Fighting Relapse

It’s been about two weeks that I’ve been gluten-free – or at least attempted to be. At first, my diagnosis of Celiac Disease was a relief, but now it’s a reality and more than ever I need to fight relapse from my eating disorder.

Also when I received the diagnosis, I was in the midst of becoming an intuitive eater. What’s that? According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating:  A Revolutionary Program that Works, “Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant ‘food worry’ thoughts. It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening.'”

I bought the book after hearing about this amazing concept, not diet, and started to go through the steps. I was getting good at it! I was eating what I wanted WHEN I wanted. I felt great. I had overcome and recovered from anorexia AND orthorexia, now I was an intuitive eater. I was kicking my eating disorders’ ass! I even coach others through my job’s employee assistance program to become intuitive eaters as well! I have two clients so far and so far they’ve reported doing well.

But then this diagnosis came along… It’s been MUCH harder to eat WHAT I want… There are some alternatives to my favorite foods, like pizza, frozen yogurt, bread. The pizza is disgusting and the bread will take some getting used to.

The symptoms I’ve been experiencing have gotten worse too — not sure if it’s the process of going gluten free or if I’m already more sensitive to gluten than if even a little bit is in some foods I’m getting sick. The symptoms I’ve experienced that are heightened include:

  • Brain Fog
  • Bloat and stomach pain
  • Gassiness
  • Fatigue (it’s been much harder to get out of bed…)
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Weakness

I’ve had these symptoms for a few months now, but they’ve gotten worse over the past couple weeks.

Another concern is relapse. I sought out a new psychiatrist, mainly because the one I’ve been seeing since I was 12 wasn’t working for me and I didn’t feel like he really listened. So, I actually went to a Board-certified advanced practice psychiatric nurse practitioner recently and truly felt like I was heard. Meeting with him was when I truly realized the possibility for relapse. He recommended I see a psychologist there that sees patients with eating disorders. And I agreed. I also agreed to see a nutritionist who can help me go through the process of being totally gluten free.

That was another moment of relief. I don’t need to go through all this on my own. I have GREAT support from family and friends, but it’ll be even better with professional support.

I have been an advocate and spokesperson for eating disorder recovery and prevention for years now. I can’t let myself slip back down the hole — it’s not just for me, but for the others I advocate for. I’m not super human and I need to take care of my physical and mental health.

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Maybe I will relapse, though I will fight to prevent that from happening. But, if it does happen I’ll have people there by my side.

I spoke with a friend from college the other day who was going through relapse to her eating disorder. Talking to her too made me realize that it is real. Relapse CAN happen. But, she is proactive. She reached out to me to talk and see if I can offer advice as to what I do and sought professional help as well. Talking to that great friend gave me the courage to seek help myself. We were both going through some transitions that have sparked a possible relapse to our past eating disorders — I am SO glad she reached out to me when she did, because it not only put her mind at ease but mine as well. THANK YOU, friend. You know who you are. 🙂

As always, I’ll keep this blog up to date with my road to recovery.

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Just Another Obstacle on the Road to Recovery

I just received a call from my doctor on some lab testing I had done last week. I tested positive for Celiac Disease…. It’s something I’ve thought I may have for years, but didn’t want to face it. Don’t know what Celieac Disease is? Well here, let me quickly educate you!

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

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Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.”

My sister was just recently diagnosed with Celiac too, so my risk was pretty high already!

Long-Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

Well I definitely got the short stature part, standing at a mere 4’11”!

There are two steps to finding out if you have celiac disease: screening and diagnosis. I’ve had the blood test done, now I just need to meet with my doctor to see what the next steps are…

Just Another Bump in the Road

As you all, at least those who’ve been following my blog or even just on Facebook, know, I have a history of two eating disorders: Anorexia and Orthorexia. So, having Celiac is going to be hard for me to avoid triggers – but I know I can do it!

Through my eating disorders over the past 15 years or so, I’ve gone from restricting calories and basic nutrition to my body to restricting taste and foods that I love. Now, I have to go back to restricting foods that I love, bread, pasta, bagels, GLUTEN, due to the autoimmune disease… Of course the reasoning for the restriction is totally different, but to my mind it almost feels the same.

BUT, I’m a fighter, a survivor, and this disease is just another bump in the road on my journey through recovery, through life.

I’ve always been one of those people who thrive on chaos, big deadlines, and stressful situations. Heck, I wanted to be a journalist for the longest time – even went to college for it! I love staying busy – challenges make me happy. So, I see this as another challenge. And yet another disease that I can speak on and shed light on/bring awareness too.

I think going gluten free will also help me in competing in marathons and triathlons! I’ve always had terrible stomach issues, especially when competing. Hopefully dealing with this disease the right way will improve my performance as well!

More Stigma to Erase

Also, this gives me another disease to break stigma on! I hear A LOT of people going gluten free for diet, weight-loss purposes… So, when people hear about others going gluten-free, there’s a stigma that they’re doing it as a fad diet, the weight-loss purposes. Not many people know what Celiac Disease is, just like most people don’t understand mental illness like eating disorders.

 

I see my doctor next week to find out the next steps. I’ll share more on my journey of becoming gluten free whilst also avoiding triggering myself of my eating disorders.

So You Think You Know What Eating Disorders Are? Do You?

Listening to the radio the other day, I got pretty heated. Y’all probably heard that the popstar Ke$ha admitted herself into treatment for an eating disorder. Well, this radio talk show host was reporting on it and made a VERY ignorant statement. It went something like this: “I don’t know why she has an eating disorder. She’s always been really hot and skinny.” REALLY?!? If this is WHY people think people get an eating disorder, then there needs to be more education on this mental illness…

So, instead of throwing a hissy-fit, I decided to write a blog post to EDUCATE people on what an eating disorder really is, its contributing factors, signs and symptoms, as well as what to do if you have a friend who you think has an eating disorder. I know, I know, a lot of you are all like “Pshhhhhh, I know what an eating disorder is!” You probably do not… So read on my friends! 🙂

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is defined by the Encyclopedia as, “any of several PSYCHOLOGICAL disorders (as anorexia nervosa or bulimia) characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior.” See, eating disorders are severe mental illnesses.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “Eating disorders — such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.”

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). For various reasons, many cases are likely not to be reported.

A new study estimates that approximately a half million teens struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating.

Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.

Illness                                            Prevalence                    NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease                        5.1 million                     $450,000,000
Autism                                            3.6 million                     $160,000,000
Schizophrenia                                3.4 million                     $276,000,000 
Eating disorders                             30 million                      $28,000,000

Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011). Doesn’t make sense does it?

Types of Eating Disorders

((Information gathered from NEDA))

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.  Anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.

Symptoms

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.
  • Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging.

Eating disorders experts have found that prompt intensive treatment significantly improves the chances of recovery.  Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa.

Warning Signs

  • Dramatic weight loss.
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting.
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.).
  • Frequent comments about feeling “fat” or overweight despite weight loss.
  • Anxiety about gaining weight or being “fat.”
  • Denial of hunger.
  • Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate).
  • Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.

Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa involves self-starvation. The body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally, so it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy. This “slowing down” can have serious medical consequences:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing.  The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
  • Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
  • Muscle loss and weakness.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
  • Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.

Symptoms

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.

The chance for recovery increases the earlier bulimia nervosa is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of bulimia nervosa.

Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or finding wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the compulsive need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
  • Continued exercise despite injury; overuse injuries.

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to the body.  The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles can damage the entire digestive system and purging behaviors can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions.  Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.  Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
  • Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder not otherwise specified and is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.

Symptoms

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.

Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder

The health risks of BED are most commonly those associated with clinical obesity.  Some of the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Musculoskeletal problems

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Formerly described at Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in the DSM-IV, Other Specified Feeling or Eating Disorder (OSFED), is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.

Examples of OSFED Include:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
  • Bulimia nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)
  • Binge-eating disorder (with less frequent occurrences)
  • Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
  • Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)

The commonality in all of these conditions is the serious emotional and psychological suffering and/or serious problems in areas of work, school or relationships. If something does not seem right, but your experience does not fall into a clear category, you still deserve attention. If you are concerned about your eating and exercise habits and your thoughts and emotions concerning food, activity and body image, we urge you to consult an ED expert.

Orthorexia

Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”  Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity.  They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.”

Do I Have Orthorexia?

Consider the following questions.  The more questions you respond “yes” to, the more likely you are dealing with orthorexia.

  • Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
  • Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
  • Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
  • Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
  • Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
  • Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
  • Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?

There are other eating disorders out there – but the ones listed are the most common. If you want more information on types of eating disorders, please visit the National Eating Disorders Associations’ website by clicking here.

What Causes an Eating Disorder?

I hear it ALL the time. The answer to WHY people, especially young women, form an eating disorder is because of the media and our society’s impeding expectations of how our bodies should look – THIN. Nope, no prize for you! Cultural expectations may CONTRIBUTE to a possible eating disorder, BUT only when other factors are already there, such as having a family member who suffered from an eating disorder (eating disorders are genetic like many other mental illnesses).

So, saying one single factor causes an eating disorder many be incorrect. X does NOT = an eating disorder. X + Y + B + D + C may CONTRIBUTE to an eating disorder.

Shoot, if our culture’s expectations of our bodies were the only culprit contributing to eating disorders, EVERYONE would have one. But that’s not the case, fortunately.

Below are factors that CONTRIBUTE to an eating disorder.

Psychological Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life
  • Depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness

Interpersonal Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

  • Troubled personal relationships
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and feelings
  • History of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight
  • History of physical or sexual abuse

Social Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

  • Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”
  • Narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes
  • Cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths
  • Stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice

Biological Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders:

  • Scientists are still researching possible biochemical or biological causes of eating disorders. In some individuals with eating disorders, certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be unbalanced. The exact meaning and implications of these imbalances remain under investigation.
  • Eating disorders often run in families. Current research indicates that there are significant genetic contributions to eating disorders.

Eating disorders are complex conditions that can arise from a variety of potential causes. Once started, however, they can create a self-perpetuating cycle of physical and emotional destruction. Successful treatment of eating disorders requires professional help.

I Think Someone I Love May Be Suffering from an Eating Disorder…

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, there’s help!

What to Say—Step by Step

  • Set a time to talk. Set aside a time for a private, respectful meeting with your friend to discuss your concerns openly and honestly in a caring, supportive way. Make sure you will be some place away from distractions.
  • Communicate your concerns. Share your memories of specific times when you felt concerned about your friend’s eating or exercise behaviors. Explain that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention.
  • Ask your friend to explore these concerns with a counselor, doctor, nutritionist, or other health professional who is knowledgeable about eating disorders. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to help your friend make an appointment or accompany your friend on their first visit.
  • Avoid conflicts or a battle of wills with your friend. If your friend refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned, restate your feelings and the reasons for them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener.
  • Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements such as, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”
  • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d just stop, then everything would be fine!”
  • Express your continued support.Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy.
  • After talking with your friend, if you are still concerned with their health and safety, find a trusted adult or medical professional to talk to. This is probably a challenging time for both of you. It could be helpful for you, as well as your friend, to discuss your concerns and seek assistance and support from a professional.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorders Association’s Helpline

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Eating disorders are SERIOUS, LIFE-THREATENING mental illnesses – not to be joked about or taken lightly. I encourage you all to further educate yourself on eating disorders and be an advocate for positive body image.

Health at Every Size: Why Being “Obese” Is Not the Issue

There is A LOT of focus in today’s society on this “obesity epidemic.” Plenty of doctors and health professionals focus on reducing the  35.7% statistic of Americans who are obese. HOWEVER, there is little to no research backing up that obesity actually CAUSES heart disease, certain types of cancer and early death.

Now, stay with me, OK? I know this will offset A LOT of criticism, I’m asking you to keep your mind open and think. It’s about being a critical reader and viewer – questioning the validity and reliability of research studies done in the past. There is actually a plethora of research out there over the past 20 years that go against what is so popular today about obesity. Studies that found no relationship between weight and health, or those correlating a high weight with height, far outnumber the thinner-is-better studies.

“The Body Wars industries simplify and scapegoat the issue of weight in order to promote dieting, but the myths they have promoted are from from the truth.”

“The evil view of obesity has come from four places: the insurance industry, the medical moralizers, the drug industry and the docile, unquestioned nutritionists who are too often dupes of faddists and hucksters.” – George Mann, Physician

According to Rothblum, E.D., Studies to determine the causes of obesity are often based on limited research and a blindness to obvious factors. For example, socioeconomic status (SES) is rarely examined, despite that obesity and poverty are closely linked in the US. Non-obese Americans tend to be in higher economic strata, and are more likely be more educated and have greater access to dietary and health information, while obese people from lower SES groups have less access to such information.

“The establishment clings to the belief that weight causes disease and death just as people once insisted that the world was flat.” – Susan Woolsey, Co-editor, Feminist Perspectives on Eating Disorders

As described in her book “Body Wars: Making Peace with Women’s Bodies,” Margo Maine, Ph.D. said “one powerful stereotype implies that all obese people causes their own “weight problems” by uncontrolled eating. Research over the past 30 years has not confirmed this… In 12 of 13 studies reviewed by one author, obese people ate the SAME amount or less food than non-obese people. Other studies have examined more specific eating habits and found NO major difference in food choice, the amount of calories, carbohydrates, protein, or fat consumed, or other food-related behaviors.”

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….Obesity myths ignore genetic contributions. Genetics affect weight, distribution of body fat, frame metabolism and appetite. Contrary to popular belief, weight is NOT a reliable measure of mortality or character strength. It is a complex mix of biological, social and psychological issues as well as lifestyle influences (Maine, 2000).”

As found in much research, “extra” weight can actually be an advantage against the onset and mortality associated with some diseases (Margo, 2000). Larger men and women have have a lower risk for lung cancer (regardless of smoking) and osteoporosis.  Studies repeatedly demonstrate that underweight people are most at risk for health problems. The American Cancer Society found in 1969 that weight loss, whether voluntary or involuntary, dramatically increases the risk of premature death by heart disease or stroke. This study followed 800,000 mean and women ages 40-79 for six years and found no connection between weight gain and mortality. Only weight loss was associated with mortality (Garner & Wooley, 1991).

“The kinds of disease we see in overweight people are the same diseases we see in sedentary and unfit people of EVERY weight. How can we be so sure it’s weight that kills? Maybe it’s just inactivity.” – Steven Blair, Epidemiologist and Exercise Physiologist

Dispelling the Obesity Myths (Maine, 2000):

1. Weight is NOT a reliable predictor of health and health risk.

2. Being slightly above average weight does NOT put you at health risk.

3. There are no found significant differences between the eating habits of “normal” and “obese” people.

4. When it comes to weight, genetics is more important than environment or learned behavior.

5. Being underweight DOES present health risks.

6. The health problems associated with obesity actual are a results of dieting.

7. The weights recommended by the Metropolitan Tables are unreliable, non-universal standard for people.

8. Weight should NOT be stable after the age of 25. Especially for women – women gain more weight upon menopause.

9. Fat on the body is NOT always a predictor of dangerous fat in the body, such as clogged arteries.

Health at Every Size

This brings me to a pretty new public health philosophy, Health at Every Size (HAES). It’s considered the new peace movement. HAES is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

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Here is another excerpt from the HAES website:

Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health… Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.

Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.

– An excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD

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Once I found this philosophy as well as read Maine’s book, I decided that I will not only be an advocate/activist for body acceptance, but also for the push for the incorporation of HAES in EVERY health setting. I am starting training and one-on-one coaching at my employer with our clients.

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It’s time we stop being so obsessed and preoccupied with diets, “fatness,” self-hatred, and striving to be the “thin ideal.” Of course you still want to encourage eating fruits and vegetables and getting enough protein and being physically active – it’s a matter of doing away with discrimination of size and start accepting our bodies as they are. Because, in reality, they’re pretty darn amazing! So let’s start treating them so.

 

An Injury as a Blessing in Disguise

It’s been a total of 51 days since I last ran. And guess what? I’m still alive and mentally stable! As a recovering Orthorexic, this is what I would have thought last year if I hadn’t ran for that long. Going 51 days without running, I would have relapsed and started limiting my food intake and restricting what I ate and only ate what I deemed “healthy.” But, as a recovering Orthorexic and Anorexic, that did not happen and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

I hurt my knee back in early August due to a nasty fall, which caused a sprained MCL. I was running with Blake and our two dogs in our development on some uneven sidewalks. I wasn’t paying attention to the change in elevation and fell. It didn’t help that my dog Miles was pulling me forward during my fight against gravity and we were going DOWN hill… Despite the blood and bruising, I finished my run. And the next day, instead of icing my sore knee and resting, I went on a “long” run. My knee started to hurt really bad around mile four, but I was supposed to go 16 miles, so I pushed myself to go at least seven… Silly me… I took a DAY off and continued on my regular training schedule. I had not let myself enough time to heal, so it just kept getting worse.

I was scheduled to get in a 20-mile run a few weeks later, and BARELY got in 10. The week after that, with a FULL week off of running (still biking and swimming), I went out to get in that 20-miler and barely made it five and was limping… RUH ROH…

So, with two weeks until the Akron Marathon, I headed to the Orthopedic who took XRAYS and said there’s nothing wrong with the bones, I must have either a sprained MCL or a bone bruise. We would have to do an MRI to get the exact diagnosis, but he said both are treated the same – ice, rest and elevation – so he didn’t want to waste my money, or his time… He wasn’t very helpful. So, I took those two weeks off of running. I biked a few times, but even that made it worse… So no biking either!

So, I ran the Akron Marathon on September 28th. And that was the last time I’ve ran…

I did not anticipate on finishing. I thought I would barely make it to the halfway point of 13.1. Blake ran the half so we stayed together. I had a knee brace on and it actually seemed to help! I felt little to no pain during the run.

Blake and Colleen

Once we neared where the half and full marathon split I told him I wanted to go a little further and possible stop at an aid station around mile 16 or 18 and have them drive me back to the finish line and not finish.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Around mile 18 my knee did start to hurt, so I did stop at an aid station, with the mindset that I was done. The nurses gave me some Icey Hot and Advil. Then one nurse asked if I wanted to finish. I was surprised that she even asked and to have FINISHING as an option, I took it!

So, off I went with even more motivation to finish because of those amazing women at aid station 18!

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com

Though I had to walk a few times and went A LOT slower than my original intended pace and time (before the injury), that was still my proudest and favorite marathon yet! I had not had all the training I needed and my longest run was 15 miles. So that made it even more rewarding.

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com.

Courtesy of RunPhotos.com.

Plus, I LOVE the Akron Marathon – it’s such a spectacular marathon. So much better than the Cleveland, which I’ll NEVER run in again. I am SOOOOOOOOOO happy I was able to EARN that beautiful medal and jacket!

akron mary

I haven’t ran since that day… And I stopped biking, because it was making my knee hurt more. I rarely swim anymore either. So, I’ve mainly been walking and lifting, doing upper body workouts. And I’m OK with that.

I wouldn’t want it to be like this forever, but I’m OK with allowing my knee to fully heal.

And I’m OK with still eating. I still have a cookie or chocolate here and there too! Oh, and for lunch after the Akron Marathon I ate Little Ceasar’s pizza for the first time in YEARS! The deep dish is sensational! I’ve have a few other times since then. 🙂 And may I add, without an ounce of guilt!

So, this injury has been sort of blessing in disguise… It’s tested my will power. It’s shown me that even without running and doing extraneous exercise I still love my body and will treat it right.

This injury has also allowed me to let my body heal and get me even more pumped up for next year’s races! AND, it’s taught me more about my body and to listen to it when it’s hurting.

I LOVE Chocolate… And I Can No Longer Lie!

Ok, if you don’t get my headline, it’s a pun from the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot! HEHE

So, the constant theme of this blog has been my journey through my recovery from an anorexia. One of my posts talks about how I try to treat myself once I accomplish something such a running longer distances with a cupcake, frozen yogurt, something that I wouldn’t have even touched a few years ago! Which is WONDERFUL! However, I would ONLY eat this treats because I expended an abundance of calories. There is still a sort of obsession/disordered eating behavior going with that… I was cognitive of that, but was still not ready to move beyond my comfort zone of eating sweets simply because I wanted some! Now, I KNOW the obesity rates in the U.S. are enormous (no pun intended) and that a many Americans eat sweets in excess. But, not EVERYONE abuses sugars and sweets and they can be good for you!

That is not my point – the point of this post is that I have FINALLY moved beyond my comfort zone of eating sweets on special occasions. CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!! YUM!! I’ve always LOVED this CHOCOLATE!! But, for MANY years I’ve actually lied to people who offer me this delicious food or when it’s someone’s Birthday and I don’t consume any cake, cookies, etc. I lie and tell them I don’t LIKE these foods.

My lie of LOVING chocolate was due to be OBSESSION with “healthy” foods. As I mentioned in my poem post The Beautiful Image in the MirrorI had Orthorexia – literally meaning the fixation on “righteous” eating. I didn’t want to seem weak, to love a food that was “bad” for you. I’ve learned that there are no such thing as BAD FOODS! ALL foods have calories, and with moderation all foods can be healthy! Chocolate has had a bad rep over the years. Cocoa is actually pretty darn good for you! It has healthy antioxidants and chemicals that have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and aging, researchers say. But, even like carrots (since you don’t want your skin to turn orange) you should eat everything in MODERATION.

I have found the joy of BAKING. I LOVE baking cookies! Yes, they are a bit of a healthier version – I use whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, stevia sugar, egg whites, skim milk, and no butter, BUT I still use CHOCOLATE CHIPSSSSSSSSSSSS! NOM! I’ll bake these just because I feel like it! And you want to know what? I’LL EAT ONE (or two, or three…)!! And you want to know what’s even better, I DON’T FEEL GUILTY!! Oh, what an amazing feeling to eat something I’ve hidden my love for for so long, enjoy it, and not feel a tad bit of guilt afterwards!

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My homemade chocolate chip cookies!

Want to know what else I consumed without an inch of guilt?! CAKE!! My boyfriend, Blake, baked me what was supposed to be a RED velvet cake. He accidentally used purple food coloring instead of red. But, it’s OK, purple is one of my favorite colors! I had a piece of that cake on my Birthday! And then the next day, I had ANOTHER, and then the day after that guess what? I HAD ANOTHER!

PART of the PURPLE velvet cake that Blake made FROM SCRATCH for me. 🙂 It was in the shape of a heart. ❤

Between my anorexia with restricting myself of calories to my years with orthorexia of restricting myself of taste and proper nourishment, this is a pivoting moment in my life. It not only proves that I can finally say I have conquered my eating disorders, but that I am a survivor! Cue Destiny’s Child’s Survivor!

 

No longer will I deprive myself of a chocolate chip cookie, or two, because of my PAST disorders! I’m a survivor and I’m proud to have overcome such a long, torturous battle.

I’m Not THERE Yet, But I’m on My Way!

Thanksgiving. A holiday where families get together around the table, eat, talk, laugh, gossip, and enjoy each other’s company. Holidays like this one with the main focus on food have obviously been a bit of struggle for me over the past 13 years… Eating at such random times and having a plethora of choices would usually give me quite a bit of anxiety. As part of my OCD I was also obsessed with the timing of my meals. So, eating at 2:00 pm as opposed to noon or 4 pm put my mind in a fluster, not to mention all the food choices and the calories, ohhhhhhhhhhh the calories… 

These past couple years I feel as though I’ve improved on these obsessions. Last year I had my FIRST piece of pumpkin pie in YEARS! What most people don’t understand is that eating an item of food is not as easy as it is for most people, especially sweets. I can’t recall my exact thought process while eating that first piece of pie, but I know it went something like this…

“I wonder how many calories are in this? I wonder how big of piece I should eat of this pie? Ahhh, this tastes so good, but do I really deserve it? Oh, god, I’m going to get so fat… No, one piece won’t make you fat, Colleen! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

This type of conversation would happen in my head on a regular basis. Now, I’ve learned to block most of it out. But, sweets such as pie and cupcakes are still a struggle. For example, I just had my SECOND piece of pumpkin pie tonight as a snack, the thought process it took in order to head into the kitchen and cut a slice for me would seem crazy to most people… I’m not even sure how long I debated with myself that I wanted a slice. Oh, I knew I wanted  it, I wanted it bad… But, it was a matter of whether my brain would allow me to want it.

I have become quite the adventuress over the past year though! I had a Ruby Tuesday’s cupcake on the Birthday and on other occasions, cheese cake Blake’s mom made for his Birthday after my marathon, and hazelnut cocoa spread! WOOO!  🙂

This Thanksgiving I also I had mini-breakdown… We always go over to my dad’s side of the family in the early afternoon. My Aunt Kelly took over the cooking this year and as she was making the mashed potatoes (YAY for the REAL stuff and not the flakes!) I saw that she was using whole milk. To most it’s no big deal, but for some reason it bothered me… I felt it was “too fattening…” I really didn’t mean to make a big deal out of it, but I made a comment about the milk and I think it came out pretty rude… My aunt responded by saying there’s only a little bit. Our Grandma’s neighbor even volunteered to go over and grab her 2% milk. But, I couldn’t talk, something took over me… I could feel it coming… The tears began to build up… Breakdown… I walked out of the kitchen, grabbed my sister’s shoes instead of my own, went outside and just sobbed, not 100% as to why. I probably looked like a little brat leaving that kitchen, all over MILK. But, I didn’t want to make a scene in the middle of the kitchen. I don’t think it was just the milk  tough… As I said Thanksgiving is still a struggle for me, food is still a struggle for me. I think the fact that I wasn’t in control of what I was about to consume and that something so simple bothered me really just pointed out the obvious to me; I am not FULLY recovered. I knew this, but the way that darn milk affected me just proved it even more.

I also thought back to the the years that I’ve put my family through hell and back with me. The fights, tears, constant counseling visits, and always worrying about what Colleen would and would not eat… I was embarrassed walking back into that kitchen, eyes all puffy and red… My Aunt apologized and we hugged. It was not her fault, she really did nothing wrong – I have a feeling that breakdown was just bound to happen… Everything was fine afterwards, I ate turkey, my aunt’s mashed potatoes, veggies, and even a little bit of stuffing. Then we played some games and had fun. 🙂

Tomorrow is round two! I will be having Thanksgiving with my mom’s side at my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Theresa’s house. I hope I got all of that breakdown out of my system! 😉

It’s Perfectly OK Not to be Perfect

Perfection. It’s what I’ve been striving for the past 24 years of my life. But, through MANY life experiences I’ve learned that it’s just not possible. On top of being diagnosed with an eating disorder at the young age of 11, I was also diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). No, I do not jump over cracks on sidewalks or count things, instead I obsess over food, exercise, and control. I had an epiphany just recently that many of the things I’ve done and thought over the past  just isn’t “normal.” I am slowly starting to accept that it’s OK not to be perfect. Now, you may be thinking, “what are these thoughts that she speaks of?” Well, they are mainly consumed on one thing: FOOD. I have obsessed over food for the past 13 plus years. Food and I, we have a love/hate relationship. It has just recently become more of a loving relationship.

Why this sudden relationship status change between food and I? Well, as emphasized in my first post, I eat to run, to nourish my body so I can perform. I’ve also just kind of got a liking to it too! I used to thrive off of the feeling of an empty stomach, the growling noises from inside used to excite me. It meant to me that I was winning, I was in control. When in fact, I was not, my disorder was in complete control OVER me. Eating less than others made me feel empowered and, I hate to say it, better than them. I thought that I had to eat less than everyone. I would judge what other people consumed and made myself promise I’d never indulge myself.

I try to reward myself for going longer distances. But, I think we’ve all seen those images that say, “Don’t reward yourself with food. You’re not a dog.”

This really upset me, as I’m sure it has upset others who are in my shoes. It’s OK to reward yourself. Especially if you’re exerting your body to run miles that others cannot. Or if you have accomplished something that means a lot to you, or just because! A strict diet doesn’t necessarily do the body good. Your body is an AMAZING creation, so treat it like so! I’m not saying to eat cookies and cake everyday, but we should treat ourselves every once in a while!

Anyways, I bought a pint of frozen yogurt last weekend, TCBY’s cookies n cream! Granted it took me a good 10-15 minutes standing in the frozen foods aisle contemplating which flavor is the “healthiest,” I still purchased it and intended to eat it that night (well not ALL of it)!  However, I couldn’t get myself to do it… I had ONLY ran 10 miles that day and didn’t feel as though I “deserved” it… BUT, last night I ate some! I had to run 15 miles to “deserve” it, but I ate it! The hardest part of it was eating the chocolate cookie part… It tasted soooooooooo good, but felt so wrong. But you want to know what? I are those damn chocolate cookies, and I liked them! The GREAT thing was… I didn’t feel at all guilty afterwards! Last week I had a Banana Baby too! It’s a chocolate covered banana. That too felt dangerous, but since it was fruit it wasn’t as scary as the frozen yogurt.

So, as I said, I am slowly (but surely) coming to terms with this idea that I cannot be perfect. That is OK to eat what I want (in moderation of course). It’s not yet an easy concept to grasp for me, but I’ll get there! 🙂 P.S. I just love the image below, because it’s so true.

https://i1.wp.com/www.christieinge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/love-your-body-12.jpg

♥Colleen♥