I loved reading all of your personal and encouraging comments on the previous two posts. It is always good to be reminded that one is not alone.
One thing I wanted to emphasize, that I don't feel was very clear in my writing about this, is that for me, healthy body image comes through embracing and honoring the shape I am now AND maintaining a commitment to regular exercise and healthy, mindful eating and portion control. I used to feel like these things were mutually exclusive, but now I find that they can coexist. I find that when I am eating fairly well, I actually enjoy the "treats" more because I feel better about my eating overall. I am not interested in "dieting" (Frankel's book is all about breaking her diet-addiction!), but in finding a life-path of eating that nourishes me and helps me stay at a healthy weight. (One blog that I love along these lines is happy foody!) I am also not interested in an exercise regimen that takes me to a gym and away from my kids for hours at a time (that would be setting myself up for failure, because I could NEVER do that!), but making time for yoga before bed, or getting up early to take a brisk walk alone really feeds my body and my spirit. I recently realized that I had gotten into a pattern as a mom of NEVER being alone, except when I go to work, and that really wasn't healthy for me. Both yoga and walking are ways I can exercise my body while remaining present in my spirit, which I think would be harder sweating on a machine at a gym. Anyway, this is my vision of health that I am trying to live into, and gently create some new habits that will feed me for years to come. Now that I've admitted it publicly, feel free to harass me about how well I'm following my goals!
On the theme of body-love, I have been really moved by Erin's (of bluebirdbaby) self-portrait series. She has, I think, made some peace with her body-image demons through the discipline of self-portraiture. Most of us women have a very hard time seeing our selves, our faces, our bodies, as beautiful. As someone who feels SO much more comfortable BEHIND the camera, I can't even begin to image something as daring as this, but I love her artistic vision. She recently shared her story on her blog about overcoming her eating disorder and it is very powerful. I would encourage all of you to read it. The conventional wisdom says that eating disorders are not something easily "recovered" from. Like alcoholism, they can torment the sufferer for years. Because of this perception (which is very much based in the realities of many women and men) it is especially important to hear the stories of those who have healed, to know that healing is possible.
I'd love to hear examples of small ways that you honor and love your body. What is "feeding" you these days, literally and figuratively?
**Photo courtesy of Erin Wallace, used with permission (thanks Erin!) Click here for a link to her flickr page. Her reflections on this picture are powerful. Also, check out her professional photography website, e.wallace photography.**