June: A No-Weigh Month

Good morning! Welcome to June!

Healthy Smoothie in a Bowl

I ushered in the new month with a quintessential summer breakfast – a smoothie in a bowl!

I used the same winning combo from yesterday:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 large handfuls spinach
  • 1 scoop bourbon vanilla Tera’s Whey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 3 ice cubes

Cocoa powder may be my absolute favorite smoothie ingredient – it actually helps lessen my chocolate cravings throughout the rest of the day!

Gave her a good ol’ sprinkling of flax seeds and Nature’s Path Blueberry Optima and she was good to go!

Green Smoothie with Cereal

No-Weigh June

Whenever I hear a blogger {or a real-life friend} mention not owning a scale or not knowing what they weigh, I can’t help but wonder: How do they do it? How do they not hop straight on the scale as soon as they wake up?

If you want to put it like it is, weighing myself has been my last hold-out from my eating disorder. I’ve established healthy eating habits and no longer use restriction as a coping mechanism; I’ve learned how to stop a binge in its tracks and I exercise for strength and stamina, not to burn calories. I’ve been very blessed to move beyond those disordered eating habits…yet I still hop on the scale daily. While I can honestly say that I don’t allow the number to influence my eating habits, I still have been a slave to the number.

In reality, I understand that it’s just that – a number. A silly, ever-changing number that doesn’t change how I look, who I am or how hungry I am. Unfortunately, what it has the power to change is my mood. A “low” number always makes me feel victorious, as though I’m proving to myself that I can eat when I’m hungry and not gain weight. A “high” number can turn a good day into one where I wonder what I did “wrong.”

Healthy? I don’t think so. Acceptable? Definitely not.

That’s why I’m packing my scale into the trunk of my car for the entirety of June. I’d love to throw the contraption over the side of my balcony, but I’m not sure that my apartment manager would be thrilled with that idea. In reality, I’m also convinced that without weighing myself every day, I’ll gain twenty pounds without knowing it. Rationally, I understand that it’s impossible, but irrationally, I’m terrified that it will actually happen.

By getting rid of my scale {albeit temporarily}, I’m hoping to distance myself from the number and learn even further how to listen to my body. If that means I lose weight, then I lose weight. If that means I stay the same or gain, than that too will be in response to the needs of my body.

I’m ready to break my dependence on this stupid scale!

What’s your position on weighing yourself? Do you own a scale? How often do you use it? Have you ever made a conscious decision to ignore the number?

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Look Your Best Naturally (All You Need is Surgery)

Last week, I recieved a copy of Central Florida Lifestyle in the mail. The mini magazine is distributed throughout several Orlando neighborhoods and covers local businesses and residents that are doing notable things.

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As soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox, my eyes honed in on one thing: Look your best naturally!” a headline read, followed by the sponsoring organization – the Bassin Center for Plastic Surgery.

natural plastic surgery 

I’m not one to mince words, but are they honestly suggesting that plastic surgery is a natural way of enhancing a woman’s beauty?

Before casting judgment, I flipped to the actual article. Perhaps, I thought, the center was offering tips that simply supplemented their services, such as wearing sunscreen and avoiding sugar to reduce bloat.

Instead, however, the article opened with the surgeon’s claim that he offers the “latest beauty procedure to make patients beautiful without downtime, general anesthesia, chemical fillers or foreign objects.”

natural surgery

I wasn’t sure what I took more issue with: the claim that surgery was a natural option, or the claim that it could make patients beautiful, as though they were ogres before seeking the center’s services.

I’m certainly not anti-surgery. If a procedure can help you feel more beautiful and more comfortable in your body, by all means – go for it. But to claim that surgery can produce natural beauty? No chance. Natural is a touch of mascara. Natural is working your butt off – literally – to see physical results that you’re looking for. Natural is not plopping down in a doctor’s office and having them cut fat from your body or pump substances into your breasts.

Furthermore, to blatantly play off your target market’s insecurities and sell the procedure as a way to become beautiful? I’m appalled by the message. I spent years exploring every avenue I could to “become beautiful.” Many of those methods were incredibly dangerous, yet was I a more beautiful person after starving myself for days on end or swallowing countless diet pills? No chance. In fact, the first time I truly felt beautiful was when I accepted my body the way it was – curves and all.

Shame on the writer for so blatantly twisting words, shame on the editor for allowing it, and shame on the company for suggesting that an operation can magically – and naturally – make an individual who was naturally gorgeous to begin with more beautiful.

Where do you stand? Plastic surgery – natural or not?


We Deserve This

Good morning! Better yet, Happy Friday! Who else is ready for some down time?

Even though I was still sleepy when I rolled out of bed, I rolled straight to the kitchen for an energizing yogurt bowl.

yogurt breakfast

As I mixed strawberries, almonds and flax into my plain Chobani, I decided to throw in a few cinnamon raisins for good measure. Great in theory…except for the fact that the only place I can tolerate raisins is in oatmeal raisin cookies (a batch of which may be in our near future – hint hint!)

Read the rest of this entry »


Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Butter

Good morning! We made it through Monday! Anyone else a little too excited by that?

I have the promised “feared veggie dinner” coming right up…

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But first a little chat about emotional yoga!

For the vast majority of my life, I never was much of a crier. (I was definitely more of a screamer and door-slammer, but that’s a different matter entirely!) Throughout high school and college, I rarely cried. I can probably count on one hand the number of tears I shed prior to 2010. I had a lot of unhealthy ways of dealing with stress, and I realize now that I internalized far more emotions than I should have.

Fast forward to now. I cry a fairly good amount. I have realized that it’s a healthy way of letting out some of the frustration, sadness and irritation that would otherwise be floating around in your body as all sorts of ugly negativity. I don’t necessarily like crying – to me, it still feels awkward and dramatic – not to mention I am not a dainty crier. I’m talking Rudolph nose, swollen face, mascara dripping everywhere as I blubber…cute, huh?

Regardless, crying happens. I don’t mind letting myself let go of being scared or upset and crying it out. 

Cry it out is exactly what I did…last night on my yoga mat. Twice.

Working on our ugai breathing, the instructor has us breathe in aspects of the person we wanted to be and breathe out the negativity and the labels that didn’t serve us any more. He asked us to use our breath to smooth out our insides. While I’ve never been one for the calming/spiritual/mind-body aspects of yoga (as opposed to the physical side,) I found myself really getting into the breathing exercise, welcoming in positive adjectives and pushing out the disparagings labels that I’d fought with for years. Chubby. Not good enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough.

Although I am blessed to have worked through the self-esteem issues that haunted me and caused my eating disorder, thoughts like that are always able to sneak back in. Moving beyond an eating disorder does not mean that you will magically love yourself every minute of every day. Sure, you may no longer allow insecurities to trigger self-destructive havits, but on some level, there’s always the opportunity to harbor less-than-loving thoughts towards yourself.

In yoga yesterday, as I pushed out all of the ugly words that I didn’t even realize I’d been holding on to, the emotions came rushing out. I was good enough. I realized that I have never been anything less than enough, and that all along, I have been strong, pretty, intelligent, ambitious…I am good enough. Not just me, though: every single woman in that room, in this city, on the other end of the computer screen…we are good enough.

And just think – a simple little breathing exercise unlocked all of that in my brain! Who says yoga isn’t therapy?

After an emotionally intense practice, I was quite ready for an easy, delicious meal by the time I got home. Luckily, there were leftovers from Sunday’s dinner!

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Do you have time for another antecdote? I’ll make it quick, I promise. As a kid, I was forced to eat a ridiculous amount of Brussels Sprouts. (Who wasn’t, it seems?) In my seven year old mind, they were NASTY. Bitter, slimy, weird-textured…and although I don’t remember much of a flavor, my parents were quite fond of frozen veggies straight from the bag, so I’ll go ahead and guess there was little taste to the odd green balls of veggie-ness.

As I became a vegetarian, I became a much more adventurous eater. Things I never cared for or outright disliked found their way onto my plate – mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, you get the picture…except for brussels sprouts. I was still convinced that they would be GROSS.

After finding a great sale on them at my market, however, I had to give them a go…childhood aversions or not!

Thankfully they were drop. dead. fantastic.

gnocchi and brussels sprouts

Lemon Butter Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts

Vegan, Serves two

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag whole wheat potato gnocchi
  • 10-12 large Brussels Sprouts
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tbsp Smart Balance Light (or other vegan butter substitute)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

Directions:

  • Cut your brussels sprouts into quarters (or halves if you would prefer larger pieces)
  • In a large pan, warm the olive oil and drop in your brussels sprouts, sauteeing until lightly browned.
  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add in your gnocchi, cover, and reduce to medium heat. Allow the gnocchi 3-5 minutes to cook; once they float to the top, they’re ready!
  • Drain your gnocchi and add to the saucepan with the brussels sprouts.
  • Stir in your “butter” and seasonings – serve warm!

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This dinner was the perfect fresh, tangy, spring-y plate of deliciousness packed with vitamin A, C and K…not to mention a hefty dose of folate and fiber!

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Folks…you have just witnessed the official Brussels Sprouts conversion in the Lovely as Charged kitchen.

Perhaps…just maybe…they’re so delicious that I could cry?

Have you ever cried during yoga?

Do you have any foods that you swore up and down you would hate until you tried them? What about a food that your childhood ruined for your grown-up self?


Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

The other day, I passed along my blog URL to a coworker who was interested in my recipe for my fruit salsa. (Hi, Rachel!)

At first, I began to type out the recipe by hand. The thought of sharing my blog with people that I know in real life is quite intimidating. I can count on one hand the number of readers who I actually see on a routine basis. Why? Because of the detail in which I describe my struggles with an eating disorder.

I never once had a second thought about sharing that message on the blog. I feel incredibly blessed to have beaten the anorexic and bulimic habits, and every day I am thankful every day that I made the decision to fight for myself.

Because I feel a deep connection to the countless other women who are dealing with the same issues of self-loathing, deprivation and insecurity, I published my own experiences in the hope that even one person could be inspired to find their own “healthy place”. The comments and emails I’ve received from readers who could identify in some way, shape or form absolutely brighten my day. I understand firsthand the hell that an eating disorder can be, and if my story can help another woman feel less alone and less powerless as she fights the same tendencies, then it served its purpose.

That said, few people in my “real” life know about my disordered past. After a few months of dating, I opened up to The Coach about it, yet outside of two or three other friends, it’s a sealed secret. Although I’m proud to stand up and write about breaking free from disordered thinking, a stigma still surrounds the anorexia and bulimia that I faced several years ago.

Eating disorders are surrounded with specific connotations. Those who have never experienced them  have a hard time understanding the complex mental aspects. As a result, it’s easy to view someone who has struggled with such issues as “weak” or “crazy.”

I refuse, however, to live by those labels. The things that I have had to deal with make me who I am today – a strong, independent, confident woman who knows how to balance salads with ice cream sundaes. Where I’ve been is not something I should be ashamed of. It was not a choice, it was not a lifestyle – it was a series of insecurities that overtook my life. Finding the strength to let go of those disordered habits was by far one of the hardest – yet most worthwhile – things I’ve ever done.

Every morning when I look in the mirror and see my curves, I’m proud of them. I know that this body is a healthy one, fueled by wonderful foods and capable of amazing things. This body is going to take me to some amazing places. Where I’m going is not limited or hindered by where I’ve been. I’m not broken – I was never broken – and the same applies for every single man or woman who has ever dealt with an eating disorder.

We are capable of happy, healthy lives. We are not defined by the things we’ve been through. They certainly shape who we are, but rather than making us a fragile, “messed-up” individual, they make us stronger and wiser in the long run. They make us appreciate each cookie that doesn’t end up in a food journal. They make us enjoy a workout because it allows us to be athletic and alive – not because it burned off the calories in the four carrot sticks we ate for dinner. They make us savor every authentic smile that wasn’t covering up a secret struggle.

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I refuse to feel ashamed of struggling with an eating disorder. Countless people across the world deal with the same issues on a daily basis. It’s a scary place to be, but the beauty of moving beyond it is being able to look back and appreciate the strength it took to get to where we are now. I’m confident in who I am right this very moment…yet I’m excited to see who I will become in the years to come.


The Strength to Move On

In the last 24 hours, I’d written three different blog posts. I then proceeded to trash each one because they felt half-assed and insincere.

While Lovely as Charged is intended to inspire positivity and self-confidence, sometimes, there are certain topics that are neither lovely nor positive, yet still demand attention. When those topics are the real issues that you are dealing with, a fluffy, banter-filled post about oatmeal or Oscar de la Renta jackets doesn’t exactly feel authentic.

Between the stress of moving, the fear of losing the people I care about and the pressure to be the perfect new employee, my brain has been in panic mode. I certainly haven’t been the most pleasant person to be around. Even worse, I’ve been internalizing the stress rather than simply facing it.

When I developed my eating disorder in the fall of 2006, it wasn’t as much a means of control as it was a coping mechanism for being afraid. I had just started college and was terrified of the major changes that lay ahead, as well as the things that I was going to have to leave behind. Furthermore, I didn’t feel that I could talk about it without seeming “immature” or “dramatic”. Fear and weakness are so closely associated that I felt the need to be strong in some area – albeit the wrong one – just to balance everything out.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been confronting a lot of disordered eating urges. I haven’t been happy with the woman I see in the mirror, and my natural impulse has been to counteract life’s stressors by binging or skipping meals.

I’ve said before that I am at a much better place in my life than I was a year ago, and now more than ever, it’s become evident how true this really is. While I’ve felt incredibly compelled to resort to unhealthy habits out of familiarity, I refuse to mistreat my body simply because I’m trying to ice over other emotions. I’ve fought too long and too hard to recognize that I deserve better, and while my brain may still send me the “skip dinner” urge, I know that these disordered habits are a slippery slope from which nothing good can come.

Although a binge may be temporarily soothing, it’s certain to lead back into a pattern of habits that caused far more misery than simply dealing with the triggers. In the end, life is going to move on, and in a few years, I’ll be in a drastically different place where the things I’m going through now won’t even register in my memory. While being hurt will pass, being sucked back into a cycle of self-loathing and destructive patterns can continue wrecking a life for years.

Part of truly living is allowing yourself to truly feel your emotions. This is as equally true when you feel confident, driven and secure as when you are sad, hurt, or upset. No skipped meal or box of cookies will make your life magically better, yet life isn’t intended to be smooth. It’s going to be a constant challenge, and you’ve got to find ways to pull yourself through.

Whether or not you feel like you are strong enough to ignore the self-sabotaging urges, you are strong enough to do so, and when the bad days blow over (which they always will), you’ll find that you never needed the coping mechanism to make it through in the first place. Allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to live, allow yourself to cry if necessary…and trust that you’re going to come out stronger, healthier, and happier once the rough patch blows over.


Giving Thanks for Me

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hopefully we’re all spending today reveling in gratitude for our friends, our families, and our lives. I also hope you’re spending today enjoying a huge spread of delicious and satisfying holiday dishes!

I figure you’re already inundated with posts encouraging you to be thankful for the abundance of blessings in your life, but today I’d like to encourage you to be a bit self-centered as well.

You know that I-just-ate-my-weight-in-mashed-potatoes-and-feel-like-a-stuffed-pig feeling that accompanies so many holiday dinners?

Let’s send it right back where it came from and celebrate the amazing features that make us the incredible, intelligent, gorgeous creatures that we are!

I love the freckles that dot my shoulders when I tan.

I love the denim blue eyes that I would have given anything to trade for brown ones when I was a child.

I love the mole on my back shoulder blade.

I love my genetically blessed shoulders for being perpetually toned without any effort on my part.

I love my firm, toned booty and runner’s thighs.

I love the little lion-shaped birthmark on the inside of my arm.

I secretly love my chubby little fingers for reasons I can’t quite identify 🙂

I love my incredibly loud laugh when I find something riotously funny.

I love my tendency to make jokes at the absolute strangest times and about the most random things.

I LOVE MY BLOG READERS!!!!!

Okay, so that last one wasn’t really something I love about me…but it’s definitely something I’m truly thankful for! I love y’all and it makes my day to hear from you and see what you’re thinking!

What do you love/What are you thankful for about yourself?