What My Eating Disorder Recovery Taught Me About Mornings and Hustling

It’s World Eating Disorders Action Day (#WeDoAct) today (June 2, 2018) so I wanted to share my story. Which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

WHY I STARTED LOVE YOUR MORNINGS

In 2015, I started a website called Love Your Mornings to share my way of creating what I thought was a ‘successful’ life through mornings. Back then, I was setting my alarm to rise in the very early morning hours, striving for goals that I believed were what I wanted.

I mean, how many times have you heard that the most successful people in the world wake up at 5 am and do their morning thing — and then go out and be the success story that they are?

MY MORNING TRANSITION: REAL TALK

But here’s the thing: on my inside I was at war.

I had an eating disorder that no outside success could heal — and ultimately, my project, Love Your Mornings, made me realize that my morning practice wasn’t just about the structure that I was creating on my outside — it was about what I needed to do on my inside.

Love Your Mornings was originally born out of one of my many unhealthy thoughts. Thoughts which led me to believe that in order to succeed, one had to ‘hustle hard’, which I defined at that time as sacrificing key elements such as sleep, proper nutrition and balance.

It is only after my eating disorder recovery that I now realize the very things I was sacrificing in order to ‘hustle’ are actually non-negotiables in leading a sustainable, healthy, and joyous life.

MY EATING DISORDER

Although I’ve lived with fragments of an eating disorder my whole life — it became a full-blown disease in 2014.

I liken an eating disorder to a leaky faucet: at first, it’s barely noticeable. “Oh this will be fine,” you think to yourself. “It’s nothing. It won’t get worse. I can deal with this.”

Then one day, the tiny leaks have somehow exploded into a full-on gushing hose and you curse yourself for not having dealt with it at the start.

  • Some days, even though I was training hard at the gym and lifting heavy weights, I would eat breakfast and skip eating for the rest of the day.
  • Some days, I would only eat nuts and grapes.
  • Anything starchy was off limits. My morning avocado toast was usually my only ‘starch’ of the day (now you see where my love affair with avocado toast began).
  • Over a time period of only three years, I had eight different personal trainers. Sometimes I would have trainers simultaneously, and no one ever knew.
  • I stopped eating fruit because of all the ‘sugar’ content.
  • I tracked my body fat % every single day. I rarely took photos from this time period because I didn’t think I was worthy of photos.

RECOVERY: I THINK, THEREFORE I AM

It’s been a journey — but I have recovered. Thanks to two close friends who staged an intervention, I entered the Vancouver Coastal Health Eating Disorder Program in 2015, and continued working with external professionals one year after that I left the program. I can now finally say I can weigh myself and not obsess about the number.

  Left: Before, at my lowest weight. Right: After, in a more healthy place.

Left: Before, at my lowest weight. Right: After, in a more healthy place.

I’ve had a lot of quiet mornings alone for self reflection, and I have learned, re-learned and shifted mindsets many, many times. If I’m able to share just one thing with you for now, it’s this:

Your thoughts are powerful.

Thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to behaviours and actions. And I’ve had a lot of unhealthy and unproductive thoughts over the last few years.

  • Thoughts which led me to make unhealthy decisions, such as having two personal trainers at once (in secret).
  • Thoughts which ‘tricked’ me into believing I was not good enough, or an optimal body size.
  • Thoughts which made me believe fruit was bad for you.
  • Thoughts which led to behaviours that were harmful to my body, like losing my period.
 Now proudly eating ALL the fruits.

Now proudly eating ALL the fruits.

It has been almost two years since I formally left the VCH Recovery Program. I’ve had ups and downs. But I’m very proud to say that for the last two years — despite moving to a city that stresses the importance of physical appearance (HELLO Medellín, Colombia!) — and where plastic surgery is considered ‘normal’ — I’ve never thought less about how much I weigh.

WHY I AM STILL A MORNING PERSON

Don’t get me wrong — I still love my mornings! But my mornings are a very different experience now. I’m free from the frantic, disciplined schedule that wreaked havoc on my mind and my body.

There is now less structure to my morning, but I still believe in the morning practice more than ever! The morning is your first moment into the world after resting and cleansing your mind and body — what could be more important?

But now:

  • Instead of loving my mornings because I get to eat my one starchy meal of the day, I now love my mornings because it’s when I get to be fully ‘self-full’ (not selfish, but focused instead on self-care).
  • I eat breakfast now, not out of obsession because I don’t know when my next meal will be, but because I have a greater purpose: to support my system through nutrition so that I can live as long as possible while maintaining a healthy body and healthy mind.
  Still loving breakfast.

Still loving breakfast.

I STILL WANT PEOPLE TO LOVE YOUR MORNINGS

I’ve have been MIA from Love Your Mornings for a while now because, to be honest, I’m learning how to ‘sleep in’ again, and learning how to not overtrain my body. It’s hard!

Little did I know that when I started Love Your Mornings back in 2015, that it would also eventually become a place of healing for me. This project offered me the opportunity for something I didn’t know I needed: self-reflection.

Thank you to everyone who has supported my venture from the start. The official Love Your Mornings chapter has ended (for now!) but I hope I can still convince you to eat hustle for breakfast — whatever hustle looks like in your world.

Rise + shine,
Alice

Also published on Medium.