Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Body 'exposure'

I've struggled with accepting my body the way it is now, and I still do. It is hard for someone with ED to see and feel their body getting bigger. This is made worse when I feel full after eating, if I wear clothes that feel a little too tight, or if I am having a bad day and look in the mirror.

'Body exposure' is a term used to describe the process whereby patients with ED learn to accept their bodies. If you remember, I wrote a post about how I do not LOVE my body - I simpy accept it. This is normal for many people, but more so with those with ED. We do not need to love our bodies, as this is highly unlikely. However, we need to accept our bodies as being healthy and appreciate how much they enable us to do. Patients with ED, myself included, struggle with this acceptance. It is made worse when we try to avoid our bodies. For example, some do not wear swimming suits so that they do not see their bodies or skin. Others avoid mirrors, or dress in the dark. It sounds drastic, but this goes to show how extreme this hatred or fear of the body might be.

Body exposure can be done in many ways. Some suggest staying in front of a mirror and staring, while avoiding making negative comments. To be honest, this does not work for me. A mirror should ONLY be for looking to check how you look before going out, nothing more. So, staring in front of a mirror actually makes me a lot more uncomfortable. However, this leaves me stuck without a solution to my body image issues.

One way that has helped me tremendously is massage therapy. I absolutely LOVE getting massages, as they really make me relax. It makes my muscles feel calm and it helps me to forget about all the troubles in this world. Interestingly, research acually shows that massages are helpful in the treatment of EDs (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16864390). The reasons for this may vary, but generally, massages help a person relax. For me, this makes me appreciate how tired my body is and it helps me understand just how much my body has done for me throughout the day. When I get a massage, I do not feel pain like before when I was too thin and all my bones ached as people touched them. Now, my muscles and bones are strong. It also helps to take my mind off the day and it puts me in a calm mood.

Why is body exposure important? Technically, I can live my whole life hating my body. And a ttimes, I really DO hate the way it looks and all the weight I have gained. I do not know if I will ever truly LOVE my body, but I am trying to make myself become used to it. In other words, I am trying to desensitizze myself to my new body. Massages are a great way to do this. Different people may find that other things work for them; for example, swimming, using their bodies to excercise, stretching, yoga, etc. What is amazing is when I was too thin, I could not do any of this. People(family, mostly) did not allow me to move/excercise/stretch because they were so worried that any extensive movement could hurt me. Now, with my body back in shape and my weight healthy again, I can safely do anything I want! I can run, jump, skip, hop...I am free. Recovering from ED has therefore not only helped me get a healthy body and mind back, but it has also helped me to do more with my body than ever before. I do not need to worry anymore about hurting myself beacuse of my small size - my muscles and bones are strong again and they help me do wonderous things. So, I might not always love my new body, but I certainly love the amazing things it helps me do. I suppose it is, again, like other things in recovery: it is so hard to get used to, and often, I want to give up. But the more I work at it, the easier it becomes. And sometimes, I can see the positive side of things. I can see how much recovery has changed my life and has helped me to grow - physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

26 comments:

  1. Even it was hard to accept my new body ,but not impossible. I learnt how to accept and be happy with my new body after many years of struggle.
    What helped me is through my inpatient CBT and DBT sessions that changed my way of thinking.
    I was stuck with my ED that convinced me that I was fat when I was dying. The ED obsession made me believe what was wrong and made me act against my own body.
    Now after I changed my thoughts and my brain has become healthy and my thinking has turn out to see the positive ,I feel happy with my new body and I am working on maintain my happiness and my comfort with my new body.
    Good news Marina ,my fears and worries about may be I will get fat in the future as Kari and Steph were saying is non existing now as my thinking has been in positive change .
    Happiness and positive thinking have been turning my life 360 degrees Marina
    I am living my life to the fullest.
    This summer I have a plan for many trips and vacations before start my school that I missed

    Anne

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    1. As I explained on another post, I am actually 6 pounds overweight at 5’7 and 165 pounds. I am going to be adopting a low carbohydrate way of eating to avoid blood sugar fluctuations because type 2 diabetes runs in my family. I hope that this will help me prevent metabolic problems and get me to a lower BMI. It is also healthier to be a normal BMI when you get pregnant, and puts you at less risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy and I will be getting married next summer.

      wish me luck,
      Steph

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    2. Steph, I cant tell you what to do. You do what you decide to do, as long as it is healthy and you are happy and well. If weight loss is what you need and it is safe, then go for it. If you need to reduce your risk of diabetes, then do it. Just be safe and healthy. And best of luck with your wedding as well - how exciting! You will do great!

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    3. Hi Marina and Steph
      I am also a nurse RN and studying to be CDE(certified diabetes Educator).
      I agree with Marina and I add the main gist of BMI is to guide health and wellness.
      The normal range is 18.5-24.9.
      So you can be healthy and well if your BMI among this range ,so if you little under weight and BMI 18.5 you are still normal and should be healthy if you take all the essential nutritional element and eating varieties.
      If you BMI close to 25 ,you are still normal and should be healthy if you enjoy eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks including veg and grains and fruits and salads.
      BMI is a guide to health.
      Even though you can be overweight and even obese and living healthy active life and choosing foods that includes all essential elements ,and not smoking ,you still live healthy and having healthy babies. Remember make your life easier ,less stressful. If you emphasize the trivial things as 1-3 pounds up or down and if you make this a big deal ,this may add stress to your life that is not healthy.

      Steph ,
      my heart filled congratulations for you and I wish you happy marriage ,healthy mom and babies.
      Please maintain your health and be careful, never let ED sneak again to your life.
      I agree with you some doctors do not know any thing about ED(what a shame!!)

      C J
      RN

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    4. Hey CJ, I am a type 1 diabetic and insulin pumper. Will you be focusing on type 1 or type 2 diabetes ? Marina has made an interesting post about diabulimia. There are some individuals on this blog with some misunderstanding about diabetes – I guess type 1 specifically. I want to become a pediatric endocrinologist
      Jamie

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    5. I do type II but I feel competent to monitor and help type I also as one of the DM team member I can teach clients insulin start and monitoring and trouble shooting.
      I am aware of Marina's post and really was well searched and just a brief summary of the main points about diabulemia.
      I urge every one to take control over their health and I empower all my clients to be in control and take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
      I wish you all the best and being a pediatric endocrinologist you not only for your own ,but will help many children.
      My regards and best wishes.

      C J
      RN

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  2. Yes Marina
    When one has a bad day ,of course the feeling is also gone be bad and so on.
    We need to get out of the bad feeling ASAP by any means so that We will not let it work against our will.

    Sally

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  3. Marina
    With all the respect ,I disagree as I love my body so much and I make sure that I am healthy and well free of any illness and I see my doctors every 3 months and discuss any concerns.
    Please do not say that I have perfect body, in fact I say I have ugly body, ugly face ,fatty bulging pregnant tummy and a big hunch and protruding breast etc.
    Even though I feel I will be a successful politician and I love my self and my body
    When people see me ,what they can observe is my big smile and that all what it matters

    Jack

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  4. Thankfully we live in Canada ,multicultural society in which people from all walks of life live.
    You see white,black,tall ,short,fat and thin and mix.
    Acceptance and respect to each other is our main strength as a society.
    As individual even if we believe and admit we are not perfect, We should love, respect and admire our selves including our body for who We are.

    Cindrella

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  5. I really like the concept of staring at things you do not like in yourself without making any negative comment and may even better if you observe good thing and make positive one as thanking God your are well.


    Hend

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  6. Marina
    If you take a moment and count all the positives about recovery(remember I stopped doing them as they kept accumulating) ,you will realize that every thing in life is positive upon recovery and nothing negative.
    It is my personal opinion that feeling fat and stomach full after eating or clothes tighter etc all all just feelings that sometimes happened but when We challenge this feeling with facts and happiness, we come to the reality and celebrate the recovery
    Please walk,jump,play and have fun now as ever and live life to the fullest as Anne

    Mary
    Mississauga

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  7. I love massage, it makes me relax relax relax.
    I wish I have money and get massage every day but I get free massage under my warm shower!!!


    Carlos

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  8. Marina
    You know I trust you sooooo much and when I hear you saying recovery has changed you so much and now your are better physically, emotionally ,socially and spiritually.
    Now you are able to do much more with less pain.
    Now are not worry you will break a bone, crash ,get dehydrated, catch infection as your body getting more stronger and immune system is better.
    Now you do not have to hide anything or think on ways how to hide.
    I do believe you and I am motivated more than ever to get my complete recovery with any looking to the past
    From now on, I am looking only forward

    Thanks Marina
    I do believe God send you on my way to save my life and to guarantee me better future.

    Nanraj

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  9. WOW
    Massage helps ED
    I love massage and I do not know why it makes me feel so calm and relaxed

    Jenn

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  10. Dear Marina
    As you may remember I am a grand mother of a granddaughter who is under my care now.
    I read this post 3 times and I am pleased to know that you are stronger and many good changes happened since recovery.
    I am only thinking about liking or just live with new body..

    The way I see it is :-
    If I deliver a baby that looks ugly or deformed etc,do I hate him or her or do I still love, care and provide all the best for my baby even if he or she looks so and so..???

    My point and hope is you like and care and do all the best for your body

    It is your body Marina

    Please correct me if I am wrong


    Sheila Kitson

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  11. I recommend massage for every body especially when you feel stressed.

    Kathy

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  12. Massage has many many benefits for muscles,tendons,pain,spasm and relaxation.
    Go for it if you afford

    Lillian

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  13. Who does not like massage

    Vuk

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  14. I believe complete recovery as Marina said previously is a life long journey .I do also believe that sooner or later you will like your new body and feel comfortable with looking at mirror and feel proud of your self as a young woman.
    I admire you for admitting all the positive changes that recovery have given you
    WOW
    You are setting example of self motivation and how one can take responsibility for her /his own recovery


    Solomon

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  15. Let me make few comments
    I admire this blog for being an avenue for all of us to vent and teach one another a skill that helped.
    As you know laughter is contagious and I do believe good attitude and healthy behaviours are contagious too and so sharing helpful hints is very helpful to all of us.
    When Marina mentioned all the benefits she gained from recovery as her body is stronger ,not afraid to walk and even going up and down stairs and even run. Feeling you have strong body is very hopeful feeling. Also Marina mentioned recovery is making her stronger physically, emotionally ,socially and spiritually so recovery worth any sacrifice.
    Jaime is positive about her future and motivated to study pediatric endocrinology as she see how important to control your blood sugar and maintain your healthy while having ED that pushing you to act against your own body(diabulemia)
    Steph is concerned about what is a healthy BMI and does 1pound more than BMI of 25 make you less healthy??? same as if one pound less than BMI18.5 making your body weak and lacking nutrition and risking your health??
    Kari voiced her concerns and Marina replied professionally and honestly.
    For all this reason I like this blog and I respect it and I recommend to others.

    Keep up the good job guys and maintain health and wellness(happiness)

    Renata

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  16. I really love this blog and I admire any positive comments from others and keeping the communication alive.

    Shishgeri

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  17. I am praying for you Marina and for all those who had been ill and wish all complete recovery as the benefits are so many.
    Just enumerating all the benefits in this post motivate others to take control and responsibility for their wellbeing.
    I thank you again for me help my daughter and now she is really a happy person again

    A Thankful mother JP

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  18. I love your blog Marina as I see positives despite the challenges and this makes lot of difference.
    I never thought myself would be talikng about and looking for positive stuff but hey is happeneing now.
    Thanks Marina for pushing the positives
    I wish all the best for Steph

    Clorado

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  19. Yes Clorado,I like the positivity and I like every body chipping in.
    It makes me feel I am not alone with my problems when I feel many others struggling may be more than I do .
    Hope is the number that helped me more than meds.

    Eric

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  20. I admire this blog for getting some answers and explaination to our issues.
    Thanks Marina

    Jagdipa

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  21. Correct me Marina if I am wrong.
    This post you spoke a lot about the benifts of your recovery.
    This is a hopeful message and also motivation to others to make the choice of live ,happiness and live life to the fullest.

    Thanks Marina
    I wish Steph all the best and I urge Kari to seek help

    Gerry

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