Hey friends! It’s Monday morning and I’m feeling fired up. I’m kicking off a little mini-series here on the blog this week, featuring a few people that inspire me and the way that I think about healthy living. As I was compiling these stories, there were parts that were so relatable and true for my own self, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read these.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about why I stopped counting calories and my own journey to finding what healthy really means for me. As my mindset shifted over the past few years, I found myself filling up my Instagram feed with others that had been on a similar journey, so I’m super excited to introduce them to you! I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.
We’re kicking things off with my girl Kat from Katalyst Health. I’ve been reading Kat’s blog for years, (in fact, she wrote a guest post for me wayyyy back in 2011!) so I’m pumped to have her share her story here!
Hi there I Heart Vegetables readers! My name is Kat and I am the proud blogger of Katalyst Health, a gluten-free healthy living blog that features mostly recipes with a little bit of fitness and health on the side. As someone who struggled with an eating disorder much of high school and into my college years, my blog has been an evolution of my personal growth and healing from my binge and purge disorder and exercise addiction. As someone who used to live off of processed diet foods like Slimfast and Lean Cuisines, I now love creating and sharing recipes that are whole-foods based and high in nutrition. I believe in having balance in one’s diet – which is clearly evident from the recipes I post! From healthy snack bites to crazy delicious cakes [Cinnamon Roll Cake, y’all!] I love sharing my passion for good, healthy food as well as life lessons I’ve learned [and am still learning!] as I’ve healed from my ED.
How would you define “healthy” and how has the definition changed for you over the years?
The definition of what healthy looks like is different for everyone. For me, healthy used to look like 1,000 calories a day on top of at least two hours in the gym. After years of struggling with my ED I now have a different definition, one which is actually much more realistic and attainable. Healthy to me is based off not only how I feel physically but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s about so much more than calories, macronutrients or time spent in the gym. Though I do eat “healthy” foods for the most part, I also don’t focus on my food or let it have control over me. I don’t obsess over calories in and calories out by spending hours in the gym and I no longer abuse myself with degrading thoughts and comments about my own body. I am healthy because I love my body enough to care for its needs – it’s that simple!
What are some of the challenges or struggles you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest struggle that I’ve had to overcome was my eating disorder and exercise addiction. I have always been an athlete and have played soccer since I was 8 years old, but my desire to be the best on the field coupled with some negative comments from a coach as well as an ex-boyfriend led to food restriction, binging and purging and eventually an exercise addiction. Though I consider myself to be “recovered” I also believe that I will never fully be free from my ED and am always cautious of any triggers – I don’t count calories or macros, never get on the scale and I keep my workouts in check. I still have good days and bad days – some days I feel like I’m losing the battle against my ED and it’s a struggle just to plaster on a smile, but then I remember all I’ve fought for, overcome and learned over the years. My ED may win a few battles every now and then, but it will never win the war.
What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self?
Oh younger self – how I wish I could talk to you! I wish I could tell younger Kat just how much damage an ED can do not only physically but also mentally. My ED not only left me with physical pains but my insecurities and low self-esteem also kept me from doing so much in high school and college. I missed out on a lot of the traditional “school” experiences because I was too ashamed to be seen in public. I would also tell myself that “beauty” isn’t reserved for the Victoria’s Secrets models I coveted and that my sturdy, athletic build would actually lead me to some pretty awesome things over the years!
How do you think blogging & social media have changed the way you think about health? How do you think it’s influenced others?
I think that like much of this world, there is both negatives and positives to social media these days. One of the biggest negatives I see is that most photos, posts, and videos that are doctored or edited to show someone in only the best light. And why wouldn’t it? We wouldn’t post a photo of ourselves with a zit in the middle of our forehead and a double chin, would we? So I always take pictures or videos on social media with a grain of salt – no one looks perfect 100% of the time, regardless of what their feed says. Another thing that I also like to remember is that everyone has insecurities. While I’m looking at this woman’s awesome body wishing that I had it, she may be looking at that photo of herself picking out a million flaws.
That being said, there are also a lot of great things about social media, including people who are open and honest about their story, their struggles, and their journey. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t follow someone who always looks beautiful and only posts flattering photos – quite the opposite actually! I’m saying that I feel social media is at its best when we recognize that this person on the other side of our phone is just that – a person with real flaws, struggles, and issues just like us! Some of my favorite social media accounts are of women who post photos of their beautiful selves, regardless of the zit in the middle of their forehead. Life is raw, unedited and real – I view social media as something that should be that way too!
Thank you for sharing your journey, Kat! For a regular dose of inspiration with a side of strength, make sure you’re following Kat on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest!