Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hello world, it's me

Good morning (or afternoon, middle of the night, wherever you may be) my kitten cats!

Its been a hot minute since I last posted - nearly a year to be exact. I've been meaning and wanting to get back into the grove of blogging so I figured that a little update would bring all of you back to speed on what's been going on in my little corner of the universe.

First of all, I just want to thank everyone who has emailed me in the last several months making sure I was still okay. Y'all are so incredibly thoughtful and thank you for all your concerns and I'm sorry if I haven't gotten back to everyone yet. I've been fantastic actually - incredibly blessed to be so busy in this season of life, which is why blogging has been put on the back burner.

But back to the regularly scheduled programming. In the last year I have:

...completed my junior year of college. That's right, one more year (and 12 credits actually) before I graduate with my Bachelor's of Science! The game plan for now is to immediately go to grad school and work towards a Master's of Public Health or Nutrition (maybe both?!?!) so GRE studying is in full swing. Oh standardized testing. I thought I was done with you.

...worked, worked, worked. My friends basically I know that if they want to find me, they should probably look at The Tombs. It's the Georgetown bar that everyone goes to hang out. Ask any alumn and they'll probably have stories of all-too-many late nights there, including this nice guy:

Oh you know - it's a typical Wednesday night hanging out with my good friend Bill.

Fun fact: I've also had the privilege of serving the president of Croatia (she likes her margaritas with Cuervo and her wings with extra ranch) and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley. It's a pretty cool job.

...competed in my first bodybuilding competition. Bikini division, actually. I ended up placing 2nd in the Open class and 3rd in Novice and totally caught the stage bug. The sparkles, the tan, the makeup, the's not for everyone but I'm certainly enjoying it. Sidenote: I've been hesitant on sharing my competition prep experiences on this blog because the reality of prep is quite unhealthy, triggering, and you have to go into it with a very stable mind, but if it's something y'all would like me to share I am more than willing to. I'm currently prepping for my next competition in the fall and absolutely can't wait to see what changes I've been able to make.

A photo posted by Xinwei (@xinweizeng) on

...spent more time on the beach than in the last five years combined. Actually, it was only two beach trips, but they have been the first times I've laid out in a bikini since before my eating disorder. But then again, prance on stage with a true "its-bitsy-teeny-weeny" but not yellow polka dotted bikini, so I guess it's only natural. And yes, I did strike a few #bikinigirl poses.

A photo posted by Xinwei (@xinweizeng) on

...ran my first 5K. The So Other's May Eat Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot to be exact, with my favorite people #teamtombsforlyfe. I don't foresee a future as a runner though.

A photo posted by The Tombs (@thetombs) on

Fun fact, I was standing in line waiting to use the bathroom when they took this pic...and they warned me too. Bladder fail.

I guess that's all the updates for now. It's been a whirlwind of a year.

No questions today, just tell me what you've been up to!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Not everything is completely fixed

This blog post is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. Now, 99% of the thing, I try to be as positive as possible on this blog; this is a place where I want to encourage and empower people to put their health, both physical and mental, first. But at the same time, I want to be transparent and document my own recovery process.

As much as I wish that simply eating enough over a long and consistent basis and resting your body will fix all of the physical havoc that restriction does to your body, sometimes it won't. Sometimes there are demons that linger.

But don't misunderstand, eating enough is crucial and nothing will get better unless you eat enough food in the first place; frankly 90% of the physical damage can be reversed through a proper influx of calories. However, even though eating disorders and restriction are never a person's decision per say, he will still have to face the consequence that come along with it without a "get out of jail free" card.

So here's the situation: I've noticed that my digestive system is still not faring too well, even after over a year of proper eating. I get terrible cramps and bloating (similar to ones I got when I first started recovery) about once a week. There are times when I eat enough food to satisfy my hunger and 10 minutes later feel like I just ate a small country's intake when calorically and volume-wise I know that I've eaten a proper, normal amount.

The one thing that scared me the most was that about a week ago, I ate breakfast around 7 AM and an hour later developed a terrible migraine so I decided to nap a bit. I woke up a few hours later, feeling nauseous and still had a headache, but decided to do some housework and laundry. Because I felt so nauseous and didn't know if I could hold down food or not, I decided to wait a bit and have something more calorie dense later. At around 2 PM, I ended up throwing up the entire contents of the breakfast I ate 7 hours before. And it terrified me. Normal digestion should take about an hour (out of the stomach at least), but the fact that my breakfast stayed in my stomach relatively undigested for seven. whole. hours. boggles my mind. Something was not right and I couldn't kid myself anymore.

So it's almost like I'm going back to the drawing board and working to rehab my digestive system. That means:

  1. Less fiber + fiber rich foods. Whole breads, brown rice are definitely going bye-bye for a bit
  2. Less veggies. Less fiber + less volume = win-win
  3. More easily digested, hypoallergenic things like white rice
  4. More fat
  5. Taking a probiotic + putting yogurt back into my diet*
*For a while I cut out yogurt as a way to save money; Greek yogurt is expensive and I go through it like it's going out of fashion.

No questions today, just some thoughts.

Friday, August 14, 2015

So I tried to WIAW...and failed

I know I've put up a few "daily eats" posts on this blog before, and honestly every time Wednesday rolls around, I try and wish that I could have a cute little #WIAW blog to put up and join in the linkup party with, but every week I fail miserably to capture a full day's worth of food. Usually it ends up being a snap shot of breakfast and maybe a snack in the morning and next thing I know my phone is has a month's worth of breakfasts stored on it and not much else.

Real life: most my meals are eaten on the go, packed, out of tupperware, or piled up in a hodgepodge that took 5.678 seconds to throw together.

But for blogging purposes aside, I'm okay with, if not happy, that I am neglecting to photograph every single bite that I pop into my mouth. Hold on while I find the right lighting+filter combo to this piece of sugar free gum.


But jokes aside, I remember very early on in my recovery journey, I would photograph every meal and document it on my Instagram (yup, scroll down my feed enough and the evidence is still there). Not only that, but I had to make sure that every meal I ate looked nice and was artfully (and probably symmetrically) presented. Despite this overwhelming need obsession with documenting my intake, I always felt weird about other people catching me take the pictures, even if it were just my parents (haha, but if it's with the DSLR for a restaurant review, it's a whole different story - absolutely no shame. My friends can testify); I always knew that taking a picture of my banana is just not normal behavior, yet I couldn't shake it off. It was as if unless I had photographic evidence, my intake wasn't validated. I had to prove something to either myself or the recovery community, but in retrospect, what did I need to prove? Nada.

 But actually, my friends know this scene way too well

So why am I telling you this? Because I see this as another step in my eating disorder recovery by dropping not only my restrictive behaviors, but also food rituals (though being completely transparent, I still do some strange things that I am working on correcting).

And as I typed this up, I scarfed down my lunch at my internship. Paper plates, plastic silverware, and lunch break multitasking at its finest.

So tell me:

Do you enjoy WIAW's? If so, which ones are your favourite?
What did you eat for lunch today? (Baked chicken + roasted sweet taters + peanut butter sauce over a bed of spinach for me)
Any weekend plans?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Foodies and master chefs

Who would have thought that these are two of the most common self-descriptions amongst people struggling with disturbed eating patterns? In high school I was known as the master baker. All of my friends and acquaintances that 99.9% of the time I would have some sort of new baked creation for them to try out; I baked and cooked profusely and will admit that I was (and still am) pretty good darn good at it. I devoted my time to mastering recipes, techniques, using science to engineer out the perfect balance of structure, moisture, and texture in cakes and frosting, spent school nights molding fondant cake toppers or pinning decadent recipes and nothing made me happier than seeing people enjoy the treats I brought them.

I remember that I was always in the kitchen or heading up cooking teams during mission trips or or church events and I always, always encouraged others to take generous portions. But I would never dare to eat my cooking myself. Maybe I'll nibble on a few lettuce leaves to appear "normal" while everyone else was eating or I'll slip back into the kitchen claiming that I needed to finish up the next course or clean up while everyone else ate and then hope that there would be no more left-overs at the end of the night. That's not normal.

I remember that during my senior year of high school and through my freshman year of college I would stare at the clock all day long waiting for the next time I "allowed" myself something to eat. And I would do everything in my power to procrastinate until I could eat again - stay in bed, nap, do cardio, and once again pin recipes. That's not normal.

But now in hindsight and after talking to so many others who are struggling, I realize that this sort of behavior isn't uncommon and I won't lie - I cringe every single time I see a recovery account on Instagram post about making a batch of cookies for their friends or family. Anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and anything on the restrictive food patterns spectrum can turn even the most uninterested person into an absolute food obsess-er and gourmand. And I'm not just talking about the typical enjoys a big ol' helping of food porn type of food-lover, but a straight up addict.

And you know what I think is the most scary thing about the whole scenario? That the personal turmoil and fear of food, lack of control, or body image issues - whatever the root problem may be - is actually stronger than the addiction to food. Think about it - normal types of addicts go through excruciating withdrawal symptoms and can/will literally kill to get their stimuli, but here we are, absolutely entrenched in our food thoughts and obsessions and yet STILL abstaining. Just let that sink in for a bit.

Lately I've realized that the further and further behind I leave my disorder, the less elaborate my meals become; I'm starting to live normally, not vicariously though other people's eating habits. And sure, I still do love whipping up a big, fancy meal for when I have friends over, but when it's just me on a Wednesday night, I keep things really simple: some meat I prepped over the weekend, a salad or maybe some roasted veggies, and a sweet potato drenched in nut butter (or more accurately some sweet potato to eat with my nut butter).

I'll admit, sometimes I am a bit sad that I am losing a sort of "ultra foodie" identity, but I know that on some level I will always love being in the kitchen or devouring up classic cookbooks. I'll always love exchanging banter and recipes with chefs or other food lovers. I'll always love trying out and reviewing new restaurants or recipes. Food truly is something I find fascinating and passion in. Trust me, it's not bad to be more engrossed by food than the average Joe, but do proceed with caution. Are you eating enough? have you been restricting your body of food types or calories it has been craving? Are you allowing yourself to eat the things you have been making? Because these are all subtle signs that your love of food is something more sinister.

At the end of the day, food and cuisine truly are wonderful things and ways to experience culture and the people around us, but there is a very thin and often hidden line between a hobby and obsession. And I'll admit - I love food. But I'm not addicted anymore.