Sunday, 31 May 2009

Safety Zone Or Prison?

I've talked a lot over the past few days about finding what works and sticking with it. I'm starting to wonder how good an idea this actually is- if something is going well, why take the risk of shaking things up an branching into new territory? I think I am running the risk of falling into an unnecessarily strict routine out of fear of what *might* happen if I try something new. There is a balance between accepting things as they are, and knowing when to push that little bit further and see if the 'limits' can be stretched further. Stepping out of a safety zone feels scary and almost unnecessary, but on the other hand, a 'safety zone' can end up feeling more suffocating than comforting.

I like routines. I like to know what's happening in advance, I like to plan ahead and I like to be prepared. I like scientific and mathematical solutions to problems - 'x = 2y' makes sense to me. Life isn't like that. Life demands a level of flexibility- an ability to adapt, to change, to grow. There is nothing WRONG with routines in themselves, except when they get to a point where they become ingrained to the point where going with the 'flow' of life becomes too challenging. Isn't that what life is about? Trying new things, experimenting, discovering, learning?

This is all prompted by me opening my fridge this morning and realising it's virtually empty, having already bought all the food I need for this week. No, I'm not planning on not eating (!), but I am trying to use up more of the stash of food in my freezer right now (which means a lot of boring/repetitive meals for the next couple of weeks). Common sense? Perhaps. I could also very easily fall into the habit of eating the same things over and over again until I find myself scared to break out of what has become a completely rigid routine.

What are your thoughts on 'doing what works' versus taking leaps of faith and trying new things? Do you consider yourself to be someone who likes routine/predictability or do you prefer 'winging-it' and seeing where life takes you?

"At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don't keep other people out. They fence you in. Life is messy. That's how we're made. So, you can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them."
- Grey's Anatomy


I did want to try a new twist on my breakfast this morning: blueberry and cream oats!

I cooked up plain oats (in water), then swirled them in with blueberries and fromage frais. This was REALLY good- exact same ingredients as yesterday's breakfast, but a whole bunch of different textures/flavours. I don't recommend this if you like your oatmeal really hot though! Frozen blueberries and cold yogurt drop the temperature :P

Today is the last day for submissions to Katie's new food challenge ...

Okay, I don't know much about sprouts. A sprout is a sprout to me- I've only ever eaten alfalfa sprouts before and assumed they were all pretty much identical. WRONG! The radish sprouts were purple (which automatically makes them cool in my opinion) but they had a completely different taste- much more of a 'kick' than alfalfa which...hehe, taste like grass (and yes, I have eaten grass!)

The spiciness of the sprouts got pretty lost once mixed up with my fiesta salad (tuna, rice, kidney beans, salsa) but still looked pretty!

PURPLE! I want to try some other sprouts now- any recommendations?

HUGE congratulations to everyone who ran yesterday. I caught part of the Edinburgh Marathon today and now that I've read so much more about what actually goes on in training/preparation for such a feat, I have nothing but respect for all of you runners out there. This afternoon is going to be spent catching up with blogs to read recaps!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend- can you believe tomorrow is the first of JUNE?! Where is this year going?

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Girl About Town

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on yesterday's post. I'm glad to hear that we all share similar ideas on this- that we have the right to share our thoughts/feelings and it's not our responsibility how somebody else decides to use that information. Our blogs are personal and reflect our own goals which AREN'T necessarily the same as somebody else's- I don't think anyone should ever feel like they have to censor what they say or 'baby' their readers... If we aren't honest or can't say what we think, then what's the point in a blog? Something my dad once told me which I think is applicable when it comes to advice/ideas from other people, "take what you can and discard the rest". Find what works for you and run with it!

"Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind"


Today it feels like SUMMER! Glorious sunshine- I wanted to make the most of it today because this is Scotland and you never know how long good weather will last! Sunshine therapy, vitamin D...what more could I ask for?

I slept until almost 6am- SCORE! Leapt out of bed and had breakfast before packing my bag and heading out to roam the city...

Oats/fromage frais/vanilla mix with blueberries, almonds and apricot jam.

This is on one side of the main road I walk along every day to get into town- so much prettier in the sun!

The other end of the street, just before hitting the town centre.

I have lived in Edinburgh on and off since I was 1 and still think it's so cool to have a castle bang in the middle of the city.

Oooh...what's this?

FARMERS MARKET! Double score!

There wasn't much there aside from meat/cheese/wine, but they did have a porridge/oatmeal stall! Check out the menu:

Toppings include whisky with honey (!), white chocolate with hazelnuts and a pear/sultana/almond mix. I started talking to the guy after asking for permission to take a photo (and assuring him I didn't work for an oatmeal company...ha) and couldn't help but laugh when he asked if I had ever heard of/tried oatmeal with 'toppings'. I mentioned the pumpkin/PB combination but resisted the urge to go into elaborate details of cookie dough or spinach/cauliflower oats with so many people time!

I made lunch when I got home- another humus wrap using lots of your ideas...
  • paprika (Olga)
  • mushrooms (K)
  • sprouts (Cacti)
  • spinach

Good teamwork guys! Words cannot even describe how good this was- messy, but delicious. Aaaaaand...that's a wrap (cheesy jokes never get old!)

Hope everyone's weekend is off to a great start! What's your favourite way to spend a sunny weekend?

Friday, 29 May 2009

Me, My Blog and I

Thank you for your feedback on yesterday's post about finding balance- seems to be a general consensus that 1) this is something most of us struggle/have struggled with at some point, and 2) how essential it is to prioritise and set aside time for things that ARE important. Putting my health as a priority is not something that comes easily to me which is what I am struggling with- because right now, it IS a priority that I am not willing to compromise. Identifying the things that help me feel good physically and mentally is one of the main things I am figuring out right now and that's pretty much what my blog is all about.

Yesterday Caitlin posted about food blogs and the responses she has had to her blog/lifestyle- it prompted an interesting discussion and made me think about a few things which I wanted to address. It was very interesting to read the responses- quite a mix of opinions from both people with eating disorders, and people without. Worth checking out.

First of all, I want to apologise to anyone who has been triggered by anything I have said in my blog. I try to keep it as 'safe' as possible, but am also aware that I share a lot of the same struggles that you guys do and my blog is my outlet to talk about the ups and downs. I want to keep it 'trigger free' but I also want to keep it honest and open. I can only speak from my own experiences and share my thoughts/views, and I truly value each and every comment and word of advice/feedback I receive in return.

I can't tell you how much blogging has helped me over the past few months and I am finding that as time goes on, I am drawn more and more to blogs about healthy and balanced lifestyles rather than ones that focus solely on eating disorders/recovery. I still relate very much to the eating disorder discussions/struggles, but I am finding that as my own recovery grows stronger, these are getting harder for me to read. I don't know if this is a positive sign of growth/change, or a sign that I have merely become heartless? I feel very much in transition right now between the 'old' blog about my daily struggles and my 'new' blog which hopefully reflects the changes that have happened (and continue to happen). There are a LOT of blogs out there- some I follow because they demonstrate the balanced lifestyle I am striving for or because they interest me, and some I have had to stop reading because I find them frustrating or upsetting. There are a lot of great blogs out there and I have nothing but respect for people who take the time and energy to post and share as much as they do. I have never judged ANYONE based on what they eat or the things they write- if it's not healthy for me to read for whatever reason, I don't read it. Simple as that. I imagine many do the same with my blog! If I think I can offer some support or advice, I'll throw it out there for consideration but it's up to the individual to use/discard what I say. I am in NO way perfect or a 'role model'- I put my own story into words and am finding what makes my life more in tune with the goals I have.

I don't compare myself to other bloggers the way I used to and that has been the biggest change for me over the last few months- discovering what works for ME. Which is different for everyone. I DO NOT post entire day's worth of food so please don't think that my photos are an entire day's worth of food. I am also trying to avoid focusing on eating disorders and talk in what I hope is a much broader/general outlook on "life" rather than "anorexia".

My blog is not a 'food blog' in the same way that some are. It's about an ever-evolving relationship with myself, food and life itself. I don't want my blog to be associated with eating disorders because whilst I am in 'recovery', my biggest struggle right now is NOT about 'symptoms', but finding a manageable, healthy and meaningful way of life.

I LOVE reading your comments and thoughts, whether positive or negative, I DO want to hear it. All are gratefully received and I learn a lot from hearing your views and opinions. Some of the negativity can hurt or seems a little inappropriate, but some people have openly challenged me or disagreed with me and it has led to some great discussions. I don't want anyone to feel like they have to agree with the things I say or approve of what I do- and I hope that people do feel able to say, "hey- wait a minute...I don't like that".

Caitlin's post made me think a lot about the responsibilities bloggers have to their readers- my personal opinion of this is that bloggers have no responsibility beyond being respectful of others whilst sharing their views, and accepting that not everybody is going to like/agree with what they say. Sharing your life in a blog does open up doors to criticism and negativity- it seems a lot of us have experienced this at some point. For me, the support and positive feedback I receive far outweighs the negative. I think we all need to take responsibility for ourselves- whether writing or reading, if something is triggering or upsetting, there are choices beyond writing negative anonymous comments. You can ask for clarification or challenge (I have yet to come across a blogger who is not willing to discuss things further if asked) or you can simply close the window and walk away. We all make our own choices, sometimes influences by other people, but's us who has to decide what is right for us. If somebody chooses to take another blogger's lifestyle and copy it as their own, that's their decision and not the blogger's responsibility.

I hope I haven't stepped on anyone's toes by talking about this more, but Caitlin's post really made me question my blog/the direction it is going versus the original intention, and a lot of the comments made me wonder how my blog is perceived by readers.

Whew. That was long. Anyone still with me? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...


Today is the first day in Edinburgh that I can honestly say feels like summer! It is GLORIOUS sunshine and actually...t-shirt weather? Okay, maybe not quite but definitely not hot oatmeal weather.

Pumpkin, cinnamon, plain fromage frais, honey nut shredded wheat and peanut butter. I swear those are honey nut- they always land face down in my yogurt! There is all kind of honey nut goodness on the other side!

Snack was a heated up Clif-z smores bar:

Sometimes a little chocolate therapy is needed :) I don't like these cold, but slightly warming them takes them to a whole new level!

Lunch included a repeat of my Coronation chicken wrap from a couple days ago but for some reason tasted SO much better. I swear summer weather just makes life...sweeter.

Thank you for the hummus suggestions- I have big plans for tomorrow's wrap!

Random question: I found THIS STUFF today in the health food store and it looks great- anyone got a recommended use for it before I buy a jar? Sounds delicious!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Keeping Balance

So many things I want to say today. First of all, THANK YOU for your comments on yesterday's posts- as I wrote it, it felt like a sort of 'confessional' and I was thrilled beyond words to find so many people who share the same thoughts/feelings.

Second of all, I did get feedback on my article. Verdict? It is going to be up on the organisations website later this week!!! I am SO excited about this. The positive response I got was such a surprise to me- I really was expecting a, "thanks but no thanks" email from them (*must have more faith in self*). I don't want to go into too many details at this point, but I will say that it is an eating disorders recovery/advocacy network that I am thrilled to be involved with and I am really excited about the work I'll be doing with them.

Which brings me onto today's topic.

Writing my article and submitting it has been both a source of huge enjoyment and stress for me. I LOVE writing, especially when it is something I am passionate about so this was a great thing for me to do, but the stress comes from the perfectionist side of me which kind of kills the 'fun factor'. I get so anxious in situations where I am putting myself 'out there' and open to feedback/criticism, that nothing else seems as important- partly why my sleep has gotten so funky the past week. It doesn't feel AS important as making sure my work is the best it can be, that targets/deadlines are met, that everything is up to scratch. The problem lies in finding a balance between being busy and taking time to look after myself. From reading other people's blogs, I know this is not an uncommon difficulty. My schedule right now is NOT overly crammed full on purpose- I find it almost impossible to draw the line between working and relaxation/self-care so am working on gradually building up my level of commitments whilst simultaneously building up the skills to balance them. For now, I'm doing okay, but the past week has been a 'test' and highlighted the fact that whilst on a day-to-day basis, I'm doing well, there are still a lot of things I need to work on:

  • let go of the idea that I have to be 'perfect': do my best and just leave it at that
  • put my health as a priority: without decent amounts of food/sleep/exercise, I'm not going to be in a state to do anything properly
  • keep it all balanced: I qualified as a life coach a few years ago with a particular focus on developing/maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle...easier said than done, but it's NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

Question for you all: how do you find time to fit in commitments alongside taking care of your emotional/physical health? I read your blogs and am amazed at the amount of things you manage to squeeze into your days (runs, work, cooking, blogging, etc). Do you all have an extra few hours in the day that I don't know about? :P


Munchables...(I think there should be a 'blogger' dictionary- so many terms are used around blogs that people in the 'real world' have no idea what they mean! My family are getting used to me saying, "I'm HANGRY" now!)

Breakfast this morning featured one of my favourite cereals:

For people in the UK, this company now does their own version of MixMyGranola which has been mentioned a lot on blogs- you can check it out HERE.

With cooked apple and Fage...

I had a few hours to kill before leaving for work so I roasted up some vegetables...

(eggplant, zuchinni and onions) that when I came home from work, I could quickly throw together a fabulous lunch:

Okay, it doesn't look so fabulous- you're going to have to trust me when I say it tasted great! Roasted vegetables, spinach and red pepper hummus in flax lavash wrap. I told you I'd do *something* with hummus!

I LOVE roasted vegetables and am so glad I tried hummus again- I think this has the potential to become another regular rotation on my lunch menus. What are your favourite things to put in hummus sandwiches?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I...Love Food

It seems to be a fairly common misconception that people with eating disorders hate eating. I can only speak for myself, but I have never hated eating. The thoughts/feelings that arose from it (about myself), yes, but not eating itself. I love food and always have. I have never enjoyed the sensation of hunger (which is probably partly why I chose starving myself as a "coping mechanism?)

When I was 13, I vowed to never again say out loud, "I'm hungry". To do so meant admitting that I had needs and wants which I would far rather have ignored. I have had many a heated argument with people who suggested that I was hungry- me? NO WAY. I didn't want to show what I felt was a sign of weakness/lack of control. I secretly loved being in hospital where I was forced to eat because FINALLY I had the 'permission' to eat that I didn't feel worthy of giving myself.

I don't know quite when this changed but it most definitely has. I think a lot of it has come from reading blogs and seeing that eating is not only essential to health/life, but also a great source of pleasure and interest for a lot of people. I know there are a lot of people who struggle with finding a healthy relationship with food/their bodies, and I'm still working on that. But I am no longer scared to admit to being hungry, to needing food, to needing anything. It's not a sign of weakness or greed- it's part of being human.

Part of me feels like this is just too good to be true. That it is just a matter of time before I start spiralling downwards again- but the bigger/stronger part of me is thrilled at the thought of never having to starve myself again. And I DON'T have to. I like to eat and I want to live, so there's nothing to be negotiated further. ("Mmmmkay, anorexia? You hear me?") There are still niggling doubts and questions at the back of my mind: what if my body starts changing and I can't deal with it? What if I start questioning whether or not I WANT to live? How do I deal with stress without retreating into my eating disorder. I need to keep reminding myself that anorexia causes a whole set more of problems than it solves, that I am strong enough to face the world head-on without resorting to 'coping mechanisms' which don't work. That I deserve to eat, that I deserve to be healthy, that I deserve to take up a place in the world.

In other news: still no news/feedback about my article. I don't know how to interpret this so am just...waiting (and WAITING) and still no sleep. FGHJKJHVVJUJ! Anyone got tried and tested natural sleep remedies?

Random quote for the day which is completely unrelated to my post, but relevant nonetheless:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"


Munchables! (is that a real word?)
edit: according to spellcheck, no, it's not a real world. I am still using it. My blog = poetic license, no?

Last night's lack of energy called for Amy's help...

Teriyaki bowl with extra vegetables.

I've had this meal before and really liked it, but it tasted strange last night- a very strong taste of ginger (ICK!) and a very strong taste of lime (another ICK- ginger and citrus fruits are my most hated foods!). The vegetables were a stir-fry blend including pak choi for Katie's new food challenge- it had no flavour so I covered it in ketchup It tasted not unlike cabbage but with a tougher texture. I am not a fan.

Breakfast this morning, bright eyed and bushy-tailed at exactly 4:47am (I need coffee and food as soon as I get up!)

Pumpkin banana oats topped with peanut butter. Love it. At any hour (and it did make up for being awake so early!)

Snack was my last mini Clif bar...

...topped with white chocolate peanut butter. Loved this too.

For lunch I made a wrap! Well, assembled the wrap. Wrap + filling + ever improving rolling skills (right, Jaime?!)

Coronation chicken salad and spinach in lavash wrap. Kind of looks like egg salad, but there is most definitely chicken in there (along with raisins and dried apricots). Loved this too (sensing a theme with today's food? Oh-so-loveable!)

I am in a surprisingly loving/happy mood today- maybe this lack of sleep isn't such a bad thing?!
Hope everyone is having a hoppin' happenin' Hump Day!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Waiting Game

Thank you so much for your feedback on my thoughts about perfectionism. I am aware that it's gotten to a point where I NEED to find a way to ease up a bit- I am at a stage where I am reluctant to even attempt to do anything because the fear of not being 'good enough' is so horrifying.

Having said that, I finished the article last night and emailed it in. Waiting nervously for some kind of response and trying to be patient since yesterday was a bank holiday and there is a 7-8 hour time difference.

Onto today...

Oy vey. This lack of sleep is catching up on me. I can barely move today! I think it's the 'crash' I tend to get after running on adrenaline for a few days- when I was 18 and sitting some exams, I worked really hard in the lead up to them, then slept for a solid 4 days after! Having sent the email and no longer have it in my hands to edit/redo, there is a sense of relief and I just want to sleep all day.

So it's done and all I can do is wait nervously patiently...


Last night I heated up leftovers from the freezer- I need to clean it out and it's currently crammed full!

Quorn in red wine and mushroom sauce with cabbage + spring onion mashed potato, roasted mushrooms and steamed broccoli.

I don't know what possessed me to make this- I have decided that I really don't LIKE potatoes! They went well with the quorn and sauce though so it's all good. I used chicken last time I had this, but prefer the texture (and price) of quorn...oh, economy- sort it out!

My laziness is definitely reflected in today's meals!

Breakfast this morning was a standard...

Bran flakes, microwaved banana and Fage cherry twin pot. I'm not kidding when I say this tastes like cheesecake!

I bummed around for most of the morning- went out for some 'mystery shopping' (hehe...). Snack...

I now only have one pumpkin spice Clif to use up- I LOVE Clif bars but am seriously burned out on this flavour. I have a pretty big stash of maple nut waiting... I have been looking at the protein bars available here recently and there is such a small selection here! Pureprotein bars (my favourite) used to be readily available in limited flavours (and only the really big ones) but they have vanished. I would have thought there is a market here for protein bars...apparently not?

Lunch was a burrito bowl repeat due to 1) feeling lazy, 2) feeling very uncreative and 3) wanting an excuse to eat lots of salsa.

That's all I've got for to catch up on some blogs, sleep, facebook, check my emails a zillion times, sleep, eat dinner...did I mention sleep? Also playing around with the great 'bar builder' Heather is doing a giveaway from- check it OUT!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Just...(not) Perfect

I was asked last week to write an article about my struggle with anorexia and recovery. I jumped at the idea, without really giving it too much thought. It's been a much harder task than I anticipated- putting something into words what doesn't really, to this day, make very much sense to me (never mind anyone who might read it). What became really apparent as my article took shape was my need to be 'perfect'. To be successful, to make something of myself. It wasn't until I started writing and looking back to when this all started that I realised quite how much of an impact my need to prove myself has had on me. The feeling of never been good enough, of never meeting my own standards, of constantly feeling judged and criticised for my flaws.

The article is pretty much finished and I can't quite bring myself to send it. I've mentioned how much trouble I am having with sleep right now and the article is a huge part of that- I wake up at 3am with something I *need* to edit it right at that moment, and before I know it, I have a big mug of coffee in my hand and am hammering away at my laptop. Clearly my desire to have everything 'perfect' is still there!

I don't think this is ever going to go away. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember- my parents were called in to meet with my teacher when I was 6 because I made a mistake on a spelling test and she didn't think that my level of distress was normal for a 6 year old. Every time I have taken a job or gone back to school, it's been a matter of days before this feeling of inadequace/incompetance creeps in and I start running myself into the ground trying to reach that elusive goal of excelling, I retreat into my default of restrtcing because I know I can do that. Having ruled that out as an option, I am left with the question, "how do I accept myself as I am?"

I know, on a rational level, that perfection isn't possible- if it was, I probably wouldn't be aiming for it. It would be nothing special. It would be 'normal'. I want it because I want to feel special, extraordinary. Not for attention or recognition, but because deep down I feel like I need to show the world that I am deserving of a place in it.

I am aware that this is absurd. Nobody is judging or criticising me (nobody whose opinion I care about anyway!). This isn't coming from anyone else, except my own deep-rooted insecurities. I'm trying to let go. To ease up on myself and remind myself that I am good enough just for who I AM- I don't need to prove myself to anyone. I don't need some great high-flying job to define me anymore than I need an eating disorder to define me. Self-acceptance has never been unconditional to me- it's always been based on what grades I got, what awards I won, what job I got, what I weighed. I'm trying so hard to look beyond that: my personality, my sense of humour, my passions. All the things that make me unique and special just for being ME- accepting myself for who I am, not what I have done.

"When you aim for perfection, you discover that it's a moving target"

Meanwhile, the article seems disjointed, inarticulate, nonsensical. There is SO much I want to say but I am struggling to adequately express what I need to in the way I want to. I have sent it to my dad to proofread (English teacher for a father has it's perks!). As anxious as I am about throwing this out there, I am excited beyond words to have the opportunity to share my story. It's been interesting to write, and has definitely made me come to a few realisations about what steps I need to be taking right now.

Any other perfectionists out there who have found some sort of balance/way of letting go?



Memorial Day Muesli!

Usual oats/fromage frais/vanilla/blueberries/almonds- with a dollop of raspberry jam for patriotic/visual purposes! Note to self: almonds + jam is a delicious combination (I need to try almond butter one of these days!)


Bare Naked fruit and nut granola with Fage. I could quite happily eat Bare Naked granola all day long (mom- if you are reading this, PLEASE bring some back from NY for me!). Hands down, my favourite snack.

Lunch was another salad- despite the fact that it still feels like winter here in Scotland!

Mushrooms (in a sauce made from melted laughing cow + pesto) with kidney beans, roasted sweet potato and spinach. Pesto is so underrated- this stuff is amazing, and so packed with flavour. I have a whole jar (minus 1/2 tbsp now!) to experiment with so expect more basil parmesan delights...

Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend- I thought it was a holiday here in the UK, but having been out and about all morning, don't think it's a holiday in Scotland afterall!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Learning From The Start

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on intuitive eating- seems to be something a lot of us struggle with. I wonder how many people truly eat intuitively? I think kids set a great example of knowing when they are hungry/full, and making it clear what they like and don't like.
What was your experience with food when you were growing up?

I was brought up eating a pretty healthy and varied diet- all the kids at school would bring chips/cookies for break time, and I would have tubs of dried fruit and mushrooms! We all sat down to meals at home together and were expected to finish what we were given without any arguments complaints about what was served. This was good because it meant I tried a lot of things most kids probably don't eat regularly (snails!), but on the other hand, I think it makes it harder now because eating intuitively/according to what my body asks for has never been encouraged.


Last night I cooked!

Quorn fillets chopped up in tomato sauce with laughing cow cheese melted in, mixed with pasta. My obsession with quorn is growing... There are so many things you can do with this stuff! I love that it's high in protein, but soy free, and so much cheaper than meat/fish. It has more flavour itself than tofu, but also takes on the taste of whatever it is cooked with.

This morning's breakfast was...a challenge.

Mini chocolate and raisin oatibix with skimmed milk and sliced banana.

Looks ugly innocent enough, and was certainly 'safe'- the challenge refers to yesterday's post about my fear of being hungry. I usually make sure to get a decent amount of protein and fiber, along with a little fat at breakfast- just what seems to work best for me. This meal was much more "carb" based and I was really scared of a repeat of yesterday morning's horrible empty feeling (I have no issues with consuming carbohydrates, I just prefer my meals to be more balanced). The verdict? I need to trust my body more! I really liked this breakfast and was just as comfortable afterwards as my other breakfasts: moral of the story? Some days different nutrients are required for different purposes. Today this worked.

Lunch was a protein packed FIESTA!

I have decided to call this a 'burrito bowl'. For no other reason than that it contains salsa. It isn't in a bowl, and although I've never been, doubt very much that it's anything LIKE what Chipotle serve...good nonetheless. In the mix: tuna, kidney beans, rice and salsa on a bed of spinach and alfalfa sprouts.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend- what have you got planned for Memorial Day?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Body's Talkin'

Thank you so much for the comments on yesterday's post! It's always strange looking back over old entries, but it's also a great way to see how far you have come by reflecting on the past.

What I had originally wanted to talk about yesterday was 'hunger'. The past few days, my appetite has been completely non-existent (which was what I wanted to discuss)- I have mixed feelings about this- in some ways, it's easier for me to eat if I'm NOT hungry because it feels more in control. On the other hand, it's hard to justify eating if I'm NOT hungry- I figure that if my body isn't asking for food, it doesn't need it. (I eat according to my plan, regardless, just my feelings about it are different). Today has been the complete opposite. I find it hard to recognise 'hunger' and 'fullness' a lot of the time, but today have been painfully aware of my stomach screaming out for food. Being hungry is horrible. I can't stand the feeling of emptiness, of my stomach churning. Especially when it seems to come from nowhere- there was no reason why *today* should have been different from yesterday, but it was. I start to resent my body for betraying me- why now? Why today? How DARE it need food when I already ate?!.. I also hate the memories and associations that hunger gives me- it takes me back to the days where I was literally starving, and could not bring myself to eat. I am not in that place now, but the physical sensations of hunger remind me so painfully of that time.

I am a firm believer that if you are craving certain things, it's because your body needs it. I am trying to generalise this to 'being hungry = needing food'. It sounds so simple, but it''s easier said than done. I hate the sensation of hunger, but I also hate what it represents- needing, wanting, a lack of control over my own body ("I ate xxx for breakfast- I should NOT be hungry yet"). It's uncomfortable physically and mentally- I get irritable, shaky, tearful. It's REALLY hard for me to trust my body and let it tell me when it needs more food- but I really think that our bodies are better judges of what we need than our minds are. If my stomach is growling and it's been several hours since breakfast, chances are, I AM hungry. It's NOT a sign of weakness of greediness- it's a sign of being human. Our bodies require fuel even if we spend all day in bed. Our organs, muscles...the human body is performing zillions of tasks at any given moment, all requiring a decent amount of energy. Recognising hunger is one thing, honouring it is another. I eat according to the clock- it honestly doesn't occur to me on days like today to eat an extra snack or bring a meal forward... I panic about misreading what message my body is sending me and don't yet trust my body/mind to work together. On the other hand, our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt- I spend ludicrous amounts of time working out exact calories in meals, and hours figuring out a day's worth of food. I have lost count of the numbers of days I have spent with a calculator, working out weights, BMIs, etc. The thing is, it's pretty pointless. Some days our bodies need a bit more food or a bit less. Weight fluctuates, as does our intake requirements. Obsessing over a yogurt which has 10 calories more than my regular brand can throw me into a headspin for the entire day, but our bodies don't NOTICE a few calories/pounds here or there. It takes quite a significant amount of calories in either direction for my body to change much so it's futile for me to spend so much time stressing over 'perfect' meal plans.

Tuning in and listening to what your body says is HARD- but it's so important. Our bodies don't see numbers on scales, or graphs or charts. They see food as what it is: nutrients, energy. If they are asking for something, they deserve to be honoured. Bodies talk... I'm trying to listen.

So anyway, some of today's food... (NOT all inclusive BTW!)

Breakfast, again at 5am...(what is UP with my sleep patterns these days?!)

Oats, fromage frais, vanilla extract, blueberries and raw almonds. This is usually one of my more filling breakfasts- not today apparently!


Mini chocolate chip Clif bar with 1/2 tbsp white chocolate peanut butter. Love it. These bars are a month past their 'use by' date... I'm a daredevil, I know.

For lunch I had something new again! Excuse the messiness- presentation wasn't a priority (clearly :P )

Hummus, carrot, alfalfa sprouts and rocket (arugula?) on wholewheat bread. I forgot how much I LOVE hummus! I actually don't like raw carrots at all, except when they are shredded with hummus. This sandwich was delicious and satisfying (FINALLY!). I don't know why I don't have hummus more often- it's cheap, nutritious and delicious. Maybe I'll get round to trying an infamous 'crack wrap' one of these days...

I'd love to hear about people's experiences with becoming more of an 'intuitive eater' and starting to trust their bodies...

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend so far!

Friday, 22 May 2009

200th Post = Reflection

This is my 200th post! I didn't realise this until just now when I opened up my blog so instead of what I planned to blog about, thought I should recap a little of what's been going down in my world since the blog started...

I first started blogging intending to focus on the impact giving up dancing has had on my life. I never intended to go into depths about my eating disorder, though in hindsight, that was kind of unavoidable. I started dancing when I was 20- it was pure chance that I went to the class, and completely unexpected that I would not only go BACK for more classes, but that I would fall in love with dancing. There is no feeling in the world to me that matches the adrenaline rush a the music starts, the feeling of rhythm pulsing through my body, my muscles surging with power as the warm-up kicked off. My dance studio started to feel like 'home'- a safe place where there was no time to think about calories or weight, except to feel the strength of my body as I leaped and twirled around the room. I watched myself in the mirror- not criticising my body for what it looked like, but seeing how I could master the movements and copy my teacher's demonstration. It was the first time that I saw food as FUEL- much needed energy to power me through my classes. I ate with dancing on my brain, my muscles reaping the benefits of a healthy and adequate diet. My focus shifted from what foods were "safe" to what foods would give me the best sources of energy for dancing.

After several injuries, I had to accept that dancing could no longer be a part of my life. I felt lost without my "safe place" to go to, food felt unnecessary, strength and health just felt...meaningless. It all felt very unfair. I had nobody to blame but myself- my years of disordered eating had taken too much of a toll on my body for me to carry on with something I was so passionate about.

Dancing was replaced with losing weight again- I drifted from one thing to another (classes, jobs, activities) trying to fill that void. I moved around a lot- London to Scotland to New York to Scotland, back to New York, back to Scotland, to London...trying to find somewhere I fitted in, somewhere I felt safe, somewhere my eating disorder would not be present. Do I miss dancing? Sometimes. For the most part, I have accepted that that chapter of my life has ended and have focused my energy on other things. Then there are times when I drift into daydreams of being back in the studio, aware of nothing but the floor beneath my feet, the fan above my head, the mirrors lining the walls, the music pulsing through the studio. I get pangs not unlike 'homesickness', but overall, I've moved on and am okay with that. I miss what it represented to me and the way my life WAS back then- the same reasons why I miss New York. I miss who I became in the studio.

It has taken me a long time to realise that my eating disorder is inside of me. Changing the outside doesn't change the inside- dancing helped me manage my relationship with my body/food, and it felt like the floor had been pulled from beneath me when I had to stop.

That void is still there. How do I manage it? I try different things. Some days writing helps. Some days long walks help. Some days being with other people helps. Some days being by myself helps. There is no "one size fits all"- finding what works at any given moment is trial and error. Every day is different- I wake up with a slightly different view of the world and of myself. My goals change, my perception changes, the seasons change. I am trying, to the best of my ability, to face up to what I am thinking and feeling. To own it, to accept it, to embrace it. To say, "this is where I am right now". I have crappy moments and crappy days- but who doesn't? Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. I am starting to see that it is the contrast between the rainstorms and sunshine that make me appreciate the sun's warmth, and gives me the strength to brave the storms.

So yes, the blog has changed a lot over the last 200 posts. So have I. I am becoming ME- discovering and creating the strong and independent person I want to be, who doesn't need anorexia in her life, who has the strength to fight her own demons, and speaks her own truth. This is not the end of my journey by any means- in some ways, it's just a beginning. A beginning I am excited about because it's the start of a solo journey- without anorexia by my side.

Woah. That was longer than I intended. Sorry guys!

Food and fun and shenanigans...

Breakfast at the lovely hour of 5am...

Bran flakes, Fage cherry twin pot and microwaved banana. Heaven in a bowl! I've never seen the Fage 2% yogurts here aside from the twin pots- anyone in the UK managed to hunt it down?

Snack- Sam over at Eat Natural was kind enough to send my some of their new bars to try!

This was DELICIOUS! The chewy dried fruit, the crunchy nuts, the crisp puffed rice and yogurt coating was an amazing combination. It tasted just like Bakewell Tart! Check out all the fruit and nuts in this bar...

Lunch after work was a new one for me...

Quorn fillets with BBQ sauce, a little shredded cheese and spinach on a wholewheat sandwich thin. This was really good! I've had BBQ sauce in the fridge for months, and never really use it- same with the quorn fillets in my freezer. YAY for branching out and discovering great combinations!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Doing What Works

I haven't been doing my planned reading much at all this week, but I DID do something out of the ordinary last night...

My mom is going to New York tomorrow for both her and my Grandpa's birthday- I thought homemade cards would be a nice change. Mom's love their kids artwork regardless of what it looks like (I hope- any mom's out there want to reassure me that my mom won't feel cheated out of a store bought card?!) I had so much fun lying on the floor covered in glue and sticking glittery stars all over the place! Aaaah... I think I need to invest in some finger paints!


Since I have been posting more about my food intake lately, I wanted to talk about it a bit. I don't post a full day's intake because I don't see that as being helpful for me right now. I have often fallen into the trap of comparing my intake to others and feeling guilty because I don't eat a clean/raw/vegan/organic diet. My diet, overall, is not unhealthy (in my opinion!). I am working on developing a healthier relationship with food- it's not about the food itself, but about the way I view it and use it. For a long time, my food has been selected primarily on nutritional content- right now the focus is more on 1) eating an adequate amount, 2) trying new things and rediscovering what I like/dislike based on taste and 3) finding out what foods make ME feel my best. I do rely a lot on protein bars and I do eat prepackaged foods pretty frequently. I don't feel 'bad' about this- for now, it's a good way for me to get the nutrition that I need whilst experimenting with different foods. I haven't seen a dietitian for about 2 years and I don't talk specifically about my meals in therapy, so I make my own plans and can discuss progress/struggles when I see my therapist.

I've toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian again and I've considered cutting out dairy. Going 'raw' has also been on my mind- for me, at this point, none of that would be helpful because I don't think my relationship with food is healthy enough for me to cut things out without falling into restriction. I would never knock anyone who DOES choose to be vegetarian/vegan/raw- it's just not right for me/my body/my recovery.

Bottom line- I do what works for ME (which is likely different to what works for you). I eat more than some food bloggers, and less than others. My weight has been stable for a few weeks so I am obviously doing something right. Finding a balance between losing/gaining is tricky (for a lot of us, I think!) and that 'middle ground' is different for everyone.

I am only now discovering how different foods affect me mentally and physically- no way am I ready to jump headfirst into intuitively eating, but I am paying more attention to how I feel before eating and how different food choices affect my energy/satiety levels. It's a journey. I don't expect to go straight from 14 years of 'prescribed' meal plans (either by a dietitian or my eating disorder) into suddenly being able to honour my body's signals, but I am once again starting to enjoy food and see it as fuel for the life I want to live rather than as something to torture myself with.

So, food!

I wanted to try my overnight muesli with pumpkin.

Pumpkin, oats, vanilla, fromage frais topped with melted peanut butter. Verdict? It didn't taste much better than it looks! This was lacking...something. Banana maybe? I won't be rushing to make this again- I know I said I liked the cold pumpkin/cereal combination, but I've missed my pumpkin banana oats this week!

Snack was a bar that Sam sent me a while ago.

It was pretty good! I am not generally a fan of Kashi products (I know...blasphemy in the blog world!) but I loved the cinnamon flavour in this, and any bar with frosting/yogurt coating is automatically a winner in my book!

Lunch was a Coronation chicken and spinach wrap...

Coronation chicken is basically curried chicken salad- which according to Wikipedia, was created in 1953 for the Queen's coronation. Random British trivia for you! I think my wrapping skills have improved! (Another shout out to Jaime!)

And speaking of Jaime, check out her awesome giveaway!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Solid Ground

I woke up this morning at 5am like I do every other morning.
I turned on my laptop like I do every other morning.
I weighed myself like I do every other morning.

My weight had increased slightly from yesterday- I stood and looked at the number waiting for the usual feelings of anxiety and despair to flood over me. I watched the number flicker as the scales switched off. I waited. I breathed. I didn't care. It was a number. Nothing more, nothing less. I walked through to the kitchen, put on the kettle and lit a cigarette. I didn't think again about the scale or my weight- I drank my coffee and ate my breakfast. I did laundry and went for a walk- I spent a while in little gift shops looking for birthday cards. I came home and opened my mail- a letter that would usually trigger all kinds of anxiety was opened, read and placed on my coffee table to deal with later.

I made lunch.
I had a cup of tea.

I'm sitting here now and this all feels...bizarre. Foreign. Where did barrage of negative thoughts go? Where is the anxiety that usually fuels my exercise and daily rituals? Where did this feeling of calmness come from? I feel like I am standing on solid ground. Not in a manic frenzy of feeling like I can take on the world, but a sense of internal strength that I can handle this moment. I'm not thinking about this evening or tomorrow or next week. Each moment that comes my way can be dealt with. Maybe all this talk of acceptance has sunk in and I am finally embracing what 'is' rather than focusing on what was or what will be...

Breathing. Staying calm. Staying focused. Taking it as it comes.


Breakfast this morning was the return of an old favourite.

Cooked apple, bran berry muesli and fage.

Another new snack- these have been in my bar stash for almost a year and I had no interest in trying them. I tried the cookies 'n' cream flavour at the same time as buying these and they were disgusting...

...but these were really good. They definitely had that strange protein bar taste/texture (I love it, but just a heads-up if chalkiness isn't your 'thing'!)

Returning to Katies challenge, I picked up a yellow courgette/zuchinni to try.

Mini quorn sausage rolls (LOVE THESE!) with baked zuchinni 'fries' and steamed spinach + broccoli. The verdict? The zuchinni was awesome. It had a slightly sweeter taste than the green variety and I really liked it. I have only seen the yellow ones in one store, and they are far more expensive so I probably won't be eating them frequently, but it was a nice change and fun to try something a little different (and who doesn't love a splash of yellow on their plate? Sunshine food!)

Hope everybody is having a happy hump-day!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Variations On A Theme

Thank you SO much for your feedback on yesterday's post- it was really interesting to hear everyone's opinions on where my thoughts were yesterday.

I think what I was really trying to convey is that I am trying to shift my focus from constantly thinking about how 'disordered' some of my behaviours are, and just accept where I am right now in the hope that acceptance itself brings about change (rather than forcing it). It's not that different to what I have been working on in therapy the past few months, but accepting where I AM rather than constantly striving to be 'somewhere else' is a huge challenge for me. The trouble with acceptance for me is that it does often lead to complacency- my eating disorder gets ignored for the most part, my behaviours slip, anorexia seeps more and more into my daily routine and without me really noticing, I suddenly find myself back in dangerous territory.

Finding a middle ground between accepting and change is new to me- being such a black/white thinker, I find it really difficult to manage more than one thing at once: I can focus on changing my behaviours, or I can focus on accepting them. There needs to be some of both- the behaviours ARE present right now and I know better than just to brush them aside and ignore them. I also know that wishing they were just absent from my life doesn't necessarily make them disappear. Being aware of what I am doing whilst keeping the bigger picture in mind is what I am aiming for- a half-way point between fighting the small battles (laughing cow cheese or regular? 2% or fat free?) and winning the ultimate war (recovery/life/becoming ME).

I reread yesterday's post this morning with a slightly different mindset and disagreed with quite a few things I said. Yes, I am tired of feeling like life is a 'fight'- but really? It kind of is. On many levels. At this point anyway- if I separate 'me' from 'anorexia' (which I have a hard time doing) it DOES look and feel like some kind of battle going on. But it's not a battle I am willing to surrender to. Life in itself isn't necessarily a FIGHT- yes, it's filled with all kinds of ups and downs and chaos and confusion, but it's not ALL a struggle. In the depths of an eating disorder/depression, I tend to lose sight of what is truly important and get caught up in the whirlwind of what goes on in my head. So yes, fighting anorexia is a fight in the true sense of the word, but it's a fight for something worthwhile. So the battle continues. Lots of fighting talk today!

Last night ended up being pretty rough. I've been doing better with the obsessional thinking/meal planning I had talked about a couple of weeks ago, but it was full-force last night. A combination of triggers, but I googled and found this which I found helpful:

"Don’t try to control everything. If you have a tendency to obsess, chances are fairly good that you’re also a perfectionist. Realize that going over something again and again in your mind will not magically produce the ‘right’ answer."


Onto some more fun stuff...

Breakfast this morning:

Pumpkin, fromage frais, honey nut shredded wheat and peanut butter.

I love how runny the PB and Co. smooth peanut butter is- I don't imagine it working well as a sandwich filling, but it's perfect with cereal. For those of you who asked about fromage frais, it's pretty much identical to Greek yogurt in terms of taste and nutrition, but much runnier and half the price!

New snack alert!

This bar has been in my stash for ages- given that I hate both salty foods and crunchy foods, I was in NO rush to try it. I am so glad I did- this bar was AMAZING (so much so that I *may* have ordered a case to be delivered to where my mom is staying in NY next week to bring back for me...)

Pretzel/PB chips...mmm...

All in the spirit of branching out/trying new things, I made this:

Which somehow turned out like this:

Spot the difference! I have loved every Amy's meal that I have tried, but have yet to find a way to make them as pretty as they look on the packaging- my theory is that they purposely make them ugly so nobody tried to pass them off as homemade! Tasted great (and for anyone in the UK, these are 'buy one get one half price' in Holland and Barrett right now!)

Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!