What recovery feels like

Hi all!

Before I even get into the depth of this post I’m adding two disclaimers… one for myself and one for many of you whom may be reading this.

  1. This is one of the more vulnerable yet freeing blog posts I’ve written. It’s also likely the longest.
  2. If you currently are struggling with, are in recovery from, or feel at risk for an eating disorder please read this post at your own discretion.

No introductory paragraph needed, this post is a long one as is. Let’s go…

A few weeks ago a close friend asked me something I’ve not yet been asked – “what does recovery feel like?”

An on the spot question that I didn’t feel prepared to answer. Crap. I wasn’t taught this in therapy or treatment. I was given tools to work with myself rather than against myself in my journey to become “whole again”, whatever the heck that means. I wasn’t told how to respond to what this all feels like…

My response: well, uhm… challenging, freeing, comfort-zone breaking, and well, really really terrifying.

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Let’s talk.

Recovery is messy. But, on the other hand so is actively living with a raging eating disorder. And, for those of you reading this despite the disclaimer who may think “but my ED is under control, not raging”, this applies to you too.

Before I can even begin to discuss what recovery feels like, which will take up the bulk of this post, I must briefly discuss what living with an ED feels like. Rather, what did this feel like to me, because everyone’s experience is unique. I’ve written about this before, even posting a journal entry which I’m going to take an excerpt from…

The manifestations inside of my brain are a complete madness. The voice which leads me to follow down the path of habitual maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors. It’s a complete psychosis. All I’m trying to do is prove myself to the voice inside of my head. It’s pathetic.

Living with an ED is hell. It’s having two voices inside of your head, one which is you and wants to see you follow your path, your soul, and fulfill your dreams. This voice is who YOU are, it’s the one which you will hopefully become friends with in recovery. The other voice is “ED”, it’s the devil. It’s the voice which tells you the despite your hardest effort you will never be good enough. No matter how “sick” you get it’s not enough (but, remember, it’s your loved ones that are saying you’re sick… ED says you’re stronger than the rest, that you’re better, that they’re all wrong). Sickness can be felt as strength in an ED. Sickness being following the commands of the voice inside of your head that is trying to kill you but also the voice that is followed because it makes you feel put together although in reality you’re crumbling apart by the second.

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In the same post, from the same journal entry (just go read the post, it’ll make much more sense), I get into some of what recovery feels like… especially the being triggered part.

Recovery is messy, but relapse is deadly. In recovery the voice partly subsides. It’s weaker. Your now not completely starving. Memories begin to feel more like imaginations, almost as if the eating disorder doesn’t actually exist and you haven’t played around on the fine line of life and death for the past however many years. But you have to remember that’s a lie and you did. Then you question yourself. Was I really in that deep. Did I actually do that to my body, my soul, my life. I know it happened but it feels so surreal. Almost as if it’s someone else’s story that I heard before. My mind doesn’t want to remember the past. The pain. The struggle. It wants to make it better.

Then you remember. What’s worse than remembering the truth is that your mind begins to feel the same way as when your head was in the toilet or as when you could count with your fingers what you consumed last week. It’s sick. But it wasn’t that bad, right?

My recovery has been going since 2012. It’s had some pot holes and some speed bumps. I would be lying if I said recovery is easy, simple, free of hiccups. I think the bumps are what have made it, at least for me, “work”. I think the plethora of hiccups have made me stronger, one by one, in fighting the ED voice in my head.

I wrote a few months ago about having had a stress fracture earlier this year. This was my first major injury (the type that kind of makes you press the pause button) since treatment. I was nervous. I felt like part of my identity was being taken from me. I told myself to just go with it. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Cliche but it helped. I won’t say I felt entirely in control throughout the whole healing process, that’d be a full-on lie… BUT, I trusted my ability. I trusted all that I’ve been through in the process of recovery and that I could get past a slightly larger speed-bump. I was honest with loved ones about what I was feeling. I jumped on the fu*king do this bandwagon and went with it.

Arguably the most useful skill I’m cultivating is to ebb and flow.

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Writing about recovery is equally as hard as writing about what living with an ED is like. In one way I think it’s more challenging because everyone experiences recovery differently, and that’s what makes it last, it’s individualized. That said, ED’s come in all forms and affect people differently. I don’t want anyone to take my journey as an instruction manual. That can go both ways, I don’t want me writing about my darkest moments to become a goal to get sicker or deeper into the illness. Conversely, I don’t want anyone to follow my recovery path step by step because it worked (is working) for me. Moreover, out of all of my friends with similar struggles, all of our ED’s and all of our recovery processes are quite different.

Begin-again

It’s not sunshine and rainbows. I think most know it’s not. While sometimes the image of being recovered may seem like this magical place where the demons are gone and you’re no longer sick… I’ve yet to come across someone where this holds true. I won’t say it doesn’t exist, I’m just saying the process is much more raw and you have to get your hands dirty. It’s a process. Recovery, or as I prefer to call it, remission, is a continual journey of triumphs, road bumps, setbacks, painstaking realizations, a whole lot of crying and accepting. It’s wanting to throw in the towel, and maybe that does happen. Maybe somewhere in the process it’s too much for that moment and a slip up happens or a relapse happens. That doesn’t make it any less real. It doesn’t make it a failed attempt. It doesn’t make you weak.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy

Getting past the darkest moments is what made me stronger. They are what made me believe in my ability to keep going, even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or feel like my remission is an inconvenience to my life (and yes, that’s present tense… because  it’s often a lifelong journey). Trust me when I say I can count the number of times I’ve been pissed off that I’m in recovery, mainly in the beginning stages. I used to feel guilty for having to put my mental health first. I felt ashamed to need to make sure that I was having my personal needs met because that meant I would (hopefully) take care of myself. Still from time to time I feel this way, like when I say no to helping out at work because I have a plan for a hike that day and I know that hiking is the most amazing thing I’ve found for my mental health. I’m better at knowing my needs now, understanding what is within my capacity and what is absolutely going to lead to a meltdown. Just because I “know myself more” doesn’t mean I don’t still feel guilty about it no matter how much I’m told I shouldn’t.

I wanted (and tried) to throw in the towel at-least a half dozen times but something kept me going. I had the slips, the near falls, the desire to just be like “I’m over it” or “I’m better at managing an ED than dealing with the insanities of remission”. I literally felt like I was losing my mind, that everything I worked for was slipping away. In reality it was the opposite. Everything I worked for was everything my ED wanted me to work for. It needed to slip away. I needed to let it go for the sake of healing. I needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. NO. I needed to get comfortable with being really uncomfortable. NO. I needed (and have) accept being uncomfortable with being really uncomfortable.

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Undoubtedly the most uncomfortable I’ve been in this process is dealing with the mental discomfort associated with the physical discomfort. Let me clarify in a rather abrupt manner… Gaining weight because I medically needed to → ED telling me I’m a pathetic piece of shit; dealing with the 5-6 month pregnant look of bloat because my body didn’t understand how to properly digest food for about the first YEAR of recovery AFTER regaining weight → everyday wanting to crawl out of my skin and feeling like I was; having a tooth break because you “floss too much” → well maybe something caught up to me; having blood work come back abnormal → equally terrifying (healthy voice) and amazing (ED voice…. the “you’re finally sick”); being 24 with osteopenia that you’ve had since 17 → still processing this one; being 24 and spending upwards of 2-3 hours a day in the bathroom because my GI is still not fully comprehending what eating to fuel my body means → I sometimes study in the restroom because #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

Coping with the physical aspects which arise is challenging especially considering I’m working my way through a mental illness and my coping mechanisms are kind are what got me into this lovely mess (sarcasm). I think that sarcasm and sass helped me cope. They were two of the things I was good at that weren’t necessarily maladaptive. Sure, lessening or making jokes of my tendency to annihilate myself isn’t super positive, but it sure beats crying for an hour, in my mind that is. It worked for me and that’s what I care about. It helped me ignore a lot of the noise going on between my ears which would otherwise destroy me.

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When I entered my last treatment (IOP) I was well into weight restoration. I was working out, not excessively but I was working out. I had previously taken months off during my relapse, I’m the person who hates working out when I’m in the throws of a relapse… will discuss hold tight… I was told to stop going to the gym, running, ect. To let myself heal – mentally and physically. After some solid counterarguments I did what I was being asked told. I hated every second of it. I wanted the release, the passion, the excitement. I wanted something I felt good at because I felt pretty bad at the whole “getting better” thing. This was a major turning point for me because up until this point, if I was at a stable weight and food intake (and no I don’t mean “healthy”), I would exercise. In my mind I felt like it was safe and totally okay for me to continue working out in the program I was in. NOPE. Taking time off to really separate things and work on my health without the addition of external stressors was key. In hindsight, I agree completely.

On why I wouldn’t work out when I relapsed in 2011 – exercise and sports were a part of my life prior to the development of my ED, and I like to keep them as separate as possible. While yes throughout the years they have become intertwined, but as I like to make a counterpoint of, everything in my life has become intertwined because my ED started at 11, my last relapse was at 18, and I’m now 24. For me, fitness is a positive thing. I LOVE IT. I, as in me, as in Sarah. The ED voice tries to rear it’s head in and overdo it but it’s me that enjoys it. It’s taken years to disentangle this mess. I’ve learned, rather felt, that when it’s the ED voice in control of over 50% I workout because I feel like I need to, not because I necessarily want to. If life gets in the way I lose it, crumble, I can’t manage NOT working out because at this point it’s a compensatory behavior. When I’m in a good place, I want to be there, I take more days off and accept the “shit happens” better. The mindset difference still blows my mind, night and day.

Throughout the past few years I’ve worked tirelessly to reach a point where I cherish off days, and instead of making off days into active recovery days, I now just take OFF days. I’ve embraced changing my workout plan up when it’s needed, deciding on a whim to head out for a ride on the bike versus lifting if it’s what my brain needs for positive mental health. As much as I despise the saying about balance being key, balance is key when it comes to my lifting, biking, running, hiking, yoga-ing. There’s a line, I respect the line. Not saying I don’t ever cross it, I am human, but I acknowledge it’s existence.

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During my time in IOP I was working, taking a full class load, and then going to my group 4 nights and 1 weekend day. It was a lot. I find myself sometimes thinking that I don’t know how I did it but then I think that’s why it worked for me. I didn’t try to solely focus on getting better, my life didn’t revolve around just that. It was the major focal point, but I was also a student and employee. I learned how to work getting better into my daily life versus being given skills and then thrown back into my life. I’m grateful that I was at a point in my illness where this was an option. IT WAS NOT fully supported but I did it. I’m not being like wahoo yay me, but we’re all different. Some people need the recovery process to be a bit less hectic, and some, like me, find the hecticness is almost healing. However, now, I choose to live a slightly less hectic but very supportive of my needs lifestyle because it’s good for me.

This taught me a large lesson in choosing what to add and subtract from my plate. One of the most valuable life lessons I’ve taken away is that while I might be entirely capable of doing something, that doesn’t mean I always have to do it. Just because we as humans have this interesting ability to shove things down and keep pressing forward to get everything done, doesn’t mean we need to do this. What if something needs to be removed from the daily routine? It doesn’t make you any less worthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. Maybe it just means it’s not best for your well-being. Routines ebb and flow, busyness comes and goes. Just because we had a hectic routine for a few months or years doesn’t mean it need be maintained for life. Breaks are allowed. Your worth is not defined by your capacity to drive yourself into the ground.

You have innate value because you’re alive.

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I think that while when I was in treatment and the beginning stages of recovery, the time when I absolutely feared the bumps, the hard-times, the triggers – that these are actually the things which made me resilient. I’m not perfect, nor do I wish to be. Trying to be perfect almost killed me, so I’m actually rather against that notion. This entire process is learning to understand yourself. As simple and as complex as that is. We are all built on a foundation of sunshine and thunderstorms, positives and negatives. We all have our own personal shit sandwich. WORK WITH IT. Don’t work against yourself by fighting with the summation of things which comprise your foundation, your story, as a human.

A lot of the work is done by yourself. Sure there may be loved ones in your life, or a therapist, who can help you by supporting you on your path. Ultimately though, it’s you for you. It was me for me. I am the one still making sure that my mental health needs are met because I know what happens when they aren’t. I’m still watching out for that. Nobody else knows how you’re feeling, even if you tell them. Our understanding of the world is entirely up to us. Our ability to flow with life is entirely up to us. It’s hard. The continuum from sick to well is a long one and it’s different for everyone. Some of the times when I felt the sickest were when I looked the “healthiest”. Mental health doesn’t always show up in a physical capacity. We are the only ones who realize the depth of the demons inside of our heads and are the only ones who can choose and keep choosing to fight the fight.

The ED voice, it’s almost as if it’d hardwired into my mind at this point. It’s still there, it’s less frequent and has much less power, but it’s there deep down in some form or another more than I’d like to admit. A major focus area for me has been working to stop the habitual pathway of thoughts in my mind. Right now I’m going with the flow, I’m doing what feels right to the voice in my head which supports me and helps me grow as a human being instead of the one which wants to send me back down the rabbit hole. Not all days are of the positive type where I end the day thinking “I can do this, I’ve got this”. There are plenty of times still, 4 years later, where I want to just be over it. I accept that while I’m past the major hurdles, my remission is still the most important thing in my life because it’s the closest thing I have to feeling like I’m being the “best” version of myself. It’s what makes me, well, me. I’m enjoying not being in control over everything and you can sure as hell bet I’m going to continue winging it.

“You must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first.” – Rupi Kaur

XO, S

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Yes, I’m alive and kicking

HI GUYS!

Holy crud.

I haven’t posted since May.

It’s been over three months.

I’m here. Alive. Kicking. The stress fracture is healed and I’m healing/working through the soft tissue crud that comes along with overuse. It’s been a long summer. I worked and took multiple classes – sports and performance psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology (this one actually is still going, finishes September 1st!), in addition to the usual frolicking up mountains and casually lifting weights. Fall classes start today and I have a unique semester ahead (I’ll get into this). Overall, it was a good summer. I had a TON of realizations, experienced a lot of feels and definitely grew as a person (depth, comfort zone, aka the tough stuff).

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View from North Twin

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View from South Twin

Okay, so let’s delve a bit deeper, shall we?

The stress fracture. It’s healed. It was a long couple of months, taking time off from running/hiking/kickboxing/lower body lifting (except non weight bearing… e.g leg ext, hamstring curls, GHD, monster walks – which btw, NEVER EVER get easier), and partaking in usual physical therapy, massages, stretching, and RESTING. But, I’m happy that it was just a stress fracture and I only had to take a couple of months off. In the big picture, this isn’t the end of the freaking universe. I lived despite thinking I was going to spontaneously combust out of lack of endorphins and anxiousness. I learned that I can take time to heal and that this is 100% entirely acceptable and even welcomed by my body. I learned that just because I am injured and “out” for a bit doesn’t mean I will never be back. It doesn’t mean I can’t continue to fuel my body. It doesn’t mean I will become un-fit or un-healthy. All the injury actually meant – it was a wake up call.

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I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This could be because I’ve done enough questionable stuff in my life that I need a solid explanation for (running head on into a tree I was just sitting against (it was night time mind you), having a stress fracture and relapsing and then having another one and relapsing again (2008/2012), spontaneously signing up for an ultramarathon in 2011 and falling in love with the sport/community, changing majors to then change back again, quitting a job to then go back because they are actually super awesome/flexible with school, ect.). We learn from what we go through. We GROW through what we go through. Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent… Everything happens for a reason. I got injured for a reason. It took a lot to process this one and it took even more to not fall back entirely into my eating disorder because this is the first injury in my life (since ED) that I haven’t severely struggled with ED behaviors because of the uncertainty and unshakable sense of fear with being injured. My ED is a coping mechanism, a shitty and maladaptive one, but a coping mechanism nonetheless. Exercise is also a coping mechanism, a better one, but still inextricably meshed with the ED. This is why, in the past, I’ve flip-flopped back and forth. Exercise, injury, relapse, repeat.

However…

This time was different.

What changed?

Simply put, I’m more removed from my ED (in terms of years out of treatment), I have better coping mechanisms, closer relationships/a different social life, and I am more self-aware/confident in my abilities and trusting my judgement even when my judgement tells me to ask for help/to reach out to my closest homies. I also attribute some of the business with summer classes and keeping myself busy to be helpful in the healing process.

I will do an entire post detailing this process (might vlog?! we will see). Ultimately though, this time was different because my circumstances were different, my outlook was different, and my introspective abilities are stronger. Additionally, I think that now at 24 versus 15-20 years old, I have entirely different experience with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I had those nasty thoughts rearing their heads and they were loud as loud can be. I stumbled a bit a couple weeks into the injury, specifically once I learned it was a stress fracture and not “just” a sprain. But I’m learning how to take care of myself rather than destroy myself. I decided that my long-term health is more important than my short-term ability to feel in control (not to make it sound like an easy choice… it isn’t… it’s incredibly difficult and takes YEARS to accept). Heck I still haven’t fully accepted it but the majority is in favor of wellbeing.

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Presidential Range

Until I blog… vlog. Until I discuss details, I’ll be keeping myself busy with school. SO what constitutes a “unique semester”? Well, my course-load is a follows: online general education course (environmental change), ASL 1, capstone (senior project) which is TA/independent study for psychobiology, and then TA/independent study for sports nutrition (working towards nutrition minor). I’m honestly pumped. While I am petrified of learning a language, it will be a good change of pace, interesting, a helpful skillset, and eye-opening.

This was a longer update than I had anticipated so I’m going to close the curtains on this post. I also want to go eat lunch before heading back to campus for the TA positions 😉

“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” Roy T. Bennett

Prioritize your needs

Hi all! As promised I’m back with a post between the spring semester ending and summer classes beginning. I literally cannot believe another semester is done. It feels like just yesterday I was frantically deciding whether to change my major from Neuroscience –> psychology or outdoor education and last minute sneaking my way into classes.

The decision was made and I’m good with it. While I’m extremely interested in a outdoor education, having a solid background in outdoor adventure groups and communities growing up it’s something that I’m really passionate about. On the other hand, it isn’t something that I felt like I wanted to major in “enough” to put myself in a position of taking that many more classes. The way I see it is, if that is the direction my life is meant to go it will happen regardless and psychology is also a great background to have for the field of outdoor ed/adventure therapy.

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Throwback to Mt. Isolation (september 16′). 12 miles, 5k vert gain. One of my favorites thus far. The suck was real but so was learning to love the process.

One year left, one year left. I keep telling myself this on repeat and it helps. It’s not that I’m “bad” at school. I’m for the bulk of my college career a straight A student minus the period I attempted balancing school + work + treatment. Rather, it doesn’t feel right. I enjoy learning, I love it and feed off of it. Increasing my knowledge base and understanding of both the material I’m studying and the world in general makes me feel grounded. However, sitting in a class full of other students with numerous stimuli and distractions doesn’t jive well with my brain. I can rarely focus and while that was okay the past two semesters, I’ve been apprehensive about the upcoming school year. So I’m doing something about that and choosing to be proactive and supportive of my needs rather than just being in la-la land and pretending I’m a perfectly productive student in the classroom.

. Four FULLY ONLINE summer classes. There is the money honey. I honestly dig online classes, I feel that I’m able to grasp the material equally as well if not better than in-class lecture format because I’m not wasting time sitting in classes unfocused and angsty only to go home to teach myself everything I supposedly just learned in class. I feel very uneasy in classes/on campus which fascinates me because it’s only been like this throughout my time at my current university. It could be the school (size), it could be that my mental health is in a different place now than before and I tend to actually feel my feelings, not feeling like I fit in AT ALL, a combination, or none of the above.

Life is said to be this balancing act – a see-saw if you will. I agree with this, there are good days and bad days, days of growth where you thrive and break down walls, then there are days when the going gets tough and honestly I think the best way to manage these days is being able to take care of yourself. Life isn’t giving in or giving up. It’s not hiding from the world or holding yourself back. It’s owning up to yourself, being present, and showing up in the world.

As I mentioned in a couple posts back when discussing the process of overcoming an injury, “count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

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In addition to this, I think it’s being capable of accepting and honoring where you are at now, which may be an entirely different place than a month ago, a year ago, or two months in the future. As human beings we constantly are growing, evolving, and increasing our depth of understanding – having the mental flexibility to allow this and accept/be okay with it is HUGELY IMPORTANT.

I am not where I though I would be at 23, almost 24 years old and that is okay. There is no universal law saying that I need to be doing X or have accomplished Y by the time I’m 24. These are my own self-imposed guidelines/goals/expectations. They are the feelings that strip enjoyment out of life. The feelings of being a failure because I decided that I don’t want what I once thought I did, or wondering why I’m unable to roll with the punches the way society expects me too.

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I’m not abnormal. Heck, what even is normal?! I’m working with who I am to develop the best version of me.

There are days where I have to take a step back from everything and just try to enjoy the little things. Focusing on small stuff helps keep the big stuff more manageable. In the past year I’ve come a ways in terms of being able to recognize when I need to do this instead of keeping pushing through which inevitably leads to either becoming burnt out and/or increased anxiety/panic attacks.

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Enjoying the little things – favorite space in my bedroom – lilacs, star dish with sea shells and tea bag quotes, a few pictures, my globe (in the back), and a card a dear friend gave me.

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Close up. Oh hey Panda 🙂

SO what have I been up to in my week off from school? A whole lot of nothing. I’ve worked pretty minimally, enjoyed the sunshine and warm temps, spent time with friends, and given myself space to prepare for the hefty load of classes in my near future (tomorrow!).

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Sports psychology/mindset reading

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I biked and she ran 🙂

I think that while I still deal with anxiety on a regular basis I’m much more accepting of it and I understand it better than I ever have. Taking time to just be and really pursue the things which light my soul on fire have been absolutely essential to my mental health. That and forcing myself to do things which while sometimes uncomfortable are only going to help me grow. I believe that there is a difference between doing things which are uncomfortable but promote growth versus things which are just not good for our personal needs (e.g online vs. in-class courses). I believe understanding where to draw the line for yourself and prioritizing this is the base of the pyramid in terms of self-care.

Prioritizing is knowing what you stand for. What are your goals? What makes you tick? What are you willing to put up with, sacrifice, leave behind, etc. etc. Learn to maximize everything that will help get you to your end goal. Look at the end goal and determine what needs to happen to get from now –> then. Focus on that stuff.

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clotuds, everything.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Life lately + a workout + molasses smoothies?!

Hi friends! It’s been a bit… Let’s chat.

I’ve been on the injured bandwagon since the beginning of April… the 5th to be specific. In my last post I told you guys it’s a sprain of my left ankle – ATFL and peroneal tendon inflammation . Shortly after this post I went back to the doctors again as things weren’t necessarily getting worse but there was also zero improvement… insert x-ray number 2 which came back normal, and an MRI which showed a stress fracture in the distal fibula (lateral malleolus). When the injury initially happened I kept saying it wasn’t a stress fracture, it didn’t feel right, it hurt “too much”, it felt like the peroneal tendon was ON TOP OF the distal fibula and I blamed the tendons/ligaments (so soft tissue) rather than bone. I mean after all I’ve had stress fractures before and I know what they feel like/how they present themselves. I also am MUCH healthier now and my body shouldn’t be in a position to develop one. However when it swelled a week after the initial injury and the bone hurt to palpitate I knew something was amiss.

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I know my hips are off kilter as I have hip dysplasia in my left hip. Yep it happens in humans and not just dogs. I swear 96.4% of the time people find out I have this they say “doesn’t that happen a lot to dogs?”… My biomechanics are off because of this, asymmetrical hamstring and hip flexor strength/movement patterns, compensations, ect. I have found a way to work with this in terms of lifting and hiking but running is an entirely different ballgame. Every single stress fracture I’ve dealt with is from running (e.g mechanical/use due to lack of shock absorption), or a combination of running and other activities (e.g volume/overuse).

My PT (whom I have seen for every single injury mind you) essentially told me that my foot/ankle mechanics are not designed for running. Especially road running, which I hate but the trails have been very snowy until now. My dorsiflexion is crap, things are tight, I have a bunch of scar tissue, my natural gait pattern is supination (aka I try to walk on the outside of my foot…placing stress on the lateral ankle), ect.

I’m accepting that this is going to be a work in progress. While I ultimately want to get back into distance racing, my current goal is to finish the NH 4000 footers in a year, so by July 20th. I’ve thought long and hard multiple times about this goal since this injury and if I have to push the date back it will NOT be the end of the world. To be honest, if I hadn’t already healed five stress fractures, have a good overall awareness of my body, and built a solid mental health base I’m not sure how I would be handling this. I’m still irritated, anxious, and annoyed, but I’m accepting the process better than I ever have with an injury before. It’s been a lot of letting go of my natural need for control, allowing myself the space to think things through, and not blaming myself too harshly.

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“Count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

So… the workouts. How does one train with a lower extremity stress fracture that can’t take extra weight? Well, I went from 6 days a week 1-2 workouts a day to 4-5 days and one workout. I’m being smarter, taking more rest (something that will inevitably stay even upon fully healing this injury), and working with what I CAN do versus overthinking what I can’t do. It has been a mix of upper body, core strength and stabilization, mobility, lower body which is safe (e.g lateral band work, monster walks, hamstring curls, gentle biking/spin bike, GHD back extensions). I’m making it work. I’m sharing yesterday’s workout with you guys, and note this bench rep scheme is not my normal style of high weight/low rep. I’ve been enjoying changing things up here and there to create a different stimulus, have some fun, and see what my body can do. It’s kind of HE** at 110 total reps and something I may do once every other month… if you give it a whirl please let me know what you think!

1. Bench press: 20.18.16.14.12.10.8.6.4.2 reps. Start at a weight and increase by 5 lbs. each set. Plan it so that the 2 rep is a weight you could usually 4-5 rep because after 108 reps things feel a tad different…

2. Weighted dips 3×6

3a. Dips 3×12

     3b. Hanging leg raise 3×20

4a. Pull ups 4 sets max effort

     4b. L-sit on rings 4×15 seconds

5a. Push ups 4×15

     5b. V ups 4×15

6. Cable press 3×10

7. Tricep push-down 3×10

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In other news I created a new favorite post workout smoothie concoction! It’s like peanut butter banana meets a cookie full of cinnamon and molasses goodness. The flavor profile is broad and it’s classified (to me) as a strange but good combination for sure.

What you need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or almond/dairy, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cup water (you could do less, I just like the volume!)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Pescience peanut butter cookie flavor)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses (can do more/less, depends how much you like molasses!)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. powdered peanut butter
  • Hemp hearts
  • Ice

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Directions:

  1. Add everything except molasses, ice, and toppings to blender and blend until smooth
  2. Add molasses and QUICKLY blend as it will try to stick like cement all over the blender
  3. Add as much ice as desired for goal thickness
  4. Top it if you feel like it (I used hemp hearts!)
  5. Drink up, buttercup

Well, if this wasn’t the most all over the map post that I’ve ever put up on the blog than I’m not sure what is.

“Time will pass anyway, you can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.”

What are my coping skills?

Hey all! Happy Monday 🙂 What the what… I’m back here on the blog again… so soon. Also, who in creation says “happy MONDAY”?!? I’ve been posting more lately and it feels right. Does that make sense? Doing what I love and what makes me smile – writing and sharing!

What am I here to talk about today? Coping mechanisms and skills for your mental health toolbox. OK, so, I came across a quote the other day which inspired me to sit down and journal about what I define to be my purpose and goals. I’ve been extremely on edge lately and dealing with way more anxiety than “normal” for me. Knowing this, I knew that I NEEDED to take some time to myself and just write, process, and understand my feels. In doing this, I decided to define what my coping skills are or what could be a genuine coping mechanism for me and my life. Coping skills are a necessity, and in my opinion, the more in-tune we are with our needs and what things are supportive of our needs the easier reaching goals becomes. It’s never a bad thing to utilize skills and cultivate habits which support our goals and fall in line with what we feel is our purpose on this planet.

I am such a quote person it’s slightly ridiculous, not a bad thing, merely an observation. Anyways, “Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman

Like I said, define my purpose. Before getting into specifics, I just wanted to share some hiking panoramics which I love to look back at and reminiscence between hikes. THIS is a huge coping skill for me.

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All of that said, let’s jump into the primary topic of this post… coping skills. The categories to define various coping skills are some that I learned while in treatment, and honestly, I think they’re gold.

Based on the five senses, what are things that soothe you?

  • Sound: birds chirping, rain, thunder, the ocean, bells,  music
  • Smell: pine, coffee, mint, smoke from a campfire, lavender, fall leaves, cinnamon
  • Taste: berry, mint, coffee, cinnamon, vanilla
  • Touch: comfy clothing, hugs, hot showers, sauna (heat), soft blankets/being under multiple covers in bed, walking barefoot
  • Sight: sunshine, rain, the forest, waterfalls, mountains, blue skies, the ocean, wildlife

What can you do to reconnect with yourself physically?

  • Run OUTSIDE
  • Yoga
  • Go for a walk
  • Hike

What can you do to reconnect with yourself mentally?

  • Meditate (guided or unguided)
  • Journal
  • Write a blog post
  • Listen to a calming music playlist

What will you do if you need an out?

  • Remove myself calmly from a situation
  • Text a friend to call me/call a friend
  • Accept that saying NO is acceptable

What can you do to distract yourself and/or remove yourself from anxiety (I filled in this question with anxiety to get more specific)?

  • Meet up with a friend
  • Work on homework
  • Plan a workout
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Take a nap
  • Take a hot shower
  • Hold a frozen orange (cool and useful technique learned in my program… keep an orange in the freezer and if you feel a panic attack coming on just sit down and hold said orange, your focus will move from negative and very robust emotions to the fact that your holding a freezing cold non-melting object… if this isn’t enough you can resort to filling a bowl with ice water and sticking your head in… YEP, I have done this (twice), and YEP it does the trick). I do think processing the feelings which led you to needing to utilize this skill in the first place though after the fact is important.

What will you do if you feel stuck?

  • Attempt to decipher my feelings
  • Talk with a close friend
  • Read old blog posts and journals to try to help regain a sense of self and light a fire under my ass
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Best friends make the world go round

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Replace and anxiety for depression and #nailedit (also nails it for depression also, of course!)

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Had to share this… Left class one day and just sat outside for ~ 15 mintues because I needed a moment (a lot of moments). Decided to snapchat a friend instead of getting lost inside of my head. #puttingskillstowork

What are some of YOUR coping skills? We’re all different.

Any quotes that speak to you lately?

Thanks for reading 🙂 xo, S

FIVE: survey time

Hi guys! Happy 4th of July to everyone Smile I hope you all get to sit back, relax, remember what the holiday is about, and have some fun.

I’m back with a little survey action because why not?! I’m such a sucker for surveys (maybe it’s the science part of me – ok well that makes like no sense but whatever). I find it super interesting to find out random tidbits about other people that you wouldn’t have guessed otherwise. Like, Allie really wants to Horseback ride more often, that’s super cool. I also jacked the idea of taking this survey from her. Without further ado…

FIVE PLACES I WANT TO VISIT

  1. Colorado
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Germany
  4. Ireland
  5. Mayan, Inca, Aztec ruins – I think they are just super cool and I love seeing and experiencing history because it gives me a better perspective of this world

FIVE FOODS I EAT EVERYDAY

  1. Eggs
  2. Sweet potatoes – at one point I was eating WAY too many and my skin began to turn orange. No joke. It’s now like a half to one a day.
  3. Mustard – with horseradish and apple cider vinegar in it please… my breath smells great after I eat this stuff. So great that you should probably avoid hanging out with me until I’ve brushed my teeth or covered it up with gum
  4. Ice cream – So Delicious Cashew Milk (I mentioned this stuff in my favorites post). Seriously like all flavors are the amazing and I know this because I’ve clearly had almost all of them. Chocolate truffle, Snickerdoodle, Cappuccino, Salted caramel… all the bomb.
  5. Nut butter

FIVE THINGS I WEAR EVERYDAY (I swear I do wear “real person” clothing too!)

  1. Gym shorts
  2. Birkenstocks (kids Birkenstocks, mind you, I’m a womens 5 haha! #savingallthemoney)
  3. Sweatshirt
  4. Sport bra (#ittybittytittycommittee)
  5. My hair in a ridiculous bun

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Point proven.

FIVE BOOKS I LOVE

  1. The Sun Also Rises – Earnest Hemingway
  2. Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  3. Being Peace – Thich Nhat Hanh
  4. The Champion’s Mind – Jim Afremow
  5. When Things Falls Apart – Pema Chödrön

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FIVE THINGS ALWAYS IN MY GYM BAG

  1. Jump ropes – literally there are three Smile
  2. Wrist wraps – I talked about these here as well
  3. Nutriforce Sports balanced hydration in citrus flavor
  4. Extra sneaks
  5. Gum – Orbit sweet mint is my go to and I usually chew it during the beginning of my lifting sessions and get bored with it about half way through!

FIVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS I USE DAILY (or bi-daily)

  1. Too Faced Better than Sex mascara
  2. Victoria’s Secret PINK body spray
  3. Dr. Bronner’s soap
  4. Stila eyeliner
  5. Essie nail polish – it’s always painted on my toes so technically I use it daily Winking smile

FIVE THINGS I DO DAILY

  1. Color and/or doodle
  2. Stretch/foam roll
  3. Sing in the car and (if I’m home alone) shower
  4. Drink too much coffee
  5. Pee too much – probably a result of #4… fellow lab and gym friends are concerned

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FIVE THINGS I WISH I DID MORE OFTEN

  1. Yoga
  2. Walk outside
  3. Swim
  4. Spontaneous adventures
  5. Hiking

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I do enjoy my walks to get coffee and then back to the lab however. A nice change of pace and a healthy dose of fresh air + sunshine (aka a break from chemicals and some vitamin D…)

That’s all for now kids. Have a wonderful day and I’ll look forward to any of these surveys you guys repost (seriously, do it for my pure entertainment). Buuuuuut if you don’t feel like doing it at least tell me: what is something you wish you did more often? And, where do you want to visit/travel to?!

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” – Sylvia Plath

Live FIERCELY.

Hi guys! It’s Tuesday Smile  In my Literature and Business course we recently were asked to read an excerpt from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and while there were definitely some good and interesting points discussed… it just didn’t do it for me. I’ve written some posts on this blog as motivational sources for both myself and my readers. I’m currently working on a side project also and have taken some of a couple of posts to make one big post which I’m sharing today on living fiercely and my personal vision of success and life purpose. These are my opinions and views, so take with you what works and leave what doesn’t. After all, everyone is different in terms of what motivates them.

Ready? Set go.

OK wait… first some tunes for reading. Please please don’t tell me I’m the only one who needs good jams.

Always be yourself, that’s what everyone says. In a world committed to beating the guy next to you, striving always to get ahead, to have the balls to go after your own dreams is a novel idea in and of itself. It’s a hard choice to keep up the pursuit of your dreams, goals, passions, hobbies, the things which light your soul on fire. However, a crucial one nonetheless.

What gets in the way? Why do people feel it’s necessary to just live inside the bubble society has created and continued to morph as the years go on. Why do we conform ourselves to the needs of society versus the needs of ourselves?

Self-limitation. Self-sabotage. Whatever term hits you the hardest – go with it. Boy is that a concept. It’s also something most people do on the regular, whether or not they are actually aware of it. It’s hard not to. We are brought up in a society that tells us as children that well, we are amazing and can do whatever we set our minds to. Which if you ask me, that’s great. But what’s not so great is that as kids get older the support and the “you’re the greatest” start to leave the scene, and rather quickly. We end up with young adults who are trying to find their life path and also simultaneously being bombarded from every angle with messages about how to be richer, prettier, skinnier, how to succeed, how not to succeed, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re not X/Y/Z, how to be “healthy”, and the list goes on and on. Then of course there are the more important things like actually being a responsible adult, having and maintaining a job, college, graduate school, starting a family, ect. It’s a lot of pressure, so it’s natural for people to be hard on themselves and doubt their abilities. Things cost money, it’s easy to question if something is worth it and subsequently talk yourself out of things. It seems safer to go with the flow of society rather than carving your own path. Safer doesn’t always equal easier.

What we are not taught? How to listen to our inner fire and let go of our inner critic. Now that’s a concept worth actually pursing.

The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s best not to run from your demons. Running from the negative doesn’t typically create a positive. It creates a void, a void that most people don’t know how to work with. Instead, work without them, accept them, be at peace with them, and if you really must – use them… but, don’t let them use you.

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I think we tend to get so caught up in the past and the future that we forget we are actually living currently, in the now. It’s a constant challenge to keep the mind focused on the present moment and you might find yourself present one moment, and then thinking about next Tuesday three minutes later. It’s natural for the mind to shift, to oscillate between past, present, and future. Our brains have so much going on, so many functions, things to process, and information to relay to us. I think what’s essential however is to be content and happy with the now so that the reason our mind is wandering isn’t to escape the present moment.

How to be successful in your life? Accept that it’s worth it.

It’s worth it for fucks sake. Whatever the idea is that you have in your head, pursue it. What if you are successful? What if it makes you happy and in love with every.single.second of your life? If it doesn’t… well you tried and after all it’s all about experience. TRY IT. Take a chance, or two, or three. Go out on a limb and explore new things, new boundaries, new places. You might end up finding yourself in a place you’ve only ever dreamed of being. Explore your limits. Explore your comfort zone. Say YES. And then say yes again. Listen to your soul, your body, your desires and get after them. Set up your day to day in order to reach your goals. Nobody is going to get you there except for you.

One of the hardest parts about reaching a goal: allowing yourself to try. I’m not talking about the give it a week or a month of slowly and ever so casually working on a goal. I don’t mean give it a week, then fall off the wagon, then two weeks later get back on the wagon. I mean give it all you have. If you want something bad enough give yourself the true opportunity to reach that thing.

People underestimate the true amount of time, effort, hard work, and pure determination that go into reaching a goal. It’s easy to leave out the key pieces, to not go full throttle. It’s easy to quit and say “it’s just not for me” or “I’ll try again next year”. Stop limiting yourself. Stop limiting your life. Stop taking it easy when the going gets tough. Choose the hard way. Choose to create a better life. Choose to reach what it is you truly wish to reach.

Throughout my experiences one of the hardest things I’ve come to terms with is what I feel that I *should* be capable of. I would take ego, standards, and previous accomplishments and hold myself accountable to what I believed I needed to be doing. I felt I needed to be the best at competing, a straight-A student, working full-time, always performing better than any other individual at a given moment – all while keeping myself together. I tried to be invincible, like super-woman. For a period of time I was able to adapt to these extreme standards, but soon enough I started to show cracks. It’s quite difficult if not impossible to maintain near perfection in every realm of life at each given moment.

Where did I learn these beliefs? Why is it that I hold myself to standards set higher than a majority of my peers? But better yet, why is it that I’ve met other people who have similar if not identical lifestyle patterns? In my opinion, it’s about trying to prove ourselves as human beings. It’s about your worth as an individual.

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All in all accept yourself, continue to grow into who you are and be a better version of you not your neighbor. Find what makes you come alive as a person, what it is that has you thriving in life and do that thing. Don’t be the reason you didn’t reach your goals. Stop holding yourself back because of trying to be the best at everything versus trying to be the best at your thing.

You have innate value because you are alive. Accept that.

So decide what you want to do. What’s important. What you want to work on. Decide what defines you, your life. Be extremely stubborn about your goals but stay adaptable. Keep evolving, both internally and externally. Mentally, spiritually. Focus on your shit. But be aware that other people have their own shit. It’s not yours to fix. Just be capable of listening. Make your work ethic respectable. Be humble. Remember the game when the going gets tough because it will get tough. Understand your thoughts, your emotions, your needs. Accept them. Don’t let them control you. Work with them. Use your voice, collaborate, help others, be kind always. Tell people how much they mean to you. Love every single part of yourself. Surround yourself with people who support your most difficult dreams. Keep reflecting and adjust what needs adjusting but make sure it’s for you – know your vision. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Let it go. Laugh. Don’t be so serious. Seriousness can come across as being an asshole. Figure out your shit. Don’t lie to yourself. Roll the dice and play the cards. Be capable of inspiring yourself. Know when it’s time to put your big girl pants on and know when it’s time to say fuck it. Be what you want to be.

xo, S