Stop working out to earn [or burn] your food.

February happens to be National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) month and as somebody in recovery myself I have taken part in it several times before. This time touching on a topic not only those diagnosed with an eating disorder deal with.

 

Eating a bagel for breakfast  = run for 45minutes.*

An ice cream sundae =  a 75-minute spinning class.*

A few handfuls of chips = lifting weights for more than an hour. *

No, I didn’t make up the numbers above. Chances are you’ve seen these kind of equations on a magazine or somewhere online*. And if you’ve spent just a few weeks or months around the blog world or on Instagram – and most of us have been around for much longer, right? – you’ll have seen it there, too. “I know this day seems carb-heavy but: leg day!” or “deserved this treat after a hard session at the gym”. I’m not shaming any of the people making these statements because I’ve been there and occasionally still find my mind drifting off. In the past months, though, I’ve made progress here and being forced to lay off any exercise aside from walking helped change my thoughts.

You don’t need to work out like a mad [wo]man to “deserve food – or rest.

You don’t need to justify your food choices through the exercise you’ve done.

Would you deny a toddler, a doctor [somebody working mostly sedentary] or your frail grandma food? Restrict their intakes because they hardly move throughout the day? Actually,  you wouldn’t deny your rabbit/cat/dog food or hush it around the block for another lap making sure it truly deserved its food, either, no? Deny your child a snack on a long car ride because it didn’t [get a chance to] move?  Granted, there might be mums who do but I’d like to think they’re the exceptions.

Are you nodding now and saying yes, sure, point made but these examples are different from you? They’re not.

You, a toddler, your grandma: all human beings. All deserving of nourishment – in large enough quantities – to exist. Breathe. Get sh*t done [if that’s the way you want to express it]. Actually, yes, you do need to work for your food: by earning the money to pay grocery bills but that’s about the only connection between earning and food. Speaking off earning and assuming most of us either work in desk jobs or study: never forget mental work counts, too. Our brains run on glucose = your carb cravings explained. Or just don’t seek for any explanations.

I’m not suggesting for everybody to stop exercising completely and sit around all day long stuffing their face with all. the. food. Extremes again, huh? Rather, tuning into our intuition will lead us to make the right choices food-wise. And by right I mean right to keep us fuelled and happy throughout daily life – carbs and protein, pasta  and cookies just like nut butter and Greek yogurt.

Almond butter jar_Mandelmus

If we were to take this concept further the same is true for resting. There’s no need to explain why you “deserve” binge-watching your favourite show on Netflix at night. Unless that’s all you do all day every day while bossing others around to work for you. In that case please move your butt off the sofa and get work done.

The problem with shifting the mindset of earning food is its ever-presence in our society that makes it impossible to ignore*. Blogs, magazines, TV shows constantly praise the mentality of “burning off your food” and in also glorify the idea of under-eating [hello, 1200-calorie meal plans].

Exercising just for the sake of it: A gift we – myself included – often take for granted. A luxury exclusive to us living in a society where we don’t need to worry about the availability of food to refuel. An activity that some of us even turn around to be punishment for eating “too much”.

* unless you lived under rock which you shouldn’t feel bad to admit as it’d honestly be an admirable state of blissful ignorance here!

You deserve food. You deserve rest. As much of both as you need to feel energized and ready to tackle your days. Eat. Exercise. Don’t make the former depend on the latter but only the other way around in eating enough to fuel your workouts.

 

No questions. Just your thoughts on the topic.

Happiness inducing today: Many many small things all throughout my day. The sun shining. A short chat with my colleagues in between wokring.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

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Not disordered enough? [NEDA week]

While I might not live in the US I’m not oblivious to the fact it is once more National Eating Disorders Awareness [NEDA] week. Like I mentioned last year I wish this was international in anyway because eating disorders [unfortunately] don’t know any borders. They’re taking over lives of people and stealing happiness everywhere on this planet with no end in sight. What we can do, however, is contribute to share our experiences to encourage others struggling to reach out and feel less ashamed as well as help those who never struggled understand the going-ons better.

I’ve been thinking about posting this or not because it’s a huge part of my story [that I have yet to share in its whole]. In the end, I decided to let my thoughts out loud.

Just as a warning ahead: I briefly mention weight and calories so if you feel you might be triggered please skip this post.

  • I didn’t cut out any foods, much less whole food groups. Not disordered enough, right?
  • Sugar has never been the devil for me at any point. Actually, I remember living off semolina pudding cooked in chocolate soy milk for almost every main meal for a short time. Not disordered enough, right?
  • I didn’t exercise for hours on end.  Most of the time, I even took rest days. Not disordered enough, right?
  • I never stopped eating completely. In fact, I never dropped below those magical 1,200 calories. Not disordered enough, right?
  • My lowest BMI was nowhere near the ones of others dangling along the lines of 12, 13 or 14. So, clearly not disordered enough, right?!

Oh, how wrong. I was clearly disordered. If it wasn’t obvious enough from reading those lines that – in one way or another were actually running through my head – I was showing physical signs, too. Anybody but me knew what was going on or had their suspicions.

 

For a long time I saw the skinny people around, the unhealthy behaviours. They all deserved help ASAP in my opinion. Yet I never deemed myself ‘disordered enough’. Was I counting calories? Weighing myself obsessively? Skipping meals? Check, check and check. But still: not severe enough for my [disordered] mind.
I once – at the demand of my parents – attended a therapy group that involved eating with the other patients. And when I wasn’t satisfied at the end of the meal asking for more they told me I couldn’t really be disordered [note that I was at one of my lowest weights at this point!]. See: not disordered enough again.

Yes,there will always be somebody who is even skinnier. Somebody who works out for longer. Somebody who eats less. Maybe even nothing anymore. But: is any of this actually commendable? By far not. Starting recovery ‘too early’ isn’t possible. Too late, however? That sadly is a possibilty.

To those who have never struggled with an ED: I know for a [sad] fact I’m not the only one who had or has those thoughts. It can occur in people at every size. What to you looks like the most obvious sign of the disorder can look like the opposite for the woman [or man] struggling. ED voices aren’t logical. At all. But they can be very powerful and convincing in their non-logical logic. [see above ‘not disordered enough’ examples]

Don’t ever assume – much less tell! – somebody they weren’t disordered enough or make comments on eating disorders without further knowledge of their seriousness.  There is no set weight, BMI or other physical sign to determine how much an ED might influence a person’s mind and overall life. Some disorders can hide for a long time with a lot of damage going on below the surface already. A lot of grey space.

Source

So if you are struggling with food and weight but that voice in your head tells you you weren’t disordered enough: think again. You deserve help. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live. We all do.

No questions today but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

Good good links #28

Every time I post some of my favourite reads from the past week I ask you for your opinion on them. And even if you don’t have the time to leave a comment – likely because you’re already clicking through the links 🙂 – I still get to see which articles you’re most interested in by checking my stats. I’m always curious to find out what has drawn your attention in the most. Especially because I tend to guess – unconsciously even at times – before posting and it’s a fun surprise to see if I was right. Let’s see if my guesses are right this week.

Good good links

One more word on this week’s pick: As you likely know it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. With the many, many inspiring and touching posts out there I honestly didn’t know which ones to share when really I wanted to feature all of them. So the few ones I mention here are just a tiny fraction of all amazing ones I happened upon. It’d be impossible to pick favourites because there were so many.

Happy Sunday!

Good good [food for thought]

Never merely pretty via Apple of my Eye

Self-love isn’t easy but it’s worth learning. An awesome post every girl and woman should read.

What 7 Women Who Overcame Eating Disorders Wish They’d Known Then via Greatist

“Life is full of opportunities to make better choices”: Lessons learned through EDs that can make a huge difference for everyone.

Body Image: The Way My Stomach Looks via Nutty for Life

There will always be parts of our appearance we have a hard time accepting – but they don’t define us. Incredibly honest post on an issue that I think just about every girl [and guy?] can relate to.

Good good [advice and inspiration]

Build Others Up via The Lyons’ Share

Did you compliment anybody yet today? If not: go for it right now.

‘Weirdly Shaped’ Blogger Zoë Ley Hilariously Combats Fitspiration via Huffington Post

Yes! This is some fitspiration I approve of.

In A Perfect Life via Sarah Sincerely

Acknowledging the beauty of a perfectly imperfect life and knowing others’ lives are no different.

12 Things Everyone Should Do More Often via Mind Body Green

Calling family members just because, unplugging, laughing more and writing letters can make for happier lives.

Health

25 Ways to Run Faster, Stat via Greatist

Speedier miles through more sleep, coffee [yes], correct breating and planks.

Hate Chia? Can’t Stand Kombucha? You’ll Live via Women’s Health Mag

Be it kombucha, chia or wheat grass: there’s no need to eat what you don’t enjoy. Great alternatives if you’re just looking to reap the health benefits.

Blogging/Photography

The Ultimate Photography Cheat Sheet Every Photography Lover Needs by Amanda (Semi-Health Nut) via Lifehack

If you’re forever puzzled by the settings on your camera and how to shoot on which occasion: awesome compilation of basically all you need to know.

Good good [things to make you smile]

What Should You Actually Eat For Lunch? via BuzzFeed

Take this and let me know you think it’s all wrong, too – or why else did I get ‘a sandwich’??!

33 Ingeniously Designed Products You Need In Your Life via BuzzFeed

 Yes to #29 and Nutella fans: #33 is the tool of your dreams.

You Can Now Pay Someone to Cuddle With You via Women’s Health Mag

Cuddling is nice and has its benefits but this idea is just plain weird.

Good good [food]

Portobello Flank Steak via Peachy Palate

Meatiness without the meat – a dish for meat & potatoes fans. On the menu as soon as I can find portobellos!

Lentil & Vegetable Stew with Cauliflower White Bean Puree via Once Upon a Cutting Board

This looks almost too pretty to eat – vegan comfort food at its best.

Raw Mango Banana Cakes via Vegan Yack Attack

Pure mango bliss! A nutritious dessert that’s an eyesight, too.

Single Serve Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie [Vegan] via Fit Foodie Finds

All us single ladies get to enjoy our cookie[s], too.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Vegan Cooking The Best! via Keepin’ It Kind

Whether you’re vegan or not: these are some great tips for creating delicious and flavourful veggie-packed meals.

50 Healthier Peanut Butter Recipes You’ve Never Tried Before via Greatist

Because there can never be enough [pea]nut butter. For any allergics: I’m sure these taste amazing with other nut/almond/seed butters, too.

Cardamom Pancake Stack with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting via The Vegan Cookie Fairy

Just for all of you pancake fiends out there – thank me later ;).

Happiness inducing today: Walking around outside in not-too-cold-anymore temperatures.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

What were some of the best/most inspiring posts related to NEDA you read this week? I’m sure I missed many great ones because of how many people participated. Link me up!

Do you have any special plans for today? I’ll meet a friend for a long-needed catch-up later and probably watch a movie with my roommate.

Looking back and moving on

Many of you will know it already: it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness [NEDA] week. It might say national but knowing the blog world and the fact that eating disorders affect people all of the world it’s needless to say it’s going to be international. For this What I ate Wednesday I’m going to share some recent meals and snacks as well as some reflections on the progress I’ve made over time. Thanks to Jenn for hosting!

WIAWbutton_1

Like I mentioned in my post on Monday I’ve been trying to figure out what works best for me in terms of my diet. There were some recent changes to my daily routine [sorry for being vague here for now] that in turn require me to deviate from my previous meal schedule. As in: no more snacking all around the clock. Sunday, however, was all about that. Mainly due to my breakfast of choice at first …

Spoon_bread

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not that the bread pudding wasn’t a tasty choice. But even with the bread in there going for a hig[er]-protein option instead of my usual bowl of oat bran didn’t do the trick. It took a lot more almond butter and more fruit on the side to get satisfied. Not for long, though. It wasn’t too long afterwards that I felt the need for a snack …

With recovery in mind this was a positive change for me, though. For years I felt like I needed to stick with the lowest calorie options. If I ate breakfast at all it was something I wouldn’t even consider anything close to a proper meal nowadays. And eating again this soon afterwards just because I didn’t feel quite satisfied? No, I’d try my best to sit it out. Wait. Drink a cup of tea to fill the void in my stomach. And count down the hours until the next time I’d be ‘allowed’ to eat.

Cereal

Did my family notice all of this? Yes. Did they try to intervene? A million times. But were they able to help? No. Because recovery is a choice we have to make ourselves. No matter how insistent my mum was about me eating that bowl of soup, drinking the full-fat hot chocolate in a coffeeshop when we were out shopping or making me have a whole-grain roll for dinner [only for me to nibble on it and discard the largest part in an unobserved moment]. I’d freak out about the unknown calories and try to make up for it the rest of the day. Or better yet: by cutting down my intake the whole next day. It wasn’t fun – but it made me feel in control. When actually, it was the eating disorder taking control over me, robbing me of joy in food and life in general. Eating something like chips straight from from the bag while watching a movie on a rest day? Impossible.

Flips

These days I’ve gotten a lot less strict about which foods I eat, experimenting and coming up with own recipes and keep getting better about going with my cravings no matter of the time. For me, it’s still a way to go but with every time I’m challenging the ED voice in my head I know it’s getting better. There’s too much good food and too much enjoyment in life to miss out on.

Cheesy

Vegetable bake topped with vegan cheese

Even when it was time for lunch I didn’t eat according to my cravings but whatever had the lowest amount of calories and highest volume. At my worst this could mean a whole head of broccoli with meticulously measured low-fat sauces. And if others dared asking for a bite of whatever I’d prepared or even stealing a spoonful without doing so in advance? I’d get furious because my alloted serving size had been decreased and I wasn’t able to calculate how much more I’d be allowed to make up for missing parts. It was all about calories – pleasure didn’t matter. With a painfully bloated stomach it seemed like I had eaten a lot but I never felt satisfied.

Eating a real lunch was one of the biggest challenges for me at first – and now I can’t imagine not having it anymore. No longer is it just about piling up steamed bland vegetables on a plate but I truly enjoy trying new dishes. The blog world has been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement for me on my journey and I’m thankful for that.

Chocolate chips_II

Ending on a sweet note is a favourite of mine. Be it a post or a day. For whichever reason, I never gave up sweets during my ED, either. I’d rather skip a proper lunch [see note above] to ‘save’ calories for some chocolate. A scoop of ice cream. What remainded, though, was the guilt I felt for going over a certain amount and if I snacked on some chocolate chips [measured out, obviously] I wouldn’t give myself permission to have any other kind of sweet that day or – if I did – I’d feel guilty. Fruit had to suffice. Nowadays, I don’t skip meals and if I feel like having half a bar of chocolate – so be it. The world has yet to stop turning and my clothes fit. Some even looking better on me than back in the day. Some days we might crave a little extra sweetness, the next it might not appeal as much anymore. It’s about seeing the big picture and trusting that things will even out in the end. And even if I have my anxious moments I know there is a huge blogging community out there to support me. Which actually was the case with my mindset about the chocolate here …

Lindt

Where does this leave me? Am I recovered yet? By far not. I’ve seen a lot of improvement already but there will be many more struggles to come until I get to the point of feeling ‘normal’. Challenges to face. But I’m determinded to keep going on – because backwards isn’t an option anymore.

Happiness inducing today: Enjoying my lunch outside in the sun.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

Are you good at listening to your cravings?

If you’re in recovery: What were or are some major challenges for you in terms of food?

And because I realize this is a very wordy post and it’s WIAW after all: What have you been eating lately?