Category Archives: Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

How x Saved Me From My Eating Disorder

A few years ago, during my second last relapse, I used to imagine writing a book about my recovery. It would be titled “How Saved Me From My Eating Disorder”. That’s a pretty boring title. Maybe that would be the subtitle, with some catchy one word title like “Starved” or “Bones” or “Batshitcrazy”.

Anyhow, the stood for any number of things. At one time, the title even made some vague reference to how one eating disorder saved me from another. I was constantly searching for that one thing or another that would SAVE ME. I read Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me and Unbearable Lightness (Trigger Warning) and Hungry (Trigger Warning) and Wasted (Trigger Warning) and any other recovery book I could get my hands on (all the while pedalling maniacally on the stationary bike) looking for that one thing. That one thing would never come. I had to save myself.

There were many things that helped me save myself, however. Some of them were pretty standard: therapy, yoga, friends, family, the usual, but some of them were a little out there. Over the holidays, I’m going to make an effort to write about those various random things. I don’t know whether any of these things will help you, but it might get you looking at things in your life differently, learning how to find help in the strangest of places.

In the meantime, here’s an article I found on Huff Post Women. It’s a very brave, and very smart how to: Holiday Eating: 17 Things To Consider When You’re Obsessing About Food And Weight. It got so much positive feedback on my Facebook wall, that I decided to share here. Happy Holidays, all. Be safe.

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The Best Body Image Advice

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Eating Disorder Recovery: Yoga On A Budget

You made it! Part 4/4!

Today we’re covering yoga on a budget, and whatever else I forgot in earlier posts.

You may ask: “Kelly, why is yoga as important as life and food and clothing?” Well, since in recovery you have to heal your mind and your body, what better way to do it than by practising something that is good for both your mind and your body?

For me, most of my life was spent performing: looking in a mirror, figuring out what my body looked like while moving. Who cared what I was doing to my body (ahem, pointe shoes), so long as it looked pretty? That, coupled with the obsessive cardio I did as a part of my eating disorder, meant that I had a pretty messed up relationship with my body. Yoga taught me to pay attention to what my body felt like, instead of what it looked like. It’s also the only time in my life when my head shuts off (sometimes) which is something that I think can benefit anyone, especially those with an eating disorder.

Alas, yoga be expensive. (Especially in France, I’m told). Here are some tips I’ve used to maximize the yoga on a minimal budget.

  1. Lululemon. Most (all?) Lululemon stores offer FREE YOGA CLASSES! I go every Sunday. They get a different teacher from a different area studio to teach for a couple of weeks at a time. I’ve met some of my favorite yoga teachers there.

    Lululemon Yoga Outside

  2. Passport to Prana. A Passport to Prana is a $30 card that gets you a free yoga class at each of many studios in major cities in Canada and the United States. I think there are 40+ studios in Toronto alone, which works out to less than $1/class.
  3. Energy Exchange. Several studios offer an energy exchange program, where you can pay for yoga classes with your time. You can clean studios, work the front desk, help with computer stuff, etc. In Toronto I know Kula, Moksha Danforth, Yoga Sanctuary (take home a communal mat to clean in exchange for a free class), and Sundara Yoga all have Energy Exchange programs. I’m sure there are more.
  4. Park Yoga. Different teachers and studios will offer park yoga classes in the summer months. Usually these are by donation for charity. There’s nothing like lying in savasana looking at the sky.
  5. Karma Classes. Most studios offer karma classes, where you can take classes from new teachers, again by donation.
  6. Share The Love Yoga. Share The Love Yoga is a website that has organized all the free/karma/inexpensive classes in Montreal, New York, and Toronto into a weekly schedule. You can find a class at pretty much any day/time.

There are lots of yoga DVDs and YouTube videos, etc. but use them with caution. It’s really easy to get injured if your form isn’t correct, and it’s important to at least start learning yoga with a teacher.

Okay. On to the “Damn. I should have mentioned that.” section.

  1. Groups. If you can’t afford private therapy (even with all these amazing tips), try to find group therapy. You can usually find inexpensive or free groups in major cities. In Toronto, check out Sheena’s Place, in Burlington, Danielle’s Place, in London (Ontario), Hope’s Garden. Feel free to add others in the comments.
  2. Jobs With Perks. When you are well enough to work, try to find a job that gives you a discount on necessities. Clothing stores do that, but you usually have to wear their clothes, and end up spending your entire paycheque in the store. If you can handle the food industry, do. I love my health food discount.
  3. Campus Services. If you’re in school, check out what eating disorder/mental health services are available. Some schools will even subsidize your off-campus therapy.
  4. Eating Disorder Charities. Beat down the doors of NEDA, NEDIC, or anyone else who might be able to help.

I hope you found something you can use in these posts. Please feel free to keep sharing your tips and tricks (the healthy kind) in the comments. Thanks, as always, for reading.

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Eating Disorder Recovery: Clothing On A Budget

You’ve made it to Part 3!

As tricky as general life and food are, clothing is no less traumatizing. What once fit suddenly doesn’t. You watch the numbers in your pants change week after week. Early in my recovery, I could fluctuate 2+ sizes in a single day due to bloating. Clothing was not fun.

Here’s the thing: whether you are on a tight budget or have limitless funds at your disposal, you’re not going to want to buy too many clothes during the recovery process. Yes, you need to accommodate your changing body (ugh, this is starting to sound like a puberty pamphlet), but the more you buy, the more you’ll have to throw out when your size changes. There are ways around this, however.

  1. Stop reading fashion magazines/blogs/etc.  Not only are they bad for your self esteem, but you’ll just make yourself miserable knowing you’re not able to stay “on trend”.
  2. Leggings. Buy the biggest size you can get away with now, and they’ll last you through many pounds of weight gain. But please: leggings are not pants (unless you are going to/leaving/in a yoga/fitness class). Make sure your bum is covered.
  3. Dresses. These are more forgiving than just about any other clothing item. They fit through many sizes and can be paired with tights and sweaters to get you through many seasons.
  4. Jeans. Yes, this is the one thing you’ll need to buy over and over again. Everyone needs a pair of jeans. Get rid of them as soon as they don’t fit, and try to limit yourself to one pair at each size (less to throw out).
  5. Flowy tops. I’ve been accused many times of hiding in my clothes. I am the queen of “you can’t see my silhouette”. Yes, I’m uncomfortable with my body, but also, the same flowy tops have gotten me through many size changes. It’s economical. If I had purchased fitted tops at my smallest, I would have had to throw a whole lot more clothes out.
  6. Keep it simple. If you stick with basic cuts, classic pieces, and minimal patterns,  you can get away with wearing the same things over and over again. Accessorize to make it fresh.
  7. Thrift stores, sale racks, hand-me-downs. These will be your best friends. Another great option is having a clothing exchange. My friend Tess’ mom Nicky (Hi ladies!) hosts one twice a year, and I always get lots of great new stuff. Everyone brings things they don’t want anymore and throws them in a pile. Then, everyone climbs in and hunts for buried treasure. I scored an awesome pair of Theory dress pants last time.
  8. Fall in love with shoes. My friend Michelle calls shoes “the great equalizers”. They fit at any size. If you have cash to burn (ha!) focus your spending on shoes.

I waited until my weight was stable for 6 months before I started buying clothing that fell outside these rules. Sometimes I even show my waist. It really sucked wearing the same things over and over again, but I’d ask myself, would you rather have that new shirt or a fifth of a therapy session? Therapy almost always won out. Making it my choice made it easier when the green-eyed monster reared his ugly head. So my last tip, borrowed from a great survivor/thriver:

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Eating Disorder Recovery: Food On A Budget

Welcome to part 2 of the series.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on the first instalment. I debated whether it was really helpful, or if I was just having a passive aggressive pity party, but knowing that so many of you identify/are in the same situation, I decided to soldier on.

Today’s topic is a tricky one: food. I’m going to keep it as simple as possible, as I know how much food talk can stress people out.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Be flexible. It’s hard to do, I know, but it’s important to keep on the road to recovery. There has been more than one occasion where I couldn’t afford a $10 jar of almond butter, so rather than alter my meal plan to incorporate the less expensive peanut butter, I just reduced the quantities of almond butter I ate to make it last. Not smart. Restriction is a slippery slope.

    (not this kind of flexible)

  2. Learn to cook. Not easy. At the depths of my eating disorder, I wouldn’t even touch food with my bare hands, so learning to cook was a little traumatic. But cooking your own meal from scratch is a lot cheaper than pre-packaged insta-meals, and I’m told it’s important to develop a relationship with food 😉
  3. Buy bulk. I know this one is tricky, too, as those who struggle with binging have difficulties keeping large quantities of food in the house. If you buy things like quinoa and dried beans, you can make them up in small quantities, thus eliminating the “in the moment” availability of binge food.
  4. Buy bulk in small quantities. For foods that are trickier to keep, hit the bulk store often and buy a days worth of nuts/dried fruit/baking supplies at a time. This greatly reduces your risk of binging.
  5. Learn to eat around other people. If you can learn to trust other people to make food for you, maybe you can accept a dinner invitation, thereby having one meal you didn’t have to pay for.
  6. Buy multiples. If you’re an avocado eater, many grocery stores sell multiples in mesh bags. You can get 5 for $3.99 that way, as opposed to paying $2 a pop. Same goes for bagged apples, etc.
  7. Do your research. I have an app on my phone that lists all the foods on my grocery list, and at which grocery store I can find it for the least amount of money. Also, scour the fliers. Buy more (if you can) when it’s on sale.
  8. Keep doing the food thing. Recovery is expensive, but you know what’s more expensive? Recovering again and again and again. If you keep at it this time, you’ll never have to do it again, and your money can go to things more fun than therapy.

You can do it! And, as always, if you have anything to add, feel free to comment 🙂

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Eating Disorder Recovery On A Budget

Settle in, folks. This one is going to be a series.

There is a major problem with how people with eating disorders are treated. I recently read a story about a girl in the United States who died from her eating disorder while her mom was away learning to be a truck driver. It was the only job she could find that would give her necessary insurance to get her daughter treatment. It’s not an uncommon story.

In Canada, it doesn’t matter if you have insurance. There are too few resources here and, as a result, anyone without a whole lot of private funding gets put on waiting lists for 6 months – 2 years. It can take a lot less time than that to die of an eating disorder. And even if you get approved to be sent to an American treatment centre, your insurance can back out after on a technicality and leave you stuck with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Having found myself fired from my job because I “no longer met the requirements” for my job (ie. your bones are creepy, so you can’t work here any more), I had zero money and a big problem to tackle. I was too sick to work, and was on long waiting lists for treatment. I had to figure out a lot of things really quickly. This is what worked/didn’t work for me. You may disagree with what I’m saying, but I invite you to take the parts you like and throw the rest away.

  1. Decide how badly you want recovery. You’re going to have to do many things you don’t want to do. You’re going to have to get really honest with people you don’t want knowing anything about yourself. You’re going to have to humble yourself time and time again. If shame is a big trigger for you (I know it is for me), get used to it. 
  2. Find any and all (legal) sources of money. Get on unemployment. See if you qualify for disability. This is the tricky one: come clean with family members about what you’re going through, and find out if they’re able/willing to help you cover costs.
  3. Try to find a therapist who operates on a sliding scale. They charge according to financial need. (If you’re in Toronto, drop me a line. I know a couple of good ones and can point you in their direction.) If you already have a therapist, you’re going to have to decide how important it is for you to stay with him/her, or if you can look for someone who charges less.
  4. Get ready to make sacrifices. Food, housing, and therapy. Those are the things you need. The rest is optional. Seriously. Get ready to dig into the back of your cupboard to use the ends of all the shampoo bottles, etc. you have stashed away. I started this in May and made it til Christmas before I had to start using Vaseline instead of moisturizer. (Do not recommend. Break-out city.)
  5. Google. It will be your best friend. Search out drugstore, grocery store, etc flyers so you know what weeks you can buy the necessities on sale. Find free festivals, movie screenings, etc. in your city so you have at least some “entertainment” options. Enter contests. You can win some fun stuff.
  6. Sell off anything you don’t need and won’t miss. Save the cash. You’ll need it.
  7. Learn to knit. It’s a great way to pass all the time you’ll have not working, not going on expensive outings, not shopping, and not engaging in eating disordered behaviors. Also, it’s an inexpensive way to do Christmas/Birthdays/etc. I learned to knit in October, and had 5 scarves ready for gifts by Christmas.
  8. Give of yourself. You may not have money, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Help people out without expecting anything in return, and karma can surprise you. Not only will you feel better for having contributed something, but I have done “good deeds” that led to jobs 10 years later, and have volunteered for things that have turned into paying jobs. Don’t do more than you are able, but know that you don’t always have to be paid “now”. Karma’s got your back.

These are the basics to start you off. Upcoming in the series: Food, Clothes, and Yoga on a budget. Anything I’ve missed?

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In Between

Anniversaries.

Six years ago today I got home from treatment in Utah. (It also happens to be my parents’ anniversary. 37 years!)

Two weeks after that I started back to school. (Musical Theatre . . . not so much fun jumping back into a very appearance and exercise focused world straight out of lock-down)

It was pretty much just a slippery slope to relapse from there.

I used to count and celebrate that anniversary every year. I felt really guilty about it after a while, because I wasn’t doing well in recovery, but I had to keep celebrating or people would ask questions.

I felt like a complete failure. I was symptomatic, therefore I’d relapsed. It was over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As much as I hate to admit it, life isn’t black and white, and neither is recovery. There is a lot of space in between. If you tell yourself that you either have to be in recovery or in relapse, you’ll never win. Humans make mistakes, life gets hard, old habits are hard to break.

If you trip and fall walking down the street, you wouldn’t just give up and roll all the way home. Hopefully, you’d stand up and walk. The same goes for recovery. A lapse is not a relapse. Get back on the “recovery” horse.

So many metaphors getting tangled in this one. Still with me? Good. Here’s a little something to help you remember.

 

The “learning from it” part is one of the most important things I’ve learned from WGT. You can’t figure out how to fight the monster unless you figure out why it beat you in the first place. What causes the lapse is more important than the lapse itself.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing – Henry Ford

Live. Fall. Get up. Look to see what tripped you. Try not to trip over the same thing again. This is what life is all about. This is what recovery is all about. I’d rather have a wise recovery than a perfect one.

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