To My Parents…

To My Parents…

To my parents
(and all parents)

Looking back at your old wedding photos, you both are HOT STUFF. Mom, you probably worried onlooking strangers and temple workers because you had the body of a 13 year old girl, very skinny, and… short😜, but you looked absolutely stunning. Dad, you were extremely well built, especially after just finishing a college football career. When I saw the picture of you at the beach from your honeymoon, I couldn’t believe my eyes, you were RIPPED. Together, you two really were quite the good looking couple… It’s no surprise that one of your wedding pictures became a big poster add in a mall.

Fast forward through the years, and 6 kids later, you two look different. Mom, you no longer fit into your size 00 jeans. Dad, you no longer feel comfortable without a shirt on. I know you guys don’t like the way you have changed, I have watched you both cycle through many different ways to lose weight. From Atkins to Weight Watchers, from juicing (I will never forget the day I tried one of your ginger juices and almost puked my guts out) to weight loss pills. There have been many, “We’ll start on Monday’s” and many conversations about the latest and greatest way to take off the pounds. I have watched through all of the years, and I have felt both sad, and grateful.

Society tells you both to look a certain way that is SO unrealistic. Mom, you see those bloggers and Pinterest moms who do it all. They create the most beautiful and *spotless* homes, teach their children 3 languages, bake intricate meals every night WHILE working a job… and then at the same time they have perfectly fit and toned bodies that could fit right back into their wedding dress. Dad, you see other fathers who make millions yet only have to work a couple days a week so they have all the time in the world to workout and maintain a fit body. These types of people are praised in our world, and made out to be the role models and the heroes of this generation’s families. So naturally, you both feel a little bit bummed that your bodies have taken a hard hit in the weight department.

As your child, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for taking time away from your time to workout just to help us kids with homework. Thank you for scarfing down that gas station cookie on the way home from a track meet because that was the only food that you got all day. Thank you for not getting up at 5 in the morning to workout because you had to stay up til 1 am the night before to help finish a forgotten school project. Thank you for picking up a pizza for dinner because you were so busy running around all evening driving kids to and from practice and didn’t have time to make a home cooked meal. Thank you for spending time that you could’ve been doing your own workout on coaching the most uncoachable kids through workouts of their own. Thank you for sacrificing the looks of your bodies for the happiness and wellness of your kids.

The world may look at you guys now and not care for how you look, but to us kids, you both are still HOT STUFF. The world may look at you guys and think you are average, but to us kids, you are our worlds, you helped create every opportunity for us to grow. Society tries to tell you that you gained weight because you are lazy and careless, but I have to COMPLETELY disagree. You gained weight because you are selfless and hardworking. You gave all of your time and efforts to raising us kids, and you didn’t have time to get a six pack along the way… and that’s ok. If it means anything, us kids don’t give a dang about what you two look like, we love you both for who you are and what you have done for us.

So I hope that you two don’t still worry about your rolls and your stretch marks. I really hope that you don’t look in the mirror and feel like failures. I hope you can instead look in the mirror and see what me, and the rest of us kids see, and that is two absolutely amazing people who would sacrifice anything for us. Two people who have been working hard on raising a family nonstop since 1997. Two people who have saved their child’s life through love and support. Two people who have helped coach and support a bunch of great athletes. Two people who have raised a son who just left on a mission by his very own choice. Two people who bear the burdens of patiently raising a child with severe ADHD. Two people who have given everything they could to their children… and to me, I think those are the things that are much more important than those rolls and stretch marks.

Love, me
(and what I believe all children would say to their parents)

Eat This, Not That

Eat This, Not That

Healthy vs unhealthy, good vs bad, guilty pleasure vs sin-free, ‘skinny’ vs fattening; these are just a few of the labels that are slapped onto foods and become rules that dictate what we should and shouldn’t eat. Somehow, food has become something of a moral value, and the “healthy foods” have become saviors, while the “unhealthy foods” have become demons. “I was so bad this weekend!” Someone may say for getting dessert with their dinner. “I was so good this week!” Another person will say for eating salads and sweet potatoes. Guilt is threaded into anything that has sugar and superiority is oozing from everything green. Really, how has our world gotten to the point where a person’s choices in what they eat now seems to determine their virtue and their value?

For anyone who has ever, and who may ever, have a conversation with me (which on occasion has turned into a yelling debate🙊🙈) about why I don’t agree with “healthy” vs “unhealthy” labels on food… THIS is why. It’s because of my past self. It’s because I’ve been down the road where I became obsessed with only putting “healthy” things in my body because of these labels. I believed that these labels were so true and so accurate, and I didn’t want to let anything that was “unhealthy”, “bad”, “guilty”, or “fattening” into my body because I thought that doing so would doom my health… when in reality… my health was doomed because I refused eat any of the “bad” stuff. Really… can you blame me? People often have a hard time understanding a person who has an eating disorder… but seriously, take a look at all the messages that we receive about how we should eat –

Sugar is bad. Carbs are bad. Fat is bad. Animal products are bad. Salt is bad. Processed foods are bad. Oh wait, fat’s not bad its just sugar. But not too much fat or else you will have a heart attack. Oh, never mind, you can eat ONLY animal products, don’t eat any carbs. But actually our bodies thrive off of carbs and we aren’t supposed to eat animal products. But if you don’t eat carbs then you will turn your body into a ‘fat burning machine’. Any food that has been processed is going to make you fat and going to mess up your hormones and take years off of your life… So forget that your grandparents who have lived for 85+ years and ate processed foods… YOU will not survive as long if you eat them. Eat your fruits and veggies every day… but sugar is still bad so don’t eat too many fruits because there is lots of sugar in them. And you gotta watch out for those vegetables that have too many carbs. You also got to make sure that you cut your calories but you need to fuel yourself enough. So yeah, just live a balanced lifestyle… without eating any sugar OR artificial sweeteners, saturated fat, sodium, white flour and definitely no processed foods. (On a funny note… this videoexplains it all.)

No wonder people get so confused by what we should be eating. No wonder some people develop a fear of food. No wonder so many people are developing eating disorders.

My past self wanted the very best. I was lead to believe that the very best was all the “good”, “healthy”, “sin-free” and “skinny” foods because that’s what I was taught by society. I was taught to eat this if I wanted to be healthy… and if I ate that… I would get diabetes, raise my risk of heart disease, gain weight and become obese, ect ect ect. Yes, I became very irrational about food because I have an extremely perfectionist personality, and obviously not everyone is like that. BUT that’s the fact that kills me… I know that there are other people out there who are just like me who strive for perfection while trying to feed themselves but fall into the hole created by the messed up world of dieting that masks itself as “healthy”. The hole that leads them straight down the path of self destruction by eating disorder.

When in reality… what makes all of those foods so “bad”? Who decided that they were so “bad”? That scientist who did the research for the diet pill company? The ‘nutritionist’ who works for that protein powder company? The dietitian who has an eating disorder them self? (Fun fact: recent studies have shown that up to 70% of dietitians themselves have eating disorders.) Through my years of recovery I have learned through both good doctors and dietitians and personal experience that our bodies are pretty good at their job. They know how to digest a food and use it for what it needs, even if it’s a processed, non-vegan, loaded with sugar and carbs cookie. That cookie is not going to doom you… even eating that cookie every single day for the rest of your life is not going to doom you. Like I said, our bodies know what they are doin’ and they are good at their job.

Ok, ok, I know… an apple has WAY more vitamins and fiber than a cookie. Broccoli offers a bigger bang for your nutrient bucks compared to Nutella. There are foods that are more nutrient dense then other foods… No one can deny that. BUT just because a food has more nutrients, doesn’t mean that it is the only thing that you should strive to eat nor does it make this food better. Once while arguing talking to my father in law about the subject matter.. he said something along the lines that “choosing an apple over a cheese burger would be so much healthier for you!”… but let’s take that a step further. For a meal, is an apple really going to give your body the energy you need? An apple can offer vitamins and carbohydrates while a burger offers some vitamins and minerals, protein, fat, and carbs. So if you HAD to pick one for a meal… the burger is honestly going to offer your body more of the stuff it needs in terms of a balanced meal than an apple. So overall as a food, neither one is better than the other. At the end of the day, they BOTH offer things that are necessary. Now if you ate a burger for every single meal every single day, you would probably start to feel pretty crappy because your body also needs some of the nutrients and vitamins that are offered from things like apples. And this, my friends, is what it means to eat balanced. Eat the apples AND the burgers. Eat the cupcakes and the salads. Neither one of these foods is evil, and neither one is heaven sent. They are both just food.

So let’s take the morality out of our food choices. Stop looking at food as either having a halo or devil horns cause guess what? Eating that chocolate when you really want it is not going to send your health in a downward spiral, just as eating that cauliflower rice isn’t going to make your health perfect. There is room for BOTH in a happy and healthy lifestyle.

How Running Helped Save Me

How Running Helped Save Me

There’s a sports psychology book that I absolutely love and swear by called Mind Gym (Gary Mack). In that book, there is a section that talks about flow (AKA “in the zone”). Now, the very valid and well sourced Wikipedia (😜) gives the definition of flow as follows; ‘the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does and loses sense of space and time.’

You get the idea, it’s finding the thing that you can absolutely lose yourself in.

For me, that thing just so happens to be running. And I can equate a HUGE part of my recovery from anorexia to the sport.

If you’ve read my story, you would know that during my downfall into anorexia, I started to pick up running and that I absolutely fell in LOVE with distance running. I loved running not just because it was a good workout, but because it made me feel powerful, strong, and free. Something about running struck my heart and got me absolutely hooked. However, my running career had to come to a complete stop once I was hospitalized for good reason (’cause my heart was going out). All of the doctors and therapists on my recovery team tried to tell me that running was a bad idea and they didn’t believe my reasoning for wanting to run again, and I don’t blame them. For many people who are going through eating disorders, running is a form of overexercise abuse or purging. They told me that I would never run competitively again because there was no way that I would be able to handle it because of the eating disorder… but I refused to believe them. I knew that my love for running wasn’t because I loved how many calories it burned or how much it made me sweat. My love for running was deep rooted. Because running was such a passion for me, it became my reason to recover.

When I would have to eat a fear food, I thought about being able to run again. When I looked in the mirror and noticed that I was a bit bloated, I thought about being able to run again. I dreamed about getting back on that track, and every day that I fulfilled what I needed to do to recover, I got one step closer. Granted, I had other reasons to recover, like my family, my school, and my future… but I won’t lie, running was the thing that lit my fire. However, it took me a long time to build trust with my parents, therapist and doctors to be able to run again… so I had to find other things. I started painting, I found pure joy in watercolors. No, I wasn’t the best at it, but I found that I would forget about what I looked like while I was painting outside on my back patio. I also began taking evening walks with my mom. While we would walk around a little pond in my hometown during the sunset, I would forget about my growing tummy and thighs. I started doing things as simple as finding new music. I could spend hours creating playlists filled with songs that made me feel something. I even bought a keyboard and I tried to re-teach myself to play the piano again. The key point I’m trying to make here is that I found things which brought me flow, things that helped me forget about what my body looked like. I found things that helped me form a new identity, things that helped me learn how to live life again. Participating in these new activities were great, but the glorious day came in which I gained trust back to run… and I jumped right back in!

This time around, I formed a whole new relationship with running. I looked at running as a new way to love and appreciate my body for its ability to carry me. I appreciated my body for giving me that runners high that comes with a solid run. I quickly learned that running was much more enjoyable, and that my performance was greatly improved, when I fueled my body enough. Running brought me so much happiness, gave me amazing opportunities and great friends, taught me important life lessons but more than anything, running saved my life.

I believe that everyone on earth comes with passions deeply embedded within and that finding these passions are essential to find real fulfillment in life. I also strongly believe that in eating disorder recovery, finding these passions can be of major benefit and maybe even be the key, like running was for me. Not only for eating disorder recovery, but for any downs, heart ache, or pain that life throws at you, having that thing (or things) that just light your fire can help give hope. So get out there and search for the things where you find your flow, the things that get you out of bed in the morning and the things that make you appreciate the fact that you are alive.