Seriously Smitten With…

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  1.  I actually went through SO MANY origami phases as a kid, and I still think the art of paper folding is so incredible.  I mean come on guys, it was a flat, 2D piece of paper!
  2. I find showing up in life so hard to do.  Whether it’s the social anxiety, the perfectionist, or simply the introvert coming to the surface, I often find myself making excuses for not being present in relationships or in moments.  This post is a great reminder of the importance of being present.
  3. I made the most amazing pumpkin pie this weekend for Thanksgiving, and guys… it really was incredible!  I’m not huge on pumpkin pie, but I couldn’t get enough!  The flavour isn’t too sweet, but just the perfect amount of spice, and the dough was a breeze to work with.
  4. Words of wisdom that we all need to bear in mind now that the cold weather, and carb laden holidays are coming up.
  5. There’s something I love about white walls and white shelves where you can’t see the supports… dream kitchen material for sure!
  6. This recipe combines four of my most favourite things: pumpkin, chai, crumble, and muffins.  I MUST MAKE.
  7. At least there’s a voice of sanity out there in the mix of diet media and holiday mumbo-jumbo.
  8. This sums up so well where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be.
  9. A free online journal for all of you whose thoughts go too fast for pen and paper and whose patience wears thin.
  10. I believe in affirmations whole-heartedly, so long as you personalize them and make them resonate with you.  This list is full of good ones to get you started!

Seriously Smitten With…

 

  1. Say what?!
  2. These illustrations about living with anxiety are spot on.  Or at least for me, 1-8,10,11,13,14 are spot on.  Although, I once attempted to drown an ant in iced tea (I just don’t like them!), so I guess I don’t overthink EVERYTHING.
  3. Guess what?!  Imma shock you.  Because I get SO TIRED of the argument that “I’m fat because I eat bread, pasta, muffins, or white rice.  I’m also fat because I eat SUGAR!” Carbs are not the enemy people!  And guess what else?!  SUGAR is just a CARB!
  4. I used to get all my confirmation of my worth, value, and beauty from external validation related to my weight/shape/appearance.  And it’s something we as a society battle with every day, even if it’s subconscious.  But guess what?  Weight is the least important and least interesting thing about you!  And if that’s all you can comment about in conversation, you need a hobby.  It’s time to end the stigma!
  5.  I just started reading this book last week and it’s such a refreshing and little talked about side of eating disorders, the side from the observer.  The first 50 pages or so moved super slow for me, but all of a sudden it came alive!  Not done it yet, but I totally recommend it so far!  Boyfriend probably doesn’t recommend it though… I think he’s probably getting tired of my being curled in a corner at every free moment reading it!
  6. Guys… I put some coffee in my smoothie for the first time, and this came out tasting JUST like a PSL.  NOM.  (Side note: you’re the best judge of what your body needs!  For years, I would rely on recipes and “healthy” recipe creators serving sizes to tell me what is “acceptable” for a meal.  It’s still something that is tough, but I knew when I made this, regardless of what the description said, it was NOT ENOUGH for my body for a meal.  I added toast and almond butter.  I was still hungry for morning snack at 10 am.  AND I’m not trying to gain weight anymore.  You be your own judge of what your body needs!) (Double side note: did you know Starbucks PSLs have only been around since 2003?!  What did they DO before then?!)
  7. I love DIY’s, I just wish materials didn’t cost money!  Either way, I really want to make this for my food photos!
  8. OMG, she’s writing another cookbook! EEEE! 😃😃😃🙌🙌
  9. Okay, bucket list vacation for the States.  Until then, I’ll content myself with picking through this assortment one Canadian city at a time.  I’m not a millionaire… it’ll keep me busy for a while.
  10. So, I ordered this as a three month subscription package almost a month ago, after reading this post.  AND it’s scheduled to arrive TOMORROW!  I’M SO EXCITED!  And I get COFFEE to sample.  And a mug.  And a soaking jar!  EEEE!  I’ll keep you posted on the deliciousness, once I’ve tried them!
  11. ****A bonus, because I just read this and it’s 👌!****

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

25 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

Sometimes you just need to take a break from thinking.  I mean, it’s not like I don’t have a plethora of other things to write about, but a good friend of mine once said, “Write the blog you would want to read.”  And while I enjoy writing and reading about serious things, there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS that are just as fun to read.  One is “day in the life” posts, where you talk about what you did in a day, and/or what you ate in a day, another is recipe (YAY!) posts, which will EVENTUALLY make their way on here.  #pipedreams.  Yet another is just plain and simple, get-to-know-random-facts-about-me-style posts that make the faceless person behind the pen (or keyboard) less of an enigma, and more of a real person.  Although being both an enigma and an unreal person is fun at times too.  I mean this morning I took a quiz that told me that instead of being a person, I was a chioggia beet.  Win.  Can’t get to be more random or more of an enigma than that.

This idea was stolen from Jillian, and I had so much fun reading, and relating to hers, I decided to do one of my own!  Let’s see how well you know me!  Peanut butter brownie points to the person who knows the most things!

25 things you probably don’t know about me:

1.) I’m happiest when… I’m drinking the perfect iced latte and am creating something in my kitchen.  Fill my nose with herby smells, and my mouth with the perfect ratio of coffee, to syrup, to soy milk. You got the bestest.

2.) …especially if it … adds in my boyfriend making me laugh at the same time or sneaking up behind me for a hug and a kiss… well, now.  That just takes the happiness up another notch.

3.) I’ve always wanted to… travel to Ireland and rent a little cottage in the country.  Then I’d explore the GREEN and the coastline either on foot or by bike, and sit and enjoy the view from the quiet cottage by night.  Perfect.

4.) My family and I… are super close on my Mom’s side, and are also RIDICULOUSLY competitive and game orientated.  Dutch Blitz, Settlers, or Pick Two anyone?  Just don’t let Aunt Yvonne play Dutch Blitz, Uncle Dave play Settlers, or me play Pick Two… you’ve been warned.

5.) I was a terrible… soccer player.  Dear sweet heaven.  Ball comes at me —> I stare at ball —> I see people running towards me—> I panic —-> Split second decision time results in A) me kicking the ball any which way in order to get it away from me (even if I score on my own team) so they stop running towards/chasing me (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP!) or B) me attempting to kick the ball in part A, missing completely and tripping, falling, and/or spraining something.  Yep.  Gym class in a nutshell.

6.) My first job was… cleaning my grandmother’s house on Saturdays.  When I got tired of NEVER “doing it right” and the process of going INSANE, I got a job as an ice cream server.  I actually loved that, and did it for seven years.  Yes, seven.

7.) I could probably eat baked oatmeal every day. With peanut butter and banana inside, and vanilla greek yogurt on top, please.  Thank you.  12 times a day.  ALWAYS!

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8.) I wish I could… not be afraid of things.  I limit myself so much because my fear always gets in the way.

9.) I was born on the same day as… Cassey Ho.  Back in my stuck-in-the-ED days this would have been pretty cool, because I used her exercise videos CONSTANTLY.  Now, it just annoys me because that time was NOT FUN AT ALL. Plus all her “clean eating” stuff is ridiculous.  No such thing as good and bad foods!!  Ah well, I’m sure she’s a fine person in real life.

 

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Yeah, okay.  Even if this has SOME truth to it, my abs still want cookies, and a slice of pizza or two.  And that’s okay.  Just saying… image source

10.) My all-time favorite films are… The Devil Wears Prada.  Hands down, Meryl you are legend.

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Also in the mix of pretty close but not quite are Leap Year (for all of you with an Ireland/Irishman crush), The Help (Although not as good as the book), and Finding Nemo  (SO CUTE!).

11.) I do a pretty mean… Steve Martin in The Pink Panther impression.  I also can immitate his clumsiness quite well at times.  And I TOTALLY mean to be doing it at the time… ahem.

 

12.) I’m still mad… that Rory didn’t choose to marry Logan.  Seriously, it just wasn’t right.  Add it to the list of things like Christina leaving Grey’s Anatomy, and Dan being Gossip Girl.  All so wrong.

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13.) I met my husband… someday.  We’ll see when.  Knowing me though, it’ll probably be whilst I was doing something ridiculously accident prone and clumsily.

14.) I always knew I wanted… To live by the ocean, and in a city.  I haven’t gotten there yet, other than a brief stint in Vancouver, which only served to strengthen this desire.  I am THE HAPPIEST person when I’m near the ocean and can hear the earth breathe and the sea sigh.  Not to mention for some reason it soothes my anxiety, and the abundance of fresh shellfish and seafood to cook with is AMAZING!

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Gah… I miss it!  And I need it one day again!  I’ve had a vision of my dream house since I was 10 or 12, and not only are a few rooms very specific, but also it involves french doors leading to a deck with a view of the ocean.  Yep.  I know what I’ve always wanted.

15.) I’m not afraid to… change my haircut, length, style, or color.  I get super bored with it super easy, and while I’m not too impulsive with much else in my life, I tend to always decide on my hair the moment I sit down in the chair and run with whatever sounds good in that second.  It’s super fun, creative, and even the worst ones aren’t permanent.

16.) I make the best… oh dear!  This is a tough one!  I’ve heard I make the best buddha bowls, and those are 100% my own creation the vast majority of the time.  I also have a knack for making Middle Eastern Irani/Jewish food… a lot of that is recipe work and spins on recipes though.  My buddha bowls are often spins on their types of spice mixes and herb combinations.  LOVE MY CUMIN, CILANTRO, AND ZA’ATAR!

17.) I have absolutely no patience for… people who slack at a paid job when there’s work to be done.  You can ask my boyfriend, he’s seen it.  I CAN’T STAND the knowledge that there’s something that needs doing, that you’re getting paid TO DO, and you’re standing around.  If you want to know how to get on my bad side, that’s one of the number one ways to do it.

18.) I always cry when… honestly I have no idea.  I’m not un-emotional by any means, but it takes a lot to make me cry typically.  The easiest answer would be when I feel emotionally attacked and as if my character as a person is being questioned.  Even then I don’t always cry, but that’s the one I’m most consistent at.

19.) I’m a morning person, completely and definitely but I still don’t go to bed before 11.  I mean, for many people that’s early too, but 98% unless I’m totally exhausted I just can’t fall asleep before then.  However, you want to know a surefire way to MAKE me fall asleep, and it’s putting me in a moving vehicle.  I don’t know why, but it can be like 3 in the afternoon and there’s something about it that makes me sleepy.  It’s SO HARD to stay awake for a 2-3 hour car ride!

20.) I spent two years… wearing glasses.  Or rather, it was around two years.  They were really just for reading and when my eyes felt tired, which between grades 10-12 was OFTEN.  AND the unfortunate thing was that this was around the same time that I had long hair and a strong affinity towards headbands, and scarves.  And then I’d tend to match my glasses TO my headbands, which resulted in an apparently old womanly look, revealed to me by my Calculus teacher who one day decided to call me “Aunt Jemima” when I was answering a question.  This doesn’t totally make sense, I just realized, because Aunt Jemima never wore glasses…

But regardless, yep.  After that day, I never wore headbands and glasses together again.

It was actually to correct an astigmatism, but miraculously about a year after graduation I went to the eye doctor because I thought I needed new glasses since the ones that I was wearing were getting so hard to see out of!  Here I thought I was blind, but the optometrist checked my vision and thought I was lying because my answers to all the lenses etc revealed 20/20 vision.  Somehow my astigmatism miraculously corrected itself!  Not complaining!  The other interesting thing is that I can often tell when I’m getting low in Magnesium (ED side effect I’ve battled on and off with) and might need some injections again, because my vision will start to go blurry just like when I needed the glasses.  Found out from the ED specialist that was a slightly rarer but blatant sign of Magnesium deficiency!  So cool!

21.) I wish… I had an unconditionally free pass to all David’s Tea.  Seriously, I spend SO much money there because I’m a tea addict and they make the best and only ones worth drinking to me.  Likewise, an equally fervent desire would be for a Starbucks where I live.  The closest one is an hour away by car, and they’re literally the only ones that make my latte’s and frappuccinos EXACTLY how I like them.  Although, I feel like if that happened I would probably spend WAY too much money there too, so perhaps it’s a good thing…

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22.) At age five, I was deeply in love with… fashion design.  I would draw the most elaborate ball gowns on construction paper (of course right in the middle of the page so you would waste a TON of paper) and then cut them out and scotch tape them to my Barbie dolls.  Two dimension was where it was at!  Then, when I was in the bathtub, I would steal all the washcloths and elastic bands, and wrap them around my Barbies while using the rest of the elastics to create intricate seaming.  You have no idea how many hours my Mom spent brushing out all of the Barbie’s hair after each bath because the water made it all tangled and knotted.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a mother’s love.

23.) I believe if people were able to cut out JUDGEMENT and ACCEPT DIVERSITY of race, age, culture, size, shape, appearance, language, opinion, and religion, the world would be a better place. Honestly, what other people do/think/say/feel, etc, is none of your business, and it’s their right and privilege as human beings to be exactly who/what/how they are.  If they’re not doing anything that causes harm to others, or things that are morally wrong, it’s not your place to judge or condemn.  Simple.

24.) I can’t stand… baths, saunas, or anything else that involves being submerged in a hot steamy place.  I don’t know why, but it makes me SO ANXIOUS, I feel like I can’t breathe, and I panic.  It is seriously THE WORST thing for me!

25.) Whenever Grey’s Anatomy is on, I watch. This is the closest I get.  For one, I BARELY watch TV… like we’re talking a max of 1-2 hours a week typically, and the idea of going more than a week without TV doesn’t phase me at all.  Honestly, I literally NEVER, even with Grey’s, watch something when it’s first airing.  I think it’s a side effect for not having cable for so long.  Even now that we do, I always just wait a day and watch it online without the ads.  Grey’s is really the only show that I will diligently watch the next morning.  Downton Abbey was kind of the same in its time too.

Hope you enjoyed learning 25 random things about me!  I’m curious to know which ones you knew already, and which ones were like, “Well, you’re special… I do mean, stop eating the paste, special.”

Eating to Live, AND Loving to Eat

I’m going a little crazy at the moment…

The cafe I’m sitting in is baking something, and the air is full of the enticing aroma of toasted coconut.  I go through coconut phases, as in I’ll have three or four days of being like, “I MUST HAVE EVERYTHING WITH COCONUT IN MY VICINITY, MAKE A PLETHORA OF ALMOND JOY MACAROONS/COOKIES, AND ADD IN SOME COCONUT MILK INTO SAVOURY ENTREES”, and then I won’t touch it for a month or more.  But there’s still that serious love.  I don’t get it.

Anyways, I actually can’t remember the last time I had a coconut rush… probably at least two months ago… but the smell of this coconut is awakening the almond joy aficionado inside of me.  I suddenly have the desire to run home and break out my jumbo Costco sized kilo bag of shredded coconut.

The power of suggestion.

Just like how the elderly couple at the table next to me are drinking steaming cups of tea and two slices of freshly baked carrot cake, slathered in the thickest layer of cream cheese frosting… and now I want carrot cake.

Actually I just want the icing.  Cream cheese frosting… yes.  Ooh, coconut carrot loaf, with a cream cheese frosting centre!  Picture it:  You see a loaf, nice and golden brown on the outside, with flecks of orange- just enough to tell you it’s either carrot-y or orange-y. It’s all normal, but then, THEN, you take a knife and slice in….

AND BAM!

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All is right in the world…. because there’s cream cheese frosting.

And coconut… just enough to give a hint of coconut flavour and that awesome texture that’s kind of crunchy, kind of creamy.  Because the texture is the best part of coconut.  I mean, what other fat out there has that luxury of being both crispy crunchy, and creamy AT THE SAME TIME?

I think that loaf would be killer.  Although I wonder if you were to bake a loaf with cream cheese frosting inside, whether the heat would melt the frosting and you’d be left with a gaping hole in the centre, and a really dense bottom half of a loaf?  Has someone tried this?

I like those surprise foods… those things with a little unexpected twist that sends it into an art nouveau category.  Kind of like the pie I made when my sister was here a few weeks ago:

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It’s banana cream… with an oreo crust, chocolate shell and peanuts.  PEANUTS!  Mind blown.  And it was delicious.  You can find the recipe here (I did add sliced bananas to mine too, but you know the banana paradox: if you add them too early they turn brown, so it was later that evening when lighting for photos sucks but we were on schedule to devour.  The struggle of a food photographer’s life.)

Or inside out apple pie a la mode.  Yeah, that sounds delicious too.

Food is great.

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Yes, I did just say that.  Is your mind blown?

I like to be a walking dialectic, and a walking oxymoron.  Like, I adore food and I’m terrified of it at the same time.  Or an anorexic chef.  See, dialectic oxymoron.

Actually, in the world of eating disorders it’s really not all that uncommon.  It is, and it isn’t.  Particularly, you find a lot of anorexics that actually love food… they just can’t eat it.  Hence, you got one of the key warning signs, or characteristics that are often noted in diagnostics.  Shows food obsession, and has a tendency to bake or cook a lot of things- extravagant things- for other people, but will not eat what they make.

For me, this was very much the case when I first was descending into my eating disorder.  I always made two dinners:  one for my parents, and one for me.  And the further I got into it, the more extreme the differences were between them, and the more extravagant the meals that I made for others became.  I remember two weeks before I was hospitalized one of the last meals I cooked for my parents.  It was mid August, and roasting hot outside for everyone else.  For me, with my extremely low body fat percentage and horrible body temperature regulation, I was still clad in a sweatshirt.  Thanks to that extreme heat, I was comfortable.

Anyways, the meals:

Parents:  Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro lime butter, bacon salt, and bacon crumbles, a harvest green bean and tomato salad with tarragon and a dijon vinaigrette… and I can’t totally remember the protein.  I want to say it was a grilled chicken with a shwarama style marinade, but I’m not 100% sure.

Me:  An egg white, three plain beans, and a slice of a plum.  No seasoning because “I like things plain” (AKA:  I’m terrified of the potential calories in salt or herbs or seasoning, not to mention potential water retention and weight gain from the sodium.  I mean come on, I couldn’t even take the vitamins that the doctor at least wanted me to have to try and keep my organs functioning because I was convinced there had to be calories in them).  Trust me, I don’t actually like things plain… and chances are, if you’re with someone that you believe could have an eating disorder, they probably don’t like things plain either, regardless of what they say.

Relapse?  Not as much.  I was educated enough in nutrition and through working with dietitians that I at least ate the food that I made… I just only really made one or two meals a day.  No snacks, that’s it.  So my meal (if it was particularly gourmet it was meal singular) was delicious, and not plain.  But still, the foodie mentality was there, as well as the obsession.

Often times “food love” is considered synonymous with “food obsession” in the eating disorder spectrum.  And it’s regarded as a symptom, and by extension a phase.  For many people this is true.  You’ll find a lot of people that vow, while completely entrenched in their disorder, that they’re going to become a chef.  They seek out jobs working with food, go to school to become a pastry chef, or a baker, or, dare I say it, a dietitian.  It really does make sense:  you’re starving, and all your body wants, and needs, is nourishment.  So what is your brain going to make you focus on, in an attempt to get what it needs?  Food.

So, by extension, when this process is reversed, when the patient or sufferer begins to eat normally again, recover, and get closer to their set point weight, the obsession lessens.  Food thoughts move more to the side the further you get in the process, and room is made for you to focus on the things that bring you joy.  Relationships, true passions, hobbies, friends, family, animals, school, whatever it may be.

I’ve definitely seen this, particularly in inpatient hospital settings, and residential treatment. It’s interesting to see the change in people, as well as the differences between people.

Inpatient hospital setting (aka, medically unstable, we’re forcing this food in you and confining you to bare minimal movement to keep you alive):  95% of patients sit down at the table, a tray of food in front of them, and lament their existence and the food on their plate.  This isn’t to say that they hate food, or didn’t fall into the food loving category, but rather that they’re being forced to eat the food they love yet need to avoid.  So they’re terrified and it’s easier to focus on that and by extension spread the hate instead of the jelly.

“I can’t stand cream sauces!”

“This chicken isn’t cooked, I can’t eat that when I can see a vein!”

“Butter makes me want to gag!”

“This is hell!”

“Why is my plate so much bigger?! We’re supposed to be on the same meal plan!”

“The dietitian hates me!  She’s got a plan to make me fat for her own twisted pleasure because she hates me!  This food is disgusting!”

“Muffins are fat food!”

“I purposely pick carrot sticks for my snack instead of the animal crackers because they’re healthy!  Plus I hate cookies…”

You get the picture.

And then there was me… the other patients didn’t get me.  Once again the walking dialectic oxymoron:

“The veggie burger is the tastiest thing on this menu, and if you have a burger you need mayo!  Ooh they’re having apple crumble as a dessert option on Tuesday!  If you have to gain weight, wouldn’t you rather do it by eating delicious things rather than BOOST or ENSURE?!  I hate celery, why would I have it for snack (not to mention I’d eaten enough of it, and rice cakes, before hospitalization to last me a lifetime)?  GIVE ME ALL THE BANANAS! (No one voluntarily ate bananas due to their high calorie content compared to other fruits…. I had 3 or 4 a day.  I couldn’t get enough!)”

And then you move on to residential.  People here are medically stable, so it’s working more on weight gain if necessary, but more so the mental side, and the behaviours surrounding the food.  Here is where you start to see the differences between people.  Sure you see a lot of the above, particularly if the patient is new to treatment in general, or just beginning recovery and living in total fear.  But with those who have gotten past the initial terror and indignation, you start to see the symptomatology emerge, and two distinct groups of people.  AKA, my body is being nourished enough so that I realize that food is not actually my passion, versus… the me’s.  The conversation is different.  Cue the check in after every meal:

“Ugh.  I’m tired of eating!  I’m full.  I’m fat.  I don’t want this at all!”

“Why was her plate so much smaller than mine?!  Why doesn’t the dietitian listen to me?! I don’t need this much food!”

“Can we just get this over with already?”

“I don’t care.  I hate grilled cheese.  I hate that we have to eat food we don’t like.  But I guess I can’t do anything about it, so whatever.”

“My Crazy Obsession is on tonight!”

“I want a cigarette…”

And then there’s me:

“Well, I really liked that meal!  I love couscous day! There’s something about the texture that’s just awesome!  I’m nervous, but that was sooooooo good!  I secretly love cheese and cheese surprise (a mac and cheese creamy dish that terrifies everyone and everyone loves to hate)!  Oooh it’s Sunday/Wednesday/Friday, and that means dessert tonight, I hope it’s peanut chocolate clusters, PB&J tart, ice cream sandwiches, carrot cake cupcakes, or fudgey brownies!  If there’s energy balls for snack, Imma be so excited!”

Don’t get me wrong:  I was still terrified.  I was still needing to run to justify eating all the things I love.  It was still easier to skip a meal or snack than to eat it.  I still freaked out after eating the dessert.  I still spent time in front of the mirror, pinching the flab I could see.  BUT, my excitement for the food, the joy, the satisfaction and fun I had when I got to experience it all… textures, tastes, smells, consistencies, everything… it was GREATER.  It was so much better than the fear.  It was worth the fear.  It was worth the turmoil.  Because for that half hour while I was experiencing the food, I was truly experiencing it.  I was comparing it, contrasting it, savouring it.  Imagining what spices I could add to it to make it better, and what flavours I’d like to take away.

I remember this one night at residential… oh man, I’d say 95% of the patients hated that night!  And I had so much fun, I wished they would have made it a recurring weekly thing.  Have you ever heard of O.NOIR restaurant in Montreal?  A complete sensory eating experience, you literally eat your meal in the pitch black dark, allowing the smell and taste to be heightened when you can no longer see.

Totally on my bucket list!

Anyways, the dietitian at residential decided to recreate the experience of O.NOIR for us in the hopes of encouraging us to be more mindful with our food and really experience it when we didn’t know what it was.  We were totally blindfolded, and had no idea what they were setting in front of us for dinner, or for dessert that followed.  It was the one meal where we were permitted to talk about the food whilst we were eating it.  And there were MAXIMUM freak outs going on!  I mean, you can’t count the calories or lament the fats and oils when you have no idea what you’re having.  You can’t purposely eat less, when you don’t know how much they put on your plate to begin with.  You just have to trust.  You have to put all your faith in the dietitian and the cooking staff that everything will be okay.

I was in heaven.

I was finally allowed to talk about the food while I was eating it!  I was allowed to guess out loud whether I was tasting cilantro or parsley, dill or fennel, panko or regular bread crumbs.  AND, I couldn’t control it at all, so there was no point in feeling guilty, or stressing out because I had absolutely NO IDEA what or how much I was having.  It was my free pass to be a foodie in treatment for an eating disorder, and to not stifle the creative juices.

And I remember the debriefing later, the tears, the screams, the attempted running in bedrooms at all hours of the night that followed.  The claims of cruel injustice and vows that they will NEVER do this again, from my fellow patients.

A couple of days later I had a session with the dietitian and she asked me how the experience was for me.  I remember raving and telling her how freeing it was, how much I wish I could do that regularly, and how great it was to experience the flavours, the smells, the textures, the consistencies of everything.  And I remember the look on her face, happy and pleased that I had a positive experience, but with a shadow behind it all.

“Well, it’s important to enjoy what you eat, and I’m glad you could.  I’m glad you could let it all go.  But don’t forget, there’s more to life.   And don’t forget, the fascination will fade.  And it’s important you let it.  Don’t hang on to it.  Fill your life with other things, not food.    Satisfy your mind, not just your palate.  Food isn’t your purpose, it’s simply your fuel.”

I’ve heard this type of thing numerous times.  I’ve heard the generalizations, the worry, and the fear.

“Enjoy your food, but don’t enjoy it TOO much.”

“Food is fuel, not fun.”

“Eat dessert, but only eat it once a week.”

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants…”

“Be careful, you don’t want to go from one extreme to another.”

See, when you’re dying, when you’re literally skin and bones, people can’t stuff you fast enough.  But when you’re a normal weight, or close to it, the fat phobia kicks in and the food they once glorified suddenly becomes something that you must monitor, must eat with restraint, and something that you must be wary of.  Where they once tried so hard to get us to find a minuscule amount of pleasure, they now flip the theory and say it’s no longer normal to enjoy.

And for those recovering from an eating disorder, it is EXPECTED that you actually don’t enjoy food as much as you do in the initial stages of recovery.  The symptomatology dictates that you’re no longer supposed to think about it, to read recipes, to pour over food blogs, to make extravagant or fancy dishes.  And while this might be true for a large percentage of sufferers, this overgeneralization puts those who actually get enjoyment from food regardless of their affliction in an awkward and potentially shameful situation.

I remember the conversations with various dieticians, doctors, therapists:

“I think I really do belong in food.  I mean, I’m the happiest when I’m creating something in the kitchen.  I’m the calmest when I’m combining flavours and textures, and watching art come together in edible form on a plate.  I love putting it all together on a plate, and making it look beautiful.  And then tasting, trying, sampling, and seeing others enjoy what I make too… it’s the best!”

“That will pass. It always does. You don’t belong in food, you should be far from it. Your life has been consumed by it enough, and it’s not healthy. You only think that you enjoy it to that extent. Give it time. You’re not meant to be there, and you’ll be happier when you let it go.”

But what happens when it doesn’t lessen?  I mean, just like I mentioned in my last post, I spent a chunk of my life believing that there was something wrong with me, for one reason or another.  I believed that I wasn’t okay just being me, liking what I liked, having the personality and the body that I was born with.  So now, coming out of treatment, pursuing outpatient, and loving food as much as I do, once again I am bombarded by the same message.  If you’re an eating disorder survivor, and you love food, or think about food a lot, or actually enjoy cooking, eating, and/or reading recipes, then you’re not letting go.  You’re not actually recovering, because if you were, you wouldn’t love it any more.

And it gets old.  It makes therapy and dietitian appointments depressing.  It makes it tedious and a drag, especially when something that is supposed to make you feel better and less anxious only worsens the problem.  When you’re encouraged to find your passions and discuss them, but if you’re truly passionate about food, you’re discouraged and told that you’re not trying hard enough.

And as much as it sucks for those who suffer, this generalization is not limited to eating disorder sufferers.  We live in one big contradiction.  Mindfulness and the yoga movement is all the rage right now, and that concept is seeping into food as well.  This is not a bad thing.  Mindfulness and intuitive eating are things that we all should strive for: listening to our bodies rather than a calorie count or diet plan to tell us what and how much we need.

However, the current trend seems to be more along the lines of:

“Be intuitive, within limits”.

Or rather, “Eat what you want, up to a certain amount.”

“Enjoy your food, but only if it’s certain types of food.”

“Don’t control your food, but control your calories.”

“Enjoy your food, but not TOO much.”

It’s kind of like when I was in residential, and I was supposedly on “mindful/intuitive” eating, but I still had to fill out a meal plan with specific amounts of carbs, proteins, veggies, dairy, etc.

HINT: this is not intuitive, or mindful.

And along those lines, we’re kind of boxed into a corner.  Shame be on you if you say, “I love donuts.”, without adding in “once a month” or “after a 5 k run”.

Are we not allowed to simply enjoy a donut?  Is there something wrong with finding pleasure and fulfillment in an alfredo sauce?

Is it always, “Eat to live, not live to eat.”?

Answer: NO.

You’re not a failure if you love food.  You’re not broken if you get more than just vitamins and energy from a plate.  Food is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of your shape, size, weight, or whether its a salad or a burger.  And guess what?  That’s normal.  Why bother eating if you don’t enjoy eating, or rather, if you’re eating something you don’t enjoy?  If no one was passionate about food, we wouldn’t have restaurants, recipe books, blogs, or culinary schools.

And to all the me’s out there:  If you’ve survived a restrictive or other eating disorder, and still feel like you come alive when you’re in your kitchen, THAT’S OKAY.  If you enjoy reading recipe blogs and cookbooks long after you’ve reached your set point weight, go ahead and read them!  If it’s more than the calories, if there’s more to it than the feeling of need due to deprivation and food rules, then allow yourself to gain pleasure and satisfaction from food.  I truly believe you can have a life that allows you to enjoy food without limitation, restraint, and still be healthy and happy, and in recovery.  And I’m tired of being scared that loving food will push me towards the other end of the spectrum, like if I allow myself to unleash my passions, build the best cookie, and devour a burger, I’ll suddenly be a binge eater.  It’s not that simple or that extreme.  Passion doesn’t create disorder, but resistance and denial does.  Remember:

Be a walking dialectic, and an oxymoron.  It fits better with your unicorn horn anyways.

 

 

Exercise or Exorcise?

Hello from a rather comfortable table in a very crowded cafe!

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So I’m feeling kind of guilty.

I mean I haven’t written in a while, which is an issue of itself. But it isn’t for lack of attempts… if you could log on to my laptop you would find at least 15 or 20 partially written and scrapped blog posts. I just didn’t know what to say, what to write, what I wanted to focus on. Two hours of work… then two seconds to the trash can. Nothing was coming together.

I recently got back from two days of travelling, eating out, and drinking enough Starbucks to get my fix before we headed back home to the blasphemous land lacking the famous green siren.

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Aw, yeah.

Yeah, we have no Starbucks at home…  and a bunch of coffee shops that literally sell the most disgusting coffee (as in brand of coffee) known to man.  And the ones that don’t use the most disgusting coffee, use the most disgusting soy milk.  It’s a real struggle.  Anyone who is bound to the land of non-dairy milk knows the issues.

Reality: 98% of non dairy milk tastes like the inside of a garbage disposal.  Or a spoiled can of refried beans.  And most coffee shops elect to use the cheapest soy milk because they want to maximize profit.

The cheapest soy milk tastes about as good as my dog’s breath smells.

Just so you know, my dog has had ongoing dental issues and almost all of his teeth pulled out.  Aka: his breath is NOT pleasant.

I mean come on, you already charge an additional 50-75 cents for the soy milk in the first place.  Which means that after anywhere from 5-10 lattes you’ve paid for the cost of the milk.  Perhaps even less if you’re using the cheap stuff.  At least give us something that tastes good.

Hint: You’d probably sell more of the soy lattes if they didn’t taste like underpants.

#petpeeve.

Moving on.

The aforementioned coffee shop I am sitting at now is an exception to this generality.  They make a better ICED latte than Starbucks.  Win.

Get me out of this town.

Or buy me a Starbucks.  A personal one that makes me lattes and double smoked bacon breakfast sandwiches, but doesn’t charge me a dime.

I’d be fine with that.

So, back to this guilt thing.  I’m trying this new thing with my dietitian to address my sitting issues, mainly being my inability to do it.  And combining the sitting issues with my food issues, and my exercise issues, to like hit the trifecta of my issues.

I totally used trifecta in the wrong sense of the word… but I get tired of using words like plethora and gamut.  So I no longer care.  It sounded cool.

So I have to walk to the coffee shop, once a week, and walk home, which assuming I don’t take detours is somewhere between 20-30 min each way, unless I’m doing my speed demon old tempos.  And I’m trying not to do that… minus the first time.

So the amount of exercise is contained. Check.

And since my old exercise routine was incredibly predictable I have to keep changing it up. I can do one walk a week.  That’s it.  Add one yoga session a week, maximum half hour.  That’s it.  Add another random exercise session, maximum half hour, that is neither a walk nor a yoga session.  And that is not running, HIIT, or pilates because, guess what, those are my old obsessions and 7 hours a day in a nutshell.  There you have my weekly exercise regime: three times a week, three different activities, maximum 30 minutes a session.  And if any component is not met, the alternative is doing nothing.  AKA, that regime is my maximum, not my minimum.

Cue me this week, trying to come up with a third activity when I don’t know how to bike, swim, roller-skate, skateboard, completely lack hand-eye coordination (or just coordination in general), and don’t have money for a fitness class, but damn it, I’m going to come up with something because the part of me that is still obsessed has to maximize on exercise time not minimize it.

Perhaps one day I won’t feel that urge.

Perhaps one day I’ll discover my inner Michael Jordan instead of my blatant Jim Carrey/Snooki sans alcohol klutziness.

Don’t crush my dreams.

And then there’s the whole food=exercise=calories=food=exercise=calories=… you get the idea, thing.  So when we exercise, or do activity, we make up for it.  I add food to the meal plan.  So I walk to the coffee shop, and I have a snack.  Latte, muffin, loaf, lunch, whatever it may be.  As long as it has an additional component to what I normally have.

And the third component of the trifecta: that sitting.  I have to sit, in the cafe, until lunch working on the blog.  Which is important because I really do love to blog.  And that’s one thing I really struggle to do standing up: it’s hard to concentrate.

But after all of my travelling the past couple days, I wasn’t feeling coffee-y.  But I still wanted to do my coffee shop, blog, and walk day yesterday, because it was gorgeous out and I actually was feeling inspired to write.  Carpe diem and all that jazz.

But what do you do when you’re craving just tea and a pear for snack, but you have to go to a cafe that doesn’t sell fresh fruit?

Answer:  You sneak a pear in, buy a tea, and most stealthily eat it in the corner facing away from the cashier.

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Cue the guilt.

You’re so not supposed to bring outside food into a restaurant.  But I did buy a tea!

It wasn’t exactly the most mindful of practices… every time someone came near my table, I threw the pear into my lap on a napkin.  Don’t do as I do.

Anyways, moving on.

You all know about my sitting problems, right? As in I can’t do it. As in I found ways to knit standing up, almost figured out knitting on a treadmill, figured out how to mount a laptop to my treadmill so I could watch Netflix without guilt, and will purposely do the laundry in as many trips to the basement as possible to maximize walking and standing time. As in, I have rules about what time of day I’m allowed to sit, how long for, and if you try to get me to deviate from this I’m an inconsolable ball of nerves ready to bite your head off. As in people have had to wrestle me to the ground mid-afternoon. Seriously.

I have issues.

And it’s an issue I haven’t been too keen to address, because the very thought of sitting for extended periods of time, as relaxing as it sounds in some distant corner of my mind, fills me with as much dread as eating Chinese food… no. It fills me with more dread than eating chinese food. Yep, sitting is potentially more terrifying than eating at this point. That kind of says something. Unless you combine sitting and eating. Mind blown.

I see dead people.

Okay no, I don’t. But it’s like the equivalent level of fear. Where is that line from anyways? Some horror movie…

The Hills Have Eyes?

Moving on.

So anyways, this issue pervaded through hospitalization. I finally was well enough that they were convinced I literally wasn’t going to just drop dead on the floor at a moments notice, so they started to give me passes from the hospital for a snack, or a meal, or to get a coffee, or to simply move beyond the jail-barred (literally) eating disorder ward door. And there’s a bus stop right outside the door. And I’m supposed to take the bus.

Yeah… that never happened.

I walked. I maximized time. I had half an hour, or two hours, or whatever it might have been. I knew I needed to do the food related task they assigned, and perfectionist that I am, I would do it. But I would order the coffee, the sandwich, the scone, etc to go. And I’d wind along side streets. I’d google-map my trip in advance, add 5 min to the walking times in case I happened to be slow (which let’s get serious… maximizing time here. I wasn’t slow.) and then when I got close to the hospital again, I’d pace back and forth along a nearby street until it was time to return. Food eaten, and hopefully appropriately compensated for. As much as possible anyways.

Then I went to residential. And they took away my movement. Completely. Bed to chair to table to chair to bed. That was it. For a week. And I was going stir crazy. But I hid it well… so well that after the first week was up, I could claim that my bowels were not working (which was somewhat true… when you starve yourself they stop working. Before I was hospitalized I hadn’t had a bowel movement in at least a month… I can’t remember. I mean, there’s nothing in there to process. TMI? Perhaps, but it’s the truth. No shame.), and that I needed to go on “poo-walks” to get them moving. I appeared solid, I appeared resolute, and I appeared outwardly calm. And those bowels weren’t working, so it was a half truth as opposed to a whole lie. One week of nothing, but then that was done. Back to the movement, to the lack of sitting. Check.

I left residential, four months later, completely entrenched in the movement and obsessive exercise portion of my eating disorder, but oblivious even to myself that this was a problem. This was “healthy”! Movement, moving, is “healthy”! And all the way through I never gave it up. Outpatient: sure, I was eating enough, but I was exercising again for hours (or hour if it was extremely high intensity… really I had a minimal supposed “calorie burn” which was a ridiculously high number… that was the amount of formal exercise I had to have) And then in addition, I had my time rules that allowed me to sit at certain hours of the day. All the time in between, I was ate least standing, ideally walking. I developed ways to incorporate otherwise relaxing activities into the activity grind so that I no longer actually had to relax while doing them. Because that would be the worst, laziest thing in the world. Obviously.

All my favourite activities suddenly became a part of my prison. Drawing? Either at certain hours of the day or not at all. Netflix/television? Only on the treadmill. Knitting? Standing up at the kitchen counter. Reading a book? Between my toes as I did crunches. Piano? No bench required. Everything that used to remotely bring me any kind of joy I found a way to make torturous. I found a way to suck the happiness out of every simple pleasure constantly, and the only thing that made this existence bearable was the anticipation of the incredible high that denial, restriction, rules, and following them to a T gave me. Somehow you can tolerate a lot of physical pain, a lot of emotional turmoil, and the incredibly quick deterioration of relationships if in the end you know you’re going to get the greatest high. Unfortunately, the high lasts as long as it takes to realize that you’re denying yourself something. Which is literally as long as it takes to read that sentence.

So what… three seconds? Maximum.

And then you’re on to planning the next denial, awaiting the wave of the next high, and the literal second of relief you experience when you realize that in that moment, literal moment, you have done enough to stop the whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and pain, and simply exist for a second. You’ve done enough to stop and feel yourself inhale, or exhale, before moving on to the next thing. The next skipped meal, the next set of 30 reps, the next light-headed footstep.

There were of course the other times where I just existed for a second.  Where all the thoughts stopped.  Where my world for a second was silent.  I imagine they would have been somewhat relaxing had I been awake for them…

Oh, right.  I forgot to mention those times were the times I blacked out.

Once it was mid run on the treadmill.  I fell forward and slid back, waking up in a crumpled pile between the the door and the edge of the still-running treadmill, a pile of blood on the floor coming equally from my completely skinned chin, and even moreso from my gauged kneecap that almost cut through to the bone.  I still have rather evident scars from both of those, and I don’t expect them to ever disappear.

Fun fact: I started my current job about four or five days after this.  I remember going to the interview, my chin shredded, and being asked, “Did you fall off your bike?  That’s an impressive case of road rash!”  I went with whatever anyone said to avoid admitting the truth.  “Actually, I’m close to death and I passed out while exercising on my treadmill because my body can no longer handle the physical exertion and it’s just trying to preserve itself by FORCING me to stop.  But please hire me for a job where I’m walking around and on my feet for eight hours a day!”  Yeah, I knew that wouldn’t fly.  Plus, I totally didn’t have a problem…

Another time it was mid walk with my dog on Main Street.  I tore up my exercise hoody and skinned my hand and elbow as I fell forward against a cement garbage can.  Or at least that’s what I gathered from when I came to the realization of the cold cement against my blistered skin.  The crowd of onlookers who were very concerned thought I had tripped over my dog’s leash.

I’m fairly sure that’s not what happened, but then again I don’t remember it too clearly.

And the third time was simply getting up from my couch in the living room.  I got up, felt instantly light headed, and staggered forward into the television, slicing all four fingers on one hand on the sharp underside, and permanently giving our flatscreen a leftward tilt.

It’s funny how you wake up, and you kind of know how you got there.  It’s like you remember the start of the fall, and then next thing you know you’re in a pile on the floor.  But those few seconds after you wake up are remarkably calm too.  Calm and shaky.

But you know, it’s like another three second thing.  And then you’re back to planning your denials.

I remember the pain, vaguely.  When you’re that sick, it’s almost as if your body doesn’t have the energy to really allow your nerves to react to pain.  Either that, or you become so used to being in pain that you don’t recognize it for what it is, and it just becomes normal. But I do remember pain.  I remember the dread that came before every exercise session.  I remember my body screaming at me as I laced up my shoes:

Please, please, please don’t do this to me.

I’m so tired.

I’m begging you… I really don’t want to do this.  I really don’t know if I can.

I hurt.

And going anyway.  Every day.  Hours a day.  Pounding the pavement, and swearing, literally swearing out loud every time someone smiled at me, or said hello, or looked at me with any trace of happiness as they passed me on the street as soon as they were out of ear shot.  Swearing at any car or truck that was loud because it hurt my ears, distracted me, gave me more discomfort.  As if the noise was shredding me as much as the physical activity was.

Fuck you.

That was my favourite.  Every time they were out of ear shot, I’d utter it.  How dare you be happy when life is hell?  What is there to be happy about? This is hell.

I remember coming home from a session and going to the bathroom, gingerly peeling off my socks and applying a new bandage to my feet.  My feet were a mess of callouses, blisters, and gashes just from the wear and tear of constant exertion and bone on skin contact with no adipose tissue to cushion them.  Every single toe was swollen and tomato red, and eventually they were all covered in white bandages.  I ended up with pinprick pressure point sores that felt like bee stings every time you put weight on them along the soles of my feet.  They were so painful I even went to the doctor with them.  I remember the look on his face when I removed my shoes and he saw my almost completely bandaged feet, and then when he looked underneath and saw the bloody, blistered mess that lay beneath the surface.  I asked him what I could do to get rid of the pinprick sores.

“Stop exercising,” he said, simply but seriously. “That’s the only thing that will make them go away.  I know it’s hard, and I know you don’t want to, but it’s the only way to get rid of them.”

That wasn’t happening.  I resolved that clearly I was doomed to have to endure the pain.  Price you have to pay for being “healthy”.  “No pain, no gain.”

When you look back on it in your mind’s eye, everything is in this soft fog.  On some level, you realize how sick you were.  As you write it out, without all the frills, and just stick to the cold, hard, undiluted facts, you see how many times that blackout could have turned into a blackhole.  How many times could I have fallen and never gotten up?  How many mornings did I start my day trying to avoid sitting, when I should have been thinking, perhaps if I don’t sit, this might be the last time I ever do?  And then the fog comes in and softens that reality, smoothes it over and glazes it so it doesn’t seem that bad.

Even the memory of my doctor looking at me, tears in his eyes, saying “If you don’t get off the treadmill, you are going to die.”, is soft, fluffy, like a movie.  Somehow detached from my life.  Okay, maybe I’ll die, but then I can just reinsert the DVD and I’ll be alive again.

I can still hear his words in my head, “Yesterday I was with my other anorexic patient.  I saw her two days before and she was okay.  Yesterday she woke up in the morning and started her treadmill, and 20 minutes into the workout she collapsed.  Her heart gave out.  She had a heart attack.  And now she’s dead.  She was 16.”

“She wasn’t me,” I said, dark circles under my eyes, wiggling my feet on the bench to move something because I was forced to sit in his office.  “She wasn’t trying to get better.  She was probably eating nothing.  I’m still eating.  I’m trying to get better.”

“She WAS you,” he said. “She was exactly like you.  She was in recovery.  She was eating, probably around the same amount that you are.  She was trying to get better.  But she couldn’t stop moving.  She couldn’t stop running.  She couldn’t stop walking.  And she wasn’t eating ENOUGH.  Just like you’re not eating ENOUGH.  Her body weight was too low.  Her organs were failing.  Eventually, they gave up.”

He slid his chair forward, looking me directly in the eyes.  “If you can’t stop moving… if you can’t stop getting on the treadmill… if you keep doing what you’re doing, you WILL die.  I don’t know when… it could be a month from now, or it could be tomorrow.  But you will.  And that would be a tremendous loss.  I don’t want to bury another patient.”

That was last August.

Soon after I started working with my current dietitian.  That choice changed, and saved my life.  That choice, as well as the choice to stop getting on the treadmill, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make.  But eventually you get so tired, and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally.  Mentally.  You enjoy the highs, but you get tired of the unbearable pain and torture of the incredible lows for only 3 seconds of bliss.

So I stopped exercising.  Even now, just starting to add back in exercise after being off of it since August, I still have sores on my feet. The pinprick sores are still there, as well as a couple blisters that haven’t yet totally healed. That’s eight months. You know how bad it was, if after eight months it’s almost, but not completely healed.

I stopped exercising… but that didn’t mean I was sitting.  I was still standing.  For everything.  My rules about time were, and are still in place.  I can sit until 9 am, at which point I must be up.  Now, months and months later, I’m allowed to sit for lunch, and as long as it takes me to drink a cup of tea afterwards.  Then I must be standing again until 6 pm at the earliest.  If I work until 8, all the better.

Where does this come from?

Does it come only from the eating disorder?  Is it just a symptom and complication of the overall problem?

I’d love to say yes.  But no, it doesn’t.

How many times have you sat and ate a brownie, and felt guilty about it?

How many restaurants have you gone to with the girls, and then lamented how many hours on the treadmill you would have to do to make up for whatever you ate or drank?

Have you seen the episode of “That’s So Raven” where they decide to lose weight and walk to the mall?

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How many joggers have you seen on the streets and then immediately felt guilty because you weren’t doing the same thing?

Society hails exercise and movement as the be all that ends all.  With our society being habitually and epidemically fat-phobic, not just in nutritional content, but also from a physical perspective, we are now groomed from a young age to look at movement and exercise as a black or white concept.

Movement/Exercise= Good.  Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/Inactivity= Bad. Hazardous.  Fail.

Treadmills and other exercise equipment are branded with giant, innaccurate displays of calories burned with no option to turn off the display.

Exercise is no longer about the joy of moving your body.  It’s no longer about being outside, breathing fresh air, and allowing your body to carry you physically through life and relationships.  That is secondary.

These positive and simple benefits of exercise and activity, the real reason we move- to relieve stress, to interact with people and the world around us, and to encourage mind and body connection and mental health- is downplayed as additional benefits to a much more “important” picture:

The Bowflex ad tells me I can go from a size 14 to a size 4 if I use their equipment.

The trainer tells me that I can add 6 inches in muscle size if I do these exercises.

And if I supplement this regime with the paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Vegetarian, or what have you diet, I’m guaranteed to be beach body ready by summer.

And my doctor supports this because exercise is always good.  Weight must always fall in the BMI charts.  And because all the diet pills don’t work, exercise is the new magic bean.

Exercise is viewed by society at large as the optimal definition of health.  And by health, I mean weight and shape.  In other words, the main reason we exercise is to control our weight and shape.  And thanks to all the calorie counters out there (MyFitnessPal, exercise equipment, CalorieKing, etc), not only is exercise a means to control our weight and shape, it is also a way to justify or “allow” us to eat.

Suddenly our whole existence is consumed by our consumption and our calisthenics.  If I want to look like x, I have to eat y, and in order to eat y, I must do z.  The whole theory of eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full is shot out the window, and replaced by a simple mathematical equation.  And mindfulness goes with it.

And because we are all so fat-phobic, and so consumed with this “healthy” way of life, the idea of NOT exercising, NOT moving your body, and NOT following this Nirvana-esque equation is mind boggling to many, not just those with an eating disorder.

When I was forced to stop exercising, even at my lowest weight, when I was a walking skeleton and passing out, I was met with resistance.  Resistance in my own head, but even more frustratingly from those around me.  Family, friends, even health care professionals.

“Well, the dietitian has taken away exercise.  I can’t do anything.”

“Not even walk?”

“No.”

“But… that’s so unhealthy!”

“But… that can’t be right!”

“Maybe you should get a second opinion!”

“But… that’s not balanced.  You HAVE to exercise!”

“But… you don’t want to get FAT though do you?”

“If you stop you’ll get fat, and you want to be toned!  You should still exercise so it doesn’t all come back as fat!”

As if that was the WORST THING IN THE WORLD!?

Let me remind you all:  My heart rate is 40 something lying down, 150 something when standing, and I’ve passed out just trying to get up off the couch.  In what world is it still considered a good idea to strap on your sneakers when you’re like this?!

In what world is a pregnant woman praised in a yoga class for staying thin when they’re trying to bring another life into this world?!

In what world is it considered healthy when my feet are bruised, bleeding, and covered in bandages because of the extent of abuse they have suffered, in the name of “health” and “fitness”?

In what world am I praised for literally running to my deathbed?

In what world do I go to the doctors two weeks after stopping exercise, still totally entrenched and medically unstable, to be met with plans by the same doctor who begged me to stop, to reincorporate exercise again?  Albeit, it was in the distant future, but still.  It should not have even been on the table yet.

Something needs to change.

Movement/Exercise DOES NOT ALWAYS = Good. Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/InactivityDOES NOT ALWAYS = Bad. Hazardous. Fail.

Exercise does not mean exorcism, and it doesn’t equal health or happiness.  It’s time to start shifting our perspectives as a whole.  Not just as an eating disorder sufferer, survivor, recovery warrior, or support person, but as a society.  It’s time to come back to the basics.

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Why do we do what we do?

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Why do we move our bodies?

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Why are we strapping on our shoes and pounding the pavement?

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Are we exercising, or exorcising?

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If it’s to influence our shape or size, why is that so important?

 

And if it is that important:

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Is it worth digging our own graves?