Recovery Is Worth It // Where I’m At Now

(Cover image credit goes to https://www.pinterest.com/alexarp/recovery/)

Recovery. A word that can mean a lot of things. In my case it is recovery from disordered eating and exercising.

It has been a long journey (one of which I go into more detail in previous blog posts). A few days ago I finally felt that indescribable “free” feeling. I have felt this feeling a few times before, but this time it truly felt different. Like I am not constantly thinking about and planning out when I am eating next, or how often/what times I am exercising throughout the week. In short, I felt normal for once. For the first time in about two years. Two years.

For two years these thoughts have pretty much consumed my every moment. It started out as what I thought were good things, like only allowing myself to eat clean foods because anything with fake sugars in it were toxins to my body. This gradually spiraled into orthorexia. I have never been “officially” diagnosed, but that is beside the point. I finally recognized that I was putting myself in severe danger mentally, physically, and emotionally. I would stress over the smallest things — things that a girl in her late teenage years really shouldn’t even be worrying about. (i.e. things that were pointless to worry about).

Over the majority of the past year I have been actively trying to break free from that “healthy, clean” lifestyle. I am not going to say that it was easy and blissful — it was far from that at times. But it’s all part of the journey. There were times where I had major recovery “wins,” but that feeling and mindset would fade out after a day or two.

Finally a few days ago, I got this feeling. One that I haven’t felt in awhile. Like I mentioned above, over the past few days I haven’t worried about how unhealthy some of the things I ate were. What I did think about is how happy I was when I wasn’t worrying about what I put into my mouth. For example, on Friday pizza sounded really good to me, and I was staying at home for the weekend, so I told my mom we should order some pizza! We got a large veggie pizza, and over the past couple years (if I was to even let myself have pizza) I always set the limit at two pieces. No more. Well guess what?! I had THREE pieces of that pizza the other night. Why?! Because 1.) it tasted darn good, 2.) an extra slice of pizza will in no way harm me, 3.) I was hungry, and 4.) I am tired of saying “no.” So what if pizza isn’t healthy. So what that it was a large pizza. So what that I only did light exercise that day. I finally truly felt like a normal 20-year-old girl.

That was only the beginning to a weekend filled with spending time with family and enjoying myself without worrying about food and exercise. I just went with the flow. Best. Feeling. Ever.

I will admit that today I have had a few thoughts about scheduling workouts, food, etc. But like I said earlier, it’s all part of the process. I am feeling good right now. I feel positive. I feel as if I can do this. I feel normal.

Recovery is worth it. It is a huge roller coaster filled with ups and downs and twists and turns, but it’s worth it. I honestly feel like I am headed on the road to true recovery. I can do this. Life is good. 🙂

To follow my journey, head on over to my page on Instagram: @laurensfitlife! You will find everything from healthy foods to pints of Ben & Jerry’s!

Year’s End

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Well, here we are. The last day of 2014. I know this is cliche and it’s said every year, but this year has really gone by so fast! There have been plenty of ups and downs for me this year, but hey, here I am. Without everything (both good and no so good) that has happened to me this year, I wouldn’t be the same person! Am I completely happy with my entire life and the exact person I am today? No. But I am happy to have been given this life and I am happy with most parts of myself. I am ready to start the new year, and my main goal is to just be happy.

One of the major struggles in this past year is something that I have talked about several times in past posts. As you probably know and can tell by my blog, I follow the health and fitness community pretty darn closely. When I initially started following the community a little over a year and a half ago, all was well. I was so interested in all things health, fitness, and nutrition. This is when I started my health/fitness/nutrition Instagram account (@laurensfitlife). At this time I was by no means eating completely healthy and clean, and I was alright with that, but I very, very soon wanted to start eating more and more healthy.

Fast forward about a year or so, and this eventually turned into restricting myself from anything remotely unhealthy or unclean. I started having negative thoughts towards my body and certain foods. If my mom suggested making something for supper or baking something for fun, I would always try to find or suggest a similar but more “clean” recipe for myself. At the time, I was completely fine with this. I didn’t see it as something that was and would eventually produce extreme, out of control negative thoughts. I was content at the time.

Last year was my freshman ear of college. I remember the summer before and just hoping that at least one of my roommates (I had three all together) would share the same love for fitness and nutrition with me. Well, none of them really did. So you can imagine how uncomfortable/awkward I felt with all my health foods around our room at first. But eventually, I became more comfortable with it and also with my roommates. I was the “healthy roommate.” This was a title that I absolutely loved, but on the outside I just kind of treated as one of those nicknames you done hate and you don’t mind. I would work out a lot, and rarely eat anything that wasn’t clean. When I say this, I mean that it would be a very hard thing for me to even eat a fun size piece of candy, even if it was my favorite. And when it came around to December, I got an Advent calendar with a chocolate for each day of the countdown to Christmas. Honestly, I can’t even remember if I even ate a single chocolate. I remember that I just told my roommates to have at it. If they saw that the day we were on wasn’t open yet, they could just open it and eat the chocolate. I was too afraid to eat a single one.

So that was all in 2013. But now let’s start with 2014. For the entire month of January I was still on break because my college did J-term. My family and I were in Texas for a couple weeks around Christmas and New Years, but a little while after we got back, I had to go get my yearly physical. I was honestly kind of excited for this because I was ready for the doctor to complement me on my “healthy” lifestyle and on how good I looked and how well I was doing. Well, I was in for a shock. The doctor told me my bmi was 18. This bmi is placed on the high end of underweight. So I was by no means severely underweight, but I was at a low enough weight to concern my doctor. I was completely shocked at this. When she asked if I was eating enough I just told her that I really felt that I was and that I just went to the gym a lot. She told me that she really wanted to see me put on a little weight so I could be healthier, which was something that was very difficult for me to hear.

I started to think about what that doctor told me and I kind of reflected back on my habits during my first semester of college. Yes, I still felt like I was eating enough. But then I realized I was eating enough, but not nearly enough for someone as active as I was. And honestly looking back on it now, I definitely over exercised, which is something that I have been working on in the past few months. Anyway, let’s get back to my story. I also think another reason why I felt like I was eating enough when I really wasn’t is that my roommate that I was closest to didn’t eat nearly as much as me. She had been told awhile ago by her doctor that she can only eat a certain amount of calories, which was all related to a heart condition. But I’m not going to get into that since it is personal, and because this is my story, not hers. But anyway, I think that my eating intake decreased because I would have a fuller plate than her, and I was always still eating after she was done. This made me feel that I was over eating, when in reality, I definitely was not.

By the summertime, I challenged myself to take it easy on the cardio and focus more on strength and weight training. This is something that I had wanted to do for a little while, but I was afraid of the number on the scale going up. Despite this, I went forward with the challenge. Low and behold, I fell in love with weight and resistance training. For time (and length’s) sake, I am not going to get too in dept with the past half year. But in a nutshell more or less, I hurt my lower back in September, and then a little later I hurt the other side of my lower back. This meant that my weight and resistance training was severely limited. Since I was so limited, I thought that maybe I would just quick see how running felt. I started out very slow and gradually increased my pace. Surprisingly, running didn’t hurt at all!! So I started running a lot more often than I had in the previous few months. I began to truly enjoy running again — even the treadmill wasn’t as bad as it used to be!

Now let’s bring it to November. One weekend I was running on the treadmill, and I was feeling better than I ever had on a treadmill. I wasn’t getting bored or exhausted or anything! So I just kept going until I felt like stopping. I ended up running 6 or 7 miles on the treadmill both days. I was feeling great! But all of the sudden, in the middle of the next week I started getting hip pain and upper thigh pain on the outside of the right leg. I just figured I’d take it easy for the next few days or week or so, and I would be good as new. Unfortunately, the pain wasn’t going away, so I decided to get it checked out. I was diagnosed with ITB Syndrome, and as given some stretches and exercises to do. I was told that my injury was most likely due to overuse and that I should be back at it within the next couple weeks. When I told my family this, my brother, who I’m rather close to, told me flatout that I exercise too much. Little did he know that this really affected me. But I wasn’t going to let it show.

So ever since then, I have been going to physical therapy, have been resting more often, and have only been doing upper body and abs at the gym. My leg has really been feeling much better, which is something that obviously makes me happy, but once I am fully healed, I’m still going to try to take it more easy at the gym and take rest days more often. Like I said in my last post, this injury was truly a blessing in disguise.

Wow that was a novel!

When I first started typing this post, I had no intentions of it being that long, but let’s get to some of the good things in the past year. I think I’ll make a list, so that this doesn’t also turn into a novel 😛

These are in no specific order. I’m just listing them as I think of them. 🙂

1. I switched my major and transferred schools, and I am happy with where I am academically.

2. I have gotten to spend more time with my family.

3. I have realized how much I restricted myself in the past (read above) and how strict I was with myself, and I am doing my best to work on changing that.

4. I have been working on being more positive about rest days and have been better about think of them as beneficial and good for me in the long run.

5. Some days are mentally tough for me in general, but I am also working on that to the best of my ability.

6. I have had such a loving and amazing support system and I truly want to thank each and every one of those people.

7. I have learned to do — and not do — things because I do — or do not — want to do them. I have tried to stay true to myself. I want to please other people, but I also make sure to stay in tune with myself as well.

8. Much, much more!!

Lastly, here are just a few things that I have decided to try and do in the next year:

1. Stop being so strict with my “normal” schedule. I want to be easily willing to make sudden, spur of the moment, changes to it without it negatively affecting me and my thoughts. I want to be more flexible.

2. Meet new people.

3. Don’t sweat the small things.

4. Not worry so much about food in general.

5. Be more positive in all aspects of my life.

6. And lastly, (for now) like I said earlier, I just want to be happy. 🙂

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Well, I am so so thankful if you stuck with me and read this entire, lengthy, novel-resembling post! I in no way had intentions of making it this long, but here we are now! haha. 🙂 I hope you all had the chance to reflect on this past year, and I hope the best for you in the coming year! This is your year. Make it happen. 🙂

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Life’s Hidden Blessings

(Cover Image Credit to: http://tiny.catpa.ws/life-is-good-to-me/)

Well hi there! I’ve been quite slacking on my blogging duties these past few months! I’ve been pretty busy this past semester, but all the hard work has definitely paid off — I finished off this semester with a 4.0!! It’s definitely a nice reward for all the hard work I put in. 🙂

Being on Christmas break now, I have been trying to take advantage of all the free time I have (other than picking up extra shifts a work :P) by relaxing, crocheting, and hopefully I will be baking and cooking some new things! I am super excited to get back to some of these things that I haven’t gotten to do much since Summer.

If you follow my Instagram (@laurensfitlife), you’ll know that I injured my IT Band about a month or so ago. It was tough to come to terms with at first, but I quickly came to think of it as something that I really needed, both mentally and physically. The reason I say this is because eating disorder thoughts have been taking up essentially a lot of my thoughts for at least the past year, and it’s something that I hide from people in real life because it’s something that feels very personal to me. Although I have never actually been diagnosed with an eating disorder, I have without a doubt had ED thoughts in regards to food and exercise. A little while before my injury I really began to think that I need to just take a break from my “normal” routine, which was eating as healthy as possible, restricting myself from almost all “unhealthy” foods, and exercising a lot 6 days a week. So this is why this injury is something that I consider to be a blessing — it kind of forced me to do what I’ve wanted, but have been so afraid to do: rest, eat what I want no matter how healthy or unhealthy, and just think more positively about things and not worry about things that aren’t worth worrying about.

Surprisingly, this all came a lot more easily to me than
I thought it would. I have been having more positive thoughts, and I have also truly been enjoying my life more. I guess I never really realized until now that for the past year and a half or so, I really haven’t been truly enjoying certain parts of my life. When I look back on it, I essentially let the whole health/fitness thing take over my life. Now, I’m not saying that health and fitness are bad, because they are obviously very important things, but when you let it rule your thoughts and actions every minute of every day, you are not living in a healthy way. I am so glad that I am realizing this now, before I really miss out a a big chunk of my life.

Currently, I am still in a “resting” mode in a sense. I have still been working my upper body and doing the bike at the gym, but I do it because it makes me happy, not to burn extra calories or to “make up” for something I ate. I am also still having more rest days than normal, and I am okay with that! Having more than one rest day in a week used to terrify me, so feeling the way I do now is such an amazing and freeing feeling. 🙂 My leg has really been feeling better in the past few days, which is so nice because I can actually walk around with little to no pain! I have been doing physical therapy for the past few weeks, and I can for sure already feel a lot of improvement!

Normally, athletes or people who just like to exercise obviously don’t like injuries. But to me, I feel that it has been and still will be a huge benefit to me in many different aspects. I don’t want to say that it literally “saved” me, but it did save me from my bad thoughts, and it is leading me on the road to a better life. It kind of prompted me to do what really needed to have been done for quite some time now. If I didn’t have this injury, I would probably still have those negative thoughts like “I can’t eat that because it has cane sugar in it,” “I really regret eating that,” “I need to workout after what I ate today,” etc. Those thoughts would have just continued into a deeper negative spiral, and I really don’t want to know where I would have ended up.

So to my injury, I thank you. I am thankful for this life that has been given to me. I have been handed this difficulty because God knows that I can handle it, and I am now on a better road. Sometimes blessings are truly hidden, but once we realize the blessings in our lives, we will be more at peace and will be headed in a more positive direction.