Saturday, April 2, 2016

My Fight With ED: My New Perspective/Rant On Society

Looking back at pictures of when I was in the middle of it, I look like a piece of nothing. There’s a picture of me on my mission where I look TINY. But honestly, the first time I saw that picture, I thought I wasn’t skinny enough. I remember looking at certain parts of my body and thinking that I needed to lose more weight. Now I look at it and think I look unproportionate.

It’s a struggle to believe this sometimes. And more and more it’s getting easier. But we are all beautiful no matter what size we are! Gosh dangit. I can’t believe I used to scoff at people who said stuff like that. I thought I was superior, thought I knew that being skinny was the key to happiness. What the freak?!! That’s how you KNOW Satan is talking to you, lesson number 1.

Our society has this massive mentality about the importance of being skinny. I dare you to count how many times a day you hear someone talk about healthy foods, losing weight, calories, not looking good in that dress, whatever. It’s so often! We are subconsciously programmed to think that we are not good enough and that we must override our bodies’ natural ability to stay healthy and in shape. You have hormones that tell you when to eat and how much so that your body can function but still be healthy so that you can move and enjoy all the activities that you love!

You think you’ll be happier when you’re skinny. You will be happier as you fuel your body with a balanced diet and get active--and you might lose some weight as a result. But health is the goal, not skinny. I promise, if you are pursuing happiness through being skinny, you’re gonna feel happy on random days because of what you have “accomplished.” But trust me, you are in this soul-sucking downward spiral because you just can’t have enough skinny. It’s a trap.

Now, I am so happy. Granted, I still have to fight the thoughts, but it’s getting easier. I got some new swimsuits and daaaaaang, gurl! And I am 20 pounds heavier than my lowest weight. So what. Let’s rewrite beauty as a society. You see it everywhere on Pinterest and Dove campaigns (and these words used to make me cringe because I didn’t want to accept myself at my natural weight) “Every size is beautiful.” I am learning to love my body more and more. I love myself!! Most importantly, I love who I am. I find so much worth in my divine identity, the way I’m different from everyone else, the way I live my life. I hated it when people were like “What makes you worthwhile is that you are a Daughter of God.” I was like “Everyone is a Child of God, how does that make me special?”

Being a Child of God means that there is only one you. There is only one you with your face, your body, your smile, your eyes, your laugh, your values, your goals, your dreams, your way of touching the world.

*The weird thing about eating disorders is that you see yourself as fat and everyone else as skinny. I hope I don’t offend anyone or make them think that I used to think they were fat or something. Hearing one of my anorexic friends say “I need to lose weight!” made me think I needed to lose weight too because I was bigger than her. No. I really hope my words don’t trigger anything harmful.

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Fight With ED: Recover Part II

Here we are again. This is my secret to recovery. And, mind you, I am still in the process.

First of all, God blessed me with an INSANE desire to go to Africa. Back in January I had bought tickets to volunteer there in May. I started re-feeding in April and it was such a blessing to be in Africa and not have a mirror to look in. I read Intuitive Eating there and I jumped feet first into it. I had to get over my anxiety fast because my diet was filled with oil and starches. I still had thoughts about my body and anxiety about food, but it wasn’t as bad. It was such a blessing to feel a peace I hadn’t felt in a long time. Africa is a great place to go to get a perspective on life. They see what’s really important! Our divine nature, God, family, nature, love. It made me more grateful for what I have. Some people I saw there were emaciated because that was the only choice they had. Why did I choose to starve myself?

Another huge blessing was I changed therapists. I started going to a therapist at Center for Change. We were kindred spirits from the start. He loved to travel and just looked at life with so much love. He really saw the beauty in this life. He was funny and sassy and sarcastic. He kinda has a hippie approach--and I am ALL over that. He could see past my sarcasm and lies and called me out on my false beliefs. He got mad at me when I weighed myself, but showed pain and sympathy at the same time, asking me why I would measure my worth with something like that, when I am worth so much more than being under a certain weight. Sometimes I would go and we would just talk about life. He is my friend. He helped me recognize that good thoughts come from the Holy Ghost and from my heart center. Bad thoughts are lies and come from Satan. He taught me how to fight them. He taught me how to change my beliefs by using the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

That Atonement thing isn’t just for sins, you know. It’s for anything you want to change in your life. I would partake of the Sacrament every week and ask for the power to recognize Satan in my life and fight the thoughts. I would pray for strength whenever I felt weak. I would tell the devil to leave, even. I would call my friends who were put in my life--some who had recovered from an eating disorder already. They got it and it was really comforting to just cry on the phone to them. I literally had to get out the pain until I could go to church or to work or wherever.

Eventually, I cried less often. I was less afraid to go shopping and buy bigger clothes. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and I didn’t have as much anxiety. I got really good at noticing when Satan tried to put thoughts in my head and I said “You suck, Satan. You wish you had a body like me. And my body rocks. So get thee freaking HENCE.” I hope it’s okay to quote scripture like that. Sometimes I still didn’t believe that my body rocked, but it was kind of a fake it until you make it thing. And I’m making it!

I was talking to my therapist and telling him that I was feeling better and better, but I was still frustrated that I was still getting thoughts from Satan. I told him that I just prove Satan wrong in my head and push it away. That’s all I could do. And my therapist told me that was the key! I could do this on my own now, and eventually I wouldn’t have those thoughts anymore. They’d just taper away. And they are tapering for sure. That day he told me I was ready to fly on my own. I was so happy!!! But also kinda sad because it felt like I was breaking up with my awesome therapist. No more weekly visits. We are still friends, though.

One of my favorite things I learned from my therapist is that Satan tries to attack whenever something good is about to happen. Last time I weighed myself (I had a weak moment) was back in October. I went to therapy and my therapist was like “What were you thinking?!” And I was like “I don’t know! I thought it wouldn’t upset me but it did.” Of course it did, because I was itching to weigh myself! I still had an eating disorder mentality! Anyway. He asked if I had anything important coming up. I had a party I was throwing that weekend. My therapist was like “Well, you never know who Satan is trying to prevent you from meeting at the party, or he’s making you feel unworthy of meeting anyone.” Right after that therapy session, I went to anatomy lab where I’d talked to a boy I met a couple months prior. He was dang handsome and nice and I invited him to the party. Aaaaand now we are getting married.

So if that doesn’t convince you to not listen to Satan, I don’t know what will.

I needed to heal to a certain point before I could be in a serious relationship. When I met Robin, it was perfect timing. I was healed enough that I wouldn’t be dependent on him for my self worth. But he has been that missing piece in the puzzle--proving to me that I can be loved even if my belly isn’t flat. He has helped me remember what really makes me a valuable person and reminds me all the time.  He is the greatest blessing. He is my happiest sunrise.

And, like I said, I'm still working on things. Having someone to love me hasn't fixed everything. I am still learning how to find worth in myself, for who I am. I am still learning to not just accept my body but to love it. And what is wrong with not loving yourself? To be honest, isn't this something we all struggle with? Just me? But yeah, I'm gonna work on it. 

Because, let's be real, it really doesn't matter what others think of me, but my life will have a dramatic difference when I learn to love myself in a positive and humble way versus when I don't love myself. I will have more power and strength and peace.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Fight With ED: Recovery Part I

How did I get out of my head? When did I decide that getting help was more important than being obscenely skinny?

It was last March when I prayed to Heavenly Father. I told him I was sick of thinking about my body all the time. I was sick of thinking of food all the time, living in fear. I was sick of hating myself when I was bloated or just whenever. I had kinda reached a point where my weight had plateaued. In fact, I had lost 10 pounds the month before, but gained it all back in March. I was pretty frustrated with my body. It was frustrated with my mind, I had pushed my body too far.

A week or so later it was General Conference weekend. I was listening to the Lord’s prophet on the earth and His apostles, waiting for the Holy Ghost to guide me and help me free myself from my mind. Moved upon by the Spirit I’m sure, a sister from my mission posted a beautiful and simple testimony on Facebook about her love for Jesus Christ and how He helped her recover from an eating disorder.

I thought, “Man, if she can share that to the whole world, maybe I can.” Previously, I had vowed silently to myself that this would always be my secret, but her post opened up the possibility to me that I could share it with someone.

That same day I went on a walk with my mom and sister. I had eaten a “big” breakfast and felt bloated. Fun fact: when you are anorexic, your body will randomly get bloated because it is undernourished. Kind of the worst when you hate feeling fat. So anyway, I was feeling “fat.” I tried to hide it but my sister looked at me and asked if I was okay. Aaaaand I just broke down and bawled to the point that it was hard to talk. My sister and mom just hugged me while I bawled with no explanation. I told them that I thought I had the mindset of an eating disorder without having the behaviors of an eating disorder. Ha. I was still in denial. But it was a step. We walked home and I bawled some more in my room and prayed. I felt so guilty.

Sometimes I still feel awful that I was so preoccupied about dodging food on my mission. These people were so kind to me. But I was so messed up and worried about gaining weight. I wish I would’ve known how our body really works back then. I created all this fear in my head because of what I learned in the media about how many calories I was supposed to eat a day and that carbs and sugar are bad for you. SINCE WHEN. WHERE DID ALL THOSE MOVIES GET THEIR INFORMATION??! I know, the devil. That’s who.

I felt a lot of shame that my biggest fear was gaining weight. I was so afraid. And then I was mad at myself that something so worldly and unimportant was my world and so important to me. That’s one reason why it was hard for me to open up about it. I felt so stupid. I felt so much shame. That was a hurdle I had to get over in recovery. I was not a bad person for doing this to myself. Now I realize I had real and true feelings. They were still valid. Jesus Christ suffered for those feelings in the Garden of Gethsemane. They are REAL. And He wanted me to get help and He sure helped me find it.

Anyway. I started going to a therapist and a nutritionist at BYU. My therapist? She reeeeally tried her best. But her approach was not what I needed. Every time I had to fill out a form quantifying my behaviors and how often I did them. It was like I was stabbing myself and twisting the knife. I cried every time. I felt terrible and I felt like I wasn’t making much progress even though I stopped counting calories (a BIG step, it honestly took a lot of courage to do that.) Therapy was draining and I dreaded it.

My nutritionist was bomb and helped me learn the truth about how our body reacts to food. She taught me that because I had gotten used to eating so little, my body had suppressed it’s hormones that make your stomach growl when you’re hungry and satisfied when you’re full. That’s nice if you are stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean like in the Life of Pi. Not nice when you have a life with school and a job and you need to function. So we had to work back up to eating normal amounts of food.

Honestly, there were some times where I really resented my nutritionist. She sent me a list of a normal amount of food to eat every day and I cried thinking about how that would feel in my stomach. But she was understanding that it would take time. I sent in food logs to her every night for months. I hated it when she told me ways to improve even though I had tried REALLY HARD to eat more. She was just trying to help.

She taught me the Intuitive Eating method. It’s the freaking best book to read if you have ever dieted even. It teaches you tactics on how to listen to your hunger and fullness cues because your body knows what it needs. It teaches you to not limit yourself. If you give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want, you ain’t gonna go ham on all the cookies and brownies at every wedding you go to. It’s brilliant. I don’t eat myself sick as much as I used to--almost never. AND I don’t eat as much sweets. It’s brilliant.

It took awhile for me to get up to intuitive eating because I didn’t have hunger and fullness cues. But I remember feeling elated when I felt hungry again! I used to hate that feeling. Now it meant that my metabolism was working.

Refeeding was a really difficult time for me. I generally had a breakdown once per week as I tried on clothes and realized they didn’t fit me anymore, or when I was so mad at myself and felt consumed with the thoughts in my head. I hated gaining weight. The only way to recover was to live my worst fear. This went on for a few months. So how did I do that?

Tune in next time, folks, because this story is so long it needs TWO posts. In the meantime, face your fears.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Fight with ED: It's Not What You Think

Like I said, years ago I thought that someone who was anorexic was emaciated and ate only an apple a day. I even thought they didn’t eat anything at all. Not really sure how I believed that because how did they still live? Anyway. We have this false belief of what eating disorders look like. It’s partly about the behaviors, but mostly about the mindset.

Oooooh, it made me SO mad sitting in my abnormal psychology class while I was going through recovery listening to my teacher explain what anorexia was. She was explaining how in anorexia sometimes you will have “binges” which technically means you eat more than you’re used to in an uncontrollable way. She said maybe someone with anorexia would usually eat half a piece of bread a day but if they had an uncontrollable binge, then they would eat the whole piece of bread. WHAT. Okay, that may be true for some anorexics, but not me. My binges were different. And I ate more than a slice of bread per day. If we are going to get a handle on this, we need to teach that anorexia, and all eating disorders for that matter, fall upon a range of severity. People aren’t gonna know they need help until we raise awareness of what it really is.

So what did my eating disorder look like? Probably like a lot of the diets that celebrities are on and the girls across the street.  

I had three meals per day, probably the volume of my clenched fist. Nope, not anorexia according to what my teacher taught me because I was eating three meals!

I set goals to wait until certain times to eat again. I fought hunger by drinking a ton of water and distracting myself with tasks.

So many websites say 1200-1800 calories is enough. Celebrities swear that if you eat more all of the sudden you turn into Aunt Marge from Harry Potter. Noooooooo. False. You need double that, SAYWHAAA. Your body can’t function. I know. I got headaches. I remember feeling so lightheaded at school, I was lucky I didn’t faint. In fact, your body eventually stops burning fat and starts to take energy from your tissues. I’m convinced I really didn’t lose as much fat as I thought--my intestines were getting thinner and more fragile!

At the worst of it, I would go nearly a week without eating any type of grain. Fun fact: your body releases a signal every 2-3 hours for complex carbohydrates because it NEEDS IT. Your body knows what it needs, not celebrity diet experts. EAT THE BREAD IT’S SO GOOD.

I got anxiety thinking about making a big breakfast with my family and knowing it would be weird if I didn’t eat the cinnamon roll AND the scone AND the bacon. I got anxiety when we had two member meals in one day on my mission. I got anxiety when the number on the scale went up. I looked in any reflection as much as I could to check and make sure I still looked skinny--if not, I would chastise myself and vow to do better the next meal.

Just so you know, sometimes I STILL ate the fried chicken, the cake, the french toast, whatever, but I compensated the rest of the day by having smaller meals and eating mostly fruits and vegetables. I didn’t think that was anorexia. But it was.

Now, all these examples are not qualifiers for anorexia. Maybe you don’t get light headed. Fine. But if you find yourself thinking about food and how you are going to get around certain “unhealthy” foods at your next meal or party, or if you are weighing yourself several times a day or week, or even if you don’t like your body and are not being intuitive with your eating (which I will explain in the next post), I admonish you to really consider if you have a truly healthy relationship with food, ALL foods. And get the help if needed. And even if you do have an unhealthy relationships with food, maybe you don't have an eating disorder. BUT. You will be way happier with food and your body once you stop hating on yourself. Honestly, it’s still hard for me at times, but it helps even just to have a support system of friends and family that I can talk to when it gets difficult.

I kinda have this theory that some people have eating disorders without even knowing it. Hi, that was me.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

My Fight with ED: Why Did it Happen?

Near the beginning of my treatment, my therapist at Center for Change had me write down a list of EVERYTHING that I believed about food and my body. That was brutal. I knew as I was writing it that none of it was true, but it still was so true to me. I still believed all those things. This next post is about how those beliefs formulated.

Another time we went through my life story and talked about all the major events of my life so far, good and bad. I got emotional thinking about them because it helped me realize where my feelings of self doubt and deprecation came from.

I grew up doing ballet. Even when I was little I thought that my stomach shouldn’t stick out too far in my leotard and tights. I saw celebrities and heard about this magical thing called a “flat stomach” and thought nothing else was acceptable for me. So I started creating these false beliefs about what was beautiful. I was letting the world pigeon-hole what beauty is, leaving out all the other beautiful things that exist.

Some people in my life were just naturally built with smaller frames. My genes make me more...womanly. There is no getting around that! Even when I had my eating disorder, I still had what curves my body could hold on to. I compared my body to others. I felt like a black sheep in pictures with my older sisters because I was a couple sizes bigger. They never did anything to make me feel “fat.” It was all stuff I made up in my head. This is all stuff I assumed people thought. Something about Satan is he tries to make you create beliefs off of assumptions that are usually lies.

The factors above are pretty obvious as to what contributed to my eating disorder. But one of the biggest factors that contributed is a life event that is a little less obvious. When I was 14, my brother dealt with some major health issues. I felt very alone because my parents were gone most of the time, running him from doctor to doctor. I often came home from school to an empty house and went to bed to an empty one, too. It wasn’t my parents’ fault. I don’t hold a grudge at all. They really did their best to be there for me during those times. And it was just hard to see my brother and parents struggle.

Because of this trial I numbed myself and didn’t feel much sadness nor happiness. I sometimes made myself cry at sad events. I emotionally ate to cope. I didn’t exercise. I was very lethargic and gained weight and started to dislike my body immensely. This carried on to my freshman year of college. I developed depression, mostly because I was homesick and didn’t know who I was outside of high school. The numbness started to wear away, and it turned into complete sadness. I started to hate my body more, and emotionally eat more. I remember laying in bed all day because I felt like a whale. I remember not wanting to go to a party because I was bloated. I was a MESS. Moral of the story: I had issues that I didn’t cope with. I just buried them. BAD IDEA.

Fast forward to a few months into my mission. A couple times after meals with members I just felt SO FULL. I could not concentrate. I also emotionally ate when I was stressed. I remember eating an entire sleeve of saltine crackers after dinner and feeling so sick. At first I think I thought about eating healthily in a mentally healthy way too. I needed to eat healthy so that I could focus on serving the Lord. My goal was to just not eat when I was full so that I wouldn’t get sick. I wasn’t perfect at it. Totally ate a lot of that yummy yellow cake sitting on our counter once. But I got better. I started setting more goals, creating more restrictions. One dessert a day. Then two desserts per week. A whole month without desserts. Only two servings of carbs per day. My meals were getting smaller and smaller. Obviously, I lost weight. When I lost weight, it became something so gratifying. Because of the way we have been conditioned in the world, I felt like I had accomplished something so important and amazing. And so...that’s kinda how it became an obsession. It started with one little restriction and ended up being a massive list of restrictions that I wrote down, and now I want to find that list and burn it. INTUITIVE EATING IS THE WAY!!

I’ll tell you all about it in posts to come. Thanks for listening to me spill my heart out. Honestly, this is very therapeutic for me. My hope is that if you are struggling with eating or with your body, or if you know someone who is, then recovery is worth everything you have. I know you think that people are crazy that tell you you are worth something even if you aren’t skinny. But you are. You will feel happier finding worth in who you are, not a number on a scale.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My fight with ED: Introduction

I stood behind that rackety stage-door, trying not to scream or cry or run away. My theater teacher and vocal/breathing coach extraordinaire had told me to do my lines over, again. Some of us in my advanced theater class were struggling to project our voices across the auditorium. We had decided to do the entire production without mics, so we had to dig deep inside ourselves and find that voice that could not only fill a room with sound, but with our soul.

Frustration set in because I thought I was projecting enough--what wasn’t loud enough was my soul. My teacher told me to do my lines again, but this time I had to sing them. Make up my own melody.

Never have I felt more vulnerable, more exposed. I love singing. When I sing I feel the most like me and I can share my heart. But this. This was terrifying--because all my peers were watching, no notes to lead my way. Just me trying to sing my lines in whatever notes decided to come out of my mouth.

I cried afterward.

But this experience taught me the value of sharing your vulnerabilities. I came out stronger, my lines were better. I had presence. But more than that, it was a gift. It was a gift to me to show me what I was capable of. It’s given me courage to say what I want to say and be myself in the face of critics. It gave my peers the ability to let go on stage, and hopefully in life too.

I didn’t share that story just for the sake of it. I have a bigger story to tell. And it will take more than one post on this here blog-that-I-haven’t-posted-on-in-almost-three-years-oops. But it’s a story that needs to be told.

So here’s the short version, with details to come in later posts:

It’s been almost a year since I started recovery for an eating disorder. Some people call it Anorexia. I hesitate to give a diagnosis because there’s all sorts of stigmas that go along with it. I always thought that people with anorexia never ate, ever. Ever, ever. So imagine my surprise when my nutritionist said I was eating the amount of food to sustain a comatose person, even though I was having three “meals” a day. Also, everyone’s experience with an eating disorder is different. I actually have a lot of thoughts about labeling something that’s wrong with you, but we can talk about that another time. I digress.

Growing up I struggled with body image--even when I was a skinny little ballerina. I started my period and I quickly became a woman and I was like WAT. I didn’t like it. Life threw it’s lemons and I made a lot of figurative lemon bars and ate them (aka emotionally eating), which led to gaining weight. Now, I was never overweight. But I was out of shape and lethargic.

When I was 19 I left on a mission to South Carolina. Daaaaang, missions are hard! So, hi, food. Comfort me. But I noticed how all this food made me feel. I couldn’t exert my body like I wanted to. I was so full of fried chicken and cake it was hard to focus while teaching lessons. I had to change something. So I started restricting my eating. I became more and more obsessed with what I ate and how I looked. I just spiraled downward, deeper and deeper. I came home from my mission 18 months later, excited to have more control over my eating. I got more obsessed, and more depressed.

One day I noticed how unhealthy my thoughts were about my body and food. That’s all I ever thought about. I prayed for help. A friend posted on Facebook about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ helped her through her own battle with anorexia years before. I thought I would never tell anyone, but this post hit me. I realized I had a problem and I started getting help.

This has been the hardest journey of my life--and I have been wont to travel on difficult roads. I’m sure you have as well. But this is a journey that I can truly say I would not give away or undo. I have become closer to my Father in Heaven, I have learned how to recognize the voice of Satan and fight it, I have learned how to love others more deeply, and I have learned how to love myself. For me.

So I hope the subject doesn’t scare you. And if it does right now, I hope you stay tuned. Because a simple Facebook post saved me. I want to at least raise awareness and share what I have learned, and give this gift of vulnerability.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


HI I'M SORRY I'VE BEEN M.I.A. FOR LIKE FIVE YEARS. Finals are over. And life has been fun. And happy. I only have so much time to be with the people I've grown to love so much. And I just haven't felt compelled to write anything. Deal with it. All I wanna do is dance in my room to the aforementioned song.