Last Summer

This time last year I was struggling with something that a lot of young women can relate to – body image and anxiety.

During the beginning of 2016 I was feeling beautiful and confident in my own skin. I was working out more regularly and I had lost weight leading up to my wedding day.

Between work, graduation, and wedding planning there were times when I was simply too busy to sit down and eat a real meal. Juices and smoothies became my go-to for lunches when I was out running errands. I ended up losing weight, but I was also feeling fit and healthy.

After our wedding, that all changed.

The week after our wedding was spent packing and getting ready to move into our new apartment. Again, there wasn’t much time to sit down and have big meals, so we were always eating quick bites on the go.

Once we had moved into our apartment and I had unpacked everything and got our little apartment all set up, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself and all of the free time I now had.

The days seemed to stretch out ahead of me with countless empty hours while Brendan was at work. I didn’t know how to fill these long lapses of time while Brendan was away, so I started watching television. Having television to watch was a treat for me since I didn’t have cable when I lived with my grandma the previous year.

Televison became my constant companion. I always left some show streaming all day long, whether I was actually giving it my full attention or not. It was comforting to me to have some background noise of human interaction on.

I was excited to be married and living in a new city with Brendan. But I was also scared and lonely, and this resulted in me feeling depressed and very anxious all of the time.

I started to feel so alone and craving time and interaction with other people (rare for an introvert like me). It didn’t help that our small apartment got little to no sunlight due to the fact that our windows faced a parking garage. I never knew if it was sunny outside or not.

My mood quickly began to reflect the view I saw outside that window – dark, cold, gray, and ugly. I built up walls and literally made a prison for myself. For some reason I was scared to go outside in this unfamiliar city without Brendan by my side. I cry a little on the inside every time I think of how I isolated myself.

I craved going back home and visiting my family. I felt safe and comfortable there, and it was nice to have others to talk to.

I remember being excited to go to the dentist and be around other people. My hygienist complemented my hair, and I thought about that all day long and how good it made me feel.

I eventually found my way back to journaling and blogging and that helped me with getting my feelings and frustrations out. It also helped me to understand myself a little bit better.

I started going to Starbucks to sit outside in the sun to read and write. But this didn’t cure me of all of my woes.

July came and my body image came to an all-time low. I gained weight after the wedding and I began to hate my body and beat myself up for eating more than I had earlier in the year. I took up going to the gym to work out. I felt better at first. I started going to the gym at least 5 times a week and would work out at least 2 hours while I was there. It gave me something to do and helped the hours go by while Brendan was at work (4 p.m. – 12 a.m.).

I began to develop more muscle and as a result I weighed more. This crushed me. I couldn’t shake the number on the scale and the fact that my pants fit tighter. I had also become obsessed with tracking calories again and how many steps I was getting.

This immediately took me back to when I was a teenager, counting every single calorie and on the verge of an eating disorder.

I started regularly having anxiety attacks and would break down crying in Brendan’s arms. I hated looking in the mirror and I wanted to wear clothes that would hide my body.

One evening that really sticks out to me was at the end of August (2016).

Brendan and I had decided to go to Liberty University for a movie night they were having as a way to kick off the new school year, and I was feeling so defeated with my body that evening. Everything I tried on I hated – I felt bloated, fat, and disgusting. The worst part was that I knew we would end up seeing some of Brendan’s former co-workers on campus and I didn’t want them to see me looking the way I did.

Isn’t it stupid?! In my mind I thought I needed to be thinner and prettier, and I felt like I didn’t deserve Brendan. In reality, I’m sure nobody would have even noticed that I had gained a few pounds. I cried before we left our apartment that evening, and we almost didn’t go because of me.

When September rolled around I knew that I couldn’t go on like that much longer. I decided to stop weighing myself everyday and stop looking in the mirror to constantly pick myself apart. I also stopped wearing my Fitbit, gave up tracking calories on MyFitnessPal, and cut down my gym time to just 3 times a week.

And with these changes I felt the shackles loosen and fall off.

Of course, it didn’t happen over night. After a few weeks I started to realize that I wasn’t focusing on the reflection in the mirror anymore and I was actually starting to enjoy my food again.

I’d say it took anywhere from a month to a month and a half for me to start really feeling better. It took hard work and dedication, a change in my mindset, and the support of my husband.

I never really told anyone else besides Brendan that I was struggling. Body image and anxiety can be a difficult thing to talk about and trying to explain it to people can be even harder.

Those were some very dark days for me, and it hurts me to think about how I beat myself up so much. It hurts to write about it too, but I feel like it’s important for me to share where I’ve been.

Thankfully I am in a much better place now – body, mind, and spirit.

I didn’t write this post because I want people to feel sorry for me. I wrote it in the hopes that it might help somebody else out there that is dealing with something similar.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to not always feel okay. Television and social media are always showing us these beautiful little snapshots of people’s lives, and we don’t always see what’s going on on the inside. The important thing to remember is that we’re all human and none of us will ever lead a perfect life.

Learn to listen to your body and its needs. Surround yourself with a support system – even if it’s just one person you can confide in. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourself because you are worth it!

 

 

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Time is Slipping Away

It’s been a while since I have posted anything on here. I had all of these wonderful ideas of blog posts that I would write, such as my going vegan for a week, new recipes, etc. But the truth is that I just haven’t felt very inspired or motivated to photograph anything or to write. And you know what, that’s okay. I’ve been spending more time cleaning up around my house and cracking open a few good books and just hanging out with my family and pets. I’m learning that I don’t always have to have something extravagant or astounding to post on here. Simpler is better sometimes.

I’d love to be writing about grand adventures I’ve been having, but in all honesty my summer hasn’t been very exciting so far. I find myself looking forward to going back to school in August (crazy right!) and being able to hang out with friends and learning about the things I love and the things like math that I don’t love at all. I think that part of this reasoning is because I am ready to start my senior year and be done with college and move on to the next chapter of my life. Another reason is that it just feels good to be busy and doing something productive. The lazy days of summer are nice for about a month, but after that I start feeling restless and feeling like I have just a little bit too much free time on my hands.

I say that I’m ready to go back to school already because I feel like I’ve almost had enough lazy summer days. But in reality, summer has just begun. And summer is meant to be a time for relaxing and breathing in the fresh air, a time to take things a bit more slowly and actually enjoy and savor each moment. While I’ve had my lazy days, they haven’t exactly been relaxing. I come up with all of these little chores and tasks that I need to do and try to do too much multitasking (which we know doesn’t really accomplish that much). And then if I don’t fulfill these tasks or I feel like doing something other than what I wrote on my to do list, I end up feeling like I am wasting my time because I’m not doing what was written on that little sheet of paper. But that’s how I should be spending my summer months!

I shouldn’t be making strict schedules for myself that I feel bad for not sticking to, I’m supposed to be having a break from school and enjoying the free time that I have. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to keep a list of tasks that need to be done, it’s actually a great reminder for those little daily chores. But what I am saying is that I should be enjoying the freedom that comes with summer instead of sitting back and wishing the summer days away.  I know one day after I have graduated, moved away from home and have started my own life I will look back on these easy summer days and wish that they wouldn’t have slipped through my fingers as fast as they did. I should be using this free time, while I am not in school, to focus on my hobbies and passions and doing the things I love. Things like photography, writing, cooking, painting, reading, etc. I know that when I’m at school all I think about is summer time and the freedom I will have to do theses things and then I don’t end up doing a single one them.

I had time to stop and ponder all of this the other evening when the power was out at my house. There were a lot of thunder storms in the surrounding area and while it didn’t actually rain at my house, we did end up losing power for about two hours. And in those two hours I was able to sit in the peace and quiet of my living room, without any technology to distract me from my thoughts or the sounds of nature. So as I sat listening to the birds chirping outside, I did some reading and journaling, two things I love to do but sadly don’t do as often as I used to. I was able to sit and think about how the summer months would soon start slipping from my grasp and I would be left wondering where the time had gone and what I had wasted my time doing.

So, I have decided to not rush the summer. I am going to take things one day at a time and try to find the joy in whatever comes my way!

*                *                *

And now I think it’s time for Things to be Happy About, V. II:

Homemade cherry pie w/ vanilla ice cream / / Enjoying a nice quiet house for a change / / Watching the 7th season of Gilmore Girls / / Discovering old issues of the Liberty Champion while cleaning / / A nice clean reading nook / / Folk music / / Big steaming cups of coffee in the morning / / My little sister coming home yesterday / / Thunder storms and the nice cool air they bring / / Thoughtful gifts from my boyfriend 

 

 

Things to be Happy About, V. 1

There have been a lot of things on my mind recently that have been causing me to stress and worry more than I probably should. Things like feeling restless and wanting to travel, paying for school, finding a job, making my house look better, etc., etc., etc. I could go on and on naming things that have been getting me down lately and giving me a case of the summer time blues, but what good would that do?

I try to be a positive person. My mom and my grandma are both strong positive women and they have instilled in me the knowledge that it is better to count your blessings and the things you are happy about rather than sit around and dwell on all of the the negative things that creep into your life. Concentrating on the positive things in your life will put you in a happier mood and help to lighten the load you bear.

I have started memorizing scripture with Brendan, focusing on a verse each week. Our verse for this week is Psalm 55:22 which says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  I am learning to do just that. By giving my worries to God, I am relieved of my burdens and I can focus on all of the blessings in my life.

So I have decided that I am going to try to be more positive minded this summer. I am starting a new series on my blog called “Things to be Happy About” that I will post from time to time. I got this idea from Carlotta Cisternas’ blog (which just happens to be one of my favorite blogs that I read) and thought it would be a great way to remind myself just how blessed I am.

Here are some things that I am happy about this week:

Cooking healthy foods in my kitchen (a luxury I do not have at school) / / Reading the Bible with Brendan over Skype / / New home improvement projects / / Getting back into yoga / / Drinking out of mason jars / / Having time to read good books / / Long car rides and conversations about life with daddy / / The smell of honeysuckle in the air / / My strawberry patch / / Being able to live on campus again in the fall / / Celebrating 16 months together with Brendan / / Getting letters in the mail 

What are some things that you are happy about?