You’re Weird

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Image courtesy of the WWW

Have you ever been told you’re weird? Or that thing you did was weird?

I have. In some sentences, repeatedly so.

This is a tag I have decided to own and not be ashamed, embarrassed or withdraw from. I own this tag like a boss and wear it proudly like a badge. A big, shiny, badge sitting on my chest for everyone to see.

Is this statement…weird?

Weird is a term people use when they don’t accept, agree or understand you or your choices. Often it comes from a place of insecurity, ignorance or  judgement.

Knowing this is empowering.

Information is key. Typically, there are now three choices to make; you can either invest the time to bridge that understanding, let it be and agree people are different, or just walk away from the situation or relationship .

Each situation will require a different chosen path.

People will always have different view points on you and your decisions. A friend or family member might not like the way you cut your hair, the size of your ass, your new nose, sexuality, new boyfriend or holiday locations. The list is limitless and can be as petty or significant as one can imagine.

Some people will disagree with you, others will agree with you and the rest will accept those decisions as yours whether they agree or not.

If you’ve thought out your decisions, believe they reflect your real self and are in your best interest, then it is what it is.

Everyone is different and it’s time people start accepting it.

 

 

My journey to & beyond anorexia nervosa

 

Earlier this year I joined a Lulu Lemon Summer Series Yoga class, down at Balmoral Beach in Sydney.

I started chatting with the instructor; a gorgeous, blonde and incredibly sweet Canadian. We started talking about bodies, wellness, confidence, body positivity, fitness and health…we focused on mental health. It was at this stage that Lauren opened up about her struggles with anorexia nervosa (more commonly known as anorexia).

The fascinating thing about humans is everyone, EVERYONE has something they struggle with – but the stories which unfold as a result are even more fascinating. How do people find a way to keep moving forward?

I am proud to say that Lauren agreed to pen her story for A Quaintrelle Life. So this is her story about her journey to and beyond anorexia nervosa…..

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the journey my eating disorder – from the beginning to end and all that happened along the way.

I was 10 years old when I first experienced a deep sense of loss and uprooting in my life. My mum sat down with my sister and I, her arms around each of us, and told us that our Dad has just passed away. From the moment I heard the news, I felt unraveled, afraid, and just not okay.

That year was by far one of the toughest yet, and when I was 11 years old, I was hospitalized with anorexia nervosa. After my Dad passed away, I felt depressed and lost my appetite. I wasn’t trying to diet or to lose weight, but food was one of the only things I felt in control of in my life. I felt worthless, that I was fat, and that I was not enough.

My relationship to food became destructive & soon I was limiting and restricting all food into my body. I lost so much weight that my body was hardly functioning and I ultimately lost complete control.

Eating, or controlling my eating, thus became my way of managing the psychological distress, the grief, and the fear that I was experiencing. I became completely disconnected from my body and overwhelmed by my thoughts, leading to feeling hopeless and lost for such a long time.

Eventually, 3 years later, with the support of physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and my family and friends, I was discharged from the hospital. However, the negative thoughts I had about my body and the struggle I had with food never really subsided, and every day was a battle against the destructive and distorted perceptions I had of my physical self. As you can imagine this lead me to feel more disconnected to my body than ever.

So what changed? The biggest influence on my recovery was my introduction to yoga. Disordered eating and thoughts of being ‘fat’, worthless or not enough are destructive, and for me, yoga has played a meaningful role in reviving my love for my body and myself just as I am.

Disordered eating is like a war against the body, and for me the practice of yoga played a role in reviving it. I am now able to listen to and respect my body, have confidence in myself, and feel empowered. My relationship with food is positive where I don’t restrict what I eat, diet or let food determine or control my sense of self-worth.

It was a long journey that was full of ups and downs, lots and lots of tears and lots of pain. However through the journey there was a lot of growth, learning and understanding of myself and who I am. Fully recovered now, I have a purpose. I have a purpose and have made a commitment to share yoga with those who are on their own recovery journey.

Don’t ever be too afraid to seek help when it doesn’t feel right. Whether your appreciation for yourself isn’t there or your relationship with food is a struggle. You deserve to live in place of joy with yourself, your body and with food – you’re too important not to.

Lauren is a social worker, yoga teacher & fitness instructor. Lauren is the co-founder of Love Body Yoga, a program in partnership with eating disorder treatment centre BodyMatters Australasia, that introduces yoga as a step on the journey to eating disorder recovery.
Lauren also teaches yoga at Yoga Sivana in Mosman & Heat Studios in Balgowlah and is a fitness instructor at Physicore Sydney.

You Don’t Look Like You Have An Eating Disorder

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As I was scrolling through Facebook earlier today, a video titled “You Don’t Look Like You Have An Eating Disorder” caught my eye.

A group of people with, or who have survived, eating disorders were interviewed. The purpose was to show us the harmful misconceptions society hold about eating disorders and the impact this can have of those who suffer from them.

Please watch the video. There is a high chance a friend, family member or even a lover has an eating disorder – you just don’t know it because it’s so secretive. I know people in my life with them, and I’ve been blessed enough to have them open up so I can hear how they view themselves, what type of illness they have, how they do it, and why they do it. It’s incredibly confronting.

People with eating disorders are so shameful of the way they look. There is so much hatred and disgust when they look in the mirror. And unfortunately it doesn’t just alter their mood for an hour or so, they live with it every hour of everyday so the flow on effect is felt within their worlds as other relationships are affected by it. Is this not hell?

About 30 million people in the United States experience eating disorders at some point in their lives, but even more experience disordered eating; this is when “a wide range of abnormal eating behaviors, many of which are shared with diagnosed eating disorders.”

And people wonder why the body confidence movement is necessary! Not everyone may be comfortable looking at plus size, or petite, women online but the above statistics are related to the US ONLY. What if we could encourage and nurture more self love. Maybe people would focus inwardly and not be so critical of others which naturally perpetuates the cycle. And if we stop, or even slow down the cycle, we can reduce these these alarming stats.

Reading the materials and watching the videos has reinforced why I am again doing the Sydney Skinny. We need to learn to understand and accept our bodies. We need to stamp out these unnecessary and very harmful illnesses.

WatchCut has realised this video as part of a series to raise awareness during Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Essena O’Neil: A Tale of True Values

The last few days have seen Aussie teen blogger Essena O’Neil thrust into global mainstream media with the headline that she wants to quit social media. Why? Because it is fake.

Essena is hugely popular on social media. Before the publicity push she was sitting at 500k followers she is now at over 900k ( the cynical PR hack in me is currently being handled). Her YouTube and Tumblr accounts have also been a fantastically popular.

You may remember Essena allowed me to write a blog post about positive body image in the lead up to The Sydney Skinny 2014. She was the only blogger to support me in the lead up to the swim and I approached numerous people including several plus size bloggers. Silence. I knew then that she genuinely saw the issue of body confidence as real and necessary – I didn’t know the reason why.

Being a blogger can have its perks but it does open one up to criticism – which I’m sure she is feeling in full force right now. For her to achieve what she has is no small feat; especially at such a young age. Her YouTube video message is distressing to me because it is clearly a cry for help as she questions who she really is. I know full well how confronting this process is – it partly explains my recent silence.

To grow up being obsessed with the measurements of your body and desperately wanting to be accepted into what people view as the cool group is crazy. Treating your body with respect is so important (and something I have not always done) but letting this define who you are and your values is nothing short of misguided. Wanting to put ones best foot forward is important but what chance do children have when the message about being skinny as the ultimate life goal is consistently being pushed by role models?

I am not suggesting that people shouldn’t strive to be accepted. Everyone wants, and deserves, to be accepted but that doesn’t mean it’s in the most talked about or visible form. Sometimes being accepting is challenging the status quo – if you think it, others will agree with it too.

I’ve struggled with this in my life. I’m a middle class, white female; my life and what should be important to me is pre determined in the eyes of most. But anyone who knows me, knows that my spirit came from either an African American or Latina woman / gay man – culturally very diverse to my upbringing. Anyone who knows me, sees a passion and curisoity bubble under the surface which I struggle to unleash in an a suitable way. When I do it typically looks like a big mess. How do I marry my differences with my value system to create my authentic and fulfilling life? Maybe I need to sit with Essena over a cup of tea and chat it through; I’ve no doubt we would learn to pave our own paths

Essena is 19 years old and is already asking herself remarkably profound questions about who she is. She has what many view as the perfect body type and yet there she is crying on camera because of how miserable she is. Maybe it’s not what is on the outside but how you feel about yourself inside. Maybe it’s about channeling that sense of authenticity and focusing one a bigger goal/movement.

For a 12 year old to obsessively Google the measurements of models waists because she wanted a lifestyle she believed to be real is heartbreaking. I’m not a hater of social media because so much good has come from it but the vast majority of us seem to get believe the white pearly smiles of those plastered on social media are real and permanent. They may be real during that snapshot but they are not lasting. Nothing is forever in this world.

There is no doubt this country and many others around the world have a very skewed view of what a normal body or life looks like. If only there were more 12 year olds learning about inspirational people, history, arts, world issues then maybe people would learn what is important to them. Or maybe images and conversation around beauty were different children would grow up to be more accepting of themselves and in turn others.

This media storm around Essena has come at a time where I am asking myself the same questions. And for the first time in a really long time I see a far brighter future as I focus on myself, others and the greater environment we share. Sometimes the devil truely is in the detail.

Essena, haters are going to hate so fuck ’em.

The Long Silence

Something I’ve recently learnt is the importance of sitting still and thinking. I’m naturally an extrovert and with that comes the need to vocalise many of the thoughts running through my brain. I no longer believe this is entirely necessary nor something I want to give.

Apolgies for the silence but despite promising posts it has been necessary that I stop, think, question, source information and learn. As self indulgent as this sounds, it needs to be about me. A lot has happened over the past 6 months but the last 4-6 weeks I’ve finally reached a stage where I’ve learnt to look and analyse myself. I can more clearly hear what people are telling me and I’m open to absorbing the messages needed to help me evolve.

It’s only recently that I have learnt to comphrend what the concept of personal change means.

I’ve been asking myself significant questions around what makes me happy – Career? Friends? Money? Men? What’s important to me and what do I want from life.

Unlike William Shakespeare’s famous quote “what’s in a name?”, where Juliet argues it does not matter that Romeo is from her rival’s house, the name of this blog, the connection and authentic representation to and of my life very much matters.

I look forward to sharing an evolved representation of what living as a quaintrelle means to me but it won’t be immediate.

Pay It Forward Wednesday: My commitment to help the world in the smallest possible way

I’ve just hung up from a long conversation with a dear friend of mine.

The conversation started with me being quite upset about a certain issue. An ongoing issue. I had been doing much better, but today I remember I needed to do something which proved to be a major trigger for me.

I listened as she did the talking.

She opened up more than ever before about certain challenges in her life. Challenges that people just don’t know about, or discuss.

As you read this, I am sure you can identify with this statement.

I am also recently familiar with the act of Paying It Forward. What is it? It’s the random act of doing something kind for someone who hasn’t done anything for you. Instead of returning a favour you do good because you can.

The conversation with my friend made me realise that we just don’t know the shit the random person on the street is going through. Frankly, many of us don’t even know the struggles our nearest and dearest are facing because they are so well hidden in the deepest parts of our souls. People wear masks.

Unlike Oprah and Ellen, my focus will not be on giving people cars, money or lavish experiences(but frankly, I wish I could!!).

My acts will likely be words. Words have a profound impact on the way people view others, and themselves. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. By saying something nice to someone may distract them momentarily from the fact their parent is dying, how they are going to pay their mortgage or deal with their bully of a boss. It may also just make someone feel that fuzzy feeling inside. It may also confuse someone and be fodder for the chatter around the water cooler!

Whatever the outcome, I want to try and put a smile on someones face.  Not because I have to, or am obliged to, but because I want to and feel it’s important.

I am so deeply thankful for the people in my life who have the patience to coach me and give me their time. They do it because they care for and love me. In some cases, they may feel it’s part of their role as my friend or family member.

But to say or do something nice and sincere to a complete stranger is not expected and often means more.

So once a week I will do something nice for someone. It may be a stranger, but it may also be a family member or a friend. Either way it will be unprompted.

It’s a small way I can help make some people feel a little happier, even if it’s for a split second. Will you join me on this journey too?

Feeling raw

I am feeling raw. A lot has recently happened.

Typically, I’m not known to sit back and not fight back. For a time, I’d lost my fight. Thankfully, time continues to pass; the sun continues to rise in the morning and set in the evening.

I want those who are also going through a shitty period to remember that things get better; whether you achieve resolution or not.

The essence of this blog, which is to live an honest and authentic life full of passion, has never been more important.

 

So, hold onto your pants because I am planning on a lot more content!