REFLECTION

why body shaming really needs to go away

This one is definitely for my female audience. Apologies to my boyfriend who has had to hear about this topic a million times while I have spent the last several months drafting this in my pretty rare, spare time.


This post has nothing to do with flamingos except that they look alike and not all people do and that’s okay. 

I recently read an article about a celebrity’s magazine interview comment throwing some shade at a separate group of celebrity friends who are thin, some who are models, because they represent a false image of what people should look like.

When I think of body image, I think of the girl I see in the bathroom mirror, where the light is the most unflattering because that aids my cause. That girl is probably the same as what other people see when they look at me, but I hope not. Cause if they do, they see the skin on my stomach is stretched out from having gained and lost weight, that my butt has gotten flatter for the same reason and my left thigh has very visible stretch marks. They see that a double chin is slightly detectable if I tilt my head down, that I have “armpit” fat regardless of how hard I work my chest and arm muscles. The dark circles under my eyes, the thin, stringy hair (which has slightly improved with a new shampoo and conditioner combo) and pale, blemished skin. They will see eyes that lead to my every thought and sometimes right into my soul. That means they will see my insecurity, my anxiety and my frustration with myself for talking way too much and never getting the words quite right. They will see the longing to be accepted over anything else but always hanging out on the defense as counterintuitive as that may seem. They will see the ugly girl whose reflection appears whenever I let it.

I am told on a regular basis that I am beautiful, by a variety of sources, which leads me to believe that it’s likely not a lie even when I feel like it is. So why do I feel that about myself? The mirror reflects another layer on top of my outward imperfections that I know exist which means that beauty must come from within and other peoples’ opinions actually don’t matter. The compliments lift me up briefly but it’s my own perception shaping how I feel every day.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts how the mirror is a magical thing because it reflects what you want it to. I feel prettier after I work out. When I’m tan I feel like my sun-kissed skin literally glows, creating a goddess-like aura around me. When I drink, I feel less attractive with every trip to the bathroom. I’ll be honest that one still stumps me, I guess “beer goggles” just don’t work on myself.

Maintaining a positive body image has been a struggle for me since the day I understood what boobs were and that I didn’t have any. I was probably 10. It got worse and worse until I found myself 22 years old and chubby with an eating disorder. It got better as I got healthier and my confidence and inner happiness peaked (I was also living at the beach at that time so maybe it was just the salt water as the sayings go.) Since, I have found things to pick over with myself and days where I see too many gorgeous women on social media, my inner dialogue tears myself apart.

Based on experience, this means there is a very large and partially valid argument that (many forms of) social media, magazines, TV, internet adds and models promote being thin and pretty, inevitably feeding this wild fire of body shaming issues. While those industries may be using these types of women in their marketing, nobody is telling you that you must be that way. I am willing to bet for as much as you may want to look like somebody else, there is probably a list of reasons why you shouldn’t want to be like them because everybody has their flaws whether they are visible outwardly or not. It’s up to us to acknowledge what’s around us but not let it consume us. I think it sounds weak to blame my insecurities on the fact that somebody else working in a photo-shopped industry making lots of money is so thin and so beautiful. However, I know that it is important to make sure that young girls understand they don’t have to look like that to be successful or loved and to help them continue that understanding into adulthood without it morphing into resentment of others who are different or themselves. That’s where our society seems to be missing the mark.

Let’s stop categorizing each other’s bodies for anything other than for the sake of your health… and don’t do this unless you are a legit professional please! BMI or other methods of measuring healthy body weight used as a marker of body fat and potential health risks that ensue if you are over or under normal limits – (usually) good. She’s so fat or she’s too thin – not good.

Let’s stop shaming others for being something we are not. Thin-shaming people is just as bad as fat-shaming.  Let’s not make people feel bad for being overweight and let’s not make people feel bad for being skinny. As somebody who has been 40 pounds up and down the scale in her adult life and hyper insecure, I have been guilty of (and also fallen victim to) both. When I was bigger, I was so annoyed by anyone smaller than me and before I gained any weight I couldn’t fathom how you could just “let yourself go.” Both are mean and a complete waste of time. I hate that we live in a world where it’s ingrained in our moldable brains from the beginning that thinner is better but if you get there and really change things around for your health, then people start harping on your too-thinness and that becomes a whole new target.

Let’s stop putting so much thought into tearing ourselves and others down because we are not as _____ as this other woman. If you want to have role models and make a change because someone inspires you to be the way they are, make that change. But stop being so hateful to yourself (and others) along the way. There is something uglier than the imperfect body you may think you have, and that is your derogatory attitude towards other women. If you’re an angel and have never said anything mean about another woman that she didn’t deserve, my apologies.

Chances are there is at least one thing you really like about your outward appearance. How about we focus on that instead of the thousand negative ones and maybe compliment someone else when they show up looking better than you do that day instead of feeling annoyed or insecure. What kind of women would we be if we did that and stopped dwelling on things that really don’t matter so much? Possibly inspiring and kick-ass.

And that’s who I want to be.

 

 

why my solo trip to Raleigh was so much more than just orientation

Somehow I got to age 24 without ever having to take a trip completely by myself. When I found out orientation for my dietetic internship was going to be out of town for 10 days, I freaked a little. I couldn’t stop thinking about the multitude of things that could go wrong because of who I am as a person and how uncomfortable I am being alone as a woman. By the time my departure date rolled around, the excitement for starting this new opportunity outweighed the negative thought processes so I headed out a really happy girl.

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Indulging one morning with a biscuit sandwich and a donut which was pretty painful to do as a dietetic intern, but so worth it!

The four and a half hour drive wasn’t too grueling. I didn’t get stuck in any traffic and only got lost for a hot second trying to find a Starbucks to refuel. I checked in and lugged my massive suit case up to my room. I checked the closet, behind the shower curtain, under the bed and behind the window curtains for anybody waiting to kidnap or kill me. Once I realized the coast was clear I was pretty thrilled by my set up. I had a decently-sized kitchen to get me through my stay. Everything seemed clean and there were free paper towels and dish soap which made me pretty happy considering I’m a jobless twenty something.

I remembered reading in an orientation email that there was a Whole Foods nearby so I set out to grab groceries for the week. Coming from my hotel trying to get back onto the highway I encountered three left-hand turn lanes and realized I may have made a monumental mistake staying here because I am not an aggressive/even kinda good driver and was so intimidated by this place. I should probably add that I’ve never seriously shopped at a Whole Foods before which meant I spent about 40 mins weaving in and out of aisles trying to locate all my needs. It also took an excessive amount of time for me to try and fight for a spot at the hot foods bar. I really needed some of that mac & cheese that I wasn’t quite aggressive enough to make it known to the what seemed like millions of others getting their foods first. I ended up maneuvering my cart out of everyone’s way like a weirdo pretending like I was perusing the refrigerated ready-to-eat foods, but I was really waiting for people to clear out. Checking out was the worst. The trip ended with me gawking at my grand total of $171 wondering how in the world the amount of items I’d selected added up to what my boyfriend and I spend for 2 people to eat for 2 weeks. I got back in my car and almost burst into tears.

How was I going to become a real professional if shopping at Whole Foods in the capital of North Carolina felt like such a huge feat?

The first day of orientation was SO overwhelming. I had forgotten that I wrote “Dani” on my name tag and kept introducing myself as Danielle which probably confused my peers and director/coordinator. We got bombarded with a ton of info and it was incredibly hot and humid that day. Trying to maintain my composure on top of the outside conditions had me sweating profusely all day. I contemplated checking myself into the nearby hospital to have studies done on why my sweat glands couldn’t take the hint to cut it out. Somehow I managed to survive the day and make a few friends.

As I went to make dinner for myself that evening, I discovered the pans in the drawer were covered in a mildewy substance and had to go ask the front desk for more. While I was at it, I borrowed a corkscrew to open a cheap bottle of wine. By the time the front desk man brought me up new pans I realized I didn’t know how to use the corkscrew and asked him to open my wine while standing as far away from the door as I could, propping it open with my foot praying he wouldn’t take that as some kind of seductress invite to enjoy the bottle with me.

I’ve never been the kind of person who is comfortable with inviting people I’ve just met to hang out. Probably some kind of inward fear of rejection. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited out for sushi with some of my peers when Friday rolled around. The place ended up having BOGO sushi and $3 Coronas so basically between that small detail and being surrounded by a bunch of dietetic interns happy to have made it to the weekend had me feeling alright.

By day five of my travels I had successfully slept alone in a hotel for four nights, shopped at a fancy grocery store, driven in traffic with 3 left-hand turn lanes and made friends all while avoiding being murdered. Adulting.

A large part of our Saturday was spent trying to find a pool to swim in and I was so amazed when one of the girls in our internship let us use her apartment complex’s pool as well as open boxes she had yet to unpack to find us enough beach towels to use to swim. Sometimes all you have to do is ask!

We went out Saturday night for Mexican food where I was super impressed by my friend’s gutsiness to order and pick up food from a restaurant across the street when the restaurant couldn’t provide her with anything 100% gluten free. I am usually so worried about what others might think of me that I don’t always do what is best for me and I thought that was a pretty kick-ass take charge kind of move, as simple as it was.

We visited a roof-top bar where we learned that summers in Raleigh provide zero relief from the heat. Last stop was dancing. We just so happened to pick a place where a wedding party was after-partying and I got groped by the groom while our group of girls danced in a circle, cause girls just wanna have fun.

My wonderful boyfriend came to visit for a few days and we had a blast. We did some touristy stuff like visiting the art museum but mostly spent a lot of that time eating AMAZING food. If you ever visit Raleigh (or any other location that has one) you have to go to the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. We had “burgushi” and it was life-changing. I ate entirely too much and didn’t regret it for a second.

The last night we were all together, about 20 of us went out for one last social event before we parted ways. We ended up at an Irish rooftop bar where our waitress happened to be an Irish student visiting for a summer. Authentic. I was the planned DD for me and another intern but as the night continued I was convinced I should drink more and catch an Uber home. I asked the bartender how early I had to come back for my car the next morning (which turned out to be an hour too late as evidenced by my $30 parking ticket.) As much as I liked my new friends I was a little nervous to rely on them to get me back to my car in time to pack it up and make it to 9am orientation for our very last day. But for as much as I was nervous I felt even weirder about requesting an Uber at 7 am to pick up my car in the streets of Raleigh. Luckily she came through and we got ourselves together on time!

It was a bitter-sweet moment to part ways with such a tremendous group of women (and one gentleman) who I had just experienced orientation and started building friendships with. I truly felt that these people, the city and my solo traveling helped me grow as a person – realizing my ability to be a little more independent and to try and not be so uptight and pessimistic about so many things.

I don’t know if I will ever find myself there again, but I will always have truly fond memories of Raleigh and know better than to try and order tequila and grapefruit juice in that city 3x, thinking the next place would have one that tasted better than the last.

5 life lessons from my first big-girl job

About a month ago, I left my job with WIC to go back to school as a dietetic intern. I could seriously write a novel about my first job experience but I’d like to share some positives I took away from it; the things that will continually impact my future career and attitude.

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~Insert cliché sunset quote.~

. . . . . . .

1) Sometimes you just need to let it go.

I am the kind of person who gets hung up on the principle of the matter. In other words I need things to be “right” and if someone doesn’t seem to understand where I’m coming from or even remotely thinks I intentionally did something I wasn’t supposed to I have to explain away. Growing up I always wondered why people in movies didn’t explain themselves when something appeared to be wrong and they weren’t at fault. It seemed silly to me to play the martyr. However, I realize now that sometimes things happen and you don’t need to explain yourself, just learn from it and move on. I’ve felt a natural pause in my thought process urging me that maybe I should keep my mouth shut but I kept on going until one specific experience made me feel like a big dummy and now I get it. A lot of the time a simple, “sorry, it won’t happen again” is all people need to hear because you can’t always be right and you can’t be everyone’s favorite person.

2) Kill ’em with kindness.

*Starts whistling Selena’s song.*

I worked in a field where sometimes I got treated like absolute garbage for no reason and it was extremely difficult not to give in and give it back. One afternoon I got threatened by someone because we had a misunderstanding and things on their end escalated very quickly. I defended my ground on the subject when I should have just kindly agreed and let it go. Was I right? Yes. Do I deserve to let people walk all over me every day? No. But did I sign up for that? Unfortunately. The world doesn’t work the way it should and dishing negativity back to a negative person does zero good. The longest I had to interact with a client in my office was an hour and in the grand scheme of things it’s never worth letting someone get the best of you, especially for that short amount of time. I had a quote posted in my office, “be so happy that when others see you they become happy too.” It isn’t going to work every time but keeping my chin up and my dignity intact with clients is always the best route. There are tons of methods of redirecting the situation or getting help if you need it without ever stooping to their level. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes not budging from a (genuinely) positive attitude no matter what is said or done really does make you feel better even if that person’s demeanor never changes.

3) Workplace gossip is no bueno.

I was hoping that the gossip and cattiness would end the day I threw my cap in the air at my high school graduation. I hate to admit that I still take part in it. For me it comes from a place of not being able to keep anything to myself and needing to talk things out in order to calm down/move on, not because I build myself up from putting others down. Still, that doesn’t make it any better because I’m guessing if my self esteem was 100% and I never doubted myself, I wouldn’t feel the need to talk these things out. Most likely it’s just human nature but I think it’s a terrible way to be because if we put all the effort we spend being negative into something worthwhile this world would be a better place and I would be a better human being. It’s something I’m actively working on every day because if I found out that anyone I’ve ever talked crap about said a single bad thing about me I would probably be heart broken and that’s a crazy double standard to hold.

4) You’re going to do stupid things.

And you just have to brush it off.

Seriously though, when you’ve got expectations to see an average of 20 clients/day (each going to have unique barriers and issues), have to speak 2 different languages and keep up with the 1,000 other unknown tasks that pop up out of nowhere, it’s hard not to mess up. Sometimes it’s genuinely embarrassing and if I had known some of the mistakes I would have make, times I wouldn’t catch on to something right away, or times I would have cry in front of coworkers prior to taking that job, I would have seriously reconsidered it for my pride. Nobody likes looking like an idiot or messing up but each day can be taken as a learning experience to lessen the pain of goofing up the next day.

5) Being the workplace “baby” makes everything different.

Respect-wise, acknowledgment-wise and helpfulness-wise – being the youngest person working in your district has a clear impact on how you are regarded by coworkers and clients. Most of the time I liked it, I felt like I was being looked out for and cared for a little extra but at the same time I felt there was a low level of respect given to me based on my appearance and it being evident that I was fresh out of school. Based on the fact that I have a baby face and have had people continue to guess I am 13 years old for the past 10 years, regardless of my age, my appearance is going to continue to make people hesitant of whether or not I am capable and credible to do my job. It has really made me realize how much I need to step up my game with credentials, continuing education and the way I carry myself so that I can demand respect of others no matter how much younger than 24 I actually look.

. . . . . . .

Regardless of the fact that I left my first job after a short 21 months, I feel like I gained 3x that in nutritional knowledge, self-respect and maturity. I regret making it known that I didn’t like my job at the level that I did but I’m proud of myself for owning that something wasn’t for me and moving on to something that makes my heart flutter with excitement each time I realize that I made it to becoming a dietetic intern and all that my future holds. My heart is full of gratefulness for each person that treated me so kindly and for each person who challenged me to a breaking point and in turn helped me in my journey to being the best me.

The stumbling awkwardness of my first big-girl job has come to a close and I’m still standing. So that’s something to rejoice in and of itself.

 

 

“to travel is to live” – the rhode island road trip

 

Our Rhode Trip

I’m sitting in my apartment by myself and just broke out into a genuine smile because I love puns that much.

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photo-op on the Cliff Walk

My boyfriend and I decided to adult and take a vacation together. We started planning this thing approximately 7.5 months prior to the main event. What can I say, making plans to travel is my favorite. It started out as a road trip to Maine with some stops in states along the way to get in Boston, Bar Harbor, Newport and Waterbury (Ben and Jerry’s Factory) just to name a few. A ton of financial changes occurred that were not in our favor leading up to said vacation, so we decided to make it a trip where we stay with family. I’ll admit free lodging was a factor, cause you’d figure that one out even if I didn’t disclose.

I tend to have a lot of enlightening moments when I’m traveling. Here are some highlights/life-lessons from our Newport Rhode Island Road Trip Adventure:

  1. Monday morning we already had plans to check out Mystic Aquarium in CT, but in between listening to new albums on Spotify, the topic arose and we decided to go to Mystic Pizza because neither of us had seen the movie but who doesn’t love Julia Roberts? I am sad to report it tastes exactly like Pizza Hut but the adventure of a spur of the moment stop to get pizza at a movie-famous location in the cutest town makes it fonder, that and the jalapeños and sour cream that our pizza was smothered in. There are few things better than new experiences with someone you love. This stood out in particular because I literally had an itinerary written out for the trip and we added something fun on top which made me feel like a super care-free, fun girl. Like the kind you’ve seen in ads with wind-blown hair, hands in the air riding in a convertible. I guess you can really be anyone you want to be.
  2.  On a rainy day during our trip we toured the Vanderbilt’s mansion, the Breakers. They had the whole headphone self-tour setup so we were walking room to room making a game out of pressing the play button at the same time so we were hearing the same things. Per usual we were the people laughing and showing expression unlike everyone else zombie-ing around (whenever I go to a movie-theatre, show, etc. me and the people I surround myself with are usually the ones laughing the loudest/most often.) It was so incredible to see and hear a little more about the lives of people we learned about in history books growing up. There was a room with these details painted on the walls with platinum. “Oh yes, this is the room I sit in for an hour on Sunday mornings, I needed the walls to be embellished with a precious metal that will never tarnish. Isn’t it devine, darling?” I pretended for a few seconds that that was my life…
  3. A trip just wouldn’t be normal without at least one minor incident. We were playing paddle ball on the beach one afternoon and to set this situation up, I get pretty into paddle ball. If you can call it a sport, it’s my favorite one to play. I was going low for the ball but somehow smacked my ankle instead. It made the loudest cracking sound but I tried really hard to play it off cause I’m in my bikini trying to be athletic here. I didn’t fool anyone. Matt asked me if I was okay and I stopped jogging after the ball to look down at my by-then purple ankle. He had to help me limp back to our beach towels where I moaned and groaned for a bit concerned I was going to be stranded alone on the beach with one leg out of commission while he walked back to the house to get the car and come pick me up. But in twenty minutes or so I stood up and was fine, crisis averted.
  4. We went on a boat tour of some lighthouses and got served mimosas while we cruised the harbor. Each time I’ve told this story not a single person was surprised that our boat was filled with old people. I still don’t get it. It was really fun and entertaining. I learned some history about lighthouses and pirates and an old lady who broke the windows out of this house in the middle of the harbor to survive a hurricane. I think I’m made for the boat life filled with bottomless mimosas….and apparently also for being old. Another majorly touristy thing we did was go on the Cliff Walk, in between the water and the mansions. After we got to the halfway point where we planned to turn around, curiosity got the most of us and we ended up walking 6.5 miles before we were back to the house. The views in New Port >>>
  5. Right before we left for the trip, the idea was expressed to me by some friends that my boyfriend may be using this trip to propose to me. I know that is in our future, but not our immediate future so I tried not to let the thought excite me too much. I do want a sparkly diamond, so how could I not entertain the thought just for a bit? A little over forty eight hours into it, I had to get the reassurance that I could forget about it and enjoy our trip proposal-pondering free. He told me not this time and that was that. Until we got to dinner. We went to this fancy place on the water, all dressed up. The venue wasn’t what alarmed me, it was the fact that we got seated completely by ourselves where we could romantically enjoy our dinner. I couldn’t stop thinking it was gonna happen. I was shaking and practically chugging my gin drink that tasted way too similar to toothpaste. I got breadcrumbs all over the table ( don’t worry I blew some towards him so the waitress wouldn’t just think it was me being a mess) and dropped my knife, oh wait that’s normal behavior for me. Anyway we had a decadent meal and got a little drunk. The next day I bought myself an Alex and Ani ring because I really wanted a pretty piece of jewelry. I was almost too embarrassed to admit this happened to me for fear of sounding crazy, but I had an epiphany that I am secure in my relationship where we openly talk about our future together so there is no need for worry. Secondly, I do not need a man to validate my self-worth by putting a ring on my finger. I think the translation of what that really means gets lost sometimes in the culture of big over-the-top weddings most girls dream of from the day they receive their first Barbie in a wedding dress. Either way, I’m happily in love and for $28, have the cutest little starfish ring to admire all summer long.
  6. Meeting new family is always terrifying, but my boyfriend’s aunt and uncle welcomed me so graciously. I got to hear a lot of stories about him as a younger kid and even some about his dad. Sometimes life gets busy and you forget how truly important spending time with family is.

. . . . . . .

This was a super budget trip where we got treated to clam chowder, lobster rolls and savory seafood donuts. Win, win. The scenery was seriously magical and we came home with full hearts feeling really refreshed after some much needed time off of work. I finally even gained enough trust that my boyfriend let me drive his car on the way back home!!

It never ceases to amaze me how much I grow as a person when I travel and for that reason alone I’m never going to stop. And I’m extra happy to be in a place where I have my best friend to share these new experiences with.

 

what happened when I logged off social media for 24 hours

We’re running out of days to get things done before vacation and one of these tasks includes a giant homework assignment for my internship. I haven’t been in the medical nutrition therapy zone for two years now so while some things look familiar, it’s been a struggle. I’ve been getting kind of frustrated with myself lately because I have so many things to do yet I find the time to check instagram and facebook about 30 times a day and my checklists aren’t being completed. So yesterday I decided to not login to any social media to accomplish more and this is what happened.

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  1. I was happier. I have been on a mission to boost my self-esteem for the last several years and while I have truly done a 180, there are some days when I can’t stop focusing on the x number of flaws I find with my body and or who I am as a person. Constantly seeing other girls’ fitness, beauty and just everyday life posts on instagram sometimes really makes it hard for me to face my own self in the mirror. I am in shape and a size zero. I’m a nice person and think my face is pretty decent once I cover up the dark under-eye circles but I compare myself to other flawless women with hundreds or thousands of likes and sometimes that makes me not like myself. I’m also a perfectionist and rarely ever content with anything. Yesterday I felt beautiful and confident because I was not comparing myself to anyone, and I know I’ve written about it before but comparison is truly the thief of joy.
  2. I opened my instagram app without thought. I’m so in the habit of checking my email, facebook, instagram and snapchat when I’m bored or waiting around or just need a mental tap-out from reality. I was standing in line at a local coffee shop waiting for my one-pump vanilla soy latte and all the sudden I’m looking at instagram. There was never a thought process of oh let’s check this out while I’m standing in line, I just zoned out and opened it and then was like what the f*%! I’m not supposed to be getting on this today! This leads me to the conclusion that checking instagram has become as much of an unconscious part of my daily routine as breathing….and that’s terrifying.
  3. I had less anxiety. I get nervous anytime I ever post anything on social media. I guess it’s my inward fear of people not liking or accepting me. The instant gratification we receive from people “liking” our posts really creates a direct sense of self-worth every time a post gains popularity. Personally most of the things I post are meant to be humorous or uplifting because I like to make other people happy. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I just want to show off how I look or feel or what I did that day – and I want other people to think I’m cool. Social media creates a platform for us to be our best, most filtered and edited selves so if others don’t like that, how will they like the real me?? It’s such a ludicrous thought process and that’s where half of my anxiety stems from; I don’t like that I care but I can’t stop caring. I also had less anxiety because I wasn’t getting worked up over the stupid things people post on social media.
  4. I had FOMO. Aka fear of missing out. I was legitimately concerned I was going to miss something important or juicy, which is rather silly. If something truly important happens I will hear about it from people I communicate with outside of social media. It’s hard to be outside of the loop though, especially when most of your friends and family don’t live close by, you wanna know what’s going on and social media is a perfect way to stay connected.
  5. I participated more in the world around me. When your face isn’t glued to your phone or computer screen, there are a lot of other things happening in the world to enjoy and observe. I actually almost forgot my phone this morning on the way to work because I felt disconnected from it for the first time since I got a new phone after my 5 week phone-free stint in Spain (it got stolen and there was no method of replacement.)

Turns out I didn’t get anything more accomplished because we were slammed at work and I was busy with other stuff all night when I got home.

I’m not sure that there will ever come a day when I will stop using social media because I find the positives to outweigh the negatives, and that isn’t even the point of this post. But it’s cool to be kinda-sorta unplugged every once in a while and to learn that the world does actually continue without obsessive social media usage. I always enjoy learning things about myself and striving do be better at being happy and this was a big eye-opener for me. Love yourself!

And yes, the irony of where I’m sharing my post did not escape me. Ha!

the five stages of moving in with your significant other

While I’ve lived away from home in a dorm room, an apartment, a townhouse and even a beach house, during and after college, I always ended up back at home. Today marks one and a half weeks since I’ve officially moved out, and in, with my boyfriend. My heart is so full of joy. I’ve found myself walking around wondering what is going wrong that I’m forgetting about, but nothing is. I’m really not trying to brag here, just getting across how I do not know how to be still and let things be good. And it took me quite a while to reach this place.

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some of our new decor curtesy of target

  1. Hesitancy. When he first moved to Virginia about eight months after we got back together, I thought we had to move in with each other immediately. I didn’t think it would be reasonable for me to ask him to move here just to date me. As his job hunt ensued, I started to get a little bit nervous. What if I was making the biggest mistake of my life? I did not want to be the girl who made herself so incredibly vulnerable with such a big risk of having my heart broken. We could live happily ever after, but we could also break up. Or, even worse, I could go to hell for being a heathen. When I told him how I was feeling I expected the worst but he respected my decision and moved into his own apartment, instead of in with me. It took me six months to feel comfortable enough to seriously reconsider the idea. The first week into April, after many heartfelt conversations, I knew I was ready. I can’t say I’ve done very many things in my life at a time when I truly could handle it; this feels so meant to be.
  2. Overwhelming Emotions. It was pretty terrifying to surrender having my own space and then to tell people about it. I’ve always been one to care about what others think, more than I should. I didn’t want to be judged and risk losing respect or love from people close to me. I also didn’t want to make God angry. I’m really not an overly religious person anymore, but it is a scary thought, to tick off the creator of the universe. I’m not going to go any deeper into my thought process on this specific topic, but I came to terms with my decision and truly do not believe cohabitation with the person I want to spend my life with is wrong. I so badly want to justify my reasoning, but for once I am going to keep my mouth shut on that one. I’m trying to teach myself that it is okay to have people be disappointed in you or not agree with your decisions. I wake up every day and put my best self forward (if I slip up, said cohabitator makes me take a step back.) I was genuinely surprised by the excitement most friends and family shared with us, as well as my own lack of panic. This is a giant step in our relationship and I can’t wait to see where we go from here!
  3. Responsibility. It kind of felt like getting washed under a big wave that crashed into me unexpectedly when I thought about the financial burden I was undertaking right at the time I’m going back to school. You know that feeling? I’m a freak in the ocean, so it may just be me. I could have stayed at home but the commute and minimal time with my boyfriend were not things I was willing to carry over into my new chapter. I’m also going to miss things being taken care of, regardless of if I do them, which is probably the most beautiful thing that occurs while living under your parents’ roof. Don’t get me wrong, my boyfriend is very responsible and pretty neat for a boy, so I’m not too worried, but there are a lot of every day tasks that I was not doing and am now in charge of again. I suppose that is an inevitable part of growing up.
  4. Organization. With the apartment already being fully furnished, the largest thing I had to bring was my desk. For three straight weeks I pestered people to help me tote bins and shopping bags to and from my car. I think it took about 10 car loads… and I scaled down. By some kind of miracle, all my stuff fit in his closet that he so graciously reorganized to give me 75% of space. It has been so much fun/comical trying to figure out how to blend our styles together to decorate our place. I donated most of my pink belongings to my brother’s girlfriend and he has promised (politely been forced) to keep the Marvel items to a minimum. I think things are going very nicely.
  5. Contentment. We are settled in and love having a place we call our own. Hosting people is so much more exciting now too! I can’t forget to add that we have a pool now. I have been wanting a pool for my whole life and I cannot wait to stroll several feet out the back door in my bikini where relaxation is waiting for me. I’m ready to soak up the sun and enjoy every second of summer!!

It’s obviously too soon to tell if moving in together was the “right” decision. I’m feeling pretty optimistic though. Of course the step before moving in, that I was raised to understand as normal, does cross my mind but that wasn’t it for us a) because he’s in charge of the ring-giving and b) because we’re two broke twenty-somethings who are still in school. That has been established as happening in our future, which I’m of course thrilled for, but I’m actively focusing on the wonderful present. As I mentioned in my last post, I have spent way too much time wishing my days away.

. . . . . . .

This is in no way me saying go move in with your significant other or that it will be great. This is me saying, follow your heart and do not let what others think of you keep you from finding your own way.

how always waiting for the next big thing can keep you from enjoying every day

I was stuck inside of a crystal glass cage that was slowly getting smaller as I pounded the walls with all of my might to break free; it didn’t budge. That’s how last week felt and I think that describes anxiety, but I wasn’t a psych major. The whole problem was, I was a dietetics major and on April 3rd, I didn’t get matched to a internship.

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Okay, so this isn’t a good example of enjoying the little things but it’s a picture where I look really happy and that’s the point. 

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I actually handled the situation a lot better than I expected at the time. It helped a bit that my brother’s girlfriend had to ride back from DC with us where we had all spent the day trying to distract me from the 7pm notification time. Even though we’re close, I felt bad crying in front of her so I just casually let a few unnoticed tears fall until she got out of the car and I sobbed, angrily.

The amount of support I got back from everyone who had been rooting for me made me realize a few things. 1) I have an INCREDIBLE support system to fall back on when I need them to lift me up and 2) I must be a pretty amazing person even if these internships can’t see it because all of these people believed in me. The kicker was that I was on a director’s list, I just didn’t get matched because they over-list applicants and the computer does the dirty work.

I had a week from hell trying to fill out applications for second round, made up of programs with openings for people who did not get matched. I was also trying to figure out what my next move was if I didn’t get an internship. How much longer was I going to keep at this unreachable dream in front of me. It was a whirlwind of emotion and a lot of depression A couple hundred dollars and all of my buttons pushed later, I got an email.

I got an offer.

And I accepted.

So this is the part where it seems I should tell you that if you work hard enough your dreams come true. I feel like that’s what happened for me but I am confident if I didn’t get one I would have mended my broken heart with the support of the amazing people I get to call my friends and family. My boyfriend and I picked up a few scratchers the night before the email came through. I of course picked out the ones decorated with cute little cupcakes. Right before I scratched mine off I looked up at him and excitedly said, “if I win something and I don’t get an internship, this is what I pursue next.” I won two dollars, and we did not cash it in. I’m a big “sign” person and I feel that me accepting that life will go on is why I got accepted, I’m keeping that as a reminder. I feel like I was being taught a painful lesson. I learned from it and got my way, so it is a win, win.

The program is distance so I won’t have to leave the area which I am super grateful for because my poor boyfriend agreed to move to anywhere in the US with me to help me achieve what I needed to move forward with my career. He’s really the best.

Even though I have all this exciting stuff happening I’m pretty overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to get done and the financial burden I’m about to endure to get through this internship. I absolutely know it’s worth it but it’s going to be a challenging year. I thought that when I got accepted that I would be bouncing off the walls with pure joy for the rest of my life. It’s funny how that works, our brains think that once you achieve this, than that, and then finally get there everything will be great and you will find happiness. But that’s not the case.

We need to find joy in every single day. One small thing, as simple as your cup of coffee is acceptable. If you keep trying to pass every second of the days you’re waiting for the next big thing, you’re literally throwing your life away. I see that now because I’ve spent the last year and a half in misery because I wasn’t where I wanted to be financially, mentally, psychically, geographically, spiritually, occupationally. You name it, I was unsatisfied.

The growth I’ve experienced is pretty incredible and I’m really proud of myself. My therapist recommended I give myself a little mantra if you will – something to read every day to remind me that things are better than they appear some days and to keep moving forward while I also let myself enjoy the exciting stuff that is happening.

I tried this a few years ago and it really didn’t stick but I’m giving it another shot.

“Do not harbor negative thoughts. You are wonderful and you are loved. You have earned your successes and your failures do not define you. Soak up the sunshine and smile. Enjoy the little things happening around you each day and never let your fear of being hurt keep you from letting others care for you. You are beautiful and if you look past your imperfections you will find perfection is never what you were striving for anyway, it was an outward symbol of your self worth but you have nothing to prove to anybody. Do you and never give up. Now go out there and make the world a better place just because you’re in it.”

 

 

 

what to do when you’re waiting for the day when everything will change

Four days. In four days everything will change. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit but that’s how it feels. On April 3rd at 6pm I will log on to a site where I paid a computer to (fingers crossed so tightly) match me to one of the dietetic internships I applied to. I’ve been waiting for this day since I decided to pass on applications in February of 2014; since I got denied one of the four slots available for the Virginia WIC Dietetic Internship last July; since I paid $46 to fed ex some checks to internships because the day applications were due/everything needed to be postmarked was a federal holiday.

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Cap Mac food truck in DC. Cheeze-It crumbles. Need I say more?

Waiting is difficult. I have little to no patience and as each day goes on, the harder the waiting game becomes. I was explaining this whole situation to my therapist the other day and she wasn’t quite understanding how important match day is. I told her that I want to become a dietitian so badly that just thinking about it sets a fire within me because I’ve never wanted something so badly in my entire life. She gave me a wide-eyed look and said, “I can see that.”

I’ve done literally everything in my power since graduation to overcome the giant boulder in my way that is having graduated with a lousy GPA in order to become a competitive internship applicant. I feel so deeply that I deserve this and I couldn’t want it anymore. I’m absolutely terrified of being rejected for the second time because at that point I may need to face that this is not my reality at the moment and reassess what in the world I’m going to do with my life. I constantly have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t get accepted it doesn’t mean that I’m not good enough period, just that I’m not good enough to be a 2016/2017 intern. I seriously don’t want to have to swallow that pill. Again.

I have been trying to occupy all of my time so that I don’t go crazy thinking about every second passing bringing me closer to the announcement. I’ve found myself constantly checking my planner to see if I can somehow fill it with more things to do. Yesterday I made a list of what happens if I get accepted to an internship, for each one, as well as some back up plans. That helped for about 4 hours.

If you’re ever in a situation like this, here is a list of things I’ve found helpful in calming me down and passing the time.

  1. Go to a food truck festival. We hit one up this weekend in DC and despite the frigid windy weather, some bangin’ mac & cheese and a few glasses of wine made me forget all my worries. Not to mention watching some veeerrrry drunk people make fools of themselves by pretending a giant foam mustache was a trumpet and grinding on a girl who may or may not have wanted to be within a 50 mile radius of said drunk person.
  2. Run. Not away, just for exercise. Leave all your trouble behind you as each foot hits the pavement.
  3. Take a relaxing bubble bath. This was my plan Monday night but I ended up spending 4.5 hours on food prep. That also kept me occupied, but that’s a weird thing to put on this list.
  4. Volunteer in your community. You will leave glad you passed some time being a good person. I have an event coming up Saturday where I will be, of course, talking about healthy eating as part of overall stress relief for child abuse prevention month. I’m pumped that prepping for that will kill some major time for the rest of the week.
  5. Candlelit yoga. A calming environment leading up to the few minutes of bliss where you get to lie there in perfectly still Shavasana. Great use of time, also wonderful couple activity if you’re into being cute.
  6. Plan something new and exciting. Me and one of my besties are going to run a 10K in June and I spent a good amount of time yesterday preparing a training plan because I’ve never run 6.2 miles before and don’t wanna be left in the dust.
  7. Reorganize and declutter. It’s always refreshing. Just don’t pack away clothes for one season before the next starts thinking you’re ridding yourself of it cause the cold air is still kicking my butt for that one.
  8. Read. My girlfriends and I have completed our third book of 2016 for our book club. I’m learning a lot and feeling smarter already.
  9. Listen to podcasts. They’re free!! I’ve been hooked on podcasts for the last several months, starting with Serial, about the Adnan Syed case. It’s been extra fun because I’ve been binging every time I’m alone in my car to catch up on past episodes. Podcasters are extremely articulate and I’ve found myself articulating better as well! I’ve never been great at speaking, everything gets super jumbled and comes out wrong, but I’m getting better. I’m also saying the f word a lot more because one of the podcasts I listen to does. I’m seriously like an impressionable toddler.
  10. Everything happens for a reason and you can’t change the outcome at this point so keep that chin up and keep moving forward!

when life gives you lemons, I mean gold coins

Last weekend while I was cleaning my room, my dad walked in and asked me if I had a place where I store keepsakes. My grandfather had given him an envelope of coins for me years ago and he just happened to remember it on this particular day and gave them to me. I like to focus on the task at hand so I set the envelope down and continued putting away my laundry. My boyfriend, however, jumped up and started investigating the collection. A few minutes later I glanced over at him to find the strangest look on his face. I demanded to know what was going on. Apparently one of the coins was a fifty dollar coin, one pure ounce of gold. You can google what that’s worth. I immediately started to find out where to sell it, yes I would love to keep an ounce of gold but ain’t nobody got time for that, I could really use the cash.

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Double rainbow at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. 

Despite being ecstatic about what just happened, I felt super strange. I couldn’t believe that this gold coin had inevitably been coming my way and that once again, after passing away, my grandfather was looking out for me. My aunt ended up buying it to keep it in the family ’cause she understood why I needed to sell it but didn’t want it to disappear quite yet. I think it was better than winning the lottery (not sum-wise, of course) because I didn’t enter for this prize, it just stumbled into my presence one day.

Later in the week I went to a dietetics professional meeting and in the center of the table sat a small, deep purple violet, with the plastic wrap still around it. I had a hunch that it was going to be a door prize. I was taken aback for a moment because of the fact that it was a violet – that was a plant my grandmothers (yes, both of them) always had around. Early that week I had been talking and thinking about how much I miss my grandmothers, especially the one on my dad’s side, who I was very close with. Not much to my surprise, I ended up with that plant and started to feel anxious. I was getting nervous that all three of my deceased grandparents were looking out for me and sending me a message all in the span of three days. I was terrified someone was going to die, like it was some kind of bad omen. I’m clearly a really bad gift receiver.

I realize now, a week later, that that was a beautiful gift from my grandparents who are still loving me and looking out for me. I know some people would scoff at that notion but to me it’s a pretty incredible feeling and it came at such a good time (I realize anyone can die at any time so I’ve dismissed that initial fear and am trying to accept my gift wholeheartedly.) It’s very easy for me to be a glass half-full kind of gal for others but when it comes to my own issues I absolutely see that it’s half empty at first. I always think the worst and this experience forced me to just accept that in life there are good and bad things, but sometimes good things are going to happen and I just need to accept it, not anticipate doom.

The third major thing that happened was just the other day. I came home from a weekend away needing to do some food shopping to prep for the week. I opened the fridge to check out what I needed and noticed that it was completely stuffed with food that mostly did not belong to me. I was pretty irritated because I had a long list of items that need to be refrigerated and now had nowhere to put them. Regardless of how grateful I am for being able to live rent-free, I want to be independent and have a refrigerator I can use however I want to without worrying about other peoples’ space or my food disappearing because my stuff was perceived to be old and tossed or somebody got a hankering for my food. I was shocked when my dad and stepmom suggested buying a new refrigerator. I immediately thought of a ton of other things that money could be used for and how utterly ridiculous it would look to have two refrigerators in the kitchen. We already have two Keurigs (long story.) I’m a very visual person and hate when things do not look right.

Right: the definition of how things should be that I or society placed in my head, therefore holding me back from contentment at almost all times.

Regardless of my resistance they went and bought a refrigerator immediately. It was a whole scene… how many Lewises does it take to install a refrigerator? 😉 After my insecurities and frustrations subsided I was pretty overwhelmed with gratefulness because it’s a much more functional situation for our not-so-normal family unit.

I’m really tired of wasting my time worrying when all those moments could instead be filled with peace and happiness. Now, I have this tiny plant exuberating love and comfort every time I see it, some major stress relief paying off bills with my ounce of gold AND a nice, spacious refrigerator where my food is safe.

Enjoy the big and little things and don’t let worries keep you down.

 

what I learned from my struggle with an eating disorder


I received an email about a 28 day challenge for fitness and clean-eating and despite a pretty high price, purchased it immediately. I felt the motivation and jumped on the opportunity before my excitement could pass. The workouts (from Cassey Ho, the fitness guru I mentioned in my last post) are high intensity interval training, so they’re short but they get the job done, leaving you with an elevated heart-rate and fatigued muscles. The meal plans are full of fruits and veggies and whole grains like quinoa and oats as well as lean protein. Dairy is replaced with almond milk and lots of leafy greens for calcium as well as no products containing gluten. I usually hate “diets” and don’t see the point of cutting anything out unless you have to but I figured it would be kind of cool to see what happens. I get a lot of stomach pain and am confident it’s related to my diet but have no idea what it’s from.

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truly enjoying some quality west coast fast food last summer

I was so pumped up about this challenge that I even managed to recruit my boyfriend to join in. I’m encouraging him to modify some stuff so he doesn’t have to do girly workouts or suffer from filling up on foods he despises/starving from too low of calorie consumption. We shopped together for groceries and started our challenge Tuesday. We did a lot of meal prep the other night and while we were cooking our quinoa we thought about how amazing some parmesan cheese would taste in it. I wanted cheese so badly but we can’t have it in this meal plan. Day one and I was already suffering. It only took me a few minutes to come to the realization that I was restricting myself from something I love and (in moderation) is healthy for me for no reason. We have a bad habit of munching on cheese while we’re preparing dinner, and when I say munching I mean we eat entirely too much cheese. I know most days I eat way more saturated fat in the form of cheese than I should. So we compromised. We added a little parm to our grains but didn’t snack on it beforehand. It was a healthy decision for our minds and our bodies. The other fact that lead me to this decision was that I consumed a large mac and cheese from Panera Bread on Sunday when I was hungover, and sopped the extra cheese up with a baguette. I clearly don’t have issues with cheese or pasta in my belly.

You’re probably wondering why I’m going into so much detail about my insane obsession with cheese. Stay with me, I promise there’s a point.

It’s because it frightened me that I got so into something I was doing, basically for fun, that I was afraid to eat a food that wasn’t on the pre-made list. Yes, in order to get results from a challenge like this, I have to be strong and not give in to having whatever I want whenever I want it. No, I do not need to be afraid to live because I decided to do a 28 day challenge. I’m not going to stop eating dairy or gluten after this challenge and with my body in the shape it is already I know I have room to indulge a little. I do have further goals with my fitness and nutrition levels, toning up more and eating cleaner on most days. But to accomplish this four week task to the level of perfection I always desire, I would have to attend zero social events or awkwardly just not eat when I’m out with my friends at restaurants or have water when they’re sipping wine. I can still make healthy choices but I do not need to let this challenge consume my life for the month of March. As a nutrition and dietetic technician, registered with extensive background on nutrition, I could have written up my own meal plan. I do it all the time. It’s just something I enjoy doing, challenging myself and getting better results. What I don’t enjoy doing is being scared of calories.

It’s really difficult to find a balance on the seesaw of eating. If you push too far to one side you end up overweight; too far to the other, you have an eating disorder. At least that’s how it’s always been for me. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food the entire time I was in college. It all started because I gained a few pounds from taking advantage of all the delicious food ready for me at almost any given time freshman year while living on campus. That same year I took my very first nutrition class and learned more about the basics of nutrition. It was all I needed to develop a quick obsession. I was eating too much and then I wasn’t eating enough. I was working out six days a week no matter what got in my way. I thought I was fat and was striving everyday to not let it get anymore out of control. And that was the norm for me. I talked in a previous post about how my real weight gain (not the weight gain I saw when I looked in the mirror while in reality I was tiny – that started years before) started after my boyfriend and I broke up and that I eventually started eating until I got sick. I didn’t mean that I ate until my stomach hurt and I threw up. I mean I ate foods I was craving to fill the emptiness inside of me and then felt atrociously guilty for adding calories to my already too-fat frame and would make myself throw up. I would lift my shirt in the mirror and stare at my stomach or notice it jiggle with every step I took. How could I do something to risk gaining another ounce. Throwing up was the only option I had to right my wrong.

The first time this happened, I was alone in our college townhouse on a sunny afternoon. I can’t remember why I needed the ice cream in the freezer as badly as I did, but I ate a lot and I ate it fast. And then I desperately needed to erase my action. I will spare you the nasty details but if you’ve never made yourself sick before, it’s not anything like throwing up because your body needs to when you have the flu. It’s messy, it hurts and it teaches the message of you can eat anything you want because if you change your mind, you can just throw it up. I never thought I would do it again, but I did. Anytime I felt desperately alone and miserable, food could fill that until the switch flipped and I had just done the most unthinkable thing I could have imagined to myself. It made me even angrier every time. I wished I could just starve myself but I wasn’t that strong. I loved food too much. I was the weak, chubby girl who gorged herself with food and threw up in private.

One night when I was home on one of the breaks before I started binging, I got fast food with my mom and brother. I ate a cheese steak sandwich and some cheesy fries. Immediately afterwards I burst into tears because I couldn’t believe I had just done that. I remember how weirded out my brother and mom were. Nobody understood why I was the way I was about food. I was offended when healthy options weren’t offered at family functions. I couldn’t believe people would force me to eat so unhealthfully, didn’t they know what it did to me? Why wasn’t the guilt so heavy for them that healthier options were chosen?

Because I started making myself throw up and was drinking to the point of falling over from intoxication 3-4 nights per week, it became difficult for me to keep anything down. I began to throw up every time I drank or when I felt nauseous or full, or simply hated my calorie consumption. I started to get scared that somebody was going to notice or that I would damage my teeth or my hair would start falling out. All the horror stories we were warned of as young adults in high school health education classes and then later in my nutrition classes began flashing through my mind. That could not happen to me and that was somehow enough to make me stop. It was so hard not to throw up and to just accept what I ate. Soon after making that mental change I was able to start making healthier decisions with my food and stop binging on a regular basis. Thankfully, it’s been almost two years since I stopped torturing myself with food and the disposing of it. However, the miracle of my life falling into place and experiencing pure happiness like you see from the skinny models on the covers of magazines did not occur. Happiness doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from the inside.

While I never told a Dr., let alone many people about my problem, I know that it was one. It’s pretty embarrassing to admit that this was another category added to the list of things I abused when I was in such a bad place. And that is why I had to be quick to snap myself out of thinking I was doing something wrong by eating some cheese this week. Once you’ve been low and broken, it doesn’t take much to get back to that place. I’ve promised myself not to let that happen.

My eating disorder was a spawn of many greater problems that luckily for me didn’t end up having any detrimental affects on my health or become a known fact to my friends and family (until I spilled the beans in a blog post years later.) That makes eating disorders even scarier -they can happen to anyone and might not even be detectable. Food is meant to nourish us and we need it. We should never be afraid to eat something or hate ourselves for fueling our bodies. Yes, making healthy choices is important and I will never back down from believing in being healthy and in shape, but with all areas in life – you must obtain balance so that you don’t fall. Love yourself, and you’ll be one step closer to finding it. That’s what made the difference for me.