In high school, I picked up two eating disorders. The first was during the end of my sophomore year, and I basically limited my food and calorie consumption by doing a calorie deficit. After three months, I lost 40 lbs., and considered myself to be healthy. No matter how much weight I lost, I believed I could always stand to lose more, despite how small I had become. Looking back now, I realize I was borderline anorexic and pushing my body to be a size that it wasn't naturally built to be.

During the beginning of my Junior year, there was drama within my friend group and I turned to food as a way of coping with the stress and emotions that ensued. After months of doing this, my coping turned into bingeing, and as a result, I gained more weight than I had originally lost. Food become an addiction, and as time went on, the bingeing progressively worsened and my stomach had stretched to a point where I couldn't determine whether I was hungry or not. Essentially, I was bulimic, minus the purging...which I eventually acquired later on. My thoughts of self-loathing carried on from my days of anorexia and became an obsession during my battle against binge eating. 

All in all, I spent my entire high school career fighting myself and my eating disorders. 

Okay, so you're probably wondering where I'm going with this story.
...Yesterday I didn't eat. 

The night before I had fallen into old habits and turned to food as a medication for my emotions. I went to bed disgusted with myself, and decided that in order to make up for what I had done, I would skip all my meals the next day, or couple of days, in order to "balance" myself out. I had accepted the notion that by starving myself, I would become healthier, and happier. (I hope you can tell I just rolled my eyes at that statement--see this post-- Isn't it interesting that we think health and happiness can be derived from starving ourselves and strict dieting?)

I think that too often in our efforts to become physically healthy, we become emotionally and mentally unhealthy along the way. Through my experiences I've come to realize that eating disorders are composed of mental, and physical, aspects--you can have an eating disorder mentality, without physically acting upon those thoughts of self-hate and detriment. Although its been almost two years since my last binge, I know that time and distance don't end eating disorders; to end an eating disorder, you need to overcome yourself...which I'm still trying to do.

I have signs of being an eating disorder survivor spread across my body (especially my eyes due to burst blood vessels from purging), but because of this, I only have to look in the mirror to remind myself of where I've come from, the pain I went through, and the progress I've made. I've said before that our bodies tell our stories, and in my case, I'm a living monument to myself.

Although I'm not completely free of my past, my eating disorder mentality, or the consequences that came because of it, I'm still moving forward. I think we all have days where we either overeat or don't want to eat; however, the trick is learning how to eat and then moving on with life regardless of food amount, calories, or our personal weight.

In summary:
It's time to realize that food isn't our enemy, and eating isn't a sin. 


Have you ever caught yourself apologizing for your size or appearance? I have. Multiple times. Usually to myself.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep my thoughts drifted towards my body and how other people perceive how I look. As I rolled over in my bed, I whispered, "I'm sorry", in the hope of washing away these thoughts from my mind. For some reason I felt a wave of embarrassment, not only for me, but for anyone and everyone who has ever had to look at me. I was ashamed that I would never live up to society's expectations or beauty standards.

My thighs touch together.
I'll never be smaller than a size 8 (unless I starve myself...which I've done, and will never do again).
I have a chubby face with delicate features.
I have stretch marks along my hips.
My upper arms are flabby.
I have back fat.

And along with all of this, I would much rather have my hands in a bag of chips than have my feet in a pair of running shoes.

My question though, is why are all of these characteristics considered to be negative or derogatory to who I am as an individual or how attractive I may (or may not) be? How can the length of a measuring tape around my waist ever produce an accurate measurement of my character?

J.K. Rowling has been quoted as saying:

Fat is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her. I mean, is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel? 

I think it's ironic that as women, our worth is determined by how much we don't weigh, rather than how much we do. At times it seems like the less we are, the more we are.  Society looks at our size first, and our accomplishments second. In a sense, our appearances, not our actions, often speak louder than our words, thoughts, or beliefs.

What can we do to fix this?

One of the first steps to changing how we see ourselves, and how we see others, is to change our vocabulary. "Thin" and "fat" should never be synonymous with insults or the lesser. The amount of power that simple descriptions of anatomy are given, and the extent to which they're used as indicators of worth, is ridiculous. No one should ever feel inadequate, judged, or stereotyped due to their body size, whether it be large, or small, natural or unnatural. By applying negativity to physical features within humanity, we begin to see ourselves in a negative light due to our self-association with those words and traits. Media emphasis on certain types of bodies is equally as poisonous. It's been said that a "picture is worth a thousand words", and if that's true, one can only imagine the impact that the thousands of images of idealized bodies, that we see on nearly a daily basis, have on us as well. 

As I was skimming through some of the recent posts done by "Humans of New York", I came across this:
"I'm trying not to hate my body. I love my hair and my hands, but everything else I wouldn't mind switching out."

I've come to believe that as women, we're taught by various sources that we're only worth our parts, rather than the sum of our parts. Like animals placed before a butcher, only the best cuts of meat are considered desirable-- with our objectivity, not subjectivity, placed on the chopping block. Too often we try to "salvage" and buoy our self esteem by finding small aspects of our appearance that are socially acceptable, rather than accepting ourselves as a whole, human being. We tend to feel that if every aspect of our body isn't deemed good by society's standards, we're no good at all; making it hard to accept ourselves as naturally imperfect due to impossible ideals of perfection placed upon our shoulders by ourselves, our peers, and our culture.

Well, I'm saying, "enough" to all of this.

It might sound crazy, but today as I was walking to class, I realized that I like my thighs.

I like that they're bigger.
I like that they don't have a gap between them.
I like that they're soft.
I like the way that skirts drape over them.

But most of all, I like that they're mine.
And the same goes for the rest of my body too.

So, no more apologizing.
No more self-loathing.
No more guilt.
No more comparing.
No more shame when I see my reflection.
No more seeing my body as a rough draft or a construction-zone.
No more relying on the connotations of adjectives or the glances of other people.

Our bodies tell our stories, and my life is nothing to be ashamed of.

I've overcome two eating disorders, a terminal illness, and the everyday trials that come from living. Battles have been won, and obstacles overcome... in this body, at various sizes. Yes, I have fat on my arms, stomach and thighs, but I'm learning to see those areas as a source of pride, rather than disgrace. They're a reminder of who I am, and what I'm capable of doing.

So, today, I choose to love myself as is.
Not for how I was, or will be.
But for how I am right now.


And that's okay. 

Sunday Thoughts

Today I caught myself thinking about how much better I would look if I were skinnier. I won't deny that it's probably true, but as I was thinking this, I realized we have more purpose to our lives than obsessing over dieting, exercising, appearances or how we're captured on film. 

We aren't objects that need to be tweaked, we are subjects that need to be loved. 

So what if I'm not as small as the girls around me? I'm a living person with a (relatively) healthy body. I have an intrinsic amount of worth despite whatever dress size I may be.


Whenever I make a comment about how much I've eaten, my roommate always says, "I'm proud of you!"

Given my past of dieting, and starving myself in order to be socially presentable, this is an incredible statement...on both ends. 

It's been three years and here I am: eating, healthy, with friends that care about me, and the ability to care for myself. 

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm proud of myself too. 


When I was walking home from class a few days ago, I passed a group of girls about to go for a run. Their conversation consisted of all of them stating the amount of pounds they needed to lose, and how excited they were to achieve the individual goals they set for themselves. Yesterday my roommate and I decided to make cinnamon rolls to have for breakfast this morning. We finished around midnight, and then invited our other roommates to have some too. As I walked back to my bedroom, I heard them mention the concern they had for eating the cinnamon rolls on top of the amount of calories they had already eaten earlier that day. Both experiences, caused me to think about the role numbers play in our lives.

For the longest time, my happiness was determined by my dress-size, the calories I ate, and the amount I weighed. I realized too late that dwelling on those things was like living in a hamster ball. They trap you in a transparent case that allows you to see and move around life, but not live it (also, it gets smelly after a while...).

One of the most important things I have ever been told is that the only number that matters is your IQ. Now that I look back, I wonder how many of my problems, and the problems of other girls, could have been solved by being told this sooner our lives. From my own experience, I feel that body image and self-worth are learned behaviors. As little girls, we're force-fed the idea that we have to be "pretty", with little emphasis on being smart. We're complimented on the bows in our hair, rather than our problem-solving capabilities, or intelligence. I'm not saying that it is a completely negative thing to value one's appearance, but I feel like if, as a society, we built a foundation for girls based on their internal qualities, rather than their external appearances, a lot of self-perception issues would be solved. Ironically though, in doing this we only drive ourselves back to determining our worth by a different set of numbers.

Going back to dresses sizes and such, I can't help but think about an experience I had a few weekends ago while at the General Women's Meeting for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I've mentioned before how I struggle with comparing my body to those of my sisters and cousins; well, those issues resurfaced while I was with all of them at conference. Before I left to meet up with them, I thought I looked adorable in the outfit that I had chosen out, but as soon as I was in their company, my self-esteem dropped, and I was fighting tears for the entire night. I took a picture with my mom and sisters, but when I looked at it afterwards, I felt like a giant both in my height, and weight. At one point in the night, in tears and in desperate need, I sent a text to a friend that said:
"I can't do this. I'm surrounded by petite size 2's at a restaurant. My family's genetics are messed up. I don't even know where I came from."
 It seems like no matter how far I move away from my eating disorder, the traits that eventually led me down that path never quite left my system. I honestly don't think they ever will, like acid, they've eaten away at me creating a void within my conscience that constantly demands to be filled. We all have our own battles to fight, and my biggest one will be against myself.

During the General Women's Meeting, I wrote over, and over again in my sketchbook that "my size doesn't determine my worth" in hopes of convincing myself that those words were true. I struggled throughout the rest of the meeting up until Dieter F. Uchtdorf began to speak. One paragraph of his talk stood out to me more than anything else that night, he said:

"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?"

In an instant, I knew he was right. I was created by a perfect being, and therefore by that fact alone, I too was perfect.

Have you ever realized that out of life's millions of possibilities, you exist here in this time, and this moment? Have you ever realized that out of the 7.125 million people alive today, and the 108 billion that have ever lived upon this earth, you were born as you are now? Have you ever realized that God decided to create you, and thought of you as something worth creating? Whether you believe in God, or not, you are an undeniable miracle, a statistical anomaly. You have a body, and because of it (regardless of appearance or size) you have experienced life in all of it's tragic beauty. Your personality, experiences, and "flaws" set you apart as an individual; no one has been, or ever will be you. Your scars mark that you've lived your life: you're a survivor. Because of all of this, the way you look doesn't prevent you from being important, and it definitely doesn't take away the privilege of being able to live your life happily, as you choose.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that we need to put the world and ourselves, in the infinite perspective of the universe before comparing our current state to a few, meager numbers (or individuals) placed before us. It may be hard to do since we're always our harshest critics, but:

"I promise that as you do so, you will discover your best self—your real self."


A few weeks ago, I was invited to write a sample blog post in order to be considered for an opportunity to write on a volunteer basis for the LDS blog, Sugardoodle.

With this in mind, I thought that I could share with all of you what I submitted:

Eating disorders, like a lot of things in life, aren't exactly predictable.

During my sophomore year of high school, I decided that I was done with feeling embarrassed by my body and the extra pounds it carried. As a result, I started a strict diet that only allowed me to eat about 1,700 calories a day. Within two months I had lost 40 pounds and reached, what I thought to be, my ideal body weight. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable in my own skin. No matter how much weight I lost, I wasn’t satisfied; I could always lose five more pounds. Eventually, I reached a point where the compliments I had been receiving from friends and family became tinged with worry; but no one could stop me. I realize now that I had become a victim of an eating disorder due to my own warped perceptions of beauty and self-worth. My “diet” controlled every action, thought, and emotion I had; it consumed me, and became my identity.

Pre-eating disorders.
 I still can't believe I thought this was fat.

 A few months later, I became depressed due some drama at school within my circle of friends. Almost immediately I turned to food as my medication of choice, and shortly thereafter, I developed what would become another eating disorder. The sadder I became, the more I ate. The weight that I had worked so hard to lose (plus a little extra), came back within a month’s time and the depression that followed resulted in even more eating. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t stop myself--food was my escape from reality.

For the longest time I felt that it was my fault that I couldn’t control my eating because I was weak and too miserable to change. Luckily, I met with a doctor who helped me realize that an eating disorder is a mental disease with physical implications. It isn’t just a matter of not eating or eating more; it’s an addiction, a state of being.  He once compared an eating disorder to a person with Diabetes (which I have) by explaining that just as you can’t tell a Diabetic to make insulin on their own, you can’t talk someone out of an eating disorder. It takes time, therapy, medication, meditation, and patience for change to occur.

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about how and why I came to have an eating disorder in the first place. I've come to the conclusion that it didn’t come from a single source, but many. In both instances, I felt inadequate. I was angry that no matter what I did, I would never be good enough. I guess I believed what society told me: that my value lay in the number on a scale, the calories on a box, or the size on a clothing tag.  Even though it’s been two years since my last relapse, I know that my eating disorder is an intrinsic part of who I am, shaping my thoughts, opinions of myself and, at times, how I interact with others. However, through the support of my loved ones, the blessings of the Atonement, and the love of my Father in Heaven, I know that we're never really alone during the trials placed before us.


“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.”
― Albert Camus, The Fall

A few days ago I was heading to work with my roommate when I noticed a group of girls walking to a college football game. To put it plainly, they were my version of everything that I find wrong with female culture at BYU-- they had long, curled hair; perfect makeup, cropped jeans, and of course, slim figures. I rolled my eyes as they walked by and pointed them out to my friend, hoping that she would agree with me.

 Luckily, she didn't.

After hearing what I had to say, she said that they were gorgeous and "rocked" their outfits. Feeling slightly defensive after hearing this, I told her that they were fake and (according to my skewed logic) undeserving of her compliment. She looked at me, slightly disappointed, and said:"Maybe they are. But that doesn't mean that they aren't beautiful."

I tried to brush off her comment, but her words, and expression, bothered me for the rest of the night.
How could she say something like that about them? I was angry, embarrassed, and seriously confused by her reaction...along with my own words.

During our work shift I thought about what she said, along with my reaction, and realized something.

She was right.

Almost instantaneously I remembered recent blog posts and comments that I had made, feeling more than a little guilty. I had vilified a group of individuals in order to make myself feel better about my appearance, and exclusion from their "group". I saw that stereotype as the source of all my troubles, rather than realizing that my troubles started with me. I felt like a complete hypocrite.

Let me be frank, and say that this blog post is primarily for myself; a coming to terms with the faults in my perceptions of others. I realize now that I've become addicted to judging every aspect of the world around me in order to find solidarity in my own.

I complain a lot about BYU being a place of "molds" and attempted "perfection", but maybe the molds I see are ones that I've created. Shards of thoughts left from my days of controlled eating, and Anorexia.

Maybe I still have a hard time finding the beauty within myself, and as a result, I knock others down.

“It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I've been trying to finish this post for about a week now, but I've had the hardest time putting the rest of my thoughts into words. I could go on about the experience I had watching Miss America with my family, the reality of "skinny shaming", or similar things that have happened in this short eternity of time...but for now, I've said as much as I can muster on this topic.

I know that my past has scarred me in ways that I can't even begin to comprehend yet, but I can't let those thoughts become the basis of my future and the tools that shape my everyday life.

There's definitely a lot more introspection that needs to be done on my part, but for now, I hope I can make a small amends for my behavior by committing to become better at loving others, as well as myself. 


This semester at college I've been taking a History of Psychology class from Professor Gantt, and we've been learning about the philosophical idea of Naturalism, particularly the viewpoints of Epicurus. Essentially, Naturalism breaks down into two categories: the Metaphysical (the unseen word) and Materialism (the world as we see it). 

In order to explain the differences between the two categories of Naturalism, Professor Gantt asked us a series of question to get our mental wheels turning. 

For example: 
"What is beauty? Is it something eternal, or merely what we perceive to be pleasurable?"

He went on to say: 
"...You could go back and forth between Mozart and Metalica. Arguing back and forth about what is beautiful, really beautiful, and what is simply pleasing a certain time and place in culture. Is there something about a piece of art or music, what have you, that makes it beautiful because it corresponds to some eternal, unchanging ideal of the beautiful. Or is beauty simply in the eye of the beholder? I like this. And that means its beautiful to me, so that's the only kind of beauty there is. Or is there an ideal?"

Knew it. 

This discussion caused me to wonder what I thought beauty to be. After thinking about it for a while, I realized just how much I've been influenced by the preferences of society and those around me. Why is it that we allow ideals and pleasurable perceptions to be our chief indicators of beauty?

During my Junior year of high school, I dieted and starved myself  in order to reach an ideal that I didn't realize to be impossible until it was too late. It probably didn't help that most of my friends cheered me on and told me how much better I looked...especially my guy"friends". (I don't want to seemingly abandon my feminist values by saying this, but I believe that women reflect the men around them.

As soon as I gained the weight back (plus some extra), the compliments, along with the boys, went away. I felt like I had lost a part of myself, a piece of my identity. I wasn't the skinny, cute girl anymore; I was Alyson, the girl who gained weight. Since I no longer fit the ideal, or even my own perception of beauty, I felt worthless. If I didn't like myself, how could anyone else? 

I was so obsessed with how others perceived my appearance that I let those worries shape who I was and ultimately, how I thought about myself.

I guess I confused attraction with beauty. 

I spent too long dwelling on the petty opinions of people who didn't matter, when in reality, the only opinion that mattered was my own...however warped it was.

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." -Epicurus

I'm still trying to define what I believe beauty to be, especially when it concerns my own body,
but in the end:

"I like this. And that means it's beautiful to me." 


A few weeks ago, a friend of mine applied to the Animation Program at BYU. Consequently, she needed models for some figure drawing sketches to submit with her final portfolio. Without really thinking, I volunteered myself and before I knew it, I was standing in front of her, posing, in nothing more than a sports bra and swimsuit bottoms (leaving little to the imagination). The whole experience was uncomfortable to say the least, but in all honesty, I wouldn't have had it any other way (for the past few years I've been too ashamed of my body to go swimming or even wear shorts in public. I guess I didn't want other people judging my body as harshly, or harsher, than I already did). I was able to prove to myself that I was finally okay with how I all my chubby glory.

Needless to say, this was something I needed--a mile-marker on my journey to self-acceptance.

Random: I made my very first loaf of bread this week!

I wanted to end this post with a quote about art, but coincidentally I came across a quote from one of my favorite books, "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell.

"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."

Utah can be a hard state to grow up in. For some reason, women here tend to have a standard of perfection that is nearly impossible to reach (Did you know that Salt Lake City has been dubbed the "Most Vain City" due to the number of plastic surgeons and plastic surgeries per capita?). As a child, teenager, and even now as a young adult, I find myself struggling to meet these expectations on a daily basis. Like Eleanor, I never seem to look "nice" enough (especially on BYU's campus...home of J Crew fanatics, and Herschel backpacks), thin enough, or pretty enough. Causing me to constantly question both my aesthetic and social value. 

We often refer to God as being the master artist, but how often do we refer to ourselves as His masterpiece? 

Today while moving some things into my new apartment complex, I couldn't help but notice how I didn't seem to match up to the other girls in my building (BYU...go figure). After telling my mom how much of an outcast I felt compared to them, she told me: "Beauty isn't how you look, it's who you are."

At the end of the day it doesn't matter how you look, but rather, how you make other people feel, and ultimately how you feel about yourself. 

...Maybe that's what Rainbow Rowell was trying to us. 


After spending  months away from reliable WiFi while at Aspen Grove, I'm finally back at home for the remainder of the summer.

Some of my friends from camp! Love them to pieces!

Which means consistent blog posts again, yay! 

A few nights ago, I made a trip to Target to return some shirts that were bought for me. Although the trip was intended to be a short one, I ended up being sucked into the black hole that we know as the women's clothing section. While I was there I noticed two families with their daughters looking at and trying on clothes. (Before I go any further into this story, you should note that I'm a habitual eavesdropper.)

As I was checking out the clearance racks, I noticed the first family outside of the store dressing rooms. They were waiting for a girl to come out and show them the various outfits they had chosen out. From what I could tell, she came out in a maxi skirt first. Immediately her uncle started loudly saying how bad it looked on her and that she should find something else instead. He said this several times, without caring who could hear or how it made her feel (because his opinion obviously mattered over hers, or anyone else for the matter). As he continued talking, I started to make comments under my breath, hoping he would hear (sadly, he didn't). 

*Side Speel*
Can I just point out the double standard that society has set up for women and men. Women are expected fit an ideal of perfection, while men can look however they want. For example, this girl's uncle was overweight, sloppily dressed, and despite all of that, he felt that he had the right to criticize his niece for a skirt she was wearing. 

Eventually, I walked away and encountered another family. It was a father with a distraught daughter. She was upset because she didn't fit into the size that she wanted to be. After a few minutes of this, her father (exasperated) told her: "Don't worry about the size, worry about the fit. That's all that matters."
To put it mildly, I was impressed by his words.

For the rest of the night I juxtaposed the situations of those two girls in my mind and imagined how the conversations that they had with their family members would shape their body image for years to come. 

My friend, Alayna sent me a link to one of her recent blog posts (<---- click this link to check it out) and I've thought a lot about it while writing this one of my own. 

As women, we tend to separate the world into "right" and "wrong" body types. Often times, we also tend to see ourselves on the "wrong" side of the spectrum, rather than the "right". We see our bodies as a project, rather than the gift that they are. Personally, I think I first started to become acutely aware of my body around the same age as Melissa (see link). Middle school seems to be the time when your life is placed under a magnifying glass of social pressures. We become more aware of those around us and our standing among them. We feel the desire to conform and be liked more than ever. It's instinctive and universal. It's life. As a result, we look towards those closest to us for advice and sources of imitation. 

The other day I was talking with my mom about my own personal issues with my body and self-esteem. Ultimately, we concluded that how we see ourselves is often shaped by those around us for better or worse and that it's up to us to shape how the next generation sees themselves. I think this is why I feel the need to emphasize that we need to  watch what we say about ourselves around those younger than us...this particularly applies to mothers. As humans, we learn by example and it is my belief that negative body image is passed down from mother to daughter and sister to sister. 

Over the past few months I've been asking myself how we, as a society, can ever end this terrible plague of negative body image, and I think I've found my answer. 

In order to change our society, we need to change our homes, our parenting, and ourselves. 

Random Thoughts.

Today I went on an adventure with my friends and had some awesome homemade curry. 

Here are some things that I learned from today's experiences:

I've concluded that exceptional individuals can be found anywhere.

Friendship often occurs like falling in love with Augustus Waters or asleep. "Slowly, and then all at once."

Moments are just that, moments. They will always pass. They're merely a blink in the vastness that we call eternity. 

Tears should never be wasted on insensitive people. It's not that they won't understand, but rather that they can't. 

Trials often heighten our sensitivity to the trials of others. 

Age does not, and never will, determine maturity...along with other milestones revered in life. 

Memories tainted with sadness can be replaced by happier ones...if you give them a chance. 

...and that's all I've got for now. 

Emily Dickinson

I had grand plans of writing a super inspiring post, but the ideas I had for that have disappeared with the day (I blame the two year olds I watched for 8 hours straight today).

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore the works of Emily Dickinson?

About a year ago I went to a library sale and bought a huge book of her "Collected Poems" and since then, it's been my constant companion through times both good, and bad.

This morning I woke up at 5:00am with a stuffy nose, a cough, high blood sugar, and the inability to fall back asleep. Deciding to make the best of my time, I ran out to my car and dug through my trunk to find Emily among the remnants of my freshman year of college.

For two hours I sat in my bed reading poem after poem and scribbling illegible notes in the margins of the pages. This is probably going to sound super dramatic, but I found myself in her words. She captures the human experience so well and with a clarity that is hard to find even in one's own thoughts.

As I re-read over the poems that once influenced me so deeply during the epoch of my eating disorders, I realized that their meanings were temporary and pliable--as all good literature should be.

One poem in particular keeps running through my head:
Pain has an element of blank;
it cannot recollect
when it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
Isn't it interesting how we tend to get tunnel vision during times of trial, or as Emily puts it, pain? I can specifically remember reading this poem and nodding my head in agreement as I read each stanza with tears running down my face. During those times I couldn't see a future without my life being ruled by eating or a past when I was free from the dictates of those disorders.

But now I am as you see me, no harm done.
Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.
Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
I've learned that change comes slowly, and we usually only receive brief glimpses of the progress that has taken place.
For instance, a few weeks ago I ordered a size Medium top online with the hope that it would fit. When the package arrived today, I rushed to try it on (And in my excitement I dropped the shirt in the toilet...). As I held the shirt in my hands, I knew that it was too small for me--despite the fact that it was the "right" size (One thing that I've learned--while having my self-esteem tested during clothing shopping, is that different stores have different measurements for general could be a 10 at one store and a 14 at's definitely a marketing conspiracy...). Although I was disappointed, I wasn't hurt by the fact that I was larger than what I thought I should be.
I even gave the shirt to my older sister (who is much smaller than I was a definite sensitive topic a few years back) and I wasn't upset by that either.
As usual, I think I've lost myself in my thought process....definitely took a detour with that story....
Anyways, I guess what I'm trying to say is that after reading 100+ pages of poetry this morning, I've realized that I'm different from the individual that read those same pages only a few short years ago.
Read, sweet, how others strove,
Till we are stouter;
What they renounced,
Till we are less afraid;
Side note:
I just noticed that there's a quote above the computer here at Aspen Grove that I've been staring at for the past few blog posts. 
It says, "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
Food for thought.
Also, it goes well with my "Aspen Grove" post a few weeks back.


With yesterday being the official start of FIFA 2014, I thought it would be only fitting that I share a soccer-related experience that happened last week.

Ten years ago, a neighborhood friend invited me to be on a soccer team with her. A few years after that, another friend invited me to join her competitive soccer team. I tried out for my high school team twice (I didn't make the cut, which was heartbreaking, but with some distance I was able to realize that I couldn't let someone else's decision define me...or my happiness. Ironically, it also led to eating disorder #1. ) and a few years after that, I found myself captain of a different competitive soccer team three years in a row.

Our last game of the season, we were second in our division.

The winter of my Junior year of high school was when the eating disorder, which had been consuming me for years, decided to consume the things that I enjoyed most--including soccer.

As I gained weight, I wasn't able to play as well as once could. As a result, I lost my position as captain, and slowly my coaches stopped letting me start games or sub in for other players. I was an unwanted bench-warmer.

Shortly after the spring soccer season of that year, I quit playing competitively (Actually, I wasn't invited back for the following season) and decided to play for a rec team instead. Initially, I was fine, but as the new season progressed, I realized that I just wasn't who I used to be--mentally, or athletically.
I couldn't run, I couldn't score, I couldn't breathe, and depression set in.

So I quit completely.

Last week we had had Frontier Night here at Aspen Grove and I was in charge of the shaved ice stand with friends from work (I've pretty much mastered the art of placing two or more flavors side-by-side on a cone).  While we were together, I heard from a friend, Hayley, that one of the families staying with us had challenged our staff to a soccer game (I think the main reason we ended up agreeing to play was due to the excessive amount of trash talking coming from some twelve year old kids... our pride couldn't resist the challenge).

I'll tell the rest of the story straight from my journal:

"I just got done playing a staff-guest soccer game and it was so much fun! I haven't played in a year due to self-esteem and eating issues, but today I played great because I finally didn't care about what anyone else thought of me. I made some great crosses, and was complimented by my co-workers! It was so much fun even though we lost. I can't believe I almost said no to playing! I guess it's true that all anyone ever needs is five seconds of courage, I'm so glad I found mine!"

In that moment I proved to myself that I was good enough to do anything I set my mind to. I realized that I am no longer an eating disorder or a side-effect of depression.

Ultimately, I decided to no longer deny myself simple pleasures in life because of a number on a scale or clothing tag.

...Man, I love soccer.

"Soccer is the world's favorite sport."

Fail System

Last Sunday, I was able to attend church with my family since I had the day off from my usual Aspen Grove responsibilities. While there, I was able to listen to a friend speak about her experiences overcoming military fitness and physical criteria tests. She stated that, "...(the tests) are a fail system...especially for women with real bodies." As I listened to her continue her story, I began to think about the times when I felt frustrated with my body due to the  societal "fail system" that we constantly subject ourselves to.

It has taken me years to realize that I'm not the problem, society is.

Did you know that the U.S. weight loss market was worth $61 billion 2010 or that gym, health, and fitness clubs are currently worth $27 billion?

Apparently, making people feel inadequate is a lucrative industry.

Here are some statistics from NEDA:

1. 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
2. In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively.
3. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
4. 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
5. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
6. 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting.
7. Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting (Wertheim et al., 2009).
Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet.
8. The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 165 pounds. The average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs 121 pounds.

9. The average BMI of Miss America winners has decreased from around 22 in the 1920s to 16.9 in the 2000s. The World Health Organization classifies a normal BMI as falling between 18.5 and 24.9.
10. 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.

"Biggest Loser" contestant, Ali Vincent.
 “After I won ‘The Biggest Loser,’ I weighed 122 pounds for about 2.2 seconds,” she said.
“It’s been five years since I won and I’ve seen myself gain at least five pounds a year.”
11. 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
12. Of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.


When I started writing this post two hours ago, I had no idea that I would end up going in this direction. Maybe I researched this information for selfish reasons. But then again, it's always good to be reminded of reality rather than the fantasy that is forced down our throats on a daily basis.  I've decided that society constantly seeks to make the 1% seem like the majority in order to take advantage of the remaining 99%.

I wonder what the first step would be to changing a thought process that is so engrained into the modern human psyche... How is it that we can prevent future generations from feeling the pain of our own? How can we beat the "fail system" that has permeated into almost every aspect of our daily lives?

Honestly, I have no idea.

I guess a good start would be to become the change that we want to see in the world through loving ourselves and accepting that our best will always be good enough.

We need to stop fearing numbers, and start living life.

Ultimately, we need to adjust how we see the world (and ourselves) in order to make it a better one.   

Aspen Grove

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey
For those of you who might not know, I started working at Aspen Grove for the Summer this week, yay!

Aspen Grove really is a beautiful place to be.
 Does it remind anyone else of "The Sound of Music"?
I am so grateful for the love and care that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with over the past few days. I'm amazed by the friends that I have already made and the fun that I've been able to have in such a short period of time (being the shy person that I am, this is a miracle in itself).  I know that I wouldn't have been able to find the courage to do any of this without His help and guidance.

While being here, I've been able to realize how far I have come with my eating disorder and self-esteem. I'm not scared. I don't have to worry about losing myself or becoming embarrassed by my urges to eat. I want people to see me for all that I am.

I've climbed mountains that I once thought too large to fathom.
I'm finally here in the present-- Loving life, and loving myself.

I'm grateful for the paths that I've wandered and the amazing view that I've been led to.
Trials once large now seem miniscule--I appreciate them.
Life has become much simpler...sweeter.

I now see past trials as training for larger ones that will surely come. From my experiences, I know that I can climb mountains. I am capable of accomplishing the impossible.

We all are.

Hardships will constantly beset our existence, but I guess that's the beauty of human nature,
we're unbreakable.

A Lasting Beauty

"She's not hot, but she has a lasting beauty that will never go away with age."
 -Ben Law
 (Translated from Cantonese-English into fairly poetic English)

Café Rio

During the hiatus between the end of Winter semester and the beginning of my Summer work schedule, I've been at home spending quality time with my family (and my bed).

Friday night, my parents went out of town leaving my younger brother and I alone with cash to spend on dinner and entertainment for the night. I decided to place an order online for Cafe Rio so I could just grab my food and run see a movie later. When I got to the restaurant, the to-go line was longer than the dine-in line with the average wait being 30 minutes just to get to the cashier. Long-story-short, I waited in line for what seemed like forever with at least 25 other disgruntled individuals.

You might be asking: "Alyson, what does waiting for a super delicious Pork Barbacoa burrito for an egregiously long period of time have to do with your regular blog posts?"

Well, I'll tell you!

Being the genius that I am, I decided to leave my phone in my car while I went into the restaurant to grab my food since it would be such a quick trip...little did I know how wrong I was. Anyways, without my usual technological companion to entertain my thoughts, I found myself gazing around the room and taking in the appearances of the other individuals around me while my thoughts wandered.

During high school (when my self-esteem was the lowest), my mom would tell me to look around and widen my vision when I would compare my body to that of others my age. For some reason, I would only let myself zero in on a certain type of body that I thought was prevalent and ideal according to society's standards. Because of this, I never saw just how normal I was and constantly felt like a lone Popsicle stick in a world of toothpicks (aka Utah: the land where everyone runs, has blonde hair, and watches "The Bachelor").

While I was waiting in line for my food, these thoughts came back into my head as I noticed a woman who was 5'2" and 90 lbs standing across the room. Before I could get far with my usual self-defeating comparisons, I decided to try and do what my mom had told me years ago--expand my vision. As I looked around, I noticed the different body types that surrounded me. Contrary to my predisposed beliefs, I found that her body was the minority, not mine. What a paradigm shift!

I once had a friend tell me that we're all different types of beautiful. Although I originally scoffed at her remarks, in this moment I finally understood the truth in her words. Beauty shouldn't be seen as a mold that only certain individuals fit; rather, beauty is prevalent in all of us but often times we chose, or are trained, not to see it. Isn't it interesting how we chose to place minor flaws above the perfection that already exists within us?

So, what does Cafe Rio have in common with my usual blog posts?
While waiting in line for a burrito, I realized three important concepts:

1. Real beauty is found in our differences
2. Beauty isn't defined by weight or size
3. Never order a meal online on a Friday night around 7:00pm.


I love Tuesdays.
I especially love the Tuesdays when I get to go to Salt Lake and see Dr. Michael Spigarelli. 

Dr. Spigarelli is the main reason why I chose to go into adolescent psychology this year at college (when I told him this today he said that, "Those who go into adolescent health care do it because they remember what it was like to be misunderstood. They don't try to forget their memories, but hold on to them."). He saved my life in ways beyond my physicality, and--aside from my mother, is my biggest cheerleader. Simply put, I admire him beyond words and I am incredibly grateful to have him in my life. 

During today's check-up we mainly talked about experiences that I've gone through over the past few months and my progress with my eating disorder. I'm proud to tell you all that I haven't binged, or had thoughts of bingeing,  since September of last year. It seems like I've finally reached a long-awaited hiatus until my next massive trial strikes.

More good news, I've lost 10 lbs.!
Want to know how I did it?

I ate.

Whaaaaa?! (Anyone else think of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2")

Yep. You heard me right. I ate food and because of that I lost weight.

For some reason, we've been taught to see and treat food as a necessary poison that we eventually become addicted to and need to pull away from at times. But why is that? We seem to think that it's better to deprive our body of nutrients by skipping  a meal than to eat a piece (or pieces) of cake at a birthday party.

Growing up, I was taught to count calories and to monitor the sweets that I would eat...I guess it was a generational issue. Physicians today now realize that calorie counting isn't important when compared to consistent eating. The secret to a healthy and active metabolism isn't found in a pill, super-food, or diet, but rather in eating what you want, when your body needs it. Essentially, the best diet is to listen to your stomach-- not restricting what you eat.

When I met Dr. Spigarelli, we established that my first goal would be to retrain my body to know when it was, and wasn't, hungry--due to the fact that for a year I had stretched it to its limits with binges and I simply didn't know when I needed to eat anymore. This was done through creating a regular eating schedule (meals six times a day plus protein snacks to keep myself full) and also by allowing myself to eat what I wanted. Dr. Spigarelli was teaching me that the best way to overcome an eating disorder is to go against what my eating disorder had been telling me for three years--which was, to eat (junk food, fruit, carbs...everything and anything).

I wish I could record every conversation that I've had with Dr. Spigarelli and upload them here unto this blog so that they could help other people. I feel like Mormon the Book of Mormon when he writes, "...I cannot write the hundreth part of the things of my people" (Words of Mormon 1:5). I don't think that I'll ever be able to adequately retell the things that I've learned from my visits to Dr. Spigarelli's clinic, but I hope that I can spread his general message of loving yourself.

Although I lost 10 lbs. over the course of about a year, it was healthy, natural, and safe. We need to learn to trust our bodies and know that our bodies will compensate for the days when we eat more than we intend to or less (think of Thanksgiving-- we stuff ourselves on the actual holiday, but we tend to not be as hungry the following day because our body doesn't need the food due to the obligatory eating festivities prior--like mitosis in cells, our bodies balance themselves out).

We shouldn't focus our lives upon a game of counting numbers and deprivation.

So, long-story-short, eat the 500 calorie piece of cake over the 300 calorie piece. Heck, eat two.
Because honestly, it really won't affect your weight in the long-run.

Social Media Rant

It's 1:43am and I'm definitely not asleep like I was planning on being three hours ago...
C'est la vie?

I don't know about anyone else, but it seems like whenever I get on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube I always come across posts about weight loss, fitness, and health. Although these can all be good things, what bothers me the most is that girls and women are constantly being fed thoughts that they aren't good enough through the influence of their peers and media. Personally, I know that whenever I see these posts negative thoughts start to stream through my consciousness as I critique and compare my appearance to that of others--it's self defeating,  like a form of  bullying.

Society criticizing the monster it created--
the irony is unbearable. 

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Cool weight loss journey, went from "skinny fat" to healthy and toned - also TONS of clean eating recipes!

A few months ago I saw my younger cousin post some weight-loss pins on Pinterest. As they appeared on my screen it was hard for me to resist the urge to throw my keyboard in the air out of sheer frustration. I was upset by the fact that she thought she needed to become even smaller than the >110 lbs. that she already was.

 As I sat in my chair, stewing, I felt a knot form in my stomach as realized why I was angry with her and the world in general: I saw myself in her thought process.

When I was dieting, I lost about 40 lbs. and went from being a size 12 to a size 2/4 in three months. Even when I had pushed my natural body to it's limit I was never satisfied with myself. I wasn't small enough, the fat on my body was always too much, and I could always manage to lose a few more pounds.

I desperately wanted to look like the thin women I saw around me.
But I realized too late that "skinny" is a lie.

Lately I've been wondering if the need to be thin is an innate characteristic in females or a result of expectations placed above our heads for generations. Why do we feel the need to diet? Do we like the aspect of control that it gives us over our physical selves? Is it a competitive stigma that we feel the desperate need to take part in? Is it Darwinism, a literal translation of survival of the fittest?

Why is it that more women seem to fear gaining weight than death itself?

Any thoughts?

Scratches on Paper

My first year of college is officially done! As glad as I am to be back with my family, I already miss the home that my friends and I created.

I feel like a stranger as I walk around my room and see not two beds, but one. I see stacked papers from months ago left untouched--like a display of who I once was.

A pile of yellow lined paper lay on my dusty desk with hasty scratches of recorded thoughts and emotions frozen in time. The more I read, the more I realize how I have changed.

Here's an except of what I found:

Scratches on Paper

As someone once said, 
"I'm not fat, but free."
Free from the the shackles I slapped on my wrists
When I decided that I wanted to be the world 
Rather than who God knew me to be. 

I realized too late that along with the pounds
I was losing the weight of my soul. 
My stomach wasn't starving alone. 

Twisted truths became my religion
And justified lies seemed to have no end. 

As friends came 
And left, 
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
I went. 

I blamed everyone, but me. 

Food became my prescription, my addiction. 
My "diet" had become my disease. 
As the pounds returned old scars ripped open
Red, condemning, and unforgiving. 

Now I realize they are the marks of a battle not lost, 
But won. 

For months I cried into pillows, 
In bathroom stalls,
And cars.
Sometimes, I would purge after binges
And let food, once sweet, 
Burn like acid on my tongue.

I knew I was a genetic mistake,
And death had never seemed so inviting. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy". 

A car crash or sit wrists seemed able to do the job nicely.
What if I survived?
I would be more damaged than before. 
I knew I would hate myself more.

I was told to be smart, 
"Eat like us", they said. 
Threats don't solve problems, 
Instead, like gasoline thrown on fire
they perpetuate. 

All of my work had gone to waste. 
I ended up in a more painful Hell, 
Fallen from grace. 

I felt worthless because I had been filled with hate. 

I was yelled at, 
swept under the rug, 
And at times, mounted on the wall. 

I felt like a charity case that no one wanted to have. 

I think one of the reasons why I feel like a stranger here at home is because I came back as a different individual when compared to the "me" of last June. Walking into my room was like walking into a museum with relics strewn across the tables and walls. I found myself learning about the life of an acquaintance long lost from memory. 

After writing all of this out, I realize that I'm like a Phoenix that has risen from the ashes of my past self, a regeneration. Like clay, my trials have formed me into someone better than I was before. Through pain comes eventual perfection.

 "When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change."
 (Bonus "nerd" points will be given to anyone who knows where this quote came from)
I know that  new challenges will always follow success; however, after overcoming myself I know I can overcome anything.

Long story short:
I'm definitely going to be cleaning my room over the next few days so that I can make space for the new "me" and feel at home again. 


"What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
-T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets-Little Gidding

Happy Easter Sunday! 

As I look back on this past year--including the trials I've overcome and acquired, I realize now just how great a role Jesus Christ has played in my life. Through the atonement, I know that I will be the champion of any challenge I face in life. I know that overcoming our weaknesses often brings about our greatest strengths. Prior to this year, I had always thought of myself as insignificant in the grand schemes of Heaven, but I've come to realize that no trial is too small or goes unnoticed by God. At times it felt like I was trapped in a pit with no escape; however, I saw my Savior many times through the eyes of friends, family, and medical professionals who raised me from my personal prison. Christ knew how to succor my spirit and gave me the love I so desperately needed because He suffered all things. 

I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He lives. His death on Calvary was not an end, but a marvelous beginning.

I believe in Christ. 
I owe Him my life and all that I am. 

I love my Savior. 

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things..." -Alma 26:12

Of Monsters and Men

I heard recently that in order to understand a monster, you must become one yourself.
I realize now that I'm the perfect archetype of this.

After 90+ blog posts, I can't exactly remember how much I have talked about my first eating disorder, but I wanted to write this down as a reminder to myself that numbers don't determine happiness.

I wish I could start this story at a specific point in my life, but as I've mentioned before, my eating disorder didn't just appear one morning. Rather, I believe that it had been festering inside of me for years.

In sixth grade, a boy named Noah told me that I looked like Fionna the Ogre.
Middle school brought self-awareness and the desire to fit in.
By high school, I was done.

My 10th grade health class was where I first learned about "calorie deficits" from my teacher, Mr. Lambourne. This concept of eating less to lose weight quickly seemed like an answer to my prayers. I did as he said, and kept a food journal online that would track my weight, my calories and my feelings throughout the process.

The first week was hard, but manageable. I wrote every day, and although I saw no change in weight, I was optimistic about the future.By the end of the second week, I had lost 5 pounds and fell into the rabbit hole. From that moment on, the scale became my best friend in what I thought to be a battle against myself.
The rules of my diet were simple: (looking back, I realize now how restrictive I had become) measure everything out into serving sizes, only eat 1,500 calories a day, eat celery and ice between meals (no calories),apples/rice cakes/bananas for snacks, and I couldn't eat sugar. My mom had told me that my lifestyle wasn't sustainable, and I was determined to prove her wrong.

The longer I did this, the easier it became. It was life. In the beginning, my mom complimented me on my self-control and I took pride in my "strength".  My A1c and blood sugar levels dropped dramatically and  I used them as an excuse for my actions. I thought my doctors were impressed with me, but as I look back now, I realize that their eyes were filled with worry, rather than awe.

Within 3 months, I had lost close to 35 pounds. I remember going to a parade with some guy friends during this time to see my best friend perform a cheer routine. As we were walking back to one of their cars, they admitted to have been checking me out. I laughed it off, flattered. They told me that I never needed to go on a diet, but they liked my new body more. Comments like these perpetuated my ever-growing ego. (However, I feel the need to state that not all of my guy friends were like this. One of them, Zach, would always tell me that he was worried I wasn't eating enough. When I finally started to turn my life around, he stated one day, "Alyson, I am so glad to see you eating again!") It seemed to be that the more weight I lost, the more compliments I received. My hunger for food was satisfied by my cravings for attention.

My restrictive eating caused a lot of tension between my me and my mother. The most prominent memory of this is when my family went to Oahu that same summer as the parade. I made my parents buy specific food just for me...low calorie, of course. I had temper tantrums over snacks and meal plans (I cried over not being able to have sugar-free syrup at Denny's to go with my whole wheat waffles and egg whites...). Needless to say, I definitely took away from the happy mood of the trip.

My thoughts were continually shaped around calorie amounts, my current weight, and my current clothing size. My mom told me that I wasn't enjoying life, I told her that I hated her. I constantly criticized everyone's eating habits around me. I thought of myself as an example for others to follow, so that they too could partake of my "happiness". I would tell my story whenever, and wherever I could. I wanted to become a nutritionist and write to inspire girls to do as I did--starve themselves to death in order to feel beautiful; I was clueless.

Although I thought that losing weight would make me feel more confident, it caused my insecurities to become even more exaggerated. Dress shopping for dances was ridiculous. I was constantly defensive, on edge and easy to anger. I didn't care about any of that though, I was too focused on the image I saw in the mirror. I remember being in the shower one day and looking down to see my feet, without my stomach obstructing the view--I was so happy I cried.

The more I write about this, the more I realize that I'll never be able to adequately record my thoughts, feelings, or experiences during this time of my life or about eating disorders in general. I said earlier that in order to understand a monster, you have to become one yourself. Well, I became a monster and lived to tell the tale; I'm able to better understand and help those around me because of it.

I can proudly say that I've been in your shoes, I get it.