3 Tips to Combat Difficult Body Image Moments

I made a YouTube video! 🎥✨ I want to share things that have helped me overcome anxiety, depression, and my eating disorder in a way that can be more direct, engaging, and effective. The power of video is undeniable so I decided to give it a shot.

In my first video I share three things I do to help me turn things around when I’m having a difficult body image day. I hope you find them helpful, and I would love to hear what helps you when you’re struggling with negative thoughts or difficult body image moments. I could use all the help I can get too so please share in the comments! 💖

You can find my brand new YouTube channel here! If you want to stay up to date on all the new videos I add make sure to subscribe. I am planning on releasing one new video a week that shares helpful mental health and feel good tips 🙂 Hope you’re having a lovely day! xoxo LG

LG Faves: February 2019

LG Faves February 2019

It’s time for some February favorites. Since I have been following my February intention of read more, stream + read online less, I have two books and no TV shows, lol! A big part of being able to read more is to not be addicted to a TV show. Anyways, I hope you find something interesting to check out below.

Food: Lavva Coconut Yogurt

Oh Lavva how I love thee! I have finally found a dairy free yogurt that I actually enjoy, doesn’t have tons of sugar, and the ingredient list is normal. I had been missing dairy yogurt because I grew up with my mom putting a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese on so many things: fruit salads, oatmeal, granola, toast, etc, but as I got older I started having skin issues on my arms and we found out that it was linked to dairy so the yogurt had to go. I had been searching for a replacement but I didn’t enjoy the flavor of any of the ones on the market – until I found Lavva! It is delicious and the ingredient list and sugar content is amazing. I highly recommend checking it out if you have to find a dairy free yogurt alternative.

Nonfiction Book: What Made Maddy Run? by Kate Fagan

Oh this book! I have talked about it a lot now – you can read my takeaways from it here. I can’t recommend it enough. No matter who you are you will learn something and gain some empathy and understanding reading this powerful book.  

Fiction Book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

This book is so much fun. It’s all about entering into a different magical world surrounded by magicians, kings, dragons, fairies, and I just loved it. It was a nice change from such a serious book (Maddy) and you find yourself falling into a wonderful fantasy hole that sweeps you away. If you’re looking for something fun this is the book for you. 

Music: Lizzo

Lizzo’s music is upbeat and empowering. She has an incredible voice and her music reminds me of powerful woman’s voices from the Motown, soul, disco era. It immediately puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance, and I love that most of her lyrics focus on loving your body, embracing who you are, and strutting your stuff. It is refreshing! She just came out with a new song called Juice and her new album – Cuz I Love You – is coming out in April.

Clothing: Girlfriend Collective Bodysuits

I have been wearing these bodysuits for a while and can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them before! I love them. The brand – Girlfriend Collective – is amazing. They believe in slow fashion and only use ethical manufacturing and recycled materials for their clothing. The body suits are so soft and comfortable. The Lily bodysuit is my favorite so far, and I love that theres button snaps at the bottom so you don’t have to take the entire bodysuit off to go to the bathroom, makes life so much easier! They’re soft, comfortable, and flattering.

Movement: Running

I started running again after many years of having to avoid it because of recovery and it has been so special. I can’t believe how much I have missed it and am so grateful I was able to reintroduce this movement back into my life. I am going to write a longer post about this because there is much more tied with running and my eating disorder, but for now what I want to say is that I feel so profoundly happy that I have reached a point in my recovery where I can enjoy running again in a healthy way.

 Movie: The Boy Downstairs

I have always liked Zosia Mamet from her days on Girls and the column she wrote for Glamour. I find her very interesting and thoughtful so I enjoy following the work that she does. I recently saw this cute rom-com she did on HBO and enjoyed it. It was a quirky indie film but a nice light watch with a different storyline than the typical rom-coms and takes place in hipster Brooklyn which is always fun.

What Made Maddy Run – Thoughts on Depression & Suicide

What Made Maddy Run - Perfectionism, Suicide & Depression

I recently read the book – What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan. It was incredibly powerful and moved me deeply. I saw so much of myself in Maddy, and because of a few different choices, I am still here, whereas she is sadly not.

What Made Maddy Run is the story of Madison Holleran, an ambitious college athlete at UPenn who committed suicide her freshman year. The book discusses the story of Maddy’s life, and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people face to be perfect and constantly achieve, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.

This is an incredible book for anyone to read, especially those who want to gain a better understanding of mental illness, perfectionism, and how to help people who are struggling.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had on depression and suicide from the book (I also had thoughts on perfectionism I wanted to share, but this post go too long, so I will share that in a separate post):

Depression

Throughout the book, it is repeatedly mentioned that people couldn’t understand what had gone wrong, or how Maddy was so unhappy when everything was great in her life — loving parents, happy family, talented, smart, athletic, beautiful, popular. Depression and mental health issues — they don’t have a face! It can happen to and affect anyone, and some of the most depressed people have a seemingly “perfect” life. It is genetic, so trying to make sense of it is futile.

When someone tells you they aren’t doing well or if someone is having a rough day, be kind to them — you really don’t know what anyone is going through.

No one would ever have suspected I was severely depressed. I became an expert at going from crying to slapping on my happy, cheerful face and being vivacious Lili. I would tell my mom how I hated seeing people because I was so tired of faking it and would get annoyed when people would describe me as — Oh Lili is always so sweet and happy — I felt like such a fraud and so alone.

Suicide

This is something I haven’t opened up about before, but if this can help anyone, even just a single person, it is worth it to me.

I had a really tough time when I was about 25 years old. I would wake up with nothing that made me want to get out of bed. I hated my work and what my life had turned into. The climax of all of this was when I would show up at the office and couldn’t stop crying. Just crying and crying and no matter how much I tried to stop I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would run outside and pretend like I was going to get a coffee and just stand in an alleyway and cry.

That was when the thought struck me – if this is what my life is going to be, I don’t want it.

I didn’t want this life. I was miserable and tired of being so deeply unhappy. I didn’t see a way out and thought I could no longer continue. It was a scary thought, but in an effort to be honest, I just wanted the suffering to end.

I called my mom and she connected me with a suicide hotline and I spoke to them. It was terrifying but it was the first step I took in getting help. They instructed me to go talk to HR and figure out a solution whether that be medical leave or intensive therapy. That is when I started seeing a therapist twice a week. I considered inpatient treatment – which I wish I would have done – but at the moment I was terrified of people finding out about it and thought it sounded too extreme.

I want to emphasize the point here that I didn’t look at it as killing myself, I saw it as ending the suffering because I didn’t see another way out. At this point I had been struggling with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for over ten years and didn’t know how or if I ever would get better. I also hated my job but didn’t know what I wanted to do instead, I felt completely trapped.

I think  this is a helpful thing to note because people just look at suicide as killing yourself and that wasn’t at all how I saw it when I was in the midst of my darkest thoughts. I felt like I was already trapped in the hell of my daily life, and it seemed like it would provide a release.

In reading Maddy’s story I can see how she was miserable and unhappy and couldn’t see a way out. I relate to how she felt so utterly trapped and was suffering deeply that she just wanted it to end. When you are in such a dark place it is very difficult to think clearly or see other options, you feel extremely stuck and exhausted. You also don’t see time clearly, a week can feel like eternity, and you need help IMMEDIATELY. When my mom would tell me to just finish out the week at work, it felt like a mountain I couldn’t climb and it would infuriate me because I felt like she didn’t understand the gravity of my pain, you need help and for things to change right away because you are already at your wits end.

If you’re struggling with any of this get help now. Call the suicide hotline or talk to HR right away. Things truly can change today and there is a way out that doesn’t involve suicide or hurting yourself. That is what I wish I could tell Maddy if she was here today — that things can get better and she can get better. To take a break from school and get the help she needs right away so she can find her way out of that hell and start creating a life that makes her happy.

The Gifts of Recovery

Rumi Quote

We tend to look at disorder and mental health issues as a negative thing. As something we would never wish upon anyone because of the suffering that it causes. And yes, that is true. In the midst of these issues it involves pain, isolation, and confusion. But I think there is something important to be said as to what you gain when you come out on the other side.

There are incredible gifts that come with recovery.

As I work through this process I continue to be struck with how grateful I am for what I am learning. You develop immense strength and fortitude, and gain a depth and understanding of yourself that most people don’t have to look at.

Recovery also requires a lot of courage. I don’t think most people understand the courage it takes to move through an eating disorder or any addictive behavior. We use these things as coping mechanisms for a reason and it is terrifying to begin to let them go and have faith that there is another way. 

I have come to realize that this path is such a huge part of who I am and how I have developed as a person. My life path and what I am interested in completely shifted because of it, and it has affected everything I have done since it came in and took over my life.

I have had to develop many skills to pull myself out of this and rewire negative habits that weren’t serving me. Although it has been very hard at times, I am beyond grateful that I have learned these tools.

It has given me such a fortitude and belief that I can handle anything that comes my way and will be ok no matter what happens.

Without difficulties and hardships how can we grow? I had one therapist who would continue to tell me to choose life when things got rough because on the other side she said my life would be much fuller.

Here are some of the gifts of recovery I have experienced along this path:

-       Self-awareness

-       Introspection

-       Emotional management

-       Mindfulness

-       Meditation

-       Depth and understanding of oneself

-       Insight into who you are and what is important to you

-       Spiritual practice

-       Self-respect

-       Strength of character

-       Individuality and thinking for oneself

-       Larger appreciation for life

-       Peace of mind

If you are in the midst of hard times or a difficult struggle, I hope this gives you hope to stay the course. Believe that things will get better – there truly are gifts in the healing.

Recovery Diaries: No One Can Give You the Answers

No One Can Give You the Answers

For so much of my life I just wanted to be told the answer or what to do. In recovery I wanted an expert to tell me this is the optimal way you should live to heal and thrive, so then I could do that and go on my merry way.  

When I realized my eating disorder wasn’t going away without the help of a mental health team, I thought – “Ok I’ll go into therapy, they will tell me exactly what I need to do to recover, I will do the work, and then be done with this.”

I am not joking – I went in to my first appointment with a notebook and my questions for the therapist, which were along the lines of – What are the steps to recover? What do I need to do to recover as quickly as possible? Exactly how do I do it? How long is this going to take? And what is my homework?

I thought I simply needed to focus, do my assignments, and then I could kick this thing.

I was SO wrong.

The therapists I have seen over the years have avoided giving me any sort of regimen, or clear answers on how I should live my life. They are always helpful but they never tell me what to do. When I got frustrated with the process a few months ago, I asked my therapist what else I needed to do to recover and what recovery would look like when I was there. I wanted to know where I stood in the process because I was so tired of dealing with this. And then I finally got my answer – she told me that recovery looks different for everyone.

My version of recovery is going to be different than the recovery of someone else who is suffering from a similar eating disorder. It’s not a clear cut one size fits all method. So, she couldn’t tell me what it would look like for me, it was something I was going to have to develop by continuing to do the work.

Although this is an annoying pill to swallow (wouldn’t it be SO MUCH EASIER if they could just give us the answers??!) it did ring very true to me.

In my experience, whenever I have followed some sort of plan or read about how some incredible person lives their life and tried to apply it to my life, it never really works. I always find myself doing those things for a little while but then slowly falling off the wagon and finding myself back to doing things how I feel comfortable doing them. Maybe I will learn some things that I enjoy, but I will incorporate them into my way of doing things.

I can never stick to some written out guideline that someone else created of how things should be done because they aren’t my way of doing things.

When we are so frustrated and tired of not knowing what to do, we wish someone could tell us the answer, or look at how someone you admire is doing something and do it the same way, but life doesn’t work that way and you will only be hurting yourself if you do that. That’s because you need to find your own answers, you need to figure out how you like to live your life, and you need to develop what works for you.

We are all so unique and individual. Our lives and preferences are different, what works for me is not going to work for you, and that is wonderful. Why would we want to be like someone else? Being able to go on a journey of discovering ourselves is a great gift of life. Why do we want to deprive ourselves of that?

The path to healing is learning about yourself and how to take care of yourself, through all the good and the bad. You can’t rely on other people to tell you what to do or to solve your problems, because they aren’t you. You need to tune in and find your answers inside of you.

Favorite 2018 Articles

TOLG Favorite 2018 Articles

I wrote up my list of 2018 favorites but as you might have noticed, I did not include my favorite articles in that list. The truth is that I had too many to choose only one or two! I knew I would have to dedicate a full post to the subject so I could share the variety of great articles that I read this past year.

As you will see in the list I like to read different topics from a few different sources. My favorite outlet would be The New Yorker though because in my opinion they have the most interesting well-written articles. Plus my brother has a subscription that he always lets me use :)

So without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Hope you find something interesting to read this weekend!

Profiles:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out – The New Yorker

Riz Ahmed Acts His Way Out of Every Cultural Pigeonhole – The New York Times Magazine

Nicole Holofcener’s Human Comedies – The New Yorker

Donald Glover Can’t Save You – The New Yorker

Feminism:

Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This? – Literary Hub

Rebecca Solnit: Protest and Persist: Why Giving Up Hope is Not an Option – The Guardian

Lena Dunham on Her Decision to Have a Hysterectomy at Age 31 – Vogue

Social/Political Issues:

When Deportation is a Death Sentence – The New Yorker

The Birth of a New American Aristocracy – The Atlantic

Why Are the Poor Blamed and Shamed for their Deaths? By Barbara Ehrenreich – The Guardian

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, In Her Own Words — JACOBIN

‘Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia — The Guardian

Spirituality & Health:

When Anorexics Grow Up — The New York Times 

Mama Medicine: How Deciding I Was Enough Transformed My Life — Well + Good

Why Perfectionism Is On The Rise and How To Overcome It — Goop

2019 Musings

2019 Musings - The Original LG

Happy 2019! With the start of a new year I am always drawn to reflection. I reflect on what I am grateful for from the past year and what I want to focus on for the year ahead.

Over the years I have moved away from making specific resolutions because I have felt that it prevents me from being in the moment, enjoying where I am at in my journey now, and doesn’t allow me to leave space for the possibilities that present themselves to me along the way. However, I still want to take time to reflect on and identify what I want to cultivate for the year ahead.

That is why this year I want to set an intention instead of making specific goals. A powerful way of remembering your intention is to choose a word that represents it so you can continue to refer back to your intention throughout the year.

I recently read this quote from Mama Medicine and was so moved by it. I knew right away that this was the guiding light I needed:

The Original LG 2019 Quote

That quote made everything seem so simple to me. It made all of the things that I stress or worry about dissolve by reminding me of what really matters. And I felt like I could apply it to every area of my life. Truly any area with stress, suffering, or negativity — all I have to do is remember this quote and it immediately brings what really matters into the light.

I particularly found these words so powerful when thinking about disordered eating and the path to recovery.

When you are trapped in eating disorder mentality you are not coming from a place of love for yourself — you are coming from a place of fear. Fear that you are not enough the way you are, fear that things are not ok, fear of your body, fear and judgment of yourself, distrust of yourself, insecurity, self-loathing — whatever it is, it can all be traced back to fear.

This quote made it crystal clear to me that the path to healing is through love. Love brings about the power of healing and we are all capable of love. As long as we stay connected and true to love, we are on our way to healing and building a more peaceful and content life.

So as you have probably already guessed:

The word I choose for 2019 is LOVE

What is your word for 2019? Whatever it is — I hope it brings you joy and fulfillment this next year.

May we be guided by love for ourselves, love for all sentient beings, and love for this planet we call home.

Wishing everyone a happy & bright 2019!

xx

LG

The Power of Sharing

The Power of Sharing

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog and started following my journey this year. In the past I had been so afraid to tell anyone about my issues or share what I was going through. I kept trying to keep it locked up inside which made me feel stifled and frustrated.

I first started writing this blog in secret – only telling my mom and cousin about it. Slowly my confidence and readership started growing, and I began to feel a sense of joy in writing.

I never imagined the healing that writing about my eating disorder and mental health struggles would bring me. Being honest and expressing my thoughts has been extremely cathartic and gratifying. I have a better understanding of who I am and what I am capable of, I can speak up for myself and set appropriate boundaries, and have improved difficult relationships from my past by being in a better place myself.

If you have anything you’re ashamed of or scared to share, try finding ways of letting it out and sharing in a safe way. Whether that is journaling, finding a mental health professional you can speak with, or confiding in someone that you know truly loves you, do it.

The way to break these stigmas is to be able to talk about them openly, and the power that sharing brings you is incredible. Just make sure it is with someone who is worthy of hearing your story.

Thank you to all of you who have been open, supportive and generous for listening to my story.

I am going to be starting a series where I allow people to share their ED stories here on my blog. You can share your name or simply share your initials with your story, the way I did at first with LG 🙂 More details soon to come! 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone!

xx

LG

Powerful Recovery Books

Powerful Recovery Books

The holidays can be stressful and triggering for some of us who have struggled with eating disorders or mental health issues. We might be around people who have caused us pain in the past, be in an environment where we have suffered, or have a lack of control that is difficult to cope with.

That is why it’s imperative to show ourselves patience and love during this time. Be prepared with some self-care practices you can easily turn to when things get hard.

Some practices that help me are: walking outside, having my healthy feel good foods readily available, sticking to a schedule, drinking herbal tea, journaling, supportive podcasts, meditation, yoga and BOOKS.

Books have been an important part of my recovery. They provide support when I am going through a rough time, challenge my disordered thinking, and help me see things in a different light. They never fail to bring me peace, perspective and freedom.

I am always reading a great fiction book as well as an insightful nonfiction book that reminds me of the power of mindfulness, meditation and love.

Right now, I am reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle with my childhood best friend. It’s special to be reading along with a friend, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with her even though we live in different parts of the country.

Whether you are traveling, have some time off from work, or you’ll be relaxing at home, this is a wonderful time to pick up a great book. 

Here are a few powerful books that have helped me find solace and support through my recovery journey:

Women Food and God — Geneen Roth

Spirit Junkie — Gabrielle Bernstein

A Return to Love – Marianna Williamson

What I Know For Sure – Oprah

Healing Your Hungry Heart — Joanna Poppink

Intuitive Eating — Evelyn Tribole & Elise Resch

The Recovery Diaries: Anxiety

Anxiety Quote

Anxiety is a very individual thing. I don’t claim to understand how it affects other people or what their experience is with it. I don’t know much about it outside of my own experience, which I didn’t realize was anxiety until I was told that what I was feeling wasn’t normal and then a psychiatrist diagnosed it as anxiety and depression.

I want to share a bit of my experience in case it helps others who are going through something similar get help or take steps in managing it. For me this is how it usually manifests itself: 

I am in one place trying to do something and I can’t stay focused on it because I keep getting worried about something that’s not happening at that moment.

I am either freaking out about something in the future or something that happened in the past. For example, say I am trying to read a book, I can’t focus on it because I can’t stop worrying and over thinking about what is going to happen the next day. I feel very restless about all the things I need to get done and want to make sure I plan and organize and think through everything I need to accomplish the next day. I go over things multiple times – to the point where there is nothing left to think about but I can’t not think about it. I end up feeling paralyzed and frustrated that I can’t get it out of my head and can’t do the thing I am trying to do in real time.  

Another scenario where anxiety manifests itself for me is around food and my eating disorder.

If I eat a food that I am not comfortable with –  either I think it isn’t healthy or what I should be eating I start ruminating and ruminating about it to the point that it makes me so uncomfortable and my skin is crawling. I can’t get over the fact that I ate it and am freaking out about it and all I want to do is purge. Just get it out of my system in some way because I can’t handle that I have eaten it and I don’t want to deal with these repercussions of not being able to get it out of my head. My life would be easier if I just threw it up and then I could move forward with my day thinking about anything else.  

For me the main characteristic of my anxiety is that I can’t let it go. I can’t shrug it off. No matter how hard I try, I lack the ability to shut the emotion down.

It feels like it keeps gnawing and gnawing at me until I feel like I am going crazy. I have taken sleeping pills to make myself pass out so it can just stop. It’s like a broken record on repeat and no matter how hard you try you can’t get it to stop.

Before I knew what it was I had no idea how to take care of myself through it so I had awful ways of coping: like I said, I would take sleeping pills to knock me out, I would drink, I would restrict my food so I wouldn’t have to deal with those food thoughts, or purge when I did eat the foods, I would numb with anything that I could. This was hard, and I am still surprised at how I functioned in life.

Now that I know what it is, and that I have a mental health support team, things are starting to change in a positive direction. I have been working on creating healthy ways of dealing with and working through it. Not only am I working to manage it better, I am working to find ways to alleviate the anxiety to begin with.

I am incorporating regular healthy habits: meditation, journaling, yoga, hiking. These things help shift my energy and get me out of my head.

I have also started to take medication because I have decided that if this could help me lead a more manageable and stable life then I wanted to give myself this help.

I have tried to manage everything by myself since I was 13 and I am starting to realize that maybe some of these issues are too big for me to handle on my own and that is ok. It doesn’t mean I am weak, it just means I could use a little extra support while I work on tackling these things and I can be more fully present in my life.

It is still pretty early in my medication journey but I feel like things are starting to ease up for me. I am actually starting to see the light at the end of tunnel and have hope that things can change. It’s not like I have some magic solution going on and everything is sunshine and flowers right now but I am taking it one day at a time, and hoping, like my dad says, that I will have more good days than bad days. Here’s to that.