With a new year comes so much talk and advertisement about the next great diet or workout challenge. I’ve tackled my thoughts about food on the blog several times, so I thought today I would switch it up and give exercise/movement/whatever you wanna call it some love. When I see “fitspo” things on the internet telling us things like “sweat is fat crying” or “summer bodies are made in the winter,” I can’t help but feel sad.
We are constantly hearing messages that we aren’t doing enough and that we should be doing more to change our bodies. What if we just stopped all that nonsense and instead focused on the life-enhancing aspects of movement? For some reason, there is this overarching idea in our society that you have to dislike your body to be motivated to exercise. That’s just so not true. There are so many health-enhancing (and mood boosting!) aspects of exercise that I think would be better to focus on than trying to manipulate our bodies.
I exercise to get out of my head and into my body. If you’ve struggled with anxiety like I have, you’ll understand this is very important. I exercise to relieve stress and clear my mind, to connect with myself and others, and to achieve new goals. I move my body because it feels good. I want to live a long, healthy life, and I know exercise is one way to increase my chances of that.
I exercise not because I hate my body, but because I love what it does for me. Exercise is not a way to punish myself for something I ate, or to “free up calories” so I can eat later. (Guess what? You always have the right to eat, you don’t need to earn it!) Moving my body on a regular basis is something I want to do, because it makes me feel good. It’s energizing! It’s not something that I feel like I HAVE to do. After all, being able to engage in exercise is a privilege.
It sounds so simple, but I think the enjoyment factor is often overlooked for intensity. We think if we don’t burn X number of calories or sweat or work until we want to puke, we didn’t work hard enough. That’s just not true! Many activities like walking or gardening may not work up a huge sweat, but can have significant health impacts. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy intense exercise, but that isn’t appealing to everyone. It’s important to find what works for you. Be kind to yourself and do movement that makes you feel good. After all, if you enjoy exercise and feel better when you do it, why would you ever stop?
I truly enjoy running and lifting weights. I love the feeling of breaking a time or distance goal while running. It’s exciting to be able to lift heavier weights over time. However, there was a time when I took it too seriously and caused myself a lot of anxiety. I became so thrilled over seeing my pace improve and lift more weight that I didn’t want to stop. I thought if I missed a workout or two, I would lose the progress I had made. Once I realized that this wasn’t true and that exercise should be fun, I was able to enjoy it again. Exercise should relieve stress, not add to it.
Being in tune with your body and listening when it’s time for rest is just as important as moving regularly! Some days I’m just not excited about exercise, but I know once I start I’ll be happy I did. Other days, like this Tuesday, I needed 30 more minutes of sleep more than I needed a 30 minute run. Above all else, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Sometimes that means sticking to your usual routine, and other times that means resting because your body or mind needs that more. Or it might mean taking a walk on a day you planned on something else, because that’s what sounded good to you. Just like with eating, it’s important to ask what you want and need, then go from there.
What form of exercise do YOU enjoy? Have you tried anything new lately?
School is finally back in session after a long winter break! Yesterday I only had one class, and today I have three. Even though I enjoyed every minute at home, it’s nice to be back on a schedule. (I’ll regret saying that soon enough.) I’ve been wanting to share a little more about my journey to grad school, what my program entails, and other routes to becoming a dietitian. If you’re interested in the program or becoming a dietitian, don’t hesitate to comment or send me an email. I’m going to do this post FAQ style and answer questions family and friends commonly ask me, otherwise I’ll ramble incoherently. 🙂
Exercise and Sport Science. Originally I was thinking of applying to medical school and doing the nutrition undergrad degree at UNC. I took intro to nutrition the fall of my sophomore year and fell in love! I decided nutrition was what I wanted to do long-term. At the same time, I took in organic chemistry and despite my hardest work, I made a C. This meant I was ineligible to apply to the undergraduate nutrition program (needed a B-). Although I was bummed, I would have had to pursue further education to become a RD anyway. I decided on Exercise and Sport Science, because I was interested in it and it was a nice complement to my interest in nutrition.
I’m currently in my first year of the combined MPH-RD program at UNC. That means I’ll get a Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition and also be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam when I graduate. Currently, you’re not required to have a Master’s degree to be a Registered Dietitian, but many RDs do have one. I’m in the School of Public Health at UNC, so we have to take certain classes to meet the public health component of our degree, like health behavior and epidemiology. To meet the Registered Dietitian component, we take all of the courses required by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (also abbreviated AND). Some examples are biochemistry and two levels of medical nutrition therapy (starting this semester!).
There are several routes to becoming a Registered Dietitian, but in general the steps are:
There are two types of dietetic programs-combined or didactic, leading to a bachelor’s or graduate degree. In a didactic program, you must complete all of the required RD coursework and then apply to internship programs. The application process for the internship is pretty intense and involves a matching system. You may not be matched the first go around, which means you have to sit out another year and try again.
In contrast, I’m in a combined program, which means my internships are guaranteed. That is a huge reason why I applied to UNC and only UNC (more on that below). There is still a matching component, but I’m guaranteed to have an internship somewhere.
The UNC MPH-RD program is 28 months long. We alternate between classes during the fall and spring semesters, then internships during both summers and the final fall. I started in August 2016 and will graduate in December 2018. Most people take several weeks to study for the RD exam, so I’ll probably take that in January or February of 2019.
I’ll do my first internship-the public health experience- this summer. Most of those are at local health departments, all in North Carolina. Next summer (2018), I’ll do a clinical rotation, and then fall of 2018 I’ll do an individualized advanced placement. This is all specific to the program I am in, and the special areas of focus vary school to school.
Just UNC. Seriously. UNC is the only combined dietetics program in North Carolina and I knew I wanted to stay in state. Also, I LOVE UNC and will bleed Tar Heel Blue until I die, so I’m pretty happy to still be there! To be fully transparent, I’ll share that I applied during my senior year of college and was not accepted. I knew how competitive it was, so I wasn’t expecting to get in, but it was still hard! In that year off I said YES to any opportunity that came my way. It made for a busy, but awesome year and I did get in on my next try.
If I didn’t get in, I was hoping to begin the didactic program at North Carolina Central University. I would have needed about a year of coursework, then hopefully be matched to their year-long internship, then finish up the Master’s of Science in Nutrition shortly after becoming a RD. I would have been fine doing that, but I’m so happy with the path I’m on now as it’s packaged nicely and my internships are guaranteed. Additionally, I really wanted a degree in public health and the education that comes along with it.
AND has a list of all accredited programs here. You can sort them by program type: coordinated, didactic, or undergraduate. If you decide graduate school is the path for you, you’ll need to take the GRE and prerequisite courses, then apply to programs. Some people know this is what they want to do from a young age, so they do an undergrad degree in dietetics and then go straight into an internship. There are many routes to the same outcome, which makes it confusing but also flexible for a variety of needs.
If you’re considering this career path, go for it! I know it can be scary, especially if you’re doing something completely different right now. I’m only a semester in but I can say with confidence that it’s worth it. I’m thrilled to be on my way to becoming a Registered Dietitian and if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to share my experience!
Hello and happy Friday!
I hope you’ve had a great start to the new year and that the first week back to reality wasn’t too bad. Lucky for me, reality won’t come back until Wednesday! One of the perks of being a student.. I guess it balances out all of the loans 🙂 This semester will definitely be harder than the last, but I feel refreshed and ready. I’m hoping to keep blogging once a week, but we will see how it goes (if you have any post suggestions, I’m all ears!). Today I wanted to pop in and share my favorite things from my last week of the holiday break!
A styrofoam box of chicken, vegetables, and rice was just what I needed on Monday. My parents and I neglected to grocery shop on Monday, so it was slim pickins around here. I thought I could find something at home, but by 12 PM I was ready to run away from the house. Livi (my dog) + my parents’ dogs were going nuts because there were multiple people here to fix the dryer and AC/heat. I decided a trip to Sakura was in order. I picked up takeout for mom + myself and crashed my parents’ lunch break. Yes, they work together and they’re adorable, I know. Luckily mom had some left over, so I got to have that the next day for lunch (pictured above with some added broccoli).
I went once a week to Crossfit with my parents while I was home, and I really enjoyed it. They both had today off, so we opted for the 9:30 am class instead of the 7:00 am class. Although Crossfit is not something I’ll keep doing once I’m back at school, it definitely motivated me to push myself harder and gave me some ideas for things to use in my own workouts. I really like how they tell you what the “prescribed” workout is, but then explain modifications or ways to scale it back. I definitely took those options, which made the workout more enjoyable and safe for me.
Helen understands the importance of self care.
Dad was cracking me up on Wednesday when he kept blowing up the family group text with pictures of his food. I made sure to stock up on all his favorites and was happy to see some of them made it to work with him! I think he should guest post his daily eats, no?
One of my Christmas gifts from Chip was this amazing 40 oz Hydroflask. I mentioned wanting one of these one time months ago, so I was very surprised to open it! He’s a sweet one. This thing keeps water COLD and also prevents me from needing to fill my water bottle up 6 times a day.
I thought I would be going crazy by this point of break without a schedule or anything to do, but it has been SO nice. I’m heading back to Durham (I live in Durham but school is in Chapel Hill) on Sunday, but until then you can find me on the couch with the dogs watching Netflix. I know, I don’t need you to tell me how cool I am.
What’s your favorite thing from this week? If you live in NC, do you think we’ll get snow this weekend!?
I got my Monday shift at work covered just in case I can’t make it back Sunday!
I hope your 2017 is off to a great start and that you were able to enjoy the holidays with those you love. Today I’m picking up where I left off with my intuitive eating overview. Part 1 can be found here. I wasn’t sure if I would get this post up today, then within 20 minutes of a morning TV show, Bob Harper told me to weigh myself every day and weigh everything I eat. Then, a dietitian came on and PROMISED me I’ll lose weight if I use the hunger and fullness scale. So, I wanted to do my part and put a more positive message out there-one that encourages you to tune external messages out and listen to yourself as the expert of your own body.
Satisfaction is the driving factor of the intuitive eating process. You might be afraid you won’t stop eating if food is pleasurable, but remember that deprivation is a key contributor to backlash eating. If your order a salad when you really want steak (or vice versa), you won’t be satisfied by that meal. I know when I do this, I find myself on a food chase later in the day, trying to find a food that will truly satisfy me.
One quote I loved from this chapter is, “If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” Again, this is not a rule! Sometimes I eat food I don’t love-whether that’s because I don’t have better options or I can’t pinpoint what I really want. Sometimes I turn down food because I’m full or I really don’t like that food. You have the right to do what’s best for you.
Food is meant to be enjoyable, fun, and is a way to bring people together and celebrate big events. It can be comforting at times, but you don’t want food to be the only way you cope with pain and loneliness. Sometimes food might be the only way you know to deal with a tough situation. Give yourself grace and acknowledge that food can help you at times, but also seek out other ways to work through your emotions.
Accept your genetic blueprint. The authors write, “Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation about body size.” This doesn’t mean you should disregard your health; it means the complete opposite! Take care of yourself and the body you have right now through gentle nutrition and movement from a place of self-compassion, rather than self-control. Let your weight settle where it may (hello, Health at Every Size!).
I’ve discussed my journey to body respect on here before, so I know this step is easier said than done. I still have days I struggle with this-body acceptance requires work throughout life. Respect is the beginning of making peace with your body. You don’t have to like or love every part of your body to treat it with respect.
Exercise because of how moving your body makes you feel-not to burn calories or as penance for eating. Regular movement is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age or weight. Among other benefits, exercise is energizing, reduces stress, and improves fitness and quality of life. If you feel the difference when you exercise regularly, why would you stop?
The key here is to find movement you enjoy. So often exercise is viewed as a chore and people think you have to crank out hours in the gym to reap benefits. That’s not true! Activities as simple as walking and gardening benefit your mental and physical health. If you do enjoy cranking out hours in the gym, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work out more to feel good, but don’t let it consume you and interfere with your life.
I absolutely love the concept of gentle nutrition. Nutrition is an important part of health and plays a role in preventing chronic disease. Hello, I’m in school for this for a reason! However, I don’t believe it’s necessary for us to be so obsessed over food. There’s a lot of fear about food in our country and insane amount of conflicting advice. This is partially due to the fact that nutrition science is relatively new and not set in stone. It’s regularly evolving and there’s no “perfect” way to eat! In addition, food preference and access to food is highly individual.
The authors suggest balancing your body’s cues and nutrition guidelines with the pleasure of eating. They discuss the following nutrition recommendations:
I really like that these guidelines are simple and grounded in solid evidence. I also wanted to share this quote from Elyse Resch: “Much of what I eat considers my health, and sometimes I eat things just for pleasure.” I am considering getting this tattooed on my forehead. Eating foods with low nutritional value does not make you an unhealthy eater. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Sometimes a cookie or slice of cheesecake is just what you need, and I think it’s pretty healthy to have a good relationship with food and be able to honor that craving.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part series on Intuitive Eating. I read the fifth edition, which included two extra chapters: one on raising an intuitive eater, and another on the science behind Intuitive Eating. There are a lot of misconceptions about this approach, so I really enjoyed the chapter on the evidence and the positive health outcomes associated with intuitive eating. Even though I was not a chronic dieter, I have found this book and approach extremely helpful and empowering.
Let me know if you read the book! I think it would make a fabulous New Year’s gift to yourself. If you’ve already read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?
I hope you’re enjoying the last week of 2016. I’m here today to share about intuitive eating. I learned a lot about intuitive eating this semester, mainly through podcasts, a few mentions in class, and finally reading the book! I’ve been implementing this approach into my life and have evolved into a more intuitive eater. Of course, I’m not a dietitian yet or in a place to give you nutrition advice, so I wanted to approach this topic as a student. Also, of course this approach looks different for everyone (some people like more structure or have medical issues, etc). I feel like two posts on this can’t do it justice, so if you’re interested I highly recommend reading the book to learn more! Ok, without further ado- here’s my book review of Intuitive Eating (third edition) and my own thoughts on the approach.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch are the two dietitians who coined the term and wrote the book Intuitive Eating in 1995. They didn’t know each other at first, but had a similar journey in private practice. They felt it was unethical to prescribe diets for their clients, but also unethical to ignore the important role nutrition can play in your life. Eventually they found each other and combined their scientific knowledge with psychological principles to come up with intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is an approach that focuses on tuning into your body’s internal cues of hunger, fullness, and food preference to nurture your body and find your natural weight. We are born knowing how to eat; babies and toddlers eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full for the most part. The authors state that the process of intuitive eating is relearning something we are born with, not learning a new trick. It is NOT a diet or to be used as a tool for weight loss.
The authors say that while some of their clients experience weight loss, health and peace with food and your body is the goal. They encourage clients to focus on complete whole-person health as the goal, and put weight on the back burner. This book provides guidelines to find a make peace with food and your body, and to pursue health without restrictive eating and rules. There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating, and I’m going to discuss the first 5 today. Each one has its own chapter in the book, so if you’re interested in the tidbits I share here definitely consider reading the book!
An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that diets don’t work, and in fact are harmful in many cases. Research has shown that weight cycling, losing or recycling the same fifteen pounds, may be more harmful that having that weight in the first place. I love the simplicity of this drawing from Kylie. Among other things, dieting (especially chronic dieting) leads to: slower metabolism, increased risk of developing an eating disorder, social withdrawal, and weight gain over the long run.
If you hang onto the diet mentality, it will prevent you from tuning into your body and what you need. If you reject it, you’ll be able to listen to your internal signals AND have a lot more brain space for important and fun things. Win-win.
I think it’s important to first state that this isn’t a rule!! Their point with this principle is to eat primarily based off biological hunger, but of course it’s fine to eat if you aren’t hungry.
On the flip side, don’t ignore your hunger. If you’re hungry, your body is telling you that you need food. You wouldn’t deny yourself going to the restroom if you had to pee, would you? It’s a weird example, but I think you get the point. Ignoring hunger often results in becoming ravenous then overeating, which makes you feel like you can’t trust yourself around food. Cue the next diet->binge->guilt->diet cycle.
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. The second you forbid yourself from eating a food, say chocolate cake, it becomes more attractive. Then, when you finally give in and let yourself have the food, you eat a whole cake instead of a slice or two. After all, if you think it’s the last time you’ll have that cake, of course you’re going to overeat!
When you make peace with food, food loses its power and YOU can decide what you truly want, and how much. I know what you’re thinking.. that doesn’t sound healthy to eat whatever you want! It seems counterintuitive, but the authors have found that when people go through the process of making peace with food, they end up balancing their intake naturally. They end up eating mostly nutritious foods with some “play foods.”
Everywhere we turn, we are told what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat it, and how much. The Food Police, whether it’s your inner voice, someone you know, or a collective societal voice, tells you things like “this food is bad for you” or “don’t eat after 8 pm.” Only you know what foods you like and what works for you. Throw out the idea of foods being “bad” or “good.” When you eat a food you have labeled as “bad,” you feel guilty, and that takes the joy out of eating.
Respect your fullness rather than clean your plate purely out of habit. I absolutely overeat at times, whether it’s because it’s Thanksgiving or just because the food tastes good and I want to keep eating. However, it would be really uncomfortable to do that every day. When I eat past comfortable fullness, I notice that my stomach hurts and food doesn’t taste as good.
The authors say the key to this is Principe 3: making peace with food. If you know you can have more later, it’s easier to stop eating when you’ve had enough. Another key is conscious eating: rather than eating on autopilot, pay attention to how you feel during a meal. Are you full yet? Does the food still taste good? This may seem burdensome, but I can attest that it becomes natural over time.
Whew! That was a lot. I told you I had a lot of thoughts and feelings, and I could keep going!
You may notice this post is rather void of nutrition talk. The authors purposely focus on nutrition later in the book. They have seen that focusing on nutrition at first can undermine attempts to break free from dieting. Even though I have never been on a true diet, I found these principles applicable to my life. I don’t think there will ever be a day that I don’t have to challenge the Food Police; it’s so pervasive! Anyway, I’ll be back just in time for the New Year to share the last 5 principles, which include information about how to eat healthfully and exercise without rules or a rigid plan.
What are your thoughts on intuitive eating? Have you read the book?
Merry day after Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!
I had a wonderful first week of winter break, full of family time and good food. What more could I ask for? I wanted to pop in today and share about what I’ve been up to in terms of eating, reading, moving, and other randomness.
I’ve had so much good food this week.
For lunch, I’ve been making something easy like the chickpea/grain/feta bowl on the left, or leftovers like beef stew on the right. The bowl on the left came together within 30 minutes by cooking a grain mix then sautéing chickpeas with onion, garlic, spices, and canned diced tomatoes. As for the beef stew, we bought it from an amazing cook in town. It was hands down the best I’ve ever had. I wish I could send it to all of you.
The holidays wouldn’t be complete without reindeer chow, AKA white trash. In my expert opinion, my mom makes the best. In the past, I’ve come home for break and devoured a whole container of this in one sitting. I usually wound up with a stomach ache and a little guilt. I think it came down to two things.
1-I knew I would only eat this once a year, so I wanted to get it while it was hot. 2-I knew I would keep eating it every day so I wanted to go ahead and get it over with, if that makes sense. This year, I still had my fair share but I ate it when it was what I truly wanted, and I stopped when I was satisfied. In the past I just ate it on autopilot since it was there. This time around, I knew I could truly have it whenever I want (I could always make another batch) so I didn’t feel the need to eat it all at once. I took what I wanted, enjoyed it, and went back if I wanted more-no guilt necessary.
Ok, back on track..
On Wednesday, my parents had the day off and my sister and her fiancé were in town, so I told Chip to clear his schedule for a family fun day 🙂 We went to Sierra Nevada Brewery near Asheville, which is under an hour drive from home. If you live anywhere near here, GO!! It is an incredible place. I don’t even drink beer and I had a blast. They have wine so I was a happy camper. They also have shuffle boards, corn hole, several fire pits, and a wonderful restaurant. I could go on and on so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
This was the perfect way to spend the day with my family. I’m already itching to go back!
I didn’t take any pictures of our Christmas Eve feast, but it was wonderful as always. My mom has 3 sisters who are all married with kids, so combined with my grandparents there are 20 of us. Every Christmas Eve we go to my grandparents’ house for dinner and presents. It’s one of my favorite nights each year, as it’s rare that we’re able to get the whole crew together.
I’ve been enjoying exercise at home, whether it’s running on the treadmill watching Gilmore Girls or joining my parents in their favorite workouts.
On Wednesday, I went to Crossfit with my dad.
It had been a hot minute since I went to Crossfit or any group exercise class. I usually just do weights/TRX workouts on my own. My parents go at different times, so I told dad I’ll get up with him and we’ll make the 7am class happen at least once a week while I’m here. I enjoyed the workout but did not enjoy crying every time I laughed for the next 3 days thanks to a billion sit ups! The next day I took it easy with walking and stretching. Christmas Eve included a run with my mom and sister, which was a great way to hang out before the craziness of the holiday.
I seriously never read for fun. Even when I had a year between undergrad and grad school, I found it hard to get into a book. I’m a super slow reader, yet I am flying (by my standards) through Intuitive Eating!
I’ve mentioned Intuitive Eating here on the blog, and learned a lot about it on my own, mainly through podcasts. If you’re not interested in the book, the podcasts I mentioned in this post have a lot of material on this subject-even interviews with the authors. I didn’t want to go in depth on this topic until I had read the book, so expect a post on this in a couple of days! I’ve been nodding along so much I feel like my head might fall off.
I hope you were able to take some time away from the craziness of life to enjoy the holiday season. I’ll see you back here soon for the Intuitive Eating book review!
Hi everyone, and happy Christmas week!
I finished exams last week and now I’m home in western NC for a long Christmas break. It feels great to be home with nothing to do. I say that now, but I’ll probably be going crazy in a couple of weeks 🙂
Last night I made my parents try my famous (to me) pork tenderloin. I first made this about a year ago after I couldn’t find a marinade with ingredients I had on hand. I looked at a few recipes and picked out ingredients I liked and already had in the pantry. The result was a delicious pork tenderloin that tasted like I spent hours on it.
I probably talked this recipe up too much to my parents, but it was a hit. My dad even ate a few pieces of broccoli, which is a new record! I think I would eat pretty much anything if it was in this marinade.
I know nothing about recipe development or food photography, but this pork marinade is so good that I feel it is my duty to share it with you. It would probably be good on salmon, too, for those of you who aren’t pork fans. If I have time, I like to marinate the pork for at least 30 minutes, but it’s still great if you just throw it into the oven as is.
Note: I doubled this recipe when cooking for my parents. Chip and I usually eat most of a 1 lb pork tenderloin, so for my parents + me I made about 2.3 lb and had plenty left over. I always serve it with rice and broccoli. I love mixing it all together with leftover marinade. Yummm.
-1/2 C soy sauce
-2 TB olive oil
-1 tsp minced garlic (or 2 garlic cloves)
-1 tsp brown sugar
-1/2 tsp honey
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 lb pork tenderloin
Let me know if you give it a try! Thanks for stopping by the blog today, and I hope you have a great holiday week 🙂
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for the response to my last post. It was scary to put all of that out there, even though I know my experience is fairly common. I would say I’m glad some of you could relate, but that honestly sucks. We live in diet culture and everywhere we turn we see images of what we “should” look like, which often leads to dissatisfaction with our size. In reality, bodies come in ALL shapes in sizes and you can be healthy and happy at any size. Let’s appreciate our bodies for what they do for us and take care of them.
Ok.. that’s great all, but how do you get there? I can only share what has helped me, which is surrounding myself with positive media and messages on podcasts, other blogs, and social media accounts. So many great people are doing work in this area, and listening to the experts out there helped me immensely with body acceptance. There are so many more than I’ve listed here, so please share resources you love in the comments!
I listen to podcasts almost daily- when I’m walking, running, riding the bus, or cooking. Here are some of my favorite health-related podcasts that don’t focus on weight.
Nutrition Matters by Paige Smathers. Paige is a dietitian in Utah who approaches nutrition and health in a sensitive, compassionate way. She breaks down what really matters and seems like such a lovely person. If you’re new to all of this, I would recommend starting with Episode 41 about Health at Every Size (also abbreviated HAES). I think it does a nice job discussing what HAES is, and dispelling some of the myths about this approach.
Food Psych by Christy Harrison. Christy is a dietitian who specializes in body positivity, intuitive eating, and HAES. Christy interviews a wide range of people on her show, from dietitians to comedians and she talks a lot about people’s relationships to food. She is so passionate about what she does and I love listening to her perspective each week.
Dietitians Unplugged by Aaron Flores and Glenys Oyston. I found this podcast after listening to an episode with Aaron on Food Psych. Seriously, once you start listening to podcasts you’re in a matrix and just keep finding new ones. From the description: “We want to help you build the confidence to ditch the scale, and embrace your health without shaming your body.” My favorite episodes are when they talk about hot topics, like The Biggest Loser and the “clean eating” trend.
I read blogs every morning while drinking my coffee. Two bright spots in my feed are Kylie at Imma Eat That and Robyn at The Real Life RD. They are both dietitians who talk a lot about body acceptance, intuitive eating, and intuitive movement, and are great on Instagram as well. Which leads to my next topic..
Whew.. Instagram. Instagram can be really, really harmful to body image. Even though I follow mostly body positive people, my Explore tab is still filled with before-and-afters and bikini pics of fitness models. I certainly do not look down on people who are super fit or have lost a lot of weight (hello, the point of body acceptance is accepting ALL bodies!), but seeing ONLY those images in the media reinforces the idea that we need to change our body to be “good.” I hope that makes sense. To combat this, I fill my Instagram feed with images of ALL bodies, small and large, and body positive messages. I follow most of the people mentioned in this post on Instagram, as well as some others listed below.
Other Things That Help
I only keep and wear clothes the make me feel good. I recently threw out a pair of jeans I’ve had since high school. HIGH SCHOOL! I kept them in my drawer year after year, thinking maybe I would fit them one day. Every time I tried them on it only made me feel bad. I tossed those suckers out and only wear jeans and other clothes that make me feel good.
I do my best to avoid body checking. Body checking is so easy to do, especially when getting dressed or in the shower. If I notice I’m criticizing my body, I stop immediately. I’ll go ahead and get dressed or hop in the shower and move on, and remind myself that I’m great the way I am.
Whew, that was a lot! Again, I’m not an RD yet or any type of health professional. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me. Body acceptance is a lifelong journey. I certainly have days where I don’t feel great about my body, and that’s when I’m really glad I follow a lot of people who share positive messages and images. I hope that you listen to some of the podcasts listed and add some of these awesome people to your blog reader and social media feeds.
What resources did I miss that you love? Share with us!
Earlier this week I threw out my scale. I never weighed myself daily, but there have been times in my life where I let that number dictate my actions and the way I felt about myself.
Let me rewind to my junior year of college. I would get on the scale occasionally, see my normal weight, and go on with my day. I’m not sure why I even felt the need, but it was relatively harmless. Then, I stepped on it the summer after my junior year and saw a number I thought was bad.
It sounds silly, but I felt alarmed. I hadn’t seen that number before. I remember wondering if everyone had been talking about me. I had been to the beach the week before and now I found myself looking back at those pictures. At the time, I felt happy and didn’t think twice about how I looked. Now I felt ashamed and was picking out areas I wanted to “fix.”
I downloaded My Fitness Pal so I could lose the weight by tracking my food. I did this for a couple months until I was at a weight I was happy with. I wasn’t restricting to a dangerous level, but that’s one reason I share this story; I think many people can relate to this experience. It seemed harmless at the time, but I was definitely eating less than I do now and trying to make my body a size it wasn’t meant to be. (Note: I went through this process one more time senior year and after that, decided it wasn’t worth it. More on that below.)
This gets me to my next point: once I stopped tracking every morsel I ate, my weight stabilized between what I thought was my “goal weight” and the higher weight I noticed my junior year. It is completely normal for your body to change through different seasons of life. No size is better than the other. The outside picture doesn’t tell you anything about what’s going on inside.
You see, I experienced a lot of anxiety during my sophomore year. It was a really hard time. The next year, I was feeling so much better. As I look back on my junior year, I can’t help but smile. That summer I looked back and saw all the late night pizza I ate and the workouts I skipped, but I now realize how truly healthy I was.
During my junior year, I took care of my self and enjoyed life. I exercised because I wanted to and it helped my anxiety. I cooked meals that were satisfying and nutritious. I ate late night pizza and cookies with my friends and didn’t feel shame or guilt. Those are two feelings that definitely aren’t good for your health.
Health is so much more than a number on the scale. Once I separated health and my weight/size, I was able to focus on behaviors that are sustainable and healthy for me. For me, that includes eating intuitively, moving my body, getting enough sleep, and engaging in self-care. I do all of those things not because I want to change my body, but because I appreciate what it does for me and I want to live a long, healthy, happy life.
So why did I still have a scale in my bathroom until this week? I really don’t know. I didn’t weigh myself often anymore or let it affect my behaviors. However, that number still influenced how I felt about my body. It was holding me back from living out what I believe in.
Your body knows what size it wants to be. As I mentioned above, I used MFP again my senior year to try to lose a few pounds. Once I stopped, my body returned to its healthy weight. That was annoying at the time, but now it’s freeing. I know that if I take care of myself, I don’t need to worry about my body. I also have more time for things way more fun than criticizing my body.
If you’re not ready to give up the scale or think I sound crazy, that’s okay. I wasn’t ready for this message the first or second time I heard it. What I hope you take away from this is simple. The scale tells you nothing about the type of person you are, the relationships you have, how happy you are, or if you have a healthy relationship with food and movement. When you take weight out of the picture, you’re able to focus on what matters and engage in behaviors that improve your health- not because you hate your body, but because you love yourself and want to live a long, happy life.
I hope you had a great week. Somehow this was my last full week of class. We have our last day of class on Tuesday, then finals, then it is time for Christmas break! Since this was my “normal” week for a while, I want to share what we had for dinner this week. I love seeing what other people have for dinner and how they make it happen.
I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. Most nights of the week, we eat at home. By we, I mean my boyfriend Chip and me. We have been together 7 years and he lives right down the road, so we alternate who cooks during the week.
We are both in grad school, so we usually choose meals that are not too complicated or expensive. When I browse recipes to make, I think about what will taste good and make me feel good. Although “meal planning” might sound stressful, it’s the opposite for me. Meal planning helps me visualize my week and plan ahead so that I can prepare delicious meals at home most nights. If I had to think of something to cook each night and scramble for ingredients, I would never cook what I truly wanted, and I would be sad.
On Sunday we look at our schedules for the week and decide who should cook each day. Ok, I look at our schedules then ask Chip if he can cook certain days 🙂 I plan what I’ll cook and buy everything when I grocery shop on Sunday. If I don’t, I’ll keep coming back to Super Target for ingredients and leave with a new candle every time. Chip usually decides what to make the same day he is cooking and gets groceries then.
On Sunday, I got back in town from Thanksgiving at my grandma’s. After a grocery trip, I made this recipe and added shrimp. I used a grain mix from Trader Joe’s instead of rice because that’s what I had on hand. I ate on my own this night, so I had plenty of leftovers for lunch!
Monday was my day to cook! I made my go-to chili recipe which you can find here. It’s one of my favorite meals, and the leftovers are even better. I changed it a little by using ground beef (it was on sale and sounded good), nixing one can of soup, adding a can of white beans, a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, and another small can of green chiles. You could easily add more beans if you don’t eat meat! Topped with cheese and served with chips for dipping.
I had a group project meeting at a group mate’s house, and she cooked for us! I didn’t take a picture, but she made a creamy pasta with bacon and zucchini and a seaweed, tofu, and fish ball soup. I’m sort of picky, so I’m glad she made the soup. It’s not something I would have tried on my own, and I really liked it!
This evening, I was at work. I took leftovers, and I think we can all agree- day 3 chili is the best kind of chili.
This was Chip’s day to cook! He made tacos- one of his favorites to make, and one of my favorites to eat. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to make homemade tacos look nice on camera.
On Friday, we ate at Village Deli in Cameron Village in Raleigh. I was here visiting my sister, so Chip came to meet me for dinner. I had a cajun chicken sandwich and a salad and Chip had a burger and fries. Nothing fancy but just what we wanted!
That’s today! I’m babysitting this evening and plan on making some type of pasta to take over there.
There you have it- a week of dinners in my world.
Do you meal plan or fly by the seat of your pants? Where do you find your recipes?