Sorry for the all caps, but I’m so excited right now!!! 😀
Wanna know why?
No, not just ’cause it’s Hump Day….
…it’s ’cause today is my 20TH Warrior Woman Wednesday post and the featured woman is a ROCKSTAR. She has been such an incredible resource for me in my recovery process, and I’m thrilled to share her story with you all today.
BUT WAIT. I would like to give a HUGE shoutout to my parents who are celebrating their 31st anniversary today!!! <3 I look up and admire their relationship and marriage so much, and they are one of the biggest support systems in my life. I love you so much Mom and Dad! Thank you for giving me life.
Okay before I start ranting about something else that’s random, let’s get right into today’s post.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Read below!
In this series, I feature a female blogger or woman in my life who has gone through a recovery process, inspiring health journey, or something that changed their life for the better. See my Warrior Woman Wednesday page for a full listing of previous posts!
Like I said, today’s woman is amazing!
She not only has her Master’s in Public Health and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, but she also runs her own food blog which features her freelance recipe development and awesome food photography. Her philosophy on being a intuitive and “normal eating” is one of the main reasons I was attracted to her in the first place.
What do you mean by “normal eating”?
In essence, it’s someone who has no food rules and pretty much eats everything. After all, there shouldn’t be stress over eating food. Food is JUST FOOD. As this woman says, “Food is morally neutral. Eating a particular way does not make you better than anyone.” I love that she advocates for a “non-diet” approach to eating to help others fall back in love with their food and prevent food from being a source of anxiety in a person’s life.
However, this woman didn’t always have such a positive and healthy relationship with food. At the same time she discovered cross country and running, she started to develop an unhealthy obsession with exercise and food restriction.
She developed anorexia in her sophomore year of high school which led to a 5-year destructive cycle of binge-eating, restricting food, and over-exercising. Similar to me, she would run too much in the morning, restrict her caloric intake throughout the day, binge at night because she wasn’t eating enough during the day, and waking up the next morning feeling guilty and HAD to exercise. It’s a terrible and vicious cycle that took me SO LONG to break from.
With the help of therapists, her parents, and food blogs, this woman has found freedom. She CELEBRATES food and makes healthy eating something to look forward to and enjoyable for everyone.
I’m absolutely THRILLED that she’s here today!
So please give a GIANT round of applause to the incredible and inspiring Kylie, of immaEATthat! <3
M: At what point did your eating disorder start? Or, what was the largest contributing factor?
K: I always tell people I don’t know the day my eating disorder started and I don’t know what day it stopped. I struggled with an eating disorder for 3ish years (anorexia that morphed into bulimia, exercise-type) then I struggled with disordered eating for 5 years. I’ve considered myself recovered for 3+ years.
I would say there are 3 factors that contributed to my ED…
- Improper coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Restriction, bingeing, and excessive exercise were the ways I managed the stress in my life. I now realize there are so many other healthful coping mechanisms and self care activities. I wrote about my favorite self-care practices here: http://immaeatthat.com/
- Internalization of the thin-ideal. I unfortunately got the (wrong) message pretty young that thin was good and was something I should be striving for. For example, a family member told me to wear my hair back in a ponytail because it made me look thinner.
- Dieting was happening all around me so I assumed it was normal to try to manipulate my natural body size.
M: What would you eat in a typical day?
K: Not enough! I don’t think it’s worth talking about. I think sharing this would only give people ideas for how to restrict.
M: When did you realize that you needed help?
K: I felt like ALL of my brain space was being taken up by my eating disorder. I started to have curiosity about what I could accomplish if my brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of fearing food and exercising obsessively. I think keeping a journal and documenting how much of your day is spent thinking about food/exercise can be really eye-opening for someone in their eating disorder to help them realize how much of their life they are missing out on.
M: What kind of changes did you make (physical, mental, etc.)?
K: A bunch! I started to engage in life! Your core values get lost when you are so focused on the scale and your weight. EDs and disordered eating take up so much brain space. The focus on weight distracted me from all the incredible things I could be doing in life.
I also had to get away from good food-bad food mentality. I had to start to legalize food in my mind and allow myself to eat everything (this is when my blog, immaEATthat.com, was helpful…I had to try the food I was making for the blog). I started thinking about what a cookie could do for me. Food is not good or bad. It’s protein, carbs and fat. My body can tolerate all foods…it is my mind that was the issue.
Also, I had to go through a process of starting to like myself. Choosing to be kind on myself. and realizing that I want to work with my body and stop fighting it. I’ve become much more self-aware. I’m able to recognize when my inner mean girl is yelling at me and I’m able to have intense curiosity about why I’m being hard on myself. I’m not praising myself all the time, but I’ve learned to be kind to myself and practice self care.
A huge thing for me was stopping exercise for awhile. This allowed me to listen to H/F and start being more mindful. Intense exercise made me dissociate from my body more…not connect to it.
Lastly, I also did a lot of body image work by:
1) Using social media to build me up, not tear me down. I started following body positive accounts and unfollowing anything that was making me “unlike” myself.
2) Educated myself on Health At Every Size and the belief that the body has a set point weight it will fight to be. I had to let go of the idea that my body should look a certain way.
3) Surrounded myself with positive messages – PODCASTS! (Food Psych by Christy Harrison is great!).
M: What was the hardest part of your recovery/journey?
K: Stopping exercise and learning to tolerate my body’s natural body size and shape. I went through a grieving process when I had to stop running. It was the hardest thing I’ve done, but stopping running gave me my life back.
Learning to be okay with my body while gaining weight was hard as well. I wrote a post on that here: http://immaeatthat.com/2016/
M: How different is your life now after taking that first step to recovery?
K: OH MY GOSH! SO DIFFERENT. I feel like I can finally take a deep breath. It feels like I can fully embrace life because I’m not numbing away from it anymore. I finally care about my body and choose to take care of it regardless of the size it ends up. I love having values that are important to me that have nothing to do with the size of my pants.
M: What advice do you have for others who want to recover but are afraid to take that first step?
K: Recovery will rarely feel right to you. My advice is that your behaviors will have to change before your thoughts will change. Recovery is all about taking blind leaps of faith that won’t feel good at the time. Find a therapist and dietitian who specialize in EDs who can walk beside you in this process. If you are interested in working with me, you can email me at: immaEATthat@gmail.com. Or sign up for my email list for healthful eating tips + recent blog posts here: http://eepurl.com/bdyFdL
M: This one’s hard…what’s your all-time favorite food and why?
K: This changes constantly, as cravings do when you’re listening to your body. Current favorite food is homemade french toast paired with a vanilla latte. So cozy and perfect for fall!
” I love having values that are important to me that have nothing to do with the size of my pants.” #WWW
Be sure to visit Kylie’s amazing blog and connect with her on social media too! She’s a super awesome person! 🙂