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30 Things That are More Important Than my Pant Size.

So yesterday, I reached a precipice:

I had an important meeting to go to… the kind that you can’t wear yoga pants or leggings to.  Which meant digging through my closet to find ACTUAL clothes.

Sometimes being a grown up isn’t fun.

Anyways, I found 3 pairs of pants:

  1. A pair of thai pants… anyone who knows what thai pants are knows that these gems, while super comfortable, make leggings look like business suits.
  2. A pair of sweats… a skip from casual leggings to the lazy Saturday, not-leaving-the-house wear.
  3. A pair of pants I bought around January/February of this year. Wrinkled, but nothing an iron wouldn’t fix.

Obviously, I had to go with the third option.  While to many, this is a non-stressful endeavor, for me, trying on clothes that I haven’t worn in a long time produces tons of anxiety.

Will they still fit?

Has my body changed?

I see fat accumulating on the daily, but they say it’s not an accurate perception.  What if this is my worst fear come true?  An enforcement that what I see is really what’s there?

If I do put them on, and they don’t fit, how will I react?

Will it be the start of more restriction?  A more intense exercise regime?  A reinstatement of my old eating disordered ways?

How will I cope with this?

Regardless, I had to put on the pants.  I built myself up while ironing them, popped a few benzodiazepenes (kidding), and tried to tell myself it would all be okay.

And guess what?

The stupid things didn’t fit.

Correction:  The stupid things didn’t fit the SAME as they fit at the beginning of January.

So let me clarify something… your brain doesn’t store useless information, or stuff that is deemed unimportant.  That’s why, if someone asks you what you ate on September 1st, the most likely response would be something along the lines of:

“WTF, I have no idea?!  Why the heck does it matter?”

And believe it or not, what your body looks like on a day to day, minute to minute basis is pretty useless information.  I mean, your brain is much more preoccupied with keeping your heart beating and remembering how to get home from work so you don’t end up half way to Alaska.  THAT my friends is useful information!

Hence, the argument of many eating disordered patients of, “I swear my stomach has grown two inches since the last time I looked in the mirror!” is pretty unfounded.  The brain plays tricks, the disorder plays tricks, and creates a fictional perception of what you looked like before based on what you BELIEVE you looked like before, and what SEEMS logical in your brain.

Regardless though, the facts lie in the fabric:  my pants were tighter in certain places.  While I can’t remember EXACTLY specifically how the pants fit, because again, useless information, I remember them being a touch looser around my thighs, and butt.

The argument of me is instantly:

The argument of the boyfriend is: “It FITS you, instead of being baggy.  They look good!”

It’s not a drastic change, but it’s a change nonetheless.

In ED recovery, one of the hardest things is coping with a changing body, even if its changing for all the right reasons.  There’s the constant comparison between where you were and where you are now.  You have to make peace with yourself, inwardly and outwardly.  That includes accepting that your body wants to be a certain size and shape, and you have very little control over that if you want to live life as a normal person and not as a crazy food-and-exercise obsessed control freak.

That also includes accepting that the clothes you had when you were disordered, or the clothes you had even before your disorder might, or more likely than not, won’t fit.  AND knowing that that doesn’t mean you’re ballooning, anymore than it means you’re fat.  And even if you are, is that the worst thing you could be?

You also have to decide what you’re willing to give up to create the life you want.

In a world of people telling you to never give up, to push yourself to the limit, and to strive for nothing short of perfection, I am your antithesis.  It is impossible to create a life that is filled with everything.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Something’s gotta give.  _______ (Insert other overused historical/film quote here).

The same thing applies to eating disorders, or rather eating disorder recovery.  If you hope to recover, you have to be willing to let go of things.  I know this seems like an obvious statement, but when put into practice it’s actually quite a difficult thing.

So what do you have to give up?

Is it the idea of a lack of cellulite?

A thigh gap?

The ability of the ED to act as an excuse for putting life on hold?

Is it exercising when you’re really anxious about moving?

The idea that health = thinness?

All the food rules and judgements you hold in the name of “health”?

Is it the need to feel in control and right/perfect all the time?

For me, it’s all these things and more.  AND it’s the idea that a certain arbitrary label sewn, probably haphazardly, into an article of clothing has the right as well as the power to determine my worth, value, beauty, and integrity as a human being.

Because in your everyday life, do you look at a woman next to you on the bus, who society deems as “overweight” but who also has volunteered countless hours at the local homeless shelter, and say, “You have less value than the thin woman next to you who has fundraised more for the SPCA than anyone in the town.” ?

Do you say to an “overweight” woman breastfeeding her newborn that because she’s “fat” her breast milk is worth less to the baby she’s feeding, than the thin woman doing the same sitting next to her?

Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.  And whether or not you can fit into a size 2 or a size 14 is hardly the most important thing in your life.

At some point, we have to make peace with our changing shape.  With everything in our lives, we have to decide whether it is something that is important, or whether it’s something that is preventing us from creating the life we want.

We stand at a crossroads, or a fork in the road as obvious as the fork dividing your left pant leg from your right.  We can put on our pants, suck in our guts, and do up the button, all while lamenting the loss of our willowy frames, our high school bodies, our 25 year old stomach, or our grey-less hair.  We can beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel like crap for changing.  And we can choose whether the things we have given up or lost, are things that we still want to hold on to or get back.

As my pants hugged my thighs, and caressed my hips and butt, I felt like a failure.  I felt panicked.  I felt as if my world was ending and my worst fears were being realized.  I felt like the person I was was gone, and I could never get her back.

All because denim is unforgiving after a trip through the laundry machine.

But I had a choice.  I could continue to hate myself.  I could cut out sugar.  I could decrease my portions.  I could skip a few snacks.  I could exercise for just 10, 15, 20 minutes more.  I could bust out the screwdriver and put the treadmill that I dismantled because I didn’t want to be chained to it, back together.  I could find the person I was, and bring her back.

I’ve done it before.  Enter relapse, again.

Or I could decide that there were other things that I valued MORE than the person I was, or the size of my pants.  I could be uncomfortable, unsure, unsteady, and exposed to the harsh realities of limited motion fabrics, and not change a thing.  I could move on with my day, and my life.

I could set my priorities… and I did.

30 things that are more important than my pant size:

  1. I can go out to whatever restaurant my friends, family, or boyfriend pick without having a complete mental breakdown, ordering a salad, or looking up the menu/calories ahead of time.
  2. I have a latte every day, and it is 100% delicious and a very normal, enjoyable part of my morning.
  3. I’ve had a few cocktails, a couple slices of cake, and made memories to last a lifetime.
  4. I’ve had cookie crumbs fall into my bra, and lost a drop or two of ice cream in there as well.  I remember a time neither of those would touch my lips or fingers, never mind get up close and personal with my feminine features.
  5. I FINALLY learned to bike, and I bike… a lot.  And have increased the strength and musculature of my legs, as well as my genetically crappy knees.
  6. I’ve spent more time with my friends and family than I have on a treadmill or yoga mat.
  7. I have the strength to go up stairs and hills without getting winded.
  8. My energy level is much more consistent and I have more get-up-and-go than I have had in my whole life, even before the ED.
  9. I have learned to relax my standards a bit more, even though it is uncomfortable to do so.
  10. My hair is crazy soft… and not brittle at all.
  11. I’ve spent less time at home, and more time exploring the world.
  12. I frequently have conversations that don’t revolve around food, weight, or shape… and I can pay attention and remember having them.
  13. I can have a bite of pizza without counting it as a snack or meal.
  14. I have more patience and more compassion for those around me.
  15. I’ve stopped mumbling, “Fuck you!” under my breath every time I saw someone genuinely happy.
  16. I’m not trapped in a specific exercise cycle, with a specific route, for a specific amount of time, EVERY SINGLE DAY, until I die.
  17. I can’t remember the last time I specifically set my alarm clock earlier to fit in a work out.
  18. I can’t remember the last time I did sit ups, weights, or pilates at 2 am.
  19. I’ve carved out a niche and found a great love for blogging, which I never could do when I couldn’t sit long enough to open a browser window.
  20. I’ve fostered relationships that fill the gap in my spirits to replace the one in my thighs, and that never would have had a chance to grow had I not stopped moving.
  21. I have a figure that allows my boyfriend to hold me without fear of breaking me.
  22. I can wear shorts again.  Both in terms of temperature, and in terms of acceptance.
  23. I’ve begun to view my “unforgiveable” past choices, simply as choices.  They don’t speak to who I am now, or who I will, or can become.
  24. My body does not determine my worth, value, or integrity as a person.
  25. I’ve begun to do things regardless of the fear there is in doing them.  I push myself to not stand in my own way.
  26. I don’t take life so seriously.  One choice, one day, one hour, one meal, or one conversation does not a life sentence make.
  27. I’ve shared my deepest and darkest secrets… and was met by only love and support.
  28. I’ve become more literate on the many ways society is more flawed than I am.
  29. I’ve laughed more, seen more, and done more than I ever did when my pants fit.
  30. Basically, I’ve learned how to live, and lived a life worth living.

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And that is worth so much more than my pant size.  So in the end, it really comes down to:

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Seriously Smitten With…

It’s Tuesday again, which means it’s the perfect time to take another 20 minute hiatus from life!  I have a very important meeting in an hour and a half, that’s kind of stressing me out, so I decided to take some time for self care and do my absolute favourite thing:

Go to a cafe, order breakfast and a latte, and blog with you all.

Win.  Always a win.

So let’s check out some of those things I’m seriously smitten with this week:

  1. I resonated with the signs and symptoms of an introvert hangover so much, although for me it is a mix of those and just an increased lack of patience and really high levels of anxiety!  I’ll snap at the simplest things, and will transfer my frustration and guilt and inability to focus on those I love most.  It’s a tough one, because even with those you love the most you still sometimes need a break.  For me, I always feel guilty about it too, because it is easily portrayed as an affront to those around you when you say, “I need to be alone”, and often sounds to people who don’t quite get it like, “I need to be AWAY from YOU!”  It doesn’t mean that.  It just means my battery is drained and needs to be recharged with fresh air and solitude.
  2. I can’t remember what TV show it was that had a scavenger hunt proposal, but ever since I saw it I thought it was the sweetest and most romantic thing.  It shows so much thought and love, going through different places you’ve been together, different things you discovered together, all the memories of all the little things… either that or I’m a cliché romcom fanatic.  This guy had it all right.
  3. There are so many places I want to see, but after following on instagram and snapchat, Michigan has made it onto my list for sure.  (There’s a LIGHTHOUSE, and a giant lake that reminds me of an OCEAN! And delicious looking cafes, food, and coffee. Win.)
  4.  It always mind boggles me when you see Instagram photos of women with “perfect” bodies, and then hear the story behind how it actually looks that way.  This woman is an inspiration, and I am seriously smitten with how the body that has “lived more, given more, and enjoyed more” is given its credit.  Body’s like this are a result of living and loving life, instead of losing and loathing self.
  5. My Goodness… I had to pee when I read this list of Mom texts, and it almost ended very badly for the chair in the cafe I was sitting in quite a few times.  The sad thing is, my mom would totally text a good number of these.
  6. A fantastic podcast interview by Caroline Dooner with Isabel Foxen Duke, a Certified Health Coach and Emotional Eating Activist, fantastic body image and body positive activist, and all around badass in the food, eating disorder, and food psychology realm.  Seriously, one of my favourite emails to read each week, and she makes SO MUCH SENSE! You’ll laugh, you’ll resonate, and you’ll agree, and say, “Man, society is f***ed up!”
  7. I need this shirt. And a large iced vanilla soy latte with it, please and thank you… Oh, and a side of this shirt and this shirt.  And this print.  Okay I’m done.
  8. My next kitchen wishlist item.  Money, money, money… you’re fleeting and easily spent.
  9. Flourless, high protein pancake recipe that I ADORE.  I usually do it as is, with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, OR I make a pumpkin version, with 1/2 a banana, 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  And top with lots of nut butter and blueberries. (SIDE NOTE: there is NOTHING wrong with carbs or flour.  This is just for those times when you want something a bit different, taste or texture wise.  I still love me some good oat flour pancakes, or regular pancakes if they’re dense and hearty too!)
  10. A really cool free summit I’m a part of, that started yesterday (but it’s never too late to join!, all about making peace with food, loving your body, and feeling beautiful inside and out.  It features daily interviews with leading experts in this area, and is a much needed breath of fresh air for anyone struggling with unrealistic expectations, food and/or body image issues.

Happy Tuesday to you all, once again!

Processed with Snapseed.

image source (side note: Seriously, can I PLEASE have her natural handwriting?!  I can’t believe this awesome font is her everyday!)

 

 

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Vegetarian (Or Beef) Pepper-less Chili

Oh my goodness, it’s my first recipe post!

 

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Cue the applause, and general sense of euphoria on my little corner of the blogosphere.

Please… don’t let there just be crickets…

Anyone?

Okay, moving on.

So, does anyone else think that it’s really odd that my first recipe post is a chili?

Chili… chilli, Chile, chilly?

Imma spell it chili… because I can.

I think it’s odd.  I mean, I have a major love of oatmeal.  And peanut butter.  And bananas.  And ice cream.

And this recipe contains none of those things.

You thought I was going in another direction didn’t you?  Although an oatmeal chili might just work… as would peanut butter.  I mean we’ve all tasted African Peanut Soup, and that’s kind of an eighth and a pinch of the way there.  Bananas and ice cream I think would be a no go though.

So this guy spurred from my love of peppers.  And chili.  If you remember back to some of my older blog posts, I’ve mentioned several times I’m allergic to peppers.  I found this out in the process of developing an eating disorder, as I underwent an elimination diet to figure out what was causing all my digestive distress.  Cue subsequent I-can’t-eat-anything-because-it’s-too-painful weight loss, and with the weight loss comes the onset of the eating disorder.  Fifteen hops and sixteen jumps later, moving onwards and upwards, I’m in recovery and I’m still allergic to peppers.  One of the things that was pretty staple in my diet before, be it in the the form of fresh bell peppers on a quesadilla, or in chilli powder (chili?), cayenne, paprika, or whatever other dried form you have to impart flavour.  And a key ingredient in one of my great loves… chili.

So the search began.  Is it possible to have a pepper-less chili?  Google!

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Hint: They all HAVE peppers.  Shocking.

Side note: I have WAY TOO MANY tabs open…

It’s been years.  Literally.  And eventually you give up trying to FIND a recipe, because other than beans, peppers are pretty much a give in with chili.  You content yourself for a while with trying to convince yourself that beef stew is the same thing (it’s not).  Once that gets boring, you live vicariously through others by watching your boyfriend eat a giant bowl of chili topped with sour cream and cheese, and huffing in big nostril-fulls (pleasant imagery…) of that signature scent as if it’s crack.  Eventually, you go a little crazy, and take a bite when no one is looking, and for those 15 seconds it’s in your mouth you’re in euphoric bliss.

And the next 48 hours are digestive hell, condemned to a couch, muttering, “Why?! For the love of oatmeal, WHY DID I DO THAT TO MYSELF?!”

And you don’t do it again… until you do.

What can I say… it’s difficult to be a foodie with food allergies.  And I live life on the culinary catastrophic edge. What a daredevil.

Crickets again and awkward silence?  Moving on…

I happened across a miracle thing though… and don’t ask me why it works but it does.  There’s this ONE curry powder that I seem to be able to eat.  I KNOW right?!  A magical mix that somehow has a big pop of heated flavour that doesn’t debilitate me for days!  This blend… I guess it doesn’t have peppers?  I don’t know because you know they won’t reveal their secrets.  But the blend I’m speaking of is:

Teja Curry powder

For those of you who can’t find this particular gem, I also found a nightshade-free curry powder recipe online, if you suffer from this allergy as well.  I haven’t tried it myself though, so I can’t speak of it’s awesomeness.   If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

And with this discovery, endless bouts of experimentation have occurred over the last few years, with various types of foods that typically involve that insiduous nightshade vegetable.  Attempts to make it, obviously not identical, but as close as I could get.

 

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This chili is a recent development, and is probably my favourite chili I’ve come up with to date.  It is inspired in terms of some of the ingredients by a recipe posted recently on Dishing Up The Dirt, with my own spins and of course, pepper-less twists.

FINALLY, a pepper-less chili!  I hope anyone else suffering from a lack-of-chili-due-to-pepper-allergy deprivation can find hope and healing, as well as solace and satisfaction from this new development!

Hint: Google… THIS chili is pepper-less!

I hope you enjoy trying it out, and let me know how it goes.  And of course, if you do make it, take a picture and be sure to tag me ( @cookiecrumbsandcarrottops ) on Instagram.  I’d love to see your creations!

Vegetarian (Or Beef) Pepper-less Chili

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 15 min prep, 1 hour cook time
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Finally a chili recipe for those people who are allergic to peppers that's still chock full of flavour. Perfect served with a freshly baked warm slice of cornbread.

Inspired by: Dishing up the Dirt

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic*
  • 1 block of frozen tofu, thawed and crumbled**
  • 2-4 tbsp curry powder (depending on your level of heat desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 (12 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (12 oz) can beer (I used pale ale)***
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed (for me, this was a scant 2 cups)
  • 1-2 c water/vegetable stock (to thin)- optional
  • Sour cream/greek yogurt, green onions, guacamole, avocado, cilantro, radishes, cheese, or whatever else you want to garnish

Directions

  1. Heat your olive oil in a large soup, or stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add in the onion, and sauté until golden and soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add in the crumbled tofu and sauté until browned slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the grated ginger and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about a minute more. Finally, add the curry (start with 2 tbsp if you’re unsure about how much to add), cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, a further minute.  If the mixture begins to stick too much and burn on the bottom, turn down your heat, and add a couple tablespoons of stock or water.
  3. Next, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and black beans, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the can of beer, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.  The mixture should thicken up considerably, and become deliciously fragrant.  If it begins to get too thick, turn down heat, or you can add in optional stock/water to reach your desired consistency.  I added about 1 cup of additional liquid.
  5. Once it has simmered, add in the fresh corn kernels, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  Taste, and adjust seasonings.  I ended up adding a bit more salt when I made it with tofu, but I didn’t with beef.  I also started with 2 tbsp of curry, and after tasting at this point, added close to 2 more tbsp, because I like it to have a decent kick.  But you do you!
  6. Spoon into bowls and top with desired toppings (I used greek yogurt, radishes, and cilantro), and serve with a hunk of delicious cornbread because it’s the best.  And you need them carbs for good energy.  Truth.

*A couple cloves of minced fresh garlic would be delicious in this, or at least 3 or 4 cloves of roasted garlic.  I used granulated because we were out of roasted at the moment, and we are also allergic to fresh garlic.  Go figure.

**To those of you who are unfamiliar with frozen tofu, it’s totally the best way to get a ground beef-like texture to your tofu, as it completely changes and gets crumbly once it’s been frozen.  To do it, drain your tofu and press it a bit to remove excess water, and then stick in a freezer friendly container as a block.  Defrost as you would meat, ideally, over time, but you can also nuke it in the microwave if you’re short on time or forgot to take it out.  Then crumble it with your hands, or pulse a few times in a food processor to get a ground beef like consistency.  Just be sure not to do this too much or you’ll end up with a consistency almost like almond flour… Not entirely bad, but really fine and not as ground beef-like.

If you’d prefer to use ground beef in the place of tofu, sauté a pound of it with your onions in step 1 until browned, and proceed as usual.  I’ve done it both ways and it’s delicious.

***Feel free to use stock instead of beer in the recipe if you’re not a fan of cooking with beer, or the flavour it imparts, but know it will change the end result.  I’ve noticed if I use stock, I often have to use less curry as the heat shines through more.  Play around to find your preference!

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Seriously Smitten With…

So I want to write the blog I’d like to read, and in my favourite blogs, there’s always a weekly link love post.  And one of my favourite ones is the one that comes from Shutterbean, as an I Love Lists assortment, as it’s always different, always includes some totally random stuff, and always makes me laugh.

I decided I wanted to get in on the action too, so here we are with my new “Seriously Smitten With” series, which assuming I can keep my act together, will be posted every Tuesday.  Here’s some stuff I’m seriously smitten with this week:

  1. This artist makes jewelry inspired by the cities she visits!
  2. I have to question whether some of these fml moments are real, or made up.  Either way, I was almost crying laughing over some of them (especially number ten)!
  3.  My go-to burger recipe, although I use it direct from the cookbook (which is one of my favourite cookbooks ever, just be sure to white-out the calories first (or get someone else to if you know you’ll memorize them/be affected by them instantly) because you don’t need that crap!).  I don’t always make the onions or toppings, but as a base burger, it’s THE BEST!
  4. Diets suck, and we all know it.  We also know that they are not a solution for long term health or weight loss.  But there’s also the growing issue where “getting healthy” is really a diet in disguise… and before you know it, you become less concerned about your health, and more concerned about your body.
  5. Seriously this melted my heart a little bit.  What a genius idea!
  6. I want this spoon.  And knowing me, I should probably get this spoon.  And I’m liking these wedding favors.
  7. I love gold rimmed dinner collections but I hate the fact that you need to hand wash them.  The struggle is real.
  8. I can’t commit to a real tattoo.  Did you know you can make your own temporary ones?!
  9. Whether you’re recovering from an eating disorder, or just trying to make peace with food and your body so you’re not a total nutcase anymore, one of the most important and key things is to start living a non-diet life, and these three points are on point.  In my experience the order to which to approach them is more like 1-3-2, because it’s super hard to tune into your hunger and fullness cues when you have all those judgements from 1 and 3 in the way.
  10. Everyone knows I’m addicted to oatmeal, but there’s a particular combo that I have been MAJORLY crushing on lately.  Usually, I can’t eat the same thing more than a couple times in a week or I get bored, doesn’t matter what snack or what meal.  But I unashamedly had this guy probably 5 or 6 times in the past two weeks, and once it was within 12 hours of each other.  Mind blown.  You can get the combo, which I cannot take credit for here.
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Here was my version yesterday morning, topped with cashews and fresh figs, although my winning topping has been cashews, toasted coconut, and dried cherries.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

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This or That- A Lighthearted Post Because I CAN.

Is there anyone else who loves reading posts like these?  Sometimes you just need these kind of things that mean absolutely nothing but are everything in your daily life all at the same time.  I am a human, not a robot, and these kind of things really connect you to the writer of the blog.

Or so I think.

I saw these questions on Jillian’s blog and loved reading her answers, so I had to give it a spin myself.  Side note:  If you haven’t checked out her blog, definitely do it!  She’s a joy to read 😘👍.

I also love link love posts, and lists of random stuff.  The queen of these lists is Shutterbean, so if you need a good dose of random and without doubt a few laughs, be sure to check that out too.

I just had a thought pop into my head about the latest season of Orange is The New Black.  This whole “This or That” game, reminded me of the creepy new guard and him playing this game with the Latinas… you know the episode I’m talking about?  Yeah… rest assured this game of “This or That” is NOTHING like their version.

So without further ado:

Instagram or Twitter?

Instagram, 100%. I could never figure out Twitter, but that could just be me and my lack of technological savvy.  I love scrolling through my instagram feed and being able to see life 100% in colorful fabulous imagery- it appeals to the artist within me.  Plus, does anyone else find the Twitter bird notification sound super annoying?!

Pepsi or Coke?

Ooh, tough one.  People say you can’t tell the difference, but there is one, albeit subtle.  I think I really alternate, but in general I think I’m a Coke person.  Every so often I get tired of it and switch to Pepsi, but it never lasts more than a couple.

Bath or shower?

“Showers. Who has the time for baths, honestly? Haha I’m kidding. Personally, I don’t like baths. The thought of laying in bath water that’s filled with my dirt from the day grosses me out. Sorry not sorry.”

THIS!  This was Jillian’s answer, and I finally can say I found someone who shares my opinion about lying in your own filth!  Boyfriend is always giving me grief about how ridiculous this is, but FINALLY I’ve found someone who agrees.😁

Plus, I get super anxious in baths for some reason.  I’m not sure why.  I’m okay if the water is warm, or lukewarm, but I can’t handle hot.  It freaks my system out, my throat constricts, and I feel like I’m suffocating.  The only exception to this is when it’s the middle of winter and you’re in a hot tub, but the air around you is cold.  Then, I’m good.  I don’t know why this is, but it makes saunas impossible too.

Glasses or contacts?

Well, funny story, I used to have glasses.  For at least… 2 or 3 years.  Plus a stint when I was in elementary school.  Miraculously however, my astigmatism corrected itself right after graduation.  The optometrist was amazed, and confused, as I had gone to him because my glasses were blurry to me and I thought I needed a STRONGER prescription or something.  I still have them, but they only ever make an appearance when my eyes are SUPER tired or I’m sick, where they seem to help.  I’ve never tried contacts, but I’m pretty sure if I did, it would be something like the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where she almost blinds herself.  I don’t think I could stick them in my eyes without blinking as I have enough troubles with eye drops.

Online shopping or shopping in store?

Depends.  There’s something about shopping in store that’s SO much more fun.  I love to make a day out of just wondering through shops and up streets and looking at stuff. Most of the time I don’t even get things, although I would if I was rich, but the process is fun!  And there’s no way I can clothes shop online, as I seem to be totally different sizes in everything and am not really in touch with my actual body size as the dysmorphia will often get the better of me.  BUT, I also LOVE AMAZON!  Most of my cooking stuff, coffee, books, and things like that will be online as it’s often a much better deal and so much more accessible as I live in a small town without many shopping options in the first place.

Coffee or tea?

BOTH!  Four months ago I would have said tea, 100%.  But as part of my recovery I have a latte everyday midmorning, and give myself permission to enjoy it fully, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my morning.  I’m getting pretty good at making them too.

The rest of the day it’s tea 100% though.  Especially The Spice is Right from DAVIDsTEA… I can’t get enough, and will easily go through half a kilo a month.  No joke.  It’s a problem, and all the staff at the store know me by name now, and know exactly what I’m coming for with my jumbo half kilo tin every month.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.  Pen, pen, pen.  Does anyone else have a favourite ink thickness too?  I have this addiction to slightly thicker ink, not quite like a thin sharpie but between that and a ballpoint.  My old boss always had the best pens, and they had the PERFECT thickness.  I was constantly on the hunt for these pens but I could never find them, and then when I did come across one I liked, I ALWAYS forgot to write down which one it was so once it ran out I was right back to square one.  I’m still looking…

Pancakes or waffles?

Mmmmm…. sweet pancakes and savoury waffles.  If that makes sense?  I adore dense, hearty pancakes, that I glom up with rolled oats, and I don’t touch those light fluffy ones if I can help it.  Hence if I’m out for breakfast, you’ll never see me ordering pancakes, because they just don’t get it!  BUT, one of my favourite lunch things is making a savoury buttermilk cornbread waffle and then topping it with guacamole, black beans, and cheese.  Nom.

Side note:  I HATE MAPLE SYRUP on pancakes.  And I HATE WHIPPING CREAM always.  Like nothing grosses me out more.  I always top mine with nut butter, or cottage cheese, or yogurt.  And granola.  And fruit.  Perfect.  It was hilarious at the residential treatment center I was in, because every couple of weeks on a weekend we would have pancakes for breakfast one morning.  And not only were the pancakes light and fluffy, but you had two topping options: maple syrup and butter, or strawberries and whipped cream.  Can you see my dilemma?!  I always asked, “Can’t I have butter, and strawberries?”  No dice.  I hated that breakfast.  I always went for the whipped cream and strawberries though and choked it down, because if you picked the maple syrup and butter, you had to have a whole quarter cup of syrup on just one silver dollar pancake.  It was literally, did you want a pancake with your syrup?!  I mean I guess I could have just played Gilligan’s pancake Island in a maple syrup sea too… but they probably would have called food games disordered too.

Winter or summer?

SUMMER.  Boyfriend would have called this instantly without even looking at the answer.  I struggle so much with winter because I get cold so easily.  I always have, even before the eating disorder.  We’re only a few days into cooler weather, and I swear I’ve said, “I’m freezing!” at least 4 or 5 times.  The plus to winter though is we do have a heater, whereas we don’t have an air conditioner.  And cozy sweaters, hot lattes, tea, and PSL.  But that’s more fall than winter… and that wasn’t an option.  Actually keep my temperature in the 15 to 25 degree range, and I’d be one happy camper!

Sweater or hoodie?

Probably zip up lighter hoodie, or my absolute favourite kale sweatshirt.  Seriously, there is nothing as comfy as this guy!

Sun or moon?

Sun.  I’m a morning person, and sunrise means breakfast.  And breakfast means oatmeal.  And oatmeal means BEST THING EVER!

Tv shows or movies?

Probably TV shows, although I don’t watch either with any regularity.  I mean I like to GO to the movies, but I love the fact that when you get hooked on a TV show you have something to look forward to every week, and it’s prolonged.  Movies are over and done with.  I mean come on Grey’s Anatomy, Orange is the New Black, the Amazing Race, Friends, Gilmore Girls… they’re all genius.

Side note:  Boyfriend and I just started watching Stranger Things last night… we’re two episodes in and hooked.  Who else is watching?!

Rain or snow?

RAIN!  I love rain!  Just like I love the ocean… man I need to live on the coast!  There’s something about it that is so relaxing, and when I’m anxious and it’s raining, I throw open the windows and just smell that fresh signature scent.  And the sound… oh it’s the best.

Snow is cold, and wet, and icky, and turns to ice.  And then you can’t ride your bike.  And you walk, slip, and fall in the middle of a crosswalk, probably in a pile of dirty snow-plowed snow that is also yellow because Winston (my dog) has no filter and has peed on it.  Yep, can you tell I hate winter.  And I hate snow.

Chocolate or vanilla?

 

Vanilla.  Vanilla yogurt is the best.  Vanilla based ice cream is the best.  BUT vanilla with chocolate chips, or vanilla with chocolate chip cookie dough, or vanilla with oreo crumbles…. that’s where it’s at!

But dark chocolate covered almonds, or dark fudgey brownies, or Justin’s Dark chocolate peanut butter cups…

OH the decision is too much!

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A Weekend Away (Finally!)

 

Sometimes, you need to escape.

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After a whole summer, working full time, or full time plus sometimes, my boyfriend and I were burnt out.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I had an actual holiday… I mean days off, typical to a week, yes.  But an actual overnight escape from the town we live in?  Yeah… I can’t remember.  It’s been at least 4 months I’d say, probably longer.

I’d been burnt out for a while.  I hate it when you get into a rut, and everything you do is just routine.  Wake up at the same time, eat breakfast (which thank heavens is always varied), bike to work at the same time, take a break at the same time, work some more until you have lunch at the same time, work more till you go home at the same time, plan dinner, cook dinner, do a bit of activity/try to unwind in the same ways, go to sleep.  Repeat.  Those ruts where the most diversity you have in your day is your meals and snacks.  Those ruts where even your days off start to look the same:

Day 1: Skype with dietitian, breakfast, blogging/cafe time (sometimes with breakfast), home for lunch, chores/errands, dinner, activity/unwind, sleep.

Day 2: breakfast, cafe time/chore time, lunch, therapy, boyfriend time (this can always look different yay!), dinner, activity/unwind, sleep.  Or if it’s a doctor week, it’s a trip out of town… but that’s only once a month, and while it’s a change in pace and super exciting, it just doesn’t happen enough.

And you get burnt out.  You get bored.  You get stagnant.  And when you’re still just making ends meet, you get depressed.  Your constant routine is a breeding ground for behaviours.  The predictability offers too many ways to let the ED sneak in.  The routine, which is so familiar, is engrained in your memory.  You remember when you were actively engaging in your eating disorder, and all the places you fit it in.  Those places are still there.  It’s too easy to go back to old behaviours because everything else is the same as it was when you engaged in them all the time.

The past two weeks were a bit of a landslide.  It wasn’t a relapse, it was just a tough haul.  I had super emotional session with the dietitian that started it, and it sort of threw my mood into the toilet.  It was harder to be happy, it was more work to get up in the morning, it was dreading the start of another work week, it was stress.  It was feeling defeated, feeling that recovery was hopeless, feeling like you were failing yourself and those around you.  It was feeling trapped in your thoughts, feeling once again scared of everything.  Scared of food, of drinks, and especially, of not moving enough.  It was feeling as though as enjoyable as movement was, it was entirely compulsive, and feeling stuck in a juxtapositional paradox- I am loving something as much as my ED is, I feel liberated from my thoughts and my cage by flying down the street on my bike, but I feel trapped as soon as I get back.  Knowing that with every push of the pedal, it would be harder to sit still the next day, and knowing that as much as it was liberating me, it was giving the ED voice more power than it’s seen in a while.

We planned this vacation for a while, booking it off (as required) almost a month in advance.  We had been hoping to visit my uncle at his house in the mountains, and were looking so forward to the time away.  I think the countdown really started the moment we requested the time off… as we work two different jobs, when we both find out that we get the time off together it’s that much more exciting.

But of course, life got in the way.  About a week before, we were asked if we could postpone it.  My family was burnt out, and the thought of having more guests was just too much.  My grandmother has been having a really tough time medically lately, and in the last two weeks has been moved into hospice care.  It’s been really hard on all of us, because she was in every meaning of the word, the head of the family.  And we’re a pretty close family unit, so it’s taken its toll on all of us.  We understood, but we were crushed.  We both needed a vacation.  The boyfriend has been working 13 hour days 6 days a week for almost a month, so he probably needed it even more than I did.

It would have been relatively easy to get back on the schedule at work, I think, for both of us.  At my work we were short staffed, and at his, they can always use him.  I was going to do it, because when we finally DID take time off, I didn’t want to lose the hours.  I mean, I didn’t mind, but the bills did.

But at my last dietitian appointment before the trip, the dietitian saw my tiredness, my defeatedness, my sadness… and she said, “You NEED a holiday.  You need to take that time, find something else to do, to see, go somewhere else.  Please try and get away.”

Long story short, we made it happen.  We decided to head to Vancouver, last minute, and stay with my two aunts, who so graciously offered up a room for a couple of days.  And this is what happened:

The car broke down.

No, I’m not kidding.

We both worked Saturday morning, and got off by 2 pm.  Just when we think we’re FINALLY going to get away, about an hour before we left the car started idling low and just quitting.  I’m blessed however, and I have a boyfriend that is not only talented at just about ANYTHING that involves using your hands, but who is also knowledgeable about cars.  This one kind of stumped him, and the mechanic, though.  However, his impulsiveness is a blessing at times, as well as his unwillingness to give up.  At a time when I would have been like, “Well, looks like we’re not going anywhere,” he fiddled with it and was persistent.

“Well, I don’t know what’s wrong.  But it’s good probably like 60-70% of the time.  So I’m putting my tools in the trunk, and YOLO.  What’s the worst that can happen, right?  Lets go!”

No, I’m not joking.

Are we crazy?

Probably.  But I prefer to look at it as refusing to be the victim of life’s challenges.  There’s always a way out of a problem, even if it takes eight detours.  And oftentimes, if it does take eight detours, it makes for a good story at the end of it.

So we headed off, later than anticipated, but determined to get away.

While sitting in the car, I made a conscious decision.  Considering how difficult the past couple weeks had been, I do give myself credit for it, as it wasn’t the easiest one to make.  I inhaled the fresh air coming through the window, closed my eyes, pictured it flowing to all the parts of my body and giving them renewal.  Spreading out from my center, cleansing my arms and hands, my neck and head, my legs and feet.  And I exhaled, picturing my negativity and stale energy flowing out of my feet and legs, head and neck, and hands and arms, to my center, and out of my body.  I chose to feel refreshed and renewed.  And in that moment I decided to wipe the slate clean.

“This weekend, I am going to live wholly and fully.  I am going to embrace every moment, and treat it as if it were my last.  I am stepping away from my day to day life, and being completely present.  And by doing so, I am consciously choosing to let the eating disorder go.  For this weekend, it is not a part of me.  For this weekend, my choices are going to be based on my cravings.  For this weekend, food will not give me anxiety.  For this weekend, I am going to go with the flow.  If there is something that sounds good, I am going to have it.  I am not paying attention to a perfect meal, or a perfect snack, how many snacks I’ve had, or whether my plate has veggies.  And I’m going to savour.  Savour food, savour moments, savour laughter.  I’m going to look at the world and actually see the world, without being in my head a million miles away.  Because I want to look back on this time, and remember how I lived, not how I controlled or manipulated my food or my body.  I want a moment of laughter to be the first memory that comes to mind, not a moment of anxiety over a bite of cheesecake.  Because in the end, it is the moments that matter, and I know that my body can handle whatever I throw its way.  I trust, I surrender, and I choose to live.”

Was it a scary idea?  Yeah.

I did it anyway.  And this is what it looked like:

Saturday night, we had to take a detour to see my aunts who were visiting my grandma in hospice so we could pick up the key to their appartment.

Knowing that the greater portion of our drive would be in the middle of nowhere, we decided that it was a good idea to grab dinner before we left… and I was craving Quiznos.  It’s been months since I have had it, A) because I remember the calories from my ED days, and B) because since new owners took over the one at home, it has not been the same (they skimp on toppings because they suck).  But we were in the city, so we figured it was safe.

(side note: why is it that the food never ACTUALLY looks like the picture they advertise. I mean, Quiznos is closer, but have you ever seen McDonalds or A&W? The discrepancy between the advertised burger and the actual burger is hilariously comical)

I don’t have a picture of the actual food because I didn’t think about writing a post like this until the morning after.  Whoops.  But I got a beef and swiss, and an ice water because I knew I was super dehydrated and needed some pure fluids.  Super yum, and a craving satisfied.

Boyfriend got a chicken carbonara, his usual.  I totally agree, and I alternate between the chicken carbonara and the beef and swiss depending on my cravings.  Best two, other than the ultimate best sandwich, which is the Baja chicken.  I can’t eat that one anymore though because I’ve developed a pepper allergy, but if YOU can, then I totally recommend it!

After this we headed off.  It was a relatively uneventful 5 hour drive… minus the two times that the car died when the clutch was engaged, and we rolled down hills while boyfriend tried to start it again.  The good thing is it always starts right up again, so we never actually had to break out the tools.  Once we finally got to Vancouver, we used GPS to get to the apartment as it was their new one and I’d never been there.  This was super helpful, minus the fact that it didn’t tell us about turning lanes, so we got a couple of drivers a little irate.  It’s hard to pay attention when you’re trying to listen to GPS, watch the idle so the car doesn’t quit, heed the traffic, and deal with weird turning lanes, merges, and overpasses.  But we made it there in one piece!

We got in super late, so it was pretty much straight to bed, especially since we had both started work super early (I had to get up at 5 am), so we were done in.

Sunday morning, we headed out to buy our transit passes (because you’re crazy if you’d rather drive and pay for parking!) for the day, as it’s so efficient and affordable there.  This ended up being a long ordeal, as they had gotten rid of the FareSaver paper tickets (yes that’s how long it had been since I had been there!) and had switched to electronic cards.  This makes much more sense, but considering we were trying to buy day passes, it became complicated.  I looked it up online, but everywhere we went they said they didn’t sell day passes.  An hour later, we got frustrated, went back to the apartment to look it up again, determined that you could actually buy them right in the skytrain station that was literally a block away.  So we wondered around for an hour for nothing.

But it was a nice day, and the air was full of sea breezes, so I couldn’t complain!  The only thing was by the time we finally got them, I was super hungry!  I had woken up hungry, but since we thought we would be getting breakfast right away I didn’t eat at the apartment.  I decided that I was on a mission to find the best iced latte in Vancouver.  Now, I couldn’t be as avid about this as I could have been with a lot of my other friends, or my dietitian, because boyfriend doesn’t like coffee.

Yeah, I know right?!

So I knew I wouldn’t be drinking them all day and really just had a couple of shots.  One of my favourite things to do is look up places to eat and drink before hand, so I can find something with great reviews and not miss out on great opportunities I don’t even know about… so I looked up some places.

My previous stays in Vancouver had been predominantly dictated by my ED.  I remembered going to this coffee shop that sold amazing homemade donuts and coffee both with friends who lived there, and family.  But every time, I always had ordered water or tea… and I was determined to try their lattes and their donuts that had always looked SO GOOD!

Enter 49th Parallel Coffee, and Lucky’s Doughnuts, a combo shop on West 4th Ave.

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I really should have taken more photos of the buildings and stuff… noted for next time I do a travel diary!

There were WAY too many choices to pick from because they all looked SO GOOD!  We ended up each getting a savoury pastry, and splitting a sweet donut.

Boyfriend got the pistachio and salami scone, and an iced tea.  I got the ham and cheese croissant, and the iced Venezuelan.  This was a spur of the moment thing to try something new… it’s caramelized milk reduction, served with espresso and texturized milk with a bit of cocoa powder.  It was good, but a little too sweet for my liking.  The croissant was delicious though!  Fluffy and flaky on the inside, and crisp on the outside.

We were both full after that, so we took our sweet donut to-go and picked on it through the morning.  It was a BACON apple fritter (yes bacon!), and THAT my friends is the texture a donut should be!  It was just the right amount of sweetness, and that smoky savoury bacon was perfect.  Nom.

It was boyfriend’s first time in Vancouver other than the hospital, so I was the main tour guide.  We decided to head out to Metrotown in Burnaby after breakfast.  For those who don’t know, Metrotown is a GIANT mall, with stores for absolutely everything.  We wondered around there for quite some time while I tried to find a new swimsuit and leggings, a difficult task.  I’m fairly easy to shop with though because I literally go into a store, do a loop, and if nothing catches my eye from a distance, I’m done.  Speed shopping for the win!  I almost had a mirror meltdown, or two in the process, but thankfully I had my man there to keep me happy and together.  He knows exactly what I need to hear and how to keep me calm in my worst moments.  I am forever grateful ❤️.  I never found a swimsuit, but I did get some leggings that I LOVE.

We stopped and did some tea sampling at Teavanna, got some iced teas, and then decided it was time for lunch.  It was easiest to just eat at the food court, which isn’t my favourite because it’s never GREAT food.  But we decided to try Fresh Slice Pizza, as it was quick and easy.

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A slice of meat lovers topped with parmesan cheese for me, and a diet coke.  I used to keep diet coke in the house all the time, but now I prefer to have other drinks around (some of them even have calories 🙌!) and just get my diet cokes when I go out to the movies and at fast food chains.  I enjoy them a lot more that way.

After that we headed… to IKEA!  Yep.  It sounds like nothing exciting, but we’d both never been to one before.  My basic synopsis, is when I need to furnish my house, this is where I’m going!  We compared countertops, and kitchens, talked about my need for my dream kitchen to have tons of counterspace and an island.  Luckily it would appear that we are both very similar in terms of our likes!

Some favourites I noticed:

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After IKEA, we decided to get some late 5 pm froyo.  And shock of shocks, I was actually feeling peckish.  Boyfriend had never been to Menchies, and he had never had froyo… I know right?!  I was shocked!  Not about the Menchies… we don’t have one at home, but who hasn’t eaten froyo?!

He learned the cardinal rule, which he will definitely abide by next time: Limit the froyo so you can put all the toppings on!  He went the other way, and it was too much froyo to actually enjoy all the toppings!  I on the other hand knew this from experience, so I had half as much froyo and ALL THE TOPPINGS!

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A bit of butter pecan and nutella swirled froyo, a bit of cake batter and cookies and cream swirled froyo, topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Oreos, cookie dough, strawberries, peanuts, and chocolate sauce.  Yep… I think that was it.

Because we ate the froyo so late, we decided to go for a late dinner and go to a movie first.  Let me be clear… I don’t do horror movies. Or at least I haven’t since I was eleven or so when I watched Darkness Falls and was scared to sleep for months.  I can still see her in my mind… no.  Just, no.  But somehow I was at the movies to see Suicide Squad and saw the preview for Don’t Breathe, and it looked good.  And I have a man, so he can cuddle me when things get too intense… so I thought why not, lets try it.  Being from a small town, we don’t have a movie theatre, nevermind a fancy one, so we were debating on what kind of “fancy” theatre to go to.  We had to decide between D-Box, UltraAVX, and IMAX… but IMAX was out because nothing we wanted to see was playing.  In the end we went for UltraAVX because we’re both money conscious and couldn’t justify a $25 ticket just for moving seats.  The verdict was: Not that exciting really.  I personally don’t think the sound and huge high quality screen is worth the extra cost.  But the movie itself was good, although boyfriend only half did his job of cuddling me when it got intense…

The coolest part of the theatre was the soda machine!  Forget seven or eight choices of soda, this one had over 300!  SO MANY!  I had a hard time picking, especially when there were so many I hadn’t even heard of!  This is something we definitely need everywhere, nevermind the fancy screen 😉…

After the movie we decided to walk to dinner, which was super close to where we were staying.  Joy of joys, I was to my great surprise feeling hungry again.  One of my favourite things to do when I travel is use Zomato (formerly UrbanSpoon) to pick out where to eat.  I LOVE this app, as I can search by food type, area, or “best ….” (my favourite!), really whatever you want/are craving/are feeling in the moment, which totally allows me to honor my cravings 👌👍.  Some people are like, “Oh, whatever, we’ll just find somewhere to eat.” But I’m all like, “Please, if I’m going somewhere I want to enjoy every moment to the fullest, and try something new that’s supposed to be AWESOME!”

Side note:  If anyone has any other good app recommendations for this, I’m all ears!

So it was a little harder because we were eating at like 10:30 at night, and a lot of places are closed by then, but I decided to pick something that had good reviews and hazard a try.  We were both craving the best burgers (we both LOVE burgers… it’s a great thing that I’m glad we share) so I plugged that in and came up with a bar called The Hub.  This actually ended up being our favourite place we ate at the whole weekend and it was a total win.  The picture however, doesn’t serve it justice because the lighting was SO DARK!  Both of us agreed just a bit brighter would have been nice, because it was even dark when reading the really small print on parts of the menu.

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We both ended up ordering drinks which were DELICIOUS!  We kept talking about them all weekend, and you know it’s good if I’m tempted to order a second one because I NEVER do that.  Neither of us drink a lot, so it was nice to just relax and have a drink together.  The funny thing was that we both ordered different cocktails, but ended up switching them as we preferred each other’s order to our own.  Only one drink each though because they were doubles and I really am a lightweight.  I was definitely feeling it after only one, so I knew it would be a bad idea to have another.

What I ended up with:”Blueberry Lemon Mojito- Stoli blueberry vodka, muddled lemon + mint, blueberries, simple syrup, soda”.  This was my first time having a mojito and if they all taste that good, I’m definitely a fan!

Boyfriend: “Tequila Paradise-  El Jimador tequila, peach schnapps, Triple Sec, pineapple juice, fresh citrus, soda”. The only part that turned me off was the abundant pineapple aftertaste, but he loves pineapple so it worked for him.

And for dinner we both ordered the “Crack Burger.”, but I had mine with sweet potato fries instead of regular because I don’t like potatoes. Guys… it was honestly the best burger I’ve EVER had!  The patty is encrusted in cracked black peppercorns, and topped with Monterey jack cheese, lettuce, pickle, tomato, onion rings, and pesto aioli.  Boyfriend doesn’t like onion rings so I got his on the side of my plate as well because me+onions= super happy!  We relaxed, ate, marvelled at how awesome the whole meal was, and planned our activities a bit for the next day.  Then by midnight we decided to head back home and get some well-deserved sleep.

I didn’t expect to be hungry in the morning, as I had eaten my whole burger, half my fries, and we had eaten so late, but I woke up starving!  The next morning started out with a trip downstairs to JJBean.  Yep, downstairs.  My aunts’ apartment is right overtop of a JJBean, and a block up from a skytrain and a few awesome grocery chains.  Safe to say they have everything they need at their fingertips!  I’ve heard nothing but good things about the coffee at JJBean, but I’d never been, so we decided to check it out.

img_2507 Side note:  Look at the difference natural light makes!!!

I went for a peach oatmeal muffin and a half sweet vanilla latte.  Odd choice for me as I’m not big on peaches in muffins or in oatmeal, and I usually get my lattes iced, but both just sounded appealing for some reason that morning!  Boyfriend got a ham and aged cheddar turnover, and a really good iced tea.

This latte was one of the best ones I’ve had in a while, and I understand the Bean love.  It was smooth, nutty, but not overpowering. I love coffee, but I still want my latte to be creamy and subtle in flavour, which is one thing the coffee shop back home is missing.  Their coffee is so strong, I have to order it with regular sweetness instead of half just to cut that bitter strong coffee taste.  It always reminds me of two distinct flavours – coffee… and then some milk, with a bit of the flavour shot you added if you’re lucky enough to taste it (hence the full sweet versus half).  I want my coffee to be one drink, not two distinct flavours mixed.  Hence this latte was right up my alley.  And the muffin was pretty good too!  I did eat the whole thing, even though it was ginormous because I was hungry, and I didn’t feel overfull after which was awesome.

Then we headed up to the entrance of Stanley Park, and we decided to rent a tandem bike from English Bay Bike Rentals for the day.  We did some research beforehand and had decided on this place from its good reviews, reasonable rates, and location.  They also supplied a basket, lock, and helmets with the rental so that was awesome.  It was our first time riding a tandem, and though it took probably 20 minutes to get the hang of it and synchronize our movements, soon we were pros.

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We decided to bike the seawall, did the Stanley Park Loop, through English Bay, went down through False Creek, and then stopped for a bit at Granville Island.  This is an artsy little island, where the Emily Carr Institute is located, as well as cute little shops and an awesome marketplace.

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Boyfriend with the tandem at Stanley Park.  We’d pretty much gotten the hang of it by this point.

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I have the world’s worst luck with sunglasses!  I spend $30 on a pair, and I break it within 2 weeks.  EVERY TIME!  These ones I bought from a street vendor in Paris, for the equivalent of $2, and they’re a piece of crap literally.  They are SO CROOKED, as you can undoubtably tell, but I CAN’T BREAK THEM!  Seriously, they’ve been half way around the world.  Thrown in bags, knocked around, bent backwards and forwards, but they never break.  At this point I’ve given up and just gone with it.

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We wondered around Granville Island for a while, and by the time we’d seen it all it was time for lunch.  Boyfriend was craving Chinese, and I was indecisive, but I knew I was feeling the need for something lighter and fresher with some produce.  He’ll never understand my love/need for vegetables, but it is a real thing!

We saw some iced teas at the Granville Island Tea Company, and decided to get a couple of those, and boyfriend got his Chinese.  The nice thing about the market is that there’s so many choices all close together, so people don’t necessarily have to have the same thing from the same shop.  In this case I did though, but instead of going for the traditional smorg-type food, I went for a seafood noodle soup with veggies.

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It wasn’t anything spectacular, but those fishballs were delicious, whatever fish they were.

I should have really listened to Boyfriend when he said, you’re probably feeling full from liquid.  I drank the broth, ate the seafood and veggies, and had my iced tea, but I didn’t have many noodles.  I started to feel really full and they weren’t THAT good anyways.  So I stopped.  But it definitely wasn’t a food full and ended up being a fluid full, as I was peckish again in under two hours.  Oops.  You live and you learn.

After Granville, we biked to Kits Beach, and then all the way out to UBC, one of the universities I attended in my attempt to find myself.  Anyone who has done that bike ride will get me when I say THAT, is one BIG HILL!  By the time we got to the top and to UBC we definitely needed fluids!  So, because caffeine is totally fluids that hydrate you (yeah right!), Starbucks it was!

IMG_4448My signature grande half sweet cinnamon dolce iced coffee frappuccino.  I asked for an iced water too but they forgot and the line was so long I didn’t bother.  I should have though because I was SO DEHYDRATED by the end of the day!

At UBC we walked around a bit, and then took the trek down a bisquillion stairs to Wreck Beach.  Yes, Wreck Beach.  We’d never been, and boyfriend wanted to see it… and yes, it is an optional nudist beach.  And yes, people were nude.  And no, it’s not a big deal.  It’s the human body.  I’m more inspired than anything, because you definitely have to be comfortable in your own skin to walk around nude.  Just saying.

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The stairs going down… SO GREEN!  I love Vancouver for its ocean and its GREEN!

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We didn’t go nude.  We also only saw the top corner and it was super rocky!  Found out afterwards that the main, sandy beach was farther west towards the bottom of the UBC corner… so we kinda missed out on the beachy part of the beach.

Afterwards we biked down the crazy hill (which was super fun!) and returned the bike at around 5 pm.  Somewhere along the ride, the thought popped into my mind to go and see the old residential treatment center I went to when I was really sick.  They used to be in a different isolated location far away, but they’d recently moved to Vancouver so I was in the same city as the new center.  So we found some water bottles and then took transit to the new building.

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I didn’t go in.  We got there at like 6, and I knew they’d be eating dinner (an always stressful occasion), and that most of the professionals that I’d worked with would have gone home for the day, save a few nurses maybe.  So I just looked from the outside, completely immersed in memories.

“Why do you want to go there?  I don’t get why you’d want to see it again.  It’s memories of one of the biggest struggles of your life.  It’s painful stuff.  Why do you want to put yourself through that?  You don’t want to be back there do you?”

It’s a combo question I got when we were on the bus to the facility, and as we were standing on the street, looking up at the building.  It’s interesting how so many people think that it’s a process I don’t want to relive.  I mean, no, I don’t want to be sick like that again.  No, I don’t want to have to go back to residential treatment.  But the memories… they’re a part of me.  And, I honestly don’t have bad memories of that place.  Truly, I don’t.  That was the best place I could have been at the stage in recovery I was at.  It was a safe, welcoming environment, that allowed me to slowly wean off the medications I had become addicted to (doctor error), and start to reclaim my life.  I met people there who, still this day, are some of my best friends.  I have so many laughs, so many tears, and so many good memories.

The difference is that now I’ve moved beyond that point.  At this point, being in residential treatment would interfere with the good parts of my life that I’ve built, as opposed to start a new life, or save my life.  It’s not a place I need to be at this point in my recovery journey.

We stayed there only for a few minutes before we bussed back into the city center, and headed back to the apartment.  By this point, neither of us had had anything substantial since lunch, other than Starbucks, and we were STARVING.  My aunt had gotten off work, and we decided to all go for dinner together.  She is like me, and she loves to try new places.  You’re only on the ocean for so long, so boyfriend and I knew our last meal in the city had to include fresh seafood!

We ended up heading to Provence, which was right on the harbour, and quite fancy.  My aunt had never been there either, but it had pretty good reviews on zomato, so we decided to give it a shot.  We agreed, it wasn’t as good as the burgers, but it was still super nice and the food was good.  The winning dish was definitely mine, and boyfriend even said it was a high contender for the best meal, although he didn’t enjoy his as much.

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He got a fresh seafood linguine with tomato sauce.  I NEVER combine my seafood with tomato sauce and I can’t understand it… to me it takes away from the incredible flavour that seafood has.  Hence, I didn’t order it, because if it’s seafood it needs a white, or butter/herb sauce every time.  Or just simple grilling.  No tomatoes.  No red sauce.  No way.  Boyfriend said it was good, but definitely not great.

img_4747-2I got their famous (they said they’re known for it) wild mushroom ravioli in a wine butter sauce, and added grilled prawns.  I was actually strongly feeling pasta-y which doesn’t happen too often.  All that biking, I guess I needed to replenish my carb stores!  I even had bread from the bread basket beforehand which I never do, but I couldn’t wait for the main meal.  And I ate it all (the main), and I was comfortably full. Win.  And this… yeah it was DELISH!

We also had drinks, which were good, but nothing terribly exciting.

We sat with my two aunts, had good conversation, good food, and good company for a couple hours.  On the way back to the apartment, boyfriend and I stopped in at Urban Fare to grab some breakfast supplies we could eat in the car in the morning, including Erin Ireland’s “To Die For Chocolate Macadamia Nut Banana Bread””, which I had heard of a few times in the blogosphere.  We had to be back by 10 the next morning, so we were up and greeting the morning by 4 am.

And what did I learn in all this?

  1. If I let things go and stop thinking so much, my hunger and fullness cues are WAY more reliable.  In other words anxiety and stressing out about food actually impact my body to tell me what it needs in more ways than I ever thought possible.
  2. If I tell myself I SHOULD feel a certain way, I often do.  Hence, when I eat a big meal, or a scary/higher calorie meal/snack, I spend a lot of time telling myself either I won’t be hungry later, or I shouldn’t be hungry later.  HOWEVER, if I just let it go, my body does its work, and wham, oftentimes I am still hungry the next time a meal or snack comes around.  As was the case for our dinners this weekend- each morning I woke up starving regardless of whether it was 4 am or 6 am or 8 am, AND regardless of the fact that I had eaten the whole plate at dinner.  I let it go, I was fine, and my inner cues were going strong!
  3. It’s easier to function if you stay present and in the moment.  As was the case with the leggings shopping with the mini-meltdown in front of the mirror.  I stopped, closed my eyes, breathed, focussed on my breath to calm me down.  And then I said, “The goal right now is to buy leggings, not to make myself feel like crap.  So I’m going to get out of my head, into the now, and focus solely on the goal.”  Win.
  4. Vancouver is fantastic.  Enough said.

 

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The Face of Functional Anxiety

I remember when I was first hospitalized, my favourite high school teacher came to visit me.  She came several times over the months that I was in there, but I remember that first visit specifically.

She hadn’t seen me in years.  Not decades, but it had been a solid two years.  And two years before, I was graduating high school, and looking towards a bright future.  I was heading off to university for the first time, and I had enough scholarships to cover my expenses for first year for sure, with the possibility of a good number renewing the next year, so long as I kept my grades up.  I had a 96% average (stupid physical education just kept bringing me down!), and was looking towards a science degree in veterinary medicine.  I was the class valedictorian.  I had a plethora of extra curricular activities. The skies were nothing but bright for me.

Except for that dark cloud… the one that no one ever noticed.  The one that had been there for so long that it was simply a part of my normal, when in reality it was anything but.

When she turned the corner into my room and laid eyes on me for the first time, I remember the shock.  I remember the look of dismay and fear in her eyes.  The look that was initially there, but quickly covered up by professionalism and compassion.

She wasn’t expecting to see a human skeleton.  She wasn’t expecting to see a shell.  She wasn’t expecting to see a broken person, whose future had once been so bright, now just scrambling to hold it together and stay alive long enough to put together all the pieces.

I remember talking to her.  I was too sick to retain a lot of memories at that point.  There are large chunks of my life that I to this day don’t remember…  I can pinpoint a moment, usually an ingrained memory of this time period that is only recognizable by the emotion I was feeling at the time: terror.

I remember that I went to my Grandma’s right before I was hospitalized, but I don’t remember being there.  It’s a black chunk of space.  It’s like I can remember up to a certain point, and then it’s as if someone just used a ____________ and wiped the slate clean.  The only thing I remember is the terror that struck me when I stared at the menu selection of split pea soup.  I remember I was there because I remember reading split pea soup on the dinner menu at the retirement home.  And I remember the terror I felt because she didn’t have wifi for me to calorie count.  That’s it.

I remember staying at my aunt and uncle’s just before that because I was too scared to be home.  I have photo evidence I was there from a selfie I took, although I don’t remember taking the selfie at all.  But I do remember the breakfast before they drove me to Grandma’s.  I remember 5 cheerios, a peach, and a handful of almonds.  I can picture the plate perfectly in my mind, and the terror I felt while staring at it.  Just as perfectly as I can remember myself scraping the whole thing into the trash can and covering it up with tissues (save 3 cheerios.  I ate three cheerios), when no one was looking.

So I don’t remember everything.  But I remember the terror on her face when she saw me.  And the shock.  And I know that I told her everything.  I know I told her how difficult it had been, all the crap I faced growing up, the late nights staying up till 4 in the morning when I had to get up again at 7.  The fact that school was my sanctuary because I dreaded going home at the end of the day at 3:30.  The fact that the only thing that got me through some nights was some intense prayer, and the reality that I got to escape again for 7 hours the next morning.

I don’t remember telling her, but I know I did.  Because I remember her response:

“I had no idea.  You always seemed to have it all together.  You had everything figured out.  You were so together and collected.  I had no idea all the stuff you were dealing with.  I had no idea you eventually weren’t even living at home for the last couple years of high school.  I guess it proves, you can’t judge a book by its cover… I just can’t believe that underneath the exterior, the inside was so torn up.”

The amount of times I’ve heard it:  I had no idea.  You never told me.  You had everything so together.

It’s the face I deal with every day.  It’s the untold story that lies beneath.  It’s that dark cloud that seems invisible to everyone else.  That dark cloud that only I can see, but is so normal that I forget, it’s not supposed to be there.

Functional Anxiety… or rather High-Functioning Anxiety.

I read an article that explains it all so much better than I ever could, but regardless I’m going to try.  I do however, urge you all to give the article a read, because it is SO enlightening, and so relatable to so many people, if you struggle with any kind of mental illness.

I’ve had so many conversations, in which when I finally let down the wall a little bit, it’s perceived as a relapse.  It’s perceived as a greater amount of struggling, or like the therapy and recovery process is not going well.  It’s perceived as not working.  The reality is, perhaps it IS working, because I’m finally getting too tired to hold the wall up.  My shell is cracking, and I’m allowing myself to trust you enough to let you in.

It’s like in Harry Potter ( 🤓🙌🙌), when unless you’ve witnessed death, you can’t see the threstrals.  Well, up until now you haven’t seen my head, so you can’t see my cloud.  But if I remove the veil, you can see just how dark of a place it is.

What is functional anxiety?

It’s a mask.  It’s an illness that is so pervasive and sneaky.  It’s a shroud of diligence that keeps you alive and moving in your life, treading water, not sinking but not swimming.  In limbo… but limbo appears normal.

What does it look like?

It’s in my movements.  You see it as productivity and energy, a strong sense of drive and priority.  You see it as high standards, and dedication to getting jobs done to the T.

What you don’t notice is those subtle movements that give it all away.  The shifting of my feet as I stand.  The wiggling of a foot as I’m sitting down.  The plethora of scars that litter my legs from picking at nicks and scabs.  The amount of times my hands wander up to my hair, and how often I have to wash it because the constant swiping makes it oily.

It looks like me holing myself up in my room when working on coursework and staying up until all hours of the night to study or get a project done.  It’s reading and rereading every page, every note, and trying to commit it all to memory.  It looks like studiousness.  In reality I remember nothing, because all I can see in those moments of trying to learn it all, is my inevitable failure.

You can see it in my words… in my frequency of using “…” to end a thought.  Unwilling to commit to a period (“.”) because of the finality of it, the inability to change your mind.  Because, what if that thought was wrong?  The amount of times I say, “I don’t know.”  The amount of times I commit to something with, “maybe”.  My initial excitement over something spontaneous, the invigoration in my whole body and soul, shrouded by a flash of panic in my eyes when something out of the ordinary changes my plans.

It looks like me standing in front of a coffee shop or ice cream parlour menu for inordinate amounts of time, because for these two things that I enjoy so much it isn’t a simple decision.  My brain is confusing choosing an ice cream with buying a car.  The commitment is unequal, but it must be just as perfect.  Every decision I makes dictates my fate, not my moment.

It looks like busyness.  Always doing something.  Refusing to rest.  It looks like a lot of yawns, covered up by diet coke, from a 4 or 5 hour sleep.  It looks like a bike ride, or four.  Racing, running.

What does it feel like?

Filling my life with breaths of fresh air as my feet or my wheels pound the pavement, and feeling the rejuvenation that each blast of air circulating through my body brings.  Racing, running, flying, always moving because it feels that by moving I can outrun my thoughts.  I can leave them behind me in the dust.

It feels like a progressively worsening throb right between my eyebrows. Like shackles and chains holding me down, pinning my arms and legs to the place I’m in, both mentally and physically.  It’s the claws of a lion digging into my shoulders and neck, slicing further and further into my muscles and nerves while I try vigorously to free myself.  Constant rotation of my head, rolling of my shoulders, massaging them with one arm, or both.

It’s a sinking rock suddenly falling into my stomach, and subsequent trembling of my arms and hands when something changes the plans.  When I’m put on the spot.  When I’m surprised.

What does it sound like?

A sudden shift, a dramatic outburst.  A cloying frustration with a simple question.  A nasty sneer, with an occasional swear word.  As if I’m arguing, but with an unknown person.  A calm conversation that suddenly becomes heated.  As if you’re interrupting a conversation, but I’m not talking to anyone you can see.

You are interrupting me.  You’re interrupting the train of thought in my cloud.

It sounds like nothing.  The world is quiet.  I am quiet.  I am silent and non communicative.  You hear nothing.

I hear:

You are nothing.  You are worthless.  You are pathetic.  You are lazy.  You are a pig.  You are a terrible friend.  You’re a terrible girlfriend.  You’re selfish.  You don’t deserve to be loved.  You are unloveable.  You are going to mess it all up.  You’re going to fail.  You’re a mistake.  You’re a waste of space.  You’re a waste of time.  Why did you say that?  Why did you do that?  You’re so stupid!  They’re going to hate you.  What if they hate you?  He’s going to leave.  Why should he stay?  Why would he want to?  You’re boring.  You’re ugly.  You’re fat.  You should be ashamed.  You should feel guilty.  What if it hurts them?  You’re going to get anxious… and then you’re going to quit.  You let everyone down.  No one loves you.  No one likes you.  You bore everyone.  You ruin everything.  You deserve to be alone.  No one wants you around.  They’re just saying that.  They feel sorry for you.  You’re too needy!  You’re immature.  You’re useless.

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It’s a run to the mailbox.  It’s two trips to the basement instead of one.  It’s a way to channel your thoughts and energy and try to burn them out.  To wear yourself out so much that you don’t have the energy to think.  To wear yourself out so much that the cloud will turn foggy and the thoughts will be quiet.  They’ll turn to a mush instead of such distinct statements about yourself and your worth.  It’s a constant attempt to be better and do better to try and prove them wrong, but their volume never lessens, and their requirements just get higher.

It’s running the line between being productive and procrastinating.  The unimportant things get done because they don’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if they’re done wrong.  The important things don’t get done because you can’t risk doing them wrong or making a mistake.  It’s one extreme or another.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night with your thoughts racing, your chest constricting, and if you’re going through something particularly stressful, feeling your heart racing and wondering if you’re having a heart attack (but it’s just a panic attack).

It’s never admitting to being overwhelmed because it’s a sign of weakness.  It’s never allowing them to see you sweat because it ruins the exterior appearance of control and dedication.  It’s not being able to communicate what is wrong for fear of judgement, and for fear of proving the judgements of yourself to be true.  It’s not being able to admit to how you’re feeling because you don’t want them to see you crack.  And if you voice your feelings out loud, and own them, they become so all consuming and real that you can’t cope with them.

It’s avoiding discussions and arguments because you don’t want to be put on the spot.  You want to have all the answers, and maybe, just maybe, you won’t have one.  You don’t want to seem foolish.  You don’t want to appear uneducated.  You don’t want them to see you fumble.

It’s either telling yourself, “You’re a complete mess!” or to “Suck it up, whiny baby!”

It’s constantly invalidating your struggles by telling yourself to, “Get off your high horse! So many people have it worse off!”

It’s being in a crowd of people but not feeling connected to anyone.  Feeling like everyone would be happier if you weren’t at the party, or at the event, or that they only asked you to come because they felt obligated to.  It’s not answering a text message because you don’t know what to say, and you don’t want to appear boring, because you don’t want to lose one of the few people that you feel like you have on your side.  And then feeling like you’re a terrible person for not replying.

And it’s when things that are insignificant everyday occurrences to many, are the world’s biggest victories to you:

1:  Drinking a latte, and allowing yourself to enjoy it.

2: Saying that you’re frustrated.

3: Taking a break from exercise when you’re sick.

4: Taking on a new responsibility at work, even if it’s just to carry rags to the back room.  It doesn’t matter how small.

5: Only biking for 10 minutes instead of 20.

6: Sitting down for your lunch instead of standing in your kitchen.

7: Laughing instead of crying.

8: Talking instead of isolating.

9: Admitting you made a mistake.

10: Moving on after making a mistake.

11: Eating an ice cream cone instead of a peach.

12: Going out with someone new.

13:  Talking to someone on your lunch break.

14: Admitting when you want to eat out, not waiting for someone else to want to.

15: Showing up for something, regardless of how much you’re shaking at the time, or how much terror you’re feeling.

16: Watching a movie.  And actually WATCHING it, not just going through the motions while your head is elsewhere.

17: Deciding your remote control is more friendly than your tennis shoes.  Or that your tennis shoes are more friendly than your remote control.  It depends on the day.

18: Only skimming the pages instead of reading them.

19: Going out on a Friday night instead of studying all weekend.

20: Allowing yourself to cry on another’s shoulder.

And it’s functioning.  It’s appearing okay, to have it all together.  To be at peace on the outside when the tornado rages within.  It’s not productive.  It’s not powering through.  It’s not MANAGING your struggles.  It’s not even coping.

It’s surviving.  It’s not living.

It’s not being happy.

It’s not being content.

It’s not being at peace.

It’s grasping at moments, at split seconds when the tornado dies down, when the winds aren’t quite as gale-like, and then realizing you can hear the birds chirping.  And taking that moment, that second to exhale.  And to smile.

Because you, unlike those around you, realize:

You’re not at a safe harbour.  You’re just in the eye of the storm.