S.T.R.E.S.S.

Let’s be real for a minute and talk about how much stress impacts our ability to eat well. Emotional stress, physical stress, job stress…all of it makes me want a big ole’ bowl of cookie dough ice cream. Not to mention wedding planning stress…that’s like a whole new kind of stress I never knew existed.

Today, while getting ready for work, I gave myself a pep talk to prepare for the temptations that will arise throughout the day that will deter me from my goals of how I’d like to feel on my wedding day (in 7 months, AHHHH!). My pep talk quickly turned into an analysis of why I started cheating on my diet and sneaking around with food again. I thought I’d conquered that…shoot! I tried to think of the moment junk food began to tempt me again, like the old days. It was when Sean and I decided it was time to put my oldest fur-child down. To me, losing Baloo was like the silent death of my single-self and all the adventures that life brought about. Don’t get me wrong, marrying Sean is the next best thing to sliced low-carb bread, but I was on my own for a lot of years…just Baloo and I. Honestly, I feel a little lost without him here. Unsure of what to do with my time…so guess what I do? I EAT.

I never prepared for life without Baloo. I never planned how to cope with the emotions of not having him here. I look and sound like my normal self, I even feel like my normal self most days. That’s how emotional eating works though, isn’t it? You don’t feel “emotional”…you just avoid confronting feelings you know won’t be fun by stuffing your face. One thing is certain, I miss my boy. That’s a hurt that won’t go away anytime soon. But, what I can do is recognize that I hurt and am driven to eat BECAUSE I miss him. Consciously and subconsciously. It’s always a slippery slope, as with any addiction, when you play the “just this one time” games. You find excuses to do it more and more. Didn’t have time to meal-prep this week, I’ll just grab McDonalds breakfast and treat myself. The ability to fight off temptations and stick to anything lies in your dedication to being PREPARED. Food prep and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it throughout the week, but oh my, I loathe it on Sundays. Hate it, whine about it, pout. I’d love someone to explain that to me ha!

Anyway, chin up buttercups! We got this 🙂

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Almond Flour Pizza Crust Recipe

Had a few friends ask for my recipe…which isn’t as easy as sending out a link because I like the idea of recipes, but rarely follow through and tend to put my own spin on things! So here it is:

2 cups of Almond Flour/Meal

3-4 eggs (start with 3 and if it’s still really thick add another)

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella

1 tbsp. garlic salt (I didn’t measure here…so maybe a little more to be safe)

Dash of ground pepper

MIX IT ALL TOGETHER (I RECOMMEND USING A FORK!) AND CHILL FOR 15-20 MINUTES, PREHEAT OVEN TO 350.

ROLL OUT (OR PRESS) DOUGH BETWEEN TWO SHEETS OF PARCHMENT PAPER (THAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS STICKYYYYYY) SHOULD BE APPROX. 1/4 INCH.

BAKE ON PARCHMENT PAPER FOR 20-25 MINUTES. (I FLIPPED MINE HALF WAY THROUGH…BUT MOSTLY BECAUSE I WAS CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON THE BOTTOM. I DON’T THINK THIS IS TOTALLY NECESSARY)

REMOVE AND ADD SAUCE AND TOPPINGS (I USED SPINACH, MUSHROOM, KALAMATA OLIVES, TOMATOES, SALAMI AND FETA CHEESE).

BAKE FOR 10-15 MINUTES.

It’s going to be quite a bit more dense than your average pizza crust, so the texture is a bit different but not in a bad way. Tasted like pizza and I could eat it with my hands like normal pizza!

Baloo.

My soul-dog. My best friend. My ever-so faithful companion. My shadow. My road-trip buddy. My roommate. The healer of my broken hearts. Keeper of all my secrets. The first and last face I see everyday.

We were connected from the moment we met. He was a 6 (ish) year old handsome boy with the biggest, sweetest brown eyes. He had been re-surrendered to the Pet Refuge countless times with a history of being mischievous and running away. I’d be kidding myself if I said he’s been a perfect boy. There was the lasagna fiasco of 2011, the goose chasing scare of 2013, the tuna can-chew toy of 2014, the protein powder party of 2015, two knee surgeries and a million meals stolen right from my plate. He’s devoured countless boxes of Kleenex. He’s gotten into and eaten more trash than any dog I know. He trained me eventually to always close the lid and take the trash out right away once full. He sheds…like A LOT. Dog hair balls in the corners are just a fact of life. I had to learn to never sit on the furniture in black and to always keep a lint roller in my purse.

Baloo’s a simple dog. He still sleeps in the first bed I got for him. I bought him a new bed several years ago and threw the other in the dumpster because it had lost it’s shape, was coated in dog hair and was unbelievably stinky. That night he wouldn’t go near the new bed…instead he slept on the floor next to it. I ended up digging that nasty old bed out of the dumpster and here he lays, next to me in the living room in that same bed.

I remember when we first moved to Indianapolis, we were living in a 2nd floor studio apartment. I got a dog park membership for us so he could still roam free since we didn’t have a yard. We went all the time that first summer, I’d take a book and sit at the picnic tables. You’d think he’d be off running around with the other dogs in the park, but he’d just sniff the perimeter a few times and then come lay next to me in the sun. People have always said Baloo is an old soul. My friends and I used to joke about how he’d wear a top hat and a monocle if he were human and speak like a wise old man. He’s made so many friends over the years, human and not, and never a single enemy…except for Andrew and Rachel’s cat, Big Roy (RIP sweet kitty boy).

I always thought he’d be here to watch over my babies, when that day came, and love and protect them just as he has me all these years. I never entertained thoughts about what life would be like without him. The click-clack on the floor that tells me he always right behind me. The snores that keep me awake at night, yet give me peace knowing he’s right beside me…always. The way he lays in the kitchen while I cook waiting for me to drop something and me pointing to it with my toe to say “it’s all yours, boy”. The way he comes up to me after being at work, rests his head on my knee and look into my eyes. The way he follows me into the bathroom and turns his back end towards me because he loves to have his butt pat. The way he looks at me with adventure in his eyes, always looking back at me on our walks to make sure I was having a good time too.

The last few months I’ve watched Baloo’s mind slowly be taken over by dementia. He remembers me and his adoration for me is unchanged. Unfortunately, that’s about the only trait I recognize in the sweet hound dog I adopted all those years ago. It’s been hard to watch him get lost in corners of the house, get confused about things and forget to go potty when we go outside. His mind is failing him and I’m left with an impossible decision. I will be setting Baloo free of all anxiety and confusion in mid-March. Until then, we will be celebrating his life every day. The next couple weeks will consist of car rides, endless treats, a spot on the couch and as many walks as we can fit in. He’s my boy. He always will be “my boy”…

Just Today.

I’ve written before about Andie Mitchell and how her book opened my eyes to the love affair I was having with food. I am still a huge fan of hers. She has a TED Talk that I love to listen to when I’m feeling weak. (Here’s the link if you’d like to watch: Andie Mitchell TED Talk) She tells a story about a woman who is struggling with binge eating and calls her OA (Overeaters Anonymous) sponsor and tells them that she feels like she’s losing control and that she wants to binge. Her sponsor replies, “Do you think you can do it today? Can you just focus on making it through today without binging? JUST TODAY.”

It’s a powerful phrase. We can all do something for ‘just one day’. I use this phrase not just with binging, but also with my spending. Sometimes I wake up and the motivation to be healthy is pulsing through my veins like a raging storm…then there are days when I wake up and my only thought is ‘McDonalds breakfast’. As with any addiction, you have to strive to be conscious of your surroundings and decisions when you’re in recovery. Now, don’t let me fool you, I do still cave to my cravings sometimes. This last year I had to learn to become aware of my cravings, then analyze them by picking apart why that craving is there. Am I stressed? Am I upset? Am I feeling insecure? Or am I really just hungry? It’s REALLY hard to retrain your brain to think this way, but it’s necessary to understand the emotions behind your eating. Our bodies were designed to tell us what it needs; food, water, a bathroom break, etc. But once food becomes your coping mechanism, the hunger signals from your body are often wrong. Hunger and cravings are different. I’m hungry when my stomach grumbles. I’m craving Fazoli’s bread sticks and pasta when I’m having an emotional response to something. I fed that emotional hunger for so long that I lost touch with what hunger really felt like.

I’ve used the phrase “just today” in so many situations. Can I walk the dogs just a couple blocks further, just today? Can I skip eating out and spend 30 minutes cooking dinner at home, just today? Can I get up early and go to the gym, just today? My answer is always ‘yes’. I can do it JUST TODAY and so can you!

Me Too.

I never talk about this. It’s something I’ve buried so deep that I often forget about it, which I’m so thankful for. I have many friends speaking out as the “Me Too” movement has risen to take a stance against sexual harassment and abuse. This is my story…

I was 21. A good girl. The girl who was waiting until she was married to give herself “fully” to the man of her dreams. The girl who was dumped several times because she didn’t “put out”. Not just because that was how I was raised, but because my virginity was something I was in control of. I loved the power and uniqueness it gave me. I remember thinking often, “I’ve waited this long, I can wait until I meet ‘the one'”. I was far from a prude, I just knew what I wanted…and that was to wait.

It was New Years Eve and a childhood friend of mine, we’ll call him Joe,  was in town from Pennsylvania. I’d had a crush on him since I was 8 years old, but those feelings faded as I grew up and we just enjoyed each other’s friendship. Since he didn’t have many friends in town and was staying with his grandparents, I invited him to a friend’s New Years Eve party with the plan of introducing him to one of my best girlfriends, knowing they would hit it off. Joe fit in perfectly with everyone at the party, he’s always been a social person and was easy to get along with. As midnight approached, we were all pretty tipsy. The drinks and glasses of champagne were flowing freely.

I remember borrowing a friends bathing suit to swim in their indoor pool and after that things get a little blurry for me. I remember laying down in the basement on one of the couches and passing out…when I woke up my entire world was flipped upside down.

[This is where things get a bit graphic] I woke up to a bloody condom next to me, my bathing suit untied, disheveled and barely covering me and Joe laying next to me. I remember running to the bathroom with tears welling up in my eyes, thinking “No. No. Not Joe. He would never do this to me. He knew I was a virgin. We’ve been friends since we were children. He just wouldn’t do this.” As I sat on the toilet, sobbing from pain and heartbreak, I wiped away the blood. After pulling myself together and putting my clothes back on, I walked out into the room where he slept. His boxers were covered in blood. My blood. I wasn’t on my period. My heart sank and I ran to my girlfriends in the other room. Scared because I couldn’t remember anything. Heartbroken because my virginity was gone. Lost because I felt like I’d no longer have anything to offer to my future husband. I have never spoken out or claimed that I was raped. Rape is a scary word, especially for women who aren’t sure. I never accused him…in fact, I gave Joe, in his blood stained jeans and boxers, a ride back to his grandparent’s house the next day. I never talked to him again after that awkward car ride. He never attempted to contact me again.

I forgave Joe long ago, not because he asked…just because I couldn’t live with the pain anymore. I’ve heard he’s married now with a daughter. I always wrote off that night, telling myself, “We were both drunk. Maybe I told him I wanted it?” It tore me up inside for years. Years of broken and dysfunctional relationships. Complete desperation for acceptance from the guys I dated. I remember being told “welcome to the club!”, “at least he had the decency to wear a condom” and “well now you might as well sleep with your boyfriend since you aren’t a virgin anymore.”

Today, I am here to say that if you want to wait, WAIT! And if you don’t, your value hasn’t decreased! Your value doesn’t rest in your sexual encounters, wanted or not. You are valuable just the way you are. Beautiful, worthy and precious. 8 years later, I’m engaged to the man of my dreams. He loves me despite my brokenness and insecurities. He embraces me, all of me. Even the dark parts I try to bury deep.

Hiding the evidence…

I live in a sweet little home with the love of my life and our two pups. We have a fun life with great friends and lots of travel. Many nights are spent with him queuing up a movie or Jeopardy while I whip up some form of a meal. Sometimes I get really fancy with dinner and then sometimes I make quesadillas in the microwave.

I think I mentioned before, I started taking Vyvanse many months ago to help curb my binge eating. It has worked great for me during the day. I am focused and the thought of food is pretty much non-existent. That is awesome, except for the fact that I rarely binge eat at work anyway. I binge at home, secretly and quietly when I’m alone. Sometimes I wait until after my love has taken the dogs to bed so I can avoid their begging eyes for the food that I shouldn’t even be eating. By this time, the medicine has lost it’s affect and my will power is all that’s left. This blog post idea came to mind after a recent grocery trip to Aldi.

I typically do a great job making healthy-ish choices when I grocery shop. We haven’t had soda in our home in months, cut out chips (with the exception of tortilla chips & salsa), and Little Debbie snacks. This one particular grocery trip, though, I felt very weak. I didn’t go crazy, but I LOVE jalapeno chips and I told myself “you can buy the bag if you promise yourself to take baggies of them to work, instead of the whole bag.” I’m sure you can guess, after I got home and put everything away, I sat down on the couch to have a couple of my delicious, spicy chips. Within minutes, it seemed, the ENTIRE bag was gone! I was so mad at myself…but even more than that, I was embarrassed. I knew I couldn’t put the bag in the trash because then Sean would see it and I would have to admit to eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting. So what did I do? I folded the empty bag up and slid it under the coffee table to hide until the next time I took the trash out. I had to hide the evidence.

BED sufferers face moments like these ALL THE TIME. I’m still doing good and am in a much better place than I was a year ago…but I’m still weak. I still have moments where I lose awareness of my eating and that’s when I struggle. Even in my struggles, I feel positively encouraged. I feel brave. And hopefully someday I will feel fearless in the face of temptation. Until that day…

“Shame Pants”

After being diagnosed with BED (Binge Eating Disorder), so many things in my life suddenly made sense…and then a lot of stuff didn’t. I remember telling Stephanie one day, “I think you’re going to be really proud of me. I’ve been putting little reminders all around the house to keep me aware and accountable of my eating and my size. I even hung a pair of my ‘skinny pants’ in the window so I see them every day while I get dressed to motivate me to fit into them again!” I was so pleased with myself. Well, that satisfied, pride-filled grin on my face was fleeting as Stephanie responded, “you mean you hung ‘shame pants’ in the the window? To remind yourself that you were thin enough to wear those in the past?” Her correction was sobering.

I thought I was doing the right thing by hanging onto all those cute clothes I used to wear when I was a size 10 or 12, or even 14. What I didn’t realize was that every time I opened my closet and saw some of my favorite outfits folded up, untouched, gathering dust, I got a little further from loving my body. Every time I pulled that pair of super awesome and unique newspaper-print skinny jeans down to try on and see if I’d lost enough weight to fit back into them and didn’t, the more I analyzed and hated the way my love-handles hung over pants that used to fit, the way my belly rippled if I didn’t wear a girdle, how my back fat had started to roll under my bra, or the way my arm flab stretched sleeves until they left rings around my arms from being so tight. Looking back, you’d think I would have decided to get rid of these clothes because they obviously didn’t fit comfortably anymore. But I didn’t…why? Because I was convinced I would fit into them again. That I would lose the weight and look like I used to.

This flawed mindset created a cycle of body-hate that I couldn’t even see until Stephanie pointed it out to me. Fitting back into my “shame pants” defined the satisfaction I had with my body. I perceived my value by how tight or lose my pants fit. I had no body-love for my shape. Stephanie asked me later that meeting, “If you stood naked in front of the mirror, what would you change?” I turned into a puddle. “Everything…”, I whispered. Before I was able to list all of the things I hated about my body, she asked me to tell her one thing I loved. “My freckles.” That was a start. Stephanie began to explain to me how much body image is tied to BED. Constant scrutiny of your body will cause you to only see the parts you don’t like. BED isn’t a food problem. It’s an intense and very real psychological problem. No amount of dieting, exercise, weight loss, etc. will help you see something you love in that mirror if your mindset stays the same. Stephanie’s homework for me? To fall in love with my body. And not fall in love with it because it looked the way I wanted it too. I needed to fall in love with it just the way it was, rolls and all. Easier said than done, that’s for sure.

Body-love tips that helped me:

  • Stop weighing yourself. In fact, don’t have a scale in your home at all.
  • Lose the “shame pants”. No, seriously. Donate them, sell them to a consignment shop…just get rid of them. (I chose to sell mine and made about $50!)
  • “Pride pants”. Buy some new clothes that make you feel confident and fit comfortably. Maybe even buy your new “pride pants” a little lose and wear a belt if you’re like me and obsess over every bit of bulge that hangs over the side.
  • Trash the mirrors. Take that full-length devil mirror off your door and get rid of it. Do your best to stay away from mirrors in general. This will cut down significantly on negative self-talk and harsh self-judgement of your body. (Less mirror time also caused me to cut WAY down on the amount of make-up I wore everyday, which improved my punctuality to work, let my freckles shine and I started to like the way I looked without makeup better than with…all good things!)

Finding peace with my body wasn’t an overnight success. It’s a process…a slow process. It’s the kind of thing where the changes to your mindset are so minor that you can’t see your progress until months down the road. I haven’t stepped on a scale in almost a year. I haven’t curled or straitened my hair in months because I don’t like to waste the time…my natural waves look just as good. Here’s the humdinger, though. My boyfriend and I went to the beach a couple weeks ago for vacation and, without even realizing it, I found myself running around on the beach like a child IN MY BATHING SUIT. Showing my thighs and all their glory while doing handstands in the ocean. I had fun and my mind wasn’t consumed by the fact that I was in a bathing suit, on a beach, where people could see me! Small changes like the ones listed above can create BIG changes in your ability to love your body and help you to lose your self-conscious, negative thoughts overtime.

Go on! Show yourself some body-love ❤