Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to talk to your daughter about her body

How you talk about yourself and feel about yourself and your body directly influences your children’s self worth. I know I, like most women, carry the burden of my mothers own insecurities, adopting them as my own without any real reason other than the fact that she is my mother and the person who holds all the answers, wisdom, and reasons for the universe. Though it will be an uphill battle, I want to be different for my future kids, whether I have boys or girls. I want them to believe in their strengths and recognize the importance of their internal beauty before their external appearance. Their lives are too important to not make this a priority. I encourage others to think about this as well.

I AM BACK

IM THE WORST.

 

THE WORST, I TELL YOU.

 

OK, let me explain.

 

Last time I posted, I was living as an au pair in a suburb outside of Paris. I had way too much free time (apparently) and way too many boring meals to take pictures of. I fell off the face of the earth at the beginning of July and I have pretty much been MIA ever since… until now.

What happened?

Well, in just a few words: I got a job really suddenly back in California, had to switch my flights to come home 2 weeks early, packed up my entire life, said goodbye to friends and host family, and took the worst trip ever to get back to the U-S-of-A. I had layovers in Newark and Dallas, only to reach Washington DC to meet up with my boyfriend so we could move him from there to California with me in his Jeep. We drove across the country and made it just in time to start my new job, where I have now been working for almost 2 weeks…

Phew. Wrap your mind around that.

So, needless to say, among the airport food in traveling, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and lack of sincerely healthy options (or efforts) on the road back to California… lets just say, I let myself go a little bit. Now that I’m at my new job (actually at the company I worked for before France), all our food is provided for us, for free, all day every day, and it’s delicious. Time spent adjusting to my new life back home (yes, living with my parents again… for now), being with my boyfriend again after all this time apart, bonding with my new team over free lunch, and nights out drinking or eating while catching up with friends from home…. needless to say, it has taken a toll.

But I haven’t disappeared. Not at all! I was just on a forced hiatus, and I’m determined to be back now, with struggles that started in France as an au pair, and now continue in California as an employed and functional member of society. I naively thought it would be easy back in America to be healthy, given all the options and access to fresh produce (at least in California, the agricultural paradise), but I’ve already started to remember my struggles from being in this place last year – its not that easy. Being at this company is fabulous and I’m so lucky to be so well fed every day, but staying fit, healthy, and slim is now an entirely new challenge that I’m relearning how to deal with. Here’s to hoping that I can reach my goals… once and for all.

 

It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to keep on trying!

 

Thanks for staying tuned. You’ll be hearing from me on the regular once again.

Feels so good to be home!

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Damn, Girls…

Damn, Girls...

These ladies are fierce. Enviable. Strong. I always forget that people like them had to WORK for it. They were not born looking like that. So if they can do it, why can’t anyone else?

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Lift Heavy

Lift Heavy

Such a terribly common misconception. Lifting weights will NOT make women bulky! Neither will protein powder. More on this to come on an upcoming post.

Guilt. So much Guilt.

Oh dear… the guilt! I worried if this day would come, and it has.

A while ago, my host mom told me that if I ever felt like the food they eat at dinner time is too heavy or bad for my cholesterol, that I’m free to eat anything else. I was so relieved to hear this, as dinner time (as you may know if you’ve been following) is often the biggest struggle for me, since the meals are outside of my control and often cooked decadently and always with lots of love, and cheese. Saying no to my host moms meal often feels like I’m rejecting her love and appreciation for my work, so I ate what everyone else ate, and swallowed my guilt in the process. So when she showed some concern for my cholesterol and gave me the green light for a little bit of freedom during dinner time, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude. I still remained hesitant to take her up on this offer, but one day I asked if she would mind if I ate some quinoa and vegetables instead, and she was totally okay with it. Since then, I’ve managed to more often than not, eat my own food for dinner (usually I pre-make it during the day), thus being able to stay about 99% vegan for the past 2+ weeks.

But tonight, like the past few nights, I did the same – opted out of the croque monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich with butter on white bread) and ate my quinoa and veggies instead, and in the middle of dinner, my host mom jokingly, but kind of not, made a sad face and said, “C doesn’t eat my food anymore…” (C is me, obv) and she jokingly continued to pout, and I said, “Aww, that’s not true!” and two of the girls chimed in to help me out, one saying, “She ate some of your tabouleh tonight!” and the other eventually looked at her mom very seriously and said, “Mom, stop.”

And it was done.

The girls know, somewhat, that I’ve mostly stopped eating meat and dairy because last Wednesday when I made them their lunch, I made myself a salad and they asked why and I explained. But I haven’t had the heart to be straight forward with my host mom to tell her I’ve essentially stopped eating all the staples of her cooking and of the French diet in general, because I know how important food is to her. Food is her way of showing love, and holy Jesus, woman can COOK. Seriously I don’t know any better chef than her. So refusing her food is taken deeply personally, and I really don’t want to offend anyone.

I’m stuck in a strange place. I want to keep with my vegan streak, but more importantly I want to keep with my developing healthier lifestyle, but the relationships I build here are also important to me, and for better or worse, food is one way to build those relationships. I don’t want my host mom to think I don’t like her cooking (though I’ve complimented her many, many times) or that I think I’m above their food, because none of that is true. But expressing my desires to get healthier (and yes, lets face it, to lose a pound or two. Okay maybe 10 or 15) are beyond my abilities in this situation, or at least so it seems. I don’t want to bombard them with all of my nutritional research, so all I can do is just request to eat my own thing, and while I thought that was going well enough, apparently its not. It seems like opting for my health means hurting someones feelings, and that puts me in a sticky situation.

So, what to do? Do I try to eat more of her home-cooked dinners instead of my own, likely sacrificing quite a bit (and dealing with intestinal adventures the rest of the night), in order to keep a happy relationship with my host mom? Do I try to explain to her my food goals and hope that she understands without being offended? Do I continue doing what I’m doing and not let tonight bother me? Do I have any other options? On the “bright” side, I’m leaving in 6 weeks, back to healthy California, where this bizarre issue will be behind me. But until then, what do I do?

Thoughts would be greatly appreciated! I feel at a loss no matter what.

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I Hate Magazines and Fitness Blogs… kinda

You know, one thing that puts me off about a lot of fitness/health blogs or magazines is when they give you step-by-step instructions, how-to’s, or perfectly crafted lists, laying out all the answers to all the issues you’ve been trying to deal with on your own. “10 tips for better abs now”, “How to control your cravings”, “Follow these steps to have your best body by summer.”  Sorry but, I call major bullshit on all of you (meaning them).

Perhaps part of my problem with posts or articles like these is that it gives me a lot of hidden anxiety to read about how truly easy it is to reach my goals. Its like… so, all I need to do is follow those steps, and… I’ll have abs? I’ll be sexy? I’ll love myself? Perfect! Its like baking. And I love baking. Why don’t I just bake myself some self respect, or how about I whip up some confidence by mixing these 4 simple ingredients. No. It’s not that easy. It’s not easy at all. For some of us, we’ve been battling our demons our entire lives, and to simplify all of our trials and tribulations into “10 easy steps” just makes me (I don’t know about you) feel pretty worthless. Like, if its so easy, then why doesn’t everyone have abs? Maybe I’m just incompetent. Doomed. Destined for failure. These simplified articles, magazines and blogs all just walk around all day strutting their toned ass, waving it like a giant piece of berry cobbler in my face, like, “La la la, you can’t have this, la la la. It was easy for me, but it’s not for you. Enjoy your jiggle forever. La la la.”

I recently unsubscribed from the SELF drop a million pounds by summer email thing (I don’t remember what it was called and I don’t care) because I realized, first of all, sorry but your recipes and diet plan are whack (you are not going to lose 10 pounds by summer by eating 1600-1700 calories a day, unless you’re a 6’5 football player) and they all sound nasty and they endorse fast food as a decent option (no, you can’t eat McDonalds and lose weight. You just can’t, and even if you can, you shouldn’t unless you wanna die). In my entirely uneducated opinion, their dietary advice is completely un-sound (is that a word? Welp, now it is) and misleading, plus it just looks gross. I tried one of their recepies once. It sucked. (Okay, maybe my kitchen skills should take part of the blame for that, but still…).

But the real reason why I unsubscribed was because it was making me self-conscious. Sure, SELF Magazine is great, or whatever, and I’m sure they really want you to love yourself and all that jazz, but I just feel like any plan that promises to get you fit by summer is just missing the mark entirely. At least for me. Because yes, I’d love to leave this wretched French weather and go home to California and wear a swimsuit all summer long and actually be excited about it, but it’s not the most important thing to me, and setting a set deadline is both terrifying and entirely destructive to the internalization of my goals. Do I want a hot body for summer? Sure. Do I want a hot body and strong soul for life? Absolutely. And getting reminders every day that there are only X number of weeks before summer only makes me feel like more of a failure than I already care to admit. I feel like I’ve been wasting my time, like I haven’t been making progress fast enough, that I haven’t had the dedication to hop on board this temporary, short-lived nasty diet plan to lose some of this jiggle, only to gain it back again come October. So, I broke up with SELF Magazine, and my mind and my inbox are just a little bit less bothered now.

As for the rest of the blogging world… My relationship is harder to define. I have a blog. I love blogging. (I have 2 other blogs, entirely different). And literally all I do when I’m not on Facebook, eating, or sleeping is reading other peoples blogs, and generally they’re about fitness and health. If reading blogs gave you calories, I’d surely be obese by now. But its this constant back and forth, between feeling inspired and motivated, and feeling inadequate and unworthy. Whenever I read stories about inspiring people who have changed their lives and now have the abs to prove it, that conflict becomes very salient. “Wow, that’s amazing. It just goes to show, anyone can do it! I’m so ready to get my life going and be one of them!“… this very quickly turns into, “… except probably not. Because I like cookies and pie and calories too much. I’ll never be like them. God, I suck! Look at how many times I failed today! I bet this person would have never done what I did. I can’t believe I ate so much almond butter. Fuck.”

Yeah yeah, I know. But I’m just being honest. And surely I can’t be the only one out there who struggles with such poisonous self-talk. But its hard to break out of that cycle when, on top of all the challenges I already feel like I’m facing, I’m confronted with articles on a daily basis, simplifying all of my struggles into some stupid bullshit sentence like “It’s easier than you think!” (Literally taken verbatim from SELF.com)

**

This is actually related I swear. I was reminded of this hilarious article making fun of Cosmo Magazine’s ridiculous sex tips because after switching out a few words here and there, these tips for impossible sex acts are about as ridiculous as the seemingly helpful, easy tips for changing your entire life.

NSFW, mostly, unless you work where I used to work, where my coworkers and I would read this out loud to each other in our open-layout workspace, 10 feet from our boss. Cuz thats how we roll(ed).

http://jezebel.com/5919206/cosmos-44-most-ridiculous-sex-tips

**

So, my point is… I don’t have one. I’m torn. I love and often need the inspiration of looking at people’s insane bodies because it gives me a glimmer of hope, something to strive for. But never in my life have I ever come close to looking like them, and I hate feeling like my struggle really shouldn’t have been so hard. I get most pleasure out of reading “real” people’s blogs, where they talk about their daily lives, their ups and downs, their frustrations and fears, and they don’t pretend to have all the answers, easy steps, or quick fixes. They are human, and they make me feel less alone. This is partially why I connected so much with Tone It Up. I like Karena and Katrina, (especially Katrina, because she underwent quite an inspiring transformation), they’re friendly and normal, but more than them, I like the community. I like knowing there are others out there that are slipping and getting back up on their feet, and pushing themselves and each other every day to succeed. Maybe none of us will ever look like the people we see in big-name blogs or magazines, but thats okay. Those people live for their bodies. It’s their career. Some of us don’t have that luxury. But I find comfort in talking to strangers, people who I’ve never met but who seem to understand my struggles so deeply and who take time and effort to reach out to other strangers in need. Its like we can share each others’ load, make it a little bit easier for each other, remind each other that we are worthy, beautiful, and despite all odds, we are all stronger than we think.

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All Or Nothing

I realized as I was leaving the second grocery store this afternoon that I’m starting to fall into my typical all-or-nothing ways. I tend to get really excited about something, then I start researching the shit out of it, and within a few short days, I find myself entirely changing my lifestyle to something new. I may have talked about this before, and how this is likely the reason for my constant up and down success and failure. I never seem to be able to just stick to something because I think I take on too many things all at once, and ultimately, its not sustainable. But honestly, I just get impatient and bored easily, and when I get an idea in my head, I want to run with it and never look back.

Examples… When I became obsessed with locally-grown, organic, seasonal produce (after watching Food Inc). I nearly tossed out everything in my house that didn’t fit this standard, got my mom to sign up for a CSA program (community-supported agriculture, where local farms sell you their produce in a box, etc), refused to shop at a grocery store and only at farmers markets, started planting my own vegetables, etc etc etc. This lasted for a good few weeks, until in one way or another, it was just too much to change all at once, and we slowly slipped back into our old routine. My mom couldn’t keep up with all the produce we were getting and a lot of it would go bad, and we got into a big fight one time when I (being a brat) gave her shit for wanting to eat a banana, from Chile. Needless to say, it ended right where it began. At least I gained lots of knowledge  and I still try to use this information whenever I shop, but not to the same extreme as before.

Or maybe, for example, that time in my life when I determined that I would be the next Jimi Hendrix AND Deadmau5 and convinced my parents to buy me a guitar and turn tables and mixers for Christmas, so that I could finally achieve my musical potential. Note: I HAVE NEVER BEEN MUSICALLY GIFTED EVER. I tried piano and clarinet for years as a kid and failed miserably. So why, then, the sudden obsession with music again? I don’t know. I got it into my head, and couldn’t get it out. Sadly, this equipment is gathering dust in my parents garage.

This same thing happens to me any time I’ve tried to lose weight. Exactly 1 year ago (for my friends wedding, this very weekend last year), I weighed 118 pounds, and I’m 5’4. I had lost probably 10+ pounds in 2 months. I don’t know how I did it, honestly, because I’ve never been that skinny, but just a few weeks later, I gained 5 pounds back, then I had gained 5 more by the end of summer… and now, well I haven’t weighed myself in months, but I know I’ve gained more. I hate admitting it. Getting obsessed with an idea, like losing weight, works temporarily, but in the long term, it might actually be doing me more damage than good. Its a battle with constant success followed by supreme disappointment by what feels like enormous failure. I lose confidence in my ability to truly succeed because up until now, I really haven’t. Not long-term.

How do I deal with my attention-deficit, my impatience, and my constant need for new stimulation, without losing myself along the way? How do I make healthy, long-lasting changes… how do I get them to stick, and stick for good?

I don’t want this new-found veganism to become just another one of my ridiculous failed phases. I honestly think this could work for me, but I’m afraid I might not be going about it in the best way. Today I spent 40 of my measly 80 euros a week on groceries (that I’m not even supposed to buy, since technically my host family should provide for my food. Except I refuse to eat bacon and cheese every day, so I end up having to buy my own food and keep it in my room) at two grocery stores. I stocked up on a few of my usual staples, but I bought a few new “experimental” items, or guilty pleasures, because I was just so overcome with excitement about starting a vegan lifestyle. I don’t want to see this food, or my efforts, go to waste after a while. So how do I make this become a slow and steady life change and NOT just another one of my phases? Tips? Suggestions? I’m all ears. Lord knows I could use a real change.

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I Confess

I wouldn’t be doing myself any favors by not admitting to this. And it wouldn’t be fair to you if I just kept this to myself… I ATTACKED THE COOKIES. Okay? Shoot me. Just as yesterday was promsing to turn out into a shitty day of no self control, the little animal in me said, “fuck it”, and I ate a bunch of cookies I brought home from Belgium. And another granola bar at 2am because I stayed up that late dealing with unnecessary family drama and I found myself hungry before bed.

After catching myself in the midst of a successful cookie attack, I decided, okay, just one more bite and I’ll take the cookies upstairs and offer them to my host family. At least that way they would be out of my room and out of sight. No one has eaten them yet, but I’m hoping they will, otherwise I don’t know… I should just throw them away. (And then I think, “But they’re from Belgium. They’re special!”… I know I should just get over that.)

WHY do I do this? Surely I’m not alone here. Why do we do things that hurt us? What do we gain from it, psychologically? Biologically? And what does it take to eradicate that destructive behavior?

Ugh.

 

But, today is a new day and I will try to do my best today. I have a 10k race tomorrow morning and I want to be well-fed and well rested for that.

Must be stronger than yesterday. Must!

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Welp, There I Go Again…

So I guess this is how things work out for me… I have one fabulous day (yesterday) and, as if to maintain the natural order of things, I find myself today way too full and way too unhappy about it. Snack time consisted of a some nuts and an all-natural granola bar… not bad, right? Then I thought, “Hmm, maybe my body needs fiber…” so I ate a bunch of prunes, because “my body might need it.” Then, since I thought I was still hungry (I probably was just thirsty) or because I thought I hadn’t had enough vitamins for the day, I ate an orange. Still, healthy choices at least. And then, as I seem to do quite often, I started worrying that dinner tonight with my host family would not have enough protein or whatever other nutrients I thought I might need (this is all just my own rationalization to reduce my guilt about eating more more more before dinner) so I convinced myself that a yogurt, apricot preserves, and some granola would be just the thing. So I ate that too.

Now, I realize that all my choices have been fine as far as quality goes (oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa, veggies and avocado for lunch, fruits all day long, etc), but its the quantity that has me feeling full and embarrassed. To be honest, I wasn’t even hungry any more after the granola bar, but something inside of me just kept rationalizing more snacks, and “since they’re healthy, its okay to overeat, right?” I don’t know why I always find little excuses to do what I always do, but these habits need to stop. These little snack binges, no matter how healthy they are, ultimately are getting in the way of me seeing actual changes in my body. Like, for example, my pants not being tight. Why is it so easy to slip up from one day to the next? Did I (without realizing) exhaust all my willpower yesterday and am I in a deficit today? Is it because I lazied my way out of exercising this morning that I caved in a moment of weakness in the afternoon?

I need to figure out how to break these habits. I’m thankful that I have learned to at least eat mostly pretty healthy, even when I am “binging”, but its not just what I eat – its the lack of self control that really affects how I feel about myself. Or, perhaps, is it how I feel about myself that prompts these far-too-frequent snack binges?

TOO MANY QUESTIONS.

At the end of the day, losing weight is a numbers game. Calories in, calories out. Surely it’s not so simple – 500 calories of spinach is not the same thing as 500 calories of chips. And in that regard, I’d rather be binging on fruits and nuts than on chips and cookies (don’t worry, I do that too), but in the end, I need to learn self-control, so that food does not consume or define me. I want to remember days like yesterday, when food liberated me and I felt strong. And I want to minimize days like today, when I forget everything I have ever learned and lose myself along the way.

BUT HOW?

Does anyone out there have any CONCRETE tips or experiences to share? Encouragement is great. I love hearing “You got this!” “You’re strong and beautiful!” “Oh man, I know, I’ve been there. But every day is a new day!”… All of that is lovely. But days like today, all I want is practical advice. Like “don’t buy granola” (I wouldn’t if I had that freedom but I live in a kitchen that is not my own and the temptations of French indulgent eating are around me at all times) or “brush your teeth after eating” (I’ve tried this, with mixed results. If the binge is coming, the flavor of mint in my mouth won’t stop it).

So, I ask, in mild desperation… what can I do to gain more self control??

If you have the magic answer, please don’t be shy to share. I need it.

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Do it for you

Do it for you

I want to try to really, honestly internalize my motivations. This is a reminder that my quest for strength is not temporary and it is not for anyone else but for myself.

Thank You

I would like to take a quick moment before going running to say THANK YOU to two of my amazing followers who commented on my last post. It is because of you that I made time for yoga and meditation last night and it is because of you that I am not going to make excuses and will be going for my 4-mile run today, as I said I would.

 

Honestly, if left to my own devices, I would have probably just not done anything and then not told anyone about it. I feel sick-ish and generally just lazy right now, but I needed a little reminder of the promise I made to myself and to all of you.

 

To both of you, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have your words of encouragement. You didn’t have to comment… you didn’t even have to read this blog! But I am forever grateful that you did/do.

 

So from the bottom of my little heart, thank you.

 

I’m lacing up my running shoes, listening to Ace of Base, and getting pumped on life, thanks to both of you.

Sleep and Exercise

Why did it take me this long to discover the WordPress app??

Genius! Now I can post all my brain vomit, as it’s happening.

My first phone-post will be dedicated to stairs.

I am going to just attribute this to the fact that I’m kind of sick and can’t breathe right as it is, but something startled me just now. I got winded (like really winded) climbing up one flight of stairs. Wtf.

Just a few days ago I climbed like 15 flights of stairs going up a hill in Barcelona, and while I was sweating balls by the end, I felt fine and strong. But today, I’ve felt slow and lethargic and weak and the stairs in my house totally dominated me and I feel pretty lame about that. Normally I make stairs my bitch.

This got me thinking about 2 things:
– sleep
– exercise

(It’s allllllll fuckin’ related, bro!)

Due to 2 weeks of intense travel, my sleep has become continuously more and more deprived, until I reached a breaking point yesterday and I had to excuse myself before dinner time and go to bed before 10 pm, feeling sick and utterly exhausted. My brain was entirely dysfunctional all day yesterday and I felt unable to think straight. My memory was not at it’s best and I had trouble articulating myself all day long. Today hasn’t been much better, even though I slept 9.5 hours last night. I think my sleep deprivation needs several days to be fixed.

Thanks to this, I think I’ve gotten sick and have felt weak all day. Any hope for exercise is basically gone.

Additionally, as I mentioned in another post, I haven’t really exercised in probably 3 weeks (other than walking) and I feel the effects of this immensely. My energy is low and I feel my heart stamina plummeting like a brick. These damn stairs got the best of me, and I hate that.

What can I learn from this shitty feeling?

Sleep is so important. Even without the exercise, if I had slept properly, I probably wouldn’t be sick right now and I probably would be a lot sharper and generally in a better mood.

Exercise NEEDS to be a priority. I so often forget how to do that! When I’m on vacation, I always tell myself “I’ll just wake up early and go for a run or do exercises in the hotel room”… But I never do. Basically, that needs to stop. I need to just do it. Just wake up 30 minutes earlier and go for a quick jog. It might not be as intense as I would normally do, but it’s better than nothing. Especially with all the food I end up eating on vacation, the exercise is even more critical. And I have 10 days to get back into shape for a 10k race next weekend, and I’m afraid I’m not going to be ready, at all. Ugh.

So, tomorrow, I will exercise before work. I need to. I will be going for a 4-mile run and if I don’t, I give you all permission to punish me by forcing me to eat broccoli. (Which I detest.)

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