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Life Lately #2

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen3 Comments

Life lately. Hmm… life lately. I’m looking back on the last couple of months (since my last life update post), trying to gather everything God’s been up to, but considering the amount of pure business I’ve piled on my plate, locating God’s hand hasn’t quite been as easy as usual. I’ll explain. I guess it allllllll ties together at the end, so just follow along. As always, excuse my all-over-the-place-ness.

UPS

1. I conquered organic chemistry! Can I get a HOLLAAA. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely loved that class (deep, deeeeeeeeep down), but the stress of each weekly quiz, each midterm, etc. piled up a heavy weight on top of that love. Finally, all grades aside, I’m able to uncover and embrace that nerdy love :)

2. My brother got MARRIED! And thanks to not only his love for that beautiful woman, but also God’s gracious providence, my family and I found ourselves spending a week in London to celebrate. Sure, I missed a week of school and struggled to catch up, but everything London held for us made it allllllll worth it. We spent a day or two exploring Central London (Harrod’s Food Hall = earthly heaven) and the rest of the time preparing everything needed for the wedding. God showed up oh-so-beautifully on the day of the wedding, bringing us sunshine (a rare occasion in London winters), happy tears, warm hearts, and gratitude unable to be measured by even the world’s biggest tablespoon.

3. I’m actually loving my classes this quarter. Yup – you heard me. I LOVE my classes! Wait, I might be getting ahead of myself. Two of my three classes have captivated my interest more than any other class EVER: biochemistry and nutrition in aging. The third, the history of the trans-atlantic slave trade, is a bit less captivating (maybe all the inhumane torture and shameful, ignorant cruelty stands in the way of grabbing my interest). At the end of the day, studying isn’t really my main hobby, but when my classes pertain to my passions and said hobbies, studying becomes much more feasibly and even enjoyable. Let that be a word of advice to all you soon-to-be and current students – study subject(s) you’re passionate about!

4. In the near future, I see a BIG wide opening in my schedule, which I’ll explain because it’s like half-up, half-down in terms of its placement in this post. It’s an “up” because it’s been a necessity for months, but I haven’t been allowing God enough say in how I schedule my life. Wow – that whole sentence sounds terrible. God needs the ultimate say in my life’s schedule, not just a little piece of it. eye roll. Anyway, I’ll come back to this later.

DOWNS

1. I quit my job. I am no longer an employed, working woman. To connect what I was just talking about, I decided to stop working at the best donut company ever (*cough cough* SLO DO CO.) simply because I need to breathe. I need to allow God full control and trust Him in every aspect, especially my schooling and income. My constant working throughout the past three months provided me with an income bigger than my head (okay, my head isn’t big enough to justly fit into that comparison, but it is pretty big so I thought like idk why not), and while that was extremely beneficial in helping my parents support me, it was also a bit harmful. I’d finish working on a Saturday, absolutely e x h a u s t e d and convince myself that I could go out and “reward” myself for such hard work with a new pair of leggings, dinner at the Whole Foods salad bar (all my health-nut foodies know what I’m talking about), or something along those lines. So, yeah, my paycheck was pretty fat, but I slimmed it down rather quickly and needlessly. Now that I’ve decided to stop working (and in its place, focus on school + myself + my blog), I’ll be earning less money and asking God for the wisdom and control to spend what I do earn more wisely.

2. Along with this theme of emptying my way-too-full plate of unnecessary life items, I’ve had to let some potential relationships – well, actually it’s just one – turn down a road I previously hoped it wouldn’t. Why? I asked myself that question A LOT in the decision-making process, but with God constantly placing on my heart the possible outcomes of NOT taking the initiative (and, of course, my best friends just looking out for me), I couldn’t ignore the fact that my letting this nagging thing go is only for my good. Ultimately, it boiled down to self-respect. I love myself too much and I know how much I AM loved already to not let an unhealthy situation go. You know? So, I guess it’s got quite a bit of “UP-ness” wrapped up inside, too :)

3. While the trip to London for my brother’s wedding took obvious priority over my classes, I’m now playing the challenging catch-up game. You know, the one where you tell yourself you’ll definitely stay on top of studies during your vacation, and then that doesn’t happen, so you arrive back home and you’re like AHHHOMGEVERTYHINGSLOWDOWNPLEASE. Trying to cram for two midterms (something I’m proud to say I’ve never done, until this point) is like trying to catch Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt in the Olympic 100M dash. Lol not possible.

GOALS

Eeeeeep! This is the part I’m most excited to share :) can you tell? Now that I’ve cleared off my life-plate of commitments that contributed to it’s over-piling, I’ve set some goals for the next few months that I cannot wait to walk with God towards!

Note: this is in no particular order of importance.

1. More blogging – yaaaaaaaaaaay! This one was an automatic priority for me in terms goals, but I had to warm my parents up to the idea at first. Of course, I do need some sort of income, and that’s where this baby comes into play. At the moment, it won’t provide a stable income for me, but the more I work on it (and believe me, I want nothing more), the more credibility I’ll build and the more I’ll be able to earn in the future. What can you expect? More workouts (sustained energy thanks to DrinkRE energy shots), more recipes (featuring products like NuttZo nut + seed butter), more faith posts, and more nutrition advice. Get excited – I sure am :)

Oh, and  Eat Healthy Designs , of course! 

Oh, and Eat Healthy Designs, of course! 

2. More “Jesus-time”. If this list were in a particular order, this number would undoubtedly come first. By the end of last quarter (my busiest 11 weeks ever), I’d never felt more drained – physically and spiritually. Adding up 20-hour-workweeks + endless hours studying for organic chemistry + hours needed to let my body even slightly catch up to the workload I expected from it resulted in practically no time to just sit and breathe and think and p r a y. I felt so guilty for allowing such an accumulation, but God does not want my guilt, so I’ve snapped out of it and used His gracious forgiveness to tie a promise to my heart to put Him first from here on out. After all, how else am I going to fuel this quarter and all others (academic or not) yet to come?

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3. More relationships. My prioritization of working and studying last quarter left only a sliver of time for a social life. No, I’m not extrovert, but even us introverts still desire a bit of human interaction on a daily basis. For me, I wanted so desperately to hang out with my best girlfriends, but I couldn’t find the time. I can’t thank God enough for the courage to open up my schedule this quarter – I’ve already been able to soak up some quality time with my girls AND plan a few more girl-dates with lovely women I’m not super close with… yet :) I’m stoked to be able to devote more time to not only my bestest of friends, but also to whomever God is ready to plant in my life. I’ve applied for a position on Cal Poly’s Health Education team, in hopes of becoming a nutrition and/or mental health counselor. Prayers would be much appreciated :)

So, yeah. That’s the life of this busy-blogger lately. As always, thank you times a million for reading – your support allows my blog a place in this world! I would love to hear what’s new in your life! Leave a comment below or send me an email! 

Life Lately

Life, Thoughts, HealthHaley Hansen2 Comments

I will post this today I will post this today I will post this today. 

Breathe. Welcome to my life, everyone! Lately, life looks like my bedroom on my I-don't-know-what-to-wear days, or maybe a beat-up vacuum, running around on auto-pilot, trying to suck up as many crumbs (aka items on my to-do list) as possible as quickly as possible. 

Last night was the first night - no, the first time - in months I've sat down to really spend time with Jesus and only Jesus. Heck, I practically buckled myself to the couch just to keep from uncontrollably getting up to either finish homework or wash dishes or let myself fall asleep. Honestly, focusing on Him but also r e l a x i n g was HARD. My mind constantly swerved off track, but God graciously placed it back where it needed to be. 

Finals, work, and everything else filling up my schedule have kept me busy enough to keep me from finding time to post anything I've had in mind here, but like I did last night, I shoving all else aside for the moment because I want to and I need to and I should :) so, here's my life lately...

UPS

  1. I'm almost done with Fall quarter! And organic chemistry! Part of me hates it - the tricky questions, the demanding time-requirement, the hard-a$$ exams - and the other part finds such inexplicable satisfaction in drawing out mechanisms that turn acetals to imines and back. Call me weird, I get that all the time. 
  2. I just hit 19K followers! Well, I shouldn't even squeeze myself into that sentence. 19K followers here would not even exist without God - it's allllll Him :) but seriously, how in the world did all of this happen? My eating disorder? I guess that's kind of the root of this all, in the most beautiful way possible. Had I not suffered and survived, and held God's hand through it, I wouldn't have much to say here. At the end of each day, I'm more thankful than I ever thought I would be/could be for such a hellish few years fighting my own body. 
  3. I'm in one of the happiest, most peaceful states to date. With my body, that is. Two years ago, I deprived and overworked myself. One year ago, I idolized food and pitied myself. Now, God's restored my relationship with eating and blessed me with not only such confidence, but with real, sustainable HEALTH. My knees don't hurt (though I still don't run), my head isn't dizzy, my skin stays relatively clear, and my weight isn't dropping. I see myself in the mirror in a state I've never been in, and (for the moment, at least) I never want to leave. 
  4. I'm seeing the different paths and opportunities God lays before me. A BS in Nutrition can take me pretty much anywhere, but I've never really been able to pin down what I want to do after I graduate. Thankfully, God's been opening my eyes to a) passions unknown to even me, b) people who need help (help I can provide via my own life experiences and education), and c) various career paths down which I can travel. Though I still don't know what His plan is, I know He's definitely got one and I can't wait to follow His lead

DOWNS

  1. I'm feeling controlled by school. Yupp - like I'm a robot and my professors each hold their own controller. Frustrating? Like you wouldn't believe. Throughout the past year, I've repeatedly wondered what life would look if school didn't consume most of it, but I have to remind myself that I'm here for a degree, because I enjoy learning (underneath all the stress), and to expand knowledge. Ugh, but allllllll those hours to spend studying... snap out of it, Haley!
  2. I'm thirstier than ever for God. And while this may sound like more of an "UP", as it can only pull me closer to Him, it's here because I haven't been doing my part to lay everything at His feet in return for His refreshing spirit. With all I've piled on my plate - 15 units, 20 hours a week of work, and seemingly endless time studying with a drop or two of a social life scattered throughout - I frequently feel like I "can't find the time". A few days ago, I put my phone away during the times of day I'd usually be scrolling through IG or checking emails or responding to texts, and realized that, yes, I'm busy and time is not something I've got much of, but God doesn't ask for that. He just asks for my heart. I've promised Him that and just because 90% of the time I'm running to here and from there, finishing this assignment and studying for that exam, whatever it may be, I can ALWAYS spend time with God. It's not about finding/making the time, it's about acknowledging Him in every moment. 
  3. I'm ready, but God might not be. *sigh*. This one is not easy to admit, for some reason. It's probably my stubborn, I've-got-it-all-together-ness keeping me from opening up about it. BUT here it goes :) I'm ready for a relationship! And yes, like a romantic one involving a cute, Jesus-and-veggie-loving boy with whom I can snuggle on Friday nights when I'm too lazy to do anything else, with whom I can drool over and cook duhhh-licious vegan food with, and with whom I can just share things with (i.e. even deeper versions of this life update). One thing, though - I don't know if it's in God's plan. I've dated in the past couple of months, but nothing's worked out and I fear that this one or the next one (whenever those may occur) might not work, either. At the end of the day, I have two choices: 1) worry that I'll end up alone and sob as I spoon pints (yes, pints) of vegan ice cream into my mouth, OR 2) continue to pray over every relationship in my life and worship Him no matter my relationship status. Guess which I choose :) 

GOALS

  1. Barre, barre, and more barre. I'm obsessed, and if you watch any of my snapchat or instagram stories, you know that by now. Last week, I subscribed to Barre3 - a studio that allows me full access to any workout on the website for just under $25 a month. You'd better believe I'm already scrolling through workouts, planning when I'll challenge myself to this one or that one or, well, alllll of them. I can't wait to accumulate all the official gear and just absorb as much knowledge about the practice as possible! Get ready for some barre workouts making an appearance here :) 
  2. EMBRACE school. This one's gonna' be a tough one, but I'm challenging myself to it because, deep down beneath all the assignments and exams, I truly do enjoy what I'm learning in school. My chemistry professor explained to us alllllll about pesticides and nerve agents and such toxic chemicals used in WWII and I felt so nerdy in my fascination for it all. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire length of the class! My goal for next quarter is to find pieces of each of my classes that sparks such interest in me. Whether it be that I create scenarios in my mind to apply something to my life, or that I take fewer classes to allow myself more time/energy for each, I just want to feel excited about learning again. Oh, and I want my grades to reflect that...
  3. Post one recipe/nutrition tip/workout/update a week. One a week - I can do that. That's manageable. Believe me, if I could post here every single day, I'd be all over that. Buuuuuut school and homework and studying and work and those couple drops of a social life I mentioned earlier. As much as I wish I could just blog day and night, I do want to soak up as much as I can of all that this time in my life has while I have it. That being said, I think one post a week is a solid balance point.

Ahhhh, so that's life lately! Again, THANK YOU for your constant support and love. Thank you for reading and for spending time here :) As always, if you've got any questions, suggestions, or anything else, post them below or send them over to me in an email! 

(eating) Disordered Holidays

Life, Thoughts, HealthHaley Hansen2 Comments

This is the first Thanksgiving in four years I'm celebrating without an eating disorder. Since my junior year of high school, each year around this time brought me such stress and anxiety. My two favorite holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas - fell prey to the hands of my ED and soon became my two least favorite days of the entire year. How in the world can that happen? If you've ever gone through an ED, you know how. 

I'm writing this for readers who stand in both positions - the loving family member/friend, and the struggling person him/herself. I don't have all the answers to eliminate the ED today or tomorrow or even by Christmas, though I wish I did. I do, however, know the everyday challenges from the perspective of one who's suffered from an ED, and I've witnessed others going through one. In other words, I've stood in both positions, and I'm here to offer advice to both parties to help ease the stress and difficulties this disorder brings during the holiday season. 

AN ED: WHAT'S IT LIKE?

Well, it's like you're under the control of something you can't identify or see. You can hear it, though, and all it does is tell you that you're not good enough, that you're overweight, that you're ugly, and that you absolutely need to change (emphasis on YOU). An ED whispers those thoughts in your ear every single day - when you see yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning, when you sit down for breakfast (if you even have the appetite), when you zip up your once favorite pair of jeans, all the way until you're crawling back into bed at night. It holds a microphone - no, a megaphone - and gives not a care as to how loud its shouting these destructive insults and demands. 

I guess there's one tiny benefit - it does some math for you! But, of course, it uses that skill against you by constantly counting your calories and displaying that number on a huge illuminated billboard (whose lights never burn out)  in the back of your mind. Nevermind - it's no benefit at all. 

It's sad. It's scary. It's painful. It's confusing and unknown. It's fueled by self-hate and comparison. It's void of love, freedom, joy, and peace. It blames YOU and tells you that YOU caused all of this because, at some point in your life, you ate too much and didn't workout enough. 

We've never hosted Thanksgiving at our house, but our family friend invited us over every year for the feast, dessert, and good company. Nerves churned my stomach in the morning, as I spent an hour or two in the gym, trying to burn as many calories as I could even though I know I wouldn't be eating anything worthy of such exercise (i.e. pie, stuffing, casserole, etc.), and then paralyzed me later in the day as I walked into the kitchen of the hostess's house. I swallowed the lump in my throat as best I could, despite the discomfort, and pretended this monster inside me didn't exist. I helped prep dishes, set the table, and made conversation with other guests as an attempt to pull myself as far from the table as possible. If I could've skipped the entire meal, I probably would have. 

Did you hear that? Skipped. Thanksgiving. No one makes that choice to allow this monster such control. I still don't know how it finds its way in, but it does and, for lack of better words, it. sucks. 

An array of fine cheeses, meats, pickled veggies, bread and other appetizers left no room on the table for anything I'd even consider touching. My dinner plate held nothing but a few sweet potatoes (mashed with butter was the only option), lean turkey breast, and greens (I cringed at the sight of dressing). Pie or any other dessert? Ha. Funny. 

Swallowing the lump in my throat meant also trying to convince myself that no one knew, that no one suspected anything or worried at all, but I'm blessed with way too many loved ones for that ever to be true. I couldn't ignore my parent's tired, emotionless eyes as they glanced at my plate. I couldn't drown out their questions as to why I skipped dessert. And worst of all, I couldn't blame them because I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't do anything about it. I couldn't rip my body open and yank out the monster, no matter how badly I wished I could. 

HERE'S THE THING PEOPLE MIGHT NOT REALIZE: 

You look at me, several sizes smaller than I once was, probably looking worn out, a tad stressed, and all the while pretending none of this is happening. You see that something is wrong. You don't see ME - the Haley you've known for however many years - and you're concerned. I know, and I understand. What you and many others might not understand is that I don't see myself either. I look different to you, and I look, sound, think, act, and feel like a stranger to myself.

I don't even know who I am. I don't know what monster has crept inside me and woven itself into my every thought. I don't feel like me, I don't look like me, and I h a t e it. 

On the worst of days - yes, the holidays were some of them - when the ED created a record-breaking number of destructive thoughts and performed stage-worthy acts of family tension, stress, and arguments, I felt like I had to crawl into bed with it. Imagine battling your most hated enemy all day. My ED's favorite weapons severed ties between my parents and me, lied to those I hold close to my heart, and - for a short time - went so far as to convince me that everything I believed about the love of the Lord was false. 

He isolated me so that the only thing I could see, hear, feel, trust was him inside my head. He couldn't have cared less about backing away for the holidays to allow me time with my family. No, that could lead to healing, and he just wouldn't have that. 

YOU'RE IN ONE OF TWO POSITIONS if you're reading this: 1) you know these experiences and you deal with these feelings yourself, or 2) you recognize these characteristics when you see someone you know/love. Here's what you can do, whether you fit with the first or the second. 

1) First, I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I wish I had a snap-your-fingers-and-poof-its-gone answer, but I don't. I do, however, know the solution - yes, there IS a solution :) there is peace, there is self-love and forgiveness, there is restored relationships with food. There is a Man who sees you as the most beautiful, majestic, perfect, worthy YOU that you could ever imagine. He is your Father, and He loves you beyond belief. He's created you and a prosperous plan for your life. He hates the monster and will rip him out, should you surrender to Him. I surrendered when I finally understood that no one and nothing else could ever truly heal or satisfy me. One of the characteristics of an ED - one that's felt more than seen, I think - is this longing for something. For me, I longed for control and for this certain perfection, though if you asked me to draw a picture of what it looked like, I wouldn't have been able to. God holds no picture of perfection we must achieve in order to receive His love. Rather, He holds a picture of perfection that He graciously changes us into when we receive, accept, embrace His love. He doesn't have standards. He has peace. He doesn't have size charts. He has forgiveness. 

2) Most important, know that this person is not making a conscious decision to allow this monstrous ED such a prominent place in his/her life. Know that this person is not striving for attention or pity, but rather for some sense of control (in the moment) and confidence (in the long run). Know that the environment around which food is served, holidays especially, will change. ED's transform beloved, savored, cherished food into an enemy feared, despised, and avoided at all costs. Know that it's not only this environment around the holiday table - it's everywhere. An ED creeps into family relationships, friendships, sports, academics, and everywhere between and beyond. To state it rather simply, this person is suffering. This person is drowning, pulled beneath the crashing waves by a monster who sees such destruction as success. Know that most smiles you see on this person, when in a food-centered environment - might not be real. If they are, however, you've clicked. You've achieved something extremely special and worthy of a mental photograph. This person's heart is smiling, shining bright for once :) because of you. 

YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED

"Will I ever recover?" - a question I've dealt with for the past several months. I've answered both "no" and "yes", and I guess, now I think it depends on your definition of "recovery". I believe I am recovered, as of May 22, 2016 - the day I whole-heartedly dedicated my life to the Lord. It was my admission of my weakness. It was my official surrender. It was God's acceptance and embrace. Since then, I've had a few struggles with food, and during those I've wondered if I had truly recovered. The Lord comforted me in reminding me that recovery does not mean perfection. Recovery means I no longer rely on food for satisfaction beyond my stomach's satiation. I might still eat a bit too much here and there. That's okay. I probably will - no, I definitely will - still focus as much as possible on healthy, whole, plant-based foods. That's also okay. I will NOT, however, allow fear of foods outside those categories to bring me to a state of nervous paralysis, or worse, starvation. 

"How can I stay balanced without obsessing?" Remember where your purpose is. My purpose is in God. My beauty is in the fact that I am His daughter, that He's seen me worthy enough of saving. My heart, my passion, my life is dedicated to sharing that story. Okay, less serious ones? Well, I remind myself that this moment - right here, wherever you are - is temporary. That donut, that cheese quesadilla, that piece of bread will not last forever. And you can view that two ways: 1) go ahead! eat it. you stick to your routine 95% of the time, you don't keep a bag of them in your pantry, and this moment out with friends or family or whoever might not be here tomorrow or next week. taste the treat :) OR 2) it's not life or death if you do or don't eat it. if you truly don't want it - if you're full, if you're tired, if you're thirsty, etc. - no one is forcing it down your throat. your loved ones will still love you. your friends (your TRUE friends) will still laugh with you and include you. This one treat will not up your jean size, or cancel out those squats, or totally demolish your routine. It's. One. Treat. Eat it if you want, or be confident in your choice not to. 

"Why am I not reaching my fitness goals? How can I reach my fitness goals while still eating enough/healthy/vegan/etc.?" I planned out a certain fitness goal a few years ago (I was a bit overweight at that time, so it was okay), but I chased after it - no, sprinted without any breaks - and I eventually did reach it. For two years, I kept myself at that size, but it was hard work. I rarely ever went out with friends, I stuck to my strict workout schedule, I NEVER ate anything outside my comfort zone (my first donut felt like the biggest decision in years), and I didn't listen to my body. When I fell in love with veganism, God showed me just how much I'd been depriving my body. My ED did everything in its power to prevent me from gaining weight, from "loosening up", and from trying anything different (workouts or food or lifestyle/routine). But after that night I surrendered everything up to God, I apologized to my body over and over and over. I hugged myself, I rubbed my legs, I relaxed my stomach, I stilled my arms. I finally loved myself because I knew I was fully, completely made whole in my Father who couldn't see me as more perfect than I already am. My weight went up, and I struggled to swallow that, but I concluded that my fitness goal wasn't what God had planned for me. I spent years fighting my body - fighting God - and I lost. I lay on the battleground tired, hungry, nutrient-deficient, no longer able to run, broken-hearted. But God was never my opponent. After all, what kind of opponent would pick me up off the ground in such a state, cradle me in His arms, heal my wounds, feed me, men my broken heart and promise to STILL. LOVE. ME. 

My fitness goals were a size 2, a 6-pack set of abs, and a few marathons down the road, among others. I'm not sure exactly what God's plans are, but I know they've thus far involved achievement of a healthy weight, increased muscle mass, elimination of exercise addiction, with more to come. Ask God to reveal His plans to you. 

"How do I not eat too much, but not too little?" Okay, anyone else have this answer? *crickets*. Yeah, nobody knows guys! I still struggle with this. Sometimes I lie in bed at 10:30 PM, feel a little growl in my tummy, and have to remind myself that I won't gain five pounds if I eat a piece of whole-grain toast right now to satisfy this hunger. Other times, I walk (or waddle) away from the table absolutely stuffed! I have to remind myself here that I still won't gain that five pounds because I never stuff myself like this. Thanksgiving just passed (and hopefully fear of the holiday along with it) and I couldn't have eaten one more bite. We cleaned our dinner plates and, an hour later, pulled out dessert. Did I have a scoop (or two or three) of that vegan gelato? You better believe I did! I allowed myself to indulge, to pull out the stretchy pants, to overeat. It's a holiday! I didn't do it because everyone else did, but rather because I truly wanted some of each dish/dessert. Holidays aside, I sometimes still accidentally overeat, but I look at it as a learning experience. I know that amount was too much for me, so next time I'll eat less. Beating myself up will only make me feel worse, and starving myself the next day will trash my metabolism. Just remember - tomorrow is a brand new start. 

"Is it okay to workout everyday?" Depends on your definition of "workout". I'm typically in the gym 5/7 days a week. Now, my definition of "workout" changes day to day. Those five days vary - HIIT (high-intensity interval training), weight training, LISS (low-intensity, stead-state cardio), swimming, and yoga. Those remaining two days usually consist of long, exhausting shifts at work (at a donut shop? oh yeah.) or, if God's feeling extra miraculous, a relaxing walk or bike ride. I've been working out long enough to discover my limits, and I do NOT push myself past those. I do NOT sign up for a HIIT or spin class if my knees ache or if my hamstrings are feeling too tight, etc. Exercise is one of my absolute favorite things to do, but I've struggled with addiction, as I know many of you have/do. That's why God took running away, and replaced it with more dependence on HIM for my fulfillment. A few years ago, I feared skipping a workout on any day, but I've learned that skipping one (sometimes two or three) is what my body needs! Our bodies crave rest, which is actually when muscle-building happens, but that's a topic for another time. It is okay to workout everyday, if your body feels truly energized and like it wants to do so. Don't force anything. 

I'll finish the post off here, though I could go on for days. If you still have unanswered questions, please do not hesitate to leave them in a comment below or send them over in an email. 

My prayer for this post is that God's light shines brightest. While ED's are evil, destructive, unfortunately possibly fatal, recovery IS attainable. Someone asked me, "Are you fully recovered?" I wanted to respond with a confident "yes", but I had to stop and think...

"I've restored my relationship with food," I eventually concluded. Full recovery just doesn't sound realistic, but rather one of those terms for which one solid definition does not exist. And even if it is/does, I don't know if I want to reach that state. I fear I'd be too confident in such an achievement and step out onto a lily pad, relying less on God for strength, direction, peace, hope, etc. I've restored my relationship with food, but I still face struggles, and those I lay at God's feet, promising to love myself and Him as much as I can. 

Don't let that freak you out - I'm happier now in my life than I ever have been. Just because I don't say "I'm fully recovered" by no means implies that I wrestle with that ED monster like I used to. God so faithfully crushed that demon for me :)

FAITH: Living Near to God

Faith, Health, LifeHaley HansenComment

Father, just pull me in close to You. Wrap me up in Your arms and don't ever let me squeeze my way out. My deepest desire, underneath the the most worldly ones that cloud my mind everyday, is to feel Your presence as if it were my backpack, or my shirt, or my earrings. I want nothing to stand between You and me. 

This weekend, Cru hosted its annual Fall Retreat. I could go on and on, writing pages about the friendships I developed, the new faces I met, the beautiful beach-side weather, and how I found vegan options everywhere we went, but I can do that anytime. What's most important here is the paragraph in Italics above - that was my prayer before and during Fall Retreat, but it's transformed since then.

The theme of this weekend was road-tripping with the Lord. One question the speaker repeatedly asked was, "Who do you follow?" with an emphasis on who and not what. At first, I thought, I follow Jesus, duh, but as I stepped back from my ego I realized that sometimes I don't. Sometimes, I follow my parents' suggestions, or a vegan-vlogger on Instagram, or my best friends when I don't know what to do or when I can't hear God's answer to my prayers. "Trace the master," the speaker said, as I sunk into my realization. When I was a kid and didn't know how to color, I traced the outline of another picture. Do I trace God's word and His teachings when I feel lost? Does my life paint a picture of my faith in my Father who saved me? 

When I couldn't bring myself to answer these questions, I prayed those words above, begging God to pull me in and strap me in tight. In Exodus 33:14, the Lord tells Moses that He is with him everywhere. 

The Lord replied, ‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you.’
— Exodus 33:14, NLT

The Lord is always with me. The Lord is always with me. The Lord is always with me. Then why do I not feel Him go through those dry spells when I can't feel God there with me? God showed me His answer to that by directing me to Philippians 4:8-9...

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your eyes on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me - everything you heard form me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:8-9

...and I was like, "Ohhhhhh, gotcha." I hadn't been tracing God. I'd been tracing my parents, my favorite bloggers/vloggers, my best friends (no matter how in love with God they may be), and myself. I know that there is no right or wrong way to pray, but I think God was waiting for me to realize that I am the one who needs to draw closer to Him, not Him to me. When I gave my life to Christ, God pulled me in, but as distractions and "to-do's" come about, I let them squeeze in between that heavenly embrace. 

God never disappears completely. He never takes the exit ramp when road-tripping with me. The only time I can't see Him is when I forget to use my windshield wipers to de-fog - when my mind is juggling school, midterms, work, friendships, family, boys, myself, and blah blah blah. While those are all important to a certain extent, by giving them too much attention I inflate my ego, fog my windshield, and involuntarily release myself a little more from that heavenly embrace. 

I want to be aware of my surroundings - my family, best friends, favorite bloggers, schoolwork, etc. - but my deepest desire is to be so intertwined/absorbed/wrapped up in God's presence that my surroundings remain surroundings rather than examples/tracers/too-powerful-distractions. My goal is for my life to paint a picture of God's beautiful love, grace, and mercy. It doesn't have to be pretty, because that might signify too much focus on the opinion of my surroundings. 

I'm not a perfect artist - in fact, I'm not even really an artist according to the world's definition. I am a student holding a pencil, tracing God's image. God is in the car with me on my life's road-trip, and He wants me to (as cliche as this may be) sit back and enjoy the ride. :) 

So Father, this is me taking your hand, buckling myself in to the passenger seat, picking up the pencil, ready to follow you, to trace your steps. As these worldly wants and "needs" cloud my mind, help me de-fog. Honk the horn if You have to. YOU are my deepest desire and my most vital necessity. YOU are the warmest, most comforting and rejuvenating embrace, and I want to live, rest, eat, breathe in Your arms. Thank you for always welcoming me back in :) 

FAITH: Running My Race

Faith, Life, HealthHaley HansenComment

On the track, the popularity and usage of this verse is equivalent to that of Philippians 4:13. To me, it's overused and placed in the wrong context, so it's never been one of those key verses I keep in the back of my mind. I've also had trouble understanding what "race" God is talking about, but He made everything clear to me this morning in church. 

By "us", God is pointing to each of us in His kingdom as individuals. Read it as though God is talking to YOU - not "us", not your bible study, not your family. Just you. Run the race God has set for ME. Okay, but what race? In Jeremiah 29:11, God assures us that He has a plan for our lives, and that plan is this race He's referring to in Hebrews. 

I'll be the first to admit that finding community in Christ was not only the highlight of my freshman year, but also the very blessing that equipped me with everything and more I needed to thrive. BUT alone time, quiet time, one-on-one time with God is absolutely essential. Establishing, maintaining, and prioritizing that relationship first is the foundation for eternal life with Him - it's the beginning of the race and the endorphins that fuel endurance throughout. 

When the pastor dove deeper into this verse, God reminded me of habits like comparison, jealousy, and pride.... yeah, guilty. They seem almost impossible to avoid - magazines practically advertise the powers of photoshop more than clothing, cars, homes, etc., and the constant encouragement to buy more, do more, be more doesn't leave us alone. While giving in to those habits is easy, it's also like trying to run another person's race, and no matter how hard we push or how fast we run, we can't win someone else's race. 

God has already written my story and your story - He did so even before we were born - and He wants us to spend our lives with Him, reading that story. Be the main character; embrace every personality, every beauty mark, every imperfection - God smiles when we thank Him like that. 

I haven't been able to think about much else besides this topic today (except the fries I'm baking right now - I hope heaven smells like this), and I can hear God whispering to me about how it applies to my eating habits. Lately, I've bee fascinated by veganism and experimenting with it. Eating purely fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts/beans/seeds seems to bring so much energy to those who adopt that lifestyle. If hundreds of other people love it, and I already eat similarly, why wouldn't I love it, too? 

Long story and lots of descriptive bodily functions short, it hasn't been working. I'm constantly hungry, tired in the afternoon, and bloated all day. No matter what any Insta-famous vegan says, the amount of sugar I feed my body in eating that much fruit just doesn't seem quite right. Oh, and, um, Greek yogurt? My bestie. Avocado + toast + fried egg = my favorite math equation. 

That's just me - those are some of the qualities God blessed me with. I love animals and I will never put animal flesh in my mouth again, but I don't think I was designed for a completely vegan diet. I feel energized, hydrated, satisfied, and healthy on a simple vegetarian diet. Whatever works for the HCLF vegans works for them, but not all of it works for me.

However, comparison, a little jealousy, and selfish pride still get the best of me. Sometimes I wish I could eat eight bowls of banana "ice cream", a farm-full of sweet potatoes, and bread to feed the 5,000, too. I long for the clear skin associated with veganism, and I cheer (sometimes rather loudly) for myself when I see ten new followers on my Instagram profile, but those concerns only slow me down in my race. Constantly craning my neck to check the pace of runners behind me or next to me pushes me farther behind. 

Replace those thoughts with gratitude, with a little self-love and positivity. Respect yourself and appreciate and embrace your character in God's story for you. Run your race to see Him at the finish line. As with all marathons, your muscles will ache, your throat will burn, and your mind might let some discouragement in every once in a while, but God's words are here to rejuvenate you every single day. He wants nothing more than to help you run your best race ever. 

God's pretty cool, huh?