standing outside of myself and hustling for my worthiness, I walked inside my story and I owned it. I share my story in an effort to help others own theirs.
I do this work because I never want another person to spend another day disowning, dishonoring and disallowing any part of who they are. I do this work because self-love and self-acceptance are the foundation to a world of peace. As we learn to love and accept ourselves totally and completely, we also learn to love and accept others just as they are. This is the world I want to live in and the one I want to leave behind.
Holistic Health & Life Coach
Encompassing Life, LLC.
LOVE WHO YOU ARE NOW!