How I Overcame my Eating Disorder: Forest Greenwell

Forest is a dear friend of mine who I met when I first moved home to Toronto from New Zealand.   She was behind the counter at a cafe I walked into, in a state of low, really ungrounded and upset.  She immediately took me to the back kitchen, leaving the front counter, and sat me down for an hour without blinking an eye, wordlessly signalling to the staff to cover for her.

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She is one hell of a woman, and has founded the wellness initiative Her Habitat, a safe space for anyone to share their struggles that accompany our belonging to this collective human condition called Life.  She connects people and helps the world feel supported; her purpose is brilliantly described in the powerful statement;

You are not alone.

Bless her soul.

She is a warrior of a myriad of Life’s journeys, and battles on while dancing, singing, and doing really cool shit.

Here is her story:

My Eating Disorder Journey:

For a significant part of my life, foods purpose wasn’t to nourish me. I used it to mask, unplug, hide from my feelings. I fluctuated constantly between states of starvations and near illness from binging. I hated my body because I was always tired and never felt good, I hated my mind because I felt weak for giving in to either side of such an intense spectrum, and consequently I hated my friends who had healthy relationships with food. I hated my clothes that never consistently fit me properly, I hated the emotions I was hiding from instead of dealing, and more than anything I hated anything that challenged my way to cope.

I am not proud to say that I actively chose to stop eating. I willingly chose Anorexia over health. I did this with the knowledge that it would get the attention of those around me, and that this would be an easier task than asking for help or doing the very hard work of implementing what I had learned in my years of therapy. I often found myself bingeing and soon my middle ground became Orthorexia instead of Anorexia. I was obsessive about eating healthy. It completely consumed me. And I was still bingeing – now I was just extending my stomach with fruits, veggies, and whatever else I had deemed healthy enough to be able to enter my body.

My breaking point mentally was in Wal-Mart. I was staying with my grandparents for a summer in British Columbia after I had finished high school, and they watched me suffer through hours of running, strict meal plans and timing, and forcing myself into yoga positions that didn’t heal me because I didn’t understand. I was grocery shopping and my grandmother asked me if I wanted any cookies.

Do you know what it’s like to be 18 and having a tantrum in Wal-Mart because your Grandmother asked if you wanted cookies?

I’ve never felt so ashamed in my entire life.

Not just of the reaction, or that situation, but also at my cart full of unsatisfying foods that were not healthy for my mind, not healthy for my soul, and ultimately not even balanced or nutritious enough to give me proper nourishment. I was withering away, moody, disrespecting those that loved me, and fighting against a body and a mind that were desperately needing to heal.

I spent hours meditating in the woods trying to find answers to this longing I had. This void I needed to fill, while simultaneously being terrified of what would happen if I was full. If I did feel joy. If I allowed myself to be human.

The answer was simple, and because of this, so much harder to face:

I was looking for attention.

That’s all it came down to for me. Even though I tried to make myself and my habits invisible I felt offended and unimportant that no one had intervened. I was upset that no one could see that I wasn’t healthy, I was hurting myself. But then I realized I could see it. I could see what I was putting myself through and it was only my job and responsibility to deal with that.

It still took me years to get out of the habit of purging and bingeing. I still fall back on it sometimes. It’s an easy way to remind myself of the “power” I have. It’s also a slap in the face when I feel like shit and realize that there is no one to blame but myself. Not my stress, not my work load, not my roommate or partner or friends. The way that I choose to deal with things, and also the things I choose not to face are not exempt from my hand just because I don’t feel up to dealing with it.

I think the biggest and most important part of my recovery was being accountable.

Yes, all of the tools I learned to avoid bingeing and purging are invaluable to me, and my own intuition and understanding of my body’s signals and messages are paramount. But just how I can take pride in what I am doing right and how far I’ve come, this also comes with the acknowledgement that sometimes I don’t do right by me. Sometimes I do give in to that cyclical pattern. But now I understand what it is, am learning more and more why. I’m finding that the more I’m aware of my triggers and emotions that sway me, the more inclined I am to be conscientious of my eating choices without being paranoid or obsessive about them either.

I can eat a slice of cake without worry about eating the whole cake, or about needing to starve myself before indulgence.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to her on any of her links for connection:

https://www.facebook.com/herhabitatblog/
https://www.instagram.com/herhabitatblog/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrAlmDZwwsv_iyGr-4Vdxg/
https://twitter.com/herhabitat/

You.
Are.
Not.
Alone.

Jah bless xo

 

An Open Letter of Apology

This is for myself, for you, for my parents, bro, friends.

Kelly Boaz, an Eating Disorder warrior now providing Holistic Nutrition counselling for those struggling, once told me that post-recovery (from any form of addiction or coping), comes a reintroduction of the real self to all- to the world.

I’m coming back.

(Also sorry for the camera angle…iunno…”YOLO”?)

I guess I’ve stopped giving two shits

Literally and figuratively.

I sprained my ankle running last Wednesday.  That sucked. It’s still paining, I’m hobbling, can’t do the grocery store trek for my orders….can’t (literally and figuratively) run away from myself anymore.

Yesterday, I had a godawful bout of food poisoning.  I forgot how shitty puking feels.  Puking, while feeling like someone’s taking a bat to your head, and then sitting you on a roller-coaster ride.  Thank god my mum came and helped me.  I was all “no way, Sanjay”, but she came and I’m so grateful for her passing me my “Ginger-Aid” Kombucha etcetcetc.

It was from this, relatively non-threatening shapeshifter culprit (chicken soup, rosowek, thanks Babcia, ja cocham ciebie) that I took to Algonquin to camp, frozen, after taking some time to eat it (half a jar), then having it thaw, re-freezing it at home…thawing it in commuting, and now eating it fuck yuck.  I honestly am so grateful to have combatted bulimia because that shit sucks.

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So I spent all yesterday in fetal position in the bathroom.  Ate nothing.  Pooped once (that’s TWO TIMES ALREADY less than the usual…).  Felt not good.

And then, mum was beside me helping me.

I think that my strong ass determined mind has clouded my intuition in this way: I believed that my sugar-addiction days coming from a restriction-binge-purge cycle in uni led me to intense fear of carbs, paired with my knowledge of carbohydrate-and sugar-burner addictions.  I went to school for Holistic Nutrition and learned about ketogenic fuelling off fats.  I grew terrified and demonized carbs, despite my school condoning the principle of “carbohydrate appropriate” vs no carb. 

 I totally lost trust in my intuition.

Via support from Cliff, the school’s founder (who I akin to Tim Ferriss as the New Zealand-version related to his sheer brilliance and charisma) who has been cheering me on and checking in on my recovery, he expressed the concept that we don’t as anatomical beings need CHO, but his course runs on the philosophy of “high performance” in terms of holistically prescribing the nutrients, and lifestyle to thrive as humans.  This being said, carbs are a wicked tool to use in relation to needs.  These needs vary from person to person.

Yesterday, in my pain, I was pretty damn desperate.  It popped (always somehow have to autocorrect myself from typing pooped….) into my awareness to 

use food as a way to heal myself.  

Holy shit, right?

So bitch felt.

I tuned in, I accepted my feelings, I aksed my body what it needed right then, to feel better.

(that’s not unintentional, aks, gotta do things for your own pleasure sometimes…right Lo?!)

Maybe it took feeling like absolute fucking hell to realize that I don’t want to feel like fucking hell anymore.  Self-inflicted hell, no need.

So I aksed mum to get me things that called to me, the only things I could bare to think I’d be able to stomach, because I was hungry, and nauseated, and confused, but also solid in my intuition: I wanted deez tingz:

  • Granola (got grain-free, but hey)
  • Crackers (got Paleo, but HEY)
  • Corn on the cob (organic? non-GMO? don’t know, don’t care atm–butprobswillcaremorewhenimoutofsurvivalmodebcGMOisrubbish)
  • BENNA’S BAKERY AND DELI SEED BREAD (it’s been frozen in my freezer for ages, and I’ve had inklings to try it for just as long)
  • Lebanon Express dal soup (have been eyeing this damn soup for months….)
  • Kombucha (nobigdealanymore)

FullSizeRender (9)My god, I was solid in my needs.  I ate the soup to start, even when my ED was saying to pick at little things….nibble in non-satiating foods (which is where my bulimic tendencies stemmed…so grateful for my awareness in my post about tools helping me overcome Bulimia and knowing that nibbling doesn’t work…I had to COMMIT to nourishment, so I had the soup).  The soup was first food I ate all day, and had to go slow from nausea, but it felt really nourishing.  I dozed a bit then (was like 7pm then).  Then, round 8, my bod was hungry.  I put my hand on my heart, another on my tum, and felt what I needed: a piece of Benna’s seed bread with GHEE babis, an egg, the granola with cashew milk, and PBaetter.  Honestly, I was pretty shaky, and I remember the feeling of being “out of control” in my binge purge days.  So I swore no phone, no distractions, to mindfully feel my needs and be present.  I listened, I listened to my sweet inner voice that so desperately needs compassion and honouring.  Man it felt so odd.  And so right. (that’swhatshesaid).

I finished, I finished and washed up for bed.  I felt so good.  I turned my phone away, I did bloat myself, I want to heal my gut, be free, help myself, help others, be in nature, run with the wind!

I journalled, I watched Joe Wong, I “prayed”, and went to bed.

This morn, I swam, oh I swam respectfully and slowly.  I ate eggs for breakfast, it was aight…it was aight…it was cool..butmyshitsmorejohnblazethanthat.  Then, I allowed myself to feel hunger.  I never do this.  I suppress hunger till I let myself eat.

Not today.

I came home from the pool, and ATE!  I ate a bowl of the granola, flax seeds, collagen, milk.  It was so liberating!

IMG_8291HUGE!  Man, I can’t describe how huge this feels.

I genuinely think it’s coming from both myself, and being catalyzed from you blessed souls reaching out and cheering me on.  Honestly, fuck, man, the call from Claire, from warrior and swim (AND LIFE) Olympian Coach Ken, love from John Salt, messages in my inbox, Marta, the squeeze from Nicola this morn from way back at Towhee, the honest cheerleaders around me, Jenn at Reunion Island here and now as I blog-post snack (would NEVER be able to do this even last week!  I am free! I don’t need to eat at certain times, man it’s time!).

Yesterday, my roommate expressed how perspective is so key: deaths and illnesses are all around us, and life’s fleeting, everything is fleeting:

This too shall pass

So goddamn it, I listen to my body.  I’ll help you listen to yours, soon.

My life’s beginning to have colour.

Thank you all, thank you Mum, my god you’re beautiful.

You too

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Need a laugh?

This made my night, he is single handedly (along with Lauren, Laura, Ange, Marta, Shannon) helping me cope with my swollen and sprained ankles, and not training, resting, nourishment and eating, the constant construction on Howard Park Avenue…)

ThankyouJoeWong
#lifegoals


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNmYIjflfvM&feature=share

Recovery, one bite at a time

Today I had my appointment with my dietitian, and it was a call to healing. I didn’t think I could be receptive to the idea of getting help when I tried from parental obligations in the past years. Today, I chose it. I need to delegate some of the tasks and hand over control. It’s good.

I have three goals for this month:

1) after my workouts, taking a big spoonful immediately afterwards of Grass Fed Beef gelatine (it’s a “safe food” for me, nourishing, and protein rich. It’ll help me regrow my nails that are falling off – and repair my muscles. It’s small and it’s a start).

Funny thing here is that as I sat to write my blog post, right beside me was lovely Carlie who was sampling grass fed gelatin by Organika. We had a nice chat and connected over our West coast love (she’s from there). I also have saved in my computer an application for brand ambassador for Organika so hey #hireme?


2) the “Two-Bite-Rule”: I wanted to add more protein to meals. I’m struggling with conceptualizing and counting how much in terms of numbers. Jenn doesn’t feel like this is even a good idea to do. Instead, I portion my meal based on intuition for what I think I need (must be careful here…) and then take two extra bites after I’m done. I feel like this is doable, and did it today yes!

3) eat when hungry, fuck my rules of mealtimes.  I used to only eat at specific times but it’s funny how now my what was once “6pm dinner” happened yesterday at like 3:55pm (thank you Justin❤️). To continue this intuitive trusting of my needs.

I mentioned that my tummy gets so upset, and she reassured that with proper nutrition and re-feeding, along will come gut harmony. There are more goals in the future that we plan to implement together in healing, but I’m starting with these because they’re manageable.

Just met a good friend who was so supportive of my recovery. Honestly, it means the world to me from all those rooting for me. And I’ll root for those recovering too. My future retreat centre is going to be pretty phenomenal!

Feelings

My laptop is too slow for my patience for posts, so I’m posting via phone:

I’m sick of toronto and want to leave to the West coast. I understand that this escapism is the same feeling of discomfort internally that led me to NZ, India and BC the first time. I understand that “wherever you go you take yourself with you.”

I know I have to ground before I go. But I’m le tired.

I’m going to a horse therapy ranch in Erin, ON, and it’s pretty sweet. I’m working on remembering how to feel fucking good. Feeling goood is something I’ve been so disconnected from. I honestly don’t remember the last time I had fun, or the last time my gut felt healthy and I didn’t get so bloated. The last time I lived freely. It’s been a while, and I’m working on “trying on” ease. If I come at it like that, vs “all-or-none” then it’s easier to do. I can use consciousness to tell myself that I don’t need to suffer.

What if things were easy?

What if, hey?

Honestly, the universe is shutting its doors to me in TO; jobs I’ve applied for that normally would seem “perfect” for me- I’ve not gotten. I need more nature than TO offers, I’ve never felt right here.

So fuck FUCK FUCK (penisgame- remember Kenny? Pins?)

Ya fuck I am tired. I want to feel. I want to feel good. Holistically fucking good. Thank you all who’ve reached out to me to express support- it means the world to me- it’s honestly currently my life’s livelihood. It gives me hope. It supports me in this isolating illness. The journey illuminates a bit. 

It’s like a Mitch Hedberg joke in the middle of a painfully long lecture

It’s like a really solid shit

It’s like seeing a familiar face after backpacking solo for some time

Jah bless you all

Meme material that I don’t have the media skills to create: we are the champignons, my friends…(Mercury is holding the shrooms…can someone actuality this for me?)

My hero dad, picking mushrooms in the forest, standing on “moss that is like you’re standing in heaven”

 

An Apology Letter To The Girls Struggling To Love Their Beautiful Bodies | Thought Catalog

Needs a repost

An Apology Letter To The Girls Struggling To Love Their Beautiful Bodies

By Shani Jay 

I’m sorry you’ve been convinced that the body you live in today doesn’t quite measure up. That you now believe your breasts need to fill a certain cup size, that your thighs must not meet each other, and your frame needs to mimic that of the women you don’t know but scroll past on Instagram every day.

I’m sorry for all the times you get out of the shower, catch a glimpse of your naked self in the mirror, and look at the reflection starring back at you in disgust, before instantly diverting your eyes elsewhere.

And I’m sorry that you’ve been made to see those dimples etched on the back of your thighs, the stretch marks trailing your belly, and the imperfectness of your body as ugly.

I’m sorry that you’re now unable to enjoy food the way you did as a little girl. That your mind is constantly obsessing over every calorie consumed, counting every bite that you take in, and panicking about gaining the tiniest bit of weight.

Maybe food has now become a go-to comfort for you, a drug that helps you temporarily feel better and forget about how deeply unhappy you are within yourself. Or maybe it has become a source of control, and you’ve learned to ignore those hunger pains, which grow louder every day.

I’m sorry that you spend the majority of your day feeling un-desirable, un-worthy and struggling to fit in to this world.

I’m sorry for all of those times someone said something cruel to you about the way you look, and that you decided to believe them. And I’m sorry that you carry around all of those words in the back of your mind today as a constant reminder that the woman you are is not, and will never be, good enough.

I’m sorry that you don’t believe your body is deserving of love. That you think you have to settle for anyone who takes an interest in you, because who are you to think you can do any better than that?

I’m sorry you now allow people to mistreat you and cause you pain because you think it’s your fault. You think that if only you had a smaller waist, a slender figure or a flatter stomach then you’d be deserving of someone better – someone who truly loves you for all that you are, inside and out.

But it’s not your fault. It’s not your problem. It’s our problem.

It’s our problem that women die every day from starving themselves because they believe they need to be thinner.

It’s our problem that young girls are made to feel like they need to crash diet or get cosmetic surgery so they can look like the models and celebrities they see on social media.

It’s our problem that most women are unhappy with their bodies.

And it breaks my heart that chances are you are one of them.

Because it shouldn’t be this way.

We shouldn’t aspire to look like clones of one another. We shouldn’t be unhealthily obsessing over our figures, and mutilating our bodies in order to mentally go from an average 7, to a 9 out of 10. We shouldn’t be placing so much value on something that isn’t going to last and has no real bearing on who you really are. 

So I ask you today to remove yourself from this competition that none of us women ever agreed to in the first place.

I ask you to love your body exactly as it is today, and remember all of the wonderful things it allows you to do.

And I ask you to make a promise to yourself to be more tolerant of those bodies you’ve been taught to recognize as ugly – especially if that body belongs to you. TC mark

Shani Jay

https://thoughtcatalog.com/shani-jayawardena/2017/07/an-apology-letter-to-the-girls-struggling-to-love-their-beautiful-bodies/

Yam Chickpea Curry

Homade curry #bitchdidwha

Thanks, Ange (“oh she glows”…she “glistens”/glows/gluts…glutes?)

Sweet potato chickpea coconut curry


When I bought this from Sorauren Market, it was a challenge. It’s easier to buy these things than make them bc when I make them I skimp on shit freely (sub yam for like, cauli or some shit…) but bub DELIVERED and made this: with ghee bc #OGHEE

have to say…”oh she glows” is a rather irritating name for a blog (sorry Angela #imhonest), although so is “halfbakedunrealist” (SOMEONE HELP me WITH MY WEBSITE IVE BEEN TRYING TO CHANGE THIS ANNOYING NAME FOR YEARS). Buttttt woman has some real good recipes (minus so much soy) esp when trying to eat more carbs.

My house smells great, this curry will be yum. 

Also, instead of the chilli flakes, I used a green chilli that I snagged from the planter at Reunion Island #thanksAdam (againwiththehonesty) #willrepaywithbasilmojito

Didn’t want to do my ride. Legs like “wtf”…Did anyways. One day, I’ll learn.

Wif dem Konjac noodles and cilantro


Also came across two inspirations: Coach Tawnee (this article was amazing in depicting the internal dialogue around food with anorexia…bless) and Tina Muir (fucking fast AS chick and wicked woman, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea overcomer, inspiration, support).

There’s support out there and it feels so good to know I’m not alone.

And this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?ebc=ANyPxKpOVgaIzTAFb0MhpTEVYTRaKw1x0c8iwks-uhqj1-pT5VYkMhLoMdDG0Q3P4eHkWWTwbiRp2s6yuP7iGNsiI1uvgoX6iA&v=S77zUWqawag

Hunger: Remembering How to Feel

IMG_5575Hunger cues are so clouded with eating disorders.  I forgot the feeling of hunger.  I am tuning more into my feeling body, instead of my thinking body.

Where do I feel hunger? There’s always info from my gut.  That’s where I feel most things, and my head.  Like, not my mind, but my temples, or round my “occipital bone” (sorry for the Kinesiology jargon but that’s whatifeelok).

My gut is a loudass woman.

I’m starting to feel the importance of meditation.  It is a path of re-feeling.  It is where space is made to silence the thoughts that are telling me to starve.  They are the thoughts that exacerbate lack, insufficiency, insignificance, self-disgust (this hurts me to type, a good sign).

When I meditate, the thoughts go away, and I feel the hunger in my tummy, I feel the gas building, tightness in my chest, and also lightness.  I feel.  itsthenewiPhone

iFeel

thisquotethingisfunonblogs

This morning, I went to do the helliptical again.  I felt more energetic, albeit still tired.  Muscles are speaking the language of plea for rest, always, god, my mind won’t have it.  I lured in a dude beside me, myracingbuddybecausehewasbesideme, to do my 10x 1min sprint @ 1min easy.  After 10 rounds, I moved on to my tempo before cooling down, still easier than the killer sprints that I wanted support in doing from dudenextdoor.  As I began winding down, he turned to me after a few minutes and said, “wow, second set of 10 sprints is harder.”

Boom ego wasalllike    : and also fomo’ing and shoulding on myself and and and.  Image result for my mind is full of fuck

You now what, I turned that shit off and went back to my feeling body that def wasn’t down to do another set.  Already, my body felt taxed and had arrived (another concept I want to discuss)  in a more recovery-based mode.  Man, I’m already doing so much, body needs love.

So that’s that, feeling more than thinking, what else is new.

Well, not this song, I don’t FEEL, but it’s new for me:

 

GERD, Bloating, Cramps: that Shit

Drinking wine, working on my website, probably constipated.

All of it, the body rebels so hard when disconnected from it.  Eating disorders thrive on escapism.  Totally feel that.  Exercise is an escape.  Today, I ran for the second time since my stress fracture in January, and man my legs are like lead.  My first run was on Wednesday and it was such bliss until the next day when I work up and this happened: 

Such le merde pain.  I haven’t swam as a discipline for months, because I’m too scared of cold.  My body gets so damn cold because of low body fat.  But I’ve gained some weight, boobs feel better, hey hey hello.

The running, I love.  This pain, sucks. It’s such a different way to live to focus on the living part, instead of controlling food times, and “fitting life in” around that.  It’s so new and hard (thatswhatshesaid)…but it’s right.

I am really keen to hear about other people’s experiences with all the tummy troubles regarding eating disorders.  I have had a chronic run stitch off and on for years when I was running, and it sucks.  I trust intuitively that the cause stems from not listening to my body’s cues etc.  Like today, I asked myself if it would bring me joy to go on that run, and I looked into my eyes in the bathroom mirror and answered “no”…I still ran though.  And ended up walking home after some really fun trail blazing in High Park.

I am in the process of creating an online profile for myself, for eating disorder recovery, mindfulness, awareness, holistic nutrition, yoga, trail running, connection, etc, but I feel isolated and alone.  I know this is my calling, and I know intuitively, deeply that I’m not alone, but I feel it.  Day-to-day I feel like I’m lacking social connection, meaningful connection, and even when I have it, I don’t feel present in the moment.  I’m really sick of food taking precedence over my thoughts.  I know it’s so important, but I guess similarly to media as a tool, instagram and facebook that’ll be “tools” I’ll use as promoting my cause, they are to be used and not abused.  Food’s been abused in my life.  I want to use my knowledge to stop bloating myself, food diluting, feigning the idea that I don’t really know what I need.  I know what I need.  But it’s almost like I feel like I need my life to be so “ideal” that I have to wait till perfection until I “light the match”…. like I need an external condition before I bite the “oatmeal”….

Some good shit that I AM doing (instead of focusing on what I’m not) is writing a challenge list and ticking things off as I go.  One of those things was a burger…did it!  Bunless, albeit, but the patty is still a challenge.  I also ate out at Antler (eating around people is a challenge), and am eating (sometimes…) in between lunch and dinner when I know I need to, instead of convincing myself that the headache is a result of being tired and not low blood sugar.  I’ve also had a promise of a free burger from The Rude Boy Burger for a sponsored burger on the house in my ED recovery journey.  Big bless.  It’s too hot to cook today, maybe it’s the day.  I did a caesar solo on a patio from BQM  too.  It was nice.

I wish I had people around me going through this shit to lean on.  I’ve got Jill from A Case of the Jills, and she’s such a sweet spokesperson for Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and it’s a blessing to feel supported by her.  But in terms of human beings that are here, nah.

That’s that.