Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Extremely Healthy VS. Unhealthy Obsession

*Warning: this blog post will address some very personal issues regarding weight, weight loss, etc. So if you are sensitive to this subject please skip this post*

As a food blogger and avid reader of numerous health/food blogs, I've decided that I need to be completely honest in regards to my body image, my health, and my mental attitude in regards to food/exercise.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I've lost over 100lbs over the past four years yet I didn't mention my obsession with food and exercise. It's nearly impossible for me to remember a time in my life that I didn't struggle with body image.  I struggled with being overweight for most of middle and high school even though I swam regularly and ate fairly healthy for a teenager.  I could never be that teenage girl who could eat french fries and still be thin.  The idea that I couldn't eat like my friends completely boggled my mind until I joined Weight Watchers after my freshman year in college when I discovered that all metabolisms are not created equal.

Though I weighed my heaviest in high school, I faced the most emotional trauma in middle school.  I had a girl cut my hair and write nasty things in school notebooks because she thought I was fat even though I fell within the healthy range for my height and age.  By the time I reached high school I still struggled with weight by constantly being on a diet in public while eating ice cream and candy in my bedroom increasing my emotional dependence on food.   By my senior year, I weighed close to 200lbs (190lbs according to my physical at the beginning of my senior year) yet I would eat salad for lunch then come home and eat an entire bag of Starbursts.  I overcompensated my unhappiness by allowing "friends" to walk all over me because I felt unworthy of friendship or love because of my weight.

I graduated from high school and started attending Virginia Tech where I began heavy drinking on the weekends and daily ice cream trips to one of the dining halls.  Unlike numerous colleges, Virginia Tech is known for having fantastic food.  So after one semester (and my senior year of high school) I had gained another twenty five pounds.  I would go through phases of unhealthy eating then crying to my best friend about how I hated my body and being fat.  Finally she told me she didn't want to hear me complain anymore until I did something about being overweight.  That day I went to the gym in my dorm and told myself I would do at least 30 minutes of cardio.  I spent the entire semester working out and loosing almost 10lbs just by exercising.  That summer my mother and I joined Weight Watchers and I began my journey to learning how to eat to live not live to eat.

Fast forward to present day, I'm a vegan (with occasional soda indulgences) who exercises 5-6 days a week.  You'd think I'm much healthily than the girl who joined Weight Watchers almost five years ago but unfortunately I'm not.  At 5'4, I weigh (fully clothed and having eaten several meals) only 110lbs, 89.4lbs of muscle and my body fat is only 14.9%  (the minimum healthy body fat percentage for women under 40 is 20%).  Because my body fat and weight are so low, my metabolic age is 12 (and I'm 23) which has caused some other complications since I'm physically 12.  My bone mass is 4.8lbs which is barely considered healthy 110lbs and under (healthy is 4.3lbs though if you weigh over 110bs you should have 5.3lbs of bone mass).  In fact the only healthy number is my percent body water which is 62.6% which means I currently receive all my minerals, nutrients, etc.  As a matter of fact, my iron level is incredibly high for a twenty something female due the massive amounts of spinach I consume on a daily basis.  My biggest problem is I eat the right foods I just don't eat enough of them.

I've transitioned from eating food for comfort to being terrified of what food will do to my body.  When you've lost any amount of weight, the idea that you have to gain weight and actually eat fat is terrifying.  After dieting for five years I can't shut up the inner voice in my head that's mentally counting calories and freaking out over highly fattening foods even ones that are good for you like avocados, nuts, etc.  I can't handle hunger when I get hungry because I have no fat reserves.  I've allowed myself to become so hungry that it hurt to thiuk. It makes me feel like a hypocrite to blog about healthy eating when I know I'm not healthy.

Slowly I'm working on my food issues and trying to listen to my body cues.  I've had cycles of binge eating where I'd blindly eat half a jar of peanut butter in a matter of minutes not realizing that I ate that PB because my body NEEDED that fat.  But with the help, love, and support from my family and close friends, I'm working on being okay with eating and loving my body.  I have to eat when I'm hungry, eating is not a reward for intensive exercise.  It's okay that I'm hungry and it's okay to eat when I am hungry especially if I'm eating healthy and nutritious whole foods (and I don't have to eat a salad for every meal).  My body loves me and now I need to learn to love my all of body.  I'm going to take it one day at a time realizing that some days will be better than others but I've wake up every morning appreciating my body and what it does for me.

If you struggle with body image or weight loss or another type of "eating disorder" please contact a health care professional or a close family/friend for help.  I've shared my story because I hope I can help someone who has struggled like me.  You are NOT alone.  The National Eating Disorders Association website has numerous resources for individuals struggling with ED or friends/family members who believe that a loved one is struggling with an ED.  Or if you would just like to talk to someone feel free to email me at

Here are some pictures that document my "weight" story over the past couple of years:
My senior year of high school (Spring 2004-195lbs)

My junior year of college (Spring 2007-160lbs)

My senior year of college (Spring 2008-140lbs)

Spring 2009 (120lbs)

Spring 2010 (110lbs)

Right now I'm trying not to focus on a specific number but my body. When I'm no longer metabolically 12 and my body returns to one of a woman, I know I'll be at a healthy weight.  

Again, I've shared my story because like many other girls, women, and even men, I struggle everyday with loving myself and loving my body.  I want you to know that you are NOT alone in your struggles.  And you ARE beautiful regardless of numbers or pant sizes.  Food is not your enemy, it's necessary for life.  If you're struggling with body image or food or exercise, please contact someone (even me) if you want to talk about it.  As corny as it sounds, the first step is always admitting/realizing you might have a problem and then talking about it with someone close to you.

And since I've been so mean to the poor girl in the pictures I've shown you in this post, I've apologized because I'm still that girl with a little less body fat but with the same beauty, intelligence, and integrity that I've always had.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Almost Friday :)

It's almost Friday...THANK GOODNESS!!  Any exciting plans for the weekend?

Thank you all for the positive feedback from my last post.  I think that like every single woman (and some men) I struggle with maintaining a positive self body image.  It's difficult when the girl on the treadmill is sprinting twenty thousand times faster than you or your friend maintains her "perfect" figure while still eating chocolate or you're in the fitting room trying to find a pair of pants that actually fit you.  In those situations, I have to mentally check out for a few moments and focus on my body and realize all the wonderful things my body does for me.  I might not run as fast as the girl on the treadmill next to me but my body carries farther and faster than I ever thought possible.  I might just have to take Stacy and Clinton's advice and start getting my pants tailored or wear dresses every day :)  

I don't maintain my "girlish figure" with pounds of chocolate but my body adores all the fruits and vegetables and oatmeal that I eat every day.
LOL...I couldn't resist :)

Speaking of wonderful food, since my new conversion to veganism (two weeks on Sunday), I've been becoming more adventurous in the kitchen.  After searching my favorite blogs I discovered an interesting recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs: Happy Herbivore.  Here's an ingredient teaser...
Any good guesses???

I made Lindsay's Mock Tuna Salad.  But since I'm only so ambitious I altered her recipe to my tastes and lack of desire to make yet another trip to the grocery store (as in some days I've gone to Whole Foods twice due my lack of proper planning).

  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 T yellow mustard
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  1. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.  Place in food processor and pulse until no whole beans remain.
  2. Remove skin from carrot and shred using a cheese grater (perfect for grating veggies)
  3. Mix carrot and garbanzo beans.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple hours to let flavors intensify (or eat right away like I did). Makes about 4 1/2 cup servings. 
Here how I ate one (or two...) of my servings:
"Tuna salad" on a whole grain La Tortilla shell with a massive pear and massive salad...yuuuuum.

Do you ever alter recipes?  I try to make recipes with ingredients that I have and sometimes the results are quite comical but I still eat them mainly because I hate wasting food.  Also have you ever tried the "mock" meats, etc?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love Your Body

As a female and former self proclaimed fat girl, I've struggled most of my life with loving my body.  Starting as early as middle school I remember being frustrated with my body and my looks.  It never helped that as a competitive swimmer I got to see myself in a bathing suit every single day.  Towards the end of high school, I slowed my swimming schedule (after ten years I'd finally burned out) and the pounds slowly crept on.  I hit my heaviest weight my freshman year of college when I weighed close to 220lbs and when I started Weight Watchers that summer, I weighed 207lbs.  Over the next several years I discovered food blogs,exercise, healthy/natural foods which seemed to only increase my obsession to find the perfect body.

BUT what defines the perfect body?  The more weight I lost the happier I became yet I still wanted to lose more.  I'd spent so many years dieting how could I stop.  I went from weighing a size 16 unable to find cute clothing to being smaller than a size 0 again struggling to find clothing that fit.  I've had days where I've justified how much I ate based on how hard I worked out.  I've started to tear up in frustration during a group exercise class because I messed up the steps and I wouldn't burn as many calories.  With the support of my family and close friends, I've slowly started to change my mentality.  I've started to love myself again.  I've even asked my former "fat" self for forgiveness for all the harsh words and hatred I forced upon her.  And today I discovered this poster via The Now Foundation:
Shannon Wu
Orange Village, OH

I almost started to cry when I saw this poster and looked through the other contest winners.  I immediately started sending the ecard version to all my friends and family.  And now I'm sharing the message with you.


We are all uniquely beautiful and special.  

There is NO perfect body: Hollywood be damned.  

I've shared my story with you in hopes of helping you realize that if you struggle with self image or body hatred, you are not alone.  I know that I often look upon other food bloggers with slight twinges of jealously or envy.  I will feel guilty for not lifting enough or running far enough or drinking coffee with splenda instead of green tea.  But no one is perfect: I'm NOT perfect.  And the only person who knows what's best for me is me.  And same goes for you!  So love your body and your body will love you back.  Sure you will have your good days and bad days BUT always remember that your body is with you through the good and bad.  And if you wouldn't say it to your best friend then don't say it to yourself.  

Here are some of the other posters (from this year and past years): 

Sarah Neuser
Eagan, MN

Marie Bushbaum
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Beryl Roda, Grand Prize Winner
Silver Spring, Md.

Check out the website to send ecards or participate in the Love Your Body Foundation.

You Are Beautiful!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yummy Eats and Shopping Treats

Happy Hump Day!  How's your week been so far?  Besides a mini crisis on Monday my week has been wonderful even with the icky rain on Tuesday.

Today I got to relive my Denver experience by eating at Jason's Deli.  I discovered this deli in Denver because of its location right next to my hotel.  I ate there everyday for lunch because of the fantastic salad bar and its commitment to healthy and organic food.  Needless to say when I discovered a location in Tyson's Corner I began planning a return trip immediately.   The salad bar is packed with spinach, romaine, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, artichokes (yummmm), hummus, onion, cucumber, mushrooms, carrots, different seeds, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  Basically it's salad bar heaven :)  Here's my plate (with a fruit cup):

I got spinach, bell peppers, olives, cucumbers, broccoli, mushrooms, artichokes, and topped it off with some balsamic vinegar.  I strongly dislike most balsamic vinaigrettes but I love the pure I weird??  After devouring my salad, I ran back for a second helping (lots of artichokes and olives).  It's a bit pricey but for an unlimited salad bar with such yummy eats it's completely work the price.  No icky iceberg lettuce in sight.

And finally, I made my first purchase at Lululemon.  Typically I'm against spending lots of money on clothes I sweat in BUT my friends and family have been harassing me about being a Scrooge and whining about hating my workout gear.  Plus I'm going on a bike trip this weekend in Gettysburg and it's supposed to be cold and rainy on Saturday so I don't want to freeze to death.  After consulting with the Lululemon experts and a couple of deep breaths, I purchased this:

It's the very cute Define jacket costing me slightly over $100 which is A LOT of money for me to spend on workout wear.  However, Lululemon's quality is impeccable and created to last at least 5 years.  The jacket is cute and will definitely keep me much warmer than my yucky old Northface which I destroyed in college.  I'm testing it out tomorrow morning on route to my 6am Body Step class!!

Do you own anything from Lululemon or otherwise expensive workout wear?  What's your policy on workout clothing?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Broke, Single, and Hungry

Happy Sunday!!  Congratulations to all the ladies who ran the Cherry Blossom race today :)

My healthy cooking on a budget talk went incredibly well. I kept it sweet and simple to not bore senior girls stuck inside on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon listening to me talk about depressing things college graduation and not eating takeout for every meal.  I posted my presentation on Google documents if you care to read it.  I named my presentation Broke, Single, and Hungry because it's funny and kind of summarized my first year of post college graduate living.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I made a recipe to show the girls that cooking on the cheap can be cheap and healthy.  For choosing a recipe I needed a portable food that included healthy and inexpensive ingredients that could be used in multiple recipes.  I hate recipes that require me to buy "weird" products that are expensive and I'd only use once.  Simplicity is key.  I decided that breakfast is often one of the most skipped meals due to lack of time in the morning.  After searching blogs, recipe websites, and cookbooks, I decided to make baked oatmeal bars based on this recipe from Kath of Kath Eats Real Food.

Cherry Craisin Oatmeal Bars



1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients (oats, salt, cocoa, Craisins)

2. Mix wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla)

3. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients then press into a 9x13 pan covered with parchment paper

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool for ten minutes then cut into desired number of servings.

I made 24 servings since I had twenty girls who'd want a sample.  For 24 servings 1 bar includes: 74 calories, 5.5g fat, 1.8g dietary fiber, and 1.6g protein.  For a more adequate breakfast (or snack) bar, I'd suggest halving the serving making 12 bars not 24 bars and eat with a large piece of fruit, yogurt, etc.  I chose these ingredients because all these ingredients can be used for other recipes. These bars can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the freezer for a quick snack or breakfast. 

Taste verdict: DELICIOUS.  Not all the seniors attended (silly girls missed out) so the girls who did attend ate several and took some home.  I managed to snag one for my long drive from Baltimore to DC (ughhhhh Sunday traffic).  I'm giving myself an A+ on my cheap and healthy food presentation so now I'm eating some popcorn and watching Hoarding on TLC (these people have some crazy shopping issues).  Enjoy the rest of your weekend :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beautiful Saturday :)

I finally made it back to Body Step this morning for the first time in a couple weeks (since I've been house sitting and super busy thus doing my own cardio workouts aka jogging, eliptical, etc).  I absolutely LOVE body step even though I feel I should be wearing sparkly spandex and leg warmers. Body Step is a Les Mills workout class that incorporates cardio, target training, and dance with a step for a full body workout.  For me, Body Step is an hour long party that gives me tons of endorphins and a fantastic booty :)

After Body Step, I went to Toscana Grill to meet a bunch of other DC bloggers for lunch coordinated by the lovely Anne P.  After boring my friends and families with my incessant food talk, I loved being with a bunch of other foodies who love food as much as me!  Toscana Grill joined with Compassion Over Killing (an animal rights group not PETA) to make April a vegan month so their menu for the entire weekend is completely vegan!
Check out this swag:
The is a sticker which I want to put in my car's back window :)

The menu looked fantastic but since I had massive amounts of hunger after Body Step and had a piece of toast with peanut butter I decided to stick with the Minestrone Soup.  However, I thought it left much to be desired.  For a restaurant that tries to encourage a healthy organic lifestyle, the soup mainly included broth, maybe 8 red beans, a green bean or two, and WHITE pasta.  I spent more money of a bowl of soup than the ingredients I could have bought to make a healthier and more tastier soup which is another reason I semi dislike eating out.  I always think I can make something healthier and maybe tastier.  However I loved meeting all the lovely bloggers and we had fantastic conversations about good food and exercise (my favorite topics). And provided me with lots of inspiration for a talk that I'm giving tomorrow to a bunch of college seniors.

I'm an advisor for my sorority at a college in Maryland and tomorrow I'm giving a talk about cooking/eating healthy on a budget without dining halls and Mommy making us dinner every night.  My first year after college I lived paycheck to paycheck but still managed to lose twenty pounds (not because I starved myself with lack of funds for food) while eating organic food, tons of fresh produce, and even shopping at Whole Foods.  So I'm going to be sharing the tips/tricks that I learned with these college seniors who (like me) might struggle with that first difficult year after graduation.

I'll (hopefully) be back tomorrow with a recap of my talk and the recipe I made as example of a quick, cheap, healthy breakfast for busy career girl who doesn't have time for making a pot of steel cut oats. Here's a teaser:

And no it's not oatmeal!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cake Taste Update

My entire family (myself included) LOVED the cake.  My youngest brother (14 and therefore a sugar expert) said "It's the best cake I've eaten in a long time".  Even I indulged in a piece (a rather large one) trying to forgot the millions of chemicals in the frosting and cake mix and focus on the egg whites and applesauce. Hey, everything in moderation, right?  

Don't you love the yellow and blue layers?? Because I do :)

Here are some more peepshi pictures to brighten up your Monday!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

What do you get when you combine chemicals, sugar, peeps, and a mother/daughter duo looking for a cute easter treat for the church brunch?


Thank you to the genius minds of Serious Eats, my mother and I created the perfect Easter coffee hour treat.  

Happy Easter!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Baking Like Sandra Lee

I absolutely love watching the Food Network!  I spend most of my free time reading cookbooks, food blogs while watching FN...okay maybe I'm just a little obsessive.  But for some reason...
drives me crazy.  Now I'm blonde and peppy but even I have my perky limits and somehow in less than thirty minutes Ms. Sandra Lee can push me to the edge.  Maybe it's the crazy tablescapes????

BUT I will admit that she has some good ideas and excellent tips/tricks for the busy family.  Her 70/30 rule is not for your snobbish foodie yet ideal for the busy mother trying to make a good meal for her family.  Today in the spirit of Sandra Lee I created a "semi homemade" Easter cake for my family dinner tomorrow evening.

Basically I took these: 

and made this:

It's my "semi homemade" Easter cake :) Now it looks pretty (not quite Ace of Cakes but pretty close) though I haven't tasted it yet.  But personally aesthetic appeal is much more important to taste.  It took me less than an hour to bake and decorate my cake thanks to the wise inspiration of Sandra Lee.

Spring (Easter) Cake

Cake Ingredients
  • One cake mix box (I used Pillsbury Classic White)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.25 cups water
Frosting Ingredients
  • 8oz tub of Sugar Free Cool Whip
  • 1 oz package of Fat Free Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda...don't judge)
  • 1 tsp sugar
Cake Decor:
  • Food coloring
  • Jellybeans
  • Sprinkles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Combine all cake ingredients in electric mixer and mix until smooth
  3. Distribute batter evenly into 2 9 inch greased cake pans (I used cooking spray)
  4. Use food color to dye cake batter (I did blue and yellow)
  5. Cook for 30 minutes then use a toothpick to check if cakes are done baking
  6. When done, remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes.  Then use dinner knife to loosen cake from pan and place cake on cooling rack.  Allow cake to cool to room temperature before frosting.
  7. Combine all ingredients for frosting in electric mixer while cake is cooking and mix until smooth.  Add food coloring (I used red and blue to make pink).
  8. When cakes are room temperature, frost cake.
  9. Decorate cake with frosting, sprinkles, and jelly beans (or whatever you feel like)
Voila!  You've made a fabulous spring (easter) cake in less than thirty minutes.  And if you're feeling all fancy you can make more layers or even cupcakes.  I'd like to thank Sandra Lee again for making me feel okay for using pre-made almost everything (except those egg whites which are a pain...any tips???).  

I also took inspiration from this outfit to do my kitchen work 

Or not...I wore my ratty old PJs.  Why risk ruining such a wonderful outfit??