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Tuesday, 16 December 2014
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"Holiday Happiness'" (By: Megan Sforzo)

The holidays are a time of giving, love and celebration. We have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones and create memories that will last a lifetime. Although with that, comes food and for me, fear.

For the past five years or so when I think of the holidays, I think of fear: a fear of the people and the food. I create this build up of anxiety and thoughts in my head such as, "My family totally thinks I gained weight. Oh my gosh, they are staring at my plate. Have I served myself too many carbs?"

Then, I have thoughts about food such as, "Oh my this is gross; I am eating so many chemicals. I can't eat that; even though it is my favorite. Be normal! It is the holidays, you don't need to starve or eat a perfect amount of calories."

I often get questions and comments from relatives such as, "Why aren't you eating that? What is wrong with you? Come on, splurge a little its the holidays! Wow, you like your ice-cream Meg!"

My family is incredible. I should not have these thoughts or fears or freak out if they ask a question, but I can not help it. They most definitely are not judging me in the slightest, they just want what is best for me and are curious.

Even though I am at a healthy weight, I still struggle. I think that there is this idea that once you reach a healthy weight your eating disorder is gone. Sometimes I am happy with myself and sometimes I am not. There are good days and bad days in my journey to recovery.

But as for the holidays, how can we be happy? How can I not have a mental freak out while trying to enjoy a week home with my family?

1. Stop Reading Harmful Articles

The internet bombards us with articles on how to stick to our diet during the holidays, how to not gain weight and how to burn off that Thanksgiving dinner. For some people those articles may be helpful, but for me they are triggering.

2. Get Outside

This has helped me so much! Nashville is incredible. There are so many parks and outdoor activities to just go and breathe, walk and explore. When I walk, I take in the scenery and think of how incredible life is and how grateful I am for this world. Don't worry on how fast you are walking or how many calories you ate that day, which is totally easier said than done. Just breathe! I sound totally crazy, but trust me you will love it.

My favorite spots are:

  • Percy Warner Park
  • Radnor Lake
  • Shelby Bottoms
  • Beaman Park

3. Listen to Music

Turn on your favorite music and groove! Music can change your mood.

4. Relax

The other day, I stayed in my pajamas all day. I was so tired from finals and my body and mind needed a day off. I put on a face mask, sat on my couch and watched Christmas movies on Netflix all day. I ate, sat and was completely content. Showing some self-love and listening to your body can make a world of difference.

5. Give

The holidays are a time of giving. Give love! Your family and friends love you. I sometimes have a problem with accepting love. Accept their love and show them you love them too. That is the best gift you can give.

This past Thanksgiving was wonderful. Yes, I still had crazy thoughts, but they did not control me. Yes, I ran everyday, but I ran because I was with my dad and that is what we love to do together.

Each day, each season and each year will get better and better!

Happy Holidays!

About the Author

Megan Sforzo is a senior at Lipscomb University studying Public Relations and Fashion Merchandising. She loves all things fashion related and hopes to pursue a career in the industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and reading.

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Posted on 12/16/2014 9:38 AM by Megan Sforzo
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Tuesday, 09 December 2014
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"Gratitude as the 'Gamechanger'" (By: Maria Grasso)

People who know me in the most recent “space” in my life have a hard time believing that I went through (am always going through, yeah?) an eating disorder. Does anyone else ever get that? “You? No way.”  Me, yes way. 

See, I am addicted to serving others.  It’s the cornerstone I’ve built my life on and if you kick it out from under me, I might just crumble.  Those who know me, know this, of course, and can’t imagine how someone who has “so much concern for others” could ever fall into the “selfish” arms of anorexia.

But see, when you are knee deep in ED you don’t feel selfish at all.  In fact, you feel selfless, often focusing on the needs of others more so than yourself. 

Here’s the problem, though: I think we misunderstand selflessness greatly. 

Selflessness is NOT about shifting the focus off of you onto others.   It’s easy to lose yourself even further into ED’s world when you abandon yourself for the sake of others. 

Selflessness is NOT just a cop-out strategy to utilize so that your involvement in the lives of others overshadows your own needs.

Selflessness IS about changing the game we play, though.  And yes, I called it a game. 

Perfectionism was my sport and I was captain of the varsity squad.  In the trenches of my battle, I spent two summers in rural South Africa and Namibia immersed in the communities of the poorest of the poor.  I don’t want to sell myself short here, but let’s be honest: I was shifting the focus not changing the game.

Shifting the focus onto others helped me ignore what was going on inside myself, ultimately causing my ED to grow wildly out of control. 

If we aren’t careful, our “good deeds” can harm us.  What I thought was “selfless” might end up being the most “selfish” action of my life.  See, I didn’t want people to focus on what was “wrong” with me; I wanted them to focus on what was “right” with me.  I cared about crafting the “perfect image” of who I was more than the intention behind it—even though that healthy desire to help others was there too, it was buried under the chase of perfectionism.

I remember falling back into a habit I had in my youth of gratitude writing, taking a little time each day to be specific about the things I am grateful for in life.  Yeah, just all of the sudden out of nowhere I did it.  Why, you ask?  Well, successful people practice gratitude daily and this “perfection” chaser was all about “being successful”. Sometimes we buy into the practice without understanding the results.  This was one of those things for me.  I did it because I heard that’s “what you do”, and man, did it pay off.

Gratitude practices allowed me to change the game I was playing.  I was no longer caught up in “perfectionism” but rather was caught up in what I like to call “intentionalism” (how’s that for a made up word?).  As I started seeing who and what I was grateful for, I became more aware of the intentions of others and eventually the intentions of myself.  I found myself being grateful for people and things that were rooted in honesty and vulnerability.  Overtime, I started to see that my battle with ED was robbing me of serving others from a genuine place; it was an obstacle to my underlying intentions. 

See, my honest intentions were always there, they were simply smothered by my battle with perfection.  Gratitude helped me strip away those “perfect” layers and live life more intentionally.  If we allow it, daily gratitude practices will help us to maintain our true character and shed the layers that block us from doing so.  By living from our honest intentions, we create an overwhelming abundance of self.  There’s more and more to give to others, without robbing you of what’s necessary to remain uniquely you.  

About the Author

Maria Grasso has a passion for people and commitment to education.  In her youth, she served as a Youth Ambassador for a United Nations Association development program in both South Africa and Namibia where she assisted in school development and built water sanitation facilities and homes for rural families. After graduation, Maria moved to Houston, Texas to work in urban education and nonprofit administration at an innovative Houston high school for economically disadvantaged students, while completing her Master’s of Business Administration. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of a youth success program that exposes high school and college students to the proven systems and techniques, that when properly practiced, give students a 7-year head start on their career and life. Maria is an advocate for using your body for strength—and loves motivating friends and family to reach their goals and laugh along the way!

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Posted on 12/09/2014 9:30 AM by Maria Grasso
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