My Most Frequently Asked Questions: Part 1

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Hey guys!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I am starting to compile my most frequently asked questions! These are the questions that I get every week. Today, I will start with one of my most popular questions.

I could honestly write a book on this topic, but I will try to keep it succinct.

1. How did you stop obsessing and beat your eating disorder?

I struggled with disordered eating since the age of 11. I was sick and tired of being unhappy, hungry, and dissatisfied when I looked in the mirror. Even though I was thin for much of this time, I hated my body. My weight went up and down due to teetering along the extremes of both starvation and over-eating. In my first year of university I gained over 25 pounds and my obsession with my weight only got worse. After my first semester in university, I hit rock bottom. I knew I had to change. I was sick of struggling day in and day out with calorie counting, weighing myself, restricting how much I could eat, etc. It was a battle I was never going to win and I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I would never be happy.

I began seeing a school counsellor. She was a huge factor in my recovery. I still remember the kind words she told me and I think of her words whenever I am feeling down. One thing she told me was that I had such a soothing voice and I had a very easy-going nature about me. She would always tell me how easy it was to talk with me. After hearing these kind words, I started to realize that I was so much more than my weight and how skinny I was. I got so caught up in the disorder that I really needed to hear it from an outsider to make everything click. She made such a huge impact on my life when I least expected it. I was very skeptical about seeing a counsellor (fear mostly), but it was the best thing I ever did. I only saw her about 6 times and to think that she helped me so much is really amazing.

In addition to this, I also took a few nutrition courses in university. These courses were pivotal in the change that started to occur in my mind. I finally learned how my body worked…and I was amazed. I poured myself into my nutrition books and I had marks at the top of my class. I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to major in nutrition and become a registered dietitian, but I didn’t have a couple of the science pre-reqs and I decided to pursue psychology because I didn’t want to be a year behind (oh how I wish I would have followed my heart!). As I learned more about nutrition, I started to appreciate my body for what it did for me everyday. I had been abusing it for so long and it was just doing the best it could to stay balanced. It never occurred to me why I had the urge to binge until I learned that bingeing is an evolutionary adaptation! It is natural for the body to respond with over-eating when it has been deprived and it feels that it is in danger of survival. I was blaming my body for everything, but it was doing nothing wrong!

I decided to stop weighing myself. For some, the scale is a useful tool but for me no number was ever good enough. If it was up, I would starve. If it was down, I would starve too. I had to put the scale away. I knew that I needed to stop focusing on numbers so much and start focusing on my overall health. It was extremely hard to not weigh myself, but I just went cold turkey.

Going cold turkey was also my approach to calorie counting, but it didn’t work. Because I had been counting calories for over 10 years it was ingrained in me. I couldn’t stop! It sort of freaked me out and I thought for a while that I may never be able to break the habit. I realized that I had to start small. I started with not counting one part of my meal. So if I had cereal and milk for breakfast, I would not measure my cereal portion and not add-up those calories.

Gradually, over time I was able to build up to a full meal…and then eventually a full day of not counting. This process took months and I had many relapses. I gained a bit of weight during this time (I could tell by how my clothes fit) and that scared me and made me want to go back to my old ways. Sometimes I would get to the end of the day and not know how many calories I had eaten and this would cause me to binge due to the anxiety. I wasn’t used to not having control over every morsel that went into my mouth. I tried to focus on my hunger cues instead of how many calories I was ‘allowed’ to have. I realized during this process, that I had absolutely no clue how to listen to my body! I hadn’t done it for so long that I could barely tell when I was full or hungry. It was scary to experience this. It only solidified the fact that I was doing the right thing by trying to beat it.

When I stopped starving myself, it all became clear to me. My binges stopped. It took a few months but they did. My body no longer felt at risk for survival or desperate for food. I started to feel more calm around food and I started to appreciate food instead of fear it. The whole process took about 2-3 years before I felt confident that I would not go back to the disordered eating.

One crucial factor in my recovery was learning how to channel the negative energy about myself into something positive. I decided to channel this energy into learning about nutrition. Instead of looking at food for how many calories it had, I started to look at food in terms of its’ overall nutrition and how it made me feel when I ate it. I started to eat for energy instead of lack of calories or fat. When I was restricting my intake, all I ate was processed diet foods (aka crap!)…popcorn, iceburg lettuce, sugar-free popsicles, Crystal Light, chewing gum, you name it. I decided to start eating unprocessed foods and I ate more whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. I also started cooking more instead of going out to eat. I started to eat FAT which was absolutely ground-breaking for me. I used to restrict my fat so much and everything was fat-free. It was no wonder that my skin and hair were dull as rocks. I learned that healthy fats were good- bring em on! I ate nuts and healthy oils. My hair, skin, and nails started to glow.

I had many relapses along the way, but now, several years later, it was hands down the best (and hardest) thing I ever did. Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy…

For anyone who is struggling, I strongly suggest seeking out professional help. I am not sure I would have been able to do it without my counsellor’s professional guidance.

~~~~

Have you ever had an aha moment about yourself or how you viewed food?

Angela Signature thumb20   My Most Frequently Asked Questions: Part 1 

"Throw back the shoulders, let the heart sing, let the eyes flash, let the mind be lifted up, look upward and say to yourself… Nothing is impossible!"

~ Norman Vincent Peale

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Eliana >^..^ November 15, 2009

Yay..i’m the first one to comment! ;o) Now, I need to read the post. LOL

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Heather November 15, 2009

Wow Angela! Glad thats all behind you. Keep up the hard/good work. Your fab!!

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Kate November 15, 2009

Great post… I had similar experiences from the ages of 11-14 too. Starved during the day, and sometimes made myself sick at night. SO Scary that girls this age can feel like this. I can’t even imagine that now. But it feels so real when you go through it!
Great post as always :)

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 15, 2009

Great post! One of my favorite ones. This will help so many!

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Jess (Fit Chick in the City) November 15, 2009

Angela, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’ve had so many aha moments, and I think this post led me to yet another one. I haven’t had a an eating disorder for a few years, but that doesn’t meant that my attitude towards myself or food are always the best. I really, really need to get back to thinking about nutrient value vs. how much I’ve eaten that day already.

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Katherine November 15, 2009

I’ve definitely had ‘aha’ moments, but I feel like I’ve had lots of little ones and I’m just waiting for the big one. I know I’ve made great strides toward healthier eating, but it’s SO hard to deal with the temporary weight gain now that I’m not counting calories or exercising like a maniac. Every time I try on something that doesn’t fit quite right, I’m inclined to get back on the scale or count all my calories. It’s so tough and I just wish I could really see the light at the end of the tunnel. Congratulations on finding, Angela, you’re a wonderful inspiration!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2009

I know that feeling. Part of what I had to accept was that the size I wanted to be, was not healthy for my body. Sure I could maintain that size by starving and over exercising, but I was miserable. I had to find where my body would be happy and allow myself to eat in the amounts I needed to feel sane. Once I accepted this, it was much easier on myself.

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Anna November 15, 2009

Thank you for posting this! I can relate to this so much – I basically started eating in a disorderly way in 6th grade and haven’t been able to be ‘normal’ about food since. From the binges to the restricting, my weight has fluctuated as much as my mood and self-worth. It’s an awful cycle and I still don’t feel like I can listen to my body and let it tell me what it needs and when. It’s so tough, but I’ve seeing a therapist and reading blogs has definitely helped. Congratulations on how far you’ve come, and I hope that someday I can have a more balanced relationship with food and my body.

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Suzanne November 15, 2009

Thank you for sharing your story with us Ang!! And nice quote at the bottom of your post— Peale founded the Counseling Institute I intern at! :-)

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Nicci@NiftyEats November 15, 2009

Thank you Angela for sharing your story.

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Marian November 15, 2009

Great post! Not everyone would be strong enough to seek out help like that AND follow through with the hard work that followed. Although really it was more ‘work’ doing all the counting before, it takes a strong person to break that!

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Eliana >^..^ November 15, 2009

What a story! Thank you for sharing it! You are so strong!

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Juli (Peanut Butter and Juli) November 15, 2009

You are such a wonderful inspiration for so many. I’m glad you finally followed your heart and are doing what you do now.

I’m also impressed with your courage to share so much.

Rock on sista’

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Beth S. November 15, 2009

Thank for you posting this!

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Allison November 15, 2009

great post Ange, it was a long journey, but definitely worth it right?! Im kind of in the middle of that process, trying to find the best alternatives and eat for the nutrition, and try to not count calories, it is really hard!!

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M. November 15, 2009

You are such an inspiration.
I found your blog through the blog networks and although I don’t personally know you, you have been a positive influence in my life.
I have only read a couple of your posts but they have been extremely helpful. I struggled from anorexia two years past and was hospitalized. Now I have reverted to the opposite and feel like my life is a constant ‘binge’. It is hard to settle for a ____ number of calories so it is good to hear some people have overcome the numbers and let their body take control.

My only question was, how much about do you eat?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

Im glad that my posts help you!

It is very difficult for me to tell you how much I eat because I honestly don’t pay a large amount of attention to it! What I can tell you is that I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am satisfied (for the most part, some days I probably eat more than I need! lol). I eat 3 meals a day and 2-3 snacks.

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M. November 17, 2009

Thank you. I do realize that is a difficult question. Intuitive eating is my goal and I am starting today!

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Estela @ Weekly Bite November 15, 2009

This is so great of you to share your story!

So many will benefit from this post!

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M. November 15, 2009

and I did read your post where you listen to hunger cues, but I think it would be helpful to see that people are able to eat a fair quantity and stay fit… I always worry about gaining weight when really I am gaining weight with my poor eating habits these days.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

The last time I did a quick tally, I was eating around 2,000-2,200 calories a day. What you need is personal of course and will vary for your activity level.

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Molly @thevegandorm November 15, 2009

Wow – such an inspiring post!
I’ve struggled with anorexia, and I’m still trying to drive out the last few “habits” – calorie counting, body image.
Sometimes I feel like they’ll never go away, but it calms me to know that you’ve made so much progress.
Thank you, beautiful Angela!

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Michelle Gay November 15, 2009

I am so grateful that you posted this direct FAQ, because it’s at the core of your blog–finding your Glo.

I honestly have been struggling with binge eating for the past 10 months. However, first started replacing negative thoughts after seeking counselling. It helped. However, the thing which flipped me was ‘I am honestly not where I want to be with my eating, and I want to change.’. That helped to merge together to postitve thinking and what was really in my heart. The thing which has totally impacted my life forever, is from Jack Sh*t’s post about living in Today.

I used to get SO consumed with having to be perfect all the time. I was so concerned about the scale, planning what I could eat something ‘naughty’, that I had to stop drinking water before weigh-ins, etc. However, I don’t worry about anything like that anymore. I don’t care about when I am going to lose the weight by. I don’t care about if I am going to go out, etc. I just care about TODAY. Making today that best that it can be.

Letting go of the internal pressure cooker has been the most freeing thing in the world. When there is ‘tempting’ stuff around. I don’t excuse myself to have a massive indulgence. I just say to myself ‘eat until your satisfied and enjoy’. I don’t know if this makes sense. But the freedom I have from listening to my body and honestly living for today has given me my life back.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

Thank you for this Michelle…you are truly amazing!

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Bec November 15, 2009

Great post, I think many of us can relate to it! I had a similar relationship with a great school consider in my 4th year of university. She really helped me realize all the great qualities about myself and even made me realize that some of the things I thought were negatives were really good qualities :) I was uber stressed about not being the best at anything anymore and she helped me see I was still successful varsity athlete, with great friends and a busy social and volunteer schedule who had got into the grad program of her choice. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t winning medals every race anymore, had to work really hard for mediocre marks but I had a lot of people who cared about me and a lot of really good things going for me!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

Wow you just reminded me of the same thing my counselor did…she used to turn my perceived negative qualities into good qualities. Its nice to be able to flip one’s perspective. We forget that we listen to our own thoughts 99% of the day…its nice to listen to a fresh perspective.

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Jolene November 15, 2009

I have noticed that ever since I started food blogging in the summer, my entire relationship with food and the way I see my body has changed for the better. I think of food in a very different way than I used to, and lost 6 pounds without trying.

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Katy November 15, 2009

Thank you, Angela. Just…thank you :)

You have no idea how much your story has touched me. It was pretty much reading my thoughts exactly. I am at the stage where I’m trying to eat when I’m hungry and not having a clue what that feels like. Do you have any tips for what hunger feels like?

Reading that you have over come such a serious problem gives me hope in myself. Thank you sooo soo much.

xxx

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

Defining what hunger feels like is still so hard for me to put into words. It is more of an urge than a feeling. Another signal for me is if I start to get irritable or tired…then I know I am usually (read: usually!) hungry. Of course sometimes it is actual tiredness or thirst.

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Katy November 16, 2009

Thank you for your reply!

Come to think of it I do find myself getting irritable and tired between meals but usually I just shake it off thinking that I’m just being moody. Maybe if I tried having a snack I would be a bit more pleasant to be around huh?

I have a question concerning your Glo Bars! Do you send overseas? I live in New Zealand and I’ve been reading all sorts of different blogs that rave about your really yummy looking Glo Bars and I really trust that you feel that they are a good part of a balanced diet. If so, do you make sample sizes?

I just wanted to say that I love your blog. It is so REAL and HONEST which is just what you want to read in a blog. You are a total inspiration and your journey to where you are now is completely amazing and eye opening. Life is way too short to worry about body image. (Although I know this it still is hard to let go!)

Keep on glowing, Angela :)

Katy xxx

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Carissa November 15, 2009

What a great story. Thank you for sharing. I too struggled with a lifetime of disordered eating until I saw a counselor. The life change inspired me so much that I’m now completing my bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics. It sounds like we have similar experiences :) What a great success!! Thanks again for sharing.

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Ameena November 16, 2009

Not counting calories is such a difficult thing to do. I still find myself automatically calculating things in my head and I have to stop myself. I hope I can to through an entire day and not think about such silly things like how many calories my oatmeal had. One day!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2009

it took me a long time, dont get discouraged!

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Ashley November 16, 2009

Hey Angela! What a great post. Your blog is SO so important for women to read. Extremely inspiring and relate-able! As a comment to 1 of your posts the other day…I have an idea of what to do with the fruit/veggie stickers! Check it out on my blog =)

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thedaintypig November 16, 2009

What a great post. Thank you wonderful lady!
Been meaning to comment on a few posts, so i’ll throw it all in this one: I am totally a sink-apple sticker too…but now I may move onto my boyfriend’s belongings, in honour of you, hehe. And thanks for the movie suggestion. Julie and Julia was great!

Anyways, your blog always brings cheer to my day, so thanks, keep up the great work, and have a wonderful week!

xoxo the dainty pig

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GirlonRaw November 16, 2009

Wow, thanks so much for sharing this with us Angela. It is really heartfelt and good for so many of us to know that we are not alone with alot of these feelings and how we overcome them. Such an inspiring lady you are :)

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Danielle November 16, 2009

Hi Angela,

I have been reading your blog for a few months now, but have never commented. I am an undergraduate student, and have struggled with the same eating patterns as you did since I was in high school. It has not been until recently that I have learned to give my body what it needs, and reading about your own struggles has been a huge help with this. Just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

Cheers,
Danielle

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Tessa November 16, 2009

Thankyou for this post!
I could relate to EVERYTHING you’ve been through – I’m a 19yr old Australian and my experience has been very recent (I got out of hospital in June). Seeing a dietician and therapist definately keeps me on track, as does only being weighed once a week in my session! I HATE calorie counting and am only just getting out of the habit, biggest relief EVER to go through a day and not be pre-occupied with thoughts of food:) Thinking of food as nutrition and enjoyment instead of calories has (literally) been a lifesaver
Thanks for giving so much hope xx

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Melinda November 16, 2009

Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a nice feeling to have beaten it but I know how some days can be harder than others. As a RD now I rarely talk about my struggle or journey except with my other RD friends. I think I don’t want my patients or clients to judge me in that way and think that I don’t know how to keep them healthy. Good for you and keep up the good work.

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maria November 16, 2009

Thank you so, so much for posting this. This is exactly where I am and where I am heading. I have give up calorie counting, but it is so ingrained into my brain after doing it for almost three years that it is very difficult to let go of it completely. I know I will get there in time, but for now I am focusing on healthy, whole foods.

It was so good to read this! Thanks again!

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VeggieGirl November 16, 2009

Thank you for your honesty, dear Angela.

xoxo

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Gena (Choosing Raw) November 16, 2009

Great post, Ange!

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Paige @ Running Around Normal November 16, 2009

Great post! I’ll bet you helped a handful of girls who read this blog :D
I struggled with disordered eating – I was severely undereating, or not eating at all, and had my aha moment in church…it’s hard to describe in further detail, but soemthing just clicked. After that I still struggled, and it wasn’t until about a year ago when I stopped worrying about being under a certain amount of calories per day.

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Melanie November 16, 2009

I think that one of my biggest moments of realization that I have a dysfunctional relationship with food was back during the summer when you had us write a letter to our body. I was pretty dismayed to put on paper what I was feeling and to have to take a hard look at it.

Putting that realization into action, though, has been the biggest challenge thus far. I’ve never really had a huge issue with bingeing, but I’m very bad about completely ignoring my hunger cues and just overeating in general. Knowing is so essential, but actually taking that first step is so hard.

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Lola November 16, 2009

Awesome post, Angela! Man can I relate. Looking back on my Junior, and especially Senior, years of high school it’s no wonder my body *made* me binge to make up for my under-eating. I think we really should learn more about nutrition in school because at that age so many kids are insecure and going through awkward phases/changes and out of desperation to fit in or “be pretty” or “popular” will go to the point of harming themselves! It’s crazy. I was nevverrr fat or chubby and I had a totally bad body image…I can’t even imagine what some other girls went through.

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Pam November 16, 2009

You’re such an inspiration Angela! I’ve struggled with disordered eating for years now and I seem to have created a sugar addiction in the process. I’m a baker at my job, so I’ll go the whole day just picking at sweets and not really eating meals. Of course when the evening rolls around I feel like crap. I’ve got to get back on track, since in college I had incredibly healthy vegan eating habits (although I still harbored the old sweet tooth). I find that running really helps me to put my body in check – after vigorous exercise it NEEDS some real nutrients. I’m trying to re-learn how to eat three really good meals a day.
Any pointers for how to curb a serious sweet tooth? I also need to return to vegan/naturally sweetened baking, all this sugar and white flour cannot be good!

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Kate November 16, 2009

Thank you so much for being a positive inspiration in our lives. :) I’ve experienced MUCH of the same you have with disordered eating. I remember laying in bed in college and not finding a position that was comfortable because my bones were sticking out everywhere and I would seriously have dreams about cheeseburgers and french fries! I’ve also made the steps to stop the disordered eating and the negative view of myself and eat for energy and to feel good. :) Thank you for helping us continue this positive view on ourselves and life. :) It definitely helps reading your blogs during moments of feeling down, etc…

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Kristine November 16, 2009

Angela,
I am not sure if you are 100% to thank (i have to give myself SOME credit :)), but I can say that when I started reading your blog, I was still counting weight watcher points in my head for everything I ate. Now, I can honestly say I don’t, at all! That is a GOOD THING because I was too obsessive and lost too much weight! Now, I am healthy and happy!

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skinnyrunner November 16, 2009

what a fabulously honest and open post that we can all relate to. thanks!!

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