Connection

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When I first met with the woman who is leading my Yoga Teacher Training (Misti- remember that name, you might hear it a lot), two things she said stuck out to me. “This is more than fancy yoga poses. I could teach a monkey to stand up and call poses, but the real work comes with connecting.”

People ask me “Why is Teacher Training hard?Aren’t you just learning how to teach yoga?” True…but the thing is, you have to start with yourself. It’s more than memorizing a sequence and all the names of the poses and the flow. Sure, it is about that, but not solely.

Yoga is about connecting. Connecting means sharing- my stories, my feelings, my struggles, my celebrations, my fears, and, and exposing myself. It means being PRESENT in my body, and aware of how I feel both physically and emotionally. That is how I will connect with my students.

My eating disorder started when I was a young teenager. I grew up learning how to disconnect myself from my body. I coped with unpleasant emotions with restriction, purging, compulsive over-exercise, dieting, etc. At this point, more of my life has been spent actively in my eating disorder than out of it. That’s a scary confession. It makes me a little ashamed. It feels pretty dang shitty.

When someone walks into a room, they bring their energy with them. If you’ve never taken a yoga class, you might not notice that, but it’s true. People bring a “vibe” with them. It’s why you meet some people and immediately feel their joy. It’s why you meet some people and get a funny feeling- their energy is telling you something. If this is sounding “yoga woo-woo” to you stay with me; I have a point.

When I am in front of people, particularly in a yoga studio, and I am the one they are focused on, I bring a few different types of energy, but the dominating one I PERSONALLY CAN FEEL is disconnection. It makes perfect sense- I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life hating my body. Trying to change it. Trying to shrink myself. Using behaviors to cope with feelings. Going inside myself when things got stressful, sad, or hard. Pair that with the perfectionist part of me that has the need to “do this RIGHT” and hopefully you can imagine my discomfort. Everyone is looking at me. They are watching me. I can’t imagine what they are thinking if I’m already ashamed of myself. UGH. Instead of relaxing, I do what I was taught to do growing up playing competitive sports: TRY HARDER. Suck it up. And then criticize my lack of confidence.

Misti reminds me to come back to my “WHY.” Why I want to teach yoga. I can sit there and give my “WHY” a pretty description, but it comes down to one thing: connection.

I believe God gave me yoga to put me on the path of healing. And through healing, connect. I have a story- we all do. But I wonder- how many of us go through life and never tell our story? If I don’t connect with the people around me, my story stays inside. And what better way to connect with people than through a yoga practice that has changed my life? I believe in it. I believe this practice works. I believe all of our pain and sorrow has a purpose. And so I have to connect- which means I answer the hard questions and say the hard things. Because at the end of the day…being a yoga teacher is not about me. It is about the people I teach. If I can come from a place where I am genuinely in touch with my body and my mind, I believe I can help others. I’m not totally sure what that looks like. But I’m finding out its has to do with a lot of soul-searching, self-compassion, and leaning into the unknown.

Yoga asks, “what is possible?” Yoga is the journey. Yoga means UNION. The message of yoga is “we are one.” Is it making a little more sense now why training isn’t just about learning yoga poses and calling them in front of a room full of people? The self-work is difficult. It looks like holding myself accountable to the group of girls I am with. We are HUMAN. We don’t like to be bombarded with the things that we avoid. But genuine connection and relationships don’t come from things we don’t say. They come from placing out the pieces of ourselves we would rather keep secret…because when we do that, maybe someone can say “Me too.”

My yoga tribe is a stand for me. We keep each other in integrity, and that doesn’t just apply to admitting we did or didn’t do our reading. It means that when we get together, for those 10 hours every week, we are real with each other. Sometimes that means dragging your butt into the studio on fumes. Sometimes it looks like telling Misti that I pretty much hate her, because she’s making me stand up in front of the group for waaaaaay longer than I’m comfortable. My tribe is teaching me to connect. And trust. And that is what’s going to make me a good yoga teacher. When I teach a class, I’ll be able to bring my “WHY” and my story, because I’m learning to to not disconnect myself from it. The story of how God has used this practice to help save my life- and all the junk that goes along with it. There is beauty in the breaking, and I’m all in.

Flip your perspective.

Flip your perspective.

 

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

I’m into week three of Yoga Teacher Training and this shit is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s challenging, fun, uncomfortable, rewarding, scary, and amazing all at the same time. I didn’t have the time to write a post about week two, but I wanted to share a meditation we did with all of you. Meditation is a struggle for me, but during this one, I was almost able to BE STILL the whole time! And, I’ve listened to it about 17 times since then. It’s a long read, but so worth it. I’ve included a link of where you can also listen to the audio version of this meditation. Which you should- because these words are ones we ALL need to hear.

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

by Sarah Blondin

I wish someone had told me when I first began my journey into a life of my own that where I needed to begin was sitting on the floor, with my eyes closed. I wish someone had told me that my first step, the first step anyone must take is inward.

I wish someone had told me when I felt I had nothing to offer the world that all I needed to do, was sit down and breathe. That all I needed to do was learn the practice of opening to and discovering the true Self, sitting inside of me, quietly, and that from there the rest would come easier.

I wish someone had told me that my true value and worth would be found not in attaining or gaining but in meeting this Self. That finding my way to her would bring me gold and riches that no worldly things could buy.

I wish someone had told me when I was lost and desperate for direction and support that I was really longing to meet myself. That nothing else would soothe me until I first came to touch my own inner temple of divinity.

I wish someone had told me when I was swimming in a sea of lonely thoughts, and diving into dark pits that I was being called into the dark underbelly for great reason, that I was being called into the very center of myself as to come closer to my root and bottomless source of light.

I wish someone had told me when I began to run, divert, distract, over consume, point fingers, over work, fight, create drama, choose everything other than love, that I was running away from my own magnificence. That I was running from it because I didn’t believe it was something I possessed. Because I didn’t believe in my own ability to give myself all I needed.

I wish someone had told me I was the only one who could give myself what I asked from and wanted from another. That all I would ever want, all I would ever need, all I would ever desire, all I would chase and scour the earth for was waiting deep in the valley of my chest. That, that was where I needed to start. That there in the quiet of myself was where I would find my eternal river of wealth and value and that all I needed to get there was the breath in my chest and the patience and willingness to understand that I was, and will always be, the answer I am searching for.

I wish someone had told me that from going within I would find housed within me was a tremendous light, my truest version of Self, a self free of suffering and story, my own personal guidance system and a wellspring of wealth, wisdom and knowing. That if I committed to going inward I would in fact be guided to my greatest life and most joyful existence.

I wish someone had told me that from going within I would meet the only person who could give me the love I longed for, the only person who could carry me through my darkest nights, the only person who could heal the hurt inside me through unconditional love, the only person who could truly love me and that, that person was my highest self. The self who knew of my greatness, my capacity, my truth, my limitlessness. That there behind all the tremendous noise my mind created, behind all my resistance to the quiet was all I had been looking outside of myself for.

We are stitched together from stardust, we are balls of light. We are limitless beings with all the wisdom we are in need of. It is in us from the moment we are conceived. Somewhere along the line we got distracted from these truths and are working to re-align with them.

Where ever life leads you, whatever you must face, know deep inside the marrow your bones lives your earth. Your home. You cannot ever loose it, it can never leave you. No matter where you run to, no matter what rabbit hole you fall down, you always have you.

I want to take a moment to tell you, you are here in this moment reading this because your highest truth, your soul is always pulling you ever so gently into your own light. I want to tell you no matter where you journey, no matter what the landscape appears to be, you are being held, you are being loved, you are exactly where you need to be.
I want to tell you, you are already enough. That there are no holes to be filled, no cracks to be plastered. You are already enough and everything you need is within you, rising on your breath and on your hearts beat.

http://www.liveawakeproject.com/#!show-reel/c1tmc

The Work Begins

As I made the drive to the studio for my first night of Yoga Teacher Training, this is what was running through my head: “I feel like I’m going to puke. Like, first-day-of-school-puke.”

As I made the drive home from my first night of YTT, this is what was going through my head: “What. Have. I. Done.”

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect back on last week, this is what is going through my head: “God has me exactly where I need to be.”

Twenty weeks of ten hours a week of yoga immersion. That’s not counting the time spent outside the studio practicing, reading assigned books, studying asanas and pieces of the practice, and trying my darnedest to meditate. What have I done?

I have been brave. I have taken a huge leap into a world of uncomfortable, soul-searching, hard work. And my life is going to change because of it.

“What is your default role in life?” Asked our teacher, the first night. The other yogis and I paused and thought. I’m learning that in these moments I have two choices: say the easy thing or say the hard thing. And because MY default role in life is avoiding being uncomfortable, I sure as heck want to say what would be easier.

But easier cheapens. It diminishes the experience. It doesn’t allow me to grow. Without growth, there is no change; and without change, my world and I stay the same. There isn’t any passion in settling for a life that never changes- because unchanging equals stuck. For me at least.

“My default role in life is avoiding being uncomfortable.” I said.
Ever been through Yoga Teacher Training? If you have, you know what that statement will entail for me the next twenty weeks.
“Running,” another girl said.
“Wounded.”
“Being the victim.”
“Anger.”
“Being OK.”

And so the work begins.

This yoga stuff is about un-learning. It is about committing to find my way AWAY from that default role in life that keeps me stuck. It comforts me, sure. But when I avoid being uncomfortable, I don’t EMBRACE. Not just the “bad” but the “good” too. There is no such thing as selective numbing of your feelings and experiences. You simply cannot numb pain without also numbing joy. We humans like to think we work that way, but we do not.

For me, the work in YTT starts with what seems very, very basic and simple. So much so that it’s hard not to judge myself for it. My work starts with looking in the mirror. The full length mirror that takes up the entire wall of the front of the studio. Looking in the mirror at myself- into my own eyes, at my own body. It makes me uncomfortable to see myself and especially to see my body. My body that has been through SO much, and changed so much the past two years. It’s easy for me to make eye contact with myself in the mirror and degrade myself. “Disgusting. Stupid. A burden. Too loud. Too quiet. Too big. Fake.”

Negative self talk- it’s comfortable. It’s natural; it’s my known. The work comes with looking in my own eyes and just BEING. Being silent. Being still. Being accepting. I am who I am, and my body is at a weight it is happy with. My insides and outsides don’t match, but I can teach them to. I can un-learn the things I’ve told myself for so long.

Embracing. I committed to myself and the group to embrace- the opposite of avoiding. They committed too- to staying, to feeling, to being victorious. It’s going to look different for each of us, but that process is part of what will make us yoga teachers. So when we walk into a room to teach class, we aren’t worrying about what everyone thinks, judging ourselves, distracting ourselves, minimizing ourselves, or running from ourselves. The world needs more genuine. The world needs more honesty. Because those are things that are real. Not our perfectly filtered Instagram lives, our generic “I’m fine,” or our masks.

“Tear off the mask. Your face is glorious,” says my favorite Rumi quote.

Yoga Teacher Training. Two-hundred hours. Shit just got real.

The power of a blank canvas.

The power of a blank canvas.

Yoga Teacher Training

If you follow my Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you know I talk about yoga a lot. You might think I’ve joined some weird kind of yoga cult and am now a yoga zombie. I’m not gonna lie, the first class I took where we “OM-ed” in the beginning had me wondering. But as I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone, I find myself wanting to share what yoga has done for me, because it has radically changed my life. In just under two weeks, I will embark on a journey through Yoga Teacher Training for 20+ weeks. It’s going to be a season of learning, structure, change, and busyness for me. I’m sure there will be times where I hate yoga, am stressed and overwhelmed, exhausted, and second-guessing my decision. So, to keep myself grounded in my journey, I’ve set a goal to write a blog post once a week while in training. Once a WEEK. Yikes. Pretty lofty for someone who can’t even remember the last time she wrote a non-food review post. However, one big reason I decided to start this blog and even DO Yoga Teacher Training was so I could share my reflections during this time in my life. Already, I’ve learned a few things in making these decisions to be more vulnerable and honest.

Things won’t always look like you thought they would. I’m not even doing my YTT at the beloved studio that I’ve called my yoga home for almost two years now. I’m grieving this, although it was 100% my decision, and am choosing to be grateful for this unexpected turn of events. It means my yoga teachers have taught me to flourish- to follow my dreams and my heart, rather than stick with the “how it should be’s.”

You have to take care of yourself, and trust life’s timing. I wanted to do YTT last year. I almost got talked into it, but I also got talked out of it. I was mad at the time, but I am SO glad I waited to be healthier before starting something this intense. I frequently struggled with severe hypoglycemia that led to vomiting, near passing out episodes, and foggy thinking. I knew that if I really wanted to do this teacher training thing, I HAD to get serious about taking care of myself- consistently. I gained the weight I had absolutely refused to put on for over a year. It’s been a wonder what those extra pounds have done for me. I would be lying if I said I was even anywhere close to accepting my body of what it is- but I have accepted that I have to take care of it.

It’s OK to trust your gut/heart. I’m an ICU nurse. I want to know how things work, that A causes B, and steps 1-6 will lead me to the right decision. At the end of the day, the only wrong decision I could make about YTT was that I wasn’t going to do it at all. Anxiety about money, my work schedule, energy levels, where to do my training, and who to talk to about it was scary- almost scary enough to make me decide to forget the whole thing altogether and forgo training. But my intuition told me not to. It guided me to exactly the right places and people I needed to, to be brave and take the leap into this adventure.

Stay true to yourself. I started yoga for all the wrong reasons, and was extremely blessed to actually end up finding all the RIGHT reasons to do yoga. I care so much about the people in my life. I am slow to warm but when I love, I love hard and with all of my heart. I am compassionate and have a passion for helping others. If I end up teaching yoga, it’s going to be to the people like me. The ones who feel deeply but won’t admit it, who are tired and burned out of their jobs, who get their feelings hurt by being honest. I’m going to teach the people like me who said yoga was bullshit, because there’s a chance that is all just a mask of a person who needs to find themselves. This could look like teaching in a studio. It could look like teaching in a park. Hell, it could look like teaching my friends yoga in their living room. I’m not going through YTT to quit my day job- I pursuing it in hopes of filling myself up and passing that on to others.

God has a plan. Always. He just does. And it’s going to be far better than what your little, limited, finite human mind could think out. So trust Him. And know that He isn’t going to lead you anywhere He hasn’t already been- because God can use ANYONE.

Thanks for wanting to watch my journey. Some weeks my blog posts might be five sentences; some weeks they might be three pages. I’m excited to see where this takes me. I hope I can help show you that health and healing is possible in unexpected places.

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Thunderbird Real Food Bars Review

A while back, Thunderbird Real Food Bars company was generous enough to send me a variety of their bars to try. So here you finally have it: a review of these bars! It took me quite a while to get through my stash because I’m not going to lie, I was savoring each flavor!

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Let’s talk ingredients. One word: simple. Thunderbird Real Food Bars are made with 100% all natural ingredients, such as nuts, dates, a variety of fruits, seeds, and spices. Spices were my favorite part of those bars. For example, their Cherry Walnut Cinnamon bar was one of my favorites- the hint of cinnamon combined with sweet cherry  balanced out the taste perfectly. It also helps that Thunderbird uses some of my favorite, less commonly seen ingredients for their bars, such as lemon, papaya, pistachios, and turmeric. Thunderbird Real Food Bars are just that- real food. No added grains, protein whey, fats, etc. What you see on the label is what you get, and the nutrition comes simply from a few ingredients. I also appreciated that there’s nothing listed in the ingredients that I could not pronounce!

I loved that these bars were convenient and portable. If you’re like me, often on the go and outdoors, you’ve probably discovered that many popular “protein bars” don’t do well with heat or being roughed around too much. Like being stashed in your car for an emergency snack break. Or being squished under a heavy water bottle in a hiking bag. You get the picture. I’m always snacking, so I took these bars all over the place with me- on kayak trips, hiking, in suitcases on trips, even to work in my scrub pocket. These babies don’t melt or crumble. Winning. It all goes back to what they are made of. You won’t find any fake chocolate chips melting to your wrapper and making your snack time look like that of a toddler. Thunderbird Real Food Bars uses cacao powder and cacao butter instead, giving their Hazelnut Coffee Maca bar a fantastic chocolate mocha flavor without the mess and artificial sweeteners. This bar also had real fair trade coffee beans in it…YUM.

For those of you that are into nutrition labels and categorizing food, Thunderbird Real Food Bars are certified gluten free, vegan, paleo, soy and grain free, and non-GMO. I have to admit, with all those labels I was a bit skeptical of this company, wondering if they were actually making good food, or trying to sell “health food” to people who like to hop onto that clean eating train. After tasting so many flavor bars, I can honestly say that this is GOOD food. Personally, I believe in balance. You can eat all the gluten free paleo no added sugar stuff you want because you think it’s “healthy”, but if it’s not even tasty, why bother? So you can feel better about yourself? Food is food people. If it’s not good, don’t make yourself eat it just because it’s “healthy” or “clean”. But, for those of you that do walk that line, Thunderbird Real Food Bars are delicious and nutritious, even for the pickiest health food junkie.

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Maybe I especially loved these bars because I tend to gravitate towards the fruity flavored bars. I can’t tell you the last time I bought a bar that was “cookie dough”, “double chocolate”, “peanut butter cup”, “vanilla cupcake” flavored. Give me all the fruits! And…BALANCE. Go for a REAL peanut butter cup or cupcake. I promise you the real thing is better than a fake version trying to lure your tastebuds. As far as my top favorite Thunderbird Real Food Bars, they are as follows: Cherry Walnut Cinnamon, Lemon Cashew Apricot, Cashew Fig Carrot, Hazelnut Coffee Maca, Pineapple Mango Papaya, and Almond Apricot Vanilla. Guys, I don’t even LIKE cashews, walnuts, or apricots plain! But mix them with some pure, yummy fruits and seeds and I’m all in.

Can’t find these bars at a store near you? Thunderbird Real Food Bars has a website where you can order them. AND, if you use the code BMR15, you will get 15% off your order until the end of September. Shipping is free on orders over $100. The company also offers a subscription service for bar delivery that gets you a 10% discount on all orders. It’s like subscribing to a magazine to be delivered every month…only this is way better because you can choose to have bars delivered to you doorstep every month, two months, or three months. Winning. I’m hoping to get my hands on more Thunderbird Real Food Bars in the future, and crossing my fingers that stores in my area discover these tasty snacks and start selling them! Questions about Thunderbird? Click on their website here: http://www.thunderbirdbar.com/ or shoot me an email or message on my Facebook page. Also, make sure to follow @thunderbirdbar on Instagram for news and occasional giveaways. Happy snacking!

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My favorite bar and my favorite beast!

Outsides and Insides

Long time no post! I want to take this post to talk about where my mindset has been lately. Recovery wise, the lack of writing has a lot to do with me kind of feeling like I’m at a standstill. I know that’s better than going backwards, but it’s still frustrating. So often I wish I had a timeline for recovery, and assurance that someday this illness will no longer be in my life at all. That is what I struggle with though; the thoughts of “is this as good as it gets?” I try to hold on to the truth and promise that God is the ultimate healer, and apply it to my recovery. In all honesty, I’ve discovered what I call the ugly side of recovery. After the weight has been restored, and I don’t look like the person with food issues anymore. People comment that I’m strong and healthy, and I try to smile. But then comes the shame. The feeling like a fraud. My insides don’t match my outsides, and if you’ve ever lived that way, it’s confusing. I want myself to match. I want to look at that woman in the mirror who flexes her muscles jokingly at her husband saying “suns out guns out” and be proud that I am strong. But, I’m used to having noodle arms, and I don’t anymore and sometimes I really miss that thinness.

People talk about missing your eating disorder. That always sounded weird to me, but in some ways I get it. It makes me feel a little dark and twisted- to miss something that was slowly killing me. But I’m not going to lie, I miss weighing 20+ pounds less and wearing size X jeans. Not because I felt accomplished, but because it felt familiar. Let me be clear, it did NOT feel good. I felt like shit. But I was so used to that. It was my normal. And wether a person’s “normal” is healthy or not, it feels comfortable. I miss feeling more secure because I was “smaller” than all the people I was around. Shallow? Selfish? Maybe. But it’s the ugly truth.

Recovery, in the long term, is like slowly having a rug taken out from under you that you didn’t even realize was there. The rug is my eating disorder. Intensive treatment was different- that rug gets YANKED out from under you FAST. But slowly seeing just how much of my life changes when the eating disorder fades often makes me lay facedown on that dang rug and cling to it for dear life. Change isn’t easy. The realization that so much of my life is still affected by this illness isn’t easy. Sometimes I’ll feel great about where I am, but then I’ll walk into my dietician or therapists office and get hit with the reality that I am still very much disordered in some ways. Not always by my behaviors, but more so with my thought processes. And then I feel the standstill and I’m angry; because My God, I look healthy now and I can go more than a day without exercising and I can eat donuts; so why the hell can’t I just be FREE. And I’ll come to admit to myself that once again, my outsides doesn’t match my insides, and it is SO unfair. I look fine. And most of the time, I am fine. For that I am thankful. But when I do not feel fine, I struggle with wishing my appearance showed that.

Eating disorders don’t make sense. My therapist has told me this approximately 9825 times, but giving myself the grace to accept and understand that is still hard. I’m an ICU nurse, and I want to understand exactly why A causes B, and what can fix it. Recovery and eating disorders aren’t like that though. So, acceptance. Acceptance that my journey is not over, and that it may be far from over. That’s difficult to sit with. Grace. Grace for myself because I am human and I can’t “cure” myself by beating myself up over things. Grace is having hope. Right now I’m sitting on a plane flying to California for vacation with my family. Last time I was on that side of the country, I had just started recovery. It was my secret. I have a lot of good memories from the trip, but one of them was carefully hiding my eating disorder while still trying to not completely throw everything my treatment team was teaching me out the window. Kinda exhausting. Here I am three years later. I have a blog where I put my experiences and struggles out there for absolutely anyone in the world to see. I’m eating a snack right now. I’m not stressing over when I’ll get a workout in today after sitting so much. I see how far I have come, and I hope. I hope for the days when the things that seem impossible now no longer are. Just like the things I never thought could change, actually have.

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Food Review: Chocolate Sea Salt RXBAR

Thanks for reading my very first food review!
I had gotten in touch with the nice people at RXBAR, expressing my desire to try their bars. After being unable to find them anywhere, the company sent me not one, but TWO boxes of their bars to try and review on my blog! One box was a variety pack and there other was their Chocolate Sea Salt flavor. I’m still working my way through the variety pack (there’s a lot of flavors!) but to be honest, it’s more so because I’ve been snacking on the Chocolate Sea Salt bars. Yum!

Ingredient wise, RXBAR is a simple bar. The Chocolate Sea Salt contains dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, cacao, sea salt, and natural chocolate flavor. Of course it’s gluten, soy, and dairy free for all of you out there with allergies (real or imagined). This bar contains 12 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates; with 200 calories.

I honestly didn’t expect to care for this flavor. Surprise! When I snack on bars, I tend to gravitate more towards the fruity flavored ones rather than what I refer to as “fake chocolate or peanut butter” bars. If I want chocolate or peanut butter, I’m going to eat just that, not substitute something that imitates it. Chocolate Sea Salt RXBARs have just the right amount of chocolate flavoring without tasting “fake” or chalky or too sweet. They are also sprinkled with real sea salt- which I loved! The sea salt enhances the overall flavor of the bar. Although I would love to see a bit more sea salt added, it was still good. This bar was chewy but soft, without being too much of either.

I could go on, but I’ll be posting my full RXBAR food review as I finish tasting all of the flavors. I recommend trying the Chocolate Sea Salt RXBAR if you can get your hands on it! All of the RXBAR flavors can also be purchased online at http://www.rxbar.com/

Happy snacking!

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Overcoming Overexercise

by Lindsey 0 Comments
Overcoming Overexercise

How I overcame over-exercise:

It wasn’t my choice.

Since I was a teen, I managed to hide my eating disorder through exercise. From the outside, it was a pretty good disguise. As a college soccer player, my pride for starting games and playing every minute outweighed my desire to be thin. For a good bit of my life, my eating disorder was not about weight. It was about coping and lessening the anxiety that food brought me. People didn’t notice, because I didn’t let them see. Going running on vacation and eating as little as possible were more important to me than the places I went. I always claimed to not be hungry; and hungry equals a shit ton of stuff I missed out on, because when you’re starving, you aren’t present. I justified my 2 a day workouts during the summer as following a “training program” coaches gave me for soccer and cross country. I would workout 7 days a week in college, going for runs after practice if I felt it was too “easy”. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had absolutely no one to answer to about my obsessive exercise patterns. I spent hours at the gym, carefully burning more calories than I figured I would eat that day- and extra if I was supposed to go to a social event. When I was in day treatment, I snuck in all the exercise I could when I got home.

Here’s the thing, and I’ve said it before. THE BODY ALWAYS WINS.

I thought I was invincible, forcing myself to come back from injuries, because oh my gosh, I could NOT miss my workouts and runs. What would happen to my body? For most of my young adult life, I’ve been told I’m athletic. What if I got huge?! My body couldn’t possibly know what to do with food. How would I deal with stress? Anxiety was always a fantastic excuse for my lack of appetite.Before leaving for college, I made a vow to myself: “I will NOT get fat. I probably won’t be able to workout at much as I do now, so I better watch it.” Never mind the fact that I was a collegiate athlete and a full time nursing school student.

I wasn’t invincible, and it caught up with me.
My body was screaming at me, and I didn’t listen.

I had my ankle reconstructed my junior year of college. I tore all the major ligaments and had no idea, because I was so set on running my first half marathon. I spent 5 weeks in a hard cast, then several a more in a boot, then a few weeks in physical therapy before I thought the trainers at my school were going to slow with me, and took things into my own hands. I ran cross country for my college the following year, but not before having leg surgery to relieve acute compartment syndrome, which was likely from overtraining. Two years after graduating college, I had knee surgery to “clean out” scar tissue, etc (yes that’s a thing). I came out of surgery, and my doctor told me my knee looked like one of his football or hockey players knees, that had been playing for years. “No more distance running.” I was told. So I ran 3 half marathons.

A little more than two years ago, my back started hurting me. A LOT. I noticed it during hot yoga, when the normal easy back ends became a source of pain. I chalked it up to (another) old injury from college. After all, I got knocked around a fair amount playing soccer.

My back pain eventually got bad enough that standing straight up hurt. I could hardly lean backwards. I finally saw a chiropractor. After having x-rays, the doctor sat me down in his office (this is rarely a good thing when you see a chiropractor). Showing my my x-rays, he proceeded to explain that I had very little disc left between my L5 and S1 in my spine. It was almost bone on bone. “Degenerated disk” was my diagnosis. The doctor suggested chiropractic care, but told me he didn’t really know how much he could help me. “Spinal fusion surgery” was mentioned as I sat in shock. I asked if this could have anything to do with my eating disorder. “Yes. That certainly couldn’t have helped.”

I was angry. I was upset. This injury was one of the things that truly woke me up as to how damaged my body was.
I had done the damage.
I had tried to kill it, wether that was my true intention or not.
And I had to change.

I didn’t want to- I was scared. I knew my life had to look different after that day. Let me tell you, a serious back injury DEMANDS you listen to your body. It demands you take care of your body. A back injury is crippling, and if it doesn’t get better, the reality is, your quality of life is going to decrease. When people think of exercise bulimia and anorexia and over-exercise, they think of frail bones and fractures, but not necessarily spinal injuries. I was terrified. My priorities had to change. I could no longer treat my body like a machine. I’m a nurse; I absolutely need my back to be healthy. Hell, I’m a human; I need my back to be healthy so I can enjoy my life.

For a long time when I was at my sickest, I was apathetic. Sure, I wanted to get better, but I also didn’t want to do the work. It seemed impossible, because this life of earning and justifying food wth exercise was all I could remember. I never thought I was sick enough, thin enough, unhealthy enough, etc. At my lowest, I angrily begged God to send me a sign that I had hit rock bottom, not realizing I was there. “I’ll get treatment…when…I’m really underweight…when…I have something serious happen to me…”

In those moments of questioning how I could really change, I realized that all along, I had signs. I was the only one not thinking they weren’t serious enough. I didn’t need GOD to send me an epiphany; I needed to acknowledge that my relationship with exercise was very disordered, and had hurt me.

I quit running. I stopped doing hot yoga. I went to a chiropractor three times a week for 8 months. Then twice a week for another 3 months. I cried a lot. My back hurt, and so did my heart. I didn’t know who I was without the “athletic, healthy girl” label I had defined myself by. Eventually, I got down to weekly visits to the chiropractor. Somewhere along the way, I wandered back into my Bikram yoga studio. I was healthy enough to get away with being there, but as I lay on my mat in the middle of class one day- hot, soaked in sweat, and miserable- I realized something.

I fucking hate this.
What am I doing?
Exercise shouldn’t be about burning calories. And that’s what I am here for.
Exercise shouldn’t be harmful. And that’s all it’s ever been for me.
Why am I doing this?
Exercise shouldn’t be a permission slip to eat. And that’s the only reason I was doing it.

I walked out of the yoga studio that day, and never went back.

I’ve lost track of the timeline, but I stopped hurting my body after that day. My body won, and it had made me listen. The consequences of my choices were too much. I felt like a quitter. felt huge and gross. I felt lost.

But I found myself.
Corny. But so freaking true.
I let myself figure out what LINDSEY liked doing. What filled me up, made me happy, and helped me be healthy.

One November afternoon, I took a yoga class at a random place a few miles from my house. I KNEW I would hate it- it wasn’t Bikram yoga. It wasn’t running. It wouldn’t be hard enough. I braced myself for skinny, pretty girls in matching Lululemon outfits, who drank green juice and shopped only at Whole Foods.
And I fell in love. My first class, I had so much fun. I LAUGHED. I was energized instead of exhausted.

The Baptiste yoga practice redefined my view of exercise. I found that being strong was better than being sick. I found community. I found friends. I found opportunity. I found my breath, and in that, I found awareness of my body and my feelings. I found out those things aren’t really that bad. Unfamiliar and scary, but necessary. I found healing in an unlikely place, and I am so grateful to the good Lord above for bringing me to that little studio that day.

Redefining my relationship with food and exercise is a process. I still struggle. It’s a journey. There are low valleys, but also high mountains that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am healing. I am learning. I don’t own a pair of running shoes anymore, because that’s what I need to do to keep myself safe. I doubt I’ll ever set foot in a gym again. I wasn’t invincible, and I learned that the hard way. I don’t have words to tell you how thankful I am that my back DID heal- yes, I still have to be careful, and I still see a chiropractor. But now I listen to my body, which is something I never would have done before.

I hope that no one has to go through a story like mine to finally wake up and take care of yourself. Maybe some of you already have, or maybe you’re getting ready to and just don’t know it. Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. It’s the one thing on this earth you truly own. Someday you will be more grateful for health, relationships, and memories than you are for miles run, calories burned, or what number you see on the scale. Don’t wait, because you might not be so lucky.

 

Transformation!

“This Too Shall Pass”

Last week, I had dinner with two girls I met in my recovery journey. I was struck by how much we all had changed. When you’re in treatment- any level- you hear it again and again: “This too shall pass”. I seriously wanted to punch people in the throat for saying that on some of my worst days. But you know what? It’s so freaking true. All the things I felt tortured by in treatment, all the things my eating disorder and anxious mind raged about- they passed.

No- the hard things, the hurting, the annoying decisions, the loss, the anger, the confusion, the regret, and the tears- they certainly have not and did not just disappear. But as I have gotten healthier, the time have passed where those things no longer control my life and every thought.

Here is what no one tells you starting out: treatment is kind of traumatic.

Sounds extreme, but think about it. Facing something you hate/are afraid of (food) up to six times a day. I remember knowing I was drinking 1000 calories a day in supplements alone on top of my meal plan. Forcing myself to bundle up and walk for an hour & a half in 30-40 degree weather after I got home from day treatment, because I was sneaking in exercise. Getting yoga taken away. Sitting on the kitchen floor crying and wondering if I could ever get myself out of this hell. Finding out insurance didn’t cover labs and tests required for treatment, and owing hundreds of dollars in medical bills. Finding out my primary care physician wasn’t covered either, but secretly being relieved because when I got a respiratory infection, I knew without a doubt she would have hospitalized me. My life became a series of trying to avoid the higher level of care I needed, even if it almost killed me. Going to sleep at night and not caring if I woke up. Carefully hiding the Holter (heart) monitor under my work clothes. Not speaking to my family for weeks, because this illness can and will creep into every aspect of your life. My mom coming to visit and yelling at me in the kitchen because she finally understood, and so did I, that eating disorders are a matter of life and death. Lying to my friends about “where I’ve been” because who wants to explain rehab? Even I didn’t understand it. Missing holidays with loved ones because I’m in treatment. It’s the day after Christmas and it’s snowing; but it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all because my life is a lie and a secret.

Honestly, some of those things have passed and become funny stories. Stuff that no one else except those of us who went through it would understand. My friend hiding cookies in the Nurse Practitioner’s plant when she turned her back. (I wonder if she ever found them). Crying over my pasta being “too shiny”. Bringing snacks to my nutritionist appointment and refusing to eat them because I was a brat. Spiking supplements with various forms of alcohol in a desperate attempt to make them more appealing and drinkable. (Fail). Watching my nutritionist roll her eyes and sigh; because I’m choosing to be difficult. My therapist hardcore dropping the F-bomb during group therapy, just trying to get me to feel SOMETHING. I ended up bawling like a baby and it was absolutely not funny in the moment, but 2 years later, I have that therapist to thank for my life.

This too shall pass.
It will.
I promise.
Someday, you will be healthy if you keep fighting. Your life will be yours again. I know it doesn’t feel like that in the moment. I’ve been there too; those dark times where you feel hopeless and helpless. It gets better. Would I tell you that if it wasn’t true? Absolutely not. For a long time, I didn’t believe that some of that pain would end. I didn’t believe my life could ever be in color, instead of the awful grey it was. I wasn’t sure if I was fixable.

But, GOD. By His grace, I have put one foot in front of the other. There were times I fell. Times I didn’t want to get back up, or didn’t think I could. Sometimes, the struggle is still real ya’ll. But the God I serve is the ultimate Healer, and He has done amazing things with my life in recovery. I am REDEEMED. In so many ways. I don’t know the person I used to be, because she was a shell. I have hope, because I have a Savior who promises to complete every good work He has started in me. Maybe you’re not a believer. Maybe you are. But God is the center of my story, and at the end of the day, I am grateful He chose to keep my here to use my voice and fight this illness. That’s huge- when I was at my worst I truly would have rather died than continue to live that way.

This too shall pass. It absolutely will. Your struggles will not always define you.
If you choose recovery- no one can make you. You have to do the work. There will be days you want to throw in the towel, sometimes more days than not. But that will pass and you will see how beautiful it is to be alive and to be loved.

So be brave.
It’s worth it.
Ok?

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Oatmeal Protein Bars

by Lindsey 0 Comments
Oatmeal Protein Bars
Easy to make, great to eat!

Fiiiinally getting around to posting this recipe I decided to try out! The recipe itself is not mine- it came from Kodiak Cakes Protein Packed Flapjack and Waffle Mix (say that 3 times fast). Kodiak Cakes is basically a pancake and waffle mix on steroids, and it makes some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had! You can learn more at www.kodiakcakes.com and find more recipes too.

Oatmeal Protein Bars

1 cup Kodiak Cakes mix

1 scoop protein powder of your choice (I used Cellucor Cinnamon Swirl)

1 very ripe banana

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups oats

Combine all of the above ingredients and mix well. Then, the fun part- choose your mix ins! Some suggestions I have are: raisins, dried fruit, shredded coconut, chia seeds, almonds, chocolate chips, peanut butter, almond butter, etc. For the batch of bars I made, I used a little bit of everything, plus some chocolate covered dried super fruits I had from Costco.

Mix in your mix ins (these are optional), and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

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