My Journey to Label Free
Through the years, I’ve had a lot to do with labels. I’ve had them placed on me being “the girl with the eating disorder” and have been told I was never going to get better because I was “too complex”. I’ve also spent way too many years labeling my diet and food as “clean” and “healthy”. During my darkest times, I labeled myself a “failure” and my life as “hopeless”. In a culture where judgement and labeling is all the norm, it’s hard not to label yourself and others. But it doesn’t need to be that way! Being an eating disorder warrior and having experienced all the things that usually come with it, I’ve learned that labels do not define me as a person. My knowledge and self-understanding have shaped me into who I am today, a free soul. And that freedom is something I want the world to see, that it’s 100% possible to Liv Label Free.
My username has evolved a lot over the years. When I first created my account back in 2015, I was in the throes of my eating disorder. I was in treatment at Rintveld, the clinic at which the head psychiatrist told me I was never going to get better. I was in a war not only with my head, but with everyone around me, including my closest friends and family members. My parents and sisters didn’t know how to help and simply wanted what was best for me. At the time, they thought that meant obeying the orders of any eating disorder ‘specialists’ under which I was getting treatment. I felt so alone because I literally felt like everyone was against me. I didn’t even really know what an eating disorder was, and stubbornly resisted the fact that I even had one. If I heard my parents tell their friends about the home situation and that one of their daughters had anorexia, I would burst out in anger and frustration. I DO NOT HAVE ANOREXIA! Yet nobody believed me. I was the sick one.
In the hopes of feeling a little less lonely and as a place to share my struggles anonymously, I created an instagram under the name ‘lilrecoveringbee’. I honestly don’t know why it had the word ‘bee’ in there, because I personally don’t have anything with bees, but I’m pretty sure I named myself that because some other recovery account I already followed ended in the word ‘bee’ and I thought it sounded cool.
Pretty soon, I realized that ‘bee’ totally was not me, so I changed my username to lilrecoveringfoodie. I kept the ‘lil’ because, in fact, I am barely 5ft tall, and the ‘recovering’ too because well, I was recovering from an eating disorder. Did I want to? No. But I was kinda sorta in the whole process of recovery. I still had this name when I went to Carolina House back in July of 2017, so the fact that the verb of the word ‘recovery’ was in my name implies that I really was in the ‘action’ of doing so!
As soon as I got out of Carolina House though, I thought I was done. Fixed. ‘Recovered’. So I wanted to get rid of the ‘recovering’ part of the name and changed it to ‘lilfoodieinthekitchen’ this time. I still really liked the ‘lilfoodie’ part, but of course that name was already taken on instagram. So I thought, ‘What else am I?’ I then decided to add ‘in the kitchen’ because with extreme hunger, my passion for recipe creating and simply loving food, I really was ALWAYS in the kitchen, haha! Of course I was FAR from reaching full recovery. If you’ve been following my journey either on here or my instagram, you know I often talk about how recovery is so much more than just gaining weight. But I was a newbie at the time and really didn’t know better!
Then in May of 2018, I had a bit of a mental shift and realized I was more than just a foodie and the fact that I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen doesn’t define me. From lilrecoveringbee to lilrecoveringfoodie to lilfoodieinthekitchen, I now wanted a name that would represent my life as a whole. With everything that had happened with me during my illness, the move, my parents splitting up (and eventually divorce), I realized I just wanted life to be simple again. It was at this point that I was also becoming more aware of what REAL health meant. It’s not creating crazy meals loaded with superfoods or eating $10 loaves of bread just because they have less carbs and are free of dairy and gluten. It’s not going to the gym every day because your favorite instagram influencer posts daily workouts and gym selfies. And it’s definitely not obsessing over everything that has to do with ‘health’. Because an obsession in itself is just unhealthy.
So my new ‘brand mission’ was to share my ‘balanced life’ while showing that it’s not all that complicated. Conveniently, my name ‘liv’ sounds kinda like life and thus ‘Simply Balanced Liv’ felt like the perfect name for me. I even got a specially engraved spoon to prove it!
The battle in my head regarding food, fitness, and overall health didn’t get any better with this new name, though. I was still carrying the burden of the words a psychiatrist had told me in 2015: I was never going to get better because my problems were ‘too complex’. So I kept trying to do all the things to ‘prove’ I was just the opposite of complex. I went vegan, on and off, several times. If I didn’t want to eat a certain food (often I was just afraid), I could just say ‘I’m vegan’ and wouldn’t have to go on and tell a whole story about why I won’t eat said food because I have an eating disorder and am actually just too scared to eat the food. I would just say I’m vegan. It was that simple.
But of course, it wasn’t. Restricting myself was a shield that hid me (or so I thought) from my body’s true needs and wants. Labeling myself as something I had chosen to label myself as was simply a reprisal on the ‘too complex’ label that had been placed on me years ago. I wasn’t aware of this though, until recently.
The gut instinct telling me ‘simply balanced liv’ wasn’t ‘me’ has been pulling on me since March 2019. I didn’t know why, but it just no longer felt right. Partly because my life doesn’t feel ‘simple’ nor is ‘balance’ a set in stone term. Getting to where I am today (and tomorrow, and everyday!) has taken time and effort, and definitely wasn’t a ‘simple’ thing to do. Gaining weight, challenging thoughts, facing food fears, climbing, falling, learning, crying…recovery and everything that comes along with it has been the hardest thing ever. Furthermore, my definition of ‘balance’ is ever-evolving and is truly never the same on a given day! That’s the same reason I am hesitant to share FDOE’s on my channels. Sometimes balance means a big salad after a weekend of fast food. Other times it means just the opposite. Therefore, I feel the word ‘balance’ can not be placed in the past tense—in this context, at least.
So you’re probably wondering: if I have been craving change since March, why did I almost wait a whole year to finally become Liv Label Free? The simple answer to that is trust! I knew I wanted change, yet I didn’t know what yet. 2019 was a year of major growth for me, part of that growth was learning to trust that things will fall into place and that the Universe or some higher power has got my back! I’ve also really gotten into manifesting, which is pretty awesome. I manifested a life in which I felt FREE… and look at me now! I am in an amazing place and couldn’t be more thankful for everything that makes me ME….so that’s why I’ve chosen this name. I am Liv(ing) Label Free. And what happens when you remove the label? You get Liv Free. You get ME :)