Hi friends! Happy Monday!
I’m starting a new series called Monday Chat. (I thought of doing a Weekend Chat or a Saturday Chat,” but then I decided that the weekends already get enough love, and poor Mondays could get a somethin’.)
As blogging has grown from “hobby” to “side hustle,” I want to always always always make sure that the primary reason I’m doing this is to have fun. (Otherwise it’s just not worth it.) It’s easy to feel burned out when I get caught up in SEO and branding and ads and income and BLAHHHH, so this Monday chat is a way for me to have fun, be more vulnerable with y’all, and hopefully keep my love affair with blogging burning strong!
Food Blogging, Weight Gain, and Body Image
I’m not gonna lie….one of the main reason I’m writing this is to have an easy place to point people when I get the question, “how do you stay thin when you eat like that?”
I don’t have a quick answer, so I usually leave those messages ignored, or I give a BS answer like, “oh, I just go to barre a lot!” (Which is a tiny part of the answer, but not the whole answer.)
I don’t want to toss off the question with a response like, “oh, I don’t actually like my body” because that would be a lie. I freaking love my body and I think it’s amazing! (I write it thank you notes most mornings, haha!)
I also don’t want to pretend that receiving that question is a compliment, because that would mean my value is based on what you think of me. An no offense, but I don’t really care what you think of my body. It’s mine, so I get to decide how it makes me feel.
I have the same sort of question toward fashion bloggers….how do they afford all the designer labels? I understand how the biggest fashion bloggers do it, the ones who are making millions of dollars every year. But for the part-time fashion bloggers who are just getting started and also working a day job, I always want to ask, “how do you afford to buy a new Chanel bag every month?? HOW DOES IT WORK??”
I always wish they’d honest and tell us how it really works. Do these bloggers have to go into massive debt to buy them? Do they get lots of $4,000 bags as gifts? Are they just really good at money management?
I know that I eat out more often than the average 20-something, and I also know that I love my body, I’m more comfortable in it now than I’ve ever been, and I feel thankful for it every single day.
So I thought I’d share my current approach to food, how much I eat, and how I work as a food blogger and eat out hundreds of times a year.
Here’s My Background Story
I’ll make it really quick, but skip over this part if you only want to know how I approach food right now: About 5 years ago, I weighed about 30 pounds more than I do right now. I was a competitive swimmer for 15 years (age 6 – 21), and that meant lots of hours of workouts and LOTS of eating! I used to love the feeling of being completely stuffed full, so I’d eat to maximum capacity, and then some.
My body could handle the binge eating, because I was swimming 10,000 yards a day, but I always weighed just a little more than felt comfortable. (Side note: I’m SUPER thankful for my college swim coach, who promoted a positive body image and would never, ever shame anyone on the team about his or her weight. He’s an incredible man and was a great swim coach.)
Between college and grad school, I put all sorts of restrictions on my diet. I was vegetarian and then vegan for several years. I tried a raw food diet for a month. My painful, cystic acne flared up to the point that I would wake up depressed, and so I put all sorts of dietary restrictions on myself like no dairy, grains, alcohol, or sugar. I felt guilty if I “messed up” on my own rules, but I also felt determined to clear up my skin and shed some weight.
Fast forward to 2013. I was a grad student at UT and I had a membership at Gold’s gym. I started taking some of their yoga hybrid classes. (I think they were called yoga flow?). I wasn’t doing it to lose weight; I was just trying to handle the stress of grad school and kept hearing how great yoga is for stress management. I assumed yoga wasn’t a very “good” workout because I wasn’t burning many calories (I was one of those college girls who was obsessed with hitting a number on the treadmill or elliptical). A few months later, I was shocked when I went to the doctor for an annual check-up appointment and I had shed about 10 pounds without trying….
From there, I started to notice the power of mindfulness. I started doing more yoga (at YogaYoga), barre, and practicing meditation. It seemed that the happier I felt, the more my body settled into its ideal weight. (CRAZY, right!? *wink*)
Around 2014, my weight dropped to where it is right now. As I grew happier and happier and focused on fewer restrictions in my diet, I naturally shed about 25 pounds. It seems fast when I just type it all out right here, but it was a gradual journey of several years before my body found its happy place.
My current approach to eating
I follow a food freedom lifestyle, which means that I don’t restrict myself in any way. If I’m craving it, I let myself eat it. The food that you see on my instagram page is what I what I really eat.
Food freedom means….
I love having pizza every single week. I am obsessed with Homeslice and Via 313 and ABGB. I eat lots of fries and burgers (love the burgers at Counter Café and Clark’s Oyster Bar and Soursop!) and I have some dessert every single day (usually ice cream, but I also LOVE cookies so much! They make me so happy!) I explore the Austin restaurant scene so I can share it with you on this blog, so I eat out around 5-7 times per week. I am an average Austinite who needs a steady stream of breakfast tacos in my life, and I go to Polvo’s for breakfast tacos about once a week.
Food freedom also means….
I often have greek yogurt or larabars for breakfast. I cook at home fairly often, and I sometimes eat salads when I go out (although you won’t often see those on instagram because I’ve yet to figure out how to make salads fit into my instagram feed.) I stop eating right when I’m full, and I rarely finish an entire dish (I take restaurant food home for leftovers, or if I have lots of uneaten leftovers from a media tasting, I’ll box them up and give them to the homeless community on my drive home.)
I am super, super happy in my life right now. I’m finding that the fewer restrictions I place on my diet, the more I love my body, and the more it loves me back.
(I’m also pretty sure that food freedom only works for me when I’m practicing mindfulness. When I get stressed and busy and forget to meditate, rest, and quiet my mind, I’m not in touch with what my body is truly telling me it wants to eat, and then I notice my clothes start to get a bit snug.)
Here’s the bullet point recap:
- I eat whatever I feel like eating. I put exactly zero restrictions on my diet. If I want a cupcake for breakfast, I eat that. If I want a green smoothie for breakfast, I eat that.
- I think this lifestyle works well for me when I’m practicing mindfulness, because I’m really in touch with what I actually want to eat. If I’m not practicing mindfulness, I just think my body is telling me to eat FAT-SUGAR-CARBS 100% of the time, and then I feel awful. But when I’m in touch with my body, it only tells me to eat that stuff about 50% of the time. 😉
- I really do eat everything on my instagram feed, although not always in the quantity you see. I love leftovers!
- Yes, I do work out a lot! I live in a walkable part of Austin, so I get in a lot of steps every day. I go to The Barre Code regularly for strength and cardio classes, and I go cycling with my husband. I love to go on runs around Lady Bird Lake on Saturday mornings. I no longer work out to burn calories (I never ever count calories when I do a workout). I just workout because it makes me so, so happy!
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1️⃣ Maybe my blog should’ve been called “Barre, Eat, Repeat” because that’s my life these days! ILYSM @barrecode_austin!! 2️⃣ Did y’all hear that The Barre Code is opening a second Austin location? WHAT. It’s going to be downtown in the @mellowjohnnys building! Who else is pumped to take a barre class and then walk upstairs to get coffee at @juanpelotacafe afterward? #barrecodeatx
My main question before I put any piece of food in my mouth: will this make me happy? If yes, I eat it. If not, I don’t.
(Example: Let’s say that I’m stressed, I have 8 approaching deadlines, I didn’t sleep enough the night before, and I just finished eating lunch. I find myself standing in front of the pantry about to shove a handful of chocolate covered almonds in my mouth, and I have to ask:
Question: “will this make me happy?”
Answer: “No. But what would really make me happy? Sitting down, creating a scheduled to-do list, and getting this day in order so I realize I can actually finish everything I need to do today.”
OR it could be….
Question: “will this make me happy?”
Answer: “Yes. These chocolate covered almonds taste freaking delicious, I’m hungry, and I’m enjoying them so much right now!”
FYI, I’m writing all of this in pencil. This is what works for me right now, but it night not work forever. I give myself the love and freedom I need to change as I need to. Some day, I might find that a different diet or lifestyle (paleo, whole 30, vegan, keto) works for me.
I’m also not writing this to convince anyone to try it. I love that we all have different ways of eating and living, and our bodies are all so different! I totally respect the way that you choose to find your joy through eating, and I love hearing about different diets and lifestyles. You do you, boo.