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Tag Archive for wellness

How I Stopped Hurting and Started Healing

Submitted by Amy Hastie 

Sometimes I forget how far I have come and how much I have progressed through my recovery from an eating disorder. I had one of those moments last week. I had slept in and as a result, I ended up hastily sprinting down the road towards my bus stop in the hope of still making it to work on time. Thankfully, I did manage to reach my place of employment in a punctual manner that morning, but that’s not the point of this story.

Amy Hastie - How I stopped hurtingI didn’t feel the physical effects of my spontaneous bus-catching jog until later that afternoon when I was enjoying a walk at the gym and started to feel a muscular pulling sensation near my groin. Here’s the amazing part ― I immediately pressed the “STOP” button on the treadmill, stepped off and went home to rest. This seemingly simple choice to stop exercising when feeling an injury coming on might seem like a logical and mundane decision for someone to make, but for me, it was an achievement.

See, I used to get injured ― a lot. I wasn’t accident-prone, clumsy or unlucky. Under the control of Anorexia and even in the later stages of my recovery, the incessant pressure to push past pain and risk my physical health for fear of gaining weight truly controlled and consumed my life. I could never risk a day without exercising. I was never allowed to alter the type of work-out, the intensity or length of time. Every session was rigid, punishing and exhausting beyond words. That’s why getting injured used to be the most terrifying thing in the world for me – it meant resting and the potential weight consequences that could follow.

Yet, the ironic thing was that over-exercising had always created injuries and physical health issues for me. If I had just listened to my body on so many occasions in the past, if I had rested for just a day or two, I could have spared my body so much pain.

During one of my anorexic relapses, I was participating in artistic in-line skating – essentially figure skating on roller blades. It was a wonderfully fun sport, but coupled with my obsessive and disordered tendencies, it was at times, unhealthy for me. I was over-exercising in addition to the skate training so my body was rapidly weakening in all its forms. One morning whilst doing my usual rigorous walk before work, I began to feel pain in the top of my foot. Of course, Anorexia told me to keep walking and disregard it, so I did. Weeks later, I was practicing at the rink when I landed a jump and suddenly felt excruciating pain in that same place in my foot. I stopped skating that evening, but the next day I was back to my grueling walk, once again ignoring all of the discomfort.

It wasn’t until I could barely stand on the foot (let alone walk), that I finally caved in and begrudgingly sought medical advice. After receiving the results of my x-rays and bone scans, it was confirmed that I had not one, not two, but three stress fractures in my foot. I was also informed that the bones in my feet were osteopenic, which can be a precursor to osteoporosis. I was devastated – not because of the severity of the injuries, but by the reality that I would not be able to exercise for weeks

What followed my stress fracture diagnosis was six months of wearing a protective boot. I was banned from any form of weight-bearing activity which in turn had Anorexia restricting my food intake once again. I was in such a dark place at a time when self-kindness and compassion should have been in full force.

A few months after my fractures had finally healed, I launched myself back into working out. Anorexia was taunting me about “lost time” and all the hard work I would need to do in order to regain its approval. As a result of this fear-inducing pressure, I ended up badly damaging my knee on the treadmill. I decided to rest, but not entirely ― that would have been “unacceptable”. Whilst sitting down and pumping weights one morning, I slipped a disc in my lower back. This injury was the most debilitated I had ever been and involved months upon months of bed-rest, pain and incapacity.

It is truly frightening how much of a hold Anorexia had on me. My body was in such danger and distress, yet the pressure to maintain an image of perfection took precedence.

As I have worked through my recovery, I have looked back and asked myself over and over – why didn’t I stop and rest as soon as I had felt that little twinge in my foot? What if I had decided to forego the treadmill and stay in bed the morning my knee gave out?

Moving forward, it’s amazing how natural it has become for me to simply listen to my body. I now stop when something feels even slightly uncomfortable or unnatural. Now that my mind is clear and healthy, I have the power to nurture and take care of myself physically. I have reduced the intensity and frequency of my workouts. If there is something fun occurring after work, I will skip exercising completely. If I am exhausted or run-down, I will simply rest, sleep and recuperate.

I now choose to move my body in a variety of ways, based on my genuine desires and needs. Sometimes if I am pumped and energized, I will turn up my favorite music and go to the gym. If I have been cooped up inside all day, I will enjoy a gentle wander around a beautiful park with my husband. Above all else, I stay in tune with what my body is asking of me. I decide on exactly what I feel like doing instead of what I am falsely obligated to.

Self-care is absolutely essential in our lives. Our bodies are all we have, so it is vital we take the very best care of them. Since embracing this mindset and lifestyle, I have been completely injury-free. It has taken me a long time to come to this peaceful, free and powerful place both physically and mentally, but I am so happy, content and proud that I made it here.

Exercise for Fun

By Katie Glerum

I am a competitive dancer on a high school dance team who between the months of October and February spends 13 hours or more a week practicing. Dancing is my passion and it brings me great joy. It is the only sport I participate in and it provides me with a great workout every day. It allows me to be in top shape during the season and during the summer when we have pre-season practice as well. Overall, it is a great way to get into shape, but I didn’t always see it that way.

I struggled with the idea that the only way to actually be in shape meant I needed to go to the gym and run on the treadmill or do countless ab workouts that I looked up on Pinterest. My idea of having perfect workouts was intensified by family youtubers with thin figures. I saw them post videos of themselves running or lifting weights on their Instagram and Snapchat accounts. When my friends and I saw these, we would feel “inspired” to work out like them. Even when I had an hour of personal training, I would often stay after my sessions to workout with friends because they were feeling that motivation. I fell into the trap of the “perfect workout”. Don’t get me wrong, working out at the gym is a great way to exercise, but it’s not the only way to be healthy and in shape.

Thankfully, I finally understood that I don’t need to go to the gym all the time in order to be healthy. 4926301130_bda430a8e0_z[1]Dance is a great way for me to workout and it keeps me in shape for the who year. It is also an activity that I love to do, which makes the intensity of the workout almost unnoticeable. I realized that since it is easier for me to get through three our long dance practice as opposed to running for 30 minutes on the treadmill, that the longer dance workout is actually a better use of my time. I truly enjoy it!

Throughout all of this I realized, do workouts that you enjoy, and only do them because you want to do them. The more fun you have during your exercise, the more bearable it is, and the better you will feel afterwards. Exercise isn’t just about going to the gym, there are plenty of options out there. For example, go to a yoga class, take your dog on a long walk on a nice day, or dance a playlist out with your besties to get that cardio going! Don’t forget that it’s your workout routine, and your body, so have fun with it!

Calling All Artists!

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ATTENTION ARTISTS!

Art and Eating Disorders- Building Community Awareness 2017

The Emily Program Foundation is calling to you for your artwork inspired by body image, eating disorders or related experiences. We are excited to host this upcoming exhibition at the Southern Theatre in partnership with Altered Esthetics to build awareness and education around eating disorders in our community. The exhibition will be on display February 3rd-26th, 2017.

If you have ever created artwork inspired by eating disorder recovery, please submit your work to this show! Themes include, but are not limited to, eating disorders, body image, and recovery.

Don’t wait to take part in this show; space is limited. Submissions are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. Art pieces must be framed and equipped with a wire hanger upon submission. Artwork will be displayed anonymously (unless otherwise requested).

Please include a photo of your piece and submit your artwork with the submission form to

Emily Monson no later than January 2nd, 2017.

Submit works to Emily Monson, Outreach and Program Manager

1295 Bandana Blvd. W., Ste. 210, St. Paul, MN 55108

Contact Emily at emily.monson@emilyprogramfoundation.org or 651-379-6122 with questions and to obtain a submission form.

southerntheaterlogo-purpleAElogo_419.eps

A Call for Artwork!

Art and Eating Disorders – Building Community Awareness 2017

The Emily Program Foundation is calling to you for your artwork inspired by body image, eating disorders or related experiences. We are excited to host this upcoming exhibition at The Southern Theater in partnership with Altered Esthetics to build awareness and education around eating disorders in our community. The exhibition will be on display February 3rd – 26th, 2017. 

Dance of Freedom - Art Exhibition 2014

Dance of Freedom – Art Exhibition 2014

If you have ever created artwork inspired by eating disorder recovery, please submit your work to this show! Themes include, but are not limited to, eating disorders, body image, and recovery.

Don’t wait to take part in this show; space is limited. Submissions are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. Art pieces must be framed and equipped with a wire hanger upon submission. Artwork will be displayed anonymously (unless otherwise requested).

 

 

 

For more information on this exhibit, please see our events page.

Please include a photo of your piece and submit your artwork with the submission form to Emily Monson no later than January 2nd, 2017.

Contact Emily or call 651-379-6122 with questions and to obtain a submission form.

To the Ones Who Didn’t Give Up on Me

By Angela Haugen

I spent many years in the middle of my eating disorder. It literally ate me alive – the drive to continue as well as the drive to stop.  Those competing forces were so strong. They sent my mind into overdrive. letting-go-being-free-aiden-galvin

It never rested. There wasn’t a moment of peace.  More than 5 years on high alert trying to make change.  Keeping the same path.  Changing course.  Maybe this way would be better.  Or perhaps that way might provide more success.

What was success? How do I get there? The thoughts pulsed and pushed.  It was as if I opened the door to a flood that couldn’t stop coming no matter which door I shut or which one I opened.

I would still consider myself “recovering”, even more than a decade without any sign of disordered eating or disordered mindset of my body. I remain alert to what is being said around me and what I’m saying to myself.  This is as much for me as it is for my daughter – I pay attention to how I interact with others, how I interact with food, how I talk about and engage in exercise, how I encourage and compliment, and what I look for in compliments and encouragement from others.

I walked a long hard road to recovery, as anyone with an eating disorder does. Many addiction recovery stories include avoiding the triggering substance – ED’s are forced to face their biggest hurdle multiple times each day.

I find it easy to still think I’m in it all alone. So much of it is in my head – it must just be me that feels the weight of it all.  But in truth there are and always have been many along my path that helped me.

Sure, some got frustrated and left. It’s understandable, even though it was hurtful.  Recovery is a hard road and the square-root of the burden lays on the person engaging it.  The burden so greatly impacting the behavior; the burden so symbolically needing to be lifted to find recovery.  But it weighs on those around us as well.  Many could not handle not being able to control my poor choices.  They didn’t understand it.  They had no idea the dizzy speed of my mind or how desperately I was trying to find a way out.  They only saw the wrong in what I was doing and the need I had for change.

At the time I didn’t get it – but now I have more grace. I see their hurt and pain in the loss of control.  In watching me hurt.  It’s too much for some people.  I look back in love, understanding that they too were unable to hold that pain and had to release it to be lighter themselves.  Some people feel the need to hold on too tight.  Their letting go is for them and, truly, ends up being better for you.

Instead though, it’s the people that have stuck with me. Those that have held me loosely.  The ones that have known my pain in the midst of this low point – they are the ones that I know I can turn to with anything.  They continue to make my road lighter.  They accept my expectations, my boundaries – or they set their own with me.  They see me as I am: imperfect and trying.  I return the grace-filled favor.  I truly believe that those that held me in that time of internal chaos would hold me now even if I was still there.

We rarely talked food or weight or exercise. We talked life, and hurt, and happy, and annoyance.  They invited me out, they invited me over.  They invited me to talk.  They invited me to sit and be.  We had fun.  We went out.  We stayed in. We talked.  We ate… or not. With them, I wasn’t only a girl with an eating disorder – I was just a girl in the world that they shared life with.

They set an example and eventually, I followed. With them, through these relationships, my mind was set free. I eventually couldn’t focus on another goal or what was going on in my head.  I was re-calibrating.  I was feeling loved for who I was right there.

Despite needing to make changes on my own, I could not have overcome this on my own.

So, to the ones that stood beside me in the depth of my hurt, the ones who never let my setbacks define me, the ones who let me be where I was and loved me anyway – I have nothing but the biggest debt of gratitude. You allowed me to freely be me. To move at my pace.  You never took on my burden – you just made it lighter by walking beside me, helping me to focus on what was good about the moment, helping me to find a new identity. You sacrificed time and conversation – opening ears and schedules and space.

Thank you!