July 9, 2012


*WARNING: This post may contain certain "triggers."  Therefore, if you have a history of an eating disorder, and are easily triggered, please read with caution.*

I have mixed feelings about writing this post.  Usually this blog is pretty upbeat (not that this post is going to be a sob-story or anything), filled with delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes, and sprinkled with a book review, yoga post, or story about life in the Navy here and there.  So, even though I have had the desire to write today's post for quite a while, I haven't, because - quite frankly - I wasn't sure that the ABC blog was the right forum for me to spill my guts.

You see, today's post is about failure.  

Specifically, failure in relation to my body image.

(I warned you.  Not necessarily the fun and uplifting post you are used to!)

But don't go just yet...why don't you stay and read a while?  Maybe, just maybe, my ramblings on failure will mean something to you.  Maybe not.  In any case, why not take a chance and read on?!

I struggled with an eating disorder, in some form or another, from 1999-2009.  ED (my not so endearing term for my eating disorder) originally manifested in the form of bulimia.  Then he took a vacation for a while, and when he returned he was stronger, smarter, and in the form of anorexia.  I am 5'6" tall, and at rock-bottom I weighed 103 pounds.


Not. healthy.

To be honest, at that weight, I wasn't even sure I looked good.  All of my "girly bits" were gone, the fashion that I loved didn't look good on my shapeless body, I was freezing cold all the time, my hair was falling out, and I was quite moody (i.e. bit*hy) - not to mention that I was miserable and falling apart from the inside out.

So why didn't I break up with ED sooner?  

Because, the truth is, my relationship with ED had nothing to do with weight, and everything to do with control and self-worth.


You see, in my mind, I had to be perfect to be loved.  I had to prove that I was worthy of the love and acceptance of others.  To me, outside of God and my mother, the concept of unconditional love was just too good to be true.  I mean really, with my limp hair and round face and soft tummy and fake front tooth, etc. etc. etc. - who would love me?!

So here I am, three years into my recovery, the strongest I've been in my entire life (thanks to yoga), the healthiest I've been since age 14 (both physically and emotionally), 137 pounds (WOW - did I really just type that?!), not completely in love with my feminine shape; and as I was driving to teach a yoga class a couple of days ago I had a realization.

I feel like a failure.

Not all the time.  Not in relation to my job.  Certainly not in relation to my marriage.  But undoubtedly - in more moments that I would care to admit - in relationship to my body.

And this failure is complicated, because on the one hand I feel like I have failed at being "thin," and on the other hand I feel like I have failed at learning to love my healthy, new, woman's body.  

And then I feel even more like a failure because I can't seem to win.


The truth is that I somehow want both, and the even harder truth is that I'm not sure that's possible.  Although I certainly struggle to embrace my new size 6/8 body, I also know that this is sort of my bodies natural "baseline."  When I eat a balance diet and exercise 4/5 times a week, this is where my body lands: like it or not (sometimes I like it, most of the time - for now, at least - I am struggling to accept it).

And then the competitive perfectionist steps in and tries to tell me that I've given up too easily (Have I?).  That the only reason that I have the body that I do is because I am too lazy to buckle down and change it (Really?).  That I know what to do, I just need to stop making all these "healthy" excuses and do it!

And countless others.

Who, every day, in their own special ways, tell me/call me/remind me/look me straight in the eyes and say that:

I. am. perfect.

I. am. enough.

I. am. loved.

And that makes me want to cry, because the truth is, three years into recovery, I still don't believe it.  I believe it about others.  I can love others unconditionally until the cows come home.  But for some unfortunate and insane reason I still haven't gotten it through my thick skull that:

I. am. worthy.


So, here I am, writing about failure; and to be honest, I am enough of a realist to know that it would be fake and superficial of me to wrap this post up with a pretty pink bow and call it a day.  That's not the reality of where I am, and I'm OK with that.  Instead, I will acknowledge that:

  • I am three years into my recovery.
  • I wake up, every day, and I decide to be healthy.
  • I walk onto my yoga mat and I consciously work on accepting myself, so that I can better accept others.
  • I eat three, healthy, well-balanced, nutritionally-rich meals every day.
  • I tell my husband he is loved at least once a day...and then I try to tell myself the same thing.
  • I am fighting.
  • I won't give up.

And finally, even though he is the constant, unwelcome, solicitor in my life, 
I will not open the door to ED ever again.

And if for nothing else, for that I am not a failure.  

For that I am a champion.


Next up - we return to the wonderful world of recipes!  Summer vegetable soup anyone?!

Question of the Day:

Do you ever feel like a failure?  If so, what do you do to remind yourself that you are a champion?!

Ally and Bo


  1. What a beautiful, powerful blog. How Proud I am of you. How strong you are!
    I suppose everyone ,if they were honest, has similar feelings and struggles...insecurities...inadequacies....issues..that creep their nasty little heads up so as to knock us down and keep us from 'living'...being effective...making a difference in the only way that our unique creation can...Our 'Divine Purpose'...I suppose the one good thing about age [or at least for me] has been the ability to 'Chill' a little to let go of some of that self absorption. Just do the best with what I got and then just...'BREATH'
    [this song comes to mind..'Don't worry...Be Happy] HA!!
    And Yes you are Loved !!! You are loved for the Essence that is Ally...
    We are all perfectly made...for what we are perfectly created to do...that only we alone can do

    1. Thank you, Mom. I love you so much, and am thankful each and every day that you are in my life. God knew what he was doing when he gave me to you.