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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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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Life Right Now

I haven’t posted much at all lately, sorry guys! Life has been nonstop busy so I thought I would pop in and show you a little of what I’ve been up to. Life healthy is great- yes, I still have struggles daily, but for the most part, I am living how LINDSEY wants to. That is worth every hard day in recovery, hands down.

Spending time with the people I love is one of the most important things to me. I’ve been to lots of fun social events that would have been miserable for me if I was still letting the eating disorder rule my life.

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Nashville Predators wine festival.

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Being silly with my favorite humans.

Traveling is also something I’ve started to get to do more and enjoy. No longer is it am opportunity for me to use travel as an excuse to restrict and lose weight. I’ve been to visit my brother in Florida and road tripped to a wine festival in North Carolina.  Later this week I leave to visit my college friend in New Orleans!

Chill in' at a winery in Boone, NC

Chill in’ at a winery in Boone, NC.

 

Who run the world- GIRLS

Who run the world- GIRLS!

For anyone who does not think the hard work is worth it- it absolutely is.  For anyone who doesn’t believe in freedom- is it there waiting for you. Do the hard work. Make the scary decisions and step into the fear. Accept hope and support. Recovery is for everyone; I will always believe that now that I have seen healthy. It’s never too late, you’re never too far gone, you’re never the exception to the rules your eating disorder gives you. You CAN be better. I’m proof. Recovery will eventually become DISCOVERY.  You get to see what you really llove and enjoy. You find favorite foods. Relationships with people deepen and are more meaningful. You feel experiences, not just exist through them.

“You have the power to heal your life and you need to know that. We think so often we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of out minds…claim and consciously use your power.” 

Celebrate life

Celebrate life

Creek walk days with my lil sidekick

Creek walk days with my lil sidekick

 

Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean we are unafraid; it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” –Brene Brown

I didn’t go through life thinking vulnerability was a good thing. I actually associated it with negativity. Being vulnerable automatically means you can’t handle your emotions, and you’re just one of those dramatic people that cry all the time about stupid shit.

I could be wrong. I grew up playing competitive sports, and I’m an ICU nurse. There isn’t a whole lot of room for vulnerability in those two things. Suck it up. Work harder. Don’t cry; don’t let anyone see you cry.

I remember when I moved to North Carolina, where I started my recovery journey, and my best friend there jokingly labeled me as a “crier.” I remember feeling like SUCH a loser. Shame crept in as I told myself, “How can you look so weak and needy to other people? How embarrassing. What the heck has recovery done to you?”

Recovery has made me vulnerable. It has made me dig through times in my life I am ashamed of. It has made me expose parts of myself I’ve kept hidden from everyone. It has made me cry IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE- like, more than once. Or twice. Or more times than I can count. Snot-nosed, red-faced, ugly crying in front of all sorts of people in my life. Vulnerability has come with owning my story, and with sharing it. Vulnerability is messy. It is uncomfortable.

I know it’s just not me that feels this way. How many of us were raised with the “don’t talk about it and it doesn’t exist” mentality? Isn’t avoidance easier? We call it “not liking confrontation” to justify tip-toeing around the things in life that make us uncomfortable and emotional. For many, addiction (eating disorder or otherwise) takes the place of being vulnerable. Example: Someone hurts my feelings…like legit hurts my feelings. When do I cry? When no one is looking. How do I cope? I restrict, exercise, and/or minimize.

I wonder if we are afraid of vulnerability because deep down, we know what power it has. Emotions are powerful- they can determine the course of your life. Vulnerability seems more out of control, and who wants to feel out of control in any part of their life?!

What I’ve learned about vulnerability in my recovery is that it means I am brave. I have the courage to share and show my feelings, even when the opinion is unpopular. It allows me to admit I am not perfect in a world that is constantly trying to define and redefine perfection. I had this idea in my head about therapy- that once I talked about something, everything I felt about it would simply melt away. It’s the idea I started recovery with- give it a few months of treatment, and I’ll be all better. But, treatment is not a cure. It is a band-aid, and the medicine is vulnerability. Being brave enough to sit on a couch in a therapists office for an hour a week going through all your shameful shit- that’s hard stuff. Sometimes I have to count to ten really slowly in my head so I don’t just get up and leave a session because I’m so frustrated. And honestly, I spend more time bullshitting in therapy because it’s easier than owning my stuff and having feelings. Writing posts like this and putting myself out there for whoever the heck wants to see- it’s not easy. I worry about what people might think, how they might see me differently, etc. I am afraid. I am uncertain. Vulnerability is hard.

Being vulnerable allows others to learn from your life. When I write a post on Instagram about how I’m doing so well but BAM, one day my eating disorder decides I need a FitBit, and I jump on a scale, and I want to go back to being unhealthy- I have people thank me for that. For me, vulnerability has had a lot to do with admitting everything is not rainbows and roses. Being vulnerable ties us together as humans, because we all struggle. Being vulnerable creates meaning between people who don’t even know each other- “Hey, I feel that way too.” What a relief to know we aren’t alone in our crazy, irrational minds. What a blessing to know we are not alone in life.

So, I challenge you. And, I challenge myself. The next time someone you care about genuinely wants to know how you are, tell them the truth. When a friend calls you out, own it. Don’t just own it, but really think about if what you are doing serves you and the people around you. When you’re too anxious or scared to do something you know needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait. We always think we have time. If someone hurts you, tell them. Instead of holding a grudge or cutting them off, talk to that person. Admit you have feelings. They do too. The next time you want to lie in therapy, skip a meal, or run that extra five minutes- don’t. Take a look at why you’re avoiding vulnerability.

Note to self: To have vulnerability is HUMAN. It is not weakness, it doesn’t make me a wimp, it doesn’t mean there is an absence of strength. The ability to be vulnerable, and confident in such a place- is it actually a sign of strength?

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Contentment

I’m sitting here on my bed, with the window open and my sweet pup at my feet, occasionally barking at sounds in the neighborhood. It’s just cool enough (for me!) to cover myself in our comforter. My husband’s Discipleship Group is meeting upstairs and there is the occasional breakout of laughter. My belly is full from a dinner we and I cooked together. Today was beautiful and sunny, and I took a long nap to prepare to the half nightshift I’m splitting with another nurse in a few hours. I’m playing music from my “Chill and Write” playlist on Spotify.

I am content. I am thankful. I can sit here and appreciate my breath and my heartbeat and everything my body does to keep me alive.
It isn’t always this way. I haven’t decided what I hate most about my eating disorder, but one thing I know I really hate is how nothing is ever enough. I’ve been battling with thoughts of not being enough more than usual the last week or so. I can blame it on a longer break than usual from therapy, or anxiety from not exercising as much (because um, excuse me, I’m having fun LIVING), but either way, it is there. The discontentment. The disappointment with myself.

Want to know what my mind sounds like sometimes? Well here ya go: I’m going to be the fattest, ugliest, sweatiest person at the yoga immersion this weekend. Oh my God, no wonder I’m going to have to end up riding alone. Who would want to be friends with the girl who says she has an eating disorder but isn’t even thin anymore?! I shouldn’t have signed up. How the heck am I going to eat Zaxby’s as my challenge food this week? Why did I say I would work a nightshift; when am I going to exercise tomorrow? I need to do more abs. Oh my God I have to go shopping for spring and summer clothes; I can’t live in yoga pants. Trust me, I could go on.

In recovery, I am learning a lot of truths. About food, about exercise, about MYSELF. Those are the hard ones. It’s a weird feeling, to still feel like you’re growing up when you just tuned 30 years old. One of the big truths I’m facing right now is that I AM INSECURE. What??? Me? Geeze Linds, now the whole world knows. Ok actually just like the random 5 people who read your blog, but still.

Since I was a teenager, I have placed my confidence and certainty in my eating disorder. There’s just a few things wrong with that (HA), but the biggest problem with it is that I have not learned to place my confidence and certainty in God. I’ve been a Christian since middle school, but honesty time, my eating disorder has been my god with a little “g”. My eating disorder is no doubt TERRIBLE for me, but it has served many purposes. It protected me, gave me purpose, comforted me, made me calm, and helped me deal with the tough stuff in life.

The thing is, GOD can do all of that. And more. I just have to let Him; and believe me that is quite the learning curve. Some days, I’m pretty OK at it. I have the word “grace” tattooed on my wrist but dang do I sometimes with it was on the inside of both my eyelids. Some days, I am miserable. I have mini-meltdowns over my clothes because I’m finding my worth in my jeans. I want to crawl out of this body God gave me, because it is twenty-something pounds more than it used to be and I want to cut off all my fat.

I recently saw a quote by C.S. Lewis. “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body.” Cue all the feels. What a reminder of how I am to live. As a soul, not a body. My body is just a home for my soul. What does God want from me? To love Him, and to love others as I love myself. I do love others- I love my friends like they are family, I love broken people, I love knowing people’s stories; but I also pretend I don’t- because I’m insecure and what if they don’t love me back. What if they look at me and see what I do when I look in the mirror? I am reminded of a verse: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) When God said this to Moses, it wasn’t a “feel good” comforting kind of instruction. God actually wanted Moses to what we would probably call “sit down and shut up” so he could truly hear and accept the plans God was giving him. Moses didn’t want to be the one to lead the people out of Egypt- he was scared. Just like I am. I don’t want to let go of the security of my eating disorder- I am scared. BUT, it’s important to note that “do not fear” is written in the Bible over ONE HUNDRED times. The God of the whole freaking universe is telling me that He is on my side. I am here not to manipulate and abuse my body; but travel around and share my soul with others. My sole purpose in this life is not to be thin and eat “clean” but to be an example of Jesus the best I can, and love others. Some days I’m really going to suck at this, but because of grace, that word on my wrist, I get to try again every single day.

Contentment. When you get in your head like I so often do, try gratitude. Try re-framing what your purpose is and where your worth comes from. I can promise you it is not an addiction, a disorder, or a label. And I can promise you, even on the hard days, it is worth knowing your value isn’t measurable in pounds or sizes or the amount of minutes you exercise.
You are enough. Because He says so.

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Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Honestly- I hate cooking. Recently I’ve been making more of an effort to plan out my grocery trips and cook meals for the week so I don’t end up eating cereal 3 nights a week. Even though cereal is my favorite food, I know my husband doesn’t enjoy it for dinner every night. If you follow me on Instagram, I know I promised a recipe for you all of a dish I made this past week: Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Casserole. I found it on Pintrest (duh), so here is my “how to” for you all!

 

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Mmm, quinoa!

 

Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

1/2 cup (canned) black beans

1/2 cup of canned or frozen corn

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 (4.5oz) can of chopped green chiles

1 (10oz) can of enchilada sauce

1/2 tsp. Chili powder

1/2 tsp. Cumin

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Toppings as desired: avocado, salsa, Roma tomato, sour cream, etc.

Directions

In a large bowl, combine black beanstalk corn, quinoa, chiles, enchilada sauce, cilantro, and spices. Mix well and add both of the cheeses. Grease an 8×8 pan and pour the delicious mixture in. Top with desired amount of extra shredded cheese, because you can’t go wrong with more cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees in the oven. Cover with toppings such as avocado and tomato, and enjoy!

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Ready in 15 minutes!

For Anyone with an Eating Disorder and Anxiety

I’ll admit it- I am an anxious person. Actually, I’ve come to realize that I am an extremely anxious person as of late because I no longer really use behaviors to cope. Restriction numbs. Over-exercise burns off adrenaline and quiets my mind. Orthorexic behaviors give me a sense of peace and control over my food and body. No longer using these behaviors to the extreme degree I am used to has honestly thrown me for a loop. I want to yell “NOT FAIR” at my treatment team and anyone who helped make me healthy. Like, GUYS, no one told me that eliminating behaviors consistently was going to make me feel like an actual crazy person. I don’t like to admit it- I’m a nurse, and we are terrible patients. I’ve always been independent to a fault and I feel weak needing medication. Not only that, but I am TERRIFIED of starting any new medication because of the experience I had with anti-anxiety and sleep meds in treatment.

If you haven’t ever struggled with anxiety, let me describe it to you. It’s laying awake until 3AM and having a headache for 24 hours straight after that. It’s a cramping stomach- that kind you get when you’re way past hungry- only hunger isn’t the problem. Constant anxiety is feeling like you drank just a little too much coffee, and your nervous system and brain are in overdrive. Anxiety is shockingly exhausting on the body. It’s sleeping because you’re so worn out from the constant hyper-alertness of your mind. Anxiety is napping all the time because of the tiredness, and to avoid feeling like you’re going to explode. Don’t confuse anxiety with worry! Worry is concern over actual events or potential events. Anxiety is all of the above for seemingly no reason.

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As I wrote in my last post, the urges to choose my eating disorder are strong. The thing is- I KNOW my eating disorder will work. I will feel better.

Temporarily.

Then what? As much as I don’t want to feel this constant unsettled feeling, I know my eating disorder can’t be a long term solution. It just can’t. I love my life and the people in it. Life is good; I don’t want to lose everything I care about.

Being healthy and nourished forces me to feel. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. My eating disorder took care of those things for me. I was a walking robot (well, with anxiety). Truth be told, I am ten times as anxious now as I was at my sickest. Recovery has a lot to do with choosing what is hard over choosing what is easy. Which honestly, sucks. I want a quick fix. I want an easy button.

But, I have to be patient. I have been through a lot in the past year personally, including the loss of three people I loved dearly. The brain doesn’t just forget that pain and trauma. We live in a world that teaches us “big girls don’t cry, suck it up, get back in the game, keep your head high, get your shit together, and don’t let them see you hurt.” We are HUMAN BEINGS- God created us to FEEL. Some of us feel things more deeply than others and I’ve learned that’s me. I HATE it. I like being the strong one. The tough kid. The one who doesn’t cry; who can shut off her feelings. Recovery has completely blown that safety next for me. I am trying so hard to be ok with it. I feel vulnerable. I feel stupid, I feel like a wimp, a sissy, you name it. Sharing my story about the journey I am on has helped me realize that hiding and walling myself off isn’t as great and helpful as my eating disordered mind made me think it was. I am an emotional person. I am learning to accept that. Next comes learning to deal with that. Baron Baptiste, the founder of Baptiste yoga says: “We hold the past in our bodies.” What a statement. What truth. For me, this statement is freeing. It means that I can heal and someday my anxiety won’t be so present. For now, that means TRULY sitting in the anxiety. “What’s the worst that will happen? Take it one step at a time,” my therapist says. So, I will be present in my feelings. I’ll stop trying to “stop” them. Everything eventually passes.

Friends, you are who you are. You are wonderfully made. Emotional, messy, chaotic- there is no shame in what makes you yourself. We all the the rest of our lives to either learn to accept ourselves and get along with ourselves; or fight ourselves. You choose.

Grumpy cat, talk to my mind!

Grumpy cat, talk to my mind!

Bad Days and Choices

Being in recovery doesn’t mean you never have really bad days.

Being weight restored doesn’t mean your mind is healed.

The past few days, I have wanted to choose my eating disorder over everything. It started with a change of plans one day that didn’t allow me to go to yoga. Although I’m no longer a compulsive over-exerciser, I still struggle with the lie that I HAVE to exercise to be “allowed” to eat. For me, exercise is a security blanket for eating. Going out with friends for dinner? Having a glass of wine? Eating ice cream? Totally cool- as long as I’ve been to a power hot yoga class or taken my dog on a long walk. I’ve functioned this way for so long, and it is a hard habit to break.
My therapist said it best a few months back: “Just because you body isn’t anorexic anymore doesn’t mean your mind isn’t.” So true. Despite the weight gained, the fear foods challenged, and the food rules broken; my brain is still somewhat sick. I look fine on the outside, but it does not always match what is going on inside. My mind can be the worst enemy I have ever known. The past few days I’ve been consumed with anxiety about my body, food, exercise, etc. Thoughts to restrict, lie to my support people and treatment team, and sneak in extra exercise have been strong.

“Today I want to choose anorexia,” I told my husband in a text the other day. “Today that seems like it will feel better. I know that’s not true.”
Yes, my brain is still somewhat sick. But, it is also healthy too, for the first time in a long time. I know what choosing anorexia means. It doesn’t just mean losing weight, numbing grief, and fitting into smaller clothes. Relapse means losing what matters to me; a list that I could go on and on about. I don’t want to be sick. I think a turning point in recovery is deciding you want to be well more than you want to be sick. Being sick, honestly, it’s more comfortable. It feels like shit but dang is it familiar. Being sick is miserable, and I used to live in fear that I would NEVER ever get better. It was terrifying. My first morning in day treatment, the therapist made us journal. “I would rather die than live the rest of my life with an eating disorder,” I wrote.

So the really bad days- I’ll take them. I’ll take them over threats of residential treatment and crying over meals and almost passing out in yoga and drinking freaking Boost three times a day. In the moment, it is easy to forget that the bad days are better than what being trapped in my eating disorder feels like.

I have to constantly remind myself that although there are bad days, there are also good days. And the good days are so so worth it. Being healthy is hard, but it is also amazing. It means my relationships are genuine. It means my body is strong enough to attend yoga teacher training. It means I can love and support my husband fully. It means traveling and being present and living life in COLOR. Being healthy means much more than being sick ever did.

When you want to choose your eating disorder, give yourself some grace. It happens. Maybe some days you make the wrong choice. But you KEEP choosing life and choosing health. And believe that one day, it won’t be a choice any more. Healthy will be the normal.

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Life is too short not to smile!

 

What I Know

by Lindsey 0 Comments

young yoga woman sit meditation on sunrise mountain peak rock

My dietician always has this thing she says to me in what I imagine is an attempt to “peel me off the ceiling”- if you know what I mean. “What do you know to be true about that?” She asks. Usually, this question is related to an eating disorder thought. What is an eating disorder thought? Well, the best way I know how to explain it, is that an eating disorder thought is a false belief about food, exercise, weight, body image, or eating. FALSE. Meaning the “healthy” part of me that’s hidden away somewhere knows that this eating disorder thought is pretty dang irrational, but because it’s been a part of my thought pattern for so long, it seems normal. For example: “I need to exercise so I can eat.” Taking it a step further, my dietician pushes on- “What evidence do you have that supports that?”

Conclusion- dieticians are actually therapists disguised as food geniuses, and have both an incredible knowledge of nutrition and the ability to get under my skin.

Usually, there is nothing true about the eating disorder thought. I have no evidence to support it. It’s false.
Over the last several months, I have had to do a lot of thinking on what I know to be true about my eating disorder and recovery; and what evidence I have to support those truths. I wish I could flip a magic switch and engrain these truths into my brain- maybe if they were there I’d be able to overlook the irrationality of the eating disorder and follow my true healthy self 100% of the time.

I know that recovery is hard. I know that I was not prepared for the process it takes and is taking. I know that recovery is not something that gets a day off. It is full of choices to me made every day, sometimes hour by hour.

I know that my eating disorder feels safe. I know it is harmful. I know that each time I make a choice that supports ED, I am putting myself in danger. What seems to be “just a few” behaviors can lead me farther away from recovery than I thought was possible. I know that I miss using my eating disorder as a coping mechanism, but I no longer want to starve myself or compulsively over-exercise.

I know that my life is an incredible gift, and the fact that I am still on this earth is too. I know I have done things to my body that I am absolutely ashamed of. I know that I can keep fighting. I know some days I feel like going back to my eating disorder, but I know nothing good will come from it. I will shrink, but so will my life.

I know that my eating disorder will never just completely disappear one day like magic. I know that I would never wish this illness on anyone. I know that there is no real cure. I know it is my own personal hell. I know that this makes me feel discouraged sometimes. But I know that HOPE is stronger than fear.

I know I am loved and supported. I know I cannot comprehend just how much.

I know that my treatment team has my best interests in mind. I know there are times I still won’t listen to them. I know there are consequences. I know that I disappoint myself. I know it is ok to struggle- but not to give up.

I know that I have come farther in recovery than I imagined possible. Yes, I have days where every bite of food I put in my mouth is a battle. But I also have days where I truly believe full recovery is possible, because I’ve been able to do things I didn’t think I could. My life doesn’t revolve around exercise and running anymore. I don’t take my own food to every social event, or pretend I’m not hungry at restaurants. I don’t use to size of my jeans as a scale anymore. These are little things, but they’ve made a big difference in my life.

I know recovery is worth it. Even on the bad days. I know there is life in color, and it’s there waiting for anyone who wants it.

What do YOU know to be true?