23 Years, 23 Things

Today is my 23rd birthday- it’s not a milestone, it’s not a monumental one by any means but I find myself feeling more thankful for this birthday than I did for the last few. My heart over the past few weeks and months have been full, overflowing even. Here’s 23 things I’m grateful for (in no particular order).

  1. All of the wonderful, loving, kind, funny, generous, gracious people in my life. My mom and dad for being my best friends always. My step parents for their support. My sister for being the coolest oldest sister ever. My best friends for being the best people I know and keeping my head above water on days where I’m struggling. My partner for making me laugh while also making sure I feel loved and protected- and his incredible family for graciously welcoming me in over the past four years. I’m thankful for all the people I interact with on a daily basis, who keep me going, keep me laughing, keep me loving.
  2.  RECOVERY. Obviously. The past year has been unreal. I hardly recognize myself anymore. Sometimes when I’m reaching for the ice cream scoop at night or picking up an unexpected IMG_6201snack before work, I allow myself a few minutes to marvel at who I’ve become. Someone who’s unafraid of food. Someone who doesn’t force herself to exercise every day. Someone who can fully embrace life and can live spontaneously, without worrying about what and when she’ll eat, where and when she’ll exercise, if she’ll be “safe”. I’m so proud of that girl.
  3. Clean water. Such a simple, often overlooked thing but I am thankful each and every day that I have access to clean water- for drinking, for showering, for brushing my teeth. It’s such a simple thing but it’s something that so many people live without and something I remind myself to be thankful for daily.
  4. A new, full-time job at the New Hampshire Food Bank where I’ll be doing community outreach (working with SNAP, Summer Meals Program and Cooking Matters) and helping people who are food insecure. I am so excited about this position and feel grateful that this opportunity came up so soon after completing my dietetic internship. My start date is in a week and a half- wish me luck!
  5. A cozy, bright one-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire that is 100% all mine. After my internship year, I decided that I needed some time to myself to continue down this road of self discovery. My plans vacillated between a few different options, including living with my partner, but I realized I wanted (and needed) some time to myself in a place that I wanted to be before committing to that kind of change. Putting myself first was a very new feeling for me and I gotta tell ya, so far it feels good! I’m moving in Monday and I can’t wait to make it all my own.
  6. The opportunity to work with my big sister this summer! During the in between months going from my internship to my job, I’ve been working in a cute little shop that my sister manages. This marks the most time I’ve spent with her since before she left for college (in 2007) and it’s been so nice to spend time with her, her husband and her puppies. I’m so grateful for this time and so sad about not being able to see her everyday or hang out at her house or hunt for Pokemon together after work (she got me hooked guys). She’s so cool and conducts herself with a grace and style that I just do not have. I’m so lucky to have her. Also- she crafts some very cool things and has a cute little Etsy shop. My favorite are her Payne Killers which are aromatherapy scented pillows that are wonderful for recovery aches and pains. If you want to see her stuff, check out her site HERE.
  7. The democratic system. I, like many others, have been glued to my TV each night this week watching the Democratic National Convention and last week, I watched bits and pieces of the
    RNC. I have unabashedly been a Bernie fan from the beginning- well, that’s not true. I was a Hillary fan right out of the gate. But once Bernie came on the scene, he had my political heart. I have never seen a candidate that I agree so strongly with, nor have I ever seen such a genuine, down-to-earth, bullshit-calling  candidate (although it’s worth mentioning, I have only become wildly interested in politics over the last few years). I was blessed to be in New Hampshire during the political season- and had the opportunity to see Bernie (three times, not that I’m bragging)and 14 of the 16 Republican candidates. That being said, I was immensely proud and happy for our country to finally nominate a woman (a progressive, experienced, passionate, smart woman at that) for a major party presidential candidate. Even though I cried when Bernie gave his speech this week, I got chills watching Hillary accept the official nomination last night….but I’m still not taking this bumper sticker off my car.
  8. My two months home in between my internship and moving out for real. It’s been two months of family, good friends, relaxation, stress (the good kind), gin cocktails, eating dinner outside on summer nights, puppies (not mine, unfortunately), journaling and lots and lots of ice cream.
  9. A warm bed- in fact, more than one. So many people go to bed every night without their own bed or without a bed at all. There are so many families, living in the US and elsewhere, who live with no privacy and no space to call their own. For the last 23 years, I have always had my own room. After my parent’s got divorced, I had two beds all to myself. I still do. Without my own space, I wouldn’t be able to relax and read or concentrate on my writing or be able to watch as many episodes of Parks and Rec as I wanted to late into the night.
  10. EARTH. I got a love of nature from my parents and it runs deep. I love everything about the Earth- the stars, the sky, the trees, the grass, the dirt, the creatures. During my internship, I would say a little prayer out loud to myself on my way to work- a habit I’ve gotten out of now, but really need to get back into for my own peace of mind. The first thing I always gave thanks for was the Earth and all the things it has brought to my life. Part of the reason I’m moving to NH is for the hiking, the way everything is spaced out, the trees, the trails, the lakes. All that good Earth hiding away up there.
  11. Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee. Coffee with milk, coffee with cream. Coffee ice cream. Coffee gives me life. Note: I used to NEVER let myself have cream in my coffee but man sometimes some cream in your coffee really hits the spot.
  12. Wine. Wine, wine, wine. White wine, red wine, or a nice rose (my personal favorite). Cheap wine, expensive wine. Wine makes my already wonderful life just a tad better. Note: I used to avoid drinking alcohol to avoid the extra calories but now I am unashamed to have a glass of wine at the end of the day. Not that I’m some alcohol fiend but still, a good glass of wine every once in a while is quite lovely.
  13. My health and my access to healthcare. Ironically, my body had less aches and pains than it did last birthday when I was beating it into the ground. Eventually, obsessive exercise will catch up with you, as it did with me which has resulted in all sorts of knee, hip and foot pain. However, even though I’m achy, my body is recovering from all the hell I put it through over the past 7 years and I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful for my access to healthcare (not something everyone has, unfortunately) and the doctors who are and have treated me.
  14. Similarly, THERAPY. I love therapy. I think everyone should go to therapy (if it is available for them). I left my therapist in May when I left New Hampshire but am hoping to see her again soon. Even if I feel like I’m doing much (much) better than I was in the days I was seeing her, there’s still little pieces of things that come up where therapy really makes a difference. Seriously, go to therapy. It’s the best.
  15. I already mentioned him above but- my partner, Charles, is one of the best people in my life. I tend not to talk about him too much on my blog since I don’t think he feels great about being discussed in the big blog world but it’s my birthday and I’ll talk about him if I want to! Charles makes me laugh, he reminds me not to take life so seriously (something that I work on nearly daily). Throughout the last 4 years, he has seen me at my absolute lowest point. He saw the raw, real, miserable part of me that I tried to disguise to most other people in my life. And he saw me through it and loves me just the same. Our relationship has gotten stronger and simpler over the past few months and I’m so thankful for that.
  16. I have never, not ever, had to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Food and I have a complicated relationship but food insecurity has never been a part of my story. I’m thrilled to have accepted a job that will help people get access to food.
  17. My uncle’s healing and recovery! For almost 2 and half months now, my uncle has been in the hospital after a whole bunch of complicated, scary health problems. I am so happy that he is finally getting better and that I’ve been able to visit him twice now and see him on the upswing. Even though it’s been a long process, it’s so great to see him getting back to his old self.
  18. Books. Obviously. All books- fiction, juicy beach reads, memoirs, biographies. I’m particularly thankful for books by funny women like Amy Poelher, Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler (books I also re-read during moves to alleviate stress). There’s nothing I like better than curling up on a couch and getting sucked into a new book. It’s my favorite way to travel.
  19. The recovery community online! Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten this far without the community I’ve discovered. As I’ve mentioned before, I relied (rely) on the Minnie Maud method for recovery and at first, it took a lot of support and reliance on the people who were using/have used MM to recover. I’m now part of many different recovery/body positive forums that I use for inspiration, support and compassionate understanding. If you’re looking for extra support or want to hear more about things like this, please feel free to comment or email me at [email protected]!
  20. I’m equally thankful for the recovery and body positive accounts that I follow and connect with on Instagram. Some of my favorites include- @bodyposipanda, @nourishandeat, @thefuckitdiet,@thelifeofandie, @goofy_ginger and @dothehotpants- all of whom I’ve connected with in some way or another and have immense respect and gratitude for. Seriously, if you’re looking for badass, uplifting and refreshing badass women, there you have it. There are lots of other accounts that keep me motivated and show me love and support on the daily. If you’re not already following me, check it out here!
  21. The ability to be present for my own life. Since I started recovery, I realized how many times I was absent to my own life and that makes me so sad to realize. I choose not to feel sorry or sad for myself, and instead choose to show up everyday to my own life.
  22. The people who read this blog! When I first started blogging, I was a bit (a lot) uncomfortable with both the process and myself in general. I had always narrated my life in my head, like I was writing a novel or magazine article, so starting a blog was natural in some ways but also took a leap of faith. I was nervous to put myself out there but have been met with warmth and love and support, all of which I cannot thank you all for enough.
  23. This past year of unequivocal self-discovery. I’ve learned more about myself this year than I have in my whole life. It’s so empowering and makes me a more confident and happier person each and everyday. I’m so incredibly, wonderfully grateful for all I’ve learned about myself and all the ways in which I’ve learned to love myself.

I have so much goodness in my life. Honestly, I feel guilty sometimes for all that I have. There are so many people who have less. It was a full and grateful heart that I say thank you to all of you who keep up with my blog and thank you for reading this today. Happy weekend my friends!

Fear Foods in Eating Disorder Recovery

Today we’re going to talk about FEAR FOODS.

Fear foods. I can almost guarantee that anyone with a history of disordered eating has experience with fear foods. Fear foods are the foods that, during restriction, you may avoid avoid with every fiber of your being. If you’re a binge eater or in a binge/purge cycle, these may be foods that have caused you to binge in the past.  You may think these foods are going to derail your health. You may think these foods are instantly going to add 10 pounds to your body. You may think these foods are going to cause an unavoidable, never-ending binge. You may think these foods are going to totally unravel your life and ruin your chance for happiness

Guess what?

They’re not.

Food fears differ for everyone- for some people, it can be pizza. For some people, it can be ice cream or bananas or potatoes or candy bars or milkshakes or pasta or pretty much any food out there. For the years I restricted my eating, my fear food list was long and extensive. I avoided a lot- almost all desserts, pasta, packaged foods, pastries, juice, pizza. I could go on and on.

When I started recovery, I made a list of all these foods and went about crossing them off one by one. My first big fear food win was ordering banana stuffed french toast when I went out to breakfast with my partner. I was anxious, of course, but having someone who loved me there as a source of support was immensely helpful. A few weeks after that, him and I went out for a mid-afternoon snack of McDonald’s fries and vanilla milkshake. Up until that point, I simply could not have imagined a time in my life where I could snack on fries and a milkshake. A “snack” like that would have caused me to restrict for days. It would have immediately caused a surge of guilt and shame that would have swirled around and consumed me like flames in a fire. In the beginning of recovery, these wins took a lot of effort, a lot of strength and took up a lot of mental space.

A few weeks ago, my boss (conveniently my sister) brought in donuts for a staff meeting at work. Guess what? I ate one and thought so little of it, that it didn’t occur to me that I had eaten a fear food until later in the day. I was on a walk on my favorite trail when it occurred to me and I nearly laughed with joy when I realized that if that happened a year before, I would have been running on that same trail to “work off” the donut I had eaten earlier in the day. In fact, it was such a non-event that I didn’t even stop to take a picture like I normally do when I have an ED win. It was simply not a big deal.

Last week, my sister and I made a plan to go shopping. She asked me if I wanted to grab lunch before. A year ago, I would have made up every excuse so I wouldn’t have to eat out. I used to dread eating out. I used to despise lunch and think that only certain foods could be eaten at certain times of the day. But that is also immensely false. There is no reason to fear eating at certain times. There is no right or wrong time to eat.

My point here is this: fear foods exist for most people with disordered eating or lifelong dieters or binge eaters  or anyone who has ever been on a diet. There’s usually some foods that are labeled “bad” or “off-limits”. But the truth is that no foods are bad. No foods are good. All foods have nutrients in them- the amounts and the types vary but every food you eat offers your body something. And your body needs different nutrients all the time- and sometimes it needs food for the soul, not just for the physiological need of keeping your body alive.

No foods should be feared. No foods should be labeled “good” or “bad”. All foods are food and that’s that. All foods can be eaten at all times. All foods can be eaten without compensating with restriction or exercise. All foods can be eaten without compromising your health or your idea of health. I eat (full-fat, full-sugar) ice cream nearly every night and I am arguably the healthiest I have ever been in my life. I ordered pizza at dinner the other night just because I felt like it- it was delicious, satisfying and in that moment, the healthy decision for me.

 

The bottom line is that all foods fit. There will be times in your life you crave the foods that are considered “healthy”- fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc etc. There will be times in your life that you crave the foods that are considered “unhealthy”- ice cream, chips, sugary cereals. And that’s okay. That’s life. And guess what? Your body knows what you need even if your mind disagrees.

In fact, just this morning, I was perusing Whole Foods before work. I was still a little hungry after my breakfast and discovered chocolate chip hazelnut biscotti in the bakery section. Immediately, I thought that I couldn’t have that so early in the day. I walked around trying to find something else that would fill me up but be “healthier”, my ED voice momentarily taking over before I realized that there was nothing else I really wanted. I marched myself back over to the bakery, grabbed a biscotti and ate in my car with my coffee before work. And guess what? It was great- there was no guilt, there was no compensation, there was no nothing except for delicious biscotti goodness. I tell this story for two reasons: 1) your body knows what you need (really it does) and 2) you may still struggle with fear foods long after you start recovery. I’ve been in recovery for almost 6 months and my ED voice still pops her head in every now and then to tell me to restrict or to choose something “healthier” And that will happen at some point to most people in recovery. No one chooses to recover and is immediately better. That’s just not the way it works. But conquering fear foods is an essential part of recovery and it is something that is worth fighting for.  I challenge each and every one of you to eat something that scares you, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that you may not “allow” yourself to eat. If you feel so inclined, write about it in the comments below- I want to hear!

Wishing you all a happy week ahead!

Questions:
Do you have any fear foods?
What helps you to conquer fear foods?
Any plans (good or bad) for the week?

July Favorites: Link Love

Hello and happy July to all! Can you believe that it is officially halfway through the year already?! I sure can’t. July is one of my favorite months because it’s warm but also because it’s birthday month, baby! Hopefully by then,

Before I get into my favorite reads of the month, I’m going to take a minute to shameless promote something I wrote this week. For those of you who listen to the Recovery Warriors podcast (and you should), you know that every month there is a different challenge to strength your recovery muscles. This month, the challenge was to find and create 4 different recipes throughout the month. I participated in this challenge, as I do every month, and wrote about my experience HERE. Plus if you read it, you’ll get a recipe to a delicious spaghetti squash bake!

Enjoy the reads everyone and let me know what you think!

What does healthy even mean?
THIS is awesome. This is so good guys. Seriously. Written by another RD and I swear, I want to print it out to keep in my office some day because it is so real. If you read any of these, read this one!

This Comic Strip on Privilege will Humble You
I see this circulating around this internet quite a bit but it’s so, so, so important. Privilege exists whether people want to acknowledge it or not- it’s not good or bad but it is real and people acting like it doesn’t exist keeps us stuck in a dangerous place.

Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
This article GETS me. This is me 100%. I used to think that being overly sensitive was a bad thing and some people certainly think of it as a weakness, but I’ve definitely learned to embrace mine.

The Reason Your Intuitive Eating Won’t Work
I think intuitive eating is great. But it’s very easy to convince yourself your “intuitively eating” when you’re really restricting your eating. It takes a long time before you can get to truly intuitive eating. Also, I really love Caroline Dooner so I’m on top of any opportunity to share her work.

The not-so-secret truth about emotional eating
Everyone emotional eats. You feel emotions every minute of the day. You also have to eat multiple times a day. You can’t separate the two. And everyone’s end all emotional eating embargo isn’t helping anyone. Read why it’s really not that bad after all.

Why processed foods aren’t as bad as you think
I love Christy Harrison and I love this article. I’m so over everyone’s endeavors to cut out all “processed foods”. I understand not wanting to eat frozen meals and Chips Ahoy every night (although it’s totally okay to do that), but avoiding all processed foods in our day and age is nearly impossible. Give it a read, particularly if you’ve ever thought that eliminating processed foods is the answer!

HAPPY JULY and happy weekend to you all! Hope you all have a lovely 4th of July!

One Year Later

One year ago yesterday I started this blog and one year ago today I moved to New Hampshire for my dietetic internship.

So much has changed in a year.

At this time last year, I wrote a blog about living in the transition and as fate would have it, I’m in the same position again. I’m living in the transition between the end of my internship and the beginning of whatever is coming next.

Since last year when I started this blog, I have….

Started my dietetic internship.

Finished my dietetic internship.

Become a Registered Dietitian.

Started the recovery process.

Discovered (and joined) the body positive community.

Started a recovery Instagram and gained a lot of friends and support that way.

Found the things I’m really passionate about like sustainable food systems, food security, eating disorder recovery, body positivity, the Health at Every Size movement and so much more.

Moved back home (which isn’t as sad as it sounds because my parents are super cool).

Strengthened the relationships in my life.

Gained a whole lot of happiness.

I thought I was recovered last year, really, I did. I thought that I was recovered as I was going to get. I thought I was just going to be the kind of person who would always have to carefully watch what she eats. I couldn’t even imagine a time where I would not have to run every day. I couldn’t imagine a time where I didn’t feel guilt after eating. I couldn’t imagine a time where the goal wasn’t to eat as little as possible. I was stuck in a quasi-recovery without even realizing it.

Last year at this time, I isolated myself because hanging out with friends usually meant food or drinks or skipping workouts and all those things scared me. I was exhausted all the time, I was grumpy, I was irritable, I cried most days of the week. And the saddest part of all was that I was going to accept that as the way my life was going to be.

In the fall, I went through rotations at a dining hall, I taught health classes to elementary school kids, I worked at the NH Food bank. I was exhausted all the time, I was working a lot, not eating nearly enough and running myself into the ground at the gym every night. I cried on the way to work in the morning and I cried on my way home at night.

This spring, as I’ve shared before, I started recovery from anorexia and I’m happy to say I haven’t turned back. The road to recovery is bumpy and I struggle at times, but it is so much better than the alternative.

My life was heavy at this time last year. I was weighed down by shame, anxiety, guilt, insecurity. These days, my being is filled with an inexplicable lightness. It’s a new feeling, one that I haven’t felt in years. One I welcome with open arms. I laugh more. I cry less. I’m less scared of everything. I have better relationships with people. I have a better relationship with my boyfriend. I’m less anxious. I wake up grateful in the morning and I go to bed grateful at night.

I’m so thankful for my life, for the progress I’m made and for the people who continue to read this blog and follow along on my journey. I’m thankful for all the people who reach out to me, whether it’s to ask advice or to tell me that I’m an inspiration (something that humbles me every time someone says it). I can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve given me this past year. I never imagined I would tell my story to the world, but never have I ever regretted it. I’m thankful everyday for the wonderful community I’ve immersed myself in. I don’t know what’s coming next for me as far as my career or location goes but I’m also not going to stress myself out about it. Whatever comes will come and I’ll be ready for it when it does. For now, I’m going to keep living this crazy, wonderful, beautiful life.