Archive | July, 2012

How to push yourself without feeling like you’re back in ED mode

31 Jul

Eating disorders love to punish.  It is their primary goal.  “You’re hungry and want to eat?” Too bad. “You’re tired and want to stop exercising?” Tough luck.  However, this kind of thinking can transfer over into other aspects of one’s life.  What if you are working on a big paper or studying for a big exam, but you want to take a break? This can feel very similar to the punishment many ED sufferers endure(d).  How can you differentiate between working hard and pushing yourself in order to achieve your dreams and aspirations, all the while maintaining self-compassion? Is it necessary to ‘punish’ yourself (sometimes) in order to get what you desire? That A+ on the final exam, the big promotion at work?  Or, are we going about this all wrong? Is studying for an exam for hours on end the same as the punishment inflicted by an ED?  

These are tough questions and ones that I have struggled with for some time now.  During recovery, you learn that you must start loving yourself (as cliche as it sounds).  You also discover that you LIKE being kind to yourself, and enjoy treating your body and mind gently. Furthermore, I am also cognizant of the fact that most people who struggle with disordered eating, or eating disorders tend to be Type A, perfectionists who are extremely driven.  We push ourselves in all aspects of our life, always expecting perfection and nothing less.  And these attributes can be very helpful and contribute to much of one’s academic and professional success.  Nevertheless, these qualities can also be our greatest downfall.

Maybe it’s all about perspective… Maybe you need to realize that studying or working hard simply comes with the territory of being a student.  Or maybe you need to take more breaks while studying and give yourself compassionate, loving things to look forward to.  “If I study for X amount of time, I will watch my favourite funny movie or call up my best friend.”  And maybe sometimes we just need to realize that the goal that we are striving for may be so important to us, and although we want to love and nurture ourselves 100% of the time during recovery, we need to make some sacrifices.  Our all-or-nothing attitude needs to change.  We need to go with the flow more.  Maybe we work really hard for a few days, knowing we will have a few days with a lighter work load.  I think what works best for everyone is very personal.  I am still trying to wrap my head around studying non-stop for that big test, while not going back into the ED mindset.  For me, perceived self-punishment in any form can often strengthen my ED and provide it with a vessel to creep back in.

I think the most important thing for us to realize is that we have two forces which can drive us- one, which is our ED, and a second which is our ‘true self.’  Dr. Lissa Rankin (M.D.) would call this second voice our “Inner Pilot Light.”  This ‘true self’ only wants the best for us and wants us to achieve all of our hopes and dreams for the purest, most genuine of reasons.  It wants us to ace that test so that we can get into medical school and ultimately have a voice within our community and initiate positive change.  It wants us to run that extra mile just to show ourselves WE CAN.  Bottom line: our ‘true self ‘ only wants the best for us.  We must learn to distinguish between the ED voice and our ‘true voice.’ What does Lauren want? Why does she want to achieve this? What are her intentions?  If working hard feels right for you in that moment, then DO IT. Pour your heart and soul into that project and kick its little behind.  But remember, when hard work begins to feel like punishment, especially if reminiscent of ED times, take a step back and reflect.  Why am I doing this? Who wants me to achieve this? Does this line up with everything I feel to be true?  You cannot be steered wrong when you tune into your true self.  It always knows what is best for you.  Its just waiting for you to ask.

Much love and health,

Lauren xo

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ED Recovery and Listening to your hunger cues

30 Jul

For years, my ED has taught me to deny my hunger, to ignore it.  Once I began the recovery process, finding this hunger which had been buried deep down was a tricky task. It can take months for a “true hunger” to return- it took me about 8 months to truly feel hungry again every few hours throughout the day, or between each meal.  However, now that I have  overcome this struggle, a new challenge has arisen. The hunger is present, which is great, although now I must actually listen to these hunger cues.  I cannot push them aside anymore. This is both incredibly liberating as well as terrifying.  What if I am still hungry after I eat? What do I do then? Am I “allowed” to eat more? And if I do go ahead and I am brave enough to in fact eat some more, what happens then? Will ED have a tantrum? Will my world fall apart?  These are the questions that go through someone’s mind everyday during recovery.

I had an interesting moment today. I ate breakfast…Greek yogurt + berries + cinnamon + almond butter…but I was still hungry. I drank some water and trucked along for a few more hours. Finally, I decided I was too hungry and had an early lunch after the water was not cutting it- a salad + egg + egg whites + pumpkin seeds + a dollop of hummus. You’ll notice all my meals so far have been rich in fiber, healthy fats and protein- my satiety warriors. Now, I feel pretty good after lunch, definitely not full, but not hungry.  I then decide to go out and do some shopping.  And what do you know- just two hours after lunch and two full water bottles down post-salad, I. FEEL. STARVING.  What is going on?!? I question my body (my first mistake).  I have a ‘Kind’ nut bar at the end of shopping, assuming that all of the healthy fat and protein will diminish my hunger.  I drink more water.  I drive home.

I want to try some of the new organic cacao nibs I bought while shopping. So, I BRAVELY, and I mean bravely, have a small bowl of vanilla coconut milk ice cream + a few blueberries & raspberries + some cacao nibs (which were super yummy, by the way!).  I walk down to the lake (I’m at my cottage), talk to my Mom for a second and then come back up to the cottage.  I am still legitimately ‘stomach hungry.’ Not a false kind of ‘hungry’ or a ‘I really feel like this or that’, or ‘I’m bored.’  No.  Like, ‘my stomach is screaming at me,’ kind of hunger.  Sooo…I steam some broccoli and asparagus and microwave 1/3 cup of egg whites.  I eat this with hummus and salsa.  Awwhhhh… FINALLY!!!  My stomach sings, it smiles.  My body is finally satisfied- but still not ‘full.’  And then…dun dun dun… ED decides that 3, THREE (!), afternoon snacks is WAYYYY too much.  I start to feel the anxiety creeeeep in.  I feel hot and my breathing increases.  “This is so stupid!!” I think. “So you had three freakin snacks?? WHO CARES!!”  I turn to my family and voice how I am feeling.  I have learned throughout recovery that some moments are best fought alone, while others require a little extra support.  This was one of those moments.  THIS WAS A BIG DEAL.  I have not let myself continue eating to the point of satiation for YEARS.  I became emotional, partly due to some fear, but mostly because I just felt so FREE.  FREE from my disorder.  I defied it and I WON. And I was ok.  Better than ok actually, FANTASTIC!!! I felt wonderful!!

I am realizing through this journey that although there are some scary moments, these are the ones which cause me to grow the most.  I hope that if I feel this kind of unrelenting hunger again that I can stop, think back to this moment and remember how good I felt. Nourishing my body is not meant to elicit fear.  It is meant to provide me with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, amino acids- all things which are necessary in order for my body to function.  And you know what? Nourishing my body is also meant to provide me with pleasure.  Food is delicious and eating should be an enjoyable experience.  I will continue to make it an enjoyable experience…and I hope you will too.  Balance, my friend.  I will get there, one step at a time.

Much love and health,

Lauren xo

Why ‘The Homeostatic Mindset?’

30 Jul

First of all, I am a science student, and thus, the concept of homeostasis has been reiterated to me more times than I can count.  Yes, I could have chosen another word such as balance, or equilibrium; however, I like science words 🙂 So there.

Secondly, and more importantly, over the past 22 years of my life, I have found myself stuck in extreme mindsets- black and white, all-or-nothing. I am now learning that manifesting a balanced, homeostatic mindset translates not only into a healthy mind, but also into a healthy body and spirit.  I endeavour to apply this mentality to all areas of my life- from what and how I eat, to how I exercise and how I interpret the experiences that I have as my life continues to unfold.  I am not perfect and some moments (or days) I can settle back into the all-or-nothing mentality.  This blog will hopefully help to make each day a homeostatic one 🙂

It is my goal that we can all travel along this journey and achieve a homeostatic mindset together!

Much love and health,

Lauren xo