you are not what you eat

tumblr_leb03pmRfv1qzqrog

you are what you eat“, they say as they judge you for the delicious stack of pancakes you had for breakfast. “you are what you eat“, they say as they share recipes for sugar-free, low-calorie, low-fat, carb-free alternatives. “you are what you eat”, they say as they post pictures on Instagram hashtagged #eatclean and #rawfoodie.

i’m sure you’ve heard the cliche a million times, whether it’s from your mother or the healthy cooking blogs you read every morning. people say it ALL THE TIME. but if i could wish one thing for you right now, it would be that you had never heard those familiar words. because you are not what you eat.

choosing to eat a slice of cake for breakfast instead of a green smoothie does not make you any less of a human being. it does not mean you are bad or lazy or a failure. nor does it mean you are awesome or happy or a great friend. do you see where i’m going with this?

what you choose to eat or not eat has absolutely no impact on who you are as a person. 

your actions, the words you say, how you treat the people around you… those things are what determine your worth. not what you had for dinner last night.

so stop beating yourself up for what you eat. stop feeling guilty because you had a doughnut. stop believing that you are worthless because of food.

you are worth so much more than. you deserve so much more than that.

the world needs YOU. it needs what you have to offer: your grace, your laughter, your friendship, your compassion, your heart. don’t let something as insignificant as food take those beautiful gifts away from you.

so eat your chocolate or your vegetables or both. be paleo or vegetarian. do whatever you want when it comes to food and enjoy it. love it. don’t let guilt or shame or feelings of failure anywhere near you. because everything beautiful and valuable about you is in your heart, not in the reflection in the mirror.

FullSizeRender (7)me and my main girl ❤

Main photo source: link here

 

recipe: cinnamon roll green smoothie

FullSizeRender (3)

to be honest, i never got into the smoothie trend. but the other day, i was wandering the farmer’s market and found freshly ground flax seed.  all i knew about flax was that it was supposed to have some miraculous health benefits so i figured i’d give it a go. the problem, however, was that the only recipes i had heard of using flax seed were smoothie recipes.

so naturally, the 2 dollar bag of flax was the perfect excuse to impulsively purchase a blender (although i think this is something i should own anyways as an “adult” right??).

after an hour of pinterest and a trip to trader joe’s, i was ready to make my first smoothie. i’ve had “green monsters” before that use spinach or kale and i love them so i wanted to try it for myself.

with this smoothie i’d say i was successful : )

IMG_0766

recipe: cinnamon roll green smoothie

ingredients:

1 banana (can be frozen if you want a “real” smoothie. i sometimes don’t freeze so it’s more of a creamy juice)

Handful of baby spinach

1 cup almond milk, vanilla or original

1 Tbsp flax seed

3 tsp honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Dash of cinnamon

how to make: combine all ingredients in a blender. blend. drink.

 

what causes an eating disorder

before i was diagnosed with anorexia, i thought it was a condition for self-obsessed girls who only cared about their looks and social status. i thought it was caused by a need for male attention and a desire to fit into runway clothes. i thought it was something that could be cured by “just eating”.

the harsh reality is that none of that is true. we don’t CHOOSE to have eating disorders. we don’t CHOOSE to starve ourselves close to death. we don’t CHOOSE to look in the mirror and see fat when all that’s left is bones.

that’s something most people don’t understand. they don’t understand that an eating disorder is a disease, not a choice. so naturally that brings up the question: what causes an eating disorder?

tumblr_lo00blwgfw1qzrkblo1_500_large

what i learned in treatment is that it’s different for everyone but can be: sexual abuse or rape,  deep seated insecurities, domestic abuse, any kind of traumatic experience, depression, family issues, genetics, weight problems as a child, pressure in sports or a hobby like ballet that emphasizes body shape, or OCD/anxiety.

what is often overlooked is that the eating disorder is not the main problem. usually the eating disorder is simply how we cope with a deeper issue. which is what makes treating eating disorders so difficult. because you have to get to the root of the REAL problem and resolve that before you even begin to fix the damage (both physical and emotional) of the eating disorder. and often, the real problem is a combination of multiple experiences, making it even harder to fix.

i think that was the biggest struggle for me when i first started individual therapy in treatment. i simply assumed they would help me with my eating issues and i’d pass with flying colors, be discharged and live happily ever after.

unfortunately that wasn’t the case as i quickly learned my anorexia was a physical manifestation of bigger things i was struggling with. once we addressed and worked through those, i was able to really start seeing the positive effects of recovery.

it’s important to realize that an eating disorder is not a vain attempt to be hot. it may sometimes seem that way, but 99% of the time there is much more than meets the eye.

so don’t judge the withdrawn girl who can’t “just eat”. don’t judge her for feeling fat. because she is most likely struggling in ways you can’t even imagine and needs only your grace, support and love.

recipe: overnight muesli with greek yogurt & honey

a typical weekday morning starts at 4:30 am when the alarm goes off, i roll out of bed and stumble to the closet. its then a blur of pulling on workout clothes, throwing an outfit for the day into my bag and sleepily grabbing whatever food i can find for breakfast and lunch. then i’m out the door by 4:55.

needless to say, this whole “sleep-walking/preparing-for-the-whole-day” routine doesn’t lend itself to having a yummy breakfast. and as a girl who absolutely LOVES breakfast, this is not ok.

i’m constantly on the hunt for easy but filling & delicious breakfast recipes that take minimal time to prepare. i finally found/created one using some muesli that i picked up at a farmer’s market over the weekend. let me just say this is kind of like heaven in a jar. i mean super delicious and kept me full for quite awhile! i think it’s my new go-to weekday breakfast… i may be addicted!

IMG_0688

recipe: overnight muesli with greek yogurt & honey

ingredients:

1 cup greek yogurt (i use plain Fage but feel free to use your favorite flavor or brand)

1/2 cup muesli

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 Tbsp flax seed

2 tsp honey

Dash of cinnamon

To make: Put all ingredients in a mason jar (or just regular glass container), stir up and refrigerate overnight or 6-8 hours. Wake up in the morning to a yummy mixture of oats, nuts, honey and yogurt!

making friends in recovery

cool-cute-friends-hands-tattoo-Favim.com-223710

the night i was admitted to inpatient treatment, i had one plan and one plan only: do whatever i had to do to get out. that plan definitely did not involve becoming bffs with the other girls in the unit. in fact, i was convinced i was nowhere near their level of illness. i thought i couldn’t relate to them, that it was a mistake that i was even inpatient to begin with.

so i closed off, sat quietly at meals, read my book alone in the common room between therapy sessions. i thought i was protecting myself and focusing solely on my own recovery, not letting silly temporary friendships interrupt my treatment.

until one of our first therapy activities where we each shared some of our fears about recovery. it was in that session that i realized these people understood EXACTLY what i was going through, more so than my parents or sisters or friends. these people felt the same emotions, experienced the same fears, faced the same struggles every day. i have since realized nothing bonds people more than being in inpatient treatment together. it is such a delicate situation and such a whirlwind of emotions and physical changes that having someone go through it with you results in an instant friendship.

i can hardly express in words how much each of the girls i met in treatment has meant to me. how much they have been there for me, even after a year. no matter what i’m going through or how badly i’m struggling, i know i can always reach out to one of them and they’ll pick me back up. each girl has touched my life in their own special way and i am so blessed to have that kind of support group. they will forever be role models, inspirations and dear friends. i may not see them often (or even at all anymore) but they are always in my heart as some of the most courageous and strong women i’ve ever met.

that being said, if you are in recovery from an eating disorder and are doing it “on your own” aka not in a professional treatment setting, i highly highly HIGHLY recommend finding a recovery group to attend or getting a NEDA mentor. i really can’t say it enough…. having friends and family talk to is always wonderful but nothing is more helpful than having friends who are at the exact same point as you or who have been there recently.

it’s completely possible to recover on your own. and for some people, that may be the best option. but for me, i know i would never have made it this far out without the guidance, kind words and motivation from my treatment girls. they have been god’s gift to me in this often dark and hard journey and i am so so thankful everyday for their beauty and grace.

FullSizeRender (1)

IMG_0664

side note: it snowed yesterday!

“i’m not sick enough”

“but i’m not sick enough”.

those were the words i kept repeating to my parents every time they urged me to go to the hospital.

“but i’m not sick enough”.

those were the words i thought whenever my grandmother begged me to eat more than a handful of grapes for dinner.

“but i’m not sick enough”.

those were the words i cried to the doctor when she calmly informed me they were admitting me to inpatient treatment.

let me tell you something i’ve learned through recovery. if you ever once think the words “i’m not sick enough”, then i promise you ARE sick enough. because that is a heavily eating disordered thought. if you are even questioning whether or not you need help, please get help. immediately.

see, when you are in the depths of your eating disorder, your perceptions are incredibly distorted. you look in the mirror and actually see fat where other people see bones. you think you binged when really you ate what other people consider an insufficient snack. you don’t see anything the way it is in reality. and it’s not your fault. it’s your eating disorder. but the point is, you cannot trust yourself. and you most definitely cannot trust the voice in your head telling you you’re not sick enough.

when i thought i wasn’t sick enough or thin enough to need treatment, i was a week away from my heart giving out. i had so many health issues, it was ridiculous. and yet, my eating disorder had convinced me i was still a failure… i was still fat, still needed to lose weight, still could do “better”. thank goodness i had a concerned family that stepped in and forced me to seek professional help because if i had only listened to myself, i probably would not be alive today.

so if the words “but i’m not sick enough” ever cross your lips or even your mind, please know that you are. you are sick enough. to want help, to need help, to DESERVE help. trust the voices of those who love you because they are the ones who want to save your life, the ones who can shut off the eating disorder voice in your head, the ones who will pick you up and whisper “you are sick enough. but most of all, you are enough”.

what recovery looks like one year in

IMG_0546

left: a year ago  ||    right: now

a year ago when i was hospitalized for anorexia, i didn’t even know if i would make it to 2015. i didn’t know if i was strong enough or brave enough or worthy enough to beat the horrible disorder that consumed every part of me.

but now here i am, some 365 days later, alive. and not just alive… living.

i’m still recovering though. the process isn’t over and i know now that it won’t be for awhile. i’ve learned to be ok with that. for anyone else struggling with an eating disorder or who knows someone who is, here is what recovery looks like a year in, to me. i only hope some of what i’ve experienced or learned can help you on your journey.

1) this is the most important thing i’ve learned, by far. trust your body because it knows what it’s doing and what it needs. when i was discharged from the hospital, i didn’t exercise AT ALL for almost 9 months. all i did was sit around, relax and eat a ton of food. and guess what. my body maintained the healthy weight i’ve reached. your body knows where it is happy and it will do all it can to stay there. i know it’s scary and you think you’ll gain forever and you have to exercise to stop it but you don’t!!! if you read nothing else, at least trust me on this. your body knows what it’s doing. don’t fight it.

2) you will face triggers every single day. and i mean every. single. day. coworkers will talk about diets, you’ll see a weight watchers commercial, someone will loudly exclaim how sugar makes you fat. you can’t avoid it so you just have to learn to tune it out.

3) relapse happens and it’s okay. as long as you realize what’s happening and stop it before it goes too far. i’ve had more than my fair share of days where i let the eating disorder thoughts control me. the difference now is that i can recognize when i’m sliding into that hole and can reach out to my support group to help me back up.

4) above all, you’ll realize how incredible life is. it won’t be perfect… not even close. you’ll cry, yell, get in arguments, feel down about yourself sometimes, want to give up. but guess what? you’ll also laugh, love, smile, hug your family, make new friends, stay up until 3 in the morning dancing. all things you couldn’t do trapped in your eating disorder. that’s the best part of recovery. you actually get to feel again. you get to finally feel alive.