I recently published my 200th blog post. Which hey, is an AMAZING achievement for me! I never would have thought that I would be where I am now when I first started this blog.
Speaking of which... I looked back to my first post, and realized it was just over a week and TWO YEARS ago that I began writing on Clean Eating Teen.
Two. Years. 200 posts.
I don't want to sound like little miss perfect or "oh, pity me!" but lets be real. As of right now, I hardly have 150 comments TOTAL for all my posts. Most of the blogs I read easily get that many on ONE post. I'm lucky to maybe get a hundred or so views per post. I don't even have a thousand Facebook likes, despite my effort.
So... what gives? Why am I spending so much time and effort writing to an empty audience? I want to help people, inspire and enlighten others. I feel like I am working towards no real goal sometimes.
But on the other end, I really do enjoy writing. Up until I became interested in health, I actually wanted to be an author. Blogging allows me to get the best of both worlds: I still get to write, but I also am immersed in the fitness and health world.
I also like the fact that blogging sets me apart from the crowd. How many people can tell others, "Hey, you should check out my blog!" Not many.
I guess I just get frustrated. It would be a dream to have a highly popular blog or YouTube channel (just like Linda wants!) But how realistic is this? Can it be done? Successful people say they got where they did through hard work and never giving up. Well... it's been two years. 200 posts. This is an everyday activity for me, and I share it publicly. Why does it seem as if little progress is being made?
Just some thoughts. Please don't look badly upon me or be offended by any of this.
Do you get frustrated by blogging, or any other dream you pursue?
WOW GUYS. Remember when I posted my 100th post? Well. This marks my 200th post! So exciting. Seriously. Take a break... from your workout routine.
In line with my past few posts of eating disorders, just taking a break from a rigid workout schedule seemed like a bizarre idea only a year ago.
Sick, sore, tired, busy? Nope. "Hit the gym or else you are a failure." This use to be my mindset.
My view on the idea of rest days has changed dramatically recently. I remember reading a post from Tara at Sweat Like A Pig (a fellow lifter! Heck yeah!) about rest days, and only now do I fully understand why they are so important.
Your muscles need time to recover. When you work out your muscles through either resistance training or cardio, tissue is naturally broken down and needs time to repair in order to become stronger (and bigger, if you are looking for hypertrophy.) Working out also depletes glycogen stores (basically your muscle's energy stores) which need adequate time- and nutrition- in order to replenish their selves.
Working out puts your body under stress. While you do produce those "feel good" hormones during exercise, stress hormones are also released (this is one of the reasons long, steady state cardio can be very taxing on the adrenal glands and your body in general.) Taking a rest day can aid in lessening the strain put on your body during working out. Here is a great bit from an article on overtraining***:
"The body has an intricate system of checks and balances in place to help manage stress. The adrenal glands selectively prepare the muscles for physical activity. Thyroxine is secreted by the thyroid gland, which increases the rate at which cells burn glucose for energy. Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and plays an essential role in the elevation of blood glucose. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, is concerned with glucose metabolism."
You need to remain somewhat sane. Working out every. single. day can not only be taxing on the body, but also on the mind. Usually a day off is all I need to become motivated again to workout.
***A note about OVERTRAINING...I don't really think there is such a thing. Krissy Cagney put it perfectly... there is such a thing as UNDER eating, and UNDER recovering. Not overtraining!
So, when should I take rests, and how long should they be?
Take at least one full rest day a week. You can do light activity like walking, stretching, yoga, or work a small muscle like abs. This is what I do.
Rest when you FEEL the need to, not simply because it is programmed into your routine. If you are feeling great and energetic on a "rest" day, go for it and workout! Use the rest day when you are super sore, tired, or busy.
That being said... you could also utilize the rest day (or days, if needed) into your schedule so you can work in things like vacations and parties.
You should not train the same muscle group within 24-48 hours. Instead, program your workouts so that you work different muscle groups on different days. Right now, my routine looks like this: Upper body, Lower Body, Cardio, repeat. Rest day when needed.
Overall, rest days are essential to a healthy body AND mind.
This is a lengthy post. I mentioned in my previous post about not counting calories that I would write a detailed story on my eating disorder... here it is. Feel free to skip this post if you find it triggering, boring, or just not something you're interested in.
Looking back, it is difficult to piece together the parts of this story. Half of me feels this is because the story is so complex- yet maybe it is because I have suppressed these thoughts and emotions. In any case, I will try my best to detail the tale in chronological order.
I was not health conscious growing up. School lunches were sandwiches, packaged chips and cakes. My favorite thing that I looked forward to was getting to buy my lunch on Fridays and get a popular school dessert- two cookies with a giant icing blob in between.
Me in 6th grade vs. me a few months ago, when I first started lifting.
I admit, I ate better than most. My parents did not rely on frozen meals and we didnt eat out often. I did not obsess over sweets and soda wasn't a big deal (that is, until 4th or 5th grade came around and my mother and I discovered Sonic happy hour. Enter a daily 44oz coke and an extra 10lbs.)
While I never felt "fat", I remember being 9 or 10 and always "checking" myself in the mirror at school, looking at my side view and not liking my reflection. It wasn't until 6th-7th grade that I decided to take action and control my weight.
I began to use workouts from YouTube and magazines a few times a week. Exercise made me feel great and accomplished! No one in my family is very athletic, so my parents were doubtful I would stay with it. However, after they saw my commitment, they were very proud.
I read so many magazines with vague (and false) information regarding food and weight loss. Calories slowly became something I was aware of, and I very loosely watched what I ate.
Now here is when things become fuzzy. I remember stepping on the scale for fun, and seeing I had lost 12lbs. I think it was shortly after that when I really became passionate to lose weight.
At this time, my parents had yet to divorce. I was still in my own house, and already cut out red meat in 4th grade due to my sensitive stomach. I started to monitor what I ate, buying stupid "100 calorie packs" and special cereals. I worked out way too much and probably didn't eat enough, and my period had stopped.
Camping NOW vs THEN. I have curves people!! Get over it. The bottom picture was from a post I wrote last summer. Way too thin.
Things got really bad for me with my eating disorder once my mom left my dad (we went with her) and we were living with my aunt and cousins for nearly 6 months. My wonderful, tall, lean, beautiful cousin- whom gets compliments on her tiny waist, height, great curves and bright eyes EVERYWHERE she goes- was with me 24/7. I LOVE my cousin. But I also was (and still am) jealous of her great genetics. It was so hard for me to A) Already be under stress from my parents situation B) Have tons of school work and C) Be around someone who was taller, leaner, and (I thought) prettier than me although she didnt workout or care what she ate.
(DISCLAIMER: My eating disorder was NOT caused by my cousin, my parents or their divorce. It was my own, personal issues.)
This time was filled with lots of fake food, accompanied with exercise as compensation for eating. Not to mention binging on things like Nutella, cereal and birthday cake. My relationship with food was ruined. I associated food with being ugly, stressed and depressed.
After moving back into my house, I educated myself on the topic of "clean eating." I significantly improved the quality of my diet, but my broken relationship with food prevented me from really understanding the "clean" concept. Soon, I developed orthorexia. Divorce stress, school difficulties and personal insecurities- all paired with a very restrictive eating pattern- caused my weight (and health) to plummet.
Me at near my lowest weight. Smiling on the outside, dying on the inside.
Going into my freshman year of highschool, I was nearly 90lbs (keep in mind I am 5' 5.5") My period was long gone, and had been for around 2.5 years. My hair was falling out, I wore two jackets because I was FREEZING all the time, I had zero energy and I was always moody.
I had been going to the doctor at least once a month, getting blood tests and asking why I was having awful stomach pains. My doctor finally told me she was sending me to the hospital... she was tired of seeing my weight drop with each checkup. I begged for one last chance to gain weight, and I also agreed to go to therapy.
My mother knew I wanted to do this the natural way, so she let me purchase a Hemp protein powder (I used the one from Manitoba Harvest... thanks guys, you kinda saved my life!) I made smoothies with them twice a day, and focused on eating more in general and getting over my "food fears" (oils, salt, sugar, ext) This was SO hard. I remember days that I would break down and cry because I did not want to eat. Some days, I would skip lunch at school and not tell anyone.
Me now. I feel SO much happier and healthier.
Therapy, although humiliating at first, was the best decision I have ever made. I refused to take medication and my therapist completely supported that. She was so calm, understanding and really helped me see the subliminal and underlying causes of my food fears, body hatred, and my thoughts in general. I saw her for a year, and decided to stop going once I felt I had learned enough to help myself. I honestly don't think I would have ever "recovered"-I use that term loosely- without therapy.
During this time, I educated myself on REAL food and nutrition. I realized that most magazines, TV shows, books and conventional wisdom was completely false. I am still learning, but what I know now is far more accurate than what I knew two years ago.
Through SO much pain, trial and error and hardship, I feel better now than I have in a very long time. I recently stopped counting calories and my entire outlook on eating has shifted. I dont feel the urge to overeat nearly as often, and I experience much less "food guilt." I eat wholesome food. I eat when I am hungry, and if I crave something I am not afraid to have it.
Thank the lord for powerlifting. It has given me a new purpose.
Another factor that has greatly aided in my recovery is lifting weights. For quite a while I was a boney size 00, NOT due to genetics but from an eating disorder. Naturally, my body has always been a slender yet womanly shape just like my mother and grandmother.
Now I have muscle. I feel strong for the first time ever! Lifting weights has set me apart from the crowd in a wonderful, fullfilling way. I proudly broke up with the scale AND calories months ago, and now I focus on the weight on the barbell.
I dont want to say I am recovered, because I am not sure if that is possible. Dealing with my food issues and body dyspmorphia is a daily task. I do know that each day I can tell myself to STOP the disordered thoughts, is a success. I am not perfect, but I try my best and that is what counts.
Now I want to be a sponge and absorb factual information on wholesome, holistic nutrition as well as weight lifting. I want to educate others on how to properly eat and train-or, tell them how they SHOULDN'T do so- so that they won't have to learn the hard way like I did.
I will be pushed down. Sometimes I will be my own worst enemy. But I know that at the end of the tunnel, there is a bright light and a successful future that I will attain.
So that is my story. If anyone would like me to add detail to a specific area or has any questions, please tell me. I am not ashamed of my past. Also, PLEASE feel free to message me if you or anyone you know is struggling with food or body issues.