• How I Slipped Back into Body Dysmorphia

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    If you had spent any time on social media in the last few years, you would have seen a huge trend in the fitness industry: body (and booty) building. And there are thousands of people following it, which is why you can get a so-called booty guide from almost every fitness influencer/model you can find on Instagram. I have to admit that I tried these, as well. And I’m sharing my story here. SPOILER: It had quite an impact on my life.

     

    How it all started

    Growing up, I struggled a lot with body dysmorphia. I had gotten out of it for the most part and it was not affecting my life on most days. Never had I thought that I could fall back so hard.

    The story probably started three years ago, when a “friend” of mine told me that he didn’t like my bum and that I should do more squats. That was around the time that this whole butt hype started. Because I was kinda passionate about weight-lifting at that time, I thought I might as well give it a go. With that, a year-long journey started.

    I bought a guide, I changed my gym and I worked out. And ate the way I should eat. And while I could most definitely feel a difference in my muscles, I just couldn’t see it in the mirror. So I just tried different strategies – no difference. My social media feeds were full of big booties, fitness models and food.

    So there I was, looking at all these perfect (photoshopped?) bodies and couldn’t help but wonder: Why doesn’t it work for me? But that was not it. I started to find little things about my body, that I hated. Why can’t my belly be flat? Why can’t my legs be thinner? And my arms, they are huge! I literally spend half a day posing in front of the mirror to maybe discover the bum I was looking for all along. It became an obsession. I would flex different muscle groups in front of the mirror and try different angles, took hundreds of selfies, but in the end, I couldn’t compete with these girls. On some days, I did finally see a change. Which then magically disappeared as soon as I got my camera to take a picture. It was frustrating.

     

    How things got even worse

    I started dieting because I now hated my body more and more because it was so “flawed”. And as always, dieting led me to gain more weight than I started with. Also, I always felt incredibly guilty when I missed a work-out because I was too sore. I was miserable. Still always checking Instagram and seeing these girls smile while showing off their bubble butts. It finally got so bad, that I couldn’t look in the mirror anymore. While trying so badly to embrace my body.

    Before starting this journey, never had I ever thought this experiment would be so toxic to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are many girls that change their bodies and embrace their appearance and live their perfect lives. I am honestly happy for them! But unfortunately, I was none of them. It took me a long time to get back to normal again.

    Looking back, I feel as if I wasn’t myself. I was constantly comparing myself to EVERY SINGLE GIRL I saw online. I became self-conscious and felt unworthy. At first, I posted like a hundred athleisure pictures or belfies on my account. That changed drastically after a few months and I didn’t want to post any pictures anymore. And I wasted so much time and effort in my pursuit to look photoshopped. I could have used this time to learn a new language, paint with watercolors, knit, or whatever, and I would have been a pro by now.

     

    Recovery

    Anyway, this adventure had its positive sides, as well. After I reached my all-time low self-esteem and negative body image, I put a lot of effort into removing all toxicity from my life. I unfollowed at least 200 fitness accounts. Next, I stopped watching their YouTube videos. I quit weight-lifting. And I focused my attention on surrounding myself with positive people. I learned to love my body again because it does incredible work for me, every second of every day. Eventually, I stopped comparing myself to others because I am unique and that is who I am. I decided that I would rather people like me for my character and my humor than for a part of my body. It hasn’t been easy, I still have days where I feel meh and don’t want to leave my apartment. But I have more and more days where I feel fine.

    My key to recovery is:
    – no dieting. ever. again.
    – a whole food plant-based diet
    – yoga
    – mindfulness
    – meditation
    – looking for better role models

    I can proudly say, that I’m in a much better place right now than I had been before this whole insanity. It has been a year and I don’t look back. I wouldn’t trade my mental health for a certain look ever again.

    This was my story. If you are into bodybuilding and that works with your mental health, I am lucky for you.

     

    Love and light, K.

  • How to manage Stress

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    Stress is a very natural thing – it does occur from time to time and our bodies know how to deal with it. The true difficulty arises when we deal with constant low-level stress, which we often don’t even notice. Or maybe we just underrate it. Long-term stress is absolutely unhealthy for you, it leads to oxidation which makes you age faster, it makes you gain fat and makes your sleep everything but restful.Thankfully, there are ways to cope with stress before we burn out.

     

    1. Exercise

    Yes, exercise helps with almost everything. But don’t worry – you don’t have to wake up at 5 am to go to the gym if you don’t want to. There are many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily routine. Walk to work (or park your car further away so you get a few more steps in). Take the stairs. Stand up every 30 minutes to improve your circulation. Stretch. Use your break to go for a walk. Walk your dog. Go to a yoga or pilates class. Exercise should never feel like something you HAVE to do. Try new things and find out what feels right for you. Maybe you will find yourself enjoying running, hiking, swimming, rope skipping, dancing, boxing, etc., there are literally hundreds of options available!

     

    2.  Find something that makes you feel relaxed

    Easier said than done. You will have to put some observation work into this one. Watch yourself and find out what makes you feel less stressed. Does playing with your cat make you forget your stress and feel happy and loved? Or does a warm bath take all your sorrows away? Maybe you prefer a long walk through the forrest to make you feel like you have it all under control? Think about what really helps you calm down. Listen to your body. Maybe all you need is your favorite book and a cup of tea. Or a warm blanket and your favorite movie? Be aware of what you already do to help you release stress. If you haven’t tried any of these things yet, go on and try them! I personally love to go on a bus ride through the city and just look outside the window, it works wonders for me. Finding your holy grail for relaxation is worth the effort, trust me!

    The next step is to use it! Whenever you feel stressed, do what helps you! This might seem obvious, but many people know that a hot shower will help them and they still decide to not use them or to turn to ‘easier’ helpers – which we will talk about in a second.

     

    3. Meditate!

    I’m sure you’ve already heard this one a thousand times. But trust me, it works. Make meditation a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be long, ten minutes twice a day are enough. It is really easy to find guided meditations on YouTube, Spotify, etc. or download an app which will help you. Try different types of meditation: silent meditation, guided meditation, chanting, active meditation, and so on. If you don’t like one, that is fine. Just try a different one. After you’ve found your favorite, the key is to make it a habit. Wake up, meditate, go on with your day, meditate before bed, sleep. Or what ever works best for you. Meditation has so many incredible benefits for your mind, body and spirit. Try it!

     

    4. Don’t take the easy way out

    Many of us have coping strategies that do not support our health. Yes, chocolate will make us feel good, but chocolate every day for months will make us feel rather bad when we gain weight. Same with alcohol and drugs, which will harm our health in other ways. The difference between the already mentioned strategies and these harmful ones is that food and drugs help us suppress the problem but it doesn’t just go away. Exercise and meditation help you deal with it so that you will learn how to deal with stress and there will be a learning curve so that it will get easier and easier. It is okay to indulge in a delicious brownie once in a while, just be aware it should not be used to distract you from your worries.

     

    5. It’s all about perspective

    Have you ever wondered why some people seem to flourish under stressful circumstances while others break down? It is all about how you perceive the situation. You do always have the choice to see a situation as a challenge or as a problem. The latter perspective will cause distress because you feel like you don’t have a choice or that everything is just too much to handle for you. On the other hand side, if you see the situation as a challenge, i.g. an opportunity to show your abilities and to grow, it will cause eustress, which is a positive kind of stress. Even though this shift might seem insignificant, it can make a huge difference. Try it. When your boss gives you a task that might seem too difficult for you – accept the challenge and watch what happens!

    These hacks will help you, but don’t forget that you can always ask for help and talk to people. We are only human.
    Also, sometimes it might be advisable to rethink your job, your partner, your friends, etc., if they are constantly stressing you and making your life miserable. There is always a way out and who knows what you will find outside of that place that makes you feel so unhappy?

  • Why Adopting a Plant-Based Diet is not Enough

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    Being vegan or eating a plant-based diet is a huge trend right now. And I am really happy about that because I truly believe that this is the best diet for human beings. There is only one problem: The term “vegan” or “plant-based” does only describe the origin of the food and not how healthy it really is. I have tried many different types of plant-based diets and there is a huge difference in terms of how good they are for your body. Because of the rising demand for vegan food, there are all kinds of “veganized” products available: starting with vegan sausages and cheese, vegan chocolate, vegan pizza. Depending on where you live, you can get the vegan version of almost everything. Therefore, it is pretty easy to find plant-based food nowadays.

     

    Is it healthy though?

    Many people believe that a plant-based diet automatically means a healthy diet and that vegan junk food is not unhealthy because it doesn’t contain animal products. That is not true unfortunately. If you look at the ingredients of all these fancy vegan fake products, you will most certainly find a very long list with all kinds of preservatives, coloring, and many words you can’t even pronounce. All these chemicals help to modify the texture, taste and smell to get as close to the real thing as possible. Which is great for people who are just starting out and finding these products helpful as a substitute for the animal product.

    But in the long run, these products will not help you much on your health journey. As humans, we are not made for chemical food. We thrive on a whole food plant-based diet. It is easy to prove that: Listen to your body after you eat a junk food meal. Do you feel energized? Or rather lethargic? Do you feel light? Or rather heavy and foggy? Do you feel satisfied? Or do you still crave more food? Your body gives you an instant feedback after your meal. So why not give your body the best food possible?

     

    10 advantages of a plant-based diet

    You…

    1. feel better physically and mentally
    2. have more energy throughout the day
    3. have glowing skin, your hair and nails are strong
    4. sleep better and maybe even need less sleep
    5. crave less sugary, salty and oily things
    6. let your tastebuds get used to natural flavors again, so you will find artificial ones too intense
    7. lose the few extra pounds you’ve been carrying around for way to long
    8. save money (yes, eating pure whole foods is cheaper than consuming all these substitutes)
    9. get healthier and get sick less often
    10. might even heal or reverse diseases like type-2 diabetes (please talk to your doctor first)

    This does almost sound too good to be true. But it is, I can tell you from my own experience.

     

    So what should you eat?

    First of all, try to consume as much vegetables and fruit as possible. Second, fill the plate with whole starches like potatoes, rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, oats, etc., to your meal to make you feel satisfied and happy. Third, add a protein source. Beans and legumes are excellent choices! Fourth, don’t forget your whole fats like avocados, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc. Fifth, listen to your body!

    I would recommend filling one third to one half of your plate with veggies and the rest with starches and protein, the fats should just make up a small portion because they are very calorie-dense. You really don’t need as much protein as the fitness industry wants you to believe. If you get enough calories in, you shouldn’t have to worry about protein, even if you are exercising or lifting weights. Listen to what your body needs: maybe it is a hot summer day and all you want for lunch is a juicy watermelon, go for it! It is so important to (re)learn to interpret the signals you get from your body!

     

    Recommendations

    If you cannot cook (yet), there are a few options here: you can look for healthy restaurants to eat at or even just healthy options at the places you already visit often. You can start learning to cook simple meals, there are thousands of recipes on the internet, or you can buy a book and learn how to prepare one pot meals, for example. These are so quick and easy to make and you will love them! And don’t be afraid to try new things, you will be surprised how quickly you will get better!

    And don’t forget, it’s all about balance. I’m not telling you, you can never have your vegan cupcake again. Sure you can! Just make sure you are getting as many of the whole carbs, proteins and fats and the beautiful vitamins, minerals and trace elements in as possible.

    In the end, it’s all about making yourself happy. And whole carbs will definitely help you with that!

  • How I Cured My Hypothyroidism

    Processed with VSCO with e5 presetDISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, I am just telling you my story. Please talk to your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.

    My Story

    Growing up, I was probably the unhealthiest kid you could imagine:
    I was eating pizza all day, drinking lemonade, snacking on chocolate, playing video games and staying up late. When I was 12 years old, I realized that I had to change something because all my girl friends were much skinnier then I was. And it made me feel really bad about myself. I started doing sit-ups right before I went to bed, starting with 50 and then increasing up to 100 a day. Also, I was paying a little more attention to what I was eating and consuming less sweets. That way I lost weight quite easily, but I still was not looking like my friends because I was just normal, not stick-thin.

    When I was 14, I wanted to start taking the contraceptive pill, because it seemed to be such a cool thing to do: I could get perfect skin, less menstrual pain (which I suffered from for such a long time), and I couldn’t get pregnant. But no one told me, that I would gain a massive amount of weight on top of that. So I gained around 10kg in one to two months, changed to a different pill, but I couldn’t lose that weight. That was when I really started dieting and obsessing about my weight (I’ll go into detail about that in another post).

    When I realized, that I just couldn’t lose the weight as easily as before, I was convinced that there must be something wrong with me. Besides that, I was constantly tired. I came home from school and napped for three to five hours (!) every day, just to eat and go back to bed. My mother decided to take me to the doctor to check if my hormones were okay. I was 15 at that time. And the doctor diagnosed me with a mild hypothyroidism and gave me medication.

    I started taking it, but I just couldn’t feel a difference, neither in my tiredness nor on the scale. So I decided to double the dose and see what happens (That was stupid, please don’t do that!). After a year, I came back to the doctor and he checked my blood. I was convinced that my stupid strategy had helped me, so I asked how my levels were. The doctor told me, that nothing had changed – nothing. I couldn’t believe that, why was I even taking them? He told me that I had to take them for the rest of my life. That day, I decided, I wouldn’t need them anymore (again – please don’t do that without talking to your doctor).

    How I cured the disease instead

    What I did instead where two things: First, I started reading about it. Because I was already interested in nutrition because of my failed attempts to lose weight, so I just focused more on the healthy ways to achieve that result. I stumbled across the book “Fit for Life” from Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and that book changed my life. So I stopped consuming meat, dairy and eggs (not very consistent though because I had no idea how to cook and what to eat). Over the years, I learned more and more about the plant-based diet and became more passionate and strict about it.

    The other thing I did was talking to my body. I discovered “The Secret” when I was 13, so I tried to apply it. I didn’t allow myself to think that I was ill instead I kept thinking, that I was healthy and looking for symptoms that proved me right. This was not something I would do religiously, just sometimes when I had the feeling that it’s time to support my body again.

    I cannot tell you how long it took exactly, because I refused to check my blood until about  five to six years later. My results came back showing a perfectly functioning thyroid, without the help of any medication. Even though my doctor had told me, that I would have to take the medication until the rest of my life.

     

    Recommendations

    If you are suffering from hypothyroidism, I would recommend you to do the following things, that had helped me:
    – consume more fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts
    – eat as much plant-based as you can
    – exercise regularly
    – drink enough water
    – get enough sleep
    – stop thinking negative, sickening thoughts
    – start thinking positive, healing thoughts
    – keep telling your body that it is healthy and strong
    – trust your body, it knows how to heal itself
    – most importantly: don’t think too much about the disease!

    Those are a few changes, that you can do. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure, healing involves many factors and it is best to give your body the optimal conditions for healing. Also, I’ve been doing prolonged fasts which might have played a role, which you can try if you are healthy. I absolutely believe in the healing power of water fasting, but you should always listen to your body. Also, please be patient. Healing does take time!

    The cause?

    I believe that my unhealthy lifestyle along with the contraceptive pill played a role in the onset of the disease. Living with sickening habits will eventually lead to some sort of disease. I heard of many other girls and women, who started to have problems with their thyroid after taking the contraceptive pill and that is also labelled a side effect of it (in Germany at least). Now I am very careful and I avoid any kind of hormones which can bring my body out of balance again, because our endocrine system is such a complicated synergy of many hormones and can be easily disrupted with synthetic hormones.

    Many diseases can be healed with the methods mentioned above, even though school medicine might not see it that way. These things sound way to easy to be really working, but they do. In the end, it is all about what you believe. And I truly believed, that I could change my body to regain health.

  • Welcome to my Journey!

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    Hi!

    I’m Katharina and I’m very pleased to meet you!

    This blog is all about:
    – healthy, plant-based food and recipes
    – overall health tips and tricks
    – self-development
    – spirituality, meditation and yoga

    I’m a health scientist, so I know quite a lot about health from the Western scientific viewpoint. But during my time at university, I often thought about how health is so much more than how many calories we eat and how many minutes we move in a week.

    Health is about every single aspect in our lives, where our food comes from, what it contains, how fresh it is. How we exercise, what it does to our bodies, how it makes us feel. But also how the products we use on a daily basis affect our health, which ingredients we put on and therefore in our bodies. How happy we are. How stressed we are. Whether we have a purpose in life. Whether we spend enough time in the nature. How we calm down after a busy day. Whether we have something we believe in. How the people around us make us feel. Whether we love somebody. Whether we love ourselves. And so much more.

    Health is not just about not feeling ill.  The WHO defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”. But this definition does not help us finding true health. Health is a journey rather than an destination. And I believe that self-development is also a part of it!

    Let us make the first steps and find joy, love and peace on this road!