Food+Body Freedom in the Backcountry
One staff member’s experience of freedom from her eating disorder while backpacking in Washington
Over the fourth of July weekend, I embarked on a four day backpacking trek to Washington’s finest and most envied spot, The Enchantments. As mentioned in its name, this captivating and whimsical spot struck a deep sense of enchantment, curiosity and adventure inside of me. As I was wildly pulled into this unfamiliar and enthralling world, I was boldly reminded of my own freedom from an eating disorder that trapped me and kept me from experiencing the joy and gratitude for my body and what it could do when well cared for.
In my eating disorder, I was a slave to a rigid and narrow way of being. Strict rules and high, unrealistic expectations had complete control over me. My failure to abide by these guidelines led me to living in a constant state of disappointment and shame. That meant an adventure such as a backpacking trip would be filled with worry and anxiety regarding whether I could reach those unobtainable and strict goals. My backpack would be filled with a desperate desire to perform (perfectly), a disconnected mind and body and a lack of self-care. This was heavy stuff! Carrying such a burdensome pack was far less than thrilling.
Which brings me to share the beauty of this food and body freedom that I reflected upon in these beloved Enchantments. On this trip, I packed my essentials: an attuned mind and body, an open and flexible sense of adventure, mindfulness and self-care. Using these tools helped me to remain grounded and energized by the sights around me. By listening to my body when it was hungry and honoring those cues, I was able to experience and take in the beauty around me and hike to higher grounds. I was able to trust my body and honor when I was exhausted and in need of rest. I was not focused on performance, striving to be something I’m not, or reaching impossible goals. Let freedom ring!
Our hope for our clients at Opal is that they can experience food and body freedom too. We hope that clients can be equipped for life’s adventure by knowing, trusting and honoring their bodies.
What are you carrying in your backpack?
What fills and energizes you?
How will you know when you’re free?
Photos and blogpost by Milieu Therapist, Kiley Bedson, MA, LMFTA