A Letter to My Body

IMG_20170728_185448_482So often are we quick to say things about our bodies that we would never say to one other. So fast to put ourselves down for what we see as our short comings, and attempt to refute any positivity others place upon us. Ask yourself, would you say to someone you love the things you say to yourself? No longer shall we treat our selves as verbal punching bags. No longer shall we assault ourselves with uncalled for negativity.  No longer shall it cripple us, or inhibit dreams and goals. Take a moment to reflect on the wondrous things we have, can, and do accomplish in the bodies we are in. We all deserve to feel comfortable being who and what we are.  After years of neglect I’ve decided it’s time to rebuild the broken relationship with my body.  I’ve decided it’s time to start healing. For a moment I’ve set myself apart from the skin I’m in, and come to realize what a truly remarkable thing it is, and what a truly wonderful thing it is to be alive.

Dearest you,

As I write this, I have spent 25 years, 142 days, and 14 hours with you. Throughout our time together you never let me fall; you never let me fail. When I was at my weakest you stood strong.  Never faltering to the blows I threw your way. You are resilient. For the past 25 years, I’ve had the ability to love, laugh, cry and dream because of you, yet, I despised you. You make me who I am.  I can never apologize enough for what I have put you through. So, here is a love letter, and an explanation, for you. For everything you do for me, and everything you’ve done. For all of your faults, failures and short comings, and for all of your strengths, beauties and achievements. I’m proud of you.

I used to hate to have to look at you. I’d cringe whenever I caught your reflection out of the corner of my eye.  You repulsed me.  The way your stomach bulged, the way your thighs jiggled, and the way your skin crinkled and dimpled. You disgusted me. The stretch marks that litter your thighs, stomach and chest made me sick. Whatever I could pinch or grab, I wanted to cut away. You were never going to be good enough for me; you were worthless. I wanted nothing to do with you, and I would have done anything to rid you from my life. I denied you the very things you needed.  I denied you health, the basic necessities of life. I hurt you. There were times when I wanted to end your time here on this earth. I hated you for reasons no one ever should, for being who you are. It was never fair to you. It was never deserved.  I punished you, because I never thought you were good enough. I watched you suffer as I abused you. Watched you crumple, become worn and tired. You did nothing but give, and I took from you all that I could. I’m sorry. Those words don’t seem enough, I know, but let us start there. Let us begin to build a bond that will never again be broken. Let us grow stronger together.

I now see that your legs are strong.  They’ve carried you miles and miles, and they will carry you for many more. You move like there is nothing holding you back.  Your stomach keeps you tall, it holds you up. Provides you with the energy to do the things you love. Your skin has scars, beautiful, beautiful scars. They are your story; they make you who you are.  As you grow you become a book that has been read and little worn, bound to have a few tears and wrinkles, but what a beautiful story it is. A story where you are the hero. You will not be confined to a genre.  You are a comedy, a romance, a mystery and an adventure; you are an epic.

Your body was your passport into this world, and with it you will go on the journey of a lifetime. You will not suffer from a destiny of regret.  You will not end up at the end of your life wondering what could have been if you had lost a little more weight, or looked a different way. Your life will be one worth living.  It will be a life well lived.

I owe so much to you. Thanks to you I can feel, not only with my hands, but also my heart.  Thanks to you I can embrace the ones I love, kiss those I hold dear, and hold the hand of a friend. I can feel warmth, both inside and out. You’ve given me the ability to love, possibly the greatest gift of all, even though there were times I didn’t love you. You are selfless.  You provide me with life, and encourage me to continue living when it was the last thing I wanted. Thanks to you I get to see beautiful, vibrant sunsets, and smell the lilacs in the first rain of spring. Thanks to you I can listen to the birds in the quite of sunrise, and bury my hands in the cool, damp earth.  I am able to wade in the waters, feel the cool pebbles beneath my feet. I am able to smell the friendly smoke of a campfire, feel the heat, and hear the crackles. I am able to dance, albeit not well, and enjoy every silly moment of it. Thanks to you I am able to live.

I now see how people look at you.  I see how they embrace your presence. I see how proud your friends and family are of you, and I see how the man who loves you smiles when you look at him. You see that you are loved. I too now love you, and I thank you for all that you have done for me. Thank you for giving me the strength to get through it all. You are beautiful, inside and out. You are me, and I am you. Thank you.

      Love always,
Claire 

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Smooth(ie) Talk

A lot of people have a hard time finding ways to incorporate their daily requirement of fruits and veggies into their diet.  After all, not everyone wants to eat salads and carrot sticks all day long. My solution? A simple smoothie. The beauty of smoothies is the diversity theyDSC_0235 (3) provide.  They allow for flexibility when it comes to ingredients and ratios, it’s almost impossible to get bored. My best tip for smoothies: make it colourful! The more diverse the colour of the ingredients, the more diverse the vitamins and minerals. Each ingredient should offer something different and beneficial. The easiest way to do that? Eat the rainbow. By adding in ingredients of differing colours, you are guaranteeing nutrient diversity. Whether it be beta-carotene from the orange family, iron from the green team, or antioxidants from the red party, you’ll be that much closer to providing your body with all the daily nutrients it requires. A smoothie a day will keep you feeling A-okay!

Orange

  • Carrots have long been thought of as food for your eyes, but did you know that carrots are loaded beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the human body? Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage, and yes, they’re good for your eyes.
  • White potatoes vibrant relative, the sweet potato, is loaded with fiber, provides carbohydrates that won’t give you a sugar crash, contain a nice dose of vitamin A, and are tasty to boot!
  • Cantaloupe, like carrots and sweet potatoes, contain beta-carotene that fights against free-radicals and cell damage.  Their high water content also helps to keep you hydrated and full.

Green

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  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and swiss chard are full of fiber, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. They’re also a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Kiwis are another great source of vitamin C (one kiwi contains more than 100% of your daily requirement), and eating them with the skin on ups their fiber factor.
  • High in healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados impart a creamy texture to any smoothie.  They help with satiety, keeping you feeling fuller, longer!

Red
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  • When it comes to ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant, raspberries are at the top of the class.  Also high in vitamins A, C, and E, their tart flavour provides a nice contrast to sweet pairings.
  • Nothing beats beets when it comes to a colour punch, but hey’re also loaded with fiber to keep you regular, and help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels increasing healthy HDL cholesterol.
  • Rich in colour, cherries are believed to help ease joint and muscle inflammation thanks to anthocyanins, an antioxidant that inhibits inflammatory enzymes. Perfect for a post workout refuel!
  • One cup of strawberries packs your daily requirement of vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber to help keep you full. Plus, that one cup of strawberries only contains around 50 calories. Eat up!

Purple/Blue
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  • Blueberries are an antioxidant all-star.  Grown all over North America, wild and cultivated blueberries contain the same anthocyanins as cherries, as well as the antioxidants flavonoids. A+ in antioxidant 101.
  • Along with raspberries, blackberries are also extremely high in ellagic acid.  They are also high in dietary fiber and vitamin C.  Bring the berry team together for a nutrient packed treat.

Yellow

  • Scientifically classified as a berry, bananas are a smoothie staple.  High in potassium and certain B vitamins, bananas fiber and starch content provide body and volume to any smoothie recipe.
  • Practically nature’s candy, mangoes are high in vitamins A and C, and contain natural enzymes similar to those found in papayas.  These enzymes help with digestion and the breakdown of fats and proteins.

References

  1. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/beta-carotene/
  2. https://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/8-health-benefits-sweet-potatoes
  3. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-cantaloupe.html
  4. http://cookingreens.com/health-benefits-of-darkleafy-greens/
  5. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-avocado
  6. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/5-reasons-to-eat-more-berries/
  7. http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/health-reasons-to-eat-more-raspberries-sign-us-up
  8. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/5-reasons-to-eat-more-cherries/
  9. http://www.healwithfood.org/foods-that-contain/ellagic-acid-high-amounts.php
  10. http://www.stack.com/a/6-big-reasons-you-should-be-eating-blackberries
  11. http://www.health.com/food/5-reasons-to-eat-more-blueberries

No Need to Sugarcoat It

Sugar, the new tobacco, or, so they say. Extremely sweet, extremely addictive, sugar has become one of the biggest health concern of this generation. Found in everything from salad dressings to soups, and bread to spaghetti sauce, sugar has infiltrated almost every aspect of our dietary lives. There are over sixty different names for sugar when it comes to ingredient listings, making it more and more difficult to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies.

We all know eating too much sugar is a bad thing. Eating too much of anything is a bad thing, but how much are we really eating? Well, a 2004 study of Canadians showed that we eat an average of a whopping 110 grams of sugar per day. That’s 26 tablespoons, over 20% of our daily caloric intake, and a total of just over 88 pounds a year. To put that into perspective, the average weight of a German Shepherd is 75-90 lbs. Woof. The World Health Organization recommends eating no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, of sugar per day. Seems a little hard to do when a can of 355ml coke contains 39 grams of sugar. More than the daily recommendation.

I, like many other people, love a sweet treat, but recently I’ve been giving a lot more thought in regards to the amount of sugar in my food. I love a good salad, but why top it with a salad dressing that contains 10 grams of unnecessary sugar? Do I really need the two teaspoons of sugar in a serving of crackers? These are the types of questions I’ve been asking myself. Yes, I agree certain things taste better with sugar. I’m not going to deny myself the sweeter things in life (pun intended), but I am going to try to create a balance between what is good for me physically, and what is good for me mentally. In order to do this there was only one option that would work for me, quit cold turkey. I challenged myself to comply to a 5 day diet that contained absolutely no added sugar. This meant no sugar in my morning coffee, not even honey. I read the nutritional label and ingredient list of everything I ate, and let me tell you, sugar, it’s EVERYWHERE.

 

Rules

  • Avoid all 61 terms for sugar for 5 days
  • Natural sugar found in whole foods (fruit, vegetables, etc.) are okay

A day in the life

The first day of this challenge was a big learning curve. That morning I instinctively reached for the sugar when making my cup of coffee. I could tell habitual routine was going to be my biggest struggle. Putting down the sugar, only adding milk to my coffee, I began to look through my fridge and cupboard for breakfast options. Reading the ingredient list of all the cereals I had all had one thing in common, added sugar. All-Bran? Sugar. Flax Plus? Organic granulated sugar cane juice. Multi-Grain Cheerios? Refiner’s syrup (a.k.a golden syrup). Well, those options were off the table. So were the 4 different loaves of multi-grain bread I had on hand. All had sugar listed withing the first 5 ingredient. So, I settled on oatmeal. I cooked up some plain oats and topped it with chopped granny smith apple, cinnamon, raisins, and plain Greek yogurt. Satisfying, but I still missed the sweet tough a little honey or maple syrup would have provided. For lunch I had a salad with kale, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, peppers, and feta. Simple, right? Until you get to the topic of salad dressing. If your just not a vinegar and oil kind of girl like yours truly, or don’t have time to whip up your own, finding a sugar free salad dressing can be quite the challenge. For example, Kraft Greek Feta & Oregano lists corn syrup as the third ingredient and sugar as the fifth, while Renée’s Sweet Onion Vinaigrette doesn’t get it’s sweetness from Spanish onions like the package claims. That would be the sugar lists as the second ingredient (only behind water). Yikes. If you’re looking for a packaged salad dressing with no sugar and recognizable ingredients look not further than Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar (offered in both organic and inorganic varieties). There isn’t an unfamiliar ingredient listed on the packaging, and on a plus side all profits from Newman’s products go to charities (bonus!). Snacks throughout the week consisted of sliced apples with all natural peanut butter, carrots and hummus, and yogurt with berries and nuts.

All of these foods are regular staples in my diet, and I often eat them on a daily basis, so why did I develop a headache that just wouldn’t go away? I discovered that I had been eating more sugar than I led myself to believe, all thanks to honey. I love honey. So much so that I eat it almost everyday. By not allowing myself to have honey I was denying 80% of the added sugar I eat on a regular basis. Turns out I was addicted to sugar in a way I didn’t even realize. The headaches were a sign my body was detoxing, and I both loved and hated it at the same time. Eventually the headaches subsided as my body began to adjust to the change. I didn’t notice a change in my skin or mood, aside from cravings, but it generally felt better to not be reliant on a sugar as a way to feel better.

Did I accomplish my goal?

I was so, so close. I let my guard down one time, and it was all thanks to a temptress in red, Sriracha (sugar is the second ingredient). My love of hot sauces got to me and one day while at work I, without thinking, reached for the bottle to add a little heat to my lunch. It wasn’t until I was about half way through my mug of soup that I realized what I had done. Was I disappointed in myself? Sure, but it also proved my point that sugar is in the things you least expect it to be. My one and only slip up was a lesson learned. I realized I had to become more aware about what I’m putting in my body, and not to blindly eat something just because it tastes good.

Did anything change?

Definitely. Realizing how much hidden sugars were in foods I had previously thought were “healthy” scared me. Many people are blindly consuming extra, unnecessary sugar as well as . I consider my self a fairly aware and conscious consumer, and this little experiment has prompted me to delve even deeper into food and how we as a society choose and consume the foods we do. I’ve even begin to make changes in my daily life, such as cutting out the sugar in my morning coffee, and choosing sugars with other nutrients and benefits (honey & molasses) over those that are purely sweeteners. Am I going to deny myself a slice of birthday cake? Absolutely not. Added sugar, like everything else should be consumed in moderation. Enjoy sweetness as a treat, not a trend.

#TalkAboutItTuesday: Self-Harm Scars

Every scar has a story behind it.  Whether it’s from falling down when learning to ride your bike, or drunkenly falling flat on your face on your 23rd birthday, the scars we have are a part of our history. However, not every scar has a story that its owner wishes to tell. For many, the scars they have are extremely personal. Not everyone is open to discussing them, and that privacy should always be respected. For some, the scars they have are part of a bigger, more complex issue; scars that aren’t just a result of minor accident. This #TalkAboutItTuesday is intended to open up a dialogue on an often hushed topic: those who self-harmed and the resulting scars. The mental health stigma is still alive and well. Given that mental health disorders occur internally, rather than externally, it may be easier for those who suffer to mask symptoms. Self-harm scars, on the other hand, are a physical manifestation of a mental health issue. They say loud and clear that something is not okay. To ask about them is to ask an individual to divulge their innermost personal details.  It’s not an easy subject to discuss if you, or someone you know, has suffered from self-inflicted pain.  Know that there isn’t always a right way to handle it, and we have to learn to be okay with that.  Do everything with the best intentions, and strive to understand even when it may seem impossible.

People self harm in different ways, and for different reasons.  Some people may scratch themselves until they bleed, carve or cut, or even pull out their hair. It’s unique to every individual. The reasons for why people self-harm is a much more complex issue. Self-harming is often thought of as a behavioral trait of youth suffering from anxiety, but it is important to know that anyone can suffer from self-harming tendencies, including both adults and children.  Those who do self-harm most often suffer from a number of co-occurring mental health disorders, including, but not limited to: depression, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder.  It is difficult to determine the exact number of those who self-harm, as it is often done in private and rarely talked about.  I want to talk about it.  I want others to know what it’s like for those who did — or still do — self-harm, and why talking about it isn’t always easy.

I was a burner. It was simple, and I liked that. It made it easier to do.  It always happened when my depression was at its very worst, and my anxiety was uncontrollably high.  It was a distraction, and—oddly enough—soothing.  It allowed me to focus on nothing but the act itself, and the physical pain that followed distracted me from from the mental pain I was experiencing.  When I would have anxiety attacks, lock myself in a room, and become emotionally manic it seemed like my only option. I’d stop crying, unravel myself from the unrecognizable heap of human I was on the floor, and hyper focus on doing something I felt was both productive and necessary, hurting myself. It helped me to escape.  Escape to a place where I didn’t feel unbearable pain.  A place where I felt in control; control that I had not experienced in a very long time. Strangely enough, it became a comfort.  Knowing that I would be able to have this little moment of escape during a time of suffering.  It became my twisted form of therapy.

I have been asked about the scars since, and up until now I have lied.  Not only because I was ashamed, but because it made it easier.  I’ve blamed them on everything from cat scratches, to kitchen missteps, to hiking accidents, not knowing if anyone truly believed me. It’s easier to make up a story, than to open a potentially uncomfortable dialogue with others who may not know how to react.  Behind them is a story, a fairly emotional one, that I didn’t always feel like sharing. I do now, hoping it helps others who have had a similar experience. I want others to know they are not alone, and that there are safe spaces to talk about their experiences. I still chose not to ask people about their scars. For some, bringing up a reminder of a difficult time can be quite triggering, and I would never want others to revert back to feeling the way I remember feeling.  If they want to share their scar stories with others they will tell them. Simple as that.

My scars are quite visible. So much so that I don’t bother to make an effort to hide them. They litter my forearms, and to a lesser extent my legs. They are now a permanent part of me, no matter how much I may have tried to rid them from my body. Some have faded to the point of obscurity, others remain prominent. I have learned to live with the raised reminders of what I have been through, but more importantly, how far I have come. I am no longer ashamed of them. They are reminder that no matter how far I may fall, there is always the possibility of finding happiness again. I know this because I have lived it. They remind me of a place where I once thought living was no longer an option. A time where I was sitting on a bathroom floor, clutching a bottle of pills in my hand, desperately seeking an end to it. I made it through all of that, and today I am here writing this in hopes of helping others who may feel the same way.

If you, or someone you know, is in need of immediate help please call 911 or your local crisis hotline.  
Kids Help Phone (a crisis line for youth under 20) 1-800-668-6868
National Suicide Prevention Hotline (US & Canada) 1-800-273-8255
Ontario Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600
Trans Lifeline (a crisis line for transgender youth and adults) 877-330-6366
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310

Learning to Love

Welcome, friends!  I’m happy you decided to take a moment to tag along on this journey with me.  Let me begin with a little bit about myself.  I guess I would say that I’m just your average 25 year old woman trying to make it in this crazy world trying to do as best as I can with what I have.  I’m currently a student studying journalism at a college here in Toronto.  Am I where I thought I would be at this stage in my life? The simple answer is no, but I sure am happy.  For the first time in my life I am looking forward to what the future has to offer, and I am excited for the many opportunities ahead of me.


Up until recently, my relationship to food has always been a challenging one.  I grew up in a family that wasn’t very health conscience, and I grew up never understanding what a macro/micro nutrient was, what calories were, and how all of that affected my body.  I gained a lot of weight due large in part to a diet loaded with refined and processed foods.  That, coupled with overeating and lack of exercise knowledge, led to me being an overweight kid.  It wasn’t until I reached grades 7 and 8 that I began to take a really hard (and judgmental) look at myself in the mirror. I hated what I saw.  I began to think terrible things about myself.  I never thought I was good looking and therefore worthy of being loved by anybody.  This began to manifest in  extremely harmful eating and exercise habits the summer before high school.  I kept telling myself that if I wasn’t “thin” or “pretty” that high school would be hell.  I thought that no one would want to be my friend, and that there was no chance that any guy would find me attractive.  That summer I began to restrict calories and exercise excessively.  Throughout the fall of grade 9 I severely restricted any and all food, but primarily carbohydrates.  All that I had read about dieting and food at only 13 became twisted in my immature mind.  I kept thinking one macro was worse for you than the other purely based on what I had picked up from reading women’s magazines and online articles.  Information, or misinformation, can be a very dangerous thing in the hands of a child who is not equipped with the tools to question and challenge.  During that time period there were days, even weeks where nothing but black coffee and diet coke passed my lips.  To this day I don’t remember much of what happened during those couple of months.  The extreme restriction lasted until the end of the school year when it essentially became unsustainable.  During this entire time period, and come to think of it many of the years before, I was extremely depressed.  In the summer that followed grade 9 I became a recluse.  I rarely left the house because I hated myself so much.  I began binge eating in an attempt to lessen what I was feeling, gaining much of the weight I had lost back.  When it came time to return to school in the fall I was afraid to go back.  I thought that the friends I had made wouldn’t like me any more because of how  I looked, and my depression worsened.  Throughout 10th grade my feelings of attending the current school (an out of area school that required me to take public transit) became more and more unappealing.  I had trouble getting out of bed to get ready and take the bus to school everyday. My diet was awful, resorting back to heavily refined and processed foods, and I stayed inside most of the time getting little to no exercise.  I eventually made the decision to transfer to my home high school in hopes of that helping me with my depressive feelings.  In the summer before grade 11 I started to try and eat healthy and exercise at a healthy rate.  I joined a gym and began to work out 3-4 times a week.  I was starting to feel better until I began attending school.  Starting over at a new school with new people was emotionally stressing and very difficult for me.  I tried to do what I could to fit in, but I never felt like I did.  I became severely depressed in the spring of that year, and eventually dropped out.  During this time I began to have thoughts of hurting myself, and I told my parents.  My dad took me to the hospital and explained to the staff what was happening.  When I sat down with a social worker I explained how I felt, but told them that I never planned on following through with what I had said.  I lied.  I thought a lot about it.  I was never admitted, but my parents kept a close eye on me and checked in a lot.  In order for me to get back on track, my mum proposed returning to school in an alternative program.  I was very lucky to have an alternative high school less than 5 minutes from my house, and I finished up my high school degree there.


Graduating was a relief.  I thought I was moving on to bigger and better things.  I accepted an offer to attend university and left in the fall to stay in residence. I thought I would do okay.  I was wrong.  Entering university I wasn’t particularly heavy, but I wasn’t as thin as I wanted to be.  I once again began restricting my calories, losing a little bit of weight in a short time.  However, I was unable to maintain this restrictive diet.  My failure to refuse food began to manifest as failure in every other aspect of my life.  I thought that because I failed at this one “simple” task, that I was a failure as a student, daughter, and friend.  During one winter night in my second semester I stepped outside for a smoke (I know, I know.  Terrible, but when you have suffered from the severity of anxiety that I have you will do ANYTHING to try and make it stop.  I just wanted it all to stop!).  While outside standing on the sidewalk I was assaulted.  A man, who I did not know or even get a good look at, began to punch and kick me to the ground.  I screamed for help for what seemed like minutes, until finally 3 student in the nearby vicinity heard me.  As the approached us the man fled and they helped me get inside.  I was dazed and confused, and began to be surrounded by a group of people I did not no.  They attempted to comfort me as we waited for paramedics, but everything just became a blur.  When paramedics arrived they recommended I be hospitalized, because they feared I may have had a concussion.  I spent the night in the hospital with a roommate of mine who didn’t want me to be alone.  I am forever thankful to her for that kind act, as it was a comfort in a time where I felt anything but that.  In the days following, my family checked in on me and things continued on.  However, things could not continue on in the way that they had.  I had to deal with campus police on multiple occasions, which became increasingly upsetting.  They police I dealt with believed I knew the perpetrator and that I was protecting his identity because I knew him.  They thought he was a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend and that this was a domestic incident. It was not.  They belittled me, pressured me into confessing a lie, and forced me to relive the incident over and over again every time I dealt with them.  All of this occurred right around mid-terms, and as I expected I didn’t do so well.  My grades dropped drastically as I fell into a deeper depression.  All I wanted to do was go home. By this point I began binging and purging, as well as self harming.  I’d lie about the marks (as I have done up until today) saying they were from everything from cat scratches to falling in a thorn bush (a stretch, I know).


I didn’t return to school the following fall. I attempted to return for the winter semester, but did not succeed.  It was all too much.  I worked on and off for a while, still struggling with the eating disorders and depression. The summer after my Grandma passed away I began running again, but  I also began binging and purging again.  I would binge and purge up to 10 times a day.  Eating everything and anything, and then voiding it all from my body.  I would run for hours a day in fear that any food that remained from my binge would make me gain weight.  At this time I had a summer job which I later quit in hopes of getting better.  I still remember being at work one hot and humid day and calling my mum.  I broke down.  She urged me to get help, which I did.  I visited my doctor and explained what was happening.  She recommended a few programs to me as well as a change in my medication.  I have been on a variety of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications over the years, but nothing really worked.  I began seeing a councilor that helped for a while, but I plateaued.  I began to feel a little better, but then it stopped.  I thought to myself, is this as happy as I’ll ever be?  Fast forward to a couple months later when I entered a new relationship.  I was happy, or so I thought.  The initial joy of a new relationship is always exciting, but those feelings don’t always last.  Throughout the course of that relationship, and over the next few years, binging and purging reentered my life. My depression worsened.  This recipe does not contribute to a healthy relationship.  When it ended last February the months that followed were incredibly difficult.  I had lost a crutch that helped me up when I was at my worst.  Realizing this made me realize I need to be able to help myself.  I needed to be able to rely on my own strength and not the strength of others.  That April I began to exercise not to lose weight, but to be healthy.  I began running, doing yoga, and involving myself in group sports.  The healthy eating followed.  I found that by eating better I felt better.  I had more energy to do the things I loved, and it helped with my mood. Sure, I’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but instead of the entire train derailing, all it takes is a little tinkering to get me back up and running. 


Do I have a perfect relationship with food now? Absolutely not, but It’s better now than it has ever been.  It’s a relationship that will always be a work in progress. I still have the scars from when I didn’t think I was worth anything and deserved to feel pain.  They are a constant reminder of how far I’ve come, and how far I have left to go.  I no longer see myself as a failure.   I am in a relationship with a man that makes me so incredibly happy.  He is kind, patient, understanding, and so very giving.  I feel incredibly lucky to have him in my life.  He doesn’t make me whole, I do that myself.  He compliments me in all the best ways possible.  He provides me with an amazing support system.  I will be forever grateful for his forgiveness of my so-called flaws and the love he expresses to me. At this point in my life I am proud of myself.  So, why am I telling you this?  It has taken me a long time to get to this point.  Where I no longer see food as the enemy, but as a friend, and I want it to be a mutual relationship.  I want my food choices to be one of kindness, compassion, and one that champions progress.  I don’t want those years of sadness and hate to be reflected in my food choices.  I want to contribute as little as possible to a food climate that promotes the unnecessary suffering of animals, environmental degradation, and human rights violations.  To love myself I need to feel good in the choices I make.  I’m in no way attempting to sound preachy, and am I in no way going to be able to make the right choice 100% of the time.  I’m going to try my hardest to make the best effort to better myself and the planet.  I hope by documenting some the choices I make, and things I do and experience, I can inspire others to make the changes in their lives they’ve always wanted.  Whether that be learning new skills, travelling more, or simply trying to get out of bed an extra 10 minutes early every morning. Take some time to think about the things that make you happy, calm, or relaxed and strive to do a little more of it each day.  You’ll be glad you did!