Two women. One story.

IMG_7017Sometimes I get very angry that anorexia and excessive/compulsive exercising stole almost a decade of my life and that daunting negative thoughts still slip into my days surrounding the simple act of eating, taking care of myself and acknowledging my own worth.

Then I have moments of clarity and hope that shine through the darkness and fill me with motivation and strength, such as Monday night with survivor, warrior and my  amazingly resilient and driven friend, Meggie Sexton. 

I’m pretty sure our paths would not have crossed if we both hadn’t struggled with this demon. And for that I’m thankful for the struggles we’ve had.

We had an incredible opportunity to share our stories and our fights for recovery and life with 300 students at the University of Dayton for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association Awareness Week 2016.

We feel our message might have touched some lives… Some who were on the verge of the slippery slope; some who had been living the horrific battle already; some who were searching for a solution as they watched their best friends, girl friends, roommates shrink to skeletons.

We were scared to get up on stage and I was scared to be so exposed. But we realized our disorders no longer have control over us and can’t stop us from sharing our battle and our strength to others.

We are winning, we are stronger, more determined. We have a job to do.

In the end… I’m thankful for this fight for my life. It has taught me resiliency and priorities, it’s taught me how much more capable I am than ever thought and it’s introduced me to some of the toughest people I’ve ever met…. Myself included.

TRUE Strength

The space between

I recently found an email my mom wrote to someone who was writing an article on education.

She shared a statement that she had said to me in many ways throughout the years. Rereading it today, I feel many of us can relate in multiple ways.

Hope it helps some with what you have going on.
“Learning always happens in the middle, in the sacred space between known and not yet known. There is intense tension in this space. It is not a comfortable place to be, but it’s where the action and progress takes place.” – Dr. Tobie Sanders
It’s not always fun, but that uncomfortable, “sacred” space is where magic happens, try to embrace it.
TRUE Strength 

 

Mean girls

My drill sergeant (aka my disorder) often acts like the mean girl in school… the one who, for whatever reason has all the attention and still treats everyone like shit.

The mean girl in my life is my disorder, sitting on my shoulder, telling me I’m not as good looking, not in good shape, don’t deserve to eat this or need to do another workout to feel good. This mean girl used to get ALL my attention.

As with most mean girls, as the attention starts to fade the voice gets louder, trying to regain power and control. Often it is hard to hear above the noise and after constant digs, sometimes the knocks starts to feel like truths. When you’re constantly bombarded with these cut downs it is hard to hear anything else.

Mean-Girls-HD

The movie Mean Girls came out in 2004  

Mean girls are only as powerful as the power you give them. The drill sergeant and this disorder are powerful – sometimes crushing – because I give it power.

Lately I’ve had brief moments or flits of a kinder, gentler voice saying… you’re doing great – keep it up. Often the mean girl bats that away quickly but the fact that this voice is poking through is encouraging.

Do you have these competing voices and influences?  Real or just swirling in your mind – they are valid and real to you. Who would you rather choose to spend time with… the mean girl group… who usually peak in high school or the friend who lifts you up?

It is not as easy as simply kicking the meal girl to the curb but it has helped me realize I no longer have to continue to give the mean girl all my attention and power. Slowly but surely she’ll peak and and go away… now I’m just actively helping move that along!

Stay strong, be kind to yourself, and honor your TRUE Strength.

Read this over and over and over again

Please read this over and over and over again. This great article was originally posted on October 28 by Dr. John Rusin.  The full article link is below.

THE DANGERS OF TODAY’S FEMALE FITNESS INDUSTRY

No, the fitness industry isn’t perfect. But there are some downright shameful and disgraceful aspects of fitness based marketing that needs to be brought to the forefront. Nothing may be more dangerous than the popularization of female fitness based marketing that largely preys on the insecurities and the mis-information this population has been getting force fed in the main stream media for close to a decade.

It’s one thing to be ignorant to scientific facts of exercise and training, but it’s an entirely different story when false and societally detrimental ideas are starting to overtake the sound principles that should be guiding our industry. Here’s how we stop the BS in the female fitness industry and create a foundation for women, young to old, when aspiring to achieve health and wellness from coach Meghan Callaway.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…

1. The new age of self-proclaimed female fitness experts lack overall credibility, yet continue to spew out misleading, insulting, and often dangerous information to the masses, most of which is geared towards taking advantage of misinformed women.

2. Lets quit treating female clients like delicate little flowers that are only capable of executing sets of 100 with pink dumbbells as toning resistance. This notion is incredibly insulting. Women are strong and have unlimited physical potential that deserves to be tapped into. Toning is for printers, not strength training.

3. Don’t be ignorant to the use of photoshop and professional full body makeup art. The idea of comparing yourself on an even playing field to a Women’s Health cover is dangerous. There are truly no natural images of females out there anymore. So take this for what it is, a false marketing ploy at best.

4. Food and exercise are meant to be enjoyed. Focusing on food and cardio as a form of punishment can create a slippery slope of health sociology.  If your diet or training program isn’t sustainable for the long run, then your priorities need to be reevaluated.  Less treadmill death marches and more social and emotional engagement.

5. Being viewed as a popular and successful female athlete has become largely dependent on how well females do at selling themselves as sex symbols.  With less correlation to on-field performance, and more towards half naked Instagram shots, our future population of female athletes are being negatively influenced at younger and younger ages.

I encourage you to read the full article HERE

Read and repeat – take it in. – TRUE Strength

State of no resolution

I realized that I share a lot of posts that are cloaked in the natural and eternal “cheerleader” in me.  They drip with “we can do it” and things are looking up.  That’s not always the case and as I’m learning to actually get better I have to face the darker, harder reality sometimes.
To be completely transparent I wanted to share a recent email chain between my nutritionist and myself. The original email is first and then her response follows.  I love how she breaks about my own words and categorizes them into the appropriate disordered or rationalizing behavior.  It illustrates how confusing and how circular… and manipulative this disorder is!
My original email:
Hi, 

I’m sorry to unload and complain, have to share – somewhat to get this out loud to be totally honest. 
I keep looking at myself and keep seeing a growing tummy.  I am very unhappy with it.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m slacking on exercise or over eating… I’ve changed the type of exercise but don’t think I’ve really been slacking.  I also don’t know if I’m over eating or not… I still don’t feel like I can trust my hunger signals.  I feel like I follow the plan but not 100% sometimes I still feel like I’m snacking too much and maybe it’s adding up to too much but then when I really analyze it I’m not sure I’m even really hitting the targets each time. 
I want to try to slim down and I feel like I’d be lying to you and XXXX (counselor’s name taken out) if I didn’t tell you that I want to start working with a trainer and try to loose some weight… 
Even thinking maybe a little bit of a detox period… I don’t know… what do you think?
Thank you,
Her response with her comments in parentheses.
Hi there!

No worries on unloading!!!! Unload all you need…ahhhhh…..gahhhhhh…..grrrrrrrr…..get it out!!!!!! 
Here is what I see from what you’re saying:
Body Thought/Trigger: I keep looking at myself and keep seeing a growing tummy.  I am very unhappy with it.  
Irrational thought to answer above trigger: I don’t know if it’s because I’m slacking on exercise or over eating… I’ve changed the type of exercise… 
Thought to challenge irrational thought: …BUT don’t think I’ve really been slacking.  
Fact: I also don’t know if I’m over eating or not… I still don’t feel like I can trust my hunger signals (that’s ok right now, follow your meal plan!!!).  
Thought: I feel like I follow the plan but not 100% sometimes I still feel like I”m snacking too much and maybe it’s adding up to too much but then when I really analyze it I’m not sure I’m even really hitting the targets each time. (You’re probably barely hitting your targets).
Ed’s (Ed is a common name for Eating Disorder) solution to the above: I want to try to slim down and I feel like I’d be lying to you and XXXX if I didn’t tell you that I want to start working with a trainer and try to loose some weight… 
Recovery exhaustion/tolerating lots of uncomfortable things for a period of time: Even thinking maybe a little bit of a detox period… I don’t know… what do you think? (HELP!)
Pretty fascinating to see the thought process all broken apart.  The big question now is, where to go from here.  We’ll work on that but instead of ending with my normal fist pump and “Yay, all is rosy” I’m ending just with this… unresolved and lot’s to figure out.
TRUE Strength

H.A.L.T.

SSA_HaltIt happened again…

Mid, very strenuous workout I had to shake off the tears.

It was a mix of thinking of my mom and a mix of the message the workout instructor was screaming at us.  Let me explain… she was screaming over the pounding music in a spin class – encouraging us to push harder, let go and even “get pissed” at times. Her music sound track was planned out to give us a killer workout AND a message.  She weaved her message into our class which boiled down to letting go of regrets, sadness, and self doubt and negative talk. It does us no good she kept saying.

As she encouraged us to let go of baggage I felt my legs peddling faster, my mind focusing and letting go of the constant dialog… the constant “to-do” list, constant disorded battles, the constant second guessing.  Just as I felt my legs flying I also felt the tears welling.  I was thinking of my mom, I was feeling the release of the disorder’s control (even though temporarily), I just felt a release.

Shaking off the tears I focused, pedaled faster.  I realized some of excessive exercise is simply me running away from feeling.  Even though I was pedaling faster, I was focused on feeling the emotions and release… not just running away.

As she encouraged us to leave the baggage behind and to treat ourselves with kindness and care she said… never be too H.A.L.T. 

Never be too:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

She said… a little H.A.L.T. is good… keeps your fire burning – but if you’re too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired you can’t function to the best of your ability and you can’t be the person you’ve been destined to be.  For me – if I’m too H.A.L.T. I can’t be the wife, mother, professional, woman, role model or citizen I need … I strive to be.

This can be a very literal thing… don’t let yourself function in a constant state of hunger, don’t hold on to anger, don’t let yourself wallow in loneliness, and don’t try to get through barely rested.  In the abstract… have a hunger for life – don’t starve yourself from adventure and life; anger can keep you motivated but too much can crush you; you don’t need someone necessarily next to you every minute to not be lonely – instead find comfort and camaraderie in yourself and with others who lift you up; and if you’re tired of what you’re doing… change it!

As I type this I know I am often functioning too H.A.L.T. but I can change and I can continue to dedicate myself to getting healthier.

Join me – TRUE Strength 

Be present

Something I continually try to remember is to be present.  imgres-1

Be where you are and be engaged.

All too often I find myself thinking two miles down the road… what do I have to get done, what is stressing me, what do I need to accomplish.  OR I’m left thinking in the past… did I exercise enough, eat too much, say the right thing.

What happens when you’re always living in the past or future… you miss the gift of the present.  <— Too corny?  Yes, maybe, but it is true.  Each moment is a gift that can be taken away so quickly.

My personal eating disorder thrives on “fortune telling” it’s the what ifs and the very unrealistic cause and effect thinking.  An example… if I can’t workout today and didn’t workout yesterday and actually eat everything on my meal plan I’m going to gain weight… This type of thinking takes me away from the present and causes me to miss the great gifts all around me.

Recently I was instructed to just breath.  The instructor said… the beauty about breathing is that you cannot breath in the past or in the future – you can only breath in the present.  It reminds me of a comment my mom once made to me in the middle of a very stressful situation.  She said… “Take three deeps breaths, splash water on your face three times, and then keep breathing.” Much later I asked – why three times…she laughed and said she had no clue why it just came out. The point is it brought me back to the present. I could handle the situation if I was in the present but only then.

I am learning, I can battle the disorder, be a better wife and a better mom and a better professional if I’m in the present… but only if I am.  

Take a few deep breaths and BE PRESENT.

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TRUE Strength