October Recap: Being real; my journey with health & learning from my failures

recap-october

October has a very interesting month for me – a lot of introspection, a lot of asking myself what I want to do with my life and future, and still a lot of uncertainty. Despite my hopes in my previous recap, I don’t quite know what my 2017 will look like. It’s been stressful and nervewacking, but I am soldiering on because, what else can you do?

For this recap, I’ve changed the Around the Blogosphere section a little bit – I’ll only be posting discussion posts – because don’t want this post to be too long and I want to talk about other things more. :)

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Books read in October (and my thoughts in three words)

1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (magical, positive representation!)

2. The Reader by Traci Chee (has potential, slow)

3. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (sad, raw, provocative)

4. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (imaginative but lacking)

5. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee (action-packed, compelling futurism)

6. Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee (adorable, sweet, safe)

7. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (powerful, moving, honest)

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Reviews and posts in October

1. REVIEW: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie – Though it offers fascinating ideas about empathy, its lack of character development and needless emphasis on its contrived love triangle made this book an ultimately disappointing read.

2. REVIEW: Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee – I can confidently say that this is one of my favourite books of 2016. It has a Chinese/Viet protagonist with mixed identity and bi representation, and also explores heroism, friendship, and what it means to be great. Guys, it’s awesome.

labyrinth-lost

3. REVIEW: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – I read this book for Latinx Heritage Month, and I enjoyed it! I loved the representation in this book, the positive bi and Latinx rep, the enigmatic and imaginative world, and its lovely exploration of family and identity.

4. BOOK RECS: It’s a Kind of Magic – I was in a mood for magic systems, so I recommended four books with unique and wonderfully crafted magic systems!

5. REVIEW: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – A lovely story set during the California Gold Rush era that is part magical, part historical-fiction, and wholly about what it means to be brave. Note: I’ve added some links at the bottom of this review regarding the problematic rep of First Nations in the book. I highly encourage that you read the articles linked.

issues-and-happy

6. LET’S TALK ABOUT: ‘Issues’ Stories, Happy Stories, and Why We Need Both – I read a lot of ‘issues’ books growing up and it affected the way I perceived identity. I talk about my experience and necessity of books that explore ‘issues’, the importance of happy stories, and why we need both!

7. MINI-REVIEWS: My Adventure into Non-Fiction – I don’t often read non-fiction, but if you’re like me and want to traverse into the land of non-fiction, give the books I reviewed a go! All are fantastic.

forbiddenwish

8. REVIEW: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – A gorgeous retelling through and through, The Forbidden Wish is a celebration of female friendships, love, magic, and wishes.

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Thoughts on life: What my ‘health journey’ has taught me

(possible tw: for ED)

This won’t be easy for me to talk about but I feel like it’s necessary to talk about this.

Three years ago, I made the decision to start eating better and to exercise more consistently. I kept it up for a good two years. I became very invested in the whole fitness industry. I started doing weightlifting and HIIT cardio, started eating five small meals a day instead of three big meals, and started to develop good habits. I started this whole healthy eating/exercising regime because I wanted to make a positive change in my life. And it has brought on very positive changes: my self-esteem is healthy, my body is healthy, I feel the benefits of being fit and physically active, and there are days (though not every day) where I feel good about myself and how my body looks.

But, as with most people, regardless of why you start, aesthetic and a pervasive consciousness of how your body looks will inevitably enter the equation. And that’s what happened to me.

While I was physically healthy, I started to slip into a very unhealthy way of thinking. I started to compare myself to my fitness idols (which sounds ridiculous because they do their thing for a living), I started to become overly critical of my body’s flaws, I became unreasonably agitated when I couldn’t exercise, and I became impatient with muscle growth and my body. I’ve never counted macros or stuck to a rigid regime, I made good flexible eating decisions, but I found myself opting to not go out with friends because I was concerned about what I would eat. Was that healthy? Absolutely not.

My saving grace was when I was overseas earlier in the year. I had no access to weights so I told myself, it’s okay, I’m going on holiday, I can afford to not exercise for 2 weeks. So I didn’t. I ate anything and everything that I wanted and I did enjoy myself. Over the days of my holiday, I thought less and less about my exercise. I saw my aging family and started to think, deeply, about what was truly important to me. I came back with a fresh perspective, with a clear lens of what mattered to me. I broke away from the unhealthy mindset that I was stuck in.

This journey with health, as I’ve called it, isn’t over. I’m still growing, learning, and trying to find what is comfortable for me. There are days where I still struggle with it and feel myself slipping into the bad mindset, but it’s a process. I still encourage living a healthy lifestyle, but what is ‘healthy’ is different for everyone and I cannot tell someone what is good/healthy for them. I do not forget that exercising and healthier eating has helped me become a more confident person who is comfortable in my own body, but I don’t want to be someone who is obsessive and overly critical about my eating/exercise anymore. I am still lifting, but only when I want to. I am still eating well, choosing foods that nourish my body, and eating my small but frequent meals, but I won’t pass the opportunity to have dessert or poutine. What is comfortable and what is right for me will probably change as I change. I am okay with that.

What I have learned through all of this:

1. Self-esteem is a very relative and personal thing. An individual with a seemingly ‘perfect body’ can have body image issues. Body image issues and who they affect are indiscriminate. To tell someone that they shouldn’t have any body image problems because they have a certain body type, i.e. skinny, is grossly ignorant, invalidating, and harmful.

2. Body shaming any type of body is still body shaming; it is wrong and hurtful. In extension, mental illnesses associated with the body/eating can affect anyone with any body type.

3. It is okay to have the damn cookie. It is okay to eat all kinds of food. There are no ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’. Food is food. Do not demonize food. Food gives and sustains life. Do not demonize food.

4. Those 30 day crunch challenges will not give you abs after 30 days. (Consistency and effort are the two things that can, though.) On that note, abs are not an indicator of a healthy or happy individual.

5. And please, for the love of God, don’t drink those bloody protein-shakes-to-lose-weight things. They do not work, they will make you hungry, they will not fuel your body, you will not lose weight, you will only hurt your body. When you are hungry and your stomach is clawing at you to fill it with food, hunger is NOT a validation of your resilience and control. When you are hungry, EAT FOOD.

6. A lot of people in the fitness industry lie about or misrepresent their a) happiness and b) quality of health. A lot of people in the fitness industry sacrifice their body and mental health to look good. A lot of people in the fitness industry espouse and perpetuate very dangerous and harmful ways of thinking. This is not something to aspire to. This is wrong. Choose taking care of your body and your mental health every minute, every day, every time.

7. It is okay if you didn’t exercise today. Listen to your body. If you skipped a day, it is okay. If you don’t feel like exercising because you are tired, that’s okay. You will not lose anything. Have that break. You deserve it.

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Blog Updates!

Joint Discussion posts: let’s be real, I failed

When I returned from my three month hiatus, I had this ambition to start a Joint Discussions feature, which I later renamed to Discusstopia. One of my goals with Read Think Ponder is to not only review my books honestly, but to also be real and honest with everything that I do. So:

The joint discussions feature failed. I failed.

I want to thank all the wonderful, wonderful people who were so enthusiastic about this feature and submitted their ideas to me. You guys are so, so great, and I’m so grateful that you guys wanted to write something with me. I am sorry that we started something and I didn’t pull through on my end. The feature’s failure is no fault of yours at all.

When I came back from my hiatus, I had all these grand aspirations for my blog. I wanted to start a feature that would be community-orientated, that would encourage discussion and bridge the gap between blogger/writer and reader. What I didn’t account for, and the responsibility of this is all on me, was that writing joint discussion posts required a lot of time on top of writing reviews, drawing art, commenting, blog-hopping (which I’m failing at too), and writing discussion posts. In hindsight, it’s a big DUH but I was blindsided by what I could start in the community.

I started to feel very overwhelmed and daunted by the task of writing the discussion posts. Another failure on my part was that I thought I could juggle writing six posts at once – which, yeah, was silly of me to think. After weeks of not touching the Google Docs, I knew I wouldn’t write it anymore.

I guess it’s one of those things: you try something new and for reasons within and beyond your control, it doesn’t work out. I have learned from this failure, I have a better idea of my limitations as a blogger, and I have learned to temper any ambitions I have with realistic expectations.

I have given permission to those who started writing the discussions with me to use the content we wrote together for their own personal use, so there’s a possibility you’ll see some great discussions from them! If they ever do pop up, I’ll be sure to highlight and share them. Also, Amy from Every Book You Need and More and I have agreed that we’ll be posting the discussion we wrote together because it’s almost finished! So keep and eye out for that. ❤

Diversity Spotlight Thursdays coming your way!

Starting November, I’ll be participating in Aimal’s blog meme Diversity Spotlight Thursdays! I have been reading a lot of books with diversity lately, and I want to share them all with you. I won’t be doing it weekly, but I’ll be doing it twice a month!

Renaming my Let’s Talk About feature… maybe?

I’ll probably change it to Discusstopia or something, but ah, we’ll see. This is not high on the to-do list but it is there!

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Around the Blogosphere!

This month, I won’t be sharing any book reviews – sorry everyone! I’ve been terrible at blog reading and hopping lately (for reasons I hope to explain soon, but can’t just yet!) but I did find some wonderful discussion posts.

  • #CritYourFaves Master Post – I want to highlight Aentee’s fantastic event where people critique and discuss problematic elements of their favourite books. There have been some wonderful discussions so far; check out the Twitter tag too!
  • Let’s Talk About: Literature Too Foreign – This is a wonderful and absolutely necessary post written by AimalShe discusses how we conceptualize ‘foreign-ness’ in literature, the expectations of how we write certain cultures and societies. It’s a powerful read, and I highly encourage you all to read it.
  • The Illusion of Knowledge (Be Careful With What You Write) – Val offers an amazing, detailed, and cognitive psychology(!) explanation of why research and accurate representation is important in books. Guys, get on this post.
  • The Value of Saying “Latinx” – Naz’s amazing post discusses why there’s value in saying ‘Latinx’, and also invites Latinx authors to share their thought and weigh in! An invaluable post that you should all read if you’re not familiar with the term!
  • Let’s Talk: Blogging Burn Out? – As someone who is approaching burnout a little too fast, Lauren’s fantastic post hits a little close to home – a highly relatable post and a necessary for reminder for all of you out there!
  • ARCS: Privilege, Pressure, or a Little Bit of Both? – I love Marie’s discussions and her latest one is really good. Her discussion around ARCs is a necessary discussion, one that has and will encourage more dialogue.
  • To Some, Access to Books is a Luxury – If you’ve been on Twitter, you will know what this discussion addresses. Fadwa offers a well-rounded, eloquent, and thoughtful discussion on the topic. I highly recommend that you read it.

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Well, if you’ve read all of this, then you’re a star. 🌟 (And if you didn’t, you’re still a star!) Thank you so much, again, for visiting my blog and reading! I anticipate November being a very eventful and busy month for me (I’ll find out what I’ll be doing in 2017 and I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo for the first time!), so I won’t be able to engage as much as I’d like – though I’ll do my best!

So friends, share with me:

  • How was your October? Did you read/blog a lot this month?
  • Did you discover any new favourite or superduper awesome books? (Tell me about them!)
  • It’s almost the end of the year! Do you have holiday plans?
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30 thoughts on “October Recap: Being real; my journey with health & learning from my failures

  1. CW, I can’t tell you how strong and amazing you are for sharing your story regarding your body image struggles. It resonates so much more coming from someone that you can actually connect with. I’m so sorry to hear what you were going through this year, but it seems you’re back on the right track to health — that should definitely be celebrated.

    • Hi Amber! ❤

      That really, really means the world to me. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I know what you mean! It’s one thing to hear it from someone who *knows* the information, but another to hear it from someone who knows because they have experienced it.

      Thank you. ❤ I think things are looking up, and I’m proud of myself for my progress. c:

  2. Incredible wrap up post, CW.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with body image. It’s something I’ve always subconsciously struggled with. It’s not at the levels that my anxiety ect. is but it is there in the back of my mind. I think I’ve improved my diet, but it’s so hard to stay motivated with exercise because of my anxiety. I just hate how people think you aren’t trying to be healthy because you don’t look a certain way. You should be so proud of yourself for how far you’ve come.

    And thank you so much for sharing my post. Definitely going to check out the links I haven’t.

    • Hi Lauren! ❤

      Thank you so much. I understand what you mean completely. It’s always something that’s… there?

      If going to a public space to exercise gives you anxiety, you can always do stuff at home! I do that too when I want to be alone. It helps with my mental space too. I’ve been getting into yoga/stretching which makes me feel more relaxed and puts my mind at ease.

      Thank you. I am happy, but it’s all still a WIP!

      You’re welcome! Your post was wonderful. Thank you so much for writing it. ❤

  3. What a wonderful post, CW, and thank you for sharing your struggles with us. We all need a reminder sometimes, that it’s SO important to feel good about ourselves, no matter what others might say about it. Having a certain body image, exercising, and feeling like you should look a certain way, can put a lot of pressure on one’s self, but I think the most important is to feel good about ourselves, whether it’s with exercising, or just actually appreciate the food we are eating.
    Thank you for sharing my post! I need to check the others I have missed, they all seem fantastic. <3

    • Thank you so so so much Marie. ❤
      I completely agree with you! I suppose this sounds weird, but I think what I experienced/am experiencing is on the ‘other end’ of the spectrum – the overdoing it on the exercise thing. So… I guess I want to highlight that too much of anything is not good. We need balance.

      And yes, absolutely! Feeling good about ourselves and appreciation. We need more of that.

      You’re welcome, Marie! And thank you, as always, for leaving such a thoughtful comment! You’re a 🌟.

  4. There is so much I want to say and yet I fear like words are going to desert me this time. Just…thank you so much for writing this post, you are so brave and wonderful and I love how honest and personal you are on your blog. As someone who was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 14 (6 years ago), this post really resonated with me. An eating disorder is something everyone thinks they understand because it’s all over the media and everyone has set ideas in their head about what a patient should and shouldn’t be, but ultimately, you can’t understand if you haven’t had it. So thank you for taking a step to dismantle this harmful stigma. I am SO glad to hear you are doing better and from the way you describe your thoughts it definitely seems you’re on the right track. I’m sorry you had go through it but I’m really grateful for the wisdom you share here. I’ve been in recovery for a while and am doing better (physically I’m completely healthy now) but I still have many bad days where I just hate myself and my body. I will revisit these tips when that’s the case😊

    I didn’t have the best reading month in October because I started university and I’ve never been more busy in my life, but I still managed to read three books (maybe I’ll manage to finish another tonight). Those books were Everything I Never Told You (love!), All The Ugly and Wonderful Things (did not like as much as I thought I would) and We Are The Ants (a really strong YA contemporary).

    Thank you for sharing the discussion posts, I will check them out, they sound amazing. I’m so glad I discovered your blog and I can’t wait to see what you post next. Don’t see not doing something as a failure; we all just do the best we can!

    • Chantal! ❤
      First, thank you so much for sharing your own experience with me. *hugs* You are so brave too, and I’m really proud of you and how far you have come. I’m glad the both of us are in a better place. There will be days where it’s hard, but it’s an uphill climb!

      I completely understand what you mean by people feeling like they understand, and I agree, knowing from experience and knowing from knowledge are two different things. I understand that it can be difficult for some people (outside the exp) to conceptualize, but sometimes things like this don’t have logic or reason.

      I’m sorry you had to go through what you did too. But I’m glad you are here and that you are healthy. That’s a blessing to me.

      I have bad days too, and those days are hard. But both of us are beautiful inside and out! We can get through it. ❤

      Oh!! How’s university so far? Are you returning or was it your first year? 😊

      YES! I remember you telling me about Everything I Never Told You. It’s third on my tbr list and I can’t wait! I’ll be sure to tell you when I finish the book!!

      Thank you so so so much for leaving me this thoughtful comment, and thank you for validating my experience. I’m glad I found your blog too! You are such a lovely and beautiful person, Chantal. ❤ Keep being you!!

      • *hugs back* You are so right, we’re both strong and beautiful just the way we are :))

        I’ve returned (second year) and I’m loving it but it’s SO stressful. I have to do applications for my placement (basically 12-month internship) for next year and it’s crazy competitive. So that has really been a lot too handle and hard on my self-esteem. I know I can do it somehow, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to do as much work for the blog I wanted. We’re so new and it’s hard to make people interested in our posts, but I love blogging and books so I want to take the time for it.

        I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I have feeling you will like it! Thank you so much!!!❤️

        • Yes we are! SAY IT AGAIN.

          Oh I know the feeling!! What are you studying, if you don’t mind me asking? :D I wish you the BESTEST of luck! I have faith in you and I know you’ll do amazing.

          I know what you mean by stressful environments, and I know what it’s like to get caught up in them. But please take good care of yourself. ❤

          Your blog is wonderful though! I check it as often as I can (which unfortunately, isn’t as often as I like T_T)!

          • Of course! I’m studying Management with Marketing in the UK and I’m really enjoying my course (even if sometimes I’m not completely sure if business is the right thing for me). Thank you so much! That’s so sweet❤️ What about you? I’m guessing you studied sociology at university? What are you doing now? (Only if you want to share of course!)
            That’s the thing exactly: You know something isn’t the world but when you’re in the middle of it it’s so easy to get caught up in the pressure.
            Thank you!! That honestly means so much to me. I love your blog and your posts and beautiful designs are such an inspiration :) Oh don’t worry! There are so many blogs and books and so little time!

  5. I’m so glad that you felt like you could share your story with us, that is so brave and courageous. I don’t exercise and where I leave, any food is good food so I don’t pay too much attention to health but I am constantly frustrated with other women who share things like “real women have curves” or who refuse to let me be self conscious of my body or to critique it because I’m skinny. And some of them are even people I called friends. Body image and self esteem issues don’t discriminate like you said, and yet people do. I get so angry sometimes because I feel like I’m blamed for having a body type that my entire family has just because at some point society decided that was the beauty standard. I didn’t make that choice so why do I suffer for it?
    I’m so glad that you’ve come to terms with what you need as an individual and that you’re working on finding what works for you ❤️
    I’m sorry your joint discussions feature didn’t work out, but I’m still looking forward to seeing what you’ll share because I think you’re an outstanding voice in this community 😄

    • Hi Sara! ❤

      Thank you so much. It’s something that has been on my mind for a long time, and I suppose I wanted to talk about it. I’m glad I found the courage to say something though.

      I’m frustrated by that too! Like you, I have a very good metabolism (genes + eating frequently) – and as you said, I get self conscious too and it has nothing to do with how skinny/fat/whatever I am. I know that there’s a skinny privilege thing, but when it comes to body image, it’s irrelevant. Our feelings and thoughts matter.

      Thank you. ❤ I’m happy too. It’s a WIP, but it’s getting there.

      I’m sorry too, but we just have to keep moving forward I guess! ^_^ And oh gosh, that means the world to me. Thank you. ❤

  6. I had gotten into the exercise phase too. But lately, I have been slacking off some. This month has gone too fast. I didn’t read alot this month. I thought I might have some holiday plans, but now I’m not sure.

  7. This must have been a hard post to write. I expect almost everyone who reads this will be able to relate on some level, and I hope that validates your vulnerability of being so honest and open. Urghh burnout and not achieving visions. So relatable. So painful. But I love that you can be positive and forward-thinking about these learning opportunities, and not be crushed by them. <3<3

    • Paige! ❤

      It was. To be honest, before writing this post, I hadn’t given these thoughts voice. I subconsciously knew, but I didn’t want it to be true. Confronting it was hard – I’ve read plenty of narratives similar to mine, but it never occurred to me it was happening to /me/.

      Thank you. It does validate my experience, and it means the world to me.

      Right?? But, we’ll get there Paige! We just have to keep going, do our best, and support each other. ❤

      • I’m so glad you were able to do it, and hopefully the support you receive as a result of sharing your experience will help with the journey too. And of course I’ll be here, whenever and if ever you need <3 <3

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I know it is not easy to put yourself out there. It is very scary how much I can relate to your struggles. I have struggled off and on with EDs for the past 8 years, binge eating disorder being my main one. In 2011, I was the heaviest I had ever been (about 100lbs overweight) and I decided that I was not going to let this ED control my life anymore. Long story short, I lost the weight, but now I have a whole new set of issues. I constantly obsess with what I eat and how much I exercise. I still struggle with binging, so when I do have an episode, it puts me in a dark place. I thought loosing the weight was going to fix all my problems, but it hasn’t. The problem is that I didn’t fix the inside along with fixing the outside. It is a struggle every day, but I am determined to keep on trucking :)

    • Hi Amanda!

      *hugs* Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles – I can completely relate with the obsession of eating and exercising. It became so, so overwhelming and it pervaded every area of my life. I thought getting the body I wanted would make me happy, but that mindset means nothing will EVER be good enough.

      You are a beautiful individual Amanda, inside and out. I hope the both of us will one day reach a place where we are better and truly healthier. I have your back 100%, and I’m a DM on Twitter or email away if you ever need support. ❤

      Yes! Every day is a struggle, but we have to keep moving forward. Onwards and upwards. :)

      • Thank you! I am always here too if you ever need to talk/vent too. It is so true, nothing is ever good enough. Chasing this crazy standard of perfection is just setting myself up for problems. At some point you just need to love yourself at any size :)

  9. This was such a refreshing and honest post, CW. I loved reading it more than I can fully express. For a really long time, I had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food (and to a lesser extent exercise), messed up ideas about what being ‘healthy’ meant and low self-esteem about how I looked. It took a lot of work and a huge paradigm shift to get there, but I’m now in a place where I don’t feel guilty about eating foods I love and actually look forward to going for a run or to my yoga or pilates class. It’s such a huge relief not to be putting all that time and energy into obsessing over weight and to instead think about food and exercise as ways to nourish and strengthen my body rather than keep it small.

    I also feel you with the blog features. I’m forever making grand plans that I can’t realistically follow through unless I give up sleep entirely. We do what we can. :)

    • Hi Margot!

      Thank you so much; that really means a lot to me. I’m so glad that you’ve reached a safe and healthy place. I’m slowing getting there too. I reflected about where I am now and I think I am definitely getting better.
      I completely agree with that outlook! I’ll say it again, I’m so, so happy for you that you have a healthy mindset.

      Hahaha I know what you mean! I was beginning to forgo reading and sleeping to blog, and I took a step back and said, no, NOT GOOD. So yes, I agree – we can only do what we can do.

  10. I’m still on my ‘be more active and eat healthy’ goal for 2016! :D I was a little obsessive about it in 2015, which contributed to my burn out and failing to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. But I think I’m back on track. And it’s so great to hear that you’ve adopted a more positive approach to your health. Please keep it up :) We all need a happy and healthy CW so she can continue producing awesome stuff on her blog!

    Thanks for writing such an honest post. <3

    • Hi Naz!
      DO IT! ❤ I completely feel you on the burn out thing. I kept up a regime for 3 years and just this last fortnight, I’ve given myself a break. I’m getting back on track too now – but slowly!

      Thank you! I will do my best! ❤ Hahaha yes! 0:) I shall be a good, happy and healthy CW.

      And thank YOU for reading and stopping by, Naz!

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