To The Bone Review

Before I begin this review, I want to extend my praise to the cast and crew for bringing the issue of eating disorders into the public eye. In a time where media is by and far the largest platform for reaching youth, the population most at risk for and ignorant to the reality of eating disorders, making a Netflix film about this issue is a daunting task. While I didn’t find this film to be executed properly, I do recognize the tremendous time and effort that went into this project and that was devoted in eating disorders in general.
            As an eating disorder survivor, I eagerly awaited the release of “To The Bone” on Netflix. In the weeks before its arrival, I read up on the production process and how the project came to be. I found out that Lily Collins lost an extreme amount of weight for this role, something I found very unsettling and appalling. Lily Collins has a history with an eating disorder. This, in my opinion, is a vital factor to make note of. If a project about eating disorders, I’d prefer to have a recovered survivor working closely with the staff, even better as the main asset. This ensures a true and honest portrayal. However, producing a visual project (as opposed to a literary piece), is much trickier. I am aware that not all eating disorders leave their mark on the physical body. I understand that eating disorders are a disease of the mind, and that while the body plays a large role, not all eating disorders sufferers are walking around at a deadly weight. But in the case of “To The Bone”, where the main focus was anorexia, the film required a deadly ill body. Having Lily Collins achieve this look is sickening. I don’t know the details as to how she went about obtaining her protruding bones or empty eyes, but I have no doubt that starving herself and under-nourishing her body were important assets to this mission. And while the film does not directly promote this, us survivors know what went on behind closed doors. It’s appalling, to say the least.
            So now we’ve established that the main actress had to fall back into her eating disorder to achieve this role. Triggering. Very. As for the film itself, even more triggering. I’ve been recovered and stable for years; I can confidently assert that triggers are very far and few between for me. But for those young men and women fighting tooth and nail every day for their life, manifesting all of their will into their recoveries, this film is NOT for them. The characters blatantly engage in behaviors. Their conversations, their actions, and their mannerisms all accurately depict various eating disorders. Those struggling to break away from such do not have any need to be exposed to them. Watch at your own, cautious, discretion.
            As for the logistics, I’m pretty disappointed. Full disclosure, I’ve been inpatient twice. I’ve participated in two outpatient programs, have had my fair share of therapists and dieticians, and have spent hours of my life in support groups and group therapy sessions. Just this past summer, I was formally educated by a credible eating disorder staff on the exact procedures concerning treatment placement and the criteria. For those who aren’t familiar, there are essentially three levels of treatment that those with an eating disorder decide between. The first is outpatient care, which is an umbrella term for a treatment team consisting of a dietician, therapist, and psychiatrist (can have other professionals as well), or refers to a partial hospital program (PHP). PHP is structured so that you spend the majority of your days and meals at the hospital in program, but are free to go home at the end of the day and are responsible for remaining meals. The next is residential treatment. This refers to a home setting where those who are admitted are not medically critical but still need support in their recovery. In residential, there is a staff that works with you in groups for therapy and there is support for your meals and exercise habits. The goal of this setting is to help you transition into the real world as a recovered person. The final option is inpatient treatment, which tends to be utilized when the person is in critical medical condition. The main goal here is to restore necessary weight first and then focus on the mental aspect of the illness later, when the person is medically stable.
            In the film, Ellen is shown in a condition that is clearly very dangerous. She could die at any moment, and there are characters that voice this fear. However, despite this factor, Ellen is placed in a residential-like setting. In this particular home, there is very minimal structure. The reason for this, I honestly have no clue. I don’t know what message the writers were possibly trying to convey. Ellen is dying, and what she needs is extreme structure. Where she should be is INPATIENT, where a team of doctors will restore her weight and save her life long enough for her to THEN step down to a house-setting. The fact that Ellen gets to live in a house where there are other house members engaging in such obvious behaviors, with no structure or rules, is appalling. Nobody is REQUIRED to eat; they are just encouraged. Nobody’s language is monitored. In real treatment settings, weight, numbers, food, etc. are OFF LIMITS. Here, everyone speaks freely and only about behaviors and food obsessions. The portrayal of treatment was inaccurate to the extreme.
            There is also no storyline. I felt as if I sat there for almost two hours and nothing happened. I didn’t feel myself attaching to any of the characters. I was by no means moved by Collins’ performance; if anything, I found it distasteful. There are too many plots that begin and then lead nowhere. There are too many details that need to be explained but aren’t. Everything seems half-thought out. I’m left with a surplus of questions. The details of Ellen’s family are far-fetched and while they are plausible, they don’t fit into the story. The writers placed them in there but never fully developed them. Everything seems lost, empty, and pointless. Oh, and there is not one person who makes significant and commendable progress in their recovery. Great.
            Upon finishing the film, I’m not left with anything. I’m not moved, I’m not encouraged, and I’m not proud. I’m disappointed. This was a project that had the potential to do so much, to speak volumes to the importance of breaking the stigma, of showing pro-ana youth what they’re REALLY in for. There is no message. There is barely any character growth. By the end, Ellen undergoes a reality check and is ready to recover.
            But then it ends.
            The writers obviously intended for this to be a ray of hope, to show the viewer that now Ellen will go on and fully recover. However, this is not serving any justice to the reality of relapse and recovery. Speaking from experience, with an eating disorder, a surge of confidence is not enough. I have had countless relapses, some big, some small, but all were the end product of a reality check like Ellen’s. Maybe this is the time that Ellen REALLY does it, really recovers. While it pains me to say this, it’s more likely than not that this is temporary, and the eating disorder will wiggle its way back. The writers don’t disclose this, of course, because that’s not captivating to an audience. They want a happy ending. They want a fantasy.
            Overall, I’m deeply unhappy with this film. It’s inaccurate, filled with false hope and tries too hard to be intriguing and hold an audience. The main goal of such a project should have been to educate, to reveal the depths and truths of life with an eating disorder. If this is thought to be too brutal (which it is), then a film should not have been taken on in the first place. “To The Bone” was a terrible excuse for Lily Collins to fall back into her eating disorder.


The Socializing Introvert: Why Relationships Are SO Important

**Written July 13th, 2017**
             Awhile back I came across a photo online that said, “Introverts Unite!”. Underneath that, a rising fist. And even further below, more text that read, “Separately, in your own homes”
            As a self-proclaimed introvert, I have to admit I laughed and saved it, but then it hit me. This is so relatable. This is me.
            I’ve found that the majority of the people in this health-conscious, pro-wellness community are very likeminded. We all loooooove kale, right? Maybe? Probably not. I’ve met plenty of people in this space who identify as introverts. More commonly, as extroverted introverts. I fall into this mouthful of a category.  Alone time? I thrive on that sh*t. I need my solo time to recharge, to collect myself, to evaluate. However, I love spending time with the people I love. I find myself itching for human contact, not constantly, not always, but enough for me to realize that I could never be on my own the way I used to so confidently believe.
            I’m young. I love being by myself, but there’s a time and place for that. I’m healthy, I’m capable, and I should be taking advantage of this time. I should be going out of my way to go on day trips with friends, to spontaneously make plans, to put in the effort to socialize. This is probably the last element of my eating disorder-ridden life that I’m still working towards amending. Eating disorders isolate you. I lost countless amounts of friends. I lost time I’ll never get back. Opportunities passed me by. Grade-wide trips down the shore on the last day of school. Sweet 16’s. Family vacations.
            All because I thought I was “introverted”. I thought this meant my life was destined to be empty, lonely. My eating disorder thrived off of that. No socializing meant no shared meals, no body comparison, no judgement. It also meant no responsibility. To other people, to relationships, to social commitments. Socializing, at a time when standing for more than five minutes was an enormous effort (hello poor physical health!), was out of the question. It exhausted me to the point of physical fatigue. It was best for me to avoid it. I’m better off without them, without the others. Right?
            At the time of my recovery, my  goals looked like this: restore necessary weight, maintain that weight, establish a solid relationship with food, begin incorporating exercise again after a 6-month hiatus. After that point, I considered myself out of recovery. But there are some aspects of your eating disorder lifestyle that carry over into your post-recovery life that aren’t dire, but in time need to be alleviated.
            Like isolation.
            Socializing wasn’t one of my recovery goals. Clearly, I had more urgent needs to attend to. Now that I lead a healthy and happy life, where I’m not on the verge of fatal health crises, I can dedicate more time to bettering myself as a person. As a daughter, sister, friend.
            It wasn’t until I began really, thoroughly, attending to my relationships that I realized I actually loved to connect with other people. I deemed myself an introvert for so long that I was under the impression that I could never love company. To be a normal, functioning, successful person in the real world, I realized I would have to interact with others. I accepted this. But I felt as though I could never go beyond interactions in passing.
            Recently I’ve been pushing myself outside my comfort zone in terms of socializing. I push myself in the gym to lift heavier weights; I push myself in the kitchen to experiment with new flavor combinations and recipes; I push myself in the academic work to learn more and understand more complex subjects. Why was this any different?
            What did this look like for me? Instead of waiting for others to make plans with me (which I knew was not reliable because my friends are used to me rejecting invitations), I reached out to others. My very best friends, and then old high school friends who I wanted to catch up with. I made plans to eat out, to go to the beach, to have groups of friends over swimming. This used to be WAY beyond my comfort zone. Eating out with friends was never an option. What would I possibly eat!? Being seen in a bathing suit was totally a no-go. Spending the day at the beach with an unknown hour-by-hour plan was horrifying.
            I was so fed up with these fears weighing me down. These past few months, I’ve spent time catching up with friends and strengthening my relationships. In that time, here’s what I learned:
  • It’s impossible to truly appreciate life in isolation. When I’m laughing with my friends, sharing my story with them, being supported by their kind words and gestures, making memories together…it’s in THESE moments that I realize how precious life is. How surreal is it that of all of the living creatures roaming the planet, humans are blessed enough to establish such empowering relationships? It’s not until you’re lying on the beach surrounded by your old friends; the very same people who worried for you when you were sick and supported you in your rise to health, that you realize how blessed you are. As your friends push you into the pool and can aggressively play around with you without worrying about breaking you, as you come up for air and hit them back, and then you both double over in laughter…THIS is when you realize that life is not worth living in the absence of connection.
  • There’s no replacement for support.  I would never have reached this strong, stable place that I am in today had I not gathered the support and love of so many wonderful, loving people in my life. My progress, heavily based on my own thoughts and actions, was fueled by the love and care of my family, and later the addition of thousands of strangers coming together to lift me up over the INTERNET. Now that I’ve strengthened and recharged so many old relationships, I see this principle surfacing once more. When I’m with my friends, we’re constantly raising each other up. Even when we’re teasing each other and messing around, it’s all out of genuine love.
  • Everything in life is a team effort. Relationships are a two-way street. At first, I felt that the burden was all on me. That I was the only one reaching out, trying so hard, putting in so much effort. But then I came to my senses. For the four excessively long years I was sick, my friends tried and tried to reach out and include me. Again and again I shut them down. Ignored their calls. Rejected their invitations. Eventually, they stopped. Who could blame them? How could our relationship thrive when I wasn’t even in it? In the past three months that I’ve dedicated to rekindling relationships, I can’t help but realize how important it is to be present. To make the effort, to go the extra step. To run off to your best friend’s house at the last minute because her mom found a random box of old firecrackers and you just “have to come test them out”. To pause your Netflix marathon to pick up your friend from work whose car is in the shop. To agree to dinner with friends at a restaurant with no online menu to scope out beforehand. People never forget the sacrifices you make for them. The kindness you show them. The effort you make. If I want the love and support I cherish from these people, how in the world can I expect them to provide me with it without paying my fair share?
            I’m an introvert. An extroverted introvert. But nonetheless, I’ve grown to realize that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There is way too much stigma out there surrounding introverts. I’m an introvert, but I still recognize and appreciate the value of interaction. Of socializing. In the beginning, it’s terrifying. There’s a fear of exhaustion, of boredom, of anxiety. But here’s the thing. Anything worth having in life won’t come easy. But it will come.
            If you let it.
            So pick up your phone, text your middle school best friend who you haven’t heard from in months. Ask her to go for a hike, to grab lunch, to go to the beach. Suck up your fear, get in your car, and go. Pull up next to her in the parking lot and hug her and apologize for the past. Sit at lunch and laugh over good food as you recollect how the English teacher you both had claimed she was prom queen, and how that was NOT likely. Spend hours after the check comes just lounging back and catching up on your freshmen years of college. Get in your car to head home and just sit in the parking lot and take it all in; the laughs, the love, the connection.
            Then go home and take the next day to yourself. You deserve it.

Having Expectations for Your Body, and How To See Beyond Them

**Written on June 25th, 2017**
Recovery is a lifelong process. This is a reminder I always offer, but one that I’ve only recently TRULY allowed to resonate with me. I’ve been leading a normal, healthy life for over two years now. I’m beyond the stages of recovery. However, throughout the duration of these two glorious years, I’ve always focused on my body’s appearance to an extent.
Only a short while ago was I able to uncover the underlying drive behind my body discomfort. My lifestyle has been through drastic changes; coming out of a rigid, heightened meal plan with no movement to reintroducing exercise to my regimen. This took place the summer going into my senior year. Then during my senior school year, I was working most of the week and had more rest days than I did days in the gym. The summer before college was the same in terms of work, but now I had time to workout most days before my shift. Once I left for school, I was walking ten times the amount I ever had at home. I lived off campus this past year, and was in the city walking around on my days off. I was extremely active. Now I’m home for the summer, and working out most days, but barely walking at all. My point is that my lifestyle has seen all different patterns in recent years, and I’ve always (ignorantly) connected these patterns to my body’s appearance.
For example, if I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, I’d dismiss it as “I’m not walking as much, things will regulate soon”. I guess this is a healthier alternative than jumping to restricting and overexercising. I spent four years of my life implementing this approach, so I know for a fact it’s deadly. Plus, being so far into health and happiness, all past behaviors are simply unappealing to me at this point. I can confidently say that restricting my intake is something I will avoid at all possible costs.
But dismissing my body issues and coming up with excuses that weren’t even valid isn’t healthy either. Yes, it keeps my physical health at bay. But what about mentally? I was just playing mind games. I was refusing to accept my body because I was EXPECTING it to be something else, and pathetically believed that my body would obey such expectations.
Here’s what body expectations looked like in my life: I’m very open about details about my body issues. For me, you probably already know, my midsection always gave me anxiety. I was never lean, with a toned stomach or small waist. I’m built more like a little boy than anything else, and my gut tends to stick out. From the side, I find I’m not lean like so many people I see. This is where expectations came in. When I was extremely active at school, I found that I was most at peace with my midsection. (Keep in mind this was not over exercising, it was simply the conditions of my situation. I was also eating a lot more at school to account for this). So when I returned home and my lifestyle took a turn, I began to notice these changes being projected onto my midsection. Once again, I found myself “puffy”, “swollen”, and “constantly bloated-looking”. For the first month or so, I was lying to myself.  I was telling myself that I know my body is capable of looking better, that it will get there if I just change some things around. This was because I EXPECTED it to look a certain way.
Holding onto expectations for your body is holding you back. If you’re engaging in certain lifestyle habits because you EXPECT them to translate into the body you want, your drive is in the wrong place. I’ll be the first person to admit that I began a higher fat lower (but not low…pasta please??) carb intake in hopes of changing my body. It sounds pathetic and petty but it’s true. When nothing changed, I flip flopped and hoped for results. This left me the same as well. I got so frustrated that I just decided to ditch all regimens and eat how the hell I wanted. And because I wasn’t obsessing over the details of my intake for my appearance’s sake, I began to pay attention to my body less and less.
Every Sunday is my rest day, and I sleep until 12 (at the earliest…). After an unintentional long fast and a lot of sleep, I tend to wake up feeling “lean”. I used to always wake up, change into my bra and underwear, and stagger over to the body mirror and just take in my reflection. I would spend about ten minutes admiring how lean and empty I was. But I’m proud to say I can’t even remember the last time I engaged in this activity. Seriously, it’s probably been 3 months? But on this Sunday morning, I woke up and got dressed with no body mirror to intervene. I came downstairs, made breakfast, and then out of nowhere realized this feat. Then I kept thinking about it; I hadn’t picked my body apart in weeks. I hadn’t given it much thought.
I feel so liberated. Upon analyzing why this shift took place, I traced it all back to body expectations. Once I stopped expecting my body to react to lifestyle habits, to change in response to how I was trying to manipulate it, I was able to find body acceptance. My life has been so damn GOOD lately. I’ve been getting super creative in the kitchen because I have the entire culinary world at my fingertips. I no longer have to use this specific product or that one or exclude ingredients because they don’t align with my new “lifestyle”. I’ve been so social, grabbing meals out with friends and going to parties without worrying about if I can get a “low-carb” meal there. My digestion isn’t giving me the trouble it used to, and I attribute this to the lack of stress surrounding my body and intake.
Is my body where I want it to be? Here’s my answer to that: if my body is allowing me to live my best life, then that’s where I want it to be. Am I “lean” like I used to so desperately obsess over? Nope! But here’s the thing. I realized that nobody FREAKING CARES. I go swimming with my friends and to the beach and I don’t self-detonate because I’m not a little bit leaner. My life doesn’t fall apart if I’m a few pounds more than I expect to be. I’m not a failure because of what I look like. I can’t spend my entire life focused on making changes solely for the purpose of manipulating my body. It becomes exhausting.
Letting go of body expectations is a matter of acknowledging that they’re there. Identify them. And then tell them to screw off. Because in all honesty, the expectations are irrational. Find your best life and let your body look the way it needs to in order to live this way. Not the opposite. Don’t go shaping your life around how it will make your body look. Don’t expect certain diets or exercise routines or whatnot to give you the body you’re after. I’m not saying that changing these things won’t change your body, because they can and everybody is different. What I’m saying is not to execute these changes BECAUSE you expect these changes. Make choices because your heart and your soul are in it. Life is trial and error. See what works for you. But don’t expect. Accept your body where it is and recognize that the life you lead in is better when the body’s appearance is an afterthought.
Sending love!!

Putting the “Numb” in NUMBers

**Written on May 10th, 2017**
Why do we put so much value into numbers? Why do they serve as a method for deriving meaning? Everything we do is tied up in numbers. Have you ever stopped to think about how numbers are a manmade concept? They’re not natural. They’re a product of mankind, a result of a desperate search for order and structure.
Numbers are everywhere. I’m sure when I say this you instantly think of the obvious and conscious ways that numbers control us. The numbers on the scale, on the nutrition label, on tests and sporting events and followers and so on. These are well-known instances that we are all familiar with. Though rationally we understand that the following isn’t true, we can’t help but at least acknowledge it in passing: these numbers reflect our self worth. Higher number above that “followers” section of your profile? You’re worthy. Lower number on the scale? You’re doing something right. You get the point.
But it goes beyond this.
These are conscious occurrences of numbers manipulation, but it doesn’t stop there. Subconsciously, numbers can weigh us down without us realizing it. This afternoon, my sister and I went on a walk. I was so excited to get some fresh air after studying all day; the moment I stepped outside and the sun bathed my skin I was overcome with a fleeting peace. We began the uphill trek up our street, chit-chatting and breathing and being mindful. I really wanted to make an effort to avoid checking my phone and just enjoy nature and the outdoors. About halfway through our walk, I realized I had no idea what time we left or how long we’ve been out. And for some reason this made me uneasy. Why though?
Reflecting on it, I realized that simply having a sense of time, of the mere numbers that dictated my schedule, made me feel in control. And so I buried my phone deeper in my pocket. There was something scary about being uneasy, but also so damn freeing. I had no idea when we left, so I couldn’t even try to guess what time it was based on how much time I figured had past. I was truly at a loss.
It was this loss that opened my eyes and allowed me to realize what I had gained from it. An extremely small example in comparison, but it’s similar to shedding an eating disorder. There’s a certain fear that comes in facing life without it, but it’s exhilarating to finally be out of control and just live. Until I was stripped of time, I never realized how much I depended on it, those stupid numbers on my lock screen, on my watch, on the clock. I like to do everything in a timely fashion, priding myself in my discipline to stay on task and align myself with a pre-set scheduling of events. However, I realize this is just me searching for control, and it’s so stressful to constantly orient my life in this way. I’ve spent years now swearing how numbers don’t control me, and that’s true, in the sense that I was implying. I don’t weigh myself, I don’t count calories or macros. I’ve found myself and my worth through my passions, not numbers.
It’s these subconscious occurrences that slip right by all of us, myself included. Now I’m not calling for anarchy and begging you all to storm Capitol Hill demanding we eradicate the concept of time, but I do want you to be mindful of this trap. When I was on that walk, living free of time in blissful ignorance, there was nothing standing in between myself and my feelings. I wasn’t preoccupied with calculating when we’d be back, or how long this set me back in my studying, or if it was a long enough time to be acceptable exercise. I didn’t possess the numbers that would allow me to do so, leaving me with just my thoughts and my feelings and nature and my feet on the sidewalk and my dad’s baseball cap falling over my eyes because it was too big. I was able to disconnect myself from my timely obligations and notice the roots of a plant desperately breaking through the pavement, stopping to take in the sight and appreciate the plant’s strength, without worrying about how much time had passed.
Numbers make me numb. I’m not able to truly connect with myself when there’s always a quantifiable concept lingering in the background. It’s not weight or calories or obvious measures anymore, rather subtler outlets, like time and structure that comes with it. A world without time is unrealistic, and being the realist I am, I get that. But I encourage you to disconnect from the measures that weigh you down when you can. While time is essential, find loopholes in this. Take a study break and go on a walk for who knows how long (not you!), read a book and start and stop when you feel like it. Eat dinner an hour before you told yourself you could, because you’re hungry NOW. Numbers numb. Disconnect and allow yourself to feel, to think, see the course your mind takes when the necessary pieces that allow you to worry are simply not there.
There is a freedom in the unknown, and a lack of control will allow you to find that.
Until next time… 😉


Distancing Yourself From Your Physical Appearance

**Written on April 22nd 2017**

When I was finally weight-restored (and proved able to maintain a healthy weight), I was cleared for exercise after a 6-month restriction.
All I could think about was how out of shape I was, obsessing over what exercises would tone my arms, define my core, lean out my legs. Every day I would come home from school, change into my workout clothes, eat a snack, and head into my basement gym to… take “pre-workout selfies”.
Yup. Every. Damn. Day. 10 to 20 pictures, me posing the mirror picking myself apart. I told myself they were progress pictures, that what I was doing wasn’t disordered but the complete opposite. I WANTED to change, I wanted to be strong and healthy and I thought recording my progress obsessively would get me there.
But we all know how the obsession storyline goes.
After each workout, I would return to the same mirror and pose again, looking for instant changes in my body’s composition. I would take picture after picture, spending at least an extra half hour after my workout to do so. Then later at night I would lay in bed editing them, playing with filters and zooming in pathetically to see what needed to be “fixed”.
Sometimes my days were even determined by the quality of my photoshoot. Did I like the way this afternoon’s pictures came out? My stomach looked better today than yesterday, right? The rest of my day would be bright, I would feel happier and more accomplished, as if I were making huge strides.
The next day, my stomach didn’t look ideal. I wasn’t happy. That night, I was miserable, angry, what had I done wrong?
This vicious cycle went on for months, until it wore me down. I was too tired to care anymore. This was so miserable. I was obsessed with how my body looked, and judging my character, my disposition, my abilities, my character, all on an outward appearance that will never be 100% in my control anyway.
I was sick and tired of obsessing over my body, over what I didn’t like about it. I knew I needed to take action. I was sick of pitying myself and decided to take some critical steps towards distancing myself from my outward appearance. Some practices that worked for me were:
– Quitting the workout selfie game. This was extremely essential for me because of how obsessive it became. Honestly, I haven’t taken a selfie of my body at the gym in…I want to say 6 or 7 months. It just doesn’t even cross my mind anymore. That’s because of the second practice I implemented, being…
– Constantly reminding myself of all my body can DO. How smart and capable and deserving it is. Every day, I took time to thank my body for allowing me to build strength, to enjoy life again, to be alive. Dispelling irrational thoughts about your appearance can be tough, but the key is to be consistent. Expose your irrational thoughts by saying them out loud. This always, ALWAYS helps me realize how silly I’m being. Personally, I’ve always had discomfort regarding my stomach. To me, it was always “tubby”, and this translated into people seeing me as “lazy” or “weak” because I didn’t work hard enough to sculpt it to toned perfection. I would take this thought, and say it out loud. In the mirror. Watching and hearing such an ignorant and outright STUPID expression made me realize that I was being irrational.
-Making choices that benefitted how my body functioned instead of working for aesthetic goals. I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always appreciated a thorough sweat and strength building. I had to revoke that mindset. I realized that recently I was working out to look a certain way. You have to shift this focus. Workout because it makes you stronger, it benefits your body and mind. The rest will fall into place.
-Put your trust out there in the world. Don’t be afraid to make changes that you know are best. I had to trust that taking care of and loving my body from the inside out would give me my best life. And what do you know? Here I am.
My quality of life rests in how I take care of my body from the inside out, not how it appears on the outside.
It’s funny how things work, actually. Once I stopped stressing my body and mind out regarding my appearance, my body began to go through changes that I was pleased with. I wasn’t inflamed or bloated anymore, which was likely a symptom of stress and obsession. This was around the same time that I made the switch to whole/fresh foods (for my internal benefit) from my gym-rat protein laden/toxic ridden intake (for my physical “gains”). This is no coincidence.
At first, it will be hard. If you have to take more drastic measures, DO SO. In the beginning, I did have to wear baggy clothing to work out to stop myself from picking out flaws. I did purposely avoid mirrors for some time, and the like. There is no shame in doing every damn thing you can to better yourself.
You are so much more than your body can show. Your life can be SO BRIGHT, so freeing, so stop beating your body up for not living up to some insane expectations you pulled out of thin air. Instead, step back, be grateful for what your body can do and how much it cares for you.
You only get one body, but you also only get one life. You might as well love your body, because loving your body allows you to love your life. You can’t love your life and hate your body, it just doesn’t work that way.
I can’t stress it enough. Just be GRATEFUL for your body, love it from the inside out.
Sending love!


Finding A Sense of Self Post-Recovery

**Written April 6th, 2017**
When you spend years, months, weeks, hell, even one day battling an eating disorder, you lose yourself. You become the disorder. It’s all you identify with. You’re the girl who doesn’t eat, the one who goes to the gym twice a day, who’s disciplined and strong. Yeah yeah, you know the drill.
Okay, so let’s say you’re basically beyond your disorder. Now you’re weight restored, you’re mentally and physically stable, and you’re beginning to search for new outlets to invest your time and energy in. Where do you turn?
Two summers ago, this was the state I was in. I was no longer an eating disorder, but what was I? What lifestyle did I identify with? How did I want to lead my life? I was so lost. At this point in time, I had just started posting on a recovery-based Instagram account to help hold me accountable for my intake, to vent about my struggles, and to connect with those who were in the same place I was. My account was small, my posts were just vehicles for therapeutic captions. I went out of my way to follow as many “pro-recovery” accounts as possible. People who had overcome their disorders and were now sharing their next steps. Being as lost as I was, I looked to these people for inspiration.
My Instagram feed quickly filled with bikini competitors, fitness gurus, and protein-bar junkies. I was being fed the idea that once you recovered, the next step was to become a “health nut”. A “gym rat”, if you will. I spent the majority of last year scoping the Internet for the newest protein powder that I could pair with a protein bar that tasted remarkably similar to a candy bar after the gym. Sipping my BCAAs while I wrote out a heavy lift for later that day. Taking (no exaggeration) about thirty gym selfies after every workout. I followed accounts that counted macros, were gym obsessed, and praised protein like it was all that was holy in the world. I didn’t know better. My ignorance was only bliss for so long.
Eventually I found myself doing these things to. Most importantly, I was counting macros. I saw that these accounts didn’t care about the ingredients in the products they were eating, as long as they were “macro-friendly”. This term became an obsession. I stocked up on more bars than I care to remember, never glancing once at the ingredient list but instead making sure they were super low net-carb and not too high in fat. What I was looking for was a slab of protein that tasted like some wild dessert flavor, and unfortunately there are A LOT of options out there, surprisingly.
I spent my entire senior year of high school eating products that I now realize were just collections of chemicals, manmade sweeteners and additives and flavors. I ate my veggies at dinner, sure, but that’s probably the only source of “whole foods” I was consuming. Protein pancakes with WF for breakfast, protein bread for sandwiches, sometimes THREE PROTEIN BARS a day, etc.
Not only was I not seeing the results I wanted, but I knew I could be feeling better. How did I know this? I found myself constantly thinking about the foods I wasn’t allowing myself. Pretty sure I dreamt about guacamole…like, a lot. My body was sending me signs that I was craving more whole foods, especially more fats. Admittedly, I spent all of last year AFRAID OF FATS. I identified myself with the gym and “gains”, and I couldn’t justify the presence of more fats than necessary, or more specifically, the ones in my Combat Crunch bar.
These cravings led to me searching through#avocado hashtags on Instagram. I began to follow more and more accounts who were food based instead of gym based. More strong minded people posting whole foods, nutrient rich and fresh intakes. I was in awe. These men and women led such radiant lifestyles, and I wanted in. They talked about how they incorporated exercise into their lives, because it was healthy in moderation and because they enjoyed it. There were no overwhelming amounts of gym selfies, just beautiful food and beautiful people behind the camera.
I was inspired by these accounts to start doing more research into wholesome foods and digestion, the microbiome, how important fats and carbs were, etc. In doing so, I realized how horrid my new identity truly was. Now that I’m no longer ignorant to ingredients and their importance over calories and macros, I have a lot of regrets about last year’s intake. Today, I wouldn’t go near half of the products I used to eat with a ten-foot pole.
In exposing myself to my fears, I was able to truly discover myself. I can now say with pride that I identify myself as an advocate for all-around health and wellness. I’m not the gym junkie, protein guzzling little powerhouse I tried so hard to be. I thought there was no other way to lead my life post-recovery. But here I am. The gym is only a part of my life. I find so much joy in cooking, in eating wholesome and fresh foods, in going to farmers markets and simply appreciating how BEAUTIFUL whole foods are. I can’t see myself ever going back to rejecting the ingredients of what goes into my body. I have found such an appreciation and love for wellness that I wouldn’t compromise that for the world.
This is a topic that’s been on my mind for awhile, especially as my birthday nears and another year comes to a close. I’ve realigned my beliefs and values greatly in this past year, and I feel confident going into the big 19 that this is where my heart is. I would have never discovered my true place of peace had I not expanded my horizons, faced my fears, and branched out. I don’t want to throw a cliche at you about comfort zones, but I don’t think it’d be a bad idea right about now 😉
In no way am I demeaning or dismissing the dedication and passion involved in a gym-dedicated lifestyle. To each their own, and if one is content and happy where they are, I’m in no place to judge. As always, I’m just speaking from my personal journey and what worked and didn’t work for me.
Sending love!!