Am I Healthy?

Just a warning in advance, this post talks a lot about birth control and all that fun girl stuff, so any guy readers out there–you can skip this one! I know this is just what you want to read the day before Thanksgiving, but I thought it was an important topic that a lot of women out there can relate to!

I’m not sure I’ve ever shared my full birth control story on here but I’ll just give you all a quick rundown so you have a little background as to where I’m coming from. After I was diagnosed with anorexia in the spring of 2009, I started seeing a dietitian and therapist. I stopped seeing the dietitian after a few months but I kept going to therapy appointment regularly until I graduated from high school in May 2010. One thing that both my doctor and therapist recommended a few months into recovery was that I take birth control to jump start my periods. Before this point, I had NEVER had my period before, ever. I was 17 at the time this was suggested to me, and I always felt so awkward at school when girls would talk about their ‘time of the month’ because I had literally never had one, and I was almost out of high school! But at the same time, I was scared out of my mind to take BC. I had heard all the horror stories, mostly of weight gain, and in the early stages of ED recovery, weight gain was the last thing on my mind. So I put off taking it for various reasons until January of 2010. My first period felt like a blessing and a curse–I knew that meant that I was at least capable of having one, but the potential side effects still scared me.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

Fast forward 3 years. I had been on low dose BC since early 2010 without many side effects. I liked that it regulated my period and how I always knew exactly when it was coming. BC also kept my moderate acne at bay for the most part, which I also loved. But earlier this year, I started getting headaches more frequently with my period, and my acne was coming back more often. I started toying with the idea of getting off BC, at least for a few months, to see if my body could get it back on its own. Part of me was definitely hoping that I wouldn’t get it back, and that would help me justify to myself that I was still too thin.

Well, I got my wish. I got off BC in May of this year, and as of now (late November) I still haven’t gotten my period back. It’s been a full six months since I’ve had one, and while I love not having to deal with all that crap, I’m also worried. My doctor said to come back and see her if in six months I hadn’t had a period. Back in May, I was so sure that wouldn’t happen. But it did.

I’m kind of scared to go back to the doctor, because I really don’t want to be put back on BC. I’m not so sure how I feel about hormones being pumped into my body, and even though the kind I was using was pretty symptom-free, it did create some problems for me a few years after I started taking it. A lot of people say BC is also a crutch–it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of amenorrhea.

I won’t lie–missing my period kind of helps me validate that I might not be at my healthiest weight. I struggle with this a lot, because even though I haven’t weighed myself since this summer, I’m pretty sure I’m at my highest weight ever. I may still be technically underweight or on the low end of the healthy spectrum, but I don’t have the most positive body image still and having a more physical manifestation of my ED struggles helps me cope with it.

Not going to lie, I don't feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

Not going to lie, I don’t feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

The question is, am I healthy? I’ve been worried that my lack of a period might be due to a more serious issue, like PCOS (it is fairly common in women who aren’t overweight), but I do know that missing a period for even a few months isn’t healthy. As much as I’ve enjoyed spending half of this year without one, I know I need to be more proactive and take control of my health. So I plan on going back to my doctor in December or January to check in on this and hopefully get to the bottom of this issue.

I promise I’ll be back after Thanksgiving to share some less awkward stuff (like fun recipes, etc.) but I would appreciate any and all advice you guys have about this topic!

Have you ever had a similar experience?

#hashtagdisordered

You wake up, make breakfast and sit down at the table, smartphone in hand and you start scrolling through your Instagram feed, checking out all the pretty nature snapshots and drool-worthy food pics. You start clicking on the usernames of people liking the photos of those you follow–why not find some new people to follow? But not everything you find is so great. There are a lot of headless ab shots with comments like “I wish I had your body girly!”, and Quest bars galore and hashtags like #carbsafterdark and #iifym. Suddenly, you’re rethinking the bowl of oats you made for breakfast and wondering if you should start pouring Walden Farms chocolate syrup on everything you eat.

Hint: anything that claims to have 0 calories (except water) isn't real.

Hint: anything that claims to have 0 calories (except water) isn’t real.

This is a situation I’ve personally encountered several times on Instagram, and sadly, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be ending any time soon. Instagram has become a new place for disordered habits to flourish, all under the guise of being ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ and ‘intuitive’. Many of the girls (and guys, too) who post these questionable pics are often recovering from an eating disorder, or are trying to hide disordered eating. Some of them may have lost a substantial amount of weight by eating healthy, but may have taken it too far and are now too small for their body type and are clinging to certain foods in fear of any weight gain. Some are trying hard to recover from anorexia, but are becoming orthorexic instead, or trying out ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ and still trying to maintain control over the food they eat. Many of them are probably way more insecure than they come across in their smiling pictures, and maybe scared too.

Other than some of the pictures themselves, one aspect of Instagram that bothers me is certain hashtags. One I’ve come across lately is #carbsafterdark. I suppose it’s meant to show people that said user isn’t afraid of carbs, but all it really shows is that they actually are and often don’t know what carbs are. For instance, I saw this hashtag on a photo of Arctic Zero, the popular low-calorie ice cream substitute. I read the nutrition facts of Arctic Zero, and it has exactly 7 grams of carbs per serving, 2 grams of which is fiber. Ummmm, not so high in carbs! When I think of carbs, I think of oats, cereal, bananas, dates–all healthy, just more carbs than a fake ice cream. Just to be clear, I think it’s GREAT to eat carbs after dark, just don’t claim to be doing so unless you’re actually eating a decent source of carbs. I eat #carbsafterdark pretty much every night, in the form of banana softserve, but I don’t go around bragging about it because I don’t fear carbs anymore (at least most of them) and I think that’s why a lot of people use this hashtag, because they do still fear carbs.

OMG I ate #carbsafterdark. I'm such a rebel...

OMG I ate #carbsafterdark. I’m such a rebel…

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but another thing that bugs me is when people claim to be eating ‘clean’ but post Quest bars, low carb tortillas (again with the carb fear!), Walden Farms and other fake shit. Listen, I’m not trying to be holier than thou, but clean eating to me means eating real foods. I’m not saying you can’t eat these things if you truly like them, but don’t call them clean. Some of these things are the furthest thing from actual food and you’d be way better off eating the real thing (like real maple syrup instead of sugar-free no-calorie pancake syrup). It all comes down to a fear of calories, fat and carbs that a lot of fitness IGers have. I know it’s hard to believe, but real sugar (in moderation, of course) won’t kill you. Especially more natural forms, like honey, dates, fruit, etc. You can eat those things and not gain a ton of weight! It’s all about balance.

The issue I have with all this is that a lot of young women, myself included, are really sensitive to these images. Even if there are good intentions behind the photo, that can get lost and make girls feel bad about themselves. For example, whenever I see super-ripped, 6 pack abs on Instagram (often on very young, thin girls still in high school), I wonder what I’m doing wrong because I don’t have defined abs. I still don’t have the most accurate body image, but I would consider myself pretty petite, and when women with abs are asked how they got their abs, they usually say “Abs are made in the kitchen” or “You have to eat clean!” I would also say that I eat fairly clean, maybe not as much protein as omnivores, but I eat very healthily so it bugs me that I’m not seeing the ab definition I crave. But here’s the catch: not everyone gets abs at the same weight as someone else. Some women can have ripped abs without much effort, while others struggle to get that definition, even at a low weight and body fat percentage. Everyone is different. So it’s dangerous to promote the message that if you get lean enough, or eat clean enough, you’ll magically look like the IG users you idolize. It just might not happen, and it might make you crazy unhealthy. It’s good to encourage healthy eating and fitness habits, but one thing doesn’t work for everyone, and one person’s body ideal may be unattainable to someone else.

My abs aren't perfect and I still wear bikinis.

My abs aren’t perfect and I still wear bikinis.

I want to point out that I’m not calling out anyone in particular. For the most part, the accounts I follow on Instagram are positive, promote a healthy body image and post delicious-looking and non-disordered food. As with everything though, we have to be aware that the content we post may be taken the wrong way by someone else. I know I may be a little too sensitive, and having struggled with an eating disorder, disordered eating and poor body image may have clouded my views on certain subjects, but it’s hard for me not to take these things personally when I still struggle with accepting the person I see in the mirror every day, and when I still deal with disordered eating. I think we all have to take responsibility for our own content, and also what we choose to view. Not everyone is going to be as responsible with what they post, but I think taking everything with a grain of salt and training ourselves to be less sensitive is the best step to take.

Do you ever see disordered content on Instagram? 

My Thoughts on Figure Competitions

Disclaimer: I have never personally been involved in a figure competition. All opinions stated are my own, based on research I’ve done.

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of bloggers talking about figure competitions, especially lately with the focus on “Strong not skinny”. For the record, I don’t necessarily agree with the previous statement…after all, you can be strong and skinny, and for some, it is extremely hard for them to not be skinny, and we should all embrace our natural body shape to a certain extent. The point is, figure competition is becoming extremely popular and though I have never competed in it myself, I’ve become quite fascinated with the sport.

Let’s be clear, though. The main reason I like figure competitions is because you get to show off your leanness in some crazy, blingy, fun bikini. If I’m being totally honest, I love the idea of being uber-lean, fit and tanned. But for me, I know figure competition could become an issue for me, simply because of my past (and somewhat current) history with disordered eating and body image.

So sexy!

So sexy!

I don’t think every figure competitor has an eating disorder, or even disordered eating. There are plenty of bloggers out their with normal relationships with food and their body, and I commend them for that. But I have a couple issues with the other ones, the ones who are clearly disordered, or who are becoming restrictive, or have changed their eating styles drastically in order to get into competition shape.

I’m not here to call out any bloggers in particular, just to voice my concern about some alarming trends in general. First, the restrictive habits. I get that figure competitions require a LOT of dedication and self-control, and I really admire those who have both. But there’s a difference between self-control and restriction. One example of this is shunning most carbs, especially close to competition day. The science behind it makes sense, but it certainly isn’t healthy in the long run. Carbs are our primary source of fuel, and whether you choose to consume them through whole grains or through fruits and starchy veggies is up to you, but the obsession with protein at the expense of healthy carbs is NOT okay. Even if you’re eating more paleo, you can still carb up with fruit and squashes. So many people fear carbs today, and it makes me so sad. I know I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here because I still fear carbs somewhat (particularly grains) but I know that carbs are important and beneficial and healthy in the right amounts. Basically, if I had to skip all fruit for weeks to be in a figure competition, I would die. There’s a carb source out there for everyone–don’t skip out or skimp on them, especially if you workout!

Apples are NOT "bad" carbs!

Apples are NOT “bad” carbs!

The second thing that bothers me is that a lot of bloggers drastically switch up their eating habits to fit with a competition diet. What I’m referring to is a formerly plant-based (or mostly plant-based) eater suddenly adding in animal foods (usually whey protein, fish and eggs) so they can eat more protein. I think by now we all know that you can easily consume enough protein on a vegan diet, as long as you’re mindful of what you’re eating. Plenty of whole, plant-based foods are absolutely packed with protein, and if you feel like you aren’t getting enough, there are lots of clean protein powders and supplements out there to help you out. I want to be clear, though–I don’t think veganism is necessarily for everyone, but it makes me mad when a formerly-vegan blogger suddenly adds animal products into their diet all in the name of protein. I understand that protein is vital in fueling growing muscles, but you can get plenty of protein to do this on a vegan diet. I firmly believe that vegan figure competitors can perform just as well as those eating animals–just check out these amazing women! However, so many people turn to animal sources of protein, and forget the health benefits they may have seen while eating vegan or vegetarian. I’m not saying it’s bad or wrong to be an omnivore, just that those who are currently eating plant-based and considering going into figure competition should at least try to keep up their current eating habits. If anything, you can prove to others that you can be a fit vegan!

Amanda Rister, a gorgeous and super-fit vegan figure competitor.

Amanda Riester, a gorgeous and super-fit vegan figure competitor.

I think that figure competitions can be a fun way to challenge yourself, test your limits and try something new, but it can be an unhealthy thing that can make your body and mind quite disordered. As with all things, you should really consider if figure competitions are right for you at this time in your life and if so, what steps you’ll take to ensure you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while training for a competition and post-comp. As for me, figure competitions are something I may want to do in the future, once I have a healthier mindset surrounding food and my body, and I’d love nothing more than to enter as a vegan competitor to show that it is possible to be fit and healthy and beautiful on a plant-based diet!

How do you feel about figure competitions? 

Being Sick as a Trigger

Who likes being sick? Probably no one. It’s not the most fun way to spend a perfectly good day or three and it can feel so overwhelming. Though I’ve never been one to get sick that often, when I do, it reminds me not to take my good health for granted.

But there’s a darker side to getting sick that can manifest in someone who’s struggling or has struggled with an eating disorder or disordered eating. Being sick can act as a trigger, restarting disordered habits even if they’ve been absent for awhile.

What do I mean by this? Let’s look at a recent personal example. My sister was sick with a sore throat and other respiratory issues a week or so ago, and she ended up passing it onto me. The day I started feeling a little sick, I felt pretty wiped by the evening. I ended up skipping dinner and my nighttime snack in favor of plenty of water and some cold medicine. The problem with this? Later on that night, I was obviously starving–I hadn’t eaten since 3 or 4 that afternoon and my stomach hurt from hunger. But I ignored it because I figured, I was sick and my throat hurt a lot, so I wasn’t in the mood to eat.

So true. Being sick sucks.

So true. Being sick sucks.

The next day, I was even more out of it. I slept in a bit, then mostly hung out in my room for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. I also didn’t eat anything until around 4 in the afternoon…and then it was only some applesauce, watermelon and later some banana softserve. I didn’t feel hungry at all that day, and I was just focused on trying to make my sore throat feel better. However, the lack of food for most of the day made me feel tingly (like the pins-and-needles feeling) and even more out of it. Truth be told, if my mom hadn’t insisted on me eating something, I probably wouldn’t have. Not good, I know, but it’s hard for me to eat when I’m not hungry or feeling good. I also did not take a full rest day. I have a really hard time taking a full day off from exercise, and I had already planned on taking the next day off from exercise because I was going to be out of the house for most of the day (I ended up not taking a rest day the next day, because I was feeling a lot better and had more time to workout that I thought). So I ended up doing some yoga for half an hour, nothing strenuous, and it didn’t exactly make me feel better. The stretch felt good but doing it made me feel a little dizzy and tired. I know that exercise can improve sickness symptoms, but I think it would have been better for me to try to rest as much as possible. It’s just hard for me to rest–I always feel so lazy and unproductive.

It is kind of a big deal, especially when you're sick.

It is kind of a big deal, especially when you’re sick.

Being sick can be a slippery slope. You may be able to justify not eating or eating less when you’re under the weather, or working out through an illness, and then it becomes a trigger for further restrictive habits. I’ve experienced this even more when I had some stomach virus, and I could hardly make myself for a few days. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to make my stomach feel worse, but it ended up making it harder for me to return to normal eating. Same with working out. If you aren’t used to taking rest days regularly (which I’m guilty of), it can be hard to admit that you need to take a day or two off to let yourself recover. But exercising can make you feel worse, not better, sometimes, and in those cases it’s better if you take a break. It’s better to take a day off and feel better sooner than to exercise through it and end up prolonging your illness. Again, though, it can be hard not to let being sick start to control your habits again–you just have to be proactive and remember that taking care of yourself means continuing to eat while your sick and listening to your body. Even if you can’t eat your normal foods, it’s better to eat something than nothing. It’s something I’m still working on, but getting sick recently has made me realize that I still don’t have the healthiest mindset when it comes to getting sick.

Have you ever struggled with keeping up healthy habits while sick? 

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’?

Weekend of Family, Food and Fathoming

Again with the alliteration! Sorry guys, just can’t help myself sometimes…even when it is a little cheesy.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I love that it was basically an extended weekend for me–I went to my internship Monday and Tuesday, and I had Wednesday through Sunday off to do as I pleased. Some grocery shopping, workouts and the typical daily stuff happened but it was definitely a weekend to remember!

Family

Fox Run Park was perfect for picnicking on the 4th.

Fox Run Park was perfect for picnicking on the 4th.

My family had originally planned on heading to a nearby town for their annual 4th of July parade. Apparently it’s one of the longest parades in the country (lasting over 2 hours) and we’ve gone a few times in the past and enjoyed it. However, after the nearby fire from earlier in the summer, a lot of people planned to go to this parade to show support for the local firefighters…so basically, parking was nonexistent, and we couldn’t even take the shuttle buses going to the parade because the line waiting for the bus was like a mile long. We ended up driving to the south side of town to see if there was anything going on down there for the 4th (there wasn’t), made a quick stop at home for some picnic supplies, the fam stopped at Subway for sandwiches (I munched on cold watermelon and a whole champagne mango) and then we headed back up to one of our favorite parks. Luckily, not many people were there so we had our pick of tables and after lunch, we played a bunch of outdoor games.

My patriotic outfit.

My patriotic outfit.

I love spending time with my family, and I appreciate it more now that I’m so close to being a real adult (aka out on my own, with a job and without their financial support). Even though things didn’t go as planned (and it rained later when we wanted to eat dinner outside, boo!) we still had a great 4th of July. Oh, and we also didn’t get to see the fireworks because we didn’t feel like braving the crowds downtown at the park, so we tried watching them from the hill near our house but they were blocked by another hill. You win some, you lose some!

I forgot how much I love swings!

I forgot how much I love swings!

My sister and I took the opportunity to play around on the playground like we were 5 again. I’ve been realizing more and more that being spontaneous and just having fun (even if you look silly while doing it) makes life that much more enjoyable.

Speaking of spontaneity...

Speaking of spontaneity…

The whole fam partook in our almost annual water balloon/water gun fights. Filling up and tying those water balloons wasn’t so easy, but getting to enjoy some simple fun with the people I love most was worth it. Unfortunately, no photographic evidence of how soaked we got, but let’s just say we didn’t need to shower the next day 😉

Food

July 4th breakfast: banana softserve blended with frozen cherries and chocolate Sunwarrior. Topped with homemade raw cacao nut clusters and raw brownie bite.

July 4th breakfast: banana softserve blended with frozen cherries and chocolate Sunwarrior. Topped with homemade raw cacao nut clusters and raw brownie bite.

Snackplate. Mostly watermelon and raw zucchini slices topped with garlic gomasio.

Snackplate. Mostly watermelon and raw zucchini slices topped with garlic gomasio.

Friday's lunch. Snackplate of carrots, homemade bean dip, homemade raw 'goat cheese' dip, zuke with garlic gomasio. Side of leftover berries.

Friday’s lunch. Snackplate of carrots, homemade bean dip, homemade raw ‘goat cheese’ dip, zuke with garlic gomasio. Side of leftover berries.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with fruit. And raw zucchini slices. And garlic gomasio (basically a seasoning blend of sesame seeds, garlic and sea salt…super addictive). And banana softserve for breakfast, errryday. I’m becoming more of a creature of habit when it comes to my food, and that’s ok. My weekly Whole Foods trips have been looking similar lately: lots of fresh produce, flax crackers, raw chocolate, raw nuts, beans, olives. Makes things easier for sure!

Fathoming

Free stuff is always nice!

Free stuff is always nice!

I’ve been thinking more about budgeting lately, and how I’m going to handle a much stricter budget when I’m on my own. I’ve recognized that I have a love for going shopping, whether it be for food, clothes or beauty stuff. I don’t buy something every time I go, but it’s hard for me to say no when I have the funds necessary. I want to save up for things that really matter, and not go hog wild on little purchases here and there, and I also know that I might not be able to afford only shopping at Whole Foods when I have my first job. I have a few other health food stores I like that are cheaper, I just have to make it more of a habit to shop there instead of always Whole Foods. Gotta say though, getting free stuff from coupons/gift cards (like the Bath & Body Works stuff above) is always a bonus.

I'm kicking myself for not ordering anything from here!

I’m kicking myself for not ordering anything from here!

My mom and I went to VegFest Colorado on Saturday. I love how supportive my mom is, despite her being an omnivore who has no intentions of giving up animal products. I’m glad she went, though, because I hope it opened up her eyes to some of the needless suffering animals go through to be on her plate. She did buy some free range, organic chicken the other day, so that’s a step in the right direction. I hate to get all preachy, because that’s not who I am, but going to VegFest made me realize that I’m vegan not just for the health benefits, but for the animals. It made me realize that I’m very much against animal suffering, and that I need to do something else to show that I am. I already avoid all animal products when it comes to food…why don’t I try to start buying only cruelty-free beauty products? One of the speakers we saw said something that struck me–he said all creatures deserve to feel loved. That is so true. We all seek out love in our lives, why wouldn’t animals do (and deserve) the same? I’m certainly not saying everyone needs to go vegan, but just making small differences in the animal products you choose to buy and consume can show the animals that they are loved.

Other than the amazing message, the food was great too. I got to try several new-to-me products that I loved (namely locally-made raw chocolates and a chocolate coconut hot fudge sauce) and I got to see the Chef AJ do a cooking demo. A lot of what she said struck me as well. She’s really focused on unprocessed foods, which I am all for, but she mentioned that oil, salt and sugar are all unnecessary evils in our lives and we really don’t need them to cook delicious things. I have to say, I feel that’s a little extreme, especially as a recovering anorexic who’s still challenging old food fears, but I get what she’s saying. I try to use the most natural, unprocessed forms of all of those things, like coconut oil, sea salt and maple syrup/raw honey and I feel like that’s a good balance for me. But the desserts she made for us without sugar (a PB Larabar-esque bit, black bean brownies and muesli) were really delicious and inspired me to try to use just dates like she did as a sweetener in my desserts. I do agree that Americans tend to eat way too much sugar, salt and oil especially in their more processed forms, so any step in the direction of eliminating them is a good one.

Her cooking demo obviously got through to me, because when it was time for lunch, I ended up passing on the delicious-looking vegan waffle sandwiches from the Waffleganger food truck and just got a salad from Qdoba on the way home. As much as I’d like to say my eating is way more free now, it isn’t always. I worried about all the gluten and sugar in the waffle sandwich but now I’m mad that I didn’t just jump out of my comfort zone and at least split one with my mom. Luckily, the waffle truck is based in Denver so I’m planning a trip to visit it for brunch on my birthday in 3 weeks!

How was your weekend? How do you feel about cutting out all sugar, oils and salt?

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? 

WIAW: 1 Week

1 week til I’m free (sorta) from classes. 1 week til I’m back home for the summer. 1 week til I can really relax. And 7 more days of stress, projects, to-do lists, papers and cleaning. Welcome to finals time!

Enough complaining, though, let’s get to this week’s WIAW. I haven’t posted a full day of eats in quite awhile but I managed to get pictures of all the food I ate on Monday for once!

Breakfast: chai carrot cake inspired smoothie in a bowl. Topped with cashew butter, raisins and crumbled grain free sweet potato coconut muffin.

Breakfast: chai carrot cake inspired smoothie in a bowl. Topped with cashew butter, raisins and crumbled grain free sweet potato coconut muffin.

My latest breakfast favorite is the smoothie in a bowl. It’s finally been warm enough to enjoy these regularly and since I stocked up on xanthan gum awhile back, I can finally make them thick and ice cream like. This version was made with vanilla chai Vega protein powder, almond milk, a dried fig, chopped carrots and cinnamon, plus an ice cube for a cold factor. I could eat this daily!

Lunch: spinach salad with leftover falafel+hummus & kimchi and olives; dried bananas and orange dark chocolate.

Lunch: spinach salad with leftover falafel+hummus & kimchi and olives; dried bananas and orange dark chocolate.

I basically scarfed this salad down between classes since I’ve been busy editing a video for a final project and eating isn’t allowed in the editing lab. However, I did sneakily eat the dried bananas (not like banana chips–these are soft and chewy and just made of bananas and lemon juice) and the chocolate. The salad was a bit too smelly (thanks to the kimchi) to eat inconspicuously.

Snack: an almost-raw snackplate with fresh pineapple+strawberries, part of a raw brownie bar, fig with cashew butter, Thai curry cashews, chipotle kale chips and PB2 dip.

Snack: an almost-raw snackplate with fresh pineapple+strawberries, part of a raw brownie bar, fig with cashew butter, Thai curry cashews, chipotle kale chips and PB2 dip.

I’ve been indecisive lately (when am I not?) so snackplates have been staples. I’ve been having some off days a lot lately in regards to hunger, so I ended up putting back some of the kale chips and cashews, and I wasn’t feeling the PB2. I bought it when I ran out of peanut flour, and it’s way too salty for me. I’d rather have peanut flour so I can add my own salt or stevia, and it’s got more protein anyway and is cheaper. Luckily my iHerb order came just in time and now I’m restocked.

Dinner: vegan tamale, unpictured watermelon and chipotle kale chips.

Dinner: vegan tamale, unpictured watermelon and chipotle kale chips.

I celebrated Cinco de Mayo a day late with this tamale that was on sale over the weekend at Whole Foods. I gotta say, I’ve never had a tamale before and this vegan bean-and-corn filled version was bomb! I could have gone for less corn, but it was really good and I’m glad I’ve got a second one to eat some other time this week.

Dessert: peanut flour paste, unsweetened applesauce, coconut butter stuffed date, part of a raw brownie bar, Alter Eco dark mint chocolate, half of a vegan everything cookie.

Dessert: peanut flour paste, unsweetened applesauce, coconut butter stuffed date, part of a raw brownie bar, Alter Eco dark mint chocolate, half of a vegan everything cookie.

I haven’t had one of Whole Foods’ cookies in months…but my dad offered to get me one over the weekend and I couldn’t say no. But full disclosure: I was scared to eat it. I very rarely eat wheat as I generally feel better without it, and this cookie is made with whole wheat flour. However, it’s pretty darn clean for a cookie, so I split it in half and enjoyed it over two nights without any problems. I know I’ve said before that I like eating clean and I don’t see that changing, but I want to get back to being able to enjoy indulgences like these every once in awhile.

An awkward selfie on a bad body image day.

An awkward selfie on a bad body image day.

And I’d be lying if I said I’ve been completely okay in my body lately. It seems to be a combination of seeing so many ab pictures on Instagram and just feeling insecure in my own body, but I’ve been feeling kinda crappy. Full disclosure: I don’t like body selfies like this but I feel like I needed to post one just to vent my frustrations. I feel uncomfortable in my spring and summer clothes after wearing pants all winter, and I feel like I’m gaining weight and it freaks me out. Honestly, I would love to have more definition in my abs, but I don’t believe it’s all about clean eating and working out–if that were true, I’d probably have more visible abs. As it is, I know that I do have something under there as I can flex and feel the hardness of my stomach, but it still bugs me that my abs don’t show. BTW, this picture was taken almost immediately after dinner, but I don’t have much more definition in the morning either. And I can’t tell you how much I hate seeing my thighs right now, especially in little shorts. This may be a topic for another post, but Instagram has basically become a place for comparison for me, and it’s definitely not positive comparison. I’m not sure if anyone else has felt the same way about Insta, and I’m not trying to make it seem like a bad thing (it certainly doesn’t have to be) but it seems to me that there are so many ‘ripped’ and ‘defined’ people on there that make it seem like they’re totally healthy but in reality they’re likely overexercising and underfueling. Just another reason for me to try to stay away for awhile.

I’m hoping that once the next week is over and I move back home that my appetite will return to normal and I can see myself in a more realistic light!

What have your breakfasts been looking like lately? How do you deal with changes in hunger?