Hungry Haley

it's more than food

fitness

Life Lately #3

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen10 Comments

It, my friends, is time for a life update. These life-update posts give me weird, mixed feelings - like, do people actually care? Does anyone want to know what goes on in my life aside from school, school, and school? 

Those of you who do are reading this and are much appreciated :) I won't waste your time, so let's get right to it! 

POST-SUGAR-CLEANSE DEBRIEF

A couple weeks ago, Jeannette from @sweatysweetpotato and I teamed up for a week-long sugar cleanse. We excluded any and all refined sugars from our diets - the typical ones being maple syrup, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, and the like. One of the main questions you guys asked me was if we planned to continue eating fruit (or a more aggressive and concerned "wait, why are you cutting out fruit?!?!" - which we never planned to do) - let me tell you something: unless type 2 diabetes creeps up on me or some nasty, potentially life-threatening allergy to fruits suddenly squeezes itself into my biochemistry, I will NEVER cut out fruits. Bananas, berries, melon, and mangoes are some of my favorite things ever! So are apples, but I would've ruined that alliteration if I including them in that previous sentence, ya' know? 

Anyway, our intention was not weight loss or simple restriction and control, but rather pure experimentation driven by the desire to a) understand more of sugars' effect within our individual bodies and b) learn to detach ourselves from the habitual (and sneakily sugar-laden) protein/energy bar in our daily diets. We did NOT plan to change our lifestyles completely to forever exclude sweet treats. Over the past couple of weeks, I'd been feeling like I needed to come face-to-face with our prevalent sugar is/was in my diet. No - nothing like refined cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but additives like the ones I mentioned above that the body still metabolizes similar to how it would traditional sucrose (table sugar). 

So, what did I find? Clearer skin, less need for "a little something sweet" after each meal, prolonged focus level for a longer period of time after a meal (not thinking about my next snack five minutes after I just finished lunch), and less bloat (because gut bacteria likes sugar) . Sorry for all the hyperlinks, but each of those simply explains a bit more in depth about how dietary fat and sugar both affect specific physiological feelings and the resulting bodily reactions. Like I said before, by no means am I never eating a cookie again. BUT I'm now much more aware and cautious of the amount of sugars - everything from fruits to protein bars to my favorite vegan ice cream - I consume everyday and how my body feels afterwards. I definitely will cut back, but I will not cut out. 

homemade pecan milk - sugar-free, additive-free. DO IT. 

homemade pecan milk - sugar-free, additive-free. DO IT. 

NEW VOLUNTEER POSITION

I mentioned this in my Instagram story the other day, but by now, it's disappeared. About two months ago, I quit my donut job in hopes of lightening up my life-load (work + school + blog + me-time + social life = omgthisiswaytoomuch), but God presented me with another opportunity with which I could fill some extra time and, of course, be of benefit to my peers in need. After the application and interview process, I was chosen to become a Peer Health Educator on my campus, and I'll specifically be consulting with students who have any sort of nutrition- or fitness-related question. This can be anything from navigating the campus dining system to squeezing in more veggies throughout the day to creating a workout plan to - this one is the one I'm most excited for - assisting with potential or existing eating disorders. My position is not a paid one, but it's already worth just as much (if not more than) any paid job I've had before. 

I'm SO excited - and yes, I use capital letters to help portray that sense and hope that maybe it's contagious for you readers - to get started and involve myself more in the campus that has helped foster immeasurable growth for me in the past three years. 

MORE BLOGGING

More blogging - YAAAAAAY! - more capital letters - more YAAAAAAAAAAY! One of my goals as I emptied my plate over these past few months has been to invest more time into this place. Since then, I've been wrestling with reminding myself that this can be considering my "job". However, I don't want anyone to think that my motivation here is to make the most money I can. My motivation is and always will be sharing and loving and encouraging, not advertising. Investing more time into this place means investing more time into you as my beloved readers, into me, and into the future. 

That being said, I want to hear from you! What kinds of posts do you want to see more of: recipes, workouts, nutrition tips, life posts? Be specific and leave comments below. I truly cherish your input!

FUTURE PLANS

Don't get ahead of yourself - I don't have my life figured out or anything. What I do know is at a least a layout of the next year and a half-ish. A significant chunk of classes still stand between myself and my graduation, so that represents the year and a half ahead of me. Once this quarter is all finished up (in about 8 weeks), I'm heading on home down to SoCal for the summer to spend some mucho needed time with my parents. Homesickness hit me hard this quarter, so I'm taking that as God's way of welcoming me back home. Allllllso a large part of my summer plan includes more involvement with NuttZo! More details to come on that, so stay tuned. And for the remainder of my time, I'm hoping to take a few classes to lighten the load when I go back to school for my senior year. 

And now for the more unknown. When I do finally graduate from Cal Poly, my plans are to apply for a grad school a coordinated dietetic program - which is basically a combo of grad school + dietetic internship, after which I'll be eligible to sit for my RD exam. As of right now, I'm loving this idea because, by 2024, all RD's will be required to have a Master's degree, so why not do it now, anyway? 

EXERCISE STUFF

My workout routine has shifted immensely throughout the past 12 months. After letting go of running (officially), I've had to turn to other forms of cardio not only for my physical health, but also for my mental health. I've tried swimming and cycling, but those never seemed to satisfy my desire for something more steady-paced that I could do while I let my mind clear itself out. When I ran, I didn't have to think about my next stroke or my next interval - I just ran. Thankfully, I found that the stairmaster has a similar quality to it! Though it doesn't allow me to breathe in the fresh air of outdoors like running did, I can pop my headphones in and indulge in some podcasts (my favorites right now are Dr. Stephen Cabral, Food Psych, The Chasing Joy Podcast, and Bulletproof Radio). For about 45 minutes, I climb at a low-medium speed just to get my heart rate up and sweat a bit. On the weekends, when Cal Poly's gym sleeps in with the rest of the college students, I lace up my sneakers and head out for a long walk (yes, this includes more podcast-binging). Fresh air - fiiiinally! 

the final hill of my saturday-morning route. it's a tough one. 

the final hill of my saturday-morning route. it's a tough one. 

Finding an exercise routine that works for me, that makes me feel good, and that I don't have to force myself to follow took months (maybe even years), so be patient if you're struggling with the same thing. Keep an open mind, too, because you never know what you and your body will love! 

OTHER EATS

my favorite bowl from  Bliss Cafe  - the Green Energy bowl + side of cashew cheeze. blis

my favorite bowl from Bliss Cafe - the Green Energy bowl + side of cashew cheeze. blis

dad. love him. 

dad. love him. 

tempura sweet potatoes. YES.

tempura sweet potatoes. YES.

tofu eggplant stir-fry for me, something else with tofu for dad (he orders tofu because he loves me).

tofu eggplant stir-fry for me, something else with tofu for dad (he orders tofu because he loves me).

lunch with dad @  Shine Cafe  - best vegan place near me! a sprouted grain bagel with tofu cream cheeze + veg for dad & a taco with tempeh, quinoa, greens & avo for me (its buried, but I was cool with it). 

lunch with dad @ Shine Cafe - best vegan place near me! a sprouted grain bagel with tofu cream cheeze + veg for dad & a taco with tempeh, quinoa, greens & avo for me (its buried, but I was cool with it). 

last but not least, a stupidly good Mediterranean take-out meal to end a lovely weekend with Paps. 

last but not least, a stupidly good Mediterranean take-out meal to end a lovely weekend with Paps. 

oh, but I couldn't forget lunch @ Cafe Gratitude with  Connie ! 

oh, but I couldn't forget lunch @ Cafe Gratitude with Connie

Aaaaaand that's about it! Want to know something funny? My teachers and professors have always taught me to never end an essay or presentation like that - "so... yeah. that's it!" - yet, I end almost every non-recipe blog post with a similar line. Oops? Good thing I'm not graded on these. 

Thank you times a million for reading. I'm so grateful to be included as part of your day and I hope you've benefitted from this post somehow, someway. Leave some feedback below! 

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Chop Chop, Snip Snip

Life, Thoughts, HealthHaley HansenComment
...for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
— 1 Corinthians 6:20, NLT

Lately, I've been looking in the mirror and, about 75% of the time, feeling less-than-satisfied with what I'm seeing and then critiquing. I'm facing the fact that weight gain is actually finally really happening. And that's a GOOD THING after my past with an eating disorder, but that doesn't make accepting and embracing the extra pounds, the rounder curves, and the tighter clothes any easier. Everyday holds some challenge in whole-heartedly loving the body the Lord gave to me. 

Some days, I truly do embrace this new figure. I look in the mirror and see my cut shoulders (thanks to Lindsey Bomgren's killer arm workouts), my fuller tooshie, and my stronger thighs as reward for my dedication and passion for fitness. Others, I hate that I can't slip on my favorite pair of high-school jeans, that my thighs rub together more often than not, and that I can't run anymore. 

Accepting and e m b r a c i n g myself is one of my weakest forms of worship. Yes - loving oneself is an act of worshipping the Lord, the Creator. 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
— Psalm 139:13-15, NLT

After finishing a workout the other day, I jumped in the shower, still feeling a little grumpy about my weight gain. Like I said, some days >> other days. This was one of the latter. I scrubbed shampoo throughout my hair and, in an attempt to lift my mood, thanked God for my long, thick, naturally curly hair. My thoughts trailed somewhere along the lines of: I might be heavier, not as thin as I used to be. People might judge me and see me differently, maybe even less attractive than before my weight gain, but I've got hair that I love, that brings me at least a little more confidence. 

I let myself rest in that for a moment, until I heard the Holy Spirit ask me what I would do if I didn't have this hair. Though I didn't answer immediately, my heart knew the answer and the Holy Spirit knows my heart. In that moment, I prayed about donating my hair. Chopping it all off and shaving my head? No. Cutting off an amount sufficient enough for someone else who needs it, someone else without such a blessing (taken for granted by me), to embrace and thank the Lord for? Okay, God, I hear you. 

This happened three days ago, and the more I've prayed, the more comfort and assurance the Lord brings me. 

For years - almost four, to be exact - I've fought God with my body. Fearing fat and craving control, I ran down a dangerous path that lead me to nowhere, nowhere except the most terrified, emptiest, hungriest state of myself I've ever experienced. I couldn't deny my inabilities and I couldn't fight any longer, so I surrendered. In a nutshell, I guess that's my testimony. And this is another piece I'm adding on. 

Father, give my hair to someone else who needs it and will cherish it more than I have. Let this be a reflection of all that You are - grace, mercy, love, beauty far beyond what the eye can see. Above all, let people see You in me. 

Thank you thank you thank you for reading :) if you ever have any questions/comments/suggestions/whatever else, please leave them below or send me an email! 

When God Says "No"

Faith, Life, HealthHaley Hansen1 Comment

Because God does say "no". 

During the years of my eating disorder, I didn't allow the Lord much control in my life. Despite His constant reminders via loved ones and my own body, I refused to gain weight and learn to depend on Him, rather than my appearance. To say that the Lord said "yes" or agreed to my stubbornness would be wrong. He could see the damage I was causing to the body He gave me and He could hear my all my thoughts towards food, my body, and others (a fact that still sends chills down my spine). 

Recently, I opened up about still struggling with lingering effects of my eating disorder. To name just a few - perhaps the most prominent - self-comparison, unnecessary stress over food, and idolization of people, followers, exercise, and myself. Simply opening up about those things brought me closer to Him, allowing Him to help me push those things farther and farther away and pull Him closer. However, one more weakness barged in, uninvited, a week or two ago and I've been wrestling it out the door of my mind ever since...

Running. And tied to it, my selfish desire for the slim figure for which I ran unbelievable amounts of miles each week in high school. I've laced up my shoes maybe three times in the past ten months. Three times. In ten months. For a devoted distance runner, the aching knees and piercing shin splints must be practically fatal to force one to throw away running shoes for good. For me, I cringe to admit that they were, but a weakness in my heart teamed up with the aches and pains to throwing them out my only option.

I remember jogging home, breathless and hot and sweaty, deaf to everything but the sound of my patterned heartbeat and heavy recovery breaths. I remember collapsing onto the floor, wiping sweat from my face, chugging a ginormous glass of ice cold water, stretching out my legs and calming my breath. I remember feeling, as cliche as it sounds, absolutely invincible after every run.

That was a year ago. 

Now, I remember barely reaching my warm-up distance and already coaching myself through the aches and pains. I remember unexpected tears pushed out by the sore muscles, the throbbing knees, and the confused, broken heart. I remember the prayer, Lord, WHY can't I run anymore? Have I gained too much weight? Am I... fat? Will I never be able to run again? Seriously??

That was two months ago. And my (brand new) running shoes are left buried beneath my converse, flip flops, cross-trainers, and a thin layer of dust on my shoe rack. I like them there, though, because I can't see them as easily. When I do see them, my mind becomes a malfunctioning reel of the 12-month-old happy running times, interrupted by the fairly new bitter ones.

Of course, just because I can't lace up one of my favorite pairs of shoes doesn't mean I've given up exercise. HIIT, swimming, cycling, and weight training have kept me in shape, but my shape isn't as slim as it used to be. In all honesty, this might be one of the hardest leaps I've had to take throughout recovery. Gaining the initial chunk of weight during high school challenged me to let go of control and to listen to my loving family friends. And I did it. 

So, why am I gaining more weight? Better yet, why am I still struggling to accept that this weight gain is healthy? 

Because I haven't been listening to God's insisting "no". 

  • "NO" to my desire for control - I'm a control-freak. I always have been, but I know that with the Lord's help, I won't always be. 
  • "NO" to my idolization of running - I found such peace in the rhythmic pattern of my shoes against the pavement, but I gave it more time than I did to God. 
  • "NO" to my self-comparison with others - I fueled up for each run by pushing myself to chase after something. Sometimes it was a better PR, and sometimes it was a smaller jean size and motivation to burn off that bite of chocolate I'd eaten the night before. 

Can you think back to a time when your parents didn't allow you to have/buy/do something? You were so upset in the moment, unable to understand how they could be this unfair. Maybe you wondered, in the heat of the moment, if they even loved you. And here you are now, looking back, (hopefully) so grateful for their "no" at that time. For whatever it was, it probably saved you. 

God finally stamped His foot down and said "no" - "enough" - to my running and the sin laced within my shoes. His "no" was firm and powerful and loud. It came in the form of throbbing knees and aching shins. Ouch. But I see His sweet grace in saving me from further bodily damage and, eventually, drifting farther away from Him in my idolization of running + obsession with my appearance. 

His "no" was hard to accept. I felt like it had broken my heart. I often found myself looking in the mirror, wishing for those flat runner's abs, the toned hamstrings, the thinner waist. That's when the Holy Spirit intervened to remind me that, through all of this...

  • I'm working out and sweating and losing my breath and seeing muscle in places it hadn't been.
  • I'm lifting more and swimming longer and cycling faster. 
  • I'm varying my workouts and regaining my period. Did you hear that? I'm regaining my period. 

When I typed "when God says 'no'" into my search bar (because what else would a millenial do?), Google led me to 2 Samuel 22, "David's Song of Praise". Just like several times throughout the book of Isaiah, this chapter brought me to tears. King David sang this song to God upon His saving him from the wrath of his enemies. 

He's snatched me from the arms of my enemy and promised me a new life of assured beauty in His eyes, of unwavering love in His arms. 

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior...
— 2 Samuel 22:1, NLT
The waves of death overwhelmed me, bu tin my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry reached His ears.
— 2 Samuel 22:5-7, NLT
He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters... He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.
— 2 Samuel 22:17-20, NLT

Maybe His "no" to running was His latching His arms around me before I eventually lost myself so deeply in my sin and ran out of His arms. I do miss running, but I don't miss stressing over not having my period, or icing my knees and shins late into the night, or constantly pushing myself to run farther to look like this or that. 

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock?
— 2 Samuel 22:31-32, NLT

Thank you for reading. My prayer is that the Lord continues to work vulnerability into my everyday life so that you know you're not alone in your struggles. Eating disorders capture too many, and I can't imagine holding my struggles within, not allowing anyone to see how the Lord pull me out of such a tight grip. There IS hope. Recovery IS possible. God IS powerful and mighty and faithful. 

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email :) 

I Still Struggle

Life, Thoughts, HealthHaley Hansen4 Comments

From about September 2012 until around, well, sometime during the spring months of this past year (2015) I wrestled with negative thoughts, lack of self-confidence, and distrust in the loving, promising hands of God. In other words, I had an eating disorder. Thankfully, He has saved me from it's dangerously tight grip and gracefully shown me what it's like to cuddle up in His soothing, healing arms. However, just because I've entered the Lord's home doesn't mean I don't still encounter the taunting temptations and the lingering symptoms of the Devil's work that consumed such a huge portion of my life. 

I.

Still

Struggle

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

I sometimes place superficial desires before precious time with the Lord. Why? Because: 

  • I choose morning workouts over mornings in His word. But is a workout something that needs to happen everyday? Probably not. 
  • I crave the physical activity, the endorphins, the natural wake-up-call, the alone-time it provides for me. But do those things satisfy the way time with God does? Not one bit. 
  • I still struggle with wanting that perfect body type that I've drawn on a canvas in my own mind. But is that what your Creator has planned for you, the one He planned before you were even born? Only He knows. Only He loves me and has created me perfectly in His eyes, in His image. 
I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.
— Isaiah 56:6, NLT
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
— Colossians 2:6-7, NLT

I sometimes speak harshly, disrespectfully to myself and to others. 

  • I search for a place to which I can throw blame if something doesn't go the way I've planned, the way I've attempted to carry out through selfish control. But do I consider God's plans in these situations and the fact that they may be different from what I want in the moment? Not usually. 
  • I allow the blame a comfortable stay in my heart if I can't find for it another home. But how about reminding myself that, though I'm not perfect, I'm deeply loved by the One higher, greater, stronger, wiser than I? Good idea. 
  • I still struggle with self-love and selflessness. But do I remember the graceful, merciful Love that died on the cross to explain the real definition of the word to me? It is a perfect love, a flawlessly forever-valid definition. 
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
— John 13:34-35, NLT
Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
— Isaiah 49:15-16, NLT
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh...
— Galations 5:13, NLT

I sometimes fall into the enticing indulgence, the all-too-common belief in the satisfaction of something as temporary, as weak as food. 

  • I turn to a sweet dessert when nights feel lonely and boring. But I am never alone. And Christ endured excruciating pain and suffering alone before dying a death no one else ever could for me... by Himself. 
  • I waste time and energy digging for confidence and affirmation from social media posts about certain brand-names. But have they offered me a promise as solid and as everlasting as the one He did? Do they tell me I'm perfect? No, they tell me the opposite. 
  • I still struggle with turning to the Lord in all situations - those encouraging and joyful, and those disappointing and heartbreaking. But God's word is always calling my name, always ready to remind me of His promise to love, nurture, provide for me. 
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
— 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT
See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.
— Isaiah 12:2, NLT
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
— Psalm 73:26, NLT

I sometimes see other girls as competition in various areas - in my faith, in my relationship with the Lord, in my physical appearance, and more. 

  • I compare myself to girls working out next to me in the gym, to girls across the classroom, even to girls I don't know in the slightest bit - the ones pasted on the cover of magazines. But is that how I should express my gratitude for the woman God has made me? 
  • I strive for the "perfect" body, not quite knowing who's definition I'm following. But God doesn't see my size, nor does he see any difference between mine and the girl's next to me. He has chosen each of us and holds for us both a special place in His heart. 
  • I still struggle with self-comparison. But the Lord has purposefully knit me together in my mother's womb (Ps. 139:13, NIV) - I have been graciously created by the most loving, beautiful, powerful hands. 
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
— Romans 12:2, NLT
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
— 1 Peter 5:6-7, NLT
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
— Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT

By the grace of God, I no longer feel controlled by the overpowering desires characteristic of an eating disorder. However, I am human. I am, by no means, perfect in any way, so I do still battle these frustrating, tempting sins. I know that I am not alone because I have the Lord by my side, but I also know that I'm not the only one who continues to struggle. My encouragement to you if you are still suffering is to reach out - tell a family member, tell a friend, you can even tell me (confidential, of course). Confessing this doesn't mean you're still under the control of an eating disorder. It means the Holy Spirit is working to strengthen you! And that is reason to celebrate, am I right? 

I share these things - and believe me, doing so is not easy - because they are my weaknesses and I have seen how powerfully the Lord can work through these weaknesses if we allow Him to. This is me confessing, admitting, and opening up my broken heart to His healing hands in hopes that doing so will inspire other broken hearts to do the same, allowing Christ to bring healing to even more :)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10, NLT

THOUGHTS: My Recovery (NED Awareness Week)

Thoughts, Life, HealthHaley Hansen1 Comment

You may have already heard, or maybe you just read the title of this post - it's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This year is my first time really recognizing its significance, especially in my life, because last year at this time I hadn't come to terms with a) accepting my ED story and b) understanding that (at the time) I wasn't fully recovered. Last summer, I opened up here about my entire story, which you can read here, but I didn't spend much time talking about how I recovered and the effect that left me with. So, let's unwrap that package a little bit more. 

I'll pick up in the middle of my story - just after the doctor diagnosed me. She referred me to a therapist and my mom and I drove to one or two sessions a week for about two weeks. I'd sit like someone stuck a fiery stick up my butt (sorry if that's TMI, but it basically means angry and uncomfortable) and answer each question quickly, without giving much thought to admitting that I really wasn't happy with my body, or the possibility that maybe I was craving a sense of control, power, and outward appearance. My number one goal at these sessions was to prove to the therapist and my mom, as quickly as possible, that I did not have a disorder. Pride wanted to make sure that everyone knew that I had it all together, that I had... control. 

Soon enough, we stopped attending the therapy sessions and instead turned to a nutritionist who designed a meal plan for me. Up the calories, increase the variety, and just keep eating - that was our goal. This definitely pushed me towards steps in the right direction, but I still hadn't confronted the underlying cause of my ED, probably because I wasn't sure exactly what that was. Without her meal plan, I'm sure recovery would have taken even longer, but I've been thinking lately about how my recovery was affected by going about it without therapy. 

To say that I was forced to conquer this battle alone would be a lie - God blessed me with His presence and the support of family and friends from the very beginning. In a way, however, I chose to try to handle much of it on my own, just because I'm stubborn, sometimes prideful and too confident, and as much as I wanted to win this mental/emotional/spiritual battle of an ED, I wanted my prize to magically allow me to stay the same weight and jean size, with the same amount of muscle tone, etc. but without negatively affecting my health like it already was. I didn't want my friends and family to worry anymore, but I didn't want to change or compromise the looks that had me bursting with confidence for the first time in years. 

In other words, I went from anorexia to orthorexia. Constant calorie tracking determined what and how much I ate. Sure, I ate more than I did before, but at this point, it felt worse because I thought each meal - each bite - had to fit within a certain calorie/fat/protein/etc. range. 

Each day and its activities centered around what I would eat. I try not to say that I have regrets or that I wish something hadn't happened, but as I look back on that period of... wow... more than one year of my life, I wish I had opened my eyes to see beyond what was on my plate. To enjoy the richness of relationships, the lusciousness of laughter, the silliness of spontaneity. 

Freedom. More specifically, freedom of surrender. I've called myself a Christian for ten years, but only recently have I begun to fill those shoes and pursue a relationship with God. Communicating with Him, listening to Him, and expressing my gratitude for this simple life have become my daily goals. As I've lifted those to the top of my priorities, I've dropped food (and calories and fat and weight and all that jazz) to a far lower level, even as I transitioned into a vegan lifestyle. I've loosened, if not completely let go of, my grip on food as my source for security, confidence, and happiness. Releasing that grip was terrifying and unknown, but God grabbed me with both of His hands the minute I recognized that they were there. 

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles.
— Psalm 34:6

To be completely honest, that was about two months ago. I'm a little shocked that I've just realized this, but that means that my eating disorder (anorexia, orthorexia, and all) lasted for almost three years, when I thought I'd recovered two years ago. I held my body back from its full potential for so long, trying condition it to want only x amount of calories, to power through exhausting workouts almost everyday, to squeeze it and mold it into a shape God made for someone else. Just like I've developed my relationship with God, I've opened up a rarely-before-used line of communication with my body. Everything from colds and coughs, to muscle aches and joint pains, to stress and body-shaming thoughts are my body's way of getting my attention, and I'm finally listening.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
— Romans 12:2

A couple weeks ago, God put it on my heart to write a love letter to my body, and in it, I apologized for this mistreatment, thanked it for its endurance, and reflected on its achievements, despite the challenges I set before it. That letter was, by far, one of the most significant steps I've taken in recovery. 

I just wanted to share with you guys a bit more of my story, because I know that all of ours are unique and if this helps even one person, then that's enough. If you or anyone you know is going through an eating disorder, don't go it alone. No one has to and no one should. By letting down my guard to allow the people God placed in my life to help and to allow Him to fill the holes in my spirit, I was finally able to fully recover. I surrendered, and I found freedom. I found deeper love for myself and for God than I could have ever imagined possible. 

And as for the rest of this post, I want to let God speak. Rid your surroundings of as many distractions as possible right now and allow God's words to speak as loudly as possible. 

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’
— Jeremiah 29:11
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
— Psalm 31:25

These are some of the verses I've found most comforting and encouraging throughout the past three years, and I couldn't think of a better way to close off this post than by allowing God to take over, as that's what I've done in kissing my ED goodbye :) 

Please know that you're not alone in your struggle, and there are resources available for you to find help. Turn to family and friends, to teachers and coaches, or click here. God loves you too much to place you here on this earth alone.