Fitness Nutrition


Today is Part Two of my thoughts on utilizing nutrition to aid in the treatment of depression. Part One can be read here.  

As a disclaimer, I DO NOT think simply modifying the diet can “cure” depression. Depression is an incredibly complex disease, not to be taken lightly. I do believe there is efficacy in nutritional therapy for the treatment and prevention of depression


The prevalence of Depression has been on the rise in the last 50 years. Another disease that is on the rise is obesity. The trend of poor nutrition  in our country that contributes to obesity could also be associated with higher rates of  depression. The diets of Americans are full of artificial ingredients, trans fats, sugars and an excess of calories. While nothing is wrong with a little bit of theses things, the problem is many do not practice moderation with these types of foods.

Many Americans don’t meet the daily recommendation for fruits and vegetables and their diets are devoid of critical vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. There are several vitamins and nutrients that research suggests may have an effect on depression. Perhaps it is a lack of these nutrients that is causing more and more people to develop depression. I believe that in many cases depression is caused by an interaction between genes and environment. Perhaps when someone is biologically predisposed to depression, then they eat a poor diet and have other life stressors, it triggers something in the brain that leads to depression. People can not control many stressors in life, but they can control what they eat.

Those struggling with depression often have diets lacking in essential nutrients. When someone is in the depths of the disease, they often make poor food choices that could even be contributing to the maintenance of their depression. Sometimes they don’t eat at all or eat very little, which also leads to nutritional deficiencies. Dietary intervention is often overlooked and doctors turn to medication. However, medication cannot work properly if the diet is poor.


The first nutrient I would like to discuss is omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Fats are critical for the brain to function correctly.  Studies show that sufficient long chain PUFAs may decrease the development of depression. When the brain does not get enough omega-3 PUFAs there is significant disturbance in neural functioning (Rao et al, 2008). There is evidence to support the idea that chronic inflammation influences the development of depression.  The standard American diet is full of inflammatory foods such as caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. The brain releases inflammatory cytokines under stress. Many Americans live with chronic stress just in their everyday lives, so when you combine an inflammatory diet, the results are quite detrimental. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the brain, and a diet rich in omega-3s may help to reduce the inflammation as omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties as they decrease the number of cytokines produced (Bergmans & Malecki, 2017).


The second nutrient that I believe to be important in the treatment and prevention of depression is folate. Folate has a critical role in brain metabolic pathways. The diets of depressed patients are generally lacking in folate. This could be because a patient’s diet is usually poor in general when they are depressed, or a diet lacking in folate could have some influence in the development of depression. Low levels of folate are also associated with poor response to antidepressants (Coppen & Bailey, 2000). Supplementing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) may improve the effects of certain antidepressants. In a study, 500 μg folic acid was prescribed to a group of depressed individuals along with 20 mg of fluoxetine daily.  There was a significant improvement in symptoms in the group that took the folic acid along with the fluoxetine (Coppen & Bailey, 2000).


The final dietary intervention that could be important in the treatment of depression is the   Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet is a traditional way of eating that focuses on consuming mostly plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Fish is moderately consumed, while red meat and dairy are limited. Olive oil is the predominate source of fat which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs may improve the binding of serotonin to its receptors. Studies have shown that in countries such as Greece and Spain where olive oil intake is high there are much lower rates of suicide (Sanchez et al, 2009).  I believe that this whole food diet, full of antioxidants and lacking in inflammatory foods could be very beneficial when coupled with psychotherapy in the treatment of depression. Mediterranean diets are also inherently rich in folate and omega-3 fatty acids, both believed to be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of depression.


We know food is medicine and that a healthy diet leads to a healthy body. When the body becomes deprived of healthy nutritious foods it begins to suffer. Mental health and physical health are not completely separate. A healthy body correlates to a healthy mind and vice versa. Think about it, you feel good on the inside so you are able to go out and enjoy life! You have sustained energy to engage in work and leisure. Depression is an incredibly complex, multifaceted disorder. Relapse rates are high.

While I do not think nutritional therapy is the end all be all cure, I am convinced that it is a critical tool in preventing and treating depression. Prescribing antidepressants to patients can be helpful to alleviate symptoms, but that is the problem- they are only scratching the surface of the disease.

Instead of reaching for pills, I would like to see the medical community gravitate towards instilling health eating behaviors in their patients. A brain that is not adequately nourished cannot fully engage in, and reap the full benefits of psychotherapy. If medication is prescribed, the body has difficulty metabolizing the medication and using it to its full potential if it lacks the nutrients that guide the metabolic process.

When the patient begins to eat in a way that supports proper bodily functioning, then therapy and medication have the potential to work for the patient. Until then, money and time is being wasted on interventions that will not hold up in the long term and the patient is likely to relapse. This becomes a vicious cycle of managing symptoms for a little while, but then relapse follows the brief period of remission. As the cycle continues, the patient becomes more and more frustrated with the process, and they risk losing the support of friends and family who feel exasperated.

It shocks me that there is still no dietary recommendation for the treatment of depression. It is time to change that. The scientific community pours millions of dollars into other interventions for depression, but somehow, the age old “Let food be thy medicine,” falls under the radar. Food can be medicine, if we give it the chance. It is time to invest in the whole body, and start  fueling the body, mind and soul in a way that will allow it to heal.


Bergmans, R. S., & Malecki, K. M. (2017). The association of dietary inflammatory potential with depression and mental well-being among U.S. adults. Preventive Medicine, 99313-319. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.03.016

Coppen, A., & Bailey, J. (2000). Research report: Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 60121-130. doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(00)00153-1

Rao, T. S. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. S. J. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), 77–82.

Sánchez-Villegas, A., Delgado-Rodríguez, M., Alonso, A., Schlatter, J., Lahortiga, F., Majem, L. S., & Martínez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2009). Association of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern With the Incidence of Depression. Archives Of General Psychiatry, 66(10), 1090.



This is the mindset that brought about my recovery.

From November of 2010 until August of 2016 I was afraid. Change was needed, but my fear overwhelming.

I feared losing control, gaining weight, feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t know who I would be, or how I could cope without an eating disorder. It unnerved me to even ponder letting go of my food rigidity and exercise addiction. I was afraid to trust my dietitian, treatment team and ultimately: My own body.

My eating disorder was a coping mechanism for 6 long years. Even when I seemed to be doing okay (i.e. not in a hospital or treatment center of some type), I was still very much in the grips of anorexia. It kept me “safe” and I felt in control. That is, until it didn’t.

Finally, I reached a point in my life where I knew I would lose everything if I stayed in my disease. It was the Summer of 2016, I was wasting away to skin and bone. I could just envision what would happen if I did not change:  I would lose the ability to go to college, my boyfriend who I love dearly would probably move on, I would be sent to a treatment facility against my will… and the crushing reality- I could die.


Fear stems from a lack of faith. Whether you believe in God, the powers of the universe or nothing, fear arises when you face uncertainty and are scared to move forward into the unclear future.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is trusting in advanced what will only make sense in reverse. And that is what I did.  I set aside my fear, and trusted the process.

That first step will be intimidating. This is where “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” comes into play. You put your head down, dig deep, and listen to that whisper inside you that says, “I can do this.”

Afterwords, I can tell you from experience that it will feel like the weight of the world is lifted off your chest. You will have a lightness about you because finally, after years and years of being alone, you finally have put your trust into something outside of yourself. For me it was God and my dietitian. I knew neither of them would fail me. Deep down my fear of staying in my eating disorder was greater than letting it go.

I wish I could make anyone struggling in life let go of their fear and trust the process. But I cannot. The reality is you must choose to change on your own. My hope for anyone reading this is that it does not take you 6 years. I pray that you may find your mustard seed of faith, and let it grow. I promise, the other side of fear is a beautiful place to be.



Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest things we’ll ever do”

-Brene Brown

As some of you may know, I have battled anorexia for a very long time. I was first diagnosed in November 2010, but the behaviors started in the Spring of that year.

After 6 years of appointments, hospitalizations, inpatient stays, outpatient programs, half-hearted recovery attempts, tears, anger and fear- I finally decided to take back my life. My “real recovery” date is September 1st, 2016. That was the day I began following my meal plan my dietitian and I agreed on. That was the day I began to give up control.  I began to trust the process.

My dietitian slowly increased my calories until I was steadily gaining, and I reached a healthy weight at the end of November.

I have gained 12.5 pounds since August and now sit at a healthy 107-108 pounds (weight fluctuates ya’ll – don’t freak over it!).


I can’t even begin to describe how much better my life after only 5 months of living in a recovery state of mind. My relationship with my boyfriend has improved, my family and I get along better, I feel less anxious and moody, and I have energy and I am getting stronger!

I have been lifting weights in the gym and in doing so, have found a new passion. The gym has begun to be a therapeutic experience for me, not a place where my eating disorder makes me go to burn calories. I love the feeling of getting stronger, lifting heavier and seeing my baby muscles grow!

This is me December 28th 2016!

After a bad day, or if I am struggling with body image, throwing some weight around (not literally!) makes me feel like a bad ass and quiets that voice in my head that tells me I am flabby or fat or have gained too much weight.

I’m not saying it’s all rainbows and butterflies. It has been very difficult mentally and physically to gain weight and not give up. I still struggle a lot of with body image and certain foods and going out to eat causes anxiety and fear- but I’m getting there!

One day at a time, and “embrace the suck” on the hard days. Life is so beautiful, and there is so much more to it than weight shape and appearance.

Linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons


Do you struggle with body image?

The most delicious things you last ate?



I’ve been quiet on the blog front for the past month. I wanted to come in and write about what I’ve been doing, what I’ve been up to, and some of the things I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot about myself from the end of April till now.

I happened upon this while browsing Barnes & Noble. While looking at the best sellers, I found this poetry book. I literally turned to the exact page where I found these words.

I believe in God and I believe in “God moments” and that instant in Barnes and Noble was one for me. These words perfectly sum up my life and the struggles I have been faced with, and overcome.  I know I’m privileged and my adversities are far from that of which others face each and every day. However, everyone experiences hardships in life and I’ve had my fair share with an eating disorder and recovery as well as family, relationships and school stresses and struggles.

The past month of May was a very emotional and groundbreaking time for me. Moving to my first apartment, starting a new job,  a straight A semester, and personal problems really has sent my stress levels soaring. I’m not saying that I necessarily handle all these (good and bad) stressors perfectly, but I have been growing from them.


What has come out of all of this surprised me- I have gained confidence that I have never felt before.

For the first time, I am trusting my gut and listening to my heart. In the past, I would think that I was acting on instinct, but it was always laced with fear of what other people would think. That, or I acted so impulsively that it was the other extreme of confidence- cockiness-that ruled my decisions. It was always a false sense of confidence.


Quite honestly, some days I feel like a bad ass. I know what I want and I know what I need to do to get there. Do I have it all figured out? Of course not! However, what I do have is the faith that everything will work out. I am truly listening to my heart and feel at peace with my decisions because I trust that they are the best decisions for me at any given moment. This means that I am allowed to change my mind, and make mistakes. I do what feels right for me in the moment, and make the decision that gives me confidence to face life head on.

I plan to write more about this- confidence and becoming your true self. For now, I wanted to share this message because I want you to know that if you are struggling, do not give up! Dig deep, listen to your heart and don’t give a flying-you-know-what about what anyone else may think. You do you! People who care about you, and respect you, will honor your decisions. And most importantly, by staying true to yourself you are honoring your very being, and with that comes a beautiful feeling of confidence.



I used to think health was one size fits all. Now, at the ripe old age of 21 (as of two weeks ago-happy birthday to me!), my philosophy has changed and most likely will continue to change as I grow and learn.

I believe that health and wellness is incredibly individualized. I used to gobble up diet and workout advice from magazines and think what worked for such and such fitness model would work for me. Oh how wrong I was.

My body is not your body, yours is not mine. We are so incredibly unique, from the hair on our heads to the bacteria in our guts. Unless you are an identical twin, your DNA is unique to you. And even if you are a twin, your needs are still your own.


I think the rough framework of “health” is something most humans should model- eat wholesome foods, move your body, get plenty of sleep and drink your H20.

That is a very vague outline, and it is up to us as individuals to fill in the details for what works for us and our bodies. That’s the hard part- figuring out what your body needs, and listening to it!


I am currently still in the process of learning my body’s unique needs and, the real kicker, honoring those needs. After 6 years of denying my body of the food it was begging for, and running it into the ground exercising, I have done some damage to the relationship I have with my body. You should be in sync with your body, not a separate entity from it. Your mind, body and soul work together to be a whole. As children, we are all born this way, but for a lot of us, the bonds get severed as we grow and adopt false beliefs about ourselves or how we should treat our selves.

It is a journey to truly listen to what your body is telling you, without letting those false, learned “rules” sneak in to question your intuition. Trust your body, and it will it will start to trust you again.

One of the biggest tips I have for rekindling that bond is to stop comparing yourself to others. Just because the “fit” girl on Instagram is having a giant acai bowl for breakfast doesn’t mean you have to. If your body is craving a salad for lunch but your friend orders a burger, you should honor your craving as your friend should honor hers.

Stop comparing your body to others. Love it and treat it with respect. This is something I am working on and it is definitely a learning process. It may take time to understand what your body needs and get those instinctive cues back. For now, just do the next right thing. Eat whole some foods, but also go out for froyo. Exercise, but get enough rest days in. Talk kindly to your body, don’t tear it down with “fat talk.”

Healthy looks different on everyone, to compare is to despair. When you begin to honor your body you will thrive. Your health is your greatest wealth. 




 I am a 21 year old college student living in the Tampa Bay area.  I have a passion for life and living it to the fullest. This blog will be a place for me to express myself in that venture. My journey has definitely had it’s rough patches. I am in recovery from anorexia. While I would not wish it on my worst enemy, it is a part of my story and one that I am not afraid to share. Through the ongoing process of recovery I have discovered my strength and determination- as well as my stubbornness and sassy nature!

Bits of Zen is about finding a balance in life. I love working out and being healthy, and spreading that message to others. I write about my journey to physical and spiritual health, I believe in always growing and grinding, while also having fun and enjoying each and every moment!  This is my space to share my insight and random thoughts about the process. Thanks for reading!

Fitness Life

Some Workout Clothes and Gear

Happy Tuesday!

I’m back at school which means I have access to a gym again! I love running outside but as I mentioned in a previous post, I want to get into lifting more this year and the gym is a good place for that obviously.

I put together a little roundup of my favorite workout clothes. I like shopping at Target, Tj Maxx/Marshalls and Dick’s Sporting Goods for most of my clothes. If I know my size in something though I’ve found that shopping around online you can get things cheaper that way.

I just bought these last week from Target and I’m actually wearing them now as I type this post! I worked out in them early this morning before my 8am class and they were so comfy both at the gym, and while sitting in lecture! I love the pattern and they’r are cute enough that I don’t feel like I’m totally bumming it by wearing them to class 😉

Nike Pro compression shorts are a staple in my workout wardrobe. I feel like I’m not even wearing shorts when I have them on! You can’t beat that in my opinion. I like that they come in fun colors too, while I typically stick to black or grey, I like getting ones with a pop of color on the elastic and Nike symbol for a bit of fun.

Brooks Pure Connects are the shoes I’m running in right now. I’ve been a Brooks wearer for a few years, they seem to fit my foot better than any other running shoe. I like the Pure Connects because they are super light weight, but still feel really supportive. They also have an almost “springy” feel to them.

My dad got me a similar shirt (he got it at the Adidas Outlet, so I think this is the newest version) for Christmas. It’s super light weight but long sleeved for those cooler days. It’s very breathable and I like the color options.

I have this foam roller in purple(my favorite color!). It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment- hurts so good! Foam rolling is super important for recovery and I need to get better at doing it more consistently.

About Time protein powder is delicious! I bought the Birthday Cake flavor a little while ago and now I’m to the bottom of the tub. Don’t worry though, I have the Vanilla in the mail 😉 I really like the nutritional profile of this powder, and I really like the short list of ingredients. They also have a vegan version.

That’s it for my list! If I had all the money in the world, I know I could do some crazy damage on workout clothes and gear.

What’s on your fitness wish list?

Friday Favorites: Pinterest Edition

Happy FriYAY everyone! I am so excited that the weekend is here because it means I move back to school tomorrow! I’ve had a great break, but I’m more than ready to get back to my routine and friends.

I’m linking up with Heather for my first Friday Favorites post! Since I’ve had a lot of down time the past few days I have been browsing Pinterest a little more than usual. I thought I would share some of my favorite finds as of late!

One of my goals for 2016 is to run a half marathon. I found this training plan and it’s looks very doable. I definitely consider myself a “beginner” because right now I don’t run more than 3 miles at a time

I love Julie’s blog, and this recipe looks amazing!

I want to get into lifting weights this year. I liked this plan and I’ll have access to a gym and all the equipment at my school’s gym.

I love DIY’s and using natural products. I think I’ll be referring to this pin a lot in the future.

I did this workout in my living while watching The Kardashians, and my heart was beating after!

This would be perfect for spring break, GO BULLS!

Words to live by

This will be me moving back into my apartment on campus

Meet Me: An A to Z Survey

Hello all! Welcome to my brand new blog. I thought a little surgery would a be a good first post so I can share a little bit about me.  Also, my brain hurts from figuring out all this blog stuff, so a no brainer survey is perfect right now 😉

I had seen this cute little A to Z survey on some other blogs that I read so I decided fill it out for myself.

A – Age: 19.

B – Biggest Fear: Being alone.

C – Current Time: 8:25 p.m.

D – Drink You Had Last: Chamomile tea.

Love this brand

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My little sister.

F – Favorite Song: Wow, that’s a hard one, I think I’m going to go with my favorite current song… so “Roses” by the Chainsmokers.

G – Grossest Memory: Luckily I was an observer for this one, but when my aunt was changing my cousin’s diaper and he umm, peed, straight in her open mouth- YUCK!

H – Hometown: Safety Harbor, Florida

I – In Love With: My amazing boyfriend, wonderful family and all the fur babies.

J – Jealous Of: Anyone on a warm beach vacation right now!

K – Kindest Person You Know: My mom- she has a huge heart.

L – Longest Relationship: Too long with an ex 😉

M – Middle Name: Anne

N – Number of Siblings: One.

O – One Wish: A life full of happiness and love.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: My mom.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “What are you going to school for?” The lift of a college student lol. By the way, the answer is nursing.

R – Reason To Smile: Moving back to school on Saturday! I’m so ready.

S – Song You Last Sang: “Home Alone Tonight” by Luke Bryan.

I’ve seen him in concert twice!

T – Time You Woke Up: 7:45 a.m.

U – Underwear Color: Confession- I’m not wearing any.

V – Vacation Destination: Hawaii!

Who wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii!?

W – Worst Habit: Picking my cuticles.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Teeth, neck, arm (growth plate).

Y – Your Favorite Food: Watermelon, I can eat watermelon like nobody’s business.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Pisces.

And that concludes my first blog post.

Feel Free to answer your favorite survey questions in the comments!


Thinking out Loud #1

Happy Thursday! One day left, and then it’s a three day weekend for me! Anyone else?

I’m linking up with Amanda today over at Running with Spoons to share some randomness from my life lately.

1.I’m almost done with the first week of Spring semester. I have my last class tomorrow at 11:00 and then it’s officially complete! So far so good, I like my teachers and I’m already working ahead in a lot of my classes.
2. Speaking of classes, I was taking 7 but my friends and family convinced me that such a big course load was crazy and too stressful. So in an effort to maintain balance in my life, I dropped one class so now I’m down to 6. I’m taking Microbiology with a lab, Anatomy with a lab, Statistics and College Algebra. This marks the end of my pre reqs for nursing school, so I will be applying to the nursing program in April!!
3. I have a goal of achieving straight A’s this semester. I am so determined to get into nursing school and I know I have it in me to make the grades. With that being sad, I also am making sure that I stay aware of my stress levels and overall health and don’t go nuts trying to get perfect grades.
4. My biggest news this week is I’m moving into my Sorority House!! I got the opportunity to move in because a girl was moving out and she contacted me Tuesday about taking her spot. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! I gave it a lot of thought, weighed my pros and cons, and made the decision to leave my on campus apartment style dorm to move into the house with 25 of my sisters!IMG_2290

          Throwback to my sisterhood retreat!

5. You know when you have the gut feeling? You just feel so strongly about something and you know you’re making the right decision. That was exactly the feeling I had when I confirmed that I would be moving into the house. I love that I am starting to become more confident in myself and my decisions as I get older.
6. The move is happening this weekend, so I will be busy! I’m looking forward to the change and getting closer to all the girls. I know a lot of The Bachelor, girl talks and chick flicks are headed my way!
7. I had a nightmare a few nights ago that I dyed my hair black! It was super random, and I honestly didn’t look that bad with my new black mane; however, I won’t be changing my color up anytime soon! Shout out to my sister though for being brave enough to change her dirty blonde locks to dark brown yesterday! She totally rocks it.

What’s new in your life?

Have you ever made a drastic hair color change?This entry was posted


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