Choose to love yourself this Valentines Day: A collaboration on mental health.

    Valentines day is coming up and for some reason this can be an emotional holiday for a lot of us. Maybe it’s because your single or maybe its because your relationship isn’t going as you had planned. However, what may be true for a lot of people is that Valentines day can make you wonder WHY things are going the way that they are. Its a day that can, for no GOOD reason, bring out the self- esteem issues in many. Whether it be body-image issues, anxiety about yourself, or depression about being lonely. Valentine’s day has a way of getting to a lot of people. So, whether or not you think Valentines day is a silly holiday please take a second to read this blog collaboration on Mental Health This Valentines Day.
    I teamed up with fellow Chicago blogger Jessa who is known for her Dollface Diaries blog (For link to her blog go to the bottom of the page). We decided not to talk about the consumerism of Valentines day but rather the most important yet unspoken part, self-love. Jessa shares her journey with self-love and body image and I know so many of you will relate to this.
Now lets hear what Jessa has to say:
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@itsjustjessa on Insagram
1) When did you first realize that you may have some issues with your mental health? 
“I don’t think I realized I had an issue until probably my junior year of college.  I feel like that’s when body image issues and the idea of body dysmorphia became a real topic. I would constantly pick apart my body all through high school and college, and even skip meals if I didn’t like the number I saw on the scale. It’s something I still battle today, and I think I will struggle with for the rest of my life.”
2) When you realized how did you start moving in a positive direction and begin to learn to cope with it? 
“It’s a battle every day for sure. I think the fact that bloggers and content creators are constantly preaching to love yourself no matter your size really helps, but my instinct to compare myself to others and that want for my body to be smaller/thinner/more tone will never go away.  How I cope with it is by working out and eating healthy and doing things I love.  I know if I fuel my body in a way that makes me happy and healthy I will start to accept the way it looks.”
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@itsjustjessa Instagram
3) When you are having a hard day what are some of your self-love practices?
“When I’m having a particularly hard day I love to go take a fitness class Yoga, barre and pilates are my favorites, and there are particular instructors that host such amazing classes that make me feel so positive and empowered by the end, I also think it’s a great way to take an hour and focus on something other than your stress. if I can’t find time for a class, then I love to read a good book in a bubble bath.”
4) What made you realize you are worthy of loving yourself? 
“I don’t know if I can pinpoint an exact ah-ha moment, I think over the last few years I’ve really started to realize it with the help of my amazing support system.  I have surrounded myself with so many beautiful and confident people, and they inspire me to love myself. I think blogging has also helped me find confidence, taking pictures on the street and posting pictures of myself daily on the internet can be terrifying.  But I go through those pictures and it really makes you realize what you see in the mirror isn’t always reality.  Beauty comes from confidence and passion, it’s not just what’s on the outside.”
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@itsjustjessa Instagram
5) What is advice youd give to other girls (and guys) with body image issues? 
“My advice to others is to be yourself and be proud.  Just because you don’t look like all those influencers online doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful.  What makes you beautiful is that you are unique and you are you.  I also think using fashion to express yourself is the best way to push your boundaries and be yourself.”
6) What is one thing you wish you could go back and tell to yourself when you were struggling?
“I think my advice to younger me would be to focus on being healthy and find what you’re passionate about.  I let myself spiral, especially in college, it was a vicious cycle of hating my body and not being motivated to workout or be healthy, and just drinking and partying.  When I started really focusing on my health and finding activities I was passionate about like aerial silks and blogging that’s when I really started getting away from all the negativity in my life and replacing it with positive influences.”
     You can follow Jessa on Instagram at @itsjustjessa, the link listed below is her blog (which is fabulous BTW), and you can follow me on instagram at @alisonschulthesz . Let us know what you think.
     To go read my answers to Jessa’s questions click the link below to head over to her blog
     I talk a ton about my anxiety, how I deal with it, and I also hit topics of self-love.
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Why a “health/wellness” New Years Resolution can potentially be toxic:

With the New Year resolutions coming a vast majority of you will make a resolution to create more healthy lifestyle habits, which is AMAZING! However, this industry is a BILLION dollar industry. As in any highly successful industry it is about the MONEY. You will get a million and ten people offering you ways to cut the work in half and they will blind you into thinking that that is possible. You need to step into this industry with CLEAR goals, plenty of research, and a purpose. You can’t be innocent and vulnerable you HAVE to stick up for yourself. I used to be a part the fitness industry, I used to work with others in the fitness industry, I am dating a former body builder/personal trainer who left the fitness industry, I have walked away from the industry with others. I can tell you (we can all tell you) there are plenty of good people in the industry, however there are double the bad people. THIS IS NOT TO TURN YOU AWAY FROM BETTERING YOURSELF BUT RATHER TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO JUST FOCUS ON YOURSELF AND IGNORE THE INDUSTRY.

Do you truly understand there are NO (none) shortcuts:

Okay, lets start with this. Losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle is HARD work but it is some of the most rewarding work. That being said there are million short cuts out there (diet pills, fad diets, detox teas, etc) that will be offered to you and it will be tempting to take them and you may even try them before you really get to a lifestyle you sustain. However, none of these things WORK and help you actually lose weight you can keep off. They are filled with things that are toxic and harmful to your body. Trust me because I have found my sustainable lifestyle but only after years of chasing fads. I bought into Doctor Oz articles, diet pills, skinny/detox teas, and I tried them time after time. I even landed myself in the hospital after taking some fat burners, which got my heart rate so high it was simulating an anxiety attack for me again and again. It was horrible. I tried the products, sometimes I lost weight, and sometimes I didn’t lose weight. However, in the moments I did lose weight I gained it RIGHT back. There are absolutely no short cuts.

I think the hardest thing that you need to understand about weight loss is it’s not supposed to be a quick process. In fact the faster you lose large amounts of weight the less likely you are to keep it off. Losing weight to fast usually is done so through extreme diets, unhealthy measures, and a whole bunch of water weight loss methods. The best way to lose weight is at a slower and sustainable rate. You want to make sure that you are losing it in a way that you can keep up with. Thats why huge caloric deficits and extreme workouts won’t work in the long run. I know you want to lose that weight fast but you also want to keep it off. The way you lose the weight is a HUGE determinent in you keeping it off or not. Stop taking shortcuts and buckle in for a long and rewarding ride.

There are so many people (like SO SO MANY) that will take advantage of you: 

If you want to hire a coach or trainer, I get it, I pay good money each month for a coach. However, there are a few things you should take into consideration when looking for a coach.

  1. Certifications: Certifications are by no means necessary to be a coach. A lot of people have tons of workout knowledge without the certifications but you have to make sure it is clear to you what their knowledge is! For example, my coach has worked with competitors and the common crowd. She has over 15 years of fitness experience and she does extreme research on her own time. She requires you to fill out a 4-5 page application asking questions that might effect how your body functions in terms of your fitness goals. She also sends long emails, like paragraphs long, explaining to you why she wants you to do what she wants you to do. That is the type of coach I don’t mind paying a lot of money for because I trust her and she hast yieled me great results.
  2. Money: NEVER make finding the cheapest plan your top priority in search of a coach. There are a million people out there who will sell you a cheap program but usually this is because they don’t have the qualifications to charge you for more. Cheaper programs usually mean less hands on experience and the loss of personalization. Every single body is different and if you are not getting a plan customized to you then you really aren’t getting the best plan.
  3. That being said about money don’t think that if you pay more that it means you will get quality service. Please read up on the person who you are buying a program from. Search their name in Facebook, Instagram, google, BBB, etc. See if they have client testimonials and what their qualifications are. There are to many coaches out there who offer “personalized plans” for a high price yet they truly are scamming you out of your money. Do not just go to someone who has a bunch of followers on social media and go to their website and buy a plan. FOLLOWERS DOES NOT EQUAL QUALIFICATIONS.

If a person pushes their discount code or a link on you then chances are they probably don’t want to help you (not true for all but for a vast majority and its hard finding the good ones). If they send you short emails and ask little about you then they probably don’t want to help you. If they don’t have satisfied clients then they are probably in it for the money. BE CAUTIOUS and do your research, which leads me to my next point.

Do your damn research:

Make sure you can wade your way through what actually is total crap and what is true. Study form, study proper nutrition, study SUSTAINABLE fat loss, etc everything that you want to do RESEARCH IT. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have spoken with someone who only stays with a trainer because said trainer isn’t explaining to them WHY they are telling them to do what they are doing. A coach can provide some great guidance but at the end of the day their goal should be to teach you and eventually cut you loose with the knowledge on how to do it yourself. To many coaches create fear and don’t educate so they can keep you coming back to them. There are so many resources out there but make sure you are reading scholarly articles versus just something that you googled and found on a website pushing their own agenda. There are also a LOT of educated people on instagram but I have to tell you 9/10 the person with the most followers on instagram is NOT the most educated. A lot of people assume since they lost weight they have what it takes to tell others how to lose weight and quite frankly that is just not true. Ask yourself what are this person’s credentials? Are they roping you in by selling a solution to a problem? Do they seem like they post more to educate or to sell products? These are genuine questions you have to ask yourself.

Don’t jump into this whole process vunerable, make sure that you do know the basics so that you can succeed and wade through the bullshit.

Finally, choose a gym WITHOUT getting taken advantage of: 

If you are just starting out you don’t need an expansive gym membership or a huge gym with tons of equipment. In fact it is possible to do this without a gym membership at all, I’ll be it, it certainly helps depending on what your goals are and what you are willing do. Again, it’s a money industry, and guess what the gym is no different. If you have someone who is used to the gym maybe have them go with you to navigate what you need for a membership. For starters you can go to a basic gym and get the most basic membership. There are a lot of huge fancy gyms out there with a lot of fancy amenities they will try to sell you on. You can always always UPGRADE your gym membership but most gyms lock you into a membership so you cannot downgrade. So start small and you can always go bigger. Think of it this way, say you want to buy a super expensive product but you don’t know if you’ll like it so you want to try it out first, what would you do? You would buy a sample size or ask someone for a sample. Take a basic membership at a gym as the same thing, trying it out before you commit to a huge part of it. That being said, TONS of gyms have free trial passes so before you even sign on for a gym membership at all shop around for a gym you will like and feel comfortable in. So literally don’t pay a DIME before you see if you like it.

In conclusion: 

This is a subject I am really passionate about. Fitness helped me get over my eating disorder but I also learned the hard way the industry also greatly contributed to it in the first place. There are so many good people looking to change others lives in the industry but sadly there are also so many bad. I know this blog seems harsh and a little bit of an attack on the fitness industry but I type it because I wan’t everyone to be able to better themselves without getting preyed on. Choosing to live healthier is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and unfortunately a lot of people know that and take advantage of it. I just want to warn you about what IS out there so you can push right past it and start working on the best version of you.

 

 

 

 

 

Relationships with Food: Where am I now

Under my old blog I wrote a post called “Viewing Food as the Enemy” In it I talked about overcoming an eating disorder and developing a great relationship with food. Lets go over a few things. Did you overcame an eating disorder like I did? Do you just assume since you are working out, eating healthy, looking good, etc you have a great relationship with food? Sound familiar? Let me tell you, if this is true for you and you do feel you have a good relationship, GREAT. However, it is okay for you to admit you don’t. It took a TON TON TON of soul searching but I finally realized that I was lying to myself. While I certainly have made significant strides I hadn’t fixed my relationship with food completely.

So I don’t want to blog about JUST eating disorders, I do want to be a lifestyle blogger, but on top of doing that I do feel like it is my duty to talk about mental health every once in a while and blog my opinions about it. I say that because I am willing to talk about it and open up about it and people need that.

With that being said, this is not always going to be my blog content, but please read on.

Its not that simple:

This may sound ass backwards to those into fitness and it may be hard to understand but in order for one with an eating disorder to completely restore their relationship with food they cannot view ANY food as BAD. For me I see it as multi-step. Step 1, they truly must understand that food is not the enemy, things in moderation will not hurt you, you can eat what you crave, feeding your body is loving it, etc. Essentially, in this step you need to know that there is NO food that you must restrict yourself from. Once this is understood you really have repaired your relationship with food. Then you may choose to not only choose foods that nourish your body and that are good for you but ALSO indulge in things that may not be good for you. If that is what you truly desire.

I know people’s heart were in the right place when they said this but one thing I couldn’t STAND was “The craving will only last so long the guilt will last for a while”. Like thanks for the encouragement to stick to my plan but also you don’t understand how my brain works. Someone says that, it doesn’t matter who, and that food becomes the enemy. Those who have had EDS don’t have that logical thinking of “One thing won’t make me fat” we often think “This one thing WILL make me fat”. Those who currently are battling ED 100 percent do not have that logical thinking. I am not trying to contribute to an overly sensitized and offended world but God sayings like that push my buttons.

First off, you’re implying that we eat food not to enjoy the taste. Sorry, but food is MEANT TO BE TASTED. Period. Yes, it is meant to fuel our body. However, in this world we have endless options to eat things that are good for us and we ENJOY the taste of. Nobody should be forcing anything down their throats just to look good when they do not enjoy the taste. This line of “dedication to your goals”  and “having a shit relationship with food” are constantly crossing. I hear people all the time who eat one food so much they become physically sick from it and they can’t eat it anymore. Hell, I have done this with many foods myself.

Second off, you’re promoting the harmful diet culture. I understand what a “diet” is but honestly that is NOT what we should be calling it. The best term is a lifestyle change or even “a temporary caloric deficit” would be better. You are not supposed to be in a caloric deficit for long periods of time and diet culture definitely does not address that. Diet culture is CONSTANTLY promoting a certain look, certain harmful diets, etc. We refer to it so often that even if we aren’t intending to play into it we definitely are. At the end of the day NO FOOD in this world is bad for us in MODERATION (In absence of allergies or health conditions). So stop telling people what they can and can’t eat and if you don’t agree with this philosophy then you and I were not made to connect in this world and that is okay. However, I refuse to tell someone something is bad for them and play into the fear of food.

Even preaching what I did I was darkly behind the scenes falling into diet culture: 

“Eating this will completely ruin my results”, “Not doing this last bike sprint is going to hinder my progress”, “If I eat this much then I will look a certain way”. It is ALL bullshit but yet it is CONSTANTLY promoted. Naturally, I couldn’t even realize I was subtly falling a victim to it because it is so dang normalized. I didn’t still have my eating disorder but I also didn’t have the healthiest view on food. I think people now have a harder time coming to the fact that they have a disorder because diet culture now promotes disordered thinking as healthy. Coaches are out there giving barely any food to their clients. Young girls are having a harder and harder time getting over their eating disorders because they can’t even recognize what they are doing is disordered. A large part of this is due to the diet culture and the “lifestyle” a lot of us are promoting on social media. We need to take a step back and REALLY push more mental health self-care as well.

So where am I now with my relationship with food?

While my relationship with food CERTAINLY is not perfect, it is in the process of being healed. I don’t know how long it will be before I stop having any fears of food all together or before I NEVER have an irrational thought in regards to foods and calories, but they are occurring less and less.

Right now, I am working on being more forgiving, enjoying what I am doing, and not focusing so much on the food. After all the experience should be what its about not the food. For me, its more important to focus on the company I am with than whats going in my mouth. Does this mean I binge? Absolutely not. I am very sensible but it is a different mindset. It’s not consciously thinking of every little bit and piece that goes in my mouth and trying to add up how many calories in my head.

In taking this approach and being more forgiving I feel like it has opened my eyes to how ridiculous I was being before. I still have fitness goals, I still wanna eat healthy 80-90 percent of the time, but I am not letting it eat me alive. We can’t let ONE thing consume us so much. Think of it this way, say you are trying to grow a brand. In growing that brand you rely on another brand or industry solely to make YOUR brand succeed. Well what happens if that brand comes crashing down? You go with it because you didn’t focus on just you. You essentially were just a walking advertisement for them. YOU need to be the walking advertisement for your mental health. You can’t put ALL your health and sanity into JUST fitness because when that changes, you hit a wall, etc. you won’t know what to do with yourself because you have so deeply associated your health with that. The best thing you can do is learn how to develop and flourish your mental health and do what things make you mentally better. This may be fitness but it may also be OTHER things. For me, it may be reading, it may be having some wine with friends, writing these blogs, choosing what type of content I get to put out, and really all of that helps me to be a better me. NOT JUST FITNESS, while I do love fitness I am not relying on it solely for my mental clarity.

When all is said in done I did what I needed to do in order to have my healthy relationship with food and be happy with my life. I think one of the most important things in this world is a healthy relationship with food. Whether we like it or not our lives are going to be centered around food. Whether it be for energy, to get better, or in social situations. So if you don’t have a good relationship with food, and fitness or anything else you may be obsessing about isn’t fixing it, then you need to reevaluate your approach. I highly suggest doing what I did and taking a step back and being honest with yourself. It is not easy, it is not comfortable, but nothing worth it is.

That is my thought for the day, so if this spoke to you at all I am very glad and know you can always talk to me about it.

My Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook Page are below! I am usually most responsive on Instagram if you need to talk.

Happy Friday my people, its a wonderful life 🙂

Surviving the holidays and staying in recovery (a short but effective blog)

Family celebration

This time last year it felt like everyone who knew what I was going through, including my own self, was worried about me. The holidays were a toss up there was going to be alcohol, tons of food, and my gym at the time was closed on holidays. Sure there were obviously steps I was going to take to stay in recovery but it was going to be a really testing time.

I am super proud to say that I made it through the holidays without incident, which was HUGE for me. I feel like making it through the holidays made recovery easier after that. Once I knew I was strong enough to make it through “holiday eating” I knew day to day living in recovery was achievable for me.

So since I spent my blog “Viewing food as the enemy” talking a little bit about the holidays as well as relationship with food, I won’t go into much more detail.  I will jump right into tips for staying in recovery (go ahead and read that blog if you have not already). 

Please note that most of these tips can be for anyone for staying on track and not completely giving up over the holidays.

MY tips and what I did to stay in recovery:

1) Stick to your diet plan 80-90 percent of the week. Give yourself a chance to ENJOY the food you are eating on the holidays. In your “diet” (diet is in quotes because its a lifestyle not a diet) you should be giving yourself at least a cheat meal a week to reset your body and mind.  If you don’t understand this concept think of it this way, when all you eat is what you perceive as healthy for you and NEVER allow yourself to eat the foods you enjoy what happens? You binge or you fall of track because you can’t hold out on your cravings any longer.

Use the holiday itself as your “treat/cheat meal”. Every other meal of the week stay on track, eat healthy, and make healthy choices. If you make healthy food choices every/most meals besides your holiday meal you are much more likely to not feel as guilty about eating something bad on the holidays. I know hearing eat every other meal healthy sounds a little daunting but keep in mind when I say healthy foods I mean actual well balanced, healthy, and nutritious foods. I don’t mean deprive yourself of carbs, deprive yourself of eating, I don’t mean deprive yourself at all! There are plenty of healthy options to eat that are delicious and a thousand different ways to cook them. Turkey bacon, protein pancakes, fruit, sweet potato, whole grain bread, etc. The list goes on and the way you can cook them is endless. You don’t have to deprive yourself or keep a narrow foods list like I did when I was “eating healthy”. Even during a normal time of year be expansive and explore healthy food recipes versus sticking to the same thing day in and day out. Nobody wants to eat for fuel they want to enjoy their food it makes them more likely to stay on track.

The point is eat healthy and take care of your body (exercise, be active, practice self-love) all week and allow yourself to be a little flexible on the holiday ITSELF (not every day surrounding the holiday).

2) Everything in moderation. Your family more than likely does thanksgiving/ christmas with all the food right there out on the table or buffet style. That sure does make it tempting to pile it all on your plate at once. The problem with that is now it is tempting to eat that ginormous sized portion of food on you plate.

Moderation is taking what you feel like you’ll eat at first. Just put a little bit on your plate and eat it THEN see how you feel. Are you full? Or are you still a little hungry? If you are full then let it be you don’t need to eat more at that moment! If you aren’t you can allow yourself a little bit more food! The key is listening to you body and how it ties into your emotions, for example if you are overly full you are more likely to be upset with yourself and do something stupid. However, if you eat,not in excess, but for enjoyment and don’t make yourself overly full you are more likely to be happier with yourself.

Think of it this way you have two options. One, watch everyone else you love enjoy a nice meal and completely deprive yourself of it, which most likely end in you binging the food because you don’t want to hold out anymore. Two, you can enjoy the food and the occasion with your family and have a great experience where you stayed in control and got to enjoy the food.

3) Don’t overdo or even do the alcohol. I won’t lie I drank thanksgiving and Christmas even though it was a huge trigger for me. I know stupid of me, however I stayed in touch with my body and listened to when I felt it was saying if you have another drink you’re going to disassociate with yourself (I still practice this to THIS day and I haven’t gotten sick solely from drinking to much in forever). That was a little reckless of me considering it was my first holidays in recovery but I am not perfect. Remember I was in recovery I didn’t have it all figured out (still don’t) there were BOUND to be bumps in the road. If you have issues with overeating when you are drinking then avoid the alcohol so that you can enjoy your food yet stay in control of how much you eat. My problem with when I drank to much is I started not caring and I ate EVERYTHING in site EVERYTHING. I was a lot more controlled by the time thanksgiving came around but I was beyond far from cured. It is a holiday but you ARE in recovery so you do need to take measures to control yourself even if it means cutting out a privilege like drinking (drinking is an privilege eating is not you must eat to survive)

If you DO NOT have an issue with alcohol and alcohol isn’t a trigger of yours STILL drink in moderation. Listen to your body and stay in control. I don’t care if drinking isn’t one of your triggers the majority of people lose control when they drink to much. The key to staying in recovery is BEING IN CONTROL. Once you lose control of your thoughts, feelings, and your sense of self it makes falling out of recovery easier. In order to stay in recovery we need to be aware of our bodies and our feelings. We need to listen to when our body is telling us we are getting full so we don’t eat anymore, we need to have the self control to eat smaller portions slowly so we don’t end up binging, we need to stay in touch with our emotions so we can control our actions. Drinking too much alcohol can take all of that away. I am not dumb I know  some of you may drink over the holidays but if you do tread carefully.

I strongly suggest you DON’T drink over the holidays I think your chances of staying in recovery are 10X better if you do not add alcohol into the mix. 

4) Tell someone. Tell someone who will be with you at thanksgiving/christmas about your issues. You are not burdening the ones you love, your situation is what it is, and I guarantee you that your loved ones would much rather you make it through the holiday without causing harm to yourself then living in ignorance to your situation. When my mom found out we were at an event and I am happy she knew because for the first time in forever I got to enjoy the wonderful event that took place. I knew she knew and I didn’t want to let her down so instead I enjoyed myself and didn’t do anything that would ruin her or my time. It may be hard for your loved ones to hear this, but like I said if they are truly your loved ones they care more about your health then you burdening them. The truth is, it is more of a burden to them if you actually act on impulses then having to maybe keep an extra eye out for you.

Having someone at your meal who knows what you’re going through gives you a sense of accountability. You can’t sneak off, you can’t not eat, etc. This may make you uncomfortable but if you are serious about staying in recovery I suggest doing it because things that make you uncomfortable are going to be what help you recover.

5) Stay in touch with your therapist/support system. Don’t fall off you therapy or treatment on the holidays. Fully throw yourself into it, this is the time you will be put to the test, and this is the time you should be utilizing your methods. I suggest finding a buddy, probably somebody ahead of you in recovery, and talk to them over the holidays. Don’t pair with someone that is unsure of their recovery and has negative feelings still associated with it. If that’s where YOU are at that is where you are at BUT in looking for a “mentor” you want to make sure it is somebody who can talk to you positively about the situation not pull you down.

You wouldn’t want someone who is going to encourage you to act on your disease, someone who is going to share dark thoughts with you, or someone who is at the same place in recovery as you. Can you support these people who aren’t doing well in recovery? Of course you can support them but you also want to make sure BOTH of you find a positive influencer who is going to encourage you to stay in recovery during the holidays. Maybe get a few people together and you guys can find someone who is doing well in recovery or is recovered. Never hesitate to reach out to people who are open about their recovery process over social media or in person. They are usually more than willing to help you and guide you in the right direction. I know I can’t cure anyone but when I talk to them I like to be an ear they can talk to and I like to guide them towards help and treatment. Find someone who will do that for you rather than support your negative actions and tell you its okay to do what you are doing. Like I said you can support others on their journey but the person you are reaching out to for actual help and accountability should have a positive outlook on recovery.

Most importantly, you must continue your professional treatment. Finding someone with experience in recovery is great but people like that, including myself, do not always have professional training in how to handle helping people with this disease. There are many situations that are beyond our abilities to handle and while it may be easier talking to us I highly suggest understanding that your therapist, treatment counselor, etc are all in your corner. Make the most of your time with them, listen to what they have to tell you, BE OPEN AND HONEST ABOUT EVERYTHING, and trust them as the key to your recover especially over the holidays.

6) Avoid weighing yourself, examining yourself, etc. After your meal just let yourself be. Give yourself time to digest and your body to get back to normal don’t step on a scale the following few days and avoid spending excess time in front of a mirror. Doing so is going to make you more likely to be upset and triggering for you. Just because we become bloated from a single meal does not mean our bodies are ruined forever so not looking at these changes after eating can help you avoid getting down on yourself.

Most importantly learn to enjoy yourself over these holidays. They are meant to be happy and joyous time with family. Don’t let the disease take your memories from you. You want to be able to look back and say you enjoyed your time with your loved ones, you enjoyed your holidays, and that you enjoyed life. You don’t want to look back and say the disease took moments of your life away from you.

General tips for anyone trying to stay on track during the holidays:

  1. Follow tips 1-3 for those in recovery
  2. If you are drinking alcohol drink things that contain lower calories. For example, a vodka tonic has a lot less calories than a vodka cranberry or a vodka with soda.
  3. Stay on track of your workouts, don’t fall off just because it is a holiday week. Getting the usual amount of workouts you get in normally helps it make it a normal week for you.
  4. Offer to cook dishes that you may want to eat as a healthier alternative for the holiday. If you have a problem with the dishes being served and need something for your diet or to stay on track then cook it! There is nothing wrong with bringing something that fits your needs to the table.
  5. Enjoy yourself. Life is about balance so don’t deprive yourself on the holidays your goals are still achievable if you give yourself a meal off. You don’t need to go absolutely crazy for three days straight but learn to enjoy yourself for the day.
  6. Trying to avoid going back for seconds hours later? Bring your own snacks to eat while everyone is going back for more. There are plenty of healthy snack options out there.

There are plenty of tips, recipes, resources, etc out there that give you the tools to stay on track during your holiday season. Never hesitate to reach out for help or support this holiday season. Remember its supposed to be a happy time so don’t let it be a bad experience for you.

happy-holidays[1]

Denial is really what is holding you back: My story of my denial.

One of the most cliche lines may be  “The first step is admitting you have a problem”.  It may piss off anyone who hasn’t admitted they have a problem yet. As someone who has recovered I can see the statement and go yup that is 100% true but I can also understand that it is hard to grasp because I have BEEN in denial. I was in denial for SO long. In this blog I am going to go into being in denial and the excuses I made for myself.

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Disclaimer this blog is going to go into a lot of symptoms that may cross over into someone who is unhappy with their body so I feel it necessary to say the following:

Let me be perfectly clear some things may overlap or have a few things in common with people with body image issues versus people with eating disorders. However, do not get body image issues in terms of not liking what you see in the mirror confused with eating disorders. Just because you do not like what you see in the mirror DOES NOT mean you have an eating disorder. The last thing I want to do is write this blog and then have people who definitely DO NOT have eating disorders thinking that they fall under that category simply because I said something they can relate too. In fact lets define a few things.

  1. Unhappiness with your body: Being upset with what you see in the mirror, knowing what you see in the mirror is the truth but having a hard time being happy with it/accepting it, feeling uncomfortable with your weight what you are wearing, etc. (I put these in here because while they are not good things to have they aren’t quite eating disorders or indicators of one).
    VERSUS
  2. Body Dysmorphia (often something that is tied to eating disorders) : This mainly means that one has such mental issues with their body that what they see in the mirror is not what is actually there. They are over exaggerating the negative aspects and flaws in their mind, things that others may not even see but they believe they do. Part of the Mayo Clinic definition for this disease is “When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your ability to function in your daily life.”

The definitions of anorexia and bulimia may be a bit much to handle and unnecessary to share for this specific blog post. Those who suffer from not liking what they see in the mirror feelings are not just discredited  because they don’t have an eating disorder that is not what I am trying to say. Often times when that goes unsolved it can lead to something worse but not everybody who doesn’t like what they see results to an eating disorder. Okay but what am I getting at?  Not loving what you see in the mirror is hard on anyone and I deeply sympathize and am here for people who struggle with this. However, I am trying to be very clear in the difference between these two things so as my blog is not taken the wrong way and impressionable minds don’t begin to think they have a disorder.

That being said:

The BIGGEST part for me was having to admit I had a problem. While I struggled with this disease for years and had moments where I admitted I had a problem, consistently believing that I did have one was an issue for me. The only moments of clarity I REALLY had were just looking at myself and realizing what I was doing but shortly after I faded back into the background. I think this is why I told my boyfriend when I did because I was having a moment where I knew I had a problem and I was terrified of fading back into ignorance and I needed out and a different way of life. I needed someone else to know so that I couldn’t just easily hide in the background again and do what I wanted to do.

Here were some of my symptoms of my body dysmorphia/eating disorder, which I was doing for so long I didn’t see a problem and I believed they were NORMAL. However, thinking about my body consumed my whole entire day and the majority of my energy:

  1. Spending endless amounts of time examining each bit of my body in the mirror/ Body shaming myself
  2. Not being able to leave the house without makeup I believed that if I look pretty than nobody would focus on my body
  3. ALWAYS having my midsection covered by a pillow, my purse, my jacket, anything I could grab.
  4. Weighing myself and having complete and total break downs over the numbers that triggered me.
  5. Limiting my foods based on calories, what I believed to be healthy, and never allowing myself a cheat meal.
  6. Binge eating as a result of 5
  7. Acting on my eating disorder

These are just SOME Of the things that I did to myself on a daily basis but I was so used to this being my normal that they became part of my daily routine without failure or even thinking about it twice. Truth of the matter is I think, well I KNOW,  my body dysmorphia started in high school as it is the time when I started forming some of these habits like obsessing over what I saw in the mirror and covering my midsection. I very rarely acted on the disorder (I did a few times) but it went untreated and I think thats why it grew into a full blown disorder. However, since I started doing some of these things in high school  by the time I was 19-20 years old they didn’t seem wrong.  I look back on it and realize how absolutely miserable I was for YEARS. I can’t believe I let these habits dictate my life from my teens till I was 22 years old and that I would of rather denied my problems then be happy.

Why did I deny it? I can’t say for sure but I was very aware of the stigma on eating disorders. Mine developed in the time of high school and college where every girl being pretty was so important and our self-worth was very defined on what others thought of you (at least thats what I thought). I think the biggest reason I wouldn’t admit it is because I viewed myself as damaged. I grew up with ADHD and anxiety, I have never been able to sleep naturally as a result of that, and I felt like adding something else on top of that would make so undesirable. I felt so damaged and I figured everyone else would view me as damaged and not want to be around me, date me, would hold it against me, use it to make fun of me. To me if I just kept silent and pushed it down then I was normal and not broken. At one point I remember vividly not wanting to admit it because I had lost 20 pounds the natural way and if I admitted I had gone back to my problem I had it figured in my head that everyone would talk about me and they would say that’s how I lost the weight. I was so concerned about what others thought that I was slowly letting my health and sanity slip away.

So what were my excuses/ how was I denying it?

“I am not making myself sick after every meal its an occasional occurrence”

“I am so drunk so if I just do it I will probably sober up” (said after binging) 

“I am only doing it because I need to relieve some of the pressure of feeling too full” 

“I can’t have an eating disorder because I workout and go to the gym, so I am healthy” 

“I eat ‘healthy’ so I do not have an eating disorder”

“I eat so I don’t have an eating disorder”

“Look at these people with eating disorders I am nothing like them so I do not have one”

“People have it worse then me I don’t have one” 

“Look at my body its not perfect so clearly I am not doing it enough to have a problem”

You name it I said it to myself to talk myself out of thinking I had a problem. Let me tell you every single one of these excuses were just those, excuses. If you are acting on impulses of an eating disorder no matter how much or how little, you HAVE one. It doesn’t matter if you the fittest person but still act on it, you have one. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t losing weight from it, you have one. You act on it YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, do not let it get any worse admit to the problem and figure out where you go towards happiness from there. If you are also realizing that you may have body dysmorphia (you are realizing your obsession of your body, your daily rituals, etc indicate it) then also go and get help with that before it develops into ANYTHING further.

There were moments, my god were there moments, where inner me fought and kicked and screamed and said let me out and I just wanted to get better so bad. However, I just could never let her out. I got as far as admitting it to myself but then I could never admit to anybody else. Its really hard to move forward when you are the only person that knows you have a disorder and you only believe it a fraction of the time because the sick part of me always talked the one that wanted help out of reaching out to anyone.

So know we look at when I went into recovery. It wasn’t planned , I didn’t 100 percent intend for it to happen, I just enlightened someone else on what I was going through. Even when I was telling that person I was really playing it off as not a huge deal. I think when I was telling him I was more than likely already slipping back into the I don’t have a problem mode. So when I essentially had no choice but TO recover (at least that’s how I saw it, I look back now and I guess I could have easily slipped back but thank God I was strong enough not to) it was kind of like hitting a brick wall in terms of coming to a realization I had a problem. I was literally STILL telling myself these excuses, still playing it off as not a big deal, but it really was hard to do this because I had so many people telling me I did have something that needed to be dealt with. Nobody ever judged me for it or talked down to me because of it, but they did tell me I had a problem. So getting over that mental hurdle so I could FULLY recover was a big challenge of mine. I think when I was forced to face these habits that most certainly were NOT normal or positive and I had to try to change them THATS when I realized okay, I may have an issue.

SO DENIAL IS WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK! If you want a better life you need to admit you have a problem because when you admit you have a problem you open up avenues of ways to tackle it. If you don’t admit you have a problem you are closing yourself off to any solutions. Plain and simple there is a WHOLE LIFE beyond what you are living right now. I was tired and I was miserable but tired and miserable were my normal. I absolutely loved my friends and family and the memories I had with them don’t get me wrong, but within myself I felt this way and I no doubt could of enjoyed those memories more if I had just gotten help. I understand it I do you aren’t ready to come to terms with what you are doing to yourself, you aren’t ready to uproot your way of living, and you are so scared of judgment or feeling alone because of this. Is recovery hard? Yes, yes it is. Is living with an eating disorder harder? Absolutely. You have to choose which hard you want. The hard where you are fighting to better your life and starting to live this whole entire new POSITIVE AND HAPPY life outside your eating disorder? Or do you want to live this life that is hard and makes you miserable? You aren’t alone, you aren’t damaged, and nobody will view you as so (if they do that is SERIOUSLY not anybody you would ever want to be around anyways). In speaking out and seeking help you come to realize that there are many like you, that there are people you can talk to, I struggled for years and I didn’t have someone who knew what it was like when I was in recovery because I was still remaining pretty silent  (was I alone in my recovery no I had support but not from anyone who knew what it was like, however I am beyond grateful for the support I did have) . THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO  BE THE CASE FOR YOU. If you don’t think you have a problem try to think positive thoughts when you don’t like what you are seeing in the mirror, try to not even look at yourself in the mirror for a day, completely try to wipe yourself clean of your body habits for one day. Is it to extremely hard for you? Then you may want to look into talking to someone about those issues. You just need to come to terms and admit the issues you have so you can be happier.

Think to yourself are you really living a “normal” life or are you tired and miserable too? Wouldn’t you much rather live something better? Than start looking past your denial and excuses and take the first step forward.

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