Because I DON’T Have to!

I’m back!!! At least for a little while, Christmas break is going to be jammed packed of fun and life-learning experiences. And they already began. But all of those deserve their own separate attention. But I will leave you hanging with some intriguing details… Macados, twiin Christmases, Waffles, Exams, Rudolph, Fun > Studying, Snowball Camp, Atlanta, GRE, Research, Toll-Receptor 4?, The Hobbit, Les Mis… the list goes on and on!  But how fortunate that today is Tuesday and I have time for a #FreEDom post from the lovely Sloan’s campaign. It’s not going to be a long one, but a simple revelation and challenge to myself for this upcoming break and new year. I have some other thoughts on perfection for a future post but I am waiting for something. Geeze I am not being very revealing am I? Sorry, you will understand when the time comes. For now let’s find #freEDom!

Strength in Freedom

I have recounted time and time again my addiction to exercise. Over the course of the past two years I did it too often, became obsessed and sacrificed a lot of life because I was working out for a good 3 hours in the mornings on that stupid elliptical. Add in the 5-6 hours I spent preparing and eating meals and most of my day was consumed by exercise and food thoughts and it can safely and accurately be stated that the rest of the day was consumed by nonstop studying. No fun, friends, or relaxation in the mix. My therapist challenged me to stop the addiction in its tracks before my ED had the chance to come back. And to look for areas of fun in life to replace the loss I was bound to find when giving up the exercise. I fought this, and I fought this hard. But in the time since Thanksgiving and my first freEdom post something has changed within me, something is not the same…

I don’t have time to exercise every day. At least not formally strap on sneakers and workout clothing, get to the gym, and work up a sweat. School is so much more important to me. And I do a lot outside of the classroom. I study hard. We are talking massive amounts of flashcards to the point where I memorize my notes and then take that memorization and put it into application. Because it is not enough to memorize this information, I have to understand it. OK sorry for the rant but I love school and I could talk about studying all day.

Source: google.com via Laura on Pinterest

Exercise is not my passion. My passion as stated above is school. More specifically as I have discovered this year, metabolism. I could talk about enzymes and their substrates and their regulation all day long. You would be bored, but I would be on cloud nine. We all have different passions in life, but I think with the obesity epidemic and the new popularity of healthy living communities a lot of people believe that if they don’t love to wake up and exercise every day there is something wrong and that they are not living a healthy life. That just isn’t the case.

So here it is the point of this longer than expected post. I love exercise. And recently realized I don’t mind running. Short distances mind you and at a slow little turtle pace. But I don’t want to do it every day. But I sure feel like I have to. Take today, I am not really sure I want to go to the gym for that sweat session everyone says is necessary. I know I will enjoy it, but my question to myself has to be what are my motives? Burning calories, reducing stress, smiling, feeling guilt without it? Yesterday I wanted to run not for the calories or the feeling of guilt, but because I hadn’t in a few days and missed it. Healthy mindset that I am very proud of. I want that mindset every day of my life so here is my challenge to myself: Practice being OK with not wanting to work out and only work out when I am doing it for the right reasons. If I find myself lacing up those sneakers because I feel the need to burn calories in order to eat what I want or feel good about my body I am doing it for the wrong reasons and wasting valuable time that could be spent studying, reading articles, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing.

 

So that is the challenge. Will it be immediate? Nope. Just like with breaking the exercise addiction it will take some time and effort on my part. It will take me forcing myself to listen and respond to the reasons I am heading to the gym. Especially when there will be times over break when I have all of the time in the world and could spend it all working out, planning meals, eating meals, and then planning my next workout based on those meals. I am up for it. And I know I will have the support from my family and friends as I really work towards this mental health I never got back in my recovery.

It’s Craazzzyy Breakdown Kind of Stuff

Crazy things tend to happen to a college student during exam weeks…

Add in it happened to be Halloween week, and well the superstitious might start jumping to conclusions.

Y’all I am coming off one of the more stressful weeks of my academic career– Abnormal Psychology Exam, Metabolic quiz, Science of Food Exam, ServSafe Exam, and a Metabolic Exam all in the course of a week… And although I took off work in advance because I knew this week would be hell (there is just no good way of putting it), my work didn’t follow through and some poor students were expecting a tutor that didn’t/couldn’t show- because I was off!!! I am also really terrible at communication and by Wednesday I had a lot of emotion and stress built up, but I was playing it cool hoping that someone would just read my mind and know I needed support…

I have a big problem with thinking people will just know what I need… It happened with my eating disorder a lot. I expected my parents to read my mind and know I was uncomfortable, or know that I really wanted dessert but was too afraid to say something because I thought I would be judged on my choice. But I do realize deep deep down that this is so distorted and I cannot expect my mom or my dad or my best friends to just know that something is wrong. And if I would just express my emotions as I feel them it would probably save me a lot of tears and snuffles.

But that didn’t happen this week. By Wednesday I was stressed beyond belief as I made a mistake on a metabolic quiz (which just doesn’t happen to me– but I also need to learn that it’s OK that it did) and was unable to focus on some of the pretty amazing stuff going on in my life like beginning to plan this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Walk (which is going to be awesome!). And instead I was exhibiting quite a few cognitive distortions, such as all or nothing thinking, and selective abstraction (told you I had a Psych exam!). By Wednesday I had convinced myself that no one could help me and that my mom was mad at me… When will I learn?

But mom came to the rescue (like she always amazingly does) and calmed me down. We developed more communication that makes more sense for us, and I realized how much I need her during times of stress. I cannot shut myself away with my flashcards and notes and make excuses like I don’t have time. I do have time or should make time to call my mom, do something fun, and give myself a destress moment. and this time should not just be my meal time… Which has been occurring lately.

So on that note, I went through stress and came out stronger (am I surprised?). My relationship grew even more with my mom (which I didn’t think was possible) and I realize there are quite a few things I need to work on. But I am going to tackle them one at a time. So give me a week of time to think through all of this and then I am going to post ONE goal I have for myself to work on. And I want to stick to it. This ain’t no New Year’s Resolution.

OK but time for a little less seriousness… If you know me, my recovery became solid when I realized I could use my relationship with food as a way to to see what is going on in my life. Well I did that this week. I was all over the place, eating way too many vegetables with way too big of portion sizes that of course only led to my sensitive stomach becoming bloated and my head becoming uncomfortable with thoughts. But some good things did come out of my crazy psych, servsafe, science of food, metabolic mind. CREATIONS!

Baked Pumpkin with Banana, Almond Butter, Flax with a Sweet Egg Banana and Almond Butter Flax Omelet + Cinnamon Laughing Cow Cream Cheese…

Savory turned Sweet!

My sweet tooth was totally satisfied and sweet omelets may or may not be my new thing. Seriously my roomie has a sweet egg a lot but I normally just enjoy the smell and not the taste. This night I ventured to her side of the stove and whisked up my egg and egg whites with some pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, sliced some banana to fill the omelet and topped it with pumpkin seeds and more bananas and cinnamon, and there is some ground flax and laughing cow cinnamon cream cheese (SO GOOD!) in there for good measure. O and that cauliflower floret? I don’t know I told you my mind was a little loopy.

When You Run Out of All Nut Butter During Exams

And You Want Your Favorite Yogurt + Frozen Banana + PB + Flax Breakfast

You just have to improvise and sub the bowl for an empty PB jar and have what may be the best breakfast ever to get you ready for a morning of being a metabolic know it all in review and conquering a Science of Food exam

So last week was up, down, sideways full of smiles and tears. But I gained so much more than the knowledge I was tested on. Life lessons people. I was tested in more than just academics, I was tested in life and maybe I didn’t get an A… but I did get through it and am going to be so much better for it. I have a break before a week like this hits again. Time to study up and maybe do it better the next time!

Streesy Sweet Potato

There is something comforting in knowing I have a “go to”

In recovery from my eating disorder I had many security blankets. Making food preparation important, measuring everything with a scale or a measuring cup, writing down everything I ate, blacking out calories on boxes, covering up mirrors… You get the picture.  But with time I was able to release a lot of these things and set them aside, either because I was just so sick of them or because I knew they had to go in order for my life to proceed. But something I have always gone back to in times of stress is my need for routine and my “go to” meals.

Routine keeps me sane sometimes. Take these next couple of weeks for example, I have a lot of exams coming up the week of Halloween (how is that for scary!) and the second week of November. That means late nights of studying and early mornings of bike riding in order to absorb all of the information. O and a large amount of flashcards! It also means I have no time to be stressing over food or pushing my eating disorder thoughts out every day. It means I need to go back to routine to keep that pesky anorexia out of my life for good so that it does not sneak up on me like it has done in the past. The more I am aware of the potential for triggers and invasion during times of high stress, the stronger and more independent of the illness I am able to be.

I have a “go to” meal. I get home late (8ish) most nights and I have yet to really start any work on days like Mondays and Tuesdays (or yesterday because we had our class ring premier!!!) because I work. Let me tell you there is nothing more frustrating than trying to help someone learn material and all they want is for you to do their homework for them. Add to that that you would ideally like to be working on learning your own material and studying for those couple of hours and you have a recipe for stress.

My Times of Stress Good Luck Exam Meal!

Microwaved Sweet Potato (from the farmer’s market last weekend!) with Trader Joe’s Raw Crunchy Almond Butter, Cinnamon, and Ricotta Cheese

Nothing extravagant, but then it wouldn’t be a very good easy go to meal would it? But it is packed with nutrients! I even added ricotta this time, which took it to a whole new level! Don’t be surprised if I tweet about adding maple syrup or honey to this combo in the near future because the idea is stirring in my head, and like I said I have a lot of exams in the near future.

By the way the reason this is “lucky” is because I am an extremely superstitious person. Last year before every Anatomy exam I have a bagel with nut butter and an apple. This year I have decided that a sweet potato dinner in necessary for the night before metabolic! Ideally a sweet potato in a far with either ricotta (because I am obsessed now!) or with Fage yogurt and flax. I tworked last exam (100 baby!) so I am sticking with this brain food 😉

I normally have my sweet potatoes with a delicious slightly still unripe banana. It is perfect for dipping into the side of almond butter (or other nut butter) I have set aside that was not used on the potato. But this week I had no time to even stop by the store that is literally 1 minute from my apartment to pick one up. So I chopped up a sweet yellow bell pepper, washed a couple grape tomatoes, and threw them in an ice cream bowl!

Yellow Bell Pepper with Grape Tomatoes… In an Ice Cream Bowl (which is the only reason I even took a picture)

Maybe kids would be more inclined to eat their veggies if they were in a pink ice cream bowl? Then again maybe I am just weird, but I swear the veggies tasted better from this bowl and I love these two veggies to begin with!

Do you have any go to meals?

How do you handle yourself in times of stress? Do you go back to routine and comfort?

Yup school has started

School has indeed started. I have taken 2 exams and I am now studying for two more this week (one today actually). I think I mentioned that school takes over my life, but I want to show you all some glorious moments from the past two weeks. Birthday, epic eats, parents visiting, studying…

Cue snapshot of life pictures since turning 21!

I have two awesome best friends! And Rebekah came from her college for the weekend! We went out to dinner the night before my special day, and tried out a new restaurant (to us) and it was amazing! I went back the next weekend with my parents as you will soon see.

SOOOOO we were supposed to go hiking… This is not hiking??? Yeah we got lost on the drive there and decided the mall would be a better bet. There is nothing like shopping in your hiking clothes to make you lose all caring about what people might think!

        My friend Stephanie (really tall one!) from way back in middle school goes to Tech now and Kailey got to meet her and Rebekah and I got to relive middle school memories with her for a little bit! Wow I feel old! Good thing I am still the same height!

Apple Pie martinis! First drink folks!

                  These were made with vanilla vodka that I bought! I did indeed call my mommy at the ABC store because I was so confused as to what to buy. That’s what happens when you wait to drink until you are the young and legal age of 21 🙂

Can you say sugar overload? So the waffle is four different flavors: Buckwheat, cinnamon buckwheat, chocolate buckwheat, and sweet potato. Topped with nuts, maple syrup, bananas, chocolate chips, and unpictured ice cream. Then we attempted to eat the pineapple cupcakes from my edible arrangement, BUT it was too much sugar for two of us (Rebekah and I, Kailey can put down some sugar! I admire this o so much!) and we refroze two of them (more for later!), Finally, Reese’s PB martini... Pretty, but TOO strong. Once diluted with milk I am told it was much better. I was done at this point, my stomach does not have a high sugar tolerance.

Gift from my best friend. Trashy romance to get me through stressful school? YES PLEASE!

My parents came last weekend and we had a blast! Being an only child, I really miss them when I am at school. I have to say though I am feeling more and more like an adult these days and the transition to a new “home” is going really well. But they are still my mommy and daddy and always will be.

Pizza and Beer. Classic. And I can split a pumpkin ale with my mom now! weird…

Fly over at a Virginia Tech football game. Seriously I love my school!

Night out with my parents! I ordered my first drink at a restaurant. I had no idea what I would like so the waiter kindly suggested a Pomegranate Cosmopolitan. Pretty good! I finished it, and was a tad loopy by the end of the night. It feels weird. Not sure how I feel about it, it won’t be happening frequently. Because honestly drinking doesn’t make me forget about the food, the calories, or the ED. I know some people who say it does. Not me. But I will enjoy an occasional drink for fun and celebration!

Speaking of food, do you see those beautiful risotto cakes? OMGsh as my roommate would say, “Party in my mouth!”

And so begins the study tales. And the end of this post. My mom gave me the idea of banana sandwiches- PB between banana slices. I love them and they are a cheap breakfast because bananas are so cheap! I am going to try to freeze them next so I will let you know how that goes! That is a letter my awesome pen pal of an old dance teacher sent me! She is so creative! like wow! Saving that for a long time. And finally that big white stack? Those are my flashcards for my metabolic exam today. Extreme? Maybe, but this is how I learn and I am not messing with what I know works. I am loving metabolic by the way, and all things chemistry. So now I am looking into graduate programs more than RD internships because I want to do more with metabolism and science. This morning in the shower I thought about how cool it would be to do research for my career and teach at the college level! Yup my dreams just keep spinning! I love it and can’t wait to look back 10 years from now and see where I really end up!

Wish me luck be back soon promise!