Chicken Cassoulet

By Katie, 8:01 am

Hey, folks! Thank you so much for your kind words about my biopsy. The frustrating news is that because of a little insurance blip (today is the end of the fiscal year for many employers, and we’re changing to a new plan starting tomorrow), my derm appointment had to be moved to next Thursday. So more waiting! Sigh.

On another note, today I’m blogging over at Cara’s Cravings about this delicious chicken cassoulet with white beans and turkey kielbasa. YUM!

If you have yet to subscribe to Cara’s blog, I highly recommend doing so today. That gal is clever in the kitchen!

It’s My Turn: I’m Having a Biopsy

By Katie, 5:54 am

My mom has had countless skin cancer spots removed. My brother has had major surgery done on his neck because of possible melanoma, and he has to have a full body scan every three months. Now it’s my turn. Tomorrow I am getting a biopsy on a spot on my leg.

My derm said that it’s either serious melanoma or a relatively harmless spot of clogged up blood. Pleasant and reassuring, huh?

 

So you can consider this post yet another addition to the countless PSAs and public awareness campaigns about skin cancer. The generation before mine didn’t know about the dangers of the sun. My generation knew but often didn’t care. Here’s hoping the next generation will both know and care, and hence will be in a stronger, safer position than I am.

Don’t forget to lather up with sunscreen this summer, folks!

Any readers out there ever have skin cancer? Or even a skin cancer scare? Any reassuring thoughts for me?

Taking Action Tuesday: Worst Case Scenario

By Katie, 5:14 am

A few years ago, I was feeling incredibly anxious about an upcoming dentist appointment. I had brought the turmoil on myself; it had been five years since I’d been to the dentist. I do not recommend this.

In the week leading up to the appointment, I felt a sense of panic every time I thought about it. That panicky feeling then led to a desire to overeat, as if overloading on cookies and cake could somehow save my molars from impending doom.

What’s the very worst that can happen? I asked myself. What am I really afraid of? Lots of cavities to get filled, maybe even a root canal. A feeling of embarrassment and shame in front of the dentist. An inconvenient and very uncomfortable follow-up appointment. And an exorbitant bill that my graduate student salary definitely wouldn’t be able to cover.

So I went there. In my mind, I imagined that all of those fears came true to the greatest extent possible. My mouth was overflowing with cavities, and at least one tooth needed a root canal. The dentist told me I was the most irresponsible patient he’d ever seen, and because of that he was refusing to give me Novocaine (oh, the horror!). Oh, and I was holding a bill in my hand for thousands of dollars I didn’t have.

In the few moments I allowed myself to picture this scenario, I felt awful. Downright awful. I saw my life crumbling before me, all because of a little lapse in my dental hygiene. But then I got down to business. How would I handle this if it really happened?

Well, I’d just have to make time in my schedule for the fillings and root canal, and brace myself for the necessary pain and discomfort. I’d have to re-crunch the numbers on my budget and spend hours on the phone with the insurance company in order to create a manageable payment plan. Oh, and I’d need to find a new dentist. It certainly wouldn’t be easy, but it was doable. 

While uncomfortable in the moment, imagining the worst case scenario helped the urge to overeat subside because I realized that, no matter what, I would be ok. I didn’t need food to help me because I would be fine. I would figure it out. And, honestly, what were the chances the worst case scenario would come true?

It didn’t come true. I made it to my appointment without bingeing beforehand, and left with a follow-up appointment to fill my two cavities…Novocaine included.

Taking Action Tuesday is a series featuring excerpts from my e-book Taking Action: 30 Specific Strategies for Overcoming Emotional Eating.

Are you currently worrying about something? What’s the worst case scenario that could happen? Do you think this is a useful tool for managing those anxieties?

My Bra and I: The Connection Between Self-Acceptance and Underwear

By Katie, 5:09 am

No, that title is not meant to be clever; this post really is about underwear. So if you end up thinking it’s TMI, you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

There are a couple of signals in my life that help me see whether or not I’m on track in terms of my relationship with my body. They’re my self-acceptance measuring sticks, if you will. I’m talking about things like my eating habits (hello, Brownie Alert!), my desire for moderate exercise, and – yep, you guessed it! – my underwear.

(Source)

When I first got married, my husband Dave was more than a little appalled at my collection of bras and underwear (sorry, I’m not using the word panties because it gives me the heebie jeebies). His reaction probably stemmed from the fact that the darn things were all old and tattered. I’m talking faded colors, hanging threads, and even holes.

Yes, I wore holy underwear…and I’m not even Mormon. Ha!

Before Dave pointed out this unfortunate state of affairs, I had never thought twice about it. But now I see that the issue wasn’t that I was too cheap to buy decent bras. It wasn’t that I enjoyed wearing frayed underwear. Rather, the problem was that I was lacking quite a bit in the self-respect department. There has always been a direct correlation between the state of my mind and the state of my underthings.

You see, there were years of my life where I simply couldn’t imagine spending money on decent bras and underwear. Those resources needed to go toward shirts and pants and jewelry and makeup – you know, the things that people could see. And by “people,” I mean “other people.” The other people whose judgments and assessments of me meant everything.

Spending money on something that no one but me would see seemed like a total waste.

These days, however, my own opinion means just as much as everyone else’s…maybe even more. How I feel actually matters, even if no one else is looking. So it only seems right to make sure that the garments that are closest to my skin are high quality, regardless of who, if anyone, will see them. It’s my little way of being nice to myself.

I’ve reached a point where I don’t define myself solely by the opinions of others. My self-esteem comes just as much from myself as it does from other people, and I believe that I deserve to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. The proof? It’s in my underwear drawer.

Can anyone relate? Do you see undergarments as a symbol of self-care?

Moment of Zen: Friends Edition

By Katie, 5:03 am

I somehow manage to come across the strangest stuff on the Internet. Take, for example, this totally random post wondering what it’d be like if the cast of Friends were all cats. I busted out laughing when I saw it!

You can see the whole cast here!

Seriously, how do I find this stuff???

Were you a fan of the show Friends? Who was your favorite Friend? I always had a soft spot for Chandler!

My New Kitchen!

By Katie, 5:57 am

I cannot find the words to describe how excited I was to move away from my old kitchen and into my new one.

Goodbye cramped space, hello openness! Goodbye total lack of storage, hello cabinets and drawers and pantry!

Dave and I can actually be in the kitchen at the same time without knocking elbows! I don’t have to store my kitchen appliances in the coat closet! Woo hoo!

Of course, my red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer gets a special place on the counter. As it should.

I love, love, love that my new kitchen is open to this little sunroom area.

The furniture in this space is from Cost Plus World Market, which is my new favorite home furnishings store. Great inventory, great prices, and you can usually find a free shipping code. The only problem with the room is that I think I went a little too heavy on all the brown. Perhaps a small but colorful rug under the coffee table would help brighten things up?

Breakfast bar!!!

Now that I’m settled into my new kitchen, you’re officially all invited over for dinner!

What’s your favorite part of your kitchen?

and/or

Do you have a favorite place for buying home furnishings? Like I said, right now I’m totally loving World Market. Other favorites include Home Goods, Ikea, and Ross.

Eating versus Eating Well

By Katie, 5:37 am

Today’s post on the key differences between “eating” and “eating well” is brought to you by author Jocelyn Anne. Would you like to be featured on Health for the Whole Self too? Check out my guidelines for guest posting!

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Eating. You’d think it would be, should be, such a simple thing. But oh, how difficult it can be. The analyzing, over-analyzing, the under-analyzing followed up by guilt. One simple meal can turn into a stressful affair in no time. I’ve had my share of moments (or rather days and weeks on end) when eating was too complicated and too stressful. Until finally, I’d had enough. I wanted to eat “normally,” I wanted food to be a simple and enjoyable part of life that I could take part in without any more anxiety.

 (Source)

And that is the beginning of my transition from just “eating” to “eating well.” When I say eating well I mean eating to sustain and promote health in both body and mind. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that food is not to be enjoyed. Obviously, food can certainly be enjoyable and should be enjoyable, but the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the problems begin to arise when the enjoyable aspect of eating becomes the central point. My new goal and motivation in eating is to eat well, meaning to eat with the purpose to fuel my body with the energy it needs to survive. And, when I combine that purpose with the goal of improving my mindset and attitude towards food as a whole, the outcome is life-changing.

Food has the capacity to make us feel amazing. It also has the capacity to mess with us physically and emotionally. Whether we feel tired, sluggish and lethargic, or depressed, guilty and frustrated, there’s almost no impact food can’t have. On the other hand, eating well can lift your mood, brighten your spirit, give you energy in abundance to power you through tasks and motivate you try new things and be more adventurous than you typically are. Reasons enough to eat well? I thought so! If you’re tired of being consumed by food, here are a few words of “wisdom” that I keep in mind in my attempts to eat well every day.

Food’s Purpose is First to Fuel (Food First Fuel: FFF)

If you look at food with your number one goal simply being to fuel your body with the nutrition it needs, then everything else becomes much simpler. Rather than trying to determine what has the lowest calorie count or the lowest fat and carb count and instead vowing to choose which food will provide you with lasting energy, the best choices for your body suddenly become much more obvious. Why do you always hear that eating whole grains is important? Because they burn slowly over time and provide you with extended energy in lieu of the short burst of energy and subsequent crash of something like a donut. You’ll have to experiment with what foods do give you the energy you’re seeking. For me it may be whole grains, for you it may be vegetables and protein. We’re all different. Your job is only to take care of your body.

Relish Feeling Good

When you start really taking care of your body and seeking to nourish it and provide it with all the vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, nutrients, etc. that it needs on a daily basis, you will start to feel wonderful. Relish that feeling. Cherish it. Don’t let it pass you by. Finish a meal and take a moment to recognize the satisfaction and joy that comes with eating well. The more you tell your mind this, the more you’ll reinforce good habits and good patterns that will stick with you for a lifetime. A dish of chocolate ice cream may delight for a moment, but a well planned out and thoughtful meal will delight for the entire day.

Encourage Yourself

Eating well is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can and it will happen if you persevere. You have to listen to your body. Know when it feels good and when it doesn’t. Take notes, journal, do whatever you need to in order to enable yourself to compile patterns that will allow you to re-plan and adjust accordingly. And, most of all, encourage yourself. Push on and seek the day when you will sit down to a delicious, colorful, balanced dinner that will be anxiety free, enjoyable, and ultimately, good for you. Because, after all, that’s what eating well is all about.

How do you differentiate between eating and eating well?

Author Jocelyn Anne is a freelance writer who is dedicated to healthy eating and living. She is currently writing alongside Air-n-Water researching environmentally conscious ways to use a portable air conditioner in the summer months.

The Plight of Pretty People

By Katie, 5:26 am

File this one under the grass is always greener

A new documentary called The Art of Seduction: Not Pretty, Really features interviews with people who are considered attractive by traditional standards. As you’ll see in the trailer, the “pretty people” don’t just acknowledge the perks of their good looks – like getting free stuff – but also describe the frustrations associated with being attractive…to the point of tearing up.  

I won’t lie: my first reaction was pretty darn cynical. Oh woe is me, I thought sarcastically. These poor beautiful people. It must be so difficult being pretty! :roll:

But then I decided to be a little more open-minded and really listen to the points the pretty people are making. One woman expresses frustration at the constant stereotypes; because she’s attractive, she says, people assume she can’t also be intelligent or funny or “deep.” Another woman discusses her difficulty forming friendships, both with men and women. These people realize that they are being praised not for something they’ve done, not for some impressive accomplishment or achievement, but simply because of the way they were born.

Touché.

I’m now officially over my initial cynical reaction, mostly because I think the documentary sends a very important message, one that fits perfectly with my perspective on body image issues:

Being pretty does NOT make life better. Looking a certain way will NOT solve your problems.

Sure, these people enjoy some nice perks, but that obviously doesn’t mean they don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean they aren’t self-conscious or uncomfortable at times, and it definitely doesn’t mean they are always liked and accepted.

The documentary clearly enforces the message that confidence does not and should not come solely from the way someone looks – a message that’s relevant to everyone, regardless of whose beauty standards they fit.

If nothing else, seeing this trailer will force me to think twice the next time I feel a twinge of jealousy towards the gal with mile-high legs or totally unfrizzy hair. It will force me to remember that while the grass usually looks greener on the other side, looks are often deceiving.

What’s your reaction to this documentary about the plight of pretty people?

Did I Really Just Say That?

By Katie, 5:23 am

A rather curious and disconcerting thing happened last week: I used a curse word. Which almost never happens.

Lest you think I am holier than thou, let me first say that I have no real beef with people who use curse words regularly. I don’t see language as a measuring stick for morality, and I don’t think I am any better or worse because of the words that come out of my mouth.

 (Source)

For me, my lack of cursing can be attributed almost solely to how I was raised. I heard very few curse words growing up, and they just never became part of my vocabulary. I don’t even think the words, much less speak them.

So you can imagine my surprise when – while attending a networking event for young professionals last week – a curse word suddenly flew out of my mouth! I was just chatting away and then, BAM!, there it was. Hanging out in the air. Kind of awkwardly.

Let me tell you, my embarrassment over this situation is rather intense. Not because of the curse word itself, but because of its origin. I didn’t say it out of anger, and I wasn’t making a joke. I just slipped it into regular conversation because…wait for it…I wanted the people there to think I was cool. I wanted them to like me.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I just typed that. My reaction is the same as it was when it first happened: Are you in middle school or what, Katie???

The whole thing is majorly ridiculous. First of all, I am fully aware that swearing does not make me cool. I was born without the cool gene, and that’s a fact I got over a long time ago. Second of all, why would I care what those random people thought of me anyway? I write a blog about self-love and self-acceptance, for crying out loud. Why would I waste even a crumb of energy trying to impress a crowd of strangers?

This silly situation is forcing me to accept the fact that we are never totally free from the opinions of others. Even the most self-assured people in the world still have an ounce of self-consciousness inside of them, and will do things that are totally unlike themselves in the hopes of gaining a bit of validation. Just because we’re not in middle school anymore – where being liked by our peers is our number one concern – doesn’t mean we don’t care what other people think of us.

And is that such a bad thing? To a certain extent, isn’t trying to impress people ingrained into our nature? It means that we’re humans – social beings – and hence we’re concerned with our connections to others. That’s just the way it is.

It’s only problematic when we become willing to deny or ignore our true selves in order to impress others. When we exhaust ourselves trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for us. When we compromise our own identities, or worse, lose touch with them completely.

Last week I was totally and completely myself, except for that little tiny curse word. So instead of beating myself up over it, I’m going to acknowledge it for what it is: a reminder that I’m human, and hence will always have a desire to be accepted and liked by others. And that’s ok, so long as I always remember that I never have to change for anyone, that I am free to be myself, openly and unapologetically. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, damn it! (Nope, still not cool – haha!)

Have you ever done something totally unlike yourself to try to impress someone else?

and/or

Just for fun: do you have a potty mouth?

Moment of Zen: A to Z Edition

By Katie, 5:47 am

I know, I know, it’s Father’s Day. I should be posting about dads and stuff. But when I saw this little A to Z questionnaire on Kelly’s blog, I thought it seemed more fun! Like I’m reverting back to middle school when these kinds of quizzes were all the rage. ;-)

A - Age: 26.

B - Bed size: Queen.

C - Chore you hate: DISHES! Ugh.

D - Dad’s Name: Steve

E - Essential start to your day: The very first thing I do upon waking is feed my cats and scoop their litter box. I know, awesome. I guess I want them to be prepared for the very eventful day I’m sure they have ahead of them…

F - Favorite actress and actor: Not sure on actor, but for actress I’ve always liked movies with Kate Winslet.

G - Gold or Silver: Silver. Like my engagement ring.

H - Height: 5’4″

I - Instruments you play(ed): played the piano for many years, the clarinet for a few

J – Job title: Grants Manager, Writer (yep, I’m going ahead and giving myself that title!)

K - Kid(s): Yes, please!

L - Living arrangements: Just built a house! Some photos coming your way this week!

M - Mom’s name: Linda, but Dave’s nickname for her is the Queen, obviously. And my mother-in-law’s name is Lisa.

N - Nicknames: As a kid my nickname was Tater Tot. Also, my mom calls me Pussycat!

O - Overnight hospital stays other than birth: None!

P - Pet Peeves: Chronic lateness, sloppy grammar/punctuation

Q - Quotes you like: “The change I seek begins with me,” and “When you pray, move your feet.”

R - Right or left-handed: Well, it’s complicated. When I was a kid I used to switch hands like it was nothing. Then in second grade my teacher informed me that I wasn’t supposed to do that; I had to pick a hand. Crazy! Being the non-conventional gal that I am, I chose my left. These days I write and eat with my left hand, do everything else with my right.

S - Siblings: Older brother, Matt. He rocks.

T - Time you wake up: Weekdays – 5:45 a.m. Weekends – 7:00 a.m.

V - Vegetable you dislike: Arugula. Too peppery or something.

W - Ways you run late: If I’m late, it’s almost always Dave’s fault. True story. I forgive him because he’s so darn handsome!

X - X-rays you’ve had: Just my teeth.

Y - Yummy food you make: All of this! This week I pulled out an old favorite: guacamole salad.

Z - Zodiac: Dave and I are both rams! (Aries)

What’s your answer for one of the letters?

OR

Are you doing anything special for Father’s Day?

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