Hey guys! Today I'm answering the questions you left on my Instagram post a few weeks ago! All things fitness, lifestyle, ED recovery and more!
1. When did you start exercising during recovery?
I actually never stopped exercising completely. What I did was refocus and change my mindset. Instead of having to burn calories and do cardio for a long period of time, I wanted to become physically and mentally strong. So, that's when I said goodbye to long hours of cardio, and hello to weight lifting, circuits and POP Pilates! I also don't feel the need to workout everyday anymore. Before it used to be I HAVE to workout, but now it's I WANT to workout. Many people who suffer from an unhealthy obsession with working out may need to take time off to recover, and those who are physically sick (extremely underweight, and other health problems) should definitely take time off from exercise to recover their bodies and get them back to "normal" functioning.
2. How did you change your mindset to accomplish your goals?
Honestly, it was when Cassey (@blogilates) first featured my transformation story. At that point my Instagram followers grew and I knew that I wanted to be a healthy and positive representation to the world. It was a wake-up call. It wasn't easy, because when you're stuck in an ED mind, you like to be comfortable, you like that routine - and breaking it is extremely hard.
Then, most recently, in the fall my friend (who's big into bodybuilding/power lifting) encouraged me to "bulk" - stop cardio, increase calories and instead, focus on weight lifting. His motivation was the push I needed to just do it. It was something I always wanted to do but I was afraid of doing it "wrong" and gaining too much fat. But, I basically sucked it up and just started to do it. Right now I eat the most food I probably ever have in my life, while still maintaining a figure I love. I have the most energy I ever have. I'm not tired, or irritable like I used to be. One of the main reasons I wanted to do this (not just to look a certain way and gain muscle), was because I wanted to increase my metabolism - increase my resting metabolic rate. Which, I definitely know I have been doing because as I mentioned, I'm eating the most food I ever had without gaining fat, AND I simply feel better and healthier.
3. How did you have a better relationship with and actually enjoy food? If it was intuitive eating, how did you start intuitive eating?
It's weird, but true - when I first got Instagram, I found flexible dieting. It taught me A LOT. It taught me how much I was actually under-feeding myself. I realized that I CAN eat bread, I can eat ANYTHING and still be fit and healthy. Nutrition is a science whether we like it or not. So, I started IIFYM - it helped me eat more, get healthier and now I just eat intuitively, while paying attention to macros to make sure I eat ENOUGH.
The book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch is also highly recommended. It literally changed my life. Intuitive eating is still a work in progress and honestly, most people, ED or not, don't eat intuitively. Why? Because we eat because of boredom, because of socialization, because of routine. We aren't that "in tune" with our bodies as we may think. So, I highly recommend investing in that book!
4. I also hate cardio, and would like to know a day in the life of exercising for you.
I go to the gym 6x a week and lift weights! See my last blog post under fitness for more details!
5. What's your favourite healthy snack, meal, dessert?
Healthy snack - Greek yogurt mixed with protein powder + a banana or a protein bar covered in PB lol
Meal - Oatmeal cooked with egg whites, cinnamon and peanut butter on top
Dessert - Cheesecake or anything with chocolate and peanut butter
Yes, my peanut butter addiction is real.
6. I want to start lifting, but never know where to start. Any recommendations for beginners?
I just wrote a more detailed blog post about lifting HERE. I think the most important thing for beginners is to have a personal training session, or have a friend or someone who knows a lot about lifting to show you what to do and explain to you how you could create a workout routine around lifting. It's all about educating yourself. Also! Don't be intimidated. Lifting doesn't mean you need to lift 200lbs over your head. Lifting is about lifting what is heavy for YOU and that's different for everyone! If you push yourself at your level, then you will see the benefits!
7. What's one place you'd love to travel to or something to do before you die?
Hmmm, I think my biggest dream is to have a POP Pilates retreat somewhere tropical and warm with all the POP instructors! It will happen.
8. When gaining muscle, how much should your diet increase and how much is too much to eat?
If you want to gain muscle, then you need to:
1. Make sure you're eating enough protein as it is (about 0.5-1g/pound of weight)
2. You need to increase your carbs
Many people think it's the other way around - that you need to increase protein like crazy, but carbs are what build muscle. Protein says pretty consistent. There's no set number of calories that I can tell you that will help you gain muscle because everyone is different. For example, some people may be under-eating right now and any small increase in calories will help, but then you need to continue to increase slowly. There are many calculators online that can help this this. My favourite is the IIFYM calculator.
The main thing when building muscle is realizing that you need to eat MORE than you're eating now because building muscle requires that extra energy in the gym to actually get the muscle gains, and as you build muscle your metabolism boosts so you need more calories in general to support your body.
9. What has been your most recent enlightenment?
First off, I love this question :) Thanks, Jordan.
There's 2 things. First, I've recently made a promise to myself to be more honest, not only with others but with myself. To be 100% true and real to who I am, what I say, and how I'm feeling. I used to hide behind my thoughts and feelings, but that never did me any good. Instead, I'm opening myself up to the world and to people because I truly believe that's how magic happens.
Secondly, I'm getting away from routine. For so long I've been in this cycle of doing the same things day in and out because it feels safe. Doing things at the same time every day, eating the same foods. Habits are good, but they are also dangerous. They limit you. I don't want to miss out on experiences, big or small, because I'm stuck in my "safe" routine.
10. How do you deal with negative thoughts that come with an ED and not let them get to you? I've always found it hard to block out negative thoughts and not get brought down by them.
The first thing you need to remember is that you can't and shouldn't "block" out thoughts. You need to acknowledge them. You don't have to agree with them, but you need to accept the fact that you're having this triggering thought and then you need to decide what to do with it. Also, remember, thoughts are just thoughts - they are not always real, they are not always the truth. Something I've learned is to think of your mind like a conveyor belt. When you have a thought, acknowledge it, and then let is pass through. Don't focus on it. Don't try and hide it. Simply, accept it, then let it pass.
11. How do you lose fear of lifting and gaining weight (even if it's muscle)? What was the moment you knew you had an eating disorder and how did you start to overcome it? What books or movies would you recommend to someone with an ED?
Honestly, one day it just clicked. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be strong. Gaining weight is not bad. We need to get that stupid thought out of our minds. You need to learn to love your body every step of the way. Some days will be hard, some days you will have extremely low body-image, but you need to just keep pushing and do what makes you happy and healthy.
I don't think I can define the moment I knew I had an eating disorder. I think I always just knew, but I suppressed it because it's easier to suppress it than try and fix it. But, I do remember the moment I knew I had to overcome it. And that was when I realized I was truly unhappy with other parts of my life. I wasn't happy in university and my career direction. I think that was a huge part of the underlying reason I developed an ED in the first place. When I took the courage to change my life "plans", that is when I started to recover.
I 100% recommend Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I also recommend podcasts related to recovery, self-love and health/fitness balance. I recently started listening to them and they are so refreshing! Women who talk about REAL experience with EDs - it's just so relatable and therapeutic. Some of my favourite podcasts are Food Psych, Recovery Warrior, and Maddy Moon.
12. How do you allocate your time each day, including fitness and daily life! And how do you stay motivated all the time!?
I'm a morning person! I wake up pretty early - even on the weekends. I like to workout in the morning - it's when I have my best workouts and then I don't have to worry about doing it later in the day. That's just what works for me. I make time for the things that are important to me and for the things that I love. It's about staying organized and prioritizing your day. And I'm honestly just a very motivated person. I find my motivation from within myself. I have a natural drive and passion for doing what I do!
13. Have you ever thought about giving up during your fitness journey?
No. A fitness journey doesn't have an end. I can't imagine my life without fitness. I'm not looking to get to a certain physique or weight and then completely stopping. I just want to fulfill my life with what makes me happy, and one of those things is fitness.
14. How did you talk to your family about eating better and working out? Did they support you or discourage you?
At first they supported me, but when they saw that it was becoming a problem they would encourage me to eat "worse". But, that not exactly the best thing to say to anyone, especially someone with an eating disorder. But now they never discourage me in my "healthy" lifestyle. They support what I do.
15. Any tips to get the courage to talk about the eating disorder I went though with family?
It's hard. I always found it easier to talk to people about it online, compared to family and friends. I always felt like it would let them down, and I was afraid they wouldn't understand. But I think you just need to gain the courage to tell them. It's actually really therapeutic to talk to your family about it. It'll feel like a big weight is off your shoulders. They will be able to understand you better.
16. How does someone so positive like you deal with a breakup?
Great question! I've never had a real relationship, so I've never experienced a breakup. When they day comes, I'll let you know :)
17. How much cardio do you do per week? What kind?
The only "cardio" I do right now is when I super-set things on leg day because that gets your heart-rate sky rocketing and you sweating like crazy! Remember, cardio isn't only the typical jumping around or running. Weight lifting and strengthening exercise have cardiovascular benefits too. I'm also not doing much cardio because my goal right now is to continue to build muscle. If I were to recommend a specific type of cardio it would be PIIT28.
18. Has your fitness ever got in the way of family or school?
Nope! Fitness is a part of my life, but it is NOT my entire life. My lifestyle has even inspired my family to eat better themselves!
19. What do you think about counting calories?
It depends. I think if you're someone who has a specific goal and want to have structured plan, and counting calories helps you achieve that goal in a healthy, non-obsessive way, then it's good. But, if you're someone who has past experience of an eating disorder, counting calories can just be another obsession you get yourself into. Some people even do a mix of both - count calories during the week, and then just eat intuitively on the weekends. I think you should try eating without counting calories and if you find that you're achieving your goal doing it that way, then why bother? But I also know that a lot of people don't realize that they may be under-eating and counting calories can actually help them eat ENOUGH food - so it's a good thing! It really depends on the person and the situation.