Why I’m not writing a recovery blog

Note: This isn’t just relevant if you if you have struggled/are struggling with an eating disorder – you might find this applicable to your own blog, too.

Reading the title, some of you might wonder: ‘But isn’t that what she started out as??’.  And well, I figure you could say I was leaning towards it more in sharing recovery-focused topics and struggles in many of my first posts, yes.

Am I recovered? Not struggling with food anymore? Unfortunately no.. Yet I do not want to go into this topic all the time anymore, not let this be me as a whole. Sharing bits here and there because I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not . It’s an unfortunate part of me, one that has shaped my life, there’s no denying this. Centering my whole blog around recovery and my strained relationship with food and my appearance, though, is not what I’m trying and wouldn’t recommend for anybody. Here’s why:

Not letting go

If I was to write about EDs and food anxiety all day every day, immersing myself into the recovery blogosphere only, I’d allow these things to manifest. I’d allow them to have more power over me and my life than they should. I’d allow them to keep me stuck. And this exactly has always been my worry and criticism regarding full-on recovery accounts. At some point in life – and given the length of my own struggles I’m not putting any number of months or years of recovery here – you should [be able to] let go of being ‘in recovery’, ‘fighting your way back to happiness’ or whatever else recovery Instagram bios read like these days and just live.

Fall collage

Who am I without my ED? or: Losing your identity [for the better]

If you feel you can post your every meal, the accompanying feelings of guilt and worry while eventually eating more and more and identifying with your ED less and less – awesome, keep going. But if you feel tied to your recovery title and scared of who you’ll be once you’re weight-restored [mental recovery, as most of us will know, takes a lot longer] and not as intensely afraid of eating anymore – reconsider. I think this “identity crisis” is something most if not all of us in recovery will experience at some point. A lot of blog posts out there address this struggle and I won’t pretend I had it all figured out myself yet. Just being honest here.

This exact point – clinging to an identity created or held up by an ED – is what Kaila Prins talked about on the Food Psych podcast. The topic and a past draft of this post had been on my mind more than a year ago already but her words brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Kaila specifically talks about a certain blogger [anonymously] she wanted to help recover but couldn’t. A girl tied to her identity as a health blogger, athlete and creator of low-calorie recipes. So yes, I can absolutely understand how hard deciding to fully recover is when your identity, you brand essentially depends on you being trapped in your ED. What if recovering for you meant – temporary or longer term – a lack of interest in cooking, a preference for rich desserts rather than healtified versions and you no longer enjoyed the intense workouts you did before – but feel that your readers expect you to? Are you going to hold up an image that is no longer you or take the scary step of diving into the unknown?

Not writing a recovery blog? It still applies 

Even if the focus of your blog is a completely different one, the same might happen. Maybe you’re writing a running blog. What if you suddenly get injured and need to take months off to recover? Or discover that you enjoy yoga more or even take a break from formal exercise altogether  (it happens!). Maybe you’re writing a vegan/paleo/macrobiotic/whatever diet blog, strongly recommending the diet to everybody around but then find you need to include animal products in your diet again[we’ve seen what happened to other bloggers in this case before; the Balanced Blonde being the best known example]. Or you happen to discover intuitive eating and as such suddenly find that you want to let go of labels altogether. Or a fashion blog but you fall out of love with fashion or question the ethics behind it at some point. I could go on with examples here but I think you got my point. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with choosing a specific niche for your blog. And if you’re lucky, you have an awesome community cool with a change of focus in your blog. If you’re not – and I’ve heard/read bloggers talk about their struggles with this – you might feel torn: Continue to write about something you’re not feeling anymore because you feel you owe it to your readers or you built a business on it. Or daring the metaphorical leap into the dark in changing topics. Even if you enjoy the topic you chose immensely, why not share the occasional post about some other interests of yours [this might just be me in keeping those doors open for a potential change of mind after all …]? We’re all way too diverse characters to eternally specify on just one niche and – speaking as  a reader here – your readers might be curious to see more facets of you, too.

The things I’d consider are: Can I imagine myself writing about this overall topic in, say, five years still or will I have nothing new to say anymore/outgrown it?  And (the most important one for me): Do I want to be identified as this (i.e. the athlete, the recovering person, the health nut never touching any sugar, …). We all change. That’s what life is about. Growth. Developing into different directions. Finding ourselves. And – to end this long post here – that’s what I want my blog to reflect. I’m not who I was when I started this blogging journey and I don’t know the person I will be in five years yet. What I do know is that I’m curious about what’s to come and sharing it through my writing. Unless I decide I hate writing – which is very unlikely to happen because yes, that’s one identity I’ve had since my childhood and am happy to own: being a writer [and reader].

Enough from me: I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on the above!

Happiness-inducing today: Taking a walk – no matter how short – when the weather cleared up a little. Oh, and the memories of yesterday’s cooking date with a friend. These always make my soul happy.

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Why competitive eating challenges are so wrong

It’s been a while since I joined Amanda’s Thinking out loud Thursdays with a big old rant, getting some thoughts on a sad phenomenon in today’s society off my chest.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Sometimes I think I should start an entire series on here called “Why [insert topic] is making me sad.” That’s not to say I felt sad 24/7 but I do think there are quite a few unfortunate trends, topics and happenings in the world. The one I’m addressing today being a very popular YouTube phenomenon. Let’s face it: we all like to eat, right? And as bloggers we also don’t hide our curiosity about what others eat. All fine and well because everybody has to eat and food can be fun. Until it’s not anymore. Which is the case with the phenomenon gaining popularity all over social media, especially Youtube: Massive cheat days. 10k calorie food challenges. If you’re unfamiliar with those: they’re people – usually muscular athletes or tiny ‘fit girls’ shoveling massive amounts of [junk] food into themselves within a 24h time span.

And yes, it’s totally normal and part of intuitive eating to occasionally eat past the point of fullness. Just because we want to or the food is too delicious. Nothing to criticize here. But: 10,000 calories. Let that sink in. That’s a lot of food. More than just having seconds and thirds at Thanksgiving. 10,000 calories: A lot of food that could – depending on their needs – feed many people. People who actually need it.

It’s disrespectful behavior towards food and those in need of it

Food is meant to be enjoyable. Quickly skipping through a few of those challenge videos I didn’t get that impression it was for the people doing it. So you say you’re stuffing yourself to the point of near-vomiting [who knows what happens after the camera is turned off] only to say …What, really? That you did it? That you’re one particularly awesome person? Or: “Look how much I can eat and not gain”? It is not an accomplishment. It’s not worthy of praise or admiration. In my opinion it’s disgusting. A disgusting disrespect towards the value of food as nourishment. And while, yes, I find this particularly horrible when meat and as such disrespect for living beings is involved, I do not approve of vegans doing these eating competitions, either.

It is different if somebody struggles with bulimia or is experiencing extreme hunger in recovery from any kind of eating disorder. In a way, these people do need the calories. Making up for months or even years of restriction. Explaining the background on this would take too long here so if you haven’t heard about this find a good explanation. I just want to differentiate between needed versus wasted food. Speaking of eating disorders:

It’s triggering for people with eating disorders

Now you might think that gee, everybody’s responsible for the content they consume. However, if you’ve ever spent time on YouTube, you know that videos like these, especially considering they gather lots of views, appear on the front page and high up in the suggested videos. Add curiosity to the mix and people will watch these videos.

While I personally have no experiences with binge eating, I can see how ashamed somebody struggling with it might find these videos. Extremely toned people shoveling thousands of calories’ worth of food into their mouths and not gaining an ounce from it yet talking about how they’re going to ‘clean up’ their diet afterwards. Perfectly in control while you’re continuing to struggle. Those on the opposite end of the spectrum, having to eat past fullness to gain weight might feel gross for the amounts their eating; wrong even.

[Note: I personally am not triggered by these kind of videos but everybody has different triggers and this might just be one for some people]

It glorifies food waste

What I find concerning about food challenges is that they show on a small scale what is true in the world as a whole: when something becomes too cheap, we devalue it. Food is too cheap these days. Fact. Yet: just because a loaf of bread is available for next to nothing [obviously exaggerating here] doesn’t make it any less nutritious. We as a society need to regain appreciation for food. 10,000 calorie challenges and ‘mega cheat days’ encourage the opposite.

If it was just one person doing these challenges: still sad but oh well, there are some idiots in the world and it could be worse. However, this is a major trend that doesn’t seem to stop. If not 10,000 calories, then “major cheat days” or eating contests. It’s a disrespect of food. Glorification of it even. And I really cannot see anything worth celebrating about these challenges.

We won’t get into what competitive eating does to people’s intestines though if you’re interested, here’s a quick explanation on that.

If you agree but think that oh well, It’s just what it is and there’s nothing we can do about it, I beg to differ. We have more influence than we give ourselves credit for. We can choose to not watch and as such support these kind of videos. Supply and demand, friends.

This has gotten lenghty but if you read all of it: Tell me your thoughts!

Happiness-inducing today: An amazing summer day before the massive downpour that’s predicted to last all throughout today set in.

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My kitchen must-have and acknowledging food privileges

Bloggers, raise your hand if you’ve been in a writing rut lately. Well, that’s been me these days and I’m not enjoying it. Some weeks thoughts and ideas are flowing through my brain faster than I can grab a pen – or access my phone – to write them down and others nothing goes. Ironically, just when I had mentally decided to give in and simply do some random Thinking out loud, one of the points I initially noted got my mind churning again. So I’ll reserve that one for another day but share some other randomness today to avoid falling out of the blogging loop completely.  Let’s get going!

Tell me: how do you – especially those of you in the US – prepare your tea? Or more specifically: how do you heat the water needed for it? A little birdy told me electric kettles aren’t really popular which stumped me because I’d never used anything else. Until now because – cue the tragical music – my kettle just quit its services [read: it broke]. On Sunday of all possible times obviously = no chance to get a new one right then and there .  Thrifty as I am I wasn’t ready to invest in a new one yet so have been relying on cooking water on the stove. I won’t lie in saying it first felt – okay, still feels – like a huge inconvience. But at that it also made me appreciate the daily convience I’m blessed to have every single day; hardly ever acknowledging the whole of it. If it’s between me and you, though, I do feel so priviled every time I just have a glass of tap water without worrying about germs and simply looking at the fact it’s so readily available to me.

Another thing in my kitchen I couldn’t don’t want to live without? Hands down my dishwasher. While I do a few dishes by hand if I want to reuse them again that day, just putting everything into the dishwasher at the end of the day and waking up to clean and dried dishes is amazing. A privilege I’m thankful for every single day.

Speaking of privilege: I stumbled upon this article the other day. It’s about the British chef Ruby Tandoh pointing out that the healthy lifestyle many people – particularly those striving for high protein intake and low-carb – live these days simply isn’t affordable for some. Now I know there are many posts out there sharing great advice on how to eat healthy on a budget and it’s definitely not impossible [but might require more time, knowledge and careful planning than some people have or can bring up]. I encourage you to read the full post to see the points Tandoh makes, though. What I agree with and have noticed myself is – through my own experience as somebody eating lots of fruit and vegetables – that fresh produce can easily make up a good chunk of your grocery bills. For families with multiple children – like Tandoh’s and many of those living on the brink of or in poverty – getting adequate amounts of food in on a budget doesn’t allow for such luxuries. So shaming any foods (think potatoes, white rice, grains in general) is plain wrong and I wish society as a whole did less of it [if at all]. We’re all just trying our best in this world and don’t all have the same chances. Just some food for thought.

Just like the privilege to buy almond butter. Thanks to Jen for the advice of keeping the unopened jar upside down for a day – it makes stirring so much easier. No huge oil spillage like on past occasions here and just a few clumps to smoothen out. Easy.

Something more light-hearted on my currently very heavy/deeper thought-filled mind is seeing my sister and P. again on the weekend. It’s been a few [too many] weeks since the previous time and will be my first time babysitting P. all by myself. I won’t lie in saying I’m a little nervous [and hoping for no necessary diaper changes in those few hours ;)]. Coming up for you on the weekend: more good good links!

For once not turning this into an endlessly wordy post – you’ve had a lot of these coming from me lately – I’ll end this here. Happy Thursday! We’re –this- close to the weekend!

Happiness-inducing today:  My current book and an unexpected smile.

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Share your thoughts on any or all of the above points with me!

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Why “love” isn’t part of my daily vocabulary.

What this post is about? My thoughts out loud and running free [because it’s almost the weekend]. Probably cultural differences [tell me!].But first and foremost it’s a post about love – in a different way. One more note: this isn’t meant accusatory in any way. I’m a huge word fiend and believe that words have immense power. So maybe you think I’m a little odd for what I’m about the say. Just please don’t feel offended :).

I don’t love your new dress.
I don’t love that idea.
I don’t even love chocolate and you would really guess by how much of it I eat.

And I clearly don’t love McDonald’s. #sorrynotsorry

Why? Because I’m a conscious “lover”.  You’ll know what I mean in a minute …
We use love a lot: we love those shoes. We love mac and cheese. We love shopping. There isn’t enough love in the world and there’s too much. Wars, hatred and the likes represent a lack of love and overload of hatred. Yet – to me – saying or writing “love” too often takes away from its meaning.

Thinking-Out-Loud

The Black Eyed Peas wondered where the love was. My answer: maybe a little too present at times. What I wonder is if we love too much. Not like there was such a thing as too much love. But my love, for the most part, is shown through action. If I love somebody I will surprise them with treats, kisses or just doing them small favours [especially of the kind of household duties nobody enjoys]. It’s also a family issue: I haven’t once heard my parents tell each other or us as their children “I love you”. But anybody can tell they do love each other and I’ve felt as loved as any other child. That’s because they’ve shown us their love and still do.

The comparison is lacking but think of a favourite dress or bracelet you inherited and – if you’re anything like me – are reserving for special occasions. Just like this I personally find “love” too precious to use it daily. In fact, this might make me look weird but didn’t say the three magical words at any time during my previous relatioship. Granted, I’m also not somebody to date around a lot and I probably would have sooner or later. But as much as I’m a hopeless romantic I’m doing a Rory Gilmore* here and saving these words for when I’m absolutely sure.

Flowers_buttercup

*Gilmore Girls fans will remember Rory’s hesitation to reply to Dean’s declaration of loving her. These three words hold so much more power than the eight letters they’re consisting of would have you guess.

Words are powerful and maybe I’m overly sensitive when it comes to their meaning. But that’s the beautiful thing about blogging: we’re all different and get to share our opinion thereby opening up the conversation.Once again: these are obviously just my thoughts and I neither mean to criticize nor hurt anybody. Rather, I’m leaving this here to open up any takes you might have on the topic. The only “rule”: let’s keep the hatred out of the conversation, ‘kay?

 

Happiness inducing today: So. much. sunlight. until early in the evening. Spring is on its way!

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What are your thoughts on the topic? Does “love” have different meaning for you [i.e. sayng it to somebody vs. using it to express excitment about a thing]? Is there a cultural difference? Let’s get the conversation started!

 

Why you should blog for yourself and how to do so.

Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Like I said that’s how my mind works in terms of blogging topics. Some weeks I can hardly come up with a single post and others inspiration almost jumps at me on every corner. The latter has been the case for this post which you’ll notice so let’s not wait any longer but think out loud.

Let's talk

We hear it all of the time as bloggers: first and foremost you have to blog for yourself. And most likely we rolled our eyes a little at least one of those thinking “tell me another story – everybody wants clicks and readers!” It’s one of the big [and hard to process at the beginning] lessons every blogger has to learn. Those frustration-filled first months of blogging when nobody will read and much less comment. Or only your mum, friends and relatives. I’d be lying if I said quitting hadn’t sounded intriguing at times back then. What ultimately kept me going was my passion to write and too many thoughts in my mind needing an outlet.

Now I’m not one of the “big” bloggers so can in most cases only talk from my perspective as an observing reader. But then again it’s for readers’ pleasure we write and even as bloggers we’re part of somebody else’s audience every day, too, so it’s a topic everyone can chime in on. Here are my [obviously subjective] ideas on how to fuse writing for yourself while also for readers:

Time and blog post frequency: Writing when you’re not feeling it doesn’t work. Plants, animals and humans all need water to grow and flourish. A blog requires its author’s brain to be a source of inspiration. If the latter doesn’t flow [good, enjoyable] posts don’t happen.

If you’re a mum, busy working in a full-time + job or lead a stressful life due to any other reasons post as often as works and feels good to you. Unless jobbing is indeed your job it should add joy not stress to your life.

Easter_flowers on the table

 

Product Reviews and sponsored posts: That’s something that occasionally gets me annoyed when visiting other blogs, at worst it makes me quit reading a blog for good. Let me stress that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these posts to begin with . Integrity’s the keyword again.
I get that a) it’s exciting when a brand reaches out to you for a collaboration or b) you’re a full-time blogger and depend on making money from your blog. However, there should be a limit to how many and which offers you accept. At least for myself I can say I’ll visit your blog less and less the more inauthentic product reviews I see. If your readers know you as a recipe blogger how in line with this image is promoting ladies’ hygiene products [aside from the fact you might be lady but never talked about these things before]? Or if you’re into healthy living but all of a sudden declare your life-long fondness of a popular brand’s sugar-laden cereals? #sponsoredpost

Recipes

Confession time again. This specifically has been on my mind for a while and was one of the reasons to write this post. It’s no secret recipes are what draws us to blogs. We all like to talk about and [I don’t like using this word myself but will replicate it due to popularity] drool over food. Knowing what’s popular in the healthy living blog world I was tempted to let others’ preferences lead my recipe creations and – for a second or two – considered if to get into that no-bake ball bite game. However, that wouldn’t be true to myself. I’m simply not rolling – literally – that way. As nutritious as they are I simply don’t fancy these and luckily there’s no lack of other delicious foods to create and share.

Cauliflower Nuggets_vegan

Blogging niches

Then there’s the other side: Let’s say you’re – like many of us – a healthy living blogger. Naturally, you deliver dozens of delicious recipes for flourless cookies, oil-free fries and green smoothies containing every superfood known to man**. But maybe you still enjoy a good cheese-filled enchilada casserole with – the horrors! – white flour tortillas once in a while. To post or not to post said recipe? Yes, yes and yes! Because while some people might be surprised to see this kind of dish on your blog there will likely be just as many [or more?] readers who are all up for it. Seeing that hey, that girl/guy has balance down to a pat, doesn’t let a label define her and is likely very fun to hang around.

The same would go if you’re usually a [insert niche] blogger but feel the urge to get your thoughts on a topic dear to your heart but not conforming with your niche out there. I’d say go for it because these posts are what truly shape our blogs to be a representation of who we are.

**please note I’m not actually hating on any of these foods. Mmmh, cookies.

In the end, blogging for yourself is blogging for your readers. Because they come back to find out what you think, create, like, dislike, your quirks and funny stories. Not for you pretending to fit into a certain mold of paleo/clean eating/smoothie drinking/running/lifting bloggers. What all of this comes down to is one statute will always lead any choices I make related to my blog – be it in terms of topics, recipes, sponsored posts or reviews:

Writing the blog I want to read. And I hope it’s one you enjoy reading, too.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Another spontaneous after-work walk with my dad and winning another game of yathzee. Hello, lucky strike [not of the smoking variety].

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No specific questions.  Let me know any of your  thoughts on the topic!

 

Are you sure you didn’t accomplish anything at all?

Wise words spoken [or rather: written] by two wonderful ladies inspired this post reminding me to acknowledge all the little things in life. After taking part in Meg’s Week in Review these past weeks I’ve developed a new sense of seeing personal success. Not [only] in the big things – receiving the Novel price and the likes, you know  😉 – but the small, seemingly mundane happings that escape our memory all too easily. Let’s think [and talk] about that today.

Let's talk

 

But I didn’t really achieve that much compared to [insert name].

But everybody else is working out much harder. My easy three miles are nothing compared to [insert another name again].

If only I was an early riser like everybody else – I could get so much more done!

If only I’d prepped my meals like every other good blogger I wouldn’t have eaten out that often/spent so much on groceries.

 

That’s a lot of if, a lot of but and mostly a lot of not helpful. Sure, getting down on and being unhappy with ourselves is always an option. Usually the go-to option, right? Also the worst option as it feeds a vicious cycle of being stuck in the mindset of ‘never good enough’ = just give up trying in the first place because what you can’t change anything after all, no?

The truth is: yes, you – and I – probably didn’t achieve as much as the next person who’s juggling family life, marathon running, meal prepping like a pro and blogs six times a week along with working a full-time gig. But you might very well have achieved a lot for your own measures. It’s about first listing up and looking at what you did during the past week/month. What made you feel good and happy. And then scaling this list of accomplishments up with what you know is [currently or in general] possible for you. This one being my main point here but if you’re confused let me elaborate:

Maybe you’re struggling with depression. An eating disorder. Or simply are an introvert working in an extroverted business that makes you feel drained by Friday night.Or none of these but you’re just feeling overwhelmed by expectations. These obstacles are your heavy luggage in this game called life. I’d venture to guess most of us carry one or more of these around with us. That one big underlying issue or thing we need to face day by day along with any daily chores or jobs. Or even if you don’t have one specific  heavy luggage you could feel overwhelmed more easily than somebody else. And that is okay. Some of us are extroverted social butterflies who thrive going out with friends after work while others are glad to put on their PJs and Netflix [much needed me time] after work. Some of us can knock out 50+ hours at their jobs [yes, I know those people] while others are exhausted just thinking about that.

PJ pants_striped_bed

It’s about knowing the limits of what you can handle. While it might not be able to say no to every additional task you’re assigned or skip every social event that makes you feel anxious you being aware of your limits helps you see your achievements. Because if you did Don’t let anybody tell you taking care of yourself wasn’t an achievement in itself. I’m trying to not center this post around EDs but if you’re in recovery from one you’ll know that something as seemingly simple as eating every meal is a win. If you suffer from depression getting up is one. A friend of mine is dealing with extreme social anxiety. For her, going to a crowded mall is an achievement while it would be fun for me. We all carry our own little “packages” around and what’s an easy breezy walk for some might mean conquering Mount Everest for you. Breathe. It’s okay. Go at your own speed and if you decide walking the whole way is too much today you can still give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Making steps and staying on the move at all is enough.

Don’t measure your own days up to somebody who has a completely different character, living a different life and having a different background. Celebrate your personal wins.

If you’re struggling – with whatever it might be – at the moment the simple act of taking care of yourself is worth being acknowledged. Many times others will – intentionally or not – make you feel bad for not doing this/only doing that. The [unfortunate] truth is that if you’re burdened by any special condition [especially mental illnesses] outsiders won’t be able to see that what you do is a lot indeed when it’s not up to par with what the average Joe does. But: you are the only one knowing your personal limits. Knowing the amount of work you’re able to fit into a week. Knowing when you need to slow down and take time to recharge. Don’t get me wrong: This isn’t an encouragement for laziness. If you’re [mentally and physically] healthy yet still only lying around doing nothing and eating fries then this isn’t your excuse to keep doing this. For 99.5 % of us this isn’t the reality, though. We all achieve different things every week. And whatever it is that you’re putting your creative and physical energy into day by day: it’s worth celebrating.

 

Happiness-inducing today: An day that was probably exhausting but felt good. I’d have to write a novel to explain this so will leave it at this condensed version.

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No specific questions but just tell me whichever thoughts you have on this topic. I’m sure many can relate.