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I know I’m not the first person to say to you, “How is it May??” But really, what in the world, TIME.  When I was back home last fall in Indiana my childhood next door neighbor was over chatting with me and my mom on our back deck. I love her. She was gardening and had meandered over to our deck for a chat. Her youngest kid has just gone off to college and we were talking about that and she said, “Yep, time keeps going… and it’s doesn’t stop for nobody.” Soak up that time!

Onto our coffee date….grab you’re favorite drink and settle in.

Summertime

I am really excited for warmer weather. For a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones being outdoor bike rides. I had planned on getting a road bike last summer, but then I got pregnant and decided to wait until this year. Road biking and pregnancy don’t mix well on the safety or comfort front for me. I’ve been anticipating this for a long time, so when I finally took my bike home from the shop about a month ago I couldn’t wait for the weather to warm up a bit and a get outside. We took a quick weekend trip to Maine a couple weekends ago and got to go on a couple bike rides around the coast. Wow, what a fun way to get in some physical activity. Although it takes a bit more planning and time than say going on a walk or jog or hike, I have loved having a road bike. I’m hoping to get out once a week on it and we hope to explore a lot of the Northeast on our bikes this summer. And hopefully I won’t skin my knees or break a bone in the process. I’m not a fan of spin class, but biking outside? YES.

Bread & Wine

I started reading Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and….THIS WOMAN SPEAKS MY LANGUAGE. I’m a food person. I’ve got an appetite. And in a society that tells women their appetite should be contained, I’m finding this book very refreshing. It’s a celebration of food and people and gathering and what God can do in that. It’s funny and heartwarming and vulnerable and I love that you can read it in chunks. You could read a few of the stories and then not return to it for a few weeks. It’s more of a series of short stories versus an ongoing narrative. I downloaded it on my iPad for freeee with my library card. So if you’re into free books, highly suggest a library card. Ever since I got a library card last fall I’ve been reading so much more. If I buy a book, I want to really enjoy it, so I think about what to buy for way too long. But with a library card I can check stuff out and if I don’t like the book…return it. So simple, yet so life changing. Yes, life changing.

Brené Brown on Netflix

Speaking of life changing things…hello, Brené. I think that everyone knows about Brené, but I think I make false assumptions. So if you don’t know her, I’d encourage you to get to know her because she’s fantastic. There’s a Netflix show out now called Brené Brown: A Call to Courage. How’s that for a bold title? I haven’t watched it yet, but my plan on Friday night is to drink a glass a wine or an IPA, make and eat homemade pizza, and then watch this show with a bowl of ice cream. Does that sound like the lamest Friday night ever or the best Friday night ever? I feel like we could really get to know each other based on your answer here…

Body Image E-Course

Who loves body image?? Usually, body image work isn’t what everyone is raising their hand for…but sometimes the hard stuff is the right stuff. It’s painful and hard, yet liberating and worthwhile. While I do have a body image mini online course, we’ll be creating and releasing a more thorough course to help you stop battling your body and instead appreciate your body so you can move on and put your energy towards things that mean more to you in life. We hope to make it as affordable as possible and offer it by winter of this year. We’d also love to hear things you want included in the course! Crystal is going to be doing a lot of the content creation because she’s does amazing work with clients around body image (when you’ve trained under Marci Evans, you soak up a lot of good knowledge) and we want to serve you best with this course!

Also, if you’re new here and want to dip your toes into body image work…we have lots of blog posts to help you get started.

Growing Pains

Lastly, a lesson I’m learning this month is to get honest with myself when it comes to work priorities. I get stuck in the trap of thinking something HAS TO GET DONE TODAY when really…it could get done within the next week (or two) and doesn’t need to get done today…I just want to check it off my to do list today. So I’m reluctantly learning to accept the obvious truth that the to-do list never ends. I’ll never have it all checked off. And actually, realizing the to-do list never ends has been incredibly freeing…because if I want to check everything off I’ll always be chasing down productivity. And I don’t want to do that.

That’s a wrap. See you next month for some big life and work updates! In the meantime, enjoy May and margaritas and sunshine and life! “Time doesn’t stop for nobody…”

The post May Coffee Date appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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I haven’t posted a daily food recap in a really long time. This is my current version of intuitive eating: eating faster than normal to make sure I get the nutrition I need and making swift food decisions. Does it sound remotely good? Yes. Will this fill me up for the time being so I can get on with my day? Yes. Can I eat this with one hand? Yes. I am very grateful for a flexible relationship with food in this season of life where eating is rarely mindful + calm and instead, more practical and efficient.

If you’re in eating disorder recovery or struggling with your relationship with food, I hope this post encourages you to continue on your journey towards an uncomplicated relationship with food. I haven’t always had a flexible, stress free relationship with food so know you can get there one day too. Now, more than ever, I am thankful for intuitive eating and body acceptance.

Snack | 5:30 or 6am until 8:45am when Nick leaves for work is when I work – see clients, write, etc – so taking time to sit down for a leisurely breakfast is not the priority. I usually don’t get around to breakfast until an hour or two after waking up. But I get hungry within 30 minutes of waking, so I snack on handfuls or cereal or granola while I drink a cup (or two) of coffee and get my work for the day done.

Breakfast | I’ve been on an oatmeal kick for A LONG TIME. Months. The thought of hot oatmeal made me gag in pregnancy and I rarely craved it pre-pregnancy. But now being postpartum and breastfeeding, all I crave is oatmeal in the morning. I’ve found that interesting considering oatmeal is recommended as a food to support a healthy milk supply. Although there is zero literature on oatmeal boosting milk supply, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. Eating oatmeal has minimal, if any, “risk” which is why it’s recommended by a lot of lactation consultants even though there’s no evidence to support the claim that oatmeal boosts milk supply.

So about this oatmeal. I’ve eaten it probably 5x a week for the past five months and I’m nowhere sick of it yet. To make mornings really easy on us, I make a batch of overnight steel cut oats. I like my oats thicker so I’ve found this recipe to make a thicker batch than other versions I’ve tried. Put 1 cup of steel cut oats in a sauce pan along with 3 cups of non dairy milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds and a pinch of salt. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit there overnight. I use a non diary milk because the thought of dairy milk unrefrigerated overnight makes me nervous. Also, I’m dealing with an infant dairy allergy so non dairy milk it is. Then in the morning I just microwave a bowl of the oats and top with a few big spoonfuls of peanut butter and a handful of chocolate chips. A lot of pb seems to be the key to keeping me full for a few hours vs just 1 or 2 hours.

Snack | Mid morning I ate a few handfuls of plantain chips that I bought on sale lasts week. They are sweet and salty and very good.

Lunch | Most Sundays, but not all, I spend about an hour cooking lunch and dinner and baking some sort of snack for the week. We eat the same thing for 3-4 days in a row. That isn’t exciting, but it’s practical. This week, since it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I made Pinch of Yum’s spicy peanut soup and added 2 cans of chickpeas for a cheap source of protein and used full fat coconut milk instead of light because I’ll take all the fat and energy I can get. Plus, I like the richer taste of full fat vs light coconut milk.

I was still hungry after the soup + apple so ate a couple of these magic bars I made on Sunday. Again, I used full fat coconut milk vs light, do whatever you prefer, and for the graham cracker crust I pulsed a box of Annie’s graham bunnies in my blender. Previously, I had been buying a magic bar that was dairy free at a bakery around the corner from us once or twice a week, but that was adding up to be an expensive habit so I searched for a non diary recipe. Ever since Cal was diagnosed with a diary allergy a few months ago, having baked goods a few times a day has allowed me to feel satisfied with food. I posted about this experience on Instagram here if you’re interested in my thoughts on intuitive eating + food allergies.

Snack | I shoveled several handfuls of Mary’s Gone crackers + hummus into my mouth late afternoon. I made a hugeeee batch of hummus on Sunday when cooking dinner + lunch. And I probably should have just used 1 can of chickpeas, because now we’re eating hummus as often as possible so this batch doesn’t go bad before we eat it all.

Dinner | This week we’re eating unstuffed cabbage rolls over brown rice using this simple recipe. This has been in our meal rotation for months and months because it’s so easy and comforting.

Snack | Annddd dessert before bed of coconut milk ice cream + boxed brownies. I ate this + another small scoop of ice cream and brownie. Brownies have been my saving grace with a diary allergy because they use oil vs butter and most boxed mixes are dairy free. Cheers to that!

I hope you’re having a great week – share your favorite eats and thoughts in the comments!

The post When Intuitive Eating Isn’t Mindful appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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I believe a healthy relationship with food involves eating both physically nourishing and mentally satisfying foods. Sometimes foods are primarily physically nourishing. Take chia seeds or raw broccoli for example. Both are packed with vitamins and minerals, but I wouldn’t think of them as mentally satisfying. They don’t give me comfort, nostalgia or remind me of family tradition or bring about a fond memory. Sometimes foods are primarily mentally satisfying. Like your mom’s chocolate chip cookies. Eating solely cookies though isn’t going to be a nourishing choice that leaves you energized and focused, BUT chocolate chip cookies are mentally satisfying, provide gratification, and therefore are part of healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food.

Sometimes, foods can be both physically and mentally satisfying. Maybe think of a dinner your mom made growing up. For me, that was spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread and salad my mom made. You know the garlic bread where you butter leftover hot dog buns and sprinkle on garlic salt before popping them under the broiler? For real, hot dog bun garlic bread was what my childhood dreams were made of. I loved that meal and I still do. So while my mom cooked nourishing and satisfying meals that included whole grains, proteins, fats and fiber like spaghetti with meat sauce and salad, my lunches from the school cafeteria weren’t quite as great.

However, decades later, and we now have Revolution Foods, a company committed to transforming citywide wellness in NYC as well was nationwide. They arrived on the scene in 2010 and have since changed the game in serving both physically and mentally satisfying meals to students across school and community sites throughout Greater New York and New Jersey. Not only do students enjoy these school lunches, but these nutritious meals are improving academic outcomes. Revolution Foods believes proper nutrition and healthy food can drive positive academic outcomes and help students achieve their true potential and so they’re making it happen by transforming the way students experience school lunch. I think that’s pretty cool.

I know for me, when I eat both a physically nourishing and mentally satisfying lunch I feel energized, focused and perform better at my job. But it’s also important that we enjoy our food so we aren’t thinking about food after lunch – that’s distracting. And in order for us to want to eat nutrient rich foods that keeps us focused + energized it has to taste good! The same goes for kids. We can’t expect them to want to eat vegetables if they don’t taste good, just like we can’t expect them to perform well in school if we aren’t helping to nourish their bodies with balanced, satiating and satisfying meals. If we do provide them with healthy meals that are packed with nutrition and still taste great, we set them up for success in the classroom.

A recent paper was published by UC Berkeley that stated students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform better on tests. And in this study, Revolution Foods was ranked the #1 healthiest provider of nutritious meals. Think about what would happen in our school systems if we focused on providing students with delicious, nutritious meals. Not that it’s the golden ticket, but I wonder how that would affect kid’s ability to focus, stay on task, and perform on tests. Not to mention what it would do for the school lunch stereotype.

From policy and food systems evolution to driving positive student academic and health outcomes, Revolution Foods is encouraging the entire food system to change by setting the standard for how businesses can build a brighter future for our nation’s youth and families. All kids in all schools deserve access to high quality, delicious food.

I’d love to hear your school lunch experience! Does what you eat affect how you feel both physically and mentally? Have you found that what you eat helps you do your job and/or school work better?

This post was sponsored by Revolution Foods – I love sharing brands with you that I 100% stand behind and support!

The post The Connection Between Proper Nutrition and Academic Success appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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Is coffee bad for my health? Does coffee actually stress my body out more and mess up my hormones?

Those are questions I’ve gotten a lot over the past several years. I recently received a message from an Instagram follower and as I was drinking my coffee this morning, I thought answering this question would make a great blog post.

If you do a quick Google search on coffee and cortisol (your primary stress hormone) a bunch of things will pop up. You’ll find fear mongering articles and information that just flat out is not true. Other links will hold some truth. Through what I’ve researched, yes coffee does increases cortisol levels similarly to an acute stressor – like taking a big exam, getting in an argument with your spouse, or sitting in traffic and running late for work.

Our bodies know how to deal with acute stressors. We have a HPA axis, which I explain in this post, which is basically our body’s “fight or flight” stress response. We need this little axis to survive. Our bodies know how to handle and deal with stress and then return back to baseline. So even though coffee does stimulate the HPA axis which produces cortisol, that’s usually no problem at all for the body.

So is coffee “bad” for us? Does coffee “mess up our hormones?” No, not necessarily.

If we instead answer yes, we are making the problem coffee and not looking at the bigger picture. If you’re getting enough sleep, nourishing your body, engaging in exercise that is enjoyable (vs exercising with the goal to burn calories or change your body), taking time to rest and relax and spend time with your friends/family and all those things that lead to a fulfilling life and offset those periods of acute stress…coffee is not ruining your health or messing up your hormones. Even though it does elicit an acute stress response that not necessarily a bad thing. Health is not about living a stress free, toxin free, go-live-in-a-glass-box-and-never-expose-yourself-to-the-world life.

Plus there’s a good dose of antioxidants in coffee. Just saying.

I’m not trying to be facetious. Not at all. But rather to make the point that it’s not about the minutiae. Rather, the better question to ask when asking, “Is coffee good or bad for my health/hormones?” is instead…

Am I using coffee to survive my day?

Am I using coffee to be productive?

Am I using coffee to suppress my appetite?

Am I using coffee to make myself poop?

Am I using coffee as a daily source of energy?

If the answer to those questions is “yes” more often than not, then I don’t think the problem is coffee itself. There’s a bigger issue at hand. Perhaps you need more sleep. More rest from exercise. Some time to go on a walk to decompress. A hot bath. Time to journal. A long talk with a good friend or family member. It’s not the coffee itself that would be “messing with your hormones” – instead it’s all the other stressors without any time to rest, decompress and get back to baseline that are making things go awry. With all those other stressors and a lack of rest, perhaps you’re reaching allostatic load – the place where your body surpasses its stress threshold and you’re teetering on the edge of burnout and/or an emotional breakdown.

I’m not saying never use coffee for a little energy boost. Hey, we all have those days. With a 4 month old, an uninterrupted night of sleep for me right now is not my reality….I need coffee. Yes, need. That’s okay. What that also means is I try to nap when I can, I’m not engaging in anything but low intensity movement. I’m trying (key word…trying) to not put too many things on my plate. My house isn’t tidy and clean all the time. I don’t spend Sundays meal prepping. I try to make these little choices so my stress bucket isn’t overflowing. Using coffee as a pick me up here and there isn’t going to harm your health…using it as a daily energy boost or your main source of energy might be a different story.

If you’re using coffee to make up for lack of sleep, it’s not the coffee that’s “harming your health” …you just need to sleep more.

If you’re using coffee to suppress your appetite, it’s not the coffee that’s “harming your health” …what’s harming your health is ignoring hunger. What you’re body needs is nourishing food.

If you’re using coffee to be productive, what other things could you shift so you weren’t relying on caffeine to get stuff done? More sleep? A snack or meal? Doing things in the morning vs at night? A new work environment?

If you’re using coffee on a regular basis to make yourself poop, that’s a bigger question about GI health. That might take some exploring and time and patience to figure things out. This post on GI issues might be a helpful place to start.

Hormonal issues seems to be a trendy topic these days. And in our fast paced, go go go society I do think we struggle with them more than we use to. But it’s rarely the little things, it’s a bigger picture problem. So enjoy your coffee. Cozying up with a cup of coffee in the morning is my favorite. Walking around on a sunny day with an iced latte makes me happy. But if you’re struggling with health issues or exhaustion or a high amount of stress, instead of zeroing in on one food or food group, take a step back and allow yourself to look at the bigger picture. I think that’s where the helpful shifts can first happen.

The post Is Coffee Bad For My Hormones? appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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Good morning! It’s April! As it goes up here, we are oscillating between winter and spring weather which feels like a turbulent early twenties relationship. This feels like a really busy month, so I’m strapping in. All good things but I’d be lying straight through my teeth if I wasn’t a little excited for May to roll around. I’ve also had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. I need to settle in and mull over them for a bit sometime here soon. But until then, what about a little external processing? Don’t love a good brain dump? See you back here next week!

If you’re into this sort of thing, welcome. Pretend we just plopped down on the couch with some coffee…or wine…

This book 

I realize I’m 17 years late to the game with knowing Laura Vanderkam’s work, but better late than never because THIS BOOK IS CHANGING MY WORLD. I tracked my time a few weeks ago for a whole week (aka wrote down how I spent each 30 minute interval of my week) and yes it is as annoying and tedious as it sounds, but so WORTH IT because it was incredibly sobering. And enlightening. And the act of tracking my time in and of itself shifted how I spent my days. And since tracking + analyzing how I spend my time I came up with a few conclusions.

  1. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how much time I’m spending in each area of my life – a good amount of mom time, career time and not a lot of “fluff” time where I’m surfing the internet, scrolling social media, etc. Although maybe I spend more time doing fluffy stuff when I’m not actually having to write down what I’m doing? That could definitely be the case…
  2. I’m working less than half the time I was before Cal came, but I want to be working on the blog/private practice less….I just need to outsource (more on that in a sec) and minimize/ignore other seemingly important, yet actually not important at all, stuff.
  3. I’m pretty happy with how far I’m come with email/social media – I spend about an hour to 90 minutes total per day on both of these which I feel like its pretty minimal all things considered…but it has taken me YEARS to get disciplined with closing my inbox and staying off IG for long amounts of time.
  4. I want to get better at confidently saying no to opportunities instead of the “no” accompanied with a side of “but should I have…”
  5. There are many things I do in the business that I don’t actually need to be doing…somebody else can do them, and probably better than I can.
Reading List

I talked about reading > social media a bit in our last coffee date. I just finished Anonymous at the end of March which I really, really enjoyed. The next books on my list are Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier. I use to think I had no time to read anything other than research articles lol but then I realized I wasted a lot of time scrolling the internet, online shopping, and other things that didn’t actually give me rest. And while I by no means use all my time super well and sometimes I find myself slipping back into unhelpful habits (as in, I found myself scrolling IG in bed last night for twenty minutes before I was like WHAT AM I DOING? Go to sleep, Robyn) I am *trying* to just pick up a book instead of my phone in those spare moments when I’m nursing Cal, standing in line, etc. I actually prefer e-books to paper for this reason – I’m not going to whip out an actual book while standing in line somewhere because that would mean I would have to remember to throw the book in my bag and then dig it out, which will never happen. But I can just pop open the Kindle app on my phone and read from there. A lot of the books I want to read are available through the library as e-books. I love my library card.

On mom/career “balance”

I’m currently lol’ing at my “plan” that sounded so smooth and nice in this post I wrote right before Cal was born.  I did write in that post, “But who knows what will be best – this is all new! I could end up laughing at this plan come spring because it could all be different than expected.”

And while much of what I wrote about is coming to fruition, it looks really messy. And I’m learning to be okay with that when really, I want it all to fit in a nice little box. Life is laughing at me. And coffee is magical. I’ve had a lot of freeing, yet terrifying thoughts about work with Nick and other close people over the past month of so. I plan on sharing a lot of those thoughts with you all in the near future, but I’m going to externally process those with my close people and then share when I make sense of it all. I’m learning sometimes the hard, scary thing is the right thing. Whhyyyyy.

Want to be our intern?

About outsourcing. Hannah and Connie were the intern loves of my life and were so so so helpful for me and everyone at RLWH. But they moved on to bigger and better things at the end of 2018 – Connie is about to become a rock star RD and Hannah is about to begin nursing school – the same track I took to become an RN and then NP. They both did a lot of the admin work and other social media/blog related projects so now we need another wonderful intern. This time we’ll just be taking one vs two. So, if you’re ambitious, eager to learn and have a passion for intuitive eating and Health At Every Size, we want you on our team. You’ll gain lots of experience in private practice, social media, writing, communications, eating disorders, women’s health, hormones and much more. It’s about 3-4  hours a week and in exchange you’d be building your resume and have a 1 hour one on one mentoring call with me every month. If you’re interested, email me at robyn@reallife-rd.com with a few paragraphs of why you’re a good fit for the internship along with your resume. Proximity doesn’t matter so if you’re not in the Boston area, that’s okay!

Alrighty, that’s what’s on my mind this month. What about you??

The post April Coffee Date appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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I am not fashionable or trendy. I’m your basic gal who likes basic, simple clothes that I don’t have to put a lot of thought into. Sound boring? It might be. But what I’ve learned over the years is that I don’t enjoy shopping and putting together outfits isn’t necessarily fun for me. I want to spend as little time as humanly possible getting ready and don’t want to think about what I’m going to wear.

I also really, really value comfort above all else. Especially these days. I feel best in my body when I’m wearing clothes that don’t cling or restrict and when I’m not wearing a lot of make up. Unless I’m doing something where I need to look a bit more presentable or want to put on make up, a few swipes of mascara and some chapstick are my go to. A huge part of self care for me is all the above. And I feel my best mentally, physically and body image wise when:

I spend less than 30 seconds picking out what to wear.

I don’t spend a lot of time/money shopping.

I really like or love everything in my closet.

My closet and drawers feels uncluttered and organized.

Everything in my closet feels good on my body and fits my body well.

I spend little time looking in the mirror getting ready.

That’s me. You might be totally different and that’s okay! One of my best friends is 100% the opposite of me. She’s very fashionable. Loves to be creative with what she wears. And she feels her best when she wakes up, puts on make up that includes lip stick and an outfit that doesn’t include leggings – more like jeans, a nice top, maybe even some type of heel. That’s what makes her feel best, what allows her to have her best body image days and what she finds a lot of joy in. What matters isn’t the details, but rather learning what works best for you. What allows you to best care for yourself. What allows you to think about your body and appearance less so you can spend your time and energy doing things that matter to you most. That’s the point of this post.

All the things mentioned above that work for me are made possible with a capsule wardrobe. I haven’t done a capsule in a little over a year due to pregnancy + postpartum, but if you’re interested I wrote this post back in the October 2017 recapping how I go about this process. Pinch of Yum also has an awesome post on how to get started with a capsule wardrobe – and you don’t need to go out and buy anything! Like I said, I’m not fashionable and I don’t like to think about clothing so what I’ve discovered is a handy gal over at Classy Yet Trendy and her fantastic e-books that fit a variety of lifestyles. I bought the athleisure e-book from Spring 2018 instead of 2019 because I liked the color palette better (bonus is it was half the price) and let me tell you…these books are so so so worth the 10 or 20 bucks. For me, they make shopping + getting dressed + packing for travel a no brainer. And yes, I use an e-book to clothe myself. If that’s what it takes to think less about shopping + getting ready I’m here for it.

We live in 740 square feet. Nick and I share a closet that’s about 8 feel wide at best. In addition to being our clothing closet, it also stores our suitcases, vacuum cleaner + brooms, and Nick’s golf clubs…so we’ve got minimal space. Between living in New York and here in Boston I’ve been forced to pair down my stuff and live with less and while sometimes that’s frustrating, it has also been incredibly freeing for my mind. So here’s our closet with my capsule.

Up top in the right two bins are fleece pullovers and vests. Basic layering stuff. I have three of the bottom white drawers which house all my pants in one, running/workout jackets in one and office supplies in the other one. To the left next two the vacuum is a shoe rack where we keep shoes we don’t wear every day. Hiking shoes, dressier shoes etc. We have a shoe rack in our hallway for everyday shoes. Under our bed I have two bins where off-season clothes go. And then we have one dresser where I have half the drawers. In those three drawers are the basics – bras, underwear socks – plus a few layering pieces like t-shirts, tank tops, long sleeves and a couple sweatshirts. And a few pairs of PJs and soft lounge pants. These drawers aren’t all the way filled which feels nice.

I wear scrubs at my NP job, so I don’t need corporate clothes which helps pair things down a bit. And I do hang about 10 to 15ish items next to my capsule to wear on the weekends out to dinner, church, and other social things. I put the three pair of shoes in the above photo to show you the whole capsule, but usually there are two bins that sit on top of the drawers for workout tops + leggings that you see below.

All in all, it’s about 20 pieces that I can mix and match to make over 100 outfits. I’ll switch this out for a summer capsule around June since it doesn’t start getting warmer until then here in Boston, ha. I had a lot of the items (or at least similar ones) that were in the capsule e-book I bought, so last week I bought a handful of pieces from Athleta, Nordstrom, Gap and Target to round it out.

In other seasons of life, my capsule might look like more jeans/pants and nicer tops. But right now what works best for me is leggings + tennis shoes most days. It feels good to have a clothing I love and that feels good on my body fill my closet. This capsule is helping me care for my body + mind.

Have you tried a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The post Better Body Image & Self Care With A Capsule Wardrobe appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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My most vivid memories of school lunch were back in elementary school. My mom had 5 kiddos she was wrangling, so we often bought lunch since putting a few bucks into our school lunch accounts each week was much easier (hello, no time) than packing our lunches. We packed sometimes, but I was mostly a buy-your-lunch kid. I remember Monday being the day I loathed because it was cheeseburger day and the patties tasted like spongy old mushrooms. The fries were soggy. Wednesday was the best day because it was pizza day. With particularity, I’d pick out that doughy, rectangle, opaque looking piece of cheese pizza, a carton of chocolate milk, a cup of corn and a push up (remember those fruity ice-y push pops?..just me?…) and make my way down the line.

I also have pretty detailed memories of the school lunches served during my community rotations of my dietetic internship back in 2011. Some schools were serving better tasting and more nutritious food than others, but overall I remember thinking, “I’m 15 years out from elementary school and I don’t think school lunches have improved much in terms of quality, nutrition or taste.” And I so wished they had. I knew we had a long way to go.

But now, years later, here we are in 2019 and I’m learning there has been so much improvement in school lunches and nutrition education throughout the school systems and wider community, especially the Greater NY area! That makes me excited and happy for when I send my kiddos to public school in the future. Revolution Foods has been a key leader in this shift towards better nutrition in schools. They’re committed to transforming citywide wellness by making kid-inspired, chef-crafted foods accessible in all schools and community sites throughout Greater New York. And as a result, they’ve created over 150 new jobs in this community.

During my dietetic internship, I remember noticing how the quality of food available to kids varied based on the socioeconomic status of the school. Given that experience, it’s wonderful to see that Revolution Foods is working to ensure all kids have access to more nutritious, high quality foods. The company believes that everyone deserves real, high-quality food made with carefully considered ingredients – fresh local produce, high quality proteins, rBST-free dairy products and no artificial flavors or colors. Just good nourishing foods — I love that.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I write a lot about intuitive eating and nourishing your body well – both with physically and mentally satisfying foods – so you can feel your best and live the life you were created to live. Kids are born intuitive eaters by nature, but at some point that innate ability gets disrupted depending on when we were exposed to diet culture. If you’ve struggled with your relationship with food, you might be able to remember a point in time when things went awry. When food shifted from something you ate without second thought into something used to manage your body size. For many of us, that was some time during our formative years of childhood and adolescence.

And because we are so impressionable during these years, it’s so so so important for kids to have positive exposures to food. Through nutrition education in schools, Revolution Foods teaches kids about healthy eating in a positive way that focuses on how foods can grow them strong, make them feel energized, and help their brains think. In fact, good nutrition and healthy, nourishing foods can drive positive academic outcomes. There was a paper recently published by UC Berkeley that found students who went to schools with more nutritious school lunches had better test performance. Think about how much better you can focus on tasks, engage in relationships, and perform at work when you’ve eaten a nutritious and satisfying lunch. Same for the kids.

In addition to educating kiddos and teens about healthy eating in a positive, nuanced way, Revolution Foods engages with students at every step of the development process to ensure a menu they’ll love. They survey over 2,000 students every month to gauge satisfaction level with meals. Student favorites in the New York area include the chili citrus drumstick and rice, class spaghetti and meatballs, chicken teriyaki with brown rice and more.

I remember learning about Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in feeding back during my undergrad years at Indiana University. I’m not an expert on childhood feeding + nutrition so whenever I get questions in my inbox from parents who want to raise their kids up to be intuitive eaters, I often direct them to her Division of Responsibility among other resources. The DOR emphasizes the caretakers role in choosing what, when and where a child eats and a child chooses how much he/she will eat.

When we think about the what, when and where, the what part is huge. It’s our responsibility to provide nourishing, satisfying foods to our kids and they will eat however much they want. I do think nourishing applies to both the physical and mental aspects of eating so kids are both full and satisfied. If a kid is told foods such as cookies, candy, and chips are off limits, that kids is almost guaranteed to develop a negative relationship with those foods and lose his/her own ability to eat those foods intuitively. Nutrition isn’t black and white, food should be both nourishing and satisfying, and ALL foods are part of a healthy diet. Revolution Foods is playing its part by providing kids with nourishing and tasty food options when they are at school. Then, the kids get to decide how much they will eat of the foods offered.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve thought a lot about how I hope to feed my kids and teach them about nutrition + food. My hope is that they see food as something to enjoy, to celebrate and also as a tool to help them feel good and care for themselves. I hope they are exposed to a wide variety of foods (and they enjoy a wide variety, hopefully!), that they see food as morally neutral, and that they get to participate in the process – picking out recipes, shopping, cooking, eating, heck maybe even gardening if I get that ambitious one day. And when they go off to school and I don’t have control over how they’re taught about food and what foods they are offered, I hope Revolution Foods is there to feed my kids a wide variety of high quality, nutritious foods in a positive way.

Although I really loved pizza Wednesdays back in elementary school with that opaque, doughy cheesy pizza and grape flavored push pop, I’m glad we’ve come a long way when it comes to school lunch.

I’d love to hear your school lunch memories and thoughts on school lunch improvements in the comments!

This post was sponsored by Revolution Foods – I love sharing brands with you that I 100% stand behind and support!

The post Revolution Foods is Helping Kids Eat Better Throughout the Greater NY Community appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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Hi all! Liz here, the therapist that works alongside Robyn and Crystal at Real Life Women’s Health. It has been such a long time since I have checked in here on the blog! There have been so many changes in my life since my last post, and so many changes in this Real Life Women’s Health space too with Robyn becoming a momma. Welcome baby Cal!

How about you all? Has this season of life been full of change too?

Some of us welcome and like change, but in my experience, I’ve noticed most of us struggle with change. We are scared of the unknown and would prefer to stay in familiar spaces, even if that is hard too. We often put a lot of energy into trying to prevent change and control our life so that “things stay the same.” But what I’ve learned is that life keeps happening so I spent a lot of wasted time and energy trying to avoid and block what I now know is just the natural flow of life; it is ever changing. When I was fighting change, I ended up feeling as if life was against me and it was an uphill battle. This was not a fun way to live and I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.

I also see this ongoing battle with the wonderful women I work with every day. They are spending so much of their precious time, energy, and finances trying to control their body size and ward off the natural changes we inevitably experience in our lifetime. Like having more fat tissue around our bellies and hips so we can grow and nourish a human life, or more cellulite on our thighs from journeying through womanhood, or our hips becoming wider as we mature from young adult to 30 something. Our bodies are forever changing.

Three things can happen with your body when you being the intuitive eating journey. Your body will get bigger, your body will get smaller, or your body will stay the same. In my work, I’ve found that once we start intuitively eating, many, but not all, of us experience our bodies changing in a way we don’t prefer. And for many of us, this can be one of the most difficult parts of the recovery journey. It can feel physically uncomfortable, mentally painful, and emotionally it often is a grieving process of the “thin ideal” we have held so tightly. Working our way through these body changes is imperative.

So if your body is changing right now because of the amazing, brave work you are doing I want to offer a few questions, journaling ideas, and tools that might be helpful. I also want to applaud and hug you for being courageous and caring for yourself!

QUESTIONS

What else am I gaining?

One of my favorite questions to ask women when we begin discussing the weight gain they are experiencing after letting go of food/exercise rules is: “What else are you gaining in this process?” The answers are often profound: I am gaining more flexibility, freedom, connection, presence, energy, trust. I also ask them to be more specific because really deeply understanding how recovery improves our life on a daily basis is motivating. For example: I can go to brunch with my friends and drink mimosas and order pancakes, I can say yes to spontaneous ice cream with my partner at the end of a date, I have more time to write, I feel more present and efficient at work, I am kinder and more patient with my mom, etc. What answers come to mind when you ask yourself, “What else am I gaining? What else do I hope to gain?

How did I live out what deeply matters to me today? What did I offer to myself and others?

I often hear advice given regarding body image work to the effect of, “When feeling critical of your body, name a part of your body you like?” I disagree with this piece of advice and find that it is often not helpful for long term healing. True body image work is about learning to place our sense of worth outside of our physical appearance and more on what deeply matters to us — our core values. If we just start focusing on parts of our body we “like” that still leaves us hyper focused on our physical appearance…which will continue to change throughout our lifetime, and therefore, is not sustainable as our primary source of self-worth and validation.

When you notice struggles with your current body changes, name something else valuable or meaningful that you bring to the world. For example, “I was patient today when waiting for my kids to get ready for school.” “I was helpful to my coworker when they didn’t know how to answer an email.” “I was brave and ate that donut I was scared to eat.” “I sent my friend a silly text because I knew she was having a hard day.” Ask yourself how you showed up in the world and the gifts you offered yourself and others when you find yourself criticizing the body you did those things in. It can really shift your sense of self and mood!

When else have I allowed for change and what was the outcome?

Sometimes when change is happening it feels so scary and big and overwhelming that we tense up, dig our heels in, and try to keep things the same. In seeing our changing bodies, we have to let go of behaviors and ideas that are no longer serving us. For example…letting go of daily exercise, letting go of counting calories or macros, letting go of our scales. And so often I hear from clients, “I am just so scared, I don’t know where my body will end up at its natural set point. How much weight am I going to gain?” All of this unknown is scary and takes a lot of bravery. Sometimes it is helpful to reflect on our past experiences of being courageous and letting go of something that was no longer serving us even though we didn’t know what the outcome would be.

Have you ever left a partner you knew was not right for you even though you were scared of being alone? Have you ever quit a job that was zapping all of your energy and not utilizing any of your talents and you weren’t sure you would like your new job? Have you ever moved away from home to a new city or college? Often times our experiences of letting go bring us to new opportunities and experiences we didn’t even know were possible – such as finding your soul mate after ending a relationship that wasn’t right, finding your passion at a new job, finding a community you feel right at home in, etc. I can’t tell you where your life will take you once you let go of trying to control your body size, but I imagine it is going to be far better than the prison of dieting and will likely open space for joy, adventure, and new exciting experiences that you didn’t expect!

ACTION STEPS

Buy Clothes That Fit Your Current Body and Let Go of Clothes That No Longer Fit

No longer fitting into clothes that once fit can be one of the hardest parts of the process. I hear so many clients say, “but I love my clothes”,  it feels like a “failure” to let them go. Or they say, “I am still hopeful I will fit into them when I really get this intuitive eating thing down.” However, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take this step. It simply isn’t kind to ourselves to wear clothes every day that are physically uncomfortable or constricting or to have a closet full of clothes you feel “taunted” by every time you walk into your closet. The way to be compassionate to ourselves and even protect ourselves on this journey is to buy clothes that fit our current body and to donate, trash, burn (whatever feels best!) the clothes that do not fit us anymore. If finances are tight, look at consignment shops, thrift stores or perhaps a friend’s closet. Clothing swaps are a great idea too. If you are intentional in your process, it can actually be fun learning to dress your new body and see what feels authentic and representative for you in this next stage of life.

Saying Goodbye to our Idealized Body Size

The experience of our bodies changing can feel a lot like the grieving process. It’s a process to grieve the loss of the body we envisioned we “should” have or did have. The stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. I am sure you can reflect on how fearing or experiencing body changes has brought up feelings of frustration and sadness. And denying that our bodies are meant to be larger, as well as bargaining with ourselves about how we can still try to control our body size if it is for “wellness or health” is all a part of this process that might resonate with you.

That being said, I want to note that the final stage of grief is ACCEPTANCE. The final stage is not “love” or “positivity.” I think this is important because if we believe we are supposed to get to a place of loving and feeling ecstatic about our new bodies we very well might be setting ourselves up to feel like we are failing. Although I think it is wonderful to love your body and think it’s beautiful, that is not the goal of body image work. Rather it is about fully and unconditionally accepting our bodies as they are today. And accepting they will continue to change and therefore are not the determinant of our self worth and value. Acceptance means that we no longer have to fight or punish our bodies, but can instead keep them comfortable in clothes that fit, nourish them with foods that satisfy us, and let them move and rest in ways that honor their needs. In what ways can you practice accepting the body you are in today?

You don’t have to continue fighting your body. That can be really exhausting. If you are struggling with body changes or negative body image on your intuitive eating journey and want to find freedom, but need some added support and a community of women with shared experiences, please join the next round of our Intuitive Eating Group starting on Tuesday, April 2nd! You can read more about this group and find more details here. We’d love to see you there!

The post Learning to Accept Instead of Love Your Changing Body appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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A conversation with a client a few days ago and then a conversation I had on a podcast gave me the idea to write about allostatic load. And in writing about allostatic load, we’re going to talk a lot about stress. Because when it comes to our health, stress is what most often underlies chronic disease and a slew of other symptoms.

Stress is a good thing. It’s actually what allows our bodies to adapt and survive. But it’s supposed to be acute. To be short lived. And then we recover from the stressor and get back to baseline. But when we are exposed to repeated stressors again and again, that’s when our acute stress response becomes maladaptive and our bodies lose homeostasis. We don’t make it back to baseline, and therefore, our bodies lose the ability to function how they were designed. Because of our body’s incredible ability to respond to acute stressors in a productive way, it’s important that we take a step back and look at the big picture in our lives, not just the immediate situation.

What exactly is allostatic load?

Think of allostatic load as the cumulative wear and tear we put on our bodies when we are exposed to repeated stress over and over again. Instead of stressors being acute, they’re chronic. Our normal bodily responses designed to get us out of acutely stressful situations don’t get turned off like they should and instead these bodily responses are elicited too frequently creating a big, hot, stressful mess. You’ve reached your allostatic load. But sometimes life gets crazy and we go through stressful seasons and perhaps we do reach our body’s stress threshold. That’s okay. Sometimes that happens. But if we can become aware, catch it and learn to recover, we will know how to take much better care of ourselves. But if we don’t, it’s this long term exposure to allostatic load that leads to our bodily systems going haywire.

It’s important to know that stressors can be “good” and “bad” things – I like to categorize them as productive and unproductive stressors. A new job, getting the flu, arguing with your partner, planning a wedding, studying for finals, not getting enough sleep, buying your first house, traveling, injury, caring for a loved one, getting a new diagnosis, graduating college, moving, experiencing grief, having a baby, a loved one passing away, infertility, adopting a new baby or child, sitting in traffic, ignoring hunger cues, repeatedly ignoring fullness cues, high intensity physical activity, your favorite sport’s team losing, going to college, being in an unfamiliar social situation, spilling coffee on your shirt, running late for work, etc. The list goes on and on.

Here’s an analogy that I hope helps you understand allostatic load.

The Water Bucket

Pretend you are sitting with a big water bucket in your lap. In your right hand is a hose. Every time you are exposed to a stressor you squirt the hose into your bucket. You keep squirting with each stressor. Every time you recover from a stressor (with self care – whatever that looks like given the stressor) you get to dump a bit of water out of your bucket. If your squirts are more than your dumps, you will fill up your allostatic load bucket all the way to the top and reach your stress threshold. This is when you reach burn out, have an emotional breakdown, experience physical symptoms you didn’t have before, etc.

In order for our bodies to function optimally – both physically and mentally – we have to make sure our squirts are counteracted with dumps. What is also really important is that everybody has a different bucket size. Everyone perceives stress differently. Take two people. Both of them are in graduate school, volunteer weekly, are in long distance relationships and they both just found out their parents are getting divorced. One person might be able to cope with all these heavy things healthily, while the other person finds herself having an emotional breakdown, understandably, with the weight of everything on her plate. We all have a different stress capacity based on genetic and environmental factors.

It’s easy to compare yourself to the next person. Why can that person do x and y and still maintain z? We have no idea everything going on in a person’s life. Lack of sleep alone is a huge stressor which makes coping with other stressors in life very difficult. I know when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, seemingly trivial things become almost catastrophic.

When I was studying for my NP boards, working part time, living in Manhattan and planning a wedding, the subway being late or going slow had the capacity to send me into hyperventilating tears. I had zero emotional margin in that season of life. It sucked. That example can seem silly since all those stressors are choices and incredible privileges, but it was my own experience. For others, even with a lot of stressors in their bucket, the subway being late doesn’t send them over the edge. We could compare our stressors and our ability to cope with stress to other people all day long. That’s not helpful. What is helpful is to own your story, cultivate awareness around the size of your bucket, know when you’ve reached the top and then learn how to dump the water out.

It’s a process. We are all continually learning more about ourselves. And as seasons of life change, we will learn new things and re-learn old things about ourselves. When we moved from New York to Boston, I learned that I really enjoy urban living…Manhattan is just a whole other level of urban living. Making that moved dumped a whole lot of water out of my metaphorical bucket which left a lot of room for me to healthily cope with other stressors.

Remember you never arrive. Life will continually present challenges. And I’m learning and growing just like you.

The post Why Allostatic Load Matters appeared first on The Real Life RD.

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