Loved and Worthy of Love

an endless journey toward self-acceptance

Worthwhile Reads 8.28.16

Good morning! How has your weekend been? Mine has been busy, as usual, but quite lovely. It has been far too long since I’ve put together a Worthwhile Reads post for y’all, and I’m looking forward to linking up with Amanda today to share some of the great links I’ve seen over the past few weeks!

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Recovery

Fitness Trackers for Kids: McDonald’s Dangerous New Marketing Ploy

I remember when McDonald’s included pedometers in meals when I was in middle school, and I remember it becoming somewhat obsessive for me. I wholly advocate for encouraging activity, but I think there are ways to do that without focusing on specific numbers.

Sweet Nothings: Life With An Eating Disorder

A beautiful post on the similarities between an eating disorder and a relationship.

Confidence in Eating (lots of food)

As always, The Fuck It Diet provides an awesome countercultural perspective.

What I Wanted My Partner to Know About My Eating Disorder But Never Said

Great things to know for those who love somebody with an eating disorder.

Your Body Positivity Needs To Include More Than Just You

Body positivity should include all bodies: the differently abled, the scarred, the “perfect,” the large, the small, and the in-between.

The Difference Between Full Recovery and Recovered Enough

It’s easy to get stuck in a “recovered enough” place, but we can all do better for ourselves.

What Intuitive Eating Is Not

It is not perfection, and it is not a diet, among other things.

 

Life, etc.

How I Got Over FOMO as an Introvert

Its hard to accept introversion without feeling like we are missing out, but it is worth trying to be okay with the fact that we may often be happier in smaller groups or on our own. I have found that I am much happier when I simply validate my choice to lie low and not waste time wishing I were more extroverted.

Batman The Four-Eared Supercat Finds a Forever Home

This was just too good to pass up.

The Culture Of The Smug White Liberal

This article points out things that may be hard to hear, but need to be considered nonetheless.

The New “Ghostbusters” and Race: Why It Matters That Leslie Jones Isn’t Playing One of the Scientists

I enjoyed the movie, but I had a lot of thoughts along these lines.

 

 

That’s all I have for this week’s roundup – I hope you have a fantastic remainder of your Sunday!

 

What I Ate Wednesday 8/24/16: What’s Normal?

Good morning! I have been majorly slacking in the blogging arena lately, but I’m linking up with Jenn today to share a day’s worth of food with you, along with some observations on what it means to be “normal” when it comes to food.

I know that the desire for normalcy fuels a lot of my actions, and I know that I’m not alone in that. We are naturally inclined to compare ourselves to others, and it is hard to not do so in a lens that errs on the side of negativity. A little shy of three years into my recovery journey, I am still trying to be normal, and still learning that normal isn’t necessarily something that exists at all.

Yesterday morning, I began my day as usual with oats brought from home and eaten at work.

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 oats with peanut butter, a beaten egg, and banana

For reasons unbeknownst to me, this breakfast filled me up a lot more than usual. I wasn’t hungry again for some time, but I snacked on part of a piece of banana bread when I did get a tad peckish.

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vegan chocolate chip banana bread that is the absolute best

When my lunch break rolled around, I was pretty damn hungry. In the service industry, you have to eat around your break times and that can be challenging. Sometimes you’re not hungry at all, but you know you will be later if you don’t eat. Other times, you’re ravenous and you know that you need to make your lunch last for a while. Yesterday, I was definitely relating to the latter of those options.

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sandwich with avocado and chicken, vegetables with hummus, and barbecue chips

When I got home from work, I wanted a little snack to hold me over until dinner. I ate a few naan crackers with some goat cheese, did a little yoga, and started to throw together a quick dinner.

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I had made spinach lasagna for dinner the night before, which is my jam, and there were plenty of leftovers yesterday, which made for an easy dinner before I headed off to see the movie Florence Foster Jenkins with some of my roommates.

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The movie was great, and it was only made better by all of the snacks that we sneaked in to eat while we watched.

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Gardetto’s, yogurt raisins, and Sugar Babies

I used to freak out about the idea of snacking at the movies. I associated it with eating enormous tubs of popcorn three times over, and I associated it with fatness. As I was watching with my friends yesterday, though, I realized how normal it is to snack at the movies. No, I don’t think it’s a great idea to skip dinner in favor of two buckets of popcorn on a regular basis. Nor do I think it’s a good idea to miss out on snacks with friends just because you’re paranoid about snacking at the movies immediately leading to morbid obesity, however. I ate the snacks and enjoyed the movie, which felt incredibly normal.

After the movie, I rode my bike around Portland in the dark for a while, which is one of my favorite activities. There’s something about being out and about in the warm summer night air that I absolutely adore. When I got home, I did a little reading and watched some Teen Mom 2 (no shame). I was a bit hungry again after a while, so I enjoyed an english muffin with peanut butter before calling it a night.

Is it normal to eat a snack before bed? Absolutely. Is it normal to not eat a snack before bed if you are still full from dinner? Sure. Is it normal to eat with friends at the movies? Of course. Is it even normal to eat candy and popcorn for dinner every once in a while? Yep. Normal is what makes us happy. Normal is what gives us fulfilling relationships. Gradually, I am learning that normal can be almost anything, and that striving for an objective level of normalcy only limits us from being our normally weird selves.

Reclaiming Rest

I remember a lot of things about rest.

I remember my grandpa criticizing my decision to take a nap when I was sixteen years old. This criticism came during the time in my life when I came home from school with a migraine every day and napped on the couch while watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit until the headache disappeared. I was deeply depressed, suffering from insomnia, uninvolved with school or friends, and recovering from viral encephalitis, an illness from which I have since recovered fully.

I remember being criticized for sleeping in on weekends instead of getting up and cleaning the house after new rules were put in place when I was ten years old.

I remember lying on my dorm room bed in college, playing Angry Birds and watching through seasons of The Office, Arrested Development, and Scrubs. I did this whenever I wasn’t in class because I was too anxious to get out and meet people. I was too insecure to think that I had value, so I kept to myself. I would buy bags of my favorite “junk food” and try to limit my consumption of them, inevitably eating what I believed was too much and feeling worse about myself.

I remember deciding, at age 22, that I would no longer be “lazy.” I remember committing to running every day, to ab workouts alone in my room at night, to working three jobs and going to school full-time. Running from what I perceived as laziness meant running from my former self, my fat self, and I couldn’t get far enough away from her.

So here I am today, fifteen years from the shaming about sleeping in on weekends, a decade from my post-encephalitic self, five years from those early college days, and only three years since beginning the diet that could have killed me. And in this place, I am trying to reclaim rest. When I look back at that timeline, it’s no surprise that I associate rest with inadequacy. Through all of my middle and high school days, I considered myself lazy. I considered myself worthless. I believed that the antidote to this laziness was to remain busy all of the time. To some extent, I wouldn’t trade those busiest college days for anything. I worked hard in school, I loved my jobs, and I made it through even the most stressful times. But now I need to learn a little bit about rest.

Early in recovery, rest was much easier to justify for myself. I had all but been forbidden from exercising, and walking was the only real exercise that I got. I did not have a job, so my days were spent journaling and reading. I was the furthest thing from busy, and that was exactly what I needed at that time. As I have moved through recovery, however, the urge to busy myself has crept back in. It is far too easy to cram my schedule with work, social outings, and the double-edged sword of exercise. Now that I am not expected to limit my exercise in the ways that I used to, it is quite easy to spend all of my free time in movement. It is easy to slip back into my old expectations of myself, to convince myself that I am lazy if I don’t move every second of every day. Even as I sit here writing this, I’m linking about the activity that I will do later. It’s an obsession with movement that our society is gradually encouraging more and more, and I find it troubling.

Truthfully, I wasn’t happy when I was sleeping all day long, playing Angry Birds, and resting only because I had no other hobbies or passions. On the other hand, I was definitely not happy when I forced myself to run every morning that my friend was visiting me in college, or when I rushed from work to class to the gym and back every single day. But rest was never the problem. Looking back, I can see the culprit of my feelings of inadequacy was never rest. And for that reason, I want to reclaim it in my life. Rest has a place in our routine just as movement does. It serves an important purpose in the same way that work and socialization serve their purposes. It does not need to be all that we do, but it absolutely needs to be some of what we do. So today, I encourage you to think about how you can rest without guilt, rest without shame, and know that you are taking care of yourself by doing so.

Thanks to Amanda for the opportunity to Think Out Loud today!

What I Ate Wednesday 8.10.16

Good morning from beautiful Montana! It has been a lovely vacation week here, which has included a little rest, many visits with loved ones, and plenty of delicious food. One of the best things about coming home is being able to get out of my routine and enjoy some of my favorite restaurants with family and friends. Today, I’m linking up with Jenn to share a day’s worth of Montana eats with you!

I began my day leisurely with my brother and two close friends who had stayed over at our house the night before. Everyone was doing their own thing for breakfast, so I whipped up a bowl of oatmeal and made a strong pot of coffee.

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oats with peanut butter, an egg, and fresh raspberries

My friends, brother, and I went for a walk and did some thrift shopping before meeting up with my mom for lunch. It was a rainy day, which called for soup.

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vegetarian chili, salad with poppyseed dressing, and french bread

I ran around town visiting various friends, baked a cake to take to my dad’s house, and went for a walk in the afternoon. On my way out the door, I snagged a handful of baby carrots, some nuts, and a little granola to eat in the car.

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When I got home, I snacked on coconut greek yogurt with Rice Krispie cereal while I frosted my cake.

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For dinner, my family went out to my favorite Chinese restaurant. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be able to go to a place like this and feel a sense of flexibility around what I order. I told my brother that I would split whatever he wanted, and we settled on chicken with broccoli and vegetarian egg rolls.

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After dinner, my brother and I went out to our dad’s house to visit him for a bit. I brought the cake that I made, which was a dark chocolate cake with bourbon coffee buttercream. I only had a sliver because I knew the chocolate and coffee would keep me up, but it was delicious. If you need a solid chocolate cake recipe, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

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After visiting with our dad, we headed home to watch an episode of Chopped that features somebody I know in Portland. For the occasion, I made a bowl of popcorn with garlic and olive oil.

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I was a little bit peckish before bed again, so I settled for my peanut butter toast standby.

Honestly, this particular day wasn’t my easiest as far as body image is concerned. I was struggling to give myself grace and struggling to allow myself to live without fear of food and insecurities about my appearance. Recovery is still a journey that I’m on, and there are moments that feel extremely hard. Despite this, the reality of recovery is apparent to me whenever I return home. Every trip that I make, it gets a little easier to break routine, a little easier to have a bit of cake, and a little easier to focus on real life. Days like this remind me that it is possible to pursue recovery and possible to enjoy food even on days that feel a bit more challenging. One step backward does not negate progress, and it does not take away from the incredible freedom that recovery affords.

Worthwhile Reads 8.7.16

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Good morning! I’m writing to you from beautiful Montana, where I surprised my mom by visiting for a week. I’ve been absolutely loving my time here, and it has been a great opportunity to visit friends and family and get some much-needed rest and relaxation. I haven’t been very active on the blog lately, but I found some great links to share with you!

Recovery

Patients With “Wrong Weight” Refused Care

We seriously need to reevaluate the criteria for treatment. It’s absolutely absurd that people who aren’t ‘sick enough’ are not able to get care.

What I Wish I Knew Before My Daughter Developed Anorexia

There are so many lessons we can learn from those who have dealt with eating disorders, and society needs to open up to some of these lessons.

5 Important Things You May Not Know About Eating Disorders

This post does a great job of summarizing some of the things that people still don’t understand about eating disorders.

Once The “Fat Kid,” Always The “Fat Kid”

Such a beautiful reflection.

Life, Etc.

How Pokemon Go Helps Kids On The Autism Spectrum

Whether or not you are in on the Pokemon Go craze, I do think that it provides an opportunity to get people out in the community who might not otherwise do so.

Making The Case For Being Quietly Awesome

Quietly awesome people unite!

 

Worthwhile Reads 7/31/16

Good morning, and welcome to the LAST day of July. What is happening to this summer?! I’ve been a little absent in the world of blogging lately, and I owe that primarily to the fact that work has been insane. I also had a friend visiting last weekend, which was wonderful, although it gave me slightly less free time. I do have one exciting bit of news from the last week to share with you, and that is that I got my stolen bike back! I found it for sale on Craiglist, dedicated a lot of time into arranging a time to look at the bike as if I were interested in buying it, and took it back. My most favorite form of transportation is in my possession once again, and I couldn’t be happier about it. To celebrate and replace the stickers that were ripped off, I tacked a new sticker on once I got it back. Love truly does conquer hate.

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And now, I’m excited to share some Worthwhile Reads with y’all!

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Recovery

Not My Daughter: I Thought I Could Protect My Daughter from Anorexia — I Was Wrong

A really beautiful piece on parenting, eating disorders, and the feeling of failure when we can’t save the people we love.

Writing Your Way to Wellness

Writing has played a huge role in my recovery, and I think that anyone can be come a writer to help move themselves through the recovery process.

Why I Do Not Support Eating Disorder Charity Runs

love this perspective, and I think it’s incredibly valid.

Raising a Girl to Have a Healthy Body Image

So important, not only for parents, but for anybody who is around children and has the ability to positively influence the way young girls see themselves.

Gaining Weight Is HARD

Yep. Gaining weight is not easy, but a healthier body and mind make it so worthwhile.

Life, Etc.

What to Tell Yourself When You Want to Forget Your Past

It can be hard to remember that our pasts, no matter how challenging, have allowed us the opportunity to grow into better people. This is a great post on remembering that our pasts contribute to who we are, and we can learn from them rather than try to forget them.

Unmarried Women Have The Power To Decide The Election

Single Ladies represent!

That’s all I have for you this week, fabulous people! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

Giving Up Control in the Interest of Joy

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In my mind, a major hurdle of recovery is getting to a place where you genuinely want to reach full recovery even when you could settle for less. When we reach a point where we are recovered enough by society’s standards, where we no longer make others feel uncomfortable with the way that we look or act, it can get a whole lot harder to pursue recovery for ourselves. Why face the weight gain, the anxiety, and the vulnerability when we can hang onto disordered behaviors just enough to make us feel in control, just enough to give us a sense of power over ourselves and our lives.

It’s no surprise that the illusion of control is so tempting. We live in a society obsessed with power, obsessed with knowing as much as possible and controlling whatever we can at all times. Presidential candidates run on the platform of controlling the fate of our country, online dating lets us control every characteristic of a potential partner, and fitness trackers trick us into thinking we can perfectly measure our body’s use of energy. We are a people obsessed with control, and our efforts to control our bodies are only one example of that obsession in a sea of thousands.

Control over our bodies is a temptress, to be sure. Exhibiting control over how and what we eat is applauded, and having control over the ways in which we exercise is seen as disciplined and virtuous. Yet there is something missing when we seek control above all else, and that thing is joy. We cannot feel truly joyful when our focus is on the next meal, our last workout,  or how we can be most productive with the remainder of our day. When control is our focus, we are unable to acknowledge the many ways that joy manifests itself in our daily life. Control over our food choices might mean missing out on appetizers shared during happy hour. Control over the times that we eat leads to a growling stomach and irritability when we could be enjoying our afternoon. An obsession with controlling our exercise routine very likely means a loss of the joy that our favorite activities bring us, when we choose the exercises that feel more “worth it” over the things we truly love.

As people in recovery, people in a society obsessed with control, and people who are chronically dissatisfied by the fleeting satisfaction of power, we need to let some things go. We can continue to be frustrated by the way life ceases to be controlled by us despite our best efforts, or we can look forward to the element of surprise. We can become angry and feel helpless when our bodies will not change the way we want them to, or we can watch them with curiosity and let them be.

I know that all of this may sound a bit challenging. When we have grown accustomed to the sense of power that control gives us, forfeiting it might seem impossible. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you probably know that I’m a big fan of baby steps, though, and baby steps are what I encourage each of us to take. Giving up control could mean letting go of calorie or macro counting altogether, or it could mean loosening up around mealtimes and types of food. Giving up control could mean ceasing all exercise, or it could simply mean changing up your routine a bit. The changes do not have to be dramatic to have an impact, and each bit of control that we give up makes space for a little more joy in our lives.

What I Ate Wednesday 7/20/16: Bike Thieves Ruin Everything

Good morning! How is your week going so far? Mine was going quite well….until my bike was stolen on Sunday. Damn bike thieves. And it was stolen on the day that I intended to put together my What I Ate Wednesday post this week. Although it was definitely not the best day out of the past seven, I’m still going to share a day’s worth of food with you from that fateful Sunday when my beloved bike was stolen.

I started my morning off normally, with a bike ride to work. After getting everything set up to open, I ate my oats out of a mason jar that I brought with me.

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oats with an egg, peanut butter, and banana slices

After a couple of hours, I needed to step upstairs to print off a few things at work. I knew that it would be a while before I could eat lunch, so I ate some banana bread slices mid-morning while I did some office work.

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chocolate chip walnut banana bread

When I finally got home from work, I threw together a lunch of leftovers. I had made quinoa baked with soy chorizo, black beans, and vegetables for dinner the night before, and the leftovers made a perfect, quick lunch.

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After lunch, I biked to a coffee date that I had and ordered a decaf soy latte. I felt a little bit obnoxious ordering such a drink, but I love soy milk and I also love sleep. SO THERE.

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Partway through my date, one of the employees at the bakery I was at brought out some free pastries for us. I was hungry, and it was for the best that I chose to snack on the pastries because my impending bike theft meant that I didn’t get home for quite a while.

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monkey bread and a berry turnover

After my date ended and I discovered that my bike was gone, I was obviously in a fairly foul mood. I took the bus home, crying to myself the entire way and looking utterly pathetic. When I finally got home, I spent some time pouting in my room before throwing together an easy dinner.

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pasta with sausage, parmesan cheese, and vegetables

I filed a police report and added my bike to a few stolen bike indexes before heading to bed. I also had a snack before hitting the hay, because that’s how I roll.

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tropical trail mix and half of an english muffin with peanut butter

Sunday wasn’t the best day of my life to be sure, but I was still able to eat some great food! Thanks to Jenn for the linkup, and let me know if you see this beautiful bike anywhere:

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Worthwhile Reads 7/17/16

Good morning! How on earth is it already July 17th? It’s hard for me to believe that my mom was visiting only a week ago, and that August is creeping up rapidly. To finish off the week, I’m excited to share some awesome links with you from around the Internet courtesy of Amanda’s weekly linkup!

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Recovery

Nike Finally Acknowledges That Curvy Women Work Out, Too

It’s taking time, but I believe that society is slowly coming around to a place of greater body acceptance.

Bikini Body Fitness Parody

Definitely worth a watch.

How Much Do You Have to Think About Eating for It to Become an Eating Disorder?

“People’s ideas about what is normal are so skewed.” Yes. It is so easy to get caught up in your social circle/Instagram feed/blogging world and lose sight of what is really healthy.

How to Make the Road to Recovery a Little Less Bumpy

It’s a challenging road, to be certain, but there are things that we can do to help ourselves along.

Drink The Water, Hide The Scale

I love the sheer honesty of this post. It looks at the back-and-forth of our changing bodies, and considers the pros and cons of consciously trying to lose weight, learning to accept your size as you are, and everywhere in between.

The Biggest Misconceptions About Eating Disorders (From Someone Who’s Had One)

You may be well aware of these myths and their inaccuracy, but there are still many who believe some of these things, and neglect to realize how doing so prevents people from being able to get help.

 

Life, Etc.

Mental Health Reform Bill Overwhelmingly Clears House of Representatives

It’s always encouraging to seeing steps taken toward mental healthcare reform.

Up in Smoke: We’ll Spend Billions Tomorrow for Not Helping the Poor Quit Smoking Today

Something that isn’t talked about much, but certainly merits discussion.

15 Of The Best #SingleBecause Tweets That Show Being Single Is Awesome AF

Being single ain’t so bad.

Tips for Self-Care: When Police Brutality Has You Questioning Humanity and Social Media Isn’t Enough

Whenever tragedy comes to our national and international attention, it can be hard to find hope. Caring for ourselves from the inside out ensures that we can be there for others.

 

That’s it for this week’s links! I hope the rest of your weekend is fantastic!

Don’t Rush Your “After”

Good morning, lovely people! My my my, I haven’t done a Thinking Out Loud post in quite a while. I’ve had this one in the back of my mind, though, and it’s something that I have been itching to write about for weeks. I don’t know about you, but in my early recovery I found myself reflecting on my sickness in the past tense quite often. I talked about “when I was sick” or “when things were really bad” as if I was through the thick of it. Doing this was helpful in allowing me to see how far I had come, but I also found that it made me somewhat complacent in how unrecovered I still was. I thought of my sickest days as my “before” self, and my still-pretty-sick-but-not-as-bad self as an “after”. I’m writing this post today because I am so grateful that my journey didn’t stop there, and I feel  that rushing to an “after” point doesn’t allow us to discover who it is we want to be.

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We live in a world fueled by comparison, and eating disordered tend to thrive on comparison more than anything else. I have seen so many recovery bloggers post before and after pictures and truthfully, I understand what they’re trying to do. I understand that it’s well-intentioned. I entirely believe that we should feel proud of all of the progress that we have made along our journey, and that comparing our current selves to our past selves can be a motivating reminder.

However….I also think there is some danger in thinking of the place that we are in now as a stopping point. I remember thinking that I was through the thick of my eating disorder when I still thought I wanted to get back into running (I don’t). I remember thinking that I was almost entirely recovered when I still felt hungry after every meal and snack. I remember thinking I was almost recovered when I was still virtually unable to comfortably eat food that I didn’t make. What a limited life I would lead if that were truly my endpoint.

The danger of settling into such a place and labeling it as an “after” is that it makes really going all the way that much more challenging. When I moved to Portland and was told by my treatment team that I needed to eat more and, most probably, gain some weight, I wasn’t ready for that. I thought I was almost done recovering, after all, and I hadn’t planned for weight gain. I realized that I had begun to see my still-too-thin-for-me body as my recovered body, and that is a dangerous trap. In the past several months, I have learned a lot about seeing the place that I am in as a rest stop, not a final destination. Right now, this is the size of my body. Right now, this is the way that I eat. Right now, this is the state of my mental health. But this is not my “after.” In all honesty, there is no “after.” If we are open to change, open to growth, and open to the possibilities life has to offer us, we are constantly changing, and that is a truly beautiful reality.

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