Browsing Tag

eating disorder

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 19 Year Old On Self-Loathing & Compassion.

February 26, 2015
Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.

 

"Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.

She listens.

She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.

Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.

And what her kind of listening does is simple:

It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Karolina.

“If you listen carefully you will know exactly who I am.”

Compassion is a funny thing, it is forgiving, it is comforting, it is safety, and it is scary, but above all, it is strong, much stronger than one could imagine.

I never thought about telling this story. It didn’t even occur to me that it should be something discussed with the public… but I slowly started to realize, why not. This demon lives off of secrecy; grows and grows the more it is hidden. So why not expose it cold turkey. Tell the whole world, cause I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this; who has had an ugly past with food, a destructive relationship with the gym, a disturbing relationship with the mirror, and shattering relationship with myself. So here goes nothing at trying to tell a very complicated piece of whom I am.

A few months ago I would never have thought I’d have the courage to share this part of my past. But to be honest, it’s not in the past, because it’s still going on, current, and will continue to for a very long time.

Last year, if you had asked me if I was content with myself, if I was at peace with myself, if I could look at myself in a mirror and smile; a true genuine smile, I would have lied and said yes, because that’s what I was supposed to say. They always say that the people who look like they’ve got their lives the most put together are either, 1. Actually put together, or 2. Rotting on the inside.

I would classify as number 2.

No one would think I’d be the person to have this kind of internal battle. It would never even cross their mind; I’m that kind of person that is very good, extremely good, at making my life seem incredible, almost perfect, with absolutely nothing wrong ……

Well, now, I’m paying the consequences for that lie, and I’m trying to make it right.

Before I stepped on campus, I thought I was confident in myself. I felt grounded. I thought I knew whom I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I was content with myself, I thought I loved myself, loved my body. And if you asked anyone else they’d say that’s exactly how they saw me too. But what I didn’t know, was that I loved my body, because it got me attention from the opposite sex, not because it was something sacred for myself and only myself.

It’s December, my relationship is falling to shit and I’m standing in front of the mirror; it started like anything else would, very minor, a quick millisecond of a thought… hmm it couldn’t hurt to get rid of that extra layer on my thighs, I mean honestly, just cut down on what I eat for a few weeks.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing, The Body

Dancing With The Darkness.

February 25, 2015
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By Sian Ewers.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

And everything hurts.

It aches. All of it.

Every cell, fiber and atom that makes up my being.

Mind, body and soul thrown into a bowl, mixed, stirred, and formed with hands and words.

I want it all.

I want the bones, the protruding sharp edges, want to feel them beneath my skin, no meat or flesh to cover.

I want the blur, the navy blur of a fuzzy mind that is starving, buzzing with success.

I want the sunken cheekbones; the ones that make my lips look bigger. The ones that make people tell me my eyes look googly.

I want googly eyes.

I want the falling of hair, the outcome, the prize – the proof that I’m winning.

I want my calves to shrink, the muscle to melt and my thighs to never for any reason touch.

I want the pride. The knowing. The pit of my stomach tightness from no food and triumph.

But everything hurts and the control, the power, is the only thing melting now.

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.

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Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing, Truth

Journey Towards Self-Acceptance.

February 14, 2015
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By Katrina Willis.

My relationship with food and with my body is complicated, slippery, broken. My ability to deal with it from a place of reason and intellect waxes and wanes. No matter how it may or may not manifest itself, I will always have an eating disorder.

Just as rape is not about sex, eating disorders are not necessarily about food. For me, it is a hole that needs to be filled; an endless, confusing journey toward self-acceptance and the ability to say without second-guessing: I am worthy, I am whole, I am enough. It is about control, or lack thereof. It is about shame.

**

I can’t be trusted around food. I don’t trust myself to prepare it. I don’t trust myself to eat it. When other people cook for me, it feels safe. And I know what they choose for me is better than what I might choose for myself.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Continue Reading…

Dear Life., Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts

Dear Life: I’m Emotionally Out of Steam & My Solace is Food.

February 4, 2015
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Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by author Kim Kankiewicz.

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.

Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter. ps, I will see you in NYC and Atlanta next month for my workshops!

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Dear Life,

I am struggling and would love your insight.

I would love nothing more than to find my purpose, get in tune with who I really am in the universe and find a way to love myself but feel drowned in the demands of every day life. Between my job (teacher for kids with special needs) my husband, my two kids, and my animal rescue work, it is all I can do to stay afloat emotionally. I am grateful to have so many opportunities every day to nurture others but there are those times that all I want to do is curl up in a corner, close my eyes, plug my ears, and just float away somewhere where I don’t need to give any more. Is that sefish? Is that wrong?

My solace is food, but in the opposite way that it was when Jen Pastiloff wrote about her anorexic years. I cannot control my eating. When I eat, I don’t have to think or give. Eating is something just for me, something safe, something that fills me. I now have passed the dreaded 200 lb. mark and the shame is overwhelming. I have tried every diet known to man and nothing works long term.

I struggle with my spirituality and my belief in who God is, what my life means, what my purpose is in this world. I want to have some solid ground under my feet, to not question whether my life is good enough, whether I am fulfilling my purpose. I have loved the few yoga classes I have taken, but going to classes is hard, as my husband and I work full time and with the kids, homework, sports, etc. it seems there is no time.

I know I need to make a change but have no idea where to start. I don’t know how to learn to love myself when all I feel is shame in my appearance, and resentment that I don’t have the ability to travel to different places, to learn the things I want to learn about, and to take the time to figure out my “higher self”.

Please know that I love my family, my career, and my rescue work dearly but I am emotionally out of steam. I need to recharge my batteries in a serious way and take charge of my inner and outer health. As I said though, I have no idea how to begin.

Any advice would be extremely helpful…
Thanks,

Struggling

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

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Anonymous, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts

The Turning Point.

January 24, 2015
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By Anonymous.

I’ll never forget the first time someone called me “little” during my teenage years. It was my sophomore year of high school, during our One Act Play festival. I had just won an award for best director and my opponent’s mother fondly referred to me as “that little Erin girl”. She did not say this to my face, of course. But my mother informed me that she’d overheard it. When my mother repeated it, she said it with a hint of bitterness. But I romanticized the idea, the thought that I was this tiny force to be reckoned with, a warrior in bows and ballet flats.

Shortly after this, I developed my eating disorder. Since my reputation as tiny was solidified, my obsession with keeping it began. I shed invisible tears over the size of my stomach, the slowly growing pile of white that barely puckered over my jeans. “You’re tiny.” I’d tell myself this as I ate increasingly smaller portions, to the point where I sometimes ate nothing at all.

My boyfriend called me little too. “You’re so tiny,” he’d tell me, wrapping his hand around my wrist to illustrate his point. I confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disordeI confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disorder while on the phone with him one night during my freshman year of college.

“I’ll tell your parents if it gets bad,” he said. I wondered what bad had to be, if the ritual of purposely not eating for days whenever I got stressed didn’t apply.

When that boyfriend walked out of my life, I told myself that I’d stop starving myself. If ever there were a trigger to that habit, this was it. But, not again, I promised myself. The boy who gave up on me was not worth it.

Flash forward to a few weeks later, post-breakup. I’ve left to study abroad in the Netherlands. I’m living in a castle and making fast friends. And yet, the self-loathing that I’ve struggled with since high school sets it, tainting everything around me. All I can see is the stick legs and thigh gaps of other girls.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

Sugar Spots: On Being Bulimic.

January 15, 2015
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Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

By Kit Rempala.

“So, this is rock bottom,” I find myself thinking again.  “How does it feel?”  Just seconds before I had been bounding up the stairs into the darkness, calling to my family that I’d be back in a few minutes, smiling. Always smiling.  But once that light clicks on, that door slides closed, the lock turns over with that slow, grinding sound that reminds me of stiff, cracking joints – the world goes silent.  On the other side of that door the rest of the house vanishes, as if I’ve been scooped up and deposited into the back pocket of the world.  My entire universe is reduced to a bathroom.   And once that lock turns over, I’ve got nothing left.

To me, rock bottom looks an awful lot like the bottom of a toilet bowl.  With one hand around my skinny ankle and a toothbrush down my throat, I deposit the last shreds of my dignity into the water below.  I stand to make it easier, though I tell myself it’s because I refuse to kneel before this disease.  It’s a sad way of reassuring myself that there’s still some fight left in me.

The lining of my stomach blisters with the presence of food.  The slightest crumb is too heavy for it to bear.  It rejects each meal like a cancer, stretching bigger and bigger as though it would rather rip than absorb the toxin I’ve planted at its core.  Nerve endings are peppered with the gunfire of pain.  My abdomen swells like the belly of a pregnant woman, preceding me wherever I go.  A dull ache spreads from my midsection to my mind, begging me to make it stop.

I never believed in sin before anorexia and bulimia.  And yet now I feel the burden of sin inside me, not as something I carry but as something I am, a piece within me, an inseparable devil and parasite.  It whispers to me and I believe what it says.  Food angers it; I writhe in its fury – and I find myself craving a salvation that has nothing to do with God.  I crave relief from the heaviness in my guts as much as anyone else craves the food itself.

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Eating Disorders/Healing, Eating/Food, Guest Posts, Self Image, Truth

The Skinny on Mary.

January 3, 2015
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By Teri Carter.

Mary is skinny. Mary has a trick. Mary shows up late for lunch, which means she has no time to order or no time to eat. Both work. Mary’s just turned 50 and she is always talking food: You would not believe what I stuffed in my face at that barbecue! Your bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is in danger. I’m ordering a cheeseburger and fries! But Mary, who owns an investment firm, is an expert at moving her food around a round plate and she always gets a to-go box for her barely-touched burger and fries. Can’t wait to pound this down at midnight. She thinks we believe her, so we pretend we do. We all have our tricks.

In an August 2012 article for Forbes, Lisa Quast quotes a research study: 45 to 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight, compared to only 5 to 22 percent of top female CEOs. Then, in her closing paragraph, Ms. Quast goes inexplicably blasé: “As for me, I’m off to the gym with my husband for weight training and a two mile run. Then I’ll probably have a veggie salad for dinner so I can keep my body mass index at the low end of the normal range. As these studies demonstrate, thin is in for executive women – although I’d prefer to think if it as ‘healthy’ being in.” Her ending leaves me cold. I go back to the beginning.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Grief, Guest Posts

Down The Rabbit Hole Into Paris: Healing After The Death of My Sister.

November 29, 2014
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By Kate Sutton.

I was sleep deprived, having not slept a wink on the plane. It had been an eight hour red eye and although I had tried too sleep, I couldn’t. Thoughts racing through my head. Love, loss, anniversaries. It was all painfully there. A huge hole in my heart that didn’t want to heal.

Part of me hadn’t wanted to go to Paris. But, as I stepped off that plane and breathed in the French air, I was struck with the sudden sense of freedom. It came as a shock. It was a feeling I hadn’t expected.

The last two months had been a calamity of vomiting, drinking, vomiting, drugs, binging, vomiting, blacking out and more bingeing and purging. All in an attempt to forget the emotional pain I was in, which was only made more brutally aware, as I approached the first anniversary of my sister’s death.  Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

To Be Made Whole.

November 5, 2014
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By Melissa Chadburn.

My weight fluctuates a lot— I’d say I gain and lose between 20 and 30 lbs. every year. I think there is a story my body is trying to tell. I think perhaps my body is storing too much pain at times.

The things that weigh on me:

The time I wanted back in with my foster family— so I met my foster parents at their job at the ad agency and gave them a presentation on why they should let me come back. The presentation was complete with ways I would financially contribute to the household, and ways that I would be good, and how no one would hardly notice me.

I only ever hit my mother once. It was a reflex. She was in a wild angered frenzy and threw a T-shirt at me. It had my favorite Superman button on it. A metal button the size of a cheeseburger. Somehow the weight of it landed on my nose and I bled. The shock of it all— my crying the blood, she ran to me, full of remorse. The second she was close I socked her in the stomach. Her face, the face she showed me, is the one that haunts me. My face and her face are so similar that the punishment is simple, it’s the look I give myself when I think no one likes me or that I’ve done wrong. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

The Bullshit Bargain.

October 27, 2014
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jen Pastiloff.

I got sick as I was leading my retreat in Italy a couple years ago. Really sick.

Sick like you get once every ten years sick, sick like you forget what that kind of sick feels like until you actually are that sick kind of sick.

I lost my voice and the left side of my face swelled up. I couldn’t inhale without coughing out green mucus and I wanted to vomit every twenty minutes. I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my throat was so sore it felt like I was swallowing sand every time I so much as opened my mouth.

So here I am in Italy, leading a retreat with twenty-five people and sick like Hell has frozen over.

So what do I do?

I bargain with God.

Please God. Please if you help me get through teaching this ninety minute class without dying or passing out I will never again ______ or I promise I will ________.

I am not religious at all but I realize when I get that desperate, when I feel as if my life is truly on the line in some way, I realize, in hindsight, that I think if I promise to be “good” for the rest of my life then nothing bad like this will happen to me again. Continue Reading…

Anonymous, Eating Disorders/Healing, guest post, healing

I Am Afraid of Getting Better: A 21 Year Old On Having Anorexia.

August 13, 2014
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Anonymous

I am afraid of getting better.

What kind of illogical statement is that? I wrote that down the other day in my journal at one of Jen’s workshops in England, and kind of baulked at what it even meant.  I know that I don’t want to continue the way I am, I definitely don’t want to get worse, but I am scared of getting better.

What is the other option? Is there even another option?

For the past three years I have been battling with anorexia.

I can’t really believe I just wrote that down.  I don’t think I have ever actually written that sentence down before.

I’ve never had a happy relationship with my body.  I always felt like I was too podgy.  I was the girl who used to forge her Mum’s signature to miss out on swimming lessons because of a persistent ‘ear infection’.  Really, I just didn’t want to put on my swimming costume and have to suck my stomach in, sit up really straight, and not put my legs all the way down when I sat down so they didn’t expand to look twice their normal size.  The thing is, I know looking back at photos of myself, and remembering the other girls at school, that I wasn’t actually big at all. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

I Don’t Want To Be Skinny Anymore.

July 13, 2014

I Don’t Want To Be Skinny Anymore. By Amanda Broomell.

I want to be skinny. I want to walk into Lululemon and know that every see-through pant will slip onto my milky white skin like butter, without the fat. No more doughy rolls hanging over my gym shorts. No more bulging FUPA stuffed like a petrified fried egg inside my pinstriped work pants. I want to be the woman brazenly bearing her T&A in the Equinox women’s locker room. The sweaty hot chick getting stretched out on the sticky mats while beefcake dudes drool as they pass by. The skinniest chick in the room.

I know they tell you that being skinny doesn’t change anything. But I dream it does. And the dream is what I desperately cling to. Even as I write this, I’m fantasizing about all the squats I’m gonna do later to get J.Lo’s butt (let’s be real, there are not enough squats in the world to give me J.Lo’s butt).

I want to be SKIIIIIIIINNNNYYYYYY!!!

Except I don’t.

I don’t know how to BE skinny. It feels foreign, empty, unsustainable. Frankly, it’s just not me.

In 5th grade, I was over 90 pounds when everyone else was 70. I had a period and boobs when everyone else had cardboard chests. I grew up around a neighborhood of boys who called me fat on the daily. At school, I was entered into a “hotness” competition against Cindy Crawford as a joke. In 9th grade, a guy who actually had a CRUSH on me said I was built like a football player. You can imagine what that does to a young lady’s self esteem. (These days, the deciding factor in choosing a mate is whether I could break him or not.)

On top of that, from roughly age 8 to 10, I was sexually, mentally and emotionally abused by a boy who was my age, which was eternally scarring and confusing. He regularly demanded to look at and feel my boobs – and threatened to burn down my house or tell the school I was a slut if I didn’t comply – but he also thought I was an ugly fat lard. How does one make sense of that dichotomy.

After suffering through those traumatic elementary years, I was determined to join the legion of skinny girls as the elixir for my deepest wounds. I imagined a life of glamour, adoring boyfriends, and victorious Cindy Crawford competitions. And miraculously, I achieved what I considered “skinny” during 5 periods over the next 20 years, though each of those moments was abruptly followed by a disappointing journey back to FATLAND.

My first success was the summer before college during which I worked at a local classy movie theater and basically subsisted on chocolate malt balls and warm, mustard-dipped pretzel bites. Then the next year all my hair fell out. But, damn, was I a skinny bitch.

Next was my gain of the dreaded freshman 15, which was really more like the freshman 30. I accomplished this gain by eating 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream every evening before bed, and every morning, the freshly-baked chocolate chip bread that my very sweet, Jersey-bred roommate would make for me. But after I graduated college, I started working about 80 hours a week at this sports bar in Brooklyn and was now subsisting on bread sticks, martinis and oxycontin. No room for food! Again, skinny bitch in effect (emphasis on the bitch).

Fast-forward a few years, I gained all the weight back, and also a little dignity, after discovering the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2005. I began to get my life on track. I stopped with the pills and excessive drinking, and began eating according to what my body wanted. At first, all it wanted was chocolate and wine and bread. But eventually I realized those were mixed messages being sent to my brain, the result of an emotional desolation that I’ve spent the last 33 years attempting to fill up. I started eating incredibly well and naturally lost weight. Somehow, though, I couldn’t keep it up. Eventually I got back up about 20 pounds and was right were I started. W.T.F.

Attending Columbia’s MFA Acting Program in 2006, I pretty much had no time to eat. We were in class and/or rehearsals for about 16 hours a day for 3 years straight, and the summers were spent either working at low-paying temp jobs, doing non-paid downtown theater in tiny, sweatshop-like blackboxes, or traveling to Europe with money I didn’t have (thank you to all the big banks for your irresponsibly generous lending policies, and, to myself, for the bliss of ignorance and naiveté.) Plus, Showcase (where you do a “pretty” parade around a stage for a bunch of agents and casting directors) was always on the horizon, and you HAD to be skinny for that. So, I hired a personal trainer and ate grass for about 6 months before it happened. And it worked. I got super skinny. But it didn’t do any good. I didn’t get an agent and then that sent me into a super tailspin. On top of that, I endured an endlessly painful breakup with my boyfriend (they tell you not to date people in your class for a REASON), so I went back to my old Chunky Monkey ways. No one wanted me anyway, so what was the point of looking good?

THEN, about three years after all of the post-apocalyptic grad school drama died down, I entered a bit of a health Renaissance. I started seeing a chiropractor and an acupuncturist (along with a psychic or two) and had the strong desire to take better care of myself. It was during this period I discovered I was gluten sensitive and decided to give up all gluten products. Well, let me tell you, I lost weight as quickly as a cop stops for donuts. I felt amazing, looked amazing and thought – THIS IS IT. I’ve made it! I’m finally skinny…for life! This was a lifestyle change, not a diet, so there’s no way I could go back to before.

WRONG. After two depressing breakups in 2013, I was cheating and eating Umami burgers WITH the brioche bun and a side (or two) of fried smushed potatoes. I was drinking bottles of wine, eating tons of fries and dessert (even though I tried to justify it by mostly eating gluten-free treats, they were still processed and full of fat), and suddenly, none of my size 4 work pants (that I was SO PROUD to have purchased since that was the smallest size I’d ever owned) fit anymore. How did this HAPPEN? I was so disappointed in and disgusted with myself. I messed up a year and a half of seriously hard work. What is my major malfunction?

In the scheme of it all, I was, at most, only ever 30 or 40 lbs over my skinny weight, so what’s the big deal? Others struggle with far worse than that. But it FELT whale-like. And also weirdly comforting. I felt protected. I had an excuse why I didn’t book an audition or get hit on at the ridiculous hipster bar. I could just hide and no one could see the dark recesses of my wounded self but me. I could hate myself in the peace and quiet of my own fat-insulated home.

The subconscious logic makes total sense: If I never get skinny, I don’t have to worry about getting fat again. And if I’m fat, no one will really notice me. They’ll just have pity or disgust, but they won’t ever see the deeper flaws. The irreversible, unlovable, ugly, scary flaws. The she-who-shall-not-be-named that lives within me. Fat is my invisibility cloak. It’s the only way I know how to be.

Fat = safe. Skinny = love. Love = fucking terrifying. Because once I’m skinny, I will be desired. I will be looked at and wanted. I will be seen, and the shame and disgust I feel will be broadcast to the world. There will be no hideaway. I will no longer be comfortably invisible. As much as I loathe myself as a fat person, I am horribly fearful of being a skinny person. Then there will be nothing between me and the broken girl beneath. I will be faced with confronting my true self, and that is the scariest truth of all.

As I write these words, I realize I’ve entered period 6 – I’m on the road to skinny! But this time, it feels different. I don’t have the same desire to eat until I burst. I DO, however, sometimes feel like there’s a Satanic voice in my head questioning whether I can sustain this for a lifetime or if the minute I get my heart broken or I don’t book that short film everything will just fall apart and I’ll gain all the weight back again and be a big fat blob that no one will ever have sex with ever again. SHUT YOUR TRAP, SATAN!

Bottom line is: I don’t want to be skinny anymore.

I want to feel good.

What would I have to give up to feel good, ALL the time? Basically my entire identity as I know it. Peel off my skin like the label on a wine bottle – have you ever tried to do this?!?!? It’s basically impossible.

So what’s the solution? Honestly, I have no flipping idea. All I can do – have been doing – is wake up every morning and make a decision about how I want to feel. I’d say 90% of the time, the answer is “good.” There’s still 10% of the time I feel like stuffing my face with 500 buttercream cupcakes. But compared to 10 years ago, that seems like playing a delicious, calorie-free game of Candyland. Everyday, I try to be grateful for what I have in this moment. I try to eat things that will make me feel good in this moment, in a nourishing way rather than an instant gratification way. I’m focusing on a new goal: I don’t ever want to be “skinny.” I just want to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. Become the kind of person I’d want to hang out with. FUPA and all.

Here’s my new mantra, inspired by the inimitable Jennifer Pastiloff:

Love yourself now, Amanda, because in 10 years you will marvel at how beautiful you once were. Savor it. NOW. You’ll wish you did.

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Amanda Broomell is an East Coast girl with a West Coast heart – she grew up in Southern Jersey but always knew she was meant for Southern California. It’s only been a year, but she’s madly in love with this place. As an actor, holistic health counselor and marketer, it’s the perfect place to be. More at amandabroomell.com, realurbanwellness.com (coming soon) and @RealUrbnWellnss on Twitter and Instagram.

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshop is Seattle July 26. Book here. Followed by Atlanta Aug 9.

Gratitude, Jen's Musings, Manifestation Workshops, Mindwebs, Vulnerability

Don’t Judge Your Pain. Or Anyone Else’s.

June 2, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jen Pastiloff.

I broke my foot three weeks ago.

I intend to mine that break for any and all material so watch out. It sucks so I at least better get some “life lessons” out of it.

I haven’t been able to put any weight on my right foot due to the break and, because I have severe carpal tunnel, the crutches have slayed me. I have barely been able to move. I’ve alternated between this chair (I’m sitting at my desk and have done for so long that my arse is numb), my bed (many many hours), and the sofa (I’ve stained it like a toddler would and indented it as if I hadn’t risen from it in 35 years.) Chair, bed, sofa. Chair, bed, sofa. I also have a terrible injury in my left leg and have laid off doing any exercise on it for years so I have no strength in it. So basically, I have only one leg to hop on and that leg is kind of crappy. Wah. I know it could be worse but my God, I have been feeling low.

My friend who has also broken her foot and struggled with anorexia texted me yesterday that the inner torture of a break cannot be comprehended. For me, it’s been the inner torture as well as the physical. It’s scary to write because I am 100% clear it could be worse and I feel like who am I to talk about pain? I know nothing of pain. Look at So and So. Or So and So. Now, they are in pain. They know pain. Who am I to speak of such things?

But the thing is, most people do that all the time, so everyone walks around swallowing their pain. They eat it and they fake a smile and go on with their day. Keep calm and carry on.

Way too much time to think. Way too much time to look on Facebook and make up stories and get caught up in my head. Way too much time to think about irrelevant things. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve written a few essays and worked on my book Beauty Hunting and read a few books but the bulk of the time has been spent wallowing and feeling stuck and broken and then being mad at myself for wallowing and feeling stuck and broken.

The truth. I hesitate to write it, but hell, I have a reputation of being a truth teller, so here it is: I had been struggling with depression (and written copious amounts about the struggle as you guys know) before the break. So the break kind of sent me into a tailspin.

I had gone off my antidepressants last year and a lot of my “stuff” came up with this break. Imagine: being immobilized and having nowhere to “run” to. Having to sit with it all.

Not. So. Easy.

A few days ago I posted something on my Facebook. I woke up the next day with what Brene Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover.” I wanted to delete it but didn’t because it seemed to strike a major chord with folks. And because I was telling the truth and I know that’s important.

Here is what I wrote:

Feeling grateful for the people who’ve been supportive during what has been a shitty ass motherfucking time for me. Feeling equally disappointed by the people I have yet to hear from. Not even a text or an acknowledgment. Which makes me question why I give a shit? Why do we let ourselves create expectations of people based on how we think we’d act? I understand that people have short memories. Also, that it’s easier to be with people who are “doing great, everything’s fine,” but my God, what an eye-opening experience this has been. I am sure I will write a piece on it, but meanwhile, a public thank you to the people who notice when another person is in pain. Truthfully, that’s the kind of person I am drawn to anyway: the kind who pays attention. May I always pay attention. And, may I be willing to be with someone even if it’s messy, even if feel like they are broken. Thank you. You know who you are. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes unnoticed with me. I may have bad ears but I hear it all.

Here are a couple little lessons I learned:

1) If you are in pain, let people know.

2) If someone is in pain, reach out. Even a text. A card. A nod. Some form of acknowledgement. Anything. A balloon. A cookie. Wine. (I like wine.)

3) Never feel like you shouldn’t say something because why would your voice matter? Because that person already has a lot of support. Because you think you will be a burden. Because you don’t know what to say. (I got a few texts from people that said they didn’t reach out because they thought I was probably inundated. Or that they didn’t matter.)

4) Pain is pain. Even though I am not dying and I don’t have cancer or whatever else it may be, I have still been going through a hard time. That’s not nothing. Don’t judge your pain. Or anyone else’s.

5) Be willing to be with people even if they are not fine, good, happy, perfect, rainbows, unicorns.

6) Notice your tendency to pay attention to the one who doesn’t text/call/like you rather than the loads that do. Notice that.

(I have an exercise in my workshop I call “The 1 and 100.” I ask the room if there’s a room with a hundred people and they all love you except one, who do you focus on? Yup. Most say the one. Notice how this exemplifies say times one million when you are stuck on your ass for weeks on end with a broken bone. Notice that.

7) It sounds corny but Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers said “look for the helpers.” So yea, do that. Pay attention to them.

8) Kindness matters. Teeny tiny minuscule baby kindnesses. Or large as the sea kind of kindnesses. They matter. Act like they do.

9) Empathy. Compassion. Those words.

Being human is tough at times. But it’s what we signed up for. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why my workshop is called The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human. The On Being Human part is really my concern. May we all work on that a little more.

May we always pay attention to what makes us so.

So, I’ll not only NOT delete my status update but I will share it here. And I will probably have a vulnerability hangover again tomorrow. But I’ll nurse it, ever so slowly, ever so gently, ever so lovingly.

 

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to  be a human being.

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

cancer, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

As I Disappear: My Battle With Anorexia During Cancer Treatment.

May 15, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Kathleen Emmets.

“She’s so thin,” I say to myself as the familiar sense of envy creeps in. I notice her jeans billowing around her legs and am filled with self loathing. “How did I allow myself to gain the weight back?” In the past year, I have gained 25lbs and hate the sight of myself in a mirror. These thoughts would be somewhat normal for any woman to think, I guess. Most women I know have issues with their body. Except I know it is beyond fucked up for me. See, I’m sitting in Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital for my two month check up, and that woman I’m staring at, well, she’s undergoing chemotherapy; just like I’ve been for the past three years.

Somewhere in my mind I know these thoughts are wrong. That’s a lie, actually. These thoughts are completely normal to me. I just know they would be perceived as wrong by others, so I say nothing. When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in 2011 and the doctors were running a battery of tests on me, I saw on my chart that I fell within the normal weight range for my height. I always have. But charts be damned. In my mind, I’ve always been fat. “Well”, I said to my sister as I was about to begin chemo, “I’ll finally lose those stubborn ten pounds I’ve been struggling with for years.” “That’s looking at the bright side,” she replied. Clearly we not only share genes but also a morose sense of humor.

As the months passed, my weight slowly began to drop. It wasn’t too drastic initially though. I would hear other patients complain how they couldn’t keep weight on and, like in the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ I half jokingly think, “I’ll have what she’s having” But, there is nothing funny about this, I know. I was fighting for my life and yet…and yet…I secretly loved to feel my bones protruding. In bed alone, I would run my hands across my jutting hip bones with a sense of relief. I stood in the mirror looking at myself naked and thought, “I’m finally skinny.”

When I was prepping for a surgery where a pump the size of a hockey puck would be placed under my skin to delivery chemotherapy directly to my liver, I asked the doctor if it would be very noticeable. He said because I was so thin it would definitely show but wouldn’t be too bad. After he left the room I turned to my husband and said, “Did you hear that? He said I was thin.” My husband just stared at me as I gave him a half smile.

I began to shop often. It was a thrill to get a size XXS, to see my clavicle deep and hollow. I embraced this thinness. Even as I was losing my hair. Even as I was throwing up and paralyzed by the chemo induced neuropathy. I found my hands sliding over those jagged hip bones again, following the curve on my concave stomach. It was the one bonus I found in cancer treatment.

Two years in, my medication was switched up. This new pill regime didn’t make me sick, didn’t cause me to lose my appetite. Slowly, my weight crept back up. My breasts became full again, my stomach a little more rounded. “Fuck”, I thought, “I can’t get fat again.” My size 2 jeans became a size 6. The weight came back at a steady pace. Once again, I could pinch my hips and feel skin. I began my food deprivation technique again. An egg for breakfast, lettuce for lunch, fruit for dinner. 2lbs gone…5lbs gone…8lbs gone. Yes. It’s working. I’m back in control. Except, I’m not in control at all. And this time, people are taking notice. At dinner my husband asked me why I wasn’t having bread, or meat, or much of anything really. “You’re spiraling again,” he said. I went home and dropped to my knees on my bathroom floor in a fit of tears. How can I continue to hate this body? The body that successfully fought off cancer. The body that brought my wonderful son into this world. The body that has been caressed and made love to. How is it that I am still here in this place of self loathing?

I have dug deeply over the past three years. I’ve gone on spiritual journeys, meditated with shaman, prayed to saints. I’ve done the work to deal with the cancer, but not with the real issue, which is why do I continue to hate myself? How is it that someone who fought so hard to live, still just exists in a body that she despises? What was this all for if the internal struggle continues to be unbearable? I am living while so many of my friends have died from this disease. I am cancer free while so many still fight. And yet…and yet…my mind still whispers toxic thoughts. “Be small,” it says. Small is safe. Small means I’m in control. And after three years of having limited control over my body, it’s nice to be in the driver’s seat; even if I don’t know where I’m headed.

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Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen, Do You Yoga, themanifeststation.net and Elephant Journal. She writes about her experience with cancer in her blog, cancerismyguru.blogspot.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband and son.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical. This is where Jen and Kathleen (the author of this essay) first met!

Join Jen Pastiloff in Atlanta. Click the photo above.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Atlanta. Click the photo above.