Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mirror image....

Friends, I'd be lying to you if I didn't speak up and say I struggle with body image nearly every single day.

I'm not sure where it stems from, exactly. Whether it's the many adolescent years when I was heavier, or the power that losing that weight afforded me. Perhaps a combo of the two. My point is, for me, losing weight was like a hunger that never seemed to be totally satisfied.

It was eight years ago when I first went from an average size 10 to a size 2. I remember looking in the mirror and bullying myself. Seeing all the places I felt fat. It didn't matter what other people saw, it didn't matter what size I was wearing. All I could see was the places I thought I needed to improve.

I look at pictures from that time now, and I look pretty damn skeletal. It's hard for me to stomach the fact that in those days, I still felt fat in some of the smallest clothes Gap and Abercrombie had to offer. I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person; I eat mostly things I cook myself, steer clear of preservatives and refined sugar. I work out regularly. But mentally, it's often hard for me to empty my head of what society views as "beautiful," and concentrate on being strong and healthy.

I still have days where I look in the mirror and tear myself apart. I don't know why I do it, it doesn't make me feel good about myself. And there are a ton of healthier ways to feel strong. Like....

* cook myself a delicious healthy meal
* run a race
* lift weights
* run with a friend
* play soccer
* write a blog entry

.... or about a million other things. Point being; self-bullying does NOTHING for us, except make us feel bad. How can we be our own greatest champion if our greatest champion is beating us up every day? We can't. That leaves no one to champion you at all. Even if you're lucky enough to have someone that reminds you every day how beautiful you are, it's very hard to believe that if you don't feel it about yourself.

Today I looked in the mirror, and before I started to criticize my legs (one of my long-hated features), I looked closer. Rather than deeming my thighs "big", I concentrated on the fact that all of the running I've been doing has been slowly transforming fat to muscles. My legs look... strangely athletic. Which is new to me, but is something I should celebrate. Rather than piss and moan about my jeans feeling tighter, I should be jumping up and down that my legs carry me through race after race, and are going to carry me right through marathon training this spring. Do I want to run 26.2 miles on twigs, or tough trunks that might muscle me across the finish line under four hours? I think the answer is staring right back at me.

If I have to choose between being skinny and being awesome... I'll choose awesome.

until later....

"Good for the body is the work of the body, and good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for either is the work of the other." ~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Harvest Oatmeal

I'm a girl who is always looking to maximize my breakfast. Probably my top fave is oatmeal, mostly because you can do just about anything with it. Nuts, fruit, peanut butter... tons of options. Breakfast sets the tone for your entire day. I like to cram as many vitamins and minerals in as I can; it makes me eat healthier the whole day!!

Since it's fall, I thought I'd do a little experimenting with fall flavors and my oatmeal. Here's a recipe for something I'm calling "Harvest Oatmeal"....

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or you can just use another 1/2 cup water)
1/2 cup slow-cook oatmeal (I always recommend Bob's Red Mill brand)
1/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/8 cup raisins
pinch of salt
nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla to taste
sugar or sugar substitute to taste
OPTIONAL: walnuts

* Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil.
* Add oatmeal, salt, and simmer until mostly thickened.
* Add pumpkin, raisins, nuts if opting for those, and seasonings/vanilla/sweetener.
* Cook until thick and creamy.
* Enjoy!

I don't like to add a lot of sweetener to my oatmeal, which is why I encourage you to taste-test it and see exactly how much you like.

~ Why pumpkin?
Besides being low in fat and calories, pumpkin is basically one of the most nutrient-packed fruits around. Alpha and beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium.... lots of vitamins to boost your breakfast.

~ Why coconut milk?
Coconut milk is regarded by some as a "miracle food". It's dairy-free, so it's great for those who are lactose-intolerant. But it's also soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free! It's somewhat high in saturated fat, BUT the majority of fatty acids it contains turn into energy rather than body fat. So it can actually help aid weight loss. It contains many vitamins/minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as electrolytes. And hey, theatre people! Coconut milk is also known to boost the immune system, and help relieve the symptoms of sore throats, as well as ulcers. Basically, coconut milk rocks.

So give it a shot, let me know what you think. Get those fruits and veggies in wherever you can!

“If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.” ~Jack Handy