An important read on the development of an eating disorder.
Read about Scruffy Hospitality, and you will see why I loved this article!
I have just read Anastasia Amour’s 14 Day Guide. I well remember how it felt to torture my body as a teenager. My eating disorder was created by a combination of insensitive words, feeling out of control of my young life and a desperate need to be perfect. Alternating between bingeing and throwing up, and not eating at all. Exercising to the point of fainting. Feeling that death was less intimidating than shedding the demons destroying me. It’s time for us to loosen the shackles, to stop destroying ourselves in the name of some ideal that we can’t really define. Self-love has to start here and now! For our kid’s sake as well as our own. My weight has fluctuated throughout the following years, due to surgery, recovery, IVF and endometriosis treatments. I have had my weight commented on when I have gained pounds, and again when I have lost those pounds. When my face became rounder after several months in a spinal bed, it was remarked on. There was little I could do about my situation and it left me feeling awful. I look back at those pictures and guess what? I see a girl who is a healthy weight! How about we stop the commentary? Let’s put it into the basket of subjects one doesn’t bring up, alongside enquiring about someone’s fertility. Inside Out is a divine little book, consisting of a 14-day guide, which aims to change how you see yourself and your body. It contains many practical tools and exercises. Let’s redefine what it is to be you, and shake off the shackles of the dieting industry. You can’t improve on perfection! Anastasia’s book contains 14 exercises that will offer practical support whilst you kick-start your body-confidence.
Questions for Anastasia.
What concerns you the most about the media? Is it the images they use, the words, or a combination of both that is so harmful?
The current state of the media is so problematic, and you’ve nailed it. We’re a visual culture and there’s no questioning our saturation of digitally-altered images and ‘flawlessness,’ and when you combine these with language that’s absolutely littered with ideas of fear, guilt and shame- appropriated as marketing tactics…well, you’ve got a very dangerous cocktail. In many ways, I strongly doubt that we’ll move away from the current media format anytime soon-but that’s not what concerns me. What concerns me most is the wide reach that the media has now, particularly to young people. Somewhere along the way, we’ve started to blur the lines between advertising and soft porn and we’ve widely accepted the notion that “sex sells,” to the extent where ad exececutives feel it compulsory to use female sexuality as a commondity to sell everything from cars to boxes of cereal. This is concerning on multiple levels but the biggest issue I have is the age at which the exposure starts. If grown women struggle to not internalize these toxic media messages about worth, sexuality and body image, what hope do young girls have? Girls and teenagers blossoming into women are confronted with more than ever before, and the implications of this are truly terrifying.
The diet industry is more powerful now than ever before. Why do you think this is?
Its simple-because the diet industry have so craftily set themselves up to grow bigger, better and stronger with age. When you set up your consumers to not only feel a perceived demand of their own accord but to experience that demand from your actions, you’ll always have the benefit of being a supplier. That’s well and good, except its not-not at all. This isn’t just selling pens or printer toner…this is screwing with people’s mental health. This is creating insecurities, blaming and punishing people for experiencing those insecurities and then offering them a magic solution to fix the very insecurities that the diet industry itself contributed to. It’s immoral, it’s unethical and it’s damaging so many lives. What the diet industry doesn’t want us to know is that those who are overweight and need to lose weight to keep their bodies healthy don’t actually need the diet industry at all to do this. Diets and fads don’t work. They might help you shed a few kilos initially, but they do nothing to keep you healthy in the long term. Ultimately, we’re building a culture that searches for shortcuts and hacks. When we take a quick-fix approach to our mental and physical health, we’re treating the symptoms of our conditions and not the root cause. This is a huge part of why diets fail to create sustainable, positive lifestyle change-they help you to minimize the symptoms of your condition (excess fatty tissue), but do nothing psychologically to tap into the emotional issues around your relationship with food and your body. That works out just fine for the diet industry because they get the illusion of helping you whilst simultaneously ensuring that you remain a lifetime customer.
Why did you write Inside Out?
Having experienced anorexia and bulimia, I know what it’s like to loathe yourself in every way. Whilst counselling can be helpful, I also know that therapy isn’t for everyone and that many individuals prefer to educate and empower themselves on their own terms-I’m one of those people. Through my personal experiences, studies in psychology and mental health and via my own research, it’s my goal to provide sound and practical advice to women who prefer to do their own introspective work, or who don’t have access to a counsellor. ‘Inside Out’ is a resource that I wish I’d had access to at the lowest points of my self-esteem and body image. There are a lot of self-help books out there that fill your mind with “fluffy” advice on one end of the spectrum, and then highly scientific, psychological textbooks that are delivered in an inaccessible manner on the other end of the spectrum. Inside Out isn’t just for those diagnosed with eating disorders and body image issues. The techniques that it breaks down are applicable to all women who’ve ever had moments of body-loathing. Inside Out is my love letter to the reader. It preaches empowerment, validation from within and fearless body confidence-things all women deserve to experience!
Finally, how can we affirm young girls and help them to seek self-love, rather than praise from outside themselves?
The way that we affirm young girls is symptomatic of our cultural values and often, we end up forcing these ideals onto children through conditioning and selectively complimenting only the “acceptable” traits. How often do we see little girls encouraged to pursue maths, science or sports? How often do we see little boys encouraged to explore the full spectrum of their emotions? Instead, we encourage notions of femininity and masculinity as mutually-exclusive concepts-we compliment little girls for being pretty and packing up their tea sets, and we compliment little boys for being smart and rough and strong. We can make a great start by complimenting young people based on all sorts of positive traits, regardless of their gender. I believe we can go further by encouraging young people to set their own compliments and praise themselves, rather than relying on those around them to tell them that they’re pretty, smart and capable. This starts with setting an open and encouraging dialogue within the family where each member is celebrated for discussing their positive attributes. We’re all happier and more productive when we’re enabled to choose we want to be, rather than being pigeonholed into someone else’s idea of what we should like about ourselves.
Anastasia is offering my readers a very special deal! When the book launches on November 14th, this link will go live. On that date, go to the shop and enter the code below to get 15% off! This is a book that will help redefine what it is to be you, far away from societal pressures.
For more info, go to Anastasia’s website.
I have had my weight remarked on twice in the past week. “Have you lost weight? You look like you have.” It was meant to commend me, most likely on an imaginary stringent diet and ruthless exercise regime. It had the opposite effect. Was I considered overweight before? Not as acceptable? My weight is like the tide, it fluctuates. I don’t weigh myself, nor focus on my weight. I couldn’t give a flying fig, frankly. I need to walk and do weight’s to combat insulin resistance and fragile bones. That is all.
I am a busy lady, and any available head space is filled with other concerns. I think of my friend with liver disease, who is doing everything in her power to keep well. The friend undergoing chemotherapy. So many friends enduring pain and illness. I think of friendship and shared meals and toasting with a good drop of wine. Weight is rarely stable for anyone. Surgery, illness, puberty, pregnancy, infertility treatments, menopause and a perfect storm of endocrine issues sees to that. My aim is to live and do it well. I remember being an adolescent, and feeling empowered by how underweight I was. Filling myself with water before the dreaded weigh-in, eating a dreadful concoction for breakfast that the other girls insisted set like cement and filled you up for the day. Walks were treks of pain, lasting hours. I can’t recall noticing anything of beauty on these hikes. That wasn’t the purpose of undergoing them.
Time has changed everything. I walk with my little girl, holding her hand. I actually take deep, fresh pockets of air into my lungs. I notice beauty. If I were to focus on my weight, I wouldn’t have time to live. I have been there, taking my pocket calorie counter to the shops, weighing and examining everything I encountered. I ended up sick and depressed. It was the opposite of life.
The biggest thing I have overcome is…
I don’t have a personal favourite. Each time I overcame trauma, it was humbling, surprising and wondrous!
Child abuse. Being told that you are a slut, being labelled as stupid and being hyper-vigilant. A pleasant occasion, with cordial conversation and laughter makes such a child tense up. You sadly know it is a harbinger, ringing in screaming and fighting. As a result, I grew up extremely aware of my surroundings. I can tell you who is standing in the next paddock after a quick sweep of an area. Sensitive to noise and environments. There were times I wanted to die. Times when I felt I would never recover, nor feel whole. I went back to each place of trauma, wrote about them, took pictures. I was in fact saying that I was here, and I survived. Throughout this period, I learnt a lot about myself and why I respond the way I do to situations. Don’t like loud knocking at your door, nor talking on the phone? There is a reason for that and its a perfectly normal response when given your history. Need time alone to process and unwind after a social function? Again, perfectly reasonable. When I started to understand why I am the way I am, with my little “things,” I began to heal.
Being told I was stupid. I lost so much time at school in primary and high school, due to being drugged or being in hospital. I was told I was stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything in Year Seven. When you are told often enough, you tend to start believing it. They were wrong. A kid who isn’t clever couldn’t have survived the years that followed. I left school at fourteen, when I was put in the clinic, and was extremely nervous when I was signed up to Distance Education by my surgeon when I was fifteen years of age. I was in my rotor bed when the first pack of lessons arrived. To my astonishment, not only did I enjoy it, but I was also good at it. The teachers were encouraging, and I knew I had been lied to about my intelligence and ability to learn. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to find out. Don’t believe them when they label you, please don’t absorb it!
Eating disorders. I had no control over anything in my life. I couldn’t make sense of schoolwork, as I had lost so much time. Where to find a modicum of control? I would alternate between bulimia and anorexia. I thought if there was little left of me, I could disappear. It was harsh and brutal. Walking for hours with an empty belly. Swallowing vomiting tinctures designed for victims of poisoning. Being happy when getting my stomach pumped as I would lose a kilo or two. It was savage and hard. Learning to love and appreciate this body took years. It was hard to look at food in a normal manner again. This is why I don’t hop on scales now, and make myself eat regularly.
Endometriosis. This one brought me to my knees. After having survived such darkness, I wanted a baby with all my heart. It was the carrot I clung to. Since age eleven, the pelvic pain had been agonizing. A proper diagnosis got left behind in the pressing need to stay alive. I was only officially diagnosed in my twenties. Hospitalized regularly, I was always placed in the maternity ward, a cruel and unusual way to be treated. The years of drug treatments and surgeries were tough. IVF was beyond hard. I went to ground, shutting off completely. That it eventually worked, was astounding to me. I had wanted more children, and nearly lost my life in the attempt. I grieved for quite some time, before finding peace.
Surviving it all! I am still amazed by the dawn of each new day. Amazed that I am here to see it. To have survived is extraordinary. I have my medical notes, and at times, the prognosis was grim. Here I am, an intelligent woman in her thirties, who smiles more than she frowns. Who plans for the future, and has left the pain behind. There was no magic secret I uncovered. It had to do with giving myself a break, understanding myself on a deep level, and kindness. With self-love and kindness, the healing begins. You define who you are, not them. xxx