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 Manna Minute 
Sunday, October 29 2017
Why are we so afraid of gaining weight?

First of all, I am going to state that I LOVE the body positivity, fat activism community, and the strong push by many dietitians and health professionals for Health at Every Size. The knowledge and freedom that can be gained from these amazing humans who are shaking up the societal norms is truly inspiring and life changing - if you allow yourself to sit back, shut up, and listen to what they have to say. I was listening to author Lindy West speak with Christi Harrison on her Podcast Food Psych- Episode #99- on two topics that truly hit home for me in my recovery, and I felt like the epiphanies that I experienced through these two shared experiences between Lindy and me were profound in the following way: if we take away stigma and judgment on weight, so many lives will go from imprisoned by shame, fear, and ignorance to enlightened, fulfilled, and full of joy.

1. Lindy acknowledged that when she was living in diet culture and manipulating her food intake to fit the societal “norm” and “acceptable” standards, she was miserable and realized if that is what it took to be “a satisfactory weight” then she didn’t want that life. AMEN. As an eating disorder sufferer, the world is a cruel place to begin with, but even for someone who does not have the mental and physical fight of ED, society is still poisoning brains. All humans are cultural consumers of diet trends, unrealistic expectations, and constant exposure to the “right way” to look, feel, and exist due to media and lack of factual nutritional and health education. My whole life prior to taking a stand, I was not living, but surviving in a hell hole that I allowed society and my influencers to help me create for my life. Restricting food to fit an ideal, over exercising to compensate for the food I did eat, and limiting my existence to a small space that was deemed appropriate and promised me happiness and love… yet that small space I was existing in was, in reality, joyless, anxious, self-damaging, and sad. And I am in a thin, society accepted body; think of how a person living in a fat body feels? At one point of my recovery, it just hit me… I deserved more: more food, more choices, more self-love, more connection, and more joy. That is when I decided to truly fight for the eating disorder voice to be silenced, and that brings me to the second realization that Lindy and countless other body positive activists endorse and I experienced.

2. Immerse yourself in what you fear. Like most people, I have been taught by society to fear fat. Fat in foods, fat on people… all fat is scary, bad, and undesirable; that is what I, and many others, have been taught. When I was deep in my disorder, I ran across a hashtag on Instagram that read #wightgainiscool, and I was appalled- how would weight gain EVER be considered as cool??? Well, after finally facing my deluded brain, going to treatment for my anorexia, and, indeed, gaining said cool weight, I revisited the hashtag and began to dig… All my clicking and searching led me through countless pages and handles of women who were embracing weight, being proud of their imperfections, and truly celebrating what it is to be a non-traditional, marginalized, gorgeous woman. As I studied these majestic beings of the body positive movement such as Lindy West (@thelindywest), Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda), Danielle Galvin (@chooselifewarrior), Amanda Gist (@amandagist), Imogen (@the_feeding_of _the _fox), and Danielle Brooks (@daniebb3), something began to shift in me. The fears that had been instilled in me by those around me, the media, and society in general, slowly began to melt away. I felt liberated, cheated, excited, scared, joyful, and lost all at the same time. I was excited to have a new found freedom in my thinking, yet angry that these bodies are so widely unaccepted. I was scared because anything new is scary to me a first, but so joyful because this realization opened my eyes to what truly matters in the world- people matter. Not their bodies… people.

And now the kicker… I know that I am a thin, white, privileged woman who has never felt the discrimination that occurs for people living in a fat body, a disabled body, or a marginalized body… but I do know this… Learning to love, respect, fight for, lift up, normalize, bring together, and take a stand with and for ALL bodies, especially those who have social biases and demeaning standards against them on a day to day basis is a MUST. With my privilege in this world, I want to help others see the beauty, value, need, and gift that diversity in weight and health at every size will bring to all human beings, not just to those who suffer. As for me, I want to say thank you to the body positive community who has taught me to let go of societal standards and embrace myself and others for who we are… and for goodness sake, follow these amazing women and so many more. Don’t take my word for it- allow them to show you the way to freedom.

Also, a huge thank you to Maghan Kacmarcik (@Sundaesforthesoul) for being such an amazing example of a thin ally to the fat activism and body positive movement. You inspire me daily! Allow her to inspire you, as well!

First of all, I am going to state that I LOVE the body positivity, fat activism community, and the strong push by many dietitians and health professionals for Health at Every Size. The knowledge and freedom that can be gained from these amazing humans who are shaking up the societal norms is truly inspiring and life changing - if you allow yourself to sit back, shut up, and listen to what they have to say. I was listening to author Lindy West speak (Food Psych Podcast Episode #99) on two topics that truly hit home for me in my recovery, and I felt like the epiphanies that I experienced through these two shared experiences between Lindy and me were profound in the following way: if we take away stigma and judgment on weight, so many lives will go from imprisoned by shame, fear, and ignorance to enlightened, fulfilled, and full of joy.

1. Lindy acknowledged that when she was living in diet culture and manipulating her food intake to fit the societal “norm” and “acceptable” standards, she was miserable and realized if that is what it took to be “a satisfactory weight” then she didn’t want that life. AMEN. As an eating disorder sufferer, the world is a cruel place to begin with, but even for someone who does not have the mental and physical fight of ED, society is still poisoning brains. All humans are cultural consumers of diet trends, unrealistic expectations, and constant exposure to the “right way” to look, feel, and exist due to media and lack of factual nutritional and health education. My whole life prior to taking a stand, I was not living, but surviving in a hell hole that I allowed society and my influencers to help me create for my life. Restricting food to fit an ideal, over exercising to compensate for the food I did eat, and limiting my existence to a small space that was deemed appropriate and promised me happiness and love… yet that small space I was existing in was, in reality, joyless, anxious, self-damaging, and sad. And I am in a thin, society accepted body; think of how a person living in a fat body feels? At one point of my recovery, it just hit me… I deserved more: more food, more choices, more self-love, more connection, and more joy. That is when I decided to truly fight for the eating disorder voice to be silenced, and that brings me to the second realization that Lindy and countless other body positive activists endorse and I experienced.

2. Immerse yourself in what you fear. Like most people, I have been taught by society to fear fat. Fat in foods, fat on people… all fat is scary, bad, and undesirable; that is what I, and many others, have been taught. When I was deep in my disorder, I ran across a hashtag on Instagram that read #wightgainiscool, and I was appalled- how would weight gain EVER be considered as cool??? Well, after finally facing my deluded brain, going to treatment for my anorexia, and, indeed, gaining said cool weight, I revisited the hashtag and began to dig… All my clicking and searching led me through countless pages and handles of women who were embracing weight, being proud of their imperfections, and truly celebrating what it is to be a non-traditional, marginalized, gorgeous woman. As I studied these majestic beings of the body positive movement such as Lindy West (@thelindywest), Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda), Danielle Galvin (@chooselifewarrior), Amanda Gist (@amandagist), Imogen (@the_feeding_of _the _fox), and Danielle Brooks (@daniebb3), something began to shift in me. The fears that had been instilled in me by those around me, the media, and society in general, slowly began to melt away. I felt liberated, cheated, excited, scared, joyful, and lost all at the same time. I was excited to have a new found freedom in my thinking, yet angry that these bodies are so widely unaccepted. I was scared because anything new is scary to me a first, but so joyful because this realization opened my eyes to what truly matters in the world- people matter. Not their bodies… people.

And now the kicker… I know that I am a thin, white, privileged woman who has never felt the discrimination that occurs for people living in a fat body, a disabled body, or a marginalized body… but I do know this… Learning to love, respect, fight for, lift up, normalize, bring together, and take a stand with and for ALL bodies, especially those who have social biases and demeaning standards against them on a day to day basis is a MUST. With my privilege in this world, I want to help others see the beauty, value, need, and gift that diversity in weight and health at every size will bring to all human beings, not just to those who suffer. As for me, I want to say thank you to the body positive community who has taught me to let go of societal standards and embrace myself and others for who we are… and for goodness sake, follow these amazing women and so many more. Don’t take my word for it- allow them to show you the way to freedom.

Also, a huge thank you to Maghan Kacmarcik (@Sundaesforthesoul) for being such an amazing example of a thin ally to the fat activism and body positive movement. You inspire me daily! Allow her to inspire you, as well!

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 02:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, October 11 2017
The Struggle Can End

The Struggle Is Real- but It Can End

If you ask my husband what is one of the most memorable times that we disagreed when I was in the throes of my eating disorder he would say it was the time when we were discussing day-to-day struggles; his perception as a non-mental illness sufferer was MUCH different than mine.

We were having an argument over how stressed I was a simple daily task, and he said to me- “Gah, why does everything have to be a struggle, Brooke? Life really does not have to be this hard.” I got super offended, snapped back at him, “Every day IS a struggle; you’re just living in denial. Every day is a struggle.” Little did I know at the time that struggle was my truth, but it is not that way for all people. Even though there are struggles in life, people can actually live through day-to-day existence without struggling through every, even seemingly mundane, second.  

People who are not mentally ill understand this truth; for those of us who are in the battle of our lives with ED, it does not seem possible. Simple tasks such as getting out of bed, getting dressed or eating breakfast can be utterly impossible. My experience was with anxiety and anorexia with purging tendencies; and with that daily battle, the struggle was REAL for me. The same goes for someone who suffers from binge eating disorder, bulimia, addiction, suicidal thoughts… the list goes on. Nothing seems easy when you brain is so full of chatter, static, and opposition that you cannot think clearly, much less grasp reality.

I could not do any normal task without the ED voice in my brain screaming loud as hell. When I would pick out my clothes in the morning my eating disorder voice would be berating me with put downs such as: “you are not good enough”, “you look awful”, and “if you use a behavior (run, crunch, restrict, purge) this will all be better”… And then that same dialogue would repeat when I looked in the mirror to do my make-up or fix my hair. That would sound like: “you are not good enough”, “you look awful”, and “if you use a behavior (run, crunch, restrict, purge) this will all be better”… And then it came time to eat breakfast… You get my point. The eating disorder voice was on repeat and on full volume almost 24/7. Even now in my recovery, when there are times of change or unknown, I can feel my brain slip back into the self-criticizing mode. Before, I would listen to the belittling; I would use a disordered behavior to numb out or unhealthily cope with the stress. Now, I recognize that ED is loud, I fact check with a loved one, and I use opposite action to fight the disordered part of my brain that needs to be shut down. It is simple, but not easy… yet it can be accomplished with practice, support, and time.

I realize now that my husband was correct… life does not have to always be a struggle. It is hard for someone who has never experienced the brain of someone who sufferers from mental illness to understand- and maybe we can be thankful for their inability to empathize… but the world needs to be informed so sympathy and help instead of isolation and judgment can be given to those who do struggle daily.  For me, and millions of others in the world, mental illness and struggle ARE the reality; where I can agree with Derrick and also give hopes for those who endure this painful reality is, with time, treatment, support, possibly medication, the struggle CAN end. It CAN cease. It CAN get better. It just takes you, the sufferer, fighting to live free.

Keep up the fight, Warrior. The struggle can end. 

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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