Monday, July 30, 2012


Another Monday.
Another day filled with my least favorite 4 letter "F Word...." Food.
Frozen dinners, Little Debbie's, poptarts, processed cheese, and more chocolate than any person should ever consume in 24 hours. We have a Taco Bell challenge this week for goodness sakes. Gross.

How did I get here?! It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago I was working in a fine dining environment in Northern Michigan. Each ingredient was carefully picked from the garden & bursting with flavor. It wasn't uncommon to wonder out to the garden and create a dish with whatever crops looked ready to be harvested. No artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or food dyes.

How is it possible to go from one extreme to another in a measly 365 days? It seems a little (okay... a lot) ironic that a culinary school grad would end up in an eating disorder clinic. No matter how I try to rationalize my situation, I still find it overwhelmingly shameful to finally come clean. I'm finally facing all of the dirty little secrets I tried so desperately to keep hidden.

In my rational mind, it makes perfect sense why I chose to study food. I was OBSESSED with food. My entire life revolved around ever morsel and crumb that I put in my mouth. I thought about food at work, school, in my free time, dreamed about it... You get the idea. Food began to control my life.  Studying food, however, made perfect sense. I never got bored with the classes and had no problem dedicating every second of my life to it. For the first time in my life I looked forward to going to school and even made the Dean's list.

While it initially made sense, it also created an overwhelming sense of shame. I hated that I didn't allow myself to indulge. If I ever did gain enough courage to take a bite of something, I would find a way to spit it out. I can't believe I'm actually finding the courage to admit these things...

When I think about all of the hard times I have put my family and friends through is when I feel the most ashamed. I couldn't have asked for a better upbringing, so how can I possibly be sick?! My biggest fear is never coming to terms with that thought.

As I continue to progress in treatment, I'm learning that it is crucial for me to address the things cause the most discomfort. Facing my guilt, shame, and fear head on has been my biggest struggle by far. Just thinking about these things breaks my heart. Although I have lost job opportunities and ruined my internship, I have officially made the decision to stop avoiding it.

Once I allow myself to let go of this shame and guilt, I will have the opportunity to focus on what brings me joy instead of the dreaded "F-word." Sure, I will always have an appretiation for fine dining and be grateful for the skills I have attained, but I have (slowly) learned that even frozen meals can nourish the soul. And even though it makes me cringe to admit this, sometimes they actually taste pretty darn good.

It's been miserable at times, but also incredibly freeing. I am thrilled to think I can eat whatever I want for the rest of my life. Chocolate pudding and animal crackers for breakfast? Hell yes. I have actually found it goes quite well with my morning coffee. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

20 Reasons Recovery is Awesome

It might seem a little extreme to put the words Recovery and Awesome together. Ever. However, with the kind of week I just had, something a little extreme seems necessary.

Here are 20 little reminders to keep me going:

1. I can eat whatever the hell I want! (well, within reason....)
2. With each day, my body looks more like a woman and less like a 12 year old boy.
3. My hair and nails are strong and healthy again.
4. I can order what I really want to eat at a restaurant instead of a salad with fat free dressing on the side.
5. Energy!!
6. My body temperature is higher thanks to my hyperactive metabolism, so I no longer get cold on 90 degree days.
7. I have met some of the most courageous people in the world and made some life long friends.
8. I'm starting to think body weight and sense of humor go hand in hand... I have never laughed this hard in my entire life.
9. I have the perfect excuse to buy an entire new wardrobe :)
10.... And actually fitting into sizes sold at my favorite stores.
11. Food and nourishment has healed my brain and has allowed me to CONCENTRATE again. No more living in a fog.
12. I can share meaningful moments with loved ones rather than run from them.
13. I am not allowed to exercise.... Ahhhh, I will never have an excuse to be this lazy ever again.
14. I feel like I'm starting to actually LIVE my life rather than being disengaged. I feel my feet on the ground, the wind in my hair, stop to smell the roses & my senses can't get enough of it!
15. I'm learning what makes ME happy and slowly finding my authentic self.
16. My day doesn't revolve around food and only food.
17. I'm not completely numb of emotions. Happy, sad, angry, excited, you name it... I no longer feel the need to mask my feelings.
18. I'm eating red meat again and (not surprisingly) bacon is my favorite.
19. I will be able to enjoy holidays again! Hello turkey, mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, Easter and Halloween candy, birthday cake, my mom's mac n' cheese, and of course my Grandma Cronkright's banana cake.
20. I’ve learned that life isn’t black and white, good or bad, wonderful or terrible, and that living in gray areas is normal, healthy, and even—dare I say it?—rather thrilling.

Maybe recovery is actually pretty awesome after all...

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Brain Noise"

My brain never shuts up. Never.

This might sound ridiculous, but when I was deep into my eating disorder, I was so deprived of nutrients that it became difficult for me to think clearly. The only thing I had to worry about was my food intake (or lack there of). Anything more than that was simply too much. It became exhausting, overwhelming, and a waste of time to use the little brain power I had left.

Sadly, but oh so truly, I miss that aspect of my ED.

Now that I am well into weight restoration and I'm bulging out of every piece of clothing I own, my brain is screaming at me. I feel like I am no longer in control of my life. In a sense, it was actually easier to be sick. In a speech from Laura Hill, an eating disorder specialist, she explains:

"Silence doesn't come to anorexia patients if they're eating. When a person without anorexia eats, brain is relatively quiet. When a person with anorexia eats, they experience high anxiety, thought disturbance, and "noise." The noisy AN brain [has] layers of noise. The longer [they] delay eating, the lower the noise gets. Recovery doesn't mean that the noise goes away, it means you understand it and manage it better."

The stubborn and still very sick part of my brain is outraged. Yes, I want to get better, but I certainly don't want my anxiety to get WORSE. And yes, I know my body image is beyond distorted at this time, but I feel like all of this "hard work" is making me a little bit crazier with every bite I take. My eating disorder was a way to quiet the nonstop noise that constantly ran laps in my brain. Not only am I being forced to deal with years of repressed feelings, I'm expected to face my biggest fear, weight gain, at the same time. Ridiculous. I'm fed up.

Most of the therapists I have talked to have told me that once I hit my healthy weight, my brain will suddenly switch and be okay with the weight gain. If I'm being brutally honest, I say that's bull shit. I'm worried that I will never be okay with that number & be more miserable than I was when I started this journey.

I apologize for such a downer post, but I think being honest about my feelings actually helps the acceptance process. I have become an expert at keeping my feelings in, but I think it's time to let it all out. If I want to deal with these feelings, I believe honesty will be the best policy... Even if it isn't always pretty.

I think this quote fits perfectly for the mood I'm in today.
Happy Monday!

“Sometimes, loving your body is not an option. Sometimes, the best we can do is accept our bodies as the changeable, beautiful, frustrating vessels they are. That’s OK. Expecting yourself to have a full-on love affair with your body at all times is asking too much. Bodies are occasionally annoying. What we can do is know them, and decide for ourselves when they feel good, and when they feel less good, and what we might do to make them feel better again. Even if we can’t love our bodies, we can make sure we don’t hate them.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quote Post

I woke up at 3am this morning. My mind was racing and I couldn't slow it down. This seems to be happening a lot lately. There are so many unknowns & obstacles in my life right now. Sometimes the only way to cope with things (especially in the middle of the night) is to read some of my favorite quotes. Here are a few of my favorites...

“Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”
-C.S. Lewis
“Wisdom means to choose now what will make sense later. I am learning everyday to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be, to inspire me and not terrify me.”
“Today I choose to feel the pain of sitting through a feeling, the terror in realizing that I am powerless over so many things, and the joy in knowing that I do not experience these things alone. I fight my feet when they beg me to run and battle my mind in its attempts to protect me from remembering the things I worked so hard to forget. Today is a constant war for healing. It is filled with promise and potential.”

“I think hope is not simply looking around and saying that everything’s great – that’s just ridiculous. For hope to have substance, it has to acknowledge the pain.”

“Sometimes, there are things in our life that aren’t meant to stay. Sometimes, change may not be what we want. Sometimes, change is exactly what we need. And sometimes, saying goodbye is the hardest thing you think you’ll ever have to do, but sometimes, saying hello again is the thing that breaks you down and makes you more vulnerable than you ever thought possible. Sometimes, change is too much to bear. But most of the time, change is the only thing saving your life.”

“Sometimes burning bridges isn’t a bad thing… It prevents you from going back to a place you should never have been to begin with.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bucket List

Over the past 10 weeks of treatment I have had moments of despair. I have felt like running away, giving up, throwing in the towel, or moving to another country. I have questioned what the point of all this hard work is. One night I planned an entire escape route during a bout of insomnia. It has felt like a never ending battle.

One thing that has kept me going are cards of encouragement from loved ones. At first, I was embarrassed that my loved ones even knew that I was struggling. The amount of shame I have felt has caused isolation and abandonment of some of the most important people in my life. So, when I started receiving get well cards, it upset me, rather than raise me up. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

As the weeks have gone by and I have continued to make progress, those cards have gotten me through some of my darkest days. My roommate, Carrie, and I have an entire wall in our room filled with cards. It is a daily reminder for both of us that people do care and we are doing this for a reason.
Roomieee :)

My Aunt Robin has been sending me 2-4 cards a week! Her cards and words of hope have inspired me to keep pushing. She has inspired me to start my bucket list. It has been an ongoing process, but I think I'm getting close to completing it.

In one of our groups this week we discussed being alive vs. living. During the years of actively participating in my eating disorder I was barely alive. I regret missing out on so many different things in my life; I wasn't LIVING. So, as a way to start living again and a daily reminder of why I'm putting myself through this hell, my Aunt Robin has pushed me to finally putting my Bucket List in writing.

I want to LIVE my life. Sure, being skinny is "glamorous" and proves I have control, but it's not worth it. At all. During my stay here, I have had moments of uncontrollable laughter and silliness that have kept me going. I can only imagine the joy checking off things on my Bucket List will bring in the years to come. :)

Visit all 50 states
Visit all 7 continents
Get a tattoo
Swim with dolphins
Ride an elephants
Have a piece of my writing published
Visit the Grand Canyon
Fly in a hot air balloon
Go to the airport & take the next random flight somewhere
Take one photo everyday for a year
Fly in a helicopter
Dance in the rain
Learn to waterski
Eat at Thomas Keller's restaurant, The French Laundry
Educate others about eating disorders
See a show on broadway in NYC
Swim in all the Great Lakes
Spend some time in my birth city- Sarasota, FL
Have my mom teach me to windsurf
Go to a world series game with my dad
Go to the little league world series with my brother
Sleep under the stars
Learn to make bread and butter pickles with my Grandma Cronkright
Go snorkeling
Become a yoga instructor
Find a career that truly fulfills me
Grow an herb garden
Watch every movie Audrey Hepburn ever acted in
Try chocolate covered bacon
Take his last name :)
Own my own espresso machine
.... & learn to make coffee art

"Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live." - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stretchy Fat Pants

Its just after lunch and I'm miserably full. Thanksgiving in July is how I feel every time I leave that stupid kitchen. Today I had to unbutton my pants before I was half way through the meal- thank goodness I'm wearing a long shirt today! My roommate, Carrie, and I have a "burn bag" in our closet with clothes that have quickly become too small. Looks like my favorite jeans need to be tossed into the already overflowing bag. 

After meals all I want to do is nap; close my eyes and escape from this nightmare. I feel sluggish and have to fight back the tears. Miserable. I need my stretchy, fat pants.

As difficult as the days can be, it is comforting to know that I am not going through this alone. The other patients here all feel exactly the same way I do. There have been countless meals I would not have survived without my supportive roomies cheering me on. Even on my worst days, there are always moments of hope. We laugh, joke, and just at act silly sometimes. I forgot what it felt like to be silly.

An eating disorder takes away every part of you. It changes the person you are, makes you question your morals, and ruins relationships. It makes you question your self worth, nothing is ever good enough. No matter how low the number in the scale goes, the eating disorder somehow convinces you it's not low enough. Everything is lost. Often I felt like I was wondering aimlessly. I didn't have a purpose or reason to wake up in the morning except to please my ED. It didn't take long for me to forget who I was. 

I was completely consumed for almost a decade. I did everything I could to cover it up, even if that meant lying or stealing.  Every second of everyday I obsessed with food; what I just ate, what I was going to eat next, even what I was going to eat next week. I would hit a certain number on the scale, be proud for a second and then move on to my next goal weight. It was an endless cycle and nothing I did was ever good enough for ED.

Thankfully, I have met some extremely courageous and inspiring people since I have been in treatment. Slowly, but surely, these girls (and one guy) are showing me how to let go of those old obsessions. They are teaching me to be silly and make fun out of this crazy, difficult time in our lives. I have quickly made some lifelong friends who instantly understood me better than anyone ever has. I'm blessed.

I may have started this journey kicking, screaming, and down right pissed off, but I'm starting to realize there is nowhere else I would rather be right now. Yes, being miserably full sucks and facing my fear foods on a daily basis is a challenge, but I'm doing it! 

Nine weeks ago when I started this journey I never dreamed I would have come this far, but here I am. Not only am I doing this, I'm actually taking the time to enjoy being silly again. I am being given an opportunity to start fresh and find exactly what I want out of this crazy thing called life. I might be miserably full and bulging out of my stretchy fat pants, but if this misery can lead to a new start, it's worth ever bite. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome to the Dark Side

I can't sit still.
My mind is racing.
My palms are sweaty and gross.
I'm short of breath.
My hands are getting shakier by the second.

I'm eating red meat today for the first time is years (my culinary buddies should be proud!).

I haven't always been a vegetarian. I grew up on a meat n' potatoes diet. Shortly after starting culinary school, however, I became much better educated on the inhumane ways animals are raised to keep up with the massive demands for meat. It's disgusting. One of my classmates played a video in class and I remember actually crying... Ha! The very next day I was a vegetarian.

Looking back now, I can see that eliminating an entire food group at the beginning of culinary school probably wasn't the smartest decision I've ever made. I was cutting myself short of the experience at hand. At the time, my brain had become so twisted that I didn't even realize that it was eating disorder related. But, as I'm regaining health and my brain is actually functioning again, I realize that eliminating meat was one of many things that my eating disorder took from my life. It was one less thing I had to worry about eating.

Since starting treatment in Toledo, I have been challenged multiple times a day with some pretty crazy foods. After graduating culinary school, I was completely disgusted with the food selection here. The food snob in me was down right pissed. Everything I have eaten here comes out of a box. I'm eating frozen meals, pizza rolls, Little Debbie's, candy bars, chips, ice cream, pop tarts, you name it. Everything is processed, overloaded with salt, or drenched in high fructose corn syrup. I don't even consider most of this stuff real food for goodness sakes!

I have slowly been able to reintroduce chicken back into my diet over the past few weeks and I have found that I actually kind of enjoy it. Every time I sit down to another meal, I am faced with an opportunity. I can choose to face my fears and actually enjoy food again or run from it and rely on anti-anxiety meds to get me through... Like I did the first time I had to eat zebra cakes! :)

As simple as it might sound, each spoonful of food is a mini victory for me. I'm doing things every single day that I had lost hope in. They have even given me a packet of Nerds for breakfast and I survived!

Today is a big and scary day for me - I'm facing my fear of red meat. I have come such a long way, so why stop now? I'm excited to regain one more (simple, yet delicious) thing my eating disorder has taken from me. I can already hear my culinary buddies cheering me on and giving me a warm welcome back to the "Dark Side."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 8. Day 1.

Week number 8.
Day number 1.

Eight weeks ago today I was admitted to an inpatient eating disorder program. Eight weeks is a long time, but it feels like only yesterday. They say time flies when you're having fun. I would say the past eight weeks have been anything BUT fun. I have been challenged, pushed to my limit, striped of emotions, forced to take off the multiple masks I wear, and hardest of all, come clean about my illness.

I have been forced to be honest with myself and loved ones. It hasn't been an easy road so far and I have an overwhelming amount of work ahead of me. However, with a little help from my roommates and support system, I have learned to allow myself to see the light during my darkest days.

Finally, I have given up the thought that after almost a decade of suffering I can do this alone. I'm letting go of the idea that this will be easy. Letting go of my people pleasing tendencies, black & white thinking, and constant self critism.

Eating disorders are difficult to understand unless you live and breath it. People think things like... "Eat a sandwich, it's not that hard," or "Eating disorders are self-centered."

I'm here to come to terms with my illness and beat it for good! I have a long and difficult road ahead, but after 8 weeks of treatment I have finally realized I can't do this alone. Writing about my daily struggles will help my loved ones understand & help me realize it's OKAY to lean on others to help me through.

As I sit down to my crazy breakfast of champions- chocolate pudding & granola, I remind myself, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life..." Why not make the most of it? :)

Happy Monday!