Guest Blogger: Megan Warner- On overcoming an eating disorder

It took me more than 20 years to learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is no “right” or “wrong” ; when it comes to beauty.  As a child, I began struggling with my weight from the time I was 7. I grew more and more self-conscious over the years. When I was 14,I finally decided I’d had enough of being overweight, so I began exercising and eating more food with high nutritional value and fewer foods that didn’t have as many nutrients. Every time I stepped on the scale, the number was lower and I received more praise and attention from more people. It was a high to me, so I kept going. I became obsessed with weight loss and I lost so much weight to the point I was unhealthy. Because I was starving, I began overeating. For the next 7 years, I struggled with binge eating. It wasn’t until I was at my lowest point in life, at my highest weight, when I finally decided to accept myself for who I was right then. I didn’t believe that I no longer needed to change—I knew that I needed to take care of my body and that I needed to reach a healthier point physically. But I finally realized that I first had to reach a healthier point mentally. I had to love myself despite my imperfections. I had to believe I was beautiful despite the physical changes I needed to make. And most importantly, I had to let go of believing I had to make those changes in order to BE beautiful.

I began believing that even if I never lost an ounce, I was still beautiful. I began believing that happiness was beauty. Goodness was beauty. Kindness was beauty. I no longer needed a boy to love me in order to feel beautiful. I no longer needed anyone else’s validation for me to feel happy or confident. I finally understood that this was a choice and that I could choose to feel beautiful, happy, and confident right THEN. At my lowest point. At my highest weight.

This change in my thinking is what ultimately empowered me to live a healthier life and to reach a healthy weight. The change was not instant, and it took a ton of hard work and constant vigilance so that my thoughts would not go back to negative thoughts that had been stuck on autopilot for years. But eventually, I completely let go of the need to control my weight and to be a certain weight. I didn’t feel like “healthy choices” were grueling, difficult, or even impossible choices anymore. I began to exercise more, but the word “exercise” no longer meant “staring at the elliptical or treadmill until you hit a certain number of calories burned.” Exercise began to mean fun new hobbies such as hiking or walking in the canyon while I look at the beautiful trees and listen to the calming sound of the river. Eating didn’t mean obsessing over every calorie or type of food I ate anymore. Eating began to mean what my body wanted to eat, when it needed to eat, until I reached the point of fullness and satisfaction. Sometimes my body craved an apple, and sometimes it craved Cinnabon. Sometimes it wanted pizza and sometimes it wanted a salad. It didn’t matter anymore. Neither did my weight. Neither did my looks. Neither did my relationship status. And I’ll tell you what—it was liberating. I was finally free from all the lies I’d believed my entire life.

Fast forward to today, 5 years after I made this life-altering discovery and these slow changes in my thinking. Do I ever feel ugly? Fat? Gross? Worried about my looks? What about those wrinkles that are popping up? Do I ever question how in the world I got married or what my husband sees in me? Do I ever feel incapable, lazy, worthless, depressed? Do I ever doubt myself or feel like a failure? YES—to all of the above, and more often than I’d like to admit. Most changes aren’t a cure-all for the rest of our lives. Most changes in our thinking, especially those that go against what society bombards us with constantly, take continual effort and time, even after we’ve reached a good point in our lives. I will probably have to be vigilant about my positive body image my entire life. I don’t know if it will ever be something that is on autopilot for me. What I DO know is that overall I am now confident and I truly love my life, I am thankful for my body and everything it allows me to do, and I am happy.

 

Megan Warner

megan.warner72@gmail.com

 

An Update

I promised I would be raw and honest this pregnancy as it progressed, so here it goes. This pregnancy has been a night and day difference from Maylea. I feel constant awe and gratitude regarding how healthy this boy is and how much better this pregnancy has been. I am so much more calm and peaceful. I know the peace comes in part from my little boy touching my soul. There’s a certain calmness that comes from the lack of late-night emergency runs, ER visits, and nights crying into my husband’s arms with fear that the baby will not make it. It's been a rather joyful pregnancy and I am so grateful for that.

But I feel the need to write, and so I do. Lately I have been trying to focus on weighing my worth on who I am rather than what I actually weigh. You know that small thing called creating a human?  Well it changes you and it with that comes a lot of change to your body and it sure is easy to get caught up in all those changes and negative thoughts that come with it.

I feel that pregnancy and motherhood are such gifts that we as women get to partake in. However, there are other forces will try to tear us down and make this beautiful thing something bleak, or negative. Through anxiety, comparison, feelings of inadequacy, just being plain tired, or our ever changing body, it’s easy to feel that we aren’t enough.

This is my Achilles heel. I wish it wasn't, I wish I didn't care, I wish that I was a better example to my daughter. I really wish I didn’t care about a silly number on a silly scale but the honest truth is- I do. Maybe I’m a little vain; I’ve probably been influenced by media and the barrage of what the world says should matter to us. Also, after the still birth, I really lost myself in so many ways. I lost a lot of ground that has been hard to win back. One large battle was over my body and I fear I will lose that battle all over again. I like to be healthy and feel fit and happy and right now, it’s easy to say because of the numbers, I am not.

But I want my daughter to love herself completely. I want her to never worry about her body image, to have a healthy mind and heart, and to realize and recognize what real beauty is.

In fact, I want that for myself as well. That is another reason for doing this whole project, to help me refocus and relearn what real beauty is. I think I’ve come far from where I was, I am understanding and internalizing what real beauty looks like and feels like. Right now though, I am just feeling vulnerable. However, I know that I am a daughter of God of infinite worth who is loved and stronger and more beautiful then she realizes or could even comprehend.

So today I take back what is mine: Joy. Ha ha! Take that Satan, or World, or whatever other source sending me lies trying to deceive me. You hear me? Take that.

Today I will say: I AM A MIGHTY! BEAUTIFUL! STRONG! WARRIOR!

Here we go again...

Nausea, exhaustion, a twist of irritability, and continual gnawing anxiety. That's certainly sums up the last few months of my life. All the while Maylea's favorite phrase: "Brave like a Buffalo" has been running through my mind. Why am I feeling this way? You might have guessed it--I'm preggers. Again. For the 4th time. 

 

     This is a necklace given to all the women on the Bloom Retreat after we learned about the phrase " brave as a buffalo ".  You can read more about that blog post  here.

     This is a necklace given to all the women on the Bloom Retreat after we learned about the phrase " brave as a buffalo ".  You can read more about that blog post here.

 

The news that I was pregnant this time came less with excitement, and more with uncertainty and vulnerability. After telling my hubby I couldn't help but ask: "Are you ready to do this again?" Up to this point, we've got 1 for 3, with the latest pregnancy ending in a miscarriage followed by D&C. It was so hard sitting in the ultrasound room and hear those awful words again: " I am sorry but there is no heart beat." 

Despite my extreme hesitancy, my husband and little girl have embraced this new possibility with excitement. May (now 4) has been praying for a baby for months and has made it part of her morning routine to ask if I'm am pregnant, and I've taken my motherly liberty to lie and say no. To make sure things were a little more likely to work out we waited until Christmas to finally give her the news. And when we finally did tell her, and her reaction was priceless. Her mouth hung open and with an awe-struck, sweet little tone she inquired: "Heavenly Father sent her down?!" She tenderly reached over to feel my tummy and started talking to the baby. "Hi baby sister.....Hi baby sister..." repeatedly. Then her sweetness erupted into joy: "I"m gonna be a big sister!" Seriously. Best Christmas gift ever. 

Now, I've gotta say, though we've had sweet moments like this lil' christmas gift, being pregnant has been anything but sweet. I know there are lots of women out there who bask in each day of infant building, blissfully caressing their bellys each day....enjoying and sharing proggie photos. feeling connected to their little bundles of joy. Yeah, that's not me. And because of that, I have definitely questioned whether or not I really want to blog about this experience here on Hózhó. BUT....I. must. acknowledge--its experiences like THIS ONE that are the precise reason this Hózhó project exists - to acknowledge, pain, uncertainty, vulberability, and truth - truth that maybe this baby won't make it all the way like two others before... but if that's the case, then bring it! I'm here standing vulnerable, and ready to take the hit if it comes. I'm not going to sacrifice joy to the pain that might come if the desired outcome doesn't happen. So I've decided that throughout this journey, even though it's so difficult for me, even though it's risky, and I'm filled with anxiety, I will share my REAL THOUGHTS. Joyful, Painful, Vulnerable, Stupid, or Blissful, or Anxious as they may be. So... with that preface. here are some of my thoughts recently...

Yesterday we went in for a mandatory high-risk ultrasound. At first I felt fine, even a little excited since we were about to find out the gender of our little one. But as I started to walk into the office I felt a looming doom. Frankly, as I often do, I expected bad news: I thought I would here: "yep, no heart beat." that awful phrase that pulls the earth from underneath me, and seems to swallow me whole.  But as I was full of fear and ready to hear the worst.... I didn't. That awful day-dream didn't come true. For now, our little one is healthy! What a blessing! I am delighted to share how excited and blessed I feel to be pregnant with this little one. I want child to get here so bad that it scares me. That's the hardest part--allowing myself to experience true connection. I am getting better at it but not quite there. Ultrasounds are the hardest. Anyway - back to the good.... Not only were we surprised with how healthy our baby is, we also learned that May isn't having a little sister after-all. That's right. It's a boy!  Here's the little lug now: 

 

So he is the reason I have been MIA recently, pretty good reason don't you think? Well here's too another wonderful, difficult and different Hózhó experience. Life is a crazy, beautiful thing isn't it?