The Food and Fitness Relationship is Like Any Other

…for me, at least.

And I’m sure many others. Hence the existence of blogs / Instagram accounts similar to mine that were created for the purpose of she struggles of striking what is called “healthy balance.”

The food and fitness relationship is like any other inherently good relationship — lifelong, important, often fun, sometimes frustrating, at times hurtful, evolving, dependent on other factors in life, but always able to be healed / improved.

I would consider myself fully recovered from my eating disorder. But thoughts like these still pop into my head: Belly is fluffy today. What if I just ate half of what I normally do for dinner? What if I cut my daily calorie intake but a couple hundred? Maybe I’ll do burpees when I’m digested from dinner. I’m definitely not as shredded as her. I bet I’m heavier than that guy over there. 

To be clear, these can all be thoughts that are associated with disordered eating, hands down. However, it is the result of these thoughts that matters; what is it that you do when you have thoughts like these? Do these thoughts manifest as behaviors?

Thanks be to God, although these thoughts exist every dang day, I don’t think they ever manifest in behaviors that are harmful. But I’d be lying if there is not a little bit of a fight against impulsive restrictions or even just preoccupation with the layer of fat over my belly some days.

A photo of myself in a bathing suit from approximately 6-7 years ago (wow) came up on one of those Facebook “memories” (the best and worst thing there ever was on my facebook feed), and my jaw nearly dropped. I was like, “HECK, I had a dang 6 pack!” I was approximately 40 lbs. lighter then than I am now.

This is where you might be expecting me to say, “But I’m soooo much happier now!” THAT IS VERY TRUE, 1000%. But I am also at a point where I could afford to lose a couple pounds, and I would still be healthy and strong. I haven’t been able to do pull-ups in a while due to lack of practice but also a change in my body proportions so them lower limbs are hefty little fellas. So what do I do?

Option A: Intentionally cut some calories and lose some weight, because I’d likely be just as healthy as I am now. Who knows? I might even get those pull-ups more easily.

Option B: Do nothing about it.

Option C: Honestly evaluate my overall eating habits. Rather than saying, “I wanna cut X number of calories from my daily intake,” I could try asking myself: In which circumstances do I know I tend to stuff myself more than I’d like? Which emotions make me want to eat even though I’m not hungry? Am I sleeping enough? In which situations do I feel like I want to restrict? In which circumstances is the social/celebratory aspect of eating more important to me than my hunger/fullness cues?  And then, without judgement(!), I can address those instances where my relationship with food and fitness is a little rocky. Because any relationship needs consistent and constant evaluation. Some people’s relationship with food and fitness requires a little more effort and bickering back and forth than others’ and that is o k a y.

I’ll choose option C and see where it takes me.

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the usual suspects like oats and avocado egg toast are in there because I ♥︎ them, but you bet your bottom dollar we ate a boat load of sushi and several sweets on my birthday and we continue to explore new treats every weekend *drool*

Fitness has been pretty steady and level-headed. I don’t really count rest vs. workout days, and I’m varying workouts and still getting stronger / faster (besides the fact that I sprained my ankle last week while running).

Food always seems to be the kicker. Oh how I wish I could eat to my intuition with little to no thought in the world. Sometimes that happens! But not always, and that’s what this post is aiming to iterate; no matter where you are in your relationship with food and fitness — whether you are still recovering from an eating disorder, you are kinda sorta distressed about it sometimes, or whether you face unhelpful thoughts every day like I do — it’s okay to be fighting the good fight for a long time.

It’s not okay to be consumed by an eating disorder, and that fight truly requires the help of others who are qualified to help (i.e. a registered dietitian or a counselor/psychologist who specializes in EDs). But like any other relationship, it is okay to not have a perfect relationship with food and fitness.

So tell me: Thoughts?

Chronicles of Becoming a Grownup III

How many of my wrist and finger muscles are working as I type this right now??

Gross anatomy is on the brain. Luckily for me, I have all spring break at home to study! #turnup.

Each time I come home is a different experience, because I learn more and grow more every time I go back to school. I think this is a good time for the next part of “Chronicles of Becoming a Grownup”! (here is part I and II)

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1) When I was taking the train from Boston to NY to come home for spring break, I ran into a guy from my high school who I was kinda friends with back in the day. I was so surprised to see him that I said his name out loud in disbelief, half regretting it because thereafter I would have to talk to him.

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But it wasn’t weird. We caught up on life and had a pleasant train ride together, because we’re adults (with quasi-sheltered lives still) who can talk to each other like adults, despite the awkward high school world in which we once lived.

2) I’m over mirrors. Like, I guess I need them to make sure I don’t have spinach in my teeth and that my hair is at least a 6/10, but coming home to big mirrors is a reminder of why I was so obsessed with my body image.

At my apartment this year, I don’t change in front of any body-length mirrors, so I don’t really have time to “body check” (checking for chubby spots/muscles/imperfections, which can easily become an unhealthy habit). I have learned that the availability of big mirrors increases the likelihood of body checking, so I have also learned to be more deliberate in not dwelling too long in the mirror (striving for humility and self-esteem!).

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My advice to anyone who has trouble quitting body checking: do what this cat does.

No I’m kidding. For real: try to only have a full length mirror by your front door, so you can only check yourself when you’re fully dressed and ready to leave your place. Don’t let the mirror steal your joy!

3) I’m not afraid to challenge some things that my parents say. Not because I want to be a rebel, but because I want us all to find and know Truth. This goal allows our arguments to flourish in understanding, rationality, and trust in God, who knows better than any of us.

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4) Lent is showing me that I really am attached to peanut butter…so it’s good that I’m giving it up for 40 days. It’s hammering home that idea that food is just food.

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5) The family and I went to the Maryknoll Sisters’ annual charity concert again this year, and I was really getting into those classical pieces. Orchestra concerts, in my mind, were always the “bran flakes” of all events—fine but just meh. This year, although I’m no music connoisseur, I appreciated the music, the performers, and even the spectators more than ever. I don’t love classical music now, but I just appreciate it for what it is. This applies to a lot of other things/people in the world too.

It also didn’t hurt that the orchestra ended with a fantastic Lion King medley.

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Mini desserts are also a bonus.

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the pignoli cookie in the middle was the BEST

4) Despite all these new things I’m realizing at home, some things will always be the same. Like how my body seems to want more sleep and more food than ever when I’m at home.

Madre’s cooking is rocking my world per usual.

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Pillsbury crescent rolls are my childhood literally rolled into buttery, flaky parcels of goodness

6) Pop and I also went to go see a movie in theaters just like we did last spring break! This weekend we watched The Shack, based on the book by William P. Young. We both loved it! It has unmistakably Christian themes, but I think anyone can learn a lot about why tragic loss/evil happens from this movie.

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7) I really need to stretch more. These muscles aren’t getting any more flexy on their own!

So tell me:

An example of how you’ve learned to appreciate the “bran flakes of life.”

Thoughts on body checking in the mirror?

Have you watched any good movies lately?

Two things you did this weekend!

You Are Enough.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As a woman and as someone who has experienced disordered eating, I wanted to write a post on this topic.

Yesterday’s situation:

I woke up and ate overnight oats for breakfast at 7:30am.

I sat in class for 75 minutes.

I came back home and contemplated going on a run or doing yoga, but I instead took a 45-minute nap instead.

I ate a super early lunch at 10:30am of avocado toast with two extra large eggs + veggies with hummus + a clementine.

I sat in class for another 75 minutes.

I ate another clementine before gross anatomy lab, which involved sitting and some standing.

I ate a granola bar + three cheese sandwich crackers after lab because I was hungry (apparently formaldehyde makes people hungry? weird).

I studied, went to a meeting, and went to Mass, all of which involved sitting.

I ate [white] pasta with meatballs, lots of parmesan cheese + salad for dinner at the Catholic Center. I also went back for a piece of garlic bread and another meatball.

I studied some more and sat some more for retreat reunion.

I came home and finished the last of the PB&J ice cream I bought for Rachel’s birthday. And for one last hurrah before Lent, I ate some yogurt with pb and banana.

I sat some more to write this blog post.


Yesterday involved lots of sitting, little movement, and lots of food (much of which was processed and not “real”). But yesterday involved so much joy as well. First of all, that nap was much needed. Additionally, I had wonderful conversations with people I love. God made Himself present to us in the Mass. I had energy to focus and learn in class. I was satisfied.

Five years ago, or maybe even four, I would have been on the verge of tears if this day happened as it did. Actually, I would not have let it happen. No way in hell would I have eaten before a specific time, eaten white carbs, or eaten ice cream AND yogurt before going to sleep, especially if I didn’t work out to the point of exhaustion that day.

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2013, the year I started this blog

No amount of exercise was enough.

No amount of calorie cutting was enough.

No number on the scale was enough.

No space between my thighs was enough.

No reassurance from a friend or family member was enough.

No truth about God’s Love for me was enough.

Nothing about me or the world around me was enough.

When food, exercise, and exterior features became the center of my life, every concept of my self-worth crumbled. The things we eat, the ways we move, and how we look all change every single day. It takes a great deal of energy just to keep those things constant, and even then, constancy is impossible. That is why it was so taxing for me to reach the point of “enough” fitness/thinness/muscularity/strength; once I reached a satisfactory point, I either wanted more, or I declined and became dissatisfied again.

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My worth rested in fleeting and terribly exhausting things of the world. This disordered way of thinking caused me to close myself from the world, to look at what I didn’t have, and to chase endlessly after those things.

The truth that I knew but did not internalize until I started recovery is that there is no measure of our worth except that we are unique human beings who have been loved into creation by God. This makes each of us infinitely valuable and deeply, infinitely loved.

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You are enough.

This a truth, and this is a truth that will set you free. Free to love, to serve, and to thrive.

However, although this is a truth that your loved ones and I can tell you over and over again, you may not believe it, no matter how much you want to believe it. An eating disorder attacks a person’s physiology and soul relentlessly, and it is not an issue that can be solved after reading one blog post. Eating disorders are a serious health issue that are prevalent in our society, and the healing process is a long and treacherous battle. But recovery is possible and it is worth it.

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I Thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I THIRST FOR YOU. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to Me. I THIRST FOR YOU. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart.

-St. Teresa of Calcutta, I Thirst For You Meditation (written as if God is speaking to you)

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, please:

  1. Find professional help. Eating disorders are not to be taken lightly, and proper health care is necessary in order to fully recover.
  2. Find support. Having trustworthy people who you can talk to in person is essential. There is also an incredible community of bloggers who I know are more than willing to lend support and resources.
  3. Keep persevering every day, every hour, every minute. Every decision you make around food/fitness is an opportunity to triumph over that eating disorder. This does not mean that every decision will be a triumph, but just keep adding drops of water into that large bucket, and one day it will overflow.

On that note, today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent. As always, if you observe Lent and have an eating disorder, please talk to a priest/religious sister and your doctor about what you can do besides fast from food.

Whereas restriction in eating disorders is often done out of self-loathing, fasting is (or at least should be) done out of love for God and certainty in God’s Love for us.

Never hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns, or prayer requests.

I love you.

 

 

99.9% Recovery

I don’t think I quite intended Daily Moves and Grooves to be a blog focused on eating disorder recovery.

I wanted this blog to be about healthy food, fitness, faith, and my life in general. However, given the fact that my past eating disorder is what ultimately gave way to the whole “healthy living blog” world, that part of my life almost necessarily made its way into the theme of my blog.

It’s not always easy sharing my eating disorder stories and struggles here, but it’s been a humbling and motivational journey (all thanks to YOU) blogging about recovery— the good days and the bad days.

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one of the first meals I ever posted on my blog

A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me about how she feels that there are very few truly recovered/recovering people. She {reasonably} wondered: Is full recovery even possible?

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real ice cream and gelato // no protein, no stevia // all fat and sugar, all goodness

I thought this particular reader brought up a great point. It seems that many recovering people restore a great relationship with food, only to turn their obsession towards exercise or “getting big”. You may or may not have drawn this conclusion yourself if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, but I can tell you that I’ve struggled with that myself.

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I like to think that I am 100% recovered, but in reality, I am closer to 99.9% recovered. I feel like this is where a lot of people in recovery stay for a long time, if not, for the rest of their lives.

The truth is that we do remember calorie counts for many foods. We do care about what our bodies look like. We do want to have control over something.

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that extremely proud moment when I ordered an entree of gnocchi (aka pure carbs) at an Italian restaurant // I still sometimes have trouble ordering JUST pasta these days

Don’t get me wrong— caring about what goes into your body, exercising, and being mindful are all good things. There is balance, and I know many people who live truly balanced lives— not merely in their actions that everyone else can see, but in their minds as well. It’s certainly not easy to reach this point for anyone, so I think that it will always be especially difficult for people with history of an eating disorder.

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Now, you might be thinking: Isn’t occasionally worrying about food and exercise what people are supposed to do to be truly balanced anyway? Why should that be classified as 99.9% recovered?

Well, you’re right. Normal people should be mindful of nutrition and exercise. It’s called health. But they don’t really worry about it. In MY case at least, food and exercise choices are sometimes driven by judgements on my own body image or old habits that resurface.

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More often than not, I don’t care about calories, I eat what I want, and I can skip a workout without any problem. However, there are days when eating more or skipping workouts doesn’t come easily or without thought.

Maybe you can reach 100% recovery, or maybe you have! I am so genuinely happy for those who do. This post is just my two cents based on my experiences, and I have concluded that I might be at 99.9% for a while.

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That being said, I believe that it is okay to live 99.9% recovered. As with any temptation in life, even though we feel like eating more/cutting down on exercise/etc. is difficult at times, that does not mean that we lack the strength to make the right decisions for our bodies.

It’s a cross that we bear, but it’s a part of who we have become.

Again, I want to thank you all for being so supportive and loving, even in my times of weakness. In 100% honesty, I couldn’t get through to this point of even 99.9% recovered without you. I thank God for your love every day.

So tell me:

If you’ve struggled with disordered eating, do you feel like you are 99.9% recovered?

Do you think people can truly reach 100% recovery? Or have you?

Any thoughts at all!

Beauty in Christ {Book Review and Giveaway}

Morning!

A couple months ago, a young woman named Emily Swanson emailed me about a book she had recently written and published called Beauty in Christ, Freedom From the Idolatry of Body and FoodThe only thing she had to tell me to hook me in was the title! My blog’s slogan is: “pray, eat, move, groove.” Pray is the first word because my faith is the most important thing to me in my life, so I was immediately interested in reading about how we can integrate faith with the trials of eating disorders.

Emily was kind enough to send me two free copies of her book— one for me to read + review and one for a giveaway!

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Review

When I was reading Beauty in Christ, I almost felt like it was one big, thoughtful, very well-written blog post, with some guest authors in there as well. That’s the best way I can describe the writing style, and I thoroughly loved it (hello, I blog and read blogs all the time).

Emily provides her own as well as a few other first account experiences about struggles with eating disorders. Her honesty and expression of emotion is awesome. Most of all however, her analysis of how to choose recovery for the glory of God and his Kingdom is truly what makes her story outstanding.

She addresses topics such as “Viewing Food the Biblical Way,” “Exercise: Taking Dominion of Our Bodies,” and “Food: A Tool, Not an Idol.” I love how she writes about these things very simply, but the simplicity of her words make such a huge impact. I also really appreciate that she makes so many Scripture references throughout the book, which really solidifies it for me.

It’s great to talk about how food is important and exercise should not be overdone, but Emily also acknowledges the other end of the spectrum, which may involve overeating and under-exercising. Her main point is that food should not be an idol in any sense, whether you worry about it making you fat or whether you eat without keeping nutrition and moderation in mind. In addition, exercise should be used as a means to stay alert and active in order to serve the Lord.

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Beauty in Christ really discovers what beauty and health truly are. One of my favorite excerpts from the book: “I began to realize that our ultimate purpose for living is not beautiful bodies and six pack abs, because what happens to those when you die? They crumble to dust.”

Kinda raw, but so true. There are unimaginably better things awaiting us, so strive for health to serve God and neighbor and to be joyful. Six packs don’t mean a thing.

Overall, Beauty in Christ is a short yet powerful read that I’d definitely recommend to any Christians out there who have struggled or are struggling with an eating disorder or even just body insecurities.

Giveaway!

Emily is being awesome and giving away a free copy of her book through Daily Moves and Grooves! If you’re interested in winning, comment below (anything at all)! Winner will be announced Friday.

{Open to U.S. only.}

Thank you so much for your generosity and your amazing work, Emily!