A Whole 30 Full of Nothing

Congratulations! You made it through January. 31 days full of hope, can do attitudes, intentions, and of course….“diets”. Between juice cleanses, Paleo, vegan, Keto, vegetarian, it’s hard to see straight. Did you see one or more of these flood your social media? If your feeds look like mine over half of your friends chose Whole 30 as their New Years diet of choice. For 30 days my feed was full of Larabars,  kale chips, strawberries, and why sugar (in all forms) and gluten is the devil, why you need to cleanse yourself by restricting your food in take, and most important a mindset that a majority of food(s) are bad.

Too me that doesn’t sound like a diet. It sounds like an eating disorder. Eating disorders are extremely deceptive and sneak up on you. They creep up in the middle of the night posing as a good dream–dreaming of pounds lost, a healthy intestinal tract, clear skin, a sense of worth because you made it thirty days with little food. ED’s and food restriction give you something that most people can’t, a feeling of superiority–which when you lack confidence this superiority feels really, really, really, really, good. But ED’s devour you and suck you in. Eating disorders like to make you think that you are in control but you aren’t! They are. ED’s manipulate science, buzz words, and use scare tactics to keep you under their thumb.

 

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Before you know it you have drank the (no sugar) Kool-Aid filled with collagen peptides and bone broth, you’re a “whole food expert”  giving everyone nutrition advice because you have done something that is seen as hardcore and valuable. Or  you give advice because you got a six week certification, so that means you are superior to someone who has a masters or doctorate.  If you have made it this far, another congratulations! If you disagree with me and want to blast me online go ahead, you won’t hurt me.

Hear me out though. This is why I write this. Here is a quote from one of Melissa’s blog posts,Food freedom is feeling in control of the food that you eat, instead of food controlling you.“. That right there is blatant eating disordered talk. To make it even more infuriating, she follows up with this,

“Food freedom doesn’t mean that you’re a perfect eater, however. It doesn’t mean you always make the “right” decision. It doesn’t mean you always stay on track, and never fall back into old habits. Food freedom means that when you fall off course, you don’t let it ruin your day (or your week), physically or emotionally. It means you always have a plan for returning to a place of healthy balance, gracefully. It means you recognize that life happens, but every “slip” is actually a learning experience, and your food freedom plan is that much more robust for these lessons.

Food freedom demands that you’re in this for the long haul. There is no hack for food freedom; no shortcut or quick fix. It’s you, working my 3-step Food Freedom plan, day in and day out, every single day. There are no weeks off. There is no “I’m on vacation, so I’m just not going to think about it.” You can’t disconnect from your body or your relationship with food when things get hard. Food freedom demands more attention than that.”

 

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This is prime example of the smooth operator that an ED is. It is mixed messaging at its finest. Sure this sounds good, we all want food freedom, but look at her language. Words such as: right (ED: terms good/bad), slip (ED term: relapse), demanding attention, and that you have to do it HER way are setting someone up for an eating disorder. Sure you may not give in to this aspect of it, However, someone who is upset with their life, looking for control, coping with a traumatic event, etc… this language and concept will lead them down an eating disorder path. Conversely if someone has orthorexia (obsession with clean eating/healthy eating) using Whole 30 is the perfect cover up. It gives them a reason that is societally ok to be this obsessive. Which as a recovery warrior is the last thing I want see.

I want to see women and men have food freedom because they want it, not because someone else told them to or because their diet is “less than”. I want them to find their own version of healthy by working with a dietician who can customize a program for them.  I want them to work out in a smart, evidence based manner, where the results are actually a lifestyle that is maintainable. Everyone deserves a healthy lifestyle but at an eating disorder free cost.

 

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For more articles about eating disorders and Whole 30 see the following:

 

***P.S-I am aware that there is a post about ED’s and Whole 30 on the Whole 30 blog. It is very generic and in my opinion glazes over some the of deeper issues that sets eating disorders apart from disordered eating (gateway to ED’s) and doesn’t take the seriousness of this issue.

 

 

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Official Diagnosis: You’re on My Last Nerve

If you have followed me over the past few years or know me in real life you are aware of my Phantom GI Issues. For five years these episodes have controlled my life. There were days when I could not get out of bed. There were days when I had to leave work early because I couldn’t stop throwing up. There were months where I lived on smoothies and liquid foods. There were dates with the hubby that had to be cut short because I got sick and would pass out. Then there was the time I had an attack at the OBGYN office; the hubs had to pick me up and I had to drink the orange sugar drink they give pregnant ladies. I lived in fear (and sometimes embarrassment) of knowing that any moment I could have something coming out of somewhere.

 

Over the years I have spent more time in doctor’s offices then I’d like to admit. I have lost my temper and swore off doctors all together. I have had ingested more radioactive tracers than a “healthy” person needs to. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “you’re too young to be here” or “too young to be having these issues” I’d have a brand new car. I had tests done that costs more than a new car done that came back with negative results. I have tried medicine, food, supplementation, and just living to get this under control. I had to listen over and over again to people telling me that I need to ingest essential oils and I’d be cured. That I don’t do enough yoga or meditation. These antidotes spun around me like a record on a record player.

 

I got to a point where I thought they were never going to figure out what’s wrong with me. It wasn’t my gallbladder, my hiatal hernia had been long cured, it wasn’t my small intestine  and it’s function, my colon, or more food allergies. While I almost felt like giving up a part of me kept fighting on. I knew eventually something would have to give and I would find out what was causing my distress. Even though it seemed like no one was listening to me that something was wrong (it started to have that girl who cried wolf vibe) I knew internally something was off. I just had to find the right doctor.

 

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After reading some research on a medicine I was taking, I began to think that maybe my nerves weren’t working. While I suffer from GAD and spent most of my life battling eating disorders, I thought that maybe somehow together they caused the nerves that go to my belly to stop working. If that was the case then maybe there is some way to stimulate them, just like the therapies that are out for Alzheimer’s and when you ESTEM a muscle when it has atrophied too much.  When I went to my new GI doctor we talked about that and he set me up for one final test. The results were positive! I finally got a result: I have gastroporesis/delayed stomach emptying. The nerves from my brain to belly in fact didn’t work. Since they don’t work I can’t tell if I’m full, hungry, or something in between.  I was so relieved. To think I finally had a diagnosis. That something was actually wrong with me! I wasn’t crazy.

 

With this new found relief came a whole new round of stress. Yup, the stress was still around. This time instead of worrying where the closest bathroom was I had to restructure my eating and lifestyle AGAIN. I’m not going to lie it was, and still is difficult. I had to stop eating vegetarian because I can’t digests lentils, beans, and most staples of a vegetarian die (bring it on to those who disagree with research and science). I’m slowly eating more mea and figuring out how to keep my veggie loving self happy. I have to eat small portions every few hours and eat very slowly.

 

While I still have some stress about eating, I feel relief in my diagnosis- almost a sense of peace. With this new found peace I am determined to finally have a healthy relationship with food. It will take some time but hopefully bite by bite food can restore how I view food once and for all.

 

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New Year, Not So New Me

Happy 2018! It’s that time of the year for New Year Resolutions, gym memberships, intention setting, manifesting, positive thinking, living life to the fullest,  and most importantly– #NewYearNewMe. Love it or hate it that is the mantra for January. Our feeds are filled with it, I admit I have used that hashtag myself. While I don’t mind the concept, deep down it isn’t what we think it is.

Whether you make resolutions or like me, set goals and intentions, they are filled with hope and the mindset of change. Our lists guide us every day in aiding us to make the best decisions that line up with our 2018 vision board. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months what begins to happen? Some of intentions/goals/resolutions may have subsided and gotten lost with that gym key fob or they may have fully transformed our lives. What changes do you notice? Maybe you are more peaceful. Maybe you have cultivated mindfulness. Maybe you go for a walk three times a week. Maybe you started a blog or vlog. Whatever it was…they are all external.

 

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But what about internally? Are you any different? If you were to sit with yourself and look deep down inside would you notice anything? Have you changed from a Type A bulldozer to a Type B cool cat? Have you overcome your introversion and became a mad extrovert? What about your values, morals, and things that make you tick? Did they change? I didn’t think so. That’s why #NewYearNewMe is a lie. It “changes” you outwardly but it doesn’t change who you really are.

I may be making intentions to go from a human doing to a human being, live life by The Four Agreements and 12 Steps, be impeccable with my word, take my ACSM Certified Ex. Physiologist exam by April, launch a Youtube channel and dance conditioning in the OKC Metro, blog every other week, become a better wife, and develop a healthy relationship food now that I finally know what is wrong with me; but I’m still Leslie. I will always be a Type A bulldozer who is highly competitive to a fault. I will always be a perfectionist but am choosing when to express it. I will always value kindness, respect, and treating everyone equally. I will always be awkward and quote movies in everyday conversation. And guess what…that’s ok.

 

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So you can’t really be a new you, just you who is making changes to live a life more fully. Are you embracing the #newyearnewme concept? What are you wanting your 2018 to look like? Share below!

To Those With Invisible Illnesses

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about invisibility. I’m not talking about the super power, I’m talking about things that can’t be seen. Like invisible illnesses. If you have followed me for some time or know me you are aware of my invisible illnesses: eating disorders, anxiety, un-diagnosed GI issues. But there are also more invisible illnesses: depression, other mental disorders, addiction, autoimmune diseases (fibro, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc…)With 1 in 5 adults experiencing or diagnosed with mental illness, and approx 50 million people living with an autoimmune disorder , chances are you have known someone who is suffering without you being aware of it it.

 

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Those of us who live with these various illnesses become masters of masking our pain with smile and concealing it better than the best make up concealer in the world. Sometimes we are too good at covering it up that people don’t believe us.  Invisible illnesses are also hard to explain when on the outside you look happy and healthy but internally your body is waging war. It seems that unless we bear our souls, post a billion IG videos documenting our lives, send up prayer requests in small groups, act sick all the time, become hermits; then do people only sorta begin to understand or have a bit of sympathy.

I can’t tell you how many times people don’t believe me when I say I have an illness. When I first began to seek help for my eating disorder I constantly heard, “you don’t look like you have one”, “you aren’t emaciated, just thin, only emaciated people have eating disorders”, “but you eat. how can you have anorexia when you I see you eat all the time?”,  “you can’t be addicted to exercise, exercise is healthy!”. Now with my mysterious GI issues I hear, “you are too young to have this problem”, “are you sure you have a problem?”, “it’s just IBS”. Do this sound familiar? “You’re just tired, “all you need is a nap”, “you’re being over dramatic”, “do more yoga”, “try this essential oil”…the list goes on and on.

 

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I have blogged about this before and keep discussing it in therapy, how difficult it is for me to work on cultivating a positive body image when my body hates me. Who else has been there? Between people not believing us, the doctors appointments, the episodes, bland diets, and tears we forget that we aren’t our illness.  It is so easy to get caught up in the physical that we wear ourselves down even more. The disconnect continues to grow and fester till it’s unbearable. But is it truly unbearable?

How can it be bearable? By coming together and lifting each other up. Reminding one another that we are beautiful beings who are capable of so much more; that there is more to life and even on our worst day it’s a miracle that we are even here. We can also see each other–and I don’t mean physically look. I mean really see. Recognize others who are like us and show support. Educate others on these invisible illnesses and teaching them how to show support for people like us. For my yogis out there, really practice Namaste.   Lastly, take time to remind yourself that you aren’t your body by reading this meditation. Then reach out to someone who needs to be seen, fully loved, and fully heard.

 

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So next time you are all alone in our bedroom wrapped up in our favorite blanket cuddling with our doggy waiting for our episode to be over, that we aren’t alone. There is someone else out there wrapped up in their favorite blanket, cuddling with their animal, waiting for their episode to be over.

 

Home

This past week I finally got to go home. My bestie, Jenni, was getting hitched and of course I had to be there–I was in the wedding party after all. Even if I wasn’t in the bridal party, nothing would keep me away! One of OK’s severe storms  could hit and that wouldn’t keep me from missing one of the biggest events of her life. As I wrote in my previous post, this summer was rough. There were days I wanted to go home but after rededicating my yoga practice, the 12 Steps, and making a few friends, I became ok with where I am. Then I realized I was a month from the wedding. Meaning one month from being home!!! That really changed my perspective and gave me the extra oomph I needed to get over this hurdle.

 

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Every day I counted down the days till I was to go home. I don’t know who was more excited for the week of October 14th, me or Jenni. Ha! Well, we were both excited for different reasons. When the hubs and I began to pack our bags the nerves and elation began to soar as high as the Appalachian Mountains I would be seeing. Before I knew what hit me it was 10 AM and I was in Will Rogers airport on vacation and letting “vacation Leslie” loose. I was living life and having new experiences like drinking beer in an airport before ten, drinking more beer and smoking a cigar in a Terrapin Smoke Lounge in the ATL airport, walked on moving sidewalks (I seriously looked like Elf when he did a split on the escalator), and I even got the joy to run into my brother in law.

 

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Jenni and I

 

Two flights and a three hour layover later I was back home. Wrapped up in a comfy, cozy, Appalachian blanket. I saw trees, mountains, hills, and curvy roads–o how I  missed driving on those roads.  It felt so good to be surrounded my family and all things familiar. The wedding celebrations began and it was time to eat, drink, and be married. Jenni was beautiful and the ceremony was gorgeous. I made new friends at this wedding and am excited that we are both married to great guys and we can continue to got through life together.

 

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Our Picture for the Year

 

After a few days of wedding celebrations I was able to “go on tour” with Jeremy. I called it “our tour” because it reminded me of the Netflix show, The Crown where the Queen and Philip go around to their nations to visit with everyone. It was a blast seeing our friends while drinking mimosas at brunch or hibachi for dinner. I loved being able to have a tangible moment with my friends and not just look at their lives from the smartphone looking in.  There is nothing like being able to connect on a personal level…sorry Facebook. Those moments of connection was enough to ground me and root me to the earth; to help me bring back a stable foundation back to OKC.

 

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Bogie is the Family Dog. He was also our Dog of Honor at our Wedding.

 

While I enjoyed my time back home I was also as excited to come back to OKC. I shared with my husband on our Uber ride back from the airport that while I just went home, I am still home. I have two homes now, not one. I have my home home in Tennessee but I also have a home here in Oklahoma. It made me really think about what home means and is. Home isn’t just a place where you eat, sleep, drink, and watch Project Runway marathons. Home doesn’t have to be physical like mountains, hills, valleys, or flat lands. Home isn’t if you have a husband, wife, brother, sister, or extra family members. Home is your soul. Home is where your heart beats. My soul has somehow began to melt into the metro that surrounds me. The hustle and bustle, the sixty mph winds, even the crazy traffic, has begun to become one with these great plains. My soul has began to pick up the spirit that is Oklahoma. I guess the saying is true…home is where the heart is.

6 Months and I’m Still Here

I was making an after dinner snack on Tuesday and while I was chopping bananas and making my protein yogurt sundae all pretty, I realized something. I looked at the hubs and said, “Guess what!? We’ve been in Oklahoma six months!”. “O, yeah. We have” the hubs replied. We couldn’t believe how time has passed. Time has moved slow and fast at the same time. Some days and weeks seem to drag, while others move as quick as The Doctor’s TARDIS through space.

Life in OKC has been a learning experience to say the least. Each day has presented a unique challenge and struggles that I thought wouldn’t end. There have been situations where things fell through and people turned out to be not what I expected. Opportunities have arose that were better than I could imagine. I have battled anxiety, fear, and my eating disorder. I have lost touch with who I am, my essence, to slowly start to find it again. Oklahoma life isn’t like Tennessee life.

 

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Wildflowers Outside My House Before a Storm

 

While I grew up moving around frequently, it was the main reason why I developed an eating disorder, this move was unlike the others (for more on that check out an older blog post). At sometimes I didn’t think I’d make it. People had said I’d be back home within a month or two but I wanted to prove them wrong– even though I was sad, depressed, and missed my old life. There were a few times I almost booked a flight home when I saw the fun that was happening back home, life was batshit crazy, or just because I wanted to escape the infamous Oklahoma winds.

I never booked a flight though because I wanted to show to myself and others that I could stay here. I truly loved it here even though sometimes my actions and words said otherwise. I began to make friends and meet people. I began to teach more yoga. I even got a job in a dance studio (something I had sorely missed). I received my HFS books and study guides. Therapy was going well and I had decided to recommit to the 12 Steps. Life was looking up so I saw no reason to go back home till my bestie’s wedding. Guess what, I am so glad I did.

 

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Oklahoma Skyline at Dusk on the Bricktown Water Taxi

 

So besides learning how to deal with a new landscape, people, jobs, loneliness, etc…here are a few other things I have learned:

  • In OKC the Northwest Expressway is the biggest lie I have ever encountered. You are not an “expressway”. The speed limit on an “expressway” shouldn’t be 55 mph and have a red light every block.
  • Keeping with the traffic (pun intended), in OKC people love to go five to ten miles under the speed limit unless they are in a parking lot or school zone.
  • Every  mile here is equivalent to two/three minutes approx.
  • When you let go of attachment to certain outcomes and titles, the things you want to happen actually happen.
  • Keeping an open heart when you feel like closing off can lead to some great experiences.
  • A “short trip” to the liquor store turns into an hour experience because you stock up on everything alcohol related due to some wonderful antiquated liquor laws.
  • If you ever decide to get a mani/pedi but don’t know where to go, just find a salon on the road closest to you, as there are as many salons as gas stations.
  • Trader Joe’s is amazing and I love being less than fifteen minutes from one. #worhtthedrive
  • Oklahoma has the best sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen.
  • In Oklahoma roads don’t twist and wind, they veer. So you can be going straight for sometime then you have to veer slightly right or left. If you don’t pay attention you will end up in the wrong lane.
  • Metro-life is awesome.

 

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Portion of the Boomer Sooner Sculpture at Dusk on the Bricktown Water Taxi Ride

 

 

*photos by me*

A Spoonful of Sutras Makes the Yoga Go Down

If you are a yoga teacher or devout student you have heard of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. If you aren’t as familiar here is a short explanation: it is a guidebook to yogic philosophy, living, and the eight limbs of yoga (ashtanga). It was written by a man named Patanjali many, many, many, many, many, many, many years ago.  The word sutra means thread, and you can think about these words as threads of wisdom that weave your yoga life into a beautiful tapestry. If you want a little bit  more then click here.

Until I went to yoga teacher training I had never heard of these sutras, even though I was a “serious” student. I had a read a few yoga books like Chakra Yoga by Alan Finger, browsed Light on Yoga, and a few other small books. The Yoga Sutras was part of our required reading list for my program and I’ll be honest–I didn’t read them. I got a copy, the wrong one, it was so confusing (as they are very difficult to understand naturally) that I just gave up. I never made it past Sutra 1.1: now is the time for yoga.  If I wanted any info on a sutra I would just read a Clif Notes version on Yoga Journal or Yoga International. Last year I decided I would try the sutras again. So I bought the copy that I was suppose to in teacher training with every intention of picking it up–I never did. It collected dust with all my other books that I don’t read, haven’t read yet, kinesology textbooks, and poetry.

 

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As I have talked about before on my social media pages my practice began to shift around last summer and hasn’t stopped. My practice grew deeper, not just physically but mentally. I was having questions about yoga all while facing my recovery and dealing with some serious anxiety. Then when I  moved to OKC I started teaching more than I have before and my physical practice became more internal, so I picked up my sutras. I made a commitment to read a sutra a week. I was good for two weeks then I took time off, because #lifehappens, but I picked it back up because I am really committed to this.

 

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My study is very simple. I have three versions of the yoga sutras (pictured below) and I read a sutra each week (or attempt to). I make stars with pink ink in the margins denoting phrases of super importance, highligting sanskrit words (always working on deepening those skills), and things that are very important I underline in black ink. I read the same sutra in each version and compare the them. Then in my own journal I write down in my own words what each sutra means. By writing them in my own language it helps to cement them into my mind and spirit to let me fully live them.

While I’m only five deep they have definitely been challenging and changing. Especially Sutra 1.3-1.4. They will be getting their own blog post at some point. I’m looking forward to where this will take me. If you have read or are reading the Yoga Sutras share your favorite resource in the comments section.

 

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