I Am Who I Am Cause I Say I Am

A while ago, I walked into a swimsuit store excited for one of the first times in my life. I knew if not everything, most suits would fit. At a size 22, that was barely the case even at plus size stores.

Sooooo, as I begin to pick out two pieces and trendy low cut one pieces and all the things I saw what I considered “cool girls” to wear, I was stopped by an employee and was excited to get some help figuring out what was going to work.

The woman helping me was staring at the stack of swimsuits in my hand with a big HELL NAW in her eyes.

As I went into the fitting room she exchanged my cute little bikinis for one-piece skirt suits ( I mean wtf, am I old and in a swim cap?!) As the pile of no’s grew from her suggestions, I tried on a v-neck suit I had seen everywhere. When I looked in the mirror I was shocked I looked like one of the “cool girls”. I wasn’t used to it and in an attempt to find validation, I asked the employee if the suit worked.

The HELL NAW look was obvious once again. She hated every part of what was going on and even told me “maybe this style isn’t for someone with your *shape”.

*shape = sagging post-op body

That day, I left with a 50’s style bikini (so cute, but the worst tan lines and  the most awkward diaper looking pictures) and felt ok about maybe hiding that I had so many flaws under the 12 inch waist band.

For another year, I rocked swimsuits that covered me up in all the areas I thought I needed to hide. I had that woman’s voice in my head telling me my boobs were too saggy for v-necks and my stomach was too rippled for a regular bikini.

I’d look at my body undressed and feel disgusted and pray a distant relative would leave me a hundred thousand dollars to surgically fix every inch of me so I could wear a “cool girl” bathing suit.

When you lose 130 pounds, there is no magical way to lift everything six inches without surgery. Excess skin is part of the equation when deciding to lose weight, even with lifting weights and swimming (despite what all the old ladies at the nail salon tell me) I knew my thighs jumped to the beat as I walked and I knew I had those Kendrick Lamar un-photoshopped stretch marks all over. I guess you could say I was self-aware to a fault.

Somewhere along the way, I found the exact Kiini one piece I had tried on earlier. This time, I was pushing myself to try new things, find my joy and stop comparing myself to others. I said fuck it, spent my whole paycheck and wore the swimsuit the next day.

The people at my pool didn’t seem to care where my boobs sat or if my thighs were accentuated  by the stitching. I honestly do not think one person even looked up from their book. I had a great day in a super cute swimsuit.

The moral of this story is that I let a random person tell me something wasn’t for me.

This idea extends to so much more than just body issues and what I should/shouldn’t wear. From that day in my swimsuit, I vowed to pay more attention to all of the roadblocks I was letting other people put in my way.

If I want to be a self-esteem/food/travel blogger, I’m going to do it. If I want to cut my hair in an unbecoming fashion, hell yes it is getting the chop. If you tell me I’m not photogenic, I’m done pretending that’s true.

There is not one person, even yourself that can say you aren’t capable.

I am on this journey trying to love life and sometimes that means reminding myself, I am capable of anything I want to do or wear.

 

 

Pan Seared Chicken and Spiralized Butternut Squash

 

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With spring in the air, there is no more hiding behind big sweaters and winter coats. As someone who spent many winters in hibernation, nothing makes you feel bikini ready like chicken and veggies after a winter long Netflix binge.

I have pasta/fried chicken eater’s remorse, so if theres a guilt free substitute out there, I am all for it! Spiralized veggies are the best substitute

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First, use a spiralizer or peeler to create “noodles”, wrap in paper towel and set aside

let the chicken sit on the counter for 15 minutes and pat dry

Mince cloves of garlic

finely chop 1/2 the onion

chop mushrooms thinly

next, heat a medium size pan on medium high with a thin layer of olive oil

Add minced garlic and onion to pan cook 2 minutes

While the chicken is waiting, heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium high in a separate pan

Rub both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper

Cook skin side down first for 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness

Flip and cook underside of chicken for 3-4 minutes

add in trumpet mushrooms for 4-5 minutes or until browned

add in spinach and cook until wilted

Lastly, turn down heat to medium and add in “noodles” cook 4 minutes OR microwave noodles with a damp paper towel for 4 minutes

Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Cheers!

 

Soy Free Asian Inspired Meatballs

 

FullSizeRender.jpgI have had food allergies ever since I can remember. Because my allergies are also some of the most common/trendiest foods(soy, tree nuts, peanuts, seeds, AVOCADO) I have to get creative if I want to try something. For years I’ve been substituting out allergens and doctoring up some classics.

These soy free asian inspired meatballs are based off of a Blue Apron recipe that was full of allergens. These are a small bite into allergen free southeast Asia.

 

 

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut and mince lemongrass

Peel and mince ginger

Finely chop radishes

Cut limes into quarters

Chop and separate green and white scallions

If using fresh ingredients (no paste) heat a small pan with a thin layer of olive oil on medium high

Add the minced lemongrass, ginger, radish and white onion to the pan and cook 4-6 minutes

Add the cooked minced lemongrass and ginger, radishes, white onions, sweet chili sauce, rice flour, juice of 1 whole lime, rice flour, rice vinegar to the ground sirloin.

Next, use a tablespoon to make evenly mid size meatballs separated 1 inch on a baking sheet.

Cook the meatballs 25 minutes or until browned

Add to any cooked rice or rice noodle

***For an extra crispy outside, pan sear your meatballs 3-4 minutes in a thin layer of olive oil

Try it out and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

A letter To My 17 Year Old Self

 

 

 

Dear 17 year old self,

You’re probably nervous about college, very unsure of the relationship you’re in and getting tired of the “valley bubble” and all of the preconceived notions about what your future has to look like.

You’re also probably stealing dessert wine from mom and dad, sneaking out to party and taking trains into the city to go to the one bar you can get into.

Don’t try and be anything you’re not. Don’t try to be older to fit in, enjoy where you are at this exact moment. Take in how silly it is that Dunkin Donuts is the only landmark in town and that you have literally never hit traffic in the Norwood city limits.

So many things are unsure and I know the pressure to drive a nice car and get into a big school is all around you. Guess what? In a year… no one will care about who you were in high school.

That guy you’re dating is too old for you, but you will learn a lot about taking risks. It won’t last and eventually, you’ll stop sneaking out to see him. Your heart won’t be as broken as you think it is and the future will bring so many good people in, that you’ll forget how important you thought he was.

Don’t take the time with your friends for granted , go for the joyrides, hangout on Tweed when your friends call (don’t get caught) and enjoy those skipped days off. One day you’ll be spread throughout the country and going for bagels together won’t be so easy.

Those exams you know you have but haven’t opened up a book for, STUDY!!!!! Hard work and good grades are the greatest feelings. Let yourself succeed.

You won’t end up at Harvard, but you will end up at a tiny school in North Florida full of camo and ammo (seriously, you will see hunting riffles being carried around Walmart). You will have a hard time adjusting to the cultural differences, but eventually you will embrace the slow pace and simplicity of it. It will be a big teaching lesson and some of the best experiences you’ll have in college. The change of scenery will be just what you need to learn about the world.

Try being yourself without always thinking you need to be the funniest person in the room so no one notices you’re fat. Those that know you already like you anyway.

Don’t get stuck being depressed, ask for the help you need. That crazy feeling you get when you feel like you’re in a fishbowl is called anxiety. One day these won’t be labels for crazy, it’ll make you more normal than you can imagine. Just know that it is a prozac filled world.

You’ll learn about hard work, being independent and accepting that the world isn’t black and white. The grey areas are the ones that will test you, but you will do just fine.

I can’t tell you growing up will be easy or that your future self has it figured out, but one day you’ll run circles around the problems that once seemed like the end of the world. Your intuition and self awareness will make you constantly want to evolve into a better person and find out what happiness is.

Don’t let the world overwhelm you and always love yourself first.

xoxo,

Em

EmEats: Riccotta Beet Grilled Cheese & Fennel Persimmon Salad

If there is anything to know about me, it is that I love food. Going out to dinner all the time was fattening me up and really starting to make me feel sluggish (and poor). Slater and I decided we didn’t want to sacrifice our love of food just because we wanted to get healthy, so we decided to give Blue Apron a try. What makes Blue Apron work for us is that nothing takes more than an hour and all meals are health conscious and made from fresh, organic, locally sourced products. This weekend was a busy one. With errands to run, homework to catch up and trying to be a healthy lady, this Blue Apron recipe seemed like the perfect comfort food substitute for a traditional grilled cheese.

What you need:

4 Slices Sourdough Pullman Bread

½ Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

1 Beet

1 Fennel Bulb

1 Persimmon

2 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

1 Shallot

¼ Cup Honey

My Best/ My Worst List

Part of keeping myself grounded and in reality of how great my world is, I’m stealing a page from The Champaign Diet and making my own When I’m At My Best/When I Feel My Worst List.

I recently wrote about my pillars of happiness and to know joy, you must also know what keeps you from it. I think documenting what makes you feel amazing and what triggers your sadness is soooo important for your sanity.

I used to think this was a rigid way to live, but in reality it is the opposite. Why do/watch/read something that will trigger you if you don’t have to? The lows are a great reminder of all the things that do not add value to your life.

I was recently on vacation and picked up the book, Every Last One. Little did I know I would cry the last 120 pages. I didn’t realize the book was about loss and depression, but now I know depressing books/movies/articles are not for me. I also know that no matter how I feel, nature and putting on some real pants automatically make me feel great.

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Now that you guys know my highs and lows, what are yours?

 

 

From Start To Finish: My Latest Panic Attack

I am ridiculously hard on myself. It’s undeniable to the people around me and I am often told to “chill”. I don’t even know what chill means. The other day I woke up and before I could get out of bed the day was already off to a really crappy start and there was no chill.

I felt overwhelmed that the weather was interfering with my romantic weekend and ruining everything I had planned, I felt angry that my professor took my textbook off reserve even though I requested an extension due to it being backordered and to top it off, I felt embarrassed that I was feeling lonely and really missing my friends.

Still lying in bed, not wanting to deal with going to class, I went into full panic mode. I felt the tears swelling in my eyes and my heart started to race and all the bad thoughts started rushing through my mind.

It started with feeling like nothing can ever go right and it didn’t seem fair Hurricane Hermoine had to come THIS weekend when I had a beach trip planned. That somehow, segwayed into not feeling like a good partner and girlfriend which then irrationally lead to feeling like a loser because tailgating and thirsty Thursday are not my cup of tea (what is wrong with me for not wanting 50 cent shots and doing keg stands in a parking lot?!?!?!?).

The loser feeling lingered for a bit, with only a couple of close friends, was there something really unlikable about me that I don’t have more friends? Was I being too clingy to my boyfriend? Am I not independent enough? Can people see the side of me I hate about myself? Will the people I have get tired of my shit and leave? Would I be doing better if I were prettier?

Panic attacks suck, they’re irrational and feel like a civil war in your head. I let my mind tell me I was selfish,lame and ugly just because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I know I’m not that person, but at the time I bought into it.

Admitting my mind goes to really dark places and admitting how fucked up I see myself sometimes makes me vulnerable, even as I type this I can’t help but wonder what the random kids from high school will think, or how my mom will react to seeing this written down or if maybe this will reach someone who totally gets how you can be sort of normal via Instagram but also be super sad sometimes. Normally, I’d use my panic attack and crappy morning as an excuse to skip class, stay home and sleep the day away and just wait until tomorrow.

BUT THIS WEIRD THING HAPPENED…I got out of bed and meditated. I let myself cry it out and not feel the shame from a minute before. After that, I got dressed, went to school and spent my break pinning quotes that make me feel good and listened to a podcast about the history of the word Athleisure. These are the pillars (my therapist calls them healthy coping mechanisms) that hold me up as a happy human, even if they’re cheesy.

Joy is what keeps me centered. Whether it’s hiding to meditate during my break, journaling or blasting my favorite rap playlist, these are the little things that make me feel strong. They help me know I’m not the monster I create in my head.

This self love club thing I’ve been trying to follow isn’t fool proof, the bad days and panic attacks will always exist. I wrote a post on improvement and I took a temporary step back the next day but unlike so many other times, I took two steps forward today.

I don’t want to feel shame that sometimes I bug out at life. I’m getting help, helping myself and doing the best I can. Writing this in a clear headspace is a reminder that as messed up as I feel sometimes, I’m a fighter that keeps going.