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.

cae728baf1bff5b755e8085d9c02c0a9

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.

 

 

 

 

Guilt vs Shame Pt 2: Shame-A Lethal Apology For Existence

Happy birthday to all you people born on April 24th! If I could,  I would make you all cake.  I’d say cupcakes so you can be all individual and have your own personal sized cake with exactly one candle because it’s super cute, but apparently those don’t count as cakes ::rolls eyes at recent argument had over a lack of birthday “cake”::…

How was your week?  Mine was pretty stellar… do people say stellar anymore?  Did I just date myself?

f56c6159e64ddeedc581777aefb6c750

Moving on…

Yeah, I had a pretty amazing weekend last weekend…Two weekends ago?  You know what I mean.  My sister came to town, who I see like once a year, and we got to spend some time together which was really nice.  This also meant a pretty hefty dose of eating out and eating well, which is on one hand the funnest thing ever, and on the other super challenging.  But, I made it through, with only mild panic attacks, and purposely limited body checking.  All in all, a success.  And I went to a bar, and I got ID’d which is a nice little morale boost because it doesn’t always happen anymore.

It’s funny, because when you first start going to bars and you’re ID’d before you make it two steps in the door every time, it is such a drag, but then when that starts to happen less and less and less, you kind of miss it.  It’s like, man, do I have to start dying my grey hairs yet?

Then again, with that current fashion trend of dying your hair grey, that might not be a solution to any problem.  Or did that trend pass already?  I’m not sure.  I never understood that one anyways…

So you all remember my last post?  You know, the one where I found out that my guilt is a blessing if I choose to look at it in the right light?  Easier said than done, but a good reminder that there’s always a silver lining.  Anyways, it actually said Part 1 on it… as in therefore there’s a part 2, or Part II, or el numero dos, or whatever you please.  Point is, something is supposed to follow it.

I’m like the worst for these types of things.  I even hesitated to title the post “Part 1” because I know myself… I get all gung-ho for something, and I’m über inspired in the moment (because I’m mindful like that), and I’m all like, “Pssshaw, of course I’ll make the next part that logically follows!  Of course I’ll finish my thoughts!  This is like, my current maxim and my level of inspiration and expression will continue to abound for weeks to come!”

Yeah, okay.

I know myself, hence my hesitation.  Some people take lessons from their parents, and learn through the wisdom of age… I don’t do that.  Apparently, I take lessons from this guy:

IMG_0995

And to quote my boyfriend, this guy is “a special kind of stupid”.  So while he can teach me some valuable things, like loving unconditionally (man’s best friend literally), or living in the moment and for the moment (hence the stolen ice cream cone from the coffee table), or life without regret (he had no regret for the ice cream cone, or for the piece of parchment paper that had lined the cheeseburger pan that he stole from the garbage and tore up during the night), he can teach me an infinite number of unnecessary ones as well.  Those are the ones I seem to follow:

  1.  How to do the same thing multiple times, and expect a different result (AKA the definition of insanity, most demonstrated by his persistence of begging for food from me when he never gets any).  My argument is that this could also fall in line with being eternally optimistic… maybe.
  2. How to walk into things that are so blatantly obvious that you never should have walked into them (doors, cupboards, other people).
  3. How to have a remarkably short attention span, get bored easily, and have an inability to focus.

Yeah, that third one.  You know when you throw a ball for a dog, and he’s all excited, but then you bring out a frisbee, or a treat or something, and then the ball that was the best thing in the world is forgotten?  Yeah.  Either that or something like this:

 

See unconditional love, and completely distract-able all at the same time.  Story of my life.

So, I knew I’d get distracted, hence my reluctance to post a Part 1 and commit to a Part 2… and here I am, distracted.  But sometimes, you can turn distraction into a roundabout point, so we’re going to try.

I had a Skype session with my dietician the other day, and we were talking about my levels of guilt.  I had a few challenges for the week last week, and while I met them (mostly), there was incredible levels of anxiety, shame, guilt, fear, and an overall sense of FML that can be surmised in the phrase: “I just wanted to crawl out of my skin constantly.”  Anyone with an ED knows that phrase all too well.

Anyways, we were talking and she said something along the lines of “Well, you gotta ask yourself why that guilt is there.  Why are the food rules still there after so long?  Why do you have the guilt, fear, and need to keep those rules in place?  What are you afraid of?”

“Of becoming huge… and it’s ridiculous, stupid, and pointless. It shouldn’t matter to me!  I mean, WHY does it matter to me?”

And the infamous psychological technique response she gave- a classic answer-a-question-with-a-question.

“Why DOES it matter to you?”

And it’s those annoying questions that frustrate me to no end…  Because I have no freaking idea!  It’s funny how you possess your brain, you’ve lived with it for 24 years, you’ve gone through moments of sadness, moments of joy, birthdays, deaths, weddings, parties, everything, and you’ve done everything in your life with the same brain… and yet a large chunk of the time you still have no idea how it works.  There’s still 3 million crevices left unexplored, places where you’ve stored ideas, beliefs, values, memories that shape you but are enigmas to your conscience and comprehension.  Sometimes your own head is as much a stranger to you as the guy sitting at the next table in a coffee shop.

Why do I have the guilt, the fear, the rules?  Why am I scared to become huge?  Why do I think this is important?

Well, we ended up at the same point as I came to in my last post, which was kind of ironic. The conversation kind of went, “Hey Tiffany, maybe you should write a blog post or something on guilt and how it connects to your values?” To which I responded,”…Um, I kind of already did last week…”

Awkward silence.

Actually no, our conversations are like never filled with awkward silences.  Usually we’re laughing about something ridiculous that happened related to food, like driving backwards  through a DQ drive through, taking an open flame to a nutrition label, or making a YOLO pizza and topping it with rice.

Then we get serious(ish), and back to business.  Such as her next point, “Okay, great! Part II then (haha, it’s a roundabout pun), define your values.  I mean if you value thinness, like you realize you do, look at why, and decide what you’re missing out on if you make it that important.  Hopefully you realize that you don’t have time for that shit.”

I attached a link for her related blog post, because why not explore it with me right?

So, why do I value being thin?

Do it with me: loooooooooong sigh.

I don’t know.  I wish I didn’t.  I think it’s a plethora of things:

It’s that kid that went to family get togethers, and felt isolated because she wasn’t an athlete, or sports-minded.  Whose coordination sucked so much that it wasn’t fun to play baseball, or basketball, or tennis, because really, yes you can have fun sucking if the people you play with aren’t too serious but sometimes you just get tired of not being able to do things.  You just want to make a basket, you just want to rally a ball.  And also being a kid with a ridiculously different body type, but not realizing that it was because of this difference in body type that she looked different from the rest of the people in the family.  I mean, I have a DD cup, and I have curves.  Compare that to an A or B, long and lean. You can’t.

So when the other girls my age could trade clothes, or fit into a size 2, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t because my breasts wouldn’t fit into a small shirt, or a medium sometimes.  and my curves in my thighs ad hips wouldn’t fit into a size 2 pant, or often a size 4.  Usually it was a six.  And when you’re young, things are simple and you don’t understand the complexities of body type, of genetics, of all the fine print.  So if my cousins could fit into a 2 or a small shirt and I couldn’t, there must be something wrong with me.  Just like if they could hit a tennis ball and I couldn’t, there must be something wrong with me.

I didn’t know how to ride a bike, or swim,  but they did.  There was something wrong with me.

I was the quietest.  The shyest.  The most introverted.  A lot of them were extroverted… they were comedians, they made people laugh.  They thrived being with others, and had lots of friends.  They were social and always on the go.  I wasn’t.  There was something wrong with me.

I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and oftentimes ate more than the rest of them (hello fast metabolism I now know I have thanks to my Dad).  But they thought about sugar grams, and ate smaller portions.  If I didn’t do these things, there was something wrong with me.

From a young age in our family we were told of the importance of exercise, of getting outside on a daily basis.  Of not drinking juice until we had at least one glass of water.  And many family activities during our get togethers were focussed around hiking, or walking, or running, or biking, and if we didn’t participate in these things, we were guilt tripped.  We were told how it was “good for us”, how we were “being lazy” if we didn’t.  We were shamed.

My parents didn’t have rules like this.  My parents didn’t withhold food from me until I ate something “healthier” or drank some “clean water”.  They encouraged me to follow my own passions, decide for myself what I wanted to do.  They were okay with me being the artist always scribbling in her sketchbook.  They were fine with me being the academic, with her nose in a book.  And they were equally fine if I decided I wanted an ice cream cone in the afternoon, or a soda with my dinner.  They allow me to decide.

And let me be clear.  I was never “overweight” because of it.

But my cousins were everything I wanted to be, and they were my role models.  They were happy, beautiful inside and out, had tons of friends, and were coordinated.  They were confident.  That was a big one for me.  Confident.  That’s all I really ever wanted to be.  Happy and confident in who I was.  And I was bombarded by messages.  And in between hearing the food rules that they had set out for them, in between watching them eat smaller portions, and only eat certain things at certain times, in between watching them thrive at sports, and obey their parents/aunts/uncles with the “get outside and get moving” mantra, and then see them in their long and lean body types, the solution seemed clear.  Somehow their external appearance and their driven, always keep busy attitudes, were the key to happiness, confidence, and love both inside and out.

There was something wrong with me, and this was the way to “fix” it.

Add to it the rest of the environment.  The environment that all of us face every time we set a foot outside our front doors:

The NIKE labels branded across thin, muscular people, coupled with their slogan, “Just do it.”  Like, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired, or sick, or not happy.  Do it anyways.

The distorted yoga movement that is meant to encourage mindfulness and self acceptance, but is now branded with ridiculously hot rooms, a hierarchy of praise and respect for those who practice the more intense power and vinyasa styles, and an average calorie burn next to videos and course descriptions.

The amount of times you go out for lunch with people and see thin people overeat or eat a “unclean/yolo/cheat” food (brownie, burger, pizza, ice cream, etc) and be praised or appreciated for “not being anorexic” or for “being normal”, for eating for enjoyment, or for being indulgent because they “deserve” it.  Meanwhile, a fat person orders the same thing and is condemned for eating past full, or for just eating for enjoyment… because they DON’T “deserve” it.  They, controversly, are expected to be constantly proving to the world that they are actively trying to be “normal” by working as hard as they can to not be fat.

I’m sorry,  not sorry, but that is fucked up.

q1

Image Source Recovery Warriors

In what world is it okay for one person to eat a cookie, but another not, based on the amount of adipose tissue strapped across their midsection or thighs?

In what world is it acceptable to have a second slice of pizza based not on hunger or enjoyment, but rather on whether or not you hit 5k on your morning run this morning?

In what world have we replaced the unacceptable racism, sexism, and ageism, with an apparently “healthy” and acceptable size-ism and shape-ism?

Why do I value thinness? Because I am disposed to believe that just as I am, there is something wrong with me.

Or rather, because I grew up believing that there is something wrong with me, as a result of values others hold. I may have contorted them in my own head, but they are a result of nature and nurture, things seen and heard. Because I have never felt like enough, and I just want to feel okay. Because I am ashamed of myself, and I don’t want to add any more shame to the equation. And because in this day and age, the ultimate shame is to be fat.

Which brings me to Part 2! YAY FOR ROUNDABOUT POINTS!

Part 2 of that duo, and that Brené Brown quote:

I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.

I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.

I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.

Shame is the partner in crime to guilt, but whereas guilt is kind of like a nagging mother (a pain in the butt, and you don’t want her to be right, but her goal is to protect and to help you know what is really important), shame is just the grade 2 bully, or the devil on your shoulder.

The, “I made a mistake” (guilt), versus the “I am a mistake” (shame), if you will.

The reality is that shame does nothing helpful.  It doesn’t encourage you to make amends or point you toward your values.  More often than not, shame just encourages you to give up, leads to despair, and is, as Brené pointed out, “more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behaviour, than the solution or cure.”

If someone believes they are not enough, they are unworthy, or unloveable, it is hard to remain connected to others.  It is hard to remain connected to others because it is actually PAINFUL to remain connected.  The constant reminder of your own inadequacy is one of the greatest emotional pains you can experience.

One of the biggest problems that comes with shame is that the “I am a mistake” mentality is usually related to something about yourself that is unchangeable.  I can’t change my body type, my personality, my introverted nature, or my natural talents.  So if I’m ashamed of any one of those aspects, I can attempt to do something about it (diet/plastic surgery, be false, throw myself into an extroverted group/club/etc, try over and over again to be good at something else) and while it might work for a bit, eventually I’m doomed.   You can’t change the type of person you are.  You can’t change your natural talent for English, or your quiet personality any more than you can change your skin color.  It’s a part of you and you will naturally always fall back towards what is uniquely and inherently yours.  This is the same thing with your body shape and set point weight, and the reason why when you diet eventually you gain the weight back.  It could be slower or faster but your body has amazing control mechanisms to keep you where it is designed to be.

So when you’re shamed by something that is unchangeable, when you can’t change it no matter how hard you try, you just feel like a failure.  You feel unworthy of love, connection, and belonging.  And as those are the basic emotional human necessities, you suffer.

Nowadays, as a society in general we are more bombarded than ever by messaging and fat shaming.  A greater and greater emphasis is being placed on external appearances and physicality, and now that medical professionals and governments have waged a “war on fat”, those who naturally have more voluptuous frames are facing a greater pressure to fit into a mould that only a small percentage of the population is designed to fit in.  Larger women who go to the doctor for an ear infection are told to lose weight.  If a thin woman went to the doctor for the same thing, they would be given antibiotics.  Does the larger woman not deserve the same courtesy minus the extra shame pill thrown in?  Shame isn’t a vitamin, and it doesn’t enhance the antibiotic’s effectiveness.

bfl

Image Source BuzzFeedLife

Here’s the reality:  Just because you’re thinner, DOES NOT mean you are healthier.  Likewise, just because you’re fatter, DOES NOT mean you are UNhealthier.

Just because my thighs have cellulite, DOESN’T mean I’m less deserving of a third slice of pizza than my thinner cousin.

Just because my stomach rolls when I bend over, DOESN’T mean I can’t enjoy a latte with my scone instead of black coffee.

Just because my hips don’t fit in a size 4 half the time, DOESN’T mean that I should walk more, or add in a 5k run to my exercise regime.

AND, if I lost weight, if I changed my body’s natural shame, it DOESN’T mean I would be happier.  I think we’ve beat that one to the bush enough times.  Or does another relapse need to happen?

Just because we’re fat phobic, doesn’t mean we need to fat shame.

Just because shape-ism and size-ism is different than racism or sexism, doesn’t make it right.  Why is my adipose tissue any different than my skin color?

Just because we’re all different, doesn’t mean we’re wrong.  Stop being ashamed.  You are not a mistake.

rr1q2

Image Source Recovery Warriors

 

Nutritious Noshing: Avocados

Hey there!  It’s been a while.

What have you all been up to, since we last chatted?  Do you have your halloween costumes started yet (or probably more likely, finished)?!

I haven’t done halloween since I was in grade seven.  It’s never been a huge thing for me, even when I was little.  And when I was little it was literally only a huge thing because my Dad would buy me a costume, and I got to pick it every year.  I mean come on, if you could dress up as Pocahontas for a day, wouldn’t you get excited?!

Yeah, the whole candy thing was never the draw.  I’ve never been big on candy, and when I was little I pretty much hated chocolate.  I know, crazy right?!  My love of chocolate has only developed since puberty basically, and even then, my chocolate love is limited (see this post).  But it’s deep and dark and true.

So even when I was little, Halloween night would be the draw.  Often I went trick-or-treating with a good friend and her family, and I super looked forward to it, because we’d go to three times the amount of houses, which meant that I could wear my costume for three times as long!  And I’m from Canada right, so by October 31, it’s kind of chilly at night!  This friend’s mom was one of those wrap-my-kids-in-bubble-wrap types, so she’d always force her kids to wear their puffy coats OVERTOP of their costumes, but I wasn’t her kid!  So being as proud of my costume as I always was, I would refuse adamantly to wear my jacket and cover it up!  She wasn’t my Mom, so her hands were kind of tied.  I’d sit in the back seat of the van, teeth chattering, and she’d try to coax me into wearing my winter jacket, and I’d deny being cold until my cheeks were blue (as opposed to my lips, as I’m pretty sure those were probably already blue…).  I won, every year.  I can be determined when I want to be.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Yeah, so I’d come home with my haul of candy, and my poor mother would set out on the task of going through it and inspecting for tampering.  I was all like, “NOW!” because every kid wants SOME candy on halloween.  And I’d have like two chocolate bars, or something… and that was it.  Seriously.  Maybe, MAYBE, I’d take one or two to school for the next couple of days, but beyond that, the bag of candy went on the bottom shelf of my kitchen cupboard (the one that currently houses my vast array of graters and hand mixer), and it would sit there.  Literally, all year.  We’d go in there the next halloween to put the new bag of candy in, and we’d find the old, full bag pushed to the back.

I think at some point, my parents were all like, “Why don’t we give some of this candy away, or at least not bother to go through all the work of trying to inspect ALL of it for tampering.  I think I was pretty adamant every time about the necessity of keeping it all, and going through every piece.  Even then I was logical.  I mean, I worked hard for that candy!  There was a lot of shivering involved!  Plus, who knew which four candy bars out of the bag of a hundred or more I would want to eat!?  I needed my selection!

Yeah, your choice: logical, or crazy.

Anyways, back to my main point: I haven’t done Halloween for years.  I avoided it like the plague in high school, which is kind of sad now that I look back on it, considering I was on the student council and it was kind of important that we participated in all the school events we put on.  Nevertheless, I always refused to dress up.  The most they ever got out of me was a halfhearted witches hat thrown on strictly during lunch hour and removed the moment the bell rang.

When did the love die?

Probably the moment I realized that I didn’t really enjoy the chocolate enough to shiver for it… or the moment that I started having to pay for my own costume.

Anyways, I had my heart on ignoring it again this year.  Except at my new job, they value that kind of participation once again.  It’s not required to participate, but once I heard that you get a gift certificate just for showing up in costume… I figured maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing (insert winking emoji here).

So yesterday when I went to the city, I set about getting the materials I needed to make my costume.  I agree to participate, but I don’t agree to spend money on a costume.  I mean, do you realize that that money could buy like 2/3 of a cookbook? Or at least 4 or 5 kombucha teas?  Don’t get me started on the PSLs…

Priorities=check.

So I had a strict $15 cap.  And I was doing well, had everything I needed except the last component.  Cue, me walking into Michaels in the afternoon, going to the kids craft section, turning the corner, and…

They’re out of pompoms.

Either everyone has the exact same costume idea as me, or we all found this pin at the same time and were overcome by an intense need to create adorable fuzziness!

Anyways, by this point I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to be done.  So the choice became, spend the money on a whole bunch of little bags of pompoms, or rethink the whole costume after already spending money on the rest of the supplies.

I bit the bullet, spent $25 on tiny bags of pompoms, and bought a half sweet toasted graham cracker soy latte from Starbucks to nurse my sorrows. The struggle was real.

IMG_1810

Speaking of work, I got a huge volume of guacamole for free from work, because the question was literally, “Do you want all of this, or it’s going in the trash?”  And of course it’s an avocado, and not only do I hate wasting food, but I particularly hate wasting GOOD food.  AND, this is like literally the only store-bought guacamole I can eat, as I am allergic to peppers and raw garlic.  Buzzkill.  And looking at the ingredients list, it contains both jalapeños and garlic… I don’t even want to know what they do to it so that I don’t react.  Some things are better left unknown.

So needless to say, I was all like, “Guacamole!  Get in my mouth!”

And 6 months ago, that sentence would never have even crossed my mind.  Progress!

The problem with guacamole is you open the container, and you literally have a maximum 72 hours (if you don’t mind discolouration), but more like 24-48 to eat it.  Unless you have some amazing tips and tricks to keep your guacamole from turning?  If so, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!

So my week has been full of guacamole, or rather, full of discovering all the things you can do with guacamole.  You know, beyond the tortilla chip route.  Some awesome things I discovered:

Burrito type bowls.  These two were a couple of favourites:

Freekeh Burrito Bowl

Freekeh and black beans, fried together with an egg and sautéed onions, topped with radishes, carrots, spinach, and tomato, greek yogurt, cilantro and guacamole. This one is the overall winner.

Sweet potato burrito bowl

Roasted sweet potato, topped with fried black beans, onions, chard, cheddar cheese, greek yogurt, guacamole, tomato, and cilantro.

The typical quesadilla:

Black beans, 4 year aged white cheddar!, fried onions, spinach and tomato, topped with greek yogurt and guacamole

Black beans, 4 year aged white cheddar!, fried onions, spinach and tomato, topped with greek yogurt and guacamole

And a new concoction that you seriously must try!! Tuna Salad Guacamole Wraps!  SO DELICIOUS! (at this point my aforementioned browning was starting to become an issue… don’t let it distract you from the AWESOMENESS!)

1/2 can tuna, 1/3 c guacamole, a squirt of lime juice, 1/2 green onion (all parts) cut up finely, and 3-4 cherry tomatoes. Mix it all up well and stuff it in a wrap, taco, or sandwich!

1/2 can tuna, 1/3 c guacamole, a squirt of lime juice, 1/2 green onion (all parts) cut up finely, and 3-4 cherry tomatoes. Mix it all up well and stuff it in a wrap, taco, or sandwich!

And after all of this guacamole eating, you’d think I would be begging for a change. Cue my realization: me + avocado = happy, delicious, love.  No guacamole or avocado hate in the picture for me.  Case in point: I went to Costco and bought a three pack yesterday because I had run out of the free stuff… I don’t learn.

Now, those of you who struggle with an eating disorder know that this kind of love is often forbidden.  It’s kind of like Romeo and Juliet, minus the Montagues, Capulets, poison, and overall death scenario.

Okay, maybe that means it’s not like Romeo and Juliet at all…

Point is, it’s forbidden.  Usually this has something to do with the fat content, and associated caloric content. Let’s get real here (according to the USDA):

1/4 of an average avocado clocks in at 80 calories, 1 g protein,   7.37 g fat,

3.4 g  total dietary fibre, 0.33 g sugar

Yeah, man.  That’s not a heck of a lot of avocado.  And for those of you who can do some math, you notice that that means that 83% of the calories in an avocado come from… FAT!

LET’S ALL RUN AWAY SCREAMING! (I think there’s an emoji for that…there’s probably an app for that too)

But wait, before you navigate away from this page, or chastise me for posting calorie counts and being “triggering”, or swear off avocado for life (this would be SAD!  Please don’t…), hear me out!  I post this info to make a point.

In modern society, we live in a fat phobic environment.  We have sworn off all forms of fat, and condemned them all as being “unhealthy”, “disgusting”, “the cause of disease”, “the cause of obesity”, and basically all the equivalent of drinking a vat of grease that they use to fry McDonalds french fries.  It’s easy to see this information about our friend the avocado, and automatically make it taboo.

But let’s get real: is there not a difference between eating an avocado, and scarfing down a whole family size A&W fries?

Side note:  I don’t actually have anything against french fries, and I do in fact believe they equally hold their place in a balanced diet.  Remember guys, no food rules!  It just helps illustrate my point to use an example that easily comes to mind.  Plus, I’m not actually a fan of french fries (unless they’re sweet potato <3!), taste and texture thing, not ED.  BUT, if you are like the vast majority of people that actually enjoy the things, GO FOR IT!  Seriously, don’t deprive yourself!  Everything in moderation is a healthy way to live and eat!

Let’s jump down a little bit on the nutritional label of an avocado and you’ll see what I mean.  Often times, we get a little stuck after we pass through calories.  Or if you get past calories, you get stuck at fat.  And if you get past fat (good job!), you get stuck at one of the other things you feel afraid of, or feel the need to count: protein, carbs, or sugars.  But guys!  THERE’S ANOTHER PART THAT COMES AFTER SUGARS!

Mind blown, I know.

It looks something like this:

1/4 of an average avocado gives you:

6 mg calcium, 15 mg magnesium, 26 mg phosphorus, 244 mg potassium, 41 mcg folate (B9), 10.6 mcg Vitamin K

Not to mention small amounts of other essential nutrients, and some good fat soluble (AKA you actually need that fat in order to utilize them) vitamins E and A (other fat solubles are D and K).

Point:  Avocado is a boss.

But, this is boring! You say.  What does that even mean?

Like I’ve mentioned before, what works wonders for me when I fear a food or a food group is looking at all the positives of that food (see my post on the goodness in cinnamon rolls– it does actually exist!).  Because there is no food that is completely devoid of good things for your body.  Take those babies that chew on dirt or cement (pica)… sometimes that is caused by nutrient deficiency (namely iron and zinc)!

Side note: I don’t mean it’s good to eat cement or dirt.  Pica is a serious disorder that needs medical attention.  My point is, they can get some nutrients even from these things!

So avocados?  What does all of this number and letter jargon actually mean?

The wonder of avocados:

  1. Monounsaturated Fats: Avocados are the only fruits (yes, it’s a fruit!  It has a pit!) that contain monounsaturated fats, which helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels (in simplified terms, although it’s not that simple, “bad cholesterol” levels.
  2. Fibre: Fibre helps not only to keep you regular, but also feeds all the bacteria present in your large intestine that help you to breakdown and utilize the nutrients found in food.  It also helps you to feel full longer, and helps keep your blood sugar levels in check.  So you know all those recipes that combine bananas, and avocados, and chocolate.  Yeah, it’s a good idea for that whole lack of sugar spike thing… plus it kind of tastes awesome.
  3. Fats:  Again, the fat thing!  Like I said, the fat in avocados is necessary to allow you to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, present not only in the avocado itself but also in whatever you’re eating with your avocado.  Plus it helps you absorb other nutrients associated with the fat-soluble vitamins like the carotenes and lutein.  Plus, fats are necessary to produce sex hormones, maintain the flexibility of your cell membranes, and synthesize cholesterol (cholesterol is not all bad, it’s necessary too!).
  4. Actual Nutrients Present: Manganese, Iron, Magnesium, Alpha Carotene, Lutein, Potassium, B vitamins, Vitamin E: Manganese is necessary for enzymes to perform properly, allowing the use of  vitamin B1, C, and protein. Iron is important for red blood cell production, and thus energy levels, respiratory system, and circulatory system function. Magnesium is necessary for your heart and muscle health, your nervous system, and your stress levels. Alpha Carotene is helpful for inflammation and is a great antioxidant. Lutein is super important for eye health. Potassium is necessary for cardiovascular health (think lowering blood pressure!), and proper nervous system function. B Vitamins (there are too many!), are essential for so many things, not the least of which is immune function.  Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, and is awesome for skin health!

I could go on and on, because avocados contain over 20 vitamins and minerals. 20!  You could write a book!  Actually, I’m sure that’s been done…

So what’s the take home message?

Stick with the avocado love, calories be damned.  Eat your guacamole, and eat it often.  Slice it, dice it, cube it, and throw some lime juice on it!  Keep it in the fridge, covered tightly with plastic wrap once it’s cut, and with the pit in to prevent some browning.(Once again, if anyone has some avocado preserving tips other than lemon/limes, and keeping the pit in, tell me your ways!).

And when ED tells you it’s bad… when he tells you the numbers, when he says to go run it off afterwards, when he says it’s not what you need, when he tells you it’s too much, when he freaks out about the fat…

Think of your heart that’s pumping because of the potassium and magnesium. Because of the avocado.

Think of your skin that is red and rosy thanks to proper circulation from the iron, and glowing and healthy because of the vitamin E. Because of the avocado.

Think of your ability to reproduce and be a woman, because you have enough fats to produce sex hormones.  Because of the avocado.

Think of how you have energy, because of the iron, calories, and overall nutrient content.  YOU DESERVE TO HAVE ENERGY!  FATS AND FOOD AND CALORIES GIVE YOU ENERGY!  THEY ALLOW YOU TO LIVE YOUR LIFE, NOT JUST ADD MASS TO YOU (THEY MIGHT NOT EVEN ADD MASS UNLESS YOU NEED TO ADD IT!). Because of the avocado.

And as you taste that creamy deliciousness, enjoy it.  Because it’s good.  And that’s good enough.

Some serious avocado link love for you, if you want to hop on my bandwagon!  My top 5 avocado recipe loves written by others:

  1. The best smoothie of life.  Seriously my all time favourite! Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie via Pastry Affair.  You’ll have seen this guy a plethora of times on my instagram feed.IMG_5818
  2. Cheesy Sweet and Sour Thai Pomegranate Chicken Enchiladas via Half Baked Harvest.  Phew, that’s a mouthful to say. But it’s an even better mouthful to eat.  My version pictured, made up for the pepper thing by subbing in hoisin for the sweet chilli paste, mixed with some curry powder, and spiralized carrots for the red bell pepper.IMG_5663
  3. Autumn Avocado Toast with Gorgonzola, Pears, and Toasted Walnuts via How Sweet Eats.  Yes, it’s just avocado toast… but the combo is awesome!  That, plus avocado, goat cheese, balsamic, and strawberries.  Just saying.4.

4. Simple Roasted Squash via Deliciously Ella.  The avocado puree is to die for.  Literally.

5. Chocolate Avocado Smoothie via Texanerin.  This really is not a smoothie… it’s a pudding.  And it’s delicious topped with coconut chips, and made using dark chocolate almond milk.  Just saying.IMG_1622

Plus you can follow my Pinterest (in particular my avocado board), for more and constantly updated ideas!

I’m done with the plugging now.  I swear.

And of course, this post made me crave avocado.  So here’s a look at some more avocado love from my lunch I’m currently devouring as I hit publish:

Quinoa mixed with tamari, cherry balsamic, pomegranate arils, and green onions, along with roasted sweet potato, spinach, raspberries, pumpkin seeds, goats feta, and 1/4 of a mashed avocado

Quinoa mixed with tamari, cherry balsamic, hemp seeds, pomegranate arils, and green onions, along with roasted sweet potato, spinach, raspberries, pumpkin seeds, goats feta, and 1/4 of a mashed avocado

Information sources:

My own knowledge!

USDA

Nutrition Stripped

Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas, MD