She Came, She Fought, She Conquered.

When I was a little girl, my favorite movie was "A Cinderella Story" (And still is, I mean helllooooo, Chad Michael Murray?!). I envied the way that Sam attained the happy ending she had dreamt of for so long. I wanted to dance my homecoming night away in a elegant, timeless princess-style ballgown like Sam wore in the movie. I wanted things to work out in my favor for once. I wanted a handsome football player to sweep me off my feet and take me away to Princeton College. I wanted bliss. Instead, I spent my youth battling myself, battling the treacherous eating disorder that was disguised as my friend and my savior from my darkest days. I always believed him when he told me he would take care of things. I looked to my eating disorder in times of doubt. Ed was there for me when no one else was. Oh, how I wish I could have known that Ed was just like any other mean girl I'd encountered before, but worse. He came with a one time only price. Death.

It was almost 5 years ago that I really checked out with him permanently. It wasn't until I was being held down by a team of doctors and nurses who attempted to shove a feeding tube up and into my nose six times till I realized he had betrayed me. I was 89lbs of lifelessness. He did this to me. I let him do this to me. I realized I had failed in that moment. But that's just it. I recognized my failure. I accepted it. But then I thought to myself, "and now you fight". And fight I did. And fought I have.

I have searched for something that would truly save me on my darkest days; Something that wouldn't come with a deadly price tag. Yesterday, I was given the validation I have been desperately searching for.

Powerlifting.

I have refused to go on antidepressants my entire life. I will not cover up the issue with a band aid. I will not put something into my body that masks the real damage. Iron is better than any antidepressant any doctor could have ever prescribed. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. My body and mind have been awakened with true potential, and I am never turning back. Unlike Ed, the iron has never lied to me. The weights have proven to be more than just a number. Yesterday, I proved that I am more than just silly damn number. I decided about a couple months ago to get back into powerlifting competitively. I did my research, found an amazing coach, Leanna Carr (hey girl heyyyy!), and put in the work. I wasn't expecting the work to come with such an amazing reward. 

Since I have returned to my roots powerlifting, many things have changed. I have gone from 89lbs of darkness to 128lbs of pure burning fire. I have realized that food truly IS my friend (aka the love of my life). I have accepted that gaining weight is OKAY and NECESSARY and doesn't always mean just gaining fat weight. I have gained so much more than weight. I have gained incredible people in my life who have changed the way I open up and view people.

I owe a lot of my success yesterday to an individual who I have an immense amount of respect for. Jordan is someone who I stumbled upon at a GNC store a while back, and I had no idea that our friendship would blossom into what it has today. He motivated and supported me through every second of our meet yesterday. We came together, competed together, and conquered together. Jordan and I shared a beautiful moment yesterday; A moment that brought me to tears of happiness. The hype and bond we share is indescribable, and yesterday only made our friendship that much stronger. You can't put a wilks score on friendship. Zippy is grateful for you, Zilla. 

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I saved the best for last, my parents. My mumma and daddio have been my biggest fans since day one. I really cannot even express my gratitude in words. They have believed in me since the day I entered this world, and have not stopped since. I would not be standing, let alone alive without the love and support from these two incredible people. I wouldn't trade these two for the world. Thank you for being my rocks. I love you both more than you will ever be able to know. 

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I could say so much more. I could write a book about how amazing yesterday was for me. It truly was the greatest day of my life. I set personal records with every single lift. I finished with a 242.2lb squat, a 126.5lb bench (even though I got called for a slight downward motion, I STILL GOT THAT SHIT UP), and the grand finale of a 347lb deadlift. The moment I pulled that 347lbs off the ground and locked it out was the moment I knew that every struggle, every triumph, every calorie, every pound, every doubt, every emotion, everything....was worth it. I qualified for NATIONALS as well yesterday. I placed 1ST in overall best female raw lifter. I don't think I will be attending Nationals, as it is October 10th and that doesn't give me an adequate amount of time to complete a successful prep. But ladies and gentlemen, I am just getting started.  This is only the beginning. I have more work to do, food to eat, muscle to gain, goals to achieve, and records to set. I am so beyond blessed. I cannot even put my blessings into words. To anyone who has commented, shown me any amount of support, wished me luck, and/or believed in me , thank you, I am humbled by all of the love I have been shown. I will forever be in awe. 

Thank you to friends, family, God, coaches, and Ed. Yes, I am thanking my eating disorder, for without him, I would have never turned into the athlete that I am today.

In carbs we trust,

-Lauryn

The Big Picture

Perfectionism: (noun) Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

Or in other words, refusal to accept any other form of peanut butter other than creamy.

Oh come on, y'all know I had to slip some type of peanut butter reference in there.

Anyways, this whole idea of perfectionism, being perfect, is quite a dominating emotion. It forces you to disregard anything less than unattainable standards. Except you don't know they're unattainable until you are given a different result, over and over again. This brings me to my current struggle, the roadblock I keep butting heads with continuously.

Weight gain, or accepting myself at any form other than my usual "fragile" state.

You see, recovering from an eating disorder is not just eating a massive amount of calories to put an individual back at a healthy body weight. If you ask me, recovery TRULY begins when you are forced to work on self acceptance, at every stage of change within in your body.

5lbs ago, I thought I was at a healthy weight.

10lbs ago, I thought I was at a healthy weight.

20lbs ago, I thought I was at a healthy weight.

Hell, 40lbs ago I thought I was at a healthy weight. This unrealistic perspective leads me to hold high expectations for myself that just aren't possible for me and my body. In the last almost two months, I've gained near the upwards of 5-8 pounds. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking, "The hell you bitchin' about? That's nothing!"

When you struggle with an eating disorder, anything greater than weight loss seems like a ton of bricks. 5-8lbs on a smaller frame like myself feels like a lot. I feel like I can feel the weight gain everywhere on my body. Yes, some of this comes from that lovely body dysmorphia struggle. I don't see myself the way others see me. No matter what amount of weight I gain, I need to learn to face it, grow with it, and accept it. In the past, as soon as I've felt my body change or seen a higher number on the scale, I would immediately relapse and do everything in my power to shed the weight I gained. I'm so tired of that bullshit, that endless cycle that doesn't get me any farther in my recovery process, but yet sets me back farther than I initially was. When I stepped on the scale a few days ago and saw a number I was not expecting in the slightest, Ed instantly freaked out, and I felt my gut coil up like a snake around its prey.

"I TOLD you. I TOLD YOU that you were eating too much food. I tried to warn you. Now look at you, your clothes are going to squeeze the fat on your body, you're going to hang over your bras, your thighs are going to rub together, the weight gain is never going to stop. But it doesn't have to be this way, Lauryn. Come back to me, I can make it all better." demanded Ed.

One thing I've learned in recovery is to listen to what Ed says to me, but then do the exact opposite. So I sat with his lingering words in my mind for a few hours, but didn't comply to his orders. I went about my training session in the gym as normal, ate my normal meal plan, and didn't do extra cardio to try and compensate for the sudden weight gain.

I'd be lying if I said I was comfortable in my body right now. For years and years, I have been inside this frail, small, fragile body. I was convinced that if that was the body I had been in for years, that was the body I was supposed to be in forever. Except our bodies are a pretty amazing thing, and will be changing daily, hourly, and even by the minute. Fluctuations happen ALL THE TIME. I find Ed telling me in moments of insecurity and discomfort that this weight gain is temporary, and I'll be back to "normal" in no time.

Except what if this isn't temporary? What if this is my body so desperately trying to do what I've been pushing away for years? If there's anyone I wish I could say I'm sorry to, it's my body. I'm so sorry for hating you when all you were trying to do was heal my damaged organs and give me the extra skin I so desperately needed. I'm sorry for destroying so many vital functions, functions I might not ever be able to get back. I'm sorry for being so cruel.

The one thing that is helping me hold on with this most recent struggle is powerlifting. I have a dream, a goal. Since I tend to be a perfectionist, I will not stop training for this goal until it is obtained. I'm less than 8 weeks out from my next powerlifting meet; A meet that could potentially qualify me for NATIONALS. That is something that I won't be able to do if I revert backwards and listen to Ed. I've tried every style of workout, and nothing makes me feel as confident as powerlifting does. It's not about looks, it's about strength.

In times of self doubt, I focus my thoughts and energy on listing out the things that gaining weight will give me. 

1.) STRENGTH. I feel so much stronger at a more solid weight. 

2.) Less aches and pains. My injuries, tweaks, and aches hate me so much less when I'm heavier. 

3.) MORE FOOD. Eating more than 2,400 calories everyday is amazebawls.  

4.) MUSCLE. While I'm working my ass off in the gym, I'm actually working on putting my ass on. ;-) 

I know I've said this over and over in the past before, but I'm serious this time. No more being the girl who cried wolf. I'm going to lift the shit out of these weights, feed my body what it deserves and needs, and work on accepting myself in ALL stages.

Less than 8 weeks to prove Ed wrong. Starting now

Xoxo, 

-Lauryn 

Losing Sucks

Today I lost. Ed-1, Lauryn-0.

Today I threw my fleece covers over my head, curled my aching body into a ball, and cried. You know, one of those gut-wrenching sob sessions that will probably leave your stomach sore tomorrow? I had one of those cries today. 

Bad days in recovery are inevitable. You're going to have sucky body image days. You're going to have days where Ed is extremely dominating. When you do have those days, they suck. You feel like he weighs a thousand pounds and he's just stomping on your soul.  

Today it felt like he weighed one million pounds and he was driving a truck through my soul. 

Originally, today I was supposed to stand up in front of high school students for a few hours and tell my story and encourage hope for others. Obviously, I was in no mindset to do this, so I cancelled them. I didn't feel right preaching the things I fail to practice, especially today. I was not about to fake a smile today; I did that for ten lonely years. The students shouldn't have to hear my hypocrisy, so instead, here I am.

Some would call this a pity party. They'd give me the whole, "you could have it way worse" schpeel. Yes, that is true. I could be on my death bed with a body full of cancer. I could be homeless. I could be struggling with things MUCH WORSE than a bad day in recovery. I get it. But sometimes, pity parties aren't something to be ashamed of; They're human nature. So as I lay here in my bed with swollen eyes as I type this mess of a blog post, I am throwing a pity party. Population: Me and Ed.

I have an addiction. The gym is my drug. Yes, it is a true passion of mine, and has allowed me to showcase so many amazing things that my body is capable of. However, when my drug is robbed of me, I go through one hell of a withdrawal. I tend to identify myself with the gym. You know on that first day of school when the teacher makes the class play an awkward and childish ice breaker game? My ice breaker would always be me introducing myself and recognizing my obsession with the gym. "I'm Lauryn, and I love the gym, I am a powerlifter." I'm proud of my accomplishments in the gym, but I tend to let it consume my self perception. Who am I without the gym? What do I do with my life without the gym? Honestly, I don't know. I haven't found her. I haven't found the path to finding her. 

All that previous rambling brings me to my main 'issue'. Because of the fact that the gym is very much my best friend, I hate it when we get into fights. When I say that, I mean when we don't talk for a few days, and I don't see it.  I'm a very on-the-go type of person. I have to be doing something in every waking moment. My mom often asks, "where's the fire at?" when walking with me. I struggle to just simply be still. I also struggle to listen to my body, and lately my body has been telling me to calm the hell down because she is hurting. Her hamstrings and hips won't allow Lauryn to be active, do the compound movements she loves in the gym, and basically won't allow her to work out at all. She is and has been desperately begging Lauryn to please take a break. When I work out, I work out HARD. I push myself to my absolute maximum every sIngle training session, and have been for a verrrrrryyyy long time. I do believe that in order to see results, you need to push yourself past comfort levels. However, I always go above and beyond that level and end up overdoing it which brings me to my meltdown today. I over-trained for way too long, pushed my body for too many long workouts, and now she threw back a big slap of karma at me. I have never taken more than 3 days off from the gym in my life. Why? Because I'm afraid of gaining weight. It sounds petty, childish, and ridiculous. It is. But to me, it's another part of my self identity. Who am I if I gain weight? I won't even feel comfortable in my own skin. I workout so hard so I can allow my mind to let me eat. Again, that sounds petty and absurd, and it is. But in my mind, it's a battle zone and I will NOT downplay what I struggle with because others might think it's ridiculous. 

So ladies and maybe a few gentlemen, I'm sorry if you were expecting a positive post, but recovery is not all donuts and sprinkles. Today recovery is green bean casserole (if you really know me, you'll understand that reference). I don't know if I'll eat anything more than the 1 meal I had earlier today. I don't know if I'll rise from my bed. One thing I do know is that it's okay to have these kinds of days, but I just don't know how to properly get out of them. If you made it this far, thank you for listening to my negativity and complaining. I'm only human. 

 

-Lauryn

 

Reflecting & Comfort zones

12 months, 365 days, 8,765 hours, 525,948 minutes, and 31,556,926 seconds; A year can be broken down into many phases. Phases that seem like an eternity in the moment, but looking back on them, they feel like they lasted a millisecond. My life, my mindset, and my body was in a very different place one year ago today. A year ago today, I was standing on a carpeted platform with a fully loaded barbell resting on my traps, being watched by a crowd of people and three judges. The butterflies in my stomach felt as if they were throwing a fiesta, yet, I set forth anyways and competed in my first ever powerlifting meet. I put aside my doubts, worries, and what-ifs, and stepped outside my comfort zone. 

Speaking of that, ahhh, comfort zones. We all have one, and struggle to allow ourselves to step beyond that line. It sounds contradicting, leaving a place of security. It is so easy to ignore everything beyond that comfort zone when you're so wrapped up in staying where you are. Why would you want to visit an uncomfortable place? Quite honestly, I am a terrible example of it. The only time I push myself beyond the point of comfortability is in the gym. I am a creature of habit. I  do the same thing, every single day. I eat the same foods, go to the gym at the exact same time, eat at the same times, and plan out everything I'm doing down to the exact minute. I'm a very schedule-orientated person, and when something throws off that schedule, chaos breaks loose in my mind. OCD is often joked about in today's society, but it is a very serious disorder. I recognize that everyone has some type of OCD tendencies, but when they get in the way of other important areas of someone's life, that is when they are not to be joked about. 

I had every intention of going to the gym today. My meals were planned out down to the exact gram, my workout was written out, headphones fully charged, and duffle bag all packed, ready to go. However, not even my OCD/germaphobe tendencies could keep the cold monster away, and I've gotten hit with the bus known as a winter cold. I very much so struggle with the idea of resting, of being sedentary. I constantly need to be on the go, which I know stems from my eating disorder. This is where that chaos in my mind I spoke of earlier breaks the chain. 

"Two rest days in a row?! That's unheard of. You cannot eat your normal caloric amount. You're not even going to the gym. Hell, you're probably not even getting 50 steps in today. Go ahead, take another rest day, fine. But you cannot eat your normal calories. Or, you can push through the little sniffles, congestion, and fatigue you're experiencing and go to the gym. Imagine when you come home and get to eat your normal food, knowing you earned it. You'll be so thankful you listened to me." says Ed. 

A couple of things need to be addressed there. First off, why do I think I can't eat my normal calories? Just because I'm not working out? I know my body needs food, so why should I deny it of it just because I'm not lifting anything today? If anything, my body needs more food to try and fight off this cold. Secondly, what is REALLY going to change in two days? Did I build my body to what it is today in two days? No, so what makes me irrationally think what I built will crumble in two days? Thirdly, what kind of workout would I really have if I pushed through this cold? I'd end up feeling worse about having a crappy workout than if I had just stayed home and rested. Every single time I set foot in the gym, my goal is to give 110% of myself to my lifts. I realize that I can't go balls to the wall hard every workout. I understand that not every workout is going to be a great one. There is a fine line between pushing yourself when you don't want to go and knowing when to say "not today". I absolutely believe that the days you don't want to go to the gym are the ones that count the most, but when I say you, I mean you, really YOUR MIND. The days where you prove your mind wrong are the days you teach yourself the most. However, today, my BODY AND MY MIND are telling me, "No, not today Lauryn". I've ignored my body for years, so I think I can take one damn day and listen to it. I will NOT treat myself any differently than a day I'd be working out. I struggle immensely with the idea of earning my food by working out, but today, I'm challenging that comfort zone.

A year ago today, I made a decision. I decided to take on a new perspective on working out. I became a powerlifter. I qualified for the Wisconsin Powerlifting State Championship 365 days ago today. Every day since then, I have trained not only my body, but my mind in ways that go so much further than the reps I complete, the lifts I fail, or the workouts I do. Even though I've suffered injuries that kiboshed my competitive powerlifting days, I will always be a powerlifter. I always tell people I'm a powerlifter, but really just letting that term sink in hits home. Power goes so much deeper than how much depth you can get on a squat. It derives from your soul, passion, and goals. My body may be sick today, but my mind will be stronger tomorrow.

Lots of love, tissues, and spoonfuls of peanut butter,

Lauryn 

4 Years Later

My mother was dressed in fifty shades of black head to toe. She was weeping into my father's broad chest as he stroked her back, shushing her as her tears soaked the shoulder pads of  his charcoal black suit. My brother was wiping a single tear from his cheek.

"Why wasn't I standing there mourning with them? What were they grieving over?" I thought to myself.

My entire family was gathered around a beautiful dark chocolate colored casket. This was most definitely a funeral, but for who?  I tried extending my arms out to reach my parents, but I couldn't grasp them.

"What was going on? Couldn't they see me reaching for them?"

It felt as if I was a magnet, and my polarity was repelling my family. My eyes scanned the environment and the group of people standing around the casket. There were towering pine trees that casted gloomy shadows, even though the sun was hiding behind brewing storm clouds. I then spotted something, or someone that caught my eye. It was a dark entity-like creature that lingered behind the casket, dragging its jagged claw over it. The creature carved two letters into the casket’s surface that read, "Ed"and flashed an evil smirk at me, exposing its razor sharp teeth. And that’s when I realized that this was my funeral.  

And just like that, it was over. I opened my eyes and let my lashes flutter a few times before becoming conscious of the fact I was in the safety of my queen-sized bed that was covered in a sea of giraffe print fleece blankets.

"It was all a terrible nightmare, he's not here". I quietly said to myself.

I could sense that I was drenched in a warm coat of sweat, which I found odd considering I was usually shivering, not sweating. I kicked off the blankets to expose my frail body to the atmosphere of my room. I stared at the spackle textured ceiling for a few brief moments, pondering the vivid nightmare that had just occurred moments before.  

I began to take as deep of an inhale that my body could handle but immediately paused when I heard a satanic voice whisper, "That's what you think".

My eyes widened with fear. I knew Ed’s presence was in my room, but I was too afraid to look. I curled up into a ball, pulled the covers over my head, and shoved my head underneath my pillow to feel a sense of security. I just couldn’t ever escape the nightmare that had become my reality.  

I have always believed that every dream the human body experiences is for a purpose. And here I lay, a weak and fragile eighty nine pound girl. I couldn't tell if the nightmare was sending me a message or not, because I had dreamed of my soul finally being put to rest for years. I wanted nothing more than to finally be released from the overbearing wrath of my eating disorder, and the only opportunity for escape I ever saw was death. There was something about this particular nightmare that was different. My brother never cries. I haven't seen him shed a tear since his diaper days. This was most definitely a sign, and not just your average magic eight ball sign. My dreams have never gone to the extent of taking place at my own funeral. I wasn't sure if I should trust my gut instinct about this dream and do something to stop it from becoming a reality, or just let it be. I was beyond exhausted, mentally and physically. My body had began to eat itself away, leaving nothing on me but a sheer layer of skin over my deteriorating bones. Too weak to stand up out of my bed on my own, I was on the verge of surrendering to the six year battle with Ed, my eating disorder. How could I possibly do something about this dream if I couldn’t even arise from my bed?

The next day, my mother and I had just returned from a doctor appointment that was to initially investigate why I was losing my hearing abilities from my right ear (yet another effect of my eating disorder). I went into that doctor appointment looking for an answer about my right ear, but came out awaiting the phone call for approval to be an emergency admit to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. With our hands tied until we heard the verdict, all my mother and I could do was play the waiting game. Waiting turned into wandering, and we eventually ended up aimlessly strolling around the aisles of a Hobby Lobby craft store. As we wandered, Ed’s voice trickled into my head. He had convinced me that I wasn’t going to get approved to be admitted to the hospital.

"You're not sick. We have another ten pounds to lose. Get rid of those, and then maybe I'll let you go back to the doctor" Ed commanded.

 Naturally, I believed him. Believing and listening to him was my norm now, and it had been for so many years. I began picking out some new pastel paints to begin a new art project with. I’ve always loved arts and crafts; Its very therapeutic for me. I found myself checking out the variety of paints that filled the shelves, and suddenly, my mom’s phone rang. We both stopped in our tracks to stare at each other for a brief moment before she answered. She listened to the doctor ramble on, but glanced at me to give me a single nod. It felt as if the pit of my stomach dropped all the way to my feet. I collapsed to my knees and sobbed tears of a waterfall of emotions.

“You’re NOT going. Do you hear me? You can not give up our control. We’re in this together, and I’m not going to let you go. I’m not going to let them make you fat. You think life sucks now? Just wait until they make you fat, oh just you wait, Lauryn,” Ed screamed at me within my own mind.  

I couldn’t tell if I was angry or excited. Ed was the one who was angry, but the real Lauryn was secretly excited to be given a chance to finally divorce Ed for good. As Ed continued to mentally scream at me, I squinched my eyes shut and pushed his presence out of my head as my mother cradled me in the safety of her arms. It was all over. I was going to be okay.

Although I have struggled with Ed since I was 9 years old, 4 years ago today, I was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I never thought I would endure what I did at Children's Hospital. I never in my wildest dreams imagined a team of physicians holding me down as they attempted to shove an NG feeding tube up my nose six times. I never thought I would ever have to take an anxiety pill before I would have to eat. I never envisioned being transferred to an inpatient treatment center. Most of all, I never imagined being faced with life or death at a frail eighty-nine pounds. I thought it would never happen to me, that I would never be a victim to a statistic. 

Every single night as I lay my now healthy and nourished body in the comfort of my own bed, I dedicate five minutes of silence to think about the scared, eating disorder stricken girl that once laid in the same very spot. I think about how she dreaded waking up at 3 a.m. to begin the first of four exercise sessions that day. I think about how she could barely manage to eat 30 calories a day. She counted the caloric content of every morsel that went into her mouth, even the gum she chewed. I think about how she absolutely dreaded going to school because of how cruel people were about her struggle. Most of all, I think about how that girl was me. 

I never imagined recovery being as challenging as it has been. It's not a walk in the park. It's a daily fight. A fight that requires constant effort and strength, even on the days where giving into Ed seems easier. Sure, it would be easier, and yes, there have been many relapses within these last four years. As contradicting as it sounds, relapses are a vital part of recovery. They teach you how important it is to hang on tighter when you just want to let go. 

I have built my body from rock bottom up. I have spent countless hours rebuilding my once broken body in the gym. I have fought for every pound, every meal, every day. However, I couldn't have survived these last four years without the constant support from my incredibly loving family. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices they have made for me. If you're reading this, I give thanks to you as well. If you care enough about me to read about my struggles and strides in recovery, I give thanks to you. 

After almost a decade of seeing nothing but darkness, I am finally beginning to see a light in this tunnel. Thank you to everyone for all of the constant support, love, and encouragement. I wouldn't be here today without all of you. 

With much love, 

 -Lauryn

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Everything Happens For a Reason

A/N: This isn't a positive polly blog post, so readers beware. 

I am a firm believer in the whole, "Everything happens for a reason" philosophy. The reasoning occurs in times of struggle, healing, happiness, disasters, and when an extra jar of peanut butter mysteriously appears in my grocery cart. 

While I am a firm believer in this philosophy, I often struggle to see the reasoning. You see, I'm a very impatient person. When I want something, I want it now. I get easily annoyed with slow drivers, people often ask me, "where's the fire?" when walking with me, and honestly just waiting in general is not one of my favorite things to do. I don't believe in the, "Good things come to those who wait" theory. I do however believe in the, "Good things come to those who work for them" theory. As you all know, I'm very open about my struggles, past and present. I'm not going to sit behind the computer screen and write blog posts that make my life/recovery process appear struggle free. Because that would be nothing but a load of crap. The last two months or so have been anything but easy. I am currently in a pretty deep relapse, and it has taken a huge toll on not only my mental well-being, but my physical well-being. Ed has crept his way back into my life, and as hard as it is for me to admit, I let him. He didn't just come knocking on my door one day out of the blue. He had been knocking on my door for a while, but I pretended like I wasn't home and just ignored him. Until one day, I was tired of ignoring him, so I cracked open the door in my mind so I could hear what he had to say.

"You're very uncomfortable in your body right now, aren't you, Lauryn?" Ed questioned.

"More than I've ever been in my whole life, Ed. It feels like a nightmare." I answered.

"I can take that pain away. I'll only stay for a short amount of time, just until you're comfortable again." Ed reassured.

I hesitated before responding, knowing that he's told me this countless times before, but enough was enough. I wanted to feel better about myself. "Okay, but just for a little bit." And with that, I opened the door all the way to let him make himself at home, yet again

Ever since I let him in, nothing has gotten better. The pain hasn't gone away like he promised, instead he continues to inflict it upon me. I have become a victim to obsessing about calories, exercising, and body image. This has been going on for the last two months-ish, and I believe God sliced and served me a big slice of karma for letting Ed back into my life. With my disordered behaviors comes the constant cycle of restricting and over-exercising. About three weeks ago, I was pushing myself harder than I should have during a leg workout, and tweaked something in my lower back. But being as stubborn as I am, I continued training and pushed through the pain. No pain, no gain...right?  Those three weeks went by, and the pain was still prevalent. As much as I was told to "just take it easy" from many people and physical therapists, I did just the opposite and continued to train, even though I was in pain. Being the impatient person I am as I refused to take it easy, earlier this week, I was in the gym (shocker) cleaning up some plates that had been left on the ground. As I squatted down to pick up the weight, I felt a POP! in the lower right side of my back. I immediately shot straight up as my hands flew to the source of pain to support whatever had just popped. I couldn't take a deep breath, I could barely walk, and I was scared of out my mind. Long story short, after a trip to the emergency room, a shot right in my peach, and some heavy duty doses of a muscle relaxer, it's come down to having a terribly strained lower back, much worse than the first time three weeks ago. The past week has been without a doubt the most pain my body has ever been in, ever. I've never had to deal with something like this. I always neglected taking care of my body before/after a workout because I figured, "Oh yeah, it'll never happen to me. I've never been injured so I can skip stretching". I'm supposed to be super-recovery woman, right?

Riiiiiight *she says with extreme sarcasm*.

So obviously, I haven't been in the gym training like I usually do. Mentally, I am not handling that very well. I know, I know, you're reading this thinking, "It's only been like three days, get over it". Actually, it's been more like three weeks and three days, sooooooo. But in all seriousness, this is extremely challenging for me. I feel like a drug addict who has had their drug of choice taken away from them. The gym is my heroin, as it keeps me sane. Imagine having the one thing you love to do ripped away from you, and you're not sure if you'll ever have it back. That's how I feel. I know I have a long recovery road ahead of me for my lower back, and it's going to be a true test of strength for me. I've already thrown multiple pity parties (and continue to do so...hey, I'm only human), but I think everyone needs to throw one once in a while. My brain is constantly on overload, flooded with thoughts like,

"Who am I without the gym? If I can't lift heavy, or at all, am I even Lauryn? I shouldn't be eating as much since I'm not burning as many calories. Is all of my hard-earned muscle going to turn to flab? Am I ever going to heal?" 

I tend to identify myself with the gym. Most athletes do, but for me, I feel as if it's all I am. I wake up every morning hopeful that this injury is healed, and I can sit up out of bed on my own without pain. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet. 

This blog post isn't to try to make people feel sorry for me, or make people think I'm an ungrateful little brat. I'm very grateful of the things I can do and the support system I possess. Yes, I realize that this could be so much worse, but I've never had to deal with an injury before. I've never had one of my passions ripped away from me. I can only try my best to stay strong. This injury has me itching to get back into the gym harder than ever, so until then, I will try to focus on what I can do, and just hang on tight. God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, right?

With love,

-Lauryn

U-Turns

They say that everything happens for a reason. Momma always told me that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. But have you ever wondered why? You're laying lifelessly in your bed at 3 in the morning, staring at the empty darkness of your ceiling thinking about the "whys" in life. I have laid in that position countless nights and pondered that three letter word, why.

"Why did this happen to me? Why did God give me an eating disorder? Why can't I be like her? Why can't I just eat like any other person? Why won't Ed leave me alone?"

Why, why, why, why, WHY

Everyone's whys are different and specific to each individual. But within all of that questioning lays a common ground. That "why" has a "because". Most of us don't understand the reasoning behind that "because", and most of us won't catch on until after many failed attempts at trying to catch a glimpse of the reasoning. 

Want to know what I believe?

I believe that there are endless attempts, infinite roads with different outcomes, millions of forks, splits, and dead ends in the road called life. As frustrating as those outcomes may be, they all come with their own lessons. The road that I struggle to continue to drive my wheels on is known as recovery. I've turned left,  right, continued straight, hit dead ends, came to a fork in the road, and made so many U-turns on this road. Before I decided to turn onto recovery road, I stood in fear as my eyes scanned the "BEWARE" sign that stood tall before the turn. 

"BEWARE: This road has many slippery slopes, sharp and unexpected turns, bullies, storms, and dark tunnels. Enter at your own risk."

"Who the hell would want to take a path like that? And why did God lead me to this road?" I thought to myself, more perplexed than ever. As I was about to make a U-turn to drive back toward Ed's prison, a small print text that was engraved into the lower right hand corner of the sign caught my eye. 

"Take a chance. It may be beautiful."

So that's what I did. I took a chance and set foot upon this mysterious road called recovery. I would've never thought that I would've ran into the obstacles that were placed in front of me on the road, but each of those obstacles has brought me to another turn. 

As most of you know, I took a right turn down powerlifting lane a little less than a year ago. This lane has been a beautiful yet physically and mentally painful one. I have learned things about myself that I never knew was there. I have built up strength that I never knew was possible. Nothing ever comes that easy though, there always has to be a catch. I'm not going to sit here and tell you about all of the sucky things that come along with powerlifting, because just like any other sport, hobby, ect in life, they all come with heavy baggage. I decided to powerlift out of curiosity. I wanted to try something new, and hell that's what I did. I have been training my booty off to compete in the raw state championships later this month, but my mind hasn't been 100% in the game like it should have been. More often than not, it's your mind lifting the weights in the gym, not your physical strength. If your head isn't in the game, your body isn't going to follow. Your body hears everything your mind says. My mind has been losing it's passion for powerlifting, and my lifts have proved that. I've gotten weaker, and I would've never thought I would say that I'm okay with that. 

"Wait, say what?! Why would you be okay with getting weaker, Lauryn?!"

Even though I'm physically not as strong as I was a month ago, mentally I'm making huge gains. I have been contemplating for months about going forth in competing at state, and never quite felt satisfied when I thought I had come to a conclusion to go ahead and keep training for it. You see, powerlifting isn't just about eating a lot of food and lifting heavy weights. There is so much more that goes into this sport, and I underestimated that. When I was at the peak of my strength physically, I was also not the happiest mentally and physically. I was still obsessively counting macros, eating when not hungry just so I could reach my bulking macros, and insecure about my body. I have now let go of entering every ounce of food I weigh out into MyFitnessPal, and since then, everything has changed. I feel better about my body, I look forward to my workouts and it's nice knowing that I don't have to spend 2+ hours planning out my meals for the following day just so I can hit my numbers. I've been trying really hard to listen to the little voice in my body, and not the one in my head. The little voice in my body is telling me that powerlifting all the time is beginning to feel like a job, and not there for personal enjoyment anymore. I began dreading going to the gym everyday, and that's not how it should be. My body has taken a beating from the heavy lifting, and it's about time I listen to her. I want to make it very clear that I'm not pulling out from state because I'm done lifting or I'm just saying, "Nope, it's too hard, I can't do this anymore." Absolutely not. I am not a quitter. I am simply turning on a different road. Throughout my entire disorder, all I have wanted was to love myself and accept the way my body is. If I'm finally beginning to do that, then what is to question? I need to take that, and run with it. The cool thing about recovery road is that I can always make a U-turn and re-visit a path I once traveled on. I really do plan on returning to powerlifting lane, but I need to focus on me first, and not the amount of weight I can squat, bench, or deadlift. Because at the end of the day, the only number that matters is the one that comes first, and that is me. As selfish as it sounds, I am my #1 priority, and you should be yours too. 

I want to personally thank everyone who has supported me. Friends, family, and Rg. Rg, if you're reading this (and I really hope that you are), I want you to know that I am very grateful you called me before the Whitnall meet and invited me down to lift with you guys for that first training session. I never thought that one phone call would have ended up changing my life like it has. You have made a difference in my life, showed me many great things, and helped me discover a passion I WILL return to. Thank you for all that you've done, and I look forward to training with you again soon. Until then, keep playing and dancing to your Shakira music. I will be in touch. :)

Gratitude and Graduation

Everyone is always a ball of emotions as they squirm in their beds the night before their first day of high school. Thinking about forgetting locker combinations, walking in on the wrong class (been there, done that!), or who they're going to nervously sit by at lunch. As I laid in my bed the night before I stepped foot in PHS as a freshman, my mind was not pondering the many first day mistakes I might make, but was musing over the one hour workout that was to take place at 4 am, how many extra trips I could make up and down the stairs at school to burn more calories, and who would be staring at me as I would pick apart what I packed for "lunch". I wasn't excited for high school. I dreaded waking up in general, because it just meant another day of the same routine, listening to Ed, and being hungry.

Imagine you're leg pressing one thousand pounds for endless reps. It feels as if someone soaked your legs in kerosene and lit them up. This fiery sensation rushed over my delicate legs with each and every stair I climbed at school. Those "extra trips" up the stairs was one of the main reasons I feared facing school every day. I'm not here to list all of those reasons though. This isn't supposed to be a sob story. This is a story of struggles and triumphs. This is a story that shaped the woman that is graduating from high school today. I am that woman, the woman who planted the scared little eating disorder stricken girl into the ground and let her grow. That girl will always be the heart of the tree, but the woman she grew into will branch off into many different directions. The woman's ridges and bark are filled with love and loss. Her tears have fed the roots and her inner sunshine has allowed her to stand tall on the stormiest of days. This is not the end of the tree's life, but only the end of one of her many branches.

I wasn't supposed to survive long enough to finish out my first year of high school, but yet here I am, finishing my final year of high school. It's been a hell of a ride and I've grown tremendously since freshman year. To not being able to walk on my own at all, to walking across the graduation stage. People are going to tell you, "It's really hard", and yeah, that's not a lie. But if you have a burning passion to set out and accomplish a goal, you will go to the ends of the earth to smash that goal. In doing so, you'll either meet that goal, or stumble upon another path along the way and choose to go that way instead. Plan A's, B's, C's, honestly to me? I don't believe in them. Screw having a plan, because nothing will ever go exactly according to plan. You're going to hit speed bumps and dead ends. The amount of times I've had to take a different route are endless, but the amount of times I regretted taking a different route are nonexistent. I cannot and will not hate the experiences that have shaped me. 

I am thankful for my eating disorder. Yes, you read that right. I am grateful for the passions, knowledge, and strength he has brought me. If it wasn't for Ed, I would have never found my passion for powerlifting. Ed has given me forever friends that he lingers in the minds of as well. I often wonder what my life would look like if he hadn't stumbled into it. What would I do for a hobby? Who would my friends be? What kind of foods would I eat? What would I look like? I have no idea. Ed has both blessed and hurt me. Yes, of course how much he hurt me is more distinct than the blessings, but that's not the point. I've had countless meltdowns angrily asking God, "Why me? Out of all people, why did you pick me to deal with this struggle?". I've realized now that I don't need God's response to those questions to know the answer. God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Everything that I've gone through has been a blessing in disguise. 

The legs that walk across the graduation stage today are the legs that have carried this body through all of the struggles she has faced. They have been built up and fed by her caretaker. The burning sensation has moved from her legs to her soul. Her soul burns of passion and love. There are many things that her soul is smoldering for, and only time and determination will expose them. I haven't done this all on my own. I give my greatest gratitude to my amazingly supportive family. I can't imagine the pain I've put them through, but they always stood behind me no matter what choice I decided on. I'm thankful for the friends that I currently do have, and the ones that are on a different path than I am. God does not bring people into your life without a purpose. I'm appreciative of the staff at PHS that has tried to make high school as enjoyable as possible for me. I've created everlasting relationships with some of the teachers there. They will always hold a special place in my heart. So as I wrap this up, I have one thing left to say. This tree will never stop growing, and she will continue to branch off, curve, and form ridges. She is her own tree specimen,  and with that she will own it. 

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Holy Guacamole

My brain is not exactly normal. It knows the caloric content of almost any food you put in front of me. It knows the carbohydrates in a serving of any grain or starchy food. It can figure out the grams of protein in 100 chicken breasts without even doing the physical calculation. It can add the fat content of the amount of peanut butter I'm eating without even trying.

That's what almost 7 years of calorie counting will do to you. I've gone to the grocery store in my sickest moments to browse up and down each and every aisle to memorize the nutrition labels of foods that catch my eye. I wanted to make sure that I knew the calorie content in case a situation ever occurred where I would have to eat those specific foods. Better safe than sorry, right?

WRONG.

Throughout my life, my eating patterns have been alllllll over the place. I've been on a low carb diet, weight watchers, keto, paleo, vegan, a military diet, etc etc etc. Name a diet, and I've probably been on it. The "diet" I've been on the last few years is the fitness phenomenon known as "IIFYM", aka, "if it fits your macros". For those of you who aren't familiar with this term, IIFYM is a flexible dieting concept that is specifically made for you and your goals. You aren't counting calories, you're counting carbohydrate, protein, and fat grams. The idea of it is simple – you eat whatever foods you like to fill your allotment of proteins, carbs and fats. Let's say if you wanted to lose weight, you'd set your macros to be in a deficit. So if a Poptart, Mike & Ikes, or any junk food you desire fits within your allotted macro goals for the day, then in theory yes, you can lose weight eating those things. I chose to fill my MAINTENANCE macros (A/N: I've NEVER had my macro nutrient numbers to be set for me to lose weight) with both nutrient dense foods and a few treats.

It seems a little complex, so I'm sorry if you're confused, but you've made it this far. Keep reading! :-)

I've been doing IIFYM for almost 2 years now. It has taught me that I really CAN eat whatever I want. It's taught me about proper portion sizes, and in a nutshell, has really helped me realize that there are no "good" foods and "bad" foods. Food is fuel.

This past month has been filled with many triumphs and relapses. The past two weeks in particular however, has been the worst two weeks I've experienced in a long time. I've shattered my brand new iPhone 6S after dropping a 40lb dumbbell on it at the gym. I've been down in the dumps. I've felt ashamed, depressed, and angry. I've recently gained a little bit of weight due to having my macros set in a surplus. Yes, I've gained a lot of muscle AND a little fat. It's very difficult for me to admit that. Why though? Let's analyze these feelings. 

Why would I be ashamed of my weight gain?

Well, when anyone hears the words "weight gain", they automatically think, "No, no, no. Fat weight. Who wants to gain weight? Who wants more of something on them?" Being "bigger" in today's society is frowned upon. I've been trying to keep myself small and fragile ever since the beginning of my eating disorder. So when I gained weight, I felt shameful. I felt like I've been "bad". I automatically felt guilty for eating all of the food I've been eating. I thought, "I'm not fit anymore if I've gained weight." I was letting (and still do, I'm only human) what the societal views of being "fit and healthy" are mess with my perception. 

I need to stop this nonsense (easier said than done though!). 

Step back, Lauryn. Look at the big picture. I've gained A LOT more than just weight. When I squatted, benched, and deadlifted in February at my first powerlifting meet, I was A LOT weaker. Just to give you an idea, my one rep max deadlift in February was 275 pounds. Yesterday I maxed out at a whopping 315 pounds! Would that have been possible without eating the amount of food I was? Probably not. As my coach always tells me, "To beat the man, you gotta out-eat the man". And believe me, for a girl, I can pack away a hefty amount of food (Impressive or caveman like?).

So with all of that being said, my friends, Lauryn is going to try to make the transition to intuitive eating. Eating when I'm hungry, stopping when I'm full. Sounds simple right? Well it is a very basic concept, and for "normal" people, it comes like second nature. For me however, it's relearning how to TRULY eat again. Dealing with fear foods, no food scale, no spooning my peanut butter in tablespoons, and the biggie...no MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal has been my sidekick for a long time now, and it's time that Batman and Robin split up.

I'm actually on my fifth day of intuitive eating. It's been incredibly liberating, yet I still feel like I hold a guard up in areas. My mind still roughly adds the macro nutrient content of what I'm eating, but I realize that this will be a constant work in progress. I have taken the largest, most difficult step. I've started. I've broken the MyFitnessPal app login streak. I've honored my cravings. I even had a cookie after dinner last night, because I felt like it. I went to Walmart today to purchase ingredients to make chips and guacamole, because I craved it. 

WHO EVEN AM I?!

I want to have other daily accomplishments other than just "hitting my macros". With that being said, I feel like guacamole is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Here's to listening to your body, normalizing eating, and guac. :-)

 

 

 

 

#InstaBreak

Healthy. Fitness. "Shredz". Lean bean. Ripped. Buff. Gym rat. 

The list of "fitness" slang terms and "norms" that society has developed today is perpetual. If you're not shredded, you're not fit. Don't have thousands of Instagram followers on your fitness account? Psh, you might as well just delete the account. Haven't prepped for a bikini competition? Well, you better start now!

Yeah, right.  (She says with severe sarcasm)

It all starts out very innocently, and in most cases, begins when everyone else in the social media world wants to "cut down" for summer to fit into the itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikinis.  (Were you singing that in your head as you read that? Yes? No? Maybe it's just me who remembers that commercial...). I have been taking a little personal break from Instagram the last few days, and it has been challenging. Now that I actually physically write that out...it sounds very sad. It's sad that I'm having a hard time staying off of Instagram. The average person would think it's because I'm addicted to my phone and can't live a waking moment without seeing what popular fitness accounts are posting to the feed. 

I wish that was the real problem. 

The real problem is that I (and many, many, MANY) girls (and boys!) use social media apps for comparison. Comparing my body to someone else's, looking at my body and thinking, "What am I doing wrong? I mean, she's shredded as it is! If she's trying to lean out for summer, then I should have started weeks ago!"

The thoughts are never ending and start a viscous cycle. The fitness community has evolved into something that is all about shredding down for summer, bulking in the winter, and sucking people into buying their programs that will "get you a booty-licious butt in 30 days". Now, there are a lot of incredible people on Instagram that have helped me immensely and are as real as they come (you know who you are!). This is not a post to point out who's real and fake. That's not what I'm here to do. 

Click on your explore feed on Instagram. Search "#healthy". Without even looking, I know that you're looking at washboard abs (on both girls and guys), diet food, and insane exercises. Am I right or am I right? I know, I know, I'm just that good. These are the kind of posts that convince young people this is what they "should" look like. If it's trending on social media, it has to be legit, right?!

Wrong.

For so many years of my youth, I have tried to fit in with the Instagram fitness community. I tried shrinking myself for a peace of mind I never got. I would delete pictures that I once posted because society made me feel as if I wasn't lean enough or didn't have enough bulging muscles to show to the world. A once confident post-workout selfie had turned into a deleted selfie after getting less than X amount of likes. Now tell me, since when is the number of double taps you receive on your selfie determine what you base your confidence off of? 

If you're trying to change your body in hopes of impressing people on social media apps that you'll never even meet in your lifetime, you need to reevaluate why you're on Instagram. You don't need anyone else's approval but your own.

I've caught myself opening the Instagram app over the past few days out of habit. I exited the app before my newsfeed could load, but the urge was still there. It's funny, isn't it? It's funny how an app can become almost like a drug; The only way to satisfy your addiction is to quick double check that there is someone who has a similar body type as you on Instagram, but it still "Insta-famous" for their body. That makes it "okay" for your body to look the way it does, right? 

Annnnnd again, no. 

There are other ways to satisfy this addiction. Healthy outlets. It all comes down to how YOU feel about YOUR body, and not comparing it to someone else's. Do I miss Instagram? Yeah, I miss seeing the latest recipes, posts from friends, and the body-positive posts that do exist. However, there are so many things I've found myself doing since not being glued to Instagram these last few days. I've picked up a book I had shut months ago and read for a while. I wrote this overdue post. And my personal favorite, I've gotten to bed a tad earlier as well too. Compared to before, I would be up till a new day striked the clock at midnight scrolling through news feeds. 

I challenge you, yes YOU to give up one social media app for a few days. Think deeply about the connection you have to it when it's gone, and if it's a positive or negative connection. There is more to life than impressing fitness gurus on Instagram. I will break my Instagram-free streak shortly, but only to post a huge personal record of a 300lb deadlift. Am I saying I'll never scroll again? Absolutely not. I'll just be sure that the next time I sit down for a scroll session, it's for the right reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oblivion

Ladies (and hopefully guys too), we all know when the beautiful Augustus Waters admits to what he's afraid of in The Fault In Our Stars.   

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Oblivion. The unknown. And other than being a perfect match for one another, that's the other thing we share in common. I myself, fear oblivion. You see, I'm kind of (very much so) a control freak. And no, not the Christian Grey control freak type. 

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Because of what I deal with everyday, the disordered part of my head likes to be 110% in control at all times, and when that control is taken from me...hold onto your hats, because it's not pretty. 

I'm not afraid to admit I'm a perfectionist. But being a perfectionist also has its obsessions. I make sure my nutrition hits the exact numbers it needs to every single day. I make sure I never miss a workout. I make sure I am in constant control of trying to control what my body looks like. Realistic? It shouldn't be, but I am a control freak. 

This brings me to the main topic of this post. In a nutshell, my future is about to change. Tomorrow morning, I will step onto the powerlifting platform to show the world what I've been working at for months now. Being the only raw powerlifter in the whole meet, the pressure is piled on like a ton of bricks. My feelings are splattered all over the place, and to be completely honest, I need to pull my head out of my butt. Conveniently (she says with extreme sarcasm), the last few days have been quite suck-ish. I haven't been allowed to train this week, I've had to eat the same calories I eat when I do train even though I didn't train this week, and well, it has equaled a recipe for disaster. It's equaled to my confidence being in the toilet, feeling unmotivated, and being a complete victim to the voices in my head.

I'm revamping that recipe starting now

I know that if I continue to let Ed sit in the driver's seat, I will not succeed tomorrow, I will not qualify for state, and I will have let him win AGAIN. I've let him win the last 6 years of my life. Tomorrow, it's my turn. 

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Speaking of tomorrow... holy crap. 

Tomorrow I will be faced with the three C's of life. Choice, chance, and change.  I will make the choice to fuel my body with the delicious (and most likely in cookie form) noms. I will take a chance to face the unknown. I will be the driving factor that will change my life. 

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Tomorrow, I will make the choice to take chance to show the world that I can make a change

As I write this to you still snuggeled in my sea of fuzzy animal print blankets bed, I realize that I learned a lot this week.

  1. My love for Lenny & Larry cookies have grown tremendously. (Seriously, if you haven't tried these babies...please do, because you may consider making them a new staple in your life)
  2. I need to focus on making lifting and overall fitness a part of my life, and not my whole life.  With having to take it light this entire week, I learned that my mind does not cope well with not getting my usual training sessions in. One of my goals for 2016 is to still make fitness a priority, but not the only thing that I do. 
  3. I love to read. I forgot how much I do enjoy reading. In a state of pure boredom, I found myself reaching for my book shelf and grabbing a book that I absolutely had to have but never even ended up reading the first page, and actually getting lost in it a little bit. 
  4. I need to get to bed earlier. Because 4-5 hours of sleep just doesn't quite fit the bill. 
  5. I am ready. 

I am ready for tomorrow (besides the fact I have nothing packed, no idea what to bring food wise, and have yet to submerge from my bed).  I've been working my booty off for months for tomorrow. 

9 chances. 9 chances to show the world who the heck I am. 9 chances to show myself that this is the path I'm meant to take. Even though I questioned the path I'm on more times than I can count this week, I woke up this morning knowing I took a turn down right way street. As nervous as I may be (and as much as I don't want to wake up at 4 a.m.), I can't wait for tomorrow. 

Here we go.   

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Shoulds & Coulds

Tonight was a bad night. I admit it. 

Yesterday was a bad day. I admit it.

This week was a bad week. I admit it. 

I'm not afraid to admit that I've been down in the dumps lately, and am letting my mind get the best of me. This storm seems like it's lasted eons, and I just want it to be over. I haven't been a very strong warrior lately, and it shows. 

I admit that I often hesitate posting things like I am in this post, or a physical progress picture because someone will think, "I would think for as much as she is into health and fitness, she'd be more lean". Or that I'm not lean enough to have people trust me and the work I put in and out of the gym. (A/N: Saying this out loud as I proofread this post, sounds ridiculous. And it truly is). 

Now, before you say, "Uh what dah hay, Lauryn, you always say to just love yourself and all that you are"...

I know I always say that. (Duh)

I know I'm always one for being body-positive, and loving yourself exactly as you are...but friends, Lauryn also isn't afraid to admit that she isn't very good at practicing what she preaches all the time. So instead of giving you a post that's all about how I try to focus on loving yourself, I'm going to give you a real, raw, current feels, crying in the moment post. 

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through social media, stumbling upon someone you admire look-wise, and end up insta-stalking them till the beginning of their feed?

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Yeeeeeeah, we've all done it. I do it all too often. I find someone that I admire, awe over their lean body, doubt myself that I could never look like that or lift as much as her. I then proceed to compare every inch of my body, to hers. I begin to ponder, "what am I doing wrong, that I don't look like that?" 

Then all of the negative thoughts overwhelm me. I body check myself, examine every curve, bump, and inch of my body, staring at the features I think should be "leaner". Ed's voice is pretty dominant at this point, and I have officially moved to the backseat in my mind.

"Think of how you're going to feel when you are leaner. All that hard earned muscle will show, and you can wear anything you want without feeling self conscious. Just a mini-cut. That's all you'll do. We have done longer cuts before Lauryn, and you made it. Cutting your calories a bit will give you everything you want. You got this."

Tonight I was DEAD SET on going on a cut. I wasn't going to have the full snack that I was going to eat tonight (which was more like a mini-Thanksgiving, but I mean hello, that's every night). I was going to start cutting (A/N: When I say "cut" or "cutting", I do NOT mean the self harm kind of cutting. I mean the cutting phase of a diet, aka a fat loss stage). But after a good cry, the help of a support system that continues to be there for me at any moment, and deep breaths....

I'm going to be okay.

I'm not going to go on a cut. I'm going to have my full snack tonight (I have a Reese's snack mix, so no explanation needed there). And I'm not going to go to a mirror the rest of the night. But most importantly, I'm not going to throw myself a pity party anymore. 

Could I be leaner? Sure. But why does a could have to turn into a should?  

Pros of going on a cut:

-I could potentionally feel better about my self-image

........... 

Thats all, folks. 

Cons of going on a cut:

-I don't want to in the first place. I was on a cutting diet for all of my youth. 

-I'm trying to get stronger in the gym. Not stay where I'm at, or even lose gains. 

-The feeling of it never being enough. I know that I'm not at a point in recovery where if I were to lose weight in a healthy manner, I wouldn't know when to stop.  

-Increased anxiety around food, social gatherings, ect; because it doesn't fit my "cutting" macros.

If I (notice how I said I, not Ed) were to really think deep, hard, and for hours about this, I can tell you that the list above would be a hell of a lot longer, but for blogging sake, I'll leave it there. 

I need to to learn to accept myself at all stages. So if I can't accept myself now, what makes me think that I'll accept myself at a leaner state? I won't. If I were to go on a cut right now, I won't accept myself at a goal weight because my mind will not be satisfied. I need to fix my mental well being before making any kind of adjustments to me life that will change my physique purposely.  

The truth is, the most important component of any diet, whether that diet be losing, maintaining, or gaining, is not the food or exercise. It's your mind. Your mental well being. I notice that on days I'm feeling good, Ed is quiet, and I'm positive, I feel okay with how I look and where I'm at in my journey. On days where all of that is the opposite, I question every move I make. 

NEWSFLASH ED. Just because I'm not shredded, doesn't mean I should go on a cut. Just because my stomach folds when I bend over, doesn't mean I'm not fit. Just because my abs aren't there all the time, doesn't mean I should lose weight. So take a hike.

As I wrap up this post, I want you all to do something for me. Think about if you really need to turn your "coulds" into "shoulds", and if doing so would truly benefit you and your overall health. Recognize the difference. It might take a few good cries, rainstorms, and pity parties to see them...but when you learn to recognize them, a weight is lifted from your shoulders. 

So I will end on the note that I am going to go eat my Reese's snack mix now. I SHOULD eat this, because I COULD be eating the most delicious bag of snack mix on the planet.

Logic. ;-)  

(UPDATE: I wrote this post last night, and it was the best damn snack mix known the man. The end).  

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3 Years in the Making

"When life pushes you, push harder." -Anonymous

Who knew that such a simple quote, could impact one so much? This quote comes to mind and hits home a little harder on this very emotional day. It's not the fact it's Monday that makes today so emotional for me.

 

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Its because of the fact that 3 years ago today, life pushed me to my absolute limit. 3 years ago today, I hit rock bottom. 3 years ago today, I was faced with two options, life or death. 3 years ago today, I was placed in a hospital bed at a fragile 89 pounds.

 3 years ago today, I was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. 

Anorexia. What does that word truly mean? According to Mayo Clinic, "Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight." For the most part, I agree with their definition. However, I diasagree with the "abnormally low body weight" part. Even when I was 50 pounds heavier than my lowest weight, I was anorexic. There were stages of my illness that I looked perfectly healthy to the outside world. What the outside world couldn't see however, was the internal damage my anorexia was doing to me. But I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details of all the self mutalation and destruction that drove me to the point of being 89 pounds. That's not what this post is about. This post is about the roller coaster I jumped onto 3 years ago today. The roller coaster I call recovery.

 

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When I was told that afternoon via phone call, all while standing in the middle of a Hobby Lobby aisle that I was going to be an emergency admission to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, I had a whirlwind of emotions surrounding me.

"What did this mean? What are they going to do to me there? Are they going to make me fat? I can't be fat. I would rather die than gain weight. This isn't happening. I still have 4 more exercise sessions left today. I can't go. I will not go."  

Those weren't my emotions. Those were Ed's. 

99% of the time, my emotions were hid away deep within my soul by Ed. But at that very moment, I could hear the whispering of that itty bitty 1% of LAURYN's emotions coming through. "They're going to feed you. You'll finally be able to eat real food. You don't have to exercise another 4 times today. You finally get a break. Finally."  

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The reason I refer to my eating disorder as Ed is because I view my eating disorder as a male. A male I had been in an abusive relationship with for over 5 years. I was married to a demon who mentally and physically abused me day in and day out. November 9th 2012 was the day I was finally able to serve him with divorce papers. The lies he would feed me was the only thing I would consume. The misconception of never being thin enough, the ridiculous food myths, the body image dismorphia, the self hatred, this list could go on for over half a decade. 

I withered away for a peace of mind I never got. Just 5 more pounds turns into 15 more pounds, and 15 turns into 25. Point being, no matter how much weight you lose, it's never enough. Ed promised me that the lower my weight was, the happier I would be. That's the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. It was the exact opposite of what was actually happening. The lower my weight was, the more miserable I was. 3 years ago today, I had to accept that change was inevitable, I was going to have to sacrifice the comfort of discomfort, and all of my control. 

The difference between November 9th 2012 and today, November 9th 2015, is that I am wholesome. I am healing. I am practicing self love instead of self hate. I am exchanging starvation for nourishment. I am not trying to become who I was before my eating disorder, but trying to become the woman I have fought so hard to be. 

When you go to treatment, they prepare you based on what THEY think recovery should be about. When I left inpatient treatment, I thought I was going to go home and have everything be butterflies and rainbows. I have learned through many downfalls, relapses, and breakdowns that statement is anything but the truth. Does recovery have rainbow moments? Absolutely. But you can't have a rainbow without rain. Cliche statement, I know. The amount of thunderstorms that have dawned over my soul cannot compare to the amount of rainbows that have shot across my horizon during my recovery journey. No one can tell you what recovery will have in store for you. No one can truly prepare you for the hardships you will have. No one can tell you the weather forecast to know when all of those storms and rainbows will dawn upon you. The truth is, you control the weather. You adjust the sails. You control the fate. You control your recovery process. I myself have much too often let Ed creep back into my life to show me an "easy" way out when I needed one. That's why recovery is an infinite roller coaster. There's ups and downs, twists and turns, and it never stops rolling. Recovery continues on the difficult days, and continues at the pace you set. 

That girl who was in a hospital bed at this very moment 3 years ago holds a very special place in my heart. She was told her heart had stopped beating in her sleep multiple times on a nightly basis. She was too weak to walk on her own. She had a feeding tube crammed up her nose 6 times before it finally stayed in. She was told she was one day away from death. She believed that her self worth was based off of what the number on the scale read, and how many calories she could burn daily. She signed those divorce papers three years ago today, because her mental strength outweighed her physical strength.

Today I have transformed myself not only physically, but mentally. I nourish my body, mind, and soul. I can eat without guilt. I can enjoy the foods I once did feared (I mean helloooo, I've eaten donuts two nights in a row, and am having Dairy Queen tonight!). I can get through a meal without chewing and spitting it out, or throwing it away out of fear. I can do anything I set my mind to. I can, and I will. 

Of course, I struggle. I have days where I just want to give up completely. Days where I wish I could do my recovery process all over again. Days where I have chosen to miss out on something that could've been great, because it could've also been difficult. I admit it. I'm not perfect. Who is though? I am flawlessly flawed, and perfectly imperfect. My good days outweigh my bad days, and my successes outweigh my failures.

I have proven to not only the ones surrounding me, but myself that recovery is possible. Hell, I'm living proof. I work my booty (thanks squats and carbs) off for what I have built myself to be. The smallest victories, are often the ones that leave the biggest impact. I have come so far from where I was once, but am so far from where I want to be. My goal is to never stop having a goal. Without a goal in mind, what does one strive for? I strive for overall health, happiness, and acceptance. What you strive for is up to you. This life is yours. "Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy."

I have gained so much more than just weight. I have gained the knowledge that a thigh gap will never fill the empty spaces an eating disorder was once able to carve into my spirit. Visible bones will never show the inner strength that lies within me. No amount of weight lost will ever compensate for the years I sacrificed striving for perfection. I wish to continue to inspire others, continue to better myself, continue to feed my soul, and continue the journey to love who I am, and appreciate all that God gave me and shaped me to be. 

I am enough. I am stronger than my abusive ex-husband. I am more than my eating disorder.  

I am me.  Lauryn Nicole Cudworth. Lover of life, peanut butter, fitness, and most importantly, myself

Thank you to everyone and anyone who has made my recovery journey happen. To my team at Children's Hospital, to the friends who have pulled my head out of my butt, and most importantly, to my family who has been my rock through it all. I would be in a grave right now if it wasn't for any of you. No words can express the amount of love and support I am eternally grateful for. I love each and every one of you more than you will ever know.

Here's to recovery and kicking our inner demons to the curb for good, one bite at a time. And always remember, strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn't do. 

Xoxo

 -Lauryn 

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Listening To Your Body

Sounds simple, right?

"Go with your gut instinct!" We hear this all the time.  But if it were really that simple, everyone would be a hell of a lot more happy and at peace with themselves. 

 

Yesterday was one of those days where I struggled to find peace between my body and my mind. It was already a rough day to start off with; rolling out of bed 4 hours late to school (maybe that's actually a blessing in disguise), a screaming headache, and a crap load of homework that I procrastinated on till the last minute (last-minute Lauryn at her finest here). So basically...

The LAST thing I felt like doing was lifting heavy. Not only did my head ache, but my body ached. I was guilty of not taking a rest day since Easter Sunday, and my body was definitely giving me a heavy dose of karma for it. But being my usual stubborn self, I ignored my body and listened to the e.d part of me. 

It was back day, and I usually love back day...but when I can't even get a 130 pound deadlift up, I know that I am beyond exhausted. I didn't have that high amount of energy and drive like I usually do. I was motivated for one thing, and one thing only. Bed. 

Well and peanut butter.

Annnnnd oreos (PEANUT BUTTER CUP FLAVOR MAY I ADD?!).

And...okay I'll stop there. 

ANYWAYS. I had a freak out moment and immediately called the one person who I knew would answer no matter what time of the day (Mumma, you da real MVP).

She told me everything I already knew. I KNEW that I shouldn't be lifting. I KNEW that I needed to stop what I was doing and rest. For some reason, re-assurance from an outside source always helps me. It wasn't that I felt guilty for stopping my lift session, but that I had already ate my training day macros for the day. 

And that's when I slapped myself in the face and gave myself a lil' pep talk.

"Food is FUEL. Muscles aren't made in the gym, Lauryn. They are made when you properly fuel your body and rest. You are either going to finish this workout at a turtle's pace and feel crappy about having a crappy workout later, or you are going stop right now, EAT, and REST." 

And I did just that. 

It must have been fate..because directly after I decided to stop my workout, my coach, Brittany Dawn, emailed me some very motivational pieces of advice AND increased my macros. I am so proud to say that I am officially eating over 2,000 calories a day. I haven't come close to eating 2,000 calories a day since I was a little girl. So please don't refer to me as 'Lauryn' anymore. I am now and forever will be a...

And lemme tell ya, those carbs definitely were put to use today. I re-attempted the failed back workout yesterday, and CRUSHED it! I pulled 160x8 for 4 sets of deadlifts, and was feeling ambitious...so I decided to go for a new personal record. 200 FRIGGIN' POUNDS. Yes, it was a one-rep max...but STILL. It was the most incredible feeling...indescribable really. I took all my anger, all my emotions, and all my strength to pull that weight up. And 5 minutes later...I did it again (shoutout to those animal crackers, chocolate covered almonds, and oreos prior to that lift).

This proves the following:

  • Your body IS smarter than you.
  • You need to know when to ignore your mind.
  • Carbz for dayz.
  • Food is fuel.
  • Oreos are the leading cause of maxing out on deadlifts.

So next time your body and your mind are at World War III, remember that your body knows best, and is never wrong. ♥

Picture the Audience in Underwear

Presenting. 

DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN

The word that makes everyone clinch up, sweat, stutter, ect. If any type of presenting is to be done in a class, you can bet your bottom dolla that I'll be the last one to go.  

But yesterday was different. I was the first  and only one to go. I was asked by the health teacher at my school to give a presentation about my story to the freshman health classes. Naturally, I accepted. I want to spread awareness and put my story out there to help others, so what better opportunity than this, right?!

I dedicated my weekend to creating a 5 minute movie that I wanted to have an everlasting impact on those watching. 

Yeeeeaaaah...almost had a couple cases of killing Windows Movie Maker or politely chucking my computer down a flight of stairs. No big deal. Lauryn's patience level hit an all-time low. 

The final product = exactly what I wanted. I was ready to show this video and talk for an entire hour in front of 30 freshman.

The morning of, I woke up and immediately felt butterflies having a party in my stomach. I. was. so. FRIGGIN'. nervous. 

I was doing pretty good up until I clicked play on the video in the dark classroom full of freshies. My emotions took over me and I started crying. No no no, I'm sorry, correction: I started BAWLING. I can't explain the feeling that took over me; it was all so surreal. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  The movie ended and I flipped on the lights (and man lemme tell you I reaaaaaaally should have been wearing my waterproof mascara; it was like I was making a freaking man made river or something). Everyone was still so quiet and watched me as a walked over to the podium. I was still so overwhelmed with all the emotions from the movie, that I had to step out of the classroom and just cry and collect myself for a few minutes. I walked back in and talked for a good half hour. 

That class was so polite and considerate, and I couldn't have asked for a better audience. There was discussion and questions, so again those were kind of hard for me to discuss. But I think I really hit home with these kids. I had people come up to me afterwards reaching out for help, and that's when it hit me. 

I want this to go big.

I want to share my story to larger audiences. 

Knowing that I left an impact on so many people is such a powerful feeling. I have now taken the steps to get this shown at the middle schools in my community as well if all goes as planned. I think it will hit them hard as well because so many people struggle with this at that age. I mean, that's when my issues started.

To anyone reading this who was in those freshman health classes- thank you. I have never felt so respected by any amount of kids in my life. I can't even put into words how grateful I am to have been able to share my story with a class like you all. It means more than you'll ever know.

 

Expect to hear more on this from me verrrrrrry soon. :)