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.

 

 

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Evaluating My Workouts: Doing What’s Best For Me Right Now

This is a very lengthy, personal post, so brace yourselves (and perhaps grab a seat and a cup o’ tea).

In this past year, I’ve come to love fitness and just moving more and more as I’ve read awesome fitness blogs and met fitness goals that I never thought I could achieve. I’ve never been considered athletic. Yes, I dance, which definitely requires athleticism, but I had never really dabbled with sports or other forms of fitness until last year. I discovered things like tabatas, strength training, and circuit training. I started going from 15-minute elliptical workouts to 15-minute elliptical warm-ups. I added more weight training into my routine and discovered other equipment such as kettlebells and BOSU balls, and most importantly how to use them. Of course I started slow with a lot of my workouts, and I had to modify workouts to fit my level. As I persisted though, I became stronger and my stamina increased (something I had lost after quitting figure skating).

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You might be thinking, “Well, duh.” Yes, I understand that these things happen when you dedicate yourself to exercise, but to me, each improvement was an amazing achievement. This little girl actually has some strength in her! Without even running much (just lots of burpees and circuit training) I was able to run a mile in 7:30. That may be super slow for some people, but until then, I had never run a mile under 8 minutes. Squatting with weights on my back was something I thought only big men could do. I feel stronger in dance. Basically, I overcame my fear of failure in physical activities, and that has helped boost my confidence in and out of the gym. Now, I appreciate fitness more than ever and hope that everyone and anyone of any fitness level can experience the joy of movement and improvement.

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But there’s a problem for me now. 

As I increased the intensity and duration of my exercise last year, I also decreased the amount of food I ate. My eating habits became disordered and I also started becoming addicted to exercise. I would be cranky if I had to miss a workout. I would go to the gym even if I was so sore that I couldn’t walk. All the while, I wasn’t eating enough. Amanda’s recent post on rest days is good summation of my past experiences. Today, I embrace rest days, and realize that I actually have better workouts after I rest. Go figure, huh?

Despite taking more rest days, I’ve kept the intensity of my workouts pretty high. My favorite workouts are strength + cardio circuits (like this or this) that can be done in a half hour, more or less. My heart rate gets pumping really quickly and I feel the burn! Thus, these workouts require a ton of energy, which I’ve been giving my body a lot more of in the past half year. However, even with more food, my body is constantly under the stress of these intense workouts. Now, I’m certain that there are young girls out there that do much more intense exercise than me, but everyone is different. My body has a little bit of an issue…

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You see, I haven’t gotten my first period yet. I’m 17 years old, but I look like I’m 12 years old. I know that some people hit puberty very late (even at 18 years old), and perhaps I’m one of those people, but I’m still concerned. I’ve put my body through a lot in this past year with depriving it and losing weight, then gaining weight back and introducing intense exercise to it. I’ve talked to my doctor about it, and she told me that I can exercise as much as I’d like as long as I eat more. So I’ve done that, but things still haven’t changed. Even though I’ve eaten more, the amount of exercise I’ve been doing has still kept me very lean. I also got my thyroid and bone density checked out, and those are both a-okay. It seems that perhaps I’ve done enough damage in the past year and a half to cause my body to still be in a weary state; it doesn’t want to start anything that takes a good deal of energy just in case I deprive it again.

I’ve been thinking about my issue for a while, especially after reading so many bloggers’ experience with not having their periods or fertility (such as Ashley, Courtney, Linz, and Clare). Obviously, I’m not going to have a baby any time soon, but if God wants me to be a mother one day, I want to be able to have kids! All those lovely ladies made the courageous choice to cut back on fitness quite significantly, or even completely, AND increase food intake  in order to regain their cycles. Thanks be to God, it worked for all of them. Ashley and Courtney are both mothers of adorable boys, Linz is pregnant, and Clare has the ability to be a mother one day! After reading all their stories, I thought about my own situation for a long time, even before seeing the doctor and everything. I’ve concluded that I need to make some changes to my routine as well. 

Honestly, I’ve procrastinated this decision for so long, because I really do not want to give up the feelings of accomplishment, strength, and improvement from working out. Who really does want to slow down progress when he/she already has the momentum going? But I think my body has been dealing with both physical and mental stress long enough, and it’s time for me to respect it and give it rest. 

What will I do now? I’ll probably be focusing more on low-impact bodyweight exercises, yoga, Pilates, and dance for now. I’ll also make sure to keep eating a little more than I’d normally feel comfortable with on rest days. I already foresee that this is really going to be a test of humility and patience. Prayer, prayer, prayer. I am so blessed to have a wonderful family, friends, fellow bloggers, and readers to support me. Thank you. 🙂

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These words from Clare are definitely encouraging: “…this would only work if I stuck with the plan and let my body start to trust me again. It had to KNOW that I was going to give it enough fuel and not deplete it with exercise.”

Do I know if this plan will help me get my period or how long it will take? No. Do I think it’s a worth a shot? Yes. I don’t want to end up waiting until a few weeks before going off to college next year to figure out that I still haven’t gotten it yet. That would not be fun.

My uncle, a nutritionist and fitness enthusiast, gave me words of wisdom and encouragement this summer too. He said I probably have to be a little pudgier than I’d prefer right now. Although I may know what my body needs, I need to break away from the desire to look fit. My focus right now should be making sure my body is functioning properly, which includes a regular period. Then when I’m a mature adult, I can shift my focus back to reaching whatever fitness goals I have. But I am in the crucial time window to grow now, so I have to make sure I get it right.

I’ll still be moving and grooving, don’t worry 😉 Just less intensely. If getting my body to function properly means going up a couple pant sizes and putting on a little more cushioning, so be it. After all, health means more than just how the body looks.

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So tell me: Have you ever had a similar experience? How did you change your routine to make things work?