THANK YOU so so much for your incredibly kind and supportive comments on Monday’s post and the emails and Instagram messages you sent. I couldn’t even begin to articulate how much your support and loyalty to this space means. And I loved hearing how much you enjoy the “deeper” content posts on women’s health topics and intuitive eating – those are my favorite to write. I’ll still be sharing snippets of life here and there as well and will still do some “weekly eats” posts to recap random times I did pull out my phone to snap a pic. But I’ve felt such peace, relief and rest even in this first week of bopping off social media around 6pm and not feeling like I need to take a picture of what I eat. It sounds so simple, but the effects are more than simple. So thank YOU. I hope you feel the freedom to also draw boundaries in your own life
So onto the weekly eats! Whenever I do this it’s a dump of whatever is on my camera roll from the past couple weeks.
I picked up this loaf of sprouted grain raisin bread because it was on sale for $3 and was like, ok I’ll try it. I have a strong affection (read: obsession) with Iggy’s bread because it’s chewy and crusty and not dense …aka it’s freaking delicious. So I think I’ve now ruined it for all other bread. I slathered sunbutter + banana on one half, cream cheese + jam on another and ate the toast with whole milk greek yogurt + blueberries + raisin bran cereal for some crunch.
Nick and I have been making bacon, egg and cheese bagels at home on the weekend and they are AWESOME. The key…really good bagels and bacon. Whole Foods sells Iggy’s bagels for $1 in the bakery section so if you live in Boston go get some. I prefer fried eggs because of the runny yolks, crispy bacon (never limp bacon…that sounds and tastes gross) and sharp, sharp cheddar.
Leftover pumpkin oatmeal blender pancakes one morning with the rest of the container of whole milk greek yogurt. Maple syrup was used for dipping – added right after I snapped this. I think there may have been some chocolate chips tucked inside these…but I forget. Highly recommend adding chocolate chips to this recipe, after blending!
Last week I ate leftover kale + sausage + sweet potato egg casserole from our brunch party paired with non other than Iggy’s toast with avocado + everything seasoning and cream cheese + strawberry jam and half banana with sunbutter. Side note –> you will almost always see me eating 1/2 banana because I can’t stomach a full banana + nutbutter ….my taste buds are like blahhhhhh if I eat more than half. Maybe it’s a texture thing?
Lastly, good ole pumpkin oatmeal with blueberries and banana stirred in and topped with melty sunbutter. Plus coffee and a side of snowstorm because March apparently is the month of snow up here.
This week for lunch I planned spinach salad (pretty much the only cold salad I’ll eat all winter) with hummus + TJs pita for lunch. Plus some bell pepper that was on it’s last leg.
For the salad I bought bagged shaved brussel sprouts and sautéed them in avocado oil, sea salt and pepper until they were soft and tender. Then made this easy + simple balsamic vinaigrette. When lunch time rolls around I put some baby spinach in a bowl (that was way too big for the salad portion I ate lol but there were no clean dishes) add the brussel sprouts (cold from the fridge) and top with walnuts, goat cheese, cranberries and the dressing.
Another day I ate a pyrex full of leftovers. Sautéed red cabbage, kale, brown rice that’s on the bottom and the last of some rotisserie chicken. Topped with a fried egg and s + p. I think I ate some dark chocolate after this.
I had lunch with a reader/dietitian last week at Dig Inn. I haven’t had Dig Inn forever (we use to go all the time in New York) and forgot how good it is – think of like a chipotle style fast causal with food more like Whole Foods hot bar. I went with farro + greens for a base, salmon for my protein and roasted broccoli and carrots for sides. I was still hungry after this when I got back to the library to do work so ate some dark chocolate. Sometimes I’m full after 75% of this…the body is dynamic like that and I don’t know why I get full off less or more of the same meal, but I do know that my body knows what it needs. Just in case you’re like many of my clients and get confused/worried when a meal that usually fills you up doesn’t fill you up sometimes – it’s okay, your body is doing it’s thing that it knows how to do really well
And the other week we ate chili with sautéed red cabbage and roasted Yukon gold potatoes. I actually really wanted some corn bread but I didn’t have the ingredients on hand. Next time. Also I don’t have a good corn bread recipe so if you do, share in the comments!
These were 10 for $10 this week at the grocery so I picked up a lot. I always try to get full fat dairy since there’s some studies that suggest whole milk diary decreases the risk of anovulatory cycles. Plus it tastes SO MUCH BETTER.
At the library I snacked on some pretty multicolored carrots that were on sale + an apple.
Also ate bowls of raisin bran out of tupperware because again, minimal clean dishes problem. I actually hated raisin bran as a kid and teenager (Fruity Pebbles and Cookie Crisp FTW) but as an adult I love it. I also hated raisins as a kid so there’s that.
These x lots of handfuls. I’ve had the dark chocolate pretzel slims from TJs but these are better. Salty + sweet at its finest.
Also I shared this in my newsletter this week, but wanted to let you guys know that I listened to your requests and made the body image module of my hormones e-course as separate course to purchase. In this course I’ll walk you through tools, strategies and resources that will help you tolerate your body and then eventually accept your body. The goal is to learn to be a caregiver for your body instead of fighting against your natural body size – you can read more about it here.
Along with gluten and dairy, sugar seems to be one of those heavily demonized food ingredients. I say ingredient because as a culture, we tend to throw around the phrase, “addicted to sugar”…but when in reality, we aren’t sitting on the couch with a 5 lb bag of sugar and a spoon. We are eating foods with sugar in them. We’ll talk about that more in a bit.
Sugar is one of the main foods that a client and I spend a lot of time decreasing anxiety around when working together. Sugar is one the main foods that you will hear intelligent health professionals tell people to eliminate because it’s inflammatory. Because it causes acne and brain fog and other symptoms that we blame sugar for. As a culture, and health profession as whole, I think we’ve created a very extreme and unscientific view of sugar. The diet industry’s success centers around pseudoscience, fear mongering, and low self esteem. And the conversation around sugar feels similar to the conversation around diets.
The word “diet” that we use when talking about diet culture doesn’t just include the South Beach and Atkins diet, it also includes all the rigid ways of eating we’ve cloaked in the word “lifestyle.” Any way of eating that applauds weight loss, tells you to count points or macros or calories, or labels certain foods/food groups as bad/damaging/off limits and other foods/food groups as good/allowed/permitted is a diet. Diet culture is a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health, encourages weight loss as means of success and demonizes certain ways of eating while glorifying others. So no matter what label you want to throw on eating, if it aligns with any of the above it’s a diet. That includes a 21 day sugar detox, clean eating, a non-toxic lifestyle, Whole30, paleo, vegan (if it aligns with the above), keto, autoimmune diets, weight watchers, low carb….all of that. Most of us have been there, myself included, dipping our toes (or full on face diving) into the alluring world of diets. But food is not that black and white.
I think what is most frustrating is that either consciously or subconsciously, the diet and healthcare industries take advantage of the general public’s vulnerability – people who don’t know how to tease through the scientific literature, or don’t care to take the time because how many people not in healthcare open up PubMed on a Saturday morning?? Not many. I wouldn’t either. People trust their health care practitioners to give them evidenced based information and lead them to sustainable health. And I think those of us who are healthcare professionals need to recognize the trust and authoritative voice our patients and clients give to us – it’s our responsibility to protect them from fear mongering pseudoscience….not encourage them to live by it.
Marci Evans, a friend and colleague here in the Boston area, is beyond knowledgable in the area of food addiction (or lack thereof) and knows the scientific literature surrounding this topic very well. I’ve learned a ton from listening to her speak and by delving into the research myself. If you’re interested, I highly recommend listening to some of the podcasts she’s been on. Between listening to her speak and reading journal articles myself, there are a few things we can confidently conclude. First, the idea of a particular food being addictive has zero scientific evidence to back it up. The research that does argue for the idea of food addiction, utilizes the Yale Food Addiction Scale which is based on a person’s own experience and doesn’t take into account food restriction. We know based on the neuroscience that when a food or foods are restricted, the reward of that food or foods is increased. That’s a biological survival mechanism! People feel they are “addicted” because they feel out of control and chaotic around certain foods, but that is very different than a food substance being physiologically addicting.
What I’ve also learned is that when people claim sugar lights up the same regions of the brain as cocaine or other drugs, that isn’t fully true. In the studies done on rats, that only happens under forced deprivation aka dieting. Like we talked about above, under deprivation and restriction a person’s reward response is heightened. We could go on and on about this for hours, but I think the take home point is that food has an enhanced reward response under conditions of restriction and deprivation either mentally or physically. Food and drugs do share neural pathways, but the brain does not develop a physiological dependency on food substances. Headlines and sweeping statements might seem compelling because as a society, we love to be able to control – food and exercise are areas we are really good at controlling – but the story is far more complex.
Based on everything we just talked about, we can see how eliminating sugar wouldn’t make you “less addicted” to sugar. It actually ENHANCES your reward response and you want it more. Sure, you might be able to not eat sugar for a set amount of time in the short term, but eventually your biological primal drive to eat will win out over willpower (every time) and you will find yourself in a chaotic eating situation with sugar. Which then further solidifies the self fulfilling prophecy that you cannot be controlled around sugar…or any food that you restrict for that matter. Eliminating or telling yourself you can’t have sugar or you can only have x amount of sugar doesn’t make you more competent and in control around sugar, it makes you more crazy around sugar or any other food you restrict. Although the scientific evidence to support the idea of food addition is lacking, I do want to acknowledge that the lived experience of feeling out of control with food or feeling “addicted” to food that I myself and maybe many of you reading have experienced is real. But we are not powerless around food. Maybe you feel like that right now, but as you develop new eating skills and learn to decrease your vulnerabilities around certain foods, you can grow to feel fully competent and in control around all foods. I truly believe that.
I want to touch on the claim about sugar being inflammatory here for a second. First, inflammation is seen as a bad thing, when inflammation is actually the the body’s natural healing process. We need inflammation to survive in this world. The problem with these studies on sugar and inflammation is that they are isolating sugar in the form of fructose, glucose or sucrose (aka having subjects drink a pure sugar drink that equates to about a 1/4 cup of sugar) and then are drawing conclusions based on that. WHAT?! How many of us sit down and drink 1/4 cup of simple syrup without any other food? So taking a study result that found increased inflammatory biomarkers when people drank a drink resembling straight up sugar syrup and then saying the sugar in your cookie is inflammatory and will cause chronic disease is straight up bad science. Cookies have fat and protein and other nutrients in them as well that are going to alter the metabolism of the sugar itself. There is failure to acknowledge the limitations in these studies and to look at the totality of the evidence.
There are a lot of things that are inflammatory. Stress is inflammatory! And I’m going to step out on a limb and conclude that micromanaging sugar intake that closely or eliminating it all together creates a lot of psychological stress. The air I breathe in Boston is inflammatory. Smoking and alcohol are inflammatory. Lack of sleep is inflammatory. Our bodies can handle inflammation. In no way am I saying that sugar is a “health food” and that we should eat sugar all day without regard to how we physically feel. Not at all. And I’m also not saying that we should disregard our physical health and just go inflammatize (that’s not a word :)) ourselves with cigarettes, loads of coffee, six hours of sleep and fast food three times a day. If the end goal is intuitive eating and honoring our physical health in addition to our mental and emotional health…you won’t lead that life. Caring for and respecting your body won’t lead you to that lifestyle. Just like restricting your calorie intake or food groups and exercising in a regimented way leads to dissociation from your body, eating very little, if any, physically nourishing foods every day and not getting sleep and waking up with coffee and going to bed with wine…that also happens when we dissociate from our body’s needs. Almost everyone would agree that daily excessive sugar intake isn’t necessarily adding to our physical health. But excessive is very, very different than enjoying a cookie or a glass or wine or maple syrup on your pancakes or a piece of fruit for heaven’s sake. Claiming the metabolic effect of drinking pure sugar in liquid form is the same as eating sugar within a balanced diet (aka intuitive eating) that honors your physical and psychological health is irresponsible and unsupported by the literature.
Lastly, if you’re reading this and thinking….but I’m recovering from disordered eating or an eating disorder or I’m starting intuitive eating and I’m eating more sugary foods than ever before… THAT IS OKAY and normal and part of the recovery and IE process of coming to a peaceful and full permission place with all foods. Like we talked about in the beginning of this post, in the presence of restriction, we experience a heightened reward to those restricted foods. You won’t always crave brownies, ice cream, cookies, donuts etc at this increased frequency, but you will continue to crave them all the time until you give yourself permission to eat them whenever you want them. Meaning you release that restriction that enhances your reward response to that food. In the beginning of your intuitive eating journey you may feel like all you want are these types of foods, but be patient and give yourself time. And if you find that you are highly distressed over incorporating these types of foods, I’d really encourage you to find a dietitian that has expertise in the area of eating disorders and intuitive eating – whether that’s myself or many, many other amazing RD colleagues I know and am happy to refer you to.
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts below! I enjoy having healthy and respectful discussion around these topics so please share!
Hey guys, Cody writing to you today Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about movement. As most of you probably know by now, I have an almost seven month old son. He is our first baby so bringing baby John home brought some drastic life changes. Hellooooo entire change of life. Of course both my husband and I wouldn’t trade these changes for the world – each day is amazing and getting to watch a baby learn and grow is incredible and so fun. Everyday when I see the wonder on John’s face, I’m like…this is a MIRACLE.
However, as probably a lot of new moms can relate, I’ve given up a lot of my freedom. Having a baby means your day is no longer your own. Gone are the days of being selfish with your time. I simply do not have time for myself like I used to which is okay and expected…just different. That being said, it can be difficult to carve out time for intuitive movement outside of my normal day-to-day tasks. I know I don’t have to move in a particular way, but I do very much enjoy taking a Barre3 class or going on a walk or jog.
I love Barre3 for several reasons. First of all, it gives me an opportunity to get out of the house and see some friends. Yes, adult interaction! Secondly, I looooove the way it makes my body feel. Barre3 helps me to connect more with and listen to my body versus dissociate. Each posture has numerous modifications and your instructor is encouraged to teach you to find your body’s inner voice and do what is right for you that day. It’s great because it really does cater to so many different people’s needs. I love that I can be in my 20s and take a class next to a 70 year old and a 40 year old and every one is moving in a way that feels right for them on that specific day. I continually hear my instructors encouraging me to keep my eyes off my neighbor and focus on myself. Because your body does not want to do the same movements everyday and your body is different than your neighbor’s. It just is. So instead of hurting myself by pushing myself too hard, Barre3 encourages me to embrace my differences and find my balance in each moment. Can you tell?…I love Barre3.
Walking is a little easier with a baby because we can get the stroller out and walk around together. However, when it is super windy or cold it can be harder to get outside. Jogging with a stroller is NOT EASY. Sometimes I enjoy the challenge but it is drastically different than running without a stroller. The great thing about walking or jogging is you can really go whenever, there is no “set time.” The (only) downside to Barre3 is that by nature of a group exercise class, there are scheduled class times. As any of you mamas can probably relate (or anyone that isn’t timely), it is not always easy to be on a schedule with a baby so I don’t make it to Barre3 as often as I would like. Before having John, I guess I knew this would be the case but I hadn’t really thought much about it. Lately though I’ve been reflecting on how this shift in my freedom has made me feel when it comes to movement.
My relationship with exercise has evolved over the years. In middle school and high school I did a lot of sports and exercise was intuitive. A lot of you can probably relate. I had a healthy relationship with exercise until one fall my junior year. I was a cheerleader, but I loved to run. Cheer practice took up a lot of my time and I honestly didn’t enjoy practicing it that much. I remember wishing I was out on a run or doing something a bit more “athletic” — I realize cheerleading can be athletic but I hope you get what I’m saying Of course, some of this was a lie I believed. I believed I was not being productive at cheer practice and that I should be doing more formal “exercise.” The other part of me was not unhealthy, I just enjoyed running more than I enjoyed cheerleading. Either way, the lie bubbled up inside of me and I became unhealthily reliant on exercise. Fast forward years later to college. We are all busy in college (yet also full of free time) and somehow I thought it was necessary to squeeze in two exercises most days. I wasn’t completely obsessed, but I do remember thinking if I walked with a friend and didn’t get too much of a sweat in, that I should make time to go on a run later…as if the walk wasn’t “enough.” This was on and off throughout my four years, likely dependent on my stress level or something like that.
I got married right out of college and this was when I lost a little bit of my “I do whatever I want” freedom and had another person in my life that was a priority over solely my wants and desires. If I could make it to a Barre3 class or go run, great! Or if a friend wanted to walk with me, wonderful! But I had some margin for these things still, but less than before because spending time with my husband was a priority. Not to mention the fact that you do not have the free time you do in college when you are working normal work day hours in the “real” world. During these moments of transition, I can remember telling myself the truths I had learned and believed, but these truths were sometimes harder to put into action than they were to believe. I often felt like I “needed” to exercise but I knew better. I had the head knowledge, but the heart knowledge was not always there. For me, simply telling myself, “it’s okay Cody, you don’t have to exercise everyday and that is normal” was helpful. Also, talking out loud and sharing my thoughts with my husband. He is logical (aren’t most men?) and would say something like, “you simply don’t have time to do all the things you want to do today and that’s okay.”
So I began practicing intuitive movement and moving in a way that felt nourishing in that moment. I realize that coming to a more healthy place with movement isn’t this simple most of the time….sometimes these thoughts and pattern are deeply engrained and it can take time and work with a dietitian or therapist who is well trained to help you through this…and that’s OKAY too. Sometimes intuitive movement meant sitting on the couch after a long day and sometimes it was attending a Barre3 class or going on a run. I was experiencing freedom with exercise even if I sometimes had to give myself a pep talk to rewire those brain pathways.
Fast forward now to life with a baby, my thoughts on exercise have evolved even more. After getting married and entering “the real world,” I really thought I had this whole intuitive movement thing down. I was wrong. There was more learning and growing to do. The learning never stops really…we are always trying to better understand ourselves as life seasons change. With a baby now, I have even less free time than ever before. The days I do not get to exercise, even if it feels right and I want to move my body, are more frequent than ever. Intuitively I’m feeling it, but my life circumstances don’t always allow it. Perhaps it was too cold to take John for a stroll or maybe I wanted to prioritize him napping in his crib or maybe it was going to be too stressful for me to bring John to Barre3 that day. Whatever the case, I was exercising less than ever before and I actually, really and truly, barely even noticed it. This is the cool part. My relationship with exercise had evolved, yet again, and this time I realized I had the best relationship with exercise than ever before. I wasn’t taking note of how many days had passed since I had not gone on a run. I was losing count how many days it had been since I had attended a Barre3 class and it was all really okay. No personal pep talks needed this time around since those new brain pathways had been solidified earlier in my life. Who knew I was even subconsciously keeping track of that?
I’ve learned that a healthy relationship with exercise means not over thinking it. Perhaps not thinking about it at all. Not thinking about when or if you are going to get to experience movement that day. In my mind it means simply living and moving if it feels right and you get the opportunity to do so. And to expand the way we define exercise. Which is why I think movement frees us up in a lot of ways. Movement could mean vacuuming your house or grocery shopping and unloading those heavy groceries. Movement could mean chasing your kid in the backyard or yes, going on that walk with a friend. It could mean stretching on your floor. And it could also mean that Barre3 class or that run. But I think if we redefine movement it frees us from the all or nothing mentality and we actually might find ourselves moving more because there’s more room in life to do movement than there is formal exercise.
If you do not have time to exercise even though you want to move, your body is going to be okay. You still don’t have to exercise, even IF you have a healthy relationship with it. Of course, maybe you have to give yourself some pep talks – that’s okay too. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the pressure to exercise and I’ve had to tell myself, time and time again, that I do not have to do what our popular culture says. That’s not living in line with my values. It’s okay to have those thoughts thought. Don’t judge yourself for having those thoughts, simply ask yourself why you may be feeling pressure to exercise – what’s creating that narrative? Can you challenge those thoughts to see if they are true?
Has your relationship with exercise changed and evolved? How so? I would love to hear in the comments!
I spent Friday and Saturday at the MEDA conference and it was such an awesome learning + networking experience. Jessi asked me if I was going months ago, but it took me until a day before to finally finalize going both Friday and Saturday and I’m so so so so so glad I did!
MEDA stands for multi-service eating disorder association, meaning there were physicians, therapists, dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other clinicians at the conference. I really loved being able to learn from and talk with people from so many different fields, yet all of us specialized in eating disorders. And meeting Paige and Haley in person was so fun! By the end of our 48 hours together it felt like I had known these new friends for years.
Something really unexpected that the conference did for me was really solidify what matters to me when it comes to this work and my life. I feel like I’ve been in this transitional season over the past several months and have slowly, but surely, began to shape and form the vision I want for my career. But even more so over the past month or so I feel like I’ve began to get really, really clear on what I do and don’t want to focus on when it comes to business and career. I’m somebody who can get really clear and then I see a shiny object or I get distracted with “shoulds” and before I know it I’ve crossed over 4 lanes on the freeway.
This weekend helped me find my lane again and even more so, solidly that yes…THIS is my lane. Nick had been gone traveling for work all week so Friday after the conference wrapped up I came home to spend some much needed time with him – we walked over to Urban Grape to pick up a bottle of wine and then onto B.Good for burgers + fries. I was craving sweet potato fries and also wanted to veg out on the couch so this was our quickest option. Last minute I went with the chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and avocado. It was the best meal ever, but pretty good for affordable takeout. We’ll be back.
Saturday morning I answered email since I neglected my inbox Friday – I usually don’t answer email on Saturday, but I did a little in the morning to respond to anything that needed attention. And then I went on a morning jog along the Charles River. It was cold but in a way that leaves you refreshed. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?
And then I made a green smoothie and took this toast with me to eat on my way to the conference. Avocado and everything seasoning on one half, sun butter + banana on the other.
I learned a lot and I also felt like I was affirmed in things I already incorporate into my practice. Especially when it comes to counseling, sometimes when I’m working with a client we get creative and are figuring out things together because xyz thing didn’t work and then we try something else etc etc. It was reallyyyyy reassuring when I realized, “oh, these things they are teaching me right now…I’m already doing.” and that boosts my confidence and also helps me to refine that part of my practice even more. I loved loved loved the talk Dr. Gaudiani gave on palliative approaches and end of life care in adults with eating disorders. I’ve been fangirling her hard since I discovered her about a year ago and could listen to her teach for hours on end. Also Ragen Chastain gave such a powerful talk on eating disorder recovery and size acceptance – if you ever get a chance to hear her speak I highly recommend! She’s incredibly influential.
Saturday after the conference, sadly Paige had to hop a flight so we missed her, but Jessie, Haley and I headed to Barcelona for wine + tapas and sat there for 3 hours. A great wrap on the conference. I told them this at dinner, but it’s conferences like this and being around people that do the same work you do that make me feel insanely grateful to get to do this work and be involved in this community. And you guys reading this are included in those people that allow me to do this work so thank YOU.
Sunday I ate a smaller-ish pancake for breakfast to save room for brunch after church. These were leftover blender pancakes with nut butter and banana + maple syrup I added to the plate after this photo because soggy syrup pancakes are no good.
We’ve gone back to Mosaic church a couple times and are hopeful that maybeee our church dating days are coming to a close. Afterward we got brunch with our new-ish friends Brian and Amanda and their baby boy Luke at Cinquecento. I ordered the cheesy polenta with mushrooms and poached eggs. It was cheesy and fab. Plus a “sugar donut” I shared with Nick that tasted more like a fried cake and was also fab.
The rest of the day included grocery shopping, eating popcorn and watching UNC lose…bad (that was rough, especially for Nick) and eating leftovers for dinner. I didn’t take a picture of dinner…
Which ties into my thoughts lately on this blog and career and how that fits with my life. A month or so ago I was jogging and had this thought that doesn’t sound like an “a-ha” moment, but it was. I realized I didn’t like writing weekend recap posts and I was resenting it. But what kept me writing them was that you all really enjoy them and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I really REALLY appreciate and love you guys. But then I realized this wasn’t healthy for me anymore. My brain was never shutting off. All weekend I would be thinking about what pictures I needed to make sure I was taking. I was annoyed at having to take out my phone at dinner or when Nick and I sat down to eat so I could have that photo for the recap. And then all day Sunday I would be thinking about having to write the weekend recap post. It would just hang over me and as a result, I never felt like I was truly shut off from work throughout the week because work bled into the weekend and then Monday was here.
I’ve experienced the same thing with social media. Which is why I’m posting less actual IG pictures and you don’t see me on it much over the weekend anymore. I’ve been writing this blog for almost six years – the first 2 1/2 years are archived since I was in a different place personally and professionally when I began and that content doesn’t align with where I am now – but six years feel like a long time to me. And although I don’t plan to quit writing in this place anytime soon, I think how I go about writing and how I engage with social media is changing. I have a love/hate with social media and I think a lot of people, including maybe you, also do too.
I feel like over the past year I’ve been in this push and pull with defining who I want to be as a professional and where I want to draw the line with work and life. Is there a balance? What does that even MEAN? So I feel like this has been a work in progress that I’m finally starting to feel clarity on in these beginning months of 2018. I don’t have the answer for what work life balance means. And I also think the capacity to which you work and the rhythms of how you work change as life seasons change.
I feel really thankful to make my own hours, my own rules and my own income with the blog and private practice. I never in a million trillion years thought this business would grow to what it has….much of that being over the past year, with the previous five years paving the way for this past year of growth. I also feel really thankful that my soul freaking bleeds for this work. That might sound dramatic, but I feel like that’s the best way I can describe it. So all that say, I can work 14 hours a day doing this work if I let myself…a major thing that helps me not to do that is relationships. Friendships and my family and my husband. So that’s good.
I don’t think that what I’m feeling is burn out because I’ve definitely had that. Hi, nursing school. But rather I think that I want less distraction and I want to either be 100% present in my life or 100% present in my work (which is my life too but you get what I’m saying..) So now that I’m just word vomiting and external processing as I write…here’s what I think that means for me.
My number one focus is being a really good practitioner and continuing to develop my skills and knowledge. That’s what I care about most – caring for my clients and patients, staying on top of the research, growing in my nursing + counseling skills, and creating content that educates and empowers women. And if that’s my number one, I can do that and also draw firm boundaries with social media and the blog because when those bleed too much into my life, my mind doesn’t have time to reset.
So a lot of words later I think what I’m saying is that I won’t be writing weekend recap posts anymore and you won’t see me on social media in the evenings or on the weekends unless for some reason it feels natural and I want to engage. What you can expect though is to still see lifestyle content in addition to the intuitive eating, women’s health, hormonal health and food content. So I will still share snippets of my life and other things and still monologue about life stuff on Instagram stories sometimes for those of you that enjoying listening (I love you btw …but I’m craving more privacy instead of recapping events or days in my life.
If I’m honest with you and myself, my fear is that if I retreat back with sharing my personal life I won’t be meeting expectations. So as the blog shifts slightly I hope you will stick around. And if I’m not on social media in the evenings or weekends, know that I’ll be back on Monday morning.
Now your turn…setting boundaries and holding to them is HARD STUFF. Are there areas in your life that you feel like need some boundaries? What might you do differently if there ____ didn’t hold you back? I’d love to hear it in the comments! <3
I reader emailed me and said she’d love to see a post with some daily eats that includes commentary on why I chose to eat that. Like a “behind the scenes of intuitive eating” sort of thing. So here we are! If you email me a blog topic you’d like to see, I promise I listen. I take all reader emails and reply to as many as humanly possible (which actually is almost every single one – I try my hardest. I love you guys.) and then copy your blog topic requests into a sticky note on my computer so I always have a large pool of topics to choose from. So know that I hear you and love to write about what you guys want to read.
I’m going to run you through what I ate on Tuesday this week. There may have been a taste of this or a lick of that (what…you don’t lick the nut butter spoon?) but overall, this is a pretty typical day. With these type of “daily eats” posts plzzzz keep in mind that intuitive eating is going to look different for everyone. My body may or may not need what your body needs – we likely have different needs. The point of this post is not for you to compare what you eat to me or for you to simulate my eating. Rather what I hope you glean from this post is the thoughts that go into making a food decision. When I first began practicing IE, food decisions required a lot more thought and attention as I figured out my body. That’s normal. In the beginning it feels hyper focused as you learn this new skill. Over time though, the decision making on what to eat becomes more subconscious and intuitive where it might take me 30 seconds to figure out what to eat.
Ok onto the eats!
I shared this breakfast on IG yesterday. I use to be really into oatmeal years ago. Like everyday without a doubt I would eat banana oatmeal with peanut butter. Then in nursing school I went through a huge pancake phase. Like almost everyday I ate pancakes. Over the past year or so, it’s been all about the TOAST. I mix it up with the occasional bowl of oatmeal or plate of pancakes…but most days I’m eating a rendition of toast – either with eggs or yogurt. Within the first hour waking up, after drinking some coffee, I get hungry. “Toast sounds good. Do I want savory or sweet? Both! Ok so avocado on one half and cream cheese + jam on the other. Eggs or yogurt? I’m craving more savory than sweet this morning so eggs it is. Scrambled or fried? Drippy yolk for sure to dip the avo toast in. What kind of fruit do I want? Well….I am craving some nut butter so let’s do a banana and smear almond butter on it.”
I’ve eaten this breakfast often enough that I know this will usually hold me over for 3ish, maybe 4 hours. Somedays it’s only 2 hours. I don’t know why that is, but my body knows it’s hungry in 2 hours and that’s all that matters. If for some reason I start feeling really full about 75% of the way through (that’s happened, but not often) I either one, finish the breakfast if I know I won’t have time to eat before lunch because sometime if logistics aren’t ideal, part of intuitive eating is getting a little overly full because you know you won’t be able to eat again for a while. If I can snack whenever, I just set the plate aside and finish it in a hour or so.
You might be thinking…wait, there are so many other choices with that breakfast! What about butter on the toast or peanut butter and banana on the toast for sweet instead of cream cheese. Or what about apple and almond butter? As you strengthen your IE skills, you realize that you don’t have to ruminate over every food decision because you will have plenty more within that same day where you can eat whatever you want. It’s easy to make a decision and move on with your life. But that takes some time so give yourself patience and space to do that.
Mid morning snack. I have a growling stomach by 10 or 11am. So I usually need a snack with protein, carbs and fat to hold me 1-2 hours until lunch. Especially if I do 30 minutes of barre3 after I wrap up morning work and clients. And 95% of the the time, I’m craving sweet. So I grabbed a couple banana pb chocolate chip cookies from the freezer.
Lunch this week was pasta with Rao’s vodka sauce that I added sautéed mushrooms and zucchini to. I prep some stuff for lunch usually every week, which makes it so I’m not making a decision based on my craving in that very moment. I’m eating what I prepped. So I’d say I’m usually satisfying around 70% of my cravings with lunch since I decide what to make on Sunday. That doesn’t mean on Thursday I’m like OMG YES PASTA FOR LUNCH. But it’s prepped and easy and still tasty + filling. On the side I threw together a quick salad with spring mix, goat cheese, walnuts, cranberries and balsamic. I topped the pasta with cheese. Lunch isn’t my most mindful meal. I usually plate what looks like a satisfying + filling portion, eat it while working and finish my plate. I might be slightly full but not satisfied – which means I’ll grab something else like an apple or chocolate or a cookie – or I’ll be perfectly full and this will hold me for a few hours or I’ll be a little overly full. If overly full, I’m a little uncomfortable for about an hour after lunch and then I usually only need a small snack later to hold me until dinner. My days often feel very busy and packed with things to do that I usually don’t think much of being a little overly full. All that means is it will take me longer to get hungry, which sometimes is convenient if I’m running around.
If I’m eating pizza for lunch (like I do more regularly when I’m working as an NP because pharmaceutical reps come in all the time with lunch wanting to talk to providers) I’ll be more mindful of fullness because heavier foods + being overly full make me feel lethargic. Intuitive eating isn’t about always getting it right, it’s about doing the best you can to listen to, and therefore care for your body.
This day I wasn’t overly full, but rather satisfied and a happy full after lunch…so a few hours later I popped some popcorn on the stovetop for a snack when I started to notice my stomach was empty and I felt unfocused. I showed you guys how I do this on IG stories on Tuesday – I’ll do it again if you missed it! In the afternoon I get snackier because I’m trying to procrastinate and my mind is less focused. I usually start working around 6:30 or 7am (I never use to be a morning person) so by 3pm I’m like ok, I’m done, bye. I try to recognize (try) when I’m procrastinating with wanting to snack vs being hungry and ask myself what I really need. Usually it’s a walk outside or 10-15 minutes to lay on the floor and chill out for a sec. Keep in mind though, that’s it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough and eating adequate carbs + fats to make sure that “snacky” isn’t coming from being undernourished.
I also ate a couple dates stuffed with pb + chocolate because I wasn’t quite satisfied after the popcorn and knew I had a few hours until dinner. If a meal will be in 1-2 hours, my goal is to not feel hungry anymore. If it’s longer than 1-2 hours I need to feel satisfied and like my stomach is full. Popcorn hit the salty + savory craving and dates hit the sweet craving. Again, I could have chosen a lot of different sweet and salty foods but these came to mind first so I went with it. I can choose something different next time.
I get less hungry as the day goes on, the majority of what I eat in a day happens before 4pm. Usually, not always. I’m still hungry for dinner, but not the same intensity as lunch or breakfast. I made a big batch of red veggie curry on Sunday and have been eating off that all week. I had dinner with some girlfriends one night so that helped break up the repetitiveness of this dinner. If you want to read a bit more about how I meal plan, but still eat intuitively, you can read all about that here. Similar to lunch, pre planned dinner usually satisfies 70% of my cravings. I used this recipe, doubled it, and added snow peas and broccoli. I was going to add chickpeas but then I forgot so for protein I’ve been eating some cottage cheese or sliced cheddar from the fridge while the dinner reheats. Real life. Whatever works. I cooked some TJs rice blend on the side.
Dinner almost always leaves me full, but not quite satisfied. So an hour or so after dinner when my body has digested a bit, Nick and I will always have something sweet while watching tv or hanging out. We’ve had graham crackers hanging around forever so I came up with the idea to stuff some ice cream in between two crackers as a DIY ice cream sandwich and it was fab. They taste better after they hang in the freezer for a few days because the cracker softens. I just stuffed Breyer’s vanilla in between and wrapped them in plastic wrap. I’m excited to make so many varieties of this!
When I eat a bedtime snack, I’m never “hungry” – rather this is for satisfaction and to make sure I don’t wake up in the middle of the night hungry or in the morning starving. I hate waking up and feeling like I need to eat breakfast NOW. Dinner gets me full but a bedtime snack takes me from full to satisfied.
Intuitive eating certainly isn’t perfect, it doesn’t look the same for everyone, and it’s an ongoing process of learning to care for your body in different seasons of life and under different circumstances.
I’d love to hear in the comments where you’re at with intuitive eating (maybe you’re like, Robyn what the heck is intuitive eating?) and what you’re learning. Happy weekend!
I touched on the topic of bone health and estrogen in this post several weeks ago. Since, I’ve had several follow up reader questions and so I thought it would be important to address this topic in further detail. I went over a decade without getting a normal, healthy period and it never really occurred to me that low estrogen (which is a contributing factors to missing or irregular periods) can have devastating impacts on bone health.
So today we’re going to talk about a few things…
how estrogen and your bone health are related
how long of having low estrogen does it take for your bone health to be negatively impacted
if and how much of bone loss can be reversed
what you can do to improve your bone health
Growing up, my doctor or OB/GYN didn’t talk to me much about bone health. Very likely not intentionally and maybe there were time limitations or maybe the topic didn’t cross their mind. I’m not sure. I was continually prescribed birth control to “protect my bones” and “regulate my period” (which is ironic in and of itself because a period on birth control isn’t an actual period – it’s a withdrawal bleed) when I wasn’t menstruating on my own. Side note for clarity –> the purpose of me being prescribed birth control and many other women being prescribed birth control was not solely for contraception…it was to “fix” an underlying hormonal issue. If you are taking hormonal birth control only for contraception, that’s not the lens I’m speaking through in this post. I’ve also taken birth control solely for contraception – which is the purpose of birth control.
So how does estrogen (or lack thereof) affect your bone health?
Think about your bones like house renovations. Your bones are always being broken down to provide calcium to your body. Estrogen is a hormone that helps slow the breakdown of your bones and and encourage bone formation instead. You have two types of cells that are involved with your bones.
The cells involved in breaking down portions of your bones are called osteoclasts (I remember it because clast sounds like crash and crashes result in breaking something….these analogies are how I got through nursing school so bear with me :))
The cells that help slow the breakdown of bone building cells are called osteoblasts (blast and BUILD both start with the letter b)
When you have sufficient levels of estrogen, that estrogen helps kill off the breakdown cells (the osteoclasts) so you have less cells breaking down bone in your body. That estrogen also helps protect the cells that build your bone (osteoblasts) so they don’t die off. Think about it as less demolition guys tearing down the house and more construction guys building onto the house. What you end up with is bones that stay denser for a longer period of time. This is a good thing!
When your body doesn’t have enough estrogen you end up with more bone breakdown and not enough bone building which results in weaker, less dense bones. What we call your bone mineral density decreases. If you’ve ever had a DEXA scan from your doctor, PA or nurse practitioner, that is an x-ray that measures your bone mineral density and can tell your health care provider if you have healthy bones, osteopenia (meaning decreased bone density) or osteoporosis, which is a disease that thins and weakens the bones. If you don’t develop any new risk factors, your health care provider usually orders a DEXA scan every 2 years.
How long after a missing period does it take for your bone health to be affected?
There are many factors that go into the effect a missing or irregular period will have on your bone health. The timing and onset of your missing periods plays an important role in determining the impact on your bone density. If you developed disordered eating, an eating disorder, you exercised a lot or any other reason caused your first period to be late (age 16 or older) or never come at all…..that can have a greater impact on your both health than perhaps if your period went missing for the first time in your late teens or twenties. I got my period late because I ran cross country in high school and then had irregular periods all throughout my teens and into my twenties due to excessive exercise and under eating and then it went missing for good. As females, we develop the majority of our peak bone mass by age 18 and by our early to mid twenties our bones have reached their maximum strength and density.
Genetics play a huge role in our bone health. Unfortunately, the women in my family are prone to osteoporosis – so there are things both me and you simply cannot control. And nutrition, how we exercise & move our bodies and other lifestyle factors like smoking also impact our bone health. Also, being at a low body weight in addition to not having your period compounds the issue. So there are a lot of factors at play here which make it hard to define a specific time at which your bones are affected by a lack of estrogen. What we do know though is that early intervention is key. Even if you haven’t had a regular, healthy period for decades…it’s ALWAYS better to be late than never in order to preserve the bone density you do have!
What we do know is that the loss of bone mineral density can be quick (within months) coupled with low body weight and inadequate nutritional intake. Missing your period during adolescence when the majority of our peak bone mass occurs can contribute to more significant loss. We also know that postmenopausal women lose most of their bone mass and density within the first four to six years after menopause and on average, a healthy post menopausal women loses about 1-2% of bone mass per year. When you don’t have enough estrogen in your body, you’re essentially in a post menopausal, low estrogen state so it’s not unreasonable to think about this data when thinking about our bone health when we aren’t menopausal, but we aren’t getting a normal healthy period.
Okay, I know some of this information might have been overwhelming but take a deep breath. I didn’t have a period for a long time and I have a family history of osteoporosis so this is not to scare you or instill fear or more stress. Rather, let’s use this information to empower us to make decisions today that can better our health. The past is the past, the only thing we can do is move forward and care for our bodies the best we know how today.
Can bone loss be reversed and what can you do to better your bone health?
Although you won’t be able to reverse the bone loss completely, you can replace significant amounts of lost bone and I think that’s encouraging news!
What happens more often than not, is women are prescribed birth control to help “protect their bones” – but the research isn’t very conclusive. Some studies showed birth control might help prevent further bone loss, and some showed some small increases in bone density over various time frames. Overall though, the evidence for birth control’s role in bone protection is pretty underwhelming. In fact, the majority of studies founds no benefit of hormonal medications on bone mineral density and actually are not recommended to protect bone health in the presence of anorexia nervosa and amenorrhea (which means not getting a period). And also know that yes, birth control can slow the rate of bone breakdown (which is good) but it also slows the rate of bone formation which isn’t helpful.
Also, it’s really important to know that weight-bearing exercise may only be protective for your bones if you are currently menstruating. If excessive exercise is one of the causes of your missing period, this exercise may be more harmful than good.
Biphosphonates are a class of medications that are commonly used in post menopausal women to preserve bone density. I get asked about these medications often from women with decreased bone mineral density who are premenopausal. What we know is that the potential benefits and risks of biphosphonates are very different in premenopausal women who have a different kind of osteoporosis vs postmenopausal women. The osteoporosis seen in premenopausal women often has to do with an underlying cause of bone fragility or bone loss and treating that underlying cause should be the focus to improve bone health. Data is lacking on the long term effects and safety of these medications in young women and so they are not recommended as a go-to treatment.
Okay, now you’re like…I get it. I hear you with what won’t help… but what WILL HELP?
Adequate energy (aka calorie) intake is key too. It might take some extra 1:1 support from a dietitian you trust to ensure you are eating to support your body’s needs. Also keep in mind that unless you have the skills and knowledge to be able to meet your body’s energy needs, intuitive eating might not be an appropriate place to start just yet.
These alone can often reverse a lot of the bone loss. You won’t have the bone density of someone who has never had low estrogen, but you can see great improvements to your both health. The body’s healing capacity is awesome.
Getting adequate calcium through your diet is also important – non dairy foods like dark leafy greens, beans and lentils and some nuts and seeds are better absorbed by your body than dairy foods. I don’t focus a lot on the nutritional minutiae of food, it’s stressful and not as important as the overarching big picture. Think of these as ones you can ADD TO what you already eat. You can also take 800-1000 IUs of Vitamin D3 per day as well – BUT go talk to your doctor first so he/she can guide you in supplementation based on your own individual needs.
I hope this was informative and empowering for you. I personally have walked this path with not getting a period on my own for over a decade and have then also struggled with irregular periods and had to navigate learning to care for my body so I can have regular, natural periods. Know that you are not alone. Know that your body is not broken and that there is nothing wrong with you. I know these conversations can be scary and maybe cause anxiety and worry. We are going to face challenges in life and maybe do things we wish we didn’t..but all these experiences are learning opportunities and shape us into who we are today. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself – you’re doing the best you can and all you can do today is take steps forward to better care for yourself.
If this post resonated with you or you found it helpful, I talk more about these types of things in my online course on healing hormones and getting a healthy period. You can also sign up for my free mini email course on healing hormones where I share more tips and tools to help you best care for yourself. I’m in this journey with you!
Hey, you! Hannah here. Today, I want to chat about a topic that’s been on my mind for the past couple of weeks — the similarities between the obsession with grades and the pursuit of thinness. Maybe this will resonate with you, and maybe it won’t, but either way, I’m grateful you’re here and thanks for reading. Go grab a cup of your favorite beverage (I’ve got a cup of hot coffee with me….caffeine always), and let’s get into this discussion.
I’ve been a high-achiever…or at least…what society deems to be high-achieving…from elementary school to now, my 4th year at Northeastern. I think that my grades have probably served me well in certain capacities: being accepted into colleges, having employers comment on the GPA they see on my resume, receiving academic awards in high school and college…I get it. High grades in our society are seen as the most worthy of recognition and thus, often-times, are favored in all sorts of ways. There is nothing inherently wrong with receiving A’s (if the person receiving them is deserving of them), just like there is nothing objectively wrong with grades symbolized by the following letters in the alphabet. But because a strong emphasis is placed on the highest grades in our society, those are the ones that are deemed the best. The gold standard. “A for Excellent”. It’s what many people strive for. And that’s okay. Being in our society, that’s normal.
Things get sticky though when the idea of maintaining excellent or perfect grades turns into an obsession. When it becomes life-sucking, stressful, and consuming. When it takes away from other parts of our lives that breath joy and calmness into us; when it defines who we are. Because in these contexts, it becomes a whole lot like dieting and disordered eating. Now, I’m not saying they are exactly parallel or the same at all, but I think it’s fair to shed light on the idea that there are similarities between these two worlds — the pursuit of perfection in academia and the pursuit of thinness.
I realized this parallel in my own life during a conversation with Robyn last month. We were talking about grades, and the fact that, oftentimes, the high-achieving part of my brain gets nervous that I won’t continue to “do good enough” in school. I think about grades – the ones I’ve gotten and the ones I’ve hoped to continue to get – a lot. If I’m honest with you and myself, as grad school applications quickly approached this year, the expectation to maintain the GPA and grades I currently have began to consume me. I started to feel all sorts of test anxiety and stress around studying enough. Achieving enough. Doing well enough.
So as Robyn and I sat there chatting about this, I recognized that the situation I was in sounded very similar to the ways in which dieting, bodily numerical values, and disordered eating habits used to take over my life and so much of my mental space. Through talking about this with her, I started to see that I did not want this obsession with perfect grades to consume me anymore. Dieting used to control me and my life, and now, a very similar thing was happening with grades. I didn’t want this underlying narrative to rule my life any longer; I wanted to be free of this high pressured mental and emotional hamster wheel. “I think I need to write about this,” I told her. “You should!!” she said with excitement that encouraged me to do just that…write about it.
An obsession (of any kind, but specifically here — disordered eating and the obsession with a GPA), robs us of our social life (or at least me). It can take away time that I would spend having fun with friends and turn it into time that I feel compelled and forced to use for studying (and in my diet days: meal-prepping, calorie counting, or exercising). For me, my friends are my lifelines. They are compassionate, caring, absolutely hilarious, and energizing. Spending time with them gives me perspective, laughter, love, and happiness. When I spend all energy and all hours of the week with my head shoved in books and highlighter covering my palms, I feel withheld of this happiness that even the smallest amount of time with friends brings me. The same thing used to happen with dieting, but thank goodness that ship has sailed.
This also applies to sleep. Obsessing about the test I just took or staying up late to study (and in the diet days: staying up to think about what I’d eaten that day or pack perfectly portioned tupperware for tomorrow) takes away from time that I could spend sleeping. Sleeping is so, so important — it’s one of the most critical things we can spend our time doing, and I know it makes me saner, happier, more engaged and better able to be present in my life. The obsession with my food intake, and now, the compulsion to pursue perfect grades, takes away from this really important part of my life that I know helps my brain and body a ton. WE NEED REST.
Dieting and chasing academic perfection both involve fixing on a specific number — there’s this belief in dieting that once we reach a certain weight or body fat percentage, everything in our lives will be better. Will will be happier. Life will have less problems. With grades, there’s the thought that once we attain a certain GPA or grade on a test, we will be more worthy — we’ll be happier. We will have more value. And if we don’t, then we’re less worthy, we may feel down, and we may question our abilities as students and people. Suddenly a B on an exam has us questioning our entire contribution to the world. Sounds dramatic, but this is how it can play out I think.
Both of these ideas are completely untrue, and while I’ve entirely let go of dieting’s hold on me, the numerical aspect as it ties into my worth regarding grades definitely still haunts me. I’ve been scared into believing that something lower than an A will “change” me or make me not as good. Not as worthy. Not a good candidate for future school programs. This is so similar to breaking free from disordered eating. When we first start out with the process, many of us are scared of eating foods that we restricted for so long and of possible weight gain because we think it’ll make us somehow less worthy than when we were in thinner bodies. But I instinctively know that this, as well as grades measuring my worth, are simply not true.
Numerical values that society and school tries to place on me cannot define me or you or tell me what I’m worth. Regardless of my pant size, the number on the scale, the grades I get on tests, or the GPA that I end up with, I’m still Hannah. I’m a determined, resilient, and hard-working student. I love to learn; I never want to stop. I’m a compassionate, kind-hearted, and sincere friend, sister, and daughter. (side note –> if it makes you feel uncomfortable to name positive qualities about yourself, that’s ok, but I’m going to encourage you to try and try again until you can begin to see who you really are because you’re valuable) I get to decide what I’m worth and who I want to be in the world. My weight doesn’t deserve that ability, and my GPA doesn’t either. Absolutely, I can choose to buy into the worth of numerical values and give them the power to define my happiness and my place in the world (I’ve chosen that in the past), but I am actively choosing not to now.
I know that some people may disagree with this idea, and that’s 100% okay. We are all going to have our different beliefs — that’s what makes this world interesting. And I do very much believe that an obsession with thinness is like having an obsession with grades of a certain standard. Striving to obtain perfect grades in college takes away substance from my well-being and replaces it with stress in a very similar way to how dieting used to. And if there’s something in my life that is going to take away from me being my best person and the best version of who I’ve been put on this Earth to be, I don’t want any part of that. I stopped jumping on various diet wagons, recovered from disordered eating habits, and let go of having a “perfect, healthy” diet. Now, I think it’s time to break up with the idea of academic perfection, too.
Okay. Hold on. Does this mean I’m going to drop everything, throw my anatomy textbook out my five-story apartment building, never study again in my life, and not care at all about my academics or my future? No. Definitely not. Just like how intuitive eating employs a gentle, non-obsessive, and freeing approach to nutrition and movement, I’m going to work towards being more gentle and less stringent with myself in terms of academic stress and grades. I broke up with dieting and recognized my disordered eating habits. I realized that they were not serving me, so I moved in the direction of finding a balance and a way of eating and moving that was light-hearted, not rigid, and completely worked for me. It turned out that letting go of this obsession with health and healthy eating was one of the best things I’ve ever worked on because I now have a happy, easy-going relationship to food; I want to pursue the same with my academics.
I don’t have a crazy, well thought-out plan for this, as that would require stress, and I don’t want any more of that in my life! But, what I’m going to do is just try my best – do the best that I can – without obsession. Some days, this is going to mean I prioritize studying and grades: I’ll study a lot for an upcoming test (and take quality breaks) because the material is going to be important for, and really help me in, my future as a healthcare practitioner. Some days, doing my best is going to mean putting my extraverted, friend-loving self first: taking a morning coffee walk with a friend, eating a good brunch, relaxing, and going out with friends on Saturday night. I am in college after all!
At the core of all of this, I’m a college student and applying to grad programs because I want to be the best healthcare practitioner that I can possibly be one day. I want to help people and be knowledgeable and confident in my practice. That’s going to require some effort on my part and I know that. This requires blocking out time to study, going to office hours, learning difficult concepts, and passing classes. But I also hope, for the sake of me being a 21-year-old with a lot of life left to live and enjoy, that all of this effort can be put in without a lot of anxiety. I hope that it can be accomplished without excess stress and without striving for perfection in every single really hard science class and lab that I am in…and that I will be in for the next couple of years.
Just like with dieting, if I let the idea of perfect grades overtake me and cause me more stress, a dismantled/unhappy social life, less sleep, less movement that I genuinely love to take time for, and a disrupted mental state, I find myself straight up burnt out. And I have about ~4ish years of school left ahead of me, not to mention any continuing education that I may want to take on upon becoming clinician. Burning out now due to an obsession with my highest possible undergraduate GPA is unreasonable. It’s silly. This is just the beginning! I’d waste all my academic energy and capital on my college grades so that by the time the grad school program comes around, I’ll be tapped out and expended. I definitely don’t want that. If I really want to be a great practitioner, not to mention a person in their mid-20’s who’s emotionally stable and has energy, friends, and a happy outlook on life, I’ve got to find some time among the books and tests and powerpoints for ME. For my mental health, laughter, my never ending laundry, my friends that I cherish a whole lot. For sleep, movement that I enjoy, cooking satisfying food, investing in my community and taking on some leadership roles that I enjoy, and time to call my family because that’s important too. There are so many things that are important besides grades.
I’m in college to learn and change. A lot of this learning involves absorbing and understanding (not just memorizing and cramming and stressing about) information that will help me in the future. And a lot of this change means letting go of the ideal GPA and grades in every class, and doing my best in school under less amounts of stress and self-imposed pressure. No, this doesn’t mean I’m going to give up my ambition, drive, and determination to succeed and learn. I don’t think that’s the answer or I would like that…I’m one of those that really does enjoy school. I like learning. I am SO thankful to be in school — that’s an absolutely huge privilege that I never want to take for granted.
I thank my lucky stars constantly for my place at Northeastern. Here’s the kinda crazy part…what I’ve learned so far, just through beginning to practice this new approach to school, is that taking time for me helps me to do well academically because I’m not stressing and obsessing over specific numbers or honors anymore. I’m just going about each day, doing the best that I can, while understanding that: 1.) it’s okay if I make mistakes, and 2.) that it’s important I sleep, eat, move, and see people who support me throughout the week.
Starting this semester, there is ROOM for mistakes. There is room for failure and mess-ups. There’s room to GROW and change and do better and do worse and fall down and get back up again. Honestly, there’s just room for me to be what I am, what we all are: human.
This is very similar to how breaking up with dieting went for me (and maybe it was or would be for you, too). Once I began to let go of food rules, rigidity, and stress over my eating habits and my body, I began to have an easier time creating a successful, freeing, and happy relationship with food, how I looked, and movement.
I haven’t figured this all out yet. I don’t know what the exact balance is between achieving reasonable goals in school and also maintaining time for all those self-care things that are important to me. Truthfully, I don’t think that there is a perfect balance, but I know that something has to give. There has to be a way to imperfectly and happily strike that middle ground. All I know for sure right now is that the way I’ve been doing things — being filled with anxiety about tests and papers and quizzes and letting my self-worth be defined by certain grades and a GPA, has got to change. I’m determined to find that balance (if there is such a thing) that doesn’t allow room for so much stress, negativity, and obsession — one that holds space for me to take care of myself and connect with people I care about. I know I deserve that. I know we all do!
This weekend started by meeting up with semi new-to-us friends. I’ve learned over the past year or so that making friends at 28 doesn’t come as naturally as making friends at 22. I think I’m naturally extroverted (although I’m definitely more introverted as I get older) so when either Nick or I, or me just by myself, go meet up with new people I do a pat on the back for putting myself out there.
We were introduced to Brad and Michelle through mutual friends and planned a dinner date for Friday. It was awesome! It makes me so happy to find friends that you feel like you’ve known way longer than a few hours. We started with dinner at Washington Square Tavern where I drank a couple glasses of cab and ate a black bean burger with guac and sweet potato fries.
And then we headed back to Brad and Michelle’s to watch the UNC vs Duke game. UNC WON THANK GOD. Nick is a die hard Tar Heel and how the game ends translates to the mood in our house for the next few hours. So a UNC win is a win for me ha.
During half time we ate cookies + vanilla ice cream.
Saturday morning we slept in until 8:30 and it was glorious. I love nothing more than when the sunshine through my window wakes me up and a remember it is in fact, Saturday. Does anyone else wake up on a weekend questioning the day of the week and a little frazzled as to what they need to be doing…and then realize, oh yea. NOTHING. It’s Saturday. Ok…me too.
I hit up the grocery right away because it’s minimally crowded and so much more enjoyable. I got a coffee when I walked in and strolled the aisles for a good hour. I picked up stuff to make pizza that night and a brunch we were hosting on Sunday for friends and somehow walked away spending way less cash than anticipated. Love when things end up better than expected. I had some coupons for free Perfect bars so that contributed. I really like the taste of Perfect bars but tbh, I don’t think I’d ever buy them with my own money because they’re pricey. But they are tasty.
I eyed this jar of Justin’s hazelnut butter last week that was on sale and then resisted due to the budget. Real life…I could go completely ham in the grocery without any boundaries. But this week, I saw it again and had zero restraint. By the time I got home I was overly hungry so I ate a banana and pb while we cooked some bacon egg and cheeses using bacon and everything bagels I picked up.
Two fried eggs + sharp cheddar + bacon + hot sauce. Awesome.
Then Nick and I tag teamed the apartment cleaning. Usually I clean and Nick does laundry. I cook and Nick does dishes. But when I got home from the store, he was somehow cleaning and I was like hallelujah. So we did a deep clean. It had been awhile. I’m not sure this is a healthy thought process, but having a clean apartment makes me feel like everything in life is going to be okay.
I wrote a few cards that I’ve been meaning to write forever and then ate several handfuls of granola + an orange and went outside on a run.
It was chilly but the sun was out so in my mind that means it was gorgeous. I listened to a podcast and then walked some while talking to my friend Jena. One of my favorite routes takes me through Fenway and then though the Longwood medical area.
Got home. Took a shower and drank my usual green smoothie – banana + spinach + milk + Vega protein powder. And then Nick and I went to a Bourbon + Bacon tasting event. My friend Hannah Jane (girl’s from Georgia) got me into bourbon a couple years ago coincidentally when I began dating Nick. Nick is a big fan of whiskey. So for his birthday or Valentine’s Day or some other occasion I sometimes get him tickets to a whiskey event.
We sampled a lot of different whiskeys – some I hated, others I loved – along with several bacon infused foods. With endless bacon and bourbon you’re bound for good times.
And then we made it back home in time for the UNC vs UVa game where UVa played an almost perfect game and UNC sadly lost.
But the homemade pizza was a win. I bought a bag of dough at Whole Foods and we topped it with bell pepper + onions + mushrooms and goat gouda cheese. I added pepperoni to Nick’s. And I threw together a Caesar salad. Basically romaine, dressing and parm.
I hate daylight savings in March because you lose and hour of sleep and I’m overly dramatic about it. I hate losing hours! In November though I’m all about it when you gain and hour. So we were up extra early for church.
After church we had a few friends over for brunch that included an egg + kale + sausage + sweet potato casserole and french toast! I haven’t had french toast in way too long because my default is pancakes but now I’m like…yes, french toast you good. And we had bloodies and mimosas…of course.
We bought some Stonewall Kitchen Bloody Mary mix when we stocked our bar cart a couple weekends ago and let me tell you..this mix is GOOD. A little spicy, thick and tomato-y and really fresh testing. Not like a mix that has been sitting there for ages. Highly recommend.
We ate and talked and had a lazy Sunday and it was perfect. Nick made the eggs and I did the french toast by mixing together 5 eggs, ~2/3 cup milk, a splash of maple syrup, vanilla extract, pinch of sea salt and some cinnamon. I sliced up a loaf of bread and let it soak in the egg mixture for about a minute on each side before cooking it on a buttered pan. It was fab but I think it would be even better with cinnamon raisin bread. Our friends have a little boy and we had this tiny cast iron that I think you’re suppose to melt butter in, but we made a mini egg casserole….like mini meals haha. I knew that little cast iron would come in handy.
After everyone left we spent the rest of the evening watching multiple episodes of This Is Us, making veggie curry for the week and eating leftover pizza for dinner.
Followed up by ice cream.
After a couple weekends of travel it felt so good to be back home. Hope your weekend was great too – share your highlights in the comments!
We got another round of snow yesterday and I loved it! I’m in no rush for spring and could stay cozied in sweaters with endless cups of hot drinks for several more months. And yes, I’m very lucid right now
I’m always looking for new recipe inspiration and a way to mix up meals in a simple, easy way. It’s a continuous back and forth between wanting to eat satisfying + nourishing food but also not spend a lot of time in the kitchen or thinking about food. I do enjoy cooking, but not everyday. And when life is busy, cooking feels like another thing on the to do list, not something I get to do. You feels me?
So in an effort to mix things up and keep it easy + simple, here are some of my go to recipes! Some I haven’t made in a while and need to bring back into the rotation. And some are recipes that look uncomplicated and quick and I want to make soon.
These banana blender pancakes are one of my go to recipes because they are so easy and all I do is throw everything into the blender. Then I add in chocolate chips or blueberries (or both) depending on what we’re feeling and top with more banana + nut butter or butter and maple syrup. Usually a combo of both. If there are extra, I freeze them for snacks. Smear on some pb + j and you have a satisfying snack with protein + carbs + fats.
Baked oatmeal is something I use to make but got out of the habit with and I keep telling myself to get back to it! It makes breakfast in the morning so easy. Make a batch on Sunday and then slice out a big square for breakfast throughout the week. I usually top with nut butter and greek yogurt or scramble a couple eggs on the side. This blueberry recipe from Cookie + Kate is an old favorite.
I think I’m going to start making these breakfast muffin cups to make breakfast even easier during the week. I could make a dozen on Sunday and then just toast up some bread for some carbs and breakfast is made without dirtying any pans on a Tuesday morning. Sounds pretty great I think. This recipe looks delish.
Right now I’m either throwing together salads for lunch with lots of roasted veggies, goat cheese and cranberries or making some sort of soup or stew.
This lentil soup recipe from Cookie and Kate (I love her blog for recipes) paired with some bread or crackers and dark chocolate.
I also love this roasted veggie salad recipe because the dressing is SO EASY. You can really roast whatever you want or is on sale at the grocery. I bought these plastic squirt bottles from Amazon and just throw all the dressing ingredients in one of those and shake until it’s blended up. Then I store the bottle in the fridge (it will last a couple weeks) and squirt on the dressing each day for lunch. You could obviously used bottled but I think homemade dressing tastes infinitely better and it takes 2 minutes.
I’ve also done this same salad dressing with spinach, goat cheese, cranberries, toasted walnuts and rotisserie chicken. That was really easy and involved zero chopping! Eat with some crackers and a piece of fruit for carbs to round out the meal.
Lastly, I’ll make some sort of pasta bowl with veggies for quick lunches. Here’s a pesto pasta idea in this blog post from this month or one of my go to recipes is this one from Hummusapien. I use whatever pasta I have on hand – sometimes that’s some regular ole penne or rotini or TJ’s red lentil or brown rice pasta. I have to be in the mood for lentil pasta so it’s whatever I’m feeling that week.
Dinner totally depends on the weather and how much time I have that week to cook. I like a one pot wonder vs cooking a protein, a starch and a veggie and making a square meal. My tastebuds just like lots of flavor and things all mixed up.
This is my go to chili recipe because it’s basic, no frills. I like my chili classic. Mix up the meat if you like and use ground turkey or ground beef. I prefer beef but if you use turkey don’t get turkey breast – get the thighs or your chili is going to taste like rubber shoes. If ground beef is super $$ that week I’ll do turkey since it’s usually cheaper. We eat it with baked potatoes and some sort of veggie. Also great for dinner parties.
Egg roll in a bowl is also one of our favorites. Skip reading the recipe posts and just grab the recipe – I serve it over a bowl of rice because carbs are what make a meal balanced, satisfying and satiating. Also a note for when you cook recipes. Just because it says it’s “low carb” and doesn’t include a carb, you can add a carb. That might sounds obvious to give yourself permission to do that, but if you struggle with that…know you can and should add a carb Same thing with “vegan” recipes…you can just use real egg, cow’s milk, real butter etc. Do what is good for YOU.
Mexican lasagna is always a go to. Literally so so so easy and cheap because I make it without meat and just use black beans. What works for our grocery budget is to do either lunch or dinner with meat, but usually not both. That’s purely to save some cash. I find I’m just as satisfied and so is Nick, but do what works for you. I layer in a can of refried beans too (just dollop on after the veggies) because it makes for an extra creamy casserole and the protein from more beans adds a bit more staying power.
We have KIND and Larabars on hand. In addition to bars of dark chocolate, crackers + hummus, fruit, and greek yogurt. I eat popcorn popped on the stove for snacks too. Usually I always bake something for the week. I LOVE snacking on baked goods more than anything and find them way more satisfying than bars or other packaged stuff. If I’m out and about or traveling, I find bars and other packaged snacks really convenient and always have them with me. But if I can eat some baked bread or a cookie, I’m so happy.
This banana bread recipe is a go to always. You guys see me eat this all the time because I love how simple it is. I can spread butter on it or peanut butter or nutella or cream cheese + honey. The possibilities are endless! And the doughiness of oat flour is so dahhhhm good.
I made these one bowl cookies from Oh She Glows last week because I had a bag of arrowroot starch from like centuries ago in our freezer and am now determined to use it up. After tasting one I about fell out off my chair… and then ate three more. I like this recipe because it’s a good mix between a snack cookie and more traditional cookie. For a midmorning snack I want something a little heartier than a traditional cookie (which is fab too and awesome in it’s own way) but I don’t want to chew cardboard. These were AMAZING. I hid them in the back of the freezer so Nick wouldn’t see them right when he opened the freezer because I’m selfish like that sometimes. Don’t act like you haven’t done that..
And lastly, these no bake cookie balls from Kylie are also incredible. I haven’t made them in a few months and need them back in the rotation.
What are you favorite go to recipes? Share in the comments!