I have been wanting to write this post for so long. But to be honest, I really wasn’t ready to write it until recently…
I am frequently asked how I stay in shape being a food blogger and recipe developer. Shockingly enough, I ask myself that question often too.
I am surrounded by food 24/7. There is a pantry 10 feet away from me with 12 shelves stacked with various types of granolas, nut butters, chocolates, bars and more at all times. There is fridge that honestly has not had vacancy since we moved in last August, and a freezer that is filled with the leftovers from recipe testing (mostly cookies, banana breads and other desserts) and who even knows what else is in there…
Then there are the packages that arrive daily filled with food. Half the time I don’t even know how the company got my address (yes, it is scary) or any idea what the product is. 90% of the time it is food related and luckily since I am in the clean eating space, chances are it is organic and likely up my alley to eat.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t ever feel stressed or overwhelmed by it. I am human too.
I feel like it would be beneficial for you to know a bit more abut my background with food personally over my life because it has 100% shaped me to where I am today. I get a ton of notes from you guys asking me about how I stay balanced and sane around food and it is so important to me that you know I am not perfect and wasn’t always easy for me and my bff/frenemy food. We have had our up’s and down’s for SURE.
When I was younger (middle school/early high school years), I was definitely on the chubbier side. Think 30 lbs more than I am today. I wasn’t comfortable in my body. I had a ton of extra baby fat (late bloomer) and it wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I really started to fit into my body. I would overindulge in anything from burger king to pop tarts to meat supreme pepperoni pizzas. Literally I would go to a friends house and rad their pantry looking for nut butter bars and twinkles (yes, all the JUNK food I wouldn’t touch now). But it wasn’t a binge eating phase. I wouldn’t eat a lot at once, it really just was eating too much junk too frequently. Basically the opposite of everything in moderation.
Then I went to eating those 100 calorie packs when they were starting to be trendy, yogurt and fruit for lunch and just not going through the drive through a few days a week. I started to follow the moderation perspective a bit better and ate like most 17 year old girls did around me. Of course with the occasional chocolate chip cookies too (my high school had the BEST cookies ever) and I had slimmed down, just in time for college.
Went to college – gained freshman 15 from all the drinking, late night eating (chicken fingers on a grilled cheese sandwich kind of eating), drinking, junk food in the cafeteria, and did I mention alcohol? Because pretty sure that was the real culprit. By the time sophomore year of college rolled around I was definitely not feeling my best self. I knew I wasn’t eating right, I felt large (even if I didn’t look it to others) and just plain old uncomfortable. I started to lose weight and that spiralized into me being pretty underweight during my first semester junior year of college. Luckily my parents and Jord (yes, we have been together for that long) helped put me back on track and regain my excessive weight loss. I put weight back on (in a “healthy” way) pretty quickly and have pretty much been a consistent weight ever since then.
As you can see here in my story, my body size has been all over the place for most of my life. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I really started to take an interest in my health for the better. I began to pay attention to the foods that I was eating and the amount of alcohol I was drinking. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t very easy. I definitely stood out amongst my friends for the type of food I wanted to eat, the interest in organic foods and even having things like almond milk in our fridge or making wild salmon with dinner. I used to get really embarrassed and pretty defensive about what I wanted to eat/how I wanted to eat it if anyone questioned me. I wasn’t comfortable or confident in what I was doing. I would stress over what restaurants we were going to “what am I going to eat there?”.
I was working on finding that sense of balance and I was still just self conscious in my own body. Comparing it to others around me and not practicing any form of self love for my body.
Everyone’s body is different. We cannot compare ourselves. It sets us up for failure.
I am grateful to say that since I graduated college it has been an amazing growth experience for me personally. Over the last five years, I have learned to love my body more than I ever have and also learn what to nourish it with. It wasn’t until very recently like Spring of 2016, that I really finally felt confident in my own body.
At my last two office jobs, I was always made fun of for the weird food I would bring for lunch or why I wouldn’t want Chipotle every week with the office crew. Honestly it was a mix of me being cheap with spending money on lunch ($12 for lunch like come on) and because I really didn’t want to eat food that didn’t make me feel good. I craved my sprouted seed bread with nut butter and fresh fruits. I enjoyed making my overnight oats to eat in the morning when I commuted or at my desk. But 3-4 years ago, these foods and my perspective on eating was not common. In fact it was pretty rare at least around me.
I would hear (and still hear) people at parties or even friends say that they think I am too thin (or they label me as anorexic, like yes I hear you..) or comment about what I am eating when I am at the table. “Oh that’s Rachel food” or “Rachel won’t eat that..”
And for the longest time ever I took it to heart. I was so self conscious when someone would tell me my overnight oats looked like shit or question why I drink something with weird things floating in it (kombucha). Or tell me I won’t eat a restaurant because it’s not ‘heathy’. People were always making comments and I wasn’t strong enough to handle them for the longest time.
It wasn’t until I started my Instagram account and began blogging that I really became comfortable with myself. When you guys would tell me my recipes looked delicious and then actually made them, I could not believe it. I would tell my Mom and Jord “omg look someone made my cookies how cool is that?”. And I STILL freak out and get so excited. My food was never ever the “cool” food or the most appetizing food. It was the “weird Rachel food”. I was the only one who ate it for the longest time.
But as I continue to get older, I have become so much more confident in myself. I don’t give a shit when someone tells me they think I am too skinny or question if I actually eat the food I post. OF COURSE I eat the food I post. I created this account to help inspire others to eat deliciously clean food. To create recipes that taste amazing and are actually good for you. And to create a space where we CAN have conversations like this.
I want to teach others that you don’t need to eat kale or drink green juice for days to feel your best self. I want to inspire others to eat the foods that they feel nourish their bodies and make them feel energized and amazing. This includes cookies, chocolate, anything.
And most importantly, I want everyone to know that just because someone has an Instagram following and their food looks good, that doesn’t mean they are perfect. It most definitely doesn’t mean that their lives are perfection and nothing goes wrong. Heck, I was fired from my job a year ago, struggled with body confidence for basically 15 years and am finally in a place of peace with myself mentally and physically.
As I have found peace with my body and myself, being surrounded by food just really doesn’t effect me like most would think. If I did this job in high school or college, yes I would have no self control over the amount of desserts and delicious treats around me. But as you grow that sense of security and comfort in your own body, you don’t take your emotions out on food. I eat a couple cookies and I feel satisfied. I don’t feel the need to eat a dozen. The cookies and 22 types of nut butter will be there tomorrow too. They aren’t running away and they aren’t going to solve any deeper issues we may have.
I don’t deprive myself from things that my body is craving. I mean just look at the example of me eating meat again for the first time in 5 years. I do not eat something just because someone tells me to. I follow my own path and do what my body needs because you know what, our bodies are UNIQUE. No one is the same and we all run differently.
I also stopped comparing myself to others and their bodies. Something I used to do so much. I would ask myself why she can eat like that and not gain weight. Or wait to see what everyone else at the table was ordering for dinner before I decided. And now, I’m like “okay I’ll take the X dish.” And I don’t care what anyone else wants and you shouldn’t either. Listen your body and you will find peace, you will find happiness and you will find comfort.
My biggest piece of advice for everyone who struggles with body confidence and finding their “happy place” with food is to remember that they are not alone. I do not know one person who has not looked in the mirror at one point or another and did not find something wrong. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves or their body, it is a part of life, but we have to each embrace our insecurities and turn them into positives.
My goal each and everyday is to inspire, relate, love, and connect with everyone in this community. It is important to me that you all know that things haven’t always been easy for me food and body image wise.
Love yourself, don’t obsess over food and listen to your body. The “balance” will come with it.
BTW my AMAZING and talented friends at Pura Soul Photography took these photos. I cannot reomcmend them enough, they are beautiful souls, so talented and have some of the best photos I have ever seen!