The Post In Which I Shake My Groove Thang

By Katie, 5:23 am

It was about this time last month that I outlined eight ways we can love our bodies. Number 3 was DANCE, and I think it’s high-time I show you what it looks like when I practice what I preach. ;-)

I now present, for your viewing pleasure, a video of me being a dancing queen fool. A huge shout-out to my fellow dancers and bloggers – Karen, Mara, and Joy. (And a special thank you to Joy for engineering this awesomeness!) If you aren’t yet reading these women’s musings, you will be after you see this video. The energy is just contagious. ENJOY!

Dynamite Dance with Dynamite Friends from Joy Tanksley on Vimeo.

When was the last time you shook your groove thang? If you can’t remember, make it TODAY! ;-)

“Live Life to the Fullest” Calendar Winner!

By Katie, 7:13 pm

First of all, thank you for sharing such kind words about this morning’s poem! I may not like rollar coasters, but sharing my creative writing with all of you is its own kind of adrenaline rush!

And now back to my other creative project. Thank you to everyone who entered my “Live Life to the Fullest” 2011 Inspirational Calendar giveaway!

The winner of the free calendar is Katie, who writes the blog Healthy Heddleston! Congratulations, Katie! Send me an e-mail at with your mailing address, and I’ll get your calendar to you right away. :-)

And thanks to everyone who has already purchased a calendar; the level of interest has been higher than I even expected! Whether you’re hanging it up on your office wall or giving it to a friend for the holidays, I hope it gives you a little extra boost of inspiration. :-)

If you haven’t yet purchased a calendar but would like to, just click on the button below. You can use a PayPal account if you have one, but you don’t need to. The calendar is only $16, which includes shipping.

Thanks, everyone! Your constant support and encouragement is truly what makes this blog (and the whole community, really) possible. :-)

Most Days: A Poem

By Katie, 5:35 am

Some days I think about calories.

Some days I eat in front of the refrigerator and
don’t bother to pull up a chair.

Some days I feel the burning sensation
of tears forming behind my eyes and
immediately change my mental subject, instead of
sitting with it
exploring it
meditating on it or
journaling about it.

Some days I bolt.

Some days I purposefully don’t pray to God,
hiding in the
that no one knows or cares what I’m doing.

Some days I avoid the mirror because
the reflection hurts.

Some days I’m obsessed with the mirror,
hoping that one of these times
the reflection won’t.

Some days the distant memory of
stressing over a mini Snickers
isn’t so distant.

Some days I beat myself up
over those some days.

But most days I don’t.


Most days I remember that
those some days
are part of the journey,
probably even an essential part.

Most days I thank God that
those some days
are just some days,
because they used to be
most days.

Most days days I can surf the
ups and downs without
running away

and I don’t worry
if I fall down because I know
I’ll get back up
any minute now.

Most days my reflection
smiles back at me, because
while the body,
the hair,
and the skin haven’t changed too much,
the perspective has.

Most days I allow the
tears to
cleanse my cheeks.

What are your “some days” and “most days”?

A Tip for Challenging Negative Thinking: Facts versus Judgments

By Katie, 5:31 am

A few days ago my wonderful husband looked me in the eye and said, “Katie, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. And that’s a fact.”

Actually, honey, that’s not a fact; it’s a judgment. But it’s ok by me if you disagree. ;-)

Even though in some cases – like that one – I revel in the confusion of facts and judgments, getting the two mixed up often fuels the negative self-talk that has plagued me. When I take a thought that is actually a judgment and treat it as if it’s a fact, it’s a recipe for trouble.


Some examples of the difference between facts and judgments:

  • These pants are size “fill-in-the-blank.” (FACT) Because I’m wearing that size, I am fat and ugly. (JUDGMENT)
  • I was late to work today (FACT), so I am irresponsible (JUDGMENT).
  • I got a B on my test (FACT) because I’m not very smart (JUDGMENT).
  • My friend never responded to my e-mail (FACT); she probably finds me annoying (JUDGMENT).
  • My husband didn’t tell me I look pretty (FACT), so he must think I look terrible (JUDGMENT).
  • I ate more cookies than my body wanted (maybe a FACT); I will never get this intuitive eating thing (JUDGMENT).
  • I skipped my workout today (FACT) because I’m lazy and hence do not deserve to eat dessert tonight (JUDGMENT).

When I write it out like that, it seems pretty clear. And yet time and time again I live my life as if the judgments are the hard and fast truth. Not surprisingly, it’s a pretty big downer!

So I’ve been using this strategy: whenever I find myself getting all caught up in negative thinking, I go through each thought (or piece of a thought) and ask myself, “Can I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is true?” If the answer is yes, it’s a fact, and I begin the process of acceptance.

But if there is even a tiny bit of wiggle room, then it’s a judgment. Judgments are open to interpretation; they can be questioned, challenged, and disputed. And in the case of negative self-talk, that’s exactly what needs to be done.

Of course, challenging the negative judgment isn’t an easy thing to do. But the first step is simply recognizing that the thought is more subjective than objective.  And that provides a certain degree of comfort in and of itself.

Have you ever found yourself confusing facts and judgments? Do you think that making the distinction could be a useful strategy in challenging negative thinking?

**Don’t forget to check out my Live Life to the Fullest calendar/giveaway!

“Live Life to the Fullest” 2011 Inspirational Calendar

By Katie, 5:31 am

Confession: I’m not what you’d call a “crafty” person.

I don’t think the word “artistic” has ever been used to describe me. When I was twelve, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I attended a five-day summer art camp; it was there I learned that my version of hell on earth involves glue guns and oil pastels.

Nevertheless, every now and then I engage in some kind of artistic project as a therapeutic experiment. I create things that I hope will give me an added boost of inspiration or encouragement in the exact moment I need it.

My latest creative endeavor: this 2011 inspirational calender.

I originally intended my “Live Life to the Fullest” calendar to be a private source of inspiration. But then I showed it to a friend, who asked if she could purchase one for herself and another to give as a gift. In that moment it occurred to me that some of you may also be interested in giving or receiving this calendar.

Each month highlights one major message or theme. September, as shown above, is the month I hope to challenge my insecurities. This message is further emphasized by a motivational quotation at the bottom.

Even though this project didn’t require painting or pottery skills, to me it is still a representation of my creativity. It’s something I made through a combination of my hands, my ideas, and my heart, and I’m very excited to share it with you!

My “Live Life to the Fullest” calendar can be purchased for $16, which includes shipping.

I’d also like to offer one reader this calendar for free. So, naturally, I’ve decided to host a little giveaway!

You can enter up to two times:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me the last artistic project you completed. Perhaps you choreographed a dance routine, or colored a picture with your daughter, or created a vision board. It can be anything!

2. Share the calendar/giveaway in some way: link to it on your blog, mention it on Twitter using @KatieHWS, share the post on Facebook, e-mail it to a friend, etc. Leave a separate comment letting me know how you shared it.

You have until the end of Sunday, November 14 to enter. I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, November 15.

Whether you purchase a calendar or enter the giveaway (or both!), I thank you for sharing in my little artistic endeavor! :-)

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

By Katie, 5:01 am

Remember that time I shared the astonishing fact that I don’t really love pasta? That my attitude towards it is mostly “take-it or leave-it”?

Well I should have qualified that confession a bit more. A warm dish made just by boiling dried pasta and topping it with sauce? Eh, doesn’t do much for me. But fresh pasta is a different story. As is cold pasta salad. As is boiled pasta that is then baked.  

Why my taste buds make such a distinction between boiled-only pasta and boiled-then-baked pasta is a mystery to me. But there is definitely a difference. I’m guessing it has less to do with the pasta and more to do with the melted, baked cheese. ;-)

If you’re in the market for a recipe that feeds a crowd – or one that leaves you with tons of delicious leftovers – your search is over. We enjoyed this Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage one lazy Sunday afternoon when we had Dave’s parents over to watch the football game. The four of us each had a hefty serving and there was still plenty for lunches the next day!

Between the carb-o-licious pasta, the protein-packed chicken sausage, the nutrient-rich spinach and tomatoes, and the satisfaction-guaranteed cheese factor, this dish has all of your noshing needs covered.

And no, I don’t care one bit that it looks so messy. My stomach does not discriminate based on appearances! :-)

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
slightly adapted from Trading Up Downtown
Makes a full 9 x 13 pan

1 tbsp canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 tsp minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup half and half
1 lb. whole wheat penne
1 (9 oz) bag baby spinach
12 oz. precooked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used the sundried       tomato flavor, but the spinach & feta flavor would be good too!)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. First make the sauce. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper, cook for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute or so.

2. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add half and half; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Meanwhile start the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400º, lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding the spinach right at the end and cooking until wilted. Drain pasta/spinach and return to pot.

4. Add the tomato sauce, sausage, and half the mozzarella cheese to the pasta. Toss to coat.

5. Spoon the entire mixture into the prepared dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella and the grated Parmesan. Bake 25-30 minutes, until the edges are browned and crisp.

What do you think? Is the distinction between a baked-pasta dish and a non-baked one significant? Do you prefer one over the other?

What’s your favorite way to eat pasta?

Perfectionism and Binge Eating: Three Connections

By Katie, 5:18 am

If you saw my dining room table right now, you might not think I’m much of a perfectionist.

And when it comes to keeping a tidy, clutter-free house, I’m not. But in certain areas of my life, I do hold myself to a ridiculously high standard. Case in point: I went through 4 years of high school, 4 years of undergrad, and 2 years of graduate school earning nothing but A’s…with the exception of a single B in 10th grade algebra. Perfectionist, much?  :-?

Josie recently brought up this article on the connection between perfectionism and binge eating, and it really resonated with me. I’ve always known that my perfectionism and my eating struggles were interrelated; it’s hard to live a balanced life of any kind when you feel the need to go above and beyond all the time. But the article got me thinking a bit more deeply, questioning exactly why my perfectionist tendencies would drive me to overeat.

Here are three connections I came up with:

Three Connections Between Perfectionism and Binge Eating

1. Control.

Perfection necessitates control. In order for anything to go perfectly or be perfect, someone has to be in the driver’s seat the entire time, probably with white knuckles gripping the steering wheel. Even though binge eating seems to be about losing control around food, I actually think that in some ways overeating emotionally gives me a sense of control (albeit a false one!) in times when my world unravels.

Instead of “freaking out” and having to deal with the pain and anxiety of a real problem, I can run and hide in a tub of ice cream and pretend that everything is just fine, thank you very much. Sometimes I want to maintain control so desperately that I will fully entertain this charade, denying the fact that control is, at its core, an illusion.

2. Black-and-White Thinking

I constantly have to challenge my natural tendency to be an all-or-nothing kind of gal. You’re probably familiar with the black-and-white thinking I’m talking about: either run faster than yesterday or don’t run at all. Either get straight A’s or fail. If it ain’t gonna be perfect, then it’s not gonna happen at all.

This kind of thinking always sets me up for a binge. Because when the mentality is either stick to a “perfect” healthy eating plan or stuff down the entire box of cookies, chances are high I’m going for the cookies. This may sound crazy to non-perfectionists, but I honestly went for years not knowing how to eat just one or two cookies. It was always either avoid completely (success!) or totally overdo it to the point of feeling ill (failure!). Part of overcoming binge eating is recognizing that food – and life, for that matter – isn’t an all-or-nothing game.

3. The Judgments of Others

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is its discussion of the two types of perfectionists: those who are self-critical, and those who feel pressured by the (real or imagined) criticisms of others. I’m not immune from either of these, but tend to lean towards the latter. I assume others are judging me by my weight, food choices, appearance, etc. (probably because I’m judging myself on these terms), so I pass on that mouth-watering slice of cake in public…and then eat a double or triple serving in private.

As hard as I’ve worked and as far as I’ve come, this is a battle I’m still fighting. I tend to forget that I don’t need to differentiate between the public Katie and the private Katie; the private Katie is actually good enough to be displayed in public just as she is. I have to remind myself daily that others aren’t judging me nearly as much as I imagine. And if they are, that’s not really any of my business, now is it?


We constantly hear about how binge eating isn’t actually about the food, and that to overcome it we need to focus on the underlying issues. For me, perfectionism is one such issue. Learning to let go of my perfectionist tendencies – particularly in terms of control, black-and-white thinking, and the judgments of others – has been and continues to be a key part of my journey away from food comas and towards self-awareness and acceptance.

Any other perfectionists out there? How have your perfectionist tendencies affected your life, in terms of food and beyond?

Things Everybody Loves

By Katie, 5:18 am

Everybody except me, that is! ;-)

Every now and then I feel a bit odd because everyone around me seems to adore something that I would rather avoid forever. They get all excited about it and I haven’t the faintest idea why!

A few examples…



Coconut milk. Coconut water. Coconut cupcakes. Ew, ew, ew. The darn thing is hairy, people!


Having said that, I do cook with coconut on occasion, but that’s only because the Hubs likes it and I’m generous like that. ;-) But given the option, you better believe I’m not picking a Thai restaurant.

Rollar Coasters


You know that free-falling feeling, where your stomach does somersaults that would rival those from the U.S. gymnastics team? Yeah, I don’t enjoy that feeling. Not even a little.


I hear they’re crazy comfortable and keep your toes unbelievably toasty. But I’m still not feeling them.


I actually do enjoy a cup of coffee every now and then. But I load it up with so much milk, cream, and/or sugar that I’m not sure it even qualifies as coffee anymore. Can I truthfully say I like coffee if I make a point of making it taste as little like coffee as possible???

- Reference: Corporate Coffee Systems of New York.

Deal or No Deal


What can I say? I find this to be the most boring, drawn-out television show ever. Granted, I have an extremely short attention span when it comes to television, but still.

Staying Up Late


Weeknights I’m in bed by 9:30, asleep by 10:00. Weekends I might stay up until 10:30, but it’s not all that likely. And that’s exactly how I like it. :-)




Sour Candy


I do not get this at all.

And finally…

Scary Movies


An accidental viewing of a Chuckie movie around age 5 sparked a fear of dolls that remains with me to this day. Enough said.

How about you? Do you love any of these? Dislike any of them the same way I do?


Is there anything you dislike that everyone around you seems to love?

**By the way, be sure to check out my updated About page!

On Being Naked: The Great Paradox of Vulnerability

By Katie, 5:41 am

A lot of the topics I write about on this blog are a bit paradoxical. For example, the notion that dieting won’t actually help someone lose weight is at first counterintuitive; it seems to go against logic. Then there’s the irony of self care, this seemingly contradictory idea that taking care of ourselves is not actually selfish.

And now we have the great paradox of vulnerability.

We’ve entered the second installment of the Self-Discovery Word-by-Word Blogger Series, this month hosted by my ever-insightful blogging friend Karen C. L. Anderson. She’s chosen “vulnerable,” a challenging word that elicits both excitement and fear in me.

(You can participate in this word-by-word series too!)

A year before I started this blog, very few people had any idea that I struggled with food and weight issues. And by very few, I mean 3. And I only told those 3 people because I felt like I had to.

How did I jump from complete secrecy to total Internet exposure? The first step was choosing to share my struggles with one particular friend, increasing the number of people who knew the “real me” to a whopping 4. My decision came directly from my gut, which insisted that opening up was the right path to take. Yet I fought it tooth and nail. Admitting  my daily battles meant cracking the perfect exterior I worked tirelessly to show the world. It meant taking off the mask I had worn for years, which – despite being burdensome and exhausting – was also pretty darn comfortable.

It meant purposefully making myself vulnerable. Terrifying.

In those frightening moments before I took the leap and removed my mask for my friend, I learned the great paradox of vulnerability: that even though being vulnerable is usually associated with being weak, it actually requires a great deal of bravery. The fact that I had to muster up the courage to be honest with my friend showed me that it wasn’t really about weakness at all.

Why did it take so much courage? Because being vulnerable is a whole lot like being naked in front of another person; you can no longer hide behind your baggy sweatshirt or your pretenses. It’s essentially emotional nakedness, in which the other party has the power to accept or reject what you show them.

The key there, however, is accept OR reject. Vulnerability is about being so open that you become capable of being hurt, but being hurt is not a guarantee. Indeed, my particular story led to the opposite of pain and rejection; my friend was touched by my willingness to be genuine and authentic with her, and it opened the door for her to share her vulnerabilities with me as well. In the end, my act of courage paved the way for a closer, more real connection.

Despite the fact that I write this blog, I still really struggle with purposefully putting myself in vulnerable situations, even when I know that doing so is worthwhile. But now I recognize that my fears are not ungrounded or unwarranted, and that being so emotionally naked requires a strong dose of courage. Being vulnerable isn’t about being weak; it’s about harnessing the necessary strength to be open and authentic. And while the possibility of pain is real, so too is the opportunity for connection and growth.

Have you ever purposefully put yourself in a vulnerable situation? Was the outcome positive or negative? What did you learn from it?

Steak is for Gents, Salads are for Ladies: The Gendering of Food

By Katie, 5:00 am

From the moment we enter this world, we’re taught that it’s a very gendered place.



Everything from what we wear to what we play with is contingent upon what we’ve been labeled: boy or girl.



As we journey through life, the “gendering” process only continues, and the realm of food is no exception. I bet you can immediately identify which gender is associated with each of these edibles:

  • steak
  • salad
  • chocolate
  • bacon
  • rice cakes
  • quiche
  • burgers
  • sorbet
  • beer
  • martinis

And we can’t forget yogurt!

(If you’re able to take the 3 minutes to watch this video, I promise you you’re in for a good laugh!)

Now I’m no physiologist, but I’m sure some of these gendered foods stem from biological differences between men and women. But nature can’t explain the whole picture, as the differences don’t manifest themselves in all parts of the world. As one writer asks, “Can you imagine a French woman saying she stays away from red meat or a French man saying that chocolate is chick food?”


Let me be blunt: I am not down with all this masculinizing and feminizing of food. And here’s why.

1. Gendering food feeds the dieting mentality.

Look back at that list of gendered foods. Notice anything? The “masculine” foods tend to be hearty, meaty, with higher levels of calories and fat. The “feminine” foods, on the other hand, are small and dainty, light on bulk and heavy on air (hello, rice cakes!).

There are certainly feminine foods – like chocolate – that don’t qualify as “diet-y,” and yet those are usually marketed to women as “sinful” or a “special treat.” So to me, the message is loud and clear: if I’m a man, I’m supposed to eat hearty, fatty foods (and lots of MEAT!); if I’m a woman, of course I’m dieting, so I should focus on low-calorie fare.

Honestly, that distinction isn’t helping either gender reach a healthy balance.

2. Gendering foods is just another form of labeling.

I’ve made it quite clear that I am against the kind of black-and-white thinking that classifies all foods as either good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. Well, take out “good” and “bad” and replace them with “manly” and “girly,” and we’ve pretty much got the exact same issue on our hands.

3. Gendering food sustains our society’s overly-prescriptive gender roles.

In my Women’s Studies classes we called it the Gender Binary – this idea that all humans fit neatly into the categories of “man” and “woman,” with no grey area in between, and that our preferences and behaviors and lifestyles should always correspond nicely with our gender box. But that’s just not reality.


So listen up, food marketers and advertising gurus: The way to my wallet is through my stomach more so than any other part of my anatomy. Because food is food, regardless of whether or not I have breasts. (Yep, I said it.)

Have you noticed the way many foods are gendered? Do you have any others to add to the list?

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