How I Hokey Pokey

Feet in teal sandals pic

In my other life, I swam competitively or ran 6 miles most days.

Then, due to lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, I couldn’t breathe or walk for periods of time. Dressing myself seemed like running a marathon. So did using the restroom. I told God, at age 28, “Please take me if this is a preview of my future.”

One month I spent on the couch. I rolled off the floor and crawled down the hall to use the restroom. Every last thread of energy I used to complete the tasks involved in using the bathroom.

My future dreams included a triathlon. Not using every ounce of stamina to relieve myself.

Physicians and naturopaths tried many different approaches to treat the inflammation that ravaged my body, mind and soul.

I changed my diet as well.

After years of battling the beasts, sometimes I saw glimmers of hope. But often the darkness enveloped my life story.

Yes, I learned volumes from this journey. I’m a prayer warrior, and I learned to stop and breathe in the beauty of jasmine fragrance. I also divorced my drivenness. This go, go, go mentality of many Americans creates chaos of the soul. The drive shoots cortisol throughout our bodies, and stress pumps through our veins. And of course, that was me.

But nowadays – thanks to an injectable medication called Humira – I have part of my life back. I can sleep through the nights without waking all night long in pain. I can walk. I can dress myself. And I can breathe without having a frozen iced venti cup of water on my chest. (This works better than an ice pack, for some reason.)

IMG_1774

Nowadays, every other Tuesday I inject myself. That’s my hokey pokey. As in, I poke myself with a needle that offers me two more weeks of a semi-normal life. (Sometimes I’m still exhausted, feeling as though I’ve been drugged. But that’s another story, and this happens on the sunny days. A part of lupus.)

And yes, I am quite aware of the side effects of this TNF blocker medication. I’m willing to take the risks. Because deep down, I’m an athlete. I love the wind caressing my hair on my pink kayak. (Below: pic with Werner kayak paddle.)

That. Is. Life. I feel the gratitude engulf my soul as I paddle among the seals and salmon.

And this is a piece of my heart that you may learn from:

Don’t share about your friend who died of lupus. Please don’t dance that song in front of anyone fighting any disease.

 

Oh, and also don’t share an approach you know will fix it. Because chances are – I’ve tried it. If you absolutely must share, please ask graciously first. To offer false hope is like piercing me with a broken piece of my life story.

Parking in a handicapped space when you don’t need to? I’m going to TP your house.

Why am I sharing this story?

So ribbons of gratitude weave their way through your own body image story.  Can you breathe today? Jump in gratitude. Can you walk? Rejoice.

Dance like a diva or dude to the music of gratitude.~

 

 

 ____________

Do you have a hokey pokey body image story? Please share.

(*happy feet picture at the top shows my toes separated due to injections of cortisone from years ago. But who cares, right? 😉

The full story is in my book, Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit

Body Image: Fighting the Lies of the Body Image Bandit

What do you do when the Body Image Bandit bites? For example, let’s say you’re waiting in line at Starbucks. You notice the woman waiting in line ahead of you. She is probably a Zumba queen, and could easily model jeans on a billboard. You pinch your “muffin top” and sigh. But wait. You can take steps to protect yourself from the Body Image Bandit, who is the father of lies.

Step 1: Recognize the lies.

You have a much higher calling than asking, “Do these jeans make my tooshie look fat?”

Picture a pair of binoculars. This represents your constant scanning the environment to search for lies of the Bandit.

Take a few seconds to recognize you’ve been bitten by the Body Image Bandit. He is the father of lies, and he wants to make you feel like garbage (shame). Then you’ll  feel discouraged and won’t live out your true calling. You’ll be too busy beating yourself up. Here are some examples of the lies the Body Image Bandit feeds people:

  • I’m not good enough (i.e. not “skinny” enough, tall enough, too tall, my face is ugly, my (insert arms, legs, waist, etc.) isn’t good enough.
  • I’m not loveable as I am.
  • I can’t have a rewarding life until I lose ____ pounds.
  • I won’t have a full life until I’m a size _____.

Step 2: Reject the Lies.

Picture a sign that says, “No Parking Any Time.” As soon as you notice your brain going to the Comparing Channel, picture yourself pulling out of that parking spot. Just like you do when you pull your car into a space saying “No Parking Any Time,” put your brain into another gear.

Step 3: Replace the Lies

Picture a remote control. To replace the lies, visualize changing the channel. You were on the Stinking Thinking Channel! One starring plot of the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Channel is Comparing your body to other peoples’.

Below are some other channel choices. Practice stopping your thoughts and changing the channels so you can do it faster than a woman with PMS can say, “Gimme ice cream!” Otherwise the lies will seep into your soul and rob your joy.

1. Service: How can you use your God-given talents, gifts and story to help others?

2. Make a list of everything you are thankful for. If you think can’t find anything you’re thankful for, think again. The majority of people on earth live on less than $2 a day! You probably have clean water, food, and more than one pair of clothes. Did you see anything beautiful today? Did you drink coffee today? Put it on your list. Learn to focus on the good.

2. Truth:. Copy specific verses down so you can memorize them. I like to use the blank business cards available at office supply stores. Here’s a verse to get you started:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8. (Notice it doesn’t say to think about clothing sizes, numbers on a scale, or what you’re gonna do when you “get skinny.”  🙂

3. Pray. Ask the Lord how to use your gifts, talents, and personality for His glory. (Have you read The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren? The book explains how to use your gifts, talents, personality and story to live out God’s calling for your life. Because you were not created for so much more than  to obsess about your appearance.

Like many activities, this takes practice! The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. If you continue to work at it, you’ll have a renewed mind.

 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

lotus with leaf

Body Image, Self-Talk, and the Diet On/Off Switch

Have you noticed that women often sprinkle conversations with comments such as:

  • “I really need to lose weight!”
  • “Do these jeans make my butt look big?”
  • “I can’t buy cute clothes until I’m (drum roll, please)skinny!”

Comments such as these only help perpetuate what I call the Ferocious Foursome, which include:  dieting, bingeing, over exercising, and purging.

 

Almost all dieters lose weight, but research shows that over time, the majority gain it all back – plus more!  This is because dieting is not a committed way of life, and because dieters feel deprived due to all-or-nothing thinking.  They get into the thinking pattern that they are either 1) dieting or 2) not dieting.  These deprivation feelings often lead to binges.  I’m so sick of this diet, I’m gonna forget the whole thing.  So instead of learning to enjoy treats in moderation, they flip off their “diet switch” and eat everything except the TV.

This plummets them down the elevator shaft, into the abyss of shame and self-contempt.  So they begin verbally assaulting their bodies with their friends.  The cycle of abusive language continues with the types of comments discussed earlier,” My thighs are bigger around than the Space Needle.”  They feel disgusted with themselves and go back on a diet, starting the cycle of captivity again.

How can we break the chains of captivity to dieting and bingeing? Here are three important ways:

  • Get rid of your diet on/off switch:

  • Think more in terms of trying to aim for the middle, allowing yourself some treats periodically in moderation. Mix them into an overall sound lifestyle of eating and you won’t feel deprived

  • Stop making negative comments about your body (or anyone else’s, for that matter) because it only makes the problem worse.

These techniques will help you enjoy more peace in your life as you focus your attention to the positive instead of the negative and celebrate the person God created you to be.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

Body Image and Skinny Jeans

Featured

Last week I saw a woman in her late eighties wearing skinny jeans. But she didn’t look like the picture.

She had a bad case of lumpy, bumpy, muffin top-itis.  Oh Lord, stop me if I try to wear something like that when I’m in my 80s. But later I changed my mind. Good for her. She’s not all caught up in the drama of, ‘Do these jeans make my butt look big?’

This woman felt comfortable in her own skin. She wasn’t obsessed with her body and appearance.  On the other hand, I’ve heard stories of women who continued to obsess about their appearances until they died in their nineties.  They never lost their  food-fat-fanny mentality. Their self-talk consisted of such questions as:

Do these jeans make my tooshie look big?

Can I eat a cupcake, or will it land on my thighs?

Is the woman in front of me at Safeway fatter or thinner than me?

Obviously I don’t know if this lady suffered from dementia or poverty, which may have contributed to her wearing skinny jeans.  I didn’t get that impression, but who knows?  I hope that she was of sound mind, and that she thought:

I like these jeans.

I want to buy some ice cream.

I can enjoy food, enjoy life, and think about other things instead of obsessing about  food, fat, and my tooshie.

Driving a few blocks further, I celebrated the old woman who had the courage to live boldly. You go, girl!  Good for you for being free to wear what you like.  But oh Lord, please let me like looser clothes and not skinny jeans when I’m old!

Body Image and Thoughts: Stop the Stinking Thinking!

Featured

I had a professor who once said, “Trying to control your mind is like trying to control a room full of drunken monkeys.”  When it comes to your own body image, I bet you understand.  How often have you had negative thoughts  such as:

  • What size of clothes does that person wear?  She’s probably a size ____.
  • What have I eaten so far today?  What will I eat tomorrow?  (Obsessing about food.)
  • I hate my ______.  (Fill in the blank with waist, fanny, etc.)
  • Is that person skinnier than me?

First of all, it’s not a good idea to hang out in your head.  It’s a jungle in there!  Often it leads to envy, despair, and other types of stinkin’ thinking’, as the twelve step programs say.  But you are a unique masterpiece, created by a loving God.  He created you for other purposes besides obsessing about your fanny.  Who knew?

Try this:  The next time you have a negative body image thought, picture a huge stop sign.  Think of yelling, “STOP!”  Then ask the Lord to redirect your thinking.  If you force yourself to do this it will become a habit.  After all, you have a much greater calling than obsessing about food, fat, and your fanny.

Body Image: How Mothers Influence Body Image

Featured

A great deal has been written on how fathers play strong roles in the development of their daughters’ eating disorders.  Negative relationships between fathers and daughters create holes in the hearts of their daughters which they believe can be filled by getting and staying thin.  Not surprisingly, girls and women have fallen prey to the jaws of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder for many reasons we have already discussed.  But a massive amount of research has poured in to spell out in all caps, in bold, that fathers’ relationships with their daughters help to get them swallowed up into the mouths of eating disorders.

Since the topic of fathers’ roles in the development of their daughters’ body image issues has been covered, I have chosen not to include that in my book.  Throughout my years of working with women, I have heard perhaps hundreds of stories of how mothers have influenced the development of body image issues of women and girls.  Due to the powerful effect of our mothers’ own body image issues on our stories, I have decided to include a chapter on this subject in the book.

Sadly, I must warn you that most of the stories are overwhelmingly sad.  In fact, you may get overwhelmed reading this chapter, and I apologize in advance.  My hope and reason for writing the chapter is that women will gain great perspective about how their own words about their bodies and their daughters’ bodies blossom seeds of darkness or light in their hearts.  All in all, mothers’ words have great power to bless and great power to eat away at the hearts of their daughters, creating a wake of despair and depression as well as eating disorders.  And so my grandest hope is that after reading this chapter, you will be acutely aware of one of the most powerful lies: “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  In fact, words shatter our hearts and shoot bullets of shame and despair deep into our souls until we bleed from within.  And this pain plummets down the shaft of despair until we land in the city of Hopelessness.  But the flip side of this is that if we understand the impact of our words, we can encourage children and teens to feel good about their bodies.

When I asked my friends on Facebook to share their stories about how their mothers impacted their own body image, I received a variety of responses.  One of them came from a woman in her sixties whom I will call Sally.  Sally explained that her mother had a serious phobia of fat.  She was hypercritical of Sally’s body, and made her take diet pills when she was in junior high.  Once she grew up and married, Sally continued to navigate the line between enjoying eating with her husband and controlling her weight.  Women gain an average of 18 pounds during the first year of marriage, so women often find it discouraging to move from their pre-wedding weight to their rounder, settled in weight.

During the pregnancy of her second child, Sally was sick a lot and discovered that throwing up resulted in weight loss.  Eventually she became bulimic and stayed bulimic for over twenty years.  Finally, during her studies at nursing school, she came to the realization that bulimia was destroying her from within and decided to kiss it goodbye.

Sally’s mother recently died at age 95, and Sally wrote in her email that her mother was still overly concerned about her weight and how she looked, even though she was quite ill and suffered from dementia for several years.

The trenches of our body image issues certainly run deep, not even lightening up due to old age or illness.  Even with dementia, many womens’ love/hate relationships with their bodies and food cause great distress as they continue to obsess about how they look.  The desire to get and stay thin is a constant dose of poison that our culture feeds us day in and day out to the point that we lose touch with what it means to have a normal, natural, womanly body.

By writing about the power mothers have on their daughters’ self-esteem and body image issues, I hope that women begin to understand the power of words and decide to offer encouragement instead of despair.  The seeds of negativity create ugly weeds that lead to self-contempt.  But the beauty of seeds of encouragement offer great joy as we learn to look at our bodies in terms of the amazing things they can do.  Will you use your words to bless flowers of joy onto the next generation, or seeds of despair to heap loads of despair onto today’s children and teens?