Worth It?

Just an FYI in advance, this is going to be one of my rant-y, vent-y, honest posts–so if you don’t feel like reading that today, by all means skip it. I won’t take it personally 😉 But I encourage you to read on if you’ve ever struggled with feeling like something in your life wasn’t worth doing…for whatever reason.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my ED recovery journey lately. I definitely don’t consider myself recovered (and to be honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever be fully recovered) but somewhere along the spectrum of recovery. Thinking back to my first days in recovery makes me proud of how far I’ve come, but it also bothers me.

See, I’ve been gradually ‘cleaning’ up my eats over the past year and I have to say that I love the way I eat now. Mostly whole foods, completely plant-based, plenty of tasty and healthy things. I consider things I ate a couple years ago, or even last year, and I kinda shudder. I thought I was eating healthy, but a lot of it was basically vegan ‘junk food’, like processed meat alternatives and sugar-packed Clif bars. I feel more energized and light eating the way I do know, but the thing that gets me is why hasn’t my body caught on to the changes? In other words (my ED’s words, really), why haven’t I lost weight eating clean? If anything, I’ve gained weight since last year and all that’s changed is I exercise more now (especially weight training) and eat cleaner. Seriously, I eat fruit/veggies at every meal, get in my greens daily, rarely eat grains (and never eat wheat anymore) and have raw chocolate as a treat. For most people, that adds up to weight loss, or at least fat loss, so why is my body so out of whack that it does the exact opposite? Actually, I know why it’s out of whack–because for years, I severely or at least somewhat restricted my calories and I’m just now feeling like I’m fueling myself adequately to support my energy levels. Who knows, though? Maybe I’m still restricting and my metabolism is still slowed.

August 2011. I still love how skinny I look here and I wish I was still this small.

August 2011. I still love how skinny I look here and I wish I was still this small.

It bothers me, maybe more than it should, because I’m at the highest weight I’ve ever been. I’ve always been petite–short, small, thin. I haven’t grown in height since the ninth grade, but my weight has still slowly crept up 10 pounds in a couple years. Doesn’t sound big, but to me it is. It makes me see a girl in the mirror who’s much larger than she’s ever been. It makes me question why I even try to recover.

Last July on the left, this July on the right. Maybe not noticeably different, but it is to me.

Last July on the left, this July on the right. Same outfit. Maybe not noticeably different, but it is to me.

What has recovery given me? I still (obviously) struggle with poor body image, on an almost daily basis. I still restrict, albeit in a different way. I still think about food and exercise way more than I should, and let them determine my mood for the day. I still get cold easily, have purple feet sometimes, have acne that won’t completely go away even when treated daily with a natural remedy. I haven’t gotten my period naturally. I still (admittedly) love compliments on my body, because it’s the only way I can validate that I haven’t ballooned out of control. I’m still scared to eat as much as I probably should. My greatest fear is still weight gain.

That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced positive things in recovery. It introduced me to veganism, which is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It changed my life profoundly, and unexpectedly. It made me realize we can’t change our past, but we CAN change our future, and that’s what gives me hope.

But it still frustrates me that I put in all this effort to be healthier, and I don’t get rewarded for it. I still deal with body issues, both internally and externally, and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it. I’m seriously considering meeting with a nutritionist just to ask what I need to be eating as a vegan, how much, and why I’m not seeing the results I should be. I have issues asking for help sometimes, but I think if we’re really struggling, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to reach out and ask for all the help we need.

I have hope that somehow, I can find the answers I need to find the health and happiness I want and need. I still think recovery will be worth it in the long run, I just need guidance in the direction I should go to find success with it. I think everyone deserves to feel their best, so I hope that if you’ve struggled or still struggle with a similar issue, that you can find peace and happiness in life.

What’s something in your life that you’ve questioned if it’s ‘worth it’?

WIAW: On Repeat

I’ve been eating a lot of the same things lately. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying new things/recipes, but I’ve been really feeling a few favorites this week, and I’ve been repeating them…a lot.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Breakfasts have been of the banana softserve variety for…ummmm…2 to 3 weeks now? Yep, this is one of the longer breakfast ruts, and I’m hoping it’ll last awhile. I love having something cold and fruity in the morning, and this fits the bill. Toppings are necessary, at least in my world, and generally homemade protein balls+homemade coconut butter lately.

Snackplates for snacks...and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates for snacks…and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates have just been super easy to throw together, and I’m loving them for lunch now too. Luckily, my snack plates have evolved from a lot of crackers and chips (I thought they were healthy because they were organic/vegan, but not so!) to mostly fresh fruits and veggies with a few ‘fun’ things that still have plenty of nutritional value. Take the flax crackers–packed with omega 3s, raw and made with lots of veggies. And the PB&J bites were a random thing I threw together in the food processor and basically made from dates, raisins and peanut flour. So good…too bad I ran out of peanut flour!

My mom's hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

My mom’s hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

As much as I loved our old house, I like our new yard because we’ve planted so many flowers, veggies and herbs. I love this hibiscus especially because it’s so tropical and smells amazing. And I’m excited because my Japanese eggplant is flowering, and my hot pepper plants are growing baby peppers!

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes...stupid allergies.

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes…stupid allergies.

I’m starting to feel okay with my body, at least some days. Yesterday was a bit hard, because I chose to wear a bodycon-style dress. I love it, and think it looks cute, but I always feel so self-conscious about how my stomach looks in it, especially after meals. I’ve gotta remind myself that everyone’s stomach expands after eating (duh!) and no one else notices or cares but me. Same with my arms. For some reason, they tend to be my most hated body part, and some days I think they look toned and lean, while others they look huge to me. Working through these feelings and telling myself they’re just temporary helps me avoid getting stuck in a bad body image rut.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I'm obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I’m obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack time snack plates are about the same as lunchtime ones, only with different veggies and fruit. I’ve been trying to get in veggies at lunch, snack and dinner and have been going strong with that for a couple of weeks. Gotta love fueling up with produce!

Raw vegan goat 'cheese'.

Raw vegan goat ‘cheese’.

I love making raw vegan cheeses. I was never a huge fan of cheese pre-veganism, but now I love homemade vegan cheeses.

Raw Goat Cheez (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour (I recommend longer)

1-4 tbsp water (less for thicker cheez)

1/2 tsp olive oil (optional, adds Mediterranean flavor)

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a food processor, blend soaked and drained cashews until they begin to resemble cashew butter. Add in remaining ingredients until combined. Spoon into cheesecloth or coffee filter (this helps thicken and strain the cheez) and place in a small bowl in the fridge. Serve with flax crackers, veggies or on salads. Makes 1/4 cup.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

I’ve been getting my daily dose of greens with dinner, in the form of salads. My greens of choice have been baby spinach and chopped romaine lettuce. I’ve been loving chickpeas on salads, guac and nooch (for taco salads), strawberries and balsamic, my raw goat cheez. Anything goes on my salads…well, almost.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

I’ve either been doing Sunwarrior protein mixed with coconut water as a base for fruit+coconut butter, or mini snack plates with berries, raw cacao powder+coconut oil+a little raw local honey mixed to make a raw chocolate dip, dates and homemade protein bites. Half a Larabar with some fruit has been happening too. I haven’t been 100% raw every day, but I’m trying to stay high raw at every meal, while incorporating some non-raw sources of protein like beans. So far, it’s working for me and I like not having to be so strict with my macros. I feel like I’m eating healthier than ever, and as a result, my mindset around food and my body has been healthier as well.

 

What foods/meals have you been repeating lately?

Excuses, Excuses

Excuses. We all have ’em. They can be a convenient way to get out of something we don’t want to do. But sometimes, they can really hold us back from doing something we want or need to accomplish.

I admit it, I’m an excuse-maker. I make excuses about small things, like why I didn’t clean the bathroom. But excuses I make about my health and well-being are a lot more important and unfortunately, I make them all too often.

Excuse #1: I can’t eat as much as ____ or I’ll gain weight…OR I can’t eat ____ without being unhealthy.

I’ve thought these things to myself a LOT throughout my recovery process, especially lately as I’ve been sharing my struggles here. It’s all really a comparison game for me. I see people in my real life and online who either do eat more than I do, or at least claim to eat a lot, and I always think “Well, good for them that they can eat that much and have an amazing body and life. Too bad I’d balloon up if I ate that much.” I know I’ve gotten countless comments on here about how I eat so little but it’s so hard to see for myself when it seems normal or even healthy to me. Four years ago, when I was at my worst, I was eating only a few hundred calories a day. Now I’ve finally gotten away from obsessively tracking every morsel that enters my mouth so I can’t say for sure how much I am eating but I know it’s way more than I was. I also know that it may not be enough, especially since I do workout pretty much every day. And I know there have been many success stories of people maintaining or even losing weight eating more than they used to, so it’s something I do want to ease into myself. It still seems crazy to me that I could be eating much more than I am now and still be the same size.

I might be eating more variety and incorporating more fats, but I still might be lacking in calories.

I might be eating more variety and incorporating more fats, but I still might be lacking in calories.

Excuse #2: I don’t look ‘sick’ so I must be fine.

At my worst, I was a good 15-20 pounds lighter than I am now which is definitely unhealthy, even for someone who’s only 5’1. I didn’t see it then, but looking back at pictures from 4 years ago I can see a definite difference and it makes me sad. Now, I’m at my highest weight ever and honestly, it scares me. I’ve never been in the triple digits so being so close to it is really scary to me. I always rationalize that I ‘need’ to be underweight to look halfway decent because I’m so short. I think that’s just how my disordered mind sees my body, though. I certainly don’t think I look underweight, or sick, or in need of help. But maybe I still am. And there are a few, rare days where I look in the mirror and actually think I look good, or maybe even a little thin, but those days aren’t often. Because I see myself in this distorted way, I tell myself that it’s okay to obsessively eat clean and rarely take a day off from exercise because if I don’t, all hell will break loose (aka I’ll gain weight). But you don’t have to look sick, or be at your lowest weight to need help. You can still be sick while barely underweight or even at a normal weight.

I may not think I look too skinny but maybe I am...

I may not think I look too skinny but maybe I am…

Excuse #3: I need to workout everyday or I’ll lose my fitness.

I always praise other bloggers for taking rest days when they need them, but when do I take a rest day? I’d say once or twice a month. It doesn’t matter if I have a headache, am feeling a little sick or am really busy, I will squeeze in exercise almost every day. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is when I don’t listen to my body. And it’s also not good when I feel guilty for not exercising. Take this weekend, for example. I’m heading back up to my apartment with my parents to load up all the bigger items I couldn’t get on my trip home Wednesday and cleaning out my apartment so they can lease it out for the summer. I’ll be gone from Saturday afternoon til Sunday afternoon, and besides running errands and taking things up and down the stairs multiple times, I won’t be getting in much traditional exercise. I’m already stressing out about it. Not good. However, I’ve reached my breaking point with this. I’ll be busy this summer with my internship, a 4 week online summer class and just wanting to have fun. So I want to plan out 1 or 2 rest days per week, so I’m not a ball of stress figuring out when I can work out. And taking a day or two off won’t just not kill me, it’ll also benefit me and my energy levels.

I still want to play a lot of tennis this summer, but I won't stress out when I take a rest day (even if it's unplanned).

I still want to play a lot of tennis this summer, but I won’t stress out when I take a rest day (even if it’s unplanned).

Have you ever made any ‘excuses’ that you ended up tossing out? 

On Fullness, Rest Days and Intuitive Eating

You might be thinking right now, “Wow, 3 super-taboo blog world topics in one post? This girl is cray.” I can’t necessarily dispute that last statement 😉 but as much as I think these issues have been discussed to death lately, I needed to provide my own views on the topics. Amanda had a great post on this last week and it really got me thinking about how bloggers put too much emphasis on what they’re putting into their mouths and how much they’re moving their bodies. Health is important of course, but not when it becomes obsessive.

So first, my thoughts on feeling full. I have to admit, I don’t have the best relationship with this feeling. I have always had a small stomach capacity, so I’ve never been able to eat much without feeling fuller sooner than others. I’ve mostly resolved this issue by eating 5-6 small meals every day and this works for me. But, I still experience very negative emotions when I do get full. Generally, I only feel truly full after meals out, since restaurant portions tend to be larger, and even if I don’t eat the full amount, it can still be overwhelming, no matter what it was I ‘filled up’ on. Let’s look at two examples from this weekend. On Thursday night, my family came up to my apartment because my sister had a college visit at a college nearby and they wanted to save money on a hotel. We went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants up here, and I had a delicious, individual-sized pizza with kale, garlic, figs and grilled onions on thin crust. I ate 4 out of 6 slices, along with a small orange cream vegan and gluten free cupcake following. After eating, I felt satiated but not too full. Usually, I would feel quite full for maybe half an hour, and feel some guilt over eating ‘that much’ but we ate fairly late and I hadn’t had much to eat in a few hours. However, the following day my mom and I got Qdoba for lunch. I had my usual, the naked veggie salad with black beans, habanero salsa and lots of guacamole. I ate most of the salad, and when we ran errands afterwards, I could sense that I was full, and it messed with my mind for most of the afternoon. Why was I feeling so full after basically just eating lettuce, beans and avocado? I felt guilty for eating most of my lunch, even though it was healthy and balanced.

The meal that made me feel more self-conscious about fullness.

The meal that made me feel more self-conscious about fullness.

Basically, I just have guilty feelings associated with being full, no matter what I got full from. I don’t think this is a healthy relationship to have–I’m not saying feeling full after every meal is necessarily good either, but it’s okay to feel full from a meal every once in awhile,  especially if you enjoyed it while eating. And some days, we just aren’t as hungry, and can get filled up from even little meals, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.

I didn't get in any tennis this weekend, but I was ok with taking a rest day on Friday.

I didn’t get in any tennis this weekend, but I was ok with taking a rest day on Friday.

About rest days. I’m bad about taking them myself, but I absolutely believe they’re essential for everyone, from pro athletes to casual exercisers. Since I’ve been exercising regularly (for about the past 2 years), I’ve rarely gone a day without some form of a workout. There were a few days when I was out all day and didn’t get in a traditional workout, but I was on my feet all day running errands or shopping and I counted that as my workout, since it was pretty strenuous after a full day. But even on the days when I exercised a little less than the day before (usually because I was too busy), I freaked out. I would love to say I work out just for the good feeling it gives me, but that’s not entirely true. I also do it for the calorie burn, and because it makes me feel okay with eating. Sad, but true. But on Friday, I worked on my exercise guilt. Since my family was up here, and then we headed back to the Springs after my sister’s college visit, I couldn’t fit in a lifting session or even a quick ab workout. I wasn’t completely sedentary (my mom and I ran errands around town for an hour or so) but I didn’t do much other than that, and surprisingly, I was kinda ok with taking a rest day. Sure, I got right back into my routine on Saturday, but it helped me realize that a rest day here and there isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it might help with exercise burnout, and in preventing overuse injuries. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take a full rest day every week, but I’m hoping to get there soon.

Finally, onto intuitive eating. This one has been discussed so much lately, so I don’t want to go into too much detail here. But I do think it’s been misconstrued a lot. I think moving away from calorie/macro counting and measuring is a great thing (and something I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year) but not when it turns into something that isn’t intuitive at all…orthorexia. I know, because I’ve fallen into it myself. I’ve become more hyper-focused on the ingredients in the foods I’m eating, and it’s been obsessive at points. It might seem healthier than calorie counting, but it can be just as destructive. When people start saying they’re eating intuitively, yet still stick with ‘safe’ foods, that could be a red flag for orthorexia. When someone’s obsessed with clean ingredients to the point that they get anxious about eating foods they don’t know the ingredients for (I’m guilty as charged), it could be a sign of orthorexia. Intuitive eating isn’t about stuffing your face with cake or ignoring all healthy eating guidelines, but it isn’t about eating ‘clean’ 24/7. It’s about being flexible, sensing fullness, enjoying your food and not letting it rule your life. I feel like I was pretty good about eating intuitively this weekend. I had everything from fancy vegan pizza, to nori wraps, to Larabars, to a vegan gluten-free cupcake, lots of guac and roasted veggies to protein smoothies. I ate pretty balanced everyday, enjoyed all of my food, didn’t freak out too much when I felt a little fuller than usual and didn’t overthink my choices as usual. I know this is something I’ll still struggle with, but feeling more free is a great thing!

A healthy weekend option, balanced by vegan desserts and pizza!

A healthy weekend option, balanced by vegan desserts and pizza!

What are your thoughts on fullness, rest days and intuitive eating? 

WIAW: Easter Weekend

It seems like Easter was weeks ago, but nope, it was just a couple of days ago! Obviously I’m great at procrastinating on posting about it 😉 But seriously though, it’s getting to be that busy time of the semester, when everything is just starting to pile up so apologies if I go missing around here for a few days!

Easter weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile. I really needed the long weekend after a rough post-spring break week back at school, so the fun and rest was much appreciated. I’ll break it all down for you in some pics I snapped over the weekend.

OOTD March 28: black studded tank (F21), black/white printed harem pants (F21), white watch (AE).

OOTD March 28: black studded tank (F21), black/white printed harem pants (F21), white watch (AE).

Thursday started out with morning classes, and then my mom drove up to bring me back home. She got up to my apartment around noon so we stopped for lunch before hitting the road. We went to Wahoo’s, one of our old favorites that we now can’t get back home since all the locations shut down. Luckily my college town still has one–Wahoo’s has the best guac, hands down. I got a surprisingly amazing salad topped with guac, salsa and roasted veggies.

Fast forward a couple of hours. My parents were both in a Holy Week play at our church so my sister and I went to go watch them. For not having many rehearsals, everybody was really good and a lot of the monologues were very emotional.

Some new-to-me groceries.

Some new-to-me groceries.

Friday morning I got to sleep in a little, and then after lunch my mom and I went out to find birthday presents for my dad. Shhhh, don’t tell him I told you but he’s turning the big 5-0 today! Anyways, we also hit up Whole Foods as per usual so I could pick up groceries for the week ahead. I got a few new things as usual too–the Sunwarrior chocolate was ordered by my dad off Amazon, but everything else was bought by me. So far, I loved the sweet potato apple fruit strip–it was delicious and only a couple of grams of sugar–the nori sheets (perfect for raw wraps) and the kale chips. Seriously, the Kale Krunch brand is the best, I’ve loved all their flavors I’ve tried.

Artisan pizza to celebrate my dad's birthday a little early. This was Saturday's leftover dinner (over a bed of spinach+balsamic) but I ordered a pizza with kalamata olives, artichokes, capers, garlic and oregano (no cheese of course).

Artisan pizza to celebrate my dad’s birthday a little early. This was Saturday’s leftover dinner (over a bed of spinach+balsamic) but I ordered a pizza with kalamata olives, artichokes, capers, garlic and oregano (no cheese of course).

This may seem weird as a clean eating vegan, but I LOVE pizza! By pizza, I don’t mean mass-produced Domino’s or frozen pizza with greasy cheese and no veggies. I love good quality, hand tossed pizza from authentic restaurants topped with classic Mediterranean toppings like olives and artichokes and thin crispy crust. And of course, no cheese! Even when places offer vegan cheese, I never order it because I like to keep my pizzas focused on the veggies. We ate dinner pretty late since we went to the Good Friday service at our church before (always a very moving service) but surprisingly, I wasn’t too freaked out about eating dinner around 9. I even ate 4 out of 6 of the slices…and had two leftover for a great dinner on Saturday!

My diva Easter eggs, thanks to a Target egg kit.

My diva Easter eggs, thanks to a Target egg kit.

Who needs to dye eggs when you can accessorize them? At my house, we’ve decorated Easter eggs since I was little and I can’t imagine not doing it. This year, I convinced my mom to buy the diva decorating kit from Target rather than the usual glitter and dye kits. Yes, I’m still 5 years old 😀 My sister and I had a blast glamming out our eggs to be rocker chicks on Saturday night. Easter eggs have never been this cool!

Grain free carrot cake pancakes for Easter breakfast.

Grain free carrot cake pancakes for Easter breakfast.

What’s better than homemade pancakes on Easter morning? Ok, for me, waffles would win, but my waffle maker lives at my apartment while I’m at school so sadly I couldn’t make them. But I settled for carrot cake pancakes, made with almond and buckwheat flours (so technically grain free, since buckwheat is a seed, like quinoa), shredded carrot, raisins and topped with peanut flour paste and cashew butter and more raisins, dipped in real maple syrup. If only I could make pancakes every morning!

My Easter outfit (actually the exact same as last year!)

My Easter outfit (actually the exact same as last year!)

I didn’t realize it until looking at my photos from last year, but I wore the same dress last Easter. Oh well, I’m sure no one but me noticed. Easter is usually snowy and cold here for some reason (April is one of our snowiest months, go figure) but this year we had no snow at all and it was actually sunny and in the 60s. So I could wear a dress without bundling up in a coat and sweater too!

Finally tried the strawberry Zevia!

Finally tried the strawberry Zevia!

Sprouts is my savior…first they had the ALT Larabars, now they have strawberry Zevia. And unlike the grape, which I only sorta liked, this one was delicious and almost tasted like watermelon (always a good thing). And I just love the light pink can color!

My Easter basket!

My Easter basket!

Another Easter tradition that never gets old? Hiding Easter baskets! My mom hid one for me, my sister and dad this year and I still loved searching all over the house for it. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had filled it with my favorite nail polish color, great smelling lotion and vegan candy from Whole Foods. Now, to be 100% honest, I’m still a little wary about this candy–it’s healthier than most but it still doesn’t have completely ‘clean’ ingredients up to my ridiculous standards. However, I know she wanted me to be able to enjoy some candy, so I’ll try to get over my fear and enjoy a little of it every day. It’s not even that unhealthy, to be honest, just another issue I’m still dealing with.

So Delicious sugar free vanilla coconut milk ice cream topped with frozen blueberries.

So Delicious sugar free vanilla coconut milk ice cream topped with frozen blueberries.

Easter dessert was something I haven’t had in awhile–ice cream! I love coconut milk ice cream, but again, it was something I pushed aside because it wasn’t totally ‘clean’. However, I really like the no sugar added kind by So Delicious and it’s really not that processed so I enjoyed a small bowl of the vanilla with blueberries and a homemade chocolate PB bunny on the side (recipe to come).

Carrot cake 'white chocolate' truffles (recipe soon!)

Carrot cake ‘white chocolate’ truffles (recipe soon!)

Easter weekend was extra long because I didn’t head back up to school until early Monday morning. Once back at my apartment after classes, I whipped up another batch of the homemade chocolate PB bunnies (this time I made ‘eggs’) and also experimented with making a carrot cake inspired version. Both kinds turned out amazing, so look for those recipes very soon! Both recipes have no added sugar, and are super easy to whip up.

What was the best part of your weekend? Are you a snob about any foods (like me with pizza)?

 

 

 

Clean Eating Conundrum

So let me just preface this post by saying: I don’t want to come across as a virtuous, judgmental vegan who thinks everyone should eat my way or 100% clean. I think everyone’s entitled to eat the way that makes them their healthiest and happiest, whether it falls under a dietary label or not. Like for example, I claim the label of vegan because that’s how I eat 99% of the time, but I also eat raw honey and don’t question every last ingredients when I’m out at a restaurant so I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m trying to be the perfect eater or whatever. These are just my observations on a very big blog world trend.

Clean eating. Probably one of the most popular, yet polarizing phrases out there in the nutrition world today. Remember when people just used to call themselves healthy eaters, and left it at that? Now, everyone’s jumping on the ‘eat clean’ bandwagon, and for good reason. Errr…or maybe not? Yes, eating as many whole foods as possible and avoiding certain additives is certainly conducive to good health in most cases, but what about when it’s taken too far? As mentioned in my orthorexia post, I’ve taken a ‘good’ thing to the extremes and a lot of people, especially those who have struggled with EDs, can fall into the trap of cleaning up their eats…to an unhealthy point.

Not only that, but clean eating can be an unhealthy competition. I feel like Instagram, and just showing off food/fitness photos in general, can create an atmosphere of jealousy and guilt. If you don’t eat 100% clean, like so-and-so from this blog or this-or-that user you follow on IG, you’ll never achieve their bangin’ bod. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with having a certain body ideal, but if it’s unrealistic or causes you anxiety, it’s not a healthy goal to pursue. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this mindset sometimes, likely because I still have really bad body image most of the time, and I feel like I have little power to change how I see my body outside of drastically changing my eating patterns.

Is my love for a salad-a-day obsessive or healthy? That can be a confusing part of clean eating.

Is my love for a salad-a-day obsessive or healthy? That can be a confusing part of clean eating.

The actual definition of clean eating bothers me too. Mostly because there isn’t one clear cut meaning–it’s variable depending on the person who follows it. Nothing wrong with that, but there is when it becomes deceptive. How many people out there say they like to eat clean, that they never eat anything processed or packaged…and then they post all these low-cal faux foods made with sugar-free syrups and low fat peanut butter. Uhhhhh…that’s not processed? Again, I’m not trying to be virtuous, but to me, real maple syrup is a hell of a lot healthier and more  real than sugar free maple syrup filled with who-knows-what. I feel like clean eating can sometimes be synonymous with restriction. Not necessarily restriction in the form of counting calories and limiting them, but restricting themselves to ‘diet’ foods in order to achieve their physical goals and possibly stay in their safe, disordered comfort zone.

Never skinny enough. Never pretty enough. Never fit enough. Never perfect enough. This is the mindset a lot of girls (including me) fall in to.

Never skinny enough. Never pretty enough. Never fit enough. Never perfect enough. This is the mindset a lot of girls (including me) fall in to.

Clean eating can become such a slippery slope. For me, it’s started to take over my life. I’ve cut out certain things, even things traditionally considered healthy, because they fail to meet my high clean eating standards (mostly just focusing on all natural, no weird ingredients and cutting down on grains). I pore over nutritional labels in stores and online to figure out what I should buy. I feel guilty when I go out to eat and have no idea exactly what’s in the food I’m eating. And all of those signs point to something that’s not so healthy for me. It’s become my new way to restrict, and even if it’s not putting me at physical danger, it’s putting my mind in a really bad place. It’s making me focus way too much on my perceived imperfections, both with my body and with what I’m putting in my mouth, it’s making me obsessive over exercise and food choices and it’s not leading me in the path I want to be on–the path to full recovery from my ED. So this is why I think clean eating may not be the best thing for everybody…at least not if it turns obsessive, restrictive and deceptive.

What do you think about clean eating? 

The “O” Word

…And no, it’s not that ‘O’ word. Get your mind outta the gutter people 😉 Today’s post is brought to you by the new ‘it’ term of the blog world, orthorexia. Thank you, Alexandra, for bringing this issue out of the dark and letting bloggers feel okay with talking about it. And now I’m going to talk about how it applies to my life.

I first heard the word orthorexia when I was diagnosed with anorexia 4 years ago. It was tossed around by my doctor and parents, who believed I was at least somewhat orthorexic, along with being anorexic. Now while I won’t say I’m fully recovered from anorexia, I am doing so much better on that front than I was in high school. But the orthorexic part of me has gotten worse, and it’s taken some honest reflection and blog reading on my part to admit that.

Orthorexia fed into my anorexic tendencies. I cut out things based on what I heard and researched was ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’. First it was fats (particularly saturated fats), and then I started seeking out sugar free and low sugar items because of the unhealthiness of sugar. But obviously, most sugar free products (other than those that are naturally sugar free) are filled with all sorts of scary chemicals and whatnot. So I was attempting to be healthy, but wasn’t necessarily choosing the healthiest items. Case in point: during the worst of my ED, I lived off black beans with white rice, and sugar free Jell-O. Neither option is really healthy (other than the black beans), but I ate them because I was told fat and sugar were bad for me.

I used to consider this healthy, just because it was low calorie and whole wheat.

I used to consider this healthy, just because it was low calorie and whole wheat.

As I entered recovery, I still looked for the healthy option wherever possible. My fear of most dairy products lingered, so I never ate anything but fat free Greek yogurt and skim milk. A lot of foods I ate prior to my ED were out the window, never to be eaten again. That’s not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely orthorexic. I never ate a white carb, stuck with lean proteins like chicken and shrimp and still avoided most fats. I ate almond butter by the teaspoon, if at all.

Fast forward to a year or so ago. I made the decision to be vegan, which sadly was partially fueled by my orthorexia. Finally I had an excuse not to eat cheese, or meat, or ice cream, or any ‘unhealthy’ food. Up until recently, I still eschewed a lot of fat, eating minuscule portions of nuts and avocado and counting my calories like it was my job. But then, I had an epiphany. Not one that made me give up my orthorexic tendencies, but instead focused them in a different direction. I became completely obsessed with macronutrients and ingredients lists on products. No longer was I solely focused on the calorie count–now I wanted to micromanage my protein, fat, carbs and the ingredients I’d allow into my body. I totally bought into the ‘eat clean’ movement.

But I think I’ve started to take it a little too far. Over the past few months, I’ve eliminated more and more from my diet, based on what’s in the item in question. Weird-sounding ingredients like soy lecithin and maltodextrin have gotten the side-eye from me and been placed back on the shelf. Even products with simple ingredient lists have been tossed in the trash. I used to love quinoa pasta–made from just quinoa and corn–but it has OMG so many carbs. Enter kelp noodles as a replacement–sea veggie based and almost no carbs or calories, but full of minerals. An orthorexic’s dream! It takes me forever to get through a grocery shopping trip because I have internal debates with myself regarding the ingredients and nutritional value of products. And after hearing countless success stories by people who’ve tried paleo, I’ve adopted some of it–not the meat-eating, of course, but the eliminating of most grains from my diet. I used to love whole grains like quinoa, oats and sprouted bread…now I fear them. I make my baked goods with almond, coconut and buckwheat flours now. I’ve gone for several days with no grains in sight, and I start to freak out if I eat two servings of them in a day. I’m not saying we need 9 servings or whatever the USDA says we do, but why have I demonized grains, even the gluten free ones that I love? Why have I become hung up on balancing my macros perfectly, and feeling like a failure when I don’t? Why have I started to fear food, even though I worked so hard to overcome so many fear foods (including coconut, which I love now)?

Now most of my meals are grain free, like these almond flour pancakes, because I'm scared of grains.

Now most of my meals are grain free, like these almond flour pancakes, because I’m scared of grains.

Honestly, I just wanted to come clean and say that I’m not perfect. Behind the fun food pictures is a huge fear of most foods, even some healthy ones. I do want to say that I truly love eating healthfully, and being a produce-loving vegan. But I’ve taken the clean eating thing a little too far, and I don’t know what to do. Some of you may have already noticed my orthorexic tendencies from my blog posts or comments, but even so, I wanted to come clean and admit my issues. There’s nothing I appreciate more than honesty, and I think there needs to be a little more of that in the blog world. Everyone has some kind of issue, and it’s okay to admit to them. People will respect you all the more if you do.

And as for my orthorexic issues, I’m starting to work on them. I’ve stopped tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal, because I was just using the numbers and percentages as an unhealthy competition with myself. It’s really scary to me not to know exactly what my calories and macros are, but I need to give up the obsessive control. And I’ve decided not to do WIAWs for awhile, just to relieve the pressure on myself to have a ‘perfect’ day of eats. Other than that, it’ll be a slow process to figure out where my fears and anxieties are stemming from, but I’m willing to work them out to have a truly healthy relationship with food for the first time in 6 years.

Have you ever struggled with orthorexia or the pressure to eat clean? 

 

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Break

The title totally sounds like a middle school English class essay you had to write after coming back from Thanksgiving break, doesn’t it? Haha guess I just love reliving my younger years 😉

My break isn’t quite over which I am very thankful for–the last three weeks in the semester are always the hardest because you just got a taste of freedom but then you have to go back and get ready for finals and write papers. Not fun. But this is how I’ve been spending the past few days, with a mix of the successes and struggles I’ve had along the way.

Struggles

Still dealing with ‘disordered’ thoughts. 

Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for a recovering anorexic. And as a vegan, I’m not that thrilled by the usual selection of holiday foods. So I did struggle a bit on Thanksgiving Day. For one, I didn’t have breakfast. Yep, I wasn’t exactly planning on it (I love breakfast and never miss it!) but I wanted to have a pumpkin waffle with plenty of real maple syrup but my mom ended up using my waffle maker to make waffles for the rest of my family, and I freaked out about the ingredients she used in the waffles and decided not to make a waffle. But I didn’t end up making breakfast at all because I just got stuck in my disordered eating thought patterns and was getting anxious about Thanksgiving. I also didn’t eat lunch, because our family just does a lot of snacks in the afternoon. So I did enjoy some snackage (homemade guac I made myself, rice cake with pumpkin butter/chocolate chips, raw carrots and cauliflower, amazing spicy salsa). I also had a few adult beverages but we’ll save that for the successes part! I think I did an okay job eating once the big meal went around and I even tried some of the vegan stuffing my mom made. But I definitely struggled with feeling okay with being a little full. The feeling of fullness still scares me to death so that was hard to deal with. I also had some issues with exercising. I told myself I’d take a day or two off from working out this week but that hasn’t happened. It’s still too scary for me to take full-blown rest days.

The cute plate I had my snacks on.

Never being able to make a really delicious dessert from scratch.

Lately, I haven’t been able to make a dessert from a recipe that I actually like enough to eat. For some reason, I like it when I’m tasting it in the cooking process but then once it’s made, it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. And then it goes in the trash. I can’t keep wasting food, but I can’t figure out why I can’t make an amazing dessert. I guess I should just stick with my simple, throw-it-together desserts like coconut milk ice cream or ‘banana bread’ protein bowls. Those are always satisfying.

A delicious lunch at my favorite restaurant. Falafel, tabbouleh, fresh red cabbage, lettuce and hummus.

Body image issues.

This kinda goes along with the first one, but lately I’ve been really having a hard time accepting what I see in the mirror. I always go through phases where I either like what I see or I’m totally disgusted by it, and right now I’m dealing with the latter. Anyone who’s ever dealt with this knows how much this sucks, but I’m hoping I start moving out of this phase soon.

Going back to classes after break.

Not gonna lie, I’m already burned out by school. The hardest time for me is always the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, especially this year when I’m buried with a million assignments. I’m simultaneously freaking out and feeling passive about finishing up the semester.

These almost look like stars, don’t they?

Successes

Enjoying alcohol without worrying about the calories. 

I’m not quite 21 yet (just 8 months to go!) and I’ve never been one of those people who partied hard in college but lately I’ve been more interested in drinking, at least on special occasions. On Thanksgiving, I tried some cake vodka mixed with a little vanilla almond milk (to die for!) and I also had some green apple liqueur at dinner and I enjoyed them both. I did NOT get drunk or anything but it was nice to be able to sip my drinks and not freak out about drinking OMGsomanycalories.

This was soooooo good!

Getting a lot of assignments done.

I was kind of dreading Thanksgiving break, because I had a lot of schoolwork to do during it. But I’ve been splitting it into manageable chunks and working on a little each day and I’ve definitely been making progress.  I’m still stressing out about some of them, but I’ve got a few more days to finish them up.

I love fall sunsets.

Mixing in fun with the work.

My break hasn’t been all work and no play though. Yesterday we went up to Denver for the day for some window shopping, a cheap lunch at Garbanzo (they were offering a buy one get one deal all day) and checking out a cool German Christmas festival. We also played tourist with my grandparents and went to Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City the other day. It’s kinda fun to explore the sites in your own city even if you’ve seen them a hundred times.

The weather was gorgeous and so were the views.

What have you been enjoying over the past few days? Do you like to be a tourist in your own city?