let go and stop counting calories, steps, pounds and instead allow peace

let go and stop counting calories, steps, pounds and instead allow peace

Let me ask you a question: what do you count?

Do you count money? Do you count your grades? Do you count the number of followers you have on Instagram? Do you count calories burned? Do you count calories eaten? Do you count the number of steps you’ve taken? Or do you count the number of your coffee cups – sorry couldn’t help but sneak in the Rent reference 😉

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The fact of the matter is, whatever you count, those numbers are what consumes your life. Perhaps consumes is too strong of a word, but that’s the only word I can think of right now.

During the thick of my eating disorders, numbers were constantly on my mind. Now I’m no math whiz so what I was doing was not Calculus or anything. What I was counting were my 1,200 calories and the pounds that were never enough.

Even now I can look at a food and estimate around how many calories it’ll be. I lived off on MyFitnessPal for over a year – I probably used that app more than my iMessage app, I even could say that it was my most used app by far.

I would step up that darn scale every morning and night – making sure that my weight didn’t fluctuate for more than 1.0 pounds. And so I quantified my worth to solely those numbers. I became the calories I consumed, the pounds that I carried.

But let go and stop counting whatever you’re counting and allow yourself to intuitively find peace and balance. Trust your body to know what it wants. Believe that your body can consume the right enough calories, can wear the right enough pounds, can take enough steps. 

Rather than following the suggested (at least be honest you don’t even take it as a suggestion but more of as a must”) number of steps, calories, and pounds that some random person and the collective illusive society tells you to live, listen to your own body and trust in it.

Free your mind from the number crunching, those false scripted groundless numbers. Breathe in and out. Let yourself free.

What will you stop counting?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Recently, my mom and I travelled to Ecuador  to volunteer at a small organic farm in the Galapagos Islands, and to explore the country. In the next series of blog posts, I will be describing my experience in Ecuador, starting with Part One: Food Explorations.


Desayunos (Breakfast)

Our hotel breakfast was our first meal in Ecuador. When we entered the dining

IMG_1939area/reception area, we were immediately greeted by a woman who asked us (in Spanish) what we wanted to eat. Unfortunately, both my mom and I do not understand or speak Spanish, so we both stared at her helplessly, until my mom pulled out her phone to use Google Translate (the translate app became our best friend on this trip!). For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bread, and yogurt. All pretty standard breakfast foods at my house!

 

Almuerzo (Lunch)

Thankfully, avocados are highly abundant and extremely cheap in Quito, Ecuador. One supermarket that I ventured into was selling five avocados for $1 total! Every lunch and dinner that we had in Quito included avocado (thank God!!).

Below is one of my lunches in Quito. Since I am pescetarian, it was a bit difficult to order food, since the majority of the dishes contain chicken, beef or pork. But, I was able to find this vegetarian dish. Since the water in Ecuador is not safe for travelers, I could not consume any raw vegetables or fruit washed in tap water. Thus, I ate close to no vegetables in Quito 😦 (When we arrived back in America, I had a huge salad and green juice immediately!).

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The dish pictured includes: half a “salad” of half an avocado, a couple lettuce leaves, and a slice of tomato, with steamed green beans and a tiny carrot slice, steamed corn, and two llapingacho (fried potato cake).

Throughout my time in Quito, I found myself constantly eating corn, rice, and potatoes. Additionally, fried foods (like slachipapas-fries) are very popular here.

So, if you are going to Ecuador, be prepared for solely carbs and protein. Not my favorite type of food, but, to each his own!

Thankfully, I was able to find some healthier food at a restaurant we stumbled upon. The dish included a humongous piece of salmon, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and avocado. Freshly baked bread rolls, salad, and cheese also came with the meals.

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Throughout my time in Ecuador, I probably drank juice (jugos) every day, as it is a very standard drink with meals. At home, juice is extremely rare, as it is either too sweet or too expensive. But, in Ecuador, since we couldn’t drink the water, juice was the only other option. Some restaurants served freshly squeezed juice! Popular options included naranjilla juice, orange juice, blackberry juice, guava juice, guayaba juice, guanabana (soursop) juice, maracuya juice, and papaya juice.

Cena (dinner)

IMG_2119Unsurprisingly, dinner was also solely rice, corn, and meat 😦 However, the one exception was ceviche, a sour soup with small chunks of seafood, onions, and tomatoes. Every chance I could get, I ordered this dish because it was delicious and not fried.

The first picture is an appetizer: small plantain “cups” with cheese, some kind of salsa, mushroom, and avocado sauce.

 

 

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Rice with fried chicken, fried plantains, and avocado.

 

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Fish CEVICHE! Of course the dish includes fried plantain chips, popcorn, and popped corn kernels.

After traveling around Quito for several days, we headed to the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS! I was very excited about this part of the trip because the Galapagos is well known for its abundant wildlife and beauty.

My mom and I lived on a small farm in San Cristobal island. The farm is located in a very rural part of the island, so there were no easily accessible restaurants in walking distance. We cooked our own meals, and had to browse in supermarkets often. Although one would expect that with farms occupying 90 percent of the island, produce would be abundant and cheap, we found that the opposite was true. Families in the Galapagos usually farm for themselves and sometimes the surrounding community, so all other foods must be imported, making everything very expensive. One jar of imported peanut butter costed $12! But, the homemade peanut butter sold at a few restaurants was only about $2. Also, all of the packaged foods in the supermarkets (flour, cereal, rice, snacks, etc.) were all enriched with various chemicals to boost their nutrient quantity.

We did travel to explore the other islands for a couple days with a tour group. Since the meals were from a pre-selected menu for tourists, we essentially had the same foods every day: soup, a main dish of rice, vegetables, and seared fish, and dessert.

If you are traveling to Ecuador, or another Spanish speaking country, here is a list of Spanish terms related to food that I used constantly during my trip. Note: I learned Spanish in elementary school, so these terms may not be the correct spelling or grammar, the list is just for beginners 🙂

  • Desayunos (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch)
  • Quanto questa? (how much does it cost?)
  • Pescado (fish)
  • Camaron (shrimp)
  • Ceviche (popular seafood dish)
  • Jugo (juice)
  • Queso (cheese)
  • Pan (bread)
  • Aguacate (avocado)
  • Huevos (eggs)
  • Leche (milk)
  • Agua (water)
  • Con (with, ex. cereal with milk)

Overall, I would have to say that Ecuador is far from a healthy foodie haven. However, the travel experiences make the country more than worth the trip.

Stay tuned for the next parts in this Ecuador series, in which I will share more about my experience living on a farm!

Love,

Serena

The struggle to practice what I preach

The struggle to practice what I preach

I wish I could walk the talk that I give on the blog. I wish I could fully embrace my physical flaws, I wish I could truly eat for nourishment and not vanity. But I don’t.

Since Avolicious’s beginnings, I’ve written something along the lines of fitness, nutrition and anywhere in between. And I’ve tried my best to be the empowering and positive-minded presence. Keyword: tried.

Maybe it’s part of being human or perhaps it’s just me, but I still struggle with loving my body and eating certain foods for strength and energy, but I eat certain foods in the hopes to simply look skinner.

I just wrote about why carbs are not the enemy on yesterday’s post. As much as that post was addressed to the public, it was equally addressed to me: I am scared of carbs. I continue to still moralize my food choices and find the need to excessively justify every single food choice. My brain is noisy, it’s never quiet when I’m eating. But yet, but yet, I say that I am something otherwise on the blog.

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And in a sense, my blog is an extension of what I wish to be. The opinions, the thoughts, the blog posts that I write are what I desire I could be. Someone who was confident, empowered, self-loving and truly content with where she is now. And through much of this past year, this contradiction has always haunted me. I write about loving and embracing our bodies for what they are, but immediately as I hit publish I lament at my reflection on the mirror. My seemingly dual life haunted me and I questioned if I should write for Avolicious anymore.

So I took a break from Avolicious around the spring time of this year; I wasn’t comfortable with not “walking the talk.”

But I came back. Why?

… because change is not a judgment of yourself

The change I wanted for myself were what I wrote on Avolicious: full acceptance of one’s body and mindful eating. And to get to that point, I needed to change myself. I am constantly changing: each blog post nudges me to walk more step on the path that I wish to walk on. The ideas and the posts for Avolicious are helping me walk out of the path that I am walking on right now and turn into the path that I wish to walk on.

While my usual posts have a satisfactory end, today’s post will be unfinished because I am still wandering and exploring this new and frightening chapter of my life. Thank you for all the support, but don’t expect me to exactly walk the talk, I’m getting there 😉

Do you practice what you preach?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

 

carbs are not the enemy

carbs are not the enemy

I’ve seen countless of Instagram posts or websites encouraging to forgo carbs completely so as to lose weight. But we don’t have to demonize carbs and we shouldn’t embrace low-carb diets.

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Piling on top of my multi-grain bread, a whole lot of avocados 🙂

Carbs are the best source of energy and thus, when you drastically cut out your carb intake, your body will respond by preserving fat … making it harder for you to lose weight.

Why, you ask?

When humans used to be hunter-gatherers, our bodies were trained to preserve body fat when they realized that the body’s energy source was low. Our bodies are incredibly smart and so when you start eliminating carbs, your body thinks you are in a critical situation with not much resources and instead of readily expending your energy, tries its best to preserve it – in the form of holding onto your body fat.

Now this doesn’t mean go on a pasta and garlic bread feast everyday. It means you have to choose your carbs carefully: carbs are not made all the same.

We have our complex carbs (think multigrain bread, brown rice, oatmeal; “starchy” foods) and we also have our refined carbs (aka white bread, white pasta, chips, baked goods). You want to aim for complex carbs as they are higher in fiber and also digest more slowly. You don’t get that energy spike and sugar crash, but rather a continual source of energy. This long source of energy allows you to snack less and stay satisfied for longer periods of time. Also, fiber is critical as it slows the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream, hence making you feel full longer.

For those whose eyes glazed over the more “scientific” terms, here is the quick summary:

  • Carbs are not bad for you, in fact, if you eliminate carbs it makes it harder to lose weight
    • Your body holds onto your body fat rather than letting it go because it assumes you are at an energy depletion
  • Carbs are not bad for you, BUT you should choose carefully ==> CHOOSE COMPLEX CARBS

What are your thoughts on carbs?

xoxo,

Stephanie

How do you define an eating disorder?

How do you define an eating disorder?

This question or at least variations of this question ran through my head now almost four years ago. And this is a question I’ve been asked multiple times by other people.

Indeed, one of my closest friends after I opened up that had an eating disorder was worried that she had an eating disorder too. Unlike a physical illness, eating disorders are like mental illness in that they are hard to identify. In fact, during my eating disorder, I was convinced I was simply eating “healthy.” Eating disorders can be seen through one’s actions, but it is ultimately determined by how your mind processes food.

Personally, my go-to “short” and easy answer is that an eating disorder is any relationship with food that is unhealthy. But, of course, that is vague. So I’ll try my best to unpack what an eating disorder is truly is here today:

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What an eating disorder is not:

Saying no to a slice of birthday cake because you simply don’t want to eat it // Sometimes we’re just too full to eat cake (this applies to any food, but I’m using cake as an example) and sometimes we don’t want to anything sweet at that moment. Just because you don’t want to eat something doesn’t mean you have an eating disorder. The discussion changes when your reason to saying no to cake is rooted in a limited number of calories to consume daily.

Not consuming meat, gluten, or any certain food groups because they do not digest well for you // Along a similar line as above, some people stay away from certain food groups because they cannot digest it well. For example, my mom cannot digest red meat very well and consumes it probably once a month. Again, the reasoning to your choices is the key. If you are not consuming gluten or carbs not because you can’t digest it, but because you believe it will help you lose weight, etc.

Not eating as much because you want to MAINTAIN (or SLOWLY lose ) weight // I mean even at the early age of 10, I remember my mom telling me to eat fruits rather than potato chips or else I’ll gain weight. And I’m sure a lot of us grew up like so. The occasional indulgence is fine, however, potato chips should not be a daily occurrence compared to fruit. Or grown up, if you deliberately choose to eat a salad to watch for your waist line, that’s perfectly normal too. These incidents should be small and short-lived thoughts in your head. An eating disorder is something that exists ALL the time, where your head is constantly noisy – regardless of whether you are eating or not.

So what is an eating disorder?

Food or thinking about food dominates your life // This includes scenarios where you cannot go a day without worrying about what you have eaten or what you will eat. This can also include counting calories or tracking macros through an app on your phone religiously: if you go over your calorie goal, you beat yourself up for it but if you go under your calories goal, you are glowing.

You moralize food and you are extremely strict about not crossing that self-imposed line // You have determined already in your head that there are certain “good” foods that are okay to eat and “bad” foods you cannot ever eat. You restrict certain foods not for any other reasons but because they are “bad” for you and that line should never be crossed.

Your body image and self-esteem are extremely low: they rely upon others’ affirmations // You are constantly chasing after a certain body standard and unless others comment on how thin/toned/etc you look, you feel as if you have to restrict yourself more. It’s not a momentary desire to be _____, but rather a constant pursuit to become this body and you compare your body to others to see if you are “better.”

You make excuses regarding eating, especially for events with friends // You tell your parents that you’ve already ate dinner. You tell your friends you’re too busy to hang out with them for lunch tomorrow. All these excuses rooted in the fact that you don’t want to be tempted to eat these “bad” foods and would rather not eat or eat your “safe” foods.

My Story: As mentioned earlier, in the midst of my eating disorder, I did not believe I had one. I thought I was simply eating healthier. But what was happening was I was restricting my food consumption. I resorted to eating a mere 1,200 calories every day regardless of how much exercise I did that day. I moralized my food choices to the point that once I started eating dairy desserts, I had a huge stomach ache as my body wasn’t used to dairy anymore. I declined several social events all because I didn’t want to be faced with FOOD.

FOOD FOOD FOOD was all I thought about and it consumed my life. But for some reason or another, I thought it was normal. Maybe it was because I knew there was a stigma attached to eating disorders? Or maybe because I thought eating disorders were only designated to the extreme behaviors of bulimia or anorexia? Whatever it was, it took around a half a year for me to get a wake up call. This wake up call came when my nephrologist told me that my one functioning kidney had shrunk. This is for another day, but I only have one functioning kidney and while it is big than the average kidney, I have to be extremely careful. So when my doctor told me that my eating disorder (which at the time I refused to believe in) had shrunk my one functioning kidney, I was shocked. I finally woke up from my delirious state of mind. But this story is for another day 🙂

I hope this post cleared up any confusions you guys had regarding eating disorders. If you have any other questions, leave a comment, email me, or DM me on Instagram. I’ll be more than happy to answer.

How do you define an eating disorder?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Does a juice cleanse really work?

Does a juice cleanse really work?

The juice cleanse diet is among one of the popular diets I’ve heard of. Juice cleanses are a type of detox diet that involves only consuming liquids (squeezed from a mixture of fruits and vegetables) and not consuming any food. I’ve never had the urge to try one as I need the chewing aspect and constantly just drinking liquids doesn’t really appeal to me.

However, I’ve been asked this question multiple times from several of my friends: a) Do juice cleanses work? and b) Are they healthy for you?

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Unfortunately, I get asked the first question much more than the latter question, showing that many people would rather choose a diet’s result than its actual consequence on their health.

But here are a few pointers about juice cleanses:

  • While many think that drinking a high quantity of fruits and vegetables squeezed into a bottle of juice is healthy, juices fail to include fiber.
    • Juicing discards the fiber filled pulp of the fruit. Fiber is essential for good bowel movement, low cholesterol levels and low blood levels.
  • With no fiber, the percentage of sugar in juices is alarmingly high.
    •  At its core, fruits are natural sugars. And while natural sugar is great and all, sugar is sugar. Drinking too much natural sugar can cause high blood levels and high cholesterol.
  • Most of the time, these juices lack protein
    • Few fruits and vegetables have a significant amount of protein for your body. Without enough protein, your body cannot build nor repair tissues, making your daily workouts not as effective as they can be.
  • A short term fix
    • This is something I touched upon the other day, but short term health fixes will give you the material results, but will never make you feel good. Perhaps you’ll lose a few pounds from the (cough cough expensive) juice cleanse diet, but ultimately, you won’t feel fulfilled and free. This diet is unsustainable and something that requires a lot of brute force which in the long-term won’t help you. You can easily relapse back into your old habits and thus relapse back into your old body.

I hope this short post helped to clarify any confusions or questions about juice cleanses. If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m quite against them as they are unnatural and unsustainable. But of course, as always, all opinions are completely of my own and you are free to decide what you want to do with your body. 🙂

What are your thoughts on juice cleanses?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Links to sources if you are interested in reading more in-depth:

what’s the point anyway?

what’s the point anyway?

I would like to think that it’s natural to often wonder what the point of a healthy lifestyle is. Our modern culture is quite confusing: we emphasize feasting on junk food but at the same time impose a certain body standard, both expectations unrealistic and definitely not a one-size-fits-all.

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Indeed, I know several friends who were blessed with a fast metabolism, I’m sure we all have a couple of those friends: they seem to eat everything and anything in obscene amounts yet stay slim. And then there are a few of us who seem to gain weight by simply drinking (of course, an exaggeration but you know what I’m trying to say).

To be honest, my passion for health is skewed, or at least started skewed. Middle school Stephanie wanted to eat healthy and exercise consistently for the sake of looking better. It was a vain attempt that unfortunately worked, but it was short-lived. I learned that you need a deeper and more meaningful reason. And I’m not going to lie, finding that deeper meaning is hard; I haven’t even found it yet.

Often times I found myself ditching healthy eating because I would be one of those friends: they would be feasting on junk foods while maintaining a slim figure, and me putting the two and two together, decided that it would be perfectly fine for me to eat those junk foods too. Same goes with exercise: if that friend doesn’t exercise, then I don’t either.

The reason to why we should live a healthier life is more complex than simply looking better. I’m still figuring out this myself, but my answer so far is how we feel.

After eating rich pizza and greasy fries, my body feels sluggish. But I do realize that after eating a fresh salad, my body feels energized and light. (I apologize for the horrible descriptions, this is not my forte) Or even better yet, after an indulgent lunch that mid-afternoon crash where you have low-energy and brain is unclear. I think ultimately, we live a healthy lifestyle to not look good but to feel good.  This sounds like a cliche, I know, but in 2018, to do something simply for an inner result is exceedingly hard. We in this modern world are impatiently wanting a tangible result, something we can see. So this effort to feel great seems foreign and thus makes it much harder to have this as your reason.

It’s definitely a work in progress for me. But at least the awareness counts!

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

life is precious

life is precious

In the wake of Kate Spade’s passing, I wanted to drop my two cents on mental health.

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Mental health has always been a delicate topic to discuss on: I’ve realized this when naive freshman me signed up to conduct a school-wide investigation on mental health for the high school newspaper. At the time, I was not familiar with mental health besides clinical depression. And even clinical depression for me was manifested in a severe way to a close family friend at my church.

After seeing depression inflict my family friend in both a mental but physical way, my freshman self  did not realize that mental health could easily be concealed. Interviewing students across campus, I was shocked that physical health did not necessarily lend itself to mental health. Indeed, to me, Kate Spade and her brand represented bright colors, happiness, bubbly designs and playful prints. But to hear of the passing of a visionary person who I assumed embodied those characteristics due to depression and anxiety revealed me that I and our society have still much to learn about on mental health.

Assuredly, I am someone who falls victim to putting up a persona despite conflicting internal conditions. The strain of having to keep up with such “performance” hit an all-time low this past winter. For a bit over a month, I was constantly downhearted and unhappy. A day wouldn’t pass without a breakdown and staring blankly at the wall. It was difficult time, made even more difficult because I couldn’t exactly place a finger as to why I was feeling the way I was. All I knew at that time was that I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and couldn’t be bothered to do anything.

The whole time I tried my hardest to keep my usual persona: bright, inquisitive, and optimistic. I tried even harder to appear resilient to not only others but to myself as well. And it worked for most, most people don’t know that I had such time this winter. Only my close friends and family are aware and I am infinitely grateful to them. I was and still thankful for those who were perceptive and realized that this Stephanie was unwell. They were all understanding, loving, and most of all patient as I slowly recovered.

While mental health, like any health in general, is a battle overcome by the individual alone, the brunt of that battle can be shared by many. The encouraging nudges and constant comforting words helped me come back to a healthier and stronger self.

To everyone, our lives are precious. Every single one. I pray that you remember and practice this truth.

There’s one quote from my mental health investigation from freshmen year that still stands out to me this day. From my Latin teacher: “Why is there a stigma attached with a psychological illness or disease—in a literal sense, ‘dis-ease,’ un-ease, or not feeling at ease—but not to the physical ailment?”

Allow yourself to come back to ease. And you are not alone – you are surrounded by so much love and support. Tell those who you trust that you are not at ease and in need of their encouragement and help. You are loved and your life is precious. Please remember that.

If you find yourself in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Sending much love,

Stephanie

 

 

It’s All About Lifestyle—24 Healthy Habits, Hobbies & Scientific Facts

It’s All About Lifestyle—24 Healthy Habits, Hobbies & Scientific Facts

I’m sure a lot of you are feeling the same thing I’m feeling right now: burned out and tired with school/work/life.

As a high school junior, wow, I am drowning in homework, school tests, standardized testing, and that end of the year stress.

And especially at this point of the year, it’s super easy to slip up with our health habits.

But remember: it’s actually more important when we are fatigued and unmotivated to nourish our bodies and brains with the proper fuel, exercise and rest.

I was shown to this super duper helpful infographic the other day that I think will help keep those stress-eating sessions and procrastinations at bay.

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This infographic is from writer&blogger Jake Milgram.

I’m going to try in achieving three of these goals this week.

What goals will you try out?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

Today was quite an emotional day for me.

I gave a TEDx speech about my eating disorder and how it helped me learn what self-love truly means.

While yes, I did slip up during my TEDx speech, standing in front of the audience and finally putting into words my eating disorder was an overwhelming experience for me.

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I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to talk about how my eating disorder shaped me and ultimately discover what self-love truly means.

For those interested, below is the transcript of my TEDx speech.

Hope you enjoy!


 

It was exactly around this time four years ago that I started my eating disorder. While I can’t pinpoint the specific start date, what I do remember is this. I was currently taking a week-long trip in Rome during spring break with my Latin class and was eating well. And I’m not taking that “eating well” lightly. I was eating rich pastas and gelato every. Single. day. But eating well was common to me. Growing up, my food consumption always went into my height. I never had a problem with my weight or my self-confidence. This is not to say I was arrogant and self-centered, it’s just to say that I never really paid much attention to my appearance.

 

But coming back from the Rome trip, I decided to lose some weight. Part of the reason was all that pasta and gelato I indulged on. But the bigger reason was that I started noticing I was a bit chubbier than my other friends who happened to be all stick thin. Now, for someone who grow up not paying attention to her weight that much, these foreign and unfamiliar thoughts overwhelmed me.

 

Nevertheless, not knowing any better, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. For those who don’t know MyFitnessPal, this is an app that tracks your caloric intake to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. Of course, in my case, I was using it to lose weight. I put in my current weight, goal weight, my activity level.  Being the “goody-two shoes” girl I am, I religiously followed the 1,200 calories that this app instructed for me to eat.

 

It became a routine. Half a bagel for breakfast. A meager salad for lunch entailing a handful of spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes and of course, no dressing. And another meager salad for dinner. No drinks except water. No snacks no matter how hungry I was. No cakes, no processed food, only this and nothing more. I did this for three months while running track, or at least attempting to run track given how little I ate.

 

And soon enough, Food consumed my life. When I wasn’t eating, I was drooling over my next meal. When I was eating, I became guilty for eating too much. My mind was always noisy. Voices of “Stephanie, don’t eat that. Stephanie, you are fat. Stephanie, you need be hungry or else you’re not doing it right.” My calorie counting became another class for me. I obediently counted and measured my food logging into the MyFitnessPal app. A good day meant that I went under my 1,200 calories. A bad day meant that I went over my 1,200 calories. My life became purely numbers: the 1,200 calories, sub 100 pounds on the scale, the size double zero on my clothes.

 

But I am not here to storytell about my eating disorder. While I do not consider myself fully recovered, I feel enoughly distanced and detached from it now that I can talk about it with a fresh perspective. I’ve realized how much food is a representation of myself, of ourselves. It’s how we take care of ourselves, it’s how we view ourselves – whether that is subconsciously or consciously.

 

As someone with a perfectionist and Type-A personality, I wanted one more aspect in my life to control, to perfect. And that perfect standard meant being skinny, meant restricting my food choices, meant over-exercising, and ultimately, losing a sense of myself in the process to become society’s perfect.

 

But as much food is a representation of ourselves – whether that’s the perfectionist side of ourselves or the more complacent side of ourselves – in this modern 21st century we’re living in,  it’s so easy to believe what we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be the health nut who lives on kale salad and avocado toast. We’re supposed to be fitness maniac who loves going on morning runs. We’re supposed to be a certain size and live this supposedly “healthy” lifestyle that ultimately makes us feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

 

Doubting our ability to provide the best for our own bodies, we create habits—or, more accurately, unrealistic and restrictive rules that we impose on ourselves. We trust others’ rules and opinions to fix our own bodies—but why? The culture assumes it has the authority to show how we’re taught to love ourselves. The media and current slew of weight-loss programs teach us that our habits will ultimately allow us to love ourselves. We have to eat green smoothie with kale and spinach and whatnot, and we should only eat desserts that are made from all-organic, vegan ingredients. If we don’t, we’re taught to believe that we are not taking care of ourselves or valuing our bodies.

 

However, in reality, I believe that our love reflects our habits. The true order is actually switched. We already love ourselves. Let me repeat that, we already love ourselves.

 

Our habits do not lead us to feel self love. No, our already existing self love forms our habits.

 

We do not eat well to feel self love. We do not exercise to feel self-love. We are constantly bombarded with fat-free, low-carb, low-calorie food ads. But these ads are simply for us to be in the illusion that by eating these foods, we will in the future, love ourselves. That we will in some unforeseen future, will finally accept ourselves.

 

But the truth is, we already accept ourselves. We already love ourselves. The fact that you are living right now. The fact that you are breathing right now goes to show how much you love yourself.

 

Once you realize and fully believe that you do indeed already love yourself, the food you eat simply becomes a reflection of this acceptance and abundant love for yourself. And so, no food is bad or good. There is no moralizing involved because we are already good, we are already loved, we are already enough.

 

By no longer having to quantify our worth, we no longer eat excessively to feed our inner psychological need, nor do we over-exercise to reach a certain body type built upon elusive happiness. Instead, we eat for physical nourishment, and we exercise for physical vigor and strength.

 

We eat a green kale salad to honor our body’s physical needs. But we also eat a hamburger to respond to our body’s natural emotional need. We exercise to give the movement and strength our body wants. We live life not to love ourselves, but we live life to affirm this great love for ourselves. I already love myself. You already love yourself. We already love ourselves. And that should be enough.