Category Archives: Blog Series

Growing Up Alex: Factors and the Existence of Depression and Anxiety in Eating Disorders

Anxiety as a Contributing Factor

I had always been a shy child, but my social anxiety became unbearable in middle school. I couldn’t raise my hand in class even if I knew 100% that I knew the answer. If I had to read out loud, even a paragraph, I would spend the entire class dreading when it would be my turn to read, to the point that I could barely breathe. I couldn’t think straight. My face burned. My whole body shook. For the rest of the day ALL I could think about was how I sounded reading that paragraph. I could think of nothing else. It makes no sense looking back and sounds very silly, but I literally could not function. When called on at random in class, I’d lose my voice, turn bright red, and experience previously mentioned symptoms. I was very comfortable with my core group of friends, but anyone outside of that group of friends I would react to as if they were ready to crucify me. I couldn’t hold conversation with anyone who was not someone I’d have a sleepover with to save my life. I quit cheerleading, gymnastics, and softball to avoid being in social settings with peers because I didn’t know how to talk to them, felt bullied by some of them, and became very insecure in my own abilities. It was odd, though, because I was so normal and comfortable with my close friends, my parents, and my stepparents. If it was a peer, a teacher, or even my grandparents, however, talking was a terribly frightening thing. Gaining weight was a terribly frightening thing. Being noticed was a terribly frightening thing. Things out of my control made me so angry that I’d feel sick. I didn’t know how to properly express my anger, however, because I was too scared to appear out of control. I’d either hold it all in or explode around my parents.

Anxiety.
Anxiety.

I had a lot of trouble with my father’s 3rd wife, who would send me very mixed signals. One day she would tell me how pretty or talented or smart I was, the next she would tell me I was a terrible drama queen or she would simply ignore me. I wanted her approval terribly, so when I’d go to my dad’s house and she’d just lock herself away from me, I would feel so confused. So yes, I would act dramatically. I would cry. I would yell. I started avoiding my father, mostly because I was uncomfortable being a young woman with someone to whom I’d always been a little girl; but I would try my hardest to gain the affections of my step mom. The issues with my stepmother went far deeper than is expressed here and I do believe my eating disorder became full throttle as I attempted to deal with this situation in my home life.

Trigger Warning: The Early Behaviors and Family Life

Around 14 or 15 I began exercising in my room or I’d sneak downstairs at night and walk laps around my kitchen. I decided to ‘eat healthier’ although my idea of healthy was ‘eat less’. I didn’t want to feel the fabric of my pants. I had lost my identity as being ‘little’ because I was no longer the ‘short one’. I felt like I needed to fit in to the mold of being ‘little’ because I thought it was what was expected of me. I began skipping breakfast. I’d make my own dinner and eat it separately from my mother and her boyfriend [whom we lived with]. Sometimes I’d go all day without eating and then just eat one big meal before bed. I didn’t think it was weird. I just thought I was ‘being healther’.

I’d go out for walks or jogs at night because I didn’t want to be seen exercising because I suppose that, somewhere in the depths of my mind, I knew that what I was doing wasn’t normal. When my mom would tell me it was too late and too dark to go for a run or walk, sometimes I’d sneak out. If she caught me, I’d wait until she went to bed and then I would go downstairs and do 10 sets of 100 jumping jacks, crunches until my stomach hurt, pushups, and walk as many laps around the downstairs as I could until my legs vibrated.

I began to weigh myself obsessively. This was a difficult task because the scale was in my mom and her boyfriend’s room, so I’d have to wait for them to leave the house. If they were downstairs, I’d tiptoe in to the room. I’d step on the scale 3-5 times in a row just to see if it changed. I’d repeat this behavior throughout the day. I became obsessed with the number on the scale and if it went up even 1/10th of a pound, I would punish myself with more exercise or less food.

For parents, I was not a fun teenager to deal with. Everything stressed me out. I cried often. If I got really mad, I’d just refuse to eat. For some reason I thought it was a great way of saying, ‘I’m angry’ to my parents. I didn’t realize I was not only hurting them, but I was hurting myself. I also felt so powerful and in control when I didn’t eat.

Back to my stepmother: by my senior year of high school, my stepmother had been hospitalized at least 7 times for suicide attempts and was diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder, though we’re still not sure if that was an accurate diagnosis.  I’d visit her in the psychiatric hospital. When she was home her mood would swing from incredibly kind to incredibly unstable. One hour she was my best friend, the next she’d break down sobbing because she couldn’t find a pair of scissors or she’d begin yelling at my dad because I was watching television on a Sunday morning. Going to my dad’s house felt like walking on broken glass because I never knew which side of her personality to expect. All I wanted was for her to like me, but I didn’t know what normal activity I could or could not do at that house because it might send her in to hysterics.

Comfort in Animals
Comfort in Animals

What is the relevance of this? Well, to put it simply: I believe the easiest way for me to deal with this seemingly out of control situation was to find my own control. I couldn’t control whether my step mother would be nice to my father and I, or whether she’d be happy or sad in any given moment, but I could control my weird food habits. My exercising “in secret” increased. Sometimes I’d go for days without anything but fruit and then reward myself with 2 bowls of cereal after I had restricted myself from food for what I deemed to be long enough.

The very last time I saw my stepmother was in the ER, after an attempted overdose. Earlier in that week she had told me that she had hated me since I was 12, but now she liked me. She thought she was complimenting me. I had no idea what to make of that sentiment. She was hospitalized after the attempted overdose and later announced she wanted a divorce from my father and never said goodbye to me. At the same time, my mother and her boyfriend of over 10 years separated. The divorce proceedings began when I was a sophomore in college and they were very messy. I was far away from home and felt helpless. I felt like all of the structure I had known growing up was disappearing. I have no idea where my (ex)stepmother is today, or how she is doing.  I hated her for a long time,  but I now understand that she was very sick and how she acted had nothing to do with me and that I hadn’t actually done anything to cause her behavior. I still dream about her sometimes.

Growing Up Alex: College and the After Years will be posted on Monday 3/31/2014. Make sure to follow the blog to receive an e-mail for when it’s posted or follow it on Bloglovin‘!

What’s On My Mind Wednesday [3.26.14]

We’re going to go right in to What’s On My Mind Wednesday today – hope you like the new graphic!

STATEMENT #35(1)

  1. MH370 – It’s been on everyone’s minds recently. I’ve been watching the reports, and as much I knew in my heart that the plane went down, I hoped for the sake of all of those people and their loved ones that it would be found somewhere with all occupants alive. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be the case. I hope for all those involved, the wreckage is found soon and they can get some answers about what happened. So sad.

  2. Running – My foot pain is nearly gone. I say nearly, because it’s been bothering me a bit the last couple of days. I’m assuming it’s because I’m back to normal activity, but either way, I’m not trying to let it get me down. Last night was the first time in nearly 7 months that I was able to run. I’ve never been a runner, but I’ve always aspired to be a runner. After having this ridiculous injury set me back, I’m more determined than EVER to become a runner.

After work, despite how nervous I was, I hopped on a treadmill and started to warm up. I battled that little voice in my head saying just to walk for 30 minutes, but I knew I had a goal in mind. I at least wanted to see if I could do it; make sure I could do something far more strenuous without pain. And I did it. I managed to run for 3.5 minutes. It was a slow. But I did it. This may have been the longest stretch of time I’ve run for since I attempted Couch to 5K last year. I was shocked that I could actually breathe. Normally when I start thinking to much about my breathing, I panic, thus sending me into full on hyperventilating mode.

I kept up a routine of walk at 3.5 and run at 4.4 the entire time. I think in total I only ran for like 9 minutes. BUT I did it. Even when I wanted to quit because my legs felt so heavy, I pushed myself to do another round.

My quick notes while working out.
My quick notes while working out.

Now to just keep this up and bring it to the streets when it gets nice out.

  1. Weather – Which brings me to the weather. It’s official. I am so sick of New England. Well, I guess just the winter. It’s essentially been winter since November. I’m over it. It’s March 26th and the cape is getting hammered by a blizzard and it’s currently 30 degrees out. I’m sick of wearing my Ugg Boots, and my giant winter jacket and having to warm my car up before I get in it. It’s spring. Warm weather needs to be here… immediately.
This is a river.... not an ocean. Contrary to what it looks like.
This is a river…. not an ocean. Contrary to what it looks like.
  1. Running Sneakers and Workout Clothes – After I injured my foot, I vowed that if I really become a runner, I would get fitted for running sneakers. I want to make sure I never get injured again, at least in terms of my footwear. I’m running in my Nike Pegasus’s right now. I know they don’t have the best support for running, but for what I’m doing right now, they are perfect. And comfortable. And that’s what matters to me. Hopefully by summer I will get fitted.

I also realized last night that while my ratty old ‘Washington DC’ t-shirt is perfect for walking and the elliptical, it sucks to run in. It was totally drenched in sweat, and I’m pretty sure it added 10 lbs on to my already heavy frame (essentially the 10 lbs I lost already!). Needless to say, tonight I’ll be trying one of my UnderArmour tops – hopefully that will help!

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  1. Thinspo and Social Media – A hot topic around the blogosphere right now. Eating disorders are so prevalant and even more so now with social media. #Thinspo and similar hashtags are common on Instagram, but Instagram makes sure to have a disclaimer up about eating disorders and how to get help. I’m very impressed that social media sites are now trying to help those who are battling this. This very idea is what helped come up with the ‘Growing Up Alex’ series. She has an amazing story to tell, and I wanted to be bring awareness to it. I’m proud of her for telling her story and I hope you check it out. Part 3 will be up on the blog tomorrow!

I guess that’s it! Not too much on my mind this week.

Happy Hump Day my friends!

Growing Up Alex: Childhood and Middle School

Alex Childhood 1I had shown signs of disordered eating since I was a child. My parents were divorced and I lived with my mom most of the time. Whenever we’d have dessert after dinner, I had to wait until she had finished eating hers before I would even begin mine. She did not make me do this. At four years old I had somehow deemed this act necessary.

I am also an only child. Any time I ate with a friend, I would make sure that I ate slow enough so that I could eat just the slightest bit less for lunch or dinner, even if it meant that my friend left 2 noodles of macaroni and I left 4. I stopped eating donuts at age 7 when my father casually mentioned that they were fattening. Kids would bring munchkins in to class and I would claim that I just didn’t like them. I was terrified of ‘getting fat’.

My dad lived on the beach and I would stand in the bathroom in front of the mirror, in my bathing suit, sideways while sticking out my stomach and then pulling it back in in an attempt to figure out if I was fat. I was only 5.

I compared the size of my legs to the size of my neighbor’s legs and was ashamed that hers were thinner than mine when we’d walk to school in the first grade. By age 7, I was reading the nutrition information on packages as I ate.

One day, after getting a haircut, I looked in the mirror and saw a fat face staring back at me and I began to sob. I was in 3rd grade and I was underweight for my age.  My face was certainly not fat. I admit that, to this day, I still struggle with seeing my face as it actually is.

Alex Childhood 2None of my behaviors seemed odd to me because they were just a part of how I lived my life. I liked food like cookies and chocolate and pizza and when I would eat them, I would eat decent sized portions. I was a small girl both in height and weight. My classmates would call me cute and pick me up and treat me like a little kid. I grew used to that. I grew used to being called, ‘Little Alex’. I essentially accepted it as part of my identity or, as some therapists may say, it became a part of my self schema.

In 6th grade I went through a growth spurt and the natural course of puberty brought upon by early adolescence. I shot up 3 inches in 1 year. In 7th grade I was still on the shorter end of average, but I had caught up in height to many of my classmates who had once loomed over me. I was very uncomfortable because it didn’t fit in to this schematic idea of who Alex was. Alex was supposed to be short. She was supposed to be smaller than everyone else.

My entire life I had struggled to find clothes that fit me because of my size. The women working retail would always remark to my mother about how tiny I was for my age in a way that almost made it sound like a positive thing. As a young child I dreamed of being tall. When I actually did grow and became ‘average’ in height I had a wee bit of an identity crisis.

A common component of puberty in girls is weight gain. It’s natural. It happens to all of us at one point or another. Pants that used to be too big, even with belts, suddenly fit just fine. Sometimes when I sat down, I could even feel the cloth touch my stomach. In my mind this wasn’t okay. I’ve had many therapists over the years and it seems that while I showed many signs of disordered eating as a child, it was around 12 or 13 when I really began to slip in to more eating disordered behaviors.

Growing Up Alex: Factors and the Existence of Depression and Anxiety in Eating Disorders will be posted on Thursday 3/27/2014. Make sure to follow the blog to receive an e-mail for when it’s posted or follow it on Bloglovin‘!

Growing Up Alex – A 7-Part Series on Growing Up With and Recovering from an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders have become so common and are even more so now with the many social media network’s out there. Hashtags such as #thinspo, #thinspiration, #thighgap, #ana and #mia are everywhere. Social Media networks like Instagram and Tumblr, and the group Project HEAL, are working to educate and help those who are in the midst of ED’s and educating those who want to learn more.

One of my good friends, Alex, has suffered from an eating disorder since her pre-teen years. We’ve know each other since we were 8. We’ve grown up together. And I am so honored to tell her story here. This started as an idea for a ‘Friendly Feature’ and now, I’m turning it into a series of posts; around 7 to be exact.

It’s honest, it’s hard to read, but it’s true life. It’s 100% Alex, and captures what she went through to a level that many of us could never relate to.

What is goal of these posts? Simple – to tell Alex’s story; her story of growing up and developing an eating disorder, how she masked it, decided to go to treatment, and finally her recovery. These posts will be long, longer than I normally write, but it’s important to tell this story properly. Most important, these are her words. She wrote every single post. These will be posted over a few week time-span.

The main goal: awareness. If we are able to reach and help just one person, then we succeeded. And onto part 1.

Meet Me: Alex

My name is Alexandra, but that’s mainly just for my grandparents and the government.  Most everyone else calls me Alex. Or Al, if you’ve known me forever. Or ‘Woo’, if you’re my mom.  I’m 28 and this is my story.

photo

Food and I haven’t always gotten along. It wasn’t really even about the food. It wasn’t the food’s fault. It also wasn’t my fault. To be up front; it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. Food and I have just had a rocky relationship for most of my life.

Let’s rewind to 2002, at age 16, as I was sitting on one of those sticky exam room tables, swinging my legs back and forth anxiously, hugging a paper gown to my freezing body. My doctor was talking about me, in front of me, to my mother and my ears perked up when she casually said, ‘…and due to Alexandra’s Anorexia, I’d like to perform an EKG’. I didn’t know what an EKG was but I knew what anorexia was. I also knew that the reason I had been sent to the doctor was because my therapist had recommended it.

However, at 16, I “knew” well enough that I did NOT have anorexia because I “did not look like a skeleton”. I ate. What was this doctor talking about? Clearly, she knew nothing and I, at 16, was the expert.

While the nurse hooked up those freezing cold stickers across my bare and underdeveloped chest, rather than be embarrassed, I was lost in thought. The doctor had said words like ‘nutritionist’ and ‘try to get soup with beans’ and something about talking further with my therapist. I had had a frappucino the prior weekend and that had lots of calories! I did NOT have anorexia. At this point I didn’t understand that the media portrayal of anorexia only showed the most extreme side of it, probably for shock value and exploitation of very sick and very, very sad individuals. To this day, I worry that the media’s portrayal of only terribly emaciated individuals plays a great deal in to why many women and men avoid treatment to begin with.

It would be a few more years before I would accept this diagnosis, and many more years before I could even utter the word ‘anorexia’. I would just say “eating disorder”. Let’s backtrack.

Growing Up Alex: Childhood and Middle School will be posted on Monday 3/24/2014. Make sure to follow the blog to receive an e-mail for when it’s posted or follow it on Bloglovin‘!

Friendly Feature – Meet Emily!

Today’s Friendly Feature is Emily! Emily and I met back in college through our communications classes, and we spent alot of time together senior year! She’s the one who taught me how to crochet (thank you Emily!) and we became fast friends. I’m super excited she is one of my Friendly Features today!

So without further ado – meet Emily!

Tell everyone a little bit about yourself.

 

Emily and her Dad at a Patriots game
Emily and her Dad at a Patriots game
Hello! My name is Emily, I’m 28 and hail from Central Massachusetts but for the past 5 years have called Los Angeles my “home”. I went to school at Westfield State College (where I met Eryn) where I studied broadcast production. Now in Los Angeles I freelance for various live streaming shows. My day job has me directing and tech managing a showcalled Autism-Live.com where we discuss various autism related topics weekly. I also work on a lot of sports broadcasts including the Los Angeles D-Fenders. In my free time I enjoy being crafrty, sewing, DIY home stuff, also hiking, softball, and anything new andadventurous! Also, I have a cat named Abby! She’s pretty cool.
Abby, Emily's rescue kitty.
Abby, Emily’s rescue kitty.

What made you want to move to California to pursue a career in TV Production?

One of my first jobs out of college was working for a public access television station in Northampton, MA. When I thought of the space for me to advance or do anything bigger and better, I didn’t think I would be able to find that there. I could work in news, but news has become a soul sucking waste of tv air time. I tried to get in with ESPN and NESN but it seems I’m not the demographic they are looking to hire. SO, I saved up some money, packed up my little blue car and headed west. Figured what would it hurt to try it out in the land of television production. Plus, you seriously can’t beat the weather.

Working in TV Production must be really interesting – what is your favorite aspect about it?

SXSW 2013 Broadcast of the JASH.com launch. In camera there is Sarah Silverman.
SXSW 2013 Broadcast of the JASH.com launch. In camera there is Sarah Silverman.
I love the diversity of the work I’m doing on top of the occasional travel. During the day I’m helping families get the information they needabout autism through our morning show, in the afternoon I could be heading over to Hollywood to work on some celebrity video podcast and on the weekends I’m traveling to broadcast the D-Fenders or local college basketball and football. I also love working in a live format. There is little margin for error but when something happens you don’t have the time to sit and dwell on it, you fix it and move forward, making sure to not make the same mistake again. At the end of the day you pack it up and move on to the next new thing. It’s refreshing and means I’m never taking my work home with me.

Have you met any celebrities – who have been your favorites?

Emily LOVES Henry Winkler :)
Emily LOVES Henry Winkler :)

I’ve met quite a few celebrities from the 2 years I worked on Kevin Pollaks Chat Show. He does a weekly 2-3 hour interview with a celebrity guest that goes uninterrupted and allows for a unique look at that persons life. So, Kevin is obviously high on that list for giving me the job. I have a great photo of myself and Henry Winkler from when he came on the show. He is honestly the nicest man in the world. I’ve also enjoyed meeting Seann William Scott,Virginia Madsen, Neil Patrick Harris, Robert Morse, and a lot of others who came in to do the show.

When did you get into hiking? Where has your favorite place been to hike in the LA area? Where do you recommend?
I’ve always loved being outside. As a kid we went camping a lot in New Hampshire. A friend of mine and I decided last spring we were being fat and lazy on the weekends and we should get out more and do some hiking. We formed Hike Club LA which now has it’s own website HikeClubLA.com (that we have not had time to update) and we try to get out at least once a month and explore a new hiking trail. We did one recently called Switzer Falls that took you along a creek filled with beautiful trees and granite stones. Hermit Falls was also very cool and had some short cliff dives into the river. I recommend any hike in LA as it’s the best chance to forget that you are in an overcrowded sprawling city and that there is nature all around us.

This is Switzer "Falls". California is having a bit of a drought.
This is Switzer “Falls”. California is having a bit of a drought.
You were the one to teach me how to crochet, the one and only pattern, I can do. Where did you learn to crochet and what other craft-related projects do you like to do?
Ha! It’s still the only one I can do too! You are much better at it than me now. I still have a blanket I’ve been working on since college that remains unfinished.
My mom taught me most of the crafts I know. She herself is an avid sewer. I do like making quilts, currently I’m working on a picnic blanket. I’m most passionate and complete mostly cross-stitches though. I’ve made several in the past few years that I’ve given away to my sisters or mom as gifts. They are very time intensive, usually a few months per project, but in the end they are these really unique pieces of art that will last a lifetime. I’ll also scroll through pinterest every now and then and be inspired to try something new. I’ve made a few things out of mason jars and wine bottles. I have a whole bunch of Wine Deer ornaments for sale on my etsy page that Imade last year. Check them out: https://www.etsy.com/shop/OtterCatCrafts
One of her first teams in LA
One of her first teams in LA

Any advice out there for those who are recently single?

Well I’m only a month in myself but I guess I would say it’s ok to be independent. Ending an almost 5 year relationship was really scary because it had become my way of life in Los Angeles and I was about to upend it, but I owed it to myself to be truly happy and with someone who wants the same things out of life. I’m grateful to all of my supportive friends and family and now I’m enjoying the luxury of doing what I want, when I want for a while.

Do you have any long terms goals in your production career?

Back to back division champs!
Back to back division champs!

I would love to work broadcasts for pro sports and I’m currently looking to get trained on the gear they use. I really love traveling as well so if I can throw that into the mix while getting paid, I’d be a happy camper.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

SOFTBALL! It’s actually my favorite part of the week. I play on a couple co-ed teams and it is great. Especially here in LA we can play all year round and still wear shorts. I usually play 2nd place and I love running around and getting dirty.

Emily with her family who recently visited her in LA
Emily with her family who recently visited her in LA

What does a typical day look like for you?

Busy! I’m working on Autism-Live.com from 8-3, and normally take off straight to a podcast or sports broadcast gig till the end of the night. On other days I hit the gym after work then hang out and work on projects at home and watch tv with my cat, or go out with friends.

What’s On My Mind Wednesday

Yep – I am introducing a new ‘weekly’ (I say that loosely) post. Essentially, it’s an update post with a fun title and a little of what’s going on in my head. There are always lots of things going through my head so it will be a way for me to express it. Off we go!

My foot: Yes, this has made a regular appearance on the blog since September. And hopefully soon, the appearance of the issues will disappear and be replaced with happy exercise and possibly even running posts! Keep those fingers (and toes) crossed for being pain-free within a week! Why you ask? I went to my ortho yesterday and he gave me a cortisone shot.

photo 4

I knew this was probably going to happen since last week, and I was essentially dreading it since the moment I decided to do it. I’ve heard horror stories about the shot itself, but how much they helped in the end. So I prepped myself for the pain about to come my way. And the dreaded needle that was to be inserted into the joint of my foot. I hate needles.

Lucky for me, I didn’t feel a thing. And the so-called ‘giant needle’ was teeny. Like the smallest needle I’ve ever seen. Honestly, my foot pain has been worse than that shot.

So today, it’s turning all kinds of fun colors. It’s sore, but not the same kind of sore it’s been. It’s definitely more of a ‘you had a needle jammed into your foot’ sore. But this morning was the first morning since September, that I didn’t wake up and hobble to the kitchen because of how stiff and sore my foot was. I started to hobble, out of habit, and then realized that I had no pain. It was stiff, but not hurting. My morning immediately got awesome because for the first time in six months, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

And for the record, I’ve been diagonsed with synovitis.

Missing Malayasian Jet: I’m sure this is on most of your minds. This story fascinates me. And not in a good way. I’m GLUED to the reports. I’m anxiously awaiting news that SOMETHING was found. I just can’t wrap my head around how a jet carrying over 230 people can just disappear without a trace. I know things happen and it can cause a plane to disintegrate or crash, but wouldn’t they have found SOMETHING by now?! Anyways, my thoughts are with all those involved. It’s a horrible situation and I pray that they have answers soon.

Spring: I need spring. I need warm weather. I need the sun. It was 55 here yesterday. And I was practically ready to bust out the flip flops and shorts. (Okay, maybe not the shorts.) I had my sunroof open and let the sun just beat in on me. I felt so rejuvenated and happy yesterday. I caught an amazing sunrise on the way to work, and it was just a good day.

Copyright: eryn e photography; please no stealing
Copyright: eryn e photography; please no stealing

Today it’s back in the thirties and we’re supposedly getting 1-3 inches of snow overnight. It’s raining now. I want the sun back.

Books: No words needed. This book is available 4/1. You should pre-order it. It’s pretty awesome.

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Fashion by Mayhem: If you haven’t seen this blog or Instagram, check it out. I’m kind of in love with it. This little girl is amazing, and probably a future fashion designer. I just hope when she makes it big someday she continues to use Mayhem as her name. It’s pretty awesome. They’ve been featured on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Today, among others. Below is one of my favorites… I did a screenshot of their IG page, but make sure you go check them out for yourself. They are amazing.

VisionBoard
Tropical vacation vision board dress – LOVE

Instagram: If you didn’t know, I love social media. So much, in fact, that along with my Master’s in Marketing, I have a graduate certificate in social media marketing. Unfortunately, Instagram was still pretty new to the game when I got my degree, and we focused more on Facebook and Twitter.

Needless to say, I’m trying to learn as much as possible as marketing successfully on Instagram, both professionally and personally. My personal one is a lot like this blog, just a glimpse at my life (it’s to the right of this post), but I still try to post things on their that people would enjoy seeing. I want pretty, whimsical and fun things on there, but can never achieve the effect I see on others.

Any ways, my current goal is to build my own personal Instagram up. I love it, and it’s easily become my favorite social media tool. I’m always working to build my professional (work) one. I would love to hear any thoughts/suggestions/ideas you have for both! I’m not a fan of doing the ‘follow4follow’, ‘like4like’ on my work page, so but haven’t tried it on my personal.

Also – I can’t stand the people that follow you, just to have you follow them back, and once you follow them, they promptly unfollow you…..

If you follow me, please don’t unfollow me once I follow you. It’s just rude. And totally spammy. (Rant over.)

If anyone has any thoughts/suggestions/ideas, please comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts.

PS – Follow me at erynecarter06 – I usually follow back.

Okay, What’s On My Mind Wednesday is officially over. :)

Friendly Feature – Meet Sara!

Friendly Feature time! This week, you’re all going to meet Sara. She’s transformed her life and is now a Crossfit addict, a Beachbody coach and ready to help others achieve their fitness goals! Introducing… Sara!

Tell the readers about yourself

I’m Sara and I just turned 28. I’m a desk jockey by dcrossfit6ay, facilitating the marketing and programming of global webcasts for pharmaceutical companies, and a Crossfitting enthusiast by night. Fun fact is I travel religiously – In the past 4 years I’ve been to 13 countries and 7 big cities outside of MA.

What does a typical day look like for you from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed?

I’m up by 5:30AM and in the car by quarter of 7 – I live in the city of Boston but work in Burlington, MA, so my commute through the city to the north shore is a complete nightmare. I work a full day, typically on the phone with clients from as close as Cambridge and as far away as India, discussing new products and new pharmaceutical regulations. If you need to know about Obamacare, I’m your girl. I usually head to Crossfit at Crossfit Woburn for the 5PM class, workout for an hour, and depending on my mood, head to Blast Fitness in Medford for a run or brave the 6PM traffic through the clusterfluff that is the O‘Neill tunnel to get home. Once home, I’ll usually whip up something paleo, shower, watch an episode of Love It or List It (whatever, I love HGTV), or scare myself with an episode of Game of Thrones, and I’m dead to the world by 10PM.

crossfit5Tell us about your transformation story.

I was a cheerleader for… like, my entire life. I never really thought about having to go to the gym because I was always so physically active. When I was 21 my family moved 800 miles away to Raleigh, NC, and because I was still in college, I moved out on my own with my boyfriend at the time.  I got really caught up in unhealthy eating – so much of crap food is just so easy to prep and eat, and I was working full time and going to school full time, and I didn’t consider the calories or what I was actually consuming. In the fall of 2011, I was in my sister-in-law’s wedding, and when we got the pictures back, I was just so disgusted with myself. So I started going to a bootcamp class at 5AM 3 days a week. In January of 2012, we started this bootcamp fitness challenge, and I went straight balls to the wall on fitness. I lost a ton of weight and ran my first 5k. I won the challenge that April. That year, I ended up running 14 races, including 4 mud runs, a 10k, and a 10 miler. And I started working out additionally with the trainer who ran the bootcamp classes at his gym, building muscle. By the fall of 2012, I was ready to make a change, so I started going to some Crossfit classes at AE Crossfit in Woburn, acrossfit1nd I fell in love with it.

CrossFit is a big part of your life – can you tell the readers how you got into it and what you love about it?

I’d been hearing about Crossfit for a good long time. It was one of those “classes” that I’d been scared of taking, because I was never the type of girl who pictured herself with a barbell. I was scared to pick up dumbbells, because I always thought that heavy weights = bulking up. But then I started. My first WOD (workout of the day) killed me. Like, DESTROYED me. I thought I was in good shape? Yeah, no. I’m a girl who doesn’t want anything to defeat her, and this was the challenge that I had been looking for. There’s a meme that says something like “the day you start lifting is the worst day of your life – because from that day on, you’ll never be as strong as you want to be”. So true for me. Hitting a PR (personal record) in a weight is SO rewarding for me. But hitting that doesn’t stop me – because now I want to go heavier next time.

crossfit2Have you competed in any CrossFit competitions?

I’ve competed in 2 competitions, both as a partner. Crossfit is broken into 2 sections – RX’s (the prescribed weight) and scaled (a modified weight). My first comp I did with a girlfriend, and we won the scaled division. The second comp I did with a guyfriend, and we came in second to last as RX. Only makes me want to be better so next time, maybe we can be third to last.

What does a typical meal plan look like for you?

I eat 90/10 paleo. Basically I allow myself one cheat meal a week. Paleo is removing all grain, dairy, legumes, sugar, and processed anything from your diet. I eat 6 meals a day. On a regular day, I’ll eat 2 egg whites in the morning, scrambled with water, cooked in coconut oil. When I get to work, I’ll eat half a banana and walnuts or almonds. For lunch, a HUGE spinach and romaine salad with 4 ounces of grilled chicken, tons of veggies, with EVOO and vinegar.  Before crossfit, depending on my mood, either a small green apple with a tbsp of almond butter or carrot sticks and guacamole. For dinner, 6 ounces of protein (steak or chicken or shrimp, usually) grilled or steamed veggies, and sometimes roasted sweet potatoes or brussel sprouts.  Last meal of the day is usually a scoop of almond butter on a spoon (don’t judge me, lol). I also drink at least half my body weight in ounces in water per day – and sometimes more. Being adequately hydrated can aid in your performance by up to 18%.crossfit3

How has your journey led you to pursue a personal training certification? What else are you doing that is currently in the health/fitness field?

I’ve been talking about personal training since I started bootcamp. I loved everything about it, and since I was a cheerleader in the past, I think I’m good at encouraging others to keep going. Several times, my bootcamp instructor would go on vacation, and I’d take over his planning and run the 5 and 6AM classes before work, and I loooooved it. Structuring the workouts, planning the music, yelling at people to keep going, was really fun for me. I also just got into being a Beachbody coach, and I’m slowly ramping up into that.

Who/what is your biggest motivator? I’m really my own biggest motivator. I’m a big proponent of being your own cheerleader. No one else is going to make you get off the couch and go run. No one else is going to tell you to get a salad instead of pizza for lunch. No one else is living in your body besides you – YOU have to want to be healthy and make good choices on your own. I refuse to count on someone else to motivate me – because what happens when that person isn’t there? It’s up to you.

crossfit4What is your advice to those who are struggling to get into a groove of a healthy lifestyle?

As much as we would all love it to be, it’s not an overnight process. There’s no miracle workout or meal plan. There’s no weight loss drug or shake that will make you skinny or fit by tomorrow. And you have to keep reminding yourself of that. It’s OK to fail sometimes – maybe eat 2 cheat meals a week or miss 2 workouts in a row. It’s ok – because failing means that you’re still trying. But you have to persist. A lot of things come up in the way of fitness – injuries, sickness, lots of stuff going on at work, etc. But that doesn’t mean you should stop. An hour workout is 4% of your entire day. A healthy meal takes just as long to prep as heating up the stove and throwing in a pizza. If your shoulder hurts, work on legs. If you feel the sniffles coming on, take a Tylenol Cold and go run outside. Tough work stuff? Sweat out your aggression on that dumb guy in sales – it’ll make you feel way better and less guilty than hammering back a few beers. If you have time to sit down and watch TV or go online, you have time to put on your running shoes and get a workout in. Don’t make excuses.

You can find me reblogging tons of fitness and health stuff and sometimes mentioning my own workouts at:

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Friendly Feature – Meet Sierra!

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Taking a break from paddleboarding

Well today I’m bringing back the Friendly Feature. I’ve known Sierra for most of her life, seriously. She contacted me earlier this week to see if I would be interested in having her write pieces for the blog every now and then since she is working towards a nutrition degree. Of course I jumped at it. First things first – meet Sierra!

Tell everyone a little bit about yourself.

My name is Sierra Gamble. I just recently transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and I am in their Nutrition program. I absolutely love to snowboard, ride horses, and I am a certified gym rat. I also love to paddleboard and watch the Bruins. I believe that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve that goal no matter how hard you think it may be.
What made you want to go to school for nutrition?

At first I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to college or what I wanted to study, so I took a GAP year and worked at Abercrombie & Fitch in the lovely city of Boston. After commuting in and out of Boston for almost a year I decided that I would finally apply to colleges. I applied to three schools and ultimately chose Plymouth State University. I did my first two years there as a Health Education major, but something did not feel quite right. I knew I wanted to do something pertaining to health for the rest of my eternity, but I didn’t necessarily want to teach about health in a school setting. I talked to the registered dietician who worked at PSU. She was a really great resource to help me decide what to do. Sara Patterson, the RD at Plymouth, recommended many great universities in Massachusetts. I talked it over with my dad and I chose to apply to the University of Massachusetts Amherst because it has an amazing Nutrition program. I didn’t just get accepted, I was offered a spot in their commonwealth honors college program, which was amazing news and here I am today as a second semester junior.

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Getting in a good stretch before The Color Run 5K

What is your favorite form of exercise?

My favorite form of exercise would have to be cardio-kickboxing. I would recommend this class to anyone who really wants to kick their gym routines back into gear. It is extremely intimidating at first, but it is totally worth the pain. You sweat buckets, your heart rate stays increased the entire time, and you can learn some modified self defense moves, which can be useful for anyone. I also like to row, bike, do my own running intervals (occasionally), mountain climbers, jumping jacks, modified burpees, and ABS, and of course weight lifting and other cardio exercises that I find on the internet.
What does a typical day look like for you from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?

A typical day for me when I’m at school, other than Mondays, would be: waking up before 9am, checking my blood sugar and dealing with my wonderful diabetes, eating a bowl of cereal with banana slices, go to at least three classes, book it to the gym and attempt to find a cardio machine to use or a space to stretch and do abs, workout for at least 45 minutes (preferably an hour every time), and then do homework, papers, and projects for the rest of my life. If I am lucky I will fall asleep before midnight.

I’m not usually that lucky though.

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Riding ‘The Doctor Did It’ in a Walk/Trot Equitation class in Quentin, PA


You were an avid horseback rider growing up. What are your fondest memories and what do you think horseback riding taught you, besides riding a horse.

Riding horses was my life since I was 5 years old. I was definitely a lucky girl to have a family that could afford for me to take lessons and then show horses for several years. I don’t think I could ever break it down and pick one fondest memory. I have many with a few different horses. Ernest was my families first horse and he was the most perfect creature you could ever imagine. Having a bond with an animal that size is something I can’t even explain. People who do not ride horses would never even begin to understand. Horseback riding and being around horses has taught me many things that I still carry with me. It gave me more compassion than I believe I could get from just having a a dog or cat, it taught me to be competitive and to always be my best, but that my best doesn’t always mean that I am first. It also taught me how to work with others and gave me the work ethic I have today. I believe that I would be a completely different person today if I had not had this life experience.


What are you most looking forward to doing once you graduate with your nutrition degree?

I can’t wait to graduate only because I want to work with people who struggle with finding motivation to change their lifestyle and habits. I want to show people that even though life can be challenging and a struggle, that things will get better and that you just have to push through the bad things going on. I want to work with people that can relate to me and feel comfortable talking to me about things that I have struggled with as well, i.e. diabetes.

What would you like to do with your nutrition degree?

I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my nutrition degree. I want to graduate with a nutrition degree, become a registered dietician, and I also want to become a personal trainer and a diabetes educator. I want to be able to wrap everything together and be superwoman.

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Snowboarding! One of my favorite things to do.

Who/what is your biggest motivator?

I would have to say that my dad is my biggest motivator. He has always been there for me and has always pushed me to do what I want and be who I want to be. It’s not always easy, but he always tells me how proud he is of me and makes sure I am always going down the path I want to be on. We always talk about how my courses are going and how I can do better and where I want to go after graduation.


How has dealing with type 1 diabetes helped with you nutrition degree? What have you learned from it? How have you dealt with it?

Having type I diabetes has really pushed me to want to do nutrition as a major because it is so relevant to my life. I always want to know more and understand how things work so I can ultimately be the greatest diabetic patient my doctor has. With the knowledge that I will obtain, I will also be able to help other people with diabetes, which ever type it may be, and show them that diabetes will not ruin your life; it just makes your life a little bit different from others. Understanding how foods work in your body has been really useful to my life and my disease. For example: rice has a really high glycemic index, which means that is rapidly effects a person’s blood sugar, whether they are diabetic or not. 1377295_10152005050260955_1141578078_nSince rice has a high glycemic index, it means that it will spike my blood sugar rapidly instead of gradually, which is not good for trying to control it. Insulin can only work so fast and it gets messed up when my sugar sky rockets faster than the insulin is working.

What is your advice for those who are struggling to get into the groove of a healthy lifestyle?

My advice for someone who is struggling to get in the groove of a new and healthy lifestyle is that you have to realize that absolutely NOTHING happens over night and that it is going to take some time. Taking that information into consideration, it is OK to have a bad day and back track. It is not the end of the world as long as you get back on the right track. It will eventually get easier because eating healthy and exercising will become a daily habit just like eating junk food and watching TV used to be.

Don’t give up, it is to easy. Challenge yourself!

Stay tuned for some fun pieces from Sierra! I’m sure excited to have her joining the blog :)

Friendly Feature – Meet Molly!

As part of my blog, I vowed I would bring some new content as opposed to just me writing about my day. One of the first things I thought of was interviewing fellow bloggers and people that would like to be featured on the blog. I’m not going to have regular schedule for this yet, but am hoping to at some point. I haven’t thought of a witty name yet either for it, like ‘Foto Friday‘, but hopefully I will soon! Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.

Well, first up, I’m THRILLED to introduce my good friend Molly P. I’ve known Molly since our Freshman year of college and we’ve stayed close ever since. I was really excited when she agreed to answer some questions for the blog. She’s a great person, super into healthy living and she’s been a huge motivation for me to get moving in my healthy lifestyle. Without further ado – Here’s Molly! Me

I’ve known you since Freshman year of college and needless to say, our habits have definitely changed since then. How have you habits and outlook on health and fitness changed since you were a full-time student to a full-time working girl?

I’m much more conscience of what I’m eating and drinking, that’s for sure! I carve time out of my day to prepare healthy meals for myself and to get exercise in.  Sometimes it seems impossible, but it’s all become a priority in my life, so I MAKE the time.

I look back on the College Me and I don’t even recognize her in comparison to who I am now.  I remember trying to cut my calories (WAY too low for what it should have been), being starving, binging, and then getting pissed at myself and starting all over.  THAT or I simply didn’t care and ate whatever I wanted (i.e. why my weight fluctuated so much in college and I weight my heaviest then.) I may be much busier now but that is all the reason to take really good care of myself.  I have a lot in my life I need to keep up with!

You’ve recently started a career as a personal trainer and were accepted into school for a Nutrition degree. How did you decide that this was something you wanted to focus on?

My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, and in an attempt to get some “control” during the ordeal, I obsessively researched the correlation between holistic nutrition/green products/fitness and diseases.  The more I read, the more fascinated I became by the concept of “eating for health” verses “eating to drop 5 lbs.”  Soon after, it became clear a lot of people were just as clueless as I originally was and needed some guidance.

Sharing what I knew roused a passion in me I didn’t expect. I became a certified personal trainer this past July and will be starting my nutrition program in October. My clients can’t wait for me to use them as guinea pigs during my schooling!

You stumbled upon running a couple of years ago when a friend asked you to run the Color Run 5K with her. How has your passion for running evolved over the last couple of years? Do you see yourself focusing on running Marathons in your future?

It’s funny, when I look back at my “running career” I can’t help but laugh.  Up until a few years ago, I was the girl who literally could not run a block without stopping to gasp for air.  Now, I’m a month away from running my first half-marathon.

Running is something that has given me a lot of confidence in the last year.  I’ve run farther and faster than I ever thought I could, and have truly enjoyed it. Pounding the pavement, ticking off the miles during my training (or just for fun), is truly therapeutic. Some runs are better than others, but each time I look back and remember where I started and it still makes me smile.

I recently applied through the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to run the Boston Marathon in 2014.  I’m so excited for the possibility to run for this amazing organization.  But even if I don’t make it this year, my goal is still to complete a marathon in 2014 – maybe a Rock’n’Roll Marathon?!

You recently took up CrossFit. What do you like best about it? What is the thing you like least about it?

Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long answer! – You hear it all the time, but CrossFit changed my life. CrossFit means something different to every person who does it. I started it because I wanted a kick in the butt with my fitness routine. I figured I’d get the push I needed and lose some weight. Never once did it occur to me that I, in fact, probably didn’t NEED to lose any weight, nor would my frame support it. I was in a sub-conscious battle of “wanting to be skinny” vs. my body’s biology. After embracing paleo and continuing to work out, I found that I wasn’t actually losing any weight, I was gaining it. The number on the scale truly bothered me (probably a lot more than I let on). I was pissed off about my weight and I was pissed off that I felt like I wasn’t making any “numeric” progress at the gym.crossfit

Then, a few months ago, I noticed a change… I began noting other female CrossFitters, and their muscular legs and arms (considered “large” by most standards) and I ADMIRED them for it. I didn’t look at them and think “Ew, they’re fat.” I thought “Oh my God, her quads could probably snap my neck. THAT’S AWESOME!” I noticed a ‘switch’ in my brain of what CrossFit meant to me and what I wanted to achieve. I don’t want to be your stereotypical “skinny” chick. I want to be STRONG. I want the muscles that exemplify the hard work I put into training. I want people to look at me and go “Wow, that girl is a power house!” (Before, if someone used the word ‘house’ to describe me, I probably would have ugly cried.)

I have a long way to go, and I know there will be days where a number on the scale bothers me, or I don’t feel comfortable in the clothes I’m wearing. But at CrossFit, I’m surrounded by some kick-ass women who are both physically and emotionally strong, and I can tell I’m certainly the better for it :)

The one thing I don’t like about CrossFit, which isn’t even about CrossFit itself and more about me, is getting frustrated if I didn’t do stellar during a WOD (workout of the day).  It can be a huge mental game sometimes and you have to check your ego at the door.  That’s much easier said than done.  So I struggle with not being disappointed in myself sometimes if I didn’t lift as much as I wanted or took too long to finish a workout.  You can be your own worst enemy sometimes.

You’ve been ‘gluten-free’ for several years now. What prompted you to go gluten-free and what does a typical day of meals look like for you?

Eating gluten-free became necessary for me after years of endearing unexplained headaches, stomach issues, constant fatigue and development of iron-deficiency anemia and lactose intolerance.  Gluten-free still wasn’t at the forefront of new “diets”,  so I had to do a lot of reading up on it and obsessively check labels of anything I wanted to eat or drink.  It is far less of a problem now because I eat paleo most of the time, which cuts out all grains anyway, but I will occasionally sneak a piece of bread or pastry and usually be ok (I am NOT celiac, I simply have a gluten sensitivity, so I’m very lucky in that sense.)

Typical day of meals looks something like this:
Meal 1 – Scrambled eggs with peppers & onions, large black coffee

Meal 2 – Some type of protein (chicken, steak, sausage) w/ veggies (green beans, asparagus, broc, carrots etc.) I always make sure half of my plate is veggies.

Meal 3 – Spring Mix salad with cucumber and carrots, fruit (grapes or banana)

Meal 4 – Protein and veggies (similar to meal 2)

Meal 5 – Usually a “dessert” – whether some ice cream, popcorn etc.

At the end of the day, I don’t count calories or serving sizes.  I eat when I’m hungry and until I’m full.

What does a typical day look like for you from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?

I work two jobs, am starting school, training for a half-marathon and do CrossFit, so my days are pretty jam-packed.  On days where I’m training a client before work, I’m up at 5:30 and at the gym by 7:15, I’m off to my full-time job at 8:30, usually come back to the gym to train a client during my lunch break, go back to FT job, then either go home after work and straight to CrossFit or I’m back at the gym to train more clients.  Once I’m home for the night, that is usually when I get all my meals packed for the next day, relax a little (watch TV or read) and am off to bed. During the weekends I have a lot more flexibility with my schedule, but I’m pretty go-go-go during the weekdays.

Who/what is your biggest motivator?

From the beginning of my “fitness journey”, I’ve always used my mom as motivation.  If I was struggling to run the final mile of a race I’d think “Mom went through chemo.  You can run another mile.”  Seems silly, but remembering how strong she is and what she’s gone through, it helps put perspective on the here-and-now, and I’m able to push myself a little farther.

What is your advice for those who are struggling to get into the groove of a healthy lifestyle?

RuggedMy biggest thing I always say to a client is, you are your own biggest motivator.  All the inspirational memes and “YOU CAN DO IT!” from other people aren’t going to get your butt off the couch.  YOU need to make the decision that you deserve better and you need to hold yourself accountable.  Until you truly want to change, it’s going to be very difficult to.  Once you get there though, focus on one thing at a time.  If you try to go balls to the wall from the gate, you’ll most likely get overwhelmed, say screw it and it’s all for naught.  If you want to start eating better, eliminate one thing a week (cereal for example.)  The next week, eliminate something else, and so forth.  Same with exercise – get yourself out there jogging around the block a few days a week.  Slowly progress.  You are taking steps towards a lifestyle change, it doesn’t need to be a sprint to the finish line.  These are tools you will hopefully carry with you for the rest of your life and that means it will all take time!

Tell the readers about yourself!

I am a media relations specialist by day and a personal trainer by night! 😛 I would love to eventually transition over to nutrition and fitness full-time once I finish school, but in the meantime, I’m keeping quite busy juggling my jobs, school and my own fitness training.  I don’t have any complaints though – I truly enjoy everything I am doing, and for that I feel very lucky.

When I’m not running around with my head cut off, I’m a big book nerd and music junkie. I live with my boyfriend and I am a mom to two adorable cats, which I’ve pet-named the “Twin Terrors.” I joke that they are the start to what I assume is my descent into becoming the Crazy Cat Lady.
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I have multiple tattoos and piercings, and am constantly changing my hair color (it’s currently bright red and fabulous).

Feel free to connect with me on Tumblr – Gnarly CrossFitter, Twitter – @MKPappas or Instagram – MKPappas1

Foto Friday #1

As part of the ‘reinvented’ blog, I’m always trying to think of new things I can do, besides just write. Since it’s a look inside my world, whether it be books, health/fitness, photography or just my musings of the day, I need to plan accordingly. I’m hoping as I delve deepper into the blogging world, I’ll have a bit more of a schedule for things. But for now, since not a whole lot of new stuff is happening, I decided today would be Foto Friday!

What is Foto Friday you ask?

Foto Friday is going to be a day where I post a random photo from my personal collection of works, or possibly a really cool photo from a past photo shoot, and maybe write a little snippet or something that goes along with it! Maybe it will spark some creativity in me.

Anyways, welcome to the first Foto Friday. My one rule – please don’t take screen grabs of these photos. If you’re interested in any of them, please let me know. :) Also – if you’re interested in seeing more of my work, make sure to like eryn e photography. You can either like it on the side bar, or visit here!

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My love for photography began at the beach my sophomore year of high school on Plum Island. To this day, it is still one of my favorite places to photograph, both personally and professionally. I recently had family photos done and my engagement photos done, forever capturing one of my favorite places.

I love black and white photography; while I don’t go black & white unless I feel the picture really calls for it, I just love how it can capture a mood, a feeling or just enhance the effects of a photo. This photo was taken in early August. Summer was starting to wind down, but the weather was still perfect. I was waiting for a client to arrive for their session so I wandered around the boardwalk snapping pictures as I went. I love the depth of field in this. I love how it came out.

Photos can spark a different emotion in every person. For me, the blurred out boardwalk represents the start of summer. It seemed like early June was just upon us and suddenly, it’s just a blurred memory.

Does this photo spark any emotions from you? If so, what?