Beyond the Scale

I wrote this several weeks ago but have been hesitant to share it.  Whilst rereading it, I realize it comes off a little… depressive.  But I’ve decided to leave this post as-is because these are all things that I felt at the time I wrote it.  But I think it’s important to note that I do not only feel this way.  Losing weight has been a struggle, but it’s also helped me to learn more about myself.  And while some days are hard, most days are great and I’m a very happy and grateful human.  This is all a part of my journey and I treat each experience as an integral part of that.


As life would have it, shortly after I posted about my weight loss I realized that I wasn’t healthy. On paper, sure, I was healthy- my weight was the lowest it’s been in years which, of course, has other positive bodily effects. But I didn’t feel good.

I was falling into detrimental habits that I am unfortunately all too familiar with. I was obsessing over the number on the scale. People noticed my weight loss and told me how great I looked and congratulated me on such a feat. This should have motivated me but instead it tore me apart. My weight directly affected my self-worth, and as the number on the scale went down my esteem went up- and vice-versa. Suddenly, I only saw myself as a number on the scale.

Feeling like I had no purpose other than to be skinny, I turned to food for comfort and started gaining weight… Again. My mind began to fog. Those around me noticed my weight loss, so surely they would notice my gain. My face isn’t as thin as it was only four weeks ago; my waist not as slim. In my mind, everything I was eating was “bad”. I felt guilty eating anything. When I was home alone with only my dog I would actually put food back because JEEZ terriers are so judgmental!

In hindsight, I can tell that my behavior over the past month has been destructive. But I didn’t realize how bad things had actually gotten until two weekends ago when Jeff and I went away. On our mini-vacation, the hotel we stayed at offered a buffet breakfast. I could have eaten every single item lined up there and even if I felt like I was about to burst I would keep eating just because it was there. While I was eating delicious pancakes all I could think about was the next thing I was going to eat. It was here that I realized just how much of what I was eating was being eaten just because it was there. Starving or stuffed, food was my life whether I even enjoyed it or not. I always had to be eating. I felt ashamed.

In the beginning, I was determined to lose weight to look “good” in a bikini. I didn’t want to look back on my wedding photos and hate what I saw. I wanted to feel good about myself. But as people began to notice my weight loss, my reasons why morphed into just one reason: I wanted people to think that I was skinny; and if they didn’t, it meant I was nothing. (I realize that this has everything to do with me and NOTHING to do with my family and peers who only saw how hard I was working to reach my goal and were graciously congratulating me for it.)

But at the time, I couldn’t see what was happening. I was losing weight and so my self-worth and esteem were high and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t stop thinking about the leftovers in the fridge. It didn’t matter that no matter how much I lost it would never be enough. It didn’t matter that if I felt I’d indulged too much I would degrade myself with words like “fat” or “pig” or “ugly” or “dumb”. It didn’t matter because every day I was getting skinnier.

My mind wasn’t healthy;  I was so detached from my body and what it truly needed.  For some, like myself, there is so much more to losing weight than eating less.  For me, it’s a lifestyle change, and as I’m adjusting my whole life I’m having to deal with stuff from every part of my life that has brought me here.

A lifestyle change isn’t always just about eating less, but may include changing how we handle problems or learning to eat mindfully instead of eating just because it’s there.  Everyone’s journey is different, and this is a part of mine.  I’m having to realize why I feel compelled to eat a whole bag of chips instead of a healthy-sized serving.  I need to recognize when my body feels satisfied instead of just eating until I can’t breathe.

I wanted to share this because this is honestly where I’m at.  It’s certainly not pretty, but I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my journey.  Going through this has been difficult, but I think it’s also made me a better person.  Writing this has helped me learn more about myself and by sharing it here, I hope to shed light on an issue not often discussed when people talk about losing weight.

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Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  I’m taking some time to reevaluate and prioritize my long-term goals.  Bodily health means nothing to me if my mind and soul aren’t also healthy.  My personal journey is about finding balance in my body and in life, and my blog is a direct extension of that.  Holistic health considers all parts of the body and though for the moment I’ve lost sight of that, I’m hopeful and know that each struggle only makes me stronger.

~

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Better For You Banana Bread | Recipe

Lately, I’ve really been struggling to find the balance between what is healthy for me and what is “Weight Watchers healthy”. For those unfamiliar with the program, Weight Watchers members are assigned a daily points value based on their height, weight, gender, age and a few other factors. Each food item also has a points value that is calculated based on the number of calories and grams of saturated fat, sugar and protein. In short, the goal is to track the number of points you eat a day while hitting your personal daily points target.

So what do I mean by “Weight Watchers healthy”? For example, on the program one tablespoon of Kerrygold butter is 5 points (that’s pretty high). On the other hand, you can have virtually as much I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter butter-like spray as you want for 0 points (that’s ideal!). But this “butter-like” spray is loaded with chemicals and additives that are foreign to our bodies, so it is extremely difficult for us to digest them. Kerrygold butter not only comes from grass-fed cows, but because it is closer to it’s natural state our bodies are more familiar with it.

When you remove the fat from foods that naturally contain fat, it actually becomes harder for your body to digest. A general rule-of-thumb when scouting out healthy items is the fewer ingredients on the label, the better. That being said, these foods aren’t exactly Weight Watchers-friendly. If I want to sauté some onion in one measly tablespoon of butter, I have to sacrifice some protein to make it feasible for the plan.

You could say, “Kels, you could cut out dairy altogether! Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the butter debacle!” But let’s be real- I’m not going to do that. And if I’m going to eat it, it’s going to be the real stuff that my body recognizes and can process. It’s all about balance, anyway, right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis brings me to the reason you clicked this link- the banana bread. Banana bread summons up such feelings of warmth and comfort; many of us grew up eating it homemade by mom. These loaves are probably a little different from the one I’m sharing with you today, though, because there is no processed sugar here! This recipe from Cookie and Kate uses honey to naturally sweeten the bread while providing trace nutrients that granulated sugar does not.

On WW, one tablespoon of honey is four points, while one tablespoon of white granulated sugar is only three points. According to the plan, sugar is better for us than honey. But sugar doesn’t have the vitamins and antibacterial properties that honey naturally contains. While the plan does work if you follow it, I’m going to decide what’s “healthy”; I’m going to stick to what’s going to nourish my body, not what’s going to make me lose weight. (Can I have both? Coming to a future post.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlright, enough talking: this banana bread is delicious, nutritious, easy to make and your friends will never be able to tell it’s actually healthy (I sure couldn’t; my best friend made this for a post-night out treat and I immediately knew I needed the recipe. Additional note: may cure hangovers).


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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted (may sub olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup honey (may sub maple syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/4 cup milk (may sub dairy-free milk or water)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (may sub all-purpose or regular whole wheat flour)
  • Optional: chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit of choice to fold-in

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, use a whisk to beat together coconut oil and honey. Beat in eggs. Add mashed banana and milk and whisk until combined. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and combine.
  • Ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon to fold in the flour until just combined. If you’re adding chocolate chips or nuts, now’s the time to fold them in, too.
  • Pour your batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I added chocolate chips and it took closer to 65 minutes to fully bake). Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes before slicing- if you can bear it!

~

Island Time | Block Island, RI

This past weekend, my fiancé and I visited Block Island to not only celebrate his birthday, but to bask in and appreciate our planet’s beauty, as his birthday falls on Earth Day.

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It was overcast and rainy when we arrived; this combined with the fact that it’s the island’s off-season made for an extremely low-key and quiet weekend.  We ferried the car over so we could explore the lesser traveled areas and admire the beach-front properties.

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We visited the bluffs and hiked down- and then up!- ten flights of stairs to the rocky beach.  We visited several other trails but didn’t do much walking on account of the rain.

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And you know I have to include at least one food pic!  We ate at one of the four restaurants open this time of year, the Mohegan Café & Brewery, for both lunch and dinner on Saturday (we were going to try another place for dinner, but they closed early, I’m assuming because there was no business).  Jeff ordered these delicious coconut shrimp- perfectly fried and crunchy and nicely complemented with a sweet Thai chili sauce.  The mixed drinks here were only okay, but we enjoyed all the food we ordered.

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We stayed overnight in the Honora Sullivan room at Dodge Cottage, a part of The 1661 Inn, the only place on the island that’s open year-round.  The room was clean and cozy and The Inn offered a delicious buffet breakfast (which was included in the cost of the stay) with eggs, pancakes, ham, baked goods and mimosas.  The staff was friendly and accommodating- we would definitely stay here again!

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Sunday ended up being a beautiful spring day.  We walked the beach to the North Lighthouse, and of course got some nice pictures along the way.

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Jeff and I have been to BI before during it’s peak tourist-season, but traveling here when everything’s quiet is a totally different experience.  It was the perfect way to celebrate love, life and the beauty that Earth grants us.

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~

Learning Not to Compare

Up until recently, I was an avid follower of Instagram-famous folk such as Iskra Lawrence, a woman with large hips and a flat tummy whose body-positive movement has gained her millions of followers.  She posts pictures of herself working out at the gym or wearing a bra and panties while eating a slice of pizza to encourage her followers not to restrict their diets and to promote a balanced lifestyle.

But here’s the thing: I exercise and eat pizza just like she does, but I do not look like her.  While I was drawn to her because of her curves and I felt I could relate, my stomach has never been flat and may never be flat.  But I would scroll through her Insta feed in an attempt to mimic her lifestyle and would only find myself discouraged and disappointed.

The truth is, Iskra is a model first and foremost.  She lives by parameters that are just not attainable for me.  Her body holds weight differently than mine, which is something that was determined at birth.  No matter how much I will myself to look like her, I never will.  Everything she eats, does and lives by is different from my own lifestyle, so why would I believe I could ever look like her?  I even see my friends and peers moving up in the world and getting healthier and I compare my own live to theirs and then feel saddened by the fact that I am not where they are.

LearningNottoCompareWhat I try to remember is that we are born to be different.  Every human’s thoughts and ideas- every human’s life– is different.  This is what has caused our society to grow and progress over time.  Imagine if we celebrated the differences in our bodies like we do our ideologies.  Each of us has experienced different things and has struggled through various situations to get to where we are.  Our lifestyles are all vastly different and so our bodies should all be equally as different.

Nobody wins when we compare ourselves to others; it only distracts us from our own journey.  No amount of progress that we make in our own lives will ever be enough if we continue to compare our individual journeys to those of our peers.  It is so important to discover what the parameters are for your life and to live by those.  Turning to others for inspiration may seem like a positive motivator but in many cases it only veers us away from our own path.

Focus on what you can do to better yourself instead of what you can do to be more like this person or that person.  Doing so allows you to recognize your own successes and that makes your life so much sweeter.

~

My Weight, Disordered Eating & Where I am Now

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  My feelings toward my body and food and the relationship between the two have always been skewed.  When I was in grade school, I was bullied for being overweight.  I couldn’t wear the clothes my friends were wearing because I couldn’t fit into them.  When I was maybe 11 or 12, my behavior with food changed; this was about when I started dieting.

I remember being on the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers; there may have been other programs that I tried, but I can’t recall them.  The South Beach Diet was the worst- I ate bland, unappealing food and I don’t remember seeing much in the way of results.  I look back on Weight Watchers more fondly, because when I first started this program I lost 50 pounds.  Now that I’m able to look back on this time in my life with fresh eyes, I believe this is when my food addiction festered.

I treated food much like an alcoholic would treat their vice.  I would sneak food in the middle of the night so that no one would see me.  I would lie to my friends about what I was eating because I was embarrassed to admit the foods that I liked were “bad.”  I didn’t like to eat in front of others because I was so self-conscious.  Weight Watchers teaches accountability, and one of the tricks to the program is to write down everything that you eat.  At the time, I was so embarrassed by what I was eating that I would eat in private so no one would see me, and I would then pretend that it didn’t happen.  This went on for years, and I still struggle with some of these behaviors today.

As I got older, I developed breasts and thighs and started to gain back the weight I had lost in grade school.  I also stopped consciously watching what I was eating so I kept gaining.  Being a high schooler, my weight and my health weren’t a priority.  But people in my life would make off-hand comments about my weight.  I even had a boyfriend at the time whose friends mocked me for “exceeding his weight limit.”  I pretended that I didn’t notice these things or that they didn’t bother me.  This is when I started purging.

This period in my life didn’t last long; I at least had the mind to realize that purging wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t going to give me the results I wanted.  When I graduated high school, I kind of forgot about my weight.  I knew I was overweight, but I had a boyfriend who paid me attention so I wasn’t really thinking about it.  Doctors would voice their concern towards the correlation between my age and my weight but, again, it wasn’t a priority so I shrugged it off.

My behavior with food was still reminiscent of an addiction, but it truly became more of a coping mechanism.  During any period of stress, moment of anger or sadness or even happiness, I would either drown my sorrows in a bag of chips or reward myself with a chocolate bar (or four).  This behavior is still one I’m battling today.

In 2015, I began schooling to become a massage therapist.  Throughout the course of the program, I realized how important mind, body and soul wellness is.  It wasn’t until I graduated that I finally started getting serious about my health.  I started to incorporate exercise into my routine, but it was sporadic- one week I’d exercise six times, then nothing for 3 weeks.  When I moved out of my parents’ house, I started eating far less junk food.  I began introducing vegetables into my diet and drinking more water.  I felt better overall, but I was still overweight.  In late November 2016, I started Weight Watchers, again, and I’m still on the program now.

As I’m typing this, I’ve lost 31.6 pounds so far.  Four months ago I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 221.2 pounds.  As I’ve been on this health journey, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning- not just about wellness, but about myself.sidebysidenovmar2sidebysidenovmar

The media and internet is so flooded with information about what’s “good” and “bad” for us, visuals about what we should look like and diet plans that guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds in the first week or your money back!  I want to share my journey here so that perhaps someone will see a realistic, holistic and intuitive approach to bodily health and mind and soul wellness.  This isn’t a quick fix.  This isn’t a “Biggest Loser” success story.

This is me: a real woman making real changes to promote a balanced life.  It can be ugly, it can be raw, but I want to show that it can be done and it is so worth it!

Welcome to my journey.

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