2016: The Year of Gratitude & Transformation

So the whole idea of New Year’s Eve has never been that exciting to me. Sure, for the last 8 years 80% of the reason I didn’t go out or complained about going out was because of my eating disorder- but aside from that I just never thought it was a big deal.

This year, however, I decided to recognize this special moment. No- I won’t be staying up until midnight but I want to recognize all that I have accomplished this year. Peta Kelly proposed reflecting on 2016 for all that you have accomplished and what a thought?! We are always focused on what’s next, what will be better, what we hope to have etc. in the next year. But I urge you take a moment to make a list of all you have accomplished in 2016, you’ll surprise yourself.

So after making my list, I decided this year has been AMAZING. Hard, quite frankly a complete bitch, but damn it’s been AMAZING.

 I like to think of 2016  as the year of gratitude, which led to my transformation.

2016 was the year my life changed- it was the year I began intensive treatment for my eating disorder. I remember the first 6 months being strictly about food. Where I would cry over having to put a full tablespoon of dressing on my salad, where I was forced to sit with the anxiety that came from not going to the gym one day a week, where I was forced to eat dessert once a week.

I remember getting angry with my therapists, that I wasn’t having the ‘ah-ha’ moment where I finally learned why I had an eating disorder. For months I was so frustrated, and yet now I look back and slowly, very very very (VERY) slowly I see how everything came together. How it took time, experiences, challenges and setbacks to get where I am now. Sure I still have thoughts about calories and foods, unfortunately, I think those voices will always be there, but they are so much quieter. The problems I had months ago- not getting a full 2 hours at the gym, being forced to eat a full cup of oatmeal- they all seem so surface level to me now. Slowly, I’ve uncovered what was beneath all of those thoughts. You see, eating disorders are a tool of distraction. Rather than feeling, we resort to eating disorder behaviors. Believe me, the shit I’m working on now is not easy stuff, it is heavy and emotional and I am facing things I never realized were there because I just never wanted to face them!

I think a huge part of my transformation came from gratitude.

Gratitude impacted both my mindset and my physical self.

I  began practicing yoga, which at first was a nightmare. All I focused on was how my fat rubbed against each other when my body moved, I worried what people in the class were thinking about my body etc. But eventually, I started to see my body differently. Don’t get me wrong, my body image is still complete shit (hopes for 2017!) but with yoga, I l look at my body from a factual point.  It became “pull your inner thighs back, drop your sternum, drop your shoulders” rather than “OMG don’t get in this position your stomach fat is all over the place!” I began to feel grateful for what my body could accomplish, for listening to my body and connecting to it even if it was just from a factual point. 

This summer I started keeping a gratitude journal. Sure, I had some shit days/weeks in 2016 and yet when I look through my gratitude journal every day seems absolutely perfect. I started realizing I have so much to be grateful for, to live for- to really live for. Why was I wasting time worrying about getting my stomach flat when there was so much more I was missing?

After graduating in May, I started working for an amazing company that focused on patient advocacy. I absolutely love my job, but it really opened my eyes in a somewhat terrifying way. I started working with people who were facing terminal illnesses, I saw people who spent months in the hospital, individuals who were getting life-altering surgeries week after week! Recently, one woman even posted about how she had hoped this wouldn’t be her last Christmas. Just typing that, gives me chills. I actually started having severe anxiety, that this was bound to happen that I was going to lose someone. I started obsessing over it, I couldn’t sleep, I was freaking out. Life is really fricken scary!

But the more I began to reflect about it, the more I saw this was an opportunity, not a sign that something bad was about to happen (still anxious over it for sure though). My eyes were open. Not many people have a job that opens their eyes to how fortunate they are. And yet here I was, a girl who just months ago would think her life ended if she ate a piece of bread, realizing just how grateful I was.

I have my family, I have our health. I have everything. 

I now keep that in mind every day, how today is a gift. Sure, I’ve probably posted that on instagram like every other basic bitch back in the day but now I truly understand it’s meaning. I realize just how great my life is, despite my stress, my struggles, my bills, the extra layer of fat on my stomach.

I laugh because sometimes I now wish my biggest problem was having an extra four almonds, but I am finally taking power away from the eating disorder.  Yes, I am far from fully recovered and yes I still have a shit ton of progress to make. I’m still facing mountains, but each day I am more aware of what I do have & that gives me the energy to lead a fulfilling life. I’m not even sure how to explain it, but it’s as if gratitude is pulling me out of my eating disorder and I am finally starting to become me- and that is what my journey in 2017 will be. 

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