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Stay Connected With the Value of Your Recovery

Greetings, phenomenal people! Christine here to talk about body image in the upcoming season.

Spring is on its way, and with it, we can anticipate an onslaught of media images, diet and fitness advertisements, and other general nonsense rooted in the diet mentality. Many individuals who are working hard in recovery will likely be challenged by the idea that we need to change our bodies in order to adequately take part in the season. It can be a tough time for body image, and I am here to tell you loud and clear: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PARTICIPATE!

I’ve compiled a list of five tips and reminders to help you stay connected with the value of your recovery so that you can traverse the season with an authentic spring in your step (I couldn’t resist).

  1. Your body is ready for the season just as it is. Want a beach body? Put your body on the beach. Want to update your spring wardrobe? Dress your body in clothes you feel good in that fit your current body as it is. Want to go on a vacation? Take your body on a trip. There is no actual requirement that your body look any certain way or be any particular size in order for you to have a right to fully participate in the joys of the season.
  2. That’s an interesting thought. In acceptance and commitment therapy, we utilize defusion techniques to separate our authentic selves from our thoughts. Diet culture will likely show up in your thoughts from time to time. Try saying to your brain, “Oh, that’s an interesting thought. Thanks, but no thanks. What else is up there, brain?” Trust in your recovery, and know that you have other bigger, greater ideas.
  3. Who’s making money? It can be very compelling to spend a few minutes thinking about who might be capitalizing on your insecurities about your body image. What products are you buying? What media are you watching? What are you spending your time and money on in order to engage in thinking and action around changing your body?
  4. Be empowered to use your “NO.” So, this might sound wild, but it can be very refreshing to blatantly refuse to participate in the diet culture traditions of the season. Next time you’re out with friends and they start talking about their new plan, detox, cleanse, or whatever, try saying, “Oh, a diet? No, I don’t do those.” Say it with your head held high, and step into your newfound freedom!
  5. Be honest with yourself about where you are. I am all for anyone putting their body in a swimsuit and authentically enjoying the season, AND you also have every right to recognize that you might not be ready for that this year. It’s okay! If it’s something you want to do, make it a goal for later in the summer or next year and work with your therapist on a plan that might help you build your skills and confidence as you work toward body liberation. In the short term, think about other ways to enjoy the season. Consider self-care practices. If you have a spring break and you want to travel, where can you imagine yourself visiting and having the best opportunity to live in the moment and be fully present in your life?

Thank you so much for reading. I hope these ideas are helpful or at least give you something to think about as you move through this spring season in your recovery journey. What you’re doing is tough work, and it can be made even more difficult by socially constructed standards of beauty and health. Trust your innate wisdom, the wisdom that initiated your recovery journey in the first place, and know that you are on your best path.

Christine Northrup, MSW, LCSWA

Staff Therapist

About Christine Northrup, MSW, LCSWA

Christine began her journey at Carolina House in 2014 when she joined our residential patient assistant team while working toward her master’s degree in social work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She immediately felt a great passion for the work of eating disorder recovery and great respect for the patients with whom she worked. Christine completed clinical internships in community mental health and at Duke University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). She has experience working as a therapist in eating disorder treatment at all levels of care, and she has particular interest in working with the sensory and attachment systems in eating disorder recovery.

Christine’s first career was in theatre arts education, which led her to many embodied and expressive practices that she brings into her current work. She is an advanced student of Somatic Experiencing® and will complete her training as a somatic experiencing practitioner in 2020. Christine also trains with the Embodied Recovery Institute as she continually seeks best practices in integrating somatic therapy and principles of embodiment into her therapeutic work as well as her own personhood. Christine works through a lens of social justice. She is curious and deeply concerned about making eating disorder treatment more inclusive for all people in all bodies.

View all posts by Christine Northrup, MSW, LCSWA