Our Proposal Story

So, I didn’t run the Tar Heel 10 Miler on Saturday. Instead, this happened on Friday and a 5:30am wakeup call didn’t sound so fun.

Yep, we got engaged and it was a COMPLETE surprise. I’m an oversharer by nature and really want to have the story documented somewhere, so let me start at the beginning.

Chip and I have been together for a little over 7 and a half years. We went to rival high schools, but I guess you could consider us high school sweethearts. Over the years, we have talked about getting engaged and married a lot. In fact, I was pretty sure we would get engaged this year, but it wasn’t on my radar yet. He graduates next May, then I do in December, so we thought it made the most sense to get married sometime later in 2018. I thought that the absolute earliest he might propose would be July or August, so I was completely caught off guard on Friday.

So, Friday. I went to school and work and let me tell you it was HOT outside. Chip and I had plans to eat dinner with my sister (Sarah Beth or SB) and her fiancé (Cody) at Mellow Mushroom in Durham. I had been texting them about how gross it was outside and how I wasn’t sure if I could shower before dinner, and apparently Sarah Beth and Chip were trying to delay in the hopes that I would have time to. I totally did not. See above photo with ponytail and no makeup.

The Mellow Mushroom there is at the lower end of the American Tobacco Campus. If you’ve never been, here’s a picture to show you what it’s like. There is a lot of green space with businesses and restaurants on either side. We went there for a date for our 6th year dating anniversary, and it’s just beautiful! First of all, Chip parked on the opposite end of the campus. I didn’t think anything of it, but he got an earful from me about how I didn’t want to walk any more before the 10 miler. I’m a peach. So we eat dinner, say “See ya in a minute” to SB and Cody, and start walking up the sidewalk back to our car. The plan was to go to the rooftop of The Durham Hotel to grab a drink with them.

via visitnc.com

Instead of walking on the same side as earlier, Chip started to split off and go to the right side. I said, “What are you doing, our car is on this side?” And he was like “There’s a crowd over there, just walk over here.” I was like, “Well, we could just walk around them!” Anyway, I realized he was not crossing back over so I caught up with him. We walked up the stairs and got to the area you can see in our pictures, and I totally jokingly was like, “What, are you gonna propose? Is the ring right here?” And hit his pocket AND IT WAS THE RING BUT I HAD NO IDEA. Omg, he thought I felt it. But even if I had, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it because I thought there was absolutely no way this was an engagement. Like I said, we talk about it a lot, so it wasn’t weird for us to joke about it.

His response was “Oh, do you think I’m pulling a Jim?” For those non-Office fans out there, Jim would always tease Pam and pretend like he was about to propose. Like, he would get down on one knee and look really serious and then just tie his shoe. That is 100% what I thought was happening. I started to get embarrassed, like why is he pretending to propose to me when I know it will be so many more months away? That’s so mean! I realize this doesn’t make much sense now, but I really thought he was just joking around. We get closer to the grassy area and he said to walk over there with him. I kept saying “No, please stop, why are you pretending?” He literally had to drag me onto the grassy spot! LOL, I’m so sorry Chip. My sister and Cody were following behind and they were getting a kick out of this. I was thinking oh my gosh he is going to pretend propose then we are going to walk away and I’m going to be so sad, even though I knew it wasn’t happening.

Finally he stops walking, turns to me and says he loves me and some other sweet stuff. I still thought it was a joke. He seemed really nervous, but I still was like there is no way he is proposing right now. He got down on one knee and my response was “This is not real.” I kept saying that a lot and he was like “Yes it is, this is happening!” So then he opened the box and I saw my dream ring, the ring I thought there was no way he had yet. I said yes and was in complete shock! My sister took a video (don’t know how to post it here) and you can see right when he gets the ring out I turn around. I was like surely if this is real, my family is hiding or maybe Ashton Kutcher is here to tell me I got Punk’d.

Yes, he is on his knee and I am barely taller.

Surely enough, out came Chip’s brother Brock and my sister and Cody. Brock was there while we were eating to kick people off the lawn! It was so great- everyone that was there knew there was about to be a proposal, so they all clapped for us. My sister was so excited that all her pictures were blurry, but a stranger came up and said she was watching and got some pictures, including the one above. Chip told me he had decided on the location a month ago, and kept driving over to see what time the lights came on, pick out the perfect spot, and make a back up rain plan. He thought of everything!

Wow, this is getting long. So we all freak out and take pictures, and I asked where my parents were. I knew they had to be in town. SB said, “At the rooftop bar!” We drove over and all my closest friends, my parents, and Chip’s parents were there! Chip had been scheming to get everyone there, including 2 of my best friends from Charlotte and one from PHILLY!

Low quality photo high quality people

We spent the rest of the night there and it was a blast. At one point, I had to make a decision about running the Tar Heel 10 Miler. On one hand, I felt bad to back out because all my family and Anna (my roommate) had paid the race fees and trained to run 10 miles. They said if I ran it, they would too, but they didn’t care at all. On the other hand, it was our engagement night and I wanted to enjoy all of my friends and family without worrying about a race. So that’s what I did! There’s always next year, right!?

I’m still on cloud 9. It feels a little more real now, and I’m so excited to marry Chip and start our life together. Well, I guess we already have because we have been together forever, but y’all know what I mean! Thank you to all my friends and family who made this weekend so special. I will definitely never forget it. And thank you to you all here for letting me share our story!

Ranting and Raving

Hello and happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a fantastic week. Over the past week, I’ve found myself reading some ridiculous things in the news and social media, especially related to “health.” I’ve been ranting about all of it to my classmates, friends, and family, and was like, “You know what, Imma write about this on my blog. But I’m also going to include some positive things at the end so people don’t think I’m some grouchy person who just rants all day.” Grab a cup of coffee- you will need it to keep up with my rambles.

Rants

  • Cosmo headline about a cancer survivor’s weight loss

Cosmo published an article (link to a Huffpost article, not the real thing) last week about a 31-year old woman who has overcome several life-threatening illnesses, including a severe kidney infection, a partial lung collapse, and cancer. Based off my description, you may think the headline would be something about how strong this woman is and everything she has endured. Nope- it was “How This Woman Lost 40 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise.” Woof. Where do I even begin?!

This is so disgusting on many levels. 1-She lost weight BECAUSE SHE WAS VERY ILL. I went to the article for context, and it says “Since modifying her diet early last summer, Simone has lost 44 pounds without a single session at the gym. (Because she’s still recovering from surgery, she isn’t physically able to work out the way she used to before her cancer diagnosis.)” It sounds to me like the healthiest thing for her right now is to recover, and it’s great that she is listening to her body and doing that. THAT is something I can get behind, not praising someone for losing weight because they are sick. 2-Her weight loss is the least interesting thing about her story. I’m much more interested in her journey and how she is feeling now.

3-SHE LOST WEIGHT BECAUSE SHE WAS VERY ILL. Ok, just wanted to make sure I got that point across. 4- If Cosmo is promoting health (I would argue they are not) why wouldn’t they want to promote physical activity for everyone? 5-This is another example of why it is not a great idea to equate weight and health. And one example of why it is problematic to comment on the size of someone’s body.  Maybe they’re losing weight because they’re depressed and can’t get out of bed to eat. Maybe it’s their body and not your business. I was at my lowest adult weight when I was experiencing the worst of my anxiety. I can assure you that was not my healthiest.

  • When people say “no excuses” as it relates to food and exercise
Still loving @bodypositivememes

Last week, I saw a trainer on Instagram saying “let’s get fit for summer-no excuses, ladies!” This was on a post to promote her “bikini body” program. AGH this makes me ragey. You know what, sometimes there are excuses. And I wouldn’t even call them excuses, I would call them reasons. Like maybe you’re mentally exhausted and you need a day of rest. Or maybe you’re busy parent and the best you can do tonight is feed your family fast food. Or maybe you don’t have the money to buy this woman’s “bikini body” program. Why do we have to act like “getting fit” and “eating healthy” is a moral crusade? I personally do not feel like I need to give an excuse if I don’t move my body or eat like others may want me to, and you shouldn’t, either.

Raves

  • This somewhat controversial blog post by Glenys @ Dare To Not Diet

Glenys is one half of the duo over at the Dietitians Unplugged podcast, but she also has a great blog. This post stirred up some lively conversation/disagreement in the comments section as well as a Facebook page where I originally found the article. I think the title (Food is Not Medicine) turned off some people, but she does a good job arguing her case and explaining what she means by that.

The main thing I took away from this post is that, yes, nutrition is important, but so is enjoying your food! She writes,”If you’re treating your food like medicine, holding your nose and shoving it in, or in a less extreme version, dutifully eating your “healthy” food but wishing you were having something else instead, you’re doing your body and your mind a disservice.” Yass, Glenys.

Definitely enjoyed this mimosa and order of fries
  • This slideshow about Intuitive Eating myths

Sorry mom, there is some profanity in this slideshow. Kelsey Miller is hilarious and writes for The Anti-Diet Project at Refinery 29, which is an ongoing series about intuitive eating and body positivity. I’ve heard of her book on various podcast episodes, so I’ll have to add that to my growing summer reading list. This slideshow does a great job of explaining what IE actually is, and what it isn’t.

Whew, thanks for letting me share some of my frustrations (and things I’m loving) with you. I feel better already. Now go out there and have yourself a great weekend.

Training for the Tar Heel 10 Miler-and Enjoying It

Hello hello!

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m training for the Tar Heel 10 Miler, which is a week from tomorrow! I ran it in 2015, and that fall I completed my 9th half marathon and finally broke 2 hours. After that, I was pretty burnt out on running and I haven’t done another race since then. Needless to say, this round of training has felt very new and fresh after all that time off from racing. It also has been really FUN.

I have always loved running, but in the past I took it too seriously. I still had fun, but I was more intense about it than I am now. Of course, I have to give up some things when I’m training for a race, like having nice looking feet and sleeping in on Saturday, but there’s no need for it to take over my life and brain space. I wanted to share some thoughts on how training has been different this time around and how I’ve reframed how I view running.

I remember that numbers don’t define me.

In the past, I would feel disappointed if I didn’t hit a certain pace or mileage goal. When I woke up for a long run, I would feel so nervous and end up with a stomach ache! I was convinced it had something to do with eating dairy before a run, but it was all in my head. I knew deep down that my pace didn’t matter. What was someone going to do, beat me up if I ran slowly? Of course not! A lot of that is my personality- I get really nervous before tests, presentations, and races, too. I still get a little jittery before a long run, but now I just go out and try to have fun. I do the best I can on that day, in that moment, and that’s enough.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still have a structure to my running and certain goals I aim for. On my easy day run, I try not to look at my pace at all. During speedwork once a week, I do aim for certain speeds. It’s fun to push the pace on those days. When I do long runs with Anna and Grace, we know what our usual pace is and would like to be there, but we are also OK if we need to slow down. (Oh yeah, run with people. That makes it way more fun!)

I would be thrilled to beat my time from the 2015 Tar Heel 10 Miler, but I’m also completely happy just to finish if that’s not in the cards on that day. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking “well, I’ve been running two more years since then-I should be faster.” We change all through life and I’m not the exact same runner that I was two years ago! There are so many factors that go into how we feel, especially when we run. It’s fun to chase goals and accomplish them, but there will be off days/races/training cycles. How fast or slow I run doesn’t define me, and focusing too much on my time takes the fun out of it for me.

I take care of myself, and sometimes that means skipping a run or cutting it short.

This was SO hard for me in the past. When I felt an ache or twinge, it was hard for me to skip a run. Part of it was a fear of weight gain, but I also thought I would lose any progress I had made in training. My fear of missing a workout was NOT healthy. That led to a couple of injuries I could have possibly avoided had I taken some rest. Now if I’m achy, I’ll stretch and foam roll and skip a run or two if I need it. Having a healthy body for life is way more important than hitting my mileage goal or even completing a race. Running will always be there for me when I come back if I have to take time off because I’m burnt out or something hurts.

I know I don’t have to do it all.

In the past, I felt like I had to do 3 runs, a certain number of strength workouts, and yoga each week. This was an unattainable goal for me and as a result, I set myself up to feel inadequate. I’ve learned that many things in my life are more important than running. Yes, if I want to complete a race without feeling like death I need to carve out some time for training. But some mornings I sleep late and don’t have time for all the miles I planned. Or I’m flat out exhausted after school and skip a run. Sometimes cuddling my dog and drinking coffee wins out over a morning workout. If I do all 3 runs in a week and make it to the gym a couple times, great! If I am super overwhelmed and only do half of that, great! 

I feel ya, Livi. Waking up is hard.

I’ve untangled exercise and food.

Let me just say loud and clear- YOU ALWAYS DESERVE TO EAT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO EARN IT. In the past, I tried to control my body using food and exercise, and of course the two were related. It definitely fed into my fear of missing a workout. Before and after a long run or race, I was so excited to eat all the foods that were still somewhat off limits. Nothing’s wrong with what I was eating, but my mindset was. I was eating foods I truly don’t even enjoy, just because I felt like I was “allowed” to. I would drink Gatorade because it was sugary and fun, and I really don’t even like Gatorade.

Whether you are training for a marathon or you’re currently not exercising at all, you deserve to eat. It is a biological need and it is not tied to how much or how little you move your body. Yes, running often makes me hungrier, so at times I need to eat more to support that activity. But now I do not have “good” and “bad” foods, and I listen to my body to tell me how much to eat. And I eat what I want in that moment.

post race in 2015

I don’t see anything wrong with having a goal and training for it if you’re in the right headspace and have a healthy relationship with movement. Training for a goal and accomplishing it is awesome and something to celebrate! However, I believe that your running/movement should fit into your life and be a way to relieve stress and have fun. At the end of the day, running is fun and part of my life, but it’s just that-part of my life. There’s a lot more to life and to my value than how fast or far I can run, and I’m happy to just be out there running.

Life This Week, Easy Dinner Idea, and Summer News

Hello and happy Friday!

Oh my goodness, this week. It has been crazy and exhausting and fun. I’m paying for it now as I study for Monday’s biochem exam and feel woefully unprepared, but it was worth it. I don’t have a super insightful post in me today, but I do want to share some of my week with you. I’ll throw an easy dinner idea in there too, so I can feel like I gave you something to take with you. 🙂

Coffee on coffee was a necessity this week because…

WE WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

(Sorry to those who know me in real life, I haven’t shut up about this yet.)

I grew up on Carolina basketball. When I was really young I would put on my UNC cheerleading outfit on and make up cheers and chants for all of the players. When we won the championship in 2009, my mom did cheerleading jumps in our living room while the fight song played. Then I went to college there, and my love for the team and the game grew more. We rushed Franklin a few times for beating Duke, but hadn’t won a championship since 09. Until this year. AND I WAS THERE!

I watched in Chapel Hill with Chip and some friends, and we rushed Franklin where we celebrated with 55,000 other Tar Heels. It was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I didn’t get much sleep that night, but it was so worth it. Then the next day, my roommate and I went to the welcome home celebration in the Dean Dome, and it was a lot of fun. I’m just so proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished, and I’m so glad they were able to clutch this win after the heartbreak of last year.

Found that picture on this guy’s Facebook-don’t know him but gotta give credit! Ok, now that I got all those feelings out, let’s move on.

I haven’t cooked much this week, but I did make some delicious curry.

I don’t think I can even call this curry because it is so far from authentic, but I don’t have another name for it. To make it, I sautéed garlic, onion, red pepper, a bag of cubed sweet potatoes, zucchini, a pack of chicken breasts, and this jar of simmer sauce. I let it all simmer for about 3o minutes and served over rice. It made enough for several meals, which was great. This sauce was good, but not quite as good as my favorite Trader Joe’s curry sauce. It was possibly my fault, though-I didn’t realize the sauce had coconut milk in it, so I added half a can which made it more sweet than spicy. If you’re looking for an easy dinner idea, it’s good and there’s really no way to mess it up! You can put whatever veggies you like and add meat if you want.

I’m moving home for the summer!

Livi cuddling my parents’ dogs at Christmas

I totally forgot to share it here, but I received my placement for my summer internship back in February. It’s our first RD internship, and it’s the public health rotation. I was placed in western NC, about 30 minutes from where my parents live. So Livi and I are moving in for the summer! Chip will be back home for the summer with his parents, too, so it will nice to still be close. Although I’ll miss my apartment, Anna (my roommate), and living here, I’m really excited about the internship and to hang with my parents all summer. My parents are thrilled, although I think they’re just excited because they know I’ll cook for them a lot. Oh, and I’ll be sure to chronicle my return to Crossfit. Pray for me.

Around the web this week

This great blog post by Kylie about fullness vs. satisfaction

The Love, Food Podcast I recently discovered and am loving (if you have an iPhone, just search in the Podcasts app!)

This Nutrition Matters podcast episode: “A Millennial Man living with Binge Eating Disorder” I listened to this episode yesterday and so appreciate Ryan’s bravery in sharing his story. Eating disorders are mental disorders, and they don’t discriminate. Men struggle with body imagine and food, too, and I’m so glad he is sharing his experience.

That’s all for me, folks! I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Chickpea, Tomato, and Shrimp Rice Bowl

Hello hello!

I’m coming at you today to share one of my favorite easy recipes. Months ago, I was looking for a good chickpea recipe. I came across some on Budget Bytes, but I was lacking ingredients for a lot of them, so I decided to wing it. To my surprise, it turned out pretty tasty. Over time, I ended up just throwing chickpeas, tomatoes and spices into a pan without measuring, and eating it over rice with feta for a yummy and filling lunch or dinner. When I was home for Christmas, I wrote down what I did one day so my mom could have it, but then I lost it! No surprise there.

Earlier this week, I had about an hour until I needed to head out for babysitting and had no clue what to make for dinner to take with me. I had leftovers from the night before, but I ate them at lunch. I decided to start this recipe from scratch in hopes of sharing it on the blog, and I’m happy to say I ended up with the best edition of the recipe to date. I also added shrimp, which I don’t always do. It’s really good either way, so no worries if you’re not a shrimp fan-just leave it out! I won’t pretend to be a food blogger and tell you what types of tastes and complex flavors are in this dish, so just trust me and try it. It’s good.

The cook time says 45 minutes, because that’s how long brown rice takes and that’s what I used this time. You can make this go quicker by making the rice ahead of time, or choosing a grain that cooks quicker, like pearled couscous or white rice. On weeks when I have my life together (not this week) I make a bunch of rice on Sunday so it’s ready when I make something like this! The rest of it only takes about 20 minutes. This “technically” makes 4 servings, based off the amount of rice, but listen to your body and eat what you want 🙂 You know I couldn’t make it a whole post without saying something like that. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but don’t be overwhelmed! A lot is just spices.

 

Print

Chickpea, Tomato, and Shrimp Rice Bowl

Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 bowls, but eat what you want!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice dry
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups small frozen shrimp
  • 1/2 bag (8oz) spinach
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 oz feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. When there are 20 minutes remaining, go on to step 2.

  2. Sauté the olive oil and garlic in a deep skillet until it simmers, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add the chickpeas, cumin, paprika, basil, oregano, lemon juice, and diced tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. In the meantime, thaw the shrimp in a bowl of water.

  4. Add the thawed shrimp. Tear the spinach into smaller pieces, and add half the bag. Stir it all and let it continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

  5. Serve over rice, top with feta, and enjoy!

Tips: if you’re planning to eat this for a few days in a row, don’t cook all the spinach at once. Go ahead and add the amount you’ll eat the first time, then the following times add spinach to the dish before microwaving and let it wilt in there. In my opinion, spinach gets yucky after a couple days in the fridge. The same goes for the feta-only add what you’re going to eat right then, otherwise it will get weird in the fridge. I hope that makes sense.

How to build a yummy bowl

Let me know if you try it- it would seriously make my life! Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you have a great weekend.

Day in the Life of a Nutrition Student

Happy Friday!

This was the first week back after spring break, and getting back into the swing of things was tough. But I made it to Friday and I’m so excited for the weekend! My parents are coming to town today and tomorrow is an engagement party for my sister and her fiancé! I’m so excited to celebrate them and hang out with my family.

Today I thought it would be fun to share a day in the life post. I love reading these on other blogs-I’m totally nosy and just like seeing how other people do life. Also, I think it will be fun to look back on this in the future and remember what a “typical” day was like. I say “typical” because yesterday I had 3 classes, but MWF I only have one. Every day is a little different for me. So without further ado, here’s what I was up to yesterday!

7:30 Time to wake up! I took the dog to pee, then went right to the kitchen. Breakfast was oatmeal with cinnamon, peanut butter, and raisins. I eat this almost every morning, and somehow I’m not tired of it. I also eat on the couch every morning while watching the Today Show and reading blogs. Even though I’m all about intuitive eating, that doesn’t mean I eat every meal at the table with no distractions! I love that my classes start later this semester-this time in the morning is probably my favorite part of the day.

8:30-9:20 Study time! I finally peeled myself from the couch to work on some biochem with another cup of coffee. My professor posts audio of his lectures and advises us to listen to them again and take notes within 24 hours of lecture, so I worked on that for Wednesday’s lecture.

9:20-9:45 Pack up and get ready for school. I spend approximately 2 minutes on my appearance for school. I pretty much always just throw on workout clothes, whether or not I’m exercising that day, and a hoodie. Hey, I like to be cozy. I put on moisturizer, pack my lunch, and call it a day. I also HAVE to get my room clean before I leave for the day, or it drives me crazy.

9:45-10:15 Commute to school. I park my car at the park & ride and take the bus from Durham to Chapel Hill. The commute isn’t bad at all, just 20 minutes on the bus.

10:15-11 Put my lunch in the fridge at school, eat a snack (banana, pretzels, cheese), and hang out in the break room.

11-12:15 Class time. My first day of the class is environmental science. After class, I had 15 minutes to get to my next one. Sometimes I rush and go grab my lunch between class, but yesterday I decided to wait.

12:30-1:45 Class number 2-medical nutrition therapy! We learned all about cardiovascular disease. I had a pack of crackers to hold me over until class was over.

1:45-3:30 Break. Yesterday I used the long break to meet with some classmates about a group project and then continued working on those biochem notes. Oh, and I ate lunch. I had a salad almost exactly the same as the one I shared last week. About an hour later, I was hungry again so I had some soup that I made a few weeks ago and froze. I just grabbed the container from the freezer this morning and let it thaw during the day.

Studying view.. not too shabby

3:30-5:15 Last class! On Tuesday, my epidemiology class is a lecture but on Thursday we have lab where we work on an assignment in teams. Yesterday we had the whole time to work on the part of our group project that is due today. Class ends at 4:45, but we stayed a little late to finish up.

5:15-6 Commute, pick up my car, go by Target for a few things. I needed coffee filters, spinach, and chocolate milk. All the essentials.

6-6:30 I’m greeted by Livi when I get home, who promptly leaves me to go eat. Does anyone else’s dog do this? Once everyone is home, she runs away and eats all her food. I also talk with my roommate and swap my leggings for running shorts.

6:40-7:40 Run and walk. I ran 3.5 miles outside and it felt so great! I ran at an easy pace and listened to a podcast. When I got home from class, my head hurt and I just felt blah after being at school all day. After my run, I felt all better. Fresh air and endorphins are a winning combination. I came back in after my run to grab Livi and took her on a short walk.

7:40-7:50 Make dinner. I didn’t want to cook but I was hungry, so I made a sandwich. I used my roommate’s awesome panini press, which I should use more often. I’m super boring when it comes to making sandwiches-just spicy turkey, provolone, and spinach! I finished off a bag of carrots in my fridge and dipped them in ranch, duh. The chips are sea salt and cracked back pepper flavor and so good.

7:50-9:30 I watched the news for a little bit, then showered, started some laundry, and cleaned a bit.

9:30-11 Blogging and Netflixing. I decided to not do any more school work for the day. I thought about working more since I know I’ll blow off studying this weekend in favor of hanging with my family, but I decided relaxing was more important. Sometimes clearing my mind is more beneficial than trying to force myself to study more! So I turned on Gilmore Girls and started working on this post, then went to sleep around 11.

The end. I hope you have an awesome weekend!

Spring Break Eats + Vacation Without Guilt

Hello hello!!

I’m currently on spring break and it has been wonderful. Last Thursday through Sunday, I was in Savannah, GA, for a bachelorette trip. It was absolutely perfect! Then I came home for a couple of days, and now I’m at the beach with Chip and the dog.

I’ve been eating a lot of delicious food today, so indulge me while I share with you. Also, I want to talk about vacationing without panicking about food and exercise before/during/after.

Food in Savannah

One of the most fun things we did on the trip was a pub trolley during the afternoon on Friday. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the beach, then changed and went straight to the pub trolley. By some small miracle we put together this meal after all that fun and it was so good.

Don’t be fooled, we picked up those amazing looking garlic knots from Mellow Mushroom.

Saturday morning we had a brunch at the house, complete with a mimosa bar. Later in the day, we went to some rooftop spots and I ate several pieces of the buffalo flatbread on the right. Can’t beat the view-Savannah is so pretty!

Food at Home

I probably had 5 salads this winter, and I didn’t make any of them. Salads aren’t as appealing to me in the colder months, and I can never find dressing I like. The salad we made on the bachelorette trip was so good and I wanted to recreate it at home, so I decided to give packet ranch a try. I heard it’s the closest you can get to thin restaurant ranch, which is the best kind. I used one packet Hidden Valley ranch mix, 1 cup whole milk, and 1/2 cup mayo (I actually hate mayo), and it turned out perfect. Sure, I could probably make it all from scratch with no additives but I ain’t got time for that. And I doubt it would taste as good. Yep, I just dedicated an entire paragraph to ranch dressing and I’m not mad about it.

I made a quick grocery run on Sunday then threw together the plate on the left. The mac n cheese was already in my pantry, but I bought salad stuff, the ranch packet, and a rotisserie chicken. The chicken was delicious, only $6, and I used it in at least 4 meals this week. Win!

Lunches Monday-Wednesday looked like the salad on the right. It’s full of mixed greens, cucumber, celery, red pepper, carrots, broccoli, chicken, feta, and ranch. One day it didn’t quite fill me up, so I had the rest of the mac and cheese. Another day I was stuffed. Our bodies know what we need.

Beach Eats

Every time we come to Chip’s parents’ place at Myrtle Beach, we eat at this place called Mr. Fish. We went Wednesday night once we got in and it did not disappoint.

I had wine (duh), unpictured she-crab soup, a salad that was just ok, and boom boom shrimp that were so yummy. I also had a side of mac and cheese with my shrimp but it was awful! Like, how do you screw up pasta and cheese? So I had some of Chip’s fries instead.

A Word on Vacation and Guilt

In the past, vacation often stressed me out. Leading up to it, I would try to eat less and exercise more. During vacation I felt guilty when I “splurged.” I felt out of control over certain foods and often ate past fullness, because I didn’t know when I would eat them again. (Also, I often restricted before vacation which tends to make you hungry and feel out of control around food.) After vacation I would vow to “clean up my diet” and hit the gym more.

Now I have given myself unconditional permission to eat, and there are no “good” or “bad” foods. I order what I want, whether that’s a salad, a fried shrimp dish, or both. I know I can eat these foods anytime I want, so I don’t feel like I have to eat it all. I can stop when I’m full, or I can keep eating if I want. The bottom line is that I listen to my body and I’m flexible, and I don’t associate guilt with food. (This applies to my regular life too, but I’m focusing on vacation here.)

In Wilmington last year

The same goes for exercise. Now that I exercise as a means of self-care rather than self-control, I don’t freak out if I miss several days of running or the gym. Sometimes I will run, walk, or lift weights on vacation, but I don’t HAVE to. Not worrying about calories, exercise, or being “bad” on vacation makes it so much easier to fully relax and enjoy myself when I’m on a fun trip. Also-of course you’ll probably eat out more and have more drinks and treats when you’re on vacation. That’s what vacation is for! It’s a time to explore new areas and foods and switch it up from the regular routine. Enjoy it fully!

Spoiler alert: I’m not perfect, whatever that even means. Sometimes the food police catch up to me. After eating at Mr. Fish, I was eating Ben and Jerry’s from the container (as one does) and took a peek at the nutrition facts label. Bad idea! Suddenly I was worried about fat and sugar and things I usually don’t worry over. I was mad at myself for caring! I turned the label away and focused on my internal cues of fullness and satisfaction. I used those to help me decide when to stop eating rather than an external cue (the label), but it was harder than usual. Intuitive eating / making peace with food is a lifelong process, and we are always learning! Don’t let experiences like the one I described get you down-you’re not doing it wrong! There’s no such thing.

And with that, I’m heading back to the rest of my spring break. Today is the warmest day of the weekend-high of 59!- so we are planning on actually going on the beach today. My dog is dying to get out on the beach (yep, she told me), so I’m excited to take her out there. Have a great weekend!!

Shutting up My Inner Critic This Swimsuit Season (And Every Season)

It’s March, and in North Carolina that means sunny skies and comfortable temperatures. It also means the beginning of body shaming disguised as advertisements to convince us that we need to change our bodies for the summer. These messages are backed by a lot of money, and they can be convincing.

A few years ago, around this time of year, I would think about the approaching bikini season. I would feel unhappy with my body and beat myself up for not “working harder” in the months prior. Maybe I should have made my workouts ten minutes longer. I would look so much better. No matter how much I tried to change my body, I was never 100% satisfied. It’s a losing game, really. Diets don’t work and what we strive for is often not in line with our genetics/body type. I spent time and energy chasing an image of perfection that doesn’t exist.

In the past, I wished for the body I had when I was 16, when I wasn’t even a fully developed woman. (I was never 100% happy in that body, either.) I’m almost 24, and I’ve gone through many life changes since then. Our bodies change with us. In addition, size diversity has always existed, and it always will. We should celebrate that rather than idealize one type of body. I’ve come a long way with my body image, but that doesn’t mean I never struggle.

Via Pinterest

Today I’m headed to a bachelorette weekend for one of my best friends. We are planning on going to the beach one day. As it got closer, I had a moment of panic about wearing a bathing suit. I wondered why I felt this way. I know I don’t want pursue changing my body. I’m happy and healthy as I am. The truth is that giving up the “perfect body” ideal can be hard, even when you know that it doesn’t exist. I mean, hello-we aren’t born hating our bodies. Society teaches us to, so it takes work to unlearn what we’ve heard our whole life.

I decided to try on my swimsuits and purchase a new one if I wasn’t comfortable. Of course, I found myself picking out parts of my body I wasn’t happy with. Honestly, I do not spend much time looking at my body on a day-to-day basis. I love what Kylie has to say about a good body image day- it’s a day when you do productive things and don’t even think about your how your body looks. I’m happy to be in a place where most days look like that. I feel good in my body, but I’m not obsessed over how I look. So sometimes, when I’m “forced” to take a good look, my inner critic gets louder. Unlike years before, though, I got past it and didn’t leave the experience vowing to “do better.” I picked out the swimsuit that made me feel my best and set it aside to pack. Then I moved on with my day.

Our inner critic is always there, but we can learn to fight back and give it less power. Here are a few ways I combat my inner critic when it tells me my body isn’t good enough:

I tell myself I’m great the way I am, right now. I get mad at the diet industry instead of myself. I remind myself how unproductive and harmful pursuing changing my body would be. I tell my inner critic that my worth as a person is unrelated to my appearance. I surround myself with body positive messages on podcasts, Instagram, and blogs. I follow people on Instagram who are in bodies that look different than mine. This reminds me that all bodies are good- there is not a “perfect body” to strive for. I get mad at the discrimination that many in larger bodies face EVERY season of the year, which reminds me that body positivity is a much bigger movement than my own body concerns. All of this puts my inner critic in her place, and allows me to move on to more important things when I have a bad body image moment/day.

Via bodypositivememes

I know I’m rambling, and these are all things I’ve said before in some form or another. I’m writing this because I know that feeling of dread every year, and I suspect you might, too. I don’t want you to feel like that. Your body is good just how it is, right now. You deserve to rock whatever swimsuit you want. If accepting and loving your body seems too far off right now, maybe you can start by trying to not hate your body. It’s not easy, but I promise it is so worth it.

So this year (and every year) I’m vowing to let myself be, and I hope you’ll join me. I’ll take care of myself, mentally and physically, and let my body do what it wants. And I’ll continue my work to be confident with whatever that looks like.

How Diet Culture Harms Our Health

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life (source). Eating disorders incredibly harmful to mental and physical health. You can find much more information about them here. Millions more suffer from disordered eating, which is a disordered relationship with food that may not meet diagnostic criteria but is still harmful.

I have never suffered an eating disorder myself, so I will not try and speak on behalf of those who have. However, I’m surrounded by diet culture, and I can speak to that. The times I felt the worst about my body and had the worst relationship with food were when I was trying to lose weight. There are so many factors that lead to someone developing an eating disorder, like genetic disposition, personality type, life experiences, and trauma, but diet culture certainly plays a role.

A 2010 study of elementary school girls found that 69% said pictures in magazines influenced their idea of an ideal body type, and 47% said the pictures made them want to lose weight (source). ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GIRLS. Another study found that 46% of 9-11 year olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (source). What does this say about our society and what we value? What we are doing and saying about health and bodies as a society is harmful. It’s certainly not improving the health of all people. I’d like to lay out how I believe diet culture negatively impacts our health.

Step 1- Being Surrounded by Diet Culture

In diet culture, certain bodies are deemed good and worthy of praise, while others are viewed as bad and deserving of shame. We hear that to be happy and healthy we need to make our bodies smaller. That is false.

Via @jennifer_rollin

Step 2-Dieting

The diet industry makes $60 billion a year by preying on our insecurities about our bodies, and a well-meaning desire to improve our health. I do not think pursuing weight loss=health, but this is an important statistic to point out if that is your goal: 95% of diets fail and most people regain the lost weight, if not more, in 1-5 years (source). There is a wealth of evidence showing diets don’t work, and are actually quite harmful. Weight cycling is associated with many negative health outcomes.

Why does weight cycling occur? Diets are restrictive and leave us hungry and unsatisfied. We inevitably binge or “cheat” on our diet. This is normal. It is your body’s way of ensuring you have adequate energy. Your body also slows down metabolism to maintain equilibrium. It doesn’t know whether we are trying to lose weight or are starving in a famine. Then we start another diet, hoping this will be THE ONE that leads to weight loss and happiness. Rinse and repeat.

Step 3- Low Self Esteem, Disordered Relationship with Food

Of course, not everyone who diets ends up with an eating disorder. However, I stand by my view that diets are harmful. We may fear eating certain foods, or just say “Screw it, I’ll never lose the weight, so I don’t need to take care of myself.” Both of these outcomes are harmful to our health, and the second one is a good example of why it’s harmful to tie weight to health. Bottom line: instead of blaming the diet, we blame ourselves. The diet industry depends on this to stay afloat.

Bonus Step: Disordered Behaviors are Praised

Many disordered behaviors like overexercising and only eating “safe” foods are often praised in our culture. I don’t have experience with this personally, but I’ve read and listened to a lot of stories where someone with an ED says that praise for their behaviors kept them trapped in their disorder. There is a difference between supporting people in their health journey and praising them for disordered behaviors. I get that it’s a tricky subject and a fine line to walk, but sometimes these comments can be harmful-you never know who may be struggling.

So yeah, I don’t think diet culture is helping us become healthier. It’s making us sicker, more body-obsessed, and less trusting of our own inner wisdom. To me, health is taking care of myself for the sake of taking care of myself. It involves moving my body in a way that feels good, sleeping enough, managing my stress, and eating all foods. You can have a “perfect” BMI/weight/whatever, but if you’re terrified to eat something less nutritious, that’s not healthy-even if our society would praise you for your amazing willpower.

Via @immaEATthat

If you’re interested in a non-diet approach to wellness, I suggest reading Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating (my posts on that are linked here). Immerse yourself with body positive messages and surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, not what you look like. If you struggle with your body and food and are unsure if you should seek professional help, here’s a link to an anonymous, short screening. If you know someone who may be struggling, share it with them. This year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It,” so let’s. You never know whose life you may be saving.

Friday Favorites #2

Happy Friday!

I’m heading into the weekend after a week with no tests (insert praise hands emoji). I have a biochem test a week from Monday, so you can probably guess what I’ll be up to this weekend. For that class, it’s never too early to start. I can hardly believe that in 2 weeks it will be spring break! Time is flying by.

I feel like I’ve been writing a lot of serious posts lately, which I love doing and feel is necessary, but I thought it would be fun to switch it up and share some of the things I’ve been loving this week.

Slow Mornings

This semester, my classes start at 11 or 11:15. I don’t have to be at the bus stop until 9:45, so I am loving my long mornings. (The next bus doesn’t come until 10:45, which would make me late.) I usually get up around 7, make breakfast and coffee, and sit on the couch with my dog while I watch the Today Show and read blogs. I know, I’m cool.

This mug was made for me.
Around 8 I usually run, go to the gym, or do school work. Some days I do none of these things and just enjoy being still. Having this time to myself before class starts is wonderful and starts my day on the right foot.

These Podcast Episodes

I’ve mentioned Food Psych before, but I discovered Body Kindness after I wrote that post. I missed last week’s episode of Food Psych and listened to it the other day. It was great to hear Christy and Jennifer’s thoughts about working as a dietitian with a body positive, Health at Every Size perspective! This is the type of work I hope to do in the future, so it is encouraging to see others who are doing it and thriving.

Rebecca (of Body Kindness) had a guest on who has been treating eating disorders for 25 years. They talk a lot about being who you want to be right now, in the body you have now. Amen!

Fun Lunches

Ever since I’ve really embraced intuitive eating, my meals have more variety and are more satisfying. In the past, I would have thought mac and cheese is “bad” and not something I should eat at lunch. I would usually only let myself have it when I was sick. Then I would be so excited that I would eat the whole box, then feel bad. My attitude towards this food was making me feel out of control around it.

Now I think about food neutrally and eat what sounds good. A couple days this week, that was mac and cheese. Carrots, cucumbers, and clementines also sounded good. I do try to add fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks, but I do it in a way that feels and tastes good. I choose what ones I like and prepare them in a way that tastes good, just like I would with any other food. Gentle nutrition for the win!

This Instagram Account

I found this Instagram account this week, and I love it! They take memes and make them body positive. It makes me so sad to see an image like this, posted for real, and then see people (many women) tagging their friends. I’m sure I’ve done it before. I want a reply all option so I can be like “THERE IS ANOTHER WAY!!!” Anyway, I’m really glad this Instagram user has created a space to call out what’s wrong with many of these messages.

My Treadmill Setup

For about a year, I have been doing my weekly speed work on the treadmill at the gym. I let that gym membership expire recently and now just use the one at my apartment complex. I quickly found out that there is zero air flow by the treadmills. It gets super hot and I already sweat more than any person should, so I bought this nifty fan from Amazon. Best $10 I ever spent. I also bring my workout on a post it note and my iPad so I can watch This is Us or Gilmore Girls. I look kind of ridiculous carrying all my stuff over there, but I don’t care-it makes me happy.

I hope you have a great weekend! But first–anyone else watch This is Us? I know it’s cheesy, but I love it.