The art of choosing

pray.

The past several days have been challenging with some unforeseen things that have popped up with my job situation, but I have hope that it will all work out for the best.

In light of all the decisions I have been making, I have asked God a lot these days: “What should I do, Lord? I don’t know what to do.” There’s no thunderous or clear answer that comes to my heart (usually), but what has been giving me consolation through this week is the Lord saying, “You will make a decision, Alison. I am taking care of you in all of this. Where you go, I will be with you.”

There is no force from God to make a certain decision. There is also no promise that any one decision will be easy or perfect. He just promises that He will be with us, and that is everything.

My friend Elayne reassured me the other day that sometimes there is no right or wrong decision; we make our choices based on our values and the information that we have, not necessarily knowing what is on the other side of that choice. Those choices lead to more necessary decision-making, over and over again. We choose, we live with the consequences, we learn from those experiences, and we keep on keeping on.

eat.

Two dishes have ROCKED my world this past week. One was peach cobbler a la mode, but not just ANY a la mode…Tillamook’s Oregon Dark Cherry ice cream 😀

Second was toasted multigrain sourdough (from Trader Joe’s) with canned sardines and a homemade spicy tomato sauce. I thought of making this dish a couple weeks ago when I spotted a can of sardines and a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry, and last Friday I finally made it happen. Mmmm mmm mmm it was such lovely a Mediterranean-inspired meal.

move.

Monday and Tuesday’s workouts have made me quite sore everywhere.

Monday was a lower body workout that involved a LOT of concentration:

  • 3×5 weighted pistol squats each leg
  • 3×8 squat to toe tap backs
  • 3×12-15 deficit stationary lunges each leg
  • 2×10 staggered good mornings each side
  • 3×10 kneel to squat jumps

Yesterday involved some upper body circuits:

5 rounds:

  • 5 double pushup burpees
  • 1 wall walk + 20 shoulder taps
  • 12 hollow rocks

4 rounds:

  • 8 tuck handstand to kick through
  • 5-6 Russian pushups
  • 15 plank hip dips each side

3 rounds:

  • 2-3 neutral grip pull-ups
  • 10 KB hang cleans each side
  • 10 tabletop sit throughs

All the demos can be found on my “moves and grooves part 4” Instagram highlights!

groove.

I went for a quick “glamping” (glam + camping) getaway in New Hampshire with some (masked) pals this weekend! Sleeping in tents outside but also having access to a kitchen and indoor plumbing as needed (although I still peed in the woods usually; it’s honestly just so much easier).

We swam, hiked, bonfire’d, ate, and shared in some bonafide fellowship. The best parts were the company and also looking at the sky full of stars (and the Milky Way faintly!) two nights in a row. Seeing a sky full of stars is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, and I don’t get it often being a city girl.

Literal words from my mouth: “I don’t usually consider myself a city girl, but it really comes out when I’m here in the nature.”

THE nature???

So tell me:

Are you a confident decision maker? What was the last decision that you made that caused further challenges (can be as big as marriage / having kids or as small as choosing to stay up late)?

What is the best dessert you’ve eaten recently?

What is your favorite part about outdoorsy types of trips?

God, why did you seem so mean?

pray.

Gosh I feel like I could say so much here. I guess the big thing on my mind yesterday was the Sunday Gospel reading.

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! 
My daughter is tormented by a demon.” 
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. 
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.” 
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.” 
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith! 
Let it be done for you as you wish.” 
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:21-28

I’ve heard this reading so many times in my life, but it never fails to make me feel confused and unsettled. Why does Jesus use such harsh and…mean words to this woman who is genuinely asking for help? Jess @thelivingheart.co also had the same questions on her Instagram story.

Before sharing my own reflections, I must share that I found Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily on this reading to be particularly helpful. He gives good Scriptural context and takes on an interesting perspective that I hadn’t heard before.

As great (and important) as it is to listen to other people’s narratives on Scripture, I needed to pray about it real hard on my own too. Here are some nuggets of what came to my heart while spending time with this Word (please note that I’m not a Scripture scholar):

  1. I notice how, although the disciples ask Jesus to send the Canaanite woman away, Jesus never actually obliges. He does not want her to be sent away.
  2. The Canaanite woman has a faith and humility that I have seldom seen in my life, if ever. It is a faith that I myself would not have if I was faced with those responses from Jesus…so what is it that gave her such conviction to keep asking Him for help (besides maybe desperation for her poor daughter)?
  3. It seems that, in everything Jesus replied to the woman, He knew that she would win over His Heart all along. He knew what her desires were, and He knew He would give them to her in the end. And in a way, the woman also knew, in her “great faith,” that Jesus did in fact care and love her enough to grant her exactly what she asked. Sort of like… He knew that she knew, and she knew that He knew that her daughter would be healed.
  4. So why did Jesus have to do it in such a way? Why did He make is seem like this woman had to be degraded and humiliated just to receive help? What came to my mind were images of Jesus’ Passion and Death, where He Himself was made docile and subservient to mankind, whom He created, for the sake of mankind’s reconciliation with Himself. In those moments of His brutal death, He showed the most powerful love and faith in His Father’s plan, to which He was completely obedient until the very end. Moreover, He allowed the Canaanite woman to demonstrate a similar extraordinary grace of love and faith that endures, even when it truly feels like God has forsaken you (though He never does).

If you are familiar with this Scripture passage, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on it as well.

eat.

On Friday night I hung out with another high school friend and had my first ever “crĂ©me ice” from Ralph’s Famous Italian Ice! CrĂ©me ice (aka sherbet on their menu) is essentially like shaved milk (?) instead of shaved ice, which gives it a creamier texture and the ability to add mix-ins without it being weird. It was pretty good, but I definitely don’t prefer it over ice cream.

I got a “Twister,” which is crĂ©me ice sandwiched between layers of soft serve, which was the move. I got strawberry cheesecake crĂ©me ice. It had a bit of an almond extract flavor to it, which wasn’t bad.

Other eats highlights since I last checked in:

  • yogurt bowl with banana, blueberries, granola, and pb
  • teriyaki salmon with rice and broccoli (such a bro meal)
  • overnight oats in a jar!
  • warm banana muffins with yogurt and pb
  • eggs + avocado over rice with soy sauce, sriracha and rice vinegar
  • SUSHIIIIIII
  • random pandan coconut cupcake that I found in the fridge LOL (it’s the green muffin in the middle bottom row)
  • green overnight oat smoothie bowl! I haven’t had this in forever because I didn’t have a blender back in Boston.

move.

Lots of walking, working on pull-ups, a leg workout… I’ll highlight this “fun” burpee workout yesterday from @trainerkindal:

EMOM (every minute on the minute): do 10 burpees ➔ rest for the remainder of the minute

Repeat x20 #ouch

groove.

This week will be busy but exciting! I am hoping and praying that I can say yes to a job soooooon.

Hope you all have a good-kind-of-full week too!

So tell me:

Have you ever questioned God’s kindness or care for you or others?

Have you ever had a créme ice before? Do you like it? Do you like Italian ice?

What is the best thing you ate this weekend (the sushi was it for me!)?

What’s on your schedule this week?

The Last .01% of Recovery

Remember when I posted about 99.9% recovery?

I posted it in the summer of 2015, examining the question: “Is full recovery [from an eating disorder or any disordered eating] even possible?”

My answer at the time was:

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.

I believe that I was in a healthy place last year, mentally and physically, and I don’t think that there have been groundbreaking changes in my mindset since then. Yet somehow I feel that I’ve tasted that last .01% of recovery.

I say “tasted” because our mental state is transient— it is constantly shifting and wavering depending on our environment, experiences, and seasons of life. Maybe there’s something about being home that triggers more inner demons. Maybe there’s something about being abroad that has forced all those demons away.

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God has granted me the incredible opportunity to study abroad this semester, and these past 3.5 months on a different continent has helped me develop as a person in many ways, including my mental health. Being in a completely different country with an unfamiliar culture and new people has forced me to adapt in every way—intellectually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I don’t have my familiar surroundings to fall back upon when I’m stressed or bored or whatever, which can be either disastrous or fruitful. I’m grateful to say that it has been the latter this semester.

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The main things I have noticed in this last .01% recovery are that:

1) I don’t remember everything I’ve eaten in the past week, and I don’t feel the need to share it all with everyone on the blog.

I’m definitely NOT saying that people who share what they eat at every meal are in a bad place (hello, I’ve been doing it for the past three years on this blog), but for ME, there was always safety in knowing pretty much everything I ate in a week as a subconscious “balance” check.

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Showing you these dates with peanut butter, because a lot of you recommended it. 10/10. 🙂

Now it’s more of a day-by-day, or even a meal-by-meal, evaluation. It’s a little more present and future-focused than past-focused.

Past-focused: “What did I eat earlier today/this week? What should I eat now, since I ate that before?”

vs.

Present-focused: “What will satisfy me right now?”

Future-focused: “What do I need to make me feel better later?”

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In other words, there is little to no room for regret or compensation these days.

2) I’m not afraid of meals that make me think of “something I would eat in my disordered eating days.”

This one sounds strange, but I used to be slightly afraid of eating a meal that was very light or extra “healthy” during recovery, because that would make me think that I’m heading backwards. I feared that I might fall into the mindset of cutting calories again.

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But I know that I have zero desire to cut calories consciously or to restrict myself. Zero. Therefore, I can trust myself to eat a small box of salad or a small breakfast and know that I’m not trying to restrict or compensate. When my body is ready, I will naturally eat more later. Does this make sense?

3) I’m not afraid to be lazy.

THIS ONE. This one was hard for the longest time. Detaching myself from calories and food restriction was the easy part, but detaching myself from a mindset of constant activity and fitness has been the most difficult part of recovery.

Move, groove, walk everywhere, yoga, don’t take the bus, have a constant desire to be active.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still love moving and grooving, walking, etc. a lot! But listen, at the end of the long day, I just don’t want to walk 1.5 hours home, even if I have the time. Sometimes I don’t want to get off three stops early just to get in more steps. Sometimes I don’t want to take an active 5 minute break every 25 minutes while I’m working at my desk.

In other words, I trust myself to be lazy. I’m not going to spiral into a pit of sedentariness forever and ever if I’m lazy every now and then. It is indeed possible to enjoy sitting on your butt and to also love fitness, and I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I truly do exercise in ways that are enjoyable to me.


To answer the original question: Full recovery is possible. I think initial recovery can and should be pursued vigorously, but 100% recovery (in my eyes at least) is mostly reintroduced to us over time. 100% recovery finds YOU, but you have to be willing to be uncomfortable, whatever that entails for you. Over and over again.

For me:

  • sitting for very long periods of time without exercising beforehand
  • sitting for very long periods of time after eating a lot
  • eating salads that have more dressing than I would have wanted
  • going a whole day without a whole grain

Those are just some examples of discomfort for me. Does this mean I force myself to feel this discomfort every day? No, not at this stage (earlier in recovery, I did). But these discomforts must be welcomed and embraced, and honestly, just passed over with as little thought as possible, which you can only accomplish if you allow them to happen a few times. Only then might you find that they aren’t as uncomfortable anymore.

I have come to the conclusion that 100% recovery does not mean that we don’t care about my body image at all or that we disregard calories completely. It doesn’t mean we act oblivious to all those things, because that’s impossible. Instead, I think 100% recovery means that we have an abiding sense of peace in ourselves that cannot be budged by external factors (missed workout, more sweets than usual, someone else working out when you can’t, etc.) NOR internal factors (feeling tired, feeling extra hungry, etc.).

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be more like St. Francis

As always, I must remind you that I am not a professional by any means. I share all this from my own experience only. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please find help from a registered dietitian (you can reach out to RD bloggers like Robyn or Kylie even!). 

So tell me: 

Any thoughts! 

Have you learned anything more about what does good for your mental health recently?