Acne, Amenorrhea, and Anxiety: What a MTHFR!*

[source] For those of you playing the home game, you already know that I’ve been seeing a functional medicine doctor, and that we’ve already figured out that I’m dealing with stage 2 adrenal fatigue, a messed up thyroid, and a … Continue reading

(Mental) Fitness Friday: Taking Leaps

leap-of-faith

[SOURCE] I did it. With two injured ankles, and from the comfort of an easy chair at Starbucks, I took a leap. Not a box jump, a double-under, or even a lighthearted skip. It was an over-the-edge, no-turning-back, forgot-the-bungee-cord, free-falling-fast … Continue reading

Car-Struck, or How Respecting My Body Saved My Life

bruised-not-broken

In late 2009, at the height of my “clean eating”-induced anorexia/exercise bulimia, I was told I had osteopenia. That means that my bones were thinning and on the brink of osteoporosis. From late 2009 until May of last year, I … Continue reading

Trigger HAPPY Thursday: Public Gratitude [VIDEO]

Happy Smiley Face

While my battle with ED began 13 years ago, my real journey began in May of 2011.

I’ve written before about my ankle injury/surgery/pain, so I won’t bore you unless you want to go and read about it, but the gist of it is that, on Monday, I was diagnosed with Stage I Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.* I could sit and cry about it, but I already did that, and I’m not going to anymore. The unexplained chronic pain, swelling, and other bad juju has led me to a better mental place, even though my physical place is sometimes hard to live in.

All of this to say that I’ve learned a lot about acceptance–and about the power of positive energy. I’ve learned that if you put positive energy–and gratitude for the positive parts of your life–out into the universe, the universe sends it back.

I’ve been tweeting my gratitude daily, and it has helped me shift the focus from my ankle to the amazing and beautiful people and events and opportunities in my life. I’m not always positive, I’m not always perfect, but I am always working on my gratitude.

So I’ve decided that it’s time to start a new chapter of the In My Skinny Genes blog: a weekly video called Trigger HAPPY Thursday, where we’ll talk about all of the positive ways to trigger happiness in our lives. Today’s trigger is public declarations of gratitude:

So what are you grateful for? How are you going to publicly declare your gratitude today? What else do you do to trigger HAPPY?

Stay Hungry,

@MissSkinnyGenes

(By the way–George, the “Civilized Caveman” whose amazing post on battling male bulimia was featured on the blog a while back, has a huge sale on his Caveman Feast Cookbook. If you’re A) Paleo and looking for some inspiration in the kitchen or B) NOT Paleo and looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, then you must must must check this ebook out. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, perhaps this is:

Bacon. And chocolate. Baconandchocolate.

Seriously. Check it out now!** Enjoy!)

*CRPS, formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, or RSD, is a chronic, potentially degenerative pain syndrome that can occur for a number of reasons, all associated with some sort of trauma to the nerves (whether over time or all at once). You can tell CRPS from a number of symptoms, like the foot being “dusky” or a different temperature, and if things get really bad, deformed and sweaty. I’m only Stage I, which is, thank goodness, potentially reversible. I am so, so incredibly lucky. I’m not off the hook though, because it’s only reversible if, A) I break the pain cycle and B) work my ass off to increase range of motion. So I may have to start taking pain meds, which is exactly the last thing I want to do. Between my “paleo” eating and my aversion to Western medicine in general, the thought of flooding my body with an anti-seizure medication that may cause such wonderful side effects as adverse skin reactions and ataxia….well, I’m not happy about that. But I guess life is about making compromises and choices, and sometimes the best way isn’t the way you’d planned on traveling. So I don’t know. We’ll see where it goes. I’m going to heal–I’ve already decided. I don’t need pain to be a badge of honor–I want to enjoy my life to the fullest extent that I can, and I want my body to be as whole as it can be. I’ve beaten it up enough. Time to show it how grateful I am that it’s stuck with me through the worst.

Connections

Before I talk anymore about the calorie myth, I just want to take a brief second to talk about a recovery–and life tool–that has become really important in my life recently.

In fact, I think it might be the single most important tool I’ve discovered–more so than nutrition, fitness, and even therapy or program.

Connection.

ED (or disordered thinking in general) grows strongest when we disconnect from other people. ED loves to sit in your head and wait for the quiet moments to start playing the negative self-talk record on repeat. ED knows that the longer you obsess about your own self and body, the less you’ll be open to letting anyone else in–and then ED has you all to himself.

I have always been the quiet kid who preferred to isolate. I used to get sick to get out of going to sleepover parties with my girlfriends in elementary school (although I didn’t realize that it was partly psychosomatic until recently). I preferred going on long walks by myself around New York City at twilight to staying up late with friends in my dorm. I am notorious for giving rain checks on days when the anxiety sends me to bed before 9 pm.

Frankly, while being alone can be a wonderful way to meditate, get in touch with yourself, and take a break from the world to calm the anxiety, it’s not an efficient tool for getting better. In the end, taking a risk and putting yourself out there–even for a little while, even with just one person–gives you a better chance at fighting the negativity that would otherwise fill the silence.

Easier said than done, you say. And you’re right. It’s easy to sit here and type out the words after I’ve already started doing it. But who said that only easy things were worth doing? So, in case you’re wondering how to dive in and start connecting, I’ve outlined my own journey:

1. The first thing I did was listen to myself. This is a connection that you can make alone, however you’ll have to work for it. In the months that I’ve been sitting in my house recovering, I’ve had a lot of time to sit by myself. In the past, that was some quality time with ED waiting to happen. Instead, I started listening to the other voice in my head–my voice. It was the one that asked, “But why do I need to go to the gym two days after my surgery? What will that prove?” and “Why do I care how many calories are in bone broth? Can’t I just enjoy it?” It was the voice that said, “I’m lonely. Please reach out to someone. Please.”

2. The second thing I did was listen to the universe. This is probably going to sound a little crazy and “hippy-dippy,” but bear with me: I believe that the universe sends us messages. Sometimes, those messages are in the form of people, sometimes they’re in the form of opportunities. A good example: In early June, I accidentally took a voice lesson. My little brother was going to miss a paid-for voice lesson when he went to visit his father in Florida. My mom insisted I take the lesson, even though I hadn’t sung in about three years and had no desire to ever go near the theatre again. Now, not only do I take lessons every week, I’ve found an incredible friend in my vocal coach and I am going to be in my first musical in six years. If I had fought the universe, I wouldn’t be doing Les Mis.

3. Third, I learned to talk to strangers. Probably goes against everything your parents taught us, but I’m not talking about the kind who offer you candy from unmarked white vans. I’m talking about the ones who offer you freelance work in Starbucks because they noticed that you were a writer. I’m talking about the kind whose blogs you stumble upon while searching for positive examples of recovery. I’m talking about the ones who send you incredibly heartfelt emails or leave incredibly honest and beautiful blog comments because they read your story and wanted to share theirs. I’m talking about the people who make small talk while standing in line, the people who see you walk into the gym after 4 months and ask you how your injury is healing. People are essentially good, and you can learn so much from them if only you donate a few minutes of your time to the experience.

4. Fourth, I learned to let people in. I have never been good at having friends. I have never been good at staying in touch. But of late, and partially because of this blog, I’ve reconnected with many of my high school, college, and grad school friends, as well as some of my coworkers from previous jobs. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to know that they are still in my life. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to know that they still care–and to be able to care about their lives. And that includes some of my new friends here in California, too. I was so scared of sharing even a tiny piece of myself with them–after dealing with the drama that I left behind in Florida–that I ignored the chance to connect with some really incredible, beautiful people. And I’m making an effort now to be a part of their lives as they’ve tried to become a part of mine.

5. Finally, I learned to reach out.  This is the big one. This is the hardest, hardest part: making the first move. I have always waited for people to come to me. If the universe didn’t seem to be sending a message (or I was too busy ignoring it because ED was holding my attention captive), then so be it. I would be alone, and that was that. But I’m learning that good things don’t always come to those who wait. Those who wait sometimes let the good things slip right through their fingers. Recently, I sent an email to one of my favorite podcasters, Roger Dickerman of Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor. And now I’m going to be transcribing their show. And yesterday, I sent an email to the big daddy of all Paleo/Low Carb podcasters–and one of my favorites as well–Jimmy Moore. And this morning, he sent me an email asking me to be on his show in 2013.* Take a chance. You never know who will write, call, or answer back.

Anyway, the long and short of it is, connection, communication, conversation…it’s the only way to heal. Other people can’t make your scars fade, but they can help you see past them. Other people can’t validate your existence, but they can enrich it. Other people can’t make you love yourself, but they can hold the mirror up for you so you can start to see the beauty you have inside.

Today is a good day to start connecting.

Today…is a good day.

-K.

*I can’t even tell you how much I’m “fan-girling out” right now. (And, yes, I just coined  term. Shakespeare did it, and so can I.) Jimmy is such an incredible force for positivity in the podcast world. I am so grateful that he even responded, let alone offered to let me be one of the “& Friends” on “Low Carb Conversations With Jimmy Moore & Friends….