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. 

A Stomach-Shrinking Meal Plan - Consider making a meal plan for yourself from our LITlicious healthy recipes handbook. Planning ahead will help you achieve your health and weight loss goals. Made it to the gym? Be proud. Missed the gym? Commit to making the time tomorrow. We're here to help. | 

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?