Yeah…Immaeatthat

Jun 14

Blaming your body + tolerating being bored.

For years (YEARS!), any minor distress I felt was automatically converted into a dislike of my body.  In the early days of my eating disorder (once I had awareness that I had an eating disorder and couldn’t deny it anymore), I coped with any minor stress in life by engaging in a disordered behavior with food or exercise.  Then as I chose to start moving my unhealthful food/exercise behaviors to more healthful ones, thoughts of disliking my body took over when I couldn’t run away from my distressing thoughts to the false safety of my restricting/overeating/overexercising behaviors.  It wasn’t that my body was drastically changing size…it was that I didn’t have any effective coping mechanisms in place to handle distress.

I can look back on all those years now and see so clearly how I was choosing to numb away from the emotions I didn’t want to feel by pretending my body was the problem.  Something I’ve been exploring on the blog lately is how blaming your body is taking the easy way out.  A lot of times it is easier to blame your body size than to address the underlying dissatisfaction you are feeling.  (For my readers in larger bodies.  I don’t know what it feels like to have to live in this fat phobic culture in a larger body.  But I’d love if you could help me understand what it feels like to be you.  Please comment and start a conversation about this if you feel so called.)

I really do believe the only problem food can fix is hunger.  That said, YES, food does and should provide comfort, pleasure and a complete celebration for our tastebuds.  And it also can be used for emotional eating / overeating and those are things that happen and it’s an option for taking care of yourself and an option I utilize when I need to.  But when you realize the only problem food can truly fix is hunger…it might lead you to a reaction of, “crap dangit?! Food isn’t as overwhelmingly comforting (even if that comfort was fleeting) as it once was.  How am I supposed to care for myself now?!” (It’s also worth noting that deprivation and restriction don’t fix/solve any problem.)

It’s a frustrating thing to have your favorite coping mechanism taking away from you.  But when that coping mechanism is preventing you from living the life you want to live, it’s probably a coping mechanism you need to phase out a bit.  Examples of unhealthful coping mechanisms include: drugs, alcohol, restricting food groups, going on a new diet, over exercising, TV watching, being a bully to your body, and so on and so on.

Fast forward through 8 years of eating disorder recovery, an exercise compulsion and doing body image work…I’m sitting in my kitchen last night as Andrew made us omelets & french fries for dinner (i’ve been getting better in marriage with expressing what I need, “hey, I’m working late so can you make us dinner?” To which Andrew goes, “Sure. No problem.”  There’s this part of me that still hates asking for help <– any therapists who want to analyze me, GO FOR IT!).  Back to my story about last night.

I’m sitting in our kitchen around 7:30pm, it was a good day filled with an interview with a magazine I never could’ve dreamed being interviewed by and a full day of client sessions, yet I was feeling drained, exhausted, I’m still having knee pain that is more frustrating on some days than other, and dissatisfied for no reason in particular.  When my mind wandered to the thought of, “it’s weird and still new-ish feeling when you can’t blame your body anymore for your unhappiness and you can’t go to food to fix you unhappiness either.”  And then I just feel my feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and tiredness.  I know all those feelings have a purpose and I don’t need to judge them or try to change them.  They are normal feelings that are part of living a full life.  

In life, I’ve spent a really long time thinking I was doing something wrong if I felt boredom or any distressing emotion.  Now, on a weekly basis I pursue boredom.  It’s a normal feeling that I should be able to tolerate.  So when I’m bored, instead of reaching for my phone to distract myself.  I sit and be bored for a bit…tolerating the feeling and knowing it will pass.  For me being able to be bored is a emotional development milestone for me and the realization of “I’m bored” leads to curiosity of why it’s so hard for me to be still rather than thoughts of how can I become un-bored.  Learning to sit with and tolerate normal, discomforting emotions was huge in my recovery from disordered eating, exercise and negative body image thoughts.

Just to be clear, I think being bored and dissatisfied are normal feelings that we could all benefit from tolerating.  You being a bully to your body isn’t something you should tolerate.  Spending your life pouring your energy into trying to change or control your body size will always lead to an unfulfilling life.

31 comments on “Blaming your body + tolerating being bored.”

  1. Love this! It’s such an important concept that all emotions are part of living a full life and also can give us important signals and messages. Rather than running from them, it’s helpful like you said to learn to tolerate them and to ” lean into the discomfort” of our emotions. I think it can also be helpful to ask ourselves what we need in that moment, or how we can be kind to ourselves. And I love how you talked about curiosity v.s judgement. Great post!! <3

  2. I think I should practice being bored, I really don’t handle having too much downtime well. I find whenever I have too much time on my hands I end up overthinking and getting into a really negative mindset

    • I completely agree with this. I have a physical uncomfortable feeling in my chest and belly when I’m bored and it’s super hard for me to just sit and tolerate it! This is definitely something I can do some major work on. 😊

  3. I’ve been reading your blog/following you on IG for a little while now, but I’ve recently gone through some stuff that has made me really realize it’s time to make some changes and I can’t thank you enough for this post. Learning how to just be with myself might be even harder than tackling the food stuff but I’m finally ready (at almost 36 and after probably 25 years of going through it in some way another) to take both head on and really change my life. Thank you for your perspective, humor, and consistent positive messages!

  4. Once again Kylie you have read my mind and covered such an important topic!!

    An important realization for me in recovery was finally understanding that while I was no longer letting obsession about food or exercise occupy most of the space in my brain, I had started to spend most of my time thinking about my body size. I was critiquing it, then working on loving it, and constantly comparing myself to others. It was exhausting, and taking up a lot of my energy. After months of therapy I had tools in place to realize this negative coping mechanism, and instead of judging myself I was able to say “okay, your body is not really the problem here. What are you really worrying about that you’re trying to avoid?”

    Approaching my thoughts with curiosity not judgement has been SO healing. Early on I didn’t understand how it was possible. Now, I ask myself why daily and the self-critic voice has less opportunities to intervene. RECOVERY IS SO POSSIBLE AND SO WORTH IT.

  5. Therapist here! The asking for help thing is something I hear A LOT. And it’s also one of MY growth areas as well! For me (and a lot of my clients), it’s helpful to frame asking for help as a skill to be practiced and something that may feel more comfortable over time. I know I’ve spent my first 26 years NOT asking for help, so it’s gonna take some time to feel okay doing it. In the meantime, acknowledging that it makes me uncomfortable but IS STILL THE BEST THING FOR ME TO DO is helpful and comforting. Additionally, I sometimes practice asking for help “templates” with myself and clients (ex. I need _____ because ______. and/or Would you mind helping me with ______?). Finally, I have a very supportive partner who I know doesn’t mind helping and I can often remind myself that asking for his help assists us in feeling more connected to one another and strengthens our relationship.

    Great post, Kylie!

  6. I am one of the larger body persons and even in the non-dieting field it can be hard. That, because -even when I am so so gratefuld for the community- I often can help but feel the sting : “If I would be as small as you lovely (!) RD’s (immaeathat, TheReallifeRd & her colleague, Hummussapien etc) then yeah I would be way more relaxed about the whole story. I mean, you can wear short shorts, what is the problem? I’ve never worn anything shorter than knee-lenght in my whole life.” Or while trying to get comfortable with the body set point “Why do I have to be the one on the higher end of the range. I want to be on the small side, too!”.

    Which is silly, of course, because if society wouldn’t be so nuts about being small, then it wouldn’t be a problem at all. Great post either way, because it is so true! Also, I learned that sometimes I have to sit through the feelings longer than expected.

  7. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the being board topic but I wanted to get this off my chest. I’m also one of the larger bodied people and I struggle so much with the fat phobia thing. I am so grateful that Kylie points out that her experience gaining weight through intuitive eating is different because she didn’t start out overweight to begin with, but it still doesn’t quite help me accept it when it’s been happening to me. I’m still having a hard time accepting HAES when i’m obese. I’d terrified to go to the Dr. because they always bring up my weight and BMI as a huge issue. I’ve been doing intuitive eating for a few months and I feel like i’ve made HUGE progress with having peace with food but i’m still gaining weight (i’m not weighing myself, but i can tell because NOTHING fits anymore. Not even stretchy things like my underwear or leggings!) I can’t afford to buy new everything! This is a huge part of why i’m having such a hard time with my weight gain.

    There is SO much negativity and social stigma around being obese that i’m still having a hard time convincing myself it’s ok to be this way. Everything I do, eat, wear is judged in a negative way. I know this is wrong to think and might be hard for some of the readers here to hear but part of me still wishes I would have had the will power to be successful at an eating distorter so that I could have started this IE journey on the other end of the weight spectrum. At least that way, me gaining weight would be considered normal/maybe encouraged even and not shamed. I apologize if I offend anyone with that statement. I get the grass is always greener on the other side. This is just my perspective as an obese person going through this IE journey.

    • Hi Jordan! I’m a fellow “not-so-small’ person, and I totally understand what you mean. I’ve gained weight recently, and a lot of my clothes don’t fit well or just fit differently than I’m used to. I feel like fitting into my clothes and not spending money on new stuff is a valid excuse to continue to try and diet/lose weight. But then when I really think about it…why is it valid? Because society says so? I think one of the main things that is so hard about intuitive eating is that most people aren’t going to praise you for it. If you go out to lunch and eat a salad or tell someone you lost five pounds, they’re going to tell you good job! And how they wish they had your will-power!! But if you go out and eat pizza or skip the gym for a night of netflix, I don’t think many people are going to give your a high-five. Society rewards us for trying to shrink or control our bodies in a negative way, and that is not our fault. No matter how thin or heavy a person is, as long as you are treating your body with respect, no one else should have any input whatsoever. Just IMO :) And I’m so thankful for blogs like this that support people having a healthy relationship with their bodies.

    • I feel like I could have written exactly this.
      Sometimes I feel like I could just suffocate in the atmosphere of judgement. It is crushing, especially when you feel that you’ve made SO much progress internally, but because the progress hasn’t also made you small it somehow doesn’t count.
      ( I also avoid going to the doctor, because they filter everything I bring up through my weight–and always bundle the solution up to “You need to lose weight.” Incredibly incredibly frustrating.)

  8. Wow – this one got me! Thank you for sharing this, Kylie. Your advice that food can’t fix unhappiness is what I’m working on right now, so hearing you solidify that was much-needed.

    You are such an inspiration!

  9. This is so spot on for me! I struggle with accepting boredom and have become accustomed to turning to my phone for entertainment. Not awful, but it’s also a habit that I then subconsciously engage in even with Matt sometimes. So I too need to work on comfort in times of boredom. Also, I have been trying to focus on my breath and, if possible, get up and stretch as soon as I feel my anxiety building. It usually works quite well to calm myself down. My problem is I get into a cycle of worrying that worrying will harm my body. Not a great place to be in mentally, but I love how much you preach that our bodies are stronger and more resilient than society portrays. I will get a handle on my anxiety and fears, and I’m still utilizing a therapist. Lastly, I can very much relate to the difficulty with asking for help. I’ll ask Matt to do x then before I know it, I’m doing it. I’m working to let go of this and to ask for help when needed so as to become overwhelmed. Thank you for this!

  10. This was such a great post! You’ve inspired me to work on being ok with being bored and not seeking out a distraction. I usually grab my phone and although it passes the time it’s just so unsatisfying. And tv watching is ok as long as it’s a House of Cards binge, right? :)

  11. Learning to sit with emotions and not resorting to restriction is something I’m still working on personally, so thank you for writing about it today.

  12. This post is awesome. Something I talk to clients about often! Thank you for sharing this and for continuing to inspire others to develop positive relationships with food and their bodies on a daily basis!

  13. What a great conversation! I can relate. I think a previous blog of your talked about how the best body image days are ones where we’re not thinking about our body. That really stuck with me, and now I can recognize the goodness of those days from time to time. Now when my “body blame” starts popping up, I’m able to get curious about what’s below that.

    I agree that it is a challenge in our current culture to practice tolerating boredom when our phones are usually readily available to fill in the gaps. But it is so essential for our brains to experience that wide range of emotions, and I hear our “boredom times” are times when we can do a lot of creative thinking and connecting the dots that we would have missed out on otherwise.

    • Ooo I love this –> our boredom times are times when we can do a lot of creative thinking and connecting the dots that we would have missed out on otherwise.

      That’s a fabulous way to think about boredom! That’s helpful for me!

  14. Love what you said about boredom being a normal part of life. We totally try to edge it out with our phones and TVs and all that but that also stifles a lot of introspection, creativity, etc… not to mention human connection! I think that sometimes, boredom can be a great “launching point” in a way. Great post as always, Kylie!

  15. This is exactly what I needed. Thank you as always, Kylie, for being a light in the darkness ❤️
    P.s. I’m doing a (half) week in the life vlog inspired by you!!

    • YAY for vlogging! It’s fun and different (…and a lot of sharing your life lol…I feel like it’s good for every once in a while). I hope you’re enjoying it!

  16. Hi Kylie, thank you for this post, the title really resonated with me. I have always struggled with accepting boredom, idleness, fatigue, etc as a natural part of being human. I put so much pressure on myself always to be ‘on’ and ‘productive’ and ‘accomplishing something’ and I’ve used exercise and binge eating as a way of, I guess you could say, punishing myself when my body is just trying to tell me to slow down. The binge eating, then, perpetuates feelings of failure and so continues the destructive cycle.
    On a positive note, I have been practicing meditation for the last month to improve mindfulness and self-awareness and it seems to be helping. I believe you have mentioned meditation in prior posts, are you still practicing, and if so, do you have any guided audio meditations you could recommend?

  17. So good! As a counselor, I work with my clients all the time on how to just sit in discomfort sometimes to allow for better reflection instead of just coping right away.  It’s so human nature to avoid those things but I love that you reiterate that even those difficult and heavy emotions are part of a full and HEALTHY life. Great! 

  18. Love this post! I also really enjoyed how you think of food as only solving the problem of hunger. I will definitely try to remember that, as I can tend to emotionally eat. I’m also not good at being bored, it’s cool you embrace it instead of picking up your phone. I’ve struggled with a lot of depression and anxiety and being bored is something I hate because it can lead to negative thoughts, but as a self-care practice I’m trying to let myself think without it turning negative. Thanks for sharing on this topic!

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  20. “The only problem food can fix is hunger.” How hard it is to learn that. Thanks.

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