As a verb, balance is defined as: “to keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall”. As a noun, balance is defined as: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” When it comes to my new series “A Balanced Life” I have chosen a few lovely ladies to feature that I believe embody what it means to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. These women inspire me to keep buying organically (even if it is more expensive and some people just don’t get it), to keep working out (even if it is the first time in my life I am getting fit in a healthy way) and to keep up the positive attitude and energy.
It comes as no surprise to those who read my blog on the regular that I am now starting a Balanced Life Series. I’ve talked about it here, and then collaborated with the lovely girls of ThePartyof2 on a balanced recipe here.
Although I am a food blogger and instagrammer who likes to eat at the hot spots in Boston and beyond, I’m taking my blog further and starting to focus on balance and happiness; as well as positive body image and inspiration. Too often we are bombarded by images in the media that tell us we need to look a certain way or have a certain “thing” (whether it’s physical or costs $25,000.00) in order to be happy, and sadly it becomes “bible” to some young women, men and older people as well. Trust me, I’ve fallen victim to the brain-washing of it all and developed an eating disorder for many, many years. (read here)
Pretty strong title, right? I know. A strong title is needed in order to typify my very strong feelings towards the word “diet” and all of its negative connotations. As all of my Day 1 readers know, I suffered from an eating disorder starting when I was 19 for 4 years. It was a horrible time in my life and I am so happy that I have come up on the other side (hello!).
The one thing they definitely do not teach you in a treatment facility is how to adopt a certain fad”diet”. The average person describes a diet as a label/ program where you eliminate certain things/ restrict yourself from having certain “bad foods” as a means to lose a certain amount of weight. In treatment, we are taught that there is no such thing as “bad food”, but there are foods that are much better for us than others and all food is great in moderation. (unless you have a food allergy of course)
After conquering treatment and beating my disorder (FYI: you’re never fully cured from an eating disorder….it’s a daily struggle) I never “dieted”. I was too afraid I would spiral out of control and go back into that dark hole of binging and purging and restricting.
I say all this to say that as I sit here in front of my computer screen, I’m realizing that I have never lost weight in a healthy way in my life. The moment I became conscious of my body and decided to lose weight, it was a restriction thing which then turned into a full blown bulimia fueled chaotic lifestyle. My problem is that I want to see results pronto and when I don’t see a drastic change in a month, I get discouraged. I’m used to dropping weight quickly, even though it was due to unhealthy and possibly deadly practices.
So here we are ladies and (possibly a few) gentlemen, we’re at this point in my life where I have retrained my brain to love food and now need to train my body to fully commit to balance. Throughout my years after treatment and reading up on inspirational people such as Hannah Bronfman and Gwyneth Paltrow and their daily lives of balance, I have learned that in order to have a healthy, happy and feel-good-life/body and mind you need live a life of balance. Balance means leading a lifestyle of mostly nutrient dense, organic, super-foody foods as well as working out multiple times a week; but still allowing yourself to have indulgent foods once in a while. It’s knowing that what you eat most certainly effects how you feel/ your mood, as well as your skin, nails and hair. As someone who not only suffered from an eating disorder, but also suffers from high anxiety, it is extremely important that I focus on the foods I’m putting into my body (but not in an obsessive way, of course).
I notice that when I work out 5 or 6 days a week and eat fruits, veggies and fish, I feel amazing! I have so much more energy and drink a lot more water as opposed to eating fried foods multiple times a week with wine or beer and not working out. It’s all about listening to my body, after all, it is my temple.
This is just a random rant filled/ diary type post and also a way to hold myself accountable. Thanks for listening.
What does balance mean to you? Leave a comment below! I’d love to gain some inspiration from some of you guys
Somewhere in time, having a mental illness or even talking about mental illness, was labeled: taboo. The lack of acceptance and understanding of this issue caused those who suffered from it to suffer in silence.
Anxiety can be experienced by everyone: becoming nervous before a test, a first date, or at work, but having clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder is a completely different experience, often times constant and crippling.
This is my story……….
As a child I was not shy at all, I was very outspoken and always the center of attention. I was never scared to do things that seemed bigger than my tiny, little body, I was always a dreamer. The same can be said for me today, but I’m also a lot more conscious of the world around me…sometimes, too conscious.
My mom had me when she was still trying to finish up college, so for a couple of years I was sent to live with my grandmother in Florida. This is the earliest memory I have of feeling anxious. It started out as separation anxiety from my mother. I would talk to her every single night without fail and I would sleep with an article of her clothing in order to feel closer to her. Little did I know, I was already predisposed to developing some type of mental illness since my biological father also suffers from this overlooked disease.
Fast forward a few years, I began learning more about the world. It wasn’t a fairytale place like my beloved Disney movies portrayed it to be. I experienced direct racism (my 3rd grade crush told me he couldn’t “date me” because I was black), dealt with my biological father not being as active in my life as i’d liked, and many other things that may seem insignificant to some, but was hard for me. Instead of speaking about it, I internalized all of my feelings, stashing it away into my “woe is me” box, or the pages of my poetry notebook.
College is where my anxiety became the worst it had ever been. Growing up in private, Catholic schools my whole life, I was sheltered a bit. I had the same friends throughout my childhood in Connecticut. Embarking into something new such as college, with this new found freedom, I wasn’t all too prepared for what was in store, and the different people I would encounter.
I joined a sorority, and my self-image and self-confidence went for a drastic decline. In my mind, I did not compare with the skinny, tall, gorgeous, white sorority girls I was constantly around. I had to do something to be more like them, and to silence my anxiety. This is when I developed my eating disorder which I learned during my treatment, was only a way to cope with my anxieties. As my weight drastically declined, so did my grades and self respect. I let my negative thoughts of what I thought I should be and what I wasn’t, take control.
During all of this, I kept how serious my anxiety was becoming to myself because I felt like no one would understand. I also felt silly that I was letting my insecurities and worry get the best of me.
Treatment and the support of my boyfriend, family, and some friends were what saved my life. After addressing my eating disorder, I was finally left with my anxieties and finding healthy ways to cope.
When I have overwhelming anxiety, my heart palpitates, my breathing shortens, I grind my teeth at night and clinch them during the day (to the point where I crack my enamel), and my thoughts of bad things happening to those I love, wreak havoc on my mind. How does one cope with those feelings in a healthy way?…
I have found that eating nutrient dense foods, positive thoughts, staying active and surrounding myself with positive people are great ways to cope with my anxiety. We don’t realize that what we put into our bodies (food, music, television) and who we keep around us has a direct effect on our mental stability. I also lead a strong prayer life. Growing up in the church has always remained a big part of me, so reaching out to the big guy upstairs on a daily basis keeps me sane.
Another big way to deal with anxiety is to talk it out. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or notice signs that I’m having an anxiety attack, I call on my boyfriend, mom or a couple of close friends to help me through.
Lastly, if it becomes too much, seek help from a professional! I am a big advocate of therapy. Speaking to someone who isn’t close to you is a great way to gain a different/ unbiased perspective on life. It’s relaxing to meet weekly with someone and just talk for an hour.
I hope a little glimpse into my life with anxiety/ a mental illness is helpful in understanding it a bit more, or even dealing with your own anxieties.
If you have further questions about this topic, please leave a comment below, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
For more information and resources regarding mental illnesses, please visit: https://www.nami.org/ or http://www.mentalhealth.gov/