What’s messy, and why it matters

If you’re a Brené Brown fan like I am, I hope you’ve picked up her newest book, Rising Strong. I’m into it now and can’t help but be inspired by her words and her dedication of the book to the space in between vulnerability and the heroic ending of the stories we are all so excited to get to. She admits that failure is part of life, and says that the journey is messy:

 “We much prefer stories about falling and rising to be inspirational and sanitized. Our culture is rife with those tales. In a thirty-minute speech, there’s normally thirty seconds dedicated to, “And I fought my way back,”…We like recovery stories to move quickly through the dark so we can get to the sweeping redemptive ending.”

I like to think that my blogging here as well as at my old blog was a space for me to share some of my struggles, but I’ll admit that I like to rush to the ending. Sometimes this blog serves as a spot to figure things out, which is great. But as someone who wants to help others to figure their own things out, it’s a disservice to skip to the ending or to leave out the messy parts. So as I’ve been reading Rising Strong, I’ve been thinking about my own mess in the middle.

On a regular basis, there are parts about living my recovered, healthy, life that are not so easy. There are “failures” or stumbles now, and I don’t always want to talk about them. Is it shame? Is it an attempt to inspire and focus on what’s good? Maybe. But talking about where we feel shame, I know, only takes away its power. And being real about the messy parts of life is what is really inspiring to others. Take it from Brené:

“…[T]here’s a vast difference between how we think about the term failure and how we think about the people and organizations brave enough to share their feelings for the purpose of learning and growing. To pretend that we can get to helping, generous, and brave without navigating through tough emotions like desperation, shame, and panic is a profoundly dangerous and misguided assumption.”

She talks about “the beauty in truth and tenacity.” So for the next couple of posts here, I want to share some of the struggles I’ve had and/or have when it comes to living the healthy and happy life I try to stay committed to. I’ll talk about what it’s like to walk around recovered—some of the times where I find myself slipping, or the ways that I have to work on staying true to myself. It’s not always easy, and I hope that this serves to send the message that it’s alright to have to work at recovery or living a healthy life. We sometimes see these images of people who have it all figured out and beat ourselves up for not being as carefree or as put together as them. It’s the whole comparing other peoples’ highlight reels with our behind the scenes footage, and it’s shitty if you’re the kind of person who then beats yourself up for struggling. Talk about kicking yourself when you’re down. I’ve been there, and I hope talking about it both helps me to let go of some of that shame and also to let others know they’re not alone.

 

imperfections

So in the coming posts, I want to talk about what’s tough. Holidays, the scale, comparisons–these are just a couple of the things I want to talk about.

Are there things you struggle with but keep to yourself when it comes to being healthy and happy?
When you tell your story, do you skip to the end? 

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Dear diary: The best binge of my life

A really great binge.

Is there such a thing?

As liberating as writing a few posts this week that I think really show how far I’ve come in recovery has been, I feel a bit of resistance. And a bit of stress with starting summer school. And that’s played out in chocolate cravings and some night time eating that is fine, but that probably should have raised a bigger red flag for me.

Anyways, it is what it is, and even though yesterday was perfection–my yoga class was fun, I hung out with a friend after, etc., I still fell into some bad territory last night. Or good territory, depending on how you look at this all (if you can follow along, you’ll see!).

Since I don’t have a deceptive bone in my body, I’m going to lay it all out:

  • went to bulk barn
  • ate some chocolate in a relaxed manner
  • got past the point of tired, got past the point of eating for pleasure/hunger, got to the point of “am I bingeing?” and stopped
  • went back to the kitchen, continued eating “I’m definitely bingeing”
  • went back to the kitchen again, tossed the rest of what I was bingeing on (telltale old dieting habit: I’m too out of control to have it around? <– that’s bull!) but ate more in the process
  • went to bed
  • felt sick
  • got up and threw up

Now, here’s what was different. NORMALLY I’d have been a WRECK over this. Does my reaction, which wasn’t to beat myself up, to plan a diet, to continue eating, to cry myself to sleep, to write epic blog posts or journals, mean I don’t care? That I’m giving up on recovery?

Hells no.

I think it means the opposite.

That binge/purge didn’t serve me at all. Not one bit. It was a waste of money, time, and energy. But it was a lesson!

…that I need to be more in touch with things: I should have went to bed. I should have done my laundry so I didn’t see it and feel bad when I walked in the door. I should have organized my notes before going out for the night so I don’t have that lingering feeling of being a slob. I should have sat down and breathed when I got in the door. But I can say should have til I’m blue in the face–it is what it is.

Today, I went back into one of my favourite recovery books — “It’s Not About Food”  and read some of the dog-eared pages:

  • “At the heart of every eating disorder…there is a cry from the deepest part of our souls that must be heard. It is a cry to awaken, to embrace our whole selves, to see past the limitations we have put on ourselves by defining our bodies or our eating habits as good or bad. … It is a call from the part of us the holds our desires and passions to grow, heal and fulfill our dreams.”
  • about trusting your process
  • reading that recovery isn’t linear
  • The authors describe recovery as a mountain with thousands of paths to the top (where things come to a head and you are tossed back and forth between the ED side and the recovered side). They use the mountain as a guideline and I see myself in it. It was helpful to read about the stages I’m not alone:
    • “The fear that you will gain a million pounds comes roaring into your life.”
    • “As you start to put your eating, your food, and your weight in the proper perspective, all the feelings that you had been overeating or underrating over come up and out. These are the feelings your have numbed with food. These are the emotions you have pushed down with obsessional thinking…It is an illusion to think that the food has made them go away.”
    • “Many times you have all your feelings and you are still overeating or starving yourself. To make matters worse, eating the food or controlling the food doesn’t numb you anymore. … Your thoughts are filled with how fat and out of control you are. You think how easy it would be to just go on one last diet, and yet you know that isn’t the answer. … As painful as it can be, this is one of th emost powerful parts of the whole journey. It will teach you about yourself and lead the way to knowing how to live the rest of your life with peace and self-love.”

The authors also offered some valuable reminders: “You will eventually eat like a normal person. You will weigh what you were meant to weigh naturally. You will know and speak your own truth.” Amen to that.

And while I see myself in that struggling place where you have behaviours and emotions and so much going on, I also connected for the first time with a stage later in their process:

  •  “Even though you may still over- or under eat or obsess now and then, it doesn’t happen as often and it shouldn’t worry you because you know that you have the tools to turn things around. You are also more trusting of yourself and this process: you know that this happens snow and then and it’s okay.”
Because today, I feel okay. I feel good. I feel like I’m going to have a great weekend regardless of that fact that this happened. I feel totally different than I ever have after a binge. I didn’t clean out my cupboards, I didn’t meticulously plan my food, I didn’t decide to only have one treat a day this weekend, I didn’t decide to do double workouts every day, I didn’t compulsively clean my apartment, I didn’t do any of the things that I used to do to try to “deal with” last night. I don’t have to.  I don’t feel like crawling into my pyjamas and hiding from the world today. I feel like getting out there and being awesome. I reminded myself: even if I gained weight from that, that weight is part of my recovery. My weight is not the issue–it never has been and it never will be (because I’m not going to forget these lessons any time soon). This all brought the realization that I don’t need to binge and purge again–it does NOTHING for me. And that carries over: I don’t need to worry about my weight — it does NOTHING (positive) for me. My ED is no longer serving me. If that’s not a huge statement, I don’t know what is. It’s like I knew that, but I had to prove it via a binge. It’s definitely worth it because it showed me just how useless my ED behaviours are. Let ED slip back in? Not an option. Let him win this weekend and make me miserable? Not happening–ED is not even a contender in my life anymore–that’s what this binge showed me! 
I kind of have this sentiment to ED: NANANANABOOBOO YOU CAN’T CATCH ME!
Turns out, I don’t need to binge!
That’s all.
If you’ve recovered, how did you know you were done with ED?
Thoughts?

Unexpected epiphanies

Wowzer. I didn’t have any intention of this being a post about realizations or anything bigger than a bike ride this afternoon (45km ish with a friend :)!), cleaning, and what I ate today. Funny how blogging can spark insight…enjoy:

I think I blogged before that I’m feeling a bit stuck in my routine of eating the same things over and over again.

Kashi berry crisp, all bran buds, and grapes with yogurt!

My breakfast bowl was a little different, which is a start.

I spent the morning working on making my apartment presentable (it’s not disorganized mess — I have lots of things to go to my mom’s place for the winter like my boots/coats/etc.). I closed my closets for the first time in 2012! Yahoo. I also made it to the bank, which has been on my to do list for a while. Check! Then I stopped at Bulk Barn.

Things got out of hand…and there are treat bags that I can’t help but reveal.

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gluten, dairy, soy, almond/peanut free for Angela (it's my version of chicken noodle soup since she's sick :(!): think dried fruit (bananas, papaya, pineapple, and mango), dates, and skittles

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My road trip dream: yogurt covered pretzels, pretzels, chocolate covered almonds, mixed nuts, papaya, banana chips, and chocolate rosebuds

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Everything I think my mom will like! 🙂

You’d be surprised to know I went on this bulk barn blitz AFTER lunch (another turkey sandwich with cheese, sprouts, mayo, and an apple — back to boring). I couldn’t finish my lunch, though, which brings me to a weird realization I had (that probably led me to feel “brave” enough to buy MYSELF a treat bag!). Get ready for this.

  • In the past, I have ALWAYS finished my plate. I cannot remember the last time I left anything on it. I sometimes think I’m just really good at knowing how much food I want, but I think it’s a remnant of dieting days where I would literally need everything on my plate (I also wouldn’t share food then, because every bite meant so much to me) or of my recovery days where I think I cleaned a heftier plate to prove I was recovering. — NEWS FLASH: You don’t have an ED if you decide not to finish something. You also should feel fine to finish things and to go back for more. The goal is to feel satisfied–not stuffed! 
  • This epiphany made me realize that I really can leave behind old habits.
  • In the past, I also would go out and buy road trip snacks for the people I was travelling with, trying to buy things I “don’t like” anyways. Often, I’d end up eating them with my friends/family and I wouldn’t even be having what I wanted, PLUS I’d be serving up a hefty dose of guilt in the process (it’s hard to ENJOY something as a TREAT when you hear a voice telling you that you shouldn’t be eating it). — NEWS FLASH: We all deserve treats. If we allow ourselves to eat food and to enjoy it without telling ourselves we shouldn’t, they will be more satisfying and will serve their purpose as a treat–not as a reason to beat ourselves up, not as something emotional, etc. 

All this thinking made me realize: I can go away this week and I can worry about what I’m eating. Or I can truly try to channel that healthy girl I know I am and find the voice that empowers me to eat in a way that is normal, balanced, and healthy and that doesn’t use food as a distraction, a means to beat myself up, etc. I can change. Evidenced by the empowerment I felt by just deciding that I was full and didn’t need the entire plate at lunch or by the simple act of making myself an uber appealing treat bag, I can change. I can be the healthy girl I want to be. I am her! My goal for the week is to eat things in moderation. Candy on a daily basis, most likely. American junk food that I wouldn’t let myself ENJOY in the past (though I’d end up eating lots of it in bingeing fashion). Things like white bread and white potatoes (which the blogging world has a tendency to label “bad” but really are not the devil) and butter, full fat cheese, and whatever else comes up along the way. I’m not going on a junk food eating bender here. When I allow myself that flexibility and see myself succeeding and eating as a balanced person would, I feel so powerful. I know in my heart that I will crave vegetables and fruit and nutritious foods and that I will eat them–so no worries that I’m going to die from a nutritionally related disease next week, kiddos! The thing that I think people often forget that I’m trying to remind myself: I eat to live. The food I put in my body is fuel. If food is holding you back, could you just let go? What would happen if it didn’t have power? Might you not weigh what you’re supposed to (more, less, the same) without stressing about it? Might you not have more time and energy to spend working on things that matter and to seek out experiences? Because really, what are we here for if it’s not to live?

And I apologize for getting all philosophical, deep, recovery-like on you there, but I hope that made sense. I also hope I can take it and apply it.

So for dinner tonight, when I was seriously craving peanut butter and cereal, I went with it. And along the same vein as I realized above, feeling guilty about not eating veggies won’t serve me. Feeling bad about eating a lot of cereal in a day also won’t. Recognizing that at the end of the day, I fuelled myself and didn’t binge, didn’t use food as an excuse, didn’t let it rule my life: that’s healthy! So probably is my fibre intake…

Anywho, it’s time for me to finish packing and then to go get my zen on. I’m really excited for this trip…

Bring on the Tasty Cakes.

Bring on the family bonding (I miss my Grandma and uncle, I can’t remember the last time my mom and I took a road trip).

Bring on the pretty drive.

Bring on the time to read.

Bring on the time to sleep.

Bring on the bike rides in the hills.

Bring on the happy!

Have you had any of these realizations before?
What would be in your treat bag?
Have you had tasty cakes (I think I need a supplier)? 

Make yourself

Looking back, this weekend shoulda made me feel good…

Friday was fun and Saturday was off to a good start. I had a nice movie date, tea, cereal for dinner, bought some new boots, got to see my friends and my family…

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Sunday was also a seemingly awesome day filled with blogging, looking back on my week, and a trip to Sarnia for a sunny 50km bike ride, a coffee date, and Sunday dinner.

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But, I ended the night on the verge of a binge. I don’t hide stuff, so let’s just say I dominated some yogurt and crackers. FYI I know it’s okay to eat these things and I know it’s normal to eat more, and I probably needed a bit more after the ride, etc., but at the same time that I’m being gentle with myself, I realize that it was emotionally driven snacking and that I did most of it standing in the kitchen over the sink, telling myself that I shouldn’t be.

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And that’s kind of where this post is headed…

Why am I telling myself I shouldn’t? Why am I finding ways to beat myself up, to this day?

The why part is the toughie, but I am at least aware of the ways I’m setting myself up to feel bad:

  • my apartment isn’t a disaster, but I definitely deserve to put the stack of clothes that’s just been sitting there for a week away–it’s not like I’m too busy?
  • I have a freelance assignment that I should just write (my sources are in) but I keep sitting around doing nothing in particular on the computer instead
  • I am back to my old habit of drinking 4-5 decaf coffees a day and chewing at least a pack of gum daily. It’s not ED stuff–I am still eating plenty and it’s not to disguise my hunger, but I am still not happy about it.
  • I am not doing my physio exercises or foam rolling very much at all.
  • I am beating myself up for not sticking to my training plan. This is a big one…and I think that it deserves a post in itself.
  • I am eating extra everything–cereal and fruit and nut butter in the morning, cheese at lunch, yogurt at snack times, chocolate in between meals, meat and croutons, etc. at dinner and whatever at night. Regardless of whether I pour a huge bowl/serve a massive plate of it, I still eat extra.
And ways that I need to take care of myself to feel good:
  • When it comes to little stuff (laundry, taking my recycles down, doing my dishes): JUST DO IT. I deserve to live in a place that’s clean and organized.
  • Eat at the table. Notice when I want to eat emotionally.
  • Eat different things — I think the monotony is getting to me (here’s a bit of a twist on breakfast with yogurt and grapes instead of milk and banana).

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  • Focus on drinking more water. My belly can only hold so much liquid–so hopefully this helps with the decaf issue.
  • Work on the things I know I should — my freelance article is on tap today.
To be honest, I think that all of this is just a way for me to feel bad instead of remembering that I deserve to be happy, I deserve all the good in the world, etc. etc. etc.
Goal for the week: be good to myself. Exercise in ways that make me happy (trail run, please! let’s go biking! bring on the yoga!), focus on one thing at a time (i.e. freelancing project at one time, blogging at another, Facebook chatting at another, and JUST eating–not texting, checking emails, watching TV, and reading all while I eat), and drink more water! I’m going cold turkey on the gum…I’ll let you know how that goes.
Sorry for the randomness, but maybe you guys can relate? Are there ways your hold yourself back (this idea came from Tessa’s post though it really took off in a strange direction–again, sorry!)? How can you let yourself be awesome instead?
A reminder…
And a motto for the week…

Why do we need a “new skinny”

This is a blog post I’ve had in mind since I started Happy Is The New Healthy, mostly because of the name connection (you’ll see…), but I struggled over whether or not I should post something that might offend people I truly care about and readers of my blog. That being said, I can’t hold back. That’s not who I am. And Dr. Seuss gave me a good reminder.

That being said, this is an opinion.

Why strong might be the new skinny, but that’s scary 

When I first came across the Facebook page for “Strong is the new skinny”, I almost liked it. Then I realized…I don’t like this any more than I like the idea of “skinny is the new skinny”…

As I poked around the page a bit more and ran into some posts that promoted it, I saw some of its merits, but I also saw something troubling: replacing skinny with muscular/fit/just a different idea of “perfection” or even of an “ideal”. IS it really better?

I started to notice a similar trend on some blogs and websites I actually love. I am not going to hate on anyone’s goals or aspirations, but I do hope that aiming for “strong” is really aiming for strong and not aiming for looking like an Oxygen Magazine cover model.

Back to the Facebook page/promos I saw…some of the women I saw in the posts were strong looking, and that’s great. But the vast majority were those Oxygen Cover model lookalikes, whose bodies I would argue are no less out of the realm of healthy or normal or reasonable for the average person than are those of extremely thin models. Many of the pictures associated with the movement say things like “Skinny isn’t healthy–strong is,” or “Be the girl you were too lazy to be yesterday.” Coupled with photos of half naked, tanned, made up women with bodies I rarely see in real life, I’m not so sure this is that different from “thin-spiration,” and that makes me sad.

While I am 100% supportive of moving away from “skinny” as a goal or an ideal, the thought that striving for muscularity–often to the point of heading to the gym to purposefully sculpt certain muscles–seems misguided too. To achieve the look, these women “cut” to an extremely low body fat percentage though they end up weighing a “normal” weight thanks to having more muscle. There are plenty of physical issues that come with being extremely lean for an extended period of time (losing your period, placing your bones at risk, throwing off your hormones, etc.)–issues strangely similar to those associated with striving to be skinny. There are also a host of mental issues (not living up the out of reach standards, using the pursuit of an ideal as a distraction, using your goals as something to control in your life) that I would argue are not much different than those involved in striving to be stick thin.

Though I’d never argue that “eating clean” and pumping iron is unhealthy in and of itself, and I know that many girls who struggle with eating issues come into this lifestyle during their recovery (and eating regularly and learning about your body are good steps in recovery), I guess I struggle because I still see people selling themselves short and dedicating themselves to a petty goal involving shaping their bodies.

Besides specific sculpting workouts, there is a whole lot of eating on purpose involved to get one of those perfectly shaped, sought-after “strong” bodies. Some restriction here, some extra protein there…eating “clean”, etc. I see a LOT of merit in eating more whole foods, but when you replace one set of rules with another, it’s kind of just another form of crazed.

I do not mean to attack anyone here, but striving for anything with your body and controlling it is just another form of ED, in my mind. It might be partially recovered, but everyone deserves full recovery. I guess it’s sad to me because I question what these amazing, hard-working, determined girls might do with their energy otherwise? What if instead of trying to change the shape of their bodies, girls decided to change the world? What if all the energy women spend trying to fix their trouble spots went towards fixing things that are actually broken?

So where do you draw the line? Am I saying that any girl who lifts weights has an ED? Or is selfish and should go volunteer instead?

Heck no. I am a fitness instructor myself–and I believe that working out is fun, a source of strength, and a healthy thing for us! But what I refuse to believe is that striving for an image of “strong” or purposefully trying to create a body type is healthy—it’s still a way to sell yourself short.

Your body is perfect the way it is, naturally.  What needs to happen–and I am aware that this is a very humble OPINION–is for us to realize that there is NO ideal body! Wouldn’t it be radical if we thought women were strong because they could climb mountains or run marathons or lift heavy weights—not because they look like a fitness model? I think it’s kind of simple, for people to get healthy they need to focus on getting healthy, not on looking a certain way.

I’ve said it before and it is truly my goal to believe, live, and show the world that your weight is a byproduct. You can focus on it, but we all know that what matters is your actions—are you eating enough nutritious food, moving your body, and giving it the respect it deserves? Your “ideal” body will just come when you’re doing these things!

I know this might be offensive to some people–even to some I really care about–but if your focus is on creating a certain body and if that focus requires specific eating that feels out of intuition, even if it’s a shift from a more restrictive, skinny-focused or an out of control, “screw it” unhealthy place, I’d suggest that it’s still selling yourself short.

Giving up an ideal, a goal for your body, etc. opens up a lot of doors. Scary doors. Think about it. When I gave up the fight to control my body, I was scared shitless. All that energy and what to do with it?  Worry about things that matter? Take responsibility for my own life? It’s scary because if you fail, you fail. But being scared is not a reason to revert to an old habit and is not a reason to live small…You’ll also be leaving behind the vast majority of people you meet, who are complacent with disliking their bodies and with accepting the message that there is something wrong with liking themselves. But seriously, when you think about it, what’s better? Settling for a small life or at least trying to live a little while you’re here?

I’m going to reign this one back in, because I’m off on one of my Cheryl’s trying to change the world tangents.

Use your energy, determination, and drive to set goals that matter. Accept that your body has an ideal and will find it when you listen to it and take care of it and give up the need to control or shape it. 

When you get to the end of your life, how do you want people to remember you…

  • She had a six pack
  • She cycled her carbs really well
  • She never ate white flour

Or

  • She lived her life
  • She followed her heart
  • She left a mark

?

Be strong, but define it yourself.

Strong is strong. 

What do you think? I’m curious to hear responses, especially from people who have thought about or done fitness modelling, this kind of training/eating, or who have had EDs.
If you have a blog, link me up to a post you held back on publishing–was it worth it?

Girl talk resources

Since I’ve been getting some feedback that people can relate to the post I made earlier about my issues with athletic induced amenorrhea, I thought I’d share some resources that have helped me out with the whole question of whether or not it’s really an issue, why it starts, how to get back to a healthy, normal cycle, etc.

It’s all over the place. These are just the articles I came back to tonight!

And now for some insight…Stuff that I think (my opinion on what I’ve read and my own experience):

  • You can still train, but the motivation should be right.
  • If it’s about energy balance, you’ve got to be willing to work through some experimenting and see what works for you. In my case, this also means accepting that in order to get my period, I need to be in calorie balance. Which means I cannot be losing weight, which I think for the last bit while I was trying to deal with my amenorrhea, I kind of didn’t accept. Recall my epiphany about always thinking with a weight loss mindset? Maybe now that I recognized that and I can move on to living healthy, I’ll be better able to fuel myself and to stay in balance. Once a doc suggested that even if I was maintaining my weight but it was sporadic eating (i.e. mostly at night after dieting during the day, ditto for the weekend after being “good” all week, etc.) my body would still be out of whack. Another suggested that it might have to do with refueling around workouts specifically (and promoted eating more immediately before and after, etc.). All good theories, if you’re willing to accept that your body has a weight that it wants to find and will find, if you let it.
  • Patience is key–this issue didn’t come around overnight and it won’t go away really quick either. For me, this means accepting that I spent a lot of time abusing my body and accepting that it’s not going to snap back right away. To be honest, I think this extends. My mind is recovered, I am making huge steps forward, etc. but it’s been interesting to see the effects of how much I put myself through (too much exercise, not enough eating, bingeing, purging, all the stuff that came along with ED) in their physical manifestations. Thyroid disease runs in my family, but not usually this young. None of my family members have issues with migraines, their periods, etc. I had low bone density at the age of 17, a time when I should have been building things up, not tearing them down. My heart took a beating and I have to go yearly for tests now to check in because of a scare I had in the height of things. It’s all pretty scary, it might not be due to ED, but it’s related and it’s also REAL. I’m also not blaming my injury issues on ED, but it’s true that I put my body through a hell of a lot of workouts and didn’t give it rest or love or so many of the things it deserved for a long time. I can’t expect it to bounce back perfectly — this struggle is just part of recovery!
  • The stuff associated with the Female Athlete Triad is really similar to ED and I see it in so many of my friends who I would never think of as having disordered eating. The compulsion to train, the thought that you can kind of be “proud” that you “work so hard” that you don’t get your period, etc. is kind of rampant and really sad once you step outside and see that it’s not actually healthy at all. This is a topic I know I want to work with when I’m a dietitian (sounds cool to say that!) because I am so passionate about it.
  • Maybe personally I spend too much time working out too hard. This might also be related to the awesome spin class that I went to this morning where the instructor talked about why recovery (within a class specifically) is so important. I’m kind of a balls to the wall person and even though I’ve been working with a coach, I find it so hard to tone my workouts down and to keep my heart rate in a happy zone. No wonder I’ve been so tired and exhausted and injury prone in the past, I know, but seriously! Maybe this has something to do with it…bring on the long, somewhat leisurely bike rides! 🙂 Variety is the spice of life.
  • Maybe I just am not in the place to have a baby. Emotionally, mentally and therefore physically.

Andddd enough of the girl talk (continued). It is SO past my bedtime it’s not even funny!

Can you relate?
Did you find any of these resources helpful?

 

Fro yo fosters deep insight

I’m skipping yoga for this so you know it must be good.

Where to start?

Right with the good stuff?

Or maybe with a quote?

Yeah…

This quote means a lot to me. Not just because it keeps turning up in my life — remember how last week I watched Cinderella Story…

Creepy!

Anyways, it reminds me of an epiphany I had. Today’s session with my therapist brought up the ideal of beliefs. In particular, false beliefs. And after the session, where we worked through some of the things I tell myself that are just downright wrong but that form so much of how I treat myself, how I view the world, and all that good stuff, I had a couple of other realizations. Good session, much?

Now I’ll dive right into it–what does fear have to do with fro yo?

…well. Tonight I was going to meet some friends for fro yo. I had in my mind that I would be A OK and that I just wouldn’t have any since I am trying to lose weight.

Logical enough, right?

Wait, W T F Cheryl?!

Something’s up when I’m telling myself I need to lose weight and accepting it at face value….

As recovered as I am, as much as I want my weight to be “happy” and to take care of itself, I still have a belief about myself that says I need to lose weight. And regardless of whether or not this is true, it informs everything I do. Yes, I am free from ED, but I am not free from this belief and I have a feeling that the belief has been around longer than ED and that it’s something I need to work through if I really want to live the life of my dreams—and since I’m not ready to settle for anything less than that, here goes! It’s like if I give up this belief, if I start to trust that I really AM awesome already, I’ll be doing something wrong. But that’s wrong–there’s nothing great about settling.

One thing my therapist did to help me bust through my beliefs was to ask me what it would look like if I still believed them in 5 years. So with this one, how will my life look in five years if I still think I need to lose weight? What might I miss out on? It’s kind of sad. Maybe I’ll get a job, maybe I’ll get through nutrition, maybe I’ll feel like a phoney because shouldn’t dietitians have this weight stuff under control, maybe ED will still be lurking around the corner, maybe I’ll still feel unattractive, maybe I’ll still be single, maybe I’ll still devote my energy to managing my weight instead of finding and pursuing my purpose, maybe it will be just okay.

And today/in my current life, the belief that I need to lose weight is dangerous. It keeps me on the edge of relapse, wanting to restrict, saying that it’s okay to skip a meal here or there and eat frozen yogurt instead (and then questioning how it’s ever possible to allow myself to have it on top of dinner?), adding extra training into an already solid training plan, working out through injuries, not giving my body the fuel it needs, leaves me feeling unattractive, sets me to self sabotage when I do eat something I think is “bad” or won’t help me “lose weight”, saying no to invites and thus missing out on experiences etc. etc. etc.

In short, it leaves me living a half assed life.

Conversely, how awesome might my life look if I decide that I am perfect the way I am and start really walking the walk (not just talking the talk). In five years, I might be a dietician with a successful practice working with athletes who struggle with their own body image, I might have written a book about all of this, I might be a regular contributor to magazines out my whazoo, I might be qualifying for Kona, I might have a boyfriend, I might love my body and think of myself as beautiful, I might be the person I want to be! …yeah, I dream big. Change those “mights” to I will, and I think I have a plan.

And in the short term, it’s not might. It’s will. I’m changing the belief. So tonight instead of believing that I need to go to yoga because it’s exercise and I should exercise more because I need to change my body, I am going to believe that I need to listen to my body, recognize that I’ve already worked out a lot today, and save the yoga for when I’m fresh. I’m going to take the time to write this blog post and then I’m going to meet up with friends and eat fro yo even though I had dinner. I’m going to wear my clothes that fit right now and make myself look good in them instead of wearing gym clothes and telling myself I’ll wear my “real clothes” when my smaller stuff fits. I am giving myself permission to be happy regardless of my weight and am going to really take to heart that advice that I like to give: if you are healthy in your actions, your weight will end up where it needs to be.

Basically, what if I change my belief so that I truly believe that I am exactly the weight I need to be? Instead of whining about feeling like I “deserve” to look fitter or to be smaller, what if I accept that this is what my body wants to weigh and give myself credit for running, swimming, biking, and doing yoga like a boss (shout out to Kate on that one). And if I treat myself differently for it — allow myself the rest/recovery I need, give myself healthy meals, have room for frozen yogurt and treats, and exude happy cuz that’s what I am — isn’t that kind of more important than being a size 4? If I go out with friends, sleep in, go on road trips, and smile the whole time — isn’t that kind of the point of life? What if I already deserve all that?

I’ve read a lot about how letting go of your need to lose weight will set you free and you will find your happy weight. I really thought I was doing it, but I kind of had the realization that I was just faking it. Maybe half-assing it. And I don’t believe in that! Already I’ve noticed the ways that this belief plays out in my life: telling me that I should  go to yoga and that I should just meet my friends at the yogurt place but not have any. And that’s huge–consciousness has to come first! And I’m ready to take action, because to be honest, this belief hasn’t gotten me anywhere in the past except frustrated and unhappy regardless of what the scale says. That’s the kicker. When your whole belief system says you need to be lighter or that you are somehow wrong, how could you ever be happy, regardless of how small or big your butt is? When you shift that belief and really believe that your body is perfectly perfect the way it is, I am guessing you find that blissful happiness and confidence that has been so elusive for so long.

And I’m rambling. But I’m letting it all out because I’m dedicating myself to actually changing this belief. It’s not really easy to change something that I’ve believed for as long as I can remember (recall diaries from when I was 9 talking about how I was going to lose weight), but I kind of feel like I’ve stumbled onto a huge realization here that’s going to just catapult me into awesomeness.


But NEWS FLASH: we are meant to be awesome, happy, and to love ourselves! I’m done holding myself back and keeping myself miserable. It’s time to get happier. 🙂

It all reminds me of, Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds From Now, a book I read a long time ago that I think might need to come off my bookshelf now. And of a whole bunch of quotes about seizing the day, living your life, and all that good cheesy stuff.

Here goes…

And sigh*

What kinds of beliefs do you have about yourself that might be limiting?
Did you follow this post at all or was it too much word vomit? 

Frustrated Friday

This is going to look normal enough, but that’s what makes it frustrating.

Breakfast yesterday was typical–apples with cereal, soy milk, and some raisins…

A short run at a decent pace…

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Me being a goof…

A typical peanut butter and carrot sandwich for lunch…

Greek yogurt and a banana for an afternoon nosh (on top of studying at Starbucks, of course)…

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A giant salad for dinner…

Unphotographed but still normal — an apple after a particularly sweaty (and awesome) yoga class.

A bowl of salty pretzels in response to a craving…

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…but what you don’t see is all the frustration and all the “nibbles” and “tastes” I had along with this (think grapes and berries galore, chocolate covered almonds, handfuls of cereal, etc.), or the evening “mini binge” I’ll get into in a bit…

Facts:
This is a stressful time.
I have a history of using food to distract myself.
I am recovered.
I am strong and fit.

Writing my post about recovery writing yesterday coupled with anxiety over going home (or not going home) this weekend in combination with end of the semester work, my mystery shoulder pain, and other little stressors was a lot for me. I started to have thoughts like “I’m too fat for summer” and “I’m always going to be injured and out of shape” and even “If I could lose weight things would be fine” until I realized all of the things I know as truths: I’m in the process of finding my happy weight by letting it happen as a result of eating in a balanced way and exercising in an enjoyable manner, I am not doomed to be injured forever and there are tons of active things I could do with a hip, shoulder, whatever injury, and if I lost weight my assignments, fears about the future, and dirty apartment wouldn’t miraculously disappear–I’d just be lighter and probably hungrier.

Still, even after a productive day (a short run, lots of homework and blogging, seeing some friends, grocery shopping, yoga, etc.) I should have dove into bed. Instead I dove into old habits and dug into a bag of pretzels and chocolate chips. Throw in some chocolate covered almonds and you have what I consider a mini binge—delivered standing over the sink and with a hefty dose of anxiety and guilt. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those foods but there is something wrong with swallowing them whole, telling yourself you shouldn’t be eating them, and with giving them the power I did.

I was going to keep this to myself but I had an epiphany and I remembered that keeping things a secret out of shame just reinforces that something was shameful. This little slip isn’t something I need to be ashamed of. It is something I need to admit. It doesn’t mean I’m not recovered or that I’m letting Ed back in my life, because I am recovered and I intend to stay this way.

So for this epiphany, which comes in two parts:

1. Ed is like an ex boyfriend who wants me back and is pissed that I’m not interested. He gets particularly riled up when I’m getting happier than ever (who am I to like myself or to want to share my recovery tips?) or when I’m stressed (understandable).

2. This one is a bit harder to articulate but I’m going to try: Jenni Schaefer talked about a counter Ed during her recovery and I think I have a counter Ed on my hands. Last night my heart and my head told me to go to bed. But counter Ed told me that doing so, when I was kind of hungry, meant that I was listening to Ed (ie giving Ed the power to say I couldn’t have pretzels before bed). The truth is, I need to listen to ME. Not to either Ed. This is my life and I can decide to eat or not eat something and I don’t have to worry about proving anything to anyone by my choices.

Take that Ed. I’m going to enjoy a day of eating what my tummy wants, exercising if it feels good, and focusing on the right things: finishing assignments, seeing friends, and smiling more.

Do you know what I mean when I refer to counter Ed?
Have you ever dealt with anything like this? Tips?

Let it out

Even though I blog about pretty much anything and everything, I still keep a journal. Writing, whether online or just for myself, is therapeutic. Regardless of whether or not your writing makes sense or you think it’s any good, I believe writing to sort out your feelings is something everyone should consider.

Today I’m in the mood to share. After realizing that right now’s a stressful time for many people—there’s a holiday coming up this weekend and even though we love our families, holidays in general can be anxiety-provoking, assignments are due and exams are looming for students, and summer is coming bringing with it lots of changes for so many of us—I thought, what better time to share some of the writing tools I used to help deal with my eating disorder (ED).

If you’re struggling with a full blown ED, occasionally hear his voice, or consider yourself recovered, there’s something here for you. Whether you share these or keep them to yourself, I encourage you to consider giving at least one of them a shot.

1. Write a letter to ED. I did this in a post on my old blog. Mine was a goodbye letter to him, but it will depend on where you are in your recovery.

Why? 
Doing this helps separate your from ED and might help you see the role he may have played in your life from a removed place.

2. List your reasons for recovery. Think big and small with this list. Maybe things like being able to go to a yoga class and relax will come up. Maybe something like being able to date. Perhaps you’ll realize you want to get better so you can go out to dinner without worrying about what the menu is like or what you’ll order. Maybe you know your ED is wearing on your bones so you might write down something about saving yourself from osteoporosis. It’s up to you, but you deserve all of the good things in the world, even if ED tells you otherwise, so don’t be scared to add them to your list.

Why? Seeing your reasons will help increase your motivation. Hanging onto this list serves as a good reminder to hang on when you are struggling.

3. List the things you’ve lost to ED. Warningthis can be frustrating. For instance, when I looked back on my struggles with ED and tried to think about things I missed out on, I almost fell into the trap of regretting things. A big one for me was realizing that I spent my first year of university mostly alone, bingeing and purging and spending hours on the elliptical when I could have been loving res life, meeting friends, or studying to do my best in my classes. It’s helpful to remember the quote, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Why?
This will help you recognize that ED steals your life from you and will help motivate you to be free of him so you can experience things from here on out in the fullest.

4. Make a list of alternatives to your ED. What else could you do in the moment when your ED tries to lure you back in? My list, which I posted on my fridge for when I felt the urge to binge, included everything from painting my nails to going for a walk to planning an imaginary vacation I could never afford.

Why? 
Sure, you might have a bank of options in your head, but when you write them down and are able to see them in that manic moment, they become real alternatives that are much easier to actually do.

5. Write about your dreams. ED or not, writing about what you want for yourself is powerful. The first step to living the life of your dreams is figuring out what you want for yourself and allowing yourself to want it. At least for me, this took time and shutting ED up for long enough to admit that I deserved to be happy, successful, and awesome.  Then picture yourself living those dreams!

Why? 
Writing down your dreams helps you sort out what you want for yourself. Visualizing yourself achieving those dreams makes them real and attaches emotion to them. You’ll long for them.

6. Write down your goals. Dreaming is awesome for figuring out where you want to go. But if you can translate the dreams you wrote about into goals, that’s where the real magic happens. Attaching a deadline to your goals, getting specific, and making sure you know what you need to do to achieve the goals is a little bit of work, but it’s worth it. Resist the urge to make this about perfectionism or to put pressure on yourself, but be willing to push yourself to be the best you can be. Explore some of the goal setting tools out there, like the lululemon goaltender I love.

Why? 
Because it works. “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

Is your hand sore yet?

I hope that these suggestions work for you and help you forward in your recovery and in getting to that happy place you deserve to find!

Do you keep a journal or diary?
Have you ever done any of these exercises?
Do you have any writing prompts to share?

Excuses vs. reasons

Yesterday was:

a) delicious 

b) my last real day of classes (since most of my lectures are on Fridays/online and this week is a holiday)

c) a reality check

d) not my smiliest day — contrary to what my photos from last night’s Campus Recreation year end banquet might suggest (being with friends sure helps to cheer me up!)

Today I’m planning on:

a) smiling more

b) being ridiculously productive

c) going for a short run

and

d) sharing my insight with you…

Yesterday afternoon, I just wanted to lay in bed. I had a to do list filled with school assignments and random errands just beckoning for me. Think a hamper full of dirty clothes, a sink full of dishes, an overflowing recycle bin ready to be sorted/taken out, cheques to be cashed, groceries to be bought, etc. etc. etc. I also had ZERO energy, a sore shoulder (and the accompanying anxiety), a little bit of a cold, and a whole lot of apprehension about the fact that this year is ending. That translated into me spending most of the day on my couch wrestling with the itty bitty shitty committee that sometimes tries to take up post in my head.

Yesterday, I was back on the beating myself up for being “out of shape” or “lazy” train. I was off track with my workouts on my training plan this week because of the shoulder/skipping swim/being allowed to run this week. Even though I swam in the morning, I felt like I should have been going for a run in the afternoon. My tight hamstrings and tired mind told me otherwise. It all spiralled downward and soon I was beating myself up over the mini eggs I’d eaten earlier in the week. Who does this sound like? Certainly not like the healthy, happy me I know I’ve become.

After reminding myself that you don’t get fat from taking a day off or from eating dessert and that fat isn’t the issue—because for me it’s rarely about the food or the workouts—I knew that I needed to just take care of me. So I gave in to the need to do nothing “productive” for the afternoon and decided to fake it til I make it, something that was huge in my E D recovery. Sometimes the tools I used come back when I get into a funk, and they worked then and will work now. I’m grateful for my friends and my sister’s help yesterday to start smiling again, and I am glad I went to the banquet last night. I still felt off, probably ate a bit more than I might have if I wasn’t stressed, but I took care of myself and when I got home (early) I tried to chill out and re-centre. There might have been that voice telling me that I shouldn’t have had dessert, but saying it and writing it down makes it easier to recognize that voice as stupid and to say back that dessert is okay. I’m doing a good job. I’m not lazy, I’m not fat, I’m not a pig, I’m not any of those things. Then I can take my energy and put it towards the things I want to do (see my friends and family this weekend, train, clean my apartment, finish my homework) and even the things I don’t want to do (laundry).

It’s all about perspective. Those “excuses” — things being sore, feeling sick, being tired, wanting to go to the banquet — are valid reasons to bypass a run.

And, what better way to wrap things up than with a little cheese?

Do you ever get down on yourself? How do you pull yourself out of a funk?