Taking vacation used to cause me more stress than staying home.. Say what??? Who in the good heck does not enjoy a summer vacation and break from the doldrums of daily routine? This girl right here. Vacations use to cause me crippling anxiety and extreme guilt around my eating and exercise habits. The thought of taking a few days away from MyFitness pal and the gym would have me spiraling down a dark pit of fear and worry. Would I be able to eat only clean, non-processed foods while I was gone? Would my friends pressure me into eating “off track”? Would there be a gym at the hotel? These were usually the first thoughts that popped into my head when the vacation topic came up. I used to think of vacation as “ruining my progress” or as a hinderance to my body composition goals. I would go crazy eating treats and heavy foods to come home filled with guilt and shame about my lack of discipline.
This obsession with perfection and rigid mindset around being “on track” or “off-track” for my goals led me to rarely enjoying vacations because I would be so glued to my phone trying to track and measure each morsel of food or every step I took. This eventually led to exhaustion and frustration that usually ended in me saying f-it I am eating the damn fries and going ham on all the desserts and rich foods I tried so hard to swear off. As soon as I returned home the race would be on for me to exercise away the bad foods I ate on vacation, adding in extra cardio to make up for the few days I took off from training. This was a vicious cycle for me until I realized that my mindset about food was the problem, not the act of taking vacation. Vacations do not need to set you back from your goals! You also can 1000 percent enjoy vacation without feeling guilty.
The key to a successful guilt free summer trip is all about planning, mindfulness and your general mindset around food. Vacation should not be an excuse to say screw it to your goals and healthy habits. Sure, should you fully enjoy trying new foods and eating out, yes! But should you eat a whole bag of Doritos and marshmallows, no probably not. All foods have value and a place on your plate, but just because you are on vacation does not mean you should forget all of your mindful eating habits. Vacation is about making memories no stomach aches!
For me, I treat vacation as a chance to eat mindfully without tracking, however I stick to a few ground rules that help me to feel my best. Getting in my 800g of fruits and veggies, hitting 7-10k steps and avoiding overly processed foods and dairy products are just a few of the ways I focus on my health and well-being while being away from home. If I do make a misstep or have an episode of over-eating, I treat myself with love and respect and move the hell on. I do not do extra cardio, I do not do a juice cleanse or a fast when I get home and I definitely do not jump right into a cut or calorie deficit is soon as I return home. I simply make a mental note of what was going on when this less than ideal food situation occurred. Was I feeling overly tired? Did I have a particularly active day or was I just super hungry. While none of these reasons are excuses for overeating or going a bit too crazy with the Talenti, they do help me to understand and learn from my mistakes and take corrective actions for the future. Being kind to myself has really helped me unpack my toxic relationship with vacations and non-tracking days and helped me enjoy vacation more! Now I wake up after a vacation or party and feel no stress, no guilt and no shame about what I ate because I know that it is a new day with new opportunities to work towards my goals and make healthy choices.
Don’t let food rules and rigid exercise habits ruin your time with family and friends! Life is about balance, just like one healthy meal won’t lead to weight loss, one untracked vacation meal won’t lead to weight gain, so enjoy but be mindful. Vacation should be time for making memories, taking a break from your daily life and enjoying yourself, not being anxious about your health and fitness goals.
I own a lot of pairs of jeans! Straight jeans, cropped jeans, ripped jeans, blue jeans.. the list goes on and on. You name it, I probably own it, but you will probably never catch me in a pair of skinny jeans.
For years I stuffed myself into skin-tight jeans, feeling self-conscious as ever seeing my athletic legs strapped in like space cadets before take-off. I forced these leg prisons on myself even though I knew they did not make me feel my best and it wasn’t until last year that I found the light at the end of my jean filled dreams. Finally, mom jeans and non skinny jeans in general were having a moment in 2019. What a revolution to see pants that were high-waisted and not skin-tight making headlines in fashion magazines. I was hooked immediately! I loved the way the straight leg style cinched in my waist and tapered down giving me a long lean look that balanced out my athletic frame. All across Pinterest and magazines I was seeing women rejecting skinny jeans in favor of straight leg and looser styles.
My time had come! I could hardly contain my excitement last year when I started combing the mall and internet for some new jeans to add to my collection. Straight leg and mom style pants were the answer to all of my jean issues, so naturally I bought them in every color and style I could find! My favorite jeans right now happen to be from Urban Outfitters. I absolutely love the BDG Slim Straight style and the BDG Mom Jean, both are super comfy and flattering.
I fear the jean section no more, now that I have found 2 styles that I know work for me/my body and fit my fashion taste. J. Crew also has some great cuts for athletic frames and petite women. Their high waisted utilities jean, and straight leg jean, are both a close 2nd place for me in terms of style and stretch. What I love about J. Crew is their focus on polished colors and clean lines, which makes all of their jeans great for a casual day at the office or going to a work happy hour. I have my size and cut down pat now and do not even think twice when I see my favorite styles go on sale! Jeans are by far the most versatile item in my closet and once winter hits in Denver I pretty much live in them. Investing in good fitting and great feeling jeans is a non negotiable for me. I would much rather have 4 pairs of good fitting jeans than 12 meh fitting jeans.
Jeans shopping does not need to make you run for the hills and hide! The key to finding the right pants is patience and try on time. Allow yourself plenty of time to try on various styles or if shopping online buy more than one style and size for comparison. Nothing is worst than buying a pair of pants online to have them arrive leaving you frustrated and annoyed that they don’t fit the way you were hoping. Also remember that it is not you who must fit the jeans, but rather the goal is to find jeans that fit you! Jeans are not your enemy and should not make you feel uncomfortable. If your jeans do not spark joy then you should donate them in favor of finding jeans that do light your inner fire.
For more of my daily fashion insights and outfits of the day check out my instagram page @who.wod.wear!
None told me that losing weight was not going to fix my issues with my body……..
When I first started my weight loss journey, I was sorely mistaken in thinking that losing weight would somehow fix all of my problems. I thought that being “skinny” would magically make all of my body insecurities disappear and I would wake up as a confident queen ready to take on the world rocking bikinis every day. Boy was I wrong!
None told me that losing weight was not going to make me a more confident person! None told me that being smaller would not fix any of my negative thoughts about my body! I felt lied to by social media and magazines that told me that the secret to feeling body positive was working towards and achieving a conventionally desirable body size.
Losing 30 pounds, to my surprise, did not alleviate any of my body insecurities. If anything, losing weight made me feel even more insecure about my body! I constantly felt like I was not good enough, not fit enough, even after losing a significant amount of weight and drastically changing my body composition. And eventually I realized that the only way to feel more confident and secure in my body was to heal my negative mindset and work towards freeing myself from negative self-talk.
I realized that showing up for myself and doing the inner work to dismantle my long held and learned beliefs about my body and diet culture was the only way to get past my body anxiety. I had become so socialized and numb to the negative way I spoke about my body that I hardly realized that it was happening. We learn a lot about body image and diet culture from a young age and are so inundated with messages that we barely realize the way they shape and mold our views about own bodies.
Slowly I started to reject diet culture the negative mindset it spreads about bodies that do not fit the traditional, western standard of beauty. I started to embrace the idea that all bodies are good and worthy bodies, regardless of size, shape, and weight. I began praising my body for all of the amazing things it can do and started to live in a space of body acceptance.
Instead of wishing my body looked like someone else I started accepting my body for what it is and where it is at in my journey towards a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. I stopped telling myself I would take photos and wear certain things when I was x size or x weight and started living in the moment. When I am 90 years old, I am not going to remember what size my pants were in July of 2019, so I decided to start focusing more on living my life and fueling and treating my body with love and kindness than trying to change it for short term gratification.
Letting go of my rigid mindset about my body has allowed me to live my life to the fullest and has forced me to stop waiting for unrealistic body goals to validate my happiness. Happiness is not a goal weight or a pant size, it is living a free and body positive life, filled with love and memories!
You know you really do not have the body type or physique to be a professional ballet dancer, Hayley, maybe you should set your sights on something else…
The first time I questioned and disliked my body I was 9 years old. I do not even remember who said this to me but it stuck and from then onward I would see my body as “big” or “chubby” and at some points downright “fat” and gross.
3 years ago, I decided it was time to make a change in my life. I was tired of hiding behind baggy clothes, being physically tired, struggling with acne, dreading having photos of myself taken or heaven forbid I be asked to wear a bathing suit etc. The list goes on of reasons why I decided to start exercising regularly and change my diet, but the biggest reason was that I was unhappy with my body and myself and I was convinced that losing weight would fix all of these issues because society had told me that being skinny would fix everything. Little did I know that losing weight would not fix any of my issues but rather would cause me to spiral down a dark hole of hating myself and my body.
Mind you this was not my first diet rodeo, I had tried and failed to lose weight and change my body composition since I was 14. I distinctly remember the first time I dieted when I was a sophomore in high school and I had read that eating nothing but celery and carrots for a month would help me lose 20 pounds. This lasted for maybe a week before I was sick in bed with the flu because I had been depriving myself of nutrients and calories for 7 days.
Next in college, I tried keto/carb free/ south beach or whatever they call it now and all carbs became the enemy. I lost weight for sure, but I looked like a war victim. My body was weak and small because I was stressed and barely had time to eat anything and no food was worth ruining my progress for. The weight came back that summer and soon I was falling back into my old habits of not exercising and eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted with no control or discipline. That fall, while I was studying in Europe, I quickly gained back even more weight than before and the next thing I knew it was summer before my senior year and I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. Broken, defeated and unhappy, I decided it was time to change my life for good.
In August of 2017 I started working out again by doing HIIT videos in my parent’s basement and then in my room at my sorority house in the fall when I got back to school. I would wake up early or stay up late doing a thousand burpees on end. I started using my fitness pal to track calories and I thought the magic number to force my 155 lb body to get smaller was 1200 calories. Much to my surprise, the weight fell off fast. I lost 22 lbs in a matter of 3 months and had been averaging 900 calories a day. Nutrition was the last thing I cared about. I saved calories to binge drink, I saved calories to eat an entire bag of goldfish for dinner, I was broken. Nothing tasted as good as skinny felt I repeated to myself as I celebrated the days when I burned 300 calories and ate only 1100. I finally got my first tattoo because I was not deeply ashamed of my body and was no longer trying to hide it any chance I got. Every person in my life cheered me on and showered me with compliments on how good I looked as my body wasted away and I fell deeper and deeper into a hole, getting harder to dig out from all of my negative thoughts and habits.
Next in January of 2018 I made it my goal to weight train and be better to myself. Enter the slim thick trend and year of the donkey kicks. I followed a super basic weight and resistance routine guaranteed to give me a nice butt and slim toned body or so I thought. I continued to struggle with food even when I started tracking macros. I would cry about eating something I deemed “bad” or “unclean” then I would say screw it and would drink 7 drinks on the weekends and eat tacos, ice cream cookies or anything I could find and pretend it did not happen. I would wake up on Sunday and starve myself and do extra cardio to make up for the treats and misdeeds. This cycle continued until April when I experienced my first heartbreak and romantic relationship failing of adult hood. It was time to hate myself skinny again, in hopes of that winning back the unworthy man who left me me broken. I cut my calories and increased my exercise until I was working out for 2 hours a day 5-7 days a week. I continued to shrink as I started to train for my first triathlon because I was “fitspo” now right? The workouts got longer and harder, the cardio increased and my food intake continued to go up yet no amount of food could satisfy the pain I felt trying to hate myself into another shape or towards a new goal.
Friends and family continued to praise me for my discipline and life style change, little did they know I was struggling and losing myself. My roommate saw my cry my eyes out in my bed because my co-workers had peer pressured me into eating a slice of cake at work that day. Every bad bite or meal or missed workout was a tragedy warranting me berating myself over behaving like my old (read: fat) self. At one point the shame and anxiety about food and exercise go so bad that I literally resorted to throwing a fit and crying over being asked to attend a wine festival with my friends because it was “an orgy of empty calories and bad foods that will undoubtedly make me gain weight”.
Rock bottom came the day after my triathlon when I cried the entire plane ride home feeling lost and confused about what came next. I trained for 4 months for that day and it was over in less than 100 minutes. I was finally the skinny I always wanted to be, I finally wore a bikini with pride, yet I had never felt so empty. I did not know what to do next, I did not know what to eat, and most of all I did not know what my next goal was. In November of 2018 I decide it was time to get help, to talk to someone professional who could help me fix my disordered relationship with food, my body and exercise. I joined a CrossFit box because my brother recommended it. CrossFit is about function and about being a strong athlete and team member and most importantly for me it is a mirror free, judgement free zone that is not necessarily focused on aesthetic goals. I met people of all shapes and sizes and ages. I saw mothers of 3 deadlifting 250 lbs and running 7-minute miles, I saw high school girls lifting confidently in their tank tops and most importantly I met incredible, genuine humans who supported one another no matter what shape or size they were. Slowly, as I started going to the box more and more, I was incentivized to heal my negative relationship with food, exercise and my body.
I hired an amazing nutrition and life coach name Jen and worked with her for a full year before embarking on my next journey of learning to trust myself with food and exercise. I got uncomfortable as hell for a year and half before I finally felt like I had healed my negative mindset and let go of the emotional baggage that was dragging me down. I made peace with my inner demons, cried a lot and often and was super vulnerable with the people closest to me. I unpacked that emotional baggage, I cried in front of the man I was dating and stopped trying to white knuckle all of my negative thoughts and feelings. I confronted my body policing demons and still do every day. I got uncomfortable, I skipped workouts, I ate pizza, I went on vacation and did not exercise for days or weeks at a time. I forgave myself for the terrible things I said to myself and did to myself. I forgave everyone in my life who did not realize that their compliments were feeding into my toxic habits. I show up for myself every day now, I thank my body for things it does for me and places it takes me.
It has taken me roughly 3 years, 30 pounds, one triathlon, hitting rock bottom and spending a lot of time being uncomfortable and facing my fears to come out from the dark hole I was in about my body. But the biggest thing is that my journey is just beginning!
Everyday I wake up and remind myself that each day is a chance for me to grow and I challenge myself to lean into situations or conversations that provide me an opportunity to better myself and to focus on my overall health and wellness. These days I try to remind myself of where I came from and where I want to go. Do my I love my body every day? No, but that’s okay because I am grateful and appreciative of where I am at with my mental and physical health and am committed to treating myself with love, kindness and respect no matter what. And am I finally happy? Yes
I have been passionate about fashion and style since I was in third grade. My family and friends used to call me Coco, short for Coco Chanel, when I was little because I was so vocal about my love for being fashionable and on trend. I even tried to start a fashion magazine when I was nine years old, and organized a fashion show for my elementary school! This passion grew and provided me the drive to become a campus fashion blogger in college through CollegeFashionista and eventually prompted me to intern for a fashion focused PR agency in New York City before I graduated college. Little did I know I would move to Denver permanently and become a lover of Birkenstocks!
Despite being a fashion lover, clothing shopping and picking outfits has been a sore spot for me for as long as I can remember. Being in a bigger body when I was younger was a source of a lot of discomfort and frustration for me growing up. I never looked like the models I saw in magazines or actors on TV and always felt like fashion was reserved for those in more desirable shapes than my own. I tried every diet in the book and was constantly at war with myself because I never looked the same as the girls in magazines and every time I went shopping I was crushed to find out the latest fashion trends did not look the same on me as on others. I struggled with my weight on and off throughout high school and college, eventually getting to a place where I felt like I guess I should just give up and accept that I will never feel at peace or hell ever confident in myself. Luckily, that all changed when I approached my last semester of undergrad at the University of Denver.
Three years ago I was inspired to change my life drastically. I was tired of feeling self conscious and hiding behind friends in photos and twisting my body at weird angles in the mirror hoping that I would wake up one morning magically different. I wanted to feel confident and free from the negative voice in my head that picked apart my body when I didn’t fit into the clothes I so desperately wanted to wear. In the summer of 2017 I began a journey that would soon change my life, I decided I wanted to be “healthy”. At the time I thought that meant losing the extra 30 pounds I had on my body but little did I know it would be so much more than that. Along the way I made some mistakes, treated my body poorly and lost myself a little bit however in the last year and half I have been able to find my stride.
Since 2017 I have successfully lost and kept off the pounds and have come to not only love my body but I am working towards body neutrality. I am finally at a point of acceptance with my body where it is at and am grateful for all that my body allows me to do. I have also found a sense of love and respect for myself that allows me to work towards a better me, both mentally and physically.
Crossfit and yoga have provided me a safe space to move and challenge my body with intention and love and not from a place hate. In the past I have tried to hate myself skinny to find that when you finally reach that goal number you will not be any happier with your life. Finding an exercise routine that works for me has taken me a long time and I am so grateful for my past experiences for those have all helped me in shaping who I am and who I want to become. This blog was created to help me speak my truth and share the advice, wisdom and words that have helped me on my journey to build the happiest and healthiest version of myself. Get ready for more about my healthy habits and body confidence coming soon!