In God’s Eyes…

…Every woman is beautiful.

I will forever thank Jesus and my faith in Him for my recovery.  If I didn’t have God and His word, I don’t know that I would have seen the value in breaking out of my disordered habits and restoring my weight to a number that everyone else wanted for me.  Knowing that God created me in His own image, that he wants more for me then to be in bondage to safe foods, exercise, and the scale, and that He loves me were powerful driving forces during the recovery process.  Belonging to God takes me outside of myself, reminds me that I am part of a much bigger picture, and calls me to serve others instead of serving my own desires…the desires of the flesh, the desires of the world.  

Although my weight has been restored and I no longer have a compulsion to exercise, I still have to rely on God to help me overcome the ever present mental tangles of the eating disorder.  When I feel ugly, huge, and worthless, I remember that my body is only a vessel that holds my soul and helps me fulfill God’s will for me.  When I feel emotional and want to overeat, I remember that God gave us food to nourish us, not destroy us.  Anorexia is a funny thing…I spent months and years building up an immense amount of self-control, denying myself food when my body cried out in physical hunger, and forcing myself to exercise in the middle of snowstorms, and now my physically recovered body is having to deal with having very little self-control and compulsions to eat for reasons aside from hunger.  It is in these times that God’s word reminds me that I was made for so much more than food…I was made for Him, I was made to serve others, I was made to have everlasting joy and love.  

Someday, I will see myself with the same eyes as God’s eyes.  Someday, I will love myself with the same everlasting love that God loves me.  Someday, I will flourish in the same way that I flourished when I was a child.  With continued hard work and prayer, that someday may be sooner than I can imagine.

My prayer for you this Sunday is that you will cling to God and see yourself and others with the same compassion, grace, and understanding that God sees you and others.  

Help for the Hard Days

“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. It’s possible to treat yourself with outrageous kindness beginning today.” 
― Geneen Roth 


“You can NOT measure pain on a scale… ALL people with Eating Disorders suffer.”


“Scales only have the power which we bestow upon them. Imagine if I said “My self-worth is determined by the toaster.”


“People don’t understand that those with anorexia are not shallow. They feel too much. They feel the need to whither like their feelings.”


“An eating disorder is a desire for power that strips you of all power. A gesture of strength that divests you of strength. A wish to prove that you need nothing, that you have no human hungers, which turns on itself and becomes a searing need for the hunger itself. it is an attempt to find an identity, but ultimately it strips you of any sense of yourself.” -Mayra Honbacher


Bicker with the bitch in your head who keeps telling you you’re fat and weak, Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes. Bear in mind she’s trying to kill you. Bear in mind you have a life to live.” -Marya Hornbacher



“You can do more than just survive in this world; you can live in it. If you are willing to work hard on your recovery, you can transform your life into one that feels rewarding and fulfilling. This requires being patient, present, and accepting during all stages of your progress. It also means looking at yourself objectively, and getting to know who you really are. Choosing life means believing that someday – regardless of how long it takes – you will be free.” – Lindsey Hall and Monika Ostroff, Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide to Recovery 


“Recovery itself is a very un-glamorous daily process of being willing to fall down again, to break again, to cry again, to get up and try yet again until ‘success’ manifests as ever-greater sustained healing.” – Shannon Cutts


“What you pay attention to grows. Pay attention to your loveliness, your magnificent self. Begin now.” 
― Geneen Roth

Committing to Happiness

Hello Again!

On my run this afternoon, I did a lot of thinking.  Runs are so great for self-reflection…I really think that running is one of the best types of therapy.  I used today’s run to think about all of the things that bring me happiness.  As I ran, I made a list that included working out, taking aimless walks, sitting in the sun, enjoying a hot cup of coffee, reading my Bible/daily devotional book, wandering around grocery stores, sitting in coffee shops, journaling, reading magazines, going to church…and it goes on.  My mind then moved to questioning why I don’t make a greater effort to incorporate all of those things into my daily life.  With the execption of working out, which I do 5 days a week,  I don’t do any of the other things on a daily basis.  It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I am stuck in my typical routine and live passively rather than actively changing my routine.  In the morning, for instance, I could wake up a little bit earlier and read my Bible or go to mass.  Instead of sitting on my computer in my apartment in the afternoon when I don’t have class, I could go to a coffee shop or sit outside.  At night, I always sit on my couch, do homework on my computer, or watch TV.  While it is fine to do all of those things for a few hours, why don’t I take a break and go for a leisurely walk or read a magazine or my daily devotional book?  I don’t have a good answer other than that I am being lazy about my happiness.  I have the ability to make myself happier and fill my days with the things that bring me joy and it’s time to use it.  Instead of continuing my lackluster routine, I’m going to step up and make the change.  Writing this post has allowed me to acknowledge my behavior and develop a plan for improvement.  I’m going to make a few smart goals for myself and report back on a weekly basis about how I’m doing.  It’s go time, my friends, and you can help keep me accountable!  🙂 Here’s to a summer of greater happiness!

Let’s Grow Together questions:

1. What brings happiness and fulfillment to your day?

2. When and where do you do your best thinking and self-reflection?

3. Is there anything that is part of your daily routine that you don’t really like or wish that you did differently?

This entry was posted on May 8, 2012. 4 Comments

When Perfectionists Aren’t Perfect

The other day I received my final grades for the winter term of my MSW program.  When I saw that I got an “A-” in one of my classes, I was furious and devastated.  I was overwhelmed by negative thoughts about my intelligence and work ethic and my mind was reeling with what I could have done better throughout the semester that would have resulted in an “A” instead of an “A-.”  Soon enough, my bad thoughts had seeped into other areas of my life and before I knew it, I had convinced myself that I was a stupid, lazy, ugly, and flabby person. Are any of those things true?  No, of course not, but I am still feeling the effects of all of my negative self-talk.

As I internally beat myself up, I knew that what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to stop, but I couldn’t bring myself out of it.  The only thing that ended up working was the thing that always works…turning to God.  God is the only one who can ever respond perfectly when I am unhappy and negative.

When I remind myself that my true identity is that of a child of God and that He loves me for my imperfections, I am able to find a little bit of peace. 

When I remind myself that academics, athletics, and looks are superficial things and not the things that really matter in the end, I am a little bit better at accepting my perceived flaws. 

Once God calms me down, I inevitably start to feel pretty ridiculous for getting so worked up about such “trivial problems.” Don’t get me wrong, getting good grades is important and recovery  is VERY challenging…probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever gone through…but I get mad at myself for crying over these things when other people around the world are enslaved, hungry, homeless, having terminal illnesses, or dealing with something that I cannot even fathom.

This post may make me seem dramatic, but my feelings, whether I am proud of them or not,  are real.  Hopefully the process of writing out my feelings will help me improve my outlook, create positive change, and maybe even help someone else, too.

Here are some of the verses that bring me the most peace of mind:

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16: 7

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from you own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.”  Romans 12: 2

Let’s Grow Together questions:

1.  Do you struggle with perfectionism?

2.  How do you “snap out of it” when perfectionism is bringing you down?

3.  On a lighter note:  What was the highlight of your Wednesday?  I’m back in Ann Arbor and just started a great new internship!

This entry was posted on May 3, 2012. 2 Comments

Running = Play?

The other night I had the opportunity to attend a speaking engagement featuring Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, an elite runner and doctor who has won several marathons. I decided to go at the last minute and I am so glad that I did!  He was very knowledgeable, relatable, and engaging.  His presentation focused on nutrition, building a body that is strong enough for running, and running form.

His discussion about building a body that is strong enough for running really made me evaluate myself and my relationship with the sport.  Rather than focusing on weight lifting, tempo runs, and pushing your pace, he talked about running for play and running slowly.  Running for play?  What a novel idea.

Dr. Mark started off by asking us (a group of about 50 people between the ages of 18 and 65) for the definition of play.  Everyone was silent.  Sensing our confusion, Dr. Mark helped us out and explained that play is a joyous action that does not have an outcome.  Kids go outside, frolic around, PLAY with no specific goal in mind and, at the end of the day, are content because they have simply felt joy and played.  Dr. Mark said that that is what running should be; every run should be playful.

For several years, Dr. Mark experienced a perpetual state of injury…he would hurt one thing, get better, and end up hurt again within a few weeks.  Finally, he decided that something had to change if he wanted to reach his goals and become an elite runner.  Ever since he made the decision to make running playful, he has been INJURY FREE. In order to make running playful, you must slow down.  When you finish a run, Dr. Mark said that you should feel like you could turn around and do the exact same run all over again. 

The idea of making running playful and running slowly really hit home for me.  I started to think about how I feel about running and how I feel after I finish each run.  I realized that when I first started running, I loved every stride and every run.  It brought me so much joy to lace up my shoes, pound the pavement for awhile, and head back inside with an overhwhelming runner’s high and feeling of accomplishment.

As I let my competitive side and perfectionist tendencies seep into my running, I think that the joy began to slip away.  I started worrying about the numbers…telling myself that I had to go faster, harder, and longer.  Soon enough, it wasn’t a “good” run unless I went a certain distance in a certain amount of time.

Playful?  NO.  A burdensome job?  YES. 

For the past few months, my relationship with running has improved and I have started to take more rest days, listen to my body, and lower my standards of a “good” run.  Not surprisingly, my body has responded graciously.  My iron levels are up, my strength has increased, and I feel better and happier.  At the same time, however, I still set standards for each run and push myself unnecessarily.  I have convinced myself that I am still having fun and in some ways, I am still having fun.  It’s fun to see improvements in my pace and mileage.  It is not fun, however, to miss out on fun things with friends because of running and to get injured because of running.   Dr. Mark’s words of wisdom were the kick in the pants that I needed to REALLY improve my relationship with running.

Yesterday, I ran for playI gave myself permission to slow down and just enjoy the strength of my legs.  I couldn’t believe the happiness that I felt at the end of my run.  I wasn’t panting, my muscles didn’t hurt, and I truly felt like I could do it all over again.  It was so much FUN.  As sad as it may be, I really think that I needed an elite runner, someone that I respected, to tell me that it was O.K. to slow down and that even good runners have to run slowly sometimes.  I am so glad that I went to Dr. Mark’s presentation and I am really going to commit to bringing play back to my running.  Looking ahead, I’m going to make more of my runs slow runs.  I’ll always have a true love for speed and pushing myself, so I won’t let go of it entirely, but I will make sure that I only push myself because I want to and because it is fun.  It’s time to be a kid again and be injury free.  Who’s with me?

You can read more about Dr. Mark at

Let’s Grow Together questions:

1.  Do you work out and/or run for play?

2.  Do you have any tips for making exercise fun rather than a chore?

3.  How often do you put away your garmin, stop watch, or fit boss?

4.  What are you doing to play this weekend?

The Roots, Petals, and Weeds of Life

Hi Everyone!  I think it’s only appropriate for me to use my first real post to explain the theme of my blog.  Although I do love gardening and even grew vegetables in flower pots one summer, “Cultivating Kristin” represents more than that.  Last September, I was sitting in a large ballroom for the University of Michigan School of Social Work new student orientation.  Faculty members and current students introduced themselves, welcomed us to the master’s program, and gave us their words of wisdom and tips for success.  While I don’t remember everything that they said that day, I do remember an activity that they had us do.  They gave us a piece of white paper and several different crayons.  They asked us to draw a flower, complete with strong roots, beautiful petals, and tangled weeds.

On each root, we were told to write one thing in our life that kept us grounded, made us who we were today, and helped us flourish. When identifying my roots, I was reminded (yet again) that my family, God, friends, exercise, and nutritious food are critical to my happiness and well-being.

In the center of each petal, we were asked to write one thing that brought us happiness and brought beauty to our lives.  At first, I had trouble filling in all of the pedals.  Seriously, how sad is that?  I’ve been so caught up playing the “This is what I should do,” “This is what should make me happy,”  and “Who cares what makes me happy…I have a to do list!” that I have truly forgotten what makes the real Kristin happy.  After some thinking, I decided that being outside, spending time with God, drinking coffee and eating breakfast (haha it’s true, I find it so peaceful), helping older adults (I have a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and I’m getting my MSW in geriatric social work), cooking, and exercising were the petals of my life.

The weeds represented the things that caused discomfort and frustration and kept us from reaching our goals and flourishing.  My weeds were the easiest to pick out and write down.  Perfectionism, restriction, exercising too much and getting injured, negative self-talk, anxiety,  and never feeling good enough for my standards.

While some students viewed the activity as childish due to the crayons and simplicity of the drawing, the activity was incredibly moving and thought-provoking for me.  Notice how exercise and food show up in every category in one way or another?  Hmmm….funny how that can happen, isn’t it?  I think it’s another example of why moderation is the key.  Nothing relieves my stress (root) and brings me joy (pedal) than a nice, long run…but nothing makes me injured faster (weed) and meanly competitive with myself (weed) than TOO many “nice, long” runs.

Since September when I completed the flower activity, I truly feel that I have learned more about myself and grown more than I ever thought was possible in just 7 months.  Ann Arbor and every part of my life there has been a saving grace.  Make no mistake, my weeds are not gone and there is still work to be done, but I have made huge progress.  I am SO grateful to God, my mom, family, and my new friends and colleagues who have helped me (whether they know it or not) cultivate the true me, the Kristin that has been missing for the last three years.

Let’s Grow Together questions:

1.  What is the biggest root, pedal, and weed in your life?

2.  Are there any things and/or activities that serve as roots, pedals, AND weeds in you life?

3.  What do you do when you feel like your weeds are taking over your life?  Do you have a “weed removal” strategy?

Breaking Ground

Hi everyone! 🙂  My name is Kristin and I am a graduate student who has a passion for nutritious food, exercise, and (most importantly) God.  About a year and a half ago, I began reading blogs as source of encouragement and inspiration while I struggled to overcome my battles with food and exercise.  From the incredible women behind my favorite blogs, I have learned wonderful lessons about loving myself, finding balance, and truly living life.  Although I have wanted to create my own blog for several months, I believe I am now at a place, both physically and mentally, where I am really ready to share myself with the blog world.  I am so excited to  create fun, informative, and inspirational posts that reflect who I am and who I am striving to become in the future.  Thank you for reading! 🙂