Tips To Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

You have seen the signs. You are having a baby. Is there anything special in it than having to carry around another person inside your belly? Well, there is much more than just a baby bump that you will see and experience as baby grows. Your significant other, as well as other relatives and friends, will have a word or two on how to make your pregnancy enjoyable.

Your doctor will have more to tell you about what to do and what not to do during your pregnancy. It may be overwhelming. But as the days move to a month or two, you will soon find out that you are more expectant than apprehensive of all the things that have to do with the day when your new bundle of joy will be welcomed to this world.

Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

There are so many health risks for a pregnant woman. Everything that passes through your system goes into the bloodstream and may affect your baby’s development. You will be reminded time and again of the things that you need to do while you are heavy with a child. You may be familiar with some of them.

In this post, we provide you with more pregnancy tips that will help you and your baby safe and healthy throughout the journey.

  1. Take pregnancy health supplements. Pregnancy requires that you take more than your daily requirements of essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron as your baby’s development also depends on these. Your doctor normally prescribes what supplement you will need for the optimum health of your baby. Your doctor may ask if you have any allergies, if you are taking any medication, or if you have any medical history that may require medical attention. Make sure to let your doctor know everything about your health condition.
  2. Have adequate exercise. You may feel sluggish as the baby inside your belly grows. Still, it is vital that you stay active as this will lessen the stress that you may feel, improve the blood circulation in your body, make you feel alive and enthusiastic and allow you to have a good sleep. Enlisting in a pregnancy exercise class or taking a walk for about 15-20 minutes a day in cool and convenient places and at a moderate pace will be a good start. You may need to consult your doctor for any activity that you would like to incorporate into your day. Make sure that you don’t exert too much effort or overdo as this will be more stressful for you and your baby.
  3. Prepare A Birth Plan. Get everyone involved. Write down everything you can think about how you would like your pregnancy to go about. Do you think it is best to have a doula to help you throughout your pregnancy? Is there anything that you would like to do or to have on that special day? Do you intend to have a natural birth or would like special medications that will ease labor and child delivery?
  4. Educate yourself. Preparation for the big day starts by understanding what the process and the condition entails. If you can attend a childbirth class, do so. This will give you the chance to discover more about your condition, childbearing, and child-rearing. You can also get to know more about your family’s medical history and if there are any previous birth problems you may inquire from your doctor of any danger related to it.
  5. Practice Kegels. This exercise will strengthen your pelvic muscles. Having strong pelvic floor muscles will make child delivery easier. You can do this simple exercise anywhere and no one will ever notice that you are doing it.
  6. Avoid strenuous household chores. Heavy lifting, using hazardous chemicals, cleaning the kitten litter, standing for a long time, and other risky daily tasks can put you and your baby to danger. This is the time to take them off your daily duties.
  7. Track Your Weight. Both gaining more and gaining less weight during pregnancy are not good for you and your baby. It is a smart practice to track your weight gain and check with your doctor regularly to make sure that you are gaining weight at a healthy rate. Note that a gain of about 15-25 pounds is considered overweight. A gain of 28-40 pounds is underweight, while a gain of 11-20 pounds is considered obese. A normal gain weight is from 15-25 pounds.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes. Your feet grow as your baby bump grows. Over time, you may feel that you are putting more pressure on your feet. This may cause your feet to flatten. You may also retain more fluids down there. As a result, your feet and ankle may swell. This will require you to wear comfortable shoes. It will also help to put your feet up while resting a few times a day as this will help prevent your legs and feet to swell.
  9. Eat folate-rich foods. Folate, in the form of folic acid, is essential in the proper development of the neural tube and in the creation of new red blood cells. Eat more foods rich in folate, such as oranges, orange juice, asparagus, and fortified breakfast cereals.
  10. Eat more fruits. The natural sugars in fruits will keep you energized.
  11. Add fish to your diet. Opt for those that are high in Omega 3s (nutrient vital for brain development), but stay away from the varieties of fish that contain mercury such as tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
  12. Wear sun protection. Your skin is more susceptible to skin discoloration or pigmentation during pregnancy. It is advisable that you stay in the shade when you are outdoors. Wearing protective clothing, glasses, as well as sunscreen will limit the probability of the sun’s harmful rays directly touching your skin. When choosing a sunscreen product, opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen as it filters out both UVB and UVA rays.
  13. Pamper yourself. This is your time to relax and de-stress. Give yourself as much rest as it needs. Give in to your cravings but make sure that you set a limit or you may end up overweight soon.
  14. Travel safely. Plan ahead of time so you can prepare everything that you need for an enjoyable trip. While on the go, keep yourself hydrated, walk after every thirty minutes to prevent your feet from swelling and reduce the risk of blood clots. Make sure to follow the safety rules while on the go.
  15. Keep Your Lines Open. You don’t know when emergencies will happen. Always keep your phone lines open and have emergency numbers saved on your phone for easier dialing. Keep your doctor updated on what’s going on with you and your baby, especially when there are unusual indications like shortness of breath, palpitations, vaginal bleeding, strong cramps, and the likes.

Just a quick side note before Election Day…

Guys, I’m gonna talk about politics real quick.

I know, I know. You’re tired of hearing about politics. You’re tired of election coverage. And originally, the post I was going to write tonight did not involve politics at all, except perhaps a line at the end remind everyone to vote. That post will go up later this week. But right now, I just gotta do this real quick.

I know this isn’t a blog about politics. But guess what? This is my blog and it can be about whatever I want! If you want don’t want to read it, you can find someone else’s blog to read! I am a person who is wildly passionate about lefty politics, so I just can’t let this election go by without doing everything in my power to make sure a racist, misogynistic lunatic does not become the most powerful figure in the world.

You don’t have to read. But I have to write.

Let it be known, before I start that I am still feeling the Bern and will forever be feeling the Bern until death parts us. I still have Bernie sticker on my car. I still have a Bernie sign in my window. Bernie is my homeboy.

Anyway.

Like everyone else, I have been disgusted by this election. It makes my stomach hurt. At times, I have felt physically ill watching Hillary’s opponent spew verbal garbage all over the news and then watching other white old men defend him. It’s sickening.

I can’t say that I love Hillary either. But Hillary is the most qualified candidate in US history. Most people agree on that. She has been the First Lady, she has been a senator, she has been the Secretary of State. Basically, she’s a badass lady boss.

At its worst, the President of the United States is nothing more than a figurehead. We all know that Presidents don’t have as much power as we grew up thinking. Congress and the SCOTUS are there to keep checks and balances, to make sure that we remain a democracy. Hillary’s opponent cannot even manage to be a figurehead for the United States. We would be a joke to every other country in the world (moreso than we already are just with him running). He could not even fulfill the most basic role as President.

Then there’s the Supreme Court. Whoever the next President is will likely appoint the next three Supreme Court justices (although if you’re like me, you wish Ruth would just stay there forever #Ruthisthetruth). If you at all lean left or right, that is reason enough to vote. Naturally, whoever Hillary nominates will lean more to the left and whoever her opponent nominates will lean to the right. He’s pledged to select justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. That would reverse all the progress and rights women have gained over the last 43 years. It would allow the state to have control of our bodies. Just writing that makes my stomach drop.

ALSO CAN YOU SAY SHATTERED GLASS CEILING?!

I feel myself babbling. And I apologize. But this election has turned us all into babbling, crazed nuts who will hopefully all be able to collect ourselves on Wednesday morning and get back to normal. At least, I hope so. Otherwise, you will find me crying in a heap on my floor, never to emerge from my apartment again until I’m ready to commit to the move to Canada (I’m half kidding).

So I’m just going to post my Facebook post from last week here because I have to go make some calls for Hillz and because I want people to VOTE. It is literally the most important thing you can do. You have a voice! And you should use it.

 

Guys, the election is tomorrow. I’ve posted a lot of political stuff and I’m not sorry because I’m passionate AF but this one is for everyone. I saw this a few weeks ago, when Lewis Black when on the Daily Show and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I know a lot of people aren’t voting- I get it. The two candidates are both some level of horrible. The political system is not set up for third party candidates so it’s just not possible to get Bernie Sanders into the White House. Trust me, if it was, I would be the first one in line. But it’s not. I’m not saying I agree with that- I don’t- but that’s just what we’re dealing with right now. Hopefully some day it will change. But it’s not going to change by tomorrow (Worth noting that Sanders will be in charge of the Senate Budget Committee if Hillary wins which is a pretty big deal and a huge step in the right direction for the progressive agenda).

We’re either going to have a Trump or Clinton presidency. Fact. I don’t necessarily love Clinton but I won’t worry about my safety as a woman with her as president. I won’t have to worry about not having the right to my own body. I won’t have to worry that the cost of my medication is going to be hiked up astronomically. I won’t have to worry that my access to mental (and physical) health care will be cut.

I, along with many of you who are about my age, could very well bring another human into this world in the next 4 or 8 years. I’ll be damned if I bring my son or daughter into a world where it’s okay to hate, where it’s okay to discriminate against entire genders, races, ethnicities religions. Where it’s okay to criticize people on the size and the shape of their bodies, where it’s possible to be a fucking presidential candidate despite saying that you can grab women by the pussies. None of this is okay. And I don’t want my kid to grow up in a world where it is.

Also I want to get paid the same as my male counterparts, thank you very much.

Hillary is bad but Trump is worse.

VOTE. It’s fucking important.

P.S. Besides voting for President, there’s also senators, state reps, governors, town council, etc plus issues specific to your town to vote on, all of which have a direct impact on you. Vote. Votevotevotevote.

P.P.S. If you live in New Hampshire like me, you can register at your polling place! Also if you live in NH, PA, NV, IA, AZ, NC, CA, IL or WA- you have the chance to flip the Senate! What a world! Vote for your democratic candidate!

P.P.P.S. I’m really sorry about this whole post guys, really I am.

One last thing- I love you for making for making it this far. Take care, ya animals.

Refuse to shrink (and other recovery thoughts)

Hello world! How ya doin’?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to be. It’s shapeshifted multiple times over the past year and a half- from just a general personal blog to eating disorder recovery to body positivity and now is at a place that is kind of a combination of the three. But after last week’s election, I am more inspired than ever to talk about feminism and oppression and social justice. It’s clear by the election results that there is still so much work to do and I want to help do it. It’s possible that those topics might leak more into my blog every week- this is your warning. You don’t have to read it. But like I said last week, I have to say it.

Today though, I want to talk about my recovery and my eating disorder response to the election.

My recovery has been going really, really well. I hardly count calories ever, except to make sure that I get enough. I order what I really want when I go into a coffee shop. I eat chocolate at 9am like it ain’t no thang. I am coming to a place where I really do love and appreciate and honor my body. It feels really, really good.

As I’ve forged my way into recovery, I have learned to stand up and speak out. I have never been one for confrontation (in fact, I am still not if I can avoid it). I also lived solely to please others. I lived in a world where isolation was easier, so that there would be no one else to please- but that self-isolation mostly just brought depression and anxiety. I felt trapped and like I wasn’t smart enough/important enough to speak out and say what I believed in. I felt like it was never my place. Now I can see that I have to make my place in this world. I can see that I am valuable and that I do have important things to say.

The election results were really, really hard for marginalized people of all sorts, including people who suffer from mental illness. The mental illness support pages I follow on social media were posting links to suicide prevention hotlines and other similar resources. Their messages were all the same. You matter. This is not the end. Do not give up here. We will make it through this. 

That is really scary. Scary that the election made marginalized people feel so hopeless, so worthless, so unimportant that advocates and sufferers alike were worried about taking their own lives. Scary that death seemed easier than dealing with the hardships that are, undoubtedly, ahead. I heard from friends and acquaintances who suffer from the whole spectrum of mental illness- no one took this news easily.

As a person who has suffered anorexia, my response was the urge to restrict (surprise, surprise). This election made me absolutely sick to my stomach (no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, this election was pretty sickening). I felt nauseas and sad and not even the teensiest, tinsiest bit hungry. It made me want to push away from the world, back into that little hole of isolation where I only had to worry about myself. It made food seem unimportant. In the days after the election, I wasn’t necessarily restricting but I certainly wasn’t taking good care of myself. And I was doing that for reasons that are obvious to me- I wanted control of something, at a time when everything seemed so wildly out of my control. I wanted to shrink my world back down to that little safe, sad hole where heartbreak like that didn’t exist because I didn’t let myself feel that hard.

Thank God that didn’t last long, amIright?

I let myself wallow for a few days and be sad. I am still sad. I don’t think this particular brand of sadness will go away for awhile. I did not, however, let myself skip meals or go for a 7-mile run to numb myself. I wasn’t my best recovery self, but I certainly wasn’t my worst eating disorder self either. Not even close. Not even a little bit.

After a few days of processing, I can see clearly that this is not the time to shrink. This is not the time to back away. This is not the time to hide.

Now is the time to stand up. To engage. To fight. To refuse to back down, regardless of what challenges lie ahead. And this goes for anyone who feels anything about this election. We need to stand up for what we believe in. Our beliefs are valid and worthy of being shared. The only way we will move forward is by sharing and seeing that we are all part of each other. We belong to each other. And we have to love each other really hard.

When I restrict, my brain gets foggy and I can’t think clearly. Anxiety and depression come more naturally. I don’t have energy and I start to lose that piece of myself that has forged her way into this world and found her place. I start to get a little lost.

We cannot let ourselves get lost.

To anyone suffering from mental illness or any other marginalized person: this is not the end. There is light and love and goodness in this world- we have to engage and be part of it. Let yourself be sad but then invite courage and strength into your world so that we can stand up and unite. I believe in you. I believe in all of us.

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Love Will Win

Earlier this week, as I was planning my posts for the week, I was excited to write one in particular about the power of a “me too”. How that’s what we’re all looking for in this life. How we’re all just searching for people who feel the same things, fear the same things, believe in the same things.

But like many of us, I find myself unable to think about anything but this election.

I am heartbroken in a way that I have never been heartbroken before. Tuesday night, I collapsed into tears multiple times but the one at 3am, when I awoke after drifting off to sleep for a mere 16 minutes to Trump making his acceptance speech, was by far the worst.

I sobbed uncontrollably in bed. I worried about waking the neighbors. I heard myself make noises that I haven’t made since childhood, when my mom or my dad would rub my back and tell me everything would be okay. I turned on Friends for a brief minute before realizing that nothing could make me feel better. I shut my TV off, laid in my dark apartment and cried. I woke up this for work two hours later and both my pillow and my t-shirt were soaked. I’ve hardly stopped crying since.

Throughout the election, I kept repeating to myself and others that love will prevail. Love will win, I said.

Love trumps hate. With everything in me, I believed that.

Today, I feel like hate won. It’s hard not to. Trump spewed blatant hate for the LGTBQ+ community, the Muslim community, females, Mexicans, blacks. I don’t have the capacity to understand it. I cannot understand it.

I made hundreds, if not thousands, of calls this election season. I have been at my local campaign office every week since August. I spent at least one night a week surrounded by like-minded people who cared about women and Muslims and every other oppressed group. People who felt, like me, that the world would end of Trump won. It made me feel better to be in that space every week. Plugging away at our phone calls, getting voters excited about Hillary, making sure they knew where and when they were voting. I ache to be in that space now. I think of my fellow volunteers and my heart breaks a little more.

We cared so much. We put so much into this election. We believed, with our whole hearts, that Hillary would win, that love would prevail.

When I joined the body positive community almost a year ago, I entered a world that honored and respected and encouraged inclusivity of all kinds. Not just body size and shape- gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicities. I surrounded myself with people like myself, who truly believe that diversity makes this country a better place. People who do not fear what’s unknown to them. People who unconditionally love and respect. People who embrace diversity and individuality.

I’m in a snow globe. The world has been shaken up and I don’t know which way is up or down, my feet can’t seem to find the ground. None of the pieces have fallen into place yet. It’s taken the most painful event to realize that the inclusive world I’ve nested myself in is the minority. Accepting, loving, compassionate people- they might win the popular vote but they will never get backed in our warped system, where compassion is seen as weak and the electoral college an do whatever the fuck it wants .

You see, it doesn’t matter if Donald Trump continues his hateful rhetoric. The damage is already done (although I fear it could be much, much worse). He has just confirmed that white, cisgender, straight men can say basically whatever they want and not see consequences. His win was all the white supremacists in this country needed to feel like they are getting their country back. This is a man backed by the KKK. A man who is on trial for raping a 15-year- old next month. And he is our President-elect.

If you are reading this and you’re thinking “well, not all people who voted for Trump are white supremacists”, then you are right. But a vote for Trump was a blatant disregard for every single marginalized person in our nation.

I am shattered thinking about my LGBTQ+ friends, my minority friends, my friends who are not natural-born citizens. I have heard from a few of them today and I can’t say anything to make it better, I can’t say anything to explain it. I can only promise them that I will not leave their side and that I will not stop fighting for them.

In the end, I do hope, as we all do, that love will prevail. The love I see emerging from broken communities everywhere is overwhelming. People sharing their stories, people comforting others, people sparing whatever love they can to give it to someone who needs it more. It’s amazing to me that a community that was so shattered 12 hours ago is already trying to rebuild, to pick up and keep moving forward.

My original post was going to be about the “me too”s . All the ways in which the power of that simple connection can ease worries and comfort the suffering. Slowly, all over the country today, people are sharing their stories of grief, of sadness, of anger, of anguish and sorrow. And people are standing up to say

me too. me too. me too.

Yesterday, prejudice and discrimination and hate won. People are hurting. But love will win. It has to win. And in the days to come, when the pieces begin to fall and confusion turns into clarity, we will wipe ourselves off and keep going. We will stand up.

The (un)happy days: eating disorders in college

Happy November! How is it this late in the year? How is it already 4 weeks from Thanksgiving? This is madness!

Anyways, I hope this post finds you well, wherever you may be as you read it. As much as I love October, I am excited about November and the opportunity to have a more peaceful and less hectic month- I don’t know about you but my October was a little busier than I would have preferred. I had a lot going on at work, in my after-work hours, in my personal life in general. I love this time of year- I love fall, I love Thanksgiving, I love chilly weather that requires cozy sweaters and LL Bean slippers. I love cuddling into my bed under all my blankets at night. I love the crispness in the air. I love it.

I’m going to be honest with you, friends. I have started and stopped approximately eight blog posts over the last few weeks and every time, they come to a crashing halt. It’s not that I’m uninspired. It’s that I’m so inspired I can’t pull down all my thoughts into one coherent sentence, let alone one post.

I’m going to tell a story because I like storytelling and this one popped into my head this afternoon. It made me pause and be grateful for this place that I’m in. And I wanted to share it.

During my 4 years of college, I went to a lot of doctor/therapist/psychiatrist appointments, especially during my last two years when things were really bad. My senior year, I was going to all three in three separate appointments every week. I was always running off to “meetings” or mysterious “appointments” when I was with my classmates (my good friends knew, but most probably didn’t know I was even suffering until this blog) and I was always finding excuses to leave work for an hour so I could go have a near nervous breakdown in my therapist’s office.

These were terrible times.

I went to my therapist every week, although all we did at the time was talk in circles because I wasn’t willing to make any changes to help myself. More accurately, my eating disorder wouldn’t let me make any changes that would possibly hinder his ability to function and control my body. I think about all the suggestions she made during those years and how unwilling I was to listen. I would leave her office and walk straight to the gym, where I would spend 75 minutes in sheer agony. I just wasn’t ready yet. I forgive myself for that.

I went to my psychiatrist every week because after years of refusing, I finally started on an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant. And I went to a doctor to monitor my weight, my heart and so he could beg me to stop exercising so much. He would tell me I was at risk of a stress fracture, of permanent damage of my joints. I would just ignore it and pretend it wasn’t as bad as it was.

The first time I saw him and he did a full intake and evaluation, he told me that I needed to cut back my running and fast. I so distinctly remember him saying “I’m not going to take running away from you but…” and my usual calm, peaceful, non-confrontational self snapped and told him he wasn’t because he couldn’t because it was mine. I went to my therapist the next day in a rage because she was the one who had referred me to him. (Break in the story here to say that I was so lucky to be on a campus where I had these services available to me free of charge. I may not have liked all this appointments or wanted to go. I may have cried all the way through and hated what they had to say but things would have been a HELLA lot worse without them. Shoutout to the Counseling Center and Health Services at University of Rhode Island. If you are in college and are having similar or different issues, please please look into the resources available to you. It’s pretty rad, man.)

Eventually, things got so bad that I was referred to an eating disorder clinic. Well technically, I was referred months and months before but towards the end of my senior year, I finally agreed to go to an intake appointment. In preparation for that, my doctor had to gather all sorts of information about me. He was blind weighing me every week (even though I was consistently weighing myself at home so it didn’t matter) but he had to get another weight for the clinic paperwork. Per usual, he weighed me without me knowing and I sat back down in my hard plastic seat. And then, being the curious and self-sabotaging person that I am, I leaned over and tried to read my weight off his computer.

I saw my weight.

And I freaked the fuck out.

Because it was more than I had weighed in months, probably years. Like I said before, I was still weighing myself every day at this point (when I creeped upstairs before my roommates woke up so I could use their scale, then ran back down to my room). The weight I saw was at least 10 pounds over what I expected, maybe more. I started spinning out of control.

It couldn’t possibly be true.

It couldn’t be right.

…it wasn’t. I read the computer wrong.

You know how I know? Because after 24 hours of sheer panic, shame and anxiety, I emailed the doctor in a frenzy. I said that I saw my weight, it can’t possibly be true, I’ve weighed myself on multiple scales, that can’t be right, it can’t be right! And he responded gently and told me that I had seen it wrong, that my weight was actually X pounds and that he would make sure it was accurate in the paperwork.

It was humiliating- to care that much, to send that email, to admit how much my weight actually mattered to me, how terrified I was at the idea of weight gain. Against my better judgement, I went back and read those emails tonight and I cried a little bit for that girl and I shed a few tears of gratitude that I am not her anymore.

That girl who panicked when she read her weight wrong? She is now at least twenty five pounds over that weight she mistakenly saw. She is now at least a few sizes bigger. She has rolls, she hasn’t run in 10 months, every single part of her body has gotten bigger including her feet. Her old jeans from college wouldn’t fit over her knees  and her old bras are so small they would be deemed societally inappropriate had I not finally sprung for new ones. She has cellulite. She gets bloated sometimes. She is wonderfully squishy.

And you know what?

She is really fucking happy.

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When you’re a little off center…

It took me awhile but after twenty-three years, I’ve finally found my center. You know, the place everyone is referring to when they describe themselves “centered”. The place where peace emanates from, the place where I feel grounded and whole. I am centered when I have a low (but not too low) stress level. I am centered when I am doing work and activities that fulfill me. I am centered when I am making time for myself. I am centered when I am eating regularly and enough. It’s in this place that I can think clearly, laugh loudly and feel good, despite what thoughts pop up.

I am very off-center.

Before anyone gets worried (ahem, mom), I am fine. I am just a normal person who sometimes has bad days and who sometimes doesn’t sleep well at night. Most importantly for myself, I am eating enough (although I do believe I could stand to eat more because I’m a bit more draggy than usual, even for this kind of mood. Oh, the wonders of recovery. Never know when your body suddenly wants to make more repairs).

I started moving away from my center this weekend. I spent my weekend in Rhode Island, which is where I went to college and where a lot of my friends still live. Let’s get two things out of the way first: I’ve had my panties in a bunch because my October weekends are getting eaten alive by life. I just want to slow down, enjoy my favorite time of year, go for a hike in these beautiful NH mountains by myself. I want to go to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and get a cookie butter coffee while I’m over there. I want to write and read and bask in the beauty of the Earth. I regret to inform you all that I am selfish when it comes to my weekends. I love seeing people and spending time with my friends but I also love two whole days where I have no plans, no obligations, just me doing my own thang. And I have not a single weekend in October to myself which makes me (again, selfishly) grumpasaurus rex. Second, the full moon was this weekend so this moon child was feeling all sorts of nutty.

Also before everyone I’ve spent an October weekend with feels bad/mad/sad: HI GUYS I love you all so much it’s stupid, I am just being a greedy wench who wants it both ways. 

That being said…I went to Rhode Island this weekend. Which is a place where I spent four long, unhappy years trapped by my eating disorder and unbearable anxiety. It’s a place where I spent many nights crying, feeling unwanted, feeling bad about myself, feeling different, feeling every emotion under the sun. I had some very dark days there. And it’s a place I have not been back to since recovery.So basically, my weekend brought up some unexpected things. And for the most part, thatI spent most of my weekend with four of my friends, all of whom except one had not seen me since recovery (it is worth noting here that I was not worried at all about them seeing me and thinking of me differently. That’s just a thought I had now like hey, they might have noticed you gained 50 pounds but it’s totally not anything I thought of beforehand because they are all good and loving and funny people who don’t judge people based on the way they look. These are the kind of people everyone should hang out with). Anywho. I just wasn’t used to being my recovered self with them. Even when we went out to meals, I started having thoughts about who I used to be when I was with them and how I used to eat and who I am now and what I eat. It’s like looking at a picture from your childhood; suddenly, you are sucked back into the past and you forget where you are or what you’re doing or how you’ve grown.

didn’t stop me from enjoying the weekend. I had a swell time. I laughed harder than I have in awhile and loved up on people who I haven’t seen in awhile and ate delicious breakfast foods. But those thoughts sat in the back of mind, lingering there like smoke after you blow out the flame. And then I continued to let it smolder for a few more hours while I drove home. And then I decided that I didn’t feel like journaling (which I do every night, especially after a weekend of not writing) and I didn’t feel like reading and all I wanted to do was watch mindless TV and get mad over silly things and then walk by the river with a podcast in to distract myself from it all. Note: this is not helpful.

Yesterday, I was trying to be kind to myself but my tummy hurt and work was dragging by and I didn’t like my swollen belly and my hair was driving me crazy and my knee was bothering me more than usual and I went to bed later than I wanted to and I didn’t sleep hardly at all and this morning when I woke up, it was cloudy and colder than it was supposed to be and I didn’t feel like going to work and I had a headache and an ingrown hair and it was raining on me during my outreach stops and they gave me the wrong thing for lunch and I forgot my seltzer water home and how could anyone possibly happy when so many catastrophic things are happening to her?!?!?!

Yes, I am being a baby. But even still, this whole combination of things plus exhaustion brought up some very real depression/anxiety/body image thoughts for me. As I drove home from work today, I just thought to myself: what are you doing? Why are you making yourself miserable? Why aren’t you writing when you know it will help? Why aren’t you reading when you know you would rather do that than watch that episode of Friends for the 27th time (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? Why are you letting those body image thoughts take hold in your brain?

I’m not saying that depression or anxiety or eating disorders are decisions; they aren’t. They are very real, very scary, very distressing and unpleasant. But after seven years of dealing with these things, there are things I know I can do to make myself feel better. It’s easier, yes, to be enveloped by the bad thoughts and curl up in them like a blanket. That is a place I once took great comfort. But that’s not where I want to live anymore. That blanket that once felt warm and cozy now feels scratchy and harsh, like it’s been used too many times. That warm feeling comes when I’m at my center, when I’m honoring my truth in my little bubble of authentic life.

So I need to move back towards that space, back to to the place where I feel like I am serving a greater purpose and am fulfilled, happy, whole.It’s not easy. But it’s easier than getting sucked into that dark place, where the light gets so dim it eventually goes out. Fighting back against that by doing things I love to a place where I feel like I am beaming light? Yes please. That is where I want to be. That is where I’m going. We all have that center, the place where we emulate light and love, to the place where we’re all just feelin’ really good, man. It’s our job to find that place, figure out how to get there and then do everything in our power to stay in that sliver of life where joy and fulfillment and contentment and passion live. We all have that place. And we can all get there. Tomorrow is a new day.

Now I want you to tell me…
If you’ve had an ED, has going back to places/people you associate with that thing brought difficult thoughts up?
Does this post resonate with people who have dealt with mental illness in general? Do you feel like there are times when you are off-balance and can feel yourself being pulled in the opposite direction?
How do you find your center?
What’s the best thing that happened to you today? (In case anyone is wondering, mine would be writing this blog post in my sweatpants under this cozy blanket.)

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Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

Congratulations! You are now on your way to becoming a mom. The condition will definitely raise you and your significant others’ curiosity, especially it is going to be your first baby. There will be much concern as to how you and your baby will stay healthy while enjoying the journey.

There will be periods of highs and lows and these will be greatly affected by factors that primarily involves how your baby is developing inside your womb.

You will experience unusual bodily changes that may also trigger certain emotional responses. In the beginning, you may feel that certain high while noticing the bump in your tummy growing with each passing day. However, your condition will also require that you get more nutritional value from the food that you take. It will also charge your body to require more rest than you normally provide it.

As your baby continues to develop, you will notice that your body features (hair, nails, skin) will show a variety of changes. Some women feel that they are at their best during this period. Some experience otherwise. Most women will notice that their skin cells need to be hydrated more frequently as your body is now providing for not just one but two persons.

Skin Care Products That You Should Not Use During Pregnancy

Mothers need all the pampering that they can get. However, not everything that may be provided for you may be beneficial. There are certain diets, beauty regimen, as well as skin care products that you used to love that you may have to give up during pregnancy.

Here are some of the products that you should stay away from:

  1. Nail Care Products. Most women like to flaunt fabulous nails. Though your nails are dead skin cells they may still be damaged with constant exposure to harmful chemicals found in some nail care products. Dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, toluene, and other nasty chemicals found in nail polish products and nail polish removers may pass through the pores of your skin and on your nail beds. These products also release toxic fumes, and constant exposure to them will pose danger to both you and your baby. It is a practical choice not to allow these harsh chemicals to touch your skin during your pregnancy, especially in the first trimester when the baby’s brain is starting to develop.
  2. Tanning Sprays. Spray-on tan formulas contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone), an element that is though considered safe for external use, may pose a potential danger when inhaled. Moreover, there are certain studies that indicated that DHA can cause primary DNA damage. Instead of allowing this harmful chemical, why not opt for the healthier alternative. Get the vitamin D that you and your baby need from the radiant glow of the sun. Sunbathe for about 15 minutes every day to get the essential vitamin needed for strong bones. Remember to put on the proper UVA and UVB protection and do not stay longer or after 9 am when the sun starts to shine its brightest.
  3. Skin Lighteners. Dark spots, which is also known as “pregnancy masks” often appear on the face due to hormonal imbalance. Even if the pigmentation may be too annoying for you, you should never attempt to use any skin lightener. This product usually contains a hormone disruptor called “Hydroquinone.” Such chemical has been linked to cancer and organ toxicity.
  4. Artificial Fragrances. These products may provide temporary scents that musk the body’s natural odor, but most of these products also contain a plasticizing agent known as phthalates. They are added to the fragrances to allow them to gel with the skin. Studies indicate that Phthalates cause birth defects and may affect the endocrine system.
  5. Hair Dyes. Many hair coloring products are formulated with carcinogenic chemicals, such as Arylamines and PPD (p-phenylenediamine). If you still think that a change in your hair color will lift your mood, opt for natural hair dye alternatives. (Is it okay if you link one of the articles to this article?)
  6. Parabens. If you are the kind of person who likes to read the labels before buying a product, you will know that parabens (also listed as one of these on product labels: methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl) are included in many personal care products.
  7. Chemical Sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens, either conventional or natural, may contain Oxybenzone (sometimes labeled as benzophenone). This chemical is actually linked to developmental and hormonal disruptions, thus should not be used. To protect your skin from the UV rays of the sun, look for mineral-based sunscreens that contain zinc oxide instead.
  8. Salicylic and Retinoids. These compounds are known to cause pregnancy complications and birth defects. Products with these chemicals are commonly used for acne treatments, exfoliation and as an additive to anti-aging products

Now that you know the products that you should NOT use on your skin, it is time to discover what you can USE to pamper yourself even while you are pregnant. Including these beauty routines will allow you to enjoy a more radiant skin without the guilt.

  1. Reduce unsightly stretch marks. Stretch marks are likely to form on your baby bump, and other parts of the body as your baby grows inside your belly. To lessen the appearance of stretch marks, make sure to eat healthy foods, always keep your body hydrated, and moisturize your skin throughout the day. Look for healthy alternatives as always.
  2. Control facial oil that may clog your skin pores. Look for products that will naturally remove excess oil and dirt on your skin without drying it.
  3. Practice the use of natural oils to enhance your psychological and physical well-being. There are pregnancy-safe options (spearmint, lavender, eucalyptus, etc.) that you may use to enhance your mood as well as increase your cognitive function.

We hope that this will help you have a more enjoyable journey to motherhood. As always, do your due diligence to read the label and learn more about the ingredients on the product labels that you are using or intend to use.

A Piece of the Puzzle (Recovery Thoughts Seven Months In)

Do you guys notice anything different about me? I’ve given myself a blog makeover and I gotta tell you guys, I’m loving it! I realized that my old format looks different on laptops vs phones vs tablets and sometimes made the font and layout different depending on your device so I decided it was time for some renovations. I also made some edits to my Facebook page and have been keeping up with my Instagram, as usual. Soon enough, I will get into the habit of tweeting but I’ve been off Twitter since my junior year of college so it’s a hard thing for me to get back into! Does anyone else have Twitter problems? I certainly do.

Anyways, the last month has been busy in the best kind of way. I’ve been settling into my own, all-mine apartment which still makes me feel like I’m on a vacation with myself. I’ve also been getting adjusted at work (side note: I love my job, I love my job, I love my job). I’ve been going for night-time walks, listening to lots of podcasts, watching lots of Netflix, rediscovering my love of cooking, reading, writing, exploring and generally just doing lots of things that make me feel fulfilled.

This past week marks my seventh month in recovery. Recovery hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind like it has been for the past few months. This is both good and bad- good because my life is getting bigger. It’s like my food and recovery and exercise thoughts were a thought bubble over my head that is slowly getting further and further away, crowded out by thoughts of self-care, writing, relationships and late-night ice cream endeavors. But in another way, I recognize that it may make it easier to slip into old behaviors and thought patterns if I’m not careful. So I’m being careful. Boy-in-a-germ-proof-bubble kind of careful. I try to make sure that I’m eating enough and taking care of myself and when I find that I have an ED thought or a body hate moment, I show myself compassion and gently direct myself back on the right path. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it’s not. It’s always worth it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my recovery and my progress and my struggles. One early recovery memory has come back to me a few times over the past month. Let me just paint the picture here. It’s a chilly February morning. I’m driving to my internship at the hospital. Normally, this drive seems long and tiresome. Usually at this point, I’m already hoping that I would get out of the hospital a little bit early because the afternoon rut I always hit leaves me foggy-headed and exhausted. But this day in particular, I found myself singing along to the radio in my car. And this is not my normal, quiet kind of singing that I do so often with the folksy, sing-song-y music that I’m usually listening to. This is full-on, body-moving, running-out-of-breath singing along to a Taylor Swift song that came up on my iPod. I was bouncing around and then laughing at the silliness of the whole situation- actually laughing, out loud, at myself.

It wasn’t until later that week that I realized why that moment felt so refreshing and real. It was because for the first time in a long time, I actually had energy. I was actually meeting my body’s needs and not using all my energy on an extensive work out in the afternoon. My body was actually being taken care of in a way it hadn’t been for years. I was dancing, shaking, moving, singing in a beautiful, revitalizing way without realizing what a wonderful accomplishment that was in and of itself. It took me days to realize that that silly, happy moment was actually representative of the progress I had made.

That is what recovery is like.

As I move further along into my recovery, I find myself passing these milestone moments and not realizing until later. Not even always milestones- just moments that show how much progress I’ve made since I started this process. In the beginning, everything was a big THING. A few weeks into recovery, I went out for a milkshake-and-french-fry snack in the middle of the day. MILKSHAKES. In. the. Middle. Of. The. Day. This is groundbreaking stuff people. And it was a THING. All day, I thought about this huge recovery win. And it was. In the beginning everything was a huge win and I don’t have any regrets about that. In the beginning, these things need to be celebrated and it is something to be excited about. Beating those fear foods becomes an event and that is a-okay with me. Making a breakfast date with my partner (can I start just calling him Charles now? Yes? Good!) specifically to eat French toast was understandable and it was exciting. But now, the focus has come less off the food and more on the living.

I still have recovery wins- when I have an unexpected afternoon snack, when I bought Oreos for the first time in years last week (!!!), when I let myself lay on the couch afterThese things are still exciting to me- how could they not be after the box that my eating disorder trapped me in? But they’re not the only things I think about anymore. I’m learning tolive a much bigger life and embrace all the bumps and the laughs and the changes and the anxieties and the beauty. I try to show up to this life and engage in it as much as possible. And through all this living, I sometimes forget to celebrate all the things that would have made me through myself a small party in the past. But that’s okay, too. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Rather, I accept those things as part of this new, happier, healthier, greater life I’m living. A piece of the puzzle.work and just be lazy, something that my ED would have never allowed me to do. Last weekend, I went to a lake house in Maine with my Charles’ family and his grandfather made sausage and biscuits for breakfast, which Charles has told me about multiple times over the past few years. And instead of making myself something else for breakfast (even though I really wanted the biscuits) or eating it and having a fit of anxiety later or denying breakfast altogether, I was able to enjoy the moment with his family and eat. No guilt, no shame, no anxiety. I was able to engage in life without feeling trapped by my eating disorder. (PS later that day, I had a cookie straight out of the oven when his grandmother offered me one- two wins in one day!)

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See you and talk to you guys soon (thank goodness for social media and the blog community)!

Link Love: September Favorites

Happy September! I can’t believe it’s already September. Where does the time go? I feel like it’s been awhile (at least a couple weeks) since I had a regular post on here and I assure you, I will be back to regular programming soon. Between my job, adjusting to the move and the physical therapy I’ve been doing for my knees, I haven’t had much time to write lately. I have about three posts in the works- here’s hoping I finish one soon! (PS as always, I’ve managed to keep up with Instagram- if you’re not already following me, check it out HERE)

 

It’s been awhile since I did Link Love- I got into the pattern of doing it on the first of the month but August 1 was the day I moved into my new apartment and blogging just wasn’t happening  that day or the days leading up to it (I kind of waited until the last 48 hours to pack my life’s belongings up neatly into boxes…oops). So instead, I have two month’s worth of links to share with all of y’all! Hope you enjoy them and if you have any thoughts or comments or questions or general merriment to share, please leave them in the comments below! Happy reading 🙂

Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism
This is a great article about racism in the US. There are so many people I’ve met in my life who try to deny the presence of systemic racism in our country and it makes me frustrated that people can’t talk about it in a reasonable, adult way. I also just need to share the tweet below that so profoundly describes white privilege (don’t even get me started on this Colin Kaepernick situation).

 

There is no social justice without bodies
Linda Bacon, the pioneer of the Health at Every Size movement and author of the book, wrote a great piece about weightism on the HAES blog this month. Linda Bacon is knowledgable, progressive and all-around amazing. 

When will food issues be on politician’s plates?
Food issues- sustainable agriculture, food insecurity and anti-hunger initiatives- are all things I am very passionate about (hence the reason I have the job that I do) but they are issues that politicians rarely address. I met a woman running for State Representative here in New Hampshire who advocates for sustainable agriculture as one of her main issues and it was so refreshing and exciting to see a political who is passionate about the work that is so important to our future.

Body acceptance rises among women
!!!!!! Finally some good news. This makes me so happy. Let’s take our bodies BACK.

We’re so confused: The problem with health and exercise studies
As a dietitian, the amount of nutrition information on the internet is truly terrifying. If I had a nickel for every time someone read that “you should eat XYZ everyday” or that “ABC is the new superfood/magic potion/answer to all of life’s questions”, I would be a freaking millionaire.

What to do with those leftover meal plan swipes
Back to school seemed like a good time to talk about food insecurity on college campuses. Most people don’t think about hunger on college campuses but it is very real. And in many cases, dining halls give you more swipes than you can use in a semester. What a wonderful solution to a big problem!

The problem with thin privilege
THIS IS SO GOOD. Thin privilege, body shaming, feminism, social justice all in one place. PLUS Kelsey Miller is amazing and you should all read her book Big Girl if you’re looking to see why you should give up dieting for good!

That’s all for now! Like I said, please feel free to leave any comments below and have a beautiful first day of September!

Lost and found.

I got lost on my run today. I guess that’s what I get for turning down a random path I found in the woods (it was well-marked parents, don’t worry). I ended up on some road and had no idea how to get home but I got there eventually. Here’s the thing about getting lost: sometimes it’s fun. If you have the time and no place to be (and it’s not a hot July day), then it’s pretty nice actually. It’s not so much getting lost as it is wandering and just wandering can be good. It can be refreshing. You almost always learn something new after. But sometimes, if you’ve been in the car for hours or you’re hungry or tired or driving or running or moving, it is exhausting. You just want to get to the end point and you just can’t get there. It is the best feeling when things start to make sense again, you recognize where you’re going and you know you’re close.

I have been lost for quite some time in an abstract, metaphysical kinda way. For the majority of the last four years, perhaps longer, I have been lost. I was riddled by uncertainty and insecurity, a recipe for disaster. I felt like I just couldn’t get to where I wanted to be. College is supposedly the best time of our lives, but it wasn’t for me and I’m not ashamed to say it. To be clear, I don’t regret my college choice. I have only the best things to say about URI and I love the people I met there. It’s not about where I was because I think it would have happened anywhere.

If you were privy to the inner workings of my life the last few years (bless those who were), you know that it’s been more than a little bit rough for me. I’ve struggled a lot. I had some good times in college of course but I also had some really bad times. I went down roads that I hope to never go down again. I spent days where I was so stuck in my own head and so very uncomfortable with myself that all I could do was cry. I never fit the typical college kid profile. I have no desire to drink until I can’t see anymore or have sex with strangers or spend days hungover talking about what a great night it was. I didn’t skip classes. I got a stomachache every time I went out to a party or to the bar. It just didn’t appeal to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some of these stereotypical college kid experiences. I’ve done the college kid thing. I’ve drank more than I should have, I’ve crashed house parties, I’ve worn the short skirts and put too much make up on. It’s not that I never tried it. I did and sometimes it was fun, but mostly it was just okay. It wasn’t me and it never was something I was excited to do. All of freshmen year and even sometimes beyond that, I dreaded the weekends because I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing but I wasn’t comfortable enough with myself to do what I really wanted to do.

I’ve had this really awful habit almost my whole life of comparing myself to other people. What they’re doing, what they look like, what they like and care about. All during college, people were more interested in what other people were wearing than what they were saying. They wanted to talk about plans for the weekend and I wanted to talk about plans for the future of the world, essentially. I wanted to talk about life and it was hard for me to find college kids who really want to sit down and talk about life and politics and saving the Earth and why we’re even here on this planet, which is what I think about. Of course, I understand that this isn’t what most college kids want to think about. There are very few years in our lives where it’s socially acceptable to wake up drunk and to stay up all night and to experiment with activities that may not exactly be legal. I get that. And I’m good with that. I’m not judging this lifestyle even a little bit. If it makes you happy, I wholeheartedly encourage it. But it didn’t make me happy and I didn’t enjoy it, not really. It felt like a chore.

I realize this makes me sound like the least exciting person ever and that’s okay with me. I’ve fully accepted my role as an 80-year-old woman in a (almost) 22-year-old body. I’m okay with this. But it took a VERY long time for me to be okay with this. I think I pretended for far too long that I enjoyed being a partying, fun college student. So much so that by the time I graduated, I was over it. I spent the last semester of college going out very seldom, and normally spending Friday nights on the couch with a glass of wine with two of my roommates. Honestly, that was better than any bar/party experience I had ever had. I realize this would bore some people to tears but it did the three of us just fine.

The habit of comparing myself to others is a habit I am finally, finally starting to grow out of. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else is doing. If they want to do the same things as I do, that’s okay. If they don’t, that’s fine too. My body is my own and it doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s (it took me extra long to learn that lesson). I have an unnatural love of Fleetwood Mac and Simon and Garfunkel. I genuinely enjoy NPR. I just spent $25 on a drill so I can make my own compost bin but I would hardly ever spend $25 on an item of clothing. I asked for a book on fermentation for my birthday.  I am a tree-hugging, nature-loving, liberal feminist who is compassionate to the world. I like reading and writing and sitting and being. That’s just who I am.

I was lost during college. I felt like I just kept moving, I wanted to slow down, I wanted to get there. I wanted to be the person I wanted to be and because I was surrounded by people who were different, I didn’t trust who I wanted to be. I didn’t trust my thoughts or my opinions, I didn’t really feel like they counted.  I don’t feel that way anymore. I picked up from college, plopped myself down in the middle of New Hampshire and I’m doing just fine. I spend my days at the internship and my nights doing work for it but it’s things that I care about it and I don’t view it as a chore (unless I’m grumpy and tired). I’m surrounded nature and people who care about the same things as I do. I voice my opinions and I’m not riddled by anxiety about whether people feel the same way or agree.

It’s a very strange thing when you’ve been lost for a long time and things start to make sense again. It’s an even stranger thing when your life starts to make sense again. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so comfortable being myself. It’s been so long that I actually question when the last time I was so completely comfortable was. That makes me sad. It makes me feel like I missed out on what could have been really fun years. But it was a journey and like my dad told me yesterday, “it’s not where you’ve been it’s where you are.” And where I am now is really, really good. If I hadn’t spent the last few years lost, I would never have gotten to know myself so well. I think that it’s something I had to go through and though I would never want to do it again and I hope I never do, I’m glad I did. I came out on the other side better than I was when I went into it.

I’m glad that I know myself as well as I do and to be honest, I’m really freaking proud of myself to have gotten to this point. In all fairness, I did not do this on my own. I couldn’t have gotten here without my friends and family, whether they knew they were helping or not. And to be completely honest, I don’t think I would have gotten here without a few years with a good therapist. To be even vaguely comfortable in your own skin is a very new concept for me. It makes me realize how very uncomfortable I’ve been these last few years. I’m not done with the whole journey yet and I know that. Of course, there are still the unwelcome and unexpected self-hate thoughts that pop in sometimes. But I’m getting better at slamming the door in their face and that’s a pretty incredible feeling.

Oh, the thoughts you have when you get lost on a run.