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. ūüôā

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 saut√©ed¬†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 ūüôā 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 fianc√©! 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 ‚Äúworking harder‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs a losing game, really. Diets don‚Äôt 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôm 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‚Äôt want pursue changing my body. I‚Äôm happy and healthy as I am. The truth is that giving up the ‚Äúperfect body‚ÄĚ ideal can be hard, even when you know that it doesn‚Äôt 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‚Äôt comfortable. Of course, I found myself picking out¬†parts of my body I wasn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs a day when you do productive things and don‚Äôt even think about your how your body looks. I‚Äôm happy to be in a place where most days look like that. I feel good in my body, but I‚Äôm not obsessed over how I look. So sometimes, when I‚Äôm ‚Äúforced‚ÄĚ to take a good look, my inner critic gets louder. Unlike years before, though, I got past it and didn‚Äôt leave the experience vowing to ‚Äúdo better.‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôm 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 ‚Äúperfect body‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôm rambling, and these are all things I‚Äôve 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôs 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.

Grocery Haul + Dinners This Week

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a good week. My one class for the day was canceled, so it’s the weekend for me! Don’t hate me. Tomorrow I’m headed out of town for a friend’s birthday celebration, but for today I thought it would be fun to¬†share this week’s grocery haul and menu. Like always, I’m not sharing to say that what I eat is the best and you should eat like I do. I share to show what intuitive eating looks like for me,¬†and to share ideas for easy and delicious meals and snacks.

Although I try to listen to my body and eat what I’m craving, I have to balance that with the reality of a busy schedule and a budget (don’t we all!).¬†This means I plan dinners ahead of time, but I am¬†flexible and can cook a recipe¬†a different day if it doesn’t sound good that night.¬†I make sure to have a variety of foods on hand for snacks and lunches, and then pick out what I want that day.

Ok, anyway, here’s what I was up to this week in the food department..

What I Bought

Produce: clementines, bananas, strawberries, spinach, cauliflower, frozen broccoli, green onions, cilantro, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery

Proteins/meats: Italian sausage, bacon, chickpeas, eggs, peanut butter

Other dairy: milk, shredded cheese

Canned goods: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, jelly

Grains: bread, brown rice, penne pasta, Annie’s mac and cheese,¬†pretzel crisps

Other: coffee, basil, curry powder

What you see here cost $75, which is more than usual but for the sake of transparency I didn’t change anything I did for this post. I would say my weekly grocery bill averages to about $60, which covers all of my meals M-F. Well, except for the dinners Chip cooks-we live & shop separately. From this grocery haul,¬†I made¬†dinner for 4 nights, and breakfast and lunch for every day. I seriously didn’t spend another dollar on food this week. Best of all, I didn’t have to make a second trip to the store. I’ll share more on how I stretch my grocery dollar throughout the post.

This week’s lunches consisted of leftovers, curried chickpeas and rice, and pb&j. Breakfast was oatmeal (I already had that in the pantry) or peanut butter & banana toast.

What We Had for Dinner

Sunday- baked pasta and roasted cauliflower

Woof, sorry about the bad lighting. I made this pasta a long time ago, and Chip kept dropping hints that he wanted me to make it again. I finally got the hint and made it on Sunday-I had to work late Monday and knew I would be happy to have leftovers. It was just as good as we remembered. In the past I made it with turkey Italian sausage, but Target was out, so I used regular Italian sausage. They really taste the same, so I would choose turkey if it was available.

The cauliflower picture was even worse, so I’ll spare you that, but I just chopped it up and roasted it at 400¬įF for about 25 minutes with olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. After dinner, I packed up some leftovers for Monday¬†night¬†and froze the rest for another time. I love freezing leftovers because 1-it reduces food waste, and 2-I get all excited when there’s a night I don’t know what to eat and remember I have food in the freezer.

Monday- leftover baked pasta and cauliflower

Tuesday- slow cooker potato soup

I learned my lesson and took this picture when I had leftovers Wednesday for lunch-yay natural light!

I really wanted to use the immersion blender I got for Christmas, so I went to trusty Budget Bytes and searched “immersion blender.” This came up and it was SO good. This was my first time making potato soup, and this recipe was easy to follow. We topped it with plenty of bacon, cheese, and green onions.

Budget/life tip: Chop and freeze any leftover vegetables¬†you may have from a recipe. This recipe only called for 2 medium carrots and 2 celery stalks, so there was a lot left over. The next day when I had some time, I chopped it all up and froze it to use another time. Pretty much any soup recipe calls for chopped celery and carrots, so it’s good to have on hand.

Wednesday- out at Zinburger

We decided to wait and celebrate Valentine’s Day on Wednesday. This was great because we didn’t have to wait for a table¬†at one of our favs, Zinburger.¬†I started with a chopped wedge salad and we split the zucchini fries. I was too excited to get a picture. They are fried/coated in parmesan and served with the best ranch dressing. If you know me, you know good ranch is important for my restaurant experience. For our meal, we both got the buffalo chicken sandwich, with more ranch of course. There was a mixup which resulted in a free order of fries (!) so we ate some of those, too.

Thursday- leftover potato soup + roasted carrots

Chip was planning on making tacos, but we both thought potato soup sounded nice on a chilly day. I had a bunch of baby carrots that were going bad, so I roasted those with olive oil and garlic powder. Mmm you can’t beat roasted carrots. Ok actually you can-roasted broccoli. Or cookies. You get the point, the carrots were yummy.

That brings us to today. Tonight we’ll have the tacos meant for last night, and then we will be gone tomorrow night.

What was the best thing you ate this week? 

On Body Shaming Lady Gaga

I know, this is probably old news by now so I’m not exactly coming in with a hot take. However, I’m still pretty angry about this and need an outlet.

On Sunday, I watched the Super Bowl halftime show, and I thought Lady Gaga was awesome. Her vocals, dancing, and costumes were all wonderful. I thought she looked confident, powerful, and like she was having the time of her life. Soon enough, I found out some other people were preoccupied with her “fat rolls” and decided to share those feelings on the interwebs. I have a few thoughts of my own that I would like to offer here.

1. We witnessed 13 minutes of Lady Gaga, a woman at the top of her game in the performance of her life, singing and dancing her face off. She delivered an incredible performance. Yet the only thing some people could focus on is her stomach. This makes me sick. I think it is important to ask WHY. Why are we so afraid of fat? Does having fat on your body mean you are unhealthy or a bad person? No, it does not.

2. I know men are subject many of¬†the same pressures to have a certain body type that women are, and I don’t want to minimize that, but do you remember the talk about Bruno Mars’ body last year? What about Lenny Kravitz the year before? No? Neither can I.¬†I can’t say for sure that if they had come out in a belly shirt, they wouldn’t have been subject to fat shaming. I hope not-we shouldn’t do that to anyone. But I do believe there is a hyperawareness in the media of women’s bodies and a minimization of contributions women like Gaga make by focusing on their appearance. We are supposed to be thin, but not too thin, and curvy, but not too curvy. The objectification of women only makes body¬†shaming worse¬†and we must reject the notion that women need to look a certain way.

3. I have seen some¬†comments along the lines of “omg she’s actually really thin I can’t believe they’re hating on HER stomach, clearly she is in great shape.” I can see where people are trying to go with this. She is thin, and an attack on her body reminds us of the unrealistic standards we are taught to strive for. However, I want to¬†challenge this type of comment. At what point would you deem a person’s body unacceptable and deserving of being called out? If she had one more roll of fat, then would it be okay to pick apart her body? It’s¬†important to accept ALL bodies- small, muscular, large, not muscular, abs, no abs.

4. What does this say to people who look like Lady Gaga, and those who are in larger bodies than she is? I’ll admit I started thinking “Dang. What would they say about ME if I got up there?” I quickly neglected¬†that line of thinking. We are not the problem. Society is the problem. We are held to unrealistic standards of what we “should” look like. Some people do look like that, but it is not feasible for all. If you do look like a VS model, good for you. If you don’t, good for you as well. All bodies are good, none any better than another.

5. What did these people¬†want Gaga to do? Eat less and work out more so her body would be acceptable to them?¬†That’s wrong on so many levels. If her body made you uncomfortable, I want you to ask yourself why.

6. Body¬†shaming anyone, regardless of your reasons, is harmful. You may say,¬†“Well,¬†I just want them to be healthy.” I would direct you to the Health at Every Size movement. If our goal is to improve the health of all people, why would we shame anyone¬†for how their body looks? Research has shown that weight discrimination¬†leads to poor health outcomes and is not a motivator for people to change. (Duh. Source¬†but there is a large body of research¬†on this.) Body shaming of ANY kind, whether it is criticizing someone for being “too thin” or “too large,” is wrong.

I’ll leave you on a positive note, with the response from Lady Gaga herself:

You go, Gaga. And here is a link to some of the important work she is doing (in addition to her music), if you would like to focus on something other than her body.

My Body Is Not My Life’s Work

Oh my goodness.

There’s always that one week at the beginning of the semester where it gets real. That is this week. My first biochem test is Monday and other assignments are piling up, so I’ve been in a fog all week. However, I know that it’s a privilege to have such small problems. I am so thankful to be working toward my education and wouldn’t trade the that for anything. Anyway, I wasn’t sure I would post this week, then something happened that got me thinking.

I had an annual check up yesterday, which means I had to step on the scale. For the first time in years I didn’t have anxiety about it. I didn’t think about eating a small breakfast so I would weigh less. I even kept my boots and jacket on because I didn’t care to make myself lighter. As the digital numbers finally stopped, I didn’t even look.

I am happy and healthy, and that’s enough of a measurement for me. I’ve come a long way with body positivity, but I’m not immune to the feelings that number can stir up. If it was lower than I expected, I didn’t want to know. It’s not necessary. If it was higher, I would like to think I wouldn’t care, but years of messages to the contrary aren’t that easy to forget. If I was unhappy with the number, what was I going to do? Start over-exercising or cutting out food? No thank you.

My body is smart. I do my part to take care of myself by eating intuitively, exercising in a way that feels good, getting enough sleep, and managing my stress. My body will settle in size and shape where it needs to. At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is this:

My body is not my life’s work.

It allows me to do my life’s work, but how it looks isn’t important. To me, being body positive isn’t looking in the mirror and thinking I’m the hottest thing since sliced bread. I like my body and I accept myself as I am. I love my body for what it allows me to do and I respect it, but I’m not walking around obsessed with my appearance. Most days I don’t give much thought to what my body looks like. My value lies in so much more than that.

The problem is that we give appearance so much importance. We are told all the time that we need to be working harder on our bodies. Just run farther, lift heavier, eat “cleaner,” and you’ll be.. what? More successful? Happier? More lovable? I remember those summers that I tried to slim down before the beach. Every time beach week rolled around, I would think “If I just had one more week to work on this, I would be happy with how I look.” Y’all, that week never comes. When you’re in that mindset, you will ALWAYS find something to fix on your body. It’s a self-absorbed, self-defeating mission.

Almost as self-absorbed as this selfie
I finally learned that my body/weight is the least important thing about me, and over time I’ve learned to treat it as such. I place much higher importance on my relationships and things that I care about that actually matter. What if we all accepted ourselves and others as we are? My hope is that we would embrace all bodies so nobody feels like they need to change the one they’re in.

What if we diverted the time we spend stressing about our bodies and trying to change them into our relationships? Our education or careers? Wouldn’t life be so much better if we had that mental capacity and energy to use for more important things? Life is too short to spend another day hating your body and trying to change it. I’m not saying it’s easy- you can’t will yourself to be at peace with your body, it takes work- but it’s more than worth it. 

Yes, this all came from a doctor’s visit. Sometimes I wish I could turn my mind off, too, but thank you for letting me share it with you.