Why I am Thankful for my Eating Disorder

Why I am Thankful for my Eating Disorder

This post comes a bit late, but rather than rushing to write a post for Thanksgiving Day, I decided to spend quality time with my family and friends and then take time in writing this post. So here I go. A few days late, but still very relevant.

Yesterday was the three year anniversary for Avolicious. Over these three years, I’ve changed, especially mentally. To be honest, when I started Avolicious with Serena, I was “recovered” from my eating disorder, but the frequency of those relapsing thoughts was quite high.

Especially, going to a high school boarding school, I was even more pressured and swayed by my peers. And my recovery almost faced a downward trajectory.

And so I started writing posts relating to disordered eating as initially a means not for others, but for me.

I needed to convince myself that I chose the right decision to seek recovery: that I needed to nourish my body, that I needed to give my body the love, rest, and appreciation that it deserves.

And over the three years, through meeting other bloggers on this platform, through trying as consistently as I can, through writing blog posts that I needed to hear as much as others did, I’ve made slow but significant progress in my recovery.

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The blog posts no longer serve as reminders for me, but to you, the reader. My blog posts have finished serving my purpose of convincing myself that recovery was the right decision and now have become that same purpose for you all.

And something I want to write today is that as ignorant as it may sound, hardships are something we can be thankful for.

Although I have recovered, the thoughts will stay with me forever. I’m not going to lie, some days are harder than others to keep those toxic thoughts in control.

To many, the Holidays can be a time where these thoughts flare up – we have lots of food, lots of events to attend meaning we have lots of people to meet (and want to impress).

But I’ve learned that having a resentful mindset toward my eating disorder past won’t do anything for me.

Yes, I will continue to be haunted by these thoughts, but this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my eating disorder.

Now let me clarify. I am not thankful for the actual challenges and hardships – the mental and physical pain – of my eating disorder. But I’m thankful of what I became of due to my eating disorder.

My eating disorder at the time was a coping mechanism for me to control something of my life. I was extremely Type-A, detail-oriented, and a perfectionist – and I was good at it. But as I got to middle school, I was slowly losing grasp of this (not to even mention high school, ha). And in a seeming sense of feeling lost and overwhelmed, I turned to one thing I could control: my eating.

In the thick of my eating disorder, when I realized that I needed to get better, my eating disorder gave me a chance to reflect on my life.  I realized that I was doing the same thing I did with my eating in my academics, social life, faith, and life in general.

The moralizing I put into my food choices (If you eat a hamburger, you’re bad. If you eat a salad, you’re a good person), I did likewise to my academics (If you get a B, you’re bad. If you get a A+, you’re an amazing person). And the same went to how I viewed my friendships, and my relationship with God.

But I never wanted to relive through that traumatic experience I had from my eating disorder in other aspects in life. Rather than chasing toward the unrealistic and restrictive rules society imposed on me, my eating disorder has taught me to loosen my grip on life. If I don’t fix my mindset now, I realized I’m going to be stuck in this restrictive mindset for the rest of my life.

I wanted to live a liberating life, a life that was peaceful without the noise from society of what I’m supposed to do and not do.

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By choosing to live a life that I was happy and excited about, I had to make the hard choice of having to quit extracurriculars that were becoming a chore and simply a name for college apps. These extracurriculars were restricting me rather than giving me the chance to flourish and grow. While I had reservations about giving up these activities that I had worked hard for by sacrificing my weekends and sleep, I realized I was working hard to a false distortion of success, an image that would ultimately make me unhappy. Instead, I consciously have chosen to be happy and make the most out of the present moment rather than looking to where I’ll be next. While in the beginning it was a bit tough, loving my current life allowed me to be much happier and free.

Numbers no longer dictate me, rather, they merely give me a snapshot, a rough outline of my progress.

And with my eating disorder, came a different Stephanie. This is not to say that I’ve completely reversed in my roles. Much like my eating disorder recovery, I’ve learned how to handle and control my Type-A, perfectionist thoughts.

And while I’ve failed countless times to control these thoughts, I know that success is the result of repeated and consistent trials and so I continue practicing that less rigid mindset day in and day out.

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I thank my eating disorder for teaching what it means to be resilient, patient, and determined. But above all, for changing my life view. I now regard my eating disorder as a time for me to pause, reflect, and change a lifestyle that was extremely toxic and unhealthy for me. If it weren’t something as significant as an eating disorder, maybe I would have continued to ignore those warning signs and still live that extreme perfectionist and demanding lifestyle.

And so, with all due respect, thank you to my eating disorder. Thank you for creating a new me, a me that I grow to love and appreciate more every day.

What unexpected thing are you thankful for?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Winter Workout Plan

Winter Workout Plan

I originally wrote this post for the health and nutrition club I do at school. But I decided that the post could work for the blog as well. So after a few revisions and edits (as some points were only pertinent to my school), here is my suggested winter workout plan. They can all be done at the gym – so it really goes well with my post the other day about how to stay active during the winter!

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In the winter, it’s easy to make excuses to not workout, especially when you have no coach, personal trainer, gym program, or workout buddy. However, adhering to a plan helps us mentally stick to the plan. So hopefully this plan will help you become/stay fit or help you keep up with your New Resolution to be more active!

My tip is to start off slow and easy and then build off. Start with one day and then two and then three. I have two plans to share with you all – one for those who are moderate exercisers and one for those who are dedicated and committed to working out.

Moderate exercisers | This plan’s full goal is to be able to workout three times outside of house, each workout an hour long.

    • Workout THREE DAYS a week — ideally, you don’t want them to be three in a row that you  don’t do anything for four days. Schedule your workouts so that your rest period is no more than two days.
    • There is no “perfect” workout, but ideally you want to work your whole body. Whether that’s by doing a full workout every day or by targeting a different body area each day, that’s up to you.
    • For both of these workouts, work up from doing one day and then build up from there.

   If you want a full workout every day…

  • The formula is: cardio + strength training = full body workout
  • Cardio: 30 minutes In terms of cardio, running is the simplest and easiest choice. You can either run outside on campus or run on the treadmill in the gym. Or you can bike, go on the elliptical, or even go on a power walk.
      • If you want to do a full workout every day…

 

  • Strength Training: 20 minutes | For strength training (upper body + lower body). So think about either body weight (push ups, body weight squats, crunches, burpees) or with weights. Tell me in the comments if you want me to share some strength training exercises if you are lost for what to do. 

 

  • Stretch: 10 minutes | Stretching truly is important, especially after a workout. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy.

 

 

If you want to do a targeted workout every day …

  • The formula is: cardio + strength training on one specific body part = targeted workout
  • Cardio: 30 minutes | In terms of cardio, running is the simplest and easiest choice. You can either run outside on campus or run on the treadmill in the gym. Or you can bike, go on the elliptical, or even go on a power walk.

 

  • Strength Training: 20 minutes | You’ve heard of “leg day,” “arm day.” For 20 minutes, just do workouts that target one body part. 

 

  • Stretch: 10 minutes | Stretching truly is important, especially after a workout. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy.

 

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Intense exercise  | This plan’s full goal is to be able to workout 4-6 times outside of house, each workout an hour long.

  • WORKOUT 4-6 days a week | For this plan, start with four days and then work yourself up to 6. Remember, this is all about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. If you can’t workout for 6 days. Then no biggie. It’s all about consistency so if you can workout 5 days a week consistently, then that’s great. And remember, life is life, so sometimes with events popping up, you may not be able to workout as much as you would have liked for one week. And that’s completely fine.
  • The workout is the same as the one for the moderate exercise section. The intense aspect is that you are doing it more frequently

 

Hopefully this post will help you be active during the winter months and beyond! Let’s make 2017 the fittest and healthiest year yet!

What’s your favorite workout?

xoxo,

Stephanie