Posts Tagged With: emotions

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Two days before moved to London for the semester, I found out the guy I liked this summer had cheated on his girlfriend…with me. Not only that, but I found out from said girlfriend.

I found out I was the “other woman” in someone’s relationship. Then I flew halfway across the world to London. I spent a week touring Europe with my dad, and the following week moving and settling into my new home. The week after that, classes started up and I had to prep.

In other words, had not processed anything. In fact, aforementioned boy called me the night before I left to “apologize”. And I accepted it – or I thought I did. I even went as far as THANKING him for the “good” parts of the summer, telling him we would be cool as soon as we got over it, and basically acting like the whole cheating situation hadn’t really happened.

Funny thing, though – it DID happen. And even if I pretended like it hadn’t hurt me too badly, it WAS a big deal and it was NOT okay like I said. Ask me how I know!

Last week, after my dad flew back to the US and I found myself on my own again, I immediately saw some scary habits creeping back. The scariest was the emotional eating, and all of the negative feelings that come along with it. That is to say, the guilt, the shame, the sadness…the horrible self-image, the hopelessness, the desire to purge…generally hating what I was doing, and hating myself, all at the same time.

I felt overwhelmed, and it all came crashing down on Saturday night. I finally, FINALLY broke down and just let myself process everything. I needed the chance to feel sad and betrayed and whatever else, instead of pushing it aside and ignoring the underlying emotions. But the worst part of even THIS was that, despite it all, what I mostly felt was disappointment – in him, in myself, in the situation, in general.

Feeling

My biggest issue was that I felt like I made great progress in my personal growth the last few months. Coming out of my last relationship, I felt I picked myself up quickly, channeled my energy into positive things like exercising and eating better, and worked so hard on treating myself right.

But this guy had NOT treated me right, and I let him. He played me for two months – strung me along, sent mixed signals, took advantage of my innocence and trusting nature, and used me to fill whatever void was in his life. Yet all I could think was that it was somehow my fault, that if I had only liked myself more then I wouldn’t have put up with his poor treatment, that I could have avoided this situation altogether.

HE was the manipulator, the cheater, the one who lied about everything from the very start – but I was putting the blame on MYSELF, and rapidly self-destructing. There are so many things wrong with that kind of logic, and it is such a dangerous line of thought. All it did was make me feel even worse than I already did, while simultaneously taking the blame away from where it should have been from the start – on HIM.

A few days ago, his girlfriend got in touch with me again. I told her my side of the story and we filled in some of the missing pieces of the timeline together. We’ve made our peace, which I genuinely appreciate. However, despite learning that he has STILL been lying all this time, even though she’s giving him a second chance that he does NOT deserve, she’s decided that she wants to stay with him.

It’s her life and her choice, I guess. But seeing another sweet, kind girl give in to someone like that pushed me over the edge. It is a month later, almost to the day, and I am FINALLY angry about it. Not annoyed, not sad, not in shock – truly and genuinely ANGRY! I haven’t felt like this in ages.

You see, I strive to be a good person. I want to be a positive piece in the lives of those around me. I try to not speak poorly of others (even if they hurt me), forgive quickly, and take the “high road”. But there’s this quote I saw, and it resonates deeply:

“Don’t light yourself on fire trying to brighten someone else’s existence.”

My goals of kindness, positivity, and forgiveness are noble aims, and they generally do help me keep focused and continually work on being a better person.

But my constant effort to let go, move on, and then welcome the damaging people and relationships back into my life were also attempts at fulfilling these goals. I thought I was showing that I was nice, healthy, and mature – and let me just say, that behavior is NONE of those things. In reality, I was hurting myself even MORE, just to make other people feel better.

Well guess what? I don’t owe those things to anyone, LEAST OF ALL the people who chip away at those better pieces of me. I am trying my best, but I am HUMAN. I am ALLOWED to feel hurt, and angry, and betrayed, and any other emotion on the spectrum that I experience. I am allowed to feel this way, to work through it on my own time and in my own way, and without obligation to anyone else.

Seriously, this guy was awful. He CHEATED on his girlfriend of a YEAR, put me in a position I would NEVER participate in knowingly, and painted me out to be some desperate little girl. He objectified me, sexualized me, DEHUMANIZED me. He made me question my self-worth, damaged my confidence, and set me back in my incredible goals and progress from the summer.

Progress Pic - September 2015

So NO. That is not fine, and not something I have to forgive. I will move on – clearly, I will not let someone break me, much less someone like THAT – but I think this time around, I will utilize this backbone of mine and not let this person back into my life.

Coming out of this terrible experience, I can genuinely say I learned a lot. More than anything, it opened my eyes to some of my subtler unhealthy habits – in all types of relationships, romantic or otherwise. It’s okay to support people; it’s NOT okay to NEVER put myself first. And it also showed me that although I made AMAZING physical progress these past few months, I still need to focus on my emotional and mental growth. I am a much stronger person than I was before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to get stronger.

The reason I’m sharing this, and in a way that’s perhaps less upbeat and cheerful than my usual posts, is because I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. We are constantly taught that anger and sadness are negative emotions we should avoid at all costs. They’re not worth it, we should just get over it, we are in charge of our own happiness…and so on and so forth. And a lot of that might be true – I mean, I much prefer having fun and being happy! BUT IT IS OKAY TO HAVE THESE BAD TIMES, TOO.

Sometimes when I’m going through something, I sit here and think things like, “Well, logically, I know I shouldn’t feel XYZ” or “GOD Ariel, it’s all in your head”. I’m not wrong, but I’m also actively devaluing my emotions and my experience. Even if it IS illogical or in our heads, not addressing it and bringing ourselves down is not the way to go. You don’t have to beat yourself up even MORE for feeling the way you do, and you also don’t have to explain or justify it.

A caveat – there’s a fine line between letting yourself process something, and letting yourself dwell even more on something. The important thing is to let yourself feel whatever you need to, and once you’ve done that, then it’s time to start doing what you need to do to move forward.

All of the above writing? That’s me venting, listening to angry Fall Out Boy, and working through the last bit of these emotions. Then I’m finishing my homework, going to bed, and getting up early for my morning workout. That guy is, in the words of Jean-Ralphio – the wooooorst.

This post was for ME, and also for YOU. Because WE are what matters MOST!

I really hope this helps someone, and I say this (literally) in every blog, but PLEASE feel free to talk to me. I’m over-sharing on the internet to hundreds of people (ha…ha…NICE!); you can over-share to me in my email or Facebook or Tumblr or in person! Seriously – the support you all give me is amazing, and I am ALWAYS happy to return the favor in any way I can.

Anyhow, that’s all for now. Positive London adventures and life updates are to come soon, I promise! Until then, keep being you, kick butt, and stay awesome!! #cliche Much love to you all!

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What Makes You Happy?

Hello everybody! Today, I have just one question to ask: what makes you happy?

Hopefully a lot of things and people and events pop into your mind. That is AWESOME, and I am genuinely glad for you. It should be that way! But I have a confession: I’ve often struggled to come up with ANY answer to that question, and I’ll bet others have the same difficulty.

To give a little context that I will surely elaborate on soon: I recently experienced some of the greatest months ever, but the good times came to a halt when reality finally hit. In other words, I dated a really awesome person for a regrettably short time, and now that relationship has unfortunately ended. I went from being the happiest I’ve been in a long while, to being incredibly sad and dismayed.

IMG_1876

Now, there is a lot of research out there on happiness, and I am by no means an expert. I’m not even a novice, really. That being said, the approach I’m using to move towards happiness and towards becoming the better person that I truly want to be – it fit under advice given by researchers. Not too shabby, huh?

Important above all else is the intention to be happy. According to a variety of research, that alone is an important first step towards feeling and being happier. For me, even amidst all the self-generated angst and all the negative thoughts – I knew that I didn’t want to feel that way. I wanted to feel better; and I must say, that underlying desire has pulled me through some of the toughest times I’ve experienced.

In fact, intent and intentional actions seem to be the best way to find that happiness we’re constantly searching for. It’s waking up and telling yourself that today is great. It’s thinking about the things for which you are grateful. It’s getting excited about the plans you have. It’s scheduling in time with people and activities that energize you in positive ways. It’s taking a moment to enjoy the little everyday things that we experience.

Basically, it’s every good thought you have – and finding ways to fill your day with more positive thoughts like those than anything else.

If you’re anything like me, however, getting into that frame of mind is incredibly difficult, especially when you’re feeling like you’re at your lowest low. So, the pieces of advice I want to leave you with today are the following:

  1. Find the things that make you happy WHILE you’re feeling that way. Not only does this feed into the idea of gratitude and learning to enjoy the moment, but it also helps you when you hit another rough patch. One of the problems I encountered post-breakup was trying to distinguish what exactly made those times so wonderful. It was easy to latch on to the idea of “I was happy because I was with him” and harder to realize that the reason might actually be closer to “I was happy because I felt cared for and I made someone else feel happy, too.” I’d say write it down, because I’m a list person and having a “What Makes You Happy” list has become clutch in my life, but I know that for some people, words just aren’t their cup of tea. So, whether you write it down or not, just do something to acknowledge what you are feeling and WHY you feel that way.
  2. Find things that make you happy ANYWAYS. Like I said, I was already sad when I started trying to discern “how to be happy” again. Even though I took a super logical approach and didn’t feel all that enthusiastic about it, I sat down, busted out my trusty bullet journal (it’s so cool, I love it), and started doing what I do best – writing and making lists. I now have a What Makes You Happy page (petting dogs, talking to people I love, working out…), a Laughter List of things I know make me smile (Arrested Development, YouTube videos…), and even a list of Who You Gonna Call where I wrote down names of people I love and know I can talk to no matter what (my RAs, my roommates, close friends…). Any time I find myself laughing or doing something that makes me feel good, I go add to my lists. I can’t avoid every kind of sadness – because life is going to be filled with ups and downs no matter WHO you are – but I trust that having these on hand will help me feel better and happier much faster.

Patrick Stump Love

Again, I’m no expert here. But I can tell you that I want to lead a happy and healthy life, and to do that will take constant effort. Until we can internalize the positive behaviors and make optimism a natural state, it will be a tough road. And even if and when we get to that point, life is not always going to be easy.

Regardless, I 100% believe you can find happiness in yourself and in those around you! Whether it’s a fleeting moment, or you’re having the best months of your life – take a minute to acknowledge that joy, be thankful for it, and remember why you felt the way you did.

That way, next time someone asks you what makes you happy – you’ll have plenty of answers to give. 🙂

I’m linking below to some fantastic articles that explain in more depth and clarity the ways in which you can actively engage in choosing your own happiness. Sending good vibes your way!!

Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy

The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day

How to Increase Happiness & Meaning in Life

Practice Happiness (former blog post!)

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Journal Journeys

At the start of the new year, I went out and bought this little bugger:

IMG_1768I’m a sucker for cutesy things, dogs, and inspiring quotes – and this has all three. Seriously, look at how cute the dog is!

IMG_1769

But I digress. The main reason for buying this cute and cost-effective journal, and the focus of this post, is journaling.

There are a lot of reasons to start journaling, and a lot of different types of journals you can create. Maybe in the future I’ll pursue one of those, but right now, the current goal is consistency.

For some context, I attempted journaling in the past. I started this blog as essentially a public journal, and I also wrote a lot of shorter personal journal entries when I was volunteering in Peru, as well as when I started experiencing irregular anxiety over the summer.

Those are all good reasons, and perfectly fine behaviors. They were helpful at the time, and I especially like going back to read about my more positive experiences. But I am here to talk about casual and consistent journaling, because in the short few months I’ve been doing it, it has been a great experience.

WHAT & WHY

This article was my main blueprint, and I highly recommend it. It provides some good details on different reasons for journaling, as well as different platforms – notebook, blog, phone apps, etc. For my purposes, I went with the traditional physical notebook, and I don’t have any regrets.

What I like best about this journal so far is that I can actually trace my emotions, and better understand my experiences. For example, my very first entry was about two weeks after my dog died. I was still missing him a lot, so I sat down, pulled out this journal, and finally wrote about everything.

After that, more entries ensued about normal life things. What exercises I was doing, homework due dates, stuff I did with my friends. And then, randomly one week, I suddenly felt overwhelmed between class and friends and body image, and all sorts of things really. So I sat and wrote about my thoughts, and I realized I had looped back to a lot of the underlying sadness about my dog that I still hadn’t addressed.

The thing about writing solely in times of crises, from what I’ve gathered, is that it is a lot harder to trace your actions and behaviors in a broader context. Having a journal of only your struggles and severely negative times makes it harder to see the ways you overcame it all. The action of writing your thoughts and feelings is pretty cathartic and can help you get a handle and a better perspective of what is going on in your life, but it also makes the focus on these struggles – versus all the good things that happen in between. Keeping a regular journal helps see the bigger picture.

WHEN & HOW

Now, I am definitely not proposing writing in a journal every night for an extended period of time (though that would be quite a cool thing to look back on)! Life is busy, regardless of your circumstances, and journaling can quickly become a chore – and that isn’t the point of it at all.

A lot of my reluctance to starting this was because I didn’t want to get bogged down in staying up late to spend a bunch of time reflecting on my day. Then I realized that it is my journal, for my own personal use and development, and I could do whatever I wanted. So I started writing two or three times a week for about 20 minutes – enough to do at least a page – right before I went to bed. It was an easy way to take a moment for myself and relax, for starters, something I’m definitely working on.

Chill

It was also fun, and I didn’t have that usual “ALL OR NOTHING” mentality about it, or the super perfectionist tendencies about writing in it. If I had to leave one major take-away, it would be this: do whatever you want with it, whenever you want with it – but just do something.

While I’m here trying to convince you to write about your life, if that isn’t your style – please just find a way to give yourself some “me time” to reflect. People, school, and life in general throw a lot at us everyday, and it’s easy to let those external forces rule our thoughts and behaviors. Taking a little time to get centered is not a bad thing.

Until next time…!

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Waking Up

It’s been over a month since O-Week, and I’m still kicking. It was amazing and intense, and if you haven’t heard me talk about it yet – trust me, you will. But the reflection on that event (and how I feel like a totally different person coming out of it!!) is for another today.

However, it will suffice to say that summer was a busy time overall, and the weeks leading up to the actual event were particularly crunched for time. I had already been struggling to get into some type of routine in terms of exercise and eating, but during those last few weeks I felt like my attitude took a straight nosedive.

Those weeks encompassed very little exercise and a diet that makes me cringe just thinking about it – but I wrote it off as unavoidable, said I’d reset once everything finished, or more often than not I didn’t even think about it.

Ignoring the problem won’t help us fix it.

I essentially became passive in my choices of fitness and food. This “unaware” lifestyle carried on through O-Week and weeks after. The times I finally did stop and think about what I had eaten, was eating, was about to eat…I would get upset and feel even less empowered than I already did.

So the cycle intensified, until I was eating dessert three times a day, spending extra money on fast food lunches, and not exercising at all.

Personally, that stuff doesn’t feel good to me. Looking in the mirror and feeling “bleh” doesn’t feel good to me. Feeling sad and lazy and unfocused doesn’t feel good to me. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything.

cute-animals-tired-dog-puppy-sleeping-flat-out-picsPerpetual sighing.

After sharing these concerns with my counselor – in particular, my disappointment in what felt like out of control eating – she suggested a simple idea: before eating something, ask yourself, “Do I want this?”

Since that session, about two weeks ago, I’ve been pausing to ask myself “Do I want this?” before I eat certain foods or meals. I’m not doing it obsessively or excessively, which are behaviors I am prone to when it comes to body image issues. Rather, I do it to give myself the opportunity to decide.

The answer isn’t always “no” and it isn’t always “yes” – but in the end, it’s my decision. Having that sort of control in something so basic as food preference is crucial part of life that I sometimes forget about. Food doesn’t control us!

I’ve also started asking myself “WHY do I want this?” in addition to the yes/no question. It often helps put my behavior into context.

Case in point:

I reach for the cake in the kitchen. “Do I want this piece of cake?”

“…yes.”

“Why do I want it?”

“Well, I already had pie at dinner, and then I watched TV for two hours…”

“Okay. Do I really want this?”

“I guess…no, not really.”

Sleeping-Cat-on-FoodThe struggle.

Sometimes I’ll take a small bite instead of an entire slice, or I’ll just get out of the kitchen and go back to my homework or cleaning or whatever it was I was doing before. Other times, if I do decide to indulge, I don’t let that decision influence my decisions later on down the line. The cake I ate last week does not mean I’m a failure and have to eat badly today. It means I ate a piece of cake. (This concept is still difficult for me, but I am trying my best to keep my mind positive!)

My conscious eating (each and every attempt at it) makes me want to be more “conscious” in other aspects of my life. For example, it has helped me cut down on my Netflix time during the week – before I put on a show, I ask why I want to watch TV (usually it’s to avoid homework). I also do it when I’m on tumblr or Facebook for too long (again, I’m usually avoiding something like exercise, work, or other responsibilities).

It’s been a low-key, easier way to adjust to healthier habits. Progress is slow, but I feel like this is something sustainable. It sounds simple, but it’s decidedly useful! When we aren’t thinking at all about our choices or actions, it’s easy to go through the motions of life without living it. It’s been helping me change my perspective and my behavior already, and I hope it can be a tool for you too!

I don’t know…it just feels good to be awake. 🙂

tumblr_mi1ll8otpM1qcnwyso1_500Happy/excited/energetic puppy = my current spirit animal.

If you’re interested in some articles on conscious eating, I found these helpful and inspiring:

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Eating

Love Yourself Through Mindful Eating

10 Tips for Conscious Eating

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A Relationship With You

A few days ago, I stood around in my gym shorts and sports bra, and I looked in the mirror. For the first time in such a long time, I could look at my reflection – really look – and like the person staring back.

Even as I write this, I genuinely cannot understand how it’s possible to feel like this. Acknowledging that I disliked myself was easy, because it was so normal for me. Feeling this free and confident – it is such a strange state, but I love it.

Here’s the weirdest part: in addition to a lot of uncomfortable situations (like biking for the Beer Bike races and awkward public parties), the tipping point into this state of mind all started with a rejection from a boy.

I guess that’s unfair, as it is less of the rejection and more of the overall experience. It was short, sweet, and had closure – so honestly, I can’t complain. But it left such a meaningful impact on me that I have to get it out into the open.

So it started with me being seriously confused about why a guy was interested in me (much less someone so attractive). How was that even possible? And actually interested about my life, what I was doing, what I thought about certain things – just me in general. Sometimes I don’t like myself, and so it is borderline impossible to understand why someone else would.

But this guy was totally quirky and so REAL – it was almost overwhelming. Interacting with him made me feel like I could actually express myself, even if that meant being dorky, or saying something totally ridiculous. He was just himself, and I think that is exactly what I needed to see in someone.

 “I think it’s intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are.”

— Don Cheadle

And when it comes down to it, the experience was an empowering one. He always asked me what I wanted, what I was comfortable with, and essentially reminded me that I DO have a say in what happens in my life. Let me give a typical example:

Him: “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Me: “We can.”

Him: “I know we CAN. But I’m asking – do you WANT to?”

Such a simple question, and it never occurred to me to say no (or yes, or maybe later, or ANYTHING). I wasn’t thinking about me at all, really. This happened a lot over that short frame of time, but with every question and every chat, I was reminded that I was important, that I was pretty, that I was interesting, that being with me meant something, that I had a choice in what was happening – and I guess you could say that the message started to hit home.

Happy Bunny

Yes, putting others first is commendable. Yes, we should be considerate of others’ emotions. Yes, we need to be polite and understanding.

But that doesn’t mean we put others first at the expense of our well-being. It doesn’t mean we ignore our emotions in favor of everyone else’s. It doesn’t mean we have to compromise our desires and beliefs to make someone else happy.

Life is full of relationships – but at the end of the day, the relationship that matters MOST is the one we have with ourselves.

I know this can be hard to see, especially in the context of a college lifestyle, but also just in general. Here are some of the personal relationship issues I’ve encountered, just to name a few:

1) The pressure to be involved in SOME sort of relationship, no matter what it is. There is this pervasive idea that if you aren’t in some sort of relationship – hooking up, dating, crushing on someone, or what have you – then something is wrong.

For example, there is this one girl that I think is absolutely beautiful, and she is so ridiculously sweet on top of that. She’s just fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people are in love with her. So when I mentioned her to my roommate, my roommate said, “Oh, she’s beautiful. I don’t know why she doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Well, maybe she’s too busy. Maybe she likes someone back home. Maybe she just isn’t interested in dating right now. (All of which are valid reasons, though she doesn’t need to justify her status). Regardless, we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because guess what? Being single doesn’t mean there is ANYTHING less amazing about her. Dating someone wouldn’t change that, either.

2) Relationships lack closure. Whether it is because we have led someone on (or someone is leading us on), or we refuse to accept that something is over, most times I’ve had any sort of relationship, it has ended awkwardly and without any sense of finality. Rejecting someone is not fun. Getting rejected is not fun. But it is so much easier and less painful to be honest and end something quickly, rather than drag it out until the only emotions and thoughts left are negative ones.

Imaginary Relationship

3) Finally, we put a lot of emphasis (too much??) into what others think. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t worry over what others think about us. If you want to chop your hair off and dye it brown, THEN DO IT. Who cares if that guy doesn’t like it, or your friend thinks it’s weird? Forget it, it’s not ABOUT them. Only you know what you want or don’t want, how you feel, and what different things mean to you. It’s a bit cliché, but also true: only you can do you. So do it. Like I said before, that guy was quirky to the max, but at least he let me be myself.

VIDEO: Shailene Woodley on confidence.

The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. It’s about you. And if you’ve never heard it before, or if you don’t think it could be true, I repeat: IT IS ABOUT YOU. Other relationships – no matter how open and enhancing and positive they might be – will never be as fulfilling if, at the core of it all, we aren’t happy with ourselves.

Others can be the stimulus of our emotions, but we are in control. I’m not saying we have to be happy all the time, because the struggles are just as important as the good times – but we have got to love ourselves. We can get so much out of relationships, even the ones that end. But don’t let the ones that end (or the unhealthy ones you may be keeping…) make you forget how important and great you are for just being you.

So in my case, sure – I am bummed that whatever happened with that boy ended so quickly. But for once, I like myself enough to 1) not be mad at him and 2) not let the rejection send me spiraling. Instead, I’m lifting weights at the gym again because it makes me feel strong. I’m controlling my eating A LOT better – because I care about myself, and I don’t want to hurt myself again. I’m wearing what I want – and feeling confident about it, even if it’s gym shorts and a tank – since it’s my choice. I’m going for walks, petting dogs, dancing around my room, and doing things that I love.

Patrick Stump Love

I’m just more relaxed about who I am in general, no matter how awkward or goofy that means I come across. It’s me, so…there is nothing for me to be embarrassed about, especially not when I’m happy about where I am.

Sometimes, you might just CLICK with someone and they will be with you for a long time. But other times, a person might walk into your life to show you good music and remind you that you are important…and that’s it. And that’s also okay. People will walk in and out of our lives, we will be sad or disappointed, and we will be happy and comforted. But the highs and the lows and the people that come and go should never, EVER make us forget our true value and worth.

So in closing, I just want to reiterate how amazing and important you are RIGHT NOW. Not a few weeks from now, not after you lose a few pounds, not once you start dating someone…right NOW. Do what it is YOU want. Be unashamedly who you are – quirks and all – because you NEVER know the kind of impact you might be having on someone.

Beautiful Dogs

And please, love yourself above all else. You matter – to me, and to so many other people. Stay strong, friends!

Also, a huge thanks to everyone who has provided support and encouragement for this blog (and just in general!). It means a lot. Much love to you all!

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Don’t Hate…Appreciate (Your Body)!

Long time no blog…as per usual. Super sorry, I wanted to write about this for nearly a month now, but I was not in the frame of mind to do it. I could not bring myself to talk about how much I appreciate my body – especially not when I felt so bad about it.

So, here’s the story. Back in February, I started weight lifting and biking regularly. I wasn’t insanely consistent, but I still did a lot of my regular routines. Then, towards the end of the month, I got sick with a mild form of the flu. It was not a good time, mostly just sleeping and feeling awful, but luckily it only lasted a week! I hadn’t been sick like that in a long time, so long that I almost forgot what it was like.

I was feeling generally better but super distressed for not working out or eating well for that week. So I went to the gym…

AND I COULD NOT DO ANYTHING.

Do You Even Lift

Seriously. I tried doing regular weight lifting and could barely get through a short set of minimal weight without wanting to quit. I got on the stationary bike and after 10 minutes was totally wiped out and had to walk slowly on the treadmill instead.

It was like this for the next few days until finally, FINALLY my body had recovered sufficiently enough to get back in the game. On one hand, it was my fault for trying to do so much so quickly. But on the other hand, it really opened my eyes.

To quote a famous song, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” (“Big Yellow Taxi” by Counting Crows, if you’re curious!) That is EXACTLY what happened. It is easy to forget all of the cool and amazing things our bodies do for us, especially when we are too busy focusing on feeling uncomfortable or comparing ourselves to others.

Personally, I find things to criticize about my body on the daily – “I feel soft”, “I’m not the same size I used to be”, “No one’s interested in me”…you get the picture. Sometimes my expectations for my physical appearance are so unrealistic and hypercritical that I forget all the good things about my body AND myself.

Here’s the truth: we aren’t going to love our bodies just because we reach a certain weight, or fit a certain size. We won’t love ourselves just because someone is attracted to us. We can’t embrace all the positives in our lives when we feel so awkward in our own skin. We have to appreciate and respect ourselves before we can internalize the great things about us and around us.

But here’s the great thing: our bodies ARE amazing and we SHOULD appreciate them. And us!

From chibird.com

Just think about all the great things we do, without even realizing it. Our immune system keeps us from getting sick. Our digestive system takes care of all those energy conversions and absorptions. Our muscles let us move. Our brains regulate everything. WE ARE COOL.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we loved our bodies like they deserve? What would happen if we treated them with respect and care, instead of being so harsh and unforgiving? What if we treated ourselves like we deserved?

I take for granted the times I’m able to lift weights. I take for granted my endurance. I take for granted all the times my nose isn’t stuffy. Heck, I take for granted every day I wake up and feel hungry or sore from a workout.

I’m alive and my body is working like it should. It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, and we won’t ever be – but we’re all real and fun and amazing, and that’s more than I could ever need.

So, I just want everyone to be happy and thankful for what we have. We all have a lot going for us, besides living in awesome bodies. Just remember that a lot of people already love you. Now it’s time for YOU to love your body, and to love yourself. It’s not always easy…but it will be worth it. You deserve it!

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Take What You Need

Hi everyone! I apologize in advance if this post is a little heavy, but it’s something important. It’s about you, and getting help whenever you need it.

take-need--large-msg-134791136135

But let me backtrack a moment. First, I’ve seriously had some of the most amazing few weeks lately. I learned that I’m going to Peru on a service trip in May – to teach workshops on nutrition, no less! I’ve started class on how to be a Rice Health Advisor (RHA). And I’m a coordinator for Rice’s O-Week, on a team with two amazing co-coordinators and a campus-wide team of actually WONDERFUL people!! I can’t even begin to express how blessed I am. Yet, I still feel like part of me is struggling.

Unfortunately, when I start feeling down, some harmful behaviors start to surface that only make me feel worse:

  • Eating makes me anxious. I feel this especially in public, where I feel pressure to both eat what I want but also to eat what is considered “healthy” in my mind. In private, the feeling gets worse.
  • Exercise is a punishment. Rather than exercising for personal fitness reasons, it becomes a way to justify binges.
  • I obsess over food. It dominates my thoughts before, during, and after meals, when I plan what to eat for the next day, when I try to count calories, and even when I consider exercise plans. It’s a constant presence.
  • My self-perception turns negative. I think of every bad or negative aspect of my body, personality, or situation, and I start to spiral into a general sadness and discontent..

There are others, but the overall feeling I get is a sense of overwhelming suffocation. It is a feeling that keeps me from enjoying my life to the fullest, and I know I want to take steps to make myself happy.

We are all on a journey, and that means that there will be many ups and downs and twists and turns that we weren’t expecting and aren’t prepared for. But life doesn’t put itself on pause for us, and we need to consciously make choices that help our happiness and our well-being.

 One of those choices is asking for help.

I think it is incredibly difficult to admit we need help, much less seek it out. This is applicable to eating disorders, but also to all general well-being obstacles. I’m going to speak to my own difficulties, but know that no matter what hardships you face — you are not alone.

Hugs-l

Endless love and hugs.

The absolute best advice I can give is to reach out and talk to someone. Some people include:

  • friends
  • roommates/suitemates
  • family
  • RAs or other college leadership teams
  • counselors
  • doctors

There are a plethora of people that care about you and your health. Please talk to them! Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. I don’t know why such a stigma exists for mental and physical health issues, but trust me when I say that there is nothing embarrassing about getting the support you need.

In the past when I started feeling this sense of sadness and anxiety, I called our university’s counseling center. I know that I cope better with outside opinions, and so individual counseling sessions are what I needed. After different rounds of counseling, I got better at reading my emotional signs and being able to preemptively mitigate my harmful behaviors. Last time I felt this upset and stressed, I reached out to our general wellbeing advisors (essentially a milder form of counseling) and they helped talk me through a plan to work through my struggles. At this point in time, I feel able to turn to my friends and family for support and advice, and I can see more clearly than had I never reached out at all in the past.

Think about your personal needs and what would help you best, and then go for it!

You are beautiful, inside and out. You deserve to feel that way. It’s scary to open up and take that leap of faith, but you can do it. Someone will catch you. Someone will help you. But you have to take that first step.

As always, I am here if you need anything, even if it’s just someone to talk to. Please feel free to leave a comment on my blog, send me an email at headedhealthy@gmail.com, or track me down on Facebook! I am here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Much love, my friends!

Some Rice-Specific Resources:

Wellbeing Center: (713) 348-3311 or wellbeing@rice.edu

Rice Counseling Center: (713) 348-4867, 24/7 hotline available for emergencies

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After a Binge

When does the battle of a bingeing episode end? Is it when the food is all gone? Is it after your stomach is full to the point of sickness?

If only!

In reality, the aftermath of binge eating can last much longer than the episode itself, especially when coupled with another eating disorder. If left unchecked, the habit of bingeing creates a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for a person to break.

First, let me backtrack and define “binge eating”:

Binge eating is an eating disorder in which a person eats a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than he or she normally would. During binge eating, the person also feels a loss of control.

(From U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Binge eating can be a single disorder, or it can be paired with others (such as bulimia or anorexia). For bulimia in particular, the compulsion to purge – via vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise – can be entirely overwhelming.

The desire to get rid of the food, or to punish ourselves for the indulgence, can override logic. It’s when we succumb to these feelings that we give the food and the disorder more power, and effectively continue to perpetuate the harmful cycle.

I confess: last Saturday (it’s a Wednesday as I write this), I had my first true “binge” in months. Of course, there were days in-between where I overate at parties or exercised more than usual, but this day was different. It was planned, and it was immediately followed by compulsion.

Days later, I’m still fighting – but on the bright side, this is the best I’ve ever done when it comes to coping. I say this to put my following thoughts into some sort of context. My strategies are gathered from personal experience and personal research, and what I do (or strive to do) may not work for everyone. But I want to share it with you all in case it can help.

http://www.cognitivetherapynyc.com/eating-disorders.aspx

WHAT TO DO AFTER A BINGE:

  • First and foremost, we need to forgive ourselves. A binge should not define us as a person – it was an event, not a comment on our personality, talents, or skills. What’s done is done, and we can only move forward.

After a binge, I typically turned to things that made me feel worse, like talking to an ex and further berating my self-image. This time around, I sat in my room with a friend and helped her look up ideas for tattoos.

  • Choose healthy foods for the following snacks or meals, versus skipping or restricting meals. It’s tempting to try and compensate for a binge by not eating anything else for the day, but if you are hungry, then you NEED to eat.

Putting healthy foods into our bodies feels much better than 1) calling the day a waste and further bingeing or 2) starving ourselves. Those methods only lead to more negative feelings and cravings, and another binge is more likely to follow.

  • Stay hydrated. Our bodies need water, and staying hydrated helps us to better evaluate our hunger levels.
  • Exercise in moderation. It’s important to stay active post-bingeing, rather than letting guilt and sadness ruin our workout plans. But it is even more important to make sure we don’t use the gym as a way to beat ourselves up.

Don’t go workout-crazy after a binge. It’s okay to push yourself, but not to the point of complete exhaustion or to where your net calories for the day are significantly low. This was my method in the past, and after binge eating itself, it has been the most difficult habit to break.

http://daily.undergradsuccess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/success-failure-not-final-grad-student-success.jpg

Personally, I’ve always been a person who looks at things in terms of failure versus success. It is easier for me to see the “failure” of my binge, rather than realize the “success” that has been all the days before and after. For instance, I promised myself that I would catch up on my reading that weekend, and I did do it. In these past few days, I also decided to do 30-45 minutes of cardio per day, and so far that has also gone well.

There might always be a small voice inside us that says we should just give up, or that we don’t deserve the good things in our lives. But you know what? We don’t have to listen to it.

Change the tune inside our minds, and our whole lives can be made better.

Even if we experience a relapse – we binge, we lose control, we purge, we tear ourselves down – we can always, ALWAYS take steps to improve. Maybe this time we binged, we purged, but we didn’t go overboard at the gym. That’s a step in the right direction. If there’s another challenge in the future, know that you are strong and can choose to not purge after. And eventually, maybe there won’t be a bingeing episode anymore.

Does this all make sense? I sure hope it does. There’s so much more to life than what an eating disorder will try to make you believe.

As always, I’m never never more than a message away (or if my Rice friends are reading, you know where to find me).

Stay strong! This journey isn’t an easy one, but it is worth it.

OTHER GOOD ARTICLES:

What to Do After a Binge

How to Cope After a Food Binge

How to Recover From a Food Binge

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are You Afraid Of?

During Academic Decathlon, I felt perpetually stressed. Any time I got into a complaining or worrying mode, some teammates would joke and say, “Ariel…you’re happy when you’re unhappy!” Darn those boys – in a way, they were right.

I always think about this story when I find myself in a rut.

Some weeks are better than others, and this past week was unfortunately a bad one. On the surface, it should have been a great time: it included a lovely message from a lovely friend, opportunities to network with awesome lawyers, coffee outings with my dad, chances to journal, a fun intern lunch, and generally a lot of good things happening all over the place.

So why, despite the abundance of happiness, was I feeling sad?

I think honesty is key, and if I’m being honest with myself (and with you), then the answer is clear. I was afraid.

What am I afraid of, you ask? Well, here’s small a list to start.

I’m afraid of…

  • Gaining weight
  • Losing friends
  • Eating
  • Bingeing
  • Feeling depressed
  • Dating
  • Bad grades
  • Setting a bad example
  • Failing
  • Succeeding
  • Change

Let me explain some of these more in-depth.

  • I’m afraid of change – for better or worse – because it’s unfamiliar. For example, feeling upset isn’t fun, but I’m also used to it.
  • Failing scares me, but so does succeeding. Failing means others are better than I am, but succeeding sets the expectation that I am good at something. (What a shocker!)
  • Gaining weight from bingeing, and bingeing because I’m eating, and eating because I’m sad, and being sad because I failed, and failing because of a bad grade…everything runs together.

I just get scared sometimes. While the fact remains that I am very lucky to have so many great things in my life, a small part of me feels like I don’t deserve it at all.

I’m pretty sure that’s why last week, I stopped doing INSANITY, Zumba, or any exercise. It’s why I decided to not only eat things I didn’t want, but to eat A LOT of it. (Seriously, I’ve had so much ice cream and sweets in one week that it’s a little bit ridiculous.)

I was scared that I was too happy, that the good in my life wouldn’t last – and I was scared about what that would mean for the future. What if I lost weight, but gained it back during the semester? What if I started a fun friendship, but ruined it by dating? What if I shared these thoughts with my friends, but they thought I was a drama queen?

What if, what if, what if…?

So what if I gained weight again? I could lose it again. So what if I dated a guy and we broke up? It just wasn’t meant to be. So what if my friends thought I was dramatic? I’d find out which friends truly loved me.

I’ve got a lot of random, contradictory, sometimes senseless fears. I’m afraid of a lot of things people might find silly – myself included! That doesn’t make those fears any less real, or less important. It does make them manageable though, if we’re willing to recognize them.

When I feel this way, I get introspective. Here’s a quote I found while attempting to sort my thoughts.

Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is”.

– From Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom

A week went by, and I spent it dawdling in fear. I think I would prefer to spend this week more productively – maybe biking at the YMCA, cooking with my mom, or cleaning my room (I’ve been saying that ever since I came home for the summer).

Regardless, I have a lot more fun when I do things I enjoy, and I look a lot prettier when I’m not crying all the time. I’m going to make a conscious effort to embrace the daily blessings in my life, rather than being afraid of them. Accept the good, and cherish it; times will be tough enough, without us being so tough on ourselves! I deserve the good things that come my way, and so do you.

Now it’s your turn: what are you afraid of? Better yet, what are you going to do to fight those fears?

As always, it’s a daily battle. But I’m right here with you!

nothing

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fight for Progress

PNFO

Alright, so no – I didn’t eat a whole person. But sometimes, it sort of feels that way.

**This post will have some mention of calorie calculations and numbers – if you think that might trigger something, please be wary! I’m writing this to help, not to hurt.

At the time I’m writing this, I am currently at a point where I feel uncomfortable eating anything over 200 calories or so. Yesterday is a good example. After work, I had about 20 minutes before we needed to head out to the YMCA to workout. In that time-frame, I had a serving of peanuts and maybe an ounce of leftover chicken from the night before.

I was in tears on the way to the gym, simply because I had a snack that was maybe 250 calories, if that.

After the YMCA, we returned home. Then came a dinner of eggs, sausage, cheese, and green beans. Again, not bad, and probably just a little bit over that self-imposed 200 calorie limit. But then, here comes the kicker: I had half of a muffin I made earlier, and a fourth-cup of sugar-free ice cream with whipped cream.

And it felt like all hell broke loose.

20 minutes later, I drank a cup of soy milk, and had half of a low-carb tortilla with half a tablespoon of peanut-butter. And then I just had to high-tail it out of the kitchen, because I could feel a binge in the making.

That’s how it always starts for me, at least. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had an entire day of indulgence, or if it was a day of balanced eating – give me one meal over a certain number of calories, a bit of self-doubt or frustration (or any negative emotion, honestly), and BAM. Just like that, and I’m not in control anymore. It’s that easy.

I can’t tell you how many times this happens. Once during the school year, I felt overwhelmingly lonely, so I sat in my room and ate bowl after bowl of cereal. Another time, at home, I was so mad at myself for a reason I don’t even remember, that I decided to fill up on those packaged, cream-filled cupcakes. Those are just two examples.

Let me take you into the the mind of someone still fighting the urge to binge and purge. It’s a place where logic takes a backseat to emotions. It’s an all-or-nothing mentality – and it is hard to break.

Spock-logic

You must bring logic back into the picture. For instance, just looking purely at the numbers – my overall caloric intake, minus exercise, was a little over 1200. That is essentially the bare-minimum recommendation for calorie intake, given the fact that your body needs energy to function properly. (You can see an quick explanation here.)

What I had eaten, on the whole, was good for me – plenty of fiber, protein, good fats, and even carbohydrates (gasp!). I had plenty of water, well above the often quoted “8 glasses a day”. And I had gotten a nice dose of exercise (Body Combat and cycling, if you’re curious).

So why was I having a meltdown?

I estimate my food intake high, and my exercise burn low. I use the math to make myself feel guilty, crunching the numbers until I feel hopeless. In the past, I might have gone back to the gym to burn another 400-600 calories, in addition to the 300-400 I had already done. I might have taken some laxatives, or tried to force up what I had taken in. Yes, even as I showered, I felt sick to my stomach, wishing I could get rid of what I eaten.

That’s how bad my relationship with food is right now.

I suppose it’s not seriously about the food, though. It never has been. For me, really and truly, it has always been about punishment. It’s for failing to eat below an arbitrary number I calculated on a website. It’s for not working out. It’s for being shallow, feeling lonely, making a bad grade, fighting with my brother. Anything and everything. All of these worries, and nearly every single one is self-imposed.

The binge and purge cycle is a means of self-sabotage – to make my body look as bad as I feel.

For those of you fighting similar struggles, take heart – you are not alone. But we’ve got to keep fighting, one day at a time.

Here’s what I did to get through the evening:

Slow down. Once you get into “the zone”, where making and eating food becomes methodical and almost second-nature, it’s tough to stop. Try to figure out if you’re hungry, or if something just upset you. PLEASE eat if you’re physically hungry! But realize that food won’t help at all if you’re craving something emotionally.

Push back against that negative self-talk. Always remember how much people love you – and why they love you – even when you feel like you don’t like yourself at all. I promise you, I PROMISE – someone out there looks at you in wonder, wishing they could be like you. Yes, they think you’re that amazing. And you ARE that amazing. You can do it.

Forgive yourself. I still track my food, but up until last night – I was doing it without qualms. It’s alright to eat. We HAVE to eat. If you eat a little too much, don’t beat yourself up for it. Same thing goes if you have something deemed as a “bad” food. The world isn’t going to end, and you’re not a terrible person. We’re only human, you know?

Last night was rough. I wasn’t kidding when I said everyday is a battle.

But being healthy? That is something worth fighting for.

Don’t hesitate to comment or contact me if you want to talk or need support. Much love to y’all!

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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