becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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the strangest thing you’ve never heard of.

in case you’ve missed the memo, i am fast approaching 30 (as in…less than four months away!) if you had asked me a few years ago what i would be doing at age thirty, i would have said something along the lines of “married, starting a family, owning a cat because k doesn’t like dogs, practicing lots of yoga…”

okay so maybe none of that has panned out. but the point is, you know what i didn’t plan on dealing with at thirty?

crappy skin.

now, i should point out that i have never had great skin. in the past few years it has blessedly settled down – i very rarely get blemishes any more – but it’s still way more oily than i would think somebody 15 years out of puberty would have to deal with. i’ve never had good (or any) luck with cleansers or toners or any of that happy crap, either.

so after doing some research, i finally took a leap of faith and embarked on this wonderful adventure known as the oil cleansing method.

now you can read a very comprehensive explanation of OCM here, and a very funny real-life account of it here. but i’ll give you an abridged version: you take oil. you wash your face with it. BOOM. done.

slightly more elaborate? the scientific idea of “like dissolves like” applies here. by using a combination of castor oil and a secondary oil of your choice (i use grapeseed oil), you basically saturate your pores with oil, steam your face with a super-hot washcloth to let the oil sink in, and then – voila! – an epically odd skin solution.

i’ve been using OCM for about a week now, and here’s what i have to say:

  • first off, it’s legit, in that my skin is considerably less oily throughout the day. i can now make it through a 6-hour day of teaching and classes and have only minimal shine. and it’s not oily at all when i wake up in the morning – basically unheard of for me.
  • it’s not as labor-intensive as one might initially believe it to be. five minutes, tops.
  • i can’t say it’s made a difference in my pores, in regards to size or just the fact that they get full of crap by the end of a day, but i’m thinking that may happen as my face adjusts.
  • all in all – 10/10 would do again. it cost me 10$ for the castor and grapeseed oils, and they will last me for three forevers.

there ya have it, folks. now in addition to perplexing people by the fact that i eat bacon and cheese and heavy cream every day, i can further confuse them when i say i wash my face with oil!

really though. give it a whirl.

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survival and spitting fire.

Don’t worry about your body.
It isn’t as small as it once was,
But honestly, the world needs more of you.
You look in the mirror
like you’ve done something wrong,
But you look perfect.
Anyone who says otherwise is telling a lie
to make you feel weak.
And you know better.
You’ve survived every single day,
for as long as you’ve been alive.
You could spit fire if you wanted.

clementine von radics

first off, i love clementine von radics’ work, and if you haven’t heard of her, go here instead of reading the rest of this post.

something i haven’t talked about much (or at all) is how my shift in training, from distance running to powerlifting, has changed my body.

even when i was training for my half marathons i never had that endurance runner “look.” i’ve never been lanky and lean, that’s just not the way my body exists. i was seeded in the first wave (sub-8:00 pace) both times i ran the derby half, and looking around the corral as we were getting ready to go i remember thinking, “i am such a little brick compared to these people!”

then i got into powerlifting.

since july i have been training exclusively in powerlifting; i lift heavy most days of the week, and my cardio consists of lifting faster. i knew my body would change, but i have been honestly and consistently surprised by just how much.

without going into great boring detail, i have gotten bigger. there’s no sugar-coating it – my quads are bigger, my butt is bigger, my shoulders and back have gotten significantly broader.

and i’ll be honest, it’s been a huge adjustment mentally. i feel the most comfortable when i’m in the gym – partly because spandex is comfy (i know that seems counter-intuitive to some people, but if i could live in compression shorts and bro tanks, i would), and partly because when i’m in the gym throwing weight around, i don’t give two shits what i look like. all i know in that moment is i feel strong, and that’s all that matters.

but i definitely struggle in the mornings when i’m getting ready for work. we’re not in sundress weather any more; i’m stuck with a whole lot of separates, and they fit a lot differently than they used to. there are certain things i simply can’t wear right now – blazers that can’t contain my lats, jeans that have no prayer of holding my butt and thighs. and i’m not gonna lie, it’s tough. it’s difficult to intercept those thoughts of “oh my god i gained weight this is awful i’m fat” when they’re still – even after all this time – somewhat ingrained.

but then i get in the gym and i pull 250 pounds off the ground and think, “well shit, who cares if i have a big butt?! this body does some pretty damn cool stuff.”

so yes – my body is not as small as it once was. but when i think of all it can do, all it has survived, its size suddenly becomes irrelevant. and i know, damn well, that i could spit fire if i wanted.

(also, as an aside: fit and feminist linked my last post to their facebook page, and it generated a ridiculous amount of traffic last week. so thanks to the ladies there for the publicity, and thanks to all of you who visited and any of you who came back a second time!!)


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when you don’t want to pay it forward.

i mentioned this briefly in a post a few weeks ago, but it’s worth discussing again and more intently.

i have been largely (say…97%) eating disorder behavior free for a little over three years. i still think about body image and how i feel about and respond to my physical self, but as far as actual restricting and/or purging, that has been almost completely eradicated from my life. which is, to say the least, awesome.

yet something i’ve noticed in the general eating disorder community is this notion that if you come out on the other side, it’s practically expected that you will turn around and share your experience with others. that you’ll tell everyone how you did it, and act as some big inspirational figurehead of the Great and Elusive Recovery.

the thing is…i don’t want to. simple as that. the further removed i become from my eating disordered self, the less i want to be a part of the community as a whole.

reading that over, i sound like an asshole. but i’ll try and explain myself.

when i first got out of my renfrew/columbia double bill, i was all about recovery. i followed my meal plan perfectly, i followed my exercise plan perfectly, i religiously attended appointments with my therapist and my nutritionist and my GP. i journaled daily and started scrapbooking and doing jigsaw puzzles to keep my hands and mind busy. and i became obsessed with the idea of helping other people recover.

i called ANAD and had them send me a starter packet for setting up a local support group. i got involved in NEDA Week at my community college. i spoke on panels about body image and women in the media.

and all the while, i was only about 22% actually well myself.

i was using “recovery” as i assumed it to be – perfectly-planned and executed meals and workouts, vocal advocacy and the naive belief that i had any business giving advice – as a substitute for the disorder itself. it was my way of keeping a toe in that world, while also leaning the rest of my body vehemently the other way, proclaiming that i was “totally better” (Skins UK reference? anyone?) and just being an impassioned advocate.

needless to say, i came a hair’s breadth away from landing back in treatment not once but twice in the five years that followed. i played The Game – “i’ll only get as well as i absolutely have to be. that’s recovery enough.”

sorry, charlie. you either do this shit 150% or you don’t make it. go big or go home, so to speak. it took until the spring of 2010 – a full five years after i got out of columbia – to get that through my thick skull.

and now that i have – now that i finally am on my way to “getting it,” to realizing that recovery isn’t perfectly planned and organized like the light blue meal plan sheets my nutritionist used to send me home with each week, that it’s more like a hot mess disaster of estimation and panic and realizing that no, you don’t get to know every ingredient in every food you ever eat and that some days you’ll oversleep and miss the gym or you’ll be sick or maybe you’ll just be fucking tired or maybe even busy doing something like going out with your friends…now that i’m there, i have zero interest in going back. in any capacity.

but if somebody were to ask me “how i did it,” my response would be this: i just did. i stopped blaming other people, stopped blaming society and the media and genetics and my inborn personality traits. i stopped waiting for it to be easy. and i stopped fucking around being half-assed about it. there was no “oh, i’ll just restrict today because i have an audition tomorrow,” or “purging just this one time won’t matter – i’m just really full.” there is a fine line between allowing yourself room to make mistakes – relapse is a part of my story, for sure – and for using the fact that recovery is balls to the wall hard as an excuse to only do it halfway.

and honestly, nobody wants to hear that.

the best way i can show my recovery is by living my life and living it well. i train because i enjoy lifting heavy things and getting stronger; i don’t do it to burn calories or to look a certain way. i eat however i damn well please, knowing that i choose to eat in a way that will support me physically and emotionally (aka will eating a piece of apple pie plus my aunt’s amazing chocolate chip cookies on thanksgiving day help me lift better? probably not. but damn they make me feel good, so i’m going to freaking eat them).

some people thrive in support groups and 12-step programs, and that’s awesome for them. however, i know myself and i know i would not. it wouldn’t be good for me, and i wouldn’t be good for the other people there. so instead, i stick to myself. i celebrate my little victories, and when it’s all said and done, i know i have done recovery – finally – on my own terms.


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“bikini bodies,” and why you already have one.

i think we can all agree that yahoo! is not exactly the news mecca of the internet universe. but yesterday they managed to completely outdo themselves with this gem of an article, entitled “how to fake a bikini body.”

there are so many things wrong with this – and i’m talking just the title here – that i could write a post on that lone. but of course, once i saw the article’s title i had to go ahead and click to read the article. the equivalent to rubbernecking on the freeway.

but let’s start with the title: “how to fake a bikini body.” the issue, i suppose, is what (to yahoo!) constitutes a “bikini body” to begin with. there seems to be this idea in popular media and social culture that the only bodies that should be clad in bikinis are those that are slender, “toned” (i hate that word but that’s for another day entirely) but not too muscular, tan, and generally as close to looking like the airbrushed magazine models as possible.

however…

you know what a bikini body is, yahoo!? it’s a body, in a bikini. end of story. it doesn’t matter if that body has a flat stomach or not, is tan or not, is a size 0 or a size 32 or anywhere in between or outside. if it’s a body wearing a bikini…it’s a bikini body.

but like i said, i couldn’t just stop at the title – i had to go and read the insipid article in its entirety. it was pretty brief – i’m pretty sure i’ve had grocery lists longer and more elaborate – and summed up five key strategies to help you fake your way to a bikini body (barf).

point #1: dress to flatter, meaning buy bikini bottoms that sit higher on your hips to create a “narrowing effect.” instead, how about: buy a bathing suit that fits you well and that you feel good wearing?

point #2: block it out, meaning use colorblocks to “make you look trim in all the right places.” or, in my world: go for a swimsuit that catches your eye and expresses your personal style. for me, that’s bright colors (you guys have seen my running shoes, come on) and/or fun prints. for somebody else it might be something retro, plain, printed…for heaven’s sake get something that you’ll have fun with!

point #3: glow baby, glow, meaning get tan to “emphasize or fake a toned physique.” coming from a pale irish girl, this is some straight-up crap. yes, bodybuilders and fitness/physique/bikini competitors slather on the fake tan for competitions. but if you’re just going to the beach or the pool, and self-tanner isn’t something you’re accustomed to or comfortable with…please don’t feel like you should try it in the name of “faking” a “better” body.

point #4: OMG, shoes, which lists shoe styles to avoid, and those to gravitate towards in the name of “elongat[ing] the legs and mak[ing] them look thinner.” i don’t know about you guys, but if i’m going to the beach or the pool, the only thing going on my feet are the first pair of flip flops my hands touch when i reach in the closet. if you like wearing flesh-toned wedges, that’s awesome; but simple comfy sandals are totally fine.

point #5: avoid the noid, which i honestly had to look up because i didn’t know what the hell a “noid” was. well apparently, The Noid is the Domino’s Pizza advertising character. so in other words, this point is suggesting you stay away from pizza. but not just pizza! also sugary foods and juices and beverages which “tend to make you look and feel bloated.” avoid nothing you don’t feel like avoiding, i say.

what’s the point of all my ranting, then? the point is that we all were given these bodies. and they all look different. and they’re all beautiful. nobody should feel like they have to “fake” a certain look to be more appealing or more socially accepted. and your day in the sand and sun shouldn’t be about trying to look a particular way. you look like you for a reason! so please, yahoo! – get it together. we all have bikini bodies; let’s enjoy them.

 


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diminishing returns.

i’ve been thinking lately – this blog would probably be a lot more “popular” so to speak if i chose one theme and stuck to it. it could be a running blog; a blog about overcoming the grief of loss of a loved one; a lifting/strength blog; a recovery blog. any of these topics would, if i stuck to them for more than three minutes, garner me a niche in the blogosphere and followers looking for that specific thing.

however, (a) i do what i want, (b) i’m fickle, and (c) i don’t like the idea of having to try and “be” something that maybe, in that particular moment, i’m not. because, as (b) states, i’m fickle.

i have noticed, however, that whenever i write a recovery-oriented post, i gain a handful of new followers. which is awesome – i’m always glad to have people reading – but then i feel like a huge let-down when, after three weeks, i haven’t uttered another word about recovery or body image or beauty standards.

you see…the longer i truck along this path of Recovery, with its ambiguous and almost mythological final destination, the less inclined i am to talk about it. for starters, it’s not very interesting. i no longer have those “in your face” struggles. my recovery consists of…continuing to do the same thing i’ve done for the past 3+ years. i don’t count calories or macros (save for protein, and that’s just because i lift heavy and keep a gentle watch on getting enough protein to sustain that), i don’t give a hoot about how many calories i may or may not burn at the gym, and i almost threw myself a party when i realized that my compression shorts finally had a booty to compress.

giraffe-butt

and while this may be impressive considering the years (and years) i struggled to be kind to myself, to tolerate and then like and then maybe even love my body (even though we all know how i feel about that phrase), and to appreciate my health and athleticism…it makes for a damn boring blog.

and as far as “real life” is concerned, i find it less and less appealing to let people know my past. mainly because it’s irrelevant to any relationships, professional or otherwise, i currently hold here. and also because, the few times i have told people, it becomes this little nugget of information they can’t seem to dislodge from their brains. and all of a sudden, all they want to talk about with me is their diet and exercisewhich are both topics that i have no desire to discuss with anyone beyond a doctor or a coach.

it took me a long time to realize and believe that i am more than my eating disorder. to believe that people will still care about me even if they’re not worrying that i might drop dead in front of their eyes – that i’m worthy of love just by being me, and that i don’t have to be sick for people to care.

and now that i’m there, i’m terribly uninterested in ever going back.

so if you’re reading this and struggling or working on your own recovery…i’m sorry to say that well-thought-out posts like these are few and far between here. mostly i ramble about training and my mom and how pop-tarts are 2$ a box all summer. recovery is funny in that the more of it you have, the less conspicuous it becomes. until all of a sudden you stop in the middle of your day, while you’re out enjoying lunch with your friends or going for a walk just to enjoy the sun and not to burn off calories, and you think: “this…this is awesome.”

and i promise you – it is.


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love versus like: a new way to “love your body.”

today is the first day of national eating disorder awareness week. for the three years i was an RA in undergrad, this was insanity week for me. not even close to recovered (year 1), on the cusp of beginning my final “for real” recovery (year 2), or having busted my ass for nearly a year to emerge nearly whole and healthy (year 3), i worked for months with my RD and staff to put together an entire week of events – panel discussions, mindful eating programs, body image talks, film viewings, purple t-shirt tie-dye parties. (shameless plug – my “Eating Disorders 101” bulletin board is still a top hit on residentassistant.com! the direct link is being a turd, but if you scroll down a bit you’ll see it. laid out on my floor because i hadn’t actually put it UP on the board yet lol.)

but i digress. although the slogan/buzz word for NEDA Week changes every year – this year’s is “everybody knows somebody” – i’m going to throw another one out there that has been stated so many times that it’s very nearly cliche to the point of having little meaning: “love your body!”

and here’s a thought i had while i was out running yesterday. i love my dad, and i always will. but sometimes – and very infrequently, because basically he’s the best, but sometimes – i don’t particularly like him.

and that’s okay.

liking something versus not liking it…that’s transient. i can like the weather on a day that it’s 85 degrees and sunny, but then when i try and run a 10-miler in it i will probably hate it. the weather hasn’t changed; just my perception of it, given my varying situations.

which leads us to the point of my thoughts today, elucidated over weak coffee and two rambunctious kittens: when you’re pulling yourself out of the dredges of years, sometimes decades, of self-loathing that has manifested itself into a direct attack on your body…having everybody encourage you to “love your body!” unconditionally is about two inches shy of impossible, and two and a half shy of wishing them all mute.

everybody tells you to “love your body!” nobody tells you it’s okay to not like it.

this isn’t me looking for an out or for a way to manipulate the system. i think anybody who knows me can attest that i’m far beyond that point, mostly because i’m lazy and that kind of game-playing requires an extreme amount of energy. but what i’m saying is: it’s okay to NOT like your body some days. just like i don’t like my dad sometimes, even though i love him unconditionally. just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you need to wage war with it or treat it badly; it just means that, right now in this moment, you’re not its biggest fan.

and that’s okay.

love is a baseline, unwavering foundation. so YES, we should all strive to love our bodies. because it’s the only one you’re ever going to get, and nothing can be built on a foundation of hatred or disgust. but. it is also completely okay to have those moments/days/even strings of days where you don’t like your body.

…but just because you don’t like your body right now doesn’t mean you should destroy it. or treat it badly. or fill your head with thoughts on how “wrong” your body is and what you need to do to fix it.

because liking and not liking something is flippant. it will pass. and once it does pass, once the clouds clear out, if you have built that foundation of love underneath, that is what will shine through. for a lot of us, the biggest challenge in recovery is re-building that foundation. but i promise you, once it’s there, it is practically infallible.

so at the risk of sounding like some uber-recovery beacon of hope: i love my body. for the most part, it’s pretty freaking awesome. i’m not even a year out of major knee surgery and i’m kicking ass and running a 10-mile race in thirteen days. my body carries me through 18-hour days full of activity (and i only had to nap in my car once last semester). but trust me – when my blood sugar crashes with no good reason or when my knee is being inexplicably tweaky or my ovaries are barking…i do not like my body, by any stretch. but that’s okay.

so the next time you feel pressure to “love your body!” think of it this way: yes, love your body. love it for its resilience and strength and unique qualities. but please don’t panic that “lov(ing) your body!” backs you into a corner where everything must be sunshine and rose petals all of the time. you’re allowed to love something and not like it, all at the same time. so go on ahead and love your body. but give yourself permission to falter. give yourself permission to not like it sometimes. because that will happen. and that’s okay.


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growth.

i haven’t been on a scale since right after thanksgiving – i’m weight-restored enough that i’m getting my period regularly (TMI? TMI…) so i’m quite unconcerned and uninterested in my weight from this point forth.

so while i don’t know my weight, what i do know is that i once again need to unbutton my jeans to get them on and off. for the first time since may.

i also know, logically, that this is the normal way of things. jeans have buttons and zippers because one is supposed to undo them en route to taking said jeans on and off. thus, having to once again unzip my jeans to get them over my hips does not mean i got fat. it means i got normal.

i also know that, weight not withstanding, i am the strongest i have ever been. bum knee and all. my squat technique has improved tenfold and my depth is way better; i squat two triples at 115# today, ATG, and they felt great. i pulled three singles at 155# when i deadlifted monday. i can do pull-ups, folks. unassisted, cool-kid pull-ups.

plus i’m running well, running strong, running healthy. i eat well and often and mindfully. i feel good. some days, i feel great.

so why does it matter that i’m no longer waif-like? why does it still, despite my laundry list of reasons i love what my body is doing right now, bother me that i no longer need to wear a belt to keep my pants from falling off my hip bones? why does it seem so damn tragic that i have to unbutton my jeans?

recovery is a process. it’s long, and sometimes it’s lifelong. running, lifting, and yoga have all made me appreciate my body in so many ways. i’m strong. i’m growing, physically and mentally and emotionally. i’m getting there – wherever “there” may be.