UN-Podcast 074 & Dying to Live

TL;DR: Go listen to today’s podcast with Baris Harvey!  As individuals, we like to think that we’re all different, but I find that the majority of the women who email me about their struggles or who ask about health coaching have the same goal: I want to be optimally healthy. They’re not sick, per se. They maybe have hormonal issues due to years of yo-yo dieting or figure competitions or restriction or overexercise. They maybe have anxiety or depression, and maybe an methylation SNP or two. And they’ve all come to believe that until everything is perfect, every number on a Wellness FX test is on point, every single biomarker for health in line with “optimal” on the scientific scale for rating things optimally,* they are not healthy. Sound like someone you may know? Standing with one foot in the ancestral health community and the recovery/HAES communities has opened my eyes to what people think the picture of health actually looks like—and why we’re still not optimally healthy, even when the DEXA scan says otherwise. To explain, come with me on a journey back into my dark and sordid descent into anorexia through bodybuilding: I didn’t start reading Oxygen Magazine with the goal of ending up with osteopenia. The point of lifting heavy and eating lots of protein and obsessing about leaning out was not to be disordered. It was to be healthy. To live forever and also have a six pack. I read every magazine and blog post I could about what bodybuilders thought healthy looked like and how to manipulate my body until I matched the picture on...
UNpodcast 068 & Therapy: The Hammer and the Screw

UNpodcast 068 & Therapy: The Hammer and the Screw

TL;DR: Go listen to today’s podcast with Amy Clover from Strong Inside Out! There are many different people out there with different sets of tools to help you on your journey—psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, life coaches, health coaches, personal trainers, functional doctors, acupuncturists, spiritual leaders… All of these types of people have tools. But just because someone has a hammer, doesn’t mean that you want them to help you when you feel like you have a screw loose. A couple of weeks ago, my therapist and I came to the mutual conclusion that things just weren’t working out between us, and that we should probably take a break. The reason? To her, I was being rigid and unwilling to listen. To me, she was rigid and unwilling to listen. Who was wrong? Who was right? And does it matter? Look, I’m going to be honest: therapist shopping sucks. No practitioner is perfect, and everyone is going to have a different approach to treatment. Couple that with life coaches, health coaches, personal trainers, and other credentialed support “staff,” putting together a team of people who can advocate for your mental and physical health is hard. And when I asked for support through cognitive behavioral therapy, and made it clear that a) food journaling is not a healthy thing for me to do (see: anorexia/EDNOS) and b) SSRIs have made me suicidal in the past, having a therapist suggest that the only way to proceed was with a food journal and a trip to the psychiatrist made me feel unsupported, which is the exact opposite of what I was seeking in a...

PFX14: A Paleo FX Recap

I suppose today’s blog post should come with a warning: this is, necessarily, going to be a long one.  A warning, and a promise: you will leave here both with some deep insights and some juicy details about one of the most important Paleo events of the year (and of my blogging “career.”) This is a long blog post, because this was a LONG weekend. A wonderful weekend. A life-changing, mind-blowing weekend. But a long weekend too. And so it begins: PROLOGUE: HUGS ARE PALEO First and foremost, I apologize to everyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and who received a barrage of photos of me, a bunch of Paleo rockstars, and a silly orange sign that read: #hugsarepaleo. On the eve of my Paleo FX experience, I realized that it had been a year since I’d been hugged—really hugged—and I decided to do something about it. Because, you see, the act of hugging causes a release of the “feel good hormone” known as Oxytocin. (You may be familiar with this as the hormone that is released after birth, which causes females to develop bonds with their offspring. I equate my lack of hugs (and oxytocin) to a lack of a different hormone: Vitamin D. The body produces Vitamin D (which is not really a vitamin, but rather a hormone) in response to sunlight and some nutritional intake, but most of us (especially we office dwellers) are severely lacking in Vitamin D, and we suffer poor health for that lack. The good news about Vitamin D, however, is that you don’t need to go out in...
Anorexia and Anhedonia, or Why I Don’t Go to the Movies

Anorexia and Anhedonia, or Why I Don’t Go to the Movies

 *Flashback: New Media Expo, January 2014:  Scene: Crowded Networking Event, Voodoo Lounge, Rio Hotel Interesting Human: So…have you seen [Insert popular recent movie here]?  Me: [blank stare. awkward silence.]  Interesting Human: Okay…have you seen [insert another popular recent movie here]?  Me: Um… Interesting Human: Well, what’s your favorite movie?  Me: …I got nothin’.  /Flashback [image source] When I was 12, I was obsessed with fiction. I loved TV. I had opinions about pop music. A trip to the movies was never an issue. When I was 13, I met ED, and everything changed. A few weeks ago, I participated in a roundtable on girls and body image on the Rebooted Body podcast. And while discussing how easy it is to become preoccupied with weight and body image as a young woman, I realized that so much of my life and energy was spent on counting calories, reading about fitness, going to the gym, obsessing about food, and being depressed that I forgot how to enjoy my life. ED, coupled with major depression,* drove me to become a navel-gazing shell of a person, a metaphorical cardboard cutout plastered with impressions of magazine models and this season’s size 0 pants. For 13 years, I stopped forming my own opinion about the intangible fullness of the human experience, and instead reduced my existence to verifiable numbers: calories, cardio machines, reps, weight, macros, and clothing size. Part of my eating disorder was facilitated by (and, in turn, continued to facilitate) depression. I see this with many girls and women who are struggling with overexercise and caloric restriction: not only are they consumed by...
UN-Podcast 040: Am I Addicted to Exercise?

UN-Podcast 040: Am I Addicted to Exercise?

Is it possible to be addicted to exercise? Let me start off by saying that exercise is NOT inherently a bad thing. Getting out, moving your body, lifting weights, spinning, biking, running, hiking, Crossfitting, or bending yourself into a yogic preztel–whatever your poison, what truly matters is the dose. The difference between committing to your sport/training/gym routine and having an addiction is the psychological and physical dependence that begins to occur when you overdo it–and when your exercise begins to take precedence over everything else in your life. [source] Like an alcoholic who can’t stop at just one drink, an exercise addict can’t stop at just one hour. Or just three days a week. Or just one trip to the gym a day. It’s not just about “getting thin” or getting in shape”–exercise becomes the entire system by which you define your values and achievements. And you don’t have to have an eating disorder in order to develop an unhealthy addiction to exercise, although the two can go hand in hand. So how do you know if you or someone you love is addicted to exercise? If you can answer the following questions “yes,” then it might be time to seek help. I can’t take a rest day–other people can, but I need to work out. If I don’t exercise, I am irritable, depressed, or angry all day. It’s impossible for me to rest–I need to be constantly moving. I’m tired/exhausted all the time, but working out gives me the shot of energy I need to keep going. I’m an athlete or I’m training for a competition/race/etc., but I...