PHYSICAL EATING DISORDER RECOVERY PART 2: Slow Progress is Still Progress

Hi Friends!

Because I get more questions about this topic than anything else on the blog, I figure it’s something people are either interested in, experiencing, or want light shed on. I also think it’s important to talk about, remembering that I am not a doctor, physician, nor do I have any nutrition credentials. I can merely speak from my own experience.

To read what I wrote earlier about physical AN recovery, head here.

Now, since that post, written about 8 months ago, I am up another five pounds, 18 lbs above my lowest scale weight. I do not weigh myself besides for doctor’s appointments, but I do think it’s interesting to note, especially in light of the fact that I see it as progress. I used to be petrified of gaining weight. But I feel healthier, stronger, and more confident than ever knowing that this weight remission has been achieved.

I also have grown an entire inch in the last year or so, confirmed by my doctor. This figures into some studies that have shown that anorexia, especially among teenagers between 12-16, which is a fundamental age range for growth and development, can stunt growth for a long period of time. Studies have also shown that proper restoration of nutrition can allow for the time span of growth of bones and height to lengthen, or be “made up for” later in life. For me, that was this past year, at 20-21 years old, I guess.

Because, when my height was taken accurately at my doctor’s a few weeks ago, I came in at 180 cm, or 5’10.86″, when a few years ago I was just UNDER 5’10”.

My body has clearly used the extra food and extra rest I have focused on allowing it to repair itself. It was after a month of little to no exercise, and lots of holiday food, that I got my period on New Year’s Eve.

I haven’t seen one since then, but I am hopeful that my physical body is *finally* coming into its own. And I really do have only Jesus to thank.

In my last post about physical recovery, I decided that I would only provide advice when I had had 3 consecutive periods. This has not happened. I have, however, only been seeing good progress (slow weight gain and one period, yay!), and am somewhere in the middle of that kind of victory. On my way, believing for it.

And so, I thought I would share some insights from the middle of this journey.

The importance of food for health cannot be mistaken. 

I was only severely under-eating to the classification of anorexia for about 8 months of my life. Many people are in that boat for YEARS. While the damage is not irreversible, it can be long-lasting. I still deal with lost hair, bone loss, appetite struggles, digestion problems, hormonal imbalances, and amenorrhea. Adequate nutrition is crucial to our daily activities, for our brains, not to mention our social functioning.

It is okay for me to believe in, promote, and be passionate about healthy eating.

It took a long time for me to say this without feeling “guilty,” but I am genuinely passionate about healthy, clean eating. I believe in a mostly whole-foods based way of eating. I cringe at some of the fillers and additives in our “food” sources today. AND, I know that “hyper-clean-eating” is just as toxic, if not, in many cases, MORE toxic, than those unhealthy foods. I’ve found “balance”– called Jesus. I genuinely prefer the taste and preparation and fuel whole, “healthy” food provides, but I have no fear of treats. Food just “is” now, and, for me, it’s an exciting part of life that brings me MOST joy when it’s shared with others, communed over, and fellowshipped over.

Slow physical progress is still progress. 

There is surely no “one size fits all” in eating disorder recovery, but mine has been quite slow. Or, at least, it has felt quite slow. I have been actively trying to gain weight for over two years, and it has taken that much time to put on 18 lbs– but, heck, my body’s been doing what it needs to. It’s been sorting it out and learning to trust me after what I’m sure was a very confusing few years.

Weight does redistribute.

Multiple times throughout recovery, I have felt frustrated that weight gain wasn’t going to the places I wanted it to. In reality… it was sitting in my stomach. I was constantly bloated, and I do still struggle with this, as we all do. But the weight has slowly dispersed its way to other parts of my body– only as I’ve kept up my regular eating habits. For an excellent article on weight redistribution in recovery, head here.

Food knowledge genuinely CAN fade into the background.

There is one aspect of ED that I consistently thought would never “go away,” and that was simply the vast knowledge I have about nutrition.

Spending so much time consuming the over 60-billion-dollar weight loss industry, I also consumed so much food/exercise stats in a very self-focused way (can we talk about how self-centred anorexia itself is? That is not to say a person suffering from the disorder intends to be– but, rationally, the disorder very much promotes self-focus).

I still do know so much about food and nutrition, and would be lying if I said I don’t still sometimes see food as numbers. By the grace of God, I know I’m not meant to base eating on numbers, but I still know them, if that makes sense.

But, TRULY, with time, such unimportant facts have become less and less apparent in my brain.

The most prominent example in my brain: I have the most vivid memory of being 14, at the height of my bulimia, and I had cognitively chosen to restrict my food intake that day.

I remember actually saying to my mom, “I have sixty calories left, but I can’t decide if I should have a tablespoon of honey in my tea, or a few grapes.” She didn’t say much, and I knew she was worried.

Now I happily add as much unmeasured honey to my drinks as I desire, and would pluck grapes off any snack tray, thank-you very much.

Any specific questions about eating disorder recovery/mentality/physicality I am always happy to answer, remembering everyone’s experience is different!

As always, thank-you for tuning in. xx

ISAIAH 43:2:

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Advertisements

Canada’s 2019 Food Guide: A New Lens

Since the ringing in of a new year, perhaps you have come across this image:



And you’re probably familiar with this now dated one too:

Many people are loving the new “food guide,” so perhaps my opinion will be unpopular one. But I have been itching to write about it, if only to provide a new lens about this whole “guide” thing any way.

First of all, I prefer the second image to the first… but not by much.

I prefer the second image, the old food guide, because of words such as “recommended” and “variety.” The general impression from this food guide is a lot more open. The servings it lists seem to be suggestive, not imperative.

The new food guide, however, includes much more imperative wording, which, for some people, can be triggering, or dangerous. Allow me to elaborate.

Having been diagnosed with four different eating disorders from the time I was 12-16, I have a firsthand understanding of the way this mental illness manipulates information about food to destruct. If my old “orthorexia brain” saw that first food guide and decided the guide was going to be its bible, as is what literally happened to me with other guides,  it would have read the following:

Choose whole grain foods? This clearly means that every grain that passes your lips has to be WHOLE grain. No additives or preservatives. Only grains that contain the germ. Only organic.

Make water your drink of choice? You can most certainly only drink water, then. No other beverages under any circumstances!

Eat protein foods. Ooh, this clearly only refers to complete proteins, like 100% lean chicken breast with no skin and egg whites.

Have plenty of fruits of vegetables? Perfect, so I’ll eat ONLY organic fruits and vegetables, with maybe one whole grain and one lean protein a day and tons of water. It’s a good thing I’m allergic to dairy, because apparently that’s no longer allowed for Canadians!

If the mental illness I struggled with would have deemed that guide the be all/end all, it would have been quite strictly just so.

Now, I completely understand that the majority of people see food guides like this and completely take them with a grain of salt. Utilize them as information to guide their understanding of some proper nutrition, and forget about it.

But I felt this needed to be written, because I know that, knowing the nature of eating disorders, someone out there at this very moment is actively engaged in a legalistic eating disorder that somehow involves this new food guide.

This is one of the reasons I have a passion for effective and clear communication. If this guide’s intended purpose is to provide general information for nutritional considerations, it should clearly say so, rather than trying to achieve a trendy, plain-language aesthetic. I’m just sayin’.

And I’m not hating at all on attempts to provide nutritional information, but rather providing a new lens on the way this is put out there (Is this suggesting that people should never eat chips, candy, their friend’s homemade cookies, drink hot chocolate, etc.? If it is not, it should say so).

I am passionate about LIFE outside of FOOD RULES. I know what it’s like for life TO BE food rules.

What was your reaction to the new food guide? Let me know in the comments!

 

I Believe Bible Study Registration

Study Title: “I Believe” Bible Study in Partial Fulfillment for Christian Studies and Global Citizenship Undergraduate Degree

Principal Investigator: Cassandra Wolfe

I am a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Department of Christian Studies and Global Citizenship & English Literature. I am planning to conduct a Bible study, which I invite you to take part in. This form has important information about the reason for doing this study, what I will ask you to do if you decide to be in this study, and the way I would like to use information about you if you choose to be in the study.  

Why are you doing this Bible study?

You are being invited to participate in a Bible study about the results of abstaining from, “fasting,” a particular activity that has been prayed about for a period of time, and spending intentional time in prayer and with God instead. I, the creator and researcher, believe that more time with God and in prayer, and intentional sacrifice, results in a less selfish attitude, and a more others-oriented lifestyle.

What will you do if you choose to be in this Bible study?

You will be asked to follow along with the content posted on a private blog page for which you will be given the password for seven weeks, participating in the comments section as you are comfortable and feel called. New posts will occur every Wednesday evening at 8pm EST, beginning Wednesday, March 6th, and ending Wednesday, April 17th, and will include discussion questions and prompts for the week. Week 1’s content will include how to go about choosing an activity to fast, and we will share what we are fasting in the comments section by the following week. The discussion board will be available for comments throughout the week. Only those who have signed up for the study will be able to see your comments. You will be encouraged to share your experiences and participate in discussion about relevant Scripture, but never forced.

I may quote your remarks in presentations or articles resulting from this work.  A pseudonym will be used to protect your identity, unless you specifically request that you be identified by your true name. You are also welcome to use a pseudonym as your blog name for participation. It is up to you what you want to get out of this study and learn from it, and that does not need to involve others knowing your identity if you feel you would be more willing to participate anonymously.

You will be asked to refrain from overly personal or potentially triggering information using best judgement.

What are the possible risks or discomforts?

To the best of my knowledge, the things you will be doing have no more risk of harm than you would experience in everyday life.

However, depending on the nature of your fast, you may experience various emotions in participating in discussions. You ALWAYS have the right to refrain from participating in conversations, and requesting that a discussion be halted.

As with all research, there is a chance that confidentiality of the information we collect from you could be breached – we will take steps to minimize this risk, as discussed in more detail below in this form.

What are the possible benefits for you/others?

The possible/expected benefits to you from this study include…

-A deeper relationship with God

-A broader understanding of Scripture related to fasting and prayer

-A renewed prayer life

-Higher productivity

-Reduced selfishness and greater compassion

How will I protect the information I collect about you, and how will that information be shared?

Results of this study may be used in publications and presentations.  Your study data will be handled as confidentially as possible. If results of this study are published or presented, individual names and other personally identifiable information will not be used. Any information I have your permission to keep will be kept on my private Google Drive account, not accessible to others, and will be used only for the purposes of my final presentation and paper. While confidentiality between participants will be requested, it, of course, cannot be assured of.

Financial Information

Participation in this study will involve no cost to you.

What are your rights as a Bible study participant?

Participation in this study is voluntary.  You do not have to answer any question you do not want to answer.  If at any time and for any reason, you would prefer not to participate in this study, please feel free not to. If at any time you would like to stop participating, please tell me. We can take a break, stop and continue at a later date, or stop altogether. You may withdraw from this study at any time, and you will not be penalized in any way for deciding to stop participation.  

If you decide to withdraw from this study, I will ask you if I am still able to quote any of what I have learned from your time in the study.

Who can you contact if you have questions or concerns about this research study?

If you have questions, you are free to ask them now. If you have questions later, you may contact me at any time:

Cassie Wolfe

519-570-8939

wolf3740@mylaurier.ca

Consent

I have read this form and the Bible study has been explained to me. I have been given the opportunity to ask questions and my questions have been answered. If I have additional questions, I have been told whom to contact. I agree to participate in the Bible study described above.

By registering for the online Bible study, you are agreeing to the information presented above and agreeing that all of your questions have been answered. To register for the online Bible study, simply fill out the form found here. You will be notified of the password for all the content by Wednesday, March 6th, 2019.

Again, for all the information about the Bible Study, the vision for it, and the research that has gone into it, head here, and peruse all the posts!

The Writing Bug

I have an unwavering, overwhelming, constant need to write.

I’ve had it since before I can remember.

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher entered a paper I wrote in a writing contest that I ended up winning. From that point forward, I was told my every English teacher that I should keep writing.

And this need to write hasn’t ceased… but my follow-through and actual time spent writing has.

I don’t blame anyone but myself, and relent my frustration toward one thing: technology.

So, I have some questions for you guys.

Do you feel guilty when you spend time consuming others’ creative content rather than creating yourself?

Do you push off “content creation” for relaxation? Or is content creation not on your radar?

Do you have goals and plans for your creative work? How do you prioritize those goals?

I have affirmation that part of my life’s work is meant to be in writing content that helps people. And while I don’t know exactly what that’s meant to look like, I simply keep trusting and walking in the plans God has for me.

Today was a day of errands all across the town.

I got my hair done for free by my beautiful friend Morgan to help her with her updo skills, went grocery shopping, and picked up my new glasses, all with the encouragements that make up #BellLetsTalk day ringing through my ears, while I thought, if these torturous illnesses exist and are people’s realities, we NEED to be talking about them.

And now I’m getting ready to do homework, but not without first sitting down to simply write.

And in the midst of confusion, of wondering more than ever “what the heck” I’m going to pursue in a career, and resting in Jesus, today of all days I know it’s ok to be confused, to be broken. It’s actually part of the calling.


“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
 Ps.147:3

The Wedding Series: My Mood Board

Hi friends!

I guess you could say I’ve been dealing with a January slump. 😦

I always struggle in January, with the cold weather and snowy conditions. And yet, my wedding day is in the heart of January 2020.

In the cozy Cambridge Mill, though.

Followed by a honeymoon somewhere on a beach with the love of my life. So, I’m pretty sure it’s actually going to make January pretty awesome.

Wedding posts have been quite popular on Cassie Compiled, so I thought I’d share the early stages of my planning mood board for the big day– less than a year away!

Head here to peep our vision!

There have been moments here and there where the reality of marriage hits me in an emotional way. The most recent of these was trying on dresses this past Sunday, with some of my dearest girlfriends, my two sisters, and my mom making it the most fun day imaginable.

I have truly been enjoying every aspect of the planning process, but I am really, mostly, just very excited to be spending my life with the most amazing man in the world.

“I Believe” Bible Study: The Necessity of Prayer and Fasting

Mark 9:29

“Jesus said to him, “This kind [of spirit] can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.”

In today’s instalment of the I Believe Bible Study research, we’re talking about fasting and prayer as not only a suggestion from Jesus, but a necessity. 

To do this, we look to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9.

In this chapter, some of Jesus’ disciples are trying to cast a demon out of a man, but are unsuccessful. Of course, Jesus casts the demon out right away. When His disciples ask Him why they were unable to do what He did, Jesus’ reply is that the kind of spirit could only be rebuked through prayer and fasting.

This is a perfect example of an instance in which prayer and fasting are suggested together– and from the mouth of Jesus Himself. And, again, not only is this a suggestion, but Jesus’ wording is that the only way in this situation is through prayer and fasting. 

Think about this. What if, rather than trying to forge our own way in helping others, our first reaction was to turn to the God of the universe, sacrifice our pleasures/food/time to Him in prayer, and seek His will and healing? Do we believe He is a healer? That’s what it starts with. If we believe that God’s Word is alive (1 Peter 1:23), that He is who He says He is, that He is perfect (1 Peter 2:22), then we should want this time with Him.

The way most of us currently live our lives has taught us to be comfortable with a different truth–hence, a lie. 

That comfort is more desirable than sacrifice. That I deserve gifts and blessings. 

However, this song sums up true life, in Jesus Eternal:

Struggling to sacrifice something you know you spend too much time doing?

Remember these things:

  1. Your time in fasted prayer can lead to someone else’s healing.
  2. Time spent with/for Jesus is time given to ETERNAL glory– unlike any other way you could spend your time!
  3. If you desire “help with your unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25), Jesus promises to answer prayers (1 John 5:14).

Interested or feeling called to this challenge? Email me at wolfe3740@mylaurier.ca, comment below, or connect with me in any other media platform to get involved either via the online study, or the in-person study in Waterloo!

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Being Engaged at 21

My hands are no longer in beautiful shape 24/7, my ring is starting to feel as if it’s been on my finger forever, and “wedding talk” is becoming a necessary segment of every catch-up and conversation.

And while all of this is so exciting, and I am most certainly enjoying every aspect of planning, and being surrounded more than ever by loved ones, a few things have surprised me.

Johnny proposed at Parliament in Toronto over a month ago, on his birthday, December 15, 2018.

In wedding season, it’s common to be asked about the wedding, but not about the relationship. I don’t expect or necessarily think it would be right for people to be asking all the questions about mine and Johnny’s relationship, our decisions, and our love for each other. There is nothing wrong with excitement and questions about the planning of the big day, but much more than this day, I am excited to BE MARRIED to Johnny. The wedding day is going to be so special, but because our marriage will be special. It is that future together that we feel called to that is being celebrated. I am not fearful of myself getting caught up in the talk of that single day, as I’ve been enjoying it and allowing myself to enjoy it, but I want to express to others that the purpose of the day is what we really care about.

I had prepared myself for the, “you’re so young” comments… but I haven’t gotten a single one. 

In fact, everyone I’ve talked to has said things like, “it’s always been so obvious you and Johnny were meant to be together,” and “you’re both so mature” and “good for you guys!” We pray people see only Jesus Christ in our love for each other, and His story in and through us.

In terms of where our money is going toward the wedding day, I care most about my guests and loved ones having a good time and being cared for.

I want to make sure we have a fun and versatile DJ, delicious food, and accommodating facilities. I want every guest to feel mine and Johnny’s love and care for them in both the way Jesus is glorified in our relationship, and in the way we choose to host them.

The best thing to hear from loved ones in the planning process is “Tell me how I can help you. We’ll follow your lead and vision. You make all the decisions.”

The amount of decisions that need to be made are pretty overwhelming, but I have SO appreciated the reminders from people that are so willing to help with what I need help with, but constantly reminding us that every wedding decision is ours, and not trying to control what we want.

The “wedding day” WILL fly by, and that is not only okay, it’s exciting!

It means that will be married, and Johnny and I see marriage as we believe God intended it according to His Word, which involves different things from a dating relationship, and we are excited to enter into those things, truly doing life together. I am so excited for the special day of all my favourite and closest people coming together to celebrate Jesus, but it will be one day, a future afterward I can’t wait to host those people and continue to pour into them, sometimes alongside my husband!
Johnny and I have never been big “planny” people when it comes to our relationship. We both receive love and gifts when they are spontaneous and genuine and fun, and not talked about, calculated, or planned. So we haven’t “set aside designated times” for planning or anything like that. We’re just going with the flow, focusing on our relationship above planning the wedding, and learning how to love each other even still in this distance, knowing that it’s over forever soon!


January 11, 2020, I am very excited for you to get here… but I’m going to love each day leading up to you, pressing into Christ above all.