Why a Positive Self-Image is Important and 5 Ways to Help Love Yourself More

Late last June I talked about the importance of body fat and the start of my new campaign #LoveMySizeLoveMyLife. Around that same time, I had come across old photos that had been backed up from my computer- specifically a set that I had taken of myself several years ago. In the pictures I was in a bathing suit and I remembered the reason I had taken them- not to proclaim how awesome I looked that summer but to take a “progress” photo so that I could later look back at all of my “flaws” to see if I had made any progress in “fixing” them. And let me tell you something- looking at those pictures, I looked great! At the time I didn’t realize it though- I was so focused on the little details that I couldn’t see the whole picture.

why a positive self image is so important and how love yourself more

Tell me if this sounds familiar: Jump on the scale immediately after waking up, check the number and then look at the mirror and scrutinize each and every little “imperfect” part.
This had become my regular morning routine (and I’ve heard from many others over the years that it’s a similar routine for them as well). It’s certainly not a positive way to start the day!

Sure, I knew I was healthy- eating well and exercising regularly however I still found ways to criticize my appearance. As someone who advocates the importance of being happy and healthy mentally and physically, I knew I needed to focus on pushing that critical voice aside. After finding those photos last month I’ve made it a personal goal to really focus more positively on myself. I don’t want to look back on old pictures later in life and see how amazing we all looked and know that at the time I was focused on the fact that I thought my thighs were too wide and my belly too round.

Anywho, the point of this- possibly overly personal- story is to encourage you to love yourself.

Having a positive body image of yourself is so important as it can substantially affect your mental and physical health. When you love yourself, you treat yourself better. Sure, everyone has good and bad days and may have moments of a low self-image, but having an overall positive outlook is imperative for overall happiness! These days I try not to stress it too much but here are some tips I’ve found that help with forming a more positive self-image.

1. Look at yourself as a whole person

Instead of looking and judging each individual part as a positive or a negative feature, look at yourself as a whole person and relish in how amazing you are!

2.Accept those compliments!

You know how we’ve been programmed to politely decline compliments from friends, family or colleagues? The whole “Thanks but…” or “Oh no, so and so is so much better”. Quit it! Now I’m not saying to be an ego-maniac but accept those compliments and say thank you!

3. Focus on what your body does for you

Instead of judging how it looks, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the wonderful things your body does for you each day. Are you breathing? Are you able to go for walks or lift weights? Run around, play with kids or enjoy time with friends and family? That’s all thanks to you and your amazing hard-working body- enjoy it!

4. Wear clothes that make you happy and comfortable

Chuck out all those clothes that are too big or too small. In my experience, clothes that are too small make me feel extra critical of myself whenever I check to see if they fit despite the fact that I know my body is different than it was years ago and clothes that are too big make me feel badly for thinking about how I used to be “XYZ” size. The past is the past- focus on loving yourself now and feeling amazing each day.

5. Remember: You are unique

This should be a well-known fact but sometimes it can still be hard to truly remember and internalize but yes, everyone is unique and every body is different. There’s no need to compare yourself to others- there isn’t one type that’s better than another. Everyone is amazing in their own way and enjoy what makes your different and spectacular.

In the end, life is about living. Please take a moment to love yourself today and live your life! If you have struggled with your self-image, tell me about it and let me know what has worked or hasn’t worked for you.

 



S'mores Cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes from Rawsome Vegan Baking

Every summer I get lazy. Admittedly, I used to blame it on a lack of central AC within the apartment but now that I actually have central AC and find that I still don’t want to do anything…well yes, I’ll admit to being lazy. Or maybe it’s more about the fact that during the hot hot summer, there are so many delicious fruits and veggies that require so little cooking- if any at all.

In the beginning of summer I was swimming in strawberries, and now I’m galavanting through cantaloupes and melons.

The days go a little like this:

“I’m hungry…what’s there to eat?”
“Argh. There’s nothing to cook.”
“Oh look- there’s melon!”

Seriously, we probably go through a melon every 2 days or so. This is of course on top of eating bananas and the mangos Mr. C’s dad sent up from Florida.

S'mores Cupcakes

Sometimes though, fruit sugar just hasn’t cut it but I also haven’t had the patience or interest to really sit down and bake something. Recently, when perusing the freezer I was once again found myself being accosted by a bag of nuts hurling themselves from the overly stuffed shelves and that’s when it hit me (literally)- Emily von Euw!

I’ve linked to her blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life, several times in the past and when she came out with her first book, Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes, I ordered it immediately. Here’s the thing though, it’s been sitting on my shelves for at least a year now. Occasionally I pull it out to oggle at the beautiful photos, but I’ve never actually made anything from it.

S'mores Cupcakes

Even having had made several recipes from her page with huge success, when looking at the book, I told myself they were too simple. The ingredients too similar. There was no way they’d be that great. And, once again, I find myself feeling like an idiot because I was entirely wrong.

S'mores Cupcakes

Now mind you, my photos don’t even hold a candle to her amazing photography but trust me when I say these babies are goooood. I realized (again) that the recipes may appear simple and may appear similar but there are subtle nuances within each one that allows each recipe to be unique and delicious and it really hits the mark on whatever it’s emulating- in this case, s’mores.

S'mores Cupcakes

So basically, don’t make the same mistake I did. Give this recipe a try and the consider trying out some of her other delicious goodies. You’ll be glad you did- especially during the summer!

S’mores Cupcakes

Makes 6

Recipe very slightly adapted from Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes
www.ThisRawsomeVeganLife.com by Emile von Euw

Crust
1 Cup Oats
1 Cup Pitted Dates, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt

Chocolate
3 TBSP Cacao Powder
3 TBS Melted Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Agave
Pinch of Salt

Marshmallow Layer
1 Cup Raw Cashews
1/4 Cup Coconut Milk (I used rich, full-fat canned coconut milk)
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Agave
Pinch of Salt

To Make the Crust: Process the oats in a food processor (I found mine couldn’t handle it and ended up using my Vitamix) until it is powdered. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it becomes thick and even in consistency. Divide evenly between 6 muffin tins and press up around the sides. Stick in the fridge.

To Make the Chocolate: Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Divide evenly amongst the 6 crusts.

To Make the Marshmallow Layer: Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and spread evenly on top of chocolate layers. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Keep refrigerated!

S'mores Cupcakes



Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

There’s a reason why nothing was posted last week. A very important reason, I promise. Ok, maybe not so important at all…

Mint Basil Pesto

While I’m not one to typically commit to watching a TV show consistently, I am certainly one to get addicted (read: binge watch) to a series for a certain number of episodes or seasons before completely losing interest. Early last week I came across a Korean drama called “Doctor Crush” (also known more simply as “Doctors”) and well, quite honestly, I couldn’t tell you what I accomplished that week- I’m such a sucker for medial dramas. I mean seriously, you give me a good medical drama- one with some surgical action and awkward romance attempts and complicated unrequited love triangles and I’m totally hooked.

Mint Basil Pesto

Most of the non-essential tasks (“essential”, being a loose statement) were completely forgotten and pushed aside. I think I only truly accomplished going to the gym once and I managed to shower a few times and occasionally scrounge around for food like toast. Since I only know a single word of Korean, I couldn’t even manage any multi- tasking whatsoever.

I am thankfully able to report however that towards the end of last week I was able to finish the show (at least up to the most recent episode), break out of my stupor, begin life again and wonder why on earth I wasted so much of my week.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

This week I’ve already gotten off to a good start (partially to make up for last week’s failures). I’ve begun to concisely organize posts on various social media platforms (if you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed my posting game has been on fire!), I also finally decided enough was enough with my pottery (my mom and I have gotten really into wheel pottery and our work now covers many surfaces within the house) and made an Etsy account with the hopes of slowly downsizing my work. I finally put together an Amazon seller account to try and get rid of that pile of college textbooks from previously taken classes. I also spent half the day on Monday hunting for inexpensive places to purchase boxes and shipping equipment. The answer ended up being one of my least favorite places: Walmart. Who knew?

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

Anyway, this recipe I’m sharing today is one I made no less than three times for breakfast last week. It was simple and hands-off enough (really just the occasional pushing around of potatoes) that it was one of the few things I could actually multi-task while watching Doctor Crush. While store-bought pesto works perfectly fine, I decided to alter the pesto recipe a bit to use up some of that “rogue mint” I keep talking about.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

Serves 3-4
Recipe Adapted from Notions and Notations

1 TBSP Butter or Lard
6 oz Purple Potatoes (approx. 2 small or 1 medium)
6 Eggs
1/3 Cup Basil Mint Pesto
Red Pepper Flakes, optional
Freshly Ground Pepper, optional

Basil Mint Pesto:
2/3 Cup Basil
¼ Cup Mint
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Pine Nuts
¼ Cup Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt

Prepare the Basil Mint Pesto:

Combine the basil and mint in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in the parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and process again. Add in the olive oil and process until it’s reached a smooth consistency. Cover and set aside.

This can be made in advance, if you aren’t using it immediately, store it covered within the fridge until ready to use.

Slice up the potatoes in 1/4 inch rounds.

In a mediums-sized, oven-ready skillet, add the butter or lard. Heat over medium heat until melted. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, pushing around the potatoes and flipping them as needed. About 5 minutes in, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Once the have started to soften, turn off the heat and add the pesto. Toss to coat. Once the oven is up to temperature, carefully crack the eggs into the skillet and add it to the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes in the oven or until the egg whites are set.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and pepper.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

June’s Progress and July’s Goals

And in what always seems like the blink of an eye, we’ve officially moved into July (ooh hey, that rhymes). In some ways it seems like a lot has happened and in others, like nothing has changed. As I type this now, I’m at my grandparents’ house. We come to visit this time every year for my grandfather’s birthday and this year he is turning 92. They are currently sitting across from each other at the table, immersed in battle playing the harrowing game of Russian Bank. The windows are open in the living room, birds are chirping away happily in their trees and occasionally we hear the sound of a car driving by from a distance. It should come as no surprise that they are the King and Queen of enjoying the slow life and quiet moments. I have a lot to learn from them and undoubtedly a lot I never will learn but I figure at very least I can relax in these moments and visit whenever we are able (which is usually only Thanksgiving, Christmas and July 4th weekend).

Last month I feel like I made progress in enjoying more “quiet moments” however I also fell victim to still wasting more time than necessary –hello Facebook– on unimportant things. My focus then, for this month, is to continue working on my priorities and essentially things that allow me to get there in the short and long run.

Happy bees from when I went lavender harvesting.

Happy bees from when I went lavender harvesting.

Here is a recap of last month and the plan for this month!

LAST MONTH’S GOALS:

1. Write introduction and ingredients page for book proposal: I made some progress on this but ultimately didn’t finish it. And if were are being completely honest, I had a few nights where I really got a lot done in those evenings and then didn’t work on it for a good while.

2. Read 4 books: I read 3 books this month rather than 4 however it’s more than I would have otherwise so I’m pleased about it. I really enjoyed reading the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) trilogy!

3. Finish “komono” items: This was an exciting success! While I had more difficulty officially sorting things to then go through them in a more organized manner (I really ended up just opening boxes and going through them that way) I feel that I’ve finally hit that “sweet spot” of being comfortable with the items I have kept. I suspect I’ll reassess things differently once Mr. C and I move into our own place and I can take everything out of boxes, but for now I feel comfortable with what I have chosen to keep. I’ve been realizing that I’ve taken a calm sort of happiness having many more things that officially have “a spot” or a home- a place to go rather than traveling aimlessly around the house.

4. Resume workout schedule: This definitely got much more on track and while my weight lifting took a bit of a back seat to Spinning classes this month, I’m excited to announce that I finished my Spinning Certification and have now been signed up as a substitute instructor at my local gym! I have taught two classes so far.

5. Post 2X/ Weekly: Admittedly, my “weeks” were a little disorganized however overall I can say that I posted much more often than I have in previous months and had 7 posts total for the month. I’d really like to focus on more consistency however.

This month’s goals:

1. Post Consistently This Month: As previously stated, I’d like to post twice a week but at a more consistent schedule within the week.

2. #LoveMySizeLoveMyLife: I’ve been much more active recently in terms of actually getting out and doing things. I’ve still been going to the gym and enjoying myself there but I’m excited to be focusing on doing things just for the sake of enjoying myself and being outdoors. Late last month I campaigned to defend fat and specifically discussing the importance of body fat. I plan to continue to explore and develop this idea.

3. Research Graduate Schools: In all my focus on “today” and “now” I’ve fallen behind on my graduate school research. I’d like to really make a focus on researching and really narrowing down my options. I’ve had two schools specifically in my sights for a while but I want to make sure there’s no where else I’m missing out on.

4. Continue Progress on Book Proposal: Continuing from last month I’d like to keep working on fleshing out the skeletal structure of the book.

Is there anything that you are working on this month? What are your goals and focus?

Pre and Post-Workout Snacks for a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy snacking is something that is really quite simple, but with the rise of easy-access, super-processed snacks, it’s something that seems to have become more difficult or at very least, less obvious.

Recently, I found that Nuts.com is currently having a campaign for healthy, high-protein snacks for optimal post-workout recovery. As someone who has been getting much more involved in daily excursions in kayaking and biking and the like, I’ve really been on top of packing healthy high-protein, high-energy (aka, fats) snacks to keep me fueled throughout the day.

Sometimes I go ahead and prepare snacks and goodies beforehand but more often than not, I wait until last minute and grab something as I’m running out the door. Recent popular go-to’s have been bananas, dates & peanut butter, granola or just plain nuts in general.

nuts_post_workout_snacks

Thank you Nuts.com for kindly allowing me to use this graphic.

 

For me, ideal snacks involve no mess, no refrigeration (at least during the course of 4-6 hours- sorry smoothies!), no utensils and are chock-full of good-for-you ingredients! While there’s a lot of different ways you can go with this, I’ve compiled a list of sweet and savory snacks to enjoy before, during or after your active days or workouts!

Crispy Snack Edamame

With only 3 ingredients and a few seasonings, this recipe from Christine at Apple of my Eye is easy to grab and sure to please.

Crispy-Snack-Edamame

ZINGY ZUCCHINI BITES

A simple recipe of my own that really works well during the summer when zucchini is in abundance!

Zingy Zucchini Bites

MACA CHOCOLATE FRUIT AND NUT ENERGY BALLS

Along the sweeter lines, these fruit and nut energy balls are full of fats and fiber.

Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

SAVORY CURRY COCONUT GRANOLA WITH CHILE SPICED MANGO

This recipe from Rachel at Avocado A Day Nutrition make sweet granola a thing of the past!

SAVORY CURRY COCONUT GRANOLA WITH CHILE SPICED MANGO

CHOCOLATE ALMOND NO-BAKES

A recent creation of mine, these babies have it all: protein, carbs and fats!

Protein Packed Chocolate Almond No-Bakes

CHOCOLATE DIPPED COCONUT PEANUT GRANOLA BARS

Healthy granola bars from the store? Puh-leaze! You’ll be much more satisfied with these bars from Alice at Mitzy at Home.

chocolate-coconut-peanut-granola-bars

BEST EVER BAR NUTS

And rounding up the lot is a delicious nutty snack from Chelsea at A Duck’s Oven that will make you wonder why you ever bought those pre-packaged ones!

Best Ever Bar Nuts

What have you been doing to be active this summer and what do you grab when you’re on the go?