Tough Love

**Written February 11th, 2017**
Tough love, man. When I was quasi-recovering, relapsing, suffering; my mom loved me TOUGH. And at the time, it made me want to punch holes in the wall, scream until my veins popped out in my neck, until I was blue in the face. She refused to pity me. I pitied myself. I felt so bad for myself, that I was suffering. I remember constantly complaining about how the world wasn’t fair, how I didn’t deserve this disease, how I was going through such a terrible time.
It’s funny, actually.
I desperately wanted the attention of everyone around me, and at the same time I wanted to disappear into thin air. I wanted to go through the days unnoticed, terribly embarrassed by my emancipated appearance and straw-like hair, my “sick eyes”, my pale glass skin and bones where body fat should have been. I hated myself and what I had become. Yet I wanted everyone around me to pity me, to look at me and shed a tear, hug me and tell me it’s okay, I’m validated. What a god damn paradox.
My mom refused to pity me. I would lock myself in the bathroom at school during class, silently, violently, shake and cry and just shower myself under the dark rain cloud that was my depression. During these episodes (which occurred daily my sophomore year of high school), I would text my mom novels. I would tell her how sad I was, how I’m really trying this time BUT… How I was scared for the future, how I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, how I physically felt as if I was unable to sit through a school day without wanting to jump out of a window.
I would hold my breath as I watched her type on the other end. She was loving, she cared, but she didn’t enable me. Ah, that’s the word. ENABLE. She acknowledged my frustration, my sadness. What she didn’t do was VALIDATE it. She was stern and outright honest.
She’d start her responses with my name.
“Angie…” the message would read.
Think about that for a second. When someone addresses you in the middle of a conversation, your heart stops. Things just got serious.
And she would do this all.the.damn.time.
Talk about the power of words.
She would go on to say that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel and she was glad that I was expressing myself. However, there was one tag line she constantly reiterated over and over again and I’ll never forget it. “You have to help yourself”.
YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF.
Basically, those five words are what I’m here to rant about. My Instagram has allowed me to grab a glimpse into the struggles of so many beautiful people. So many souls who are hurting, who are huddled together under that dark cloud that haunted me in the bathroom stall. So many people in quasi-recovery, relapsing, battling demons. I have crossed paths with plenty of people out there who are crying the blues about their disorder, but are doing NOTHING TO HELP THEMSELVES.
I’m sick of it. I’m so DAMN SICK OF IT.
Frankly, you know what you have to do to get better. You KNOW you should be doubling your intake, HELL TRIPLING IT. You KNOW you have weight to put on and that you SHOULD NOT BE WORKING OUT.You know that you have to eat your night snack, regardless if you live alone and nobody is there to pat you on the shoulder and stroke your hair and give you a high-five.
When you’re in the grips of an eating disorder, you constantly look for validation. Your downward spiral was dependent on this acceptance from others. You kept losing weight, working out harder and eating next-to-nothing. You began manipulating your diet to include seven items. And you kept going, further, further, because you were under the impression that others saw you as “dedicated”, as “healthy”, as “strong”. This is validation. Your actions, while it be irrationally so, were being validated by what you assumed others to think.
To those relapsing, to those who claim to be in recovery but frankly aren’t doing shit, this is for you. I say it sternly and brutally honest but any other way will enable you to keep trucking on the same way you are. YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF. Nobody can do it for you. YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. DO IT. Quit stalling. What are you waiting for? Why do you keep saying “tomorrow”? Why do you keep saying “If…”? I don’t understand. Why do you want to stay stuck? Don’t you want to be alive?
I realize there are so many of you out there struggling alone. I realize how insanely fortunate I was to have treatment options, professional help, and a loving and caring family to fall back on. If you don’t have these things, and even if you do, I’m here for you. I want to be your support system. I want you to climb up on my shoulders and then climb even higher, bounding towards life and happiness. I want to listen to you and be here for you and simply help you.
What I don’t want, however, is to enable you.
My mom loved me tough. She listened to me and hugged me and cradled me and reminded me that it’s okay not to be okay. But she never let me stay put. She constantly reminded me that I was sick because I, ME, was allowing myself to stay that way. That I was stronger than any damn voice playing with my brain. But there was only so much she could do. The rest was on me.
One day, I picked myself and realized I was done self-pitying. I was done coming up with excuses for why I shouldn’t do what I was supposed to do. I SHOULD be taking a rest day today, but I just feel SO good that maybe I’ll just skip it. I SHOULD be adding more to my intake, but I’m so tired so I’ll just go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
NICE TRY. YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF.
Coming from someone who’s been around the block, here’s what I have to say.
If you’re trying to restore weight, you CANNOT be working out AT ALL until you’re weight restored and then MAINTAINING A STABLE WEIGHT FOR AT LEAST A MONTH. You HAVE TO expand your intake, you HAVE TO stop trying to fill yourself up on empty foods such as huge bowls of vegetables.
If you’re trying to restore a healthy relationship with food, you HAVE TO break whatever rules you’ve cultivated. You have to throw caution to the wind and just DO IT.
The only way out is through.
How do you expect to get better if you’re doing shit about your situation? Do you expect to one day snap your fingers and things are easier? It doesn’t work like that. You put in the work, the dedication, and you’ll discover your reward. I don’t care that it’s scary, that you’re scared to death to make the changes you need to. The discomfort is temporary. Death isn’t.

I refuse to pity those who can help themselves. Your illness CAN be overcome, but YOU are the only one that can do it. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

I love you all, SO so dearly. I acknowledge your pain and I understand your struggle and I hear your cries. But i refuse to enable you.

YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF!

Sending (tough) love!

What Life After Recovery is ACTUALLY Like

There’s a fine line between being in recovery and being “recovered”.
It’s not a distinction that’s all that obvious, but it will reveal itself in the subtlest of ways. It’s a long, slow transition but it will make itself evident to you. One day things will click. Decisions that once triggered an anxiety bomb will now seem miniscule. Spontaneity will become fun as opposed to the epitome of hell. In your recovery, you have become so dedicated to seeking out your mental and physical health that the lifestyle becomes second nature. You no longer have to weigh pros and cons of a decision, because you already WANT to make the RIGHT one.
One day, you’ll take a step back and say to yourself, “Hey, life isn’t so bad. It’s not as grey as it once was.” You’ll have a wave of relief wash over you, a feeling of narrow escape. But you did it.
Welcome to the other side.
My life after recovery is, well, amazing. I’m so blessed and grateful and simply can’t believe that at one point, I wanted to throw this all away.
You may not be able to see it now, but you have so much potential. There are so many options. The world is SO BIG.
Life isn’t black, or grey, or whatever dull color is cascading a film over your perspective. I had my run with depression, and anxiety, and OCD. I remember waking up each day and feeling disappointed that I did. I remember dragging myself down my high school’s walkway, my bones aching with each step, a North Face layered over two sweatshirts the week before spring break, the world muffled around me, my mind counting my steps and trying so desperately to ignore my rumbling stomach. I know what that pit in your stomach feels like. I know how heavy it is, how much it’s dragging you down. I know the unexpected and uncontrollable mood swings. One second you feel like you can handle this, this thing that is life. The next minute, you’re attacked with a feeling that your life is meaningless, that you’re incapable, that one day you’re going to be old and alone and STILL sad.
The only way out is through. There is no other secret or mystery to it. You have to fight.
Okay, random tangent. These blog posts are always raw rants…but it’s important to get these thoughts out there.
Back to recovery vs. recovered!!
Personally, I am well into a post-recovery life. When I post on my Instagram about feats or skipping workouts or eating freely or whatever it may be, I’m not looking for people to say they are “proud” of me. I’m not looking for validation or praise. I appreciate the love and support, but I share those things to reiterate to you all what life after recovery looks like. When I make decisions now that would have been impossible for me before, I share them to display my change in mindset, to show you what YOU could have if you truly commit to your recovery.
Another thing. Weight-restored and recovered are not the same thing. To physically reach a weight that a doctor has deemed “safe” for you does not translate into mental freedom. Just throwing it out there, my doctor’s “goal weight” for me was 25 pounds less than what I weigh now (or at least the last time I weighed myself…don’t have a reason to do that anymore!). Once I reached that weight, my life didn’t magically get better. It’s like turning a year older on your birthday. The number changes, but you don’t FEEL different. That’s what weight-restored means to me. It’s getting older, but that’s it. Recovered is when your mind and body connect, when you’re confident in your ability to be responsible for yourself. When you can talk to your body and honor it. When your life becomes more than food, fitness, and appearance. When you begin to define yourself as a person, outside of these elements. When your heart feels light and the world has color and things are vibrant.
That being said, I have to come right out and say it: I don’t believe in being 100% recovered.
Sounds hypocritical, right? Let me explain.
Living a life after recovery makes me “recovered”. I’m no longer dying from an eating disorder. I’m no longer battling severe depression. But in my opinion, I don’t believe eating disorders go away completely.
See, being recovered is everything I described it as and more. However, to be completely honest, the thoughts never disappear. Instead, they dissolve into faint whispers, dancing around in your head once in a blue moon. Being recovered means hearing those thoughts, screaming over them, attacking them with your health, and silencing them. Being recovered is the ability to eradicate the irrational. It is NOT the absence of the irrational. Being recovered makes you strong enough to confront whatever thoughts still have the audacity to show up and putting a brutal end to them. There’s no other way to say this, but once you have an eating disorder, you always “have” one. You can’t unlearn the horrible things your disorder forced you to learn, you can’t un-see food and exercise in the ways you did when you were sick. However, a recovered lifestyle and mindset allows you to modify these irrational perceptions to conform to healthy ones. I’m recovered, but my eating disorder will always be a part of my past. I will sometimes have thoughts pop up against my will. I sometimes will flash back to awful memories, and feel an unwanted sense of mourning. These are natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that the eating disorder is still faintly there. I’m sure there are many people out there that could disagree with me, but I will stand by this point. I’m thriving in health and happiness, but I still have struggles. It’s normal and part of life. I’m not weak for telling you all that my ED will always be here, even though it is in bits and pieces instead of an army. I’m strong for acknowledging it, accepting it, and fighting like hell against it each and every day.

How Intuitive Eating Saved My Life

**written January 5th, 2017**
When I first transitioned from a life in “recovery” to a lifestyle focused on health and fitness, I was dead set on eating one way and one way only; by counting macros.
I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar with macro counting, but I feel I should address what it meant to me. Counting macros meant setting a range for each macronutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) that I would strive to attain each day. I remember tossing and turning in bed at night trying to create the next day’s entire line up of meals and snacks. At first it was exciting. It was like a puzzle or a game, trying to get the pieces to fit together. I felt accomplished at the end of the night, adding up the grams in my head and realizing how perfectly I’d done.
But the adrenaline rush was short-lived. I soon found myself coming across new foods and snacks at the grocery store, so eager to try them but after exhausting my brain trying to fit them into the puzzle, threw my hands up in a defeated gesture and moved on. I remember my stomach grumbling when it wasn’t “supposed to”, when I hadn’t “planned” on being hungry at that time in the day. How badly I wanted to open the pantry and grab the crackers I was craving, but couldn’t bring myself to throw the pieces of the puzzle away.
Don’t get me wrong. Counting macros was personally a good transition for me into normalized eating because it allowed me to ensure I was eating ENOUGH. However, it soon became an obsession and a barricade. I couldn’t go out to the store and pick up something that looked good right NOW, because I hadn’t fit it into my macros. I couldn’t reach for seconds at the dinner table because I had planned a bigger snack for later and didn’t feel like moving all of the pieces around for the tenth time that day.
Spontaneity wasn’t an option. I was fed up with being controlled yet AGAIN. I thought I had left that lifestyle behind. My anger boiled, spilling over the edge. I needed change. I needed freedom.
Cue intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a broad term. It’s defined differently for everyone. I’m currently about 5 months into this lifestyle. It has truly opened up my life and freed my mind, body, and soul. To me, intuitive eating is TALKING TO YOUR  BODY. I wake up in the morning, ask myself “What sounds good for breakfast?” and whatever I think of first is what I’m craving. Then I make that thing, because that’s why my body wants and why should I deprive it?
I finish my breakfast, and get on with my day. At some point in the mid-morning, I may get hungry again. I walk into the kitchen and poke around, thinking about what sounds good. I grab a snack, chow down, and return back to whatever I was doing. I’ll eat lunch again when my stomach grumbles. It’s not the same time everyday. I don’t have a morning snack everyday. I LISTEN TO MY BODY.
I’m cooking lunch, and throw a dollop of hummus on top of my bowl. As I’m putting it away, I grab an extra spoonful and eat it. Totally unplanned, not tracked, but it LOOKS so good and I really like this hummus, so I’m going to enjoy more than a “suggested serving”. Why? Because I eat to enjoy myself just as much as I eat to fuel myself.
I make last minute plans to hit the mall with my friends. I ate lunch a few hours ago, and won’t be home to cook dinner at the time I thought I’d begin cooking. What do I do? Open up my bar stash, shuffle through, and pick a snack that sounds good and will hold me over until I can make a late dinner. I don’t always have a snack between lunch and dinner. If life gets in the way, then I have to accommodate that. And that’s FINE.
I ALWAYS have a night snack. After dinner, I’m usually never hungry. I could easily go to bed without eating another thing. But I have a night snack purely for the JOY of it. I love lounging on the couch, throwing up my feet as 30 Rock plays on my laptop. I’m so comfortable, so at peace, and the only thing that could improve the situation is something delicious rocking my taste buds. For that reason, I always have a snack. For pleasure. Because my body may not be hungry, but my mind is. And that’s just as important.
You see, I never eat the same foods every day. I never eat the same amount every day. I always talk with my body. I strive to be my body’s friend. Lately, I’ve been consciously trying to incorporate more “superfoods”, more plant based protein powders, more supplements, etc. However, I don’t put labels on my food. I eat foods that aren’t always “organic” or “sprouted”. I picked up those Skippy peanut butter balls for a snack the other day, and placed them in my cart next to my loaf of sprouted grain bread. Both items SOUNDED good to me, so I’ll eat both.
Intuitive eating has allowed me to go with the flow, to honor my cravings. To finish my night snack and suddenly remember that I bought these really good-looking dark cacao truffles the other day, and they sound really good right now, so I’ll go into the kitchen and have one or two just because.
The human body is the most incredible machine. Every time I simply think about the millions of interactions and processes taking place inside of me, I’m in awe. And the fact that this machine wants to talk to ME? I’m honored. I want to listen. So I do.
Intuitive eating takes practice. It takes time to get used to being spontaneous, to not living the exact same way as the day before. Patience is a virtue. Dedicate yourself to your freedom. You won’t regret it.
Sending love, as always! Xoxo