Food for Thought · Mental Health

When Values Conflict (Value-Checking in Recovery)

Sometimes (read: the majority of the time), I feel like a hypocrite.

I say one thing and do another. Or, even if I don’t engage in opposite action, I definitely have contradicting thoughts. This applies to many areas in my life.

I preach body positivity and yet I hate my body and don’t try to fight the negative thoughts.

I preach food freedom while either actively restricting or avoiding bad/unhealthy/scary foods.

I tell other people to not pursue perfection, yet I continue to chase it myself (in school and life in general).

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When I look at the way I am living my life and the way I want to live my life, they are two completely different things. While my specific life path is unclear, I know what my over-reaching values are. I value kindness, openness (to experiences, differences, all of it), hard work, creativity, and family.

My eating disorder (and society in general), on the hand, values a thin body above all else. When I am in the thick (no pun intended) of my eating disorder, when my hunger is all-consuming and my only goal is to make it through the day, nothing else matters. There is no room for creativity in a starving brain and kindness matters less than getting in a good workout and burning as many calories as possible.

Right now, I can feel myself buying into that same eating disorder lie once again. The one that tells me the only way to feel happy, calm, and in control is to lose more weight, get lower than ever before. There is no denying that with every drop of the number on the scale, no matter how small, I do feel calmer. Elated, almost.

But there’s a cost. There is always a cost.

When I accept my eating disorder’s plan for my life, I am giving up so much to gain a (temporary) feeling of relief. I no longer have to worry about what I am going to do with my life, but I also lose the ability to make my own decisions. Instead of worrying about college, a career, and future relationships, I go mindlessly through my day counting calories, tracking workouts, and crying over the number on god damn scale.

Tick for tack. Trading one worry for another. And before I know it, I am back where I started.

The thought of letting go of my eating disorder-completely, absolutely, forever-is scary. It is terrifying. I don’t know where to begin.

There are the obvious steps: Don’t restrict, eat enough calories (which is an entire post in itself), and learn to rest (AKA don’t exercise compulsively….also another post).

Those are the “easy” parts of recovery, at least in theory.

But how do I fight the thoughts? They are so ingrained at this point, so natural, so normal, that most of the time, they don’t feel like eating disorder thoughts at all. How do you fight your own thoughts and still come out mostly sane?

Perhaps that is where those good ole over-reaching values come in. Suddenly, those seemingly normal thoughts are exposed for what they are: disordered.

Just walk one more mile….(to make up for what you ate, what you will eat, and what all that food is doing to your body).

You can’t eat a bagel, it doesn’t fit into your exchanges (and it has too many carbs and is like x amount of calories more than regular bread and you know what that will do to your body).

Check your stomach in the mirror, it will make you feel better (about the fact that you have nothing planned for your life and you have no control in your life and you are not perfect…you are a failure. But hey, at least you have a flat stomach!)

Walking one more mile when I don’t feel like walking because it is “healthy” is just a way for me to feel like I “deserve” to eat. There is just one problem; I don’t need to earn the right to eat or even to eat more than usual. I am human and I need to eat to live (and for enjoyment!!)

Which brings us to the bagel (or insert x food that is higher in calories/sugar/carbs/whatever). I make excuses all the time about why I don’t want to or can’t eat a certain food. “It doesn’t fit into my exchanges,” I tell myself, as if an extra starch or two would be the end of the world…or as if my eating disorder really cares about following my meal card to begin with. There’s the classic, “I’m just not in the mood.” A legitimate statement except when it exists only as a coverup for the fear I feel.

Body-checking is another thing I do that I tell myself is only a way to help my anxiety. After all, if I could only make sure that my body hasn’t drastically changed overnight, I will feel better about eating or moving less that day.

Right?

Sometimes, that is true. I’ll wake up, go through the routine of checking various body parts, and once they pass inspection, I can breathe a little easier. But later, I will have to check again and again and again…just to make sure. That I am still small enough, still okay enough.

And then there are days where my appearance most definitely doesn’t pass inspection, for whatever reason (or for no reason at all). In those moments, I am left feeling worse than I did to begin with and anything but calm.

All of these thoughts, which lead to actions, stem from a deep-rooted belief that my eating disorder feeds me day in and day out: As long as you are thin, you are in control. You are happy and in control. As long as you have the perfect body, nothing else matters.

Reading that out loud just now, it sounds insane even to me. But why else would I engage in exercise I don’t enjoy, avoid foods I do enjoy, or constantly obsess over the daily fluctuations of my body?

My eating disorder values thinness above all else and tells me that as long as I listen to it, I don’t have to face the real-life struggles and anxieties. 

Looks like a pretty sweet deal at first glance. Never having to worry or make difficult decisions? Sign me up!

But by signing up, I am giving up all of my values.

Kindness and making a difference has no place in a world where only physical appearance matters. Being open to new experiences and individual differences is impossible when there is only one ultimate goal: to be as small as possible. And creativity? Nope…unless that means finding a new way to burn more calories. Family and friends don’t fit into the eating disorder equation at all. Nobody wants to be around someone who can only talk about food and their body.

As I feel myself falling back into to old ways, I know I have to come back to my core values. I have to put my values first….and that means getting honest and letting going of all of Ed’s bullshit.

It’s pretty simple and so complicated: Ed has one value (being thin), I have many. Being thin isn’t one of them.

What values do I want to manifest in my life?

 

 

 

 

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Food for Thought

The Perfect Diet for 2018 (for real this time)

I know what you’re thinking: I’m just another diet-fitness guru telling you about some other quick fix fat loss magic bullet that will make all your dreams come true (it will make you thin) or make all your insecurities disappear (it will make you thin!!!) 

No, my friends, this is NOT a diet. It is NOT a quick fix. And it is most definitely NOT a magic bullet.

It is a lifestyle.

Yep, I just pulled the lifestyle card on you. And I understand that most “lifestyles” are actually diets in disguise but again, this is not one of those either.

So, ready for the break-down? The most perfect diet for 2018 (or any year for that matter…)

The Zero Fucks, Self Love Extravaganza (anti) Diet

Now, you might be wondering what the title means. Well, it’s actually pretty self explanatory when you think about it.

It’s an invitation to give zero fucks about the shit that doesn’t matter which includes (but is not limited to) diet culture, gossiping “friends”, cheating boyfriends/girlfriends, soul draining jobs, and people who just bring you down and prevent you from living to your full potential.

^Watch for more info about how to care a little less about the things that just aren’t that important!

 

It’s a challenge to give yourself a little more self love. Because really, we already have enough outside influences (^ see above) trying to limit us and tell us all the ways we are “not enough”….do we really need to add ourselves to that list? I think not.

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It’s an extravaganza because your life was meant to be a f**king elegant, amazing production. And I’m not talking starring in the Hollywood lights (although, if that’s your thing, you do you!); this could mean cuddling with a thousand cats and jamming to some classic ’80s rock. < Plus I just enjoy the word so….why the hell not?

And now to the goodness: This “diet”, “detox”, or whatever you want to call it is all about the “anti.” It takes away all the food rules, body rules, life rules.

 

 

A little recap:

The bestest, most perfect diet of 2018 is not a diet at all (surprise!) It is a movement to drop the negative crap in your life, add some much needed self-love, sprinkle a little extra fun into every day, and to STOP dieting forever!

 

Ready to learn how to actually apply these principles into your life?

Whether you’ve gone through a major life change, are dealing with anxiety/depression, are recovering from eating disorder/disordered eating, are feeling lonely/lost/tired of being afraid, or just need a boost….join the party!

No socializing, dancing, or noise included. Unless that’s your thing; then it is most definitely included!

Push the follow button for more posts to come about how to make 2018 a fabulous, diet-free year.

And even if you don’t feel QUITE ready….give it a chance. You might be surprised.

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Food for Thought · Mental Health

Accepting Your Buddha Belly

Right now, I am extremely anxious. I am reminding myself to breathe, to focus, to listen, to do anything but dwell on how uncomfortable I am both mentally and physically. This is the reality of recovery, of life. I want to do something, anything, to make the uncomfortable feelings and anxious thoughts go away. But instead I am sitting with them and damn, it is hard!

As I sit here, I can feel my stomach push against the waist of my pants; the feeling of being full, almost overly so, is overwhelming. I am not used to it and now I no longer have the eating disorder to turn to so that I can get rid of it. Instead, I am trying to accept that bodies change literally every day. This is based on a wide range of factors, right down to the amount of water you’ve drunk that day. But the real reason I am feeling so incredibly anxious is because 1) I am still on a weight gain meal card and I am not meeting with a dietitian until Tuesday and 2) I have not been very active over the past week or so. Since school started on the 8th, the majority of my attention has gone to that.

But what is done is done. I have eaten, I followed my meal card (more or less), and at this point, it is not for me to say whether it is too much. Trusting, trusting, trusting. Easier said than done but I am trying, I am doing the hard things.

I am doing the hardest thing of all: learning to accept myself, Buddha belly and all. Because that belly allows me to actually live and thrive. It moves up and down as I am gasping for breath from laughing so much. It lets me digest food and have the energy to play with my siblings.

Buddha belly over anorexia any day.

Uncategorized

Once Again

I am a torrent of emotions right now. I feel anxious, sad, terrified, hopeful…all at once. Mostly, though, I am disappointed in myself. Disappointed that I couldn’t do it by myself, that I have once again gotten to a place where I need other people’s guidance. And than there is still that part of me that whispers It’s not that bad, it’s really not. You are not sick enough, you will never be sick enough, stop making such a fuss!

Oh yes, my eating disorder. The number can never be low enough to justify getting help, never low enough to finally recover.

And yet, even as I recognize that truth, part of me still wonders. Am I sick enough this time? I haven’t reached the same dark place I was at before so why I am seeking treatment again? Shouldn’t I be able to recover by myself this time?

Is it all pointless, a vicious cycle of treatment-sickness-wellness-treatment?

And still, a part of me desperately hopes that it’s not pointless. That recovery, while not perfect, is possible.

Because dear God, it may not be as bad as last time, but living with any eating disorder is a living hell.

So, I go to treatment tomorrow. Trying to keep an open heart and mind. Trying to shut off the eating disorder voice that has steadily gotten louder.

Staying cautiously optimistic.

Food for Thought · Uncategorized

Change Starts With You (or, my deep thoughts on change)

So today, I felt like coming on here and writing so here I am. I have decided to make this little blog of mine (which has been long neglected) a sort of online journal where I document my hopes, dreams, frustrations, and revelations. For me, that is what blogging is about. Sharing ideas and thoughts without thinking about the number of likes or followers your post may generate.

Today I will be sharing my revelation of the day which is simply this: Be the change you want to see. And also, along those same lines, any change that you want to make in your life begins with a thought but does not end with a thought. 

Wow, I just went deep there. And yes, I do realize that these thoughts or concepts are not new or different. They have been around for quite some time (probably since the beginning of time) but thinking about how these things apply to my life in particular is a bit difficult.

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Like, yeah, okay, I’ll be the change I want to see, blah blah blah. And change takes action, not just a thought or idea.

What does that even mean???

For me, personally, it means taking ownership of my recovery and life in general and living according to my standards. Not society’s standards or my ED’s standards or what have you. If I don’t believe in diet culture and the message that “thin is better”, etc than I have to choose to be the change I want to see.

That means not dieting, body checking, engaging in disordered behaviors, or obsessing over my weight. If I honestly believe that as a culture, our mindset needs to change around those things, I have to work on changing my mindset first.

And the second revelation: Change starts with a thought but does not end with a thought.

Or as Tom Ziglar put it…

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Again, when it comes to recovery and trying to be more loving towards myself, I have to take active steps to reach my goals. I can sit here all day long and preach about how great body positivity is and how wonderful eating intuitively (or slowly working towards that) is but if I’m engaging in actions that directly contradict that message, than it doesn’t even matter. Words and thoughts are great but you have to translate those things into actions as well.

 

That is my little rant for the day. My “food for thought” if you will that I will now try my best to put into action.

 

-Sarah

 

 

Food for Thought · Mental Health

Finding What Feels Good With Exercise

As yesterday marked the beginning of eating disorder awareness week, I’ve decided to write a few posts about recovery related topics. But, I must say, that all of these issues can affect people without an eating disorder as well. Our culture is very screwed up when it comes to body standards, food, and exercise.

Today I’m going to talk about something that I haven’t really touched on before: exercise. I’ve had a complicated relationship with it, to say the least and I feel like it’s time to talk about it. Maybe it will help someone or just let someone know that they are not alone when it comes to trying to find balance.

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Exercise. The word brings up a lot of things for me. For most of my childhood, I didn’t even really think about it. Sure, I went to dance classes and was just intuitively active, as most kids are.

But…Then puberty happened. Those fun, awkward, completely confusing years. All of the sudden, my body was changing and I wasn’t dancing anymore and it freaked me out.

So, being me, the ultimate planner, I decided to “do something about it.” This included starting to exercise.

At first, it wasn’t obsessive and I actually enjoyed it. I found some YouTube videos, did them, and moved on.

But, at some point, that changed. My whole mindset around exercise changed.

Instead of doing something because it felt good, I did what burned the most calories. If I wasn’t drenched in sweat afterwards and completely exhausted, it didn’t count. Suddenly, exercise was a punishment, for eating, for breaking one of the many ED rules I had.

It was soul-sucking, all consuming. Until I had exercised for that day, that was all I could think about. I pushed my body and my mind and contrary to popular belief, that is NOT a good or admirable thing.

Then I went to treatment, came back, and considered my relationship with exercise healed.

And while I have never exercised like I did before treatment, I am still working on my mindset around movement. I have to constantly question whether I am doing this thing (whether it’s yoga/Pilates/walking) because I want to or because I feel like I should because (insert disordered reason here).

I have learned that I simply (and just don’t want to) do some forms of exercise without falling back into the exercise trap. For example, running. Or for that matter, most forms of structured cardio.

If I say I’m doing a HIIT workout or a Jillian Michaels video for fun or because it feels good, you know I’m lying.

So, I just don’t do those things. And I am slowly accepting that that is totally okay. It doesn’t matter how many so-called “experts” say that XYZ is the best workout…If it doesn’t feel good and, most importantly, if you don’t enjoy it don’t do it!

I am beginning to find what works for me. And that might change as time goes on. Right now, this means yoga, some stretching, and walking (and random dance parties in my bedroom…)

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…Because it was sort of realavant and really colorful.

 

All of this to say: you do you. You are not the ceebrity fitness trainer on TV or your best friend. What works for them in terms of exercise might not be what feels good for you.

So…Find what feels good.

And if you get that reference, you are officially awesome😁

 

Good night (or good morning/afternoon/insert time here).

Until next time,

 

-Sarah

Tell me:

-What form of movement feels best to you right now?

 

 

Food for Thought

Nobody’s Life is Perfect (so stop thinking it is)

This topic has been on my mind a lot today for whatever reason so I thought, why not blog about it? So after an unexpected 8 hour shift at work and a billion other things left to do, it’s time to write about all my deep thoughts…Yeah not really but bear with me anyway:)

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It could just be me, but a lot of times I look at other people’s lives and instantly feel bad about my own. Especially as I approach the mature age of 18 (becoming an official adult and all that jazz) I feel even more pressured to have it all figured out. To do more, plan more, and just BE more.

And not only do people my age (and in general) seem to have life figured out but they also seem to always be happy.

Perhaps this is partly because when you are going through a difficult time yourself, anyone else’s happiness becomes even more apparent. But it’s also because, at least most of the time, people only show the outside world what they want to. This is especially  true on social media. People are going to post about good, exciting moments in their lives. And while that makes sense, it’s easy to see why we can come up with some false assumptions.

 

Here’s some truth that we all know but often don’t want to admit to ourselves: Nobody is perfect. Nobody’s life is perfect and they more than likely don’t have every aspect of it figured out. We go through so many seasons of happiness, sadness, stillness, craziness, and everything in-between.

So if you are worried that you don’t have certain things figured out (like me) or you’re feeling bad about feeling bad while EVERYONE ELSE is so happy…Take a step back. Things change, you figure stuff out, and remember: you don’t know everything about someone else’s life. Not your best friend or even your siblings. Much less some random person on Instagram or Facebook.

And really, life is hard enough without comparing your story to someone else’s.

 

Okay, enough deep thoughts for tonight. My bed is calling and so is my halfway finished mystery novel.

Look out for an updated about page in the next few days (fingers crossed). For now, SLEEP.

 

-Sarah