My Eating Disorder: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Hello, dear friends 🙂

After a long and busy couple of weeks, I have finally found the time to type this post for both you and me. Last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and this is near to my heart because not long ago, I myself struggled with an eating disorder.

I mentioned last week that I shared my eating disorder story with a small group of people for the Boston University Nutrition Club’s NEDA week event. I had seen that the club put NEDA week as an event on their calendar, so I reached out and offered to share any sort of support or personal account. Thus, the club officers invited me to speak about my story following a discussion about eating disorders led by Jennifer Culbert, MS, RD, LD.

And now, here I am to share some bits and pieces of my story with all of you. Since I told a lot of my story for NEDA week last year, I am going to focus on some aspects of my eating disorder that I did not cover in that post. In retrospect, I’ve learned just how deep my obsessions ran and how profoundly (and negatively) those affected my life. As the theme of NEDA week states, when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, I had no idea.

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P.S. Grab a seat and some coffee or tea. This is a long one. 🙂

My obsession with body image started when I was only 7 years old. I did not even realize this until recently. The more I tell people that I used to figure skate when I was younger, the more I remember how I used to compare myself to other girls. No one ever pressured me to have a certain physique when I figure skated or danced, but I think the performance aspect of both sports comes with a hyper-awareness of aesthetics.

I distinctly remember wanting to have nicer legs and a six pack. At seven years old. I skated with one girl who had muscular quads and hamstrings, and I wondered why my legs didn’t look like hers. I was a fit young’n who trained several hours per week, supplemented with Pilates and ballet, but why didn’t my body look as toned or fit? My negative self-image made me believe I was weaker.

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My insecurities went haywire when I gained a little weight. The natural perfectionist in me freaked out when I saw in photos and dance audition videos that my hips were wider and my legs were bigger. Rather than embracing my womanly curves, I wanted to run far away from them.

I would “pull” at my fat constantly and make negative comments about myself. I know I’m not the only one who was (and occasionally still is) guilty of the fat-grabbing. I’m not saying that this kind of self-awareness is intrinsically bad, but when we pass the line of self-awareness into the territory of self-hatred, that’s when we need to make a conscious effort to change our mindset.

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I turned to healthy living blogs for my first source of advice, but I took the information completely out of context. Now, we all know that Jenn’s fantastic What I Ate Wednesday linkup is NOT about comparison, restriction, or judgement, but as a girl whose self-esteem was diminishing and desire to lose weight was augmenting, I didn’t take those rules to heart. I read blogs for a year or so before starting Daily Moves and Grooves, and when I first started reading, it was to find weight loss advice.

“She only had 1300 calories in a day, so that means I need to have 1250.”

“No more than exactly one tablespoon of nut butter at breakfast. That’s the standard.”

“She only ate one afternoon snack. I should limit myself to one as well.”

All I can say now is, what in the flippin’ heck!? I wish I could take younger Alison by the shoulders, give her a nudge on the forehead, and tell her, “YOU’RE NOT THAT PERSON. You’re an active, growing person. Your future self needs you to EAT.”

This was my dinner on a regular basis in the midst of my eating disorder. Lettuce leaves, fruit, a smidgen of cheese, and a drizzle of dressing to end a day of school, activities, dance, and studying.

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Had a major salad for dinner! 🍴

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

Calorie counting escalated my obsessions very quickly. Calorie counting works for some people, and that’s great! But it absolutely did not and still does not work well for me in terms of my mental health. Where there are numbers, there is critical analysis for me.

I would hide my phone whenever I was counting calories at the table. Day by day, I would cut back just a few more calories, and if I went over my “daily allowance,” I needed to compensate by restricting even more the next day and exercising ASAP.

did have an idea that what I was doing was unhealthy. There were a lot of signs pointing to the fact that my behavior was unhealthy. I mean, I knew to hide my calorie-counting. My dance teachers called home. My hair fell out excessively. I was always cold. A priest told me I was getting skinny. I wasn’t completely naive, but my behaviors became ingrained habits, and they continued to snowball.

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I felt a false sense of discipline and pride in the fact that I allowed myself to starve. All the signs that I just mentioned meant that I was getting skinnier, and that’s all that mattered to me anymore. “What was health if I wasn’t skinny? I feel like I’m about to faint? Good. I have self-discipline.”

I had to see that someone else was hurting due to my actions in order to change. My big turning point occurred when my dad confronted me with tears in his eyes and slight anger in his voice. He told me once and for all that I what I was doing to myself was unhealthy and that I had an obligation as his daughter and God’s daughter to stop my habits.

I realize today that eating disorders do not only hurt the victim himself/herself; they hurt the victims’ loved ones too. The more I meet people, especially close friends, who struggle with eating disorders, the more I realize how painful it is to watch them seemingly trapped in an unhealthy, self-loathing mindset. I also remember being cranky, stubborn, and hostile to others who changed my eating habits/schedule, even if they did not intend to.

Healthy living blogs have taken a new and improved role in my life. Both blogging and reading blogs have been a huge part of my support system during recovery. Whereas my focus was on calories and comparison when reading blogs before, my focus now is on overall health of the mind, body, and spirit. I cannot express how much I thank all of you for your support, whether you blog or not, comment or not. You all keep me going.

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The way I look at food will never be the same. And that’s not a bad thing. I feel as though once you’ve experienced an eating disorder, food never really has the same role in your life as it once did before you ever fell into an eating disorder.

When I was younger, food was fun, delicious, and often just a necessity.

During my eating disorder, food was something I so desperately wanted, but I made it the enemy.

Today, food is again fun, delicious, and a necessity, but I appreciate 100x more how important it is in keeping our incredibly created bodies in motion every day. I still know the number of calories in many foods, and there are the rare occasions when I feel guilty about eating something. But overall, my mindset has made a complete 180.

I’ve learned when I need to eat, even if I’m not hungry. I’ve learned that dessert in moderation (and sometimes not-so-in-moderation) is a good thing. I’ve learned that healthy food makes me feel good, junk food makes me feel meh, but there’s a place for both in my life/stomach, because they’re both delicious.

I am stronger, both physically and mentally now. Besides gaining a lot more physical strength now that I’m feeding myself properly, I’ve gained more mental and emotional strength than ever before thanks to recovery.

Just a few months ago, one of my close and beloved family members expressed that he thinks my legs are fat. If I had heard this at any point before last year, I probably would have spiraled into depression because my legs used to be the body part of mine which I despised the most.

But when I heard this comment a few months ago, I honestly just laughed it off. Yes, I was slightly hurt, but I know myself. I know my legs are naturally chunkier, but hey, more power to them. They carry me through an insane amount of activity throughout the day, not even including my workouts. If my legs’ abilities and strength have to be compromised in order for them to look skinny, then to hell with that. That being said, if they never look like a CrossFitter’s legs, that’s fine too.

If you have naturally skinny legs, embrace them. If you have naturally thicker legs, embrace them. If they’re somewhere in between, embrace them. They do a lot for you.

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If we can find beauty in others, then it is indeed possible to find beauty within ourselves. <— This right here is paraphrasing what my friend Lauren said during a Bible study last semester. We tell our friends how beautiful they are and how great they look all the time, and I like to believe that we’re genuine in saying these comments. So why not genuinely believe that we ourselves are beautiful too? Not just our bodies, but our personalities, our spirits, our smiles.

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The human body is an amazing instrument, which is why we want to treat it well. Treating the body well does not equate to attaining a certain shape or size. Rather, treating the body well equates to energizing, moving, resting, and loving it. And I believe that the body is just one element of God’s crowning creation of the whole human person. Energize, move, rest, and love your soul too. ♥

Holy moly.

The End.

Love you.

So tell me:

Anything about everything on this topic.

WIAW: Fine, I Love Almond Butter

Hi!

I’m typing this on Tuesday night as I often do, so I don’t know if I’m currently chipper as a spring bunny or if I’m a zombie right now. Probably the latter. My moves yesterday consisted of 3.5 hours of ballet since I decided to sleep through class last week. It hadn’t danced ballet for that long straight through since the Orlando Summer Ballet Intensive two years ago. It’s a good thing I love ballet!

For this week’s WIAW, I’m just going to focus on one food that I’ve been eating A LOT recently: almond butter. (I’m actually so excited. Any excuse to talk about nut butter is a good one to me!)

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With the queen of food parties and adorable things, Jenn!

You see, when I first started becoming obsessed with nut butter (thanks to healthy living blogs— I’m such a conformist), I stuck to fan-girling over the classic peanut butter. I then ventured into the land of sunflower seed butter, which is now one of my favorite things ever. I even made my own cashew butter once, but that didn’t hold my fancy for long.

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Greek yogurt with banana slices, chia, hemp, cinnamon, nutmeg, a pumpkin muffin top/scone, and almond butter

I had eaten almond butter in the past, but that was when I was still eating spoonfuls of sugary Peter Pan peanut butter (which is still awesome), so plain, unsalted almond butter was kinda gross to my typical middle schooler palate. Plus, what the heck was that weird grainy texture from the almond skin?

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Cookie dough cereal with banana, chia, hemp, and pepita sunseeed butter

Thus, I stayed away from almond butter for a good while. I was perfectly content with my roasted peanut butter goodness (I made the switch from Peter Pan to the kind with just peanuts). Other than that, change was never my strong suit.

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Overnight oats in a coconut peanut butter jar

Then I started seeing bloggers such as Amanda eating almond butter on the daily, Julianna bringing spoonfuls of it from her dorm to the dining hall (GENIUS. I’m gonna be that person in college.), and just everyone gushing over this peanut butter imposter convenient and healthy food.

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Hot oatmeal with mangoes, banana, and sunflower seed butter

So I decided one day at Trader Joe’s: I’m gonna take the leap of faith and try almond butter again. I tried it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, so I tried to “get rid of it” by using a big half cup of the stuff in these granola bars.

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Greek yogurt with banana slices, banana muffin, chia, hemp, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepita sunseed butter

But my dad loves almond butter, so he would eat a lot of it with muffins and toast, which prompted me to keep buying more for him.

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Oatmeal cookie dough smoothie (which has a big spoonful of almond butter in it!) blended with spinach + Greek yogurt for dipping

The more I bought it for him, the more I started to add it to my toast and bananas…But it was still the “inferior” nut butter. I always secretly wished I was having another nut butter instead of that one.

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Self-explanatory

Then one night, I needed a quick, satisfying snack before bed, so I grabbed a spoonful of almond butter. “Hm, this is really good.”

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Greek yogurt with the works + almond butter

That spoonful of almond butter has become a very regular snack for me lately, and now I can’t seem to keep my spoon out of the jar.  Almond butter has also found its way onto many a muffin…

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Banana muffin with almond butter

Now, I’m hooked. I ♥ almond butter.

Not as much as peanut butter, but it’s up there now. I’ve talked about it before, but I think it’s amazing how much my taste buds have changed in the past two years. Could be growing up, could be food blogs, probably both.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

So tell me:

Do you like almond butter? What is your favorite way to eat it?

What is your all-time favorite nut butter?

How have your taste buds changed in the past few years?

WIAW: Blogger-Inspired Meals

Yesterday was a solid day of eats. You know that feeling you get when you just finished a great workout? I felt like that except with my meals. I know you like that analogy.

Once upon a WIAW, I showed you some blogger-inspired breakfasts that I was loving, but yesterday’s meals were all inspired by some recent foods I’ve seen from other blogs lately. I’m kind of obsessed with looking at everyone else’s delicious food ideas on blogs and, of course, Instagram. To be honest, I’d say more than half of the photos I see on my Insta feed at any given time are of food. I post food pictures, I look at food pictures. Then I eat!

If you love food pictures too, Jenn‘s blog is the place to be!

Today I’m actually playing by the rules and showing what I ate in just one day! Reminder: I’m on winter break, so all my meals were eaten at home. I’m not playing hooky until 4th quarter 😉 (Kidding.)

Breakfast

My leisurely morning started with a comforting, satisfying breakfast inspired by Amanda‘s classic oatmeal with Greek yogurt.

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Greek yogurt with banana oatmeal and peanut butter layered on top

Snack

After finishing some biology homework, I needed a pick-me-up before {finally} doing some exercise. My legs wanted to MOVE after two straight days of road trips. Homemade granola bars from Amanda, Julie, and Jen inspired this one!

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A couple honey crisp apple slices + homemade granola bar (a whole one plus another nugget of one)

Lunch

After moving and grooving a bit (I did this workout from Lori and Michelle), I was hungry for lunch. More specifically, I wanted eggs. When I crave eggs, I will go “hangry” for them. I used to not know how to cook eggs, but luckily those sad days are over. Jen’s fabulous-looking omelet inspired this beauty.

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Two-egg omelet with dried basil, dried thyme, Mexican cheese blend, spinach, and ground turkey + ketchup on top + coconut oil brussels sprouts (made by mom this time!) + sesame seed toast

This hit the spot like no other. Like I said on Instagram, if college doesn’t have good food, I’ll just live off of eggs (and yogurt, oats, banana, and pb of course).

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The best bites were the ones with toast + omelet.

Snack

My afternoon consisted of blog-reading, AP calc homework, Food Network-watching, and Instagram-stalking. So a whole lot of nothing much. By the late afternoon though, I was feeling snacky. This one isn’t really inspired by anyone in particular, but almost every HL blogger eats veggies with hummus, right?

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Dinner

This one doesn’t look like anything new, but I added a little something extra thanks to Davida’s Thai Salmon Salad recipe yesterday.

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Quinoa + brussels + salmon + Thai basil + sriracha

The Thai basil added an Asian flare to an otherwise normal schnormal dish for me. I was about to add a peanut dressing of sorts, but I got lazy. Sriracha to the rescue!

I also had a handful of pistachios (my favorite nut) and a vanilla frozen Greek yogurt cup for a sweet end to my night.

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Before I say goodbye for today, I’ll update you on my Blend Retreat decision dilemma. My friend Veronica texted me yesterday that I should totally go ahead and buy the tickets since we probably won’t even have finals the following week (most final exams should be done before then). After deliberating and realizing that she was probably right, I got super excited that I might just be able to register for the retreat! However, after talking with my mom about it a little more, she sorta convinced me that the weekend might still end up being stressful for me. Friday, June 6th (the start of the retreat) is my last official day of high school, and I would miss that if I went to the retreat. Even though there are still several other senior events in the following weeks, I wouldn’t be able to spend that last day of school with my friends and teachers. Also, it’s not a short trip to and from Utah, so I’d probably be jet-lagged on the Monday we get back. If I do end up having a final early that morning, I’d be a zombie.

MOREOVER, I don’t think I’ll be going this year. I really hope to go next year though! My mom and I would probably want to stay and enjoy Utah even after the retreat ends too. It’s so gorgeous over there, and we want to be able to enjoy our time without the worries of school in the back of my mind.

Anddd that is all.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Have a good one!

So tell me:

What is the last thing you ate that was inspired by another blogger/Instagrammer?

What do you love in your omelets? 

Blogging Makes Me…

Good morning!

Thank you to all who tuned into my solo Super Bowl vlog adventures yesterday 🙂 I hope that you got a chuckle or two out of my shenanigans.

Yesterday was actually a wonderful, unexpected snow day that was much appreciated (sleeping in!). My mom told me about it as I was already getting up, and when she did, my eyes widened and I ran to look outside. BOO-YAH. My obligatory tweet:

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Monday night note: I just got a call from the school that there is a 2-hour delay today! That ol’ groundhog is bringing a few good tidings I guess 😉

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Moves

Since there was no way I was hittin’ the roads yesterday, I decided to do a workout at home. I warmed up by jogging up and down the stairs for five minutes, and then I completed Purely Twins’ 300 rep sliding workout. I love it because it’s low impact and all bodyweight, but I can still feel the burn! I also did some other leg exercises like (bodyweight) modified pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats, and bridge lifts. A few planks and handstands were thrown into the mix as well!

I got in a second workout when I went out to deadlift shovelfuls of snow shovel the driveway. I waited until the afternoon to start, when it had already been snowing for several hours. The verdict:

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Now onto the main point of this post, which is all about how blogging and blog reading as impacted me.

I’ve only been blogging for about half a year now, but I’ve already taken note that it has affected me in several significant, mostly good, ways. If you’ve been reading my blog since the very first day I posted, you might have noticed that Daily Moves and Grooves has evolved ever so slightly. I’ve experimented with different types of posts, different time frames between posts, and even different picture sizes. However, hopefully my voice has remained constant throughout, because that to me is of utmost importance.

I think I’ve finally found a “niche” in this healthy living blog world, and I’m content with my little (yet growing!) web space for thoughts on food, faith, fitness, family, and friends. The famous five F’s -Alliterations end here- Every single reader and blogger with whom I’ve come in contact has been nothing but supportive, fun, and thoughtful, which is really why I’ve come to love blogging more and more each day. Reading others’ blogs and sharing experiences through my own has helped me to truly appreciate other human beings. So without further ado, I want to share with you all the reasons why blogging and blog reading have become such a big part of my life in this past year.

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Blogging makes me genuinely want to talk to and listen to people, both online and in real life. I used to not have much patience for “small talk,” but now I want to hear how others are doing and what they’re up to.

Blogging makes me realize that seemingly insignificant things can actually be profound and be great conversation topics.

Blogging makes me want to do a million things at once. Answer comments, leave comments on others’ blogs, read posts, write posts, take pictures, pin, tweet, Instagram. ALL THE THINGS. But…..

Blogging makes me want to take things one step at a time, because it’s about quality, not quantity.

Blogging makes me hungry. Food pictures left and right.

Blogging makes me tired sometimes when I really want write a post, even if it means going to sleep a little later.

Blogging makes me need to clean my laptop all the time since I’m always eating around it.

Blogging makes me frustrated at times. Like when photos get deleted from all my posts.

Blogging makes me learn patience.

Blogging makes me a better writer (and a faster typer).

Blogging makes me manage my time as efficiently as possible. But sometimes….

Blogging makes me procrastinate. It’s the truth, but I’m working on prioritizing!

Blogging makes me reach for my goals and support others to do so too.

Blogging makes me want to try so many different kinds of fitness! CrossFit, Bikram yoga, hot yoga, spinning, barre, BodyPump, hiking, Zumba……but at the same time…

Blogging makes me take care of myself. Sharing my eats and fitness allows me to reflect on whether or not I am truly nourishing and respecting my body.

Blogging makes me open-minded to new ideas and perspectives on different topics. And different foods.

Blogging makes me remember that we are all a work in process. No one is perfect and everyone goes through trials.

Blogging makes me look like a crazy person in public. I’m always taking pictures, and my friends just shout out, “It’s going on the blog, guys!”

Blogging makes me want to get up in the morning. Blog reading + breakfast = best time of day.

Blogging makes me feel like I have more and more friends every day!

Blogging makes me reflect on the things for which I am grateful. When I write out my life, it’s easier to notice all the little things of which I would otherwise take advantage.

Blogging makes me look like a fool sometimes. Like in last night’s vlog 😉

Blogging makes me smile, laugh, and cry. Mostly the first two though.

I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday! Stay safe and warm, those who are in the midst of winter storms!

So tell me:

{If you’re a blogger} Blogging makes me_______.

{If you’re a blog reader} Reading blogs makes me_______.