How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

New YouTube video! In this one I share the tips I took to clean up my social media feed so I was being exposed to content that made me feel good, helped with my recovery, and was aligned with my goals.

The accounts we follow and the information we see on a daily basis really affect how we think and feel, so I hope these steps help you clean up your feeds so you are exposing yourself to content that makes you feel good and lifts you up 💖

The song that plays in the video is: Ahorita by Carlos Sadness

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LG Faves: February 2019

LG Faves February 2019

It’s time for some February favorites. Since I have been following my February intention of read more, stream + read online less, I have two books and no TV shows, lol! A big part of being able to read more is to not be addicted to a TV show. Anyways, I hope you find something interesting to check out below.

Food: Lavva Coconut Yogurt

Oh Lavva how I love thee! I have finally found a dairy free yogurt that I actually enjoy, doesn’t have tons of sugar, and the ingredient list is normal. I had been missing dairy yogurt because I grew up with my mom putting a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese on so many things: fruit salads, oatmeal, granola, toast, etc, but as I got older I started having skin issues on my arms and we found out that it was linked to dairy so the yogurt had to go. I had been searching for a replacement but I didn’t enjoy the flavor of any of the ones on the market – until I found Lavva! It is delicious and the ingredient list and sugar content is amazing. I highly recommend checking it out if you have to find a dairy free yogurt alternative.

Nonfiction Book: What Made Maddy Run? by Kate Fagan

Oh this book! I have talked about it a lot now – you can read my takeaways from it here. I can’t recommend it enough. No matter who you are you will learn something and gain some empathy and understanding reading this powerful book.  

Fiction Book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

This book is so much fun. It’s all about entering into a different magical world surrounded by magicians, kings, dragons, fairies, and I just loved it. It was a nice change from such a serious book (Maddy) and you find yourself falling into a wonderful fantasy hole that sweeps you away. If you’re looking for something fun this is the book for you. 

Music: Lizzo

Lizzo’s music is upbeat and empowering. She has an incredible voice and her music reminds me of powerful woman’s voices from the Motown, soul, disco era. It immediately puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance, and I love that most of her lyrics focus on loving your body, embracing who you are, and strutting your stuff. It is refreshing! She just came out with a new song called Juice and her new album – Cuz I Love You – is coming out in April.

Clothing: Girlfriend Collective Bodysuits

I have been wearing these bodysuits for a while and can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them before! I love them. The brand – Girlfriend Collective – is amazing. They believe in slow fashion and only use ethical manufacturing and recycled materials for their clothing. The body suits are so soft and comfortable. The Lily bodysuit is my favorite so far, and I love that theres button snaps at the bottom so you don’t have to take the entire bodysuit off to go to the bathroom, makes life so much easier! They’re soft, comfortable, and flattering.

Movement: Running

I started running again after many years of having to avoid it because of recovery and it has been so special. I can’t believe how much I have missed it and am so grateful I was able to reintroduce this movement back into my life. I am going to write a longer post about this because there is much more tied with running and my eating disorder, but for now what I want to say is that I feel so profoundly happy that I have reached a point in my recovery where I can enjoy running again in a healthy way.

 Movie: The Boy Downstairs

I have always liked Zosia Mamet from her days on Girls and the column she wrote for Glamour. I find her very interesting and thoughtful so I enjoy following the work that she does. I recently saw this cute rom-com she did on HBO and enjoyed it. It was a quirky indie film but a nice light watch with a different storyline than the typical rom-coms and takes place in hipster Brooklyn which is always fun.

Sober Curious

Sober Curious

Alcohol. Why is it such a prevalent part of our society? Once you’re an adult most social events revolve around drinking and a night out without it seems unusual. Why has it become such a non-negotiable?

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol. It has caused me so many issues and exacerbated struggles I was already dealing with ever since it came into my life.

When I think back to my college years, post-college years, and then to the present, I can’t think of many positive things it has brought into my life, but I can think of all the sickness, stress, self-hatred and pain it has caused. So why, given all of that, did I keep drinking?  

Because I didn’t have any people around me who didn’t drink. The only people that I knew who were sober used to be alcoholics and that seemed like an extreme situation that didn’t apply to me. I didn’t want to seem like a lame downer or something. Basically, I wasn’t secure enough to do what I knew was best for me. Or to do something different. I wanted to fit in and seem normal, even though I hated drinking and everything that came along with it.

This past year I have started reevaluating my relationship with alcohol. I started digging deep into why do I drink when it always makes me feel like shit? How do I use alcohol and what do I use it for? And even larger, how do we as a society use it?

My alcohol story:

In college alcohol caused me a lot of stress because I would get drunk quicker than others and would find myself throwing up or asleep while everyone was dancing and just starting off their night. I was extremely sensitive to it, which to be honest probably had to do with the fact that I was still pretty deep in my eating disorder so I wasn’t eating enough to handle much alcohol in my system. Regardless, many college nights revolved around me trying to find the right balance of enjoying a night out without getting sick.

My post college years were when I started getting sick from alcohol in other ways. I wasn’t drinking enough to be throwing up, but the next day I would feel terrible. After drinking 1-2 glasses of wine I would wake up congested and unable to breathe, with a scratchy throat and a headache. It wasn’t a hangover headache though it was more like a sinus headache. I was experiencing allergy symptoms from alcohol with the worst of it being when I broke out in hives all over my arms after a night of drinking with a friend.

After the hive incident I got freaked out and stopped drinking for about six months. I did some research into the hives and learned that I had all the classic symptoms of alcohol intolerance. But after a while I got confident again and thought – maybe just a little bit won’t be so bad and slowly started drinking again.

Looking back at all of this I wonder why I continued to put up with this? Why would I continue drinking if it usually made me sick?

I think it stemmed from insecurity and wanting to seem normal, wanting to fit in. Basically, social anxiety. It is such a huge part of socializing in the world.

The Present:

This past year I have focused on my health and recovery. Part of that has involved being really honest with myself, learning what works for me and what is important to me. It has also involved starting to take anxiety and depression medication. And to be very honest – all of this has been amazing. I am feeling good and secure in who I am and am feeling healthier and stronger than I ever have before.  

But one thing that I have noticed that continually brings me down and gets in the way from me feeling my best is whenever I drink alcohol.

Last weekend I had dinner with some friends and had ONE glass of red wine and felt awful the next day. I hadn’t slept well, had a terrible headache, couldn’t breathe and felt extremely low. Even after I finished the glass of wine at dinner I felt really out of it and couldn’t fully concentrate or be present with my friends.

I saw my psychiatrist the next week and asked her about the effects of alcohol with the medicine and told her how dizzy and off I felt after having one glass of wine. She looked at me seriously and said –  you definitely should not be drinking alcohol with this medication because it makes alcohol hit you much harder so I am not surprised at all that you were woozy AND it causes the medication to not work, so basically the alcohol cancelled out the medication you took. So if you want the medication to work and have a positive effect on you, you will need to stop drinking.

That was the green light that I needed to tell me: STOP ALREADY.

I wish I could have stopped on my own. That I wouldn’t have needed something serious to finally make me stop but we all have our paths and if having an expert tell me it isn’t good for me is the thing I need to stop so be it.

What matters most to me after ALL of these years of therapy and mental health work is staying positive and learning how to take care of myself so I can live an empowered life.

Why do we do it?

I can’t be the only person who has such strong reactions to alcohol. For there to be a list of intolerances on WebMD there has to be a lot more people who feel these symptoms. And hangovers suck. Alcohol is basically poison that we are ingesting in large amounts even though it makes us feel terrible and destroys our liver, so why do we keep drinking?

I wrote a list of all the negative and positive things alcohol brings into my life, and surprise – the negative list was huge and there was nothing in the positive list. So then I changed the question to – why do I drink? And the list was filled with reasons that were based on insecurity and wanting to please others. The only reason that was semi-positive was that it was a treat after a long week, and I figured I could easily find a treat that doesn’t make me sick like a massage or pedicure.

Some people really like how it tastes, but if you’re drinking large quantities that is no longer coming from a place of enjoyment. If it is mainly coming from a place of bringing down the self-consciousness walls – why are we so uncomfortable in our skin that we can’t just show up? What is going on with us that we aren’t comfortable being around certain people if we don’t have our inhibitions down? Why can’t we just be at ease being ourselves and being seen? Nothing wrong with any of this but it is interesting to think about.

My next steps: Sober Curious

I am definitely taking a break from drinking now that I am on this medication. My main priority right now is to continue to make progress on my growth and recovery, and since alcohol doesn’t fit into that picture then it will need to go for the time being.

I would like to say that I am going to give up alcohol forever but I am already an extreme person, so being intense about it and saying I am never going to touch this again isn’t healthy for me. Instead of being black and white, it is healthy for me to be in the gray areas sometimes. So that is why instead of saying I am never drinking alcohol again from here on out – I am saying that I will be Sober Curious. Which means that I am going to take a break from alcohol for now and continue to see what works best for me and be curious about the role alcohol plays in my life and in our society.

*Some resources that can help - I haven’t read them yet but plan on reading both:

Sober Curious

This Naked Mind

The Recovery Diaries: Anxiety

Anxiety Quote

Anxiety is a very individual thing. I don’t claim to understand how it affects other people or what their experience is with it. I don’t know much about it outside of my own experience, which I didn’t realize was anxiety until I was told that what I was feeling wasn’t normal and then a psychiatrist diagnosed it as anxiety and depression.

I want to share a bit of my experience in case it helps others who are going through something similar get help or take steps in managing it. For me this is how it usually manifests itself: 

I am in one place trying to do something and I can’t stay focused on it because I keep getting worried about something that’s not happening at that moment.

I am either freaking out about something in the future or something that happened in the past. For example, say I am trying to read a book, I can’t focus on it because I can’t stop worrying and over thinking about what is going to happen the next day. I feel very restless about all the things I need to get done and want to make sure I plan and organize and think through everything I need to accomplish the next day. I go over things multiple times – to the point where there is nothing left to think about but I can’t not think about it. I end up feeling paralyzed and frustrated that I can’t get it out of my head and can’t do the thing I am trying to do in real time.  

Another scenario where anxiety manifests itself for me is around food and my eating disorder.

If I eat a food that I am not comfortable with –  either I think it isn’t healthy or what I should be eating I start ruminating and ruminating about it to the point that it makes me so uncomfortable and my skin is crawling. I can’t get over the fact that I ate it and am freaking out about it and all I want to do is purge. Just get it out of my system in some way because I can’t handle that I have eaten it and I don’t want to deal with these repercussions of not being able to get it out of my head. My life would be easier if I just threw it up and then I could move forward with my day thinking about anything else.  

For me the main characteristic of my anxiety is that I can’t let it go. I can’t shrug it off. No matter how hard I try, I lack the ability to shut the emotion down.

It feels like it keeps gnawing and gnawing at me until I feel like I am going crazy. I have taken sleeping pills to make myself pass out so it can just stop. It’s like a broken record on repeat and no matter how hard you try you can’t get it to stop.

Before I knew what it was I had no idea how to take care of myself through it so I had awful ways of coping: like I said, I would take sleeping pills to knock me out, I would drink, I would restrict my food so I wouldn’t have to deal with those food thoughts, or purge when I did eat the foods, I would numb with anything that I could. This was hard, and I am still surprised at how I functioned in life.

Now that I know what it is, and that I have a mental health support team, things are starting to change in a positive direction. I have been working on creating healthy ways of dealing with and working through it. Not only am I working to manage it better, I am working to find ways to alleviate the anxiety to begin with.

I am incorporating regular healthy habits: meditation, journaling, yoga, hiking. These things help shift my energy and get me out of my head.

I have also started to take medication because I have decided that if this could help me lead a more manageable and stable life then I wanted to give myself this help.

I have tried to manage everything by myself since I was 13 and I am starting to realize that maybe some of these issues are too big for me to handle on my own and that is ok. It doesn’t mean I am weak, it just means I could use a little extra support while I work on tackling these things and I can be more fully present in my life.

It is still pretty early in my medication journey but I feel like things are starting to ease up for me. I am actually starting to see the light at the end of tunnel and have hope that things can change. It’s not like I have some magic solution going on and everything is sunshine and flowers right now but I am taking it one day at a time, and hoping, like my dad says, that I will have more good days than bad days. Here’s to that.

The Recovery Diaries: Perfectionism

When I was thirteen I began dictating my life by a series of rules. What kind of rules? Simple ones, at least I thought they were - run every morning for at least 30 minutes; never eat more than 250 calories in one sitting; eat less than everyone else at the table; never touch dessert; never get below a 97 on absolutely anything; work out again after school; never waste time or procrastinate; if you have any extra time study more; read one article from a newspaper each day… and the list goes on but you get the picture.

I created these rules because I wanted to make sure I performed and excelled in all areas of my life. And it worked for me.

I wanted to go to Stanford, I went to Stanford. I wanted to be valedictorian, I was valedictorian. I wanted to study abroad, I was chosen for my top study abroad program. The rules worked for me, they were there for me, they delivered.

But life after college hasn’t been so fruitful. I have been clinging to these rules but they are more hurtful than helpful. I am writing lists and to do’s each morning but they are driving me crazy and making me feel imprisoned. They don’t have that magical touch they used to have. Instead I have found myself recovering from an eating disorder and trying to learn how to give myself a break.

I started realizing that these behaviors were extreme but I dismissed them as my eating disorder. I didn’t think the rules were the problem, I thought it was all the eating disorder. I thought it was fine to keep this oppressive structure, what I really needed to work on was my relationship with food. I thought, “once I have a better relationship with food this will all be better.”

In my latest session with my therapist we started talking about these rules, and why I've been losing weight again, and she asked me: What I was hoping would happen? What did I think this weight loss, this control, was going to bring into my life?

I sat there completely stumped. Such an obvious question... What was I doing all of this for? What was it going to bring me?

I thought that once everything was in order, once I looked the way I wanted to look, had certain goals accomplished, my life would be set.

I would be happy and it would be good. It isn’t right now, but once I do those things it will be amazing, the way I always dreamed... (even though I had no idea what this “dream” was, it would get me there). Why was I killing myself over this? What was I holding on to?

Then she said: “Lili there is no such thing as a perfect life. A perfect way to live doesn’t exist. You’re a perfectionist and there is no perfect. What life can guarantee is that everything is imperfect and we have to learn to be ok with and embrace living in all the imperfections.”

I sat there stunned. All this time I thought the issue was my eating disorder but my real addiction was perfectionism. Like a true addict I was completely oblivious to this.

Great. What do I even do from here? How do I begin to unravel that? So much of my life has been driven by rules, lists, striving, gripping, clenching, forcing. It was definitely making me miserable, but I don’t remember how to live a different way. I don’t even get what this fully means sometimes, all this stuff can seem so ambiguous.

She told me the first step would be to give myself some space, be curious and very kind with myself.

Instead of being militant and forcing myself to do something, check in with myself and my body and be curious about what it’s trying to tell me. Of course, that all sounds nice, but easier said than done. I guess just like anything I’ll have to take it one step at a time.