Thursday, February 28, 2013

Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan

This week has been the most chaotic, yet enjoyable weeks I have had since leaving treatment. The beginning of the week was spent out of town with good friends, a bacon cheeseburger and a Maroon 5 concert; while the second half of the week has been spent with my nose in a text book, cramming for midterms.

For the first time since leaving treatment, I have actually felt like a somewhat normal person this week. Instead of filling my time 100% focused on recovery, I have had the opportunity to have a little fun and experience life like a twenty-four (almost twenty-five) year old should be. 

As wonderful as this all sounds, it has come with a small price; my meal planning has been much more loose than normal. Right now in my recovery, I am at a point where I feel comfortable estimating the calories in one meal per day, while the rest are still carefully counted. I have been experimenting with this for a few weeks with my therapist and my weight has remained stable, so it seems to be going well. 

This week, however, I have estimated to the best of my ability almost everyday. With a busy schedule and life getting in the way, I have had to do my best to trust my hunger cues. Eventually, I hope to be able to eat like this all the time, but this week has taught me that I am not quite there yet and how important meal planning is during the early stages of recovery.

So, I thought for today I would make a list of my top ten reasons why meal planning has been such a positive aspect of my recovery so far:

1. Still not cannot trust my hunger cues
2. Keeps calories in check- making sure I get the right amount
3. Provides a sense of comfort- if I stick to my maintenance calories, I know I will not gain or lose weight
4. Setting meal and snack times helps prevent skipping meals
5. Has helped me 'relearn' to eat again
6. Allows me to eat whatever I want, within my calorie range
7. Allows me to focus on life, instead of obsessing about food
8. Keeps me satisfied, making the binge/purge cycle less likely to happen
9. Eating regularly keeps my metabolism fired up
10. Having the food aspect of recovery under control, allows me to focus on the mental part and underlying issues of the disorder

As I continue to become a normal person again, I know my meal planning will continue to become less strict and eventually disappear from my life completely; but for now it's kind of cool to stop and realize how far meal planning has gotten me. Upon leaving treatment, my therapist at the time always told me, "Meal plan! Meal plan! Meal plan!!!" and it's finally clear why she was so persistent about it.

 Overall, it has been a good week. The pace of progression is still on the slow side, but that seems to be the secret of my recovery so far. Someday my eating habits will normalize again, but for now I'm perfectly content to continue meal planning if it allows me to experience the simple joys of everyday life.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger

Last night something unbelievable happened and I need to take a moment to brag about it. 

I ordered, ate, and enjoyed a bacon cheeseburger. 

Let me give you a little background information, so you, too, can understand why this is such a big deal for me. Three or four years ago, upon starting culinary school, I made the decision to become a vegetarian. This decision was made with an eating disordered mind; meat became one less thing that I had to worry about eating. When others questioned my decision to go veg, as an effort to cover up my disordered ways, I told them it was because I disagreed with the mass production of beef, the growth hormones and any other fake excuse I could come up with.

As a child, I grew up in a meat and potatoes kind of family, so it quickly became obvious that my new eating habits were not healthy.

A few years ago, while I was still working in the culinary world, we hired an intern who almost instantly became my best friend. At the time we had almost everything in common, except for one thing- she was a bacon fanatic. That girl can smell bacon cooking from three miles away and she never missed a chance to snag some from the kitchen.

So, needless to say, when she heard the news that I have given up my vegetarianism and am now a bacon lover, too, she took me out on a bacon cheeseburger date. For a good week ahead of time, I was dreading this date. I have eaten burgers and bacon since I have been in recovery, but never together and never a burger THIS big. 

Let me just say, it was probably the best thing I have eaten. I'm not sure if it was actually the burger or if it was the company or the thrill of eating such a scary food, but it doesn't matter. I was in heaven.

Today I am thankful for two things: best friends that I can go more than a year without seeing and nothing changes AND bacon cheeseburgers.

Last night I remember saying, "So this is how normal people eat, huh?" 


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brain Function & Eating Disorders

 Yesterday, I spent most of my day studying for an upcoming busy week of midterms. Not exactly the most exciting way to spend a Saturday, but it's also part of being a college student, I guess. 

As I continued to my review notes and reread chapters in my textbooks, something unexpected happened- I was actually absorbing and learning the material. Going back through and quizzing myself almost felt easy; this has never happened to me before. Honestly, I always thought I was doomed to be one of those people who had difficulty retaining information and was a poor test taker. Until now.

Tomorrow will be the start of the eighth week of the semester (already) and it has taken me this long to recognize the difference in my brain function capabilities. So, of course, being the nerd that I am, I decided to do a little research on eating disorders and the effects they have on the brain. Surprisingly, I was shocked with my findings. 

Thinking back to my own personal mental challenges over the past few years with the eating disorder, a few specific things come to mind, but I never realized, until now, just how severe these symptoms were. As the body continues to lose nutrients and becomes physically harmed, the brain also, unfortunately, suffers the consequences.

In the past, I have written about the physical dangers of eating disorders, but I never really thought about the mental aspect of it until now. Here are a few mental symptoms and consequences of eating disorders:
-Lack of concentration
-Poor memory
-An overall brain 'fuzziness'
-Severe all or nothing thinking
-Obsessive thoughts
-Preoccupation with ED thoughts
-The blood flow to the brain is decreased, causing damage to certain parts of the brain that control appetite, emotions, motivation, and body perception. 
-Increased stress and decreased ability cope
-Impulsive thinking and behaviors
-The rewarding qualities, such as taste and smell, become impaired in eating disorder patients over time.
-Body image distortion
-Mood disorders

This is just a sample of the negative affects eating disorders have on the brain. Today, as I continue to study and do homework, I will have a new found appreciation for recovery. After years of believing I wasn't as intelligent as everyone else, I finally see that isn't true at all. The eating disorder might have taken a few years of my mental health away, but that can be reversed. 

For the first time ever, learning is actually kind of fun. Without all of the eating disordered thoughts consuming my brain, I am free to fill it with whatever I choose. 

How exciting! :) 


Friday, February 22, 2013

More Graditude

Originally, I had a post written out and ready to publish about this week's emotion: feeling misunderstood when it comes to my eating disorder, but I think I will save that for another week. After taking a morning walk in last night's fresh layer of snow, I changed my mind.

This morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and was feeling irritated with the week's events, but a scenic morning walk seemed to heal my soul. Instead of feeling misunderstood, I suddenly feel grateful, like my previous post. Once again, I'm going to refer back to my "I Need A Break" post and use one of the strategies listed to take care of myself- taking a walk.

This wasn't a walk an unhealthy walk, my motive was not to burn calories. I simply needed to get outside and experience something greater than myself. With a few fresh inches of the white fluffy stuff, I knew this would be a good way to clear my head. 

This is a fairly simple post, but I can't say enough about how something as small as feeling grateful can change everything. Yes, some weeks are harder than others, but I am finally learning to see the importance of paying attention to all of the beauty that is still around us. What are you grateful for today?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gratitude Card

As stated on my previous post, one of the things on the list of ways to take care of myself, was to keep a gratitude card. When I first started treatment, I did this as a way to get myself through each day. I would take a regular note card, keep it with me all day, and try to remember to jot down happy things that took place during that day. Just before bed, I would go over the list as a reminder of all the little things that happened; often times forgetting about them because my brain was consumed by the negative thoughts and occurrences.

Why does that always happen to me? It seems like I am much better at focusing on all of the negative parts of the day and in return, the positives are left behind. Being the perfectionist that I am, this makes it difficult to simply have a good day. Yesterday I challenged myself and put the good ole note card to work.

Here is the list of things I was grateful for yesterday:

My morning coffee
Muzzy curled up in bed with me before I got dressed and ready for the day
 Heated seats in my car
A guest post on one of my favorite blogs!! (Read here- I'm proud of this one!)
Concepts my sociology class is teaching me- even if that makes me a nerd
The ability to actually concentrate on something other than food
The sun came out this afternoon
Bacon on my BLT for lunch
Emails from my best friend
Positive, supportive people in my life
The last cupcake just for me
My afternoon nap
Classmates who help me out
Sweat pants at the end of the day
Finishing my homework
Improving communication with my parents
Feeling prepared for my biology quiz tomorrow
Muzzy, my study buddy

Today wasn't perfect and I typically would have ended my day thinking about what went wrong. I actually started writing this post about something not so positive, but then I remembered my gratitude card and my thoughts instantly shifted. 

It's amazing what a simple note card can do.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Need A Break

If I could have one super power, I would have the ability to turn off my brain at the end of the day. That way, I could get some sleep, recharge and escape the nonstop, worrisome, over thinking thought processes that take place up there.

Sometimes a girl just needs a break.

Recovering from an eating disorder, however, is a little bit different than recovering from any other addiction. Drug addicts and alcoholics, for example, can avoid their symptom of choice completely and eliminate people or situations from their lives as a way to keep them safe. Avoiding all people and situations that involve food, while recovering from an eating disorder, is not only a bad idea, it is also nearly impossible.

Learning how to eat again can often feel as foreign as learning a new language. It can feel frustrating, overwhelming, intimidating, anxiety provoking, life threatening, and chaotic. In contrast to completely eliminating our "drug of choice," like the other addictions out there, we are forced to face it five or six times every single day.

I have had to explain to my dad in the past that recovery is a full time job in itself. There are days when I am exhausted after doing very little physical work, but the constant battles in my head never stop.  Choosing to constantly look on the bright side of a situation when part of your brain is screaming at you to do the opposite, makes me crave my afternoon nap.

The truth is, while recovering from an eating disorder, breaks don't really exist. There are days when I have to push through my tiredness because I know the alternative is no longer an option.

Luckily, after complaining to my therapist yesterday about how pooped I was, we thought of a few good ways to distract my brain for awhile; making it seem like a mini vacation. These can also be used as rewards or ways to treat yourself after a long day of hard work. In the past, I have found it helpful to set aside time each day and force myself to take a break as a way to avoid burn out (like I'm feeling now).

Here are a few of my favorites:

Watch a movie or two
Have a do-it-yourself mani/pedi night
Take a nap (my favorite)
Listen to music
Go for a small walk outside
Read a book or magazine
Chat with a friend
Watch something funny on YouTube
Take a shower or a bubble bath
Try an at home facial
Two words: Dance Party
Make a gratitude list
Cuddle with a pet

I'm jealous of her right now.
Recently, a few different people have asked me how I keep going and stay positive through my recovery; the truth is, I have my bad days, too. For me, it has been really important to take things slowly and don't push myself until I feel ready. There are days when all I feel like doing is sleeping, like yesterday, for example; but learning to also do things that distract the never ending banter in my head, will help me recharge my batteries.

So even though I don't have my super power of choice, at least there are a few things I can try to distract my brain from the madness; even if it is temporary. 

I am tired, but that's okay. Today I will make a change and plan in a little "Kelsi Time."


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cupcake Celebration

A very wise friend of mine gave me some great advice after reading my previous post. Hopefully she doesn't mind me quoting her directly for this post...

"This may sound a little ridiculous and crazy, but celebrate tomorrow. Celebrate because without that incident occurring, you would not be the person you are today nor would you be where you are today."

At first, yes, this did sound a little bit crazy. Who celebrates getting a DUI for goodness sakes?! Thankfully, however, I woke up on the right side of the bed yesterday and made a conscious decision to make it a good day.  As the saying goes, "You are a happy as you make your mind up to be," and for a lot of years I kind of thought that was nonsense. I thought people were born either happy or angry, with no middle ground. Thankfully, that isn't the case.

When I think about celebrating, laughter, family, a home cooked meal, good friends, and cupcakes come to mind. As I went through that list, the only thing I didn't have yesterday was cupcakes; which meant, of course, that I needed to make some.

For those of you who don't know, I am a culinary school graduate; and yes, it's okay to chuckle at the irony of that. I do it all the time. Since I have started recovering from my eating disorder, I have only spent time alone in the kitchen maybe one or two other times. There are usually too many unsettling memories and reminders of blown opportunities for me to handle; but for some reason, yesterday was the exception.

Instead of beating myself up for my past failures in the culinary world, I found myself thinking, for the first time, about how thankful I was to have had that experience. Those might have been some of the most difficult years of my life, but in return, they also taught me the most about myself. Sometimes you just have to go through the bad in order to reach the good.

My mom recently asked me if I miss cooking and I gave her a very quick "no." But I don't know if that is necessarily true. Sometimes I don't think I allow myself to miss it because I know there is no use; deep down I know I will never return to that field of work.

But hey, at least I can make some pretty cupcakes.

This has been one hell of a year, however, not only have I survived it, I am in a much better place because of it. If it wasn't for that mistake I made one year ago, I would not have such an awesome reason to celebrate today.


Friday, February 15, 2013


Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my DUI.

This has been a long week filled with anticipatory anxiety and more shameful memories than I can bear. Writing about shame today isn't going to be easy, but I will do so with hope that it will help ease the endless negativity happening in my brain right now. Thoughts of what a horrible person I am for doing such a horrible thing are getting the best of me this week.

With a little help from the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw and my "Food & Feelings" workbook, I feel ready to work through this.

"As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going." -Carrie Bradshaw
One year ago I was lost and headed toward my rock bottom. There wasn't much hope left in my life and honestly, I didn't believe I could ever be well again. As a result, I got myself into some pretty big trouble. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, I am still haunted by the "shoulda, coulda, wouldas" and filled with shame.

Last week I wrote about guilt, which most people assume is basically the same thing as shame, but after doing a little reading, I discovered the difference between the two:
"Shame goes deeper- far deeper than guilt. You may eventually neutralize its sting, but it's doubtful you'll ever giggle over what happened. More likely, you will try to avoid public exposure of your act at all cost. In fact, because of its cringe potential, the word "shame" rarely crops up except in clinical circles. Colloquially, "I'm embarrassed" is often inaccurately substituted for "I'm ashamed" because it sounds (and feels) so much better. 

However, minimizing feelings for comfort's sake only promotes the false impression that they hold some sort of power over you. Name them exactly for what they are and you gain power over them."
Shame has left me with a relentless sense of self hatred. Did I really get into that much trouble for my actions? This makes me feel dirty, unlovable and useless. According to the "Food and Feelings" workbook, this is shame at it's finest. 

So what can be done to help ease these shame-filled days? As the quote above states, to start, I can talk about what I'm ashamed of as a way to gain power over it. Also, the shame chapter continues with a list of irrational beliefs about shame, that I often have, and then combats them with rational thoughts. I made a list of my own for this exercise and just might need to pin them up all over the house until this all sinks in.

Irrational Belief: I can't bear feeling ashamed.
Rational Belief: I can bear feeling ashamed; it's only a feeling. Feelings can't hurt me and they will pass.
Irrational Belief: I have done a horrible thing, which makes me a horrible person.
Rational Belief: I am not a horrible person. I am working through my issues and making serious progress. Look how far I have come in just one year.
 Irrational Belief: Nobody will love me or want me in their life once they find out what I did.
Rational Belief: I actually have more love and support in my life right now than ever before and everyone knows. 

 Reading through those rational and irrational beliefs, is surprisingly, quite helpful. In my perfect world, I would go back and fulfill my shoulda, coulda, wouldas, but I have come to terms with the fact that, that will never happen; it's time to let go of them, as Carrie Bradshaw suggested. Just like guilt, I still have some work to do before I am free of my shame, but today I am choosing to face these feelings head on instead of avoiding them. It's painful and a not-so-fun way to spend my Friday, but in the long run I know it will be worth it. 

As my mom always says, "This too shall pass...." 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine

I seem to be having a difficult time thinking of something to write about for Valentine's Day. Remember the days when we received a mushy Valentine's card from everyone in our class and there wasn't any pressure to be attached? I miss those days. What happened to that way of thinking?

All of the overpriced greeting cards, heart shaped chocolates and fancy dinners aside, Valentine's Day is supposed to be about one thing: Love. Somewhere along the way, however, this special day in the middle of February has become much more commercial than us single ladies can bear. Unfortunately, there is no longer a guarantee that we will get a little something from our classmates.

There are plenty of things left to love in this world that don't have anything to do with being in a relationship. As I am still fighting through the early stages of my recovery, I am still working out the quirks of the most important relationship of all; the one with myself. Somewhere over the course of the last decade or so, I have completely neglected any sense of self love I might have had. 

As I was searching for inspiration for this post, I pulled out my "Joy Box." It's a box I made in the first few weeks of my recovery journey and I often times forget the amount of power and love this simple box possesses.

This box holds everything from inspirational letters from dear friends, positive affirmations, gratitude cards, pictures, and other random feel good items. Today was the first time I had opened it in months, so it made for an emotional experience. Being reminded of all of the love and support I have had along this journey is what Valentine's Day should be all about.

At the bottom of the box, I found a stack of note cards that I had completely forgotten about. Each note card has a promise to myself from a list provided in treatment. It is difficult for me to believe I let this awesome list get buried and left behind.

Here a few promises I can make myself today:
I promise to stop the negative self talk and fight back! Not everything I think is true.
I vow to recognize my strengths and achievements. I am a wonderful, unique person.
I promise to recognize that ALL body types are beautiful.
I promise not to get down on myself when I make mistakes. I am human and I know mistakes are how I learn.
I promise to stand up for myself when I hear something mean or hurtful. I deserve love and respect.
I vow to start loving my body however I am feeling, however I look and wherever I am.
I promise to not be affected by the negative appeals of the media- they do not set standards of beauty or perfection.
I promise to try not to compare myself to others.
I promise to never participate in group body bashing of myself and others.
I promise to refrain from not taking care of my body and not feeding it right.

 Instead of drowning in self pity on this lovers' holiday, not only have I decided to flourish in the love that is already surrounding me, but I have also decided to start a life long love affair with myself. This list of promises will never see the bottom of that box again; I will read them everyday if that's what it takes to start this relationship. 

Valentine's Day is all about love, but just because some of us are single today, doesn't mean we can't feel the love, too. I might feel like the third wheel while having dinner with my parents tonight, but that doesn't mean I have to spend this day feeling sorry for myself.

Today I have decided to be my own Valentine.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lord's Baseball Game

In my household, yesterday was the second biggest day of the year. I will give you a million dollars if you can guess what the occasion is- seriously can anyone guess? Okay, I'll give you a hint: Opening day of baseball season comes in first place, Christmas day comes in third and this special day falls in the middle. Anyone?

If you guessed yesterday was the day pitchers and catchers report for MLB spring training, then I owe you a million dollars. After a painful winter of pretending to be interested in college football, the wait is officially over and there is a new sense of hope in my house because baseball will be in full swing before we know it. 

Alright, I might be exaggerating just a little bit.
For my dad, however, it really was one of the biggest days of the year and for my entire life I thought baseball was the only sport that anyone in the entire world cared about. On March 8, 1988 I was brought into this world in Sarasota, Florida. At the time, my dad was playing in the Chicago White Sox organization and was down south for spring training. Not surprisingly, my first big outing as a newborn was to a baseball field.

Four years later we were living back in my dad's home town in Michigan, my younger brother, Larsen, was born and my dad was playing fast pitch softball for the Men's USA team. Needless to say, my entire childhood was spent running around a baseball field and eating way too many hot dogs. My grandma Cronkright has a baseball field in her backyard for goodness sakes. Sometimes I think my brother was born with a baseball bat in his hands and he hasn't stopped swinging it since. 

All of this sounds like a pretty awesome childhood, but unfortunately, being the perfectionist that I am, this only caused me to set some unattainably high standards for myself. Up until I was eighteen years old, I, too, spent my summers on a ball field, but never felt like I lived up to my own expectations. Simply put, I was never good enough.

During my graduation from treatment last year, my therapist read me this story. At the time, I was actually kind of annoyed with her for finding a way to incorporate baseball into MY special day. Looking back, however, I can see my annoyance has shifted and it's finally clear to me why she chose this particular story.

In honor of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, I thought I would share it.

The Lord's Baseball Game

"Freddy and the Lord stood by to observe a baseball game. The Lord's team was playing Satan's team. The Lord's team was at bat, the score was tired zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs.

They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate whose name was Love. Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because Love never fails.

The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith works with Love.

The next batter up was named Wisdom. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch. Wisdom looked it over and let it pass: Ball one. Three more pitches and Wisdom walked, because Wisdom never swings at what Satan throws. 

The bases were now loaded. The Lord then turned to Freddy and told him He was going to bring in His star player. Up to the plate stepped Grace. Freddy said, "He sure doesn't look like much!"

Satan's whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he had won the game, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen. But Satan was not worried; his center fielder let very few get by. He went up for the ball, but it went right through is glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing to the ground; then it continued over the fence for a home run!

The Lord's team won! The Lord then asked Freddy if he knew why Love, Faith, and Wisdom could get on base but could not win the game. Freddy did not know why.

The Lord explain, "If your Love, Faith and Wisdom had won the game you would think you had done it yourself. Love, Faith and Wisdom will get you on base but only My Grace can get you home."

This whole recovery process hasn't been easy and there have been days where I was ready to throw in the towel. Thankfully, however, with a new sense of self Love, blind Faith in the process and Wisdom from my treatment team, I have "gotten myself on base," so to speak. Grace has always been there; I just haven't taken the time to notice it yet. With Love, Faith, Wisdom, and Grace pushing me along, I absolutely believe that a full recovery is in my future.

I might have a love/hate relationship with the amount of baseball in my life, but for the first time in I my life, I finally realize that is okay. Just because I was born into a baseball obsessed family, doesn't mean in order for me to be "good enough" I have to follow suit. Recovery has given me the opportunity to make my own decisions and find out who I really am.

 Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training yesterday. Thankfully, however, I now realize that I have a choice; I can get into baseball this summer like usual or not. It's really that simple. Baseball will always be a part of my life but now I see that I can also pave my own path, away from baseball, if that's what I decide to do. All I need is a little help from my friends Love, Faith, Wisdom, and Grace.


Monday, February 11, 2013

"Fat Poem"

Please take the time to watch this video. You won't regret it.

A good friend of mine posted this video yesterday and I knew instantly it needed to be shared. As I watched with tear soaked cheeks, it brought back way too many memories of days I spent purging on the bathroom floor. 

Earlier this month, I did a post about Eating Disorder Awareness Month; the video goes into a little detail about the dangers of eating disorders, but I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate to keep with the awareness trend. Also, because the "Fat Poem" video is so powerful, I wanted to keep the focus on that and keep this post simple. 

Here is a list of the dangers associated with eating disorders:

Electrolyte Imbalances
Heart Disease
Bone Loss
Muscle Weakness
Hair Loss
Dry Skin
Brittle Nails
Intestinal Damage
Enamel Erosion
Loss of Menstrual Cycle
Brain Damage
Decreased Blood Pressure
Decrease Heart Rate
Thyroid Damage
Mild Anemia
Reduced Muscle Mass
OCD Tendencies
Slowed Reaction Time
Preoccupied Thoughts
Mood Swings
Inflamed Esophagus
Swollen Cheeks
Kidney Infection & Failure
Easily Bruised Skin
Peptic Ulcers

Phew. Sadly, I know I missed quite a few. 

For the first time in a decade, I am taking part in Eating Disorder Awareness Month on the other side; the recovery side. Just like I teared up as I watched that video, I am now tearing up as I realize how much time I wasted putting myself in danger of every single one of these health risks. Eating disorders are scary and often times feel hopeless, but I am firm believer that if I can overcome my addictions, all of you can, too. 

Just like the "Fat Poem" video says, freedom is possible.  


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weight Redistribution

Initially, during the beginning of weight restoration, all of the extra pounds settle in the midsection and show up in the face. This causes a horrifying pregnant belly look and a very noticeable uneven distribution of weight. It's quite unpleasant. Many people actually have a really difficult time with this phase of recovery and end up giving up because they don't believe they will ever look "normal" again.

While I was still in treatment, my therapist had to remind me every single day that redistribution would happen if I gave it time; meaning the weight from my stomach would spread out more evenly among the rest of my body. Honestly, I thought that was a bunch of bologna and continued to be annoyed with my weight gain situation. As if gaining weight wasn't mortifying enough, having it all go to my stomach made it that much worse.

It has been proven that weight redistribution, hunger cues, and general eating habits can take anywhere from 6 months to a year (or more) to normalize. My treatment team put a ton of time and effort into tweaking my metabolism; so it became extremely important to me not to mess that up.

As hard as it is to believe, it has officially been six months since I hit my goal weight. Most days I do not think my weight has even begun the redistribution process; but because I see my body every single day, it's hard to see the changes that have taken place over time. 

 So, after a week of atrocious body image, I needed to do something about it.

The first picture is on my graduation day at the end of last summer and the second picture is one I took this morning. Same dress, same belt, same Kelsi- much different distribution of weight. Actually, my set point weight went up about 7-10 pounds after leaving treatment, which means my weight is that much higher in the second picture. 

There isn't much else for me to say in this post except- redistribution DOES happen and I am living proof of it. Once again, this just goes to show that the number on the scale means absolutely nothing. Suddenly, my bad body image day is gone. 


Friday, February 8, 2013


Recovery is all about honesty. That being said, in order for me to be honest about the emotion that dominated my week, this post might not be as upbeat as usual.

Guilt. This is a tough one for me. 

This week my best friend, Muzzy, hurt her back leg and was lamely prancing around the house on three legs. She is already such a neurotic dog, that my parents seemed to think her minor injury was somewhat comical. Not to me- watching Muzzy painfully move around broke my heart. More than once, I caught myself drifting off in class, worrying about how she was doing. 

With a sense of concern for a loved one on my mind, it made me think back to a year ago, as I was quickly headed to the final days of my downward, rock bottom spiral. Thinking about how much it hurt to watch Muzzy struggle, made me realize my feelings were miniscule compared to the agony my parents must have felt as they helplessly watched my life crumble. 

How could I have done that to them? Where did they find the strength to love me unconditionally? The amount of guilt I am beginning to feel as I type this, is making my stomach churn.

Awhile back, my therapist gave me a workbook called "Food and Feelings." Each chapter is dedicated to an unpleasant emotion, such as guilt, and helps provide a better understanding of where that particular feeling comes from, physical reactions, and most importantly, outlines how to better deal in the future.

"When you feel guilty, it's as if something is hanging over you, hovering around, or gnawing at you from the inside. Guilt is the nag that won't let you forget what you did, the pebble that keeps pressing itself onto your psyche and won't let you move on, the thorn in your side that keeps needling you about what you did wrong. It can be sharp and quick, a knife of emotion. Guilt can also worm its way into your soul, kick off its shoes and settle in, robbing you of your self-worth and causing to feel as if your life is one long apology."

BINGO! That description is, unfortunately, spot on. For years I have carried around this impossible sense of guilt; thanks to all of the secrets I was keeping. 

Further along in the chapter there is an exercise called, "Trip Up Your Guilt." The directions say, "Think of a situation that has caused you a good deal of guilt. By calling up the gory details, allow yourself to re-experience your remorse or regret to the max. Sit with the feeling until you're immersed in it." 

Um, no thank you! I torture myself with this enough. It continues, "Now come up with just one reason to feel less guilty about the situation."

Well, I did go through treatment and get my addictions under control. 

"Now, reason 2. Reason 3. Reason 4...."

I guess I am doing the best I can right now, in this moment, to take care of myself.
I no longer feel the need to keep my past a secret.
I have learned different ways to show compassion for myself.
I feel a little better already.

Guilt is a difficult emotion for us perfectionists to deal with. When I don't meet my own ridiculous standards, it leads me into a high paced downward spiral of negative emotions. Before I know it, I start feeling guilty for feeling guilty; but that's another post entirely. There is such a thing as healthy guilt, which motivates us to get things done, but this is rarely the type of guilt I experience.

Guilt and eating disorders go hand in hand. The cycle is actually quite simple: by eating something unhealthy or off limits, we feel as if we have done something wrong causing the guilt trip to start.

The final thought I am left with in this chapter is, "You need to work on two fronts simultaneously: identifying what is enough and letting go of inappropriate guilt." This is a new concept for me. Guilt is guilt and I always end up wallowing in it far longer than necessary. If I can stop, allow myself to feel the guilt, like the exercise says, and think rationally about reasons why I should ease up on the guilty feelings, it makes it seem much more manageable. 

I still have some work to do in the feeling guilty department, but this is a great start. Starting to develop reasons why I can allow myself to carry around less of this awful emotion will be a good defense mechanism for the next time I feel my guilt catching up with me. 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dear Body,

One of the most common things I hear about from other people in recovery is the daily debate over whether or not to get on the scale. Luckily, for me, my treatment team does not allow me to see my weight as a way to protect me from having a heart attack. I do have a general idea of where my weight is, but without obsessively weighing myself, that number no longer has power over my entire day. 

Thinking back to when I had a daily ritual of weighing myself, I quickly understand why that was never a good idea. No matter what the number on the scale said, it wasn't good enough. There were way too many mornings I spent crying on my bathroom floor because my eating disorder told me that number was not where it was supposed to be. Even during the days when my weight reached an all time low, I still gave into those self destructive thoughts. 

Body image is an extremely touchy subject among those with eating disorders. One strategy that has helped me on some of my worst body image days (except wearing my brother's shorts) is to pull out a letter I wrote to my body in treatment. Like many of the things we do to boost self esteem, this might sound a little cooky, but trust me it does work. Here's a sample of that letter:

Dear Body,

Words cannot express how sorry I am for the things I have put you through over the past few years. I used, starved, neglected, betrayed, ignored, and took advantage of you for far too long. Even though I put you through this torture and almost completely destroyed you, you still stood by my side. You have given me a second chance to take care of you; I don't plan on letting you down this time. 

You truly amaze me. There are so many wonderful things that you continue to do for me even though I still put you down with negative, hateful self-talk. For so long I chose to deprive you as a way to be good enough for everyone else. I'm so sorry. No matter how low I let that number on the scale get, it still brought me down. I refuse to that that number dictate our relationship ever again.

Without you I would not have the opportunity to live my life; plain and simple. You have given me the foundation I need to do everything I could ever dream of with my life. Most days I struggle to forgive myself for causing you so much pain.

Even though I sometimes get caught up in Hollywood's idea of perfection- you are perfect. I love the things that you do and the gift that you are. Thanks for giving me a second chance to take care of you. After years of self hatred- I'm done! You deserve much better than that. Let's give this another shot and finally start a healthy relationship with one another.

I love you,

For such a long time I had an unrealistic belief that weight gain is the equivalent of weakness and lack of self control; that number on the scale was the only way to demonstrate strength. I allowed the scale to shatter my relationship with my body. 

My advice for the day is, if you still own a scale- GET RID OF IT. Even better, destroy that stupid thing somehow. Run it over with your car, hit it with a sledge hammer, or throw it it in a river; it really doesn't matter how you destroy it, as long as it has meaning. Remembering all of the things our body does for us every single day is a really simple reminder to take care of it. 

Today I am making a conscious choice to start building a better relationship with my body. The number on the scale does not define me.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Calorie Counting Debate

Over the past few weeks, I have spent way too much time researching various eating disorder treatment methods for an upcoming school assignment. Might not sound like the most fascinating topic to most of you, but I have found that I can't seem to get my hands on enough reading material.

For this assignment, I have chosen to take a look at all of the different approaches to treatment and argue which one is superior. Now, obviously, I'm not an expert in this field (yet), so I'm finding this assignment to be quite daunting. The treatment options seem endless- but as a way to save my sanity, I am going to focus on two general methods. 

The big debate seems to be whether to count calories or not while in recovery.

The frustrating thing about eating disorders is that treatment is such an individual thing. There is a very good chance that what works for me won't work for the next person in recovery. Each of us have a different story to tell; different upbringings, cultures, social statuses, opinions, needs, wants... everything. Just because two people are in the same treatment facility doesn't mean they will both adhere to the program rules.

Some of you might not realize that I actually spent time in two different treatment facilities last year. The first one was a more intensive, short term stay and the second one is the place I generally refer to in all of my posts. It was difficult to go from one to the other because their general philosophies were polar opposites. The first place was highly against the regimen at the second place and vise versa; one place taught us to use the exchange system and they other counted calories. One extreme or the other.

As my research continues, I'm finding that a majority of people in recovery are scared to death of counting calories and they believe that by counting, they are engaging in eating disordered behaviors. To me, of course this doesn't make any sense; calorie counting is something I firmly believe in thanks to the treatment plan I am on.

One of the most interesting things I have learned is- a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. No matter if I'm eating 200 calories in chocolate or carrots, my weight will remain the same. At first I didn't believe that was true at all, but with months of eating chocolate chips in my yogurt for breakfast and finally giving into the bacon craze, I'm a believer.

I'm no expert, but I do know one thing for sure; I can go to a birthday party and eat cake without freaking out because I know I can fit those calories it into my meal plan. At one time in my life I was against anything that wasn't considered "real" food and didn't come out of a gourmet kitchen, but those thoughts have changed. I'm surprised my parents haven't told me to lay off the Twizzlers or the Mike n' Ikes yet; sometimes they feel like a major food group.

Also, I have met people who can get by without counting calories and eat whenever they feel hungry. Trusting my hunger cues is still a major NO for me. For years I got high off that hungry feeling. It's actually kind of ironic now, when I start to feel hunger it can be triggering; like I'm doing something wrong.

I feel like I'm just typing a bunch of random nonsense, but there is a point to all of this, I promise.

Many people, myself included, often question why the relapse rate while recovering from an eating disorder is so high, but I think it's starting to make sense to me. With all of the different treatment philosophies and various variables in the patient's illness, it can seem impossible to find a perfect treatment match. 

As I continue to work on this assignment, it will be important for me to keep an open mind and stop my bias thoughts about calorie counting. In the end, recovery ultimately comes down to giving up that sense of control and trusting your treatment team- no matter what their style might be.

It is always frightening to start something new, but trust me, whether you're counting calories or not, recovery is worth it.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Awareness Month

February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Honestly, I didn't know there was such a thing until just a few days ago, but obviously, I'm glad to hear it does exist. 

In my opinion, it's important for more people to understand that eating disorders are a serious mental health disease, not simply an extreme diet. Suggesting someone simply eat a sandwich or poking fun can be detrimental to someone you love, without even realizing what is coming out of your mouth. 

I have this book mark that I have been carrying around with me since I left treatment titled "10 Ways to Love Your Body!" Okay, I realize it might be a little cheesy, but it has really helped me through some days where I felt like skipping calories or crawling back into bed.

10 Ways To Love Your Body!

1.Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
2. Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.
3. Think about the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance (!!! this is my favorite).
4. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
5. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
6. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself without mentioning appearance.
7. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, "I'm beautiful inside and out."
8. Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary -- begin to respect and appreciate it!
9. Surround yourself with people that remind your of your inner strength and beauty (my other favorite).
10. Be your body's friend and supporter, not its enemy.

In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness Month, I encourage all of you to reach out to someone who might be struggling or take a look at yourself and spread the love. Surrounding myself with strong, supportive people has saved my life and you all have the opportunity to save someone's life as well. 

Let's spread awareness. Unfortunately, eating disorders are everywhere, but I have finally learned it is not something to be ashamed of. 


Friday, February 1, 2013


"There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you. Leave it there" -Donna Favors

As I previously stated last Friday, I'm going to continue working on my "emotions series" and write each Friday about a particular emotion that best sums up my week.

As I reflect on this past week, fear is the first feeling that comes to mind. Each day brought a new opportunity to either face my fears or run from them. I'm still in a state of shock that I shared my deepest secrets with all of you and continue to fear being thought of as less of a person. My first big exam of the semester was also this week, which brought a sense of panic caused by past fears and memories of being a poor test taker.

After doing a little reading on fear, I found there are three different types:

External Fear-
External fears are the easiest for me to understand. They come from something outside of ourselves. Examples are fear of spiders or snakes; these fears are easily diagnosed and managed. Simply facing these fears head on can be a good way to overcome them.

Internal Fear-
This type of fear is typically triggered by a past negative experience and is associated with low self esteem or confidence. The trigger can provoke negative internal reactions, like questioning your own abilities or self doubt. Most of these fears come from childhood experiences and can often be difficult to reverse.

Subconscious Fear-
Produced by accepted fears in the mind that limit potential or even cause self sabotage are subconscious fears. These fears are similar to internal fears, but they become so ingrained that we often don't realize this is what we are feeling. The process of reversing these fears can often be extensive. 

Hmm... internal and subconscious fears are associated with self doubt; this sounds way too familiar. The fears we chose to run away from, rather than face, are always the ones that could potentially create uncomfortable feelings. 

Whether we stop and take the time to realize it or not, fears present themselves every single day.   These fears can be incredibly useful or down right crippling. Without fear of failing my exam this week, I would not have taken the time to study. Without the fear of past secrets haunting my future, I would have chosen to keep them bottled up.

Most of the time our fears are somewhat irrational. I think it's important to ask ourselves if what we are feeling is a healthy or unhealthy fear. Again, this goes back to control; if we constantly live our lives in fear of things that are out of our hands we are wasting precious time. 

It seems like every time we build up enough courage to face a fear, another one presents itself. I thought this was just something that happens in recovery, but I'm starting to realize that's just how life is. The only way to grow is to face our fears. 

I have a feeling I will be much more aware of what kind of fears I'm feeling in the upcoming week. Now, however, I know they only way to make our fears disappear is to face them.


Happy February 1st!