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Lindsay

A Letter to 18 Year Old Me

Lately I’ve been thinking about the things we tell women about their bodies and how that can manifest itself in negative ways. I remember going to my college orientation and being scared to death about the “Freshman 15” thanks to a session dedicated to the topic. I really, really hope they are not doing that anymore. Of course, there are so many factors that contribute to disordered eating, negative body image, and the development of eating disorders, but the focus that many universities put on weight gain is just not necessary and supremely unhelpful.

I can’t say that at age 18 I would have had the maturity to listen to an alternative message, but I don’t think it would hurt. I was so entrenched in the belief that smaller was better that I bet I would have brushed it off. If I ruled the world, I would encourage colleges to not say anything unless they have something nice to say. Either don’t discuss bodies, or bring in a weight inclusive wellness message that everyone can benefit from. Either way, here’s a letter I wrote to the version of me that just left college orientation. (Side note: the session about the freshman 15 at orientation was directed to young men and women, and I absolutely know men feel pressure to look a certain way, too, but I am speaking from my own experience here.)


Lindsay,

I know you just went to orientation at UNC and you’ll be going to college soon. How exciting! These will be 4 of the best years of your life, and I promise it’s not all downhill after. 🙂 You met a lot of fun people at orientation, and I can’t wait for you to meet many of your best friends over the years to come. You’re going to love them.

You’re a planner by nature, and I know you’ve been researching everything there is to know about college. You spent hours and hours perfecting your class schedule, and I know you’re excited to get started. I also know that you’ve heard a lot of chatter about the “freshman 15” at orientation. You heard about the unlimited buffets of food, sleepless nights, and late night behaviors that people said are going to make you gain weight, which would surely be the worst thing ever. In fact, it’s so scary that UNC dedicated a whole session at orientation to let you know-as if you’ve never heard about the freshman 15 or felt pressure to be thin.

I’m from the future, so I can let you in on a few secrets. Yes, you will gain weight during college. No, it will not be the end of the world. You will also gain priceless memories, some of the best friends in the world, and um…a DEGREE! That’s why you’re going, don’t forget. Every body is different, so keep in mind that your friends might experience body changes in a different way, or not at all.

But here’s the thing—no body change is better than the other. Don’t compare and despair. All bodies are good bodies, and besides, you are so much more than your weight. You have so much to offer the world, and it has nothing to do with what your body looks like. Also, bodies change! You’ll see your body change from that of a young high school girl to a more grown woman. I know- it’s going to be scary to see the number on the scale go up, but it’s going to be okay. (Side note: throw that scale away!) It doesn’t mean you are less healthy-that’s a load of bologna. Take time to work on your body image and reframe your idea of beauty. Doing this work is more important and fulfilling than fighting your body’s natural inclination. Plus, you can engage in health at whatever size you are today, next month, or next year.

I know you were told to avoid overeating, eating late at night, missing sleep, and becoming a couch potato all in the name of not gaining the dreaded freshman 15. I would encourage you to have good sleep hygiene, because it’s important for brain function and overall wellbeing, not because it will help you lose weight. I hope you eat regularly and nourish yourself well, mind and body, but don’t skip out on fun nights with your friends. Sometimes those nights will end at Time Out at 2 am for biscuits-enjoy it!

And please don’t beat yourself up for it. I know you will. I know you’ll think you need to run harder or eat less, but you don’t. Don’t lose your love of food-it’s meant to be enjoyed, not controlled. If you want to exercise because you enjoy it or it’s fun to go to the gym with friends, go for it, but don’t feel like you have to do it to control your body. Your mental health is so important, so be sure to do things that feel good to you. I’m willing to bet micromanaging your body size doesn’t fall into that category.

During these next four years you will figure out what you’re doing with your life. You’ll have the best time in Chapel Hill with your friends who become family. You will do 2 years of long distance with your boyfriend. Many of those weekends will be full of long car drives and whatever you can eat on the road. You will begin to figure out who you are made to be. And I promise you, letting go of the fear of weight gain will make all of that better. This is such a precious phase of life, and I don’t want you to waste your time counting calories or stressing about the scale. Enjoy it, because you won’t get this time back. And don’t forget, you are worthy and valuable just as you are.

Love,

24 Year Old Lindsay

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Whirlwind Week + Sometimes Food Isn’t Exciting

Hello hello!

Oh my goodness, it has been quite the week. Since we last had a chat, Sarah Beth and Cody got married and it was the best weekend ever! The weather was absolutely perfect and it was so fun to spend time with family and friends.  It’s hard to be sad that the weekend is over because they are so happy. I’m thrilled for them!

I returned to class on Monday even though all I could do was stare at pictures from the weekend. I mean, look!!

photo cred: Olivia Suriano via Nancy Ray Photography

They seriously belong in a magazine. Anyway, this week was slammed on the school front. I joked to Grace that getting through this week felt like trying to cross an ocean of peanut butter. I have no plans this weekend, so I’m glad I’ll have time to catch up all the things.

Last weekend I got an email that my HelloFresh box was on its way. I got a free box from mom a while back but decided not to get another one for a while. Well, I forgot to skip this week but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

I was happy to have three dinners planned and ready to go, and I was able to make it until Tuesday without needing to go get other groceries. Even though I didn’t want to spend that $ on a box, it was worth it. Since I forgot it was coming, I got the default meals for the week and they have been great. Below is the beef ragu spaghetti we had on Monday. Yumm. I’ve still got one more-quesadillas-that I’ll probably make tonight.

Other than those meals, food was not exciting to me most of this week. It was almost a nuisance to have to break from school work to eat. I didn’t spend time planning dinners or buying plenty of groceries. Several meals and snacks were just “meh.” This included a can of chili that I didn’t really want and an overpriced boring chicken wrap I bought at school on Wednesday. I was shadowing at the hospital that afternoon, so I just ate until I wasn’t hungry anymore, even though it wasn’t satisfying at all. I wanted to be able to focus on the experience, not my grumbling stomach!

The reason I’m sharing this is because I think it can be easy to think you’re doing intuitive eating “wrong” if you eat something you don’t really want or have a mediocre eating experience. (Reminder: intuitive eating is about learning to take care of yourself..you can’t fail!) I usually plan satisfying and tasty meals and have snacks on hand that I like, but sometimes I don’t have time or the mental energy to care. Sometimes I just gotta eat something so I can do the things I need to do. That’s really what food freedom is about, right!? To me, it’s about enjoying food and having it be a fun and delicious part of my life. But it’s just one part. I don’t want it to take up so much space that it steals my joy or adds more stress during a hectic week-or any week for that matter.

Now that things have calmed down, I’m looking forward to planning some meals I’ll look forward to for next week. I really want to break out the slow cooker to make soup and pretend like it’s not still in the 80s in NC. You know you’re getting old when a weekend of studying and making soup sounds really nice, huh!? Anyway, if you have any good fall soup recipes, please send them my way!

That concludes the most random blog post I’ve written in a while. Have a great weekend 🙂

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Ranting and Raving, 2nd Edition

Hi everyone!

Today I’m going to my two classes and then I’ll be in celebration mode! My sister’s wedding venue has an inn on site, so my family is staying there starting today. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to focus with dreams of wedding bells in my head. Tomorrow is the bridal luncheon, rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner, then Saturday it’s go time! I’m so excited for SB and Cody to be married. I can’t wait to celebrate my favorite people all weekend.

Before I go, I wanted to post another edition of ranting and raving, because some things have been driving me crazy lately! And of course, I’ll leave you with something I’ve been loving lately so we can end on a happier note.

Rants

A fatphobic discussion on the Today Show

Y’all know I love the Today Show. I watch it every morning with my cup (or three) of coffee, but a couple of weeks ago one conversation really disappointed me. It was during a round table segment, and I don’t remember the topic, but Hoda Kotb said that she has never felt prettier than when she dated an “overweight” person. My jaw hit the floor! I was like, surely she did not say that and they’re going to change the convo/someone will correct her.

Nope. Jenna Bush Hager jumped in to say you should never date someone who can fit your jeans. In return, someone else joked that Matt Lauer could probably fit his wife’s pants. He said something like, “Oh are you saying my wife has a 32 inch waist? I’m going to be in trouble!” The whole thing made me so sick. What makes me just as disappointed is that nobody is mad about this!! I know many people don’t watch the show, but I can’t find even one article calling them out on this really awful segment. I went to Twitter to see if anyone else was mad, and I can still only find 2 tweets about it in the entire Twitterverse by fellow angry people. I think I should befriend them.

Equating a larger with body size with unattractiveness is so awful and is an idea that people with a microphone need to help change, not contribute to. I wish the Today Show gang thought about how someone in a larger body might feel watching this segment. How would they feel knowing that their favorite morning host, or anyone for that matter, would get a messed up self esteem boost dating them because of their body size? How about someone who has a 32 inch or larger waist, hearing that having this pant size is an insult to some people? What would they say to someone who is the same size as their partner and can fit their jeans? Should they break up? (Obviously not. Every single person is deserving of love and respect, and body size does not determine worth or value.)

Weight stigma is everywhere, and we need to call it out when we see it. It’s not okay to put people down for how their body looks, in any circumstance. All bodies are good bodies. The end.

KIND Bar Label

I love KIND bars and buy them often. While I love regular chewy granola bars and buy those, too, I find KIND bars to be more satisfying. It’s also a good way for me to eat nuts since I tend to forget about them. I feel annoyed when I buy them and see the tagline, “Ingredients you can see and pronounce.” I’m the first person to admit I fell for this idea a few years ago. I thought I should be able to recognize and pronounce what I eat and that things added to food were bad. In reality, we need things added to some of our foods to extend their shelf life and keep us safe from mold and other things we don’t want to eat.

I visited their website to find this: “We believe if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body. Actually, it shouldn’t go into your pantry.” Yikes. It would be pretty difficult and socially isolating to eat only ingredients you can pronounce. Even quinoa is hard to pronounce! I guess dihydrogen monoxide, also known as WATER, should send a shock of fear into my heart. I’m exaggerating of course, but I did feel guilty for eating things that didn’t meet that standard in the past. I get where people are coming from with this-eat more fresh food and all of that-but I still think it can be a harmful message to push. Plus, KIND isn’t even selling fresh food so I guess I don’t really see their argument for using it other than keeping you from buying all the other scary granola bars!

Raves

This blog post by Rachael Hartley about the privilege of wellness.

This is such a great post about how pursuing health is a privilege, not a moral obligation. Many people don’t have the luxury of worrying about if organic is heathier-they may not have clean water or a safe place to walk. That’s not to say that it’s bad to care about your health and pursue it as you wish-I dream of a world where everyone has the resources to take care of themselves however they choose! But it’s important to recognize that many people don’t even have access to the basic things we need to be healthy, and to fight on their behalf. I hope to find a way to contribute to making health accessible for all people somehow in my career/life.

This Instagram post from @bodypositivememes

So true! All it tells you about is your relationship with gravity.

Alright everyone I’m out of here! Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on the other side of all of the wedding fun. 🙂

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Book Review, Volume 1

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a good week. I have a biochemistry test on Monday, so I’ve been studying all week and that’s what I’m doing this weekend, too. It isn’t so bad because I have my sister’s wedding to look forward to NEXT WEEKEND! I can’t believe it’s almost here. I want it to be here already but also want time to slow down because I don’t want it to be over!

Anyway, I’m here to talk about some things I’ve read lately. (Intuitive Eating is just in there for the photo opp, but I discussed it here and here.) By lately, I mean this year. I am a super slow reader, and when school is in session, I barely read. And that’s not because I’m so into all my class readings. I actually do not do a good job at reading those (oops); I just have a hard time using my brain to read at night instead of watching Netflix. Please don’t be surprised if Volume 2 of my book review series doesn’t come until Christmas break… or until I graduate.

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

Description from the publisher: “Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “”thin” with “”healthy” is the problem. The solution? Health at Every Size. Tune in to your body’s expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good. You too can feel great in your body right now— and Health at Every Size will show you how.”

Y’all. I started reading this book so long ago, sometime in the spring. Then I neglected it for a while and picked it back up this summer. I was already very familiar with the tenants of HAES and the science behind it. However, reading the book is important. It gave me a lot of background information and a LOT of research to digest (there are 437 sources!), and made me even more passionate about this approach.

I wish that everyone would read this book, especially before bashing Health at Every Size. Linda Bacon does a tremendous job of explaining why it is important to focus on health behaviors rather than weight. I’ve told you that the first time I heard about HAES I thought it was crazy, so I understand the pushback. It goes against everything we are taught, or at least much of what I’ve been taught as a future health professional. I thought, “there’s no way you can be healthy at every size,” and I know that’s a common critique. However, the book and practice is about pursuing health (whatever that looks like for each person) no matter what the scale says. Health is about so much more than size.

It’s not up to me or anyone else to decide at what size/weight a person is not healthy. No weight should be pathologized. Looking at someone’s size (large, small, or in between) just tells you what size they are. It doesn’t tell you anything else; you don’t know their story, what their life is like, or what habits they have. Everyone deserves to feel great in the body they have today and to pursue health in whatever way or to whatever extent they choose. Linda Bacon has many more books along the same theme, and I’m adding Body Respect to my “must read” list!

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

Excerpt from publisher’s description: “Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”

I bought this book when we were at the beach in August and finished it in about a week. That’s a record for me. I loved this book and am already itching to read her newest one, Hunger. Roxane says that she is a bad feminist because she doesn’t want to be placed on the feminist pedestal. She says she makes mistakes often and wants to be up front about that. She isn’t trying to be a role model, she just wants to speak up about what she believes in- flaws and all. Gay talks about loving things that might seem at odds with being a feminist, like the color pink and rap music, but argues that it is important to embrace the feminist label and movement. I really just can’t do her writing justice at all, so see this article of hers if interested- it is a slightly edited version of the introduction.

The book is a compilation of essays, and the topics range from violence against women to how African Americans are depicted in movies to the song “Blurred Lines,” which she admits she finds catchy. Sometimes she discussed writings I am not familiar with, but it was worth chugging through those parts for everything else. I really liked how Roxane tackles complicated subjects but doesn’t give a nice and neat answer every time. This book was very thought provoking. It made me laugh, it made me angry, and it made me think about the ways I contribute to and consume the culture we live in.

Shrill by Lindy West

Part of the publisher’s description: “With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.”

I also bought this book when we were at the beach. I started reading it later, and finished it up a couple of weeks ago. This one was another winner for me! Lindy is very smart and covers everything from being harassed online (she writes for The Guardian and the New York Times) to her personal life. I laughed out loud a lot while reading and felt like I would love to just be in Lindy’s brain for a day. She has really funny things to say even when situations seem dire. My favorite chapter was “Hello, I Am Fat,” in which she eloquently dismantles a lot of the things people have to say about people in larger bodies and how it feels to live in our society when your body is discussed in shameful ways.

So there you have it. I basically read 3 books this year, so that’s about one every three months. I really enjoyed all 3 of these and would recommend them to anyone! Tell me, have you read anything good lately? What should I read next?

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My Venture into Gardening

“Gardening” might be a generous term to use here. I was thinking more along the lines of “growing things in pots on my balcony,” but that doesn’t make for a great post title, does it?

I had absolutely zero experience keeping any type of plant alive prior to this, so trust me that if I can do it, anyone can. It all started this spring, in April I think. It was National Nutrition Day and my school was kind enough to provide some seedlings for us to take home and plant.

I got swept into the excitement and grabbed a bell pepper one. I wish I had a picture of it but I don’t. Anyway, shortly after picking it up, I thought “Ummm I don’t have a garden, a yard, or any gardening knowledge. This might be a bad idea.” I spent the next 2 class periods Googling things like “How to grow a bell pepper,” then I made a beeline to Target to get my supplies. I planted it and it quickly popped up, then looked like this for a while. It’s even taller now!

Approximately 4 years later (ok it was like 2 months), I saw signs of life! Side note: I had to transport it the 3.5 hours to my parents’ house, where I lived this summer. It stayed on their side porch which has plenty of morning sunlight!

For any garden newbies like me: a bud forms, then a flower grows on it, then the flower falls off, then the pepper grows. I’m sure none of those terms are accurate or scientific, but you get it.

This pepper got scorched by the NC summer heat, so I had to cut it off before it turned red. Yes, green bell peppers turn into red ones if allowed to ripen! I didn’t know that before. I was pretty amazed at how huge this pepper was, and I haven’t been able to get one this big since.

I was out of my mind excited to chop it up and use it in pasta sauce! Of course I had to top it with basil from my basil plant (more on that in a minute). I felt pretty legit.

It was weird that out of my huge bell pepper plant, I only got 1 bell pepper all summer! I fertilized it whenever I saw new flowers and watered it daily. I even brought it inside when it was too hot. Since I’ve been back at school some new ones have popped up on the other branch of the plant. One is almost ready-it’s turning red and looks awesome!

A few weeks ago more buds popped up. I noticed they looked “spikey,” which you can see below, but didn’t think anything of it. The next week I realized it wasn’t just a spikey pepper-THOSE ARE ALL TINY LITTLE GREEN BUGS!  I got a safe insecticide from Target and they were gone soon after. I really should get a book deal for Gardening for Dummies. 4 of those buds have turned into peppers, and they are on the small side right now.

Hopefully they will be ready in a few weeks! Usually I’ll see about 10 buds pop up, but only 1-4 make it to an actual pepper. Maybe next year I’ll figure out the recipe for success.

After building confidence with my bell pepper and some garden duties at work this summer, I went to our local garden store and got some basil and cilantro seeds.

The middle one is basil, and the other 4 are cilantro.

The basil has done pretty well, I think! I’m not really sure how fast it is supposed to grow, but here’s a snapshot of the progress.

The last picture was actually taken about a month ago, so it is a bit taller now! It sits in my kitchen windowsill and I water it daily. Every week or so I clip some of it to use in pasta sauce or on top as garnish, like on the yummy gnocchi dish below!

Ok, this is getting long, so here’s what you need to know about growing cilantro: it is hard. It was for me, at least! I transferred the cilantro from the 4 original small containers to one large one, because it seemed like they just didn’t have enough room to take root. Every website advises against transferring cilantro, so I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t work out well. It basically all died. I dumped the whole thing out and started over with a bigger container, shown below.

You can see it was growing, but they were very “leggy” AKA flimsy and wouldn’t stand up. I read conflicting information about whether this was normal. I clipped some of it, but didn’t have any more seeds to replace it. So this week I clipped the last bit and declared myself done with cilantro for now. Maybe I’ll try again next year.

It was still fun to have my own cilantro on hand, although it wasn’t very much! It smelled SO good.

I’m guessing my bell pepper plant will be done for the year after the peppers I have on there now have matured. My plan is to keep the basil going as long as I can, so we will see how that goes! I don’t know much about fall and winter gardening, but it seems like that season is for things you need an actual garden for. Like, I just can’t grow potatoes in my apartment. If there is a way… tell me. I’m interested. I can’t wait to have my own yard one day with a killer garden.

I’m having a lot of fun growing a very small portion of my food and have even more respect for farmers now. Note to self: shop at the farmer’s market more often.

Have you ever grown anything? If you’re a gardener, give me all your tips! Can I grow anything inside during the fall?

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Scenes from the Week

Good morning!

It feels weird popping in on a Sunday. I had all intentions of posting on Friday, but life happened. It was a stressful week packed with lots of visits to the vet, but the weekend has been much calmer. So I’m here to share some of it with you! For anyone in Florida or Texas, my thoughts and prayers are with you in wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Return of Dog Seizures

After going 4 months seizure free, Livi had two more seizures last Sunday night. The first one lasted about 3 minutes, and the second one was only about a minute or so. She stayed overnight at the emergency vet for monitoring and has been doing well since. Well, there was another day with a vomiting and shaking episode, but I snapped a short video of it and our vet did not think that was a seizure. We are so thankful that her seizures are considered mild at this point. Of course it is still terrifying and it’s an awful thing to witness, but she stays conscious and perks right up after. Even though Chip and I were scared, we felt more confident and calm this time around.

Over the past few months we have run all kinds of tests and as of now, we don’t know what is causing the seizures. Our vet does not they are linked to her liver issues, which seem pretty mild. The vet also discovered a heart murmur this week, but we did another test and found it out is benign as of now. Thank goodness! So yeah, it was a stressful and emotional (and expensive) week. It’s hard not knowing why she has seizures or when she will have another, or if they will get worse. If they do, we will start medications. I remind myself that out of her whole 2.5 years of life, only 6 minutes or so have been really bad and scary. She has a good and happy life, and I know she has many more years of being my sidekick.

We Bought Kayaks! Well, Chip Did.

Onto happier things! Chip and I are now kayak owners.

Last weekend, Chip and I discussed going kayaking but never did. He worked a lot of the weekend, so we planned to go this Friday instead. After all of Livi’s scares this week I was tempted to just hole up inside and stare at her, but I knew I needed to get out. I can’t life my life in fear, and I can’t be with her 24/7. On Thursday Chip called and asked if I wanted to go with him to pick out some kayaks. We had planned on renting them (that’s what we did when we went a couple of years ago) but he thought that it would be a good investment to buy our own if we start going more. I thought he was crazy and after asking, “Where will you store these? What about when we move next year” and getting satisfactory answers, I got on board.

We took them out on Jordan Lake on Friday and had a blast! Someone at work told him of a spot 10 minutes from my apartment where we could park and get in the lake. It was a very quiet area, and we had to carry the kayaks down a path to the beach. That was the hardest part, but at least the scenery was beautiful!

We were out there for a few hours and hung out on a cute little island. I brought the snacks and Chip brought the waterproof speaker for music. It was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon! It also made me super thankful for our school schedules-it’s nice to be able to do random fun things during the week. I know, we are spoiled right now.

Free HelloFresh Box=Lifesaver

My mom sent me a free HelloFresh Box a few weeks ago, and I totally forgot it was coming this week! I was so excited to see it when I got home Wednesday night.

That night, I made one meal that had chicken, zucchini, and mashed potatoes. Last night I made burgers and zucchini fries. Let’s just say my pictures haven’t been quite as pretty as the ones on the recipe card, so just enjoy the cute tiny ketchup. Usually by the weekend I’m throwing together random pasta dishes or getting takeout to avoid getting more groceries, so it has been nice to cook actual meals this weekend! I’m making the final meal tonight-it’s a pork + kale salad. I actually hate kale and meant to change that on our order, but I’ll still make the pork and rice or something to go with it.

I do like HelloFresh because it helps me branch out in terms of cooking. Last night was my first time making burgers! It’s nice to follow a pre planned recipe and not have to think about what I’m making for dinner. However, I can’t see myself getting these boxes on a regular basis until I’m out of school and have a bigger budget. They’re about $60/week, and I spend about $70/week for all my groceries and household items. That covers all breakfasts, lunches, most dinners and random things like cleaning supplies and candles that I pick up while I’m at Target. Chip cooks some, too, and we could split the cost of the box, but for now I feel like we can make pretty yummy dinners for much cheaper. See: Budget Bytes, my favorite place to find recipes that won’t break the bank!

A Low Key Weekend

After kayaking on Friday, I went out to dinner with my roommate and another friend. Yesterday I did laundry, studied, and just relaxed at home.

Today I’m planning on going for a run, grocery shopping, and watching the Panthers game with Chip. Ok, he will watch it and I will be doing school work. Weekends lately have been pretty slow and sometimes I feel like a homebody, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m trying to be more intentional about planning to see friends or do something fun so I don’t just turn into a hermit, but I also enjoy having nowhere to be. I know there’s a season for everything, and sometimes life is loud and crazy and other times things are more calm. There will be plenty of go-go-go as my sister’s wedding gets closer- just 20 more days!!! I seriously can’t wait.

Thanks for letting me chat your ear off today-tell me about something from your week!

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Let’s Talk About Detoxes

We’ve all heard about detoxes. Whether we are scrolling on Pinterest or tuning into morning TV shows, it seems like someone is always trying to sell us a shake, pill, eating plan, or juice cleanse that will rid our body of toxins and deliver the life we always dreamed of. I have some good news for you. You don’t need to do a detox for that. You are alive enough to read this post. That means you have a liver and a kidney or two. Congratulations, you are detoxing right now! If your body wasn’t constantly detoxing itself, you would die.

found the photo on Kait’s instagram but believe it was originally on AskforEvidence.org

When people say your body is full of toxins and you need help to get rid of them, obviously that sounds scary. I can see the appeal of a detox. But in reality, our body is constantly taking care of these toxins, which can be anything from an air pollutant to a food additive. (Barring a medical condition that interferes with these processes, of course. I’m writing this for the general healthy population.) Kidneys pull waste products from the blood, then we pee them out. The liver neutralizes toxins, then we excrete them. If you went to the bathroom today, you detoxed. High five!

There is a newer area of nutrition research looking into whether certain nutrients can aid these detoxification processes. I’ve looked into this since my dog is liver impaired, and I was curious if there is anything I could give her to help. So I am happy that this research exists for people (and dogs) who need it. I don’t think that the general population needs to stress about that, but you can probably guess that signs are pointing to fruits and veggies. I know, that’s not as sexy as a juice cleanse. Also, that doesn’t mean we should ONLY eat fruits and vegetables. Like anything in nutrition, it can be taken too far.

A lot of my beef with detoxes is just how fearful they can make people of food. I did a few Google searches and ended up on the website for my favorite doctor, Dr. Oz. I’m being completely sarcastic, he drives me nuts. He promotes a detox plan that, among other things, says you cannot eat anything that comes from a package or has a nutrition label. Ok, that leaves plants. I’m not certain you can survive and thrive on that. You couldn’t even cook them in oil or anything to add flavor and nutrients. What’s healthy about that?

This is typical for detoxes; they’re very eat this, not that. This will cause disease, this will cure your body of disease. In reality, food doesn’t work like that. Our bodies can handle it all, and there’s no reason to be so fearful. Even once the detox is over, this black-and-white thinking about food may remain. Detoxes are promoted as healthy, but the anxiety and fear they cause certainly are not. Detoxes are promoted as “energy boosting,” yet eating nothing but juice or a very small list of food sounds like a great way to drain your energy.

If you truly do feel tired and in need of a restart, think about a few areas of your life. Are you sleeping well? Are you nourishing your body adequately? How’s your stress management? Is there too much on your plate? If you do feel like you’re exhausted for no reason and really need help, advocate for yourself and seek out a medical provider. You know your body the best, and what you may need is medical attention of some kind.

Finally, often times detoxes are just a marketing ploy for weight loss. Sure, you may lose weight by drinking nothing but mineral water for a few days or cutting out large food groups. (You will likely also lose joy and confidence in your eating.) I would argue that most of this is water weight, partly due to your body breaking down muscle to use for energy. Your body doesn’t know you’re doing a detox because a vacation is coming up, or you just got home from vacation and feel like you overdid it, or because you feel tired and hope it will restart your system. It just knows you’re starving.

I know if I had to drink all my food or abstain from large groups of food, I would become obsessed with what I couldn’t have. Food doesn’t deserve that much power. It would be socially isolating. I would definitely overeat all of the forbidden foods once I was given permission. That’s because I’m human and my body is smart. Yours is, too. The next time you start to think “I was bad/I’m tired/I’m unhealthy, now I have to detox” I hope you’ll remember that eating a certain food does not make you good or bad, and that you already have all the tools you need to take care of yourself.

First Week of School: Meals, Snacks, Movement

Hello and Happy Friday!

Classes resumed on Tuesday and I’m happy to see the week come to an end. Even though my class schedule is lighter in terms of hours at school, it’s hard to get back into the routine! Since I’m finally back into the swing of things I wanted to share some recent meals, snacks, and what I’ve been up to in the movement department. Please keep in mind that I never share what I eat or how I move as an example of what to do; I share to hopefully inspire joy and peace around both!

Dinners

When I first moved back, I was feeling pretty uninspired by food. My mom cooked most nights this summer and I often had leftovers for lunch, so I got out of the routine of planning/cooking dinner. By this week, I knew I had to get it together, or else I would blow all my money on takeout and/or have to make 5 trips to the grocery store during the week. So I made a loose meal plan.I still didn’t feel motivated to cook by a recipe, so I just went with things I could throw together easily. Of course I didn’t stick to it, but here it is.

I did make Sunday’s dinner as planned. I used a little butter and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning to cook the chicken. I roasted the potatoes and green beans in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. There were plenty of potatoes left over (not pictured-I ate all of those and then some!), so I had them for breakfast the next day with eggs and bacon. Yum!

On Monday, Chip made tacos and they were delicious. I didn’t get a good picture, but you can trust me.

On Tuesday, I decided Wednesday’s dinner sounded better, so I made that. Plus, I was dying to use some more basil from my plant! I made zucchini instead of the broccoli that I planned to make with this meal. I’ve had a lot of broccoli lately so I wanted something different.

To make the tomato sauce (which served 2), I sautéed about 1/2 TB butter and 1/2 tsp minced garlic. Then I added almost a whole can of tomato sauce, along with the chopped basil,  dried oregano, and some Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I had my pasta with the rest of the chicken from Sunday’s dinner, and Chip had his with some meatballs from the Target freezer section. We both approved and also shared a plate of zucchini and a few straggler green beans leftover from Sunday. To make the zucchini, I diced 2 of them and sautéed it with olive oil and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

I was planning on making the tilapia meal on Wednesday, but then fish didn’t sound appealing at all, so I had pasta again. I went to Trader Joe’s last weekend and got their pesto. It’s the best. So I mixed that with some pasta, sautéed some broccoli and that was that. Oh, and I had a few meatballs I heated up in the microwave. I knew I wouldn’t be full with just the small amount of protein in the pasta. I’ll spare you the pictures- it was one of the ugliest meals I’ve had in a while.

Last night, I went to Gonza in Raleigh with a friend! I got the pastor tacos, which have pork, pineapple, and cilantro. That’s what I always get there-I feel pretty confident that nothing could top it.

Tacos twice in one week=a pretty good week on the food front.

For lunch, I’ve pretty much been eating sandwiches every day. I’m not tired of them yet and cold sandwiches sound perfect since it’s still pretty warm out.

Snacks

Usually when I have class, I pack a KIND bar and an apple. Kinda boring, but it gets the job done. When I’m at home, I like to make snack plates with pretzels, cheese, veggies-whatever sounds good.

I go through phases with chips & salsa, and currently we are ON. This salsa below… it’s the best. This picture is from lunch one day recently, but it’s great at any time of day.

Ice cream is another favorite. I walk Livi most nights and it’s still pretty hot out, so I love coming inside, showering off, and getting a mug of ice cream. I think mugs make everything cozier and more delicous.

Movement

I’ve been having fun with all the equipment in my apartment gym lately! It’s not big or fancy, but it has fun things like TRX and different weight machines. Some days I do that, or a yoga video, or just take my dog for a walk. Or nothing at all!

Yesterday I actually ran! I hadn’t run a step since my last post on running. I was finally feeling the itch, and I was #blessed with a 72 degree morning yesterday. It wasn’t too hot, and I didn’t have to get up and go early! Win-win. It definitely wasn’t easy, but it felt good to run again. I’m looking forward to more runs as the weather cools off. Fall running is the best kind of running.

That’s it for me today! If you’ve had an awesome meal or snack lately, please share! I could use some recipe ideas for next week 🙂 

My Sister’s Bachelorette Weekend in Virginia

Before I dive into this post, I want to say a word about the abhorrent racism and hate on display in Charlottesville this weekend. We did stay in Charlottesville, but most of our activities took us out of the city. Several people checked in after hearing about Charlottesville on the news to see if we were safe. We were, but so many people are not. Many people bravely risked their lives this weekend to let those awful people know that their hatred and racism is not welcome here, and Heather Heyer lost her life. Many people turned on their TV to see people marching in opposition to their mere existence. We have to do better. I have to do better and to speak up when I see injustice on display. There is absolutely no place for white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and racism in our county, or anywhere for that matter. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Heather Heyer, Lieutenant. H. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.

Friday

On Friday, we left Raleigh around 9am and headed to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. My sister made the planning really easy for me because she loves to make travel plans. All I had to do was take her recommendations and make it happen! She read all about Pippin Hill online and tagged me weekly in their Instagram posts of their picture perfect landscape, shown above. But first, I gave everyone a welcome box I made! I had the best time buying decorations and things to make Sarah Beth’s weekend fun and special.

I got the custom labels on Etsy, and the shop owner also sold the accompanying gable boxes, so that was convenient! Here’s what was inside:

You can see my main priority was plenty of snacks, and yes, that is a tattoo of my soon to be brother-in-law’s face. They were a huge hit among all of us and random people we saw out on Saturday 🙂

Ok, back to the weekend. We had a wine tour scheduled for Saturday, but Pippin Hill wasn’t on the agenda so my sister was dying to go there Friday. We got there around 1 or 2, did a wine tasting and ordered some food! Everything was delicious, and it was such a beautiful place.

There was even quite an impressive garden that we all had fun checking out. Everyone was like, “You have to get pictures of the garden for Soon to be RD!”

After Pippin Hill fun, we stopped by the grocery store then headed into Charlottesville to check into our house. We booked the house and the wine tour (Monticello Wine Tour) through Stay Charlottesville, and I can’t say enough good things! Plus, you get a discount on the wine tour if you book one of their houses. I got to work decorating the house with the help of her friends and we had it looking so festive.

That night, we ventured into downtown Charlottesville to eat dinner at Red Pump Kitchen. Everything was AMAZING. I had the lobster tortellini and never wanted it to end. I assumed we would go for a round of drinks somewhere after, but then my sister asked, “Do y’all mind if we just go home?” Um of course not. Pajamas > bars any day.

Saturday

Saturday was wine tour day! We were picked up at 11:45 then spent the next 5 hours in wine country. Instead of doing matching shirts, SB suggested a floral theme. So we all got dressed in our best floral outfits and tattooed Cody’s face on our arms, then it was time to go! Um, how adorable is she!?

Our driver picked up our lunch for us while we were at the first stop, which was so nice. We ordered sandwiches from Greenwood Grocery, which our wine tour planner recommended, and I got the meatball sub. It was not photogenic but it was delicious. 3 vineyards were on the agenda: King Family, Pollock, and Veritias, and they were all amazing. I can never go back to grocery store wine. The views at each stop were to die for!

Put a group of dog lovers at a vineyard, and they will find a dog.

Once the tour ended, we ordered pizza and spent the rest of the night at the house. We weren’t planning on going out anyway, and we ended up having a 3 hour dance party in the living room. That probably sounds really lame, but trust me we had a blast!

Sunday we cleaned up the house and headed home. We had a great time, and agreed we would love to come back again. There are a lot of other vineyards we didn’t go to, and I would love to get to see more of downtown Charlottesville. This weekend was the perfect way to celebrate my sister and her upcoming wedding. I’m really sad her bachelorette weekend is over, but I can hardly wait for their wedding next month!

Body Positivity or Neutrality?

I write on here a lot about body positivity. I follow a lot of people on Instagram who do, too, and I’ve noticed there’s a lot of discussion around what terms are the “best” to use. I’ve heard the discussion on some of my favorite podcasts, too, and have seen some people shift away from using the term body “positive.” While some people find their niche is posting about self-love and loving your body, others feel that may not always be feasible for people. Others argue that body positivity focuses too much on, well, bodies, which reinforces that bodies and how they look are important.

I don’t really feel like I fall in either camp 100% of the time, and I don’t think we have to. As much as I would like to live in a world where bodies are just neutral, we live in a world that praises some bodies and looks down on others. I think that many of the accounts celebrating all bodies and body love can be extremely helpful.

It can be validating to see someone post their stretch marks and think, “I have those too! Maybe I don’t need to ‘fix’ them after all.” Many of these accounts highlight people in larger bodies, which helps normalize body diversity. I think that’s so important in our world where people in larger bodies are made to feel ashamed, and those bodies are way underrepresented in the media. It also helps widen our view of what counts as beautiful, which can help with body image across the board.

However, I do understand the argument that focusing on celebrating all bodies still keeps the attention on bodies. In reality, our bodies are just our outer “Earth suit” as Julie calls it, so should we shift our focus elsewhere? That’s where the body neutrality argument lies.

Body neutrality is pretty self explanatory-just feeling neutral about your body and focusing on other things. This is how I feel most of the time. I acknowledge that I am more than my body and it does not determine my worth. I try to focus on how I feel and react to my body in a factual way rather than placing value on how it looks. For example- “These pants are tight, I should buy a pair that fits better” rather than “These pants are tight I hate how my body looks I need to change it” or “These pants are tight, I love how I have rolls over my waistband.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve never thought that last statement! Maybe I will never get there. I think that’s okay. I’m more likely to just go get some pants that actually fit and make me feel good, then go on with my life. That’s a big accomplishment for me; not too long ago, I would have started doing things to try to change my body rather than work through the thoughts.

Sometimes I do feel positive about my body. Sometimes I don’t. When that happens, I sit with the discomfort. I don’t want to diet or do workouts that don’t mesh with my lifestyle and values. So sometimes I just have to think about why I’m having a negative thought. Maybe I don’t come up with an answer, and maybe I feel uncomfortable for a while. That’s part of the journey. I also know that I don’t have to love my body all the time to treat it with kindness.

Celebrating body diversity is certainly a good thing. Being inclusive of all people and all sizes is a wonderful thing. But it’s not realistic to expect to love your body all the time. That can be hard for people when they express disappointment with their body and hear “no no no, just love your body!” It’s really not that easy, especially in our culture. Or they may feel frustrated, like they’re “failing” at body positivity, if they have any negative thoughts.

I never want to say that body love is unattainable for anyone, but I know it can feel impossible. Body neutrality can seem like a really big goal if you’re consumed with hating your body. Maybe you’ll end up in body neutrality and hang out there most of the time, and simply enjoy living your life without judging your body too much either way. You may want to work towards body love and find that it’s accessible to you. Maybe you want to work towards simply not hating your body all of the time. I don’t know that the terminology really matters. Work towards what you feel like working towards. Either way, I think it’s better than being trapped in body hate.

Maybe body acceptance would be a better term for me to use. I don’t think that means you just wake up one day and say, “Alright, body, I accept you! Let’s do this!” It’s still a journey. I like the term because it acknowledges that there is active work going on. It’s about moving away from fighting your body and learning to work with it.

I feel like we are all on the same team here. We don’t want to be consumed by thoughts about our body, no matter what those are. We’ve got more important things to do! Maybe one perspective is helpful to some people, but not another. Or maybe one perspective is helpful at one part of your journey, but not another. We are all so different and we are all at different parts of our body peace journey, so I think it’s understandable that we identify with different aspects of the non-diet culture. Embrace what helps you on your journey, and leave the rest.

Tell me what you think- Does it matter? Do you identify more strongly with one phrase or another? Does body positivity sound nice, or unattainable and frustrating?

Psst–Most of the pictures in this post come from Instagram via Christy Harrison and Haley Goodrich, two awesome non-diet dietitians. Give them a follow if you’re looking for some positive people to help you along your journey!