Category Archives: Warm Fuzzies

Because everyone likes to be encouraged!

Who Keeps You Healthy?

A few weeks ago, I was approached by the American Recall Center and asked to participate in their latest campaign, “Who Keeps You Healthy?” which is a way for health bloggers, like myself, to share about the person in their lives that motivates and empowers them to be healthy. I was excited to participate in this campaign and began thinking of who in my life I would highlight in this post as the one who keeps me healthy.

My dog came to mind, because she is always eager to go for a walk, which often motivates me to get out in the fresh air. My parents have influenced my health by always having healthy, whole foods around their house and encouraging me to cook and bake since childhood. My fiancé helps me stay motivated to work out by going with me to the gym and always being up for a hike or jog at the park.  the beagle girl

However, as I thought more about all of the things that go into “keeping me healthy” I realized that the true credit for my health really goes to someone else.

I’ve been through quite a journey with my health, including a battle with anorexia, followed by binge eating, and then wrestling with poor body image for years. My weight has fluctuated a lot. I’ve gone through periods of restrictive “healthy” eating and periods of binge-ing on pizza and cookie dough. I’ve made tons of health resolutions, workout goals, and learned to give myself some grace along the way.

When it comes down to it, my health these days is the best it’s ever been, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve thought I was healthy many times in the past during my eating disorder and subsequent recovery, and I often fooled myself. But the kind of health I am living out at this point in my life is not just a healthy BMI or number on the scale, it’s a health that encompasses my emotional and spiritual life as well.

1097965_392214087544816_872314355_nThere have been many times in the past several years of my journey where I was “doing all the right things” in terms of health, but I was unhappy, stressed, hating my body, and frustrated at not being able to control my appetite and cravings. I’ve come to learn that health is so much more than just eating the right foods or getting exercise every day.

Health to me means being happy with my body, focusing on things besides how many calories I’ve eaten since breakfast or whether I worked out enough this week.  In a lot of ways, health for me is measured by how LITTLE I think (or obsess) about my health. Health for me is having a career I love, being in a nurturing relationship, and finding time to enjoy hobbies and downtime. Health is taking time in the morning to pray and be at peace, and taking time to enjoy the little things each day. It’s getting enough sleep, and letting go of worry and learning to forgive. It’s knowing when to skip a workout and read a book in the sunshine instead.

My health journey has meant letting go in so many areas, and just living life with more joy and peace. Giving up my obsessions with being skinny, learning to eat ice cream again without guilt, and finding a balanced workout routine that energizes instead of exhausts me.

And I’m not saying I’ve “arrived” at the pinnacle of health, but I’ve made so much progress from where I used to be. There were a lot of people that helped me along the way, as I mentioned above. But in the end, it was only by God’s grace that I got through the hellish trenches of my eating disorder and made it to where I am today.

1474395_10201127367930761_1712911136_n And it doesn’t end here. There are still days where I feel fat or frustrated with the size of my body. Especially since getting engaged, there have been more frequent thoughts in my head taunting me to start a diet or design a new, intense workout plan to prepare for the big day. I’ve had moments where I questioned my evening bowl of ice cream or the occasional potato chip feasts with my fiancé while watching a movie. But then I hear another voice in my head and heart, telling me to remember how far I’ve come and the work it took to get here. Reminding me that even when I was a size 0 and obsessively in control of everything that went into my mouth, I wasn’t happy.

Even when I was the epitome of a “healthy eater,” I wasn’t actually healthy. I was emaciated and depressed.

1098478_392213077544917_769335534_nThere’s no doubt in my mind that God and His grace is what has enabled me to get healthy again. And it’s His voice in my heart that keeps me healthy, gently reminding me to embrace freedom and never look back.

I’m so thankful for the many friends and family members that have been there for me throughout my journey, and above all, the faithfulness of God to lead me where I am today.

For more information on the American Recall Center, check out their website here!

A Guilt-Free Birthday and What Made It Amazing

Two-thousand eight is the first year I remember getting nervous about my birthday. And not because I thought I was getting old (I was only turning 18) but because of the traditions associated with a birthday – specifically traditions that involve food.

Enjoying my birthday cupcake in the good old days without a care in the world.

Enjoying my birthday cupcake as a kid, without a care in the world.

Birthdays mean cake. And ice cream. And other delectable, indulgent goodies. And because of my battle with food, the celebration a birthday brings has also brought me fear and anxiety for the past 6 years.

During my anorexia, birthdays meant I would have to come up with plausible-sounding excuses to turn down my own birthday cake. It meant I would be online, searching the menus of local restaurants and trying to determine which one had the best salad options for my family birthday dinner.

When I was living in Dallas, co-workers would stop by my desk with cookies and cupcakes and I would politely explain that I would “save it for later,” while I knew in the back of my mind that it would end up in the trash can.  I wasn’t trying to be ungrateful or unappreciative; I was seriously so consumed and obsessed with my eating disorder that I could not IMAGINE letting go of my control, even for a day as special as my birthday.

Celebrating my brother's birthday, during my bingeing struggles.

Celebrating my younger brother’s birthday, in the midst of my battle with bingeing.

When I was battling my bingeing episodes, birthdays were even more scary, in a way. Instead of feeling “strong” and ready to refuse the cake and ice cream, I worried instead that I would not be able to stop eating them both. Many times – and not just on birthdays – I would refuse cake to appear “in control,” only to sneak down to the kitchen a couple hours later when everyone was asleep and gorge myself, anxiously listening for any steps on the stairway that might mean a discovery of my shameful habits. I stuffed piece after piece in my mouth, sometimes without even bothering to get a fork. Birthdays not only reminded me of these out-of-control bingeing memories, but also threatened a repeat episode. 

Last year, in 2012, I vividly remember sitting at Jason’s Deli with my parents on my birthday. Even though I was well into recovery, I was still terrified of most restaurants and only had a few “safe places” where I could eat without much anxiety. Jason’s Deli was one of them. With the huge salad bar option, I could choose exactly what went on my plate and know precisely how much I was eating. Jason’s deli was my security blanket when it came to eating out.

I’m happy and thankful to say that I’ve made a lot of progress since my last birthday. I now eat out at restaurants without anxiety and I never search menus online beforehand for calorie information. Instead of always getting a salad, I explore menus and try other things that sound good to me. I know this might sound petty or trite, but for someone in recovery, this is huge! God has really done so much in my life in the past year and definitely used my counselor in that process.

Fast-forward to this year… as my birthday grew closer, I began to contemplate restaurants for the annual celebratory dinner with my family. I spent some time on Google and searched for fun restaurants I’d never tried before. I did a lot of research – but it wasn’t to find the lowest-calorie meal option or the most extensive salad bar. I wanted to find a restaurant that would feel like a celebration of my progress in recovery. And I settled on Pi.  A local company that offers “award-winning deep and thin crust pizza in St. Louis, MO, serving lunch and dinner every day.”  I’d never been there before, but had heard tons of positive reviews from friends.

my birthday pizzaGoing to a pizza place on my birthday was somewhat of a way to prove to myself that I truly can enjoy those kinds of foods without guilt. A year ago – even six months ago – I would not have been able to do that.  Sunday night, I celebrated with my family: not just the fact that I’m another year older, but the new-found ability to enjoy foods like pizza once again. I’ve eaten pizza a handful of times in the past 6 years, always with tons of guilt and regret. But this time, there was only room at the table for fun and laughter.

As we sat at a corner booth and ordered appetizers, I listened to the guys discuss sports and give predictions on the upcoming World Series. I caught up with my sister and dared my 19 year old brother to finish his entire deep dish pizza (19 year old guys have incredible appetites). I chatted with my parents and my boyfriend and enjoyed each piece of my pizza. Then we went home and ate homemade pumpkin pie, and I enjoyed a nice, big piece along with everyone else. And as if that wasn’t enough fun for one night, we decided to watch the first Men in Black movie (my boyfriend had never seen it before!) and laughed our heads off for a couple hours together.

It was such a fantastic evening, and the most I’ve enjoyed my birthday in a long time. I was relaxed and content and able to focus on connecting with my family. I wasn’t planning a long run for the next morning to work off my pizza, or trying to calculate how many calories were in the pumpkin pie. Instead, I simply enjoyed the moment. With the people I love most. This is something my eating disorder robbed from me for way too long. I didn’t realize how much I missed all of this, until I experienced it again last weekend. pumpkin pie

Laughter. Loved ones. Pizza. Jokes. Stories. Memories.

I soaked it all in and enjoyed every last minute of my 23rd birthday .

I’m pretty excited about having this whole birthday thing every year now. Birthdays are no longer something to fear – they’re something to anticipate.

4 Things That Made a Huge Difference in My Recovery

First of all, thank you all so much for your responses to my story. I was blown away by all of the encouraging emails, texts and messages that I received! I heard from some who have been recovered for years, and many who are still trying to figure out how to get started on that path. Wherever you’re at in your journey, I want to encourage you that you’re not alone. body image

I believe it’s safe to say that almost every woman wrestles in some way – big or small – with her body image and self-worth. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be blogging more about my thoughts on these topics and sharing things that have helped me along the way. I’m still a work in progress, but my body image has come a LONG way in the past 2 years (thanks to counseling and lots of hard work) and I’m excited to encourage others to move in the same direction!

Today, I just wanted to pop in and share a piece I wrote for a blog of a fellow Health Coach and friend. It’s over on her blog today, and you can check it out here.

In the post, I share 4 things that helped me make huge progress when I had reached a plateau in my recovery. Even after months of counseling, I was still finding myself engaging in old habits of over-exercising and severe restrictions in my diet. These 4 very practical tips pushed me in the right direction and I hope will be helpful to you as well!

Enjoy your day! 🙂

My Personal Battle with an Eating Disorder

Hi friends, 

I’m taking a break from the usual recipes, workouts and random musings on this blog today to share with you something much more personal and raw. I’ve been working on this story – my story – for quite a while, and I finally – nervously – pushed the “publish” button today. 1097965_392214087544816_872314355_n

Writing out my story was therapeutic in a way. It’s encouraging for me to look back a few years and see how far I’ve come – especially since there were times I thought recovery was impossible.

I’m not by any means finished in this journey and I don’t claim to have it all figured out (far from it!), but I’ve learned a lot along the way that might be helpful to others who are where I was a few years ago – desperately wishing for a way out, but struggling to believe I could break free from these obsessions and compulsions.

I’ve tasted both ends of the spectrum – the starvation and obsessive exercise, as well as the bingeing and complete loss of control.

Today, because of what I’ve learned in my own recovery and my education as a Holistic Health Coach, I help other women develop a healthy relationship with food and fitness. I support my clients by helping them discover the underlying issues that are behind their eating habits, and develop balance and self-care in their lives. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these things, please contact me at healthwithhope@gmail.com. I’d love to sit down with you for a (free) consultation and help you get started on the road to health.

Click here to read my story!

– Hope

Courage and Vulnerability

Last year I was introduced to an amazing author, speaker and researcher by the name of Brené Brown. A friend recommended I read her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” because of some self-worth and perfectionism issues I was digging into in my life. The book was a HUGE help to me and if it hadn’t been a copy from the library, I would have had notes and highlights on every page. So many “ah-ha!” moments in each chapter!

Here is the description of the book from Brene’s website:

“Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking,

What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air?
Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations?
What will people think if I fail or give up?
When can I stop proving myself?

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, Ph.D., a leading expert on authenticity, shame, and courage shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living.

She writes, ‘Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.'”

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Realizing that I am worth of love and belonging even though I am (quite) imperfect has really changed the way I go through life. Instead of feeling like I’m always trying to PROVE myself worthy or valuable to others, I (try to) live each day believing that I already AM. It’s definitely a work in progress and some days are better than others, but this book has truly started changing the way I think.

Brené’s most recent book – a #1 New York Times Best Seller – is called Daring Greatly and reaches even more deeply into the topics of vulnerability and courage.

From the website:

“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement.
Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.”

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I have yet to read this book, but it’s definitely on my list!

Oprah recently hosted Brene on her “Super Soul Sunday” show, and this morning I watched the interview online while eating my breakfast. It’s a great 35 minute segment and there’s a part 2 that will air this Sunday. Here’s the link where you can watch part 1!

Food for Thought:

  • What keeps you from being vulnerable?
  • Do you tend to put up walls in your life, and if so, why?
  • How do your walls help you? How do they hinder you?

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“Legs Day” and Enjoying the Present Moment

Today was “legs day” for me at the gym, so I thought I’d share the workout I created this morning. I basically just compiled this from the random exercises that came to mind at the moment:

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My legs were burning after this workout, and I refueled with one of my chocolate Greek yogurt concoctions as soon as I got home.

Last week I had a horrible migraine-like headache that lasted for 6 days…not exactly a fun time! I took it easy on the exercise front and stuck to long walks and yoga for the week. It felt good to give my body a break. 🙂

I used to do yoga DVDs or find videos on Youtube, but recently I’ve just been winging it and creating my own yoga workout each day. I now know enough different poses to keep myself busy for 20-30 minutes and I love the relaxing feeling of creating my own routine. I always turn off all the lights in my room, turn on my “Calm Meditations” station on Pandora, and light several candles around the room. It relaxes me so well and is such a great way to start the day!

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One of my goals for the new year is to SLOW down, in several ways:
– eating
– driving
– talking

I tend to move quickly in all of these areas, and none of them are really beneficial! Since 2013 began, I’ve been consciously slowing down in these 3 things and it’s really made a difference. I feel so much more relaxed when I’m not speeding down the road (not to mention that it’s so much safer!) and I enjoy my meals so much more when I take the time to eat slowly and savor each bite. Talking slowly has still been a difficult one for me…most of my family talks at a breakneck speed so it’s a pretty well developed habit of mine! But when I do remember to slow down and speak at a relaxed pace, it’s great. 🙂

We often miss out on the moment in front of us because we’re too busy thinking about the ones ahead. We live at such a fast, crazy pace that I think we could all benefit from slowing down in some way, shape or form. Take the time to savor the here and now, with whatever it holds for you. 🙂

Refreshed

My 2013 started off right with a fun visit from my friend Alyse! She lives in Minnesota and came in town for a conference on the 27th. After the conference ended, she came to stay at my house for a few days! I picked her up at her hotel on New Years Day and it was such a great reunion! Alyse and I met back in 2008 on a mission trip to Nicaragua…I had just graduated high school and she was going into her junior year. That’s the same mission trip where I met my friend Amy, and she and I became best friends because of that summer.

We had a lot of fun together while Alyse was in town…lots of girl talk, chocolate, giggling, Starbucks, and a chilly walk in the snow!

Alyse and I:

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Blurry iPhone picture taken by a fellow Starbucks patron:

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And of course, the Beagle had to join us on our walk:

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Alyse headed back to Minnesota on Friday morning and the rest of my weekend was pretty low-key! I had a friend over on Friday afternoon to hang out before she headed back to college, and Saturday I joined some friends for a chili dinner and the Packers game. I’m not a Packers fan, per se, but these friends are diehard fans from Wisconsin, so it was fun to watch the game with them!

On Sunday I woke up in the mood for a trail run so I got on my All Trails app and discovered a new-to-me park that was just minutes from my church. I packed up my running clothes before heading out to the late morning service, and threw in a couple Larabars since I’m always ravenous after church! I made it to the park at around 12:45 and found the trail without too much trouble.

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I’d never run on the Chubb Trail before, and it was not exactly the best day for a trail run because of the melting snow going on here in St Louis! The trail was still icy in many parts and the rest of it was slushy and muddy. It definitely made it feel like more of an adventure, though! I love muddy runs for some odd reason, so I was perfectly content. 🙂 I took the Chubb Trail down into a beautiful valley, where I crossed some railroad tracks and found myself in Castlewood Park:

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I ran through a gorgeous, sunny field before the trail headed back into the woods.

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I love trail runs for many reasons, but largely because they bring me back to the FUN of running! It’s so easy for me to get focused on the STATS of my running – distance, pace, miles logged – instead of just enjoying the ability and opportunity to run. Trail runs make me feel like a little kid again, exploring the woods just like I did when I was 10. 🙂 Trail runs remind me to enjoy the beauty of nature instead of focusing on my “workout” all the time. And I always do my trail runs without my ipod so I can listen to the rustling of the wind and the cracking branches in the woods as I run. It’s cheesy, I know, but I LOVE being outside so much and I wish I did more of it. Trail runs are one way I stop (figuratively, haha) and enjoy the beauty of it all.

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My blurry phone photos don’t do it justice.

I also got to run alongside the Meremac River for a little bit, which was fun! I loved all the different scenery I got to witness on this trail.

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Needless to say, by the time I made it back to my car, my shoes – and legs – were covered in mud! It was well worth it, though, as I drove home with a refreshed and happy heart.

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Trail runs are so good for the soul. 🙂

2013

It’s that time of year…Christmas is over, New Years is around the corner, and it’s time to once again make “New Year’s Resolutions!” Whether or not you officially make new year’s resolutions, the start of a new year seems to inspire most everyone to a fresh start in some way or another. We all love the idea of turning over a new leaf, making good decisions, setting goals and achieving them, and feeling accomplished! The new year seems like a great time to evaluate not only the year ahead, but also the one that is coming to a close.

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In the week between Christmas and New Years, I love to do a review of the past year, thinking about the major events that happened in my life, the things I accomplished, the lessons I learned, and how I grew as a person. I tend to do a lot of journaling around this time, as well as jotting down ideas and goals for the new year.

I’m most definitely a “list person” and I get a crazy sort of high from crossing things off a checklist. 😉 Therefore, I LOVE to make goals so I have some sort of vision for the year ahead. For me, these goals aren’t typical new year’s resolutions like “lose weight, make more money, clean out my closet, buy a house.” Instead, I like to make more “holistic” goals that encompass all areas of life:

Relationships:

Some of my goals are about relationships that I want to invest in more in the coming year. Friendships that I want to devote more time to, and ways that I want to connect more fully with loved ones.

Hobbies and Interests:

Some of my goals are about new hobbies or activities that I want to try. For example, in 2013, I want to complete one of the infamous “mud runs” because I think that would be hilariously fun! Last year one of my goals was to take up swimming because I’d literally NEVER learned how to swim laps in a pool. I bought a one-piece suit, goggles and a cap, and had a friend teach me the basic form. I’d taken swim lessons as a kid but definitely needed a refresher. Now, 9 months later, I can confidently jump in the pool and swim over 1600 yds for fun. Love it! It’s these kinds of things that make life more enjoyable…taking up new interests and passions just for the fun of it! Not because you have to or to impress anyone else, but just to enjoy the discovery of learning something new. 🙂

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Personal Growth:

Another portion of my goals are about spiritual and emotional development. I usually write down some areas of my life that need growth or character traits that I want to develop more in the year ahead. This includes things like: patience, loyalty, joy, good listening skills, more generosity, etc. Another great goal for this area would be to watch less TV/movies and do more reading!

Health Goals:

I also love to think about some health goals for myself that will help me live more joyfully, enjoy each day fully, and have more energy for life! These goals include things like: get to bed earlier, take more walks outside, drink less coffee and more tea, and eat more leafy, green vegetables. 😉 Again, it’s not about a crash diet or a resolution to lose weight, but instead it’s about taking care of my body, in order to live a energetic and passionate life. 🙂

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As you can see, my goals aren’t exactly the traditional “New Year’s Resolutions” but they’re definitely good ways for me to enter the new year with purpose and passion! Even if you’re not a goal-oriented person like me, consider setting at least one or two goals for 2013 that will help you grow as a person and enjoy life more fully! Think about a relationship you want to invest in more fully or a new hobby you’d like to learn…and then go for it! What do you have to lose?

Happy New Year!!