My Body is Not Yours to Comment On - Final Blog Post

For probably the fourth time in the last month, I just got asked my favorite question: "Are you pregnant?" Let me tell you how much I absolutely love that question. It fills me with a certain black-hearted rage that makes me feel (as my friends would say) stabby.

Why do you, random stranger, feel the need to comment on my body? Am I overweight? Sure am. Do I look like I could perhaps be harboring a small fugitive inside the roundness of my belly? Absolutely. But who are you to ask and quite frankly, why do you care?

My favorite and standard response to the question is, "No, I'm just fat." That always makes people squirm a little and start drowning in the stupidity and audacity of their question. Sometimes, like a few weeks ago, people try to dig themselves out only to make it worse by asking an even more terrible question like, "Oh, well did you just have a baby?" As if having just had a baby would make it, by your standards, ok that I'm fat.

Why is it ok for anyone to comment on someone's body? Not to play the gender card, but I'm totally going to - women's bodies are always such open targets for chatter. I never hear people outwardly judging or talking about a fat man, but if a fat woman is walking by all of a sudden it's "OMG, please don't ever let me get fat like that" or "Wow she'd be so pretty if she lost weight." Does anyone ever say some guy would be hot if he was skinny? Does the fat guy even get a second glance much the same way a woman does? Better yet, does the "hot" guy get cat-called and harassed like an attractive woman does? I'm sure on the rare occasion, yes, but for the most part I'm going to give that a resounding no. I've seen women, friends of mine even, harassed about being overweight in public and left feeling less-than, as if her body was something to be ashamed of...and quite frankly, it's disgusting and sad.

Even outside of the fat and skinny debate, people have such issues with the female body, like it should be covered and hidden away in secret. Take school dress codes for example. Girls aren't allowed to wear certain things so as not to "distract" the boys. Maybe the boys should learn a thing or two about getting their priorities straight and stop gawking at others. Moms are harassed about breastfeeding in public because, gasp, oh no - a breast! We shouldn't have to hide our bodies or feel bad about our bodies because other people feel the need to stare or have an opinion.

My body is my biggest insecurity and yet, my body isn't me, it's just the thing I happen to inhabit. I have spent an immeasurable amount of time fixating on, crying over, and trying to change my body. I can say with certainty that most, if not all of, my self-hatred stems from my poor body image. Is most of it in my head? I suppose so, but a lot of it comes from others. Others making comments, others asking questions, others just taking my body and trying to make it their own. Suggestions on ways to eat, how to work out, special diets, while all in theory trying to be well-meaning, but simply adding to the problem. I realize I am allowing myself to let others get me down, but not allowing it is easier said than done. After a while it starts to eat at you and builds you into this person that lives to tear yourself down. Who am I outside of my body-shaming and self-loathing? Not entirely sure to be honest.

The female body is a beautiful thing, whether you wear a size 2 or 22, but keep your comments, thoughts, questions, and criticisms to yourself. Whatever is going on with someone's body - whether a pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, sickness, whatever - is none of your (random stranger) business. Worry about yourself people, or better yet, find something better to think about all together than a body, whether someone else's or your own.

This turned into way more of a soapbox than I intended to in one post, but the words just came so I went with it.

...and on that note, I think it's time to officially put this blog to rest. I realize if I don't want people to comment on my body in real life, I probably shouldn't be putting it all out here for the world to comment on as well. This blog started as just a place to write and evolved into a place to document weight loss and fitness after I had my son. The comments and encouragement I got really helped to lift my spirits along the way, but in reality I probably fed off of any praise I got a little too much and that's not necessarily a good thing for me. I met many awesome bloggers that are now friends along the way, and for that I'm grateful. I still love blogging and will continue writing and may even one day start up another blog, but it's time to say goodnight to this one. Wishing everyone the best of luck on their journey, whatever it may be.


SweetLeaf Organics Stevia Sweetener Review

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product. 

Being a Mom's Meet blogger allows me to try some of the newest and greatest healthy and green living products. I recently was sent some SweetLeaf Organics Organic Stevia sweetener to review and couldn't wait to try it.

SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener is a Certified Organic, zero-calorie sweetener made from high-quality stevia leaves. One packet is as sweet as two teaspoons of sugar and leaves absolutely no aftertaste. It is also gluten free, and contains no artificial ingredients, calories, carbohydrates, or glycemic response, making it ideal for people managing their blood sugar or calorie intake. 

One packet adds the perfect amount of sweetness to my morning green tea. Although I mostly use this in hot beverages, it can also be used in cold beverages as well as with baking, on cereal, in yogurt, or basically any way you would normally use sugar.

SweetLeaf also makes Sweet Drops which I absolutely love. The Water Pack come with 3 bottles and is perfect for summer time. I drink a lot of water over the summer and being able to add a little flavor makes my water much more refreshing and delicious. This is also great to use with kids that aren't a fan of plain water like my son. He'd much rather have berry flavored water and I feel safe giving this to him. 

You can get more information and connect with SweetLeaf on their website and on their Facebook page. 


Macro Counting and Food Weighing - When Dieting Becomes an Obsession

This is such a strange post for me write. When you look at me, and take in my size, you would never think eating disorder, or at least not in the traditional sense. I know when I usually think of eating disorders, I think of anorexia or bulimia, and usually someone very skinny and potentially unhealthy looking. There is certainly no one telling me to eat a sandwich.

Yet over the last year or so, my diet had become an obsession. I just always assumed I was very committed to my diet and had the willpower to say no to all of the unapproved foods. When I decide on a diet, I usually commit 110%. When I was on Keto, I didn't give in to unapproved foods. Even when dining out with friends, I'd order the burger with no bun or whatever else was on the approved list (granted I'd still, in my head, be worrying about hidden carbs that could be in my food).

I'd say last year was probably my worst year for diet obsession, specifically starting in July. I got into Keto hard. Every book I read was diet related, I spent hours on the Keto reddit forum, and basically immersed myself in the world of very low carb dieting. I spouted off my low carb dogma to whoever would listen and judged the carb eaters. I wouldn't go anywhere without bringing pre-approved snacks and checking menus. Then after a few months, my weight loss stalled.

I wasn't originally counting calories, just making sure to keep my fat grams high and the carbs low. I had lost 20lbs in 2 months and my body decided to slow down. That's when I bought a food scale. What if I had been eating too many carbs all of this time? I figured I clearly was doing something wrong - clearly I needed to be doing this perfectly. I got to the point of weighing everything I ate, drank, or even thought about eating. It was kind of an IIFYM (if it fits your macros), but I was obsessed.

If I couldn't weigh it, or find the nutrition info for a restaurant, chances are I wouldn't eat the food or would ask to eat somewhere that had nutrition stats listed. Heaven forbid someone take a bite of what I weighed, tracked, and accounted for. My Fitness Pal was my best friend and everything went into there. It was like a religion and it sort of took over my life. All I thought about was food, what I could eat, when I could eat it, and would it fit my macros. I really felt out of control by how in control I was over my food. It was almost suffocating, but I tried my best to keep it to myself.

My friend, pointed out that she thought I had a problem, but I would just laugh it off. It wasn't until I had meticulously cut (and weighed) a loaf of (gluten-free, low carb) bread I baked into 22 equal slices that I realized maybe I really was a little too obsessed. My friend came over to try some of the bread. Mind you, I was almost out of butter, and who wants bread without butter. I had exactly 1 1/2 tbsp left and had already tracked that butter for the day; 1/2 tbsp for my slice of bread I scarfed before she came and saw I had butter and 1 tbsp for my broccoli for dinner . I actually hid the butter from her and told her I didn't have any because I didn't want to mess up my macros (Hi YJ, I know you're reading this - surprise, I had butter). I literally couldn't stand the thought of having to change my already perfectly accounted for macros for the day that I had to lie about having butter.

That was the point when I told Hubby I needed to stop. I found, Diet Recovery and set about reading it on my iPad. It talked all about living in a Diet Dungeon, how I've probably royally screwed my metabolism, and how to let it go. It's still a struggle, but I'm trying. Even today, when I was sharing an apple with my son, I had a brief moment of panic about macros because someone else was eating my food. Granted it wasn't portioned and I wasn't tracking it, it was just second nature to feel that way.

Hubby has hidden both my food scale and regular scale, and I feel a bit more freedom with myself and life. I deleted all of the fitness and food accounts from my Instagram and other social media so I wasn't constantly bombarded with diet into. I don't obsessively think about food, I just eat. I still limit some foods, but I'm limiting them because of how they make my body feel - like grains (I get congested), added sugars (I go overboard and end up crashing afterwards and feeling lousy), and legumes (because Hubby is allergic so it's best to keep them out of the house). I'm trying to nourish my body in the best way possible because it feels good and not because some diet guru told me carbs are bad, or fat is the devil.

It really is a day-to-day thing for me. While I don't think I actually had or have any sort of eating disorder (though much about orthorexia rings true for me), it was starting to take over my life and it certainly had potential to really get out of control. Thankfully, as much as I can commit to a diet, I can commit to eating whatever I want when I've "fallen off the wagon." Any time I went off of a diet, I just ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, as if it was the Last Supper for every meal. I just knew I wouldn't be allowed to eat tasty things once I went back on a diet so I just gorged myself. That is probably making this transition somewhat easier, but I'm just not used to not being on some sort of diet. It's strange to just eat because I'm hungry and not have to weigh it or see how many carbs it has..it's even more strange to stop when I'm full and not feel like I have to clean my plate because that food has been arbitrarily accounted for. All strange, but nice.

So, here's to healthy habits this year, leaving the food obsessions behind, becoming healthier, truly nourishing my body, and maybe, just maybe, losing a little weight along the way.


Chicken and Bacon Chowder + Harvestland Giveaway

I'm always on the hunt for a good crock pot recipe. Lately it's been "cold" here in Florida, and I just love the warmth coming off of my crock pot all day as well as having a house full of delicious smells. I stumbled upon this Chicken Bacon Crock Pot Chowder recipe from Peace + Love + Low Carb and I just knew I had to make it. I changed up how I made it just a bit (omitting some things, or using a slightly different ingredient), but this stuff was comfort in a bowl.

Here's what I used to make it:

4 Cloves Minced Garlic 
1 Leek (white part only), Sliced
6 oz. Sliced White Mushrooms 
1 Medium Chopped Sweet Onion 
4 Tbs. Butter
2 Cups Bone Broth
1 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 lb. Cooked and Crumbled Bacon
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Thyme

I try to eat as clean as possible most days. To me, clean eating goes beyond simple ingredients, but includes also trying to minimize ingesting pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. I want the food I eat and the food I feed my family to be as natural and as close to how mother nature intended as possible. So for this recipe, I made sure to use Harvestland chicken. Harvestland is a brand I'm very familiar with and was asked to share about them through Moms Meet.
  • All chickens are raised on family farms with very strict USDA Process Verified programs, which ensures that the chickens are fed all-vegetarian diets with no animal by-products, raised cage-free, and are never given any antibiotics, ever.
  • Raised to the same standards as their chicken, HARVESTLAND® turkeys are fed an all-vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, steroids or hormones.*
  • Pork is the latest addition to the HARVESTLAND® brand. Their hogs are raised on family farms in the Midwest and are also fed an all-vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, hormones or steroids.*
  • Harvestland also offers USDA-certified organic chicken. These chickens are raised without antibiotics on free-range, organic farms and are fed an all- vegetarian diet of certified organic ingredients.
  • The HARVESTLAND® product line includes fresh chicken, turkey, and pork products, as well as a variety of fully-cooked refrigerated, frozen, and deli meats. Prices vary based on the retailer. 

1. Put the crock pot on low. Add 2 tbsp. of butter as well as the garlic, onion, leek, and mushrooms. Stir it around, add 1 cup of broth, season with salt and pepper, and let cook on low for about an hour.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, sear the chicken breasts in the other 2 tbsp. of butter, but don't cook all of the way through (about 5 minutes per side). Remove and cut into bite-size pieces.
3. Add the remaining 1 cup broth to the pan to de-glaze, then add that plus the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker, mix really well and make sure there are no cream cheese chunks, then add the chicken and the bacon and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

I seriously couldn't wait to eat this. My house smelled so good and when Hubby walked in the door the first words out of his mouth were when can I eat whatever that is. The Harvestland chicken was good as always. I love cooking with their products because they always stay moist and have a good flavor, not to mention their stuff is available where I shop so I don't have to go to a special store to look for it. 

Lucky for you, I have some Harvestland coupons to give away. 2 lucky winners will get Harvestland product coupons to be used at a store near them. Be sure to follow the rules to enter and good luck!

If you'd like to connect with Harvestland, be sure to check out their website, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and @Harvestland on Twitter.


Why I Run on an Empty Stomach and Nursing School Update

Since I started running 2-3 years ago, I always do so on an empty stomach. Morning runs are always my best and I think the reason I always did so well on my evening runs were because I had a running partner to distract me.

From poopy cramps.

Yep. As I mentioned here, I've had a run in with runner's trots. It's only happened a few times, that one being the first, but I quickly realized it happened when I ate something and then ran. Now, not everyone needs to run on an empty stomach and I'm sure having some fuel before a run can be great, just not for me. The other day the weather was amazingly gorgeous - cool, sunny, and breezy - and the Nugget was in school so I decided to go for a run.

Bad idea. In my head, I planned to do a 5k, on my Nike app I set it for 2 miles, in reality, this is what I got:

1 mile and what appears to be a crap face. Ha! The worst part is was I still had to walk the mile back to my house. I've learned that slow and steady will ease up the urge for me, so off I walked home. I'm hoping to get another run in soon but the weather has been rainy lately. Hubs did fix the treadmill, so I guess that's an option, just not one I love.

In other new - a nursing school update! 

So I never made a formal nursing school update, so here it goes. Last December my financial aid ran out. I had petitioned previously and it was on a semester-by-semester basis. They decided no more and we simply didn't have the funds to cover it. Not to mention, I wasn't sure an RN degree was exactly the right path for me given my personal values. I went into nursing school hoping to help moms and educate them about their choices. Sadly and as expected, it's doctors rules in the medical world and many things were done and told to patients that violated what I felt to be morally right. Not to mention plenty of research showing that certain things were wrong (for example, a mother asking an OB if it was ok for her to be on hands and knees to push and OB told her no, the best position was to be on her back - LIES!).

It was just hard for me to swallow a lot of things in my OB rotation. I asked nurses about some of the things, and they expressed their frustration but inability to really do anything. It made me hesitant, so the lack of financial aid seemed like a sign.

I recently had dinner with my nurse friend, Barbara, and she informed me I may be able to sit for the LPN exam with the nursing education I had received. I did a little research, a lot of work, and some serious emailing, and I'm happy to say I received approval from my nursing program to sit for the exam. Now I've just gotta wait for approval from the FL Board of Nursing and then I'll be doing some serious studying.

I will admit, I've had some desire to work lately, and while it's certainly not what I was expecting, I'm looking forward to the ability to hopefully work someday and see what happens from there with my nursing career.


Making Low Carb Foods That Everyone Can Enjoy with Party 'Tizers Chips & Mrs. Thinster's Cookies

I received a sample to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Now that I'm back on Keto/low-carb, social gatherings can be hard. There's usually many a carb-filled snack or sugar-laden dessert just begging to be eaten. New Years Eve was my first social function and I decided to bring stuff that I made. In the past I always went to store and picked up something pre-made, but that simply wasn't going to cut it. Everyone completely devoured what I made. The key was providing some healthy carb options as well to go with what I brought.

Here are some of the things I made:

Cheese chips! These things were brilliant. I've made cheese taco shells before, so figured I might as well try to do the same with chips. I simply took a cheddar string cheese and cut it into 12 pieces, put it into a mini muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray and baked at 350 F for about 5 minutes. I let them cool and voilĂ , I had my own "chips" ready to dip.

I'll admit to being stingy with my cheese chips, but I brought along Party-'Tizers Veggie Dippin Chips for my carb-friendly friends. I love that there's a healthy version of dipping chips out there. So often we've relied on other brands that are full of junk, GMO's, and are overly processed. The Party-'Tizers chips are all Non-GMO and gluten-free, not to mention they taste great and have a nice crunch to them.

I also made some amazing buffalo chicken dip and stuffed mushrooms as well. The mushrooms were filled with Italian sausage and lots and lots of cheese. The buffalo chicken dip was simple to make - just used a cup of shredded chicken, 1/2 cup homemade buffalo sauce, 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing, and put it in a crockpot.

Since no party would be complete without dessert, I also brought some Keto Cheesecake Fluff. I seriously could not stop eating it. The fluff was so rich and creamy, and yet light and for lack of a better word, fluffy.

While I'm good to just eat it straight off of the spoon, my friends prefer to dip. I added some Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins along the outside and provided a big bowl of them for people to grab and dip. They were a huge hit because you got the great taste of a cookie while still being able to enjoy the cheesecake dip. Once the dip was gone, people were just eating these plain. The best part is, they're also Non-GMO, contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, no corn syrup, and are RBGH free. 

I've learned the best way to enjoy myself at a social gathering is simply offering to bring something (or many things). I don't know any host that would object to having food brought and it's a great way to ensure you help stay on track. This really holds true for any diet, low carb or otherwise. Bringing something that you know you'll like and won't throw you off your diet makes it easier to have fun at a party without worrying about what you're eating.

Do you usually bring your own diet-friendly dish to a party? What's your favorite party food?


5 Quick and Healthy Foods to Keep in Your Home

I received a sample for this post from Smart Flour Foods. All opinions are my own.

Even though I'm on a low carb diet and have no problem spending time in the kitchen, I love convenience foods. Nothing really processed, of course, but simple things I can just pop into my mouth or can make in about 15 or so minutes when I'm just not in the mood to cook. Here are the 5 things I always have ready to go in my house.

1. String cheese. I don't care what time of day it is, I will always happily eat some string cheese. It's a great source of protein and keeps me full for a snack. I usually just throw one into my purse when I'm heading out for the day.

2. Nuts. Macadamia nuts are my current favorite right now. These are filled with healthy fats and they  just taste so good. If I can, I buy my nuts in the 100 calorie packs or a I measure out a serving on the food scale and put them in my own bag. While they're tasty, they're addictive and I could easily just sit down and finish off a whole bag.

3. Quest Bars. I know not everyone likes them and frankly, there are a few of their flavors I just can't do, but these are seriously one of my favorite things to have on hand. I'm OBSESSED with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor and I usually eat these after running or going to the gym. I love that they're low carb and high in protein and if I can enjoy one warm out of the microwave, even better.

4. Dark chocolate. I know most people don't consider chocolate a health food, but there are many health benefits to good dark chocolate and it keeps me from wanting to binge on junk. I usually eat one square after dinner and it satisfies my sweet tooth. I normally get the 72% dark Ghiradelli, but have been known to buy the 80% before, too. It is somewhat of an acquired taste, but I love it.

5. Smart Flour Foods Pizzas. While I realize this isn't a low carb food, on my carb up days every 2 weeks, this is what I'm craving. I do make cauliflower crust pizzas, but they're just not the same as the real deal. And these pizzas are most definitely the real deal.

When I do have carbs, I like to go gluten-free and avoid wheat. Their pizzas are made from ancient grains making it more nutritious, and in my opinion, more delicious. The texture is great and it really does taste freshly made. I've had many a frozen pizza and they usually taste like, well, frozen pizza. These taste like I made them myself because the ingredients are high quality and it's not full of processed junk.

There are so many nights I cook, but sometimes I just want something easy and the Smart Flour Foods pizzas are the way to go for us. The pepperoni is by far my favorite because, hello, who doesn't love a good uncured pepperoni free of nitrates and nitrites. They even make pizza dough so you can create your own pizza as well.

What quick and easy foods do you always keep on hand?