A more in depth look at Recovery

The past few weeks I’ve been inspired and encouraged by peers to give a more in-depth account of what the phases of recovery can look like for those recovering from restrictive eating disorders. I feel called to and responsible for sharing my story in hopes of helping others. When I entered into recovery the main thing that kept me going was reading stories of women who went through the same thing. I would spend hours reading their stories, scrolling through support forums convincing myself  that I had made the right decision. The fear of the unknown can be crippling and the best and only way to recover is to let people support you in the process. I’ll start at the beginning. When I was in my early 20’s I decided I wanted to take better care of myself. I wasn’t a big person, I just wasn’t healthy. I drank too much alcohol and ate pastries, pizza and tacos for every meal. So I started working out. Slowly that turned into being more conscience about food choices. Then that turned into losing a few pounds and an increase in confidence. Pretty soon making “healthy” choices, limiting food intake and working out became outlets for me to “feel” good about myself. I started getting more positive attention from people telling me I look “so much better” and that I wasn’t “fat” anymore. I had never thought of myself as fat before, and when others started praising me about the weight loss it triggered a deeply rooted fear of losing approval. I became convinced that I was overweight at 5’4 and 125 pounds and the hyper-critical thoughts quickly turned into a daily battle. Thus began more restricting and more strenuous work outs, more shame. My food intake became the one thing in my life that I felt I had control over. All the other stress and trials I couldn’t deal with, I took out on myself. I thought if I was better, more disciplined, then everything else would be alright. All my baggage would magically disappear. It never did. Instead the one thing I thought I had control over began to control me. I started isolating myself. I hated socializing. The cycle of restricting, failing, being overcome with shame and withdrawing became a daily ritual. I felt I had to put on a face and work extra hard to please customers at work, family, and friends. In my eyes, nothing I did was good enough. I  lived in a constant state of anxiety. Around this time, I married my best friend. I can honestly say, if it wasn’t for him I never would have even considered recovery. The month we got married the effects of restrictive eating starting unraveling and creating a lot of tension in our relationship. The stress from the medical problems that developed, I felt ill all the time. I developed gastroparesis and amenorrhea. I started having allergic reactions to half the foods I ate because my body barely had enough energy to digest. All the while, I was in denial of having a problem.  Things got worse before they got better. I lost even more weight getting down to a whopping 98 pounds. I would like to say I had a major wake up call and immediately changed my ways but it was a gradual process of letting go. The infertility, osteoporosis, & psychological issues were weighing on me and changing my desires from needing to feel in control to wanting to let go. It took about 1.5 years to be able to be honest with myself and put a label on my problem. The shame and humiliation of admitting to the world that I was an obsessed and in bondage to something that seems so trivial. Cutting this story a little short but eventually I found this website. My eyes were opened up to how recovery needed to take place and how to go about doing that. I started mentally preparing for the road ahead.

Here is what the journey looked like in photos:

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This is me about a year before entering into recovery. Around 98 pounds. I cut my hair off because it was thinning and falling out. I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself during this time so I snagged this one from buzzfeed.

Recovery Phase 1 & 2

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I took this photo  the second month into the “re-feed” cycle. I had to eat 3000 cal per day to start reversal of the damage caused. I remember this day particularly because it was the first day I wore anything with  a waist band. The first month of recovery I had severe edema in my stomach, hips and thighs. I was carrying probably 15 pounds of excess water weight. During recovery your body becomes extremely sore. I felt like I was bruised everywhere. Standing hurt. Sitting hurt. Taking steps felt like I was being beaten with a hammer. Phase 1 also causes extreme exhaustion. Your body will try to paralyze itself so that it can rest and heal. Pretty incredible but difficult when you work 40 hours a week! Everyday I would work 9 hours then at 3:30 I would get in bed or lay on the couch for the rest of the day. I had zero energy. I slept 14 hours a day. I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep. After a few months of this I began noticing big changes. My skin and eyes brightened, my hair started growing back. People started commenting that I looked rested and healthier.The first few months of recovery I became very forgetful and disoriented which is unlike me. Toward the end of the re-feed my memory and clarity returned.The mental fog was lifted and I was capable of having direct, clear thoughts for the first time in years.

Phase 3:

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5 months into recovery I, for the most part am weight restored.The damage to my digestive system and muscles had been healed. Sometimes you have to gain extra weight in recovery to convince your body that it is okay and to give it extra energy to kick back on the endocrine system. That is the last piece of the puzzle I’m waiting on now. I’m still ammenorheic. According to the MinnieMaud guidelines for recovery you are not considered in remission or weight restored until you have had 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. I’m not sure if I’ve reached my weight set-point yet. Basically, everyone has an optimal weight set point in which their body maintains homeostasis. During recovery you will keep gaining weight until you reach your set point. Your weight set point is where you are most healthy, have happy hormones and should be easy to maintain.  I’m feeling better now than I’ve felt in years. My health is better, my confidence is greater, my relationships are thriving in new ways and my zeal for dreaming and for living life has returned. Recovery is worth it. I hope this post serves to inspire and encourage anyone struggling with restrictive behaviors. Feel free to contact me with any questions or to share your story.

xoxo

-L

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Lacy’s Gluten & Dairy-Free Coconut Creamsicle Recipe

With Summer making its debut this month I felt it appropriate to share my latest heat-friendly dessert recipe with you all.

COCONUT CREAMSICLES!

warning: if you do not like coconut you will hate these

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Tools:

-blender

-popsicle trays

-liquid measuring cup

Ingredients:

-1 can coconut cream

-1 can lite coconut milk

-3 tbsp. Raw Cacao (I like this brand)

-2 tbsp. Maca

-2 cups sliced mango(or fruit of choice)

-1 tsp. Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in blender. Add half a cup of filtered water. Blend. Pour into popsicle trays and place in freezer til adequately frozen and ready to enjoy! Makes about 16 little creamsicles.

This recipe is great for kids. You can easily add spinach, flax and nut butters to sneak in extra nutrients and protein and they will never know! I like to add maca powder and raw cacao for the antioxidants and hormone-balancing qualities.

The perfect Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan & AIP Compliant treat!

Nutrition & Pregnancy 101

If you’ve been following my blog over the past year you’ve probably read my story about struggling with infertility due to malnourishment. I remember the specific day when I decided that I wasn’t going to let my own struggle get in the way of celebrating and helping empower other women. It’s freed me from being jealous, hurt or angry when friends announce their pregnancy or post a million photos of their kids. Choosing to embrace my reality is difficult but it makes me happy that it has stretched me to love others wherever this issue finds them. I recently attended a class that dived into theology and infertility and it raised several questions I’ve been pondering for some time. Culturally, infertility is a white middle-class issue.(I’m not saying that no one outside of the white-middle class struggles with infertility) Anyway I’m incredibly intrigued and have been wondering how infertility became such an isolated issue specifically among the white middle/upper class. I believe a huge culprit for this issue is society’s unrealistic expectations of women and beauty.

-Studies show that the most fertile women is above 22% body fat (typically considered a little chubby in our culture) Other studies suggest that a BMI between 25-29 is optimal for conception. I hate BMI charts for the record. Our society bombards women with images of super small thin figures and suggests that should be the standard of beauty. Unfortunately, we fall prey to the pressure and decide to change ourselves to match those images. The physical, mental stress this places on the body is too much for the reproductive system to handle. Reproductive organs do not like stress! Conception is a miracle and is difficult enough without the added mental and physical stress of a low fat-calorie restricted diet. On the other side of the issue is obesity which is a huge epidemic responsible for 60% of deaths in the United States alone and also creates issues with fertility. Just like being underweight or stressed out causes infertility….the body doesn’t like carrying around excessive weight causing the organs to work in over-drive either. Finding your weight set-point and embrace it, whatever that looks like for you and choosing not to compare yourself to others could help you in your journey to motherhood. That could mean losing the dream of having a “thigh gap” or picking up some weights and getting your sweat on.

Anyway onto the rest of this post….since this is a blog post about nutrition and pregnancy & not about infertility/my angry rants about American culture. Sidenote: after spending my childhood in a third world country and then moving to the U.S. as a young lady, my teenage angst spawned several long essays about my issues with the entitlement, pressure, and individual-oriented lifestyle our culture propagates. Imagine that.

Here are my Top Tips for supporting pregnancy with nutrition:

-Get rid of all processed food in your house (yes, all of it) if you can’t pronounce every ingredient…throw it away. If you don’t know what an ingredient is..throw it away too.

-Stop buying low-fat/ reduced-sugar diet food propaganda and replace it with wholesome full fat organic products.

-Stop drinking soda in all forms and replace it with unsweetened tea or sparkling water.

-consider going grain-free and supplementing with extra greens sautéed in your favorite oils. (coconut, ghee, olive, avocado).

-Try and eat every 3.5-4 hours. Women’s bodies are not meant for intermittent fasting. Our bodies like predictability so having a scheduled eating regiment is important.

-Start taking a prenatal vitamin

-Always eat the egg yolks and start including more foods rich in omega-3’s such as wild salmon, cage-free eggs, kale, spinach, chia seeds.

-Always include a source of protein/carbs/ and fat at each meal. Your body will better absorb nutrients. Carbohydrates like to be paired with healthy fats because the fats help decrease the dramatic spike in insulin that carbohydrates (especially ones rich in sugar such as bananas, apples, etc) create.

-Cut out all soy products, and purchase meat that is hormone-free.

-Eat Maca in some form everyday. Include it in a smoothie or purchase Maca in capsule form.

I hope these tips find you well!

Much Love

xoxo

-L

Calories, Weight set points & Why you’re starving and not losing weight

It’s the weekend! Merry Saturday! Recently my blog posts have become fewer and far between. Obviously, I love blogging and writing about topics I find interesting or helpful but life has been full of new adventures and time has been scarce. This year I’m not only working toward certifications in the fitness realm but am taking steps to potentially go back to school to pursue a degree in biology & nutritional science.

There’s a few things I’m going to talk about briefly in this post. The first is calories, then we’ll touch on weight-set points & why you can be eating less and still not losing weight.

CALORIES!

In nutrition, a unit called the kilocalorie, also known as the diet calorie, is frequently mentioned. This unit is equivalent to 1000 cal, and is the amount of heat energy required to raise or lower one kilogram (1 kg) of pure liquid water by 1º C or 1º K. When the label on a package of food says that a serving contains 200 calories, it means that the sample would yield 200 kcal (not 200 cal) of heat energy if subjected to complete combustion. Lets just talk about Calories as energy or fuel. Calories carry you throughout the day and give your body what it needs to heal, complete a physical task, build muscle, think clearly, digest, get adequate sleep at night and shouldn’t be viewed as enemies to those trying to lose a few pounds. If you choose to view calories as fuel it will start to shape the kind of nutritional choices you make. What foods do you want to be fueling you throughout your shift at work? Do you want sustainable energy or spikes of energy that lead to severe crashes? Do you have a more sedentary lifestyle or active? How many times do you exercise per week? There is no one-size fits all formula when it comes to calorie intake. What your body needs each day can be different depending on the physical demands. For example: 5 days a week you work a desk job from 9-5 but on the weekends you enjoy long distance runs. What you need nutritionally during the week will most likely be different than the energy you need to fuel those long weekend runs. Age, weight, height, & gender also factor into calorie needs. Obviously a 15 year old male will need more fuel than say a 70 year sedentary male.  Learning to listen to your own body’s hunger cues is going to be the best way to ensure you aren’t over or under-nourishing.

Weight Set Points

I’d go as far to say that everyone has a weight they maintain fairly easily or hover within 10 pounds of and that is their “weight set point”. Most set points are determined genetically. Some people have a genetic disposition to be larger, others pretty tiny. At your weight set point your body has found a state of homeostasis that it loves and wants to stay at. This is one of the contributing factors to why some people have an extremely difficult time losing or gaining weight. Their body is so comfortable at its “set point” that it does it’s best to hold onto it’s current amount of stored energy (fat).

Here’s why this is important and why you can be starving and the scale not budge. Your body is smart. Smarter than you(how is that possible? Trust me…it is). Most people wanting to lose weight start slashing calories and start following some sort of plan that looks like this:

5ca55ba391eced28f6e3998a1633ec7eI don’t know Lindsay but she is officially the last person I would ask for fitness and food advice from. You need 1200 calories just to lay in bed all day. That smile she has is fake..she’s actually really really hungry and pissed but wants your money.  When you choose to cut calories so drastically and up the exercise your body thinks it is starving. It can’t tell the difference between a “diet” and a “famine”.  It’s wondering where did all the energy I use to get go? Why so much unpredictability? So it prepares itself by holding onto as much stored energy as it can. That’s body fat people. Not only does it hold onto that fat but typically an extremely low calorie diet will result in intense cravings for high calorie foods since your body is trying to get some more energy.

Here’s the take away:

-Properly fuel yourself for workouts and daily living. Don’t over fuel but dramatically slashing calories will not get you what you want in the long term.

-If you are new to fitness let your body get used to exercising for around 2 weeks before completely changing your diet. Make small changes at first. Baby steps.

-If you’re tired all the time, having dreams about food, getting super grumpy and snippy with loved ones. Chances are..you’re not fueling properly.

xoxo

-L

My top 5 Superfood’s

su·per·food
ˈso͞opərˌfo͞od/
noun
a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
“he touts broccoli sprouts and salmon as two of the most perfect superfoods”

Here are my top 5 favorite “superfood’s” to eat everyday!

  1. Maca Powder: Maca is a root known as “Peruvian ginseng”. It has incredible benefits in the realms of hormone balancing as well as increasing libido and energy levels. Just blend a teaspoon in with a smoothie first thing in the morning and you’ll be wide awake! You don’t need more than a teaspoon because maca is extremely potent. Maca has a reputation for being great for women who are pmsing or experiencing symptoms of menopause.
  2. Raw Cacao: Every time I say “cacao” I can’t help but think of Portlandia and instantly have to make fun of myself. It’s true. I love raw cacao. Rich in anti-oxidants as well as potassium, iron & calcium, everyone should love raw cacao. Cacao is also great for regulating blood sugar and detoxifying the liver.
  3. Hemp Seeds: Check Photo below. Nuff said. Pick up a bag of ’em at Trader Joe’s like….tomorrow.

87a19b5896ac0f605bcfed097c58e68b4.  Collagen/Gelatin: Collagen builds healthy bones, is great for the hair & skin as well as extremely healing for the gut. Those suffering with autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis benefit greatly from increasing their intake of gelatin. I have added collagen to my diet in the form of bone broth.  If you make bone broth at home, use quality bones from animals that were fed nutritious diets…(not pumped with grains and hormones.)

5. Free Range Eggs: Pastured eggs have twice as many omega-3 fatty acids as regular eggs, three times more Vitamin E & six times more Vitamin D. The yolk will also be a much deeper yellow-orange color.  Happy chickens=healthier eggs.

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xoxo

-L

Eating for healthy hormones

One of the first things women do when wanting to shed a few pounds is cut back on their fat intake. The generations before us preached reduced-fat, low cholesterol, fake sweeteners, diet soda, low calorie whatever was the best way to get healthy, lose weight and keep it off. Just do whatever you can to cut those calories! I am here to tell you that all of that is complete garbage. It’s really important as women (men too) to consider our hormonal health when making lifestyle changes. Hormones are a huge factor in our ability to gain or lose weight as well as our energy levels. We need to take care of our hormones so they can do their jobs.

-Saturated Fat & Cholesterol are essential to build sex hormones estrogen, progesterone & testosterone. Low energy levels & even depression has been linked to men and women who have extremely low cholesterol intake. Eat the egg yolks ya’ll!

-Blood-sugar and insulin regulation needs fat! The best way to keep your blood sugar from spiking is to have at least a little fat at every meal or snack time.If you eat an apple for example throw a bit of coconut butter on top or blend it into a smoothie. Hormones like predictability and they will respond by giving you more mental clarity as well as sustained energy levels & better sleep cycles. Also, increasing your fat intake will help curb those sugar-cravings. I eat quite a bit of fat and I can’t tell you the last time I legitimately craved sugar. Eating a breakfast that has a good portion of fat will give you more energy than any granola bar will.

-Healthy fats are rich in vitamins your body has a hard time getting else where such as Vitamin A, D & K. Fat is also satiating. Eating a spoonful of coconut oil (or a fat bomb!) will keep you full for longer as opposed to eating chips or crackers.

-When I use the term “healthy fats” I am excluding seed & vegetable oils. Here is a good link about cooking with lipids.

Here are my favorite Fats that I include in my diet daily:

  • Ghee & MCT Oil -I will never add butter to my coffee but I will cook my breakfast in it!

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  • Coconut butter with Cacao! Perfect for someone with a sweet tooth whose trying to cut back. I also have regular coconut butter, coconut oil and almond butter that has coconut oil and coconut flakes in it.

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  • If you can tolerate dairy, grass-fed butter is wonderful. For those who can’t stick with Ghee.

Lastly, healthy lipids are not going to be what makes you “fat” unless your consuming them in surplus amounts of course. Desserts,pasta, bread, processed food, soda (even diet) is what’s going to set you back from achieving your goals and feeling great.

Eat Fat, Be Happy!

xoxo

-L

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe & HA Update

Meal prep is the key to success with any lifestyle change. Waiting til you’re running out the door to think about what to grab for lunch is a recipe for failure. The number 1 complaint I get about eating Paleo is  “it’s just a lot of work”. Well, dealing with health complications and feeling like crap half the time because of unhealthy eating takes a lot of time, money & energy too. Not being willing to work is what got you into this rut and getting yourself out will require some work. Don’t be passive about your health. Own it. The successes, the failures, all of it.

My favorite meal prep tool is my crockpot. I love my crockpot. Im off Sundays and get  back to the grind on Monday so Sunday is the perfect day for me to throw a meal in the crockpot and then divide it into tupperware for lunches for the week. Here is one of my favorite go-to easy peasy crockpot Paleo recipes.

FullSizeRenderIngredients:

2 cans full fat coconut milk

1 lb. hormone-free chicken breasts

3 sweet potatoes

spinach

2 bell peppers

1 onion

2 tomatoes

3 garlic cloves

Spices:

2 tbsp. Curry

1 tbsp. turmeric

1/2 tbsp. cumin

1/2 tbsp. coriander

Couple shakes cayenne pepper if you like spicy

salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Place chicken breasts in crockpot on Low setting. Add cans of coconut milk, chopped onion, garlic & spices. Let cook in crockpot for about 5 hours. With 2 hours cooking time left dice up sweet potatoes, tomatoes & handfuls of spinach & add to crockpot. You could add the sweet potatoes at the beginning of the recipe but it will make them really soft….I don’t like extremely soft veggies. Another option would be to add some bone broth for extra nutrients & to make your tummy happy. Garnish with cilantro or top with avocado!

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Update

For those that have been inquiring about my progress with HA, thanks for your concern and here is an update on how it’s going.

-I’ve had a mix of emotions lately ranging from really hopeful to angry and frustrated. I feel like I’ve worked so hard to undo all the damage but healing is taking way longer than I anticipated. Some things have changed such as my sleep patterns and overall energy levels. I’m sleeping a lot, feeling more relaxed most of the time.

-I was about to make another doctor appointment to have blood work done when I was advised to get my body composition checked again before I throw more money down the drain. A friend of mine & great personal trainer did my measurements and then offered me cookies. I’ve literally eaten 3000 plus calories a day for weeks now and haven’t gained a single pound. My body fat levels are being stubborn and refusing to budge past 13%. I have no hope of even thinking about having kids until I can get those levels atleast to 18% and maintain it. Also, as every week passes my bone density decreases and my risk for osteoporosis skyrockets because of the lack of estrogen.

-A lot of people don’t understand why I am so strict with my diet and a lot of it has to do with this condition. I can’t run the risk of throwing my insulin levels off all the time by having refined sugars or junk food. Hormones like predictability and I have to be predictable to make progress.

-I’ve started buying clothes in bigger sizes so I don’t get caught up mentally in the changes. Even though I still have a lot of rough days with that.

Want to learn more about HA here are a few blogs that have inspired me and helped me feel less insane:

http://paleoforwomen.com/how-extremity-can-make-even-the-best-diet-fail/

http://www.theholisticnutritionist.com/hypothalamic-amenorrhea-2/hypothalamic-amenorrhea-what-to-do-first/