The Myth of the Size Zero

There is this strange duality in the performing arts world that I’ve been thinking about lately. We are expected (and by we, I mean women) to be fit, strong, and toning at the gym. We should be eating healthy, getting our fruits and veggies, and avoiding fries and frappucinos and fro yo like it’s the plague.
And at the same time, we are expected to be thin. Very thin. If you compare the size of girls at my school, just generally, with those of women the same age at other state colleges, you would see the average size is incredibly different.
These two goals work together very well. And by that, I mean it is so very simple to cloak unhealthy behaviors in the veil of fitness. Eating a little oatmeal, two salads, and running three miles? That was a successful day in my book. We endow food with mystical qualities of good and evil: chia seeds are fruit of the gods; cookies are put in front of us as temptation!
Here’s the thing, though: being skinny does not equal success. It certainly does not equal being happy. Society, and the performing world in general, promises young women the myth of the size zero: once you reach a certain tiny size, you will be happier, stronger, sexier, funnier, able to go for a jog and ace the interview all before breakfast.

It isn’t true. I wish I could say there was a magic spell to get all these things, but I know for a fact it does not lie in killing yourself to be thin. There are so many other important things in this world than fitting into a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit and healthy is absolutely one of them. But I fear that so many young women cross the line into a zone of obsession because of this empty promise.
I am working now on realizing I can be described in so many ways. My size lies at the very bottom of that list.
I’m beginning this November with a new commitment to loving myself and loving this life. I hope you all are too: you are too beautiful to ignore your own well being.

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A Healthy Monday

Somehow, yesterday turned into the most fit day of my life.

That’s an exageration. But still. 

I began the day with a three and a half mile run. I don’t really like running in the morning; I feel like I’m zombie walking if I haven’t had my coffee and breakfast. But that’s almost the only option I have for outdoor running here in the city, because after nine o’clock, the temp increases to 10th circle of hell level and the sun could be used to fry eggs. Not a conducive running environment.

So I dragged my butt out of bed, and got a nice distance out of the way.  Definitely gave me a little burst of energy to start the day! I went to class and work, accomplished a lot, and had a fairly good time. But mostly, I was excited to get home and make dinner…because I was finally going to unlock the secrets of the Protein Pancake.

 

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How delicious do these look?

I’m not a huge pancake fan, but these are made up of oatmeal, banana, and topped with whatever you like…all for low calorie and high nutritional value. Honestly, what’s not to love? I’ve put off making them because the amount of recipes was a little overwhelming, but I finally decided on one from FitSugar to build off of.

Here’s the basic recipe and directions:

Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes for One:

1/4 cup instant oatmeal
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 2 egg whites) (I used the egg whites)
1/2 of a really really ripe banana, mashed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (I used a tiny, tiny pinch of baking soda because I didn’t have the powder…nothing blew up!)
1 packet of sweetener (I don’t really like artificial sweetener in baked goods, so I used about a teaspoon of brown sugar)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water, milk, or juice (I used water, and couldn’t taste a difference!)

To make your pancake, simply combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  I mashed the bananas well before adding them, and then stirred the ingredients together with a fork to continue the mashing process.  You don’t want extra lumps in there if you can help it…the bananas are sort of the stick-together agent here.  You can add anything to these pancakes! Next time, I think I might add a little sin with some chocolate chips. Other suggestions: raisins or craisins, blueberries, strawberries, more chunks of banana with some peanut butter, Nutella…the options are endless, and these provide a nice hearty base for anything.

Pour the mix into the center of a hot pan. This is a crucial point: use SOMETHING to coat the pan. Pam, a little bit of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, or even a bit of the real deal.  I didn’t use enough, and my non-stick pan soon became a little bit of an ooey gooey burnt oatmeal mess. 

Cook on medium heat, for about three minutes per side.  Watch it carefully–these pancakes are VERY easy to burn, but they are also easily left super runny in the middle.  It’s a balancing act.  While it may seem too gooey to flip (I was very concerned), everything stuck together at just about the same consistency as a real pancake!  Cook till a nice golden brown.

Plate and top however you like! These would be great with syrup, but I’m not a huge syrup fan (sacrilege, I know.) I put a little bit of peanut butter that I’d nuked in the microwave for a few seconds to make it soft on top, and it was amaaazing–and added some protein in there.

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Mmmm oatmeal!

Here’s a pic of my pancake on the griddle…before it turned into a bit of a burned mess. I’d give it a 0 for looks, but a 9 for taste! Excited to play more with this recipe.

After dinner, I ran to my first hot yoga class in a month. And it was HARD. Especially after that morning run.  I was feeling all my muscles for sure. Even though it was a difficult class, I still love that vibe you get when you finish: yoga warrior, capable of all kinds of feats of flexibility! It was lovely, and I’m so excited to continue my practice.

On the way home, I stopped by the new protein smoothie place by our school that has been drawing rave reviews from all my sisters, in order to do an interview for the student paper.  I was very skeptical of the protein smoothie as a meal replacement racket, and I still harbor some reservations…but I have to say, after sampling that Reeses’ Herbalife shake? I might be a new customer. It definitely won’t replace fruits and veggies, but might be a welcome sweet indulgence!

 

 

 

 

Things I love…back to school edition!

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1. Pineapple Jellies (and other school snacks) from Undressed Skeleton
Delicious and nutritious…and not super difficult to make! These would be great for afternoons where you just need something sweet, but don’t want to go overboard.

2. Toy Story Alien Bento Box lunch and other cute Disney ideas from Spoonful.com
 Necessary? No.  But adorable? yes.  Why can’t you get a dose of cuteness with your nutrition?

3. Easy slow cooker oatmeal from Shape Magazine
Only thing I love more than slow cooker cooking? Oatmeal.  My absolute jam.

4. Hot pink hunter boots
Every year, I tell myself that I need to buy rain boots. Usually as I’m trucking through the third or fourth monsoon of the season.  This year, I’m gonna try to be proactive.

5. Cosy tribal sweater
I am always freezing, so a sweater that I can throw on top of any outfit is always a plus.  I love all of these tribal styles that are in this fall! Super cute, and super comfy.

6. Classy carry-all
I love bags of all shapes and sizes, but I aspire to carry a classy tote like this one.  Pink and white chevrons? Sign me up!

7. Sparkly mason jar
Mason jars.  So many uses, so little time.  I love the idea of making one super glittery to adorn your bathroom sink! Better than shoving random brushes in a drawer, as I am wont to do.

8. Welcoming door wreath
So sweet and welcoming! I have been trying to decide what to do with my door all summer, but this mixture of burlap and polka dots is adorable!

9. Sweet tulle garland
I have decided that I do not have enough pink in my apartment at this point (why be a grown up till you have to, right?), so I am absolutely going to be making this easy tulle garland.  The directions are super simple, and the outcome looks absolutely perfect for hanging up over a window or a doorway!

What are you excited about this back to school season?

Books to Fall in Love With: August 2013

I am always in search of new soul mates. Usually the hunt takes me to Barnes and Noble, where I can sit for hours with a latte (or, more healthfully, a water bottle) and interview possible candidates, reading the first 20 pages or so of each in a stack of promising participants. The note on my iPhone of “Books I Need to Read” is beginning to get overwhelmingly long. As much as I love wandering onto the next love of my life, sometimes it’s nice to get a little recommendation and guidance!

That’s where this post comes in. Each month, I’ll suggest a couple new books for your reading pleasure.  My literature habits tend to be all over the board, so get ready for plenty of variety.

Note: I would love to hear about your latest great book finds!

1) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Read if you’re craving…amazing contemporary writing, beautiful character development, and enough plot twists to make your brain explode. This is a great mystery novel for non-mystery readers!

Why I love it…I am a little late to hop onto this train, but I was absolutely engrossed in this book from the start. It’s been hard to put down! While the story line is intriguing, I’m a little more obsessed with the writing. The wordplay and skill with which Flynn crafts her characters is almost breathtaking, and something I find missing in a lot of contemporary work.  I will be rereading this one, I can tell you that!

2) Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell

Read if you’re craving…new characters to fall in love with, sunny summer Southern days, luxurious descriptions of a time gone by…and a heroine who deserves her spot in the top spitfires of literature.

Why I love it…for some reason, this has become my go-to for days spent outside laying in the grass. It’s a bit of a tome (kind of hard to drag around with my towel/sunglasses combo), but I have fallen for the charms of Scarlett O’Hara. Sometimes there’s nothing like a classic.  Even if you’ve seen the movie (I haven’t), I’d recommend checking this one out. Gotta love the conflict when your heroine is a total selfish brat.

3) Cooked, by Michael Pollan

Read if you’re craving…an inside look at how food has shaped our culture and the world today.  This book is good for anyone! I would especially recommend it to anyone interested in ANY aspect of food: cooking, nutrition, styling. Or, you know, eating.

Why I love it…Michael Pollan is one of the most arresting food authors of our time, in my opinion. In this book, he goes beyond recommendations for living your life, and into the complex nature of how food and the way we cook it shapes us.  The book is divided into sections of the elements.  My favorite is Air, in which he works with Chad Robertson, the baker of the best bread in America. Come on. A whole section about bakin

 

My Life in Pictures…the little things

Ah, Mondays.  I felt like I was moving particularly slowly today–it can be hard to get into the flow of a 40 hour work week, especially since the job I’m doing involves lots of sitting and working on spread sheets.  Definitely not behavior that contributes to staying bright eyed and bushy tailed.  But I am working really hard on finding the beauty in the littlest things, and enjoying a slow-ish summer before being chucked back into the whirl wind that is school.  I found this amazing quote today, and it will be staying on my wall for awhile:

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.  If you are attentive, you will see it.” -Thich Naht Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Beautiful, and a great thing to remember.  In honor of this, I’m posting a few “beauty in the little things” moments from the past week or so.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

This quote was on the board at yoga, and it warmed my heart.  Great to remember when you’re in a long distance relationship.

This was one of my favorite outfits I’ve ever worn to work. Sometimes it’s just nice to look cute. Especially after a semester spent in athletic clothes.

This is a flourless chocolate torte. And it is all that is good and beautiful and right in the world.  Completely non-healthy recipe will be coming to you soon.

A box of playbills from every show I saw between the years 2004 and 2011. So THAT’S where all my money/time/passion went.  Kind of a lovely thing when I think about it.

I will devote myself to being as happy with my life as this hedgehog is with his carrot.  I don’t even want to admit the number of people I sent this to.

Homemade margherita pizza that was absolutely to die for. Don’t even need a recipe for it: thin crust premade pizza dough, pizza sauce (lots), reduced fat mozzarella (not as much), and some very freshly chopped basil baked at 450 for ten minutes. See it. Smell it. Eat it. Love it.

Laying out on the lawn, slathered in sun screen and feeling like a summer goddess.  Sometimes, you have to take a day to just lay out in a swimsuit and relax. Or, in my constant BFA-ness, read some Ibsen. Nothing says summer like inner turmoil and class conflict.

Hope your summer is gorgeous!

Happy Father’s Day!

I hope to have another post coming tonight, but I had to take a minute to acknowledge the two truly amazing men I get to call “Dad” this Father’s Day.

Stepdad and his two crazy kids at Disney World.

My stepdad has been with our family for almost 12 years now, but I feel as though I’ve had him forever. He has always loved us unconditionally, and sacrificied a lot (like, oh, say, his bachelorhood) in order to give my brother and I an amazing life.  Even though he doesn’t exactly get the whole “artsy” thing all the time (we’re talking a man’s man here: former rugby all star, college basketball player, lover of any and all sporting events), he has never once dissuaded me from pursuing anything that I love. And I love him even more for that.

My dad is also my number one fan. I can’t even begin to describe the number of panicky phone calls, texts, or just conversations he’s had with me about life and my “huge problems.” But he never makes me feel bad about it.  He is constantly there with support, love, good advice, and some rock and roll.  As the above picture shows.  I treasure living so close to him, with every little bit of my heart. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a full day of browsing Barnes and Noble, hanging out with him has given me some of my happiest moments.

 

I am so lucky to have these incredible men in my world.  Happy Father’s Day, Johnny and Daddy 🙂

New Year, New Plan

Because of my obsessive list making and organizational skills, New Years is like Christmas for me: setting goals is possibly my favorite thing in the world, behind beautiful plays, coffee, and cuddly sweaters.  I have been thinking about my goals for the coming semester and the year beyond for about two weeks now, narrowing down from my thoughts about what I need to work on.  General happiness is a big one; as I’ve posted before about my Happiness Project, I feel that I can improve on my every day level of being content.  I also want to develop in my acting program and in making smart career choices that pertain to acting and to the English minor I am pursuing.

I’m always looking for new goal setting formats.  For some reason, writing it down in a memorable way works a lot better for me than just typing it up and forgetting it.  This year, I was inspired by my friend Maya (you can find her amazing blog here: http://www.charminglystyled.com/ ), who wrote about goal setting in a revolutionary (at least, for me) way.  You plan out where you see yourself in ten years, and then make goals by year (one year, five year, etc.) to help you get to that audacious goal, realistically.

Theatre majors, more than others, have an issue with worrying about the future.  I think, personally, that that’s healthy.  You will never get cast if you think life will simply “work itself out.”  However, it does sometimes seem that the goals I want (working at a theatre professionally, publishing novels, etc.) is unattainable in the short term.  It’s hard to imagine beginning to work towards them.  Maya’s approach helps with that by setting your long term, reach-for-the-stars visions, and then reverting back to the approaching year to simply get on track.  Though I love being chill, I think that it certainly helps to set yourself up for success!

I also have my own version of goal setting that I formatted for every day happiness this year.  Basically, I sanctioned out the important aspects of my life: Relationships, School, Faith, Health and Emotional Wellness, etc.  I then made three to four subgoals in these categories that I know need work, and will follow to create overall happiness. For example, the Health category is a big one for me.  My subgoals are: 1) to workout as much as I need (not push myself too far, but motivate myself to go as often as I can), 2) to eat everything in moderation, and not feel deprived and avoid overindulgence, and 3) to get rid of my guilt about eating.  All of these are small things that will lead to overall daily happiness!

These are just simple ideas to get you started on goal setting.  It might not be the most exciting thing to set your mind to, but I firmly believe that it helps better a college student’s life…especially if you’re as busy as a BFA!

My Happiness Project

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I have been noticing lately that I don’t always have my usual happy outlook.  It’s taken a little bit of time to come to this realization, because it’s not like I woke up one day and was just generally grumpy.  Rather, I’ve been noticing that I’ve started approaching challenges in my life not from the positive outlook that I value so highly, but from a panicky, pessimistic area of my brain that frankly I didn’t even know I possessed.

Eek.

This has come to a head in the past two days, when literally everything that has happened has just served to make me sadder.  I decided this morning that I seriously needed to do something to turn this trend around; even though I’m certainly not depressed, and have a pretty good outlook most of the time, I felt it was a good time to do something.  Going through being an actor while having a pessimistic personality sounds like the eighth circle of hell to me.

So, first baby step: I bought The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I’ve been seeing this book on the shelf for years, and needed something new on my Nook, so I bought it.  And after literally a chapter, I’m obsessed.  It is all about planning a realistic, schedule-focused approached to making yourself just a little bit happier, and therefore more effective.  Since I’m obssessed with organizing, this was my perfect guidebook.

Rubin made a 12 month calendar with a different focus for every month, and goals within those focuses.  I think I’m going to do a similar thing on a smaller scale.  Her focuses are also, to me, very abstract, and I might expirement with doing more concrete things.  For example, her first focus in the book is Energy.  I think I am going to work with that idea, but under the umbrella of wellness.  So here is my first week of the first month of this plan!

Focus One: Wellness

First Goal: Fitness and Moderation

I have a fitness section of this blog for a reason. I find that I am happiest when I am working out, eating healthy, and feeling generally in good health.  I like being fit.  I don’t neccesarily enjoy being skinny, but unfortunately, in such an image-focused industry, it is important to maintain a healthy physique.  Sometimes, this drives me crazy.  Especially this year.  I want to eat what I want to eat, no matter how unhealthy.  I hate having to get my butt in gear and go to the gym, even though I feel good once I’m done.

So I decided to begin my first Wellness goal with a refocusing of my life on fitness and moderation in my eating.  This isn’t a diet, and it really isn’t an excercise plan.  One of the tenants of this project is finding out what really makes you happy, so I’m gonna work from there.  Here are a few guidelines for this first week (and from now on!)

-I will work out at least four times a week for twenty minutes, doing some kind of cardio I actually enjoy. 

-I will do daily yoga or stretching, preferably in the morning or right before bed, to center myself.

-I will eat what I want, in moderation.  That means no more days of splurging followed by a day of salad.  A healthy, balanced diet is healthier than yo-yoing!

I’m going to admit to this: I’m kind of giving myself an easy start to this project.  I don’t live a sedintary lifestyle by any means; here at the school, I move a lot more than my state school counterparts, and I’m also dancing and rehearsing every day.  But I know that I would feel happier being at a better fitness level, so that’s what I’m going to work towards.  With food as well, I’m not as bad as I might be.  I usually do eat a very balanced diet, but I’ve gotten into the habit of rewarding myself with some kind of sneaky treat (a candy bar, a milkshake) that I then immediately feel bad about.  It would be better to work in moderation all the time, rather than feeling unneccesary guilt about rewarding myself with food (as that immortal Pinterest pin says: “I will not reward myself with food.  I am not a dog.”)

So there you have it!  I’m actually very excited about this adventure, and I really think it will help me refocus and revitalize my life!

Find the book at Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/happiness-project-gretchen-craft-rubin/1101357622?ean=9780061583261

Visit Gretchen Rubin’s website and blog here:

http://www.happiness-project.com/