Hi.

My name is Alyonka Larionov. 

I am a Host, Producer, Speaker,

Writer, Podcaster + the Founder of

iN THE UNKNOWN.

I believe in Empowering Emotional Intelligence, emphasizing Curiosity of the Human Condition, and deepening personal growth in the Discomforts of The Unknown.

LIVE.IN.LOVE

Counting Down to my ONE YEAR of Recovery

Counting Down to my ONE YEAR of Recovery


31/31

alyonka one year

This is post 31 of 31 - which means, for the next 31 days, I will be posting one photo a day pertaining to my battle with Anorexia Nervosa.
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Why? Because on APRIL 16, 2018 (in 31 days) I will be celebrating my ONE YEAR of RECOVERY. You know what I’ve gotta say? Fuck ya!
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Okay. Excitement and joy aside, the truth is that this year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I’ve written about it KIND OF. But, not really. Not in the way it really deserves to be written about. Because this is no joke. As I wrote in my essay, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It comes in many forms. We all look different. Sometimes, we don’t even look like you’d assume us to look.
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Like here. One could argue that Alyonka is a thin girl. A relatively healthy looking thin girl. That’s one point of view. Someone else could say, oh she’s too thin. Or my favorite, “eat a hamburger”. No thanks. I don’t like them no matter my weight. Which is another thing. I never weighed myself. Which many eating disordered men + women do. Also, it IS about weight but it also ISN’T. It’s SO complex + yet there aren’t enough stories sharing these complexities. So I’d like to tell mine a little bit more in detail.
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This right here? This human is me. Exactly one year ago. In a week I will find myself in the hospital. A week after that I will turn 30. Then suffer a debilitating migraine. Then two more hospital visits after which I’ll hear “Alyonka: you can live or you can die”.
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But see, I don’t know this yet. Neither do you. Not here. Here I’m just the skinny LA girl. Partying. Dancing. Living. But dying on the inside. DYING. I can’t stress this enough. D Y I N G. My heart. My kidneys. My liver. My brain. All of them slowly shutting down. Throwing major signs my way. But I just kept on moving because I had bigger + better things to do. Like take 20 takes of this moment until I found the perfect one. Oh sweetie. Just you wait. There ain’t no such thing as perfect. It’s not about the outside. It’s the INSIDE that matters.


30/31 || Cheat DAy

alyonka one year recovery

Now. Before you freak out + wave your finger at me for this post: hear me out. I’m not posting this as a trigger. It’s certainly not one for me. Not anymore. Here’s why.
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During the years of my eating disorder, my Sunday Cheat Days gradually became smaller + smaller. In 2008, they consisted of bagel bites, pizza, chips, mac’n’cheese, + a full tray of brownies. I’d binge binge binge until I couldn’t breathe + then I’d begin my Monday with an hour run + full-on starvation. Until the next Sunday hit + I’d do it all over again.
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It became much more difficult to expand + shrink my stomach, + frankly speaking, my organs couldn’t handle the bingeing AND running. So I cut out the bingeing, kept the running, + put the starving on overdrive.
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Obviously the body canNOT function without having at least something. Us disordered eating people have ways to hide what + how much we eat. Often, we make it seem like we do. For example, this egg. I sent this to a girlfriend one Sunday with a text that read “mid-day snack”. However, the truth is that this was ALL that I ate for the entirety of my Sunday before jumping back into starvation mode.
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Why? Because I used to look at this with pride. BEAMing. Look at my fucking self control. You WISH you could do this. NOW, I am so sad when I think back on my thought process.
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At this point, I could LITERALLY FEEL my body starving.
You know when you haven’t eaten in a long time + your body hurts? Multiply that by 100 + then feel it on the daily (especially while sleeping), + now, resist the need to eat. Do that for ten years.
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It’s incredulous, actually that my body didn’t crash sooner. Again: WHAT WE SEE ON THE OUTSIDE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE INSIDE. I’m very thin during this time. FRAIL. Somehow, my organs are still working. Kind of. Menstrual cycle is gone. Osteopenia is a reality. Face paralyzed? Already occurred. It’s a miracle I lasted 3 more years.
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So, if you are sitting here thinking “umm are you trying to show off how much self-control you had in your ED?” Aka TRIGGER. Fine. Think that. Cuz I’m sitting here thinking: good lord. You poor girl. I wish I could have saved you sooner.


29/31 || Holy Hangover

alyonka one year recovery

I’m sure many of you will be able to relate. Especially today. Not only is it a Sunday (post-weekend shenanigans) it’s the day after St. Patty’s (a day where most spend it binge drinking).
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How does it relate to my ED? A lot. Too much. If my ED was my significant other, then alcohol was my love affair. Let me try to explain.
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ED’s are about control. Here’s what was out of control: moving countries, cities, schools, living based on my father’s schedule + last name, staying focused on my career choices, SELF-EXPRESSION, being ME (or even exploring it openly), my body, my looks, my intelligence + curiosity. I HAD to be a certain way to be liked by my parents, friends, teachers, bosses, jobs, + the many awful men (my choice) in my life.
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I WAS SO SCARED TO BE ME. Being ME meant being vulnerable. Meant being open to rejection. So I’d control what I could: amt of food intake.
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Eventually, there comes a point where we break. We want to explore. Alcohol gave me that permission. To be ME. It also, gave me permission to EAT. Which is where it got dangerous. As mentioned, I’d eat very little all week. It didn’t take much for me to be tipsy. Once tipsy, my “personality” would soar. Then I’d feel perceived hunger (severe Anorexics do not feel hunger) + since I was drinking, I would allow myself to indulge. Just a little. Mostly when I’d come home at night. 2am. Popcorn. Seaweed. Cheese. Some nights, I’d make food only to throw it out minutes later. The ED voice LOUD. Enraged.
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Alcohol is HARD on the body. Our organs go into overdrive trying to flush out all the toxins. My organs? Well, they were barely functioning trying to keep me alive. So my hangovers - I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. The worst part? Instead of providing my body nutrients to help in its recovery, I’d starve myself even more. Punishment for late-night eating.
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Every Sunday I’d wake up to say “never again”. By Wednesday, I’d have wine after a long day of work, or before a date, or because I was sad, anxious, depressed, or secretly starved in body + mind, + looking for permission.

The cycle went on + on until I deteriorated my kidneys, my liver, and my nervous + circulatory systems. Aside from that, I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And SO over my lack of commitment!! What the F is wrong with you Alyonka? Why can’t you just stick to a decision you’ve made. The guilt + shame were overwhelming.
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So I stopped. Completely. April 16, 2017. Aside from it being a nasty habit, it was threatening my life by being intertwined with my ED.
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Here’s the point I’m trying to make. As I approach my ONE YEAR of Recovery + Sobriety, I’m thinking about whether or not I’ll drink again (in moderation). Because here’s what I now know that I didn’t then. At the beginning I missed drinking for all the obvious reasons. This “missing” was what usually caused me to pick up a glass of wine on Wednesday even though Sunday I had said “no more”.
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So I asked myself THIS QUESTION: what did alcohol provide that I didn’t have innately? And the answer was FREEDOM TO BE ME.
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I laugh at this now. You see the irony, right? Those of you who’ve followed my journey, attended my workshops, you’ve seen it firsthand. I bet you’d agree that I AM PRETTY CONFIDENT + COMFORTABLE IN MY BEING. Right. So to find myself the most FREE while abstaining from that which I assumed to give me freedom, is quite incredulous.
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Why? Because it’s always been there. Me. All of me. It was just hiding behind my fear of everything. And I’d lull that fear with all the things that would aid in that quick fix. Now that I’ve done the hard work, I know that I don’t need a n y thing. I’m good. So good as me. I’m so good enough. And you are too. I’m here to help you see that.


28/31 || Deny + Deflect

igor larionov alex ovechkin

Many of us are in denial that anything is wrong. This goes for any bad habit, addiction, self-harm, etc. We’ll do anything to say: we’re just fine! Take for example, instagram. VERY few of us actually show what’s going on behind closed doors, because, we’re just fine! Better to seem perfect than to showcase imperfections. Heaven forbid we’re HUMAN!
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As you know, the image I portrayed via social media and to friends was one where I WAS LIVING THE LIFE! Working! Building my career! Making money. Traveling! Looking good-ish (remember: body dysmorphia had me believing I looked like shit). I stopped this highlight reel on April 16, 2017 and the reaction was a whole lot of THANK YOUS. From you. And from me. Because faking it was hard as hell.
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Why Ovi. Because at some point, my disease became obvious to those outside my immediate family. Those who stood within my immediate circle. Those who knew me before it started ravaging me. I’ve known this guy since we were 13/14. Swipe left. That’s Ovi with my dad. That’s when we met. He knows my family. I know his. He played on Dynamo with my Uncle (hi @arzygm). Our lives have been intertwined. He knew me before I started looking real thin. And that’s when you know things are not going so well- when the “oh my god, should we say and do something” goes beyond the family circle.
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This was Vegas. The NHL Awards. He asked if everything was okay. I, of course, deflected, as I still do to this day (it’s partly why I’m good at interviewing because I NEVER make it about me). He wasn’t satisfied + afterwards had a lengthy conversation with my sister. Something needs to be done, he said.
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She relayed the message but I didn’t listen. Everyone BACK THE F OFF. I’M FINE. (d e n i a l)

alyonka larionov alex ovechkin

He did. We got back to normal. Discussing the red carpet for the NHL Awards, we agreed to do a funny bit for our interview. The strange thing is that it never happened because as Ovi approached, one of the media reporters fell to the ground from having a seizure. I was panic-stricken. So was Ovi. So was everybody else. He looked at me worrisome (d e n y + deflect).
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I mean this when I say it, that when my ER doctor said “I’m surprised you haven’t experienced seizures. Your levels are that bad” the first thing I thought about was that moment on the red carpet. If only I’d listened then. I hadn’t. And I never got to say “im sorry, you’re right”, to anyone for that matter. To Ovi. To my friends. To my family. For putting up with me while I denied denied denied and deflected all the way up to almost tipping over to death.
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I don’t know what the answer is to this. But what I can say is, for those of you dealing with someone like me: don’t stop trying. We hear you even if it doesn’t seem that way. Even though we push you away. Even though it hurts. I promise. You never know which time will help nudge us into that much needed step in the right direction. Please don’t give up. Cuz we need you, even if we don’t say that we do.


27/31 || CHOOSE to SURRENDER

alyonka larionov donut portland

I talk about this a lot: surrender. I say this now because I know how hard it is to do. But how fruitful the rewards. As an anorexic, Anxiety is sky high when it comes to making a choice. Should I have it? Should I not? Am I right or am I wrong? No matter the decision, if it stemmed from a place of control, it would never reveal a happy ending. At one point my anxiety got so bad I ended up in the hospital. Choice. It can be paralyzing.
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My parents moved to Portland while my brother played for the Winterhawks. My mom had told me about a place where she’d get donuts. “We can go there together when you visit,” she said. On one hand, I wanted to spend one on one time w/her. On the other, donuts, + any other food for that matter, I wanted to avoid at all costs. Decisions. Which choice to make. Mom. So we went.
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We walked. She talked. I don’t remember a single thing she said. My brain was filled with “okay. So I had a black coffee this morning. We have a dinner tonight. I was going to eat a lot so that they’re not worried. But now that I have to have this donut. How? What if I only eat half. Then have half of dinner? But I’ll be starving myself again tomorrow so maybe I should have a full dinner. I don’t want them to know. I’ll have wine. That will help. But this donut. Fuck!”
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“We’re here!” She said. I broke out a sweat. Fuck fuck fuck. I can’t tell her so I have to order one + I have to eat it. Fuck fuck fuck. “Glazed,” I said. The words coming out in slow motion. The ball in my throat so tight I could barely swallow. How was I going to swallow this thing?
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I ate. I chewed. I swallowed. I became silent. My shoulders dropped. My eyes sulked. The life completely sucked out of me. We started to walk back.
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“Is it the donut?” she asked. “Yeah. It’s fine. I’ll be fine,” I muttered, embarrassed by my own admittance. “Sorry I ruin everything.” “No, it’s okay. I just want you to be happy.”
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Happy. Hah. How can I be happy when I can’t even enjoy a fucking donut with my mom. (surrender) but I couldn’t hear it then. My ED voice much louder than any sensical thoughts. “I will NOT!” I roared.
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I posted this picture. “Happy! Mom + Donuts!” 

“So cute! Love that place”. It’s funny. People only see what they want to see. I suppose I’m partially at fault in that I portray the seemingly good stuff. The fun stuff. Even though it’s ripping me apart inside. (surrender) I WILL NOT. And I wouldn’t for another two years, bathing in this internal monologue, sinking into the paralysis of choice. CHOOSE to SURRENDER. Now I know. Now I understand. But I didn’t then.


26/31 || Slow & Steady

alyonka larionov eating disorder

I feel one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that once you’ve made a decision to change your life things are easy, smooth sailing from here on out. You’ve gotten over the biggest hurdle. You’ve realized you need to make the change. Awareness. So now just stick to the plan. Don’t stray. Stay positive. One step in front of the other. You’re getting there.
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That’s all great. Love that. But it’s not realistic. At least it wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s not for you, either.
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When I hear the self-help gurus of the world scream out POSITIVITY! it nearly knocks me over. Hold up a second!! I’ve spent 20 years of my life practicing one way of living. Give me a fucking minute. I can’t change overnight.
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That’s probably not what they’re saying. Nor are they yelling POSITIVITY at me, but it’s the messaging I’m receiving + believing + unconsciously trying to emulate, setting up expectations im unsure I can meet.
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So when I find myself in a situation like this one - July 2017, 3 months into my recovery- + I can’t decide if I should eat a half or a full avocado, I implode internally + explode (begrudgingly) in tears externally at my own inadequacy + inability to stay the course.
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Half or Full!! How many calories? How much fat! Am I hungry? Jesus Christ, Alyonka. You’re crying over a fruit. Is it? It’s got a seed. It must be.
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The simplest things were + remain to be the hardest things. Not as hard as month 3, but they’re not easy.
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I’m a baby in this new existence. I’m failing A LOT based on these gurus + I’m hurting even more. Because it SUCKS to live one way, only to have to live an entirely new way. It’s lonely. Nobody understands + it’s hard to articulate. All you hear is how proud everyone is. + stay POSITIVE.
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I can’t. Okay? Some days, I just can’t + that’s OKAY. Here’s what I know: for me, it’s all about that slow + steady. Nothing good happens overnight. Nothing worthwhile at least. All the best things take time, patience, diligence, repetition + kindness, especially once you start crying over an avocado. It’s going to be all right. You’re doing good. It’s enough. Even if THEY say you’re not.


25/31 || System Failure

alyonka larionov henrik lundqvist

If you’ve read my essay on my anorexia, then you’ll understand when I tell you that this picture is Knock #1.
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It’s 2014. I’ve just landed a huge deal with MSG Network to host + produce an intimate interview series with the New York Rangers. This is something I’d been working on for a while. Pitching the idea. Picking the first 6 players. Writing out the questions. Figuring out the story arc. Finding the location. Setting the feel + the vibe. Testing out looks. Finalizing dates. Two days before we began filming, I met with my hair + makeup artists. I told them about my “look”. We tried it. We liked it. I set out walking down NYC.
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I was stressed. I was also, incredibly thin. Like, I could feel my knees bumping against one another, causing bruising as I walked down the street. When I’d lay down to sleep at night, I’d move slowly, gently placing one leg on top of the other as I snuggled onto my side. Anything rapid + it would be painful. I’d trace my fingers slowly over my hip bones. Still sharp. Good. I’ll be skinny enough for camera.
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I walked. I felt dizzy. The city spinning. I started sweating. I bought a water + started sipping, but all the liquid kept missing my mouth. Wtf. Have I forgotten how to drink water? I smacked my lips, but my lips wouldn’t smack. I touched the right side of my face but I couldn’t feel it. Oh my god. What have you done? I called my mom. “I think something’s wrong”. Get to the hospital NOW, she said. I hung up.
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Facial paralysis, the ER doctor said. Your levels, your organs, erm, your weight...your nervous system can’t function without nutrients. It needs help. I remember shoving down salmon + mashed potatoes. Just this one time. Goddam that tastes good. No more. I’ve got to be on camera in two days.
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My mom flies in. Begs me to postpone, to quit. Just stop DOING, for once. NO! Shut up. I’ve got this. I’m a Larionov (whatever that means).
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I show up to set. Eye infection, i say. I didn’t want to dampen team morale. I couldn’t see straight, nor move the side of my face. “I’m sooo good,” I kept saying. Henrik walks in. We know one another from mutual friends. His facial expression changes. Can he tell?

Pretend everything’s normal. Six interviews after. Six lengthy + heavy conversations after, I sit on the couch. My spiritual healer calls. “What’s going on young lady? There’s something you’re not telling us.” Oh I’m fine. Was just stressed. I wanted this shoot to be perfect. “Speak your Truth. Stop running. Stop hiding. What is it?” I try to bite my lip, but I can’t. I start crying. I’m sorry. I say. I have a problem. But I can’t stop. I want to but I can’t. “Speak your Truth.” I think I have an eating disorder. I begin sobbing. I cry + cry + cry until there are no tears left. + then I quickly recover. Zipping myself up. Instantly regretting my honesty. Stupid! Why did I say that! Now everyone will know! Now I’ll HAVE to eat. F’in idiot.
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I post this picture. A ranger fan comments. “Lol, I can see your pubic bone.” Thank god! Thank GOD!!! I’ve still got it! I’m thin! I’m thin! I can manage. That salmon + mashed potato had no affect on me! I can pretend to get better + then I’ll just stop. They’ll never catch me. Knock 1. I should have known there’d be more.


24/31 || Dopamine Hit

alyonka larionov one year recovery

Like any addiction, dopamine feels really good. It’s so good that it dulls all the things around us which would normally keep us quite satisfied. The more we receive, the more we want, the more we crave, the more we put out. It’s a vicious, addictive, seductive cycle.
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Social media + the way in which it has been designed, is made to keep us on the app. The notification. The heart. The like. The follow. The DM. Oh, it’s not an actual response, it’s just that flat auto-heart.
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The post (like this one) which provides an immediate response: a text “how you been?”, a DM “long time” or “HOT” or “can I take you out”.
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Or, worse, sorry girls, but the female response: “Fire!” “Ummm...bod!!!!” “Yasss girl!” Nice, right? Yeah. It feels nice. But it’s fleeting. + it’s also stemming from a need to be seen.
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I make a point to tell my friends how much they mean to me at random. Unprovoked. I’ll text somebody out of the blue, not because they posted something, but because they matter to me. They. The person. Not the profile. Majority of my friends do the same with me. In fact, when they’d react to provoking posts (like this one) I‘d think: Huh. They know me better than that. This is a post stemming from ego. Stemming from a need to be seen. For my profile. Not me. Why can’t they see me?
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If I had it my way, I’d delete all of my socials. But it’s not about me. My “profile” is here to relay stories + lessons-learned, to inspire others to live a more authentic life. Yes, even if that means starting with your online life. I can only NUDGE. I can’t CHANGE you.
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The point here is: we’re so quick to like, to comment, to “yasss girl” or “hot”, that we miss the message. Like here. I am STARVED. I could actually feel the vein in my stomach by my hip bone. Like, it would ripple under my thumb when I’d glide across it. You wanna know my thought process? I wonder if anyone will be brave enough to reach out to ask if I’m okay. Instead I got...well, you know what I got. There are probably a few of those answers below, orrr in my DM’s right about now.

WAKE UP PEOPLE. OPEN YOUR EYES. READ!! LISTEN!! Look in between the lines, not at the likes. SEE the person! Not the PROFILE! Since when are we zombie addicts waiting on the next quick hit of dopamine. We’re better than that! We’re not only missing out on our lives, we’re missing out on the lives of others. Those who might really need a question like, “how are you doing?” Or “how are you feeling?” Or “thinking about you today”.
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I know we can do that. We’ve just been conditioned to scroll surface level. Scrolling so hard our thumbs ache, or our phones fall flat on our face. Because, yes. Our phones are with us in bed. Take a minute. Think about what you’re posting + why. Think about how you can be better. Which is authentic you vs. provoking you. + if you’re provoking, ask why? What is it that I need right now? + can I give it to myself?
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What I needed? Love. I needed someone to SEE ME. But how could they? When all I showed was a sliver (literally + figuratively) of myself.


23/31 || Sustainability

alyonka larionov one year anniversary

I don’t look like this anymore. Whether or not that’s a good thing is debatable. After all, looks are subjective. What’s beautiful to one, is a turn off to another.
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If you’re asking me? I’m not sure what I think. Visually, I don’t see anything wrong with the way I look but I’m also still V deep in body dysmorphia.
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Physically, I know it’s bad because I can remember what this feels like. Joint + bone pains. Missing menstrual cycle. Poor sleep. Headaches. Easily bruising. Ravenous stomach roars. With a knock 2 just around the corner.
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So my answer is a question, one that I ask myself on the regular: is what I’m doing sustainable? For this, the answer is an obvious no, aka something needs to change.
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I use this tool + apply it to nearly everything in my life. For example, my workshops are wonderful. They’re growing. They’re working. Is it sustainable? It might not be. Okay, let’s pivot. Or, my relationship is fine but I find myself constantly appeasing his needs. Is this sustainable? No. Okay, time for a conversation or change.
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I will confess. At some point - perhaps not to this extreme - id like to get my eyes feeling good about my body again (in a healthy way).
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What will that look like? I don’t know right now. I’m just happy I can do normal things again. THAT is enough. The vanity stuff I’ll focus on later. When I have more strength to see what is sustainable. Aka, what will keep me healthy + alive AND feeling me.
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I get it. Some of you are probably thinking: “hah, some recovery. You’re nuts. You can’t go back to that!” Shhh. This is where I am today + what matters is that I’M AWARE of my stance, continuously checking-in with myself. Alyonka, we good? Yeah, we’re eating. Okay, we good.
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It’s these little steps. Perhaps in another six months I’ll feel differently but for now it’s my Truth + it’s good enough. I’m staying PRESENT instead of looking into the past or future, focusing on Sustainability as the key to success.


22/31 | Me Without You

alyonka larionov sexy

There’s a certain identity which came with my anorexia + drinking. One that made me feel good (pun intended - sound on for the video). It gave me permission to express a certain part of me: being - what I assumed to be - sexy.
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With alcohol. With hunger. I was sexy. Without them. I was not.
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It’s been nearly 12 months since I’ve “felt myself”. It’s quite difficult when the things that once helped are no longer available. It’s even harder when you try to “feel it” sans crutch, only to have your body react negatively. Meaning, my body would literally fail every time I’d start moving it. Blotchy vision, hot flashes, poor hearing accompanied by a ringing sound, + a subsequent panic which rang the alarm “careful- we might be heading to migraine!”
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Anything out of the ordinary would cause me to spin out. So. I didn’t move much. I didn’t emote much. I didn’t laugh much. I didn’t get excited much. I tried (+ failed) to ween off my anxiety + stressors. Add to this a changing body which I “heavily” dislike(D), + you’ve got one low-esteem person. Byyye sexy.
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Me without You. When I see myself here I wonder: will this ever be me again? Will I be able to move my body? Feel myself? DO without being in fear of me shutting down? The answer is yes. After ten years of abuse, it’s going to take longer than a year. But how? + will I be able to do it without first wanting to drink or to be skinny. Who am I if there is no you?
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Then there’s the question of what if that is no longer me. What if my priorities have changed therefore I have changed. What happens then? What about the expectations for “fun alyonka” + “life of the party alyonka”? What if that’s just not me anymore?
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I don’t have an answer. I’m still exploring. Hoping to one day “feel myself” again in whatever way it Shows Up for me. Until then I’ll keep accumulating the small wins like doing yoga or dancing in my room. Small steps = big f’in wins. You’ve got this, alyonka. Trust that you’re bringing sexy back.


21/31| Choose Your Present

alyonka larionov beach

I’m looking at this geotag right now. Costa Rica. 1,183.1 miles away. It feels so far distance wise. Timing wise, nearly two years ago + yet I find myself the most present in this very moment now than ever before.
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What was I doing? Running. Running from the present. Anything but to feel the heaviness of the right now. My heavy thighs. My chunky arms. My flabby stomach. My inadequacy in a bathing suit. Distractions. I need them. Drinks please. Leave the food behind. Do everything so as to deflect the attention away from me.
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Me. Not the external. Just ME. The whole ME. I know you want to see me but I will not let you. Watch me blow up in your face when you try to love me. Back off, fucker. Watch out. I’m angry. I’m a monster. You do not want someone like me!!!! What’s wrong with you anyway? Can’t you find somebody better?
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I walk. Then I start crying. Why am I so mean? Why am I trying to make him leave? Because look at me! Who would want me? Nobody. That’s who. I’m weird. Quiet. Sensitive. Apparently needy. Kind but never showing it. I’m all the things I hate. All the things I deplore.
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I revert back to my inner child. “Hey you. You need love. You deserve love.” she whispers. No I don’t! I don’t need anyone!! “But you do. Let him love you if you won’t love you.”
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My inner-child voice calms me. It grounds me. I begin to build sandcastles on the beach. My body. My eyes. My aura softens. He sees me for a split second. I’m caught off guard. I remember fear. My fear of intimacy. I recoil.
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Straight back into my Eating Disorder. That’s the one place I can control. That’s the one place I’m not too much, or not enough, or strange, sensitive, nerdy, or needy. The ED knows better than to love me. Unlike this person it will hit me alongside the head when I tell it to stop loving me. When I tell it to hurt me. It knows I don’t deserve love. It wants to destroy me + everything around me, so I let it.
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Present. There is a choice. I chose to be present in my ED because it was easier. It meant I could hide. It meant I didn’t have to Show Up. It meant I was a coward, afraid to love + to be loved. It meant I’d make people walk + walk they did.

Present. In my Recovery. A much harder first 100 steps. Excruciating as my insides turn from the discomfort, screaming: I DONT WANT TO SHOW UP. I DONT WANT TO BE VULNERABLE. I DONT WANT TO BE SEEN. I DONT NEED, NOR WANT TO NEED ANYBODY.
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But the Truth is I do. So I stick with it + each day it’s a bit less difficult. It starts to become natural. Normal. Obvious. A non-negotiable. .
I am + want to be Present in the Space of Love. That means staying in the discomfort. That means showing up to The Unknown. That means relinquishing control. That means Surrender. That means Growth.
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When we say we can’t be present, the truth is that we can. It’s a choice we make. A hard choice. A very, very hard choice. It takes work. Perseverance. Patience. Strength. It takes Trusting the Process when you’re thick in the fog. It takes being a stand-up, authentic, genuine human. It takes BEing, instead of doing.
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I only wish I had learned this sooner so that I could look in his eyes + say, thank you for seeing me, ALL of me. I’m sorry i didn’t see you then, but believe me when I say that I see you too.


20/31 || Self-Reliance

alyonka larionov eating disorder

Let me start with this: i am not a professional. I am only sharing MY version of my Recovery. I am not saying this is the right way, nor the only way. It’s just my way.
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I did not go away for treatment. I did, however, work with a therapist, doctor + nutritionist. That’s as deep as I wanted to go in terms of my team of people.
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What I know is that it worked for me. You know why? Because at the end of the day, I had to figure out how to be self-reliant.
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You’re not supposed to cut up your food. It’s ED 101. It says so in the books. In the articles. It was said so by my nutritionist.
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I cut up my food. Why? Because cutting food, meaning, take a whole food + cutting it up, meant that I was engaging with food, period. To me that was enough. That was a way for me to Trick my brain into eating WHOLE foods, even if they didn’t appear to be whole. I needed to eat a banana + I was determined to figure out a way.
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This is day two. April 17, 2017. I was told to eat bananas. They’ve got potassium in them. Something in which I was dangerously low. I hadn’t eaten a banana in years. 6 maybe. I’d eaten banana flavored candy but never the fruit. Too many carbs + calories. Also, they are a food- something to avoid at all costs.
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Technically speaking there was a certain amount of calories I had to eat. REFEEDING SYNDROME is seldom talked about. Look it up. That’s how I learned about it. It turns out most professionals aren’t as professional as they say they are. Nobody mentioned it to me. It led me into panic every time my body would fail. At the beginning - for the first 3 months - it would happen on the regular. It would LEGIT shut down.
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With anorexia, the body is STARVED so it starts eating ones organs. That means the organs are not properly functioning, aka dying. When you start the refeeding process, one has to be extra careful. Not too little. Not too much. The body isn’t used to food but it also NEEDS IT asap. There were options of shakes, caloric milks, etc. But I didn’t want to cut corners. I wanted to learn how to eat WHOLE. So I cut up my banana. I would look at it. Then take a bite. Then 3 hours later I’d finish it.

This lasted for a good 5 1/2 months. Every. Single. Day. That’s about 150 bananas. All eaten by me. Now, if I had played by the “rules” + had felt forced to consume the banana in “their” way, chances are that I probably would have quit. Instead, I paced myself, allowing myself to see that eating a full banana wouldn’t cause me to gain weight. That I was safe. It’s nutrition! It’s energy! Not something trying to ruin me. I know this seems crazy but that’s how it felt.
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Soon after, I started slicing my bananas out of my hand. Grab banana. Peel. Cut. Place in mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. The banana which would usually take me 3 hours, would be gone in 3 minutes. I learned over time (at my own speed) that through repetition + boundaries which were safe both mentally + physically, the anxiety I had felt from consuming a whole banana had entirely dissipated. Not only that, but I learned to really love bananas. So much so that I looked forward to eating them every day.
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That is HUGE. Looking forward to eating ANYTHING is not in an anorexic’s vernacular. Today, I don’t even think twice about my banana consumption. I consume when + how I please. Now, that’s not to say that all foods are in the same category but I can’t think that macro. Doing so becomes entirely overwhelming, which causes stress, anxiety, self-doubt, fear, the not good enough, that voice, etc. Instead, I focus on the micro. On the small wins.
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This might be wrong. It’s certainly not medically approved. But it worked + works for me. In my ED Recovery + in life. Small steps = Big fucking wins. How have I kept myself accountable? Well, if I’d slip up even a bit, my body would immediately react (the shutting down). I couldn’t NOT eat. So I taught myself how to eat WHOLE. One baby step at a time.
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Bottom line is: if you ain’t doing the work, nobody’s gonna do it for you. Self-Reliance people. For better or for worse, it’s the road that keeps you moving forward.


19/31 || Parting with Lazy

alyonka larionov yoga

I’ve had a complicated relationship with the gym + working out. I started young. Not for health but for vanity. It became a way for me to shed after bingeing. Then it became too difficult, so I’d run without eating.
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Based on my upbringing, I was always fearful of being labeled Lazy. There were times I can recall in perfect detail when my Father called me that. I now know that he meant it not out of criticism, but out of a need to provide motivation. He used what worked for him. The Soviet way was to push until exhaustion then to make you feel like a piece of shit for being exhausted. They made you feel small so that you could do + be better. Problem is that I took this to heart: physically + mentally, perpetually feeling not enough in front of his eyes no matter how much I’d push my body.
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I’ve made amends with this. Instead of asking the “why me?” I see it for what it is. He did not know better. He was doing his best. And I, mine.
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Currently my inner critic is screaming “LAZY! If you really wanted it that bad you’d do anything. You’d have run those extra miles. Kept going until puking, Lazy.” That’s the critic that nearly starved me to death. The same one to almost kill me.
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After a good 10 months in Recovery, my body was finally ready to step back into my flow. My version of “Lazy”. The doing something for my body because it FELT good, not because of the way it made me look, or what others thought of me or how they chose to label me.
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10 months. Bowing deeply for my ability to just be in my steady movement. I felt stillness. Joy. Gratitude. Patience with how much I’d “lost” in my non-practice. Compassion for my body’s want to go as long as I used to, kindness when it couldn’t. I wasn’t Lazy. I was strong with a deepened understanding of my physical limits, sans judgment.
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Shhh, critic. I’m working on my pose. Breathing into it. Slowly. Gently. Practicing kindness when I can’t go deeper, wider, longer. Hush. Let me be “lazy”. Let me feel the breath coming in + out of me. I have nothing to prove to you, Critic. Lazy is a lazy label. Come up with something better.


18/31 || Who’s that?

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It should be obvious, right? The body is shutting down. The organs are dying. You can hear what everyone’s saying but you don’t really understand. It just doesn’t register. “Don’t you get it?” You respond back. “I can’t be fat.” So you keep restricting. Anything but to look like that.
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That “that”? I’m still not sure what that is. No matter how thin I got, I never felt confident in or about my body. It was never good enough. But it didn’t matter because I could keep trying. I could sustain it, until I could not.
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There comes a point when the body breaks. It just gives up. Mine got to a place where it didn’t have anything left in the tank. I literally had to eat to keep it going. So, even though I BADLY wanted to stop in my Recovery, I PHYSICALLY couldn’t. The pain was too excruciating. Which was followed by the fear. Not of death, but will this pain ever stop. That’s what scared me. That’s what kept me going.
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So I gained weight. From the outside, it probably doesn’t look like a lot. To me, it was adding an entire new person. NONE of my clothes fit. Everything felt tight. Heavy. I couldn’t breathe in properly.
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There was a point where I wore the same thing every day. The only thing that would fit. The only thing that would stretch over my changing form. It certainly didn’t help in my already lacking self-esteem. It expands the negativity, the depression, the anxiety, the loathing. So, I needed to change up my wardrobe.
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Size up. This took time. A very long time. Here is the early stage of this transition. I’d walk into a store. Grab the things I liked. Try on the first 3,4,5 + then abruptly stop. Fuck I’m ugly. SEE if I were thin, all of this would look good on me. I’d think “I’ve gotta stop eating” + then I’d start to feel weak, dizzy, out of focus. A weak nervous system immediately feels even the smallest stressors.
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I CAN’T. I can’t not eat. Dammit! I have to keep going. But I hate what I see. I’d start crying. Then rage at my mom for dragging me here in the first place. I HATE EVERYTHING. Why can’t I just be normal?
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Because you can’t. Not yet. You’ve been out of it for too long. Stay patient. Stay on course. You’ll get there.


17/31 || Overnight Success

alyonka anorexia

I had four phone calls today. Long, meaningful ones. All very different people, yet they all carried the same message. Far too often we see others at the tippy top of their success, assuming they’ve gotten there overnight, unaware of their full story which includes years of work, blood, sweat + tears put in, + the many, many sacrifices made, in order to achieve their “success”.
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One call was with my Uncle Fil. He was in the States last May/June 2017 during the very early stages of my Recovery. He follows my stories, he speaks to my mom (his sister), + he keeps in touch with me. But he hasn’t seen me in person since. I know that that last trip scared him.
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I was heavy. Not physically. Emotionally. I literally carried the worlds’ cloudy grief on my shoulders. The room would dim when I walked in. I was fragile. Often asking for my family to turn off the tv, close the blinds, Speak a little quieter. Any + all things beyond quiet, hurt me. They hurt my eyes, my ears, my nervous system, my heart. I was that physically broken.
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My Uncle Fil saw the beginning stages of Recovery. Me in tears at the table trying to put food in my mouth. Me sobbing once the pain would return to my body upon my refusal to eat anything. Me screaming at my mom telling her to F off. There’s more but I’ll spare all the details.
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He asked today how I was doing. I told him, immediately bringing up the WORK I’ve been doing, the travel plans I have ahead, the ideas on my mind. “You. How are you doing, with, you know, all that?”
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I had to think about it. Damn. I suppose compared to last time, GREAT. Quite successful. You hear?
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Humbled by his question I thought back on how bad, how hard, how impossible my climb to today has been. How much I put myself + others through to get HERE. To stay alive.
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SO many of us only see or care about the finished product, the finish line, + we forget about what got us there. That’s the stuff that counts. That’s the stuff that keeps you humble, grateful, kind. That’s the Story I’m looking to tell.
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I’m better, Fil. Better than before. I’m not an overnight success, either. I’m proud of that. Slow + steady. Thx for the reminder 🖤


16/31 || Mindful Distraction

buchinger wilhelmi

In October 2017, I traveled to Uberlingen, Germany for treatment at Buchinger-Wilhelmina for 22 days. Technically, it’s a fasting-clinic, but more than that, it’s a place for people to heal their bodies. The people range from those dealing with severe illnesses to those looking for a general upkeep of their health + body. I went to figure out my migraines sans PAINKILLERS (which is all that was prescribed to me in the U.S.) + to sort out my Anxiety to eat sans PXN’s.
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My 22 days included doctors visits, daily nurse visits, meditation, yoga, art therapy, regular therapy, body work, silent walking, + no technology. No phone (except for pictures), no tv, no music. I chose to do the latter so that I could fully be present in the discomfort of my thoughts + traumas.
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I also had to show up to the dining hall THREE times a day. My meal? Pre-made. I more or less didn’t have a choice in what I’d order. No sugar. No salt. No dairy. No caffeine. No meat. No eating disordered behavior. Simply clean eating to jumpstart my tired body.
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I didn’t miss a meal. But I had a hard time playing by the rules. Rules, btw, which I assumed needed to be followed. Everyone scarfed down their meals (most were on diets + these small meals were hard for them) so I followed suit.

buchinger wilhelmi

I tried this even when I wasn’t hungry. It was painful. Uncomfortable. Excruciating. In broad daylight with a bunch of strangers with whom I couldn’t openly say “umm could you F off for a second while I sob into my plate?” No. I had to be polite + civil + kind + engaging. So I focused on TALKING + asking questions, instead of the food. By Week 3 I was breezing through meals + feeling decent about my body.
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The outcome? Headache-free. Body + mind strength + clarity. Zero weight gained. That was a relief. I had NO idea I could eat that much 3 times a day + stay the same. This clean thing I could do! Yes! Of course after this the goal is to continue trying new foods, expanding the palette, but for the time being it was a huge step in the right direction.
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Mindful distraction: practicing shifting our focus on something else, with repetition helps to keep us moving forward.


15/31 || Actionable Item

alyonka larionov food

I usually close my @wo_menworkshop with this question: what have you learned today that you can apply starting tomorrow? I believe, whole heartedly, in actionable items. If you can’t put into action that which you’ve learned, then arguably speaking, what is the point in learning.
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Post Germany it was important that I used what I learned + made moves. I sent an email to my family stating bullet points with the things I’d learned about myself with the help of a Monk.
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Bullet 1: “I’m sensitive and I have a lot of feelings and things make me sad, happy, angry, and all the other emotions on the scale. I never used to feel things and when I did I would get very uncomfortable and would put the closest person around me into an uncomfortable position; either calling them out for their faults, or would argue, or worse, would combust and throw a water bottle at the kitchen breaking our toaster. Turns out I had no idea I could feel things. So please be aware that I will be and am sensitive and my feelings are tender and raw, and that I will not be the seemingly solid Alyon you've all come to know (or maybe that's in my imagination).”
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I also made mention that although they may have expectations for how much I should be eating after my 22 days away, that I’ll be eating as much as I can because it’s important that I find JOY in food, + see it as energy, nurturing + nutrition.
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They understood. My closest friends did too. Like here. Visiting my friend’s restaurant. What is courteous would have been to order all the things he suggested. But that would have been going against MY TRUTH. Mine was that I could only do a salad w/cheese + that was good enough for me. Stating my needs + my fears clearly, no one protested.
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It is this formula that I apply to all parts of my life: business, relationships (friends + intimate ones), in conversation. Saying what it is that I NEED w/out the fear of rejection, abandonment, or falling short of expectation.
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It’s hard, yes. But w/practice + w/time, it’s a muscle that is imperative to be strengthened. Vulnerability, transparency, honesty turns out to be STRENGTH, not weakness.


14/31 || Superficial Joy

alyonka larionov anorexia

Is fleeting. It’s just that- superficial. It has no substance. Is not grounded in anything. Therefore, it is like sand, blown away at the slightest hint of the winds.
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The truth behind this photo is that I cried the entire drive down from Los Angeles to San Diego because my body felt wrong. It felt thick. It felt heavy. It wasn’t until I drank a bit. Restricted a whole lot. + took a satisfactory amount of pleasing selfies, that I could muster up this smile.
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I think it’s real. I think it’s genuine. But I cannot know. How could it be if it is built on sand? Built on superficial joy? On selfies. On alcohol. On feeding my eating disorder. It’s not.
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14 marks the second half of our journey, friends. I dove into the past. Excavated demons with you + for you. There’s not much gained in spending too much time looking behind. So, now let’s move into the present.
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alyonka larionov ysl

I’d like to start showcasing the things which make me happy. Present day. Why? Because I’ve been building a foundation for myself + I think it’s important to show that, so that those who are in the thick of it (no matter what IT is), will see that there is a way out of the darkness. It comes. In time.
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For me, one brick has been to focus on the present moment + it’s gifts. Tangible, raw, genuine moments. Even if they “look” wrong. I want the REAL stuff. ALL OF IT. + I want to FEEL. ALL OF IT. Genuinely. So let’s go there + see what we can build together.
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Swipe right for this healthier, sober, WORKING body. It’s imperfectly perfect + just what I need for the right here + the right now 💁🏼‍♀️.


13/31 || Me, Myself & I

alyonka larionov soho house

Can you come? No. Are you free? No. Let’s say we do dinner? No. Meet us out! No. Book your flight! No. Drinks? No. Concert. No. Awesome gig opp! No. Can I kiss you? No. Movie? No. Let’s do Sunday. Absolutely not.
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Amongst my friends + family it’s pretty much the obvious that I’m the most social-loner in the world. I CHERISH my alone time. My only-me Sundays. My movie theater matinees. My library roaming. My museum exploring. My city walking. My solo one-way ticket travels. Me. Myself. & I.
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To fill myself back up, like a natural introvert, I need me. However, I’m also a do-er. A social animal. A connector. A networker. A person who is Fully Present once I Show Up. I don’t half-ass anything. + I care about people A LOT. I’d say, my life has had a pretty good balance when not fully focused on my ED.
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This years been different. This year ( Recovery) my No isn’t out of choice, it’s out of necessity. Painful necessity. Running out of energy before noon. In bed by 9. Home on the weeknights + definitely the weekends. Trips? Forget about it. Physically being unable to do things, I’ve missed out on pretty much everything there is to miss. Not because I didn’t want to be there but because I couldn’t. Even when I tried, my body would shut down.
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That’s the most frustrating. When one’s body gives out. When you WANT to do things but you CAN’T. It’s awful. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Trapped. Inside yourself.
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The silver lining? Doing allll the work with allll the things that came up in the silence. Releasing. Forgiving. Finding peace from within.
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The tough part? Patience. That almost a year in I’m still having to say No to really cool things + people.
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The lesson? Perspective. My eyes opened, I now know how much it means when someone Shows Up (especially if health permits) + the word YES. We don’t say it enough.
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Ready when you are body. Let’s go!


12/31 || A Year of Gratitude

alyonka larionov nyc

To make it to this day: 4/4. Turning 31. Healthier. Stronger. Calmer. Wiser. More Vulnerable. Authentic. Genuine. Open. Purposeful. Intentional. Kinder. Flawed. Imperfectly Perfect. Sensitive. Emotional. Surrounded by those who lift me UP, instead of bring me down. Joyful for all the small things. The ability to walk FAR. To be in the sun. To listen to music. To travel (although still working on it). To engage deeply in a conversation without my body breaking. The list goes on. Because when we think about it for just ONE second, we have SO much to be grateful for. We already LIVE IN ABUNDANCE. We just don’t take enough time to access the present + the stillness, and strip away all the STUFF that we’ve decided we need, to see it.
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Bottom line: I’m seeking to LIVE LIVE LIVE. To ask questions. To be curious. To step into Fear + The Unknown. To f e e e e e e l. All of it. And guess what? You can too.
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So that’s it. I’m simply Grateful to have had another year to be ALIVE. La di da. La di da.


11/31 || Create Your Story

alyonka larionov reformation

Many of you have asked me via text, email, in-person conversation + DM: so, how do we begin to love our body? My answer is: I don’t really know + I don’t really know that I’ll ever have an answer. However, I do want to say this.
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Today I visited one of my favorite stores in the city. I used to walk here on a Saturday or Sunday. 6/7/8/9/10 mile walks. Empty stomach. Weak. But THIN. Or at least I thought.
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I’d stroll through the store, pick up pieces of clothing, enter the fitting room feeling like a million bucks. I put in the work. I starved myself. I walked. So, I’ll definitely feel good about myself today.
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I’d try dress after dress after dress. No. Nope. Definitely not. Too fat. Too tight. Too (insert here). Not enough in all facets. Could/should have eaten less, walked more, etc.
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No matter how much weight I lost, how much I dwindled, I never, ever really felt myself because IN MY MIND, I was not good enough. Period.
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That was a decision I made. A story I decided to write. A character I decided to play. And I, well, I played it beautifully.
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In the first 10 months I made a point to avoid looking at my body. I didn’t want to deal with the HEAVINESS of it all. But then something changed. What if the story I was writing could be rewritten? What if there was a different character for me to play? What then?
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Okay. Let’s see. Body positive (aka it works). Sensual. Small curves. A little softer. Womanly. What if I saw those as GOOD? As strengths? Okay. Now. Look around you? Find those who are smiling, enjoying, LIVING, while in total comfort of their body. Great. Add that essence in. Now check-in with myself if I so much as whisper “not enough”...hushhh shhhh! strike a pose. The one which reminds me of the new ME, I can play this role. And so forth.
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I made a choice. To see what I want to see. To write the story I want to write. To play the character that I want to play. SUP! This is the NEW me. The FREE me. The REAL me. I choose to embrace her FULLY.
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Now, watch that film play. Look! She’s content. She looks, dare I say, like she’s feeling herself. Slowly but surely things change. One story ends + a new one begins.


10+9/31 || Break Them Kindly

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This deserves two days. Why? Because 1) part of Recovery is loosening up on all those self-created rules. So what? I said I need to post 31 posts in 31 days? No one told me to - and even if they did, it shouldn’t matter - and if I’m holding on to an expectation that I’ve set for myself, then I’m not fully present in the moment. And in THIS moment, I’ve decided that it’s okay (kindness) to take up two days with one post.
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This might sound like crazy talk. But it’s how the disordered mind works. If I have 10 almonds, then I’ll not have xyz later. If I have 1 almond, then I can have a bit of z. It’s these self-created rules within the disorder that strip you of your ability to be present. One essentially loses all ability to pick up on intuition, desire, discomfort, needs, etc. and veers away from the PRESENT, because the present is unclear, and unclarity is an ED’s mind worst enemy.
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So F these rules. I’ve made them to break them.
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Reason 2. Because last year, when I turned 30, I didn’t stand like this. I didn’t stand in my Power, in my Body, in my Being. I stood invisible. A ghost. A shell of myself. Body present but spirit completely out of the picture. This time everything’s in tact. All of it. All of me. Unapologetic.
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So that’s why this covers Post 10 + Post 9. Because kindness when you break your own rules. Because stepping into oneself is worth celebrating a million times over.


8/31 || State of Mind

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This week has allowed me to engage in multiple conversations in regards to my past year, turning 31, + the year ahead. I’ve thought a lot about where I’ve been, where I am, + where I’m going.
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I often speak about actively staying within the present. Sure, we can glance back into the past for lessons-learned but it’s never good to linger. Yes, we can dream + plan + fantasize the future, but it’s never guaranteed. So the present is all that we’ve got to work with.
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So what does that mean? I’ve thought this over. It seems like the present provides a choice. So what’s mine? Well. For one, I learned that Vulnerability is something I actively need to engage in. Transparency, too. Authenticity. Boundary-setting, but also keeping in mind flexibility to engage in spontaneity. Making Fear my Friend. Stepping into The Unknown + that which scares me. Within that space is where we can find ALL the growth.
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It’s uncomfortable. Of course, because it’s seemingly out of my control. It’s that space where we are steeped in fear of rejection, abandonment, not being enough, or being too much, etc. So we don’t show our true colors + we end up flying past the Present Moment, enabling the cycle of regretting the past + aggressively trying to predict the future.
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If I change my state of mind, however + I see it from a different POV, I will be able to activate a sort of BEing where I can realize that this discomfort, this “out of control” is actually the only thing I CAN control. Not the past. Not the future. Only this very present moment. Where I can CHOOSE to be all the characteristics which I find to be most important, even if they are not societally accepted.
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To me that is the ultimate freedom. That is my biggest lesson-learned. That is what I’ll take into this year. + if FEAR bubbles up (which it will) I’ll remind myself (check-in) “hey, Alyonka, all you’ve got is this present moment. BE it. All of it. 100% authentically, vulnerably, transparently you.”
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After all, when you Speak Your Truth the right person stays.


7/31 || Trigger Me

alyonka larionov

These are dangerous words. In the ED community, those affected + those treating, are very careful to use the word trigger and/or bring up anything that might trigger a reverse.
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I’ve had many people write to me since I began this series. Many have said “I too suffer” or “here’s my story” or “I’ll spare you the details..I know how sensitive this is..i don’t want to trigger you”. All of this is kind. All of this is welcome. But there’s one thing you should know about me + I believe it can help you too.
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Like my ED, once I decide I’m going to do something, I’m all in. I do believe there is a purpose in the search for balance, however, I am not sure it’s attainable, which is why I practice the check-in system, so that we can course-correct when we step too right or too left.
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With that in mind, I believe that through the work that I’ve done in the past year - in healing myself - in actively mending, recounting my story, telling it (unapologetically) speaking about it to anyone who’ll ask, making amends, etc. I’ve fully come to understand this monster which is no longer me. I’ve painted it SO clearly, that I’m able to see the difference. IT vs ME. I choose me.
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Triggers. Do I know mine? Sure. If you read between the lines of my posts, it’s not difficult to make out those sensitive spots. But here’s the thing. That’s all that they are: sensitive spots. They’re like a bruise on your skin. If sliding your hand down your body + coming across the bruise, it behooves one to lighten the pressure, instead of pushing down harder, no? Same thing here. With my triggers. I’d rather see them. Know them intimately. Inside + out. So that when they surface + they swell, I can be more gentle in my approach.
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I can say “it’s okay. That’s still there. But it’s not ALL of you. Nor does it control you anymore. IT vs ME? I win. See it. Be aware of it. Check-in if you see yourself swelling more. Then course-correct.”
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Slowly but surely, this kindness, awareness, + check-in system adds up to an almost defeat of the trigger. Remember: if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.
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A dear friend of mine who’s suffered too said “maybe it’s never over”.

To which I said, “i think it is. I think it can be. Even for me. Like, today. If I decided to do it as religiously as I practiced my ED. But, the Truth is that I’m still holding onto the old me. I haven’t completely parted ways + that’s okay.” Because it’s like any other relationship. Break-ups / divorce / ghosting / things not working out, etc ALL OF IT HURTS. All of it requires a grieving process + each person handles it in different ways, on a different timeline.

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So come at me with your stories. Give me reason to strengthen my check-in system. I can handle it. Im hear to listen + to share, through which I hope to help + empower others along the way.


6/31 || TELL YOUR STORY

alyonka larionov

It’s within these conversations, in the Tell Your Story Pod, that I learned my story inside + out. Not in the way that I’ve felt it, or been through it, or remembered it. Not even in the way I experienced it, but in the way that it related to others. This space. This way of storytelling, sharpened my empathy tool into a fine point where I am able to source my story’s power + strength to help others in their journey.
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In my mind, that is why we tell stories. We tell them to learn ourselves intimately, but we tell them so that we can write it, instead of it writing us. It’s so that we can relay our message in a way where it hugs those in need. Makes them feel seen, heard, matter.
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I tell my Story because it opens the Space for others to tell theirs. Open. Honest. Authentic. Genuine. Transparent. Vulnerably.
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I tell my story so that I can actively LISTEN. Really, deeply engage. Participating in the silence which follows the end of every sentence, for that’s where the Truth really sinks in.
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I tell my Story so that I can better understand others. So that I can LEARN + add to my emotional intelligence.
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I tell my Story so that I can ask QUESTIONS because that is what leads me closer to understanding the human condition.
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I tell my Story in the form of this podcast because it is LIBERATING. Like my ED, where I played a character. Like I played one on TV, in Media, in production. Here? No more. It’s just me. It allows me to come into myself — mmmmmm — to really sit there + to f e e e e l. To process. To heal. All the while, reframing the lessons-learned into actionable items for you all to hear.
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I tell my Story. Do you?


5/31 || SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

alyonka larionov speak your truth

Why do we fear speaking our truth? Because it’s the most vulnerable. The most honest. The most genuine. The most raw. The most sensitive. The most open. It’s all the things we try so hard to cover up. Filter after filter. Take after take. Silencing after silencing. It’s all the Truths that we hope nobody ever sees because if they see them...well, they might not return. They might walk away.
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Fear of abandonment. Rejection. Not being good enough. Not fitting into their wants, needs + mold. Their expectations of + for you. They being parents, friends, significant other, love interest, sex interest, new job, new boss, society at large, US, etc.
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Everyone’s Truth is unique to them. Being unique is hard. It means speaking out against what is wrong. It means going against the current, the pack, the wave. It means swallowing that knot in your throat, pushing past it, to deliver what you believe is innately Right. Always, always steeped in Love. It means saying how you REALLY feel, even if it makes you seem “weak” or “little” or “small” or “insecure” or “sissy” or “pathetic” or “sensitive” or “needy”.
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It means openly saying “I have a mental illness” or “I suffer from depression” or “I’m recovering from X” or “I’m working hard on bettering myself” or “I’m flawed” or “I’m not perfect” or “I’M SORRY” or “that was my ego, not me”.
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It’s saying all the things that make your palms sweaty, body heat flashing, head dizzy. It’s CRYING when nobody else is crying. It’s saying “that hurts my feelings when you do/say that”. It’s saying “no” or “yes” or “not yet”. It’s clearly stating boundaries. It’s communicating. “I don’t understand. Tell me again” or “that was lost in translation”.
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It’s picking up the fucking phone + making a call. Not texting. Not dm’ing. Talking. It’s SHOWING UP when you said you would.
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Speaking your Truth means making it visible. Giving IT life. Making it something to be responsible for + accountable of.
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It’s being totally, fully YOU. I’m Speaking My Truth. Are you?


4/31 || FEED YOUR SOUL

alyonka larionov art

As children, we are curious, in wonderment of the world, open, explorative, dreamers who feel the potentials + opportunities around us.
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Usually, it’s the small stuff. Like our excitement for this week’s Show And Tell (I brought my Russian Uncle), or finishing up that game of tether ball during recess, or getting home in time for Reboot, Sailor Moon + TRL, or walking the hallway with our friends (the nice ones), or reading a book. The list goes on. That’s mine. Yours is probably different.
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I didn’t think too much on my purpose, or the meaning of life, or who I would BE or how I would get there. I was simply enjoying the minute by minute process of being Alyonka, with all the neediness of that included.
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In my childhood I loved art. Drawing. Painting. Ceramics. Pastels. Charcoals. Mixed Media. Photography. I didn’t really consider whether or not I was good. I just did it because it made me happy. That “flow” zone everyone talks about? That’s what I was in. I just didn’t know it yet because I hadn’t created a label for it.

alyonka larionov art

We create labels like that. We know what we know because we are taught to know these things. Learned behaviors, definitions, identities. At some point, I started seeing that the words “better than” started showing up in class. “Your piece is better than x” words that were not used to describe anything I created.
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During high school, I placed second for my artwork. Second is not first, therefore it didn’t exist. By my senior year, I placed all that I’d created in folders + stuffed it under my bed.
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That was 2006. I didn’t pick up a tool to work with until this past October 2017, when I found myself in Germany on my 22 days of discovery.
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The process was excruciating. The pain of actually starting something, then erasing, then smudging, then fixing, then giving up, then summoning courage to start over, then asking for help + feedback. Then putting it aside because it just wouldn’t come out of me. Only to then completely SURRENDER into myself. Me, as the child, Alyonka. Who, sans my years of experience + age + assumed wisdom, had more poise + confidence than I did at 30.
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Once Surrendered these came out of me.

alyonka larionov art

In my workshops I often hear about all the shit that we carry. All the shit that weighs us down. I try to nudge those in attendance to see that within them lies a child who has the answer to what our soul really needs.
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What are the small things that make you happy? The littlest, activities that put a smile on your face? Listening to music. Going for a walk. Watching a favorite film (hi pretty woman ). Writing + journaling. Drawing. Laying on the floor. Stretching. Petting your dog. SMALL things. SIMPLE things. Not the superficial things: followers, likes, wealth, status, beauty, success, etc. REAL things. The things that made us Content 5 when we were kids.
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Those are the small treats we can feed our soul as we build our foundation. It’s the small steps that lead to big fucking wins. Search back into your childhood world. Pull from there. Start feeding your Soul.


3/31 || ON MY OWN

alyonka larionov ed recovery

The question from @philipsoriano is: what do you wish people would have said to you?
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The truth is - and this is blunt - there is nothing anybody could have said for me to stop what I was doing until I decided myself that I was going to stop. It wasn’t until I was literally faced with death, + not in the way of actually dying (for some reason that didn’t scare me), but the idea that my brain was atrophying, that only THEN did I hit my rock-bottom, my a-ha moment, my wake up call, my holy fuck alyonka, the thing you prize most - CONVERSATION, KNOWLEDGE, INTELLECT, CURIOSITY, THOUGHT - might never be yours again.
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Only then. Only that moment. That realization forced me to grab hold of my life.
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This picture is April 13, 2017. Exactly a year ago. As I made my way to Coachella I posted this in my story: STAYING HYDRATED. You know, like, I knew then that my body, my mind were NOT OKAY, + yet, I tried to keep up with the facade that everything was fine. See? See that I’m taking care of me? LOOK AT ME!! I’m WELL. At this point I was saying this onto deaf ears because everyone around me was sick + tired of fighting for me. Of asking me to “get help” “get better” “stop alyonka please”. THEY had enough. I didn’t.
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I WISH I could tell this sad human - my eyes look sad people, real sad - that your time is almost up, but I know she wouldn’t hear me. To be honest? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because the Power I received from CHOOSING to build MYSELF back UP is something that nobody can ever take away. EVER. I know that I can crack open + break into a million pieces + through hard work, repetition, persistance, patience, can BLOOM into anything. Hopefully LOVE. Yes, LOVE.
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So. To answer an unanswerable question: no. It didn’t matter what anybody said. I had to do it on my own.


2/31 || Mirror, Mirror.

alyonka larionov anorexia

@classymalick : is there a right time to own your truth publicly? Here’s the thing. I tell my story publicly, not so that others do the same. I tell it so that they can use me as a mirror. To help them see clearer within themselves. To allow them to find similar fears, flaws, thoughts, insecurities, worries, quirks, traits, etc. so their journey is not as lonesome.

It’s an opportunity for someone to say #metoo - on any level - to use that as ammunition to say “I do this too..why?” or “now I know why my s.o. feels/acts this way” or “I’m not crazy..alyonka thinks/feels this way too” and most importantly, “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” “I can + will get through this”.

Since the moment I went public with my story + my Recovery, I wanted to share this picture but I never felt it was the right time. What is the right time? Is it when those around you cheer you on in encouragement? Is it when your intuition is rattling against your inner cages roaring “hear me!” Is it when you’re ready to cement the Truth in order to hold yourself accountable? Is it never, meaning, is the right time a permanent secret-keeping.

Personally, I think the Right Time is when the Truth needs to come out naturally, organically, authentically, transparently, genuinely, vulnerably, SANS attachment to the outcome, or without the need for it to LEAD elsewhere. Ie; releasing a balloon into the open world because it’s fulfilling to let go of something in order to give IT freedom, in turn providing a release for yourself. To let it soar in the way + direction IT wants to, keeping an eye on it until it blends into the sky, at which point we peacefully break the tie, the bond + we let it go.

This Truth, + in my opinion, this Disorder, is not about body, it’s about Soul. It’s about inner-peace. It’s about joy. It’s about self-worth/love/care. It’s about Belonging. It’s about needing someone to say “you matter to me” simultaneously punching them in the face for being a sore loser to care about a fuck-up like me. It’s about seeing a never-ending well of darkness, ultimately projecting that out into the world + into ourselves.

So when it came to My Mirror. My reflection. It never gave me truth. It fed me lies. Here. In 2013. Post 7-mile run. Empty stomach. Not my thinnest + I know it. My face? Instead of at the very least being proud of my accomplishment in running for the health of my heart + mind, I am Drowning in sadness, disappointment + shame. “You fat fuck. Can’t you do anything right? Look at you, Disgusting.”

Perhaps my body dysmorphia was so strong that had I seen a post like this from a total stranger it wouldn’t have affected me. But something tells me that I would have looked at these eyes, read the words in the caption + then heavily released a wailing cry, heaving, sobbing, whispering, me too, me too, me too, you poor thing, me too. 

You see? That is why I preach empathy in my Workshops. Because our minds choose to see what we want to see about ourselves. The mirror, often lies, unless you’re steeped in years of a cultivated self-awareness. Even then, the ego Shows Up hard. But when we see others’ stories, others’ mirrors, it feels less personal + so we’re able to be more gentle + contemplative + responsive, instead of reactive stepping straight into Fear + Self-mutilation.

So is there a Right Time? Yes. I believe so. It’s when the Release, the Story, the Purpose becomes bigger than you acting as an aid to others. It’s when NOT Speaking Your Truth / ie; Silence / is detrimental to society at large.

This is me releasing the balloon that I’ve carried in me for a very long time. This mirrored picture, of me, myself + my Eating Disordered Mind, in order to provide a gentle mirror for anyone who is suffering an all-consumed fight for their life. I need you to know that I See You. I Hear You. You Matter to Me.

Look at me. Find you within me. Let’s Release it Together.


1/31 || One Year of Life

alyonka larionov querencia

Not that Life didn’t exist before - it did - it’s just that Life is different now simply because I made a choice to Live it in a way that is True to ME, and nobody else (eating disordered voice included).
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I’ve constructed it on my terms, in my way, built myself back up from the ashes. Kept what I love. Released that which no longer serves me. Looked at my wounds. Stared hard. Processed them. Licked them into Healing. Wearing them proudly. Flawed. Imperfectly perfect. Sensitive. Vulnerable. Strong. Thoughtful. Seeker of Silence. Believer in Stillness. Always, always choosing to LIVE IN LOVE even when it’s hard.
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Actively Listening. Community Building. Connection facilitating. Conversation Making. Practicing Kindness towards MYSELF + others. Stepping aside from negative voyeurs. Opening space for positive Light.
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In wonderment of Abundance. Intellectually Stimulated. Creatively forceful. Embracing The Unknown. Curiouser and Curiouser. Unconditionally there for those who need me. Never forgetful of putting ME first. Aware of the Power of NO. Excited by the idea of YES. I am open to exploring. Everything in sight.
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Trying new things. Remembering old favorites. Deepening Desires. Swimming in Pleasures.
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Judgment BE GONE! Ego shhhhh you’re blocking my silence. Self-critic you’re wrong. Validation not needed. Belonging to ME.
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Unsubscribing to all the things that hurt me. Life’s too short to tolerate anything or anyone who doesn’t bring you up.
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Reminding myself to Speak Your Truth because the Right Person Stays. Telling My Story authentically, transparently, genuinely. Living Life. FULLY. Arms open WIDE.
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LIVE. LIVE. LIVE. I cried a year ago. Now I know the meaning of Life.
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WK- wish I could hear you say “you did it, kid”. I know you’re proud of me today.
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Семья- you know who you are.
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And YOU, dear Reader/Follower/Friend. For reading me, believing in me + supporting me. Here’s to another year of Intentional Living + Touching Lives.


11 Days in Moscow. A few takeaways.

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The Time! The Time! Who's Got the Time?

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