If you are struggling with disordered eating at this time…

Being pent up within four walls for weeks on end is not the most fun for a lot of people.

But if you are someone who experiences any sort of mental health issue to any degree, you might understand that an overhaul of routine and a severance of social gathering can be devastating.

To be completely transparent, my quarantine life has not been devastating, but I remember a time when this severity of change would have been so.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (I think that was the disaster, but perhaps it was just a bad winter storm that I’m thinking of… but that’s not critical to the rest of this), my family and I were trying to keep warm and fed in our house with no electricity for several days. I didn’t exercise because it would be too cold and dark to do anything except sit by the fire, all while still trying to do some school work. Food involved things that were out of the ordinary — slices of bread toasted on a pan atop our gas stove (#lifesaver), canned soup warmed up in the same way. Not the usual salads and Greek yogurt bowls.

I didn’t have control of anything, and I was not really okay with it. Our priorities were really to survive (and we were doing a-okay, by the way; things could have been worse) at that point, but the desire to maintain my eating and exercise routines had become just as severe of a “need” in my mind.

I remember sitting in front of the fire one of those nights, and my dad said that eating a bit more would help us to stay warm (i.e., thermic effect of food). However, I suggested that maybe we should be eating less because we weren’t moving as much (i.e., burning as many calories as usual). It was a small sign of how deeply uncomfortable I was with the whole situation, even though it probably lasted less than a week.

It is now 2020, and we all meet a similar yet different situation.

Maybe you are frustrated that you can’t lift as heavy or take your favorite intense workout classes. Maybe you’re sitting for much longer periods of time and getting thousands fewer steps than usual (holla). Maybe your favorite produce or preferred types of foods are constantly off the shelves.

The extra time on social media (in efforts to gain a semblance of human contact) might bring an onslaught of advertisements for home workout programs and meal plans to “keep you on track.” There might be fewer distractions to keep you from falling into the rabbit hole that is the fitness industry, something you were great at avoiding for so long.

Maybe the shift in control of your life in and of itself throws you into a tizzy and causes you to more intensely to the things you can control.

“If I can’t do ______, ________, and ________, at least I can still count my calories and go on super long runs/walks. I can still have my six pack abs.” This is just an example.

I understand that there are people who can do this without compromising their mental health. In fact, there are people are taking control of their physical health to benefit their mental health during this time. But you — YOU — might need something different, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And YOU are not alone in that.

You all know that I am a physical therapist to be, not a psychologist or eating disorder specialist. I can only give advice and counsel from my own experience. So I will offer four things for you today:

  1. Continue to seek help if you need it. For less pervasive and just pesky thoughts of disordered eating, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. For what you think might be a relapse, please reach out to your therapist or eating disorder specialist (or a new one), and I am confident that they will either provide or refer you to online services. I have heard of great success with online counseling.
  2. Find creative outlet. Draw, dance, sing, write poetry, knit, crochet, sidewalk chalk, blow huge bubbles (far away from other people), play an instrument, blog, journal. Use that awesome brain and body of yours to do some really cool and impressive things that are not fitness.
  3. Catch up with friends who care about you as a whole person. This might not be the ideal time to reach out to the friend who can primarily bonds with you over running or CrossFit. Talk with people who know other things about your life and who are likely to ask you about / listen to how your heart is doing at this time.
  4. Be gentle but very honest with yourself. No one is going to tell you to just be sedentary, eat dessert, and deal with your disordered eating that way. At least, no one should give that kind of ultimatum, even if that is what you need. Let yourself move, and eat well. But be very, very honest with yourself in how much the thoughts of fitness and food are pervading your mind. If it’s on your mind and making you feel anxious for most of the day and distracting you from other things, consider #1.

Be not afraid! We will get through this.

Virtual Breakfast Date

Never in Daily Moves and Grooves history has a virtual breakfast date been so apropos! I hope you and yours are still holding up well.

I forgot to take a photo of my breakfast, but it wasn’t that exciting anyway (Greek yogurt with banana, cinnamon, chia seeds, and pb + a side of almonds and pistachios). Here’s a prettier breakfast from the past!

…I would tell you that my quarantine life has been rather peaceful and fruitful. I am fully aware that it is the complete opposite for so many people right now — death, suffering, exhaustion, instability, fear, heartache. Those realities hit me, too, don’t get me wrong. But I am also extremely grateful that these past couple weeks have given me a time to grow more deeply in prayer and {socially distanced} communication with so many friends.

My current day-to-day involves some studying for the PT boards exam (that isn’t until July 28, so studying in small doses for now), job applications, a phone call (or two or three) with friends, long walks, some moves and grooves, and a lot of prayer.

I was talking to my friend Emma yesterday, telling her how this time has been so peaceful and fruitful, despite the vast unknown ahead. We discussed that oftentimes, God strengthens people with periods of consolation and peace for more trying times ahead.

That thought scares me a bit, but whatever He’s got in store for the rest of the year, I know He will help me through it. This time to reflect on His Goodness and Truth, I’m sure, is part of that help.

…I would tell you that my time in Boston is coming to an end soon. I have decided to move back home to New York after 6 incredible years in Boston. I don’t have a job set in NY just yet, but either way, my plan is to move back in with my very gracious (and excited) parents to save some money for the next year or so as I finally make a salary after being in school for so long. From there, if my heart still longs for Boston, I can move back and become more settled (just with a little more financial stability).

The fact that I don’t get a graduation ceremony next month makes me sad for 0.0000001 seconds and then I’m over it. But man, will I miss my dear friends here, who have truly become my family. I was walking through the very empty Boston University campus yesterday, and my emotions went from 0 to 100 real quick. I don’t love BU for BU, but for how it brought so many different people to one place for a multitude of different reasons. And now those people have built a solid foundation of faithful friendship that continues to grow and flourish, and for that I am (literally) eternally grateful.

…I would tell you that you are so loved.

…I would thank you for coming to my emotional virtual breakfast date.

…I would complain about how my breakfast is now salty from my tears.

…I would ask you:

How is your quarantine life?

What did you eat for breakfast?

What are some recent reflections you have on your current situation / the world’s situation?

What are your thoughts on the unknown future ahead of us?

A random sick day vlog.

Boston University has officially made all learning remote for the rest of the semester.

The poor undergraduates who live on campus have been advised to stay home…but are also being asked to move out within 5 days. Good grief.

Yesterday I decided to film a random sick day vlog, mostly because I had very few important things to do.

Enjoy, if you so choose to watch!

The Blonde Ponytail 100s Challenge

Irish Apple Cake

So tell me:

What kind of activity do you like to do when you don’t really feel like working out?

What is your go-to food to use up a lot of milk / eggs?

What did you do yesterday?

Do you have your life together? I don’t.

Let’s stop talking about me; let’s talk about You, God.

I had a sick day yesterday that didn’t feel like a sick day, but I guess an abnormal day just feels normal at this moment.

I stayed home from clinical yesterday (and also today), because I must be without my sore throat and cough symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to work. I was anticipating at least one sick day, and yes, I have symptoms, but I also feel 100% functional.

It’s the “abundance of caution” that is keeping me from work, which I totally get. But I don’t think these particular symptoms I’m having right now have ever kept me home from anything before. Hence a “sick day that doesn’t feel like a sick day.” Gotta do what ya gotta do though.

Additionally, our fridge/freezer stopped working yesterday.

What turned that around was the excuse to bake cornbread to use up some of the whole milk I bought this weekend. 🙂 Also, the fact that yesterday was a particularly cold day, so my roommates and I were able to keep our food outside on the porch to prevent spoilage.

Moves: this ab workout + this at-home HIIT workout from Natacha Oceane. I’m not usually a huge fan of just any fitness guru who puts out social media content, but Natacha was formerly a PhD student and chose to do YouTube instead. However, she still brings evidence to practice and makes the evidence very accessible and digestible, and I can get behind that.

Opportunities. Having a sick day and having more time to myself (#selfisolation) presents more opportunities to do things for which I’ve lost habit.

Exhibit A: FaceTiming my PT friend who had her clinical in Utah (hi, Elayne!)

Exhibit B: Prayer for 20+ minutes at a time. I went on a long solo walk to get some fresh air into these lungs, and just talked with God. I literally told Him, “I’m tired of talking about myself and asking what Your plan is for me. I want to know more about You… What was it like for Your people to turn against You and want to throw You headlong off a cliff?” (as that was the event of yesterday’s Gospel reading).

And that was the most fruitful prayer in a long time. It was a wonderful thing to focus on God for who He is and not myself in this time of chaos.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Say a prayer, wear green and eat something Irish. And don’t pinch anyone for not wearing green! Not because of coronavirus, but because that’s rude.

So tell me:

How are you finding “normal” in the abnormal of life right now?

What are some opportunities you are finding with the social distancing?

So…The “Future”?

We are in QUITE a bonafide shakeup, aren’t we?

And I don’t mean to make light of what is truly a serious situation happening in the world. I myself am actually sick with a cough and sore throat right now, so I’m trying to keep myself away from people (depending on how I feel this morning when this post goes up, I may or may not be going to clinical today). I hope the social distancing and/or quarantining has been fruitful and not too stir-crazy for you all.

some pretty clouds for you

The ~future~ seems a little blurry right now for most people, including myself. We had an additional 11 weeks of clinical experience lined up from March until June, but those weeks have been canceled for us physical therapy students, which is difficult to swallow in many respects, but also exciting because we technically have enough clinical hours to be DONE (besides the boards exam in July, and maybe some additional clinical experience as individually needed). Essentially, I have 11+ weeks to study for boards and just…do something.

Work a temporary (non-PT) job? Eh, doesn’t seem like people are hiring anyone right now.

Start applying for big girl PT jobs? Eh, I don’t know if I want to work in Boston or NY, and I need to apply for licensure in one or the other before I start applying.

Vacation? Nope, no traveling, please.

Hobbies or special skill development? I’ve been seeing ads for Zumba instructor training, and not gonna lie, I’ve clicked the links out of interest. Maybe this is the time to immerse myself back into the blogging world (perfect for social distancing in the physical sense!).

I don’t know.

Two weekends ago gave a Catholic youth retreat talk to a bunch of high schoolers who are planning on being confirmed this year on the topic titled, “you have a purpose, and God has a plan.” I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to speak on that particular topic, but little did I know even just two weeks ago how much I would need to pray deeply about the truth that God does have a plan through the convoluted madness of this spinning Earth.

So, if you’re also feeling lost today, you’re not alone. But you still have a purpose in your isolation, in your working from home / still working when no one is giving you business, or in whatever your situation may be.

Moves and grooves have been limited due to a stressful week, being sick, and now my gym is closed for a month. I was just getting into increasing my squat weight, but that’ll be on hold for a bit. Home and outdoor workouts are the name of the game now. I’ll take this as an opportunity to get creative and hopefully more flexible (re: both muscles and plans). Solo walks will also continue.

In all of this, I also realize how much of a physical touch person I am. Even just a little hand on the shoulder when I’m laughing or elbow touch when I’m saying hello/goodbye. I have to internally scream at myself, “NO, ALISON. CONTROL.”

In other news, St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! In honor of the feast day, I baked this Irish apple cake yesterday and it was one of the most delightful things I have ever baked. Staying in never tasted so goooooood. Skipped the custard sauce only because I ran out of vanilla extract and didn’t feel like going to the grocery store for, like, the 4th time this week.

I live for crispy crunchy crust with soft, buttery cake inside. It’s like apple pie in cake form + extra flavor of a buttery scone. OH my goodness, I miss it already.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend Mass (in either Boston or NY) for the foreseeable future due to city-wide efforts to “flatten the curve” of infection cases. Totally necessary, but definitely a bummer. Bummer because, of course, I would l o v e to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but also especially a bummer because of all the beautiful feast days this week and next week (St. Patrick, St. Joseph, Annunciation). We shall celebrate and be in communion with Christ and others in different ways this time around though! Our creative minds are being challenged here.

The “future”? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ← that’s all I have to say about that. I trust, though. He’ll pull us through He’ll walk with us through this; He always does.

I am well overall, and I hope you and your loved ones are too. If not, drop a comment and I’ll pray for you especially.

So tell me:

What are some emotions you have experienced due to the changes in the world as of late?

How are you feeling about the ~future~?

What is the best thing you’ve cooked/baked in 2020 so far?