Here we go again…

I feel a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach, after some of the conversations that I have had over the past couple weeks.

I have been confronted a few times from my family and others, about my appearance, and concern with my health. As much as I know they care, and have good intentions with these “talks” sometimes I feel that more harm than good is done for me emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, I see and understand the concerns… but I don’t think it is always realized the impact that these words and confrontations can have on me.

I am an emotional person. I dwell on things, and let them linger and really bother me. Writing is a nice outlet for me, but it still does not resolve the fact that my feelings were hurt and I cant seem to let it go. What makes it difficult, is when I can be having a perfectly happy day, and one little comment of conversation puts a HUGE damper on everything. I can’t pretend to brush it off and smile all the time.

It is time for me to be honest with myself.

In 2012, I sought treatment for my struggles after I hit “rock bottom”. This time around, I refuse to let myself get there. Yes, I have been through a lot of life changes over the past several months, but that does not give me good reason to stop taking care of myself.

I have so much to be thankful for…. I have a new home, an amazing boyfriend (who I see a beautiful future with), a loving family, wonderful friends, strong faith, etc. etc. I feel like these blessings have been hindered by some of the hardships that I have been facing.

I am happy with my life. Yes, I may have slipped, but things have settled down and I have been making a conscious effort to enjoy each and every day.

CURRENT SITUATION:
In all honesty, I do not have the same thoughts and struggles towards food that I have had in the past. Yes, I maintain a healthy diet, but I am not afraid to splurge and treat myself once in awhile when the opportunity presents itself. I still have some hesitation when it comes to random snacking (which is crazy, because everyone should allow themselves the opportunity to enjoy a good snack).

I think now, the main thing that I worry about is exercise. I feel like I need to do something physical every day, and when I don’t exercise, I get somewhat anxious. I have been trying to spend less time going to the gym to lift weights, and more time enjoying yoga (Not go on off topic, but yoga has helped me so much throughout all of this…more on that topic later), walking my puppies to the park, or just enjoying a different hobby. What I want, is to find a healthy balance in my life. I would love to focus my time on yoga and meditation, and finding harmony between my mind and body.

Admitting a weakness is hard for me. But seeing the people I love and care about worry (about me), is even harder. I don’t like feeling vulnerable to this. Every single thing in my life is so wonderful, and it sickens me that I still have to think about this at times. I swore to myself a year ago that I would never go back to the place where I was in my past… I am not there, but I need to really work on keeping myself away (FAR AWAY) from there too.

I am going to reach out to find someone to talk to, outside of my family, friends and social circle. Having a neutral “third party” to vent/talk to has helped me in the past, and I have no doubt that it will help me again.

Let the journey to health and happiness continue…

You are where you are or ever will be is up to you. You are where you are today because that is where you have chosen to be. You are always free to choose your actions, or inactions, and your life today is the sum total of your choices, good and bad. If you want your future to be different, you have to make better choices.
—Brian Tracy

 

Lent – Commitment & Changes

This past Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) kicked off the 2014 Lenten Season. Since (most) Christians know what this spiritual season represents, I am not going to go into exactly what it all entails.

When a lot of people think of Lent, they think of having to “give up” something they love until Easter Sunday. I have to be honest, each year I try to give something up… each year I usually end up forgetting about it 😦 I know, I know, that sounds bad… and I actually feel guilty writing that!)

Over the past two years, I have grown immensely in my faith… So this Lenten season, I am going to fully commit myself to not only giving something up, but also making a few personal changes to better my life.

ITEM TO GIVE UP
Gum… Yes that sounds goofy, but believe it or not, giving up gum is going to be difficult for me. Chewing gum is a weird “go-to” habit I have… whether it be after a meal, wanting fresh breath, if I am feeling anxious or bored, if I want to avoid over-eating/drinking, etc. I find myself resorting to it.

I have noticed how much gum I chew, and I realized it’s time to ditch it from my daily routine! So, I am going to give it up for Lent. I’m hoping that after Lent I am going to realize that chewing gum isn’t really anything exciting and just nix the habit all together.

*Disclaimer… I am allowing myself to have mints/mouthwash lol. No one likes coffee breath*

THINGS TO CHANGE
As I mentioned in my last post, I have had a lot of changes in my life over the course of the past several months. Despite the excitement, joy and fun that have come along with these changes, there has been a lot of stress involved as well. I have been thinking a lot over the past couple weeks about some personal adjustments that need to be made in my life, to make me the happiest, healthiest person that I can be. These changes are not something that can be done once, and everything will be perfect… I am talking about LIFESTYLE CHANGES!

Simple Change #1: Break the routine (again)
Some of the challenges I have dealt with over the past several years (I believe) have made me prone to become a creature of habit. I easily get comfortable, and just settle with what I am used to…whether it be good or bad for my well-being.

It is so easy to get stuck in your day-to-day routine. Every day I can pretty much pinpoint what I am going to do at different times during the day. From waking up, projects at work, meals, after work activities, going to bed…It gets old after awhile. Starting now, I am going to challenge myself to work on being open to new ideas, trying new things, going to new places, broadening my horizons. This is a lifestyle change that I am going to carry on beyond Lent. Obviously I understand that my life is not going to be filled with adventures every day… but even little things like trying a new recipe, taking the puppies on a new route for our walks, is a good place to start.

Think about: what minor changes can you make in your life that will make you a happier, healthier person? Is there something you would like to give up…a habit, an attitude, a certain “comfort zone”? Or is there something you would like to add back in to your life to make it more fulfilling?

20 Ways to LOVE Your Body!

Happy 2014! A new year brings new experiences and new opportunities. Regardless of your past, and what you may have been through, allow yourself the chance to make some changes in your life.

I found this list “TWENTY WAYS TO LOVE YOUR BODY”, and thought that it was a great reminder of how important it is to take care of yourself… both physically and emotionally. I highly recommend going through these twenty points, and asking yourself what you are going to do to be the healthiest, happiest person that you can be!

WriteYourStory

Twenty Ways To Love Your Body

  1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams.  Honor it.  Respect it.  Fuel it.
  2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do.  Read it and add to it often.
  3. Become aware of what your body can do each day.  Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  4. Create a list of people you admire:  people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.  Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
  5. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  6. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  7. Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  8. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  9. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance.  Try one!
  10. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
  11. Consider this:  your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.  Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
  12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  14. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.  Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
  15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.  Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
  16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance.  Add to it daily!
  17. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
  18. Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  19. Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
  20. Eat when you are hungry.  Rest when you are tired.  Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
Source: NEDA Website

Focus, Focus, Refocus!

Let me just start by saying that the past several months have been crazy! Crazy busy, crazy fun and at times, crazy stressful (I can provide details in a different post)!

As exciting as the craziness of life can be, it also can cause some anxiety. When things are going at such a fast pace, and you put so much energy towards one thing, it is easy to lose focus on other important priorities…

I have found that distractions are an “easy in” for ED to try to creep back into your life. I would be lying if I said that there were a few times over the past couple weeks when I sensed ED trying to make an appearance in my life. I sensed an  attempt to get back to dictating my thoughts and controlling my actions.

It has been over a year and a half since I sought help for struggles. Prior to my recovery, I would have given in to the temptation to listen to the negative influences. I would have “thrown in the towel” and let ED take control. However today, that is no longer an option.

I wrote this journal entry last year, and have yet to post it on my blog. However I feel that it is appropriate for this topic:

Denial and Sickness: Uninvited Guest

One of the most difficult things to do when dealing with a struggle or hardship to admit that there is something wrong. So often, the distorted voice is convincing you that you are ok, that things are supposed to be the way they are… miserable, lonely, unhealthy, etc.

It does not matter how family, friends and other loved ones see you. You see yourself the way the sickness wants you to be seen, and there is nothing that anyone can do for you. Until you are ready to change.

I was sick for about five and half years. Numerous times over the course of my sickness, people would express concern. The thing that is difficult to comprehend, is why it is so hard to understand  their concerns? I was so used to listening to the unhealthy influence, that the opinions of the truly important people in my life did not matter. I was ok with the life I was living.

People know me as  smart, hard-working, honest, faithful, etc. I never lost those qualities throughout my struggles, however I also carried a few additional labels: skinny, isolated, sad.

Eating disorders can quickly brainwash you. I gave in to the temptation to let ED in, and accepted the additional labels that were associated with it. I have always been a very responsible and independent person- often said to be “mature beyond my years”. I have never been one to give in to peer pressure. I have strong values taught to me by my family. I respect those value and lived by them every day. Because I was not a follower, I still to this day cannot explain why I let ED in. Why would I let such a negative influence into my life? I didn’t just let ED in, it let IT control my life, for years.

Those are questions I ask myself quite often. I have a good head on my shoulders, and use sound judgment when making decisions. That’s the thing though, I didn’t know who I was really letting in.

One of the most important things I have learned over the course of my recovery journey… is to never be too proud or too afraid to ask for help. Tuesday I admitted to myself and my support team that I may have been a bit too “distracted” over the past couple months, unintentionally of course, and may have gone off course a little bit.

Being able to admit that I had a little “slip” is the first step. I have all of the resources I need to refocused and get back on track… I just need to sit back, analyze my situation and get back to work.

I am at such an exciting point in my life right now, the last thing I need is ED raining on my good times.

Let’s get to work!

setbackcomeback

P.S. I would like to clarify that my slip was VERY minor. It was more of a wakeup call to not disregard what I have been working so hard to obtain throughout recovery.

Yoga and Recovery.

“There are a lot of positives that come out of recovery. Once you reconnect with your body and your own thoughts, everything around you begins to feel right again.”

I have mentioned the significance of my amazing support team, throughout the ups and downs of my recovery. It goes without saying, that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for them and their patience. As valuable as my team was to me, I strongly believe that my journey back to health was also strongly impacted by something in addition to them…

Initially, during weight restoration, I was very limited in regards to the amount of physical activity I was allowed to do –Which was very frustrating considering the fact that I am an active person who loves fitness and being on the go. *Disclaimer: one thing I did not give up was my morning walks with Riley. Those walks were therapeutic for me, and good for her!

About three months into a positive weight gaining trend, my dietitian and I began discussing ways to incorporate healthy activity back in to my life. As much as I would have loved to go for runs, or hit the gym a few times a week, it was important to start gradually, and then incorporate more activity as I continued to progress in my recovery. We both agreed that yoga would be a good place to start.

yogaStudies show that meditation and deep breathing (relaxation) can reduce stress and enhance wellness in people’s lives.

I quickly fell in love with the practice. Not only did it relax my chaotic thoughts, it also introduced a sense of awareness between my mind and my body. It gave me the opportunity to focus on my breathing and concentrate on the slow, structured movements of my body. Being present in the moment gave keen awareness to how I felt right then and there. Every time I would get on to the mat, I made sure that the time was dedicated to me, and only me.

Finding a [new] passion for practicing yoga introduced me to the importance of a strong mind/body relationship. It taught me the value of patience and persistence, and how most discomfort is temporary, if you do not give up.  After several months of practice, I noticed increased strength in my muscles and overall stamina. I also noticed that the poses I initially struggled with became easier.

Yoga has become part of my life. I continue to practice regularly, by attending classes and practicing at home. I plan to continue learning more about the practice, in hopes of some day being able to teach my own classes. I have found Yoga to be one of the best things I can do for my mind, my body and my overall well-being.

Namaste.

TRUST your Team

The biggest challenge (initially) in recovery, or overcoming any obstacle is TRUST.

Often times, we find ourselves listening to a negative influence, and  playing by its rules for so long. SO long that these destructive behaviors became routine.  Restrictive eating, over exercising, social isolation, crabby, feeling cold, tired, etc. etc. sounds fun right?… NO!

When I made the decision to seek help- I was scared to death. How was a supposed to completely change my mindset, my lifestyle that I have known for the past 5+ years… TRUST

It was not easy. Opening up and recognizing that I needed help took a lot of courage, strength and tears. It took awhile before I was ok with the idea of letting go of life as I knew it, and putting my fate into the hands of my support team.

I had a clinical psychiatrist, registered dietitian, family and (close) friends all on my team. People who genuinely cared about me,  my health and my future- yet it still took time to let them in.

Despite the fact that I was uncomfortable, irritable and pissed off for a long time, I had to TRUST that the changes I was going through, mentally and physically, were good for me. This group of dedicated individuals had my best interest in mind, and were always there for me regardless of how difficult things got.

The more I TRUSTED, and followed the “game plan” of the team, my body began to respond. Days got easier, my mind became clearer, and eating became enjoyable again.

How do you deal with discomfort? Who do you reach out to when you need a little extra support?