Tag Archive for wellness

Molly’s Self-Care Tips

This week’s blog post is sponsored by our 2018 unmaskED Gala sponsors Dirk Miller & Jennifer Cramer-Miller, Premier; 292 Design Group, Platinum; Stinson Leonard Street, Gold.

Hello! I’m Molly. I’m a 20-year old college student, and I’m a new volunteer blog writer here at The Emily Program Foundation. Throughout my own personal journey towards recovery, I’ve come to realize how truly important it is to take time for self-care. This has the ability to greatly improve your mental health, and take you even further on your own journey to recovery. Today, I’d like to share a few tips on how to take better care of your body, mind, and soul, so that you too can steadily and successfully recover.

Journaling

In my own experience, journaling is a wonderful way to begin practicing self-care, specifically for the mind. You can start by going out and getting yourself a journal, or even a notepad/book (it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive) grab a pen, and open up to the first page. When you have an extra minute to take out of your day, or feel as if you need some sort of escape from your daily stressors, open the journal and write. The wonderful thing about journaling, is that it is 100% up to you what it contains. Write about what you did each day; write about your moods and how they influenced your day; keep track of the dreams you have and how they make you feel; write about what you’re grateful for; write about what makes you happy or sad; write about absolutely anything! Physically seeing the things in your head being put on paper, can be incredibly calming. You’re able to close the journal and stow it away, knowing it is kept safe. This helps especially when you need to journal your negative thoughts. I personally filled up an entire journal over the course of about a year, from when I was first seeking help for my eating disorder, to when I finally felt as if my journey came to a close. I was able to look back on how far I had come, and how strong I was at that point in time! Give journaling a try, and see if it’s able to help you too.

(Guided) Meditation

My former therapist had introduced meditation to me, and at first, I was way too antsy to sit still and focus. However, once I got the hang of it, it became such an amazing activity to use for self-care. Free guided meditation audio recordings can be found all over the internet, and a lot of them are made specifically for things like anxiety, self-love, gratitude, and even sleep. If you have maybe 10 minutes to spare in your day, simply find a comfortable spot to sit in a chair or even a place to lay on the floor, close your eyes, and begin. Meditation easily allows you to clear your head, and focus solely on inhaling and exhaling. It truly brings you to a peaceful state-of-mind, where you’re able to escape from reality, for just a small amount of time. Adding this to your daily routine, can most definitely benefit you, your friends and/or your family who may be recovering as well.

Treat Yourself!

Every once in a while, it feels really great, even empowering to treat yourself. That applies to a variety of things as well. Treating yourself could mean spending a night in with yourself or with a loved one, splurging on a nice manicure/pedicure, taking a bath with some epsom salts or a bath bomb, or even taking time out of your day to rest/nap! Remember that it IS okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to make yourself feel good. It’s okay to take the time out of your day to check-in with yourself and make sure you’re doing alright. I said it once, and I will say it again: self-care is so important. It’s very important to practice on your journey to recovery. I hope the tips I shared with you today helped shed some light on how to take better care of your mind and body, and hopefully you’re able to incorporate them into your day-to-day!

 

Much love,
Molly

Meet Molly

Hello! My name is Molly, and this is my recovery story!

First off, all my life, I had always been known as the “chubby kid”, and would get picked on quite a bit. I always struggled with the image of my body compared to girls much smaller than me, who were able to wear certain clothes, participate in certain (athletic) activities, etc. growing up. Making my way into middle/high school, it got much worse. Especially because I also had an issue with how much I ate. Food soon became my safe haven, or my “security blanket”, if you will. Whenever I was stressed, I would eat. Emotional, I would eat. Angry, scared, nervous, anything, I would eat. And it became more and more compulsive to a point, that by the time I graduated high school, I knew I needed to seek out help; but was still too scared and had no idea how to.

Stepping into college, I always was dealing with severe anxiety, depression, self-harm, and finally, bulimia nervosa. When I would get really low, I would rely on food to comfort me and make me feel okay. But suddenly, the satisfaction of a full stomach started to feel more like regret and disgust. I soon fell into an awful pattern of binging and purging multiple times a day. Coming clean to my mom and dad was not easy since they soon caught on to my behaviors, but it helped me to realize that I had people looking out for me, who wanted me to get help, and to recover from something that wasn’t who I was. I made it through two therapists and a grocery list of anti-anxiety medications over the course of about two years, and faced even more hardships time and time again. But now here I stand, free of self-harm, depression, and no longer a slave to my eating disorder.

No matter how you get there, or how long it takes, I think the idea of recovery is probably the most freeing feelings you could ever possibly experience. Knowing you’ve been torn down at one point, not knowing you were even capable of overcoming… and then standing tall, and realizing that you truly did it, all on your own. I’m so eager to help others who have faced the same struggles I have through these blogs, and to truly make a change.

 

*Stay tuned for Molly’s tips on practicing self-care next time!*

How I Broke the Cycle: Living Life Without Restriction

By Amy Hastie

Physically, I may have looked “healthier” during those times, but in reality, I was still living a life full of rigid rules around what I could and couldn’t eat. It was exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and destroying me from the inside out.

I can vividly recall the first time I decided to restrict my food intake.

At 17, someone sat me down and told me that I should exercise more often and reconsider my food choices. I initially felt deflated, self-conscious and hurt, but those emotions soon turned into an overwhelming desire to change. I distinctly remember writing a letter to my best friend at school the very next day, excitedly boasting to her about this revelation regarding my lifestyle and how I was going to cut back on everything that I ate as part of a magical transformation. It was going to be amazing!

Looking back, it seems utterly frightening to me that I had been so determined and self-assured that I was doing the right thing, despite all of the potentially dangerous risks to my health. This particular teenage diet didn’t last longer than a week, but it instilled in me a lingering awareness of inadequacy in relation to the foods I chose to eat and how much I weighed. It’s like my eyes had been exposed to a horrific image that was etched in my mind and could never be erased.

A couple of years later…

When other things in my life seemed out of control, I made a few more attempts at diets. Again, nothing stuck until the year leading up to my 21st birthday when I fell, head first, down the dark and destructive hole of Anorexia. What followed was more than a decade of severe bouts of restriction, chronic dieting, and incredibly harmful physical behaviors.

There were months, sometimes years, within the past decade when I wasn’t being entirely controlled by Anorexia, but still being intensely dictated by diet culture. Physically, I may have looked “healthier” during those times, but in reality, I was still living a life full of rigid rules around what I could and couldn’t eat. It was exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and destroying me from the inside out.

I feel ashamed to admit this now, but up until recent times, I ate the same thing for dinner every week-night for about 10 years. Every single week-night. No deviations. No adjustments. No tweaks. The same. It was monotonous, a far from nourishing meal choice and a devastatingly obvious coping mechanism. Family and friends would often ask why my husband and I didn’t eat dinner together at home. I always used to brush it off by saying we had very different tastes. That wasn’t true at all as we actually shared many similar loves in food. However, the thought of deviating from my “safe” meal on a week-night scared me more than just about anything else in the world.

Then something finally changed for the better.

I had hit breaking point in the lead-up to our wedding. When it was all over, something began to shift in me, but in a good way this time. On my honeymoon, my husband and I ate a variety of exquisite food every day and every night. Part of me waited for a drastic change, something to go horribly wrong with my mind or body. Nothing did. In fact, with each delectable consumption, the better I seemed to feel mentally and physically. The only effect was the thrill of tuning into my hunger and honoring it fully.

amy longstaff

During the honeymoon, I realized I was beginning to create an infinite distance from restriction. I was at a coffee shop, and I ordered a delicious beverage. The friendly young guy taking my order gave me a nod as he was writing it down and said, “Yeah! It’s Friday! Why not, right??”. I think I nodded in agreement with the well-meaning gentlemen at the time, but as I walked away, I found myself marveling at my progress. I had, without thought or hesitation, just ordered the drink I wanted, having no reason to choose it above its scrumptious taste. I hadn’t selected it because it was the week-end or even considered it to be a treat in the first place. I just had it because I felt like it. It may sound simple, but this kind of mental progress is huge for anyone who has endured what I have.

Decisions like what to order had not always been that natural. Menus were overwhelming, regardless of whether it was a day of “clean eating” or one where treats were “allowed”. While my friends and family would look at a menu in excitement (or simple indifference), Anorexia would sit with me and meticulously calculate the meal that would do the least “damage”. It was a consistently agonizing process, and one I certainly do not miss. After that day in the coffee shop, I started to perceive menus as lists filled with infinite possibilities of satisfaction, not rule books.

I told myself that when we returned from our trip, I would continue this new-found lifestyle … and I did. It was like that indignant feeling I had when I first decided to diet at 17, except this time, I took a stance on always eating exactly what I wanted. I vowed to never restrict again because this new way of eating (of living!) was far too liberating to give up on. I began reintroducing beloved old favorites or tasting entirely new ingredients. Foods I had once banned for making me feel “out of control” were no longer scary because they weren’t “off limits” anymore. I had legalized them indefinitely. It was all so wonderful and invigorating.

As I continue this intuitive eating journey, the next challenge is learning to cook...

Despite being 33 years old, I am well and truly back to basics, teaching myself how to prepare all kinds of new and gratifying meals. It’s certainly not easy, (I have already inadvertently created some minor kitchen fails!), but it is the power of choice over restriction that pushes me to persist with my culinary ventures.

The most life-changing aspect of my recovery has been the new-found belief that I am not only worthy of all foods today, but tomorrow and every day of my life. After so long, I have learned to listen to what my body instinctively wants, just like I used to as a little kid. Now, there are no “treats”, no “cheat days” no “naughty foods”. Anything and everything is quite literally on the table, and I am loving every single minute of it.

 

The Dreaded Scale

By Katy M.

Why do we ask ourselves so many questions on what we should weigh and what size we should be?

So many people step on the scale daily to see if they’ve lost or gained any weight, asking questions like: What does the scale say? Am I the right weight for my height?

If you think about it logically, the scale doesn’t tell us anything of real value.

It's a number. 

A figure that means nothing when it comes to our own worth.

My favourite quote is:

The number on this scale will not tell you what a great person you are, how much your friends and family love you, that you are kind, smart, funny and amazing in ways numbers cannot define. That you have the power to choose your happiness, your own self-worth.

This quote is more accurate than any scale you’ll step on. When I believed in the dreaded scale, I was still unhappy at my lowest number. I was hungry and miserable. Eventually I understood that if you are happy and comfortable in your skin, you do not need to be a certain size because there is NO such thing as “the correct size”.

If you read celebrity magazines, you’ll see they are constantly criticising someone’s figure. This is not how life should be. Life is so much more than what you weigh; it is you as a person!

We are all beautiful with or without that number on a scale. It’s time we all start believing it.

 

scale

What is “Healthy”?

By Bethany C.

We live in a society that constantly tells you how to live, how to act, how to eat, how to dress, how to love, and how to be healthy.

Today, “Healthy” is choosing the salad instead of the French fries you’ve been craving all day. It is staying on the treadmill a couple extra minutes because you know you are going on a date, and those always end with some type of dessert. It’s the gluten free cookie that tastes like cardboard instead of the regular cookie, and it’s ordering a non-fat, sugar free skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks on your way to work instead of eating the Poptart that has been calling your name for the past 3 days (not speaking from experience or anything *wink wink*).

Growing up in today’s culture is full of a lot of really great things, but it also makes the positive “self-talk” and “healthy” eating decisions that much more challenging.

I recently read this book called Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary program that works. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. Whether you’re tired of trying to diet and failing, or wanting to find something that makes eating food fun again, READ IT. enjoying your food is good for youMy outlook on the term “healthy” changed drastically. In the book, it talks about how it is more effective to listen to your body and hunger cues and simply eat what your mind and body is craving.

Stop what you’re doing and think about what your body is craving right now. How much more satisfied do you think you will be if you eat “it” instead of eating a salad and then just snacking to try and find that satisfaction your body wants from the food you’re not giving it?

I’m a nutrition major, so I am not saying you should eat a cookie or 3 for every meal, every day, but if your body is craving a cookie at 10 AM and it’s distracting you, do your body a favor and EAT THE DANG COOKIE. In the long run, that cookie is going to do your mind, your body, and your soul more good than neglecting that craving and causing yourself to be unsatisfied the rest of the day. I love my body and I strive to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. So eat a cookie, take a bath, and join me on this intuitive eating journey.