Dissatisfied Health

Guess what, folks. I’m about to blow your mind with what you already may know or at the very least suspect somewhere down deep, but what I think is important to talk about. Especiallllyyy in the blog world, especiallllyyy in college, especiallllyyy in today’s culture.

We, as people, are masters of self deception. MASTERS, I say. At least up to a point. (At which point you say, get to the point Michaela. Patience, dear grasshopper.)

I want to talk to you about dieting. About exercise. About “lifestyle changes,” because we all know that dieting and exercise are out of vogue. Diets don’t work, the experts say, and rather than force ourselves to exercise we are encouraged to find fun physical activity and delicious healthy food so we don’t have to diet. And around this new trend, dozens and hundreds of blogs (and a whole web and non-web based health culture) have popped up, including my own. It’s called Pilgrimage of Health, for goodness sake. Health. With Healthy recipes and Healthy lifestyle tips and Healthy thought processes and Healthy healthy healthy. 

And I’m not out to bash any of that. We do need lifestyle changes. We do need to forego dieting, and find activities that we enjoy doing that make us feel good, because we’re facing a crisis situation. In my country of the United States and increasingly around the world, we’re facing an epidemic of unhealth in mind, body, and soul. We’re spending more and more time and money and energy on health, and yet collectively we’re still pretty sick. In response, we’re inundated with lifestyles and ideas and tips intended to transform us into healthy, happy, carefree health goddesses (and gods).

But I think, underneath a lot of the healthy language and healthy blog culture, we sometimes use health as a cover-up. As an excuse, to try and change ourselves into what we think we should be rather than accepting ourselves for who we are. Now, rather than esteeming thinness for thinness sake and dieting and weight loss, we’re instead consumed by this image of health that can lead us into unhealthy behaviors.

You following me here?

An obsession with health can be unhealthy. Part of the problem lies within the motivation behind strict workout plans and eating regimes, but part of the problem can come after. After we’re following the cleanest diet, practicing yoga six times a week, training for a marathon. We become dependent on these as something to define us. We become human doers instead of human beings, fixated on the high of pushing ourselves further and defined by what we don’t do, that is, consume ‘bad’ foods (which in our society can mean a million different foods). And if we’re embracing a “healthier lifestyle” out of a deep dissatisfaction with who we are, I think that’s problematic.

Because our bodies know, right? Our self knows. It knows when we act out of insecurity instead of satisfaction. We know, deep down, what actions come from abundance and deprivation. And that doesn’t come without consequences. Lying to ourselves and saying that we’re “just following this eating plan because I feel tired (or want to be healthier or save the planet or I think I’m allergic to . . .)” when we really are trying to follow a diet without calling it so because we are deeply dissatisfied with ourselves and desperately want change, our bodies and souls know. Don’t try to trick them.

I know this to be true, because I do it. Have done it. Mastered it, for the past five years. I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free. I’ve followed strict running plans and done juice cleansing. I’ve committed to abstaining from this or that because of that and this. And every time I eat a certain way or exercise out of a dissatisfaction, it backfires. Badly.

This is not to say that running or vegetarianism or veganism (or yoga or paleo or grain free or . . . you get the idea) are inherently bad within themselves. Nope, because those things can come from a place of true health. They can come from a place of wholeness, a clarity in communication with our deeper selves that says that running makes our bodies feel good or a certain type of food makes our bodies feel bad.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. If you’re eagerly about to jump into another trend in the name of health, step back.  Why are you about to embark upon this plan? Is it from abundance, or deprivation? Joy, or insecurity?

 

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Looking Forward

I finish exams in TWO days. TWO DAYS, people! And the I’ll be finished with my freshman year of college. I feel like I got here two weeks ago, but have been here forever.

Last night, before I went to sleep, I was reading through my journal entries from the beginning of the year. They were vibrant and full of expectation, hope, change. They spoke about my friends now when we had first met, dreams for the future, aspirations for the year. And now, I’m about to be one fourth of the way done with my college career. Well . . . unless I decide to delay it, and go to grad school. But that is a decision for several years from now!

With that said, I wanted to let you all know what I’ll be doing this summer and what you can look forward to on the blog! I’m not going to be lazing around, relaxing in the warm sunshine all day long, mind you. I am super super excited about my summer: I know it will be a period of very spectacular growth in my life.

The month of May (starting at the end of this week!!) I will be interning with Greenbrier Farms. Greenbrier is a smaller, poly-culture farm that I actually did a research project on last semester for my Sustainability Science introductory course. Sustainable agriculture is one of my passions, and the chance to (quite literally) get my hands dirty and learn about fills me with exhilaration. It will be hard work, I hope, but definitely rewarding. I’ll probably be working in the produce gardens, helping out with events, putting together CSA bags, and working at the farmer’s market. I might not be able to take too many photos, but I’ll snap them when I can 😉

This entire summer, I’m living at a house run by our Mere Christianity Forum on Campus. It’s called the Vista House, and it is intended to a place for intentional Christian community.

In June, our Servant Scholars Program starts. I’ll be interning with United Ministries, an organization that has several programs dealing with homelessness, poverty, and adult education. I’m expecting to be thoroughly challenged and stretched by my work there.

The Vista House has an absolutely amazing kitchen, and I won’t be on any type of meal plan this entire summer! That means . . . lots of cooking. It’s where some of these beautiful communal meals took place:

This summer is going to be a great experience. I’m excited to share this part of my journey with you!

What are your summer plans? 

Forgiving the Forgetful

. . . in myself. Really, it isn’t just the forgetful: it’s learning to forgive the imperfections within myself. That, my friends, is something that I thought I had grasped only because I was able to give myself grace in one area of life. When something else happens to remind me of my inherent human-ness, I feel like I’m starting all over again.

This is exam week, hence my lack of regularity in posting. I’ve been stressed the past few days about the exam I had this morning–not because I was unprepared, or because it was going to be particularly challenging. It is my easiest class, and therein lies my problem: I’ve been unwilling to accept anything less than an A in that class because it is easy and unchallenging. There were several homework assignments I forgot to do, which makes my current standing in the class less than my ideal. Had I done them, I would have gotten 100%–but I just completely forgot. It had been a hard few weeks with a death in the family, traveling to the funeral, missing class, working through my emotions, and I simply blanked.

It took me days to stop kicking myself over them, with renewed pressure this week to excel on the final so I don’t get–oh the horror–an A minus. I keep trying to remind myself that this isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of life. That it is a learning experience, a reminder that when I mess up, life will continue.

It is this same, take it or leave it, perfection driven mindset that got me into a state of un-health in the first place.  I refused to yield on myself, convinced that I could make myself do anything if I simply set my mind to it. If I applied myself, I would get what I wanted. I’d never experienced anything contrary to this logic in the past–if I wanted a good grade, I could get it. If I needed to get into a certain program, I’d apply and get in. If I wanted to change a system, I’d simply find the right person to talk to and convince them to my way of thinking. If I thought modeling was something I wanted to do, I’d be damned if I didn’t whittle myself into their restricted standards of measure to succeed by someone else’s definition. Problem is, I didn’t always evaluate if my end goal was actually something good, as it clearly wasn’t in the latter.

Sure, I’ve learned occasionally that there is room for failure in my life–when I didn’t get accepted to the Washington DC Senatorial Page Program, or when I didn’t receive a scholarship I wanted at a certain school. But all of these I could justify as ‘not part of God’s plan,’ or some other factor. When it is my own personal involvement that trips myself up . . . that is what I struggle to accept.

I’m trying to learn to love and accept what my counselor calls the shadows of ourselves. What would happen, she asked, if you were a forgetful person? But I’m not. That isn’t a part of who I am. But, you forgot. Does that make you forgetful? She was purposefully letting me be flustered so that I could see the hypocrisy of accepting forgetfulness and imperfections in other people, but never myself.

Grace. Forgiveness. Self love.

How do you forgive yourself? 

Do you ever struggle with perfectionism? 

Financial Plan, Parte Dos

Afternoon,

I’ve tackled one of the goals set forth in my last post: creation of a budget.

This will probably change, as the month of May I won’t be in school! Woop! I will be living in a house for intentional Christian community located about a mile off of campus, and will be paying rent and purchasing all my own food. I have to talk to the parentals about finances and see if I’m going to be completely fiscally independent this summer, or if they’ll be helping out and in what capacity.

This budget makes more sense for the school year, so I’ll have to see in what ways to modify it this summer when I won’t be on any type of meal plan.

I think this is realistic for a month when I’m in school. After talking to my parents, I’ll be changing this! After looking through my spending habits, I decided that $150/ month is realistic. Out of this, food accounts for about the most: $65 between restaurants, coffee, and groceries. I allotted $40 for my compassion international young woman, Archana. Miscellaneous refers to exactly that: toiletries, clothing, books, gifts, etc.

This budget makes sense for me. I’m not out on my own yet–I’m at school with a meal plan, no rent, parents who pay for insurance and gas on my car. I am very blessed in this sense. Practicing making a budget now, however, while I have limited expenses and limited income will help make it simpler when I do have that control.

I’ll let you know about the evolution of the budget, as I’m sure it will for May/June-August.

Next on my list? The other goal from last time . . . investment options!

Do your budgets ever vary? 

Pit Stop Mondays

Happy Monday! What a great weekend. Saturday, I worked on a community garden, went for a run, went contra dancing and then to a party for more dancing! While I didn’t get a lot of sleep, I had fun. Gardening+dancing=best exercise EVER! Especially contra. I didn’t realize how physically active it was, but after a few dances I was sweating quite a bit.

Photo: Sean Green

Photo: Sean Green

Then, last night, I cooked several Oh She Glows  recipes with friends for a community dinner: red quinoa black bean salad and itty bitty carrot cake cookies. We also had garlic bread with earth balance and a huge salad with baby greens, apples, and other goodies. It was deliciously successful.

 

And on to a new feature, which I’m going to call Pit Stop Mondays on my pilgrimage to health. Based loosely on the happiness project, I plan to chronicle mini, one week endeavors intended to improve my emotional, physical, and spiritual health. They’ll serve as check-in points along the route. I have several in mind, involving finances, gratitude, activity, nutrition, and spiritual nourishment. I’m excited!

First on the agenda this week: No negative self talk or comparison to other people, including the person I once was. I talked about  this in my last post , and this week I am making a conscientious effort and refusing to compare myself. It’s been difficult all day. Now that I’m more aware of it, I notice how often I do compare myself with other people–it is an almost hourly occurance. Instead of being critical of those aspects of myself I don’t like, I use every temptation to compare to remind myself that I am beautiful and unique, and my body is healthy and strong.

How do you bite self-criticism in the butt? What did you do this past weekend for your health? 

Vegan Banana Muffins + The Comparison Trap

Hello all!

A few days ago a friend invited me to have dinner with her and bake banana bread…I have such wonderful friends! God has blessed me with some very wise and wonderful women in my life, and these two ladies that I ate with and baked with are definitely in that category.

We started talking about the problem of labeling and choosing to follow a vegan diet. One of the other girls is also a vegan, and one is vegetarian. These past two weeks I have really been struggling with my vegan lifestyle, which is another topic for another time. This conversation came around to the inner battle we face with comparison. I know I constantly compare myself   to other women, wondering why my thighs aren’t as thin and toned, why I’m not as petite or dainty, why my hair isn’t as shiny and healthy, why my skin isn’t as clear and smooth . . . I could continue, on and on, which is really sad. I am perfectly unique and perfectly created, with a healthy and strong body that can do just about anything I ask of it.

God really works creatively. Before this conversation, I had spent a few hours on my computer looking up blog posts about body image and how to achieve a healthy one. I found this list, and one thing that continues to resonate with me is this quote: I choose to stop comparing myself to other women, including the woman I was in the past. That for me is huge. Obviously I have gained weight since I stopped restricting and over-exercising, which is a healthy change. Sometimes, it is hard for me to see that–I look at pictures of myself when I was smaller, and look at my bit of extra cushion now and feel wistful. But this is the other important thing about that quote: I have to make a choice to stop comparing myself. It won’t just happen that one day I stop comparing myself, it is a choice. Now, every time I’m tempted to compare myself, I use that as a reminder to redirect and repeat to myself that I am beautiful. I’m going to keep saying it until I believe it.

When I was really in the midst of my eating disorder, I had pushed away God completely. I knew that if I let God in, I wouldn’t be able to treat myself the way I was. If our “ideal body” is unhealthy and we still try to attain that, our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves will suffer. One of us asked, “do I want a relationship with God, or do I want thin thighs?”  If you spiritually identify differently, the question could be posed “do I want to respect myself and live abundantly, or do I want thin thighs?” When put like that, the choice seems really simple, but it’s still hard. It’s still a daily, an hourly, choice.

Today, I choose to believe the truth! And on to the muffins, modified from this recipe. Not too sweet and completely tasty, with completely safe, lickable batter:

Banana Muffins

4 Mashed bananas
1/3 cup truvia (or other stevia granules)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 flaxseed/chia egg (1 tsp ground flaxseed, 2 tsp chia seeds+2 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup earth balance (or other vegan butter)
1/4 cup apple sauce (you can try all applesauce in place of the vegan butter, or vice versa)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Make “egg” by mixing water and seeds. You want to do this first so it has time to get a little gelatinous!
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Mix together mashed bananas+sweeteners.
4. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients + mix.
6. Melt earth balance, add applesauce and vanilla+ stir into mixture.
7. Pour into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.


Beloved Aunties, Beautiful Pizza: Self-Love

Last week, as you all know, was my spring break. Woop! On the way back to Greenville from Florida we stopped to spend the night at one of my friend’s parents home in Georgia. After a delicious meal of make your own pizzas (yum!) we all stayed up late talking to the momma putting us up for the night.

Throwing the pizza, Italian style...with a lot of flour!

This thing was a beauty, and I ate it ALL! In stages...it didn't all fit at one go! Part pesto, part tapenade, part sauce for the base...filled with every veggie in the house! YUMM!

In the heart of the home, we covered the gamut of topics–the non-dating atmosphere of our school, problems with education in our country, body image. Which prompted a discussion of what we liked best about our own bodies. It was interesting–as my friends talked of what they liked best, and what they didn’t, I thought about my own body. I’ve spent so much time degrading it and treating it as an enemy, rather than a friend. Body, I’m sorry. I promise to love you better and treat you kinder.

Our favorite attributes ranged–I like my cheekbones, jaw, and lower back best. One friend likes her feet best, another her nose, one likes “the composite” of all her parts. And while my friends listed numerous parts, the house momma encouraged us to continue: “Who here likes her ankles? What about calves?” And I continued contemplating the parts of my body. My feet are odd–large, with tiny round toes. But they are unique, and I can’t imagine another set completing my legs. I was so happy to find that I kept mentally stumbling over little bits of me that I find beautiful, or quirky, or that I can simply affirm that “I like that.”

While there’s a thin delineation between self-confident appreciation and narcissism, I find that many women don’t even toe the line. We focus on what we hate about ourselves rather than what we love, and speak so spitefully and hurtfully to the image we see in the mirror, I’m surprised our bodies don’t up and leave us or rebel. I wouldn’t stay with someone who was viciously hurtful to me. Come to think of it, I think many of our bodies are rebelling from a lack of love, appreciation, and good care. We think and say things about ourselves we wouldn’t dare speak to a friend–how can we treat ourselves so lowly?

Without self-love, “love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t really all that appealing to those around us. After all, who wants to be told they are ugly, useless, lazy, or fat and then abused or deprived as a result? If that’s the way you’re going to love me, Neighbor, you can take your love elsewhere.

What are your favorite attributes? 

*The Aunties: Anne Lamott, in Traveling Mercies, (I recommend it!) says she decided to treat her thighs as elderly aunties, because then she could less easily be unkind or ungracious to them.

Delicious, Nutritious Breakfast

I know I’ve said it before, but true things bear repeating: maintaining a healthy lifestyle while at school is hard. Granted, it’s hard in general, but I think especially so at school. In college we experience a host of new things: less sleep, more stress, practically unlimited access to junk food, late night WaHo (read: Waffle House) runs, and no parent figure preparing balanced meals. For a lot of college freshman (whether they gain the freshman 15 or not), this can mean a decline in health level.

At my school, all freshman are required to purchase the unlimited meal plan. We can have food from the Dining Hall whenever we so please, with fast food options in another location on campus. Because I am cheap aspire to fiscal responsibility, I am and was determined to get the most out of my meal plan, and avoided purchasing foods for myself. I think a lot of other students run into this same problem–often, what’s cheapest and easiest to prepare in a college dorm room doesn’t have the most stellar nutritional stats. Though I’m right next to the kitchen on my dorm (a luxury many students don’t have) we lack pans and pots to cook in, as well as time. I also love the social experience of eating in the dining hall–I get to see my friends and take a break from class.

With this said, I have a hard time with breakfast and the weekends. On the weekends our dining hall has very limited hours and limited options, and for breakfast I have fewer vegan options than I have at home. Most of the cereals are full of added sugar, sodium, and refined carbs, the potatoes are fried, and the soy milk also has added sugar. That leaves oatmeal and fruit–not bad, but given my extreme hatred for aversion to oatmeal… let’s just say I’m learning to like it, and at this point only enjoy it with added cereal or granola for crunch, peanut butter for flavor, raisins for sweetness, and soy milk to make it like cereal. So the oatmeal I prepare isn’t that much better than the other cereals…

Because I’m trying to limit/remove sources of refined sugar in my diet (more on this later), I’m going to start having breakfast in my dorm room more often. This is good! More time to sleep, less available liquid caffeine to encourage my dependency. My parents are coming this weekend for the first time since they brought me to school last August, and they’ve procured an inexpensive, used blender for me!! Prompted a shopping trip that was heavy on nutrition and easy on the wallet. The fruit is courtesy of our dining hall–I recommend making your meal plan work for you!

That shredded wheat has no sugar or sodium,9 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein! I also got peanut butter that was only peanuts--no added oils or sweeteners!

Enter the breakfast smoothies. At home, I have one every morning chock full of whatever veggies we have in the fridge, unsweetened soy or almond milk, fruits, and other goodies that vary depending on my day and mood. Cocoa powder, stevia, cinnamon,  protein powder, nut butters, tofu , and oats are some of my personal favorites to add in.

I’ve washed and sliced my smoothie ingredients, and they’re waiting and ready to be blended together!

frozen pears and apples!

My poor roommate–I’ve filled our small freezer!

Spinach is my FAVORITE mix in for smoothies. Adds a serving of veggies in the morning, and I can't even taste it.

 Since I don’t get my blender until Thursday, I’m trying out alternatives both in my room and the dining hall. This morning, I had shredded wheat with my special mix of flaxseed, protein powder, and cinnamon (I carry it with me to our dining hall in the mornings in a tupperware container…I get some funny looks, but it’s worth it). The nutritional stats were awesome (about 16 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber), and I was full (even with a hard workout) until lunch!

What are your favorite healthy breakfasts on the go? 

Simple Tips for Health at College

This week is my spring break, holla! I’m working on my social health, visiting my childhood best friend at her school in Tennessee for the weekend, then flying to Tampa to spend the week with my roommate and suite mate. Not practicing very good financial wellness perhaps–but health is all about balance. A trade-off: decreased bank account balance for good times with friends. I’m learning–and I have  a lot to learn about finance management.

While talking with my friend’s friends, the conversation drifted to health, to lifestyle changes while at school. And being healthy physically at school is hard. There is nearly unlimited access to food–sugary, delicious, refined foods. There is less time to sleep–school work and social activities keep some of us from getting the minimum eight hours.

There are upsides, however! At school there is often the convenience of healthy food options if you know what to look for, and easy access to physical activity centers and gyms. My conversations with different college students prompted this post. I realize that not everyone is conscientious or knowledgeable about nutrition, and the noise about “healthy” or “low fat” can be confusing. In the future, I’ll elaborate on different aspects of nutrition and physical activity. I’m passionate about what goes into my body, and you should be too!

Tip #1 Banish negative self talk. No good comes from negativity about ourselves. Without self love, we have nothing–enlist the help of others and agree to ban fat talk, defeatist attitudes, and harmful criticism. When I think about all the time I’ve wasted being critical of myself, it irritates me. My time could have been so much better spent.

Tip #2 Find exercise you love, and do it often! Friends of mine obsess over Zumba, I’d rather shave my head. Almost. For me, running and yoga relieve stress and make me happy. Does your school offer exercise classes? Try a new one! I rediscovered Pilates at school, and it’s awesome. Aim for activity, even if it’s light. Calling your mom? Go for a walk while you chat. Heading to your dorm on the fourth floor? Take the stairs.

Tip #3 Set a time when “the kitchen is closed.” Staying up late, it’s easy to eat junk food at all hours. While it’s a myth that eating at night makes you gain weight, eating when you aren’t hungry does. For me, I don’t like to eat after 8, which is probably ridiculously early for some people. I haven’t been following this guideline closely, and I notice I sleep and feel worse when I eat late because it is typically mindless snacking–rarely is it healthy or conscious.

Tip #4 Meatless Mondays! (Or Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays) I’m a vegan, but I know most people aren’t! Setting a day to abstain from meat can prompt you to try new foods and eat healthier while helping the environment. If you’re already vegetarian, try a vegan day. Since becoming vegetarian and then vegan my range of foods has actually increased.

Tip #5 Don’t cut out foods you love. If you suddenly decide you’re going to cut out all ice cream, cookies, and desserts when you’re used to having three desserts a day, you’ll stick to your strict new regime for about two days. Then, you’ll inevitably end up having ten at once because you feel deprived. Continue to eat foods you love, but have smaller portions less often. If you know you’re going to have dessert at dinner, it can encourage you to eat well at lunch.

Tip #6 Get creative in the dining hall. My friends are always amazed with the creations I concoct. I’ll make a massive salad, top it with a veggie burger, guacamole, hummus, nuts and salsa and go to town. Or, I’ll take a stir fry and wander around the dining hall adding little bits that look good. If you like how healthy food tastes, you’ll be more likely to eat it.

Tip #7 Sleep! I get at least 8 hours a night. When I first got to school, I had a really hard time falling and staying asleep. If you have trouble sleeping at school, try to minimize light in your room. You can also take melatonin a half hour to hour before you go to bed, and try to get a routine that signals to your body you are ready to go to bed. For example, minimize screen time (tv, computer, etc.) for an hour before you go to sleep, or do the same thing every night before you go sleep. It’ll help. People who get more sleep perform better and have healthier body weights.

Tip #8 Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism and regulates your appetite for the rest of the day. Try to eat within an hour of waking up, and have something with protein and fiber. I’ve been training myself to eat oatmeal despite my history of hatred for the mushy breakfast dish. I mix in peanut butter, puffed rice cereal or granola for something to chew on, flax seed, protein powder, and soy milk. Maybe it isn’t unadulterated oatmeal but it keeps me full until lunch and makes me feel energized! Studies show that people who eat breakfast have more energy, healthier body weights, and improved concentration.

What do/did you do to stay healthy at college?

On Falling

I hate running on treadmills, roads, and tracks. On treadmills, I get bored much too quickly. Roads stretch too far ahead of me, taunting me with their length, and tracks are monotonous circles. I love running on trails, however—windy, twisty, trails that constantly change direction and incline to keep me on my toes. Yesterday on my beloved, wooded trails a large root sent me sprawling to my hands and knees. I popped up immediately, looked at the dirt now staining my person, and took off running again. If I paused too long, the pain would have set in and I would have been distracted away from my run.

These are, in fact, my knees after my run yesterday.

It’s easy to pop back up from a stumble on a run, harder to get back up when you fall in life.

I know all to well from personal experience. After restricting my food intake and upping my exercise level to shrink myself to industry standards, my body rebelled. Crying out for nourishment, I began to experience episodes of bingeing several months after I became underweight. I was able to control it for a while—my binges were infrequent, only occurring on weekends when no one from my family was around. When I began to distance myself from the industry and when I finally separated myself completely, my bingeing got much worse.

It was scary. In the middle of a binge, I felt completely out of control, like some foreign invader had taken over my body and was desperate to take me captive. Since I was allowing my body to experience foods (and amounts of food) it had not had in a long time, it desperately tried to grab as many nutrients as it could. After being conditioned to less than enough food, my own body didn’t trust me to feed it well.

It took me awhile to get back up whenever I fell down. Even after experiencing healing from my disordered eating patterns, certain triggers could still send me sprawling, much like that tree root did. I was mad and frustrated—I didn’t understand how my body still didn’t trust me, now that I was treating it well and feeding it abundantly.

While in the healing process, I saw a sign at a farmer’s market that said, “If you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” So simple, but sometimes so hard.

When you fall, get back up as quickly as you can. Whether your struggle is food, or drugs, or anger, or depression—get back up. And if you don’t have the strength to stand on your own, reach out to someone. Someone that first sits with you where you’ve fallen on the ground, then tenderly but assuredly wraps their arms around you and pulls you back to your feet. It’s hard, I know. It’s hard to be vulnerable and open up to others, to drop the façade that you are perfect, competent, autonomous. I believed I was, for awhile, until I realized I was just sitting, broken and bleeding, in the dirt by myself.

The world will benefit when you stand. Stand, whether you are wobbling, unsteady, or afraid. It gets easier (and you get stronger) each and every time.