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Goal Setting for August

Hi friends! Happy holiday Monday to my Canadian readers! I got in late last night from Michigan – I spent a sun-soaked day running trails and lounging by the lake before heading home in the evening so I am posting this a little later than normal.

I did my first adventure race this weekend in Ada, Michigan and it was quite the wild ride. I will be posting a full recap on Friday because today I am tackling my goals for the next month and taking a look at how I did in July. 

1. Prepare for my marathon in 7 weeks. A++

Honestly, I feel like I have done little else other than working and a few side projects over the past 4 weeks. I am crossing my fingers that I will do well. I feel strong, trained and fully confident that although it will hurt, I will be able to hold things together. I am 2 weeks out and the taper portion has begun.

2. See my friends and family more. A++

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Family vacation in New York

Making bad anorexia jokes with my sisters. (Disclaimer: My youngest sisters does have severe anorexia and has for over a decade. Although it is a very serious issue, sometimes laughter is as much a part of the process as mourning.

Making bad anorexia jokes with my sisters. (Disclaimer: My youngest sister does have severe anorexia and has for over a decade. Although it is a very serious issue, sometimes laughter is as much a part of the process as mourning.)

You can see a series I did on our family’s journey with the disorder here.

Post adventure race with one of my endurance athlete heroes.

Post adventure race with one of my endurance athlete heroes.

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Catching up with some of my best friends from university.

3. Settle into my new volunteering role. A+

I met with the director of the program and I have my first board meeting in September. I am on the PR Board of a local organization that provides housing and addiction services to those in my local community.

4. Take mini-vacations. A++

I was so good at this as well! I just came back from spending a few days in New York and Michigan. Over the past month, I spent some weekends in Toronto, Hamilton and London. It’s been such a solid month of summer awesome.

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5. Take to the lakes and trails to prep for my adventure race. A

No plus on this one. I went into the adventure race feeling a bit unprepared, especially with the mountain bike portion. But my hard month of physical training kicked it and I did well, despite not being as technically prepared as I hoped. I did get to have some practice on the water though.

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I don’t know if I will be able to meet my goal smashing success of July this month, but I will give it my best shot.

In August, I want to:

1. PR (Personal record) and BQ (Boston Qualify) my marathon. 

I am running stage 7 of the Endurrun on the Health and Performance women’s team. I don’t think I have ever trained as hard for a race in my life because I know there is not just me, but an entire team that is counting on my performance.

2. Do some networking for work. 

I have some business meetings and work events this month and I am hoping to settle further into my new position because the fall is the busiest time for me.

3. Rest. 

The next couple weeks are taper time. I am hoping to drink lots of water, eat healthy food and get lots of sleep to be refreshed and ready to rock the race.

4. Get organized!

This summer has been moving a warp speed which means that there are things that have dropped by the wayside for me both on the blog and in my personal living space. I am hoping to attack some projects and get a little bit more organized.

5. Dive into a big project. 

I have joined up with a big, exciting project with a company and team that I think the world of. The next 4 months will be filled with a lot of behind the scenes grunt work, but I am looking forward to tackling it and sharing more soon!

What are your goals for August?

 

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Interview with Megan – Sisters and Anorexia

Hello there,

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I spent it completing my second race of the year in Tampa, spending time with friends and family and soaking up that sunshine on a 25 km run and at the beach!

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Today is the final installment of my series on anorexia and how it has affected my family and I am telling my story today with the help of my sister.

Megan has been one of my best friends since day one. We have built forts, bit and scratched each other, played dolls and fought against an eating disorder. We have listened to boy problems, stood up to bullies for the other one and talked each other to sleep when we were alone at home because my parents were at the hospital for Jolene.

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Without Megan, I would have gone insane a long time ago. She was always the one to jump first to make sure everything was ok, but over the years, I have learned to do it myself. She was always the fierce, brave one and I have learned so much from her fearlessness and feistiness.

I have never met anyone as fiercely loyal or as unaffected by other people’s opinion of her. In short, I adore her.

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Over the years, we have learned a thing or two about being a sister to an anorexic:

1. Nothing makes you feel more guilty then sharing a bed and accidently stealing all the covers from an anorexic in the middle of the night.

2. Mealtimes with an anorexic will suck. Give them timelines, firm commands and a fist bump afterwards for finishing their required amount of food.

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3. Give the eating disorder a name. Then pretend he is another person so you don’t end up hating your sibiling. It’s not them.

4. They hate choices around eating and food. Make as many for them as possible. If you are at a restaurant, make suggestions for them. If you are cereal shopping, say “Let’s get Honey Oat!” Trust me, if they are not ok with it, they will tell you.

5. You will immediately bristle and go red in the face whenever you hear a conversation about dieting, weight or fat when you are anywhere in public with an anorexic sibling. You will want to stuff a sock in the person’s mouth, but instead politely listen and check that your sibling is ok afterwards.

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6. You will get really good at turning tabloids with eating disorder headlines around when you are grocery shopping with an anorexic sibling.

7. Nothing makes you want to hit someone more when upon hearing that you have an anorexic sibling, someone trumpets “Man! I could use a bit of that!” or “I wish I could catch anorexia for a week to lose this weight.

8. Crowds of people are overwhelming for them. Whenever possible, give them some downtime. If you see they are anxious, take them to a quiet place and allow them to “reset”.

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9. You will receive an overwhelming amount of frustrating but well meaning suggestions of things to “try” to cure your sister. I have heard everything from exorcism to pot brownies…and that was just this week.

We are so blessed to have each other and I could not ask for a better team mate as we go up against the eating disorder every day.

I love you, Meggie.

 

Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout this video series. I have gotten a large amount of emails and messages and I will personally respond to them all.
So many of you are struggling with your own eating disorder or fighting for a loved one that is. My heart breaks for you. 
If you are feeling lost or alone in the fight with an eating disorder, need someone to listen or some direction of where to go for help, send me an email at lacesandlattes@gmail.com. I’m happy to help in any way I can.

Interview with Parents of an Anorexic-2

Interview with Parents of an Anorexic

Well hello there friends,

What an outpouring of support and awareness it has been from you all this week. I have been so overwhelmed by your kindness and care about a topic that is so important to me.

I apologize that comments were closed this week. I am in Florida this week with limited access to internet, so I have no control over technical glitches.

And of course, that is when they will happen…

Regardless, today I want to talk about my parents.

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Meet two of the most lively, spirited and wonderful people I know. The two of them contain the very best bits of me with  none of the bad. Literally, these people are saints. I would want to be friends with them whether they were my parents or not.

Together, they have weathered the most incredible of storms and they have still managed to stay hopeful and in love because, well, they are on the same team.

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These two have put their lives on hold to go up against anorexia. Although they didn’t chose it, they spend their days dispensing medication, travelling to and from appointments, interviewing new dieticians, therapists and doctors when needed, deciding when and where to put their youngest baby in treatment, driving to another appointment, coaching her through meals, paying bills for therapy and travel, taking Jolene to another appointment, doing awareness talks at local events, paying more bills, driving to another appointment… you get the idea.

My father is a Type A mover and shaker who goes after life with reckless abandon. He stops at nothing to reach his goals and his success in life has proven that. Any of my adventuring genetics are owing to him.

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My mother is the most lively, spirited person I know. She is spontaneous and wildly FUN. All my decisions for last minute road trips to Tennessee or signing up for a half marathon “just because” are due to her. (It is a necessity to blame one’s shortcomings on their parents..)

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Basically, to sum up my parents…if you were at a party, my mother would be in the centre of it and my father would have been on the committee who spearheaded it.

Dealing with an illness that daily challenges the health, longevity and wellbeing of one of their children has taken a toll on them over the years. They are by no means perfect and the eating disorder has made them question everything in the past, including each other.

I have watched them battle through some of the darkest moments in our family, their marriage and their lives. I have watched them fall in love again and emerge stronger and more hopeful than ever before.

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For me, this was vital. They taught me to hold on to what matters in life, even when it seems like there is nothing worth holding on to. Observing their faithfulness to their vows, their family and their community changed the way I saw the world.

They have taught me that life is not fair and it’s sometimes not even fun, but it is worth living and living to the full extent.

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Having a family member with anorexia has broken our family, my parents and my sister. But instead of giving up because our old normal was gone, my parents have begun a new normal and show that you can rebuild anything with enough love, hope and faith that it will all turn out ok.

But they can tell the story better than I can:

Check back on Monday for the final instalment of the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Series where my sister and I have a candid conversation on what it is like to have a sister with anorexia. 

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Interview with Jolene

Good morning everyone.

I am so overwhelmed by the incredible support that has been pouring out since my original post on Monday. It has been an honour to share our story with you and if we can raise any awareness and shed any light on the truth of eating disorders, I will feel as if we have done our job.

Today’s post is on my sister Jolene.

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This was the biggest one for me. It is a long movie, so settle in or save it for a lazy day but be prepared to be touched. Jolene is only 20, but she has been through more in her short life than most people encounter in a lifetime. She talks about her struggles with the resignation, a poise and a grace that is unseen in most of her peers. She is a bit of an old soul, having weathered huge storms in life and having been through hell and back many times.

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I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. We do believe that there is hope that Jolene can recover, but we also believe that she will never be able to live a life without the horrible presence of the eating disorder. It will always be a struggle for her, but that is why we are here – to support her, to love her and to keep pushing her on to better things.

There are days when it feels like she will never recover.

There were many moments in her recovery where we truly believed that we had “arrived”. That the battle was finally over and that we could celebrate the fact that we were free of dealing with an eating disorder in our lives.

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But in order to save our hearts and our sanity, we had to stop feeling like we “arrived” at a solution and instead, we take it one day at a time. Some days we lose it. (As you will see in upcoming interviews), but most days it is a quiet and unsettled acceptance that this is our normal and we need to find a way through instead of out.

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Anorexia has been horribly unfair to Jolene and that is saying it lightly. It has extinguished a vital light in her that she has never relit as she has turned her energies into fighting, sinking and searching. As a family that loves her more than anything, this makes us angry.

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So what can you do RIGHT NOW to stop eating disorders in their tracks?

Change your perspective on what matters.
Change your self talk.
Treat yourself the way you deserve and forgive yourself.
Your attitude on this starts with YOU and your self esteem, not anywhere else.
Then stop talking about your perceived flaws to others and instead focus on your strengths and the strengths of others.
Stop comparing yourself to others and celebrate you for who you are.
Replace the negative thoughts you may have with positive thoughts.
And if nothing else? Watch this movie. Jolene can tell the story much better than I can:

 

Check back on Friday for an intimate interview with my parents on what it is like to care for a child with anorexia. 

 

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Good morning everyone!

I hope you had a refreshing weekend! I had a busy weekend preparing to go to Florida this week, volunteering for the House of Friendship’s Potato Blitz and running my first race of the season! (Recap will be up here soon).

Although I am looking forward to heading into a week of sunshine and runs free of ice, slush and wind, this week is tinged with a bit of sadness for me. It is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and if you are a long time reader, you will know that my youngest sister has been fighting anorexia for almost a decade.

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This is an illness that breaks my heart. There is nothing that makes me feel more helpless, more angry and more passionate about. It is something that I would do anything to stop and that my family and I have done everything in our power to fight against, raise awareness for and come alongside others who are dealing with the same horrible situation.

This year’s NEDAwareness Week theme is I Had No Idea to raise awareness towards the significant impact eating disorders have on individuals, families, and communities across the nation. The more people who learn about these life-threatening illnesses, the more lives we can save.

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To help remove the stigma and to give you a BIT of an idea of what it is like, I am interrupting my regular blogging schedule and I have created a video series that I will be releasing throughout the week. I interviewed my sister who has struggled with anorexia for most of her life, my mother who is her primary caretaker, my father who has sacrificed physically, financially, emotionally and almost every other way to help make his daughter well again, my siblings who have watched the disease from the inside. It will also give you an intimate look into our family’s lives over the past decade as we have banded to gather to try and save our sister and daughter.

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This is a disease that has broken my heart and I want it to break yours. There are so many things that we can do differently such as removing the stigma of eating disorders, talking about them and seeking help when we know we need to.

Thank you for being so supportive and thank you for joining this journey. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, have questions or need advice on helping someone you think may be suffering, please contact me at lacesandlattes@gmail.com. I have contact information for experts in the field and if nothing else, I have been there. After almost 10 years, you tend to learn a thing or two!

Check back Wednesday to watch a candid interview with my sister Jolene as she tells her story, shares what it is like to live in the trenches of anorexia and share her thoughts on what the next steps are. 

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September Goal Checkin and Five More!

Hello everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and you are recharged and refreshed for the week. I had a bit of a different weekend. On Saturday, I headed up to Mount St. Louis Moonstone to compete in a Tough Mudder event. I will be doing a recap later, but although it was certainly not the toughest event on the planet as they claim, it certainly was a lot of fun!

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Rocking the finishers head band and a wee bit of mud..

As tomorrow marks the beginning of October, it is time to crack down and take a look at what I want to accomplish in the next month and assess how I did in September!

1. Start a book club with my friend in Toronto. - F

Let me explain. I had the location of my race wrong so we haven’t had a chance to meet to discuss the book. But when we do, we will be chatting about The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich.

2. Complete two races in a day. – F

Failed AGAIN. This is again with circumstances beyond my control as the race got cancelled. But I can assure you I would have done both races! :)

3. Increase my mountain biking skills. C

I wasn’t able to make it to the mountain biking training, but I have been out on the trails a few times and am getting more confident for an upcoming race on my schedule. (Check my list out, it has been freshly updated!)

4. Get everything prepped for my Trail Running Series that I am leading at the end of September. B

I still have some copy to prepare, but thankfully I have lots of time to do it! I lead the first session last Thursday night and it was a success! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

5. Get a sports massage. A+

Not only did I get a sports massage, but I booked in for another one tomorrow! I have found a fabulous local sports therapist and I am looking forward to another tool to stay on top of my training.

So, I certainly have room for improvement in October. Here is what I am dreaming and scheming for this month:

1. Qualify for Boston in my October 20th marathon. 

I have been training almost every day since June, watching my nutrition, training and have even added a coach to the mix. I am feeling quite confident that I will reach the time I am looking towards unless something goes seriously wrong. Just another step closer to my goal of running Boston before I turn 30! This month, I will be super strict with eating correctly, getting enough sleep and tapering my training.

2. Spend some quality time with my sister, Jolene. 

As of tomorrow, my parents are off to Greece for a couple weeks and that leaves me in charge of these two kiddies.

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Nathan is my cousin from Sioux Lookout who is completing a semester of high school in the area and living with our family. Jolene is my youngest sister. She has been really struggling lately with her battle with anorexia and I am hoping to be a strong support to her.

3. Do some work on the blog. 

Although I have sunk quite a bit of time into the recent redesign and landing page, there are a few tweaks that are a bit time consuming and I have been putting them off. NO longer. I am looking forward to refreshing and rewriting a few bits so keep your eyes peeled for some fresh new content!

4. PR my 5 KM distance. 

I have been training hard to increase my speed and with a varsity alumni event next weekend, I am hoping to grab my spikes, get in there and do better than I did in my XC career at the University of Waterloo.

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5. Take in Octoberfest. 

I am not much of a partier to say the least, but this is a local, cultural event that I have never attended. When a friend at the local BIA asked me to join this month, I decided 2013 was the year to check it out! If nothing else, I absolutely love living in Kitchener/Waterloo and I am excited to spend some time with some local community friends!

What are your goals for October?

 

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A way through

It was early last Saturday morning and I breezed downstairs to head out for the day. I walked through the kitchen on the way to pour myself a cup of coffee and saw my youngest sister sitting alone at the table, picking at cold egg whites and a couple of blueberries and calling it a meal.

I lost it.

I looked at her and said as emphatically as I could ” You are stronger than this!” and stormed off to work.

We talked back and forth later and I tried my best to let her know that it wasn’t her that I am angry at. It is her eating disorder. Her stupid, selfish, life taking eating disorder.

The one that makes my words catch in my throat when I see her in a tank top or towel, headed to the shower when I realize how incredibly small it has made her. So small I want to cry but instead I look at another member of my family and manage some sad laughter.

The one that allows her to think she can regularly eat portions that do not even support basic body processes and be ok.

The one that has robbed her of so many years.

The one that has made me realize that as long as it is here, I will most likely outlive my baby sister.

THAT is why I am angry. I think another reason I reacted is the sheer helplessness of dealing with anorexia. Everyone always has an answer: Have you tried this? Some relative tried this and it WORKED. The problem is that after a decade, we have tried everything and done everything we can. I think a decade ago we thought that by this point it would all be over. And I think at this point we have realized it never really ends. And sometimes, there is a deep guilt in being happy. Because I don’t know what it feels like to wake up everyday and not feel anything other than the horror of needing to face your greatest fear at least three times that day. I think it is the same guilt that many people feel when a loved one is hurt and they aren’t: Why not me instead?

So in answer to my insensitive comment about Jolene being stronger – she is. She is one of the strongest people I know. But an eating disorder is just so equally strong and she fights it every day. Everyone gets tired every now and then. Even the people who are in the sidelines with her.

And as we come to terms with the fact that Ed is here to stay and that we need to find a way THROUGH instead of a way OUT, I feel so very blessed to call Jolene my sister.

No matter where life takes us – to me you are perfect.

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Have a wonderful long weekend.

 

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Jolene

Last night, my mother gave one of her presentations of our family’s journey through anorexia to a local group of women.

This is a noteworthy event because I breezed in to watch the presentation after teaching a spin class, only to realize that the presentation was over and my mother had decided to call my sisters and I up to the front to field questions. Thanks for the heads up…

Regardless, we stood in front of the ladies and questions slowly went from being directed at us as a group to my littlest sister, Jolene.

christmas-lights I was so proud of her last night.

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She calmly explained that the second my mother will turn her back, she will throw out the salad/sandwich she is “eating” without hesitation.

She explained that it is easier to lie to our mother about what she ate then to actually eat the food.

She shared that how she helps other girls with eating disorders is to tell them all the things that she doesn’t believe about herself: That they are beautiful, strong and worth something. That they will beat the disorder.

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I told them that Jolene is the strongest person I know because she wakes up every morning and knows that she needs to face her greatest fear at least 4 times that day…and she gets up anyways.

We all calmly spoke about the tragedy that has encompassed our lives over the past decade. Because it is a reality. It is ok. We have learned that we can trust Jolene with anything and we can trust her eating disorder with nothing.

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We have learned that she and her disorder, ED, we call him, are separate things. It is not her fault, we are not disappointed in her, and we have hope in her recovery.

After the session closed, Megan whispered in my ear – “Let’s grab the littlest one and go get some coffee together.”

So we went.

We left all of the heartaches that we experienced this week, this month, this decade and we hightailed it out of there together. We spent the rest of the evening in a coffee shop, laughing uproariously at the stories we had to share and the ideas we brainstormed.

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This is why I have hope. 

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Christmas With Anorexia

I had a post all drafted up for today, but I threw it out the window in lieu of something else much more important.

Christmas seems to be a loaded time for many things; our tables are laden with wonderful food and our week is saturated with family events. It is a happy time. We are surrounded by the people we love and a feast almost every day of the week.

For an anorexic, that is the problem.

Jolene has been doing very well for the last while. She found a medication that worked with her and she had been actively trying to surround herself with a support network and positive influences.

The tricky thing with an eating disorder is that it is subtle. It slips up quietly; a few discouraging words from a person here, an interaction with a trigger there, and suddenly, what was looking like a breeze slides into battle field territory. Suddenly we notice that we are losing her again. The voice that we hear is no longer her, but her eating disorder. Her decisions are clouded by her impulses.

I am not saying Jolene has gone backwards. Any recovery is full of ups and downs. But Christmas strikes a deep fear in the heart of someone who struggles with food and makes each day a struggle.

We need to find a balance with the Christmas propaganda that you will need to “Lose Those Holidays Pounds” which assumes you will GAIN anything at all or suggests that food is a thing to be feared rather than celebrated. We need to find a way to celebrate sensible eating and the wonderful gift that our bodies are. Yes, we come in all shapes and sizes, but that is what makes it amazing.

fruitThis Christmas, eat your vegetables, have a bit of pie, and celebrate how beautiful you are and how blessed you are to be surrounded by family and friends.

And if you think of it, please send out positive thoughts and prayers to Jolene. Christmas is never an easy time for her, but we are celebrating the fact that it is her first Christmas with us in a while and surrounding her with support and love.

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More than you will ever know

We have someone in our family who is just..awkward.

We want him to leave and we have told him this, but he follows us everywhere. We tried to leave him in the mountains of Utah, but he slipped inside a small corner and followed us home.

He makes us cry in public places.

He makes relationships really hard sometimes.

He makes life really hard sometimes too.

I am not talking about my father, the only male in our immediate family- rather the enigma that our family has coined TED (acronym for The Eating Disorder).

It has been a while since we have talked about this because sometimes it is easier to just not. After living almost a wretched decade with TED and hoping he will leave us, he still continues to explore his regular haunts within our family.

Jolene has been back home for a number of months now and she is doing great. She is working at a local restaurant and spending time with a close group of friends, going to Marine land, camping and canoeing. In other words, trying to take her life back. But there are some days when we still notice that all is not well and Jolene needs a little bit of extra support.

There has been a lot taken from us in the past decade, even though we have become stronger. Jolene finds it especially hard to connect with our father and myself, something we are still trying to sort out the pieces from.

Last evening, I found myself getting angry over a trivial matter and finally gave up and told Jolene what I was really upset about; how I wish we could have relationship – something that has been stolen from us over the years of fighting the monster of anorexia. It is those moments of pure honesty and yearning that we win another battle against anorexia.

Things are not perfect, and I don’t think they ever will. But they are ok and for now, we are holding onto that and forging on in the fight of our lives for this precious sister and daughter that we are so blessed to call ours.

Together we are so much stronger. Ladies night out with makeovers and dinner.

As a family, we fiercely want to prevent this from happening from anyone else and to help others who are walking the same path. We have some important events coming up that we would love to have you join us in.

1. Next Sunday (August 5), The Optimist Club of Petersburg is hosting a Breakfast in the Park in support the awareness and treatment of Eating Disorders. It is from 9 – 12 pm at the Petersburg Park and they have an amazing menu planned! My family and I will be there and would love to see everyone out! For more information on the event, click here. 

2. On September 18 – 21, my father’s business will be hosting a fundraiser for Eating Disorder Awareness at the International Plowing Match. They will need at least 25 volunteers to sell Home Hardware pails and ED bracelets & mittens over the 5 day Plowing Match. We will be looking for volunteers who can commit to a full or half day at the event by August 1, 2012. (Or as soon as possible.) If you are interested in helping out and in raising awareness, please click here. 

Thank you. We appreciate this more that you will ever know.