Posts Tagged With: Health

Life Update(s)

The last time I wrote a post was MONTHS ago, and I apologize. It was a rough time to say the least. But I’m back from a relaxing spring break that gave me time to refocus and think, and I realized that I definitely want to keep this blog going. So, this post is a general life update on the major things that lead up to this point, and it will also set up a pattern from here on out!

Here we go…

I stressed myself out A LOT last semester. It was the first time I took an upper-level economics class, and I let the courses intimidate me. My GPA took a hit, which caused more stress, and my confidence as a whole went down. All of that, combined with being off campus, led to a decrease in exercise (“I’m too busy!”) and an increase in stress eating. I didn’t feel great AT ALL, but I kept up with my bi-weekly counseling sessions up until the semester ended.

I survived though, and the world did not end with a few bad grades and a few good grades to balance them out. Overall, I enjoyed being home for winter break. It was good to be with the family again! My eating still wasn’t so great, but I exercised more, played with my dogs, went out with my friends, and it was nice.

Sadly, the week before classes began, my dog of 12 years passed away. Lex was a good boy, and we all miss him a lot. I still feel upset when I think about him, but I have a lot of happy memories of him that I look to when I start feeling down. Lots of love for that dear dog.

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Look at that smile! Plus one of many forced selfies I made him take…

Later that week I got a tattoo. My grief over Lex was the impetus, but I had wanted one for awhile. I just realized that time wasn’t stopping – so what was I waiting for? I went down to the tattoo shop, talked to the artist about my ideas, and he came up with a killer design. It took 2 hours and it hurt like HECK. The ribs were the worst, and I couldn’t sleep on my side for month!! But it was worth it.

There’s some symbolism to it all, and I have zero regrets about it. In a way, I’m glad that I went on my own – I saved myself the embarrassment of people seeing me cry, but it was also an experience that is uniquely my own. The tattoo is not fully complete – I will be getting color done later on down the line – but it’s the real deal.

Since then, we’ve started a new semester and things have still been somewhat rocky. I participated in a test group for a program called “The Body Project” hosted by Rice’s Wellbeing Office. I am really grateful that I got to meet other people who were working through similar body image issues. It was helpful to have an open place to talk about what we were going through, as well as have other people offer their perspectives and advice.

I’ve also been trying to preempt my stress before it gets out of hand. I went to the Wellbeing Office to talk about my worries and problems before I reached a point of distress – where it started impeding on my daily activities. It’s another resource specific to the Rice campus that I recommend, but I’ll talk more in-depth later.

To sum it all up: I feel like I am in a better place than I was last semester, or even a week ago before spring break. I am ready to finish out the semester in a strong and positive way. Current goals include staying on top of my school work, gaining control over my emotional eating, finding ways to relax, and working on other “healthy” habits (this blog being one of them).

I hope you all are doing well! I’m sending lots of good vibes your way. And as always, I am here if you want to talk about anything!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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

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

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.

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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

Avoid the Temptations

Greetings! It has been awhile, and I apologize for leaving on such a downer of a post. Things got a little crazy on my end since then: finished an internship, moved back into my residential college at Rice University, and am currently attending advisor training for Rice’s orientation week.

Forgive me if this is strange or rushed – I’ve written between very short breaks and at very odd hours.

Also, it is significantly stranger to be blogging here. I’m still readjusting to the switch from home back to campus, and I’m in an introvert mode. To all the students around me right now: IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME. YOU GUYS ARE TOTALLY COOL.

Plus, a majority of my friends are here, so my examples from here on out might get a little vague so as to not offend anyone.

Anyways, yes! Today’s topic is…avoiding workplace (+ college!) weight gain.

This entire summer, I worked in a neat corporate setting. Dressed business casual, experienced elevator chat, had my own cubicle, and of course…learned about the break room.

Once a week at the minimum, there was some type of treat in the break room for all the office folk of the floor. Donuts one morning, candy the next, leftover cookies, someone’s extra meatballs, and there was even a pecan pie in there (at 8 AM!) once. Needless to say, each time I walked by was a battle of willpower.

This is a really common occurrence in most work settings, I think. And in college, it’s exactly the same! No matter where you go, you will encounter the presence of food you don’t truly want or need to eat.

So, you’ll need to decide on your game plan ahead of time. What are your goals? Eating clean, losing weight, avoiding health complications (especially if you have a condition or disease that requires a special diet)? Alright, and how are you going to accomplish these goals? Are you going to prepare all of your food yourself, are you going to workout more, will you be careful to pick safe food options?

Here is a good article from the (Team Beachbody Newsletter) about ways to beat the constant temptation and boost your willpower.

What helped me specifically in the office atmosphere was to avoid desks or areas that I knew had candy bowls, since we all know how much I love sweets. However, I did need to go to the break room to refill my water bottle constantly, so I only went in to 1) get water or make tea or 2) grab my pre-planned lunch or snack. More often than not, this helped me resist the extra temptations: I’d either feel full from the liquids I drank, or I knew I had something healthier to eat instead.

On the flip side, sometimes the donuts in the office looked really, REALLY good, so I made a deal with myself: I cut it in half and counted it as my daily dessert. To my surprise, I was actually content with that!

In college, it is a different matter. I won’t lie – I’ve been back for less than a week, and I’ve already eaten more sweets than usual (including a HUGE slice of cake at 10pm…not going to have time to work that one off!). We’ve been super busy and we go long stretches without eating anything, so when the main meals roll around, we are starving.

On a personal level, I tend to be ultra careful about what I pick at breakfast and lunch, and then I end up eating entirely too much at dinner because of the way I restrict myself.

But again, this is avoidable with pre-planning and reaffirming your goals.

In my case, during the weekend before classes start, I’ll be taking a trip to a grocery store to stock up on almonds, cheese, and soy milk. They’re personal favorites, and will ensure I have a constant supply of healthy snacks to eat in-between meals or during nighttime events. I’m not doing this to make people feel guilty about what they’re eating, or to be obnoxious or weird. I just want to eat healthier so that I can lose some weight, feel confident, and live the active lifestyle I enjoy.

As a final note, just as the above article mentions, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of tomorrow and your goals, and not the mistakes of the day.

As the days progress, you can bet on late-night food runs, many study breaks, birthday celebrations, and other meetings or events with free food galore! You can’t always avoid the food, but you can prep yourself to be successful for when you do encounter temptations. And if you “slip-up” or indulge a little too much one night, it is not the end of the world.

Just remember why you don’t (or do!) want that piece of cake, or that cookie, or those extra chips. It won’t be the first or last time you see that type food, but if you’re going to eat it, then at least enjoy it. Make up for it the next meal by eating something nutritious, or go for a long walk later and get some exercise in. You can do it!

Stay positive, stay healthy, and most importantly…stay happy!

Categories: Food & Recipes, Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Partners In Crime

Family, friends, and fun – that can be a combination for greatness, but maybe not!

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Back in 2007, there was a study that claimed to find a correlation between obesity and social circles. The quick-and-dirty conclusion was that if a friend, spouse, or family member became overweight or obese, then the chances of you becoming overweight or obese would also increase. While the math has been criticized, and further studies are in the works to verify the results, I think the reasoning behind the study makes sense.

We’re more likely to engage in similar behaviors of those around us, at least in my experience, whether they’re good for us or not. That’s why I say finding “partners in crime” when it comes to healthy living is such a great thing.

Take this weekend, for example. My family traveled to Houston to visit relatives for a 4th of July celebration. Left to my own devices, I would have embraced the excuse to binge and be lazy, and we all know where that leads! Luckily though, I have an awesome older cousin – kinesiology major at UT, applying to PT school this year, and way knowledgeable about nutrition and exercise. I also have a mom who knows my habits, and was on the lookout for any bingeing signs. Then, there are my aunts who like to work hard and train for triathlons.

So yes, while I did indulge in more food than usual (burgers and hotdogs…mmm), I also had other factors working in my favor. We all ate adequate breakfasts, lunches, and snacks so that we didn’t go too crazy at dinnertime. My cousin, aunt, mom, and I walked together to a neighborhood park and track for some exercise. We stayed up late, but we slept in and had a good breakfast of eggs and bacon. Yeah, I ate banana nut bread and cheesecake. Sure, I tried the homemade guacamole with some chips. But it was balanced and moderated by the other things we did that day.

Then get this: after the drive back to Houston, it was actually me who motivated my parents to workout (when it’s usually the other way around). My choice to visit the YMCA for a Zumba class gave my parents little excuse to stay at home. Instead, we all headed out to the gym together.

Even on Saturday, which would mark the completion of WEEK 1 of Insanity, I struggled to turn that video on. Just 40 minutes of effort, but it was tough to get my behind into gear and just do it. But I’m part of some online health sites, where other people are doing the same challenge – and just the thought of them putting in the work was enough to make me hit that dreaded PLAY button.

What I’m trying to say is this: sometimes, we just don’t want to do anything. Sometimes we don’t feel like watching what we eat, or getting out and exercising. And sometimes, that’s alright.

But when we surround ourselves with others that will keep us accountable, and struggle right there along with us, making smart choices and doing healthy things becomes a lot easier. It becomes less of a chore, and more of a habit.

It wasn’t until my second semester at college that I started to build better friendships, and that came with its pros and cons. For instance, I dated a super cool dude who was active in sports and dance – but when we went out to parties together, I would feel so awful the next day because I was too tired to work out and too down to eat right. On the other hand, I met some cool people that made me want to keep healthy – like one guy who at first only knew me as “Crossfit Girl” (I took that as a compliment!), and some classmates that would see me at the recreation center while I was working out (or working a shift as a weight room attendant).

It’s amazing how the little things can make a big difference. Just having someone to walk to the gym with, or wander around campus talking – it was enough to keep me active and motivated. It’s even better when you both have similar goals. It’s currently the summer, so motivation is readily available. But when the school year rolls around, I have faith that I’ll find the healthy partners I know and love.

Who are your partners in crime? Go out and find some!

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

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