Free Your Heart And Your Mind Will Follow

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Yesterday, Caitlin blogged about a post by Kelly about default thinking. Kelly asked her readers if they have one thing that they tend to think about when they aren’t busy doing something.

Such a simple question, but also a very telling question depending on your answer.

Kelly said that she tends to default to running, while Caitlin said that she thinks about blogging.

Some of the reader responses were:

  • Men (husband, boyfriend, etc)
  • Food (What to eat, etc)
  • Competitions
  • Cooking
  • Blogging
  • Running
  • Photography
  • Thesis/experiments

Of course, it made me question my own thoughts…

And then it hit me!

My mind is no longer consumed by negative thoughts about my body, weight, food, and deprivation.

My jaw hit the floor.

I had a huge light bulb moment.

When I was fully consumed by my disordered eating, 99% of my thoughts were negative thoughts about myself. Any time I wasn’t occupied by something else, my thoughts defaulted to things like:

  • How many calories did you eat so far today?
  • How could you not have lost any weight? I need to lose x pounds by Friday!
  • I need to stop eating so much
  • How can I occupy myself so I am not tempted to snack
  • I look so huge in this/my clothes don’t look right/etc
  • I am ashamed to go out and have people see me like this

Even when my mind should have been occupied by other things like school and work, my thoughts still tended to come back to the negative mindset. I couldn’t focus on studying. I couldn’t focus on my relationships. All I could focus on was those negative ‘default’ thoughts.

I had become so accustomed to defaulting to this negativity about myself, I didn’t even question it anymore.

When you tell yourself something for long enough you start to believe it.

I knew no other way. I also said that I would never be able to give up calorie counting because it was so ingrained in my head.

Well, today I realized just how far I have come.

When I set on my journey to free myself from the disorder, I also started to free my heart.

Yes, free my heart.

With each positive thing that I told myself, my heart started to beat stronger again.

I started to feel emotions again.

I started to love myself again.

With each passing week that I chose to be good to myself, I felt free. My mind, body, heart, and soul felt more free than it had for a long time.

With a lot of work, patience, and dedication I was able to slowly replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. For a long time I thought I was fighting a losing battle, but here I am today, sitting here in amazement with how far I have come.

I now know what it is like to have a free mind and to be able to dream, think, ponder, hypothesize, study, analyze, and wonder. And damn it feels GOOD.

Here are some of my favourite default things to think about:

  1. Blogging

All day long I commit parts of my day to memory and store it in my mental ‘blog file’. Note to self: Must write these down because 99% of them are forgotten! I write down some of them, but most of the time I am not near a paper and pen. I need to reintroduce my voice recorder into my life ASAP! lol.

2.  Loved ones

Family, friends, Eric, Sketchie. I often find myself thinking about conversations we had. I laugh about inside jokes. I miss loved ones that I do not get to see often. I spend a lot of time thinking about people that have made a positive impact in my life. And yes that includes some people I have never met! I have been touched by so many kind people in the blog world and I think about their words often.

3.  Running

My upcoming half marathon has been taking up much of my mental space lately. I think about when my next run is, how long it will be, and how running makes me feel. I think about how awesome it is that I have found a sport that I love so much. I also always remind myself who I am racing for: Chris and all others who have been touched by cancer in some way.

4.   Baking

I spend a lot of time creating recipes for Glo Bakery. I am always dreaming up something new that I want to make. I think about the nutrition, ingredients, packaging, cost, etc. I love, love, love creating and testing new ideas. I have so many ideas scribbled down that I have yet to try out.

On occasion, I still struggle with thinking about food too much, especially if my hormones are out of whack and I find myself just wanting to eat a bunch of junk food. Things like this are a trigger for me because they make me feel vulnerable like I used to in the past. I see this as more of a blip on the radar than anything to be really concerned about. Even people who are so called ‘normal’ eaters go through this on occasion.

I think the point of it is that my mind is now free from the obsession and I can think about all of the things that make me happy!

Eric used to tell me that I didn’t have any hobbies. He would always encourage me to find a hobby. He’d say, ‘Ange, you need to find something that you enjoy.

The thing is, for years, my disordered mindset was my hobby.

It took up all of my free time. I literally had no other time in my life for real hobbies!!!!

Until now, it never occurred to me why I didn’t have any hobbies. But now I see it so clearly.

Now that I have given up the obsession, I have all of these hobbies and passions in my life:

I have running, racing, fundraising, blogging, writing, baking, advocating, helping, educating. My life is now so much fuller than it was for years.

Free your heart and your mind will follow.

That is my new mantra.

I encourage all of you who are currently trapped in a negative mindset to take steps to free yourself from it.

How does one free their mind?

This is something that I will save to talk about in another post. But, here is a good trick that helped me:

  • List all of your negative thoughts on paper, cross them out, and write positive ones to replace them. Do it first thing in the morning and right before bed. I strongly suggest that you do this twice a day because when you write your list at night time, you can look and see what was worrying you in the morning. Often, you will realize that your negative thoughts had no basis whatsoever.

So now I ask you…

What are your default thoughts?
Have you ever experienced a change in your default thinking?

Angela Signature thumb22   Free Your Heart And Your Mind Will Follow

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. ~Maria Robinson

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Paige @ Running Around Normal September 23, 2009

Awe, this post brought a tear to my eye. So moving. I was the exact same way with my disordered eating. It consumed me, and life erally is richer without it.

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Kalli September 23, 2009

Angela,
Thank you for sharing such an insightful post. Really got me thinking………
Kalli

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Kelly September 23, 2009

Hey Angela! Wow what a great and inspiring post. I’m glad that my post triggered such a positive realization. Your blog (and your Glo Bars) are amazing. :) Have a great day.

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rhodeygirl September 23, 2009

Beautiful post Angela. I am so happy for you that you have found your way!!!!

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Susan September 23, 2009

I used to think about how big I thought I looked. Anywhere I went, I was tugging at my clothing, wondering if people were staring at me (for the record, I’ve only lost 30 lbs – I wasn’t that overweight to begin with!). But ever since losing weight, those thoughts just never occupy my mind any more. I hardly ever worry about how my clothes look, if I’m the biggest person in the room, or if my belly is pooching out in public.

Now I think about my blog, exercising, work and food :)

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? September 23, 2009

First of all, your post title has me singing that old TLC song… “free your miiiiind and the rest will follow…”

Second, I have been working HARD to get rid of the negative thoughts that consume me almost all the time. Whether its food I “shouldn’t” be eating, clothes that “should” fit, a workout I “should” do… the word “should” is driving me crazy. I need to realize that while I may not be thrilled at the weight I’m at, my body seems pretty happy here. It’s easy to maintain, I don’t have to kill myself working out to stay here… why can’t I just leave well enough alone?

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Pam September 23, 2009

Ange, what a beautiful post from the heart…best so far!

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Suzanne September 23, 2009

What a lovely post! I really admire how far you’ve come. While I’m not nearly as negative as I used to be, I have a tendency to fall back into that mindset at times. However, now my thoughts tend to focus on exercise as a sport instead of a way to lose weight. I dream up new training plans/goals a lot! I also tend to think about my family, boyfriend, work, and making future plans/goals!

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leslie September 23, 2009

love. this. post. i could have written it myself. pre-disorder i had so many interests and hobbies, and in the past few months i have been rediscovering them, bringing them back to my life, remembering who i am (and incorporating the new, positive things too!). it’s amazing! i actually had a similar moment recently where i realized how far i’d come. sure, sometimes i have off moments, but the vast majority of the time, i can’t believe how literally all my time and energy was so consumed in the past with the exact thoughts you wrote here.

now i think about my writing, photography, plays i’ve seen/ want to see, travel, family/friends, my goals for the future, books to read, recipes or foods to try out, and blogging of course. life is so much fuller!

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Aoife September 23, 2009

Aw wow what a lovely post! A total lightbulb moment for you. We’re lucky if we have these – congratulations :D

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Morgan September 23, 2009

Congrats on being able to change your mindset, it seems like you have come so far!
I think a lot about food: what to cook, what restaurants I want to try. I think about my family and friends, puppy and where I want to travel. I daydream a lot about travel!

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Sarah September 23, 2009

I really enjoyed your discussion of negative thoughts. I have a lot of friends and family consumed by this and I wanted to let you know that I copied and pasted your suggestion about making the list in a note on Facebook (that only my friends can see) to share with them (but I credited you and the site of course). I hope that is okay. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

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Neela Marijana September 23, 2009

this is such an inspiring post! i have been experiecning some very similar things in my life. its so wonderful to have time for more important things in life and actually live instead of worrying, obsessing and counting! i will surely try to write down all the negative things and replace them with positive ones! i’m sure it’ll help
thank you for this inspiration

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Jenna September 23, 2009

Ang, thank you so much for this post. It really hit home for me, so much so that I am a bit choked up and teary eyed.

I think that many of us have gone through the obsession, some cases more severe than others. I am about 95% of the way cured of my thoughts, but like you stated, there is always the blip on the radar.

Hopefully with all of the amazing food bloggers out there, we can start to change the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations set by many around the world.

Have a fabulous day!

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Michelle Gay September 23, 2009

thank you for this. I needed this tonight.

writing away and thinking positive.

M

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natalie September 23, 2009

This post was so close to home. I have felt all of the things that you wrote and can agree 100% with everything that you’ve said. All I used to think about were negative thoughts about my weight, body, or eating. It consumed me. I didn’t have any hobbies because that was all that I was and all that I did. When I finally began to let go and change my life there became room for the positive and I was able to actually “free my mind!” I love that….free your mind your heart will follow. It couldn’t be more true!

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Gillian September 23, 2009

I am a little teary eyed over here Ang! I used to be the same way with food and losing weight, so much so that it would keep me up at night worrying about it. Now I look back and it seems like such a waste of my life/mind energy doing what I did. I love the “Free your heart and you mind will follow”! So true!

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maria September 23, 2009

I’m in the stage where I’m working on getting out of that calorie counting mindset, including the negative thoughts that seem to come with it. I’m trying really hard to just focus on eating good, whole, foods.

I can’t wait to read the next part of this series.

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Bonnie September 23, 2009

Angela,
I love this!! It’s something that I’ve been working on myself. My violin teacher recently challenged me to discove what I like about my playing, which has been challenging because most of my teachers told me I wasn’t good enough. My boss hasn’t helped the situation either. I’m working on making my default thoughts go along the lines of “I am good at what I do and I am worth it!” thanks for bring up the topic!!!

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Lizzie September 23, 2009

Greta post Angela – very thought provoking. Unfortunately, while sometimes my thoughts are about things I would like to do, places I want to go, for the most part it turns to worry-mush. Worrying about everything from my husband, to my family far away, to my career, changing friendships, how I compare to my friends and where they are in life, and all the bad things that could possibly happen. And it is exhausting!! But I am learning slowly to let it go and your posts are often a timely reminder of that.

Interestingly enough I was reading another blog this morning, where the writer gives readers an opportunity to comment about what one thing they are feeling smug about and one thing they are feeling crap about (a weekly theme). I would say about 80% of them were all about how the reader felt crap about their body, bad for eating crap, not going to the gym etc etc. One reader actually picked up on this and commented along the lines of how we need to feel beautiful and not put ourselves down – something I suspect you would say. Thanks for the reminder! :)

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sara September 23, 2009

Did you mean “Free your mind and your heart will follow”? Because once you freed your mind of negative thoughts, your heart followed and you found new passions and hobbies…. also you went on to describe how to free your mind, so that’s why I thought that perhaps your mantra was the other way around? Anyway great post and here’s to hobbies!

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Shannon (The Daily Balance) September 23, 2009

Great post, Angela and so happy to hear you’ve abandoned that negative thinking!

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Courtney September 23, 2009

AAAH! It totally just clicked with me that as I am preparing for my first sprint triathlon this weekend and that is my default thought, that I’m having less negative self talk! If I have something else to consume my mind, I have less negative things to say to myself because I am focusing on something outside of myself. I didn’t even realize how much training for this sprint tri has helped me in that regard until just reading your post. THANKS!!
Courtney
Adventures in Tri-ing

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Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) September 23, 2009

Angela –
What a great post! They are always so well-thought out and sincere.
Thanks!

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Mellissa September 23, 2009

I think a lot about blogging, travel, and my husband (who travels Monday-Thursday).

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Jocelyn September 23, 2009

i appreciate that you no longer feel consumed by negative thoughts about your body and weight etc…and in replace fill it with happy thoughts about family and baking and all these wonderful things. I wish I could get to that point but unfortuantly I think until I lose the *weight* some of these negative thoughts and comments seem to creep up on me!

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Courtney September 23, 2009

What a great feeling, to finally be able to think freely :) I am so happy for ya Ange.

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Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 23, 2009

great post, angela. it always astonishes me to look back and reflect on what has changed–especially if it’s changed for the better, as is in your situation. you have so much to be proud of yourself for. i can;t imagine it’s easy letting go of old habits–let alone old ingrained thinking patterns!

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Anne Marie @ new weigh of life September 23, 2009

What an awesome post! I’m so glad that you freed your heart!

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Julie @savvyeats September 23, 2009

This is such a touching post! I hope you don’t mind if I add you to my blogroll on my blog!

My default thinking: blogging and planning my wedding. :)

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Ashley September 23, 2009

and this is why youre so inspirational! see all the lives you touch each and every day? never let a mean comment get you down… you are doing great things for so many people and the rudes ones just can’t find themselves and have to feel better by making others feel worse. so glad you are happy ange, you deserve the VERY BEST!!! xoxo

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Jessica September 23, 2009

lol the title of this post makes me think of the song ..” FREE YOUR MIND!!! And the rest will follow… be color blind! don’t be so shallow!” lol.

Wow girl, your post touches me because I feel like we really went through a lot of similar emotions. i used to be pure negative and i feel like i’m finally happy again. and pretty much thanks to you as ive told you time and time before. i dont even remember how i found your site but boy am i glad i did.

my bf tells me a lot now “i’m glad you found something you really enjoy” and underlying meaning of being healthy too instead of obsessive.

Thanks for posting this, because it enlightens us. Love you girl!
-muffy

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing September 23, 2009

This is such a great post!! Congrats on how far you’ve come :O).

I’ve noticed that my default thinking varies based on my mood. For instance, when I’m in a good mood, I think of family, friends, my career, blogging, future plans, food (in a good way) and relationships (in a good way) etc. When I’m down, I will often obsess about 2 things, relationships and food. I tend to displace any negative feelings I have on to how I have been handling those two aspects of my life. I love your suggestion for writing down negative thoughts and then crossing them out. This could be very helpful!

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Bronwyn September 23, 2009

This post sounds like it’s coming right out of my own experiences.

I remember when those negative thoughts were my own. It was horrible. It was all consuming. My every thought was about me. And about how horrible/fat/unlovable/ugly/unworthy I was.

But since then those thoughts have slowly simmered down… Started to disappear into oblivion. It’s really aweome isn’t when you suddenly realize that you are in a different mindset completely.

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Lisa September 23, 2009

I am a lurker on your blog, but I found this post too beautiful to not comment on! I had an ED in the past and about 3 more years of disordered eating, so I definitely understand negative thoughts about our bodies being our hobby. My life is also so much better now that I am fully recovered!

I am a violinist and violin teacher and my thoughts usually default to thinking about my students, their needs, and their personalities as well as about my boyfriend and my new (healthy) hobbies like gymnastics, racquetball, blogging, reading, etc.

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Ryane September 23, 2009

I don’t comment often and I’m not the type to write lots of (gushy) “I love your blog” notes…. but I’m just going to say it right now… to put it out there: I do love your blog.
Your words are completely honest and insightful and you are soooo relate able. I come from a different background than you, different lifestyle, different disorders hanging in my closet and yet, everything you say is relevant.

PS. I have noticed a lot about guys giving the ladies a hard time about hobbies (not just here, but everywhere!) I think guys have a different idea of what a hobby is. I know you were saying for awhile your way of thinking got in the way, but I also just think guys assume a hobby is something tangible. I read and write a lot and I’ve felt judged before because I’m not creating like an object or something (that isn’t food or a written piece)…. Just rambling here though!

Happy Humpday by the way!

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Nikki T September 23, 2009

Just wanted to tell you that I needed this post this morning. I told myself that I would never be one of those people that wakes up miserable, and this morning I broke that promise to myself…and then brought it to work with me, which only made it worse.
I just wrote myself a little note that says: There is NO point in being miserable about, stressing about, fighting about or crying over things that don’t really matter in the BIG picture. Remember that it could always be worse…
Sometimes, in a frustrating moment, its tough not to think about negative things…but after reading this, it reminded me that being negative gets you no where fast (besides down in the dumps!)
Although my miserable morning has nothing really to do with how I think about myself or where my thoughts usually wonder to (I like to think I’m usually a fairly positive person!), this still helped me think about what I was stressing about and realise…IT’S NOT WORTH IT! S#!t happens, right?! Sometimes you just need someone to remind you of what you already know!
Thanks Angela :)

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Jen from Losing the Shadow September 23, 2009

I actually blogged about this the other day. I have struggled with self esteem all of my life and finally, at 35, I am changing the way I think about myself.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) September 23, 2009

My default thoughts are blogging, food and exercise. WHen I’m running it dominates my thoughts but I’m trying to to think about it now because I don’t want to get depressed while I am on rest.

Lately I have been dominated by blogging. Anything and any situation becomes a blog post in my mind. I try to keep a list in Google so I can just look really quickly.

And food is a common theme because of restaurants I want to try, new foods I’ve seen on blogs to try and what is on my menu for dinner.

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Stina September 23, 2009

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I love your blog! Your posts always make me keep up the good fight against disordered eating behaviors and thoughts, and it’s truly inspiring hearing your honesty and how there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Beth September 23, 2009

Hi Angela, my name is Beth, and I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while. I finally started up my own blog last week (http://oatmealandalmondbutter.blogspot.com/ if you want to check it out and perhaps drop any tips or anything), and I just wanted to thank you for writing such honest and inspiring messages. I too have suffered from disordered eating, and I’m still trying to get out of the pattern of thinking about food and eating all the time. Thank you for just being honest about the disordered eating; I feel like many people are afraid to talk about it.

Anyway, I also made your PB & J bite tart things (I can’t remember what they’re called) and all my friends loved them! I’m going to make your raw chocolate chip cookies this weekend and can’t wait!

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