When You’re Not So Nice To Yourself

Happy Thursday! I’ve been enjoying a few days in Pittsburgh this week and it’s been so good to be home with my favorite people. Linking up with Amanda today to think out loud. ūüôā

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On Monday, I was talking about my marathon training and I shared that one of my goals for this week was to eat more because I felt kind of weak and down last week. I’m running further and training harder, so I need more calories! #science

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While that logically makes sense, I am struggling mentally with that idea. Mostly because this week, I am thrown off my “normal” eating schedule. I am in Pittsburgh visiting my family and while I love every moment that I spend with them and every meal that we eat, I am¬†having a hard time being¬†okay with my food choices. A few years ago, I would’ve completely restricted myself¬†and been the person at dinner who couldn’t or simply wouldn’t eat certain foods. I am not really like that anymore, but this week is letting me see how much I still like to control what I eat for every meal and how interruptions are not welcome. I don’t restrict myself anymore, but I DO mentally beat myself up when I eat one of those foods that is “not allowed” (by my standards). While I have made great strides in eating, like not counting every single calorie I eat and paying attention to protein, fat, and carbs (you know, the good things), I still have work to do.¬†So what’s the problem?

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I am mentally beating myself up at every meal. With every snack. And it is driving me crazy. I am labelling everything I put in my mouth as “good” or “bad” and I feel like I have been eating way more of the bad, even though that is not true at all. My youngest brother has his driver’s permit and wanted to go out for food yesterday before I dropped him off somewhere. Or he dropped himself off. I don’t know, he has his permit, so he was driving and I was the passenger. ūüėČ Anyways, we¬†shared a 12-piece¬†chicken nugget from Chic-Fil-A and I mentally had a panic attack because OMGfastfoodIcanteatthisnowImgoingtobefat. But how can I say no to spending time with my baby brother? I can’t. And I won’t.

One of my closest friends from high school is expecting a baby and we went out to lunch. Besides our awesome two and a half hour conversation, here’s what I was thinking:

Broccoli cheese soup: bad. It’s a cream-based soup. That’s terrible for you.
Pecan crusted chicken salad: bad. dried cranberries and nuts on a salad just add extra unnecessary calories. Ugh, why did I order this?
Strawberry lemonade: bad. So sugary. You should never drink your calories.

I literally found something wrong with everything I put in my mouth at lunch. Two hours later when I was getting my hair done, I found myself telling my mom how terrible my food choices had been that day. I have many things to say about this because I KNOW I sound crazy. There is probably something good and bad about everything we put in our mouths. But do we need to think and talk about it all the time? No. However, there are articles on Facebook and Pinterest and all of our favorite websites about how to get healthier, be healthier, blah blah blah. It’s thrown in our faces all the time and personally, I love reading about health…but it’s obviously getting to me. One bowl of cheesy soup will not kill me. My salad also had spinach and chicken in it. And strawberry lemonade¬†just tastes good.¬†Also, as an aside, NO ONE cares about what I put in my mouth yesterday except for me. When my stylist heard me telling my mom about lunch, she said, “Oh my gosh, I love strawberry lemonade!” She didn’t hear the panic in my voice about all the bad choices I made. She also didn’t look at me and judge me by how I looked when I came in. Because in my head, I gained ten pounds at lunch. OY.

So where am I going with this?

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I need to practice self-love. I hear the term self-love and I think crazy voodoo weird things and possibly also meditation, but honestly, maybe I need to meditate. Hahaha! I like to think that I am nice to other people and try to build them up…so I really need to work on doing that for myself. I hear that “one bad meal won’t make you fat just like one good meal won’t make you skinny” mantra playing in my mind…but what happens when I eat a few meals in a row that I deem “bad”? Keep moving forward. Make better choices next time.¬†Enjoy your damn life.¬†Another personal goal is to stop identifying food as good and bad. I really really really don’t want to do that. Do you do that? Probably not.

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My family loves me. My friends love me. My dogs love me. Now I just need to love me.

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What I Ate (Or Didn’t Eat) Wednesday

I think about food constantly. I am¬†definitely¬†not one of those people who “forgets” to eat. I had a conversation with my coworker last week about how I don’t understand those people. I eat lunch and think about what’s for dinner. It’s just how I roll. ūüėČ But there was a time in life where I didn’t just think about food…I obsessed over it. And that led to some very unhealthy habits. How are we even supposed to know what to do anyway? Paleo, vegan, “clean eating”, counting your macros, the Zone diet…IT’S ALL SO CONFUSING! I listen to Chalene Johnson’s podcast “The Chalene Show” and she said something powerful recently: you don’t want to go ON a diet, you want to HAVE a diet. Something healthy that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. That makes so much sense. But of course I am just now coming to this conclusion and it took me awhile to get here.¬†A few years ago, I fell into the calorie counting trap.

When I was in high school, I danced and ran cross country. During my junior year, I also started going to the gym for fun. But I never worked out because I felt like I had to. Being active was just something I did. The same goes for food: I honestly can’t even tell you what I ate back then because I know I didn’t like a lot of pretty normal food…think scrambled eggs or lasagna with red meat…my picky childhood habits still existed. Ha! In any case, food was food to me. I ate what I craved and I ate when I was hungry. And now that I think about it, my high school lunches usually consisted of the salad bar, a side of fries, and a chocolate chip cookie. I’m dying. Hahaha

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June 2010

Anyways, like I said, I just didn’t give much thought to what I ate or how I worked out…or how I looked. That all changed when I went to college. The four years I spent at Duquesne were four of the best years of my life, but I became SO hard on myself. Freshman year, I was a statistic. The usual girl who gains the freshman fifteen. Except it was like the freshman eleven, so I was kind of proud of myself. Ha! I had just continued living my life the same way…eating what I wanted, working out how I wanted…but I threw some other things in the mix too. Like snacks in the library when you’re studying. And alcohol. And snacks with your friends¬†when you’re watching a movie. ūüėČ Plus, I just wasn’t moving as much. I was still dancing, but I wasn’t running anymore, and going to the gym was like social hour for me. In any case, I felt bloated and gross by the time I went home for the summer and I knew I was going to do something to change my ways.

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April 2011

It started off REALLY well. I LOVED indoor cycling classes at my gym and I started just being more conscious of what I was eating. If I knew I was going to indulge later, I would try to eat healthier earlier in the day. It was very balanced throughout the summer and all the way through my sophomore year. I even became a certified Spinning instructor! And I really did feel a change! But that was the extent of my thoughts about food and exercise. Point for me.

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April 2012

Then, I discovered the app My Fitness Pal and that little app rocked my world. Suddenly I was counting the calories in EVERYTHING. I certainly wasn’t eating less, but I really cared how many calories were in whatever I was eating. I worked an office job that summer so it was pretty easy to control what I was eating because I could only eat what I packed in my lunch box. If you aren’t familiar with My Fitness Pal, you can enter a bunch of statistics about yourself and it calculates what how many calories IT thinks you should be eating. It’s not very accurate (because everyone is totally different) and it doesn’t take into account what is in food…protein, carbs, fat, sugar…it just counts calories. So that’s what I did. And I became a maniac.

All of these crazy thoughts were just in my head. I fell into the trap of thinking 1200 calories per day was the way. I am not saying this is the wrong number for everyone, it was just the wrong number for me. Using My Fitness Pal to track my calories, I remember getting excited when it told me how much weight I would lose if I kept up these eating habits. And I remember how I excited I was when it said I didn’t reach my calorie goal. So wrong. But at this time,¬†I really thought losing weight and getting to that number I had in my head would make me so happy.

I didn’t want to be the weird person who didn’t eat certain things so I would order them or eat them, even if it was just a few bites. I did¬†get to the point where I didn’t want to eat at restaurants because that food didn’t come with a label that told me how many calories it was. I was the girl at the table Google-ing the restaurant’s nutrition facts while I looked over the menu. I also was the grocery store’s number one fan of everything low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie. I am sure my mother loved grocery shopping with me. But I wouldn’t let myself believe that I was doing anything wrong because I still ate “bad” foods sometimes…even though eating that food made me seriously panic on the inside.

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Exhibit A… ūüôā

¬†I didn’t even let myself believe something was wrong when I was at the hairdresser and I got so dizzy¬†sitting still¬†that they called an ambulance.¬†I was dehydrated…but I was probably also¬†hungry.¬†Other weird things started to happen to me too…and I knew they weren’t supposed to happen. Like I started missing my period. I was tired more than usual. And I craved sugar all. the. time. I remember telling my boyfriend at the time that I was worried that I was doing something wrong, but that I just wanted to be healthier. And because I was losing weight, I felt like that meant I was getting healthier. He told me to delete My Fitness Pal but of course¬†I couldn’t do that. Besides, the only comments I ever heard about the way I looked at this time were, “Wow! Have you lost weight? You look so good!” So even though I was questioning what I was doing, I kept right on going. I was losing weight in all the right places (which I had identified as my stomach and hips) and¬†even though I was getting closer to that number in my head, I had no intention of stopping. I was so proud that I looked so good!

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August 2012

When I got back to school in the fall for my junior year, I rediscovered my love of running. My friends and I had moved off campus and into an apartment and I loved waking up in the morning and running around the city. It was so pretty and such a refreshing way to start the day! But because I was still a maniac at this time, I also loved that running was one of the few exercises that burned the most calories. So if there was a day when I didn’t get to run, that was very very bad.

Finally, I started to hear some negative comments, and because deep inside I knew I was doing it wrong too, these comments really resonated with me. One friend told me he had never seen me eat a piece of pizza and he knew that I would never eat something like that. Just so you know, he usually ate lunch with me and I usually ate salad. And a cookie. Because #allthesugarcravings, remember? Another friend (behind my back) mentioned to one of our mutual friends that she noticed I had lost weight…and I looked too skinny. Those two things really stuck with me because I didn’t want to be that¬†girl. I also didn’t want to be the kind of person who ate at The Cheesecake Factory and then came home to run (even though I already worked out that day). And yes, that did happen.

I kept running (because I love heart love running for more than the number of calories it burns) but I decided to back¬†off calorie counting. Because I had started to doubt myself in this whole journey, I had discovered the term “orthorexia“, which is defined as an unhealthy obsession with eating “healthy” or “right” foods and I kind of thought that fit the bill for me. I wanted to be in control of my food, I wanted to eat only fruits and vegetables and chicken, and I judged other people HARD for their food choices. But when I finally decided to make a change, even though I felt like I identified with orthorexia, I didn’t seek professional help. I felt like because I could recognize this in myself that I didn’t need to get serious help. And that ended up working for me. Instead, I told my mom, my best friend, and my boyfriend at the time what I was thinking…and I told them to watch me. Because I was going to be watching myself. No extra workouts. Giving up the long list of restrictions. And DELETING My Fitness Pal.

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January 2013

I will not lie to you…it was very, very hard. I counted calories for so long that I could still count them even without using the app. I still judged other people for their food choices. I worked out extra hard on days I knew there would be “bad” food choices. And I couldn’t bring myself to reintroduce certain foods to my diet without feeling guilty…but you can’t expect instant change overnight. Also, my family got a puppy, so I had a new obsession. ūüôā

I still don’t actually like¬†how¬†I think about food and exercise, but I’m getting better. Ask my friends and family…I probably talk about food and exercise TOO much…but I am just trying to find balance now. I was very unbalanced for so long. I want to be in a place where food is just food and I don’t label it as “good”, “bad”, “healthy”, or “unhealthy”. I really want to know when my mentality shifted so much. Why did I used to be the kind of girl who didn’t think about food or exercise and still¬†loved life?¬†How did I became the kind of girl who judged herself SO MUCH? We all say that we are our own worst critic and I really believe that is so true. But I also believe that we need to work on loving ourselves because we only get one body. Even though I lost weight in this process, I really was not in any way living a healthy life. I was eating the most random assortment of food and working out for way too long. It’s hard for me to be at the weight I am now because it is almost 15 pounds heavier than I was at my lightest…but I honestly don’t believe that my body is made to be at that low weight. I am 5’9!!! Maybe with the right nutrition and exercise, I would get back there. I don’t know. I don’t care. I do know what I¬†don’t¬†want to weigh (don’t we all know that number? ;)) but anything under that certain number in my head is okay with me. Why? Why am I suddenly okay with weighing any number?

Because I’m really happy. Because I have forgiven myself.¬†Because I eat healthy (actually truly healthy…not Kylie is crazy healthy) foods. Because I work out 6 days a week and that is MY choice. Because¬†my clothes fit. And I can buy more if they stop fitting. ūüėČ Because my friends and family will love me anyway. And because I deserve to eat a cupcake when I want to and not feel bad about it.

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Short & Sweet

Usually I ramble on Fridays, but today I think I was a little more concise. ūüėČ You can be the judge.

Five things that are making me happy in this crazy busy season of life:

– ONE –

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Race expos are amazing for many reasons…you are surrounded by runners, there are lots of free things, and there are lots of shorts and shoes and fuel that runners love. The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Expo was no exception. It was one of the expos I’ve been to with the most booths to check out! Anyways, my running shoe of choice is Brooks and Brooks’ slogan is “Run Happy” which I mentioned is my favorite phrase to describe my running life. So, when I found these shorts on ridiculous sale for $18, they had no choice but to become mine. Wore them Wednesday night to running group…#love ‚̧

– TWO –

I think I have explained my love for Florence + the Machine and other “weird” artists on more than one occasion…this video proves my point. It is very weird. Ha! But I love her and her music and THIS SONG which I have been listening to on repeat all week so I can deal with the weirdness. I was so excited to see this new single in iTunes!!!

– THREE –

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Eating and chatting with friends is always a good idea, but it’s an especially good idea when you’re at a pizza place rated #36 out of 100 in the US. ūüôā We went to Pupatella’s¬†after we went running on Wednesday night and I got the Burrata pizza. It definitely wasn’t my first choice because there were SO many good choices on the menu, but we asked one of the waitresses what the best pizza was and this was one of her recommendations! When a worker tells you what the best is, you should probably listen. This was so delicious! It’s a white pizza with¬†no sauce, burrata (which is extra creamy buffalo mozzarella), cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil. I posted this picture on Instagram because there was a time in life where I wouldn’t have been caught dead eating this and on this night, I didn’t even think about it. I just truly enjoyed it. A few years ago, I remember someone telling me they had never seen me eat a piece of pizza before…and they could never imagine me eating one, either! I was very obsessed with only eating “healthy” food and it bothered me that this friend noticed. I am so much healthier now than I was then but I still struggle with body image a lot…I just have to live and let live. I’m getting better at that. Am I going to eat this every day or every week? Unlikely. But pizza rocks.¬†So. Progress.

– FOUR –

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This is a picture I took while I was running in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler this weekend…it’s nothing special, but the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the trees are pretty, and it reminds me that I love where I live.

– FIVE –

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I am just so very happy this week. I was in reflection mode as I thought about everything that has happened in the last year and I am just very thankful that God has led me right to this very place. And I am so excited about what is to come even though I have no idea what that is! During my quiet time yesterday, I came across this verse…

“It’s what we trust in but don’t see yet that keeps up going.”
2 Corinthians 5:7

…and it is perfect. We don’t have to know everything, we can plan and plan and plan…but God is going to give us something more AND something better than we could have ever imagined. And that is so exciting to me. ūüôā

Linking up with my favorites Andrea, Narci, and Erika for Friday Favorites!

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Andddd A. Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm, Hello! Happiness, and The Good Life Blog for 5 on Friday!

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Monday Musings

So, my weekend looked something like this:

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Photo Credit: Angela Fu

UMD hosted the Southeast Collegiate Fitness Expo from Friday to Sunday and to say I had no idea what I was in for is definitely an understatement! I was required to go because I work at the gym, but once I saw the schedule of events, I knew that I would¬†want¬†to be there! What could be better than a gym full of other fitness instructors who love working out and nutrition as much as me?! I have decided that being around like-minded people is the best. ūüôā

Saturday morning started off with an equipment-less bootcamp style workout led by Abbie Appel, a master trainer from Florida! Unfortunately, she didn’t bring the warm weather with her, but that room was full. of. sweat. We did a 40 minute workout: 8 minutes of work…a different exercise every minute…and then took a quick rest period. The class flew by and it was a perfect kick off for the events to follow on Saturday!

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She’s so cool she even took a selfie with us. ūüėČ

After boot camp, I was famished because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and I had ten minutes to hydrate, feed myself, and get to my next destination: Piloxing. Pilates + Boxing = Piloxing. And sweat. And fun. This trainer works in the D.C. area which is amazing because that means I can go to the class again sometime soon! I tried a bunch of different workouts on Saturday and ended the day in a seminar about social media…one, because it sounded cool, and two, because I just wanted to sit down!

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My mom sent me a care package last week and sent me all kinds of protein bars that sound like peanut butter and jelly. This bar was amazing and the perfect snack for my busy day. Why did she only send one?!¬†Saturday night, we all had to find our second wind because there was a social at the UMD Golf Course. I really wanted nothing more than Netflix and pajamas, but it was so fun to see my co-workers all dressed up in “normal” clothes! We made sundaes at an ice cream bar with different flavors from The Dairy and danced the night away with what little energy we had left! Sunday started off bright and early with hip hop yoga…hip hop music playing in the background while we stretched and relaxed and restored our bodies from all the festivities of the weekend! I attended three seminars: one about personal branding, one about running, and one about body image. I took so many notes (#nerdalert) and left so excited about being a fitness instructor! There is just so much goodness about this job. What was left of Sunday looked like this…anything that required laying down, even homework, sounded great¬†to me!

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During the weekend, there were certain seminars that we were assigned to monitor. Luckily, I monitored a session I wanted to go to! It talked about “fitspo” and how what we see on social media really affects how we think about our bodies, our exercise, our nutrition, and in turn, our happiness with ourselves. On Instagram, we are bombarded with images, but I feel like many of those are positive. My newsfeed is typically posts of people pre- or post-workout with an inspirational quote thrown in. However, there are¬†so¬†many “inspirational” pictures floating around the Internet that aren’t actually inspirational at all…they’re just degrading. That was not really something I had thought about before. I decided to look at my Pinterest workout board and see what kind of images I have been pinning:

I found six that made me shake my head. Three of them were shirtless images of Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, and Channing Tatum. I have no idea what that was supposed to represent for my workout life. Clearly, I am not a man;) But that kind of shows how men who aren’t celebrities might feel pressure to look a certain way. ¬†Anyway, I have shared the other three here, but if you click on my Pinterest board, they’ve all been deleted.

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I feel like the body types represented here suggest that we should all be this thin. If you are a naturally thin person, there is¬†nothing wrong with that. What I am saying is that you should not strive to push your body to an extreme that it cannot handle. I don’t have experience testing the jumping jack theory suggested on the left, but it seems kind of unrealistic to me. I¬†do¬†like the advice on the right…we can wish for whatever we want, but we are in control of our health, and that requires¬†doing¬†something to change your situation. Just like anything else in life. However, no one looks at that picture and gets all deep and thoughtful about the quote. When we remember that quote, we associate it with that picture. And really, I do not wear my sports bra to work out, so that picture just makes me feel bad about myself. I am proud of that girl for being so fit, though. ūüôā

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If you clicked on this image on Pinterest, it took you to a page that told you how to get a nice butt. But honestly. I would rather see a photo with the actual exercises than these girl’s behinds. The bad thing about these images floating around is that even if we scroll right past them, we still think about them. Images are powerful and they¬†can¬†affect your thoughts. That is crazy to me. We need to change the norm so that we are surrounded by¬†good¬†thoughts and images!

Here…this motivates me to work! This is a great example of an image that is effective. We can’t play the comparison game because there are no butts to look at;) And it gives you steps to take the action¬†you need to be a healthier, happier you.

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Another good example. Good message and an almost fully clothed girl;)

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Things that we say or read are powerful too. Luckily, most of the quotes I have pinned are about being a happier person. I was glad to see that after thinking about this topic. Here’s a quote that is everywhere¬†in the media –>¬†“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I would like to disprove this theory by asking you¬†to think¬†about all your favorite treats. Queso, peanut butter straight from the jar, and cookies are pretty tasty, too;)

You should use images and quotes and social media and whatever else you have¬†to motivate yourself to be healthier. I am 100% supportive of that. I am just thinking that we need to do this healthy thing for us. It’s not even just about looks…you may compare yourself in other ways. Someone lifts heavier than you. Someone runs faster than you. Someone can do a crazy inversion at yoga. We just have to know that we are doing the best we can and that truly, we will only ever look like, run like, lift like, eat like, be like…ourselves. And occasionally, we don’t favor our own self. We want to be beasts;) So we need to practice using those thoughts constructively.

I have worked really hard to change my mindset. I want to focus on what my body can do rather than play the comparison game. I can run long distances, I can lift dumbbells that are heavier than they were at this time last year, and I can correctly do down dog in Yoga and PiYo classes. Do I wish that I looked a little different? Sometimes, but we all have goals. Your health is your life, not a short term goal. So at this point,¬†my jeans still fit. I bought a bikini on Friday. And I really like dessert. I just have to be happy with the body I have and make those changes in a healthy way. When I have those days of feeling bad about myself, I hope that I still share positive thoughts and images with others. There was a time when I didn’t like how I looked and I thought that restricting what I ate and working out excessively would help me change my body. Both of those things¬†did¬†help me change my body, but I was also tired, craving sugar, and¬†unhappy.¬†There’s a part of being healthy that requires being happy. And being healthy doesn’t mean being skinny. I learned this. It’s a trifecta of working out, eating healthy foods, and¬†being freaking happy.

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I challenge you to look at the images and social media accounts that you find inspiring. What is so inspiring about them? They should make you want to be a better person in all aspects of your life.

Happy Monday. ūüôā

Special thanks to Alicia for leading such a thoughtful session!