Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keep the Hope Alive

Well friends, it's the last day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week - but this does not mean that the awareness should end. This is a week set apart from others. It is a time to devote voices and advocacy to a worthy cause. It is a time to talk about a subject which many keep closed inside of them.

But it can be like this any day, every week. It certainly is in my world. In my life. On my blog. Take ED Awareness Week with you and don't let it go. The heart of eating disorders is silence. Break the silence.

On that note, I'd like to share with you the most recent post from a fabulous little blog called Weighing the Facts. Mrs. Menopausal, the blog's author, did a post entitled Eating Disorders and Body Image Advocates and Why They Blog. She posted a link to my blog with a little write up, but she also shared a few other bloggers' links - and some of them are really fabulous. So check her out and check them out - today and every day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

You Are Not Alone

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is coming to a close, and I've been trying to post related things all week (though I guess one could argue my whole blog is related). Today, I'd like to share with you a neat little site that was brought to my attention by a friend.

It's called You Are Not Alone and basically you can sign up to get a free support letter every month to give you encouragement on your path to recovery. It's sort of what I try to do here on my blog much more often than once a month, but this site is cool because it's an actual letter, sent to your email on a monthly basis. Every little bit of support helps, right?

The other cool thing is that there are resource links on this site, as well as a Free Stuff page, where different things get posted. Right now, there's a song by Shannon Cutts you can listen to (and a link to buy the CD the song is from).

Just found it a nice little resource I hadn't heard of before. Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Here's my Wednesday video - put it up this morning. This week's topic is:

What are boundaries? Where are my boundaries and how will I know if they've been crossed?

It's an important topic and one to which you should give some thought. It relates to eating disorders and eating disordered individuals in a variety of ways. And it's definitely a good subject for Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

As usual, click to view on YouTube as embedding has been disabled. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

As many of you know, this week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week! It's a time to celebrate recovery and a time to remember those who've been lost to their illness.

I'm going to be holding an Eating Disorder Awareness Fundraiser and Vigil this spring (it's far too cold here in PA to have one this week and many organizations have vigils throughout the year), so for now I want to leave you with a bunch of resources and awesome websites.

- awesome site - you will love it! - an artist who recovered from an ED sells BEAUTIFUL pendants made from spoons - I have one!
ANAD - lots of great resources here - including hotline and help finding support groups in your area and other listings - it's the organization I'm affiliated with to run my support group
WeRFreEDomFighters - the YouTube recovery collaboration I'm a part of on a weekly basis - you know, my "Wednesday Warriors" videos - there's some awesome stuff on there and new videos get put up each day with brand new topics
EDC - The Eating Disorders Coalition has lots of ways you can help out with awareness, prevention, and change!
Gurze Books - an excellent resource for all eating disorder relating books
ArielleLeeBair - my YouTube channel - 90% of all videos there are ED recovery related - the other 10% are just personal or family related!
Love Your Body - the Love Your Body campaign holds events and sells great and creative stuff to promote loving your body
NEDA - another worthy organization that has a plethora of resources, including a hotline
Light a Candle - You can light a virtual candle for a survivor or a lost loved one here - no need to leave your home or find a vigil near you

When I hold my event in the spring (definitely more information on that to come, as soon as I have all the details) this is one of the things I will be reading to the public. Take it to heart today and have a wonderful and important week, everyone.

ANAD Pledge

I will accept myself as I am.

My uniqueness is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. There is no one in the world quite like me and I will strive to develop my special skills and abilities.

I will accept others as they are.

Each person is special and different. I will to try to learn from these differences rather than be critical of them.

I will support diversity and freedom of expression in

the way people think, look and live.

There is no single standard of “rightness,” rather we live in a world of individuals, each of whom provides a different answer. Through our differences humanity continues to evolve.

I will not tolerate physical or mental abuse.

There is NEVER a reason for people to hurt other people and I will do my utmost to prevent such abuse. We are all equal and deserve the same thoughtful consideration.

I will actively work to change media programming and advertising

that exploits or demeans the human body.

Setting standards of physical “perfection” is harmful to everybody. The media needs to understand that real human beauty lies in our differences, not our similarities.

I will work to improve the lives of individuals, communities

and the environment.

As a responsible member of society, I understand that the more good I do for the people and places around me, the better off everyone will be. We need to think not only of today, but of tomorrow and our children’s future.

I will support good health through proper nutrition, regular

exercise and adequate sleep.

Good health enables us to achieve success in life— at work, at home and in our
personal relationships.

Hold your heads high, keep reaching for recovery, and celebrate yourselves!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Question # 18: Exercise During Recovery

I was asked this question via an email this week:

"How did you deal with exercise during recovery? Do you exercise now?"

During recovery, there were points when I over-exercised. I wanted recovery, but I was so scared of the weight gain that it entailed for me, that I overcompensated when I was having hard times. I was never one of those girls who stayed at the gym for hours on end, but I did run farther and more often than I should have when I wasn't eating enough to warrant such activity, let alone a sedentary lifestyle.

Eventually, as I got farther in recovery, I began to understand that for me - if I was going to stay healthy - there was a fine line between exercise and overexercise. That's just how I was. I knew that if I started working out or running, I could (and probably would) go overboard. So I gave myself days on which I was "allowed" to exercise... and made sure that my food intake was comparable to the exercise at hand. For a while, I stopped exercising all together. Maybe that's shocking to a lot of you, but it's true.

Fact of the matter was I needed to gain weight. And when I was finally eating three meals a day and a snack or two, exercise was only proving counterproductive. I was still at a weight where every pound I'd gain from eating properly would only be taken away again by exercise. So I told myself I'd get to a healthier weight and THEN I'd start exercising again.

If you give it some serious thought, people who are underweight really shouldn't be exercising. Maybe some light weight lifting to build muscle or keep active, but nothing like running or intensive cardio. No biking or treadmills. It's not safe. It's not healthy. And it will make you lose weight.

Did I get antsy wanting to exercise? Sure. But you have to ask yourself what you want more - to recover or to exercise. Recovery always held more weight (no pun intended).

Once I was at a healthy weight and was stable (not losing, then getting back to that weight multiple times), I incorporated exercise again. I gave myself limits. Why? Because I know my limits. And I knew what was needed. A person who's just at the threshold of a healthy weight and is still slender doesn't need to be doing hours of weight-loss exercise.

I only let myself run a mile if I wanted to run. That's it. I only let myself exercise for half an hour. That's it.

It worked for me. I was able to eat properly, maintain a healthy weight, and not allow exercise to get out of control (or cause weight loss). It was just enough that it kept me active, made me feel good, and was the perfect amount coupled with my food intake.

To get to the last part of the question - yes, these days I do exercise. I just do so in moderation. Everyone talks about moderation being key, but it really is where exercise is concerned. I'm a Caseworker - I sit at a desk a lot of the day. And when I'm home, I sit at a computer for a few hours too. It's good for me to exercise. I like to run, but pretty much only do it in nice enough weather. Right now, for example, it's snowy and bitter cold here, and I don't have a I am not running. When spring starts to come around, I'll probably go back to running, but I only run 3 days a week at MOST and I only run 1-2 miles. It's enough. To many who exercise frequently, obsessively, or are extremely into fitness, that may seem like so little. But nevertheless, it's a perfectly adequate amount of running. It's enough for me, for my lifestyle, and for my weight.

When I'm inside, I lift small weights and do a variety of arm exercises. Just to raise the heart rate a bit and keep my muscles active. I do some leg exercises too (not with weights). Again, it's all in moderation. I'll do crunches sometimes - but not hundreds. I'll work out after work, but not for longer than 30 minutes. It's simply not necessary for me. I'm doing enough.

I'm at a perfectly healthy weight - no longer at just the "threshold of healthy" as I was a few years earlier. No ifs, ands, or buts about it - I have breasts, no poking rib bones, and my clothing sizes have gone up more than once since my recovery first began. I've been at my current weight for years now and it's happy and healthy for me. I may fluctuate between a pound or two in either direction, but my weight is natural - it's where my body wants to be when I'm eating healthfully and taking care of myself.

Don't be scared. Let go of the fear a little more each day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Will I KNOW I'm Being Mindful/Self Aware?

Here's this week's video I did for the WeRFreEDomFighters collaboration on YouTube. The topic was: "How will I KNOW I'm being mindful/self aware?"

As usual, click to view on YouTube, as embedding has been disabled.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Question # 17: Trapped & Tied...Am I Ready?

SUZANNA WHITE writes: "My question kind of goes with the art: '...trapped and tied to your disorder'(The Healing Room by Shawna Atkins)

I think as the days go by, I want less and less to recover. Did you have this same feeling when you were in recovery? I desperately want to go back to how things were when I was at overtaken by my eating disorder, and most days I feel like trying to recover was my biggest mistake. I kind of just want to know I'm not a freak. Do you ever step on the scale? I am just not ready to stop weighing in--maybe I'm just not ready for recovery?"

I can't tell you whether you are ready for recovery - only you can make that decision. But I can tell you that I understand your current stage. It's almost... apathetic? I've felt that way in the past. Going back to how things where when you were overtaken by your eating disorder is the easy way out. It's also giving up - because it's only a matter of time before going back to the beginning becomes giving up on life. Your life won't be your own and more importantly, it may not even exist in a few months or years. I know this is what practically everyone preaches - that you need to stop or you'll die. But it's true. There aren't really old women anorexics out there. You either recover or you die. I know it's blunt, but it's true.

You're not a freak. Wanting to give up on recovery does not make you a freak. I think many of us feel that way at some point. You're certainly not alone. Letting go and giving everything back to your eating disorder would feel like a sense of relief, right? It's less work, it makes your mind feel better, etc. But that's because your mind has an illness. You have to understand this to get anywhere.

If recovery was easy, there wouldn't be therapists, nutritionists, support groups, self-help books, treatment centers, and other resources. And yes, you do have to CHOOSE recovery - it's not going to choose you... but all that means is making the decision to live or die - because even if you're still breathing while you have your eating disorder, you're still not really living.

An eating disorder is a slippery slope. You give in once, you're falling fast. You give in twice, you're falling hard. You give in three times, you're falling down into a big dark hole. And it's going to be even harder to get out. Going back to it only seems easier than this whole recovery thing right now - but it's really not. That's all in your head.

Do I ever step on the scale? Yeah, I do. At the doctor's office when I go for my regular appointments. I didn't even have a scale in my house for the first 3 years after college. Scales do not matter to me. I do have one now. I do get on it...maybe a few times year? I don't care that it exists. I let a scale back in my life when I knew it wouldn't affect me any longer. If you came to my house and said you had to take it, I'd say, "Sure, go ahead." It's just a thing. Before it used to be power. Control. Numbers. Self-worth. Constant, multiple-times-per-day evaluation. That was years ago. I'm done with that. It's no way to live!

You can be ready for recovery and still be scared of the scale. You can be ready for recovery and still step on it. But one of these days you're going to have to make the conscious effort to stop and say, "This is it. This isn't helping me. I'm done. Maybe in a few years I can be around a scale again, but that is not today."

And tell yourself to cut the crap. You either want to be rid of your eating disorder or you don't. In my humble opinion, you wouldn't be reading my blog OR submitting a question for me to answer if you didn't on some level want to be rid of your eating disorder. This is a recovery blog. I give advice, support, help, and motivation for recovery from an eating disorder. It has never been anything but that and I have never pretended otherwise. You know this. And therefore, on some level, you want to recover.

Are you ready? As I said, I don't know. I can't answer that. But you can. And you will. At some point, you will. Maybe you're not ready to answer that question you've put to yourself, because you know that if you do you will have to start putting more effort into recovery. Maybe you're just afraid of a life without an eating disorder as part of your identity. Whatever it is that's holding you back, sit with it. Reflect on it. And remember, recovery is possible. You can do it if you really want it.

Yes, there was a time I felt like you. But now I feel like me. And I'd much rather feel like me. Feeling "trapped and tied" to something gets old pretty quickly... and you deserve better.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Here's today's video I just put up on the WeRFreEDomFighters collaboration on YouTube. This week we are looking at different emotions and I have a few words of advice about this one: helplessness.

Take it for what you will! <3

As usual, you'll have to click to view on YouTube, as embedding is disabled.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Question # 16: Forbidden Foods & What It's Really About

The next question comes from Kia. She asks:

"In these years of anorexia, I've stopped eating a lot of different foods (most of them, except fruits, vegetables, yogurt and meat), and some of the foods I've stopped eating, they have become some kind of 'forbidden': I still can't eat some of them (such as pizza, ice-cream, hamburgers, wrustel, etc...), while I eat hardly some others... So, I wanted to ask you: have you lived something similar? If yes, have you solved the problem, or are there 'forbidden' food to you, right now? Moreover: how did you solve this problem? How can you resist to put out again some foods from your nutrition?"

It may surprise you to know that I have no "forbidden" foods. I also have no "safe" foods. I eat everything, and I do mean everything. I'm not even a picky eater. There are a few foods I naturally dislike like creamed corn, french onion soup, and scallops, but I've disliked them since childhood. Other than those and a very few others, I eat anything and everything.

When I was dealing with my anorexia, I definitely ate very few foods. I had certain foods that I considered safe - usually low calorie foods. I had such little variety in my diet it was amazing (actually boring is a better word). I also had, as you call them, "forbidden" foods. At one point, I wouldn't eat anything with fat content. I had to have fat-free everything. I wouldn't eat sweets. I wouldn't eat hamburgers. The list went on and on.

I had to re-learn what it means to eat. I used food as a coping mechanism. As a form of control. There were problems behind the food - food wasn't really the problem. Once I was able to deal with the problems, I was able to realize that food was just food. It's what eating disordered individuals strive to learn every day - that food is just food. What a concept, you know? But it's true - food is to nourish and to be enjoyed. It's not a violent entity. It's not a weapon. It's not a punishment. It's not a reward. It just is.

I also had to slowly re-introduce foods that I had previously given up. Foods that used to scare me, I had to bring back into my diet one by one. It's really as simple as that. I can't promise you won't have moments of freaking out or feeling bad, but keep pushing through.

The following video can answer this question better than anything else I can say, and surprisingly enough it was this week's "Wednesday Warriors" video for the ED recovery collaboration on YouTube. Check it out! :)