Tag: selflove

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!

5 Tips for Living a Balanced Lifestyle

If you would have asked me three years ago what it takes to live a “balanced” lifestyle after college, my answer most DEFINITELY would have been very different than what I’m about to give you now. It’s pretty crazy to see how my mindset has shifted in just a few years. I would say much of that is due to trial & error, along with continued research and solid advice from podcasts or fellow bloggers! Either way, I feel as though I’m at a pretty solid point in my life, so wanted to share any wisdom or advice gained in the past years with all of you. I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring as I continue to grow, love, and experience more!

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1) Beat the Sunday Scaries. Now this may sound ridiculous and I don’t even know if I’ve quite mastered this, BUT I will tell you that beating the Sunday scaries is the best thing you can do for yourself to start out each week on a positive note. I’m telling you, it all starts on Sunday – not Monday as most would assume.

My tip? Make the most of your Sunday and avoid stressing about work, school, or whatever it is you have going on beginning Monday. Think positively, enjoy the day, end relaxed, get a solid sleep, and wake up feeling rejuvenated and EXCITED (key word here) for the new week ahead of you!

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How you ask? Here’s my idea of a perfect Sunday …wake up, sip some coffee & go out for a nice run. Come back and prep yourself a HUGE healthy breakfast or check out your nearest cafe to treat yourself. Personally, I love exploring new local health-food cafes during the weekend. From there – the balls in your court – do something active, go for a hike OR if shopping is your vice, then do that if it makes you happy! I typically end the day with a food shopping trip & I try to spend NO more than 1.5 hours on meal prepping for the week. I love ending the day with a calming yoga session in my living room. This is the best way to go to bed in a positive mood. Oh and don’t check your work emails right before bed!

2) Eat Intuitively. If you haven’t checked out my past few posts on intuitive eating, then I highly suggest you read up on it! Long story short, I have certainly spent a lot of my time throughout college and post-college, trying out new “diets” or wellness “fads”. Though these may work for some people, we’re all different and one persons way of living is not necessarily going to be the answer for everyone else. Of course, it took me 3+ years to discover this. That all being said, I finally gave in to eating intuitively.

“Intuition” as defined by Google is “the ability to understand something immediately, or a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.” In it’s simplest form, it means that if I’m craving ice cream, then I’m going to go for it. Same goes for a crunchy & hearty salad. Or fish. Or a glass of wine!! Or WHATEVER it may be. It’s natural human instinct and that’s something that you shouldn’t ever refrain your body from. It’s certainly a mindset change, but once you fall into it, you’ll find more joy in eating and less worrying over how many calories you’re consuming.

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3) Work out Intuitively. So similar to above, I truly believe that working out should be intuitive as well. Like eating, this was a pretty challenging adjustment for me. Coming from a strict, routine running career for 8+ years, I was afraid that any change in my workout routine would quite frankly, make me fat. Of course, this was naive thinking. But, when you come from D1 college running where everyday, Monday-Sunday, was planned for you, it’s hard to let go of that routine.

What I’ve learned is that it’s SO much more important to listen to your body then keep yourself in such a strict routine. I should have learned this sooner having suffered from on and off running-related injuries. Regardless, I’m now in such a great place, where I wake up in the morning and decide what I’m feeling versus going to bed with a set plan. This simple shift in how I work out has helped my body and my mind recover.

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What does my typically workout routine look like right now? I just signed up for a half marathon in the fall, so my running/training will likely pick up! I’ve been running about 3-4 times a week, anywhere between 5-8 miles. On the other days, I’ll either hop on the spin bike or the stair master for 30-40 minutes. I’ll focus on strengthening my legs, arms, and core (all on separate days). I also have been incorporating a mix of yoga & pilates into my routine at least 2-3 times a week for about ~ 20 minutes. Lastly, I usually take a day off every other week. PLEASE note that again, one persons routine, isn’t necessarily the right routine for you. This is ALWAYS subject to shift based on how I’m feeling. If I’m extremely tired, I will take an extra day off where necessary. The most important thing is to LISTEN to your body.

4) Take risks and challenge yourself. I think the biggest thing my boyfriend and I are struggling with right now is not knowing where we will be living in a year and what we’ll be doing for work. We have so many ideas of where we’d love to live, travel, etc. but we also know that given circumstances, it’s impossible for us to plan a year ahead right now. So much can change in just a year, so rather than living in fear or uncertainty, it’s important to turn that into excitement of the unknown. It’s knowing that so much can change in just one year and you truly need to live day-by-day to enjoy those moments. In the end, you need to take opportunities that are granted to you, make the most of them, challenge yourself and know that taking risks can either fail or can turn into something greater than you could have ever imagined!

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5) Think Positively and Love YOURSELF. I know this sounds super hippie dippy, but if there’s one thing I’ve taken away lately, it starts with loving and respecting yourself. It’s OKAY to be selfish and do things for you. We were all put on this earth for a different reason. We were all given different looks, shapes, and sizes for a reason.

Start embracing what you have and work with it! I honestly believe that the notion of thinking positively stars with self-love. At that point, your perspective becomes more humbling and gratifying. You can begin identifying the impact you can make and whatever your greater purpose is or may be one day. Just going into each day with a smile can make all the difference! Oh and PS – sometimes it takes just downing a cup of coffee to get to that state 🙂

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That’s my advice to you AND me! Though it’s taken me some time to get to this point, it doesn’t mean it stops here for me. Life’s all about growing and learning and I hope to continue doing that year over year.

I would love to hear how all of you practice a balanced lifestyle! Please share and comment below!


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