Alyssa Cristadoro is a twenty-year-old college student, blogger, and yogini who has found her way to recovery from an eating disorder. She now strives to inspire and uplift others through her writing, and hopes to help guide others along their own recovery journey. What I love about Lyss is her dedication to portraying a "real" recovery: all the ups and downs, misdirections, and mistakes along the way. Here is her story in her own words.
Who are you? What is your story?
My name is Alyssa, and I am 20 years old. I am a college junior, a psychology major, and a lover of life. But I didn’t always used to love this life. There were moments that I wanted to escape. An eating disorder, depression, and anxiety crippled most of my teenage years leaving me weak and left with nothing to give. My story does not follow a straight path. My recovery journey isn't the least bit linear. But with treatment, a lot of hard work, and self discovery, I was able to climb all the mountains the universe put on my path. I was able to recreate myself and become the individual that I think I was always supposed to be.
"With recovery, I began to view movement in a new light."
How did yoga fall into your life?
Yoga came into my life when I was 16 years old. At the time, however, I was only doing hot yoga. Yoga was another way to burn calories and sweat. I would never step foot into a gentle yoga class, because I convinced myself it was not “enough.” Yoga has been in my life since I was 16 years old, but just in different meanings. Throughout my eating disorder, yoga served the purpose of burning calories and sweating up a storm. With recovery, I began to view movement in a new light. I started going to a few non-hot classes, but I always opted for vinyasa. It was not until this past summer when I got my 200 hour yoga teacher certification did I realize that yoga is truly the practice of working inwards; yoga is a spiritual practice and is healing when I allow it to be. And allowing it to be healing means doing all forms of yoga, because all forms of yoga feel GOOD! I have learned to love hatha yoga, I don’t do all heated classes anymore, and I have embraced an at-home practice too. I am learning to truly live the yoga-values I was taught in my teacher training and let them guide me through this messy, imperfect life.
"I am so grateful that I have learned to respect my body, for it deserves nothing less."
How has your relationship with your body changed over time?
I spent a lot of years abusing my body. Over-exercising and restricting were such norms for me. My body truly was a battleground. I treated my body as my worst enemy. I viewed my worth solely based on my external appearance. It was a long journey of learning to love myself, and I am still on that endless self-love and self-acceptance journey. I am so grateful that I have learned to respect my body, for it deserves nothing less. I have worked on turning into my intuition to respect my body. If my body wants to move, I will move in a way that feels good. If my body does not want to move, I will not force it too. If my body wants vinyasa yoga, I will give it that. If my body wants a slower, gentler yoga; I will honor that. I am learning every day to be my body’s best friend. I speak kind words about myself, I nourish my body, I move with good intentions, and I practice self-care daily because I know that I am worthy of all those things. I am capable of being my own best friend, and my body is more than deserving of my own love.
"I have learned strength. And I will continue to embody it. To be strong in times of fear and doubt. To be strong in who I am as an individual. And to be strong when that’s the last thing I want to be."
What does "strong" mean to you?
Strong for me is more than just muscles. "Strong" for me comes in a mental form too. Being mentally strong is something I have learned throughout the years. It is the one thing that all of my struggles in life thus far has taught me to do: be mentally strong. Strong means honoring my own needs when it feels so incredibly hard to do so. Sometimes strong means just sitting on my bed and taking an hour to do just nothing, even if I feel like I don’t “deserve” that time to just sit and be because my thoughts tell me otherwise. I have been strong in the past, I have been strong when I have looked down at my biggest fear food and ate it while crying. I have been strong when giving up items I used to self-harm to others because I knew I could not keep hurting myself. Strength and resiliency are two qualities I feel like I truly embody. Through my 20 (almost 21) years on this planet, I have learned strength. And I will continue to embody it. To be strong in times of fear and doubt. To be strong in who I am as an individual. And to be strong when that’s the last thing I want to be.
"Learning to live authentically and embrace vulnerability has created so many positive shifts in my life."
Who is the fearlessly authentic you?
Being fearlessly, authentically me is living my life to serve what my soul wants and needs. Following my intuition has been huge for me lately, and embracing who I truly am instead of running from it. My authentic self loves nature, yoga, poetry, hiking, digging deeper into spirituality practice, and self-growth. My authentic self craves adventures and traveling. Being fearlessly authentically me is being whoever I truly want to be without fear of judgment from others. It means being confident in myself, and loving myself unconditionally. Learning to live authentically and embrace vulnerability has created so many positive shifts in my life.