Sunday, February 27, 2011



I like to play video and computer games (but then, you already knew that).  Both the Best Husband Ever and I do, in fact, although we have different tastes in games.  He enjoys games that require skill and strategy, and his game of choice is Starcraft.

As for me, I love a good story.  Which is probably why I haven't really played too many games, because too often games' stories are not engaging (I've found this to be true for far too many books as well, sad to say).  But recently I started playing Dragon Age: Origins, and I'm in love.  Why?  Because the game leads you into a deeply compelling, epic, Lord of the Rings-esque story.  Something in my heart -- and, I think, in all human hearts -- cries yes to a compelling story. 

Which is what I think we all really want from life.  We each want to live out a deep and meaningful story over the course of our allotted years.  I'm reading a couple of books that talk about the idea of the life-story, but the one that has most captured my heart is Don Miller's latest, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  In 2003 Miller published a nonreligious memoir on Christian spirituality that made him famous with both Christian and secular crowds.  In the aftermath of his success, Miller found himself shrinking inward, his life stalling instead of taking off. 

When a team of movie makers approached him to make a movie out of the memoir, Miller was given the unique opportunity of seeing his life turned into a compelling story -- or really, a more compelling and directed story than it already was.   That got him to thinking about whether day-to-day life couldn't be funneled into creating a deep and engaged story, and so A Million Miles in a Thousand Years was born.  I started reading it today and am gobbling it up as fast as my eyes can travel the pages.  So far I am finding this book to be, in a word, amazing

Why am I writing about all this in conjunction with my Snapshot Sunday photo?  I don't know, other than I find the whole idea of living out a purposeful story versus a life of random, inconsequential events extremely alluring.  And, having just reflected on my own story for National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I am already familiar with the desire to have my life mean something, both in retrospect and for the future.  I want my life to mean something more -- I want to live a story that means something. 

And I think (or I hope?) that we all are.  There is the slow and sweeping story woven from the expanse of a full life, and there are the tiny, vibrant stories that occur in a day or a week or a handful of years.  I think.  I hope.  I believe.

"You get a feeling when you look back on life that that's all God really wants from us, to live inside a body he made and enjoy the story and bond with us through the experience."

What do you think?  Do you see life as a series of random events or as a story being played out from your first breath to your last?

Friday, February 25, 2011

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Brilliant

There is some brilliant blog writing going down for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  Absolutely amazing.  However, all that awesome is leaving me in a bit of a bind -- after telling my story, I don't feel like there's much I can add to the bloggy brilliance that is NEDAW11

So, since I am still feeling under the weather (argh!), I thought that instead of killing myself trying to put a spin on things that have already been said, I'd just share the eating disorder awareness posts that I've really enjoyed reading.  I hope you enjoy them, too!

Also, I want to thank you all so very much for the amazing comments you left on the post about my eating disorder story.  I am extraordinarily humbled and moved by your words.  I did not expect such an outpouring of love, encouragement, and support to come my way, but I guess that shows what power our personal stories each have.  You are all brilliant! 

In the name of semi-shameless self-promotion, it has come to my attention (via Gracie at Girl Meets Life) that Women's Health Magazine is seeking excellent fitness, health, lifestyle, and weight loss blogs to add to their blogroll.  If you feel that my blog is worthy, I would love for you to nominate To the Fullest, as well as any other blogs you think need a mention.  I've already been busy nominating, with Gracie and her cake batter blondies leading the pack!

Have you seen any particularly brilliant blogging of late?  Did you blog for NEDAW?  Do tell!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tales for Canterbury: Help Earthquake Victims

This post has nothing to do with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, but I think you'll forgive me.  I was so sad to hear about the earthquake that devastated Christchurch and the Canterbury region of New Zealand, not long because the disaster is a terrible tragedy but also because that area of the world is dear to my heart.  I spent a semester of my junior year of college studying in the southern part of New Zealand and Christchurch was one of the many places I visited that I loved.  When I came across the following post from Tales for Canterbury by J.C.Hart on Liza Kane's blog I wanted to help spread the word.  The main idea is that an anthology of short stories is being put together whose profits will go to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.  Read on for details!

Christchurch, New Zealand, and the wider Canterbury region, was rocked yesterday (22.2.11) by another round of serious earthquakes. This time they struck during the middle of the day causing more devastation, and loss of life, to a city still trying to pick up the pieces from last September’s quakes.

In an attempt to do something, anything, to make a difference, we are putting together an anthology of short stories loosely themed around survival, hope and the future. All profits of this anthology will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, or another registered charity aimed at aiding those in need in Canterbury.

The purpose of this Anthology is two-fold—to help financially, but also, we hope, to provide entertainment and alleviation in a time of crisis. We hope that our words will help make a difference.

We have already begun to approach authors, and the response is encouraging. Mainly due to time pressures, this anthology will be by invitation. However, if you are an established writer, and keen to contribute, please feel free to get in touch with us at We are looking for stories between 1,500 and 5,000 words, of fairly upbeat nature in the general, literary, science fiction or fantasy genres.

Feel free to repost this and get the word out!

If you are not a writer but want to help, visit the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal to donate.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: My Story

My name is Beth, and I had/have/continue to fight an eating disorder.

Clear enough for you?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  But that, my friends, is my eating disorder story, just in time for NEDA's Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  All of my posts this week will center around eating disorders.  Why?  Because I think eating disorder awareness is important.  And because eating disorders are deadly, devastating lives regardless of whether the disease causes physical death or not.  And because I think that eating disorders are a disease, a matter of mental health and addiction, and because I battle this addiction every single day. 

It strikes me that I've never told my full eating disorder story before.  At least, not here on the blog.  I thought that today is just the day to do it.  Here we go!

Five years ago, I wouldn't have thought I had an eating disorder.  I had recently moved from Boston to the middle of nowhere in Montana (literally -- the closest town was a 10 minute drive away, and boasted a population of 90ish) after finishing up my Master's degree in elementary education.  I was working on a ranch, coming to terms with the at time insane Montana winter, and I thought I was totally healthy.

At the Corn Palace in 2005, en route to Montana after grad school.

Except I wasn't.  I can see it now, but at the time I thought that eating large quantities of food to soothe myself was normal.  But it's not -- it's called binging, and not only does this type of eating lead to poor physical health and weight gain, but it also numbs the binger from feeling anything uncomfortable ever.  And this is how I'd been dealing with life since puberty.  Not so healthy, but I didn't think anything was wrong. 

Day 4 / Suffering from acute distraction due to muffin
In late 2006 I began restricting food, and so was obsessed with food by the time I took this photo in early 2007.

Two years later, I found myself married to the Best Husband Ever, happily living the newly wed life.  Except we weren't.  During the summer of our engagement, I dropped a drastic amount of weight, requiring a last minute refitting of my bridal gown.  I was either starving myself or "saving" my calories for a binge/purge episode at night.  But I was getting thinner, so I thought I was okay.  I thought that once the stress of the wedding was past, things would naturally improve.

I was already beginning to look unhealthily thin by our fall 2007 wedding.  Looking at my wedding photos now makes me feel sad, uncomfortable, and angry at how disordered eating robbed the Best Husband Ever and myself.

But they didn't.  Instead, they got worse.  I didn't expect my new husband to eat my preferred meals (such as massive salads that had nothing but vegetables and fat free dressing in them), so I had to cook more substantial dinners . . . and eat said dinners.  Afraid that I would blow up to blimp-like proportions, I joined a gym and began exercising like crazy.  I pushed myself through an hour or more of hardcore cardio each day, biked around town instead of driving, and sometimes threw in some extra yoga for good measure.  I never took a rest day.

This was taken in August 2008, when I was about 5 months into therapy and still deathly thin.  I couldn't see how ugly and terrifying my malnourished body had become. 

My weight plummeted.  My skin was constantly dry and cracking, and my hair was thin.  I experienced chest pains.  My skin was sallow.  The slightest cut or bruise took ages to heal.  I was incapacitated by cold and hunger all the time.  I had difficulty remembering things.  My brand new marriage was strained, and the Best Husband Ever was overcome with despair and helplessness.  I couldn't hold down a job due to extreme fatigue and hunger.  I hadn't had my period in over a year.

Eventually I asked my doctor about my lack of period, and of course she told me that I was underweight and so my body could not support such frivolous functions as supporting a reproductive system.  I tried to return to my pre-starvation/overexercising way of eating (which was to binge myself into numbness) and of course had a meltdown when I overindulged in the treats I'd been denying myself.  I went back to my doctor with this news, and she sent me to a nutritionist.

My 2008 EKG results.  The news was not good.

The nutritionist freaked out, and rightly so.  I had to go into her clinic for a daily weigh in, and I had weekly blood tests.  I learned that I had an extremely low heart rate.  The nutritionist and her team of nurses were afraid I was on the verge of death.  I probably was, but that didn't stop me from exercising or spur me to up my food intake.  They told me that I needed to go into an inpatient eating disorder program.  I balked at the idea, as that would have required moving away from Montana, and so they settled for hooking me up with a local therapist.

I began seeing the therapist twice a week.  I hated going.  I hated the way she looked at me and expected me to talk, how I was expected to admit that I was broken.

By early 2009 I had gained some weight, but was still overexercising, getting in two hours of exertion daily.

But I kept going.  And excruciatingly slowly, I began to get better.  I improved my nutrition and eating habits.  I gained much-needed weight.  I was allowed to cut back to one therapy visit a week.  I even started to like going to see my wonderful therapist.  I know now that she saved my life. 

It would be wonderful to say that I am now fully recovered and can eating like a normal person.  But I'm not.  When I was thin I thought I was anorexic (generally, a person who restricts food as a means of gaining control), but now that I look back over my life, I think that I was (and am) bulimic -- someone who eats large quantities of food and then tries to purge this food through vomiting, use of laxatives, or overexercise.  I see now that even during my recovery process, I was still "binging" on huge low-calorie salads and "purging" through overexercise.  But when I left what I thought would be my last therapy session in late 2009, I thought I was cured.

By early 2010, I was no longer overexercising and had achieved a healthy, sustainable weight.  I thought I was done with ED.  Alas, stressful life circumstances led me to resume binging as a coping mechanism.

Except (you knew it was coming) I wasn't.  I don't know if I will ever be fully "fixed," although I certainly have come a long, long way on the road to health.  Right now, the fact is that I have to be mindful about what I eat.  I have to record my intake, because intuitive eating only gets me into trouble -- like I'll "intuit" that it's okay for me to binge and purge with laxatives just this once.  Attempting to be intuitive caused me to fall back into my old binge-for-numbness pattern this past year, and to gain about forty pounds.  So I write things down, I journal, and I blog, all in the name of keeping myself honest and learning how to not use food (or exercise) as a drug. 

My story is not finished.  While at times I find that frustrating, there's also something good in there -- while I'm living, I am working on living well.  Sometimes I'll stumble and fall, like I did in the past year, but that's okay as long as I can keep learning and keep trying.  I'll get there someday. 

DDC Hooping at Old Navy
Today, I'm overweight, but I'm also happier, mentally healthier, and my life is about so much more than food.  I am working on my eating and hope to lose some weight, but this time I am doing it the right way.  No more restriction and overexercise for me!

But I won't get there alone.  Over the course of my struggle with disordered eating, I relied so much on the strength and love of those around me -- the Best Husband Ever, our united families, my therapist, my friends, and my church family (who were the first "public" group that I let in on my struggle), to name a few.

I wish I knew how to conclude this post.  But all I can honestly say is that I'm still here, and that by the grace of God I'm still learning/trying/healing/growing.  And really, isn't that amazing?

In honor of NEDA's Eating Disorder Awareness Week, let's inundate the blogosphere with our personal stories of how we eat and relate to food/life!  I encourage you to blog about your story and the link to it here in the comments. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How To Be Sick, Part Two: Cuddles vs. Stoicism


I am getting sick.  Again.  It seems that quite a few friends and family members are going through multiple rounds of cold and flu bouts this season.  I'm so glad I have wonderful pups to comfort me -- not to mention the Best Husband Ever!  

Speaking of my wonderful husband, we have two very different approaches to being sick.  When I am ill, I want to be taken care of -- have tea brewed and brought to me, get tucked into bed, that sort of thing.  When the Best Husband Ever is sick, he just wants to be left alone, which is hard for me to do when I see him feeling bad. 

What about you?  When you're sick, would you rather get some TLC or be left to fight your illness alone? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Last week I received a fun piece of news -- after a detailed application process, I was selected as one of Alive in the Fire's sponsored yogis of 2011!  As one of my favorite online yoga teachers says (er, writes), YEAY!

What this means is that I'll be guest posting over at Rachel Stroud's blog of Bikram love, Alive in the Fire.  I (and a bunch of other interesting looking folk) am also eligible for free goodies and possibly even local studio yoga classes.  Cool, eh?  I'm excited!  I hope this sponsorship will spark to get on my yoga mat more, and to get my butt out the door into live classes.   

So, now that I'm done tooting my own yoga-licious horn, I should say that you, my lovely readers, can expect me to be referencing guest posts at Alive in the Fire in the near future.  I'll also be blogging some about my experiences here on To the Fullest as well, I'm sure.  In short, expect more of this: 

Day 185 / Yoga-licious

. . . and this:

Cobbler's feet

. . . and this:

Goofy yogi

Thanks again, Rachel!

Monday, February 14, 2011



I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day.  To me, it's just another commercial holiday that sets too-high, unrealistic Disney-esque expectations for romantic relationships.  Don't get me wrong -- I am not opposed to making an extra effort to show your loved ones (be they spouses, BFFs, girl/boyfriends, children, etc.) that they are important to you.  However, I don't think that requires a specific day loaded with expensive chocolates and sappy cards with words that we have not written ourselves and don't really mean.

Still, the Best Husband Ever and I did celebrate Valentine's Day -- yesterday.  Our amazing church hosted its first-ever Valentine's Day dinner.  For twelve dollars we got a killer meal for two, wonderful hangout time with fellow churchgoers, and some thought provoking group and couples-only discussion questions with time to discuss them.  It was really special, and so simple.  Not only did we (a couple who is notoriously shy) get to know some new folks, but we also got to talk about our marriage in a way that we never quite have.

Here are some of the questions the pastor passed around for us to discuss as a couple:
  • Which would you pick for a vacation: beach or cruise?
  • Which would you pick for a vacation: city or forest house?
  • What is your spouse's top pick for a vacation?
Interestingly, the Best Husband Ever and I didn't get the first two questions right for each other, but we picked the perfect vacation for the other as lead by the third question.  (If you're curious -- he'd like to go on an extreme vacation, and I'd like to go on a cross country equestrian vacation.)

At the dinner we also discussed what the vision for our marriage is, and how we influence each other.  The Best Husband Ever and I struggled with these questions, even though we've discussed them before and should have an answer by now.  What it comes down to is that, after everything (my eating disorder, his withdrawal, and subsequent rocky life changes) we just want to have a vision.  Any at all.  But we don't know where to go from here.  Help?

This post turned out quite differently than I had planned!  I was going to talk smack about Valentine's Day and then share some posts that I've loved reading lately.  Since I've already collected them, here they are!
 What is your vision for your marriage and/or your life?  And who are you loving on this day and every day?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh [Fuzzy] Balls

A few of you were wondering about poi spinning and looking for a video of my clumsy attempts. Here you go!  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Operation Novel: Commence Phase Two


When it happened, it took me by surprise: the end.  Of the novel I am writing.  I survived the story-licious journey I began in November, and I have reached the end.

Sort of.

Actually, I've reached a new beginning -- the beginning of Operation Novel Edit.  And I am terrified.  Because, as much as  insecurities and self-doubt threatened to stop my progress on the first draft, what kept me going is the knowledge that the first draft doesn't have to be good.  It just has to be

A second draft, however, has to be good.  Or get closer to being good.  Preferably a lot closer.  Which means that, while the writing itself was hard, I'm entering the even more difficult editing phase.  Editing is going to require talent and finesse, which I am not sure that I have.  Although that is probably my inner you-can't-do-it un-cheerleading squad talking.  I hope.  While I've written several full first drafts in my time, I have never edited any of those drafts to completion.

Until now.  Again, I hope. 

Wish me luck, blog friends.  I am venturing into uncharted waters, and the possibility of imminent drowning feels all too real.

To keep myself feeling creatively robust, I have launched some new personal photography projects.  You can check those out on the blog's new Photography tab.   I'm only about a week into these year-long projects, but I'm loving them.  I've attempted these projects in the past, and it feels so good to get back into the daily photography groove.  Also, it's nice to have the photos to reflect on (and use on the blog!).  In 2010 I barely took any photos in comparison to the thoroughly documented previous years.  I love having a record of my life, even if I'm the only one who ever sees it.  What a gift!

Are you working on any creative projects?  I'd love to hear about or see some of your creations!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just Call Me the Poi Princess

Poi princess

Yesterday I attended the first class in a three week series on poi spinning. I didn't really expect to do well since I'm notoriously bad with my left hand, but I was surprised at how well I could pick things up with the right tips. Thanks, Leah! Now, to work on combining spinning tethered balls with spinning hoops. . . . Thoughts?

(And yes, I own a pair of fuzzy wuzzy poi.  I spied them in the Firegroove tent at Hoopcamp and fell in love.  I can't stand pastels really, but show me hot pink and I'm a goner.  It's a sickness.)

I find it interesting that I've found my way into the spinning arts, and my latest venture into poi is doubly curious to me.  I spent a semester of my junior year of college studying in New Zealand.  Modern poi spinning has its origins in the Maori, the tribal people of New Zealand.  Toward the end of my semester abroad I attended a performance showcase of students who had taken a Maori dance class, and that was the first time I ever saw poi performed.  I remember feeling sad that I had missed out on this opportunity to learn something so interesting and different from my normal course load.   I guess I thought that I could only learn through structured university courses, and that once my years of school were over, so was my education.  Now I see how silly that perspective was -- the only person who stopped me from pursuing poi at the time was me. 

Deep thoughts for a Snapshot Sunday, huh?  But they're good thoughts, full of important realizations and realigning of my sometimes crusty and inflexible assumptions. 

What is something that you once assumed to be true that you've now discovered doesn't have to be?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Not Quite Subway


I have been craving Subway sandwiches lately.  Their Veggie Delite sandwich, to be specific.  And while I have indulged once or twice this year, I hesitate to make Subway a regular staple.  For one thing, eating at Subway daily is not financially efficient for our area, and I'd rather not do that to the collective wallets of the Best Husband Ever and I.  Also, when I'm not out and about, it seems silly to make a trip just for a sandwich.

So I decided to improvise.  We stocked up on sandwich fixins (a phrase that I love, by the way) and I set to work make a homemade version of my beloved Subway Veggie Delite.  Check out this not-quite-Subway sandwich that I enjoyed for lunch earlier this week:

Here's what I do, emulating the Subway sandwich-building method:
  • I start with a hoagie-style sandwich bun for a base.  This particular one is pumpernickel, a major favorite for me.  I've also tried sourdough and whole wheat.  
  • I slap on some protein.  For the Subway Veggie Delite this would mean some cheese, but for me it means sliced turkey or hummus.  I also add pumpkin puree for the fiber and because it's just that good.
  • Bring on the veggies!  Although I typically don't have the variety that Subway offers, I still do pretty well.  My favorite combo so far is romaine lettuce, sliced beets (from a can, although home-roasted would be awesome if I was motivated to make them), and sliced cucumber.
  • Last comes the sauce.  For me that means a generous dousing of balsamic vinegar.  I also put some straight on the bun before I start loading the sandwich up because I like me some soggy bread.
And then you're done, and you can now enjoy a Subway sandwich without the cost (which, admittedly, is still pretty cheat compared to other eat-out venues) right in the convenience of your own kitchen.  I like to add a dill pickle or two on the side, because what sandwich doesn't go with a a pickle.  As you can see in the photos, I sometimes also add a fruit, depending on how satiated I feel.  Nom!

Do you make yourself sandwiches?  What is your favorite combination? 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How To Be Sick


Last week I came down with the intense cold that is flowing through our community.  It sucked.  Of course, when does being sick not suck?  However, my illness did not prove to be a total loss, because I was able to learn something in the process.

In the more recent past, sickness has not slowed me down until I'm really, really sick.  For example, back in the winter of 2008, I started getting some sort of cold or flu.  Instead of taking to my bed and guzzling tea and Airborne, I went to the gym.  And not only did I do my usual hour on the elliptical, but I followed that up by an hour of step class.  Smart?  Not so much.  But I didn't stop there.  Feeling even worse, I stubbornly forced myself to keep to my daily routine.  I substitute taught in a local school.  I met a friend for coffee. 

By the time I went home that evening, I felt ten times worse than I had in the morning.  I was reduced to a shivering, feverish, congested, achy mess.  I couldn't bring myself to get up off the couch once I finally let myself lay down.  I couldn't sleep either.  It was bad.  And my recovery lasted weeks because as soon as I felt slightly better, I took to the gym again. 

This past week, I did better.  At first I wasn't sure if I was getting sick (although I had my suspicions), so I kept up with my routine.  I Zumba-ed, went to the women's group at my church last Thursday morning, and went out to lunch with a couple of friends.  But it didn't take too long to realize that my suspicions had become reality, so I immediately gave myself up to the couch.  I drank healing teas, took Airborne and DayQuil and NyQuil and let myself rest. 

Did it suck?  Yes.  Plus I had to fend off my brain's urgings to get up and do something with myself already.  But I forced myself to couch-dwell for all of Friday and Saturday, following that up with a laid back Sunday and Monday.  And guess what?  This resting thing works.  Although I'm still dealing with a lingering cough and runny nose, I otherwise feel completely healed.  No weeks of lingering illness for me this time around! 

You might be wondering why I devoted a whole post to this topic.  I know that it's not rocket science -- when you're sick, obviously you should take care of yourself.  But I've never practiced this before.  I suppose that I never believed that doing nothing (which is, admittedly, boring -- how much Lego Indiana Jones can a girl play?) is a must-have tool in your illness-fighting toolbox.  But now I believe in the power of taking a few sick days.  I am astounded at how the body can heal itself from these nasty wintertime bugs with the help of dedicated rest.  Amazing!

How do you take care of yourself when you get sick?  Do you have any surefire remedies?