We All Have a Choice


The lunch I chose yesterday from Whole Foods


I thought it was awesome that Whole Foods carries such an awesome brand for the condiments to grab on the go


This was such a great episode with knowledge bombs being dropped all over the place!

It’s December 21 y’all! As a former resident of Georgia when I was studying Communication Sciences and Disorders at Valdosta State University, I feel as though I am allowed to use y’all despite actually being a Yankee. It’s officially winter up here in New Hampshire, and the shortest day of the entire year. For some people this day is really negative. It means frigid temperatures, blizzards, and lots of darkness. I kind of like December 21 because it means that each day after today will be just a little bit longer, and that is AWESOME.

There was a really cool moment that happened today while I was dropping my daughter off at daycare. Ever since my daughter began eating solid foods I have been making my own baby food. All I do is buy frozen veggies, which are nutrient dense, steam them, and then puree them using my Nutri-Ninja blender (which I HIGHLY recommend!). The whole process takes about 10 minutes per item max. So far I’ve made sweet peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, bananas, pears, and carrots. She loves them all! I read a lot about baby-led weaning and really wanted to employ some of the foundations into our home, however as a speech-language pathologist who treats feeding and swallowing disorders, I believe there is a place in our food repertoire for purees. I also had a baby who was OBSESSED with solid food prior to her tongue thrust diminishing, which is a pre-requisite for solid foods that need to masticated (that’s fancy SLP-speak for chewed). ANYWHO. One of the girls at the daycare, who has an infant a few months younger than mine, complimented my daughter for being such a great eater with an already wide food repertoire. She then went on to say that she saw what I was sending my daughter (mini containers of homemade purees) and went out to the store and did the exact same thing. Double pat on the back for me!

What I actually wanted to talk about today was the idea behind choices. I’ve heard a lot of people say things like: “I would never be able to do that”, “I don’t have the time”, or “I don’t know how to cook like you” when it comes to eating healthy. A lot of the time I think these statements are a bunch of baloney. My Mom has actually said the statement to me about not knowing how to cook a certain item the way I do, and how it limits her ability to serve it at home for dinner. I always respond that at one time I didn’t know how to cook that item either and had to teach myself. We live in a day and age where you search “carrots” and the search engine will generate at least 10 recipes for you. Search “carrots” on Pinterest and you’ll emerge 72 hours later from the rabbit hole you were dragged into looked dazed and confused but with a board of 1,000 different ways to cook a carrot.

But eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. I love me a good Pinterest rabbit hole session where I create healthy Thanksgiving options to serve for the next 4 years, but I also love to not have to use my brain after a long day of work and be able to cook healthy and efficiently. Take yesterday for instance: My Mom brain drain got the best of me and I forgot my lunch at work. Our hospital cafeteria does currently not serve food but we do have a cafe downstairs that serves snacks. It’s not the worst option; they have hard-boiled eggs and guacamole, but it’s also not the best. My lunch was scheduled for 30 minutes before the end of my shift and I decided that if I had made it that long without eating, I may as well wait until after my shift and go to the Whole Foods next to the hospital. I went to the hot bar at Whole Foods and chose some roasted sweet potatoes, garlic green beans, one hard-boiled egg, and grilled chicken. BOOM! As I was checking my awesome lunch out at the register, there was a selection of Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups just staring me in the face. Man, I swear they were calling my name. I even picked a package up! What stopped me was flipping the package over to read the Nutrition Facts and repeating some of my mantras to myself of “don’t give up our long-term goals for short-term satisfaction” and “you’re only craving this because you are hungry, feed yourself with the good stuff first and then see if you still want this later. I bet you don’t.”. THAT was a hard choice, but it was still a choice. No one forced me to have the healthy choice and not the peanut butter cups, it was all me and my inner voice. I could have told myself any story I wanted to convince myself that I deserved the peanut butter cups: “You had a stressful day at work, you deserve it”, “You had a great day at work, you deserve it”, “One package won’t kill you”. I chose, however, to tell myself the story that I knew was going to make me happy, not only just in that moment, but in one week, one month, and one year from now when I reflect on the choices I made that led me to whatever moment I may be in.

Moral of the story? You are in control of your thoughts and the story that you tell yourself about what choices you are about to make and why you are going to make them. Make sure it is a story you will be proud of later on when you reflect on that moment and not a story that only brought you immediate satisfaction and delayed regret.

The Bermuda Triangle of Thoughts

Earlier this month, I slid off  the game plan a little bit. Not in the sense that I ate donuts, pizza, and chips all day errrrrday but I started to get sugar cravings at night and gave in to them with a glass or two of red wine one night, a bowl of ice cream another night, and the pita bread half that comes with my salad. I even paused on posting on here until now because I wasn’t going to be honest about what was going on behind closed doors of my home.

Two things helped me flip the switch. The first was reflecting on how my body felt the morning after indulging a little bit. I physically felt bloated and mentally I felt ashamed, which is an emotion that has driven me to continued poor eating habits in the past. There is a system called “The Cognitive Triangle” that basically describes that all actions or behaviors we enact in are driven by emotions. We flip someone the bird when they cut us off in traffic because they pissed us off. We are pissed off because some sort of thought has crossed our mind about this person cutting us off. It could be “This idiot is getting in my way” or maybe it goes back to when you woke up this morning twenty minutes late because your alarm didn’t go off and you told yourself “This day is going to suck”. I had to ponder what thought was driving my emotion of shame. I actually am still pondering what the thought it that drives this emotion for me because I think it is a thought that is buried in me from 25-ish years ago. It may even be a thought that someone else put into my brain that I chose to believe. Maybe it was a doctor, a peer, a parent? It may even be all three.

A few of the thoughts I tend to initially tell myself include: “You’ve done great all day”, “Just a little won’t hurt”, “You worked out today”. These thoughts all lead to me feeling accomplished, and this feeling of accomplished gives me permission to follow through with my action of consuming my “little” (another thought I tell myself) cheat. After the cheat, I circle back to the Thoughts category, which starts a chain of “You have no self-control”, “You can’t stick with anything”, “You’ll never achieve your goals”. These thoughts spiral into emotions of disappointment, embarrassment, shame and I respond with actions of eating again because food doesn’t judge you and that sugar rush that makes your brain happy feels oh so good. 

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Stop right there missy!

What terrible thoughts, right? Who would want to  put themselves through that, right? UGH. That has been the triangle I have been living in for years. YEARS PEOPLE. How gross. I decided that is a triangle of thoughts, emotions, actions that I want OUT of. Smell ya lata! But how??

I made the decision to change my thoughts. None of those thoughts are actually true, they are just stories I have been telling myself for years. I have the power to change my thoughts to whatever I want, and I want is to be kind to myself. Now, I try to practice mindfulness over my thoughts. I pay attention to what I am telling myself, and when I catch myself having those “You did a great job following the nutrition plan, you worked out, you can have just a little” thoughts, I catch myself before I get to that last part and modify it. Now it goes more like “You did a great job following the nutrition plan, you worked out, you are one step closer to your goals” or “Don’t let short-term pleasure interfere with your long-term goals” or “Don’t eat that shit because you know damn well you won’t feel good after. That last one is the angry bull thought when my cravings are on overdrive and a need a strong thought-slap upside the head.

The moral of the story? You control the story that you tell yourself. You want to tell yourself that you deserve that cheat meal and then feel like shit both mentally and physically after? Do you girl, but I’m on Team Feel Good and our train is a-rolling!

This is me.

Okay, that statement was untrue. That WAS me, about 115 days ago. I was 4 months post part, absolutely in love with my daughter, and absolutely NOT in love with myself. I didn’t like a single part of my body, I hated how clothes looked on my body, I didn’t want my photograph taken, and I absolutely refused to look at myself in the mirror. I felt ashamed of what I had let my body become, frustrated with my lack of self-control around food, and jealous of everyone who was physically fit. I had tears in my eyes when I saw my Dexa scan for the first time because, well, I was disappointed in myself. Ugh, disappointed. Isn’t that the worst feeling? It always bring me back to being a teenager when your parent tells you that they’re disappointed in you. The. Worst.

During my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks. My journey with gestational diabetes is a long one that I will save for another post, but basically the diagnosis made me feel like an absolute failure. Despite the gestational diabetes going away once the baby was born, the shame I felt remained. It lingered within my daily self-talk, which had become consistently negative. It mixed with the stress of balancing my new identify as a Mom, my work schedule, and my relationship with my husband. Coupled with the effects of sleep deprivation and my baseline Type A personality, it was the perfect storm to develop some legitimate anxiety. I knew I needed a change, and I knew that change was me.

When I went to visit my OB/GYN for a follow-up after having my baby, she recommended  that I check out a lifestyle and metabolic medicine facility. She knew that I enjoyed CrossFit and had been trying to eat healthy at home, but she also knew that I felt “stuck” and needed some outside help with achieving my goals. What caught my attention about this facility was not their promise of weight loss, but rather their client testimonials about the focus on cognitive behavioral therapy helped them address their emotional triggers with food and identify how their thoughts influenced their feelings, which turned into actions (again, a topic to be elaborated on another time).

I signed myself up, got started in the program and within 12 weeks lost a SIGNIFICANT amount of weight. There are a few differences between this weight loss and previous weight loss (I know, that’s what EVERYONE says. EVERY time):

#1. I have a daughter that I want to be a model of healthy habits for. I want her to have a healthy relationship with food, not sneak snacks from the cabinets after supper like I used to. I want her to love her body, speak positively to and about herself, and know what it feels like to be strong!

#2. I know a lot more about nutrition. I am not even close to an expert but I am a huge nerd who loves to read about how food fuels, or attacks, our body.

#3. I have integrated mindfulness into my daily routine, which is a MAJOR KEY.

#4. I am sharing my journey with YOU. Partly to hold myself accountable, partly to share my story with those who are experiencing similar struggles.

Follow me as I take this trip into a new life chapter as new Mom, wife, daughter, friend, niece, medical speech-language pathologist who is making a pledge to love herself, love her body, and be healthy!