Posts Tagged With: support

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

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

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!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 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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Practice Happiness

I looked in the mirror the other day, and a realization struck me.

Why did I spend the last 19 years of my life pretending like I am not intelligent, fun, or attractive?

That type of mentality colors every thought and action, but perhaps so subtly that we don’t realize it.

It could be something as simple as starting a story off with a negative point, for example:

We messed up at the beginning of the performance, but nailed the rest of it.vs.The crowd loved the show, especially when we nailed the ending.

Or being unable to relish our accomplishments:

I got second place in Music at State, but I missed third place in Language/Literature by one question!

And even accidentally impeding our decisions before we even consider acting:

That guy is amazing, but everyone likes him. I would never have a shot.

We can think like this, which is easy but also terribly unsatisfying. Or, we can make the conscious effort to engage in a practice of being happy.

I am going to draw on the lessons from my intro to social psychology class at Rice University, taught by Dr. Sandra Parsons, because I think the touching lesson can truly help us improve our mindset. The lesson goes a bit like this:

1. Be kind to others.

Giving a close friend a surprise care package, or writing a genuine note of appreciation – regardless of the other person’s response – made me happier than buying candy for myself, or writing a journal entry about my day. We have the ability to affect others in beautiful ways, and that is a powerful thing. Never underestimate the impact of a friendly hug or a few sincere words.

Bear Hug

2. Think positively.

This goes back to my initial point: our behaviors and emotions reflect our internal dialogue. When we re-frame our thoughts into positive ones, it can make a world of a difference. So next time something doesn’t go according to plan, try changing that “I’m awful” comment into a “Let me try this differently next time” thought. We all have room to grow and improve – why not embrace the opportunity?

http://poppyposts.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/positive-thinking-quotes-1.png

3. Set new goals.

I performed two dances in our cultural show this past weekend, and immediately after I didn’t know what to do with myself. No more practices, no more rehearsals, and no more random dance breaks with my partner. It actually made me so sad! But I’ve realized I love dancing, so now that we accomplished our goal of performing, I’ve decided my next goal is to learn a new style, as well as go out social dancing to improve my salsa skills. A sense of purpose is a vital part of keeping us challenged and engaged, and thus happier as we work towards our goals.

Fire

4. Practice gratitude.

And finally, perhaps one of the most important activities we can do is to practice gratitude. One way is via a gratitude journal (yes, I know Oprah is a proponent of this, but hear me out!). As this article states, the act of maintaining a gratitude journal “[forces] ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted”. Expressing thanks to those around us is also a form of practicing gratitude (and hearkens back to the “be kind to others” mentality). It’s easier to be happy when we stop and realize the wonderful things happening in our lives.

http://www.tinystepsmommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Thankful-Printable.jpg

I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that I am a good person. I’m goofy, shy, humble, intelligent, pretty, and a multitude of other characteristics. But I am good BECAUSE of my personality and my looks, not DESPITE them. And so are you.

You are awesome, and I probably think you’re the bee’s knees. I hope this post helps, because I know I’m tired of being sad, and I think a lot of us go through the same thing. But we aren’t alone, and we do deserve to experience happiness.

Keep being great, my friends! And as always – I’m here for you!

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Get Strong with Strength Training

Hello there! Long time no blog, I know. Time for an update!

First of all, this happened, which everyone thought was SO funny: photo

I ran an introductory session for women on how to use various strength training machines in our recreation center. The people that witnessed the event found it entertaining as I led 15-20 girls around the equipment and demonstrated how it all worked.

Funny or not, it got me thinking about why some people find themselves quite uncomfortable in the weight room (or in the recreation center in general). I think a lot of the uneasiness derives from feeling self-conscious – about how to work the machines, how we look while we’re using them, or how many people are around. But it also seems to come from misguided beliefs about lifting (especially the “I don’t want to get bulky” attitude from the female perspective), or an overall apathy towards it.

Today’s post (long overdue!) is about some of the benefits of strength training, and some ways to incorporate it into your current exercise regimen.

As a reminder, I am no expert on this topic. I speak from personal experiences, as well as the different websites I’ve sifted through, and the opinions of other weight room enthusiasts. All I know is that I love strength training. Lifting is cool you guys, I promise!

So, let me start by debunking some of the common reasons for not strength training.  

1. “I don’t know how to…work the machines/use the free weights/do the proper form/etc…”

You definitely aren’t alone. Depending on what gym you’re at, the machines and adjustments can be strange and tricky. If you don’t know how something should be used, just ask an attendant or worker to show you. It’s kind of our job to help. Plus, once you understand how to work one machine, it’s easier to figure out how the other ones work.

Free weights are more versatile, but also more dangerous if the proper form is not used. Again, depending on the gym you attend, there may be personal trainers that can teach you some basic free weight exercises. Or, you can do research online by looking up YouTube demonstrations or sites like ExRx.

If you’re just starting out, I would highly recommend sticking to the “selectorized” machines or to body weight exercises, as they are much safer. Never hesitate to ask how something works, or the way to do an exercise. Your safety is of the upmost importance here!  

2. “I look silly in the weight room.”

First of all – no, you don’t. You’re working out, and that right there makes you awesome. But secondly, even if you do think you look funny – so what? Most gym patrons probably aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing, because they’re focusing on their own workout (and maybe feeling a little goofy as well). Exercising in general leaves people looking sweaty and tired, so seriously – just relax and workout.

http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/2N7u0QgKKJjBszTG5zJAnA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTI3Nw--/http://media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/thesideshow/Photogenic.jpgWe can’t all be ridiculously photogenic while working out…

3. “There are too many people in the weight room.”

This probably holds especially true for women, and especially in a college setting. (I’ve found this less true at my local YMCA, for example.) It’s crazy to see the dichotomy between the weight room and cardio room at times: 15 guys and maybe 3 girls in the weight room, while the reverse is true for the cardio side.

Ladies, you’re entitled to use the weight room equipment, too. Even I struggle with this at times, as I feel like me benching the bar (and a little more!) might be annoying to the guys who come in and do 20 pull-ups without breaking a sweat. I understand that thinner males, or those that have never strength trained before, can also feel intimidated when the weight room is packed.

However, I’ve talked to a few of my regular gym-fanatics, and the general consensus is that they don’t care. Really, they’re just doing their own thing.

But if they do seem annoyed, or if you don’t feel comfortable working out at peak times (I don’t – but mostly because it’s crowded and I can’t do things quickly), then try testing out different workout times. Early morning, lunchtime, and immediately post-dinner are a few options to check out.

4. “I don’t want to bulk up.”

I hear this one all the time, and it still surprises me! Check out this article if you’re curious about the differences between toning and bulking up.

For girls, first and foremost, most of us don’t have the testosterone levels that bulking up requires. And secondly, 3-4 sets of exercises using moderate weight (or body weight) will not be enough to transform our bodies into that of a body-builder.

In general, for both genders, to build the kind of muscle we think of when we picture bulking up takes an incredible amount of work and planning. Individuals may have higher testosterone levels, and thus muscle gains come more readily, but even then it is no walk in the park. Unless you’re lifting heavy weights and changing your diet to compensate for the training you’re doing, it is highly unlikely that you will bulk up.

http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj491/tropaze/5lbsfatandmuscle-2.jpgBesides, which would YOU rather have?

In Summary

If what you’re doing is working for you, then by all means – keep at it! Cardio it up – work on the elliptical, go for a long run, cycle for as many miles as you like. But still, there are benefits of strength training that you can reap, including:

  • weight management
  • increased stamina
  • reduced risk/symptoms of chronic conditions (like diabetes and heart disease)
  • increased bone strength
  • and more! (information courtesy this article from MayoClinic.com)

And the best part of all? There are many simple ways to add strength training into your routine. You can go for the basic squat, push, pull, and core combo (pick one exercise of each type and use the machines or body weight). You could also check out Tabata training, which is a quick but challenging way to workout. (We do it a lot for rugby fitness…it hurts so good.)

I’ve just recently gotten back into strength training, and I can’t tell you how much I missed it. I’ll be back with posts about specific workouts and exercises, because seriously…this is some great stuff!

Do you use strength training as part of your workout routines? If not, how do you feel about the idea? Let me know what you think! As always, this is your life and your body. I’m just here to help you if I can!

http://funnyasduck.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/funny-monkey-lemur-flexing-muscles-welcome-gun-show-pics.jpg

Categories: Exercises | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Lots o’ Resources

There is this terrible picture of my family and I from our vacation the summer before I started high school; whenever I feel particularly distressed, I just look at that and am reminded how far we’ve come and how much we’ve improved our health.

In reality, I’ve been doing this weight loss, exercising, “get fit” journey for years now – and it all started back in high school. I want to share with you all some of the resources I found back then, and those that I use to this day, when it comes to tracking progress.

But first, some back-story!

When I made varsity tennis my freshman year of high school, the level of activity was more than any I had experienced in the past. At the end of the year, I had lost a fair amount of weight without changing my eating habits at all. However, at the start of summer, the father of a friend said to me casually, “Ariel, at the end of the season you were getting in shape, and now you’ve let yourself go.”

Why a grown man would say something like that to a 15-year-old girl, especially given the sensitive nature of body confidence at that age, I will never know. (And the fact that I still remember it today is a testament to how much the little things can resonate. Pro tip: NEVER SAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT TO A GIRL. SHE WILL NOT FORGET.)

Everything else aside, that comment was the motivation I needed to start focusing on weight loss – which leads me to my first discovery: SparkPeople.com.

There’s SparkPeople.com, and another derivative, SparkTeens.com. At the time, I joined the latter, but the principles are the same. Some pros of the site are:

  • Food/Calorie Tracker, with an option for generated/manually entered meal plans
  • Exercise Tracker, with an option for generated/manually entered strength-training plans and cardio
  • Personalized webpage and blog
  • Access to articles on nutrition, exercise, body image, and TONS of other items – all of them usually specific and easy-to-read
  • Calorie/Exercise Tracker phone app
  • Entirely free!!!

Just by tracking my food, I lost about 5 pounds that summer on my own. I continued to track on and off throughout high school, but as I grew more actively involved in tennis, I didn’t need it as much. I didn’t consistently start using it again until college started. The community aspect of the site is probably my favorite part – between message boards, blogs, private messaging, groups, and challenges, it’s hard to not interact.

SparkPeopleEx

But midway through freshman year of college, I started to get tired of the tracking system – particularly on the phone app. I found that adding foods took too many steps (and on my lousy phone network, that was a problem when I wanted to do something quickly).

So I searched the app store and found my next resource: LoseIt.Com.

Some of the big pluses with LoseIt! are:

  • Food/Calorie Tracker integrated with Exercise Tracker
  • Visual graphs/meters that display weekly and daily net caloric-intake
  • Easy to set new goals based on weight and a weekly amount you want to lose
  • Can display recent meals, exercise activity, weight loss/gain, and “statuses” on profile page

LoseIt! has a phone app, which is what I initially used, and also an online website, which I recently joined. In terms of pure tracking, the app is the easiest to understand and follow. The site leaves some things to be desired when it comes to the level of interaction. It also lacks the ability to track anything besides weight, unless you upgrade to a premium account. However, the site is reminiscent of Facebook in a sense, and that is good for accountability: when you track your meals or exercise, it will pop up on your “feed” for all your buddies to see and comment on.

The ticker showing net-intake was both my best friend and worst enemy when I started to use the app. It really does help you get a feel for how much you’re taking in, but I took it too far when I set my goal low (as in, 1000 calories per day low) on top of wanting to burn a lot exercising (at least 400 calories a day). My ticker was super low, my weekly calorie deficit high, and my weight loss rapid…but that also triggered various binges from time to time. Better to set realistic goals with this app!

Finally, the last major resource I use is TeamBeachbody.com.

Again, the benefits of this site are:

  • Workout Schedule/Tracker
  • Access to fitness/health articles
  • Online forums/support groups and personal “coaches”

I only use the basic free account, and to be honest – it doesn’t do too much. The whole idea of the site is this “coaching” aspect, where you find a “coach”, buy products through them, and get personal assistance, advice, and support. More than anything, I use the site as a place to research different exercise programs – like INSANITY, P90X, Hip Hop Abs, etc. – and supplements – such as Shakeology. It is also a good place to see success stories, and those always get me motivated.

TBBEx

My experience has been less personal, but there is definitely an avenue to make it personalized if you wish. I’m just a poor, frugal college student – I’ll spend my money on the occasional supplement or invest in a workout, but I can’t bring myself to pay for a monthly membership quite yet!

So let me summarize how I use these sites nowadays:

  • SparkPeople – daily (and personal) blogging, specific articles and recipes, and networking with others for support
  • LoseIt! – daily food and exercise tracking, public accountability, and networking with others
  • TeamBeachbody – researching programs and supplements, buying programs and supplements, and networking with others doing similar workouts offline (particularly via Facebook)

These are just the sites and systems I stumbled upon. Used correctly, these tools can be helpful – just be sure to be realistic in your goals, and STAY SAFE! Maybe they’ll be useful to you, and maybe they won’t. A lot of it comes down to personal preferences, and there are a variety of places you can find information on besides these sites.

Some people only need to track briefly until they figure out what they need, others (myself included) need to keep detailed logs lest we fall back into old habits (or develop new, unhealthy ones!), and some people don’t need it at all.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these sites before, and how you liked them. Or if you’ve got your own tools and suggestions…I’m all ears!

More than anything, this goes back to finding a system of support and being consistent in our endeavors to live healthy. We can do it! 🙂

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

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