It’s Sunny……

And if you’re a New Englander like me, then you know what a huge deal this is.

It literally rained for almost 3 days. Roads are flooded. Rivers are flooded. Parking lots are flooded. People’s yards and basements are flooded.

My car was not thrilled about driving through giant lakes in the road yesterday morning.

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But it’s sunny out. Just not slightly sunny. Like full out, no clouds in the sky, let’s get sunburned sunny.

Normally Tuesday would be a barn night for me. Unfortunately, I woke up with a very stiff and sore back. Ugh. Looks like tonight I’ll be doing some serious stretching. Also planning on taking a long walk outside and just enjoying the beautiful weather. My work is right next to a long rail trail in town and I’m thinking it would be perfect for tonight. I’d like to run a little bit too, but we shall see how the back holds up. I’m dying to hit the pavement with my running shoes instead of being on the treadmill. Let’s just say I’m ready for the heat wave outside.

hot weather

Okay, it’s not that hot out. But right now, 50 degrees will feel like a heat wave.

 

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Growing Up Alex: College and the After-Years

Trigger Warning: The Increase in Behaviors in College and Potential Environmental Causes

In college, I was finally able to recognize that I was anorexic. I still wouldn’t say the word out loud, but I would go all day without eating, would drink one chai latte, and would consider myself a selfish pig for doing so. The majority of foods were not ‘safe’. I didn’t eat desserts or snacks for years.

I went through phases: the fruit salad phase, the rice cake phase, the salad no dressing phase, the pretzel phase, the apple phase. When I say these were phases, I mean that I literally would only eat the ‘phase’ food in a day. And only at night.

Keeping up my electrolytes

Keeping up my electrolytes

I had very strict rules about the caloric intake, protein, and fat grams that I consumed. The fewer, the better. The more consumed, the longer I would have to spend on the treadmill. The treadmill wasn’t just to burn off what little I had eaten. I had to make sure I had worked out for an amount of time that ended in a zero or a 5. I had to burn off calories that ended in a zero or a 5. And I had to have gone a distance that ended in a zero. So, even if I matched my calories consumed, I would keep going until all 3 numbers aligned to meet my ‘rules’.

I refused to eat in front of anyone. I locked myself in my room to eat my rice cakes, apple slices, or salad. If anyone interrupted me [this included my ex-boyfriend], I’d throw my food out the window and start crying because they had interrupted my only time I was allowed to eat and now I “would have to wait until the next day” to eat again. I was working and going to school and any time that I was not engaged in one of these activities I would sleep until 2pm. Then I would shower. Then I would work out. Then I would eat what I was ‘allowed’ to eat midday [usually apple slices and a cup of 25 calorie per packet hot chocolate. Then I would shower again. Later I would go for a walk. Then I would lock myself in my room for my ‘allowed’ dinner. Eventually, I’d stay up late with my ex-boyfriend because when one is not taking in proper nutrition,  it can be very difficult to fall asleep. If my ex went out, I would stay locked in my room doing homework or perusing the internet until 4 or 5 in the morning only to repeat the process upon awakening.

In my early 20’s I realized that when I felt too full, or I ate one rice cake too many, purging was the best solution. I would feel high immediately after the purge and then terribly weak and dizzy. The purging eventually led to me being sent to the ER. I thought it was normal to be irritable ALL of the time. I thought it was normal to be completely overwhelmed by simple tasks. I thought it was normal for my hands to shake and for my heart to flutter. Oddly, I truly thought it was normal to stand up and have the room go black.

When I was 23 or 24, I began to acknowledge how miserable I was. I had graduated with a degree in Psychology from my college in NY. I had gotten in to graduate school for a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. I was working as a nanny. And I was exhausted and isolated. I rarely went out with my friends because I feared eating around them or I was just plain too tired. I spent most of my time working, going to school, reading, writing papers, and sleeping. When I would nanny I would be so tired that I didn’t have the energy to play with the little boy I was watching. I’d be elated when there were rainy days and we’d have to stay inside and watch a movie or read a book. The biggest wake up call for me was when I realized that I felt I had to eat less than this sweet and innocent little 4 year-old boy did.Photo on 2013-02-04 at 21.32 #3

I made the decision to see a therapist and nutritionist because I didn’t want to feel so horrible but I didn’t know how to stop what I was doing. They were very supportive but they would continuously tell me how strong my eating disorder was. I didn’t believe them because I didn’t look like the women portrayed in the media…or because the number on the scale wasn’t below a number I deemed ‘anorexic’.

My nutritionist banned me from exercising and I listened enough to stop going to the gym,  but I would still walk to that nutritionist appointment , which was 4 miles away. One day, after I was ordered to get blood drawn, I decided that riding my bike was a fine way to get to my appointment. 8 vials of blood and large bruising from where the needle had been did not sway me from riding my bike home. Sometimes I’d walk to Target or Barnes and Noble, 10 miles round trip. I won’t say what I was eating at this point because it is not necessary, nor is it helpful to anyone trying to recover.

At 24, I found myself sitting in a room with my mother, my father, my therapist, and my nutritionist [and notes from my doctor]. They had all decided that I had to go to residential treatment. I had been threatened with this before but I was over 18, so legally they could not make me. I always had an excuse: ‘I need to finish sophomore year of college,’ or ‘I just need to graduate college’. My therapist and nutritionist essentially gave me the ultimatum: go to treatment or we can no longer help you.

Growing Up Alex: Residential Treatment will be posted on Thursday 4/3/2014. Make sure to follow the blog to receive an e-mail for when it’s posted or follow it on Bloglovin‘!

 

Photo credit to Jeyn Laundrie

Photo credit to Jeyn Laundrie

 

 

A weekend of relaxation and productivity

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I certainly did. It was relaxing and productive.

Friday: After work, I headed to the gym and ran. I upped my running time to 15 minutes today and I felt great. My muscles were pretty sore though, so one I got home I indulged in a good stretch before hopping in the shower. It was amazing how much better my body felt after a good stretch. Note to self: Stretch more often. The other half and I got salads for dinner from our favorite pizza shop in town and enjoyed a few beverages.

One of my photos in the Etsy shop

One of my photos in the Etsy shop

Saturday: Typical morning for me. Off to the barn I went to clean stalls and enjoy the company of the horses. Once I got him – we headed up to the Kittery Outlets. I wanted to head to the Under Armour Outlet to pick up some more of their HeatGear Running Shirts. I’m obsessed. And thankfully they were on sale for 2 for $30. Added 4 more to my workout arsenal! Now I just need to get some more running pants! After we did our weekly groceries and stocked up on things I needed for my planned cooking frenzy for Sunday.

My only goal for Saturday night was to finish my taxes. In fact, I made it clear to N to not let me do anything else until my taxes were done. He even made dinner during that time (Mexican Taco Bake!).  Once I completed my taxes we watched Frozen (I’m obsessed!) and I got my eryn e photography Etsy shop up and running. The Etsy shop will have all photos from my personal collection (think flowers, landscapes, the beach, etc.)

And now for Sunday.

Sunday was…. a kitchen adventure. I got up early and got a few more things loaded into the Etsy store and then went to get a mani/pedi before the frenzy began. Now, this was a pre-planned frenzy. Knowing N was going to be working all day, I decided to cook dinner and try out a few new recipes.

First up – Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers. I found this recipe on Pinterest and it has easily become a new favorite. To keep it a bit healthier, we made sure to get lean chicken breasts, and low fat ranch dressing and cheese. Obviously not the healthiest meal, but it sure hit the spot!

The finished product

The finished product

While those were baking, I started working on Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese. Also not super healthy, but definitely a good comfort food. And the Greek Yogurt gave it such a different flavor. Yum! (I brought a little for lunch today….)

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After that was done, I went to work on some No Bake Energy Bites. I have to say – these were probably the hardest to make out of everything! However, they are delicious!

My parents decided to stop by during the cooking frenzy, so I took a quick break and threw together a Sugar-Free Banana Cream Pie for my dad. I had the crust and pudding in my cabinet already so it took no time at all. He was pretty excited.

The final meal of the day – Healthy Turkey Chili. I cook this A LOT. We both love it, and it’s super hearty. My decision to make this was super last minute so I was missing the chipotle chilis it calls for, so I improvised. I added jalapenos (1 1/2 cups), sriracha sauce, red cayenne pepper and chili powder (to taste). It gave it an entirely different flavor, but was still yummy. I’m excited to dig into it for dinner tonight!

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Enjoy the recipes! I wish I was created enough to come up with these on my own, but thank god for Pinterest.

My Goal: Just to Have the Time of My Life

TGIF! Happy Friday all!

We’re finally getting some spring-like weather up here in New England (complete with what may be some early April showers monsoon type weather). And by early, I mean essentially the entire last few days of March. At least it will be in the 40s… except for Sunday. Which will be in the 30s. Have no fear, spring appears to be on it’s way!

All I can say is…we better have a LONG HOT SUMMER. I won’t even complain this year if we get multiple heat waves. I will bask in it. Seriously.

So with spring and summer finally on it’s way, it got me thinking about my goals for this year – the things I want to accomplish so I can look back and remind myself how the spring/summer/fall of 2014 will be one of the best years yet!

1. Learn to Paddleboard – I live by the ocean. I should at least learn to do something water related (besides swim of course. I’ve been able to do that since I was a kid!). Paddleboarding just looks like so much fun, while being a great workout, while enjoying the summer weather. Thankfully, Sierra works at a Paddleboarding place in the summer and said she will teach me. Hooray!

2. Run a 5K – I’ve been saying this for probably 5 years now. Maybe even longer. But for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I can stick to training and learning how to run. I am totally getting a runner’s high when I run now. Even when I’m sucking wind after just a couple of minutes. After I’m done, I feel like a new person. And I can’t wait to do it again. This time, I’m sticking with it. Hopefully tonight, I’ll be hitting the road for the first time since it will be close to 50. Got to build up the stamina there since I can’t run a race on a treadmill!

A few spring/summer/fall options for 5K’s in the area are:

  • Flag Day 5K – Saturday, June 14th (It benefits the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Soldier Assistance Fund; I grew up with his family. It also falls 2 days before my birthday. Which would be an amazing experience to finally reach a goal before my birthday!)
  • The Nate Bibaud 5K – Saturday June 29th
  • Yankee Homecoming 10 Mile and 5K – Tuesday, July 29th (it’s during Yankee Homecoming, a Newburyport tradition)
  • 25th Annual Apple Harvest Race – Sunday, October 5th

Who knows! Maybe I’ll be so ready by June I can run all of them. However, I’m just going to go with the flow and know that I have at least 4 ahead of me that I could do! Just need to keep up the training!

3. Travel – Last summer, we took a week off and basically just hung around and took in the sites close to home. This year, I want to travel. I hate flying, but I love visiting new places. We’ve already planned at July trip to Rota, Spain for 10 days to visit my best friend and her husband. A fall trip is also in the works so we can celebrate the other half’s birthday and start planning our wedding (HOORAY!!!). I’m also hoping we’ll get to do some fun weekend trips, as long as money allows!

4. Enjoy Every Minute  – I feel like every summer goes by in the blink of an eye. Suddenly it’s September and I’m looking back wondering where the hell the summer. Come September this year, I don’t want to look back and wonder where it went.

  • I want to look back and say ‘That was the best summer ever.’ I want to spend time at the beach, or by the pool, and attempt to get a tan (I burn usually… I’m Irish).
  • I want to take long walks in the summer evenings, or the early mornings, before the humidity sets it.
  • I want to have campfires and gatherings, and endless nights that we will talk about for years to come.
  • I want to be outside as much as humanly possible.
  • I want to travel around with my camera and create a personal portfolio I will be oh so in love with.
  • I want to have the time of my life.

 

 

 

 

Growing Up Alex: Factors and the Existence of Depression and Anxiety in Eating Disorders

Anxiety as a Contributing Factor

I had always been a shy child, but my social anxiety became unbearable in middle school. I couldn’t raise my hand in class even if I knew 100% that I knew the answer. If I had to read out loud, even a paragraph, I would spend the entire class dreading when it would be my turn to read, to the point that I could barely breathe. I couldn’t think straight. My face burned. My whole body shook. For the rest of the day ALL I could think about was how I sounded reading that paragraph. I could think of nothing else. It makes no sense looking back and sounds very silly, but I literally could not function. When called on at random in class, I’d lose my voice, turn bright red, and experience previously mentioned symptoms. I was very comfortable with my core group of friends, but anyone outside of that group of friends I would react to as if they were ready to crucify me. I couldn’t hold conversation with anyone who was not someone I’d have a sleepover with to save my life. I quit cheerleading, gymnastics, and softball to avoid being in social settings with peers because I didn’t know how to talk to them, felt bullied by some of them, and became very insecure in my own abilities. It was odd, though, because I was so normal and comfortable with my close friends, my parents, and my stepparents. If it was a peer, a teacher, or even my grandparents, however, talking was a terribly frightening thing. Gaining weight was a terribly frightening thing. Being noticed was a terribly frightening thing. Things out of my control made me so angry that I’d feel sick. I didn’t know how to properly express my anger, however, because I was too scared to appear out of control. I’d either hold it all in or explode around my parents.

Anxiety.

Anxiety.

I had a lot of trouble with my father’s 3rd wife, who would send me very mixed signals. One day she would tell me how pretty or talented or smart I was, the next she would tell me I was a terrible drama queen or she would simply ignore me. I wanted her approval terribly, so when I’d go to my dad’s house and she’d just lock herself away from me, I would feel so confused. So yes, I would act dramatically. I would cry. I would yell. I started avoiding my father, mostly because I was uncomfortable being a young woman with someone to whom I’d always been a little girl; but I would try my hardest to gain the affections of my step mom. The issues with my stepmother went far deeper than is expressed here and I do believe my eating disorder became full throttle as I attempted to deal with this situation in my home life.

Trigger Warning: The Early Behaviors and Family Life

Around 14 or 15 I began exercising in my room or I’d sneak downstairs at night and walk laps around my kitchen. I decided to ‘eat healthier’ although my idea of healthy was ‘eat less’. I didn’t want to feel the fabric of my pants. I had lost my identity as being ‘little’ because I was no longer the ‘short one’. I felt like I needed to fit in to the mold of being ‘little’ because I thought it was what was expected of me. I began skipping breakfast. I’d make my own dinner and eat it separately from my mother and her boyfriend [whom we lived with]. Sometimes I’d go all day without eating and then just eat one big meal before bed. I didn’t think it was weird. I just thought I was ‘being healther’.

I’d go out for walks or jogs at night because I didn’t want to be seen exercising because I suppose that, somewhere in the depths of my mind, I knew that what I was doing wasn’t normal. When my mom would tell me it was too late and too dark to go for a run or walk, sometimes I’d sneak out. If she caught me, I’d wait until she went to bed and then I would go downstairs and do 10 sets of 100 jumping jacks, crunches until my stomach hurt, pushups, and walk as many laps around the downstairs as I could until my legs vibrated.

I began to weigh myself obsessively. This was a difficult task because the scale was in my mom and her boyfriend’s room, so I’d have to wait for them to leave the house. If they were downstairs, I’d tiptoe in to the room. I’d step on the scale 3-5 times in a row just to see if it changed. I’d repeat this behavior throughout the day. I became obsessed with the number on the scale and if it went up even 1/10th of a pound, I would punish myself with more exercise or less food.

For parents, I was not a fun teenager to deal with. Everything stressed me out. I cried often. If I got really mad, I’d just refuse to eat. For some reason I thought it was a great way of saying, ‘I’m angry’ to my parents. I didn’t realize I was not only hurting them, but I was hurting myself. I also felt so powerful and in control when I didn’t eat.

Back to my stepmother: by my senior year of high school, my stepmother had been hospitalized at least 7 times for suicide attempts and was diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder, though we’re still not sure if that was an accurate diagnosis.  I’d visit her in the psychiatric hospital. When she was home her mood would swing from incredibly kind to incredibly unstable. One hour she was my best friend, the next she’d break down sobbing because she couldn’t find a pair of scissors or she’d begin yelling at my dad because I was watching television on a Sunday morning. Going to my dad’s house felt like walking on broken glass because I never knew which side of her personality to expect. All I wanted was for her to like me, but I didn’t know what normal activity I could or could not do at that house because it might send her in to hysterics.

Comfort in Animals

Comfort in Animals

What is the relevance of this? Well, to put it simply: I believe the easiest way for me to deal with this seemingly out of control situation was to find my own control. I couldn’t control whether my step mother would be nice to my father and I, or whether she’d be happy or sad in any given moment, but I could control my weird food habits. My exercising “in secret” increased. Sometimes I’d go for days without anything but fruit and then reward myself with 2 bowls of cereal after I had restricted myself from food for what I deemed to be long enough.

The very last time I saw my stepmother was in the ER, after an attempted overdose. Earlier in that week she had told me that she had hated me since I was 12, but now she liked me. She thought she was complimenting me. I had no idea what to make of that sentiment. She was hospitalized after the attempted overdose and later announced she wanted a divorce from my father and never said goodbye to me. At the same time, my mother and her boyfriend of over 10 years separated. The divorce proceedings began when I was a sophomore in college and they were very messy. I was far away from home and felt helpless. I felt like all of the structure I had known growing up was disappearing. I have no idea where my (ex)stepmother is today, or how she is doing.  I hated her for a long time,  but I now understand that she was very sick and how she acted had nothing to do with me and that I hadn’t actually done anything to cause her behavior. I still dream about her sometimes.

Growing Up Alex: College and the After Years will be posted on Monday 3/31/2014. Make sure to follow the blog to receive an e-mail for when it’s posted or follow it on Bloglovin‘!

What’s On My Mind Wednesday [3.26.14]

We’re going to go right in to What’s On My Mind Wednesday today – hope you like the new graphic!

STATEMENT #35(1)

1. MH370 – It’s been on everyone’s minds recently. I’ve been watching the reports, and as much I knew in my heart that the plane went down, I hoped for the sake of all of those people and their loved ones that it would be found somewhere with all occupants alive. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be the case. I hope for all those involved, the wreckage is found soon and they can get some answers about what happened. So sad.

2. Running – My foot pain is nearly gone. I say nearly, because it’s been bothering me a bit the last couple of days. I’m assuming it’s because I’m back to normal activity, but either way, I’m not trying to let it get me down. Last night was the first time in nearly 7 months that I was able to run. I’ve never been a runner, but I’ve always aspired to be a runner. After having this ridiculous injury set me back, I’m more determined than EVER to become a runner.

After work, despite how nervous I was, I hopped on a treadmill and started to warm up. I battled that little voice in my head saying just to walk for 30 minutes, but I knew I had a goal in mind. I at least wanted to see if I could do it; make sure I could do something far more strenuous without pain. And I did it. I managed to run for 3.5 minutes. It was a slow. But I did it. This may have been the longest stretch of time I’ve run for since I attempted Couch to 5K last year. I was shocked that I could actually breathe. Normally when I start thinking to much about my breathing, I panic, thus sending me into full on hyperventilating mode.

I kept up a routine of walk at 3.5 and run at 4.4 the entire time. I think in total I only ran for like 9 minutes. BUT I did it. Even when I wanted to quit because my legs felt so heavy, I pushed myself to do another round.

My quick notes while working out.

My quick notes while working out.

Now to just keep this up and bring it to the streets when it gets nice out.

3. Weather – Which brings me to the weather. It’s official. I am so sick of New England. Well, I guess just the winter. It’s essentially been winter since November. I’m over it. It’s March 26th and the cape is getting hammered by a blizzard and it’s currently 30 degrees out. I’m sick of wearing my Ugg Boots, and my giant winter jacket and having to warm my car up before I get in it. It’s spring. Warm weather needs to be here… immediately.

This is a river.... not an ocean. Contrary to what it looks like.

This is a river…. not an ocean. Contrary to what it looks like.

4. Running Sneakers and Workout Clothes – After I injured my foot, I vowed that if I really become a runner, I would get fitted for running sneakers. I want to make sure I never get injured again, at least in terms of my footwear. I’m running in my Nike Pegasus’s right now. I know they don’t have the best support for running, but for what I’m doing right now, they are perfect. And comfortable. And that’s what matters to me. Hopefully by summer I will get fitted.

I also realized last night that while my ratty old ‘Washington DC’ t-shirt is perfect for walking and the elliptical, it sucks to run in. It was totally drenched in sweat, and I’m pretty sure it added 10 lbs on to my already heavy frame (essentially the 10 lbs I lost already!). Needless to say, tonight I’ll be trying one of my UnderArmour tops – hopefully that will help!

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5. Thinspo and Social Media – A hot topic around the blogosphere right now. Eating disorders are so prevalant and even more so now with social media. #Thinspo and similar hashtags are common on Instagram, but Instagram makes sure to have a disclaimer up about eating disorders and how to get help. I’m very impressed that social media sites are now trying to help those who are battling this. This very idea is what helped come up with the ‘Growing Up Alex’ series. She has an amazing story to tell, and I wanted to be bring awareness to it. I’m proud of her for telling her story and I hope you check it out. Part 3 will be up on the blog tomorrow!

I guess that’s it! Not too much on my mind this week.

Happy Hump Day my friends!

Tuesday Time!

Happy Tuesday my friends!

First off, I want to start off this post by saying how proud I am of my good friend, Alex, for telling her story of growing up with, getting treatment for and recovering from anorexia. I’m also honored to be able to tell her story. If you haven’t seen the first two posts, you can visit them at the link below. Part 3 will be posted on Thursday.

Growing Up Alex series

So, little update in my world. Tomorrow will be a “What’s On My Mind Wednesday” post, so today will be more of a “This Is What Is Going On Today and this Past Weekend”

1. If you didn’t know, it’s going to snow tomorrow. IT’S MARCH 25TH and it’s going to snow. There is something wrong with this picture. I know it’s not unheard of, but still. It’s almost April. Not cool mother nature. Not cool.

photo 1

2. Sam Summer is out. This made me extremely happy. And also a bit sad, because it’s not quite warm enough to enjoy one in the sun. However, I will happily enjoy one in bed, while reading a book until it gets warm out. Also – “The Bean Trees” was quite good. I can’t believe I never read anything by Barbara Kingsolver before this book.

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3. Butter Pecan Iced Coffee is also back at Dunkin’ Donuts. This also has made me really happy. It has not made my wallet so happy though. Oh well. A minor splurge this week… then back to buying coffee on Fridays only.

photo 2

4. It may not be warm yet, but it’s the perfect time of year for a walk on the beach. Which I did on Saturday with my mom. No tourists yet. :::sigh::: I love living by the water. It’s my happy place (besides the barn of course).

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And that is all for today. Stay tuned – tomorrow is “What’s On My Mind Wednesday”!