It’s Not Me . . . It’s my Body Image

So I’ve weighed 175 pounds, and I’ve weighed 230 pounds.

We all know that added weight contributes to a number of health issues, like high blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver, arthritis, and even cancer. And that’s not even touching on what it does for our self-value. But what we may not know is that being underweight has it’s own potential health and emotional pitfalls as well. In either case, the more extreme we go, the more significant the complications. So I wanted to talk a little bit about a few of the more common eating disorders and put my #LiveYourValue spin to them.

The most common eating disorders include:

  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • binge-eating disorder

People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. 

On the other hand, people with bulimia nervosa have frequent episodes of overeating and then, after feeling a lack of control, compensate by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or water pills, fasting, or excessive exercise. Or, a combination of these choices. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa can be slightly underweight, normal in weight, or even overweight.

Finally, binge-eating disorder is characterized by a person losing control and having episodes of overeating. However, unlike those with bulimia, binge eaters do not follow it up with forced vomiting or other types of purging common to bulimia. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in America and just happens to be the one that I have experienced.

First, let’s chat about the physical and health complications of eating disorders. And no, it’s not a short list.

What are the potential complications of anorexia nervosa?

  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Dry and yellowish skin
  • Growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo)
  • Severe constipation
  • Low blood pressure; slowed breathing and pulse
  • Damage to the structure and function of the heart
  • Brain damage
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time
  • Infertility

What about bulimia nervosa?

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
  • Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals) which can lead to stroke or heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat or heart failure
  • Absent or irregular periods in females.

But what causes these eating disorders? 

After all, if we can identify the cause of something, whether it’s something we want in our lives or not, we have a much better understanding of how to affect it through the choices we make. Unfortunately, the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. The most common theories are that perhaps, in some people, brain chemistry plays a major role. The other thought is that eating disorders arise from poor coping skills or an inability to recover from negative experiences in a healthier manner.

I believe the underlying cause is from both. In other words, a negative experience that leaves us with lingering, nagging emotional, and mental pain because we cannot cope with such events, largely because we were never taught how to. And this is coupled with a certain brain chemistry that puts us at a higher risk than others to have an unhealthy coping choice become a way of life. 

Regardless of the cause, the fact is that all of the events—the initial negative experience, the lingering emotional hurt, and the unhealthy coping mechanism—all work to minimize our value and lead to a steady but certain worsening of depression, anxiety, and self-value. 

From personal experience, I can empathize with this cycle. Thankfully, I can also share the first two steps you can take if you want to break this or any cycle that’s holding you back.

First, always REMEMBER this:

YOU ARE NOT A LABEL!  You are NOT the poster child for any unhealthy choice you make and you needn’t make an unhealthy choice more than what it is.

Next, always DO this:

ONLY OWN THE GOOD!  Whatever choices you make that MOVE YOU CLOSER to the you that you want to be . . .  OWN them. Think of these choices as a piece of your heart—the true you. They are the choices that you need to use to define your value.

Whatever choices you make that MOVE YOU FURTHER AWAY from who you want to be and the life you want, regardless if we are talking about an eating disorder, diabetes, heart disease, relationships, or financial security . . .  think of them as nothing more than choices.  And ya know, we can ALWAYS change the choices we make.

Yes, being overweight, obese, or underweight can all greatly affect our physical health. However, more importantly, each of them can eat away at our sense of value, and we all know that if we want to be physically healthier, it has to start with the head first. So . . .

Today and every day, #LiveYourValue one choice at a time. After all, the world would not be the same without you in it.




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