10 minutes with Blair Thompson

Welcome back guys! Today’s interview is with a wonderfully gorgeous aspiring undergraduate/ aspiring dietician / warrior, Blair Thomspon ❤

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Blair runs an instagram account: @bodypositiveeverydamday (*hint hint: go check her out and also, yes its dam!). I decided to reach out to her because she posts the most amazing inspirational posts and messages. She reveals her hopes, her dreams, her fears and her vulnerabilities in her posts & whole-heartedly shares with her followers her journey toward body acceptance and recovering from her eating disorder. Her triumphs and her struggles reflect those of ours and that’s what makes her so incredibly relatable. In a way, she’s us. Its as though there’s a bond because she makes one go “oh my god yes that’s me I was going through the same thing and I’m not alone”. In a way I can’t help but feel connected to her, tied by our shared understanding of the same trials and tribulations about our bodies we go through as we continue fighting our eating disorder; as though we know each other even though we live on opposite sides of the globe.

That’s the beauty of it all – shared struggles bring people together.

Blair’s responses came at such an opportune time, because the day I received her responses and read them (August 29), I was going through an incredibly bad body image and eating day. PMS was currently still is hitting me, and when that happens, I get really bad bloating. Its so bad until my tummy actually hurts and I can’t stand up properly and need to lie down because it feels as though my tummy is about to burst. I start swelling & puffing up like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it was giving me really bad body image issues. Plus, I wanted to eat so many things & it was bringing back a lot of unhealthy negative thoughts about restricting and body-bashing. It made me feel like I was taking 53 steps back in my recovery, that I was relapsing because I was slipping over and over again.

Not only did Blair share some of the current struggles I go through, she spoke about some of the things that I actually, up til now, still fear admitting. But then I learned: There is NO one way to recover. People are going to struggle with negative thoughts handout disordered eating, sometimes on some days, sometimes everyday. But that’s all right, and that doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. When I slip and make mistakes, binge or cry and restrict or throw tantrums, I always end up thinking that there is no other person out there going through what I’m experiencing because like what a wise friend once told me, when you’re hurting, little else matter. But then there are people like Blair who remind me that I am not alone, who share their accounts of same pains and use their struggle to help others and help themselves.

So thank you Blair, for sharing your story with me and reassuring I’m not as wrecked as I make myself out to be and that even though I am still broken, still recovering, still fighting, still bingeing, still struggling, still crying, what’s more important is that I am still brave enough to continue fighting these demons that I have been fighting since Day 1.

I will share some of her personal Instagram posts with you at the end of the interview so as to give you a sneak peek into how she motivates her followers. Until then here’s introducing to you, Blair Thompson ❤

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Hi! For those unfamiliar with you and what you do, please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Blair Thompson; I am currently recovering from binge eating disorder. I developed this disorder while I was recovering from anorexia. I am getting my degree as a dietitian, so that I can help people with eating disorders, so I will specialize in eating disorders. Right now I am trying to help others by trying to spread the word to be body positive, to love yourself at any weight or at any size.

Why did you decide to create an Instagram account about eating disorder recovery and body positivity?

This is an awesome question. I created mine because when I deep down wanted help with recovery I never got the help. I got dangerously thin, and I knew there was something wrong, I was tired of being afraid to eat, afraid of fat. I always thought about food and working out. I wanted help, but I never got it, so I tried to recover on my own, I had no support, so I ended up developing binge eating disorder and now I have so much support and I go to a therapist and a nutritionist. I really want to give back to every person who is suffering with an eating disorder, so I use my instagram to help others.

Could you share with us your eating disorder story?

I will gladly share my story. Growing up I was chubby, I was not a little thin person, and I am short but compact. I was very athletic and good at every sport I tried. All I wanted to do is have fun and run around, I did eat a lot of food, mostly junk food, but I was happy and so healthy. I moved a lot and at every school people noticed that I was fat, and they would tell me. I got called fatty all the time, people would make fun of my chin and tell me that I had no chin. My dad told me that once I got older I would be more concerned with my weight. I did not understand what he meant. Then in 8th grade I really liked this guy but he did not like me because I was that fat girl that was shy but really nice. I decided to leave and go to boarding school, when I got there, people called me fat, guys were like “ I can’t date you because you are fat”. I had to be “small”, “thin” to be attractive. I took all of that to heart; I was tired of being ignored. I started to eat healthier, eating less, and working out a lot. I came back sophomore year and lost about 15 pounds, over a year. Everyone told me that I looked so much better. I felt so good, people who ignored me, were in love with me. People treated me with respect and they treated me so much better. Then I had guys flirting with me and complementing me from left to right. I was in heaven. I had a ton of boyfriends from sophomore year to junior year. I loved the attention. Most guys I dated were over the Internet, some in person. The guys at my school were starting to notice me, and one guy touched me in a sexual way, and I felt so uncomfortable. I told a teacher about it, and it was called sexual abuse, he was so mean to me. Each guy that I dated tried and did force me to do things that I did not want to do. They were attracted to me because of the way I looked; I tried to find self-love through an unhealthy way through guys. It did a lot of damage on my self-esteem, I thought that when I got thin, I would feel loved, more importantly I would love myself. Turns out, I did not love myself, I hated myself, I would workout and eat nothing because I thought that it would help me with my self-love problem, but it didn’t. I had poor relationships with guys, one guy tried to have sex with me, but I wouldn’t let him, so he forced me to give him a hand job, I was so scared, I couldn’t move and then after I just cried and cried. I ended that, and I thought it happened because I was ugly, and not thin enough. My problem got worse and worse, my negative thoughts were awful, I self harmed every time I ate, I hated my body and that fact that I had to eat. Eventually I got into a relationship with a guy that I am with now, it is a serious relationship, but he had to deal with me cutting, and being depressed and anorexic. Our relationship almost ended so many times because I cared more about being thin, and feeding my eating disorder rather than focusing on our relationship. It happened again when I started binge eating. Eating disorders love to ruin relationships because it wants you in isolation, and it will do anything to get you there. Now I am still struggling with negative thoughts, and my binge eating disorder, but I am trying to take it one day at a time, hopefully one day, I will be binge free.

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What made you decide to seek help?

The fact that my eating disorder ruined my life, and it made it so that I was not able to function in life, I couldn’t do anything, or enjoy anything. My relationship was falling apart, my grades were falling apart, I was falling apart, I just honestly wanted to die because I couldn’t and can’t stop eating. I knew that I needed the help, and once I decided to get help, the easier it was for me to chose recovery and learn how to deal with my mental problems.

Have there been times when you felt tempted to return to your old habits? How did you overcome them?

There as been meaning times I have felt tempted to return to my old habits. I don’t starve myself anymore; it has been 2 years since I last starved myself. I actually binged ate today (August 28, 2015). I have not cut since 2013. I overcame not starving myself because my body was slowly breaking down and shutting down, I needed food, so my body made it so that I couldn’t stop eating because I starved it for 5 years, and I had my binge eating disorder for 2 years. I have not successfully been able to stop a binge, but The longest I went without binge eating was 3 months, but recently I can only make it about 2 weeks. I have been trying to eat food in moderation and eat food that makes me feel good.

What do you think it means to be “recovered” from an eating disorder, and what are some steps that you take to ensure that you stay on the path of recovery?

To me it means that you choose to be recovered everyday, to know when you are having eating disorder thoughts or negative harmful thoughts. I honestly do not think people can get fully cured from an eating disorder. Even though their weight is restored, does not mean that they are fully recovered. Everyday I tell myself to be positive, that my body is beautiful even though I have fat, and that I still have binge eating episodes. I am perfectly imperfect. Yes I am fat, chubby whatever, and I know that recovery is a bumpy path but giving up is not an option, even if I do fall down one day, I get up and keep going.

What happens when you “fall down”? Could you give us some examples? How do you get back up on your feet?

This is a perfect question for right now. Today I have had a hard day because I had an urge to binge eat. I tried to fight it all day, but then after dinner I just ate everything, I couldn’t stop and I can’t stop. My stomach hurts because I ate too much. I try very hard to not let my falls get me down, I try to tell myself that it is okay, that I am okay, to just breath, and just relax. I cry, crying does help, and I let myself feel everything, because I fall every time to quiet my mind from all the feelings. It is unhealthy; it is so healthy just to let yourself feel every feeling.

What has changed since embarking on recovery, in terms of your perception of yourself, your mindset or your attitude?

A lot changed, my life attracts more positive things, like people and more opportunities. My life is so much more enjoyable; I find pleasure in doing the simple things in life again. I can go out, I can eat out and not worry about food, I can enjoy my friends, and family. It just makes life a happier place, it makes my mind a lot healthier, and my mindset and my attitude is les negative than before. I am working on becoming a more positive person.

Recovering from an eating disorder is slow and can be tiring and equally stressful with lots of obstacles along the way. What advice do you have for other women struggling with their own eating disorder journey?

My advice is to meditate, find a place to write how you feel, be open, and be open minded. Share your story, and struggle to the world through instagram, do not hide; you deserve to have your story be heard. Your ups and downs, your advice through what you go through helps so many people as well. Be honest with yourself and others through your recovery journey.

What was your relationship is to your food before recovery? Did you see it as the enemy or something to be feared? What about now?

Before recovery, I couldn’t eat food, I was afraid of it to the point that I couldn’t stop eating it. I only had good or bad food, so I was not allowed to eat bad food, never ever, which lead me here to binge eating. I saw it as an enemy that I should not have or enjoy. Right now I am actually struggling with my relationship with food, because sometimes I do fear it, and sometimes I do not enjoy it, I try to eat it so fast to get it over with, but sometimes I try my best to enjoy every bite because food is not the enemy and it is not something to be feared.

We live in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies. Despite your quest toward acceptance of your flaws and your vulnerabilities, have you at times, wished you were thinner? How do you overcome that? What can we do?

I wish I were thin everyday, even when I was thin. Sometimes being thin is not even enough. I overcome it by remembering what it was like being thin, it did not help me with my problem, I still hated myself, that is when I realized it has nothing to do with my weight but more with my self-love. I was thin, and it is not as glorifying as people make it to be. I think if we just focus on who were are as a person and focus on what we can do for others and ourselves then we will be able to see more beauty. Instead of looking outwards we should look within ourselves, that is when we will realize that being thin will not help with what we are looking for. Everyone is different, some people are naturally fat or naturally thin or in between.

When you look back to who you were before embarking on your recovery journey, what are some thoughts and feelings that you have about how far you’ve come in terms of how the process of recovery has empowered and changed you?

I realize that I was a lot thinner when I started my recovery journey because I had to restore my weight, but binge eating has had a toll on my weight as well. I am learning to have a balance life, and moderation with everything because I tend to go one extreme to the next. Right now I have come a long way, I use to binge eat everyday, and I use to workout everyday, but I injured myself. So I can’t workout at all, but I can mentally handle that now. I can mentally handle eating too much or eating out. I can eat out with my family or boyfriend or friends. It has changed me in so many ways; I am more flexible with my food and my life in general. I am more willing to do more things because I don’t have to worry about what to eat or what not to eat. The process of recovery has empowered me in a lot of ways as well. I can now share my struggles and my journey with others, and inspire others to do better or be better. I try to be there for everyone, and I can because I have been through the worst parts, and the good parts. I can learn from others as well. I am always willing to learn new ways to recover and help people.

What are some fears that you have about the future when it comes to your eating disorder recovery? How do you stop yourself from stressing out about it (e.g. I personally fear that having children might trigger body image issues!)

My fear is that my binge eating disorder will give me other health problems; I already have a lot already from my anorexia. I have physical injuries from working out too much and starving my body. I am afraid that I will become so physically unhealthy that I will me miserable, I want to be able to go out and do activities, I want to enjoy running around, going on bike rides, and just feeling good mentally and physically. I usually watch tv, talk to a friend that I trust, Post motivational pictures on my instagram. I love listening to music; it helps a lot with stress. I basically fear being unhealthy.

14. Young women are facing a lot of double standards in society as compared to men, and are increasingly becoming sexualized in the media. How do you think this is affecting the way women (and even adolescents) see themselves in terms of their body image and/or other mental health issues?

Ugh. This is another good question. I feel like women are taught that we need to look good and be attractive for men, and only men. A lot of my eating disorder problems come from this. Being that unattractive girl, many older women try to teach us that we need to look good in order to do well in life, we need to look good for men and if we don’t we have basically failed in life. Even women see other women as sexual objects, especially the one’s who are “attractive” and we are all thinking to ourselves that we wish we were attractive like that so we can achieve being liked by men. We can’t help it, we are taught this way and it is put in our heads from the very beginning. I think it is a big thing for mental health issues as well, it is put in our heads that if we are not attractive then we are not good enough, and living life feeling not good enough is horrible. We treat ourselves with disrespect, we allow ourselves to do harm things to our own bodies or we put ourselves in harmful relationships because we think we deserve that because we aren’t “attractive” but in reality every person is attractive. We all deserve to be good enough and to feel good enough. We are more than just bodies and our looks, we are a soul that has a body, and we should take care of it, and take care of our soul.

How do you wish to see yourself in the next 1 year? 5 years?

I wish to see myself binge free in 1 year with a job, and having fun volunteering and getting experience for my dietitian degree. In 5 years I hope to see myself as a registered dietitian that specializes in eating disorders. I hope that I will be living with my boyfriend, and hopefully we will be more than that by then. I hope that I will still be binge free by then as well.

What do you think it means to be a beautiful & empowered woman?

To me being beautiful and empowering has everything to do with personality, you can look good but if you have a bad personality than I am sorry you are not an attractive person because your personality is harmful and mean towards others. If you have an amazing personality and you are a truly amazing human being then you are considered a beautiful empowering person to me. If you are willing to help others and to help yourself than I still will believe that you are beautiful person. I do not believe that there are ugly looking people in this world, only ugly personalities. Looks change, we get older but our souls will live on forever, so love yourself always, no matter what you look like.

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“I am trying to accept my belly and body as it is. Tonight was hard. I don’t know if I would consider if I binged ate or not. I ate a lot of food because I was hungry, but I had that out of control feeling &  started crying because I binged ate on Monday and I was like I don’t need this right now. I also went to therapy on Tuesday. Which helped me a lot. But i am still struggling with food. I probably don’t eat enough throughout the day. And hen at night I get too hungry and can never get full. Ugh. Recovery is hard, but it is worth it. And I never want to go back to starving myself, but I also seem to overfeed myself now. One extreme to the next. I am slowly learning moderation and what it means to have a balanced life and a balanced diet. “

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“Today I had to look nice because of a school project. I felt so good and I actually felt I looked nice lol. But then I sat down. I don’t have a couple of belly rolls. My whole stomach is a roll that rolls over my underwear and sticks out of my dress. It made me so upset that I got a headache and I felt so lightheaded and dizzy, I got so tense and my whole body just started to hurt. I couldn’t focus and I couldn’t think straight. I just felt like I was there. Watching everything happen but not being aware of my surroundings. Then I thought to myself that I need to eat less and do this I need to do this and do that. Or I eat too much or whatever. I get upset because I am a recovering binge eating now. Not recovering from anorexia which wouldn’t be a bad thing for me eat too much, because my body needs the food to live. But now it is like, I need to learn to balance between binge eating and anorexia. Which would be moderation and balance and a healthy mind. I am allowed to feel upset, but I have to accept what I feel and move on in order to grow and recover. “

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positive self-talk and body image

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Have you ever noticed how you respond when you look at a picture of yourself, or even as you stand in front of the mirror? You spend a good amount of time getting dolled up(or not) and pick out that decent-looking outfit and think you look fabulous. But then when you finally see those photos when the day ends, you look at yourself and after a nano-second, go: “Oh god i look so fat” and/or “How do I lose 10 pounds in 2 days because I really need it.” and/or “My arms looks like chunky sausages”.

I met up with a close friend the other day at our alma mater. It was a fabulous day. The skies were brilliantly clear and blue (though the sun was burning & bright I couldn’t even open my eyes properly for pictures) and the school grounds were mercifully empty due to it being study week. When I looked through the pictures she took for me while on the bus home (because who can wait til you get back home?!), I was a little taken aback. I thought I looked…well…bigger…than what I thought I looked in the mirror. And without any hesitation, in less than a nano-second, a nano-nano second really, I automatically starting pulling and picking myself apart “Oh my god my arms are so fat I hate it.”, “My calves look disgusting”, “I need to lose weight”.

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 Why is it so easy to point out the flaws in ourselves than it is to notice the positive? Naturally I felt like crap afterward, but then suddenly, and very inexplicably there was a small part of me that went: “Stop it Serene. Just stop. This is what’s going to make you hate yourself more. This was what you did before. You’re different now. The old you would tear yourself apart from limb to limb. The new you is embracing yourself and trying to love yourself more. STOP. This is the body that you have. You can’t force yourself to lose weight in 2 days. This is the best version of yourself you can be right this very minute. You may not be skinny but you have curves. STOP.”

I guess after 1 year of hard work at practicing positive thinking has finally sparked some change in my thought patterns. Its like my mind has quietly developed the ability to detect disturbing anomalies in my thinking; anamolies that threaten to take me back to being the old me, the depressed, self-hating, constantly counting calories and avoiding “bad” foods me. A different person came up. A more positive, self-loving person determined to rebut whatever it is that my ED voice is telling me. So all the way on the bus ride home, my internal dialogue shifted and I repeated that positive affirmation to myself. And I could feel my emotions changing for the better. Just half an hour ago I was upset & downcast & ready to hide in my baggy clothes for the next 53 years. But after changing the way I thought about myself in those pictures, I felt so much better. I felt calmer and thought less about losing weight. Sure it took a while, but hey, I felt much better.

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Here’s the hard truth: when we don’t love ourselves, we’re forever constantly picking out flaws. And we do that because we don’t love ourselves enough to see other positive qualities in us. We pick out our flaws, because we don’t live up the the expectations that we have of how we want to look like. When we see that our arms aren’t muscular & toned like we expect them to be, we say they’re fat. When our tummies aren’t tight and toned like we expect and want them to be, they’re jiggly & disgusting. Our expectations of how our bodies are affecting our dialogue with our bodies.

So while I’m working on trying to accept myself, it turns out I still have some expectations about my body that might have been a little….well…not so good because there I was, sitting in the bus and flipping through the photos which my friend took for me & constantly picking out flaws and dismissing myself as fat.

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You see, when we talk harshly about our body parts and criticize them repeatedly, we become susceptible to negative perceptions and emotions. After all, what we think, we feel. And vice versa. When you think you’re ugly and fat, you automatically put yourself in a bad mood. When you overload your brain with negative dialogue, there’s less room and effort for (1) focusing on the positive things about yourself and (2) reframing the negative into positive talk. When you continuously pick out flaws in yourselves, it becomes a habit and every time you look at yourself in the mirror or in a picture, or even just by yourself, you’ll automatically start tearing yourself apart. Imagine doing that for the next 20 years. 20 years of picking & pulling, criticizing & complaining. Its no wonder we hate ourselves.

When we automatically engage in negative internal dialogue about ourselves, it becomes easier to fall into the trap of making lists of forbidden foods and starting to count all those calories until we end up developing terribly distorted body image, low self-esteem and confidence & disordered eating patterns. We start to feel overwhelmed. Powerless. The old me was constantly picking out physical flaws, aspects of myself that didnt live up to the standard of phsycail attractiveness that I so strongly adhered today before. I was therefore, constantly striving to repair my flaws. I ended up developing disordered eating and obsessively exercising which only fueled the nagyve self-talk when I wasn’t able to live up to my expectations and lived in failure.

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So maybe my arms and abs will never be as toned and small as Jillian Michaels and I won’t ever be as thin as Kendall Jenner, but it doesn’t mean I have to beat myself over it. Body positivity involves acceptance of yourself, loving yourself and also being kind to yourself. Unless you have Aladin’s genie, you can’t change your body overnight. You’ve been at war with yourself for such a long time and all that negative self-talk got you to such a low depressed, self-hating state. Its become a habit. A disease. A healthy body image requires one to have a positive dialogue with oneself. It won’t occur overnight. It’ll take time and effort, but it’ll change you for the way you think about yourself, and for the better.

So next time when you start thinking negatively about your body, make the conscious effort to stop and reframe those thoughts. Think back to how you felt about yourself whenever you engaged in negative internal dialogue. Do you still want to continue feeling that way the rest of your life? NO. So do something about it. Make the conscious effort to change your thoughts, because when your mind makes the effort, your heart will follow. 

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10 minutes with Anastasia Amour

  Hey guys! For today’s blog post I thought I’d take a different approach & introduce to you one of the bloggers whom I follow on social media. In our quest to be more body-positive and break free from the cycle of disordered eating, we look to others for inspiration, to give us hope, love and support, as well as the derivation of comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone in our fight to recover and develop a positive body image.

I’m always on the lookout for people to follow, be it through blogs or Instagram, to get inspiration and encouragement for my own journey & always want to find out more about their own personal journey, their personal stories, and their personal perspectives on issues that are important to me. So today I’d like to introduce you to one of the very first persons I looked up to. Say hello to…Anastasia Amour!

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Anastasia is an eating-disorder surviver (read her story About Anastasia) & body-image educator and blogger from Australia, where snow falls in June and where the summer heat sears in December! She is the founder of her blog: http://www.anastasiaamour.com where she dishes out practical and empowering advice about developing a positive body image, being an empowered, self-confident woman & well as coping with the challenges of an eating disorder based on her own experience with anorexia. Anastasia’s was actually the first blog and IG account I followed when I was searching for body-positive and ED recovery accounts to follow (hehe) and hence, I thought it fitting to dedicate this first interview to her & introduce this wonderful woman to you, & also to pick her brains about her  thoughts and reflections about some of the tribulations and triumphs of eating disorder recovery.

 I love her blog and her other social media accounts because its just jammed-packed with so much empowering and positive posts that cover the tiny little everyday things that affect the way we see ourselves – such as the words we use & the things we do –  to dead-serious issues that make you stop in your tracks and wonder why you’ve never thought about it impacts women. She posts encouraging motivational quotes to remind us of our worth, what it means to be an empowered womb, as well conducts her own social media movements, such as the Fearless Body Confidence, to spread messages of body-love, healthy, diet-free living, confidence & self-acceptnce.

Plus her blog & all her posts are so pretty!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Makes me wish I knew more about HTML! Sigh pie.

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I think what made me decide to want to personally reach out to her is because I wanted to create a bridge from the superficials of what I know about her and what she does, as well as gain insight into what she really thinks about some issues that I, as well as other women, go through during an ED recovery. Sometimes, when I read blogs or even Instagram feeds I feel a slight sense of disconnect from the user even though we share the same struggles because while I love their work, part of me always yearns want out to find out more. I wonder if she felt this way. Did go through the same thing I did. Does this affect her as well? I wonder what she thinks about this issue I’ve been thinking about.

When I read her responses to the questions, I was so floored! I kept going “OMG yes exactly this is what I’m thinking too. OMG yes, girl I know what you mean. OMG yes now somebody i know feels the same way about this. OMG yes, this was what I went through.”   Hence, I wanted to introduce you to her and the awesome work she does to uplift women because isn’t that what the blogging and body-positive community is about? 😀 Also, I think it pretty much reinforces this important fact: you’re not alone in this struggle. Sometimes I keep thinking that I’m the only one feeling this way because I can’t seem to find anyone sharing the same experiences. The information I source online are all…impersonal. If you get what I mean. Written by the hands of a journalist or researcher instead of one who has actually experienced what I’m going through. But then there are people like Anastasia, advocates who reach out to other women in wonderful awesome ways to empower them, to help them reinvent themselves and be confident queens ❤

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Anyway, here’s Anastasia for you ❤ For those in recovery, I hope her responses strike a chord in you that motivate you to continue reaching for that shining light that will help you stay on recovery!

heart border1Hi! For those unfamiliar with your work and what you do, please introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Anastasia and I’m a Body Image Educator from Australia, writing at anastasiaamour.com. Suffering from Anorexia Nervosa in my teens, I went through some very dark things – now having recovered, I’ve gone on to study Psychology and Mental Health, and I dedicate my life to empowering all women to feel beautiful, whole and amazing in the skin that they’re in.

What made you decide to reach out to others?
I know that there’s such huge power in community and sharing our stories and when I was at my lowest points, I longed for a sense of camaraderie with other people who were going through the same thing. None of us are truly alone in life.

Your eating disorder story that you’ve shared on your blog touches the hearts of so many women struggling with the same things! What were some initial struggles you faced with your recovery?
The hardest thing about recovery for me was the fact that I chose to do it all myself. I was very secretive about what I was going through and although my parents and friends could easily tell I had an eating disorder, I never actually said the words to anyone or let them in on what was happening to me. I felt sure that I would fail everyone around me if I told them and I falsely believed that needing help would make me weak, so my recovery was entirely self initiated and managed. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

As someone who’s recovered from your eating disorder, have there been times when you felt tempted to return to your old habits? How did you overcome them?
Plenty of times! Relapses are real and sometimes no matter how well you think you’re doing, those old thoughts and habits can infiltrate your mindset. With many cases of Anorexia Nervosa, even when a sufferer has “recovered” there will still be old thought patterns and pathways within the mind. I say many cases because in some ED sufferers, the triggers for their ED are largely internal but for most, external variables are merely the catalyst that sparks an internal imbalance caused by a complex series of processes in the brain that misinterpret hunger and emotional cues, to name just a few elements. Knowing this, relapses are inevitable and for me, knowing that my ED is always going to be a part of me, it’s about prevention. If I can take steps to minimize the impact of relapses, they’re usually much less severe.

There will be times when people think about cutting back their food intake, or exercising to compensate for their meal & sometimes wishing they were thinner, even when they say they are fully recovered. What are your thoughts on that? What is recovery, then? Do you think that one can be “fully recovered” from an eating disorder?
This ties back to what I mentioned in the previous question, and the definition of “recovery” will vary from person to person depending on what they’ve been diagnosed with and whether the triggers for them are internal or external. It’s a complex subject because the definition of “relapse” may also vary between sufferers – for example, one sufferer might count a relapse as any thoughts of bingeing/restricting whereas another sufferer might only count a relapse as a full blown episode of disordered behaviors. For me, recovery is a symbolic concept of inner peace and acceptance, and knowing that even in the midst of my relapses, I have the strength and tools to handle it. Personally, tying recovery to a concept that comes from within is much more satisfying than putting a condition on it because I don’t consider my relapses to invalidate my successes and triumphs. After all, mental illnesses aren’t a choice.

What has changed since embarking on recovery, in terms of your perception of yourself, your mindset or your attitude? What prevented you from relapsing?
I’m constantly changing, learning and growing and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not the same person as I was yesterday, and I’ll be slightly different again tomorrow. I don’t want to hold myself to a definition of what I “should” be because I know that we’re all ever-evolving, and I want to embrace that. And like I said, relapses are very much a reality for me sometimes. You can’t predict that, so the best you can do is to be well prepared knowing that they might happen again at any point.

How do your blog and Instagram help girls and women struggling with body image issues & eating disorders?
I’ve had a lot of comments from girls & women suffering telling me how helpful it is just to see a range of bodies. I’m all for diversity in representation of the female form in the media, and I want to shatter the idea that only a certain type of woman’s body can be attractive. I love disconnecting the notion that your worth as a woman only comes from your appearance; instead embracing the idea that it’s totally okay to be at peace with your body and love it.

Losing weight can be a very personal decision & can be motivated by many reasons. The body-positive movement encourages women to accept & embrace their body; to exercise to reap its health benefits more than to achieve aesthetic objectives, yet there are people who choose to embrace the latter. What is your response to that? Can a person struggling with body image issues learn to be more body-positive yet still want to lose weight to look a certain way?
I think it would be naïve to attempt to completely disconnect body satisfaction with wanting to look a certain way, and where you draw the line at wanting to change your body and how that affects your mindset varies for the individual – one person’s obsession is another person’s norm. It’s entirely possible to love your body but still want to change it in one way or another, and whether or not the desire to change is “healthy” is largely connected to the motivation behind the change.

Recovering from an eating disorder is slow and can be tiring and equally stressful with lots of obstacles along the way. What advice do you have for other women struggling with their own eating disorder journey?
Recovery can be exhausting and it’s hard to explain that feeling to someone who hasn’t been through it! Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that even though those around you might not understand what you’re going through, they want to help you. If you can’t talk to a friend or parent, there are counselors and psychologist and help line workers who are all happy to listen to you, and sometimes it’s so helpful just to get your feelings off your chest. Never underestimate the power of talking about what you’re going through!

People struggling with eating disorders have a distorted relationship with food. Based on your own recovery journey, how can one reframe his/her thoughts about food to see it as fuel instead of as the enemy?
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people (including those who aren’t suffering from ED’s) make with food is forming these intense emotional connections to it, especially around the emotions of guilt, fear and loneliness. It’s very hard to see food as just fuel when you lock yourself in a cycle of treating food as this big, scary and highly emotionally stimulating trigger. Again, this is going to vary for the individual and their specific issues but it all starts with tracing back your relationship with food to understand when you first started to form emotional relationships with what’s on your plate. You can then begin to unpick that and work from there.

We live in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies. Despite your acceptance of your flaws and your vulnerabilities, have you at times, wished you were thinner? How do you overcome that? What can we do?
For sure. I don’t tend to think of my body in that way any more and glorification of thin bodies doesn’t have to come at the vilification of larger bodies, and vice versa. For a long time I perceived my body as the polar opposite of thin, and it’s that “black and white” thinking that can be particularly damaging, particularly to ED sufferers. These days I prefer not to slap a label on my body, as seeing where my body fits on a spectrum doesn’t necessarily add anything to my existence. My body is just my body, and I don’t need to label it as fat or thin or anything in between. It’s just mine.

When you look back to who you were before embarking on your recovery journey, what are some thoughts and feelings that you have about how far you’ve come in terms of how the process of recovery has empowered and changed you?
The transformation within myself has been huge. I’m sure those who’ve known me for the entire time can certainly see that change but I think the full extent of the person I used to be vs. the person I am now is something that only I see fully – I’m a fairly private person and at the height of my struggles, I didn’t let anyone in on with what was going on with me. Even after recovering, there are still maybe 60% of the details of what went on with me that no one else knows. So introspectively, the change is really noticeable to me. These days I find empowerment in sharing what I’m going through and overall, I feel whole inside. The crushing emptiness and nothingness and great hatred and sadness that used to live inside me is now filled with light. And that’s not to say that I don’t have my negative moments because I certainly do, but I don’t actively open the door to negativity anymore.

What do you think it means to be an empowered woman?
The beauty of empowerment is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean – it’s up to you to define it! Personally I feel empowered when I’m not comparing myself to others and when I’m celebrating the success of some of the amazing women around me. I know that someone else succeeding doesn’t invalidate my own success, and it’s such a gorgeous feeling to be able to embrace that and lift up others

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Follow Anastasia’s journey and learn to be an empowered confident woman at: Anastasia Amour

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queens don’t live for the approval of others.

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In a world obsessed with physical attractiveness, we all want to be good enough for something or for someone. We want to be thin enough to fit into that dress, we want to be pretty enough for men or women to notice us and ask us out, we want our butts to be big enough so that we have curves that look good in those pants.

Many of us typically strive to reach a particular standard of attractiveness, and this standard is more often than not, set out by what we see in the media and in our day to day lives: movies, fashion blogs, music videos, Instagram, even our own friends and family and strangers who compliment us (in a nice friendly casual way not stalker-creepy way mind you).

Its so easy to fall into the trap of “I need to/want to/ wish I could/ be like that” because after all, we’re human. We have an innate need to be loved, to be accepted, and to feel good about ourselves. We notice what gets complimented and what doesn’t, and let’s be totally honest with each other, what does get noticed, complimented, get more likes on Instagram more often in a woman?

For instance,

  • when she wears clothing that comfortably hugs her body and highlights her figure (note that sometimes, it has to be a slim one)
  • when she wears a cropped top that shows off her flat stomach
  • big booty

This isn’t an exhaustive list and examples may differ mind you, but its just an example of what I’ve noticed and also personally experienced.

We learn that when we dress and look in a certain way, we get noticed and complimented and this sets us up for falling into the trap of thinking that that is what we need to be. Let’s get real. We all want compliments and we all want people to tell us we look good. Who doesn’t?! But over time, we may begin to rely on those compliments to feel good. Our sense of self-worth becomes displaced; happiness and validation are now sourced from other people. When they compliment and notice us, we feel good. When they don’t, we start feeling anxious.

So what’s a person gotta do? Work out everyday, diet everyday, wear makeup everyday to look and maintain a certain appearance all day every day?

Hell no. Nobody has time for that! I don’t have time for that I’m a busy girl I’ve got things to do.

Life is too short to live up to the expectations of other people. You are uniquely you. You are a work of art. You don’t need to seek approval and validation from others because when you do, you become trapped. A queen doesn’t live in her room all day. She wears her magnificent crown on her head and roams the halls mighty sassy and proud.

But hey, want to wear makeup everyday? Sure, go ahead no one is stopping you. Workout everyday? Sure go ahead. I’m not stopping you. Look at me, I work out about 3-4 times a week and I wear makeup when I go out too. But what’s important is: don’t become too dependent on your makeup and exercising just because you want to look a certain way. What do I mean? Makeup does wonders and can make you look different, but if you want to or need to wear makeup because you want to look certain way as you don’t like the way you look now, its time to do a re-think about your eyeliner and eyeshadow. Afraid to miss a workout and you get anxious when you don’t clock in an hour of cardio? Time to take a step back and ask yourself why you’re working out to begin with, and for who you’re working out. Do you want a good body for yourself, or because you want to get a body type that many people take notice of?

A queen doesn’t live for others. She lives for herself.

She dresses for herself and for nobody else. She wears makeup for herself and nobody else. She workout for herself an nobody else. Because she knows that she begins to do things for other people, she stops being free.

A woman who is insecure and gets compliments relies on compliments to feel good. A woman who is secure and gets compliments accepts it but feels no need to prove herself all the time. She doesn’t care if she wears no makeup, because she doesn’t rely on external approval and acceptance. She doesn’t live for it.

A one-way ticket to unhappiness is to live up to the expectations of others and getting approval & validation from others. You can’t please everyone. Everybody is different. Love yourself enough, be comfortable with yourself enough, and accept yourself enough to live the life of happiness that you deserve.

Strive to be a queen. Be the best version of you. Why? Because no one can be you!

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be worth it. Not for others, but for you and yourself.

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And yes, and I’m wearing burgundy lipstick! Dark purple, deep wine red, oxblood, whatever you call it. It was for a theme party (sort of) that I attended last week and the lipstick was a gift from Zee when she was in Australia! I’m feeling very Rihanna+Maleficient in this regal shade. Plus, that picture of those gorgeous pink flowers was taken at the Flower Market in Bangkok when I visited it last week. The place was beautifully perfect.