In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it is my sincere pleasure to introduce my dear friend Keke Lindgard – model, writer, Certified Health Coach, and Bachelor of Science (Dietetics, Food Science & Human Nutrition) helping others create harmonious relationships with food, eating, and their physical selves. KeKe nourishes the hearts, minds, and spirits of those living with and in recovery from disordered eating every week in NOURISH, a weekly group exploring the emotional experiences driving our eating habits.

Keke is “just a girl” with a lot to say and so much to give. Please take a moment to read her beautiful words.
~ Natasha

I’m just a girl… who takes care of herself

By: Keke Lindgard

Photo credit: Jordan Van Vortt

I was walking home from Trader Joe’s a couple of days ago, my handbag swung across my torso rhythmically tapping my hip with each step, as my hands gripped around a paper bag full of groceries. Whilst jotting across the street as the walk signal flashed a red hand before me, I peaked over the bag of popcorn obstructing my view of the sidewalk ahead of me, and with the bustling sounds of the city refracted off my eardrums, I felt quiet. I felt a sense of satisfaction. I thought, here I am, just taking care of myself. I just bought myself a bag of groceries. How simple, but how fulfilling.  

It’s the small behaviors most of us were raised to habitualize -second nature practices like;  brushing our teeth, washing our hair, doing the laundry, feeding ourselves, drinking water, etc that we can take our ability to perform for granted. What if we found peace in the fact we can do these things for ourselves. How profoundly beautiful, I thought to myself as the corners of my mouth rose into my cheeks and a smile appeared across my face. Simple. Yet so complex. 

Taking care of myself, what an accomplishment. There are mornings when I open my eyes, and question the feasibility of the day ahead. How will I navigate it, how can I simply endure? Not every day harbors such uncertainty, but I remember a time it did. I remember when these basic tasks required to take care of myself eluded me entirely. It’s a poignant memory, to be sure, but I’m steering toward a larger point… or at least attempting to.  

What if we found satisfaction in the little things, like buying groceries, and eating them. How simple but how complex it can be. I remember a time I roamed grocery stores for hours, admiring the shelves filled with freedom. If only, I thought… I could buy this box of cereal, add some ice cold milk, and then top it like I’m at a frozen yogurt bar. My mind would run with the opportunity; frozen blueberries, a dollop of peanut butter, oh and Nutella, yeah Nutella too… It was where I could play, I could dream, I could imagine a life where my mind allowed me to eat. WHATEVER I WANTED. But just like a kid in a playground, I had to eventually go home, back to the invisible prison my mind ushered that child like hope and wonder back into. I’d walk out, empty handed, watching people pass by me with their arms wrapped around paper bags full of freedom in the form of chips, apples, and chicken salad; practicing a behavior of self – care, one I was unable to perform for so long.  

So with my arms gripped around my own paper bag full of groceries – now steps away from my apt door, I continued to ponder. Self-neglect is an ally to any addiction or wounded behavior pattern. My self neglect came in the form of ill nourishment. I got to a point where I couldn’t even fathom eating normally- cooking for myself without the steal walled barriers around ingredient lists – hah I WISHED! And once I abided by these rules, there were more, there were always more. The rules seeped into other facets of my wellbeing, like loosing the ability to be kind to myself or letting myself rest, forcing myself to stand instead of sit while doing anything, physically hurting myself, keeping myself as cold as possible, you think of a way to make a human uncomfortable and my lovely little hoe of an eating disorder would find a way to make it a new rule. With the rules becoming more abundant, and the self worth slowly disappearing, I lost the ability to take care of myself.

Every ounce of struggle has paved the way for moments of gratitude, like my paper bag epiphany. While it took an enduring battle to kick my snarky little eating disorder farewell and find peace with it (a journey that took an eternity, so if you’re still on that path, it’s completely okay to harbor some resentment toward that pesky little demon), it has gifted me with the capacity to savor the nuances of life, relishing in the beauty of the small, everyday joys of caring for myself.

In my personal journey of recovery, I’ve come to appreciate the profound impact of seemingly small victories—those incremental behavioral adjustments and narrative changes that, individually, may appear insignificant. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the power of these “little things” lies in their cumulative effect. While the term “little” implies a diminutive size or significance, the fusion of these moments can lead to something truly monumental.

Consider each positive shift as a penny added to your jar daily. Over time, these seemingly inconspicuous contributions lead to a substantial wealth of progress, something no money can buy. Life’s small victories can serve as our pathway to prosperity, comparable to accumulating wealth through consistent, intentional efforts. And it can all begin with the appreciation of our ability to take care of ourselves.

So, when reflecting on the day’s achievements—whether it’s the capability to independently manage sometimes mundane daily tasks or the triumph of carrying a bag of groceries home, it’s not just the action being taken, it’s the mindset that comes with it and recognizing these as building blocks for a significant, transformative journey. What may seem ordinary to others is, in reality, a remarkable feat and a testament to personal growth. Embracing and celebrating these moments, no matter how small, could be the key to billions in our penny jars of self-worth, personal triumph, and overall growth.

Today, I’m just a girl who takes care of herself. Who knows what it will be tomorrow.

xx, Keke