Tag: holidays

A Long-Winded Note on –  Ending Anxiety around the Holidays, My Relationship with Food & Fitness, and Finding Acceptance

A Long-Winded Note on – Ending Anxiety around the Holidays, My Relationship with Food & Fitness, and Finding Acceptance

I don’t know about you, but family holidays always seem to spark my anxiety around food, which if you think about it, this seems counterintuitive to the point of Thanksgiving in the first place.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when and where this anxiety around food during the holidays started, but if I had to guess, I’d say back in high school during my, where we were just beginning to be introduced to social media and the “diet culture”.  Leading up to and following the holidays, you’d see “shedding for the holidays”, or “stay skinny this thanksgiving”, or “how to shed 10 pounds before and after the holidays”. It’s everywhere and nearly impossible to avoid. It’s no wonder high-schoolers’ (and probably even middle schoolers’) get roped into this mindset so early. They’re still young, impressionable, and heavily influenced by social media. I’m sure I’m not alone here, regardless of whether you’ve had an on and off relationship with food. This frame of thinking is basically engraved into everyone at one point or another.

Each year, I make it an effort to enjoy the time with my family and be PRESENT rather than feeling overwhelmed by thoughts around food, working out, looking good in my holiday outfit, and so on. Some years are successful and some years I find myself still consumed by these thoughts. The difference between past years and now is that I’m in a much better place mentally. Being a food blogger, it’s easy to feel consumed by food all the time. Constantly thinking about your next meal whether it’s for lunch that day or what you’ll be eating for breakfast on the weekend. Finding that balance between feeling controlled by food vs. just cooking and photographing out of pure joy/passion can be difficult, but it IS possible. I think the biggest challenge for me was eating to feel satiated. As I’ve discussed in the past, I’ve tried so many different diet and health-food trends, hoping that one would be the right fit for me. Unfortunately, none of them left me feeling satisfied and only had me craving more since I wasn’t getting the RIGHT food and nourishment for what my body needed.

I’d try to mimic the pretty food I saw on Instagram, which sometimes meant giant smoothie bowls loaded with fruit, almond butter, and granola. Sure, this tasted REALLY good and it was super filling at the time (I still think it should be enjoyed every now and then, the difference being that I’m now AWARE of how these ingredients will affect my cravings. I can still make a smoothie bowl, but the ingredients I choose to use may be different than what I would throw in, in the past). But was it really giving me the proper nutrition that I needed? Even after starting my morning with giant smoothie bowls, I couldn’t stop eating at night. None of it made sense to me. It wasn’t until recently where I started to really think about each plate at every meal. Was I getting proper protein, healthy fats, veggies, superfoods, fiber, etc? How much FRUIT (and additional sugar) was I consuming throughout the day? Was I eating enough calories? Did I need to adjust based on my workouts?

What I found was that a) I was running A LOT. Being a runner my whole life, I was used to logging a lot of miles and I “used” to be able to eat a lot of food to replenish. However, just like anything else that you do day in and day out, it can get mundane and your body starts to adapt. And b) though I was running anywhere from 5-8 miles about 4-5 times a week, I wasn’t burning as many calories as I used to. Yet I came home STARVING all the time and would likely overeat because that’s what I thought my hunger signs were telling me.

Fast forward to January 2017, post 200hr yoga teacher training. After 17 intensive days of pure yoga and little to no running, my body changed, but in a good way. I hadn’t seen results like this in SO LONG. I LOVED yoga and sadly, running became something I started to resent because it usually meant me hammering miles (and breaking down my body) to make up for all of the food I would consume. It became a vicious cycle and this small realization opened up a new way of looking at fitness. At the end of the day, I think that running is still a great way of getting some cardio in, but I’m not as tied to it as I used to be. Honestly, I probably run 1x a week now, if that. I’ve finally found a workout routine that makes me feel amazing, challenges my body (and mind), and the best part, I actually LOOK FORWARD to it! I share this bit because I feel for me, my relationship to fitness and food go hand-in-hand. The second I started to embrace working out as something that made me feel good, instead of looking at it as a way to punish my body, more positive thoughts around food started to fall in place.

I started craving foods that would truly nourish my body. I started understanding the science behind food & fitness. I became interested in the research. I invested time into listening to podcasts and reading; anything from body positivity, to spirituality, to nutritionists that covered everything from paleo, to plant-based, to keto, to grain-free / gluten-free, and everything in between. I started looking at everything with an open mind, ditched the “food labels”, and began to understand how different lifestyles worked for different people. I found it significantly helpful to understand the science & research behind all of these “health trends” so that I could pull bits of each to find what works well for me. It’s funny too because I’ve always been into following different health trends out there, but what happened, was that I would get too consumed by that particular one and closed off to the idea that maybe that lifestyle wasn’t the best for ME, even though it appeared that so and so on Instagram seemed to be incredibly happy following that lifestyle. 

My point to all of this is that this whole “wellness” thing is a journey. It’s trial and error. It’s accepting that we’re ALL different and have different needs. It means being open minded and accepting that health trends come and go for a reason. At the end of the day, it always seems to come back to eating wholesome, unprocessed food and finding a healthy, balanced workout routine that makes you feel good from the inside, out. Though I’ve found a more “balanced” way of living, this doesn’t mean that I’m throwing all concepts of healthy eating out the door when it comes to the holidays. If I REALLY want that dessert full of butter, I’ll eat it. BUT, I know that after I go for that, my body feels like shit. And I truly hate feeling like SHIT. This is the same reason why I choose to rarely drink alcohol. It makes me feel awful and for me, it’s not worth getting drunk to feel like crap the entire next day. Personally, it comes down to this: do I REALLY want that dessert or is it knowing that I’m allowing myself the option to grab it, that makes me deny it all together?

Here’s the other thing. I feel JUST as satisfied making my own dessert that I know tastes just as good, if not better, and is full of real ingredients and no refined sugars. Sometimes I get asked the question, “do you REALLY think that healthy dessert of yours tastes just as good as this store-bought cheesecake?” and my answer is always yes. This type of question used to drive me crazy. Why can’t others just accept that I actually enjoy healthy food? At the end of the day, you’re not going to please everyone. You need to do what makes you feel good. I still have balance and a healthy relationship with food, even if I still choose to go for my healthier dessert option. The difference in all of this is where my head and mental state is at. I can honestly say I’m truly in a better place. Not every day is perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than where it used to be. It’s all about progress, not perfection!

I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

I’m absolutely so grateful for all of you!

Airport Travels: Healthy Tips

Airport Travels: Healthy Tips

With holiday travels coming up around the corner, it’s fairly easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle; therefore losing sight of your healthy mission. Whether you’re skipping out on a traditional Christmas and spending time on an island or going home for a warm holiday by the fireplace; it’s important to not let a day of traveling ruin your momentum! Regardless of how long the flight is, the temptations are running high to pig out. FYI if you haven’t caught on…I speak for myself..I have another trip back to the east coast next week and those 5.5 hour flights are a killer!

Why? Well, for example, I was pretty disappointed Thanksgiving weekend flying into JFK – one of the largest airport hubs in the US. I was directed to Terminal 4. I hadn’t got a chance to eat lunch yet and I had a 6 hour flight ahead of me, so I was hoping to stumble upon at least one health food vendor to stock up. To my luck, there just so happens to be more Chocolate/Candy/Duty-Free stores than there were for food options. Literally, I passed at least 6-8 Giant Chocolate stores carrying all of the top international chocolates. How do you expect the US to become more health conscious and maybe not be perceived as a country that puts junk food before health? Well, my first thought would be to replace some of these candy stores with a health food joint. Not only is it disappointing for those that care what they’re putting into their body, but it also solidifies international travelers stereotypes on Americans. What is the first thing they see when they enter the US? Panda Express, Shake Shack, Pizza Joints, Buffalo Wild Wings, and enough Chocolate stores to feed a small country.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect the airport to replace every restaurant with strictly health food options. I enjoy a treat every now and then, no doubt! But I just wish that after a long weekend of pigging out on Holiday food, I could come to the airport and help myself to a fresh, hardy salad – not some crappy salad from Mcdonalds. Anyway, if you’ve found yourself in this position, the key is to not dread on what could be there, but rather, make do with what you have.

First of all, I’ll always make sure to cover all grounds of the gates in my terminal before choosing the first restaurant I see. This is great for two reasons: 1) you’re getting an extra workout in by walking up and down the terminal and 2) the obvious, it’s smart to scope out all food possibilities before settling! Check out some of my safe bets for airport snackin:
young woman doing yoga meditation at airport
Snacks to Go:
Yogurt – preferably try and stick with a Greek yogurt (any of those magazine stores such as Hudson are usually stocked with a few Chobani flavors). Greek yogurt is packed with protein, therefor keeping you full longer.

Granola Bars – You can pretty much always count on finding the following granola bars stocked up at airports: KIND Bars, Cliff Bars, Luna Bars, and Larabars. Avoid granola bars that are high in fake sugars like Nature Valley Bars, Special K Bars AND bars that are quote “packed with protein” – because there’s a TON of fake crap in there : )

Nuts – avoid nuts that are covered in any form of chocolate unless you have REALLY good self control, which I certainly do not. Just remember the serving size rule with nuts! Approximately ¼ a cup of nuts equates between 180 and 250 calories, so be smart!

If you’re craving something salty – Most airports typically always carry Sabra’s brand of Pretzel Crisps and Hummus (again, hummus is high in protein so this hardy snack will keep you full for a while). You can also snack on Pop Chips, “Fit” Popcorn or any popcorn light in sodium, with limited “extra” ingredients.

Organic Peeled Fruit – The only ingredients are organic fruits! Yummy sweet snack to nom on and super low in calories. My favorite is the mixed bags of banana, mango, and pineapple.

For sandwiches – Stick to wheat, seeded rye, or sourdough – again, these carbs will fuel you up. Also make sure to have some veggies and some protein on that as well! Cheese is okay – but try asking for them to keep it to just one slice!

Coffee and tea – coffee is a great filler, try to avoid any of those super sugary drinks. If you are craving something other than coffee, try an almond milk latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup from Peets!

Green Juices/Smoothies – If you’re lucky you be able to find some green juice/smoothie options stocked up in a nearby Starbucks!

Find ANY salad possible! You can never go wrong with greens : ) Just make sure there’s enough protein on there to fill you up!

Lastly, my rule of thumb when it comes to snacking is always looking at the ingredients. I don’t care about the calories, I just care what I’m putting in my body. If you’re eating healthy foods, high in fiber, protein and other healthy nutrients – the calories shouldn’t matter as much. So when in doubt, check the ingredients and make sure you know what they all are!

Oh and remember to try and stand up/stretch as much as possible while at the airport. Don’t automatically go in sit at your gate an hour before boarding. You’ll already be sitting for multiple hours on the flight as it is! Maybe even try and sneak in some secret squats in the bathroom…. (I’ve totally never done that before………….)

Hope you find this helpful during your holiday travels!

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