Liv vs. Exercise: Part 1

Growing up, I always had a love for fitness. I was very active in sports and trained at a competitive level. Running was always one of my favorite pastimes.

As my eating disorder began to get worse, my relationship with fitness took a very dark turn. I became OBSESSED with the numbers. I would go to the gym with a pre-determined number that I must burn off before I was allowed to leave. I never saw anything disordered about this because it was easy then to just convince myself that I wanted to be in better shape for soccer season.

I would go to the gym sometimes more than once a day being completely controlled by the numbers showing up on the machine. No matter how sick I felt, I could not get myself to stop before I hit the number I decided on for the day because if I stopped, Ana would NOT be happy. It didn’t matter if I came to the verge of blacking out— If I didn’t reach that number I was a failure.

As I started treatment, exercise was one of the first things stripped away from me. My relationship with exercise was not healthy and my team knew my obsession with numbers would not get better if I kept going to the gym or doing my ‘secret’ workout ritual at home. I was furious.

As I got stronger in my recovery, fitness would slowly get re-introduced. During these times, when I would go to the gym, I would cover up the numbers on the machine so I didn’t get obsessive over what I was doing. However, no matter how hard I tried to work out in a healthy way, it didn’t last long before I relapsed over the obsession of numbers and lost my privileges to work out.

It felt like a never ending cycle. I was upset and embarrassed with myself. It only became more challenging when I got to college and my friends all wanted to play intramurals or work out together. I always had to find some excuse as to why I couldn’t play. I was always too embarrassed to share the real reason I couldn’t join them was because I was on exercise restriction.

This summer I started running again for the first time in a long time– I started running a lot. I haven’t been visited by the voice that loves the numbers…or at least I don’t think I have been. The most challenging part in recovery for me now is trying to establish what is disordered vs what is not. My relationship with exercise had been toxic for so long that sometimes I wonder if it will ever be healthy. When I wake up and decide how many miles I want to run, I have to question myself and ask WHY I want to run so bad. Do I want to run because I enjoy it? Or do I want to run because I have to hit a certain number?

Anorexia is one giant mind game and trying to tell the differences between her voice and my own is not always the easiest. This is a chapter of my recovery story that is not yet fully healed and I am not sure when it will be. Will I ever be able to have working out as a part of my life in a healthy way? I really am not sure. I am just taking it moment by moment and doing my best to listen to the needs of my body.

Fat is NOT a feeling: part 2

“I feel so fat right now.” 

What is that even supposed to mean? The last time I checked, fat is NOT a feeling. I wrote a similar post to this a year ago, so let’s make this post “fat is NOT a feeling: part 2” 

When I think I feel fat, here are some things as to what I really mean:

  • I feel sad and upset with myself right now
  • I feel ashamed for eating and loving my body
  • My eating disorder has me convinced that I can never be beautiful if I eat that food

Or I find myself being happy if I feel skinny. 

  • I am so happy with how I look right now despite the feeling that I will black out.
  • I have no energy to talk to other people but at least I ‘look’ great
  • I can only be happy if I’m skinny 

I have it convinced in my head that being fat is bad but being skinny is good. It makes me believe that if someone is fat they obviously cannot be happy with life. By associating these feelings with the feeling of be fat, it makes me kind of a brat. How can I be advocating for self-love if I still associate fat with those feelings? When I was at my lowest weight I was FAR from happy. When I was at my skinniest I wanted to be dead. Last time I checked, that’s not happiness

Fat does not equal disgust nor does skinny equal happiness. The way our bodies look have no connection to how we should feel.  When I say things like “I feel so fat right now” I need to stop and think how I’m affecting other people. And when I think I feel so “skinny right now” I need to remind myself of those cold hospital rooms. By negatively labeling fat I am just adding to this negative stigma about body image–I am convincing people they need to reflect on their body shape to decide if they’re worthy of happiness. 

Until we are able to come to this conclusion and understanding that our body shape has nothing to do with our outlook on life, we will never be happy. Until we learn to love the person living inside our skin, we will never be happy. 

Fat is not feeling nor is Skinny.  

The Best Detox

Summer is just around the corner ladies and gentleman and you know what that means! It is time for some good ol’ Spring-cleaning AND spring cleansing! Ah yes, the time where many people start going on detox diets to help shed that winter weight gain to get ready for their ~bikini~ body.  In the past I used to engage in a really great spring detox that really only helped me get ready for my own deathbed.  This spring, however, I have the BEST detoxifying cleanse to help prepare EVERYONE for summer and the rest of their life!

This year I am participating in a negativity detox that will help me to flush out all the toxins in my life. Let me just put my disclaimer in right now. I am not a certified detoxer. I am just a twenty-something writing my own foolproof way to live a healthier and happier life.

Stop and just think for a moment about the things in your life that bring you the most happiness and jot them down somewhere. Try to jot down 3 things. 

For me the things that bring me the most happiness are working with kids, spending quality time with the meaningful relationships in my life, and writing. 

Now think about the things in your life that stop you from being able to engage in the activities that bring you the most happiness.  Maybe it is that ‘great’ friend of yours who is always putting you down. Maybe it is your job or your area of study. Whatever it is that prevents you from living a fulfilling life, jot them down elsewhere.  (Side note, think about how ‘great’ the friendship really is if every time you are together he/she only tries to put you down.)  

There are a lot of things in my life that are filled with toxins. I have too many relationships in my life that are extremely manipulative; relationships where I constantly question my worth and relationships that make me feel like I need to change who I am in order to be valued. I have people like this creeping in every domain of my life. I work with people like this, I spend time with people like this, and I consider myself ‘friends’ with people like this. Sometimes, I even am like this. When I let my eating disorder in, I am the most manipulative and nastiest person. Not everyone sees this side. When I become like this, I only tear down myself. 

My eating disorder is by far the biggest parasite in my life. She is a parasite that feeds on destroying my happiness. She is a parasite that gets off by watching me spiral out of control.  

Addressing the toxins in your life is the first place to start with this detox. This detox takes time. Like all detoxes, one needs to fully commit. If you want to see the results, you must stick with it. You are working to flush out the poisons. There may be times where you think you’re making a mistake or that this is too hard. That is when you need to dig deep and really find your strength. Do you want to live a venomous life that inhibits you from reaching your full potential? 

This is the only cleanse we all need. Our bodies are not designed to thrive on raw vegetables and juice cleanses. We need to work to cleanse our mind and our life of the toxins in order to be able to fully appreciate what we have.

So this year, and every year, I am going to be detoxing the negativity away. I am going to pay close attention to the things that are in my control.  We can all be in control of our life and we can all decide if we want to make it a life that emphasizes on love, or hate. I know what kind of life I prefer. Do you?  

“If You Give It An Inch, It’ll Take A Mile”

One thing a lot of people know about me is my addiction to Starbucks. Over the holiday season, I accumulated a lot of gift cards to this delicious franchise, which I have been utilizing just about every weekend. I normally go and order my normal safe drink- a grande iced skinny vanilla latte (light ice). However, because today is the kick off for NEDA week, I asked my recovery friends to give me a challenge.

Right now I am currently sitting here fighting back the urge to cry/hide/throw up as I stare at my tall caramel Frappuccino in front of me. When I ordered it, I did not think that there would be a mountain of whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top.

IMG_4190.JPGNone of the people around me probably are aware that I am currently freaking out of a four-dollar drink. All the people chatting and working around me have no idea that I feel like the walls are closing in on me and that the thoughts in my head are telling me that with each sip I take I am gaining pound after pound.

This is a snippet of what it is like to live with an eating disorder. Most people do not think twice about what they order (other than the fact that they spent a ridiculous amount of money on a tasty drink LOL). However, for me, this drink is one of the most challenging things I will do all day.

A simple blend of coffee, milk, and caramel is causing me far too much anxiety. I wish I could sit here and just drink and enjoy like all the other people around me. I noticed that as I sit here typing and slowly drinking I am slipping into comparing myself to other people. I saw a very slender woman walk in and I was instantly filled with self-hatred because I was thinking how I lost all self-control by drinking my calories. Ana demands that I must always be the skinniest person in the room. I cannot do that by drinking these calories she yells!
However, THAT IS NOT NORMAL/HEALTHY THINKING! But, the thing is, I am not the only one who thinks like this. So many people suffer with an eating disorder and are filled with these thoughts. I am being controlled right now by whipped cream. I am letting the idea of consuming whipped cream cause me to spiral out of control.

My good friend Hailey was the one who told me to challenge myself with this drink. When I first saw my order, the panic set in so I texted her. I was texting her how I couldn’t drink this and that I needed to get rid of the whipped cream. I wanted to just scrape all of the caramel whipped cream goodness out of my cup and into the trash. I was in a full out panic. Hailey responds to me with this simple sentence: “If you give it an inch, it’ll take a mile.” 

I wanted to challenge myself today because it is the kick off to NEDA week 2017. I wanted to challenge myself because I deserve to be able to enjoy a drink without freaking out. I wanted to challenge myself today because I want to gain my life back. I am so sick of living in fear over food and calories.

This frappuccino will not end me. It will not make me gain ten pounds nor will it make me a failure. The only thing that will fail me will be if I give my eating disorder that inch of control. If I give ED that bit of power, I am inviting the behaviors back in. I am welcoming ED to come waltz in and torment me. So, all I have to say to ED is, not today b*tch. Not today, not ever again. I am in charge of my life now. I am the master of my fate.

“The Anorexic Body”

I have been biting my tongue now for a while on the topic that I am referring to as ‘the anorexic body.’

The anorexic body, is how people who do not understand EDs, wrongly determine if someone is struggling with an eating disorder

So, let me ask you, being that I have been recovering from my anorexia for years now, how am I supposed to look?

Am I supposed to be rail thin and bony? Do you want me to have curves?

I have anorexia, so I should look like I have anorexia, right? Otherwise, am I really sick?

I am asking these questions for a reason. I am asking them because I am trying to figure out where this myth started that in order to have an eating disorder, you must look a certain way.

Granted, I know an obvious answer is media. Most often, when we see a skinny GIRL, the first thing that comes to mind is, “I wonder if she eats.” But, when we see a skinny BOY, its just assumed that he must have an insanely fast metabolism. The girl in the picture will go on to receive copious comments discussing her body shape. People will either comment things like- “BODY GOALS!” or “Gross, she does not look good at all she is a skeleton.” No one would ever dare to assume that the boy might be the one with the eating disorder. Nope, isn’t anorexia something only girls get?

I am not sure who or how these assumptions began about ‘the anorexic body,’ but it needs to stop ASAP.

People suffering with an ED are continuing to suffer because they do not meet the physical requirements of an eating disorder and therefore do not get proper treatment. It is as if there is a rule that if you don’t look the part, you’re not really sick.

I am curious about how we rooted the idea of the ‘normal/perfect’ body.

What is normal?

What is perfect?

How should my body look?

How should YOUR body look?

….does it really even matter?

A NYE Letter

Dear,

Tomorrow marks the New Year. The one time of the year that many people believe is the only appropriate time to make a resolution to change. People tend to make a big deal out of this night because it marks the night of new beginnings.

We make a big fuss over the New Year because we see it as a chance to make the change we have wanted to do. But, do we need one set night to allow us to feel the need to make a life change? Sure tomorrow when we wake up it will be a new calendar year, but has anything else really changed?

The thing is, we let ourselves use our New Year resolutions as a way to move on from the things we want to forget.

“2016 was a shitty year for America” I see this headline everywhere, but 2016 ended up being my best year yet. Yeah, I am very upset over a lot of the changes that happened in the world, but that is no reason to make me resent a year where I had the most growth. Things will happen that we cannot control and we cannot blame the way life is now because of the last year we had. Everyday we are able to make a new resolution. Everyday we are able to make a new change. Things will only be bad if you all yourself to manifest these feelings.

We can be cowards and live with negativity OR we can choose to be a hero.

Dear Past Liv,

If I told you this time last year that in the February of 2016 you would be hospitalized for your eating disorder who you have believed me?

Liv, you started 2016 off terribly, lets be honest here. She was not in a good place, and she would not have believed that she would have accomplished as much as she has today.

When I entered the year 2016 my goal was to just live, but I did not know what I was living for. I did not know my purpose. We are not just born to die.

So for my readers who believe that the New Year is the only chance you have to reinvent yourself, I ask you to open your mind more. We do not need a holiday in order to start something new.

So, tonight, just live. Because we cannot control where we will end up- but we can control how we choose to let it impact the way we live.

Im baaack

Hey. It’s been awhile and I am sorry for my absence. Things got a little crazy for me. So this post is just an update I guess of the past weeks from my last post. I have some really good ideas to write about later.

Eating wise I am doing great, yet I have been struggling to gain weight and I am currently approaching my lowest weight from back when I was 15. Its frustrating because even with two ensure plus a day; I cannot seem to gain weight. My pulse and blood pressure are out of whack and I just wish I had some answers.

This is the ugly side of an eating disorder. The side that does not get mentioned much because we strive to be strong- weakness is unacceptable; we must have zero flaws in the eyes of Ana.

I hurt my body for so long and she needs time to heal. Time that I do not necessarily have. My mood is great- I have never been so happy and content with how my life is looking. I can taste that I have a very bright and exciting future approaching in the next few months. Between having amazing placements for student teaching and just the love and support of my friends, I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my happiness.

I have so much control over Ana right now. My body just needs to replenish.

I sometimes hear people say that they are going to not eat for a couple days or talk about an extreme diet they want to try to lose weight.

When people say they wish they had control over food like I do, it makes me shudder.

I do not have control over food. Food has control over me. Not eating is not self-restraint. It is my mind screaming at me that if I eat even one chip from the bowl in front of me that I am a failure.

Anorexia is not glamorous.

Anorexia is my nightmare and I just want to WAKE UP ALREADY–HELP ME WAKEUP.

Even when I have control over her, she still finds ways to barge into my life.

I am sick of waking up shaking because I do not have enough body fat to keep me warm. I hate when my ears ring and I start to see dots. I am sick of needing to take breaks while walking up stairs. I am sick of being constantly dehydrated even after drinking what feels like an ocean. I am sick of the exhaustion followed by the hyperactivity. I am embarrassed by my body right now. I am covered in bruises because of deficiencies. I may not look sick and I do not want validation if you think I do.I just need to keep doing everything I am doing and hope that I will start to gain weight. Leggings are not supposed to be baggy. My bones are not supposed to stick out as much as they do.

I am still capable of being the successful person I am. Someone once asked me if I was concerned about this blog with the fact that future employers may find it. I put thought into it, but at the same time, spreading awareness on eating disorder is SO important to me. I will continue to advocate and bring as much light as I can.

Just because I have anorexia it does not make me any lesser of a person.

It does not make me incapable of doing the things I love.

Please just take time to understand before jumping to conclusions.

This post is a weird one for me, but it’s the only way I can reach people to understand that I am not engaging in behaviors. I am stronger than ever mentally, it is just physically where I need to find the missing piece leading to these symptoms.

Until next time..

A letter I wish I recieved

The hardest time of the year is quickly approaching—holiday season.

Between thanksgiving feasts to Christmas dinners – not to forget the temptations everywhere of homemade cookies and hot cocoa, I have to fight really hard to stay ahead of Ana.

I think back to the stranger I once was. That scared, little girl who thought she was only beautiful when her body was completely empty. The girl who always had a plan of manipulation in mind to get what she wanted.

I compare her to who I am now and I struggle to fathom that this ghost was once me. This past month alone was filled with so much success and love. So many happy memories and genuine smiles. I realized MY purpose.

I wish I could talk to my younger self and tell her what I know now… but, I cant. So, instead, I hope that someone who is currently in a place like my past self will stumble upon this letter.

Dear friend,

Hey. It’s been a wild year hasn’t it? I know you’re scared. Holiday season is coming up and that normally means there will be a lot more food to eat with big groups of people. Not to mention in these big groups of people, there are those select few who will be nonchalantly watching you and they will notice any of your unhealthy tricks. Your little mind right now must be scattered with backup plans trying to figure out what tricks will work. I know you think that not eating is going to be the best thing for you, but lets stop and think for a second. Write down what you value. Now add in a goal you have for your future self. The goal can be big or small, just something that can be worked towards. You don’t have to tell me what you wrote, but just picture in your mind what your life would be like if that was the focus. I know Ana is living in your head. Telling you that all of this is a lie and that you should never trust anyone. I bet right now she just told you I am trying to make you fat. Tell Ana I say hello, and that I don’t miss her one bit. I can’t wait until we are both free from Ana.

What is more important to you? Sharing time and memories with friends or passing out after walking up a flight of stairs? Would you rather eat a cookie even if your mind is telling you how wrong that is or would you rather be in the hospital hooked up to a tube force-feeding you the nutrients you keep depriving yourself?

I have a feeling your goal for yourself was not something about having years filled with therapy and self-hate. Or spending more time in a hospital than with the people you care about. But, if you keep letting Ana in, that’s the direction you are going.

Harsh? Yeah, it is. But it is also the reality. This holiday season is about love and joy and being with people who make us feel good. Yeah I get how tempting that sounds to sleep through Thanksgiving dinner, but then, let me know how much fun you have spending your days alone in the hospital. I will always remember my 17th Thanksgiving as the day before I went to treatment.

That is Ana’s goal. Ana, the one you TRUST, is really just your escort to death. Don’t let her win. Listen to me when I say the hospital is not a fun place to be. I am pretty sure they purposely keep the EDP unit on the coldest temperature. Maybe it is so that Ana will freeze to death so that YOU can live again.

I do not expect you to take my advice and make these changes right away. You will not disappoint me as long as you keep trying. I know you’re scared. I was and still am sometimes. But now the reason I am scared is because of the consequences for how long I danced with Ana. The longer the dance, the longer it takes for organs to heal.

This holiday season, lets find a new dance partner. I will not let you feel alone or that nobody cares for you. Because I do. Even if I have never met you, I care. If you start to slip and lose hope and you do not know what to do, I am going to tell you right now what to do. You are going to reach out to myself or someone you trust. You are not going to let Ana win. You are so much stronger. You have no idea how much greatness and unconditional love there is for you. So, until you can see this on your own, I am your anchor. I will not let you forget how worthy you are.

xx Liv

A Breakthrough

Yesterday I had a breakthrough with recovery after seeing my dietician and therapist. My dietician showed me proof of my body cells clearly leading to heart failure and irreversible neurological damage; along with a high increase of not being able to have a baby or instead, having constant miscarriages. I always hated my therapist because she is a bitch to me, but I finally understand what she is doing.

I have spent so much time obsessing over what’s wrong with me and trying to get people to understand how serious my demons are, when in reality, I need to channel this energy into positive thinking. By making my main focus my ED and my Bipolarness I am not letting myself enjoy life.

If you’re reading this you might be thinking, “well duh, Liv, obviously positive thinking leads to a positive life. And that by being so focused on the negativity was hindering me from LIVING.” From now on, only positive things will be my focus. My journaling and painting is where I express the negativity. Of course I might still ask for help in regards to eating and grocery shopping, but I will get to that point where it gets easier. I AM NOT MY ILLNESS.

I looked at myself in the mirror today while changing and started crying at how unhealthy my body looks. I do not want this to be my life. It is not normal for my rib cage to show every bone so clearly and to have such protruding hipbones. This IS NOT how my body should look and I need to start loving my body AND myself.

I thank you all for the support, it really mean a lot. BUT, the only one that can save me is MYSELF and by finally realizing that I seek attention through my actions is not the way to go about recovering. I am scared to admit when I am struggling, but I need to express this in healthy ways. Hurting myself is not the answer. I am not saying that my mental health is made up or attention seeking, but I am saying that when I get so desperate and so consumed by my thoughts, I do not properly handle myself well. It is okay to just say, “Hey today is a rough day for me, but it will pass.” It’s SO much better than trying to give off clues that I desperately need help by making it physically obvious. I have a voice that can express what is troubling me. My journaling is for my demons. Not my friends. My friends are my support; not my therapist. And my perspective on my mental health is finally starting to change.

My new life begins now; A life of positive growth and positive thinking.

Facade

Façade-my favorite word

Everyone lives a façade. We create a perfect outside image to hide our actual reality.

“When did creating a flawless façade become a more vital goal than learning to love the person who lives inside your skin?”

Sometimes, recovery is one big façade. Being threatened with treatment and having opportunities snatched away makes some of us who are struggling not want to admit it.

I do not want to tell my parents that I am struggling right now.

I do not want them to know that I have hardly been eating any food.

I do not want my friends to see me feeling glum and sad.

I do not want to ruin my façade.

I’ve been doing exceptionally well since I was last hospitalized in February. I have been going to appointments, following my meal plan, taking my medications. I was able to stop acting because I started to naturally feel like my normal, go-lucky self.

One of the reasons I created this blog is so people can understand that anyone can look happy and healthy on the outside but really have something dark going on in their actual reality. Some people do the best acting in their daily life so know one will ever know the truth.

So, yeah right now I do think I need a kick in the butt. I need to eat. I need to get re-motivated. I get scared for my parents to find out because they have spent so much money to finally get me “cured.” I do not want to waste their money by not listening to my dietician because I am skipping meals. My dietician is a crucial part of my recovery team and I need her.

I think its important for parents of children struggling with an eating disorder to understand that we do not intentionally act like brats and ignore the things we are told to do. Eating is scary. Recovery is scary. Changing to a new (healthy) lifestyle is scary. I have been living in a way fueled by Ana for so long that I get scared sometimes what will happen without her.

I want to be able to be open with people. Well okay, I am extremely open with everyone since I publicize my entire recovery, but I leave out important facts. I do not mention the part where I only ate on meal on this one day or when I stood in the aisle at the store fighting the urge to buy laxatives.

I am sick of being sick but I am also scared to say when I am feeling weaker.

I will have bad days or weeks but that does not make it appropriate to threaten to send me home from college. It does not make it okay to say to someone they need to go into intensive treatment over a slip up. Doing this makes it worse. Doing this makes me (and probably a lot of other fighters) want to fake our recovery, which benefits NO ONE.

So, when you see your child struggling, try to just show support. Do not freak out and jump to conclusions so quickly. Obviously do so if it keeps getting worse, but we need to feel supported and cared for. We are not giving up and we need to know that our support system won’t give up either.