Saturday, June 28, 2014

Time for A Rant

One of the hardest and saddest things about recovery is seeing people who THINK they are in recovery/recovered...and knowing they're not (*cough cough* stupid people on Instagram). Here's my mini-rant- it's your life, do what you want. But if you're going to tag something as recovery-focused, please make sure it is. I've seen far too many things with the hashtag "recovery" or "anorexia recovery" or "edrecovery" etc etc there are SOOO not, and it bugs the hell out of me. Like, wow, thanks for posting your ABC diet plan on this page, because eating 300 calories a day is REALLY something people in recovery do. Thanks for the overly precise breakdown of EXACTLY what you're eating, because I needed to know that you only had 2 T. of greek yogurt and it made you feel like a whale...
At the risk of sounding cynical, especially since I have been there, more or less, people are far too explicit on social media, and it's sad that things supposedly geared towards recovery are becoming the exact opposite. I know, I'm probably perpetuating the problem by scrolling through my feed and making my own #recovery posts, but I think there's a difference... given that I am actually sharing recovery successes, not eating disorder things. I mean, I guess there is some room for disagreement on this point, because I can see how posting pictures of food would trigger comparisons for people, but let's be honest. I'm proud that I ate a whole pint of Ben and Jerry's, and joined in the #wholepintchallenge. That's something that has to do with freedom, with being REAL. But if you're going to join, a pint of Arctic Zero (for those who don't know, a 150-cal/pint fake ice cream) really doesn't count. Sorry, I'm not going to congratulate you on "how incredibly strong you are for pushing through!" You have only done the LEAST you could absolutely do while putting up a front of being recovery-oriented. And don't get me started on the people posting their fat free/sugar free versions of "healthy" things as recovery. NOOO. You are just developing a different eating disorder. And look at me, all "healthy not skinny" or "strong not skinny". You ate 1/2 a banana. I'm not going to congratulate you for it. Now you see why I felt at risk of being cynical. I've been there, where everything seemed like a huge obstacle, where 10 calories more WAS a big deal. And don't get me wrong, it's a step in the right direction. But it's hardly true recovery. You have to KEEP GOING. You can't just call it good there. It makes me want to punch someone in the face every time I see someone using some low-calorie, low-carb version of something and tagging it with 'recovery'. Like, "here's my new healthy muffin that I made (and it only has 60 calories!) Look how recovery focused I am!" No. You're not. Let me explain: real recovery is not giving a fuck how many calories your muffin has. Real recovery is not buying some cardboard low-calorie version of something as a substitute for the real thing. Real recovery is not measuring out your food. Real recovery is not restricting. Real recovery is not binging. Real recovery is not going out to exercise because you feel like you 'should'. Real recovery is not weighing yourself. Real recovery is throwing out the labels "good", "clean", and "healthy" (at least with respect to food). And yes, normal DOES have some wiggle room, because everyone's body IS different, but I do know for a fact that NO ONE (at least no grown person) should be eating some of the amounts that are listed, especially with the insane amounts of exercise being done.
Bottom line? Yea, I'm still going to be posting things on instagram. I'm still going to be progressing in my recovery, and I may still search some of the hashtags I mentioned. I'll almost certainly still get as furious as I am now. But I'm going to advise others: don't look to other people on social media to be your guides. They can inspire you, but they can also bring you down HARD. And I mean HARD. I mean, sometimes I feel like shit after I see all these "recovery focused" people who just go for their 10 mile runs and eat a packet of oatmeal as their entire breakfast. "Why can't I be like that?" I start thinking. "They can do it!" But I have to remind myself that they aren't really in recovery., They THINK they are, but you need to look with a discerning eye. Do what is right for you, not what is (quote unquote) right for someone else (because chances are it's WRONG for them too!)
I'm proud to say that I eat a lot, much of which I don't post on instagram. And I am no where near running a 6 minute mile, or even a 7 minute mile again. There's no way I can deadliest 100 pounds or run 5 miles. I can't. But being in recovery is a lot more important to me than that. You need to decide which is more important. One day, you may be able to have both, but that day will take some time to come. And you can't have it FIRST and recovery SECOND. I've tried that many many times, and unfortunately it doesn't work like that.
I don't even know what I was trying to accomplish with this rant. I don't. I guess, stop tagging things as what they AREN'T, stop taking the easy way out and convincing yourself that you've done what you should have, and stop idolizing those who do. Rant done.
Stay strong!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Open Letter to Those in Recovery from Eating Disorders

To Everyone Struggling to Recover-

You have heard that this journey is not going to be smooth. You have heard that there will be bumps on the way. You have heard that you will make mistakes, and that true recovery means being able to pick yourself up again. You know all these things, and yet you may not KNOW them.

Those of you who know me see me as- or at least I hope see me as- a relatively strong person. Someone capable of making the journey out of this hell hole into life. Someone who has faced a lot of tribulations in her short lifespan, and has taken them on. But I think that sometimes I put on a brave face, a face that says, "I am so over this disorder! I'd never consider going back in a million years!" And well, that's not true. I don't know if I speak for everyone, so I'm not going to say that I do, but I know crossroads come up many, many times, and it is our decisions at those times that really make or break us.

Today I chose not to be broken.

If what I am about to say next will trigger you in any way, then don't feel obligated to read it. But it has a happy end, I promise.

The story: I thought I'd been doing well. I'd been eating, enjoying food, cooking, starting to run again, and even getting over my fear of the gym to start lifting weights and regaining strength. I was excited for college, excited for summer, excited to move on. Then I went to the doctor, and got a shock. I'd lost 3 pounds. Not an earth shattering amount, mind you, not something that I even knew had happened (I took a baseball bat to my scale. Highly recommend this). I was shocked and even a little angry.

My doctor was not pleased, to say the least. I need a medical release form to go to college in the fall, and it is due in 2 weeks. She hasn't signed it yet. She told me that if I didn't gain back the weight by my next appointment (this coming Monday) she wouldn't sign it. And I wouldn't be going to college.

I left the office with a resolve to increase my meal plan, because there was no way I was not going to college in the fall. Nothing could stop me. But as the days started to pass, I hadn't done any increasing. Something always put me off- I wasn't hungry, an extra tablespoon of this or that wouldn't even matter... And then tonight it hit me. I had 4 days to get my butt into shape. And I was terrified.

I started to just eat, in absolute terror that I wouldn't get enough. "Do it for college, do it for college," my brain was saying. Part of it was healthy motivation, but I think some of it was ED driven as well, because by the time I stopped, it had been a binge.

I was mortified. There was my slip. I thought I had lost control of recovery again. I felt guilty, sad, ashamed- and no one was home with me. The self-hatred started, as did the walk on auto pilot to the bathroom.

I crouched down, flipped up the toilet seat...and stopped. I put my hand down and just sat there, the urges screaming at me so loudly, the stress and shame and anxiety building. But I forced myself to just sit and think about it.

What was this going to accomplish? Did I want to wake up tomorrow dizzy, with a sore throat and a headache? Sure I'd tell myself that this was a "one time thing" but what would happen the next time I felt guilty? The justification would only be too easy. Yes, I felt horrible in the moment. Yes, I had binged and that wasn't healthy, but two unhealthys don't add up to a healthy. This wasn't the right way to do things.

I sat in the bathroom for ten minutes, hand wavering in the air, wanting so badly to do what I had always done.

And I walked away.

In those five steps out of the bathroom, I felt like I had just run a marathon. But I did it. And it was important. My crossroads came, and I may have started to veer left, but ultimately I righted myself again. Yes, I made a mistake, but people do that. I'm not perfect. I am guilty sometimes of pretending to be, but I'm not.

I don't know how many of you have read all the way to the end of this. In fact, I don't know how many people will even read this to begin with. But you have the capability within you at this moment to say, "No." To do what is right. No matter how fucking hard that may be- you are stronger than it.

Today I walked away from a toilet. What's your small victory?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Fit Wishlist

Wishlist for a Fit-Girl

I've been a runner for years. YEARS. And that's not something that I want to give up any time soon... I still love the rush that I get from it, the clean air, the heart pounding, the knowing that I could (maybe) survive the Hunger Games/zombie attack/ T-Rex. Okay, maybe not, but still. Running has been too much a part of my life to just give up like that.

But, I am starting to find something else to love and live for. Weight lifting.

Yeah, if you knew me you'd probably laugh. Only a few months ago I couldn't do a single push up unless I did it on my knees... I have pretty much the worst upper body strength ever. It was something we frequently joked about in Cross Country (I also fail at crunchy-frogs. But that's another story).

But, since I've gotten an instagram (@grandsarahvan... not to be one of those annoying FOLLOW ME!! people or anything.) I've started to fall in love with the whole culture of bodybuilding. The power that comes from being able to move those weights around, to watch your body start to transform into a  SEXY MACHINE- that's what I want. I love the cheer, the ability to rejoice over healthy food, or embrace the 'fun' foods and know that they can fit into a healthy overall diet... that's what I want. I want muscles. Goodbye, twiggy me!

And, in typical Sarah fashion, I plunge into things head first, researching everything, learning as much as I can, and of course, searching for products to assist me in my goals. So, I'm compiling a list of all the amazing things that I need want (it will be whittled away VERY VERY slowly since I'm just a poor student and can't even find a summer job :(  ) Feel free to look up these products- they are all great and the companies behind them are as well. I am in no way affiliated, but maybe I could get a giveaway! Or if the companies sent me some to try, I'd love to do a review!


  • Cellucor Whey Protein Powder. From what I hear, it's the bomb in terms of flavor profiles. I have plain vanilla and chocolate already, but they just don't excite me that much... but the Cellucor flavors! These can be baked into waffles, pancakes, mug cakes, or made into ice cream and proyo! Oh, baby! I specifically want to try Cor-Fetti (funfetti flavor), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Marshmallow (YESS), and S'mores.

  • KRAVE all natural protein bars. Low in carbs, high in flavor and protein, these are soft baked and sure to NOT disappoint. I'm interested in the Cookie Dough, Birthday Cake, Banana Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Chocolate. (Sensing a theme?)

  • PB Lean Custom Powdered Peanut Butter From, this is like PB2 except you can add whatever nuts/seeds/protein powder/fruit and flavor that you want! There are nearly ENDLESS possibilities, like chocolate brownie, banana bread, cookies and cream, and MORE! And since I could eat a jar of PB in one sitting, this would NOT go to waste.

  • MyOatmeal Custom Oatmeal Blend Like the PB Lean, you design your own oatmeal with flavors, fruits, sweeteners, as well as other healthy goodies like chia seeds and quinoa flakes! Nomalicious!!
  • Quest Bars I know, I know, it's almost inconceivable that I haven't yet hopped on this train. Quest bars pretty much have a cult following. If you don't believe me, just hop on instagram and see all the crazy things people do with these things. Like Krave, they are supposedly soft, full of protein, and low in carbs... as well as D-Licious. I think I could go for the Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Brownie, Cinnamon Roll, PB Chocolate, or PB Cravings.

  • Wink Frozen Desserts At only 100 calories per PINT (that's about 1/6 the calories of the average ice cream, or 1/10 of a premium kind such as Ben and Jerry's), this could smash cravings without killing a clean diet.  They are Vegan, Fat free, Sugar Free, Chemical Free, Gluten Free, but most certainly not flavor free. Plus, they have creative flavors like Cinnamon Bun, Cake Batter, and Cocoa Dough (cookie dough in chocolate ice cream!!) WANT!!

  • Arctic Zero So, I'm already officially on this band wagon. Addicted. It's 150 cal/pint, so a little steeper than Wink, as well as not vegan, BUT has more protein. And I've actually had it, so I can vouch. Holy YUMMERS. I'm putting it on here because they have some new flavors that I have to get my hands on- namely the SALTED CARAMEL
  • Nut's 'N More Nut Butters As I mentioned, nut butter is basically my boyfriend. And this nut butter has TWICE the protein and slightly less fat than average nut butters- plus some great flavors to boot! Can you say Cinnamon Raisin Peanut, Toffee Chunk, or Chocolate Almond Coconut? Maybe it's better that I stay away...

  • Monkey Butter More nut butter. What can I say? All-natural, and even a VEGETARIAN MAPLE BACON flavor. Also, White Chocolate Pretzel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana.

  • You Fresh Naturals. Nut butter. Again. These are paleo, and most are vegan/gluten free to boot. Flavors to watch out for include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, White Chocolate Cake Batter, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Batter (How can you stuff so much amazingness into one thing?)

  • Bare Butter Peanut free and vegan! Supposedly also great, with the consistency of the flavors it is trying to match. Brownie Batter, Cinnamon Raisin, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough are what I want to get my face in!

  • Mix-Ns  An easy, sugar-free way to add some flavor in pancakes/shakes, and the like. Great reviews from users! Cinnamon Swirl, Lemon Cake, Blueberry Muffin,

Friday, June 6, 2014

Insanely Easy Tortilla-less Enchilada Casserole/Soup

Confession: I totally thought this recipe would be paleo when I was throwing everything together. Ooops. Shows you just how much I know about paleo things...

It IS however grain, meat, soy, and nut free so that has to count for something, right? And it could easily be made vegan with a substitution for the cheese (I suggest nutritional yeast, because vegan cheese totally weirds me out. Like, it melts, but it's kind of rubbery... and people ask me why I don't go vegan :) )

Basically, I just now learned that people who are fully paleo do not eat any dairy or beans (though they do eat eggs). Now, for someone like me, who is vegetarian, that's pretty problematic. Yes, I suppose I could eat the world's supply of eggs for my protein, but honestly, eating half a dozen eggs daily is not my first choice. I'm happy sticking with my milk and cheese, because I know my diet works for ME and that's the important part. Plus, as a true animal lover, I don't think I could ever go back to meat, even humanely raised. But let's just stop there. On to the more interesting (and delicious!) things.

I was feeling really lazy today, but after whipping together quesadillas for dinner for the last four few nights, I knew I needed to put in slightly more effort in. Plus, there was a can of black beans in the pantry just calling my name. Enter...enchiladas!

This recipe essentially just asks you to chop, mix, and bake. No pre-sauteing, no complicated, tedious assembly. Plus, if someone WANTS tortillas, they can easily just scoop the mixture into some post-baking. Those who don't aren't obligated to have any. It's a win-win for everyone! And, it can also be eaten from a bowl as chili/soup!

Enchilada Soup- serves 2-4

1 can Enchilada Sauce (I used mild Old El Paso)
1 can low-sodium black beans (DO NOT DRAIN)
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
Optional: other veggies or beans
Cheese (cheddar or American) to top

1. Pre heat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine all ingredients in a pan (9x9 or 9x13)
3. Bake 20-30 minutes until warm and melty.
4. Eat as soup or tortilla filling!

Linking to the HOST

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Samoa Cookie Smoothie/Shake

So, my last post was focused on the lovely birthday cake that I made for my lovely, Samoa loving sister (link there). Bottom line? I seem to have been swallowed in a caramelly, chocolatey, coconutty phase. With the cake neatly polished off and not a single crumb in sight, I knew I was going to have to return to square one to satisfy my cravings (our neighborhood seems oddly devoid of door-to-door girl scouts. Where are they when you need them?)

And, since I am completely in love with smoothies that basically taste like milkshakes (oh, the magic of frozen bananas!) I thought, "It's time food a protein smoothies...samoa style."*

*I don't think I actually literally thought this. My mind went something more along the lines of "Ahhh, Hungry!! FEED ME!!" I get grumpy without my snacks.

It looks a lot more chocolatey than it actually is (I didn't want the chocolate flavor to overpower the caramel and coconut), but trust me on this: it's a keeper in my long smoothie line up. Psst... it's only 120 calories, too! You could probably only eat about 2 actual samosa for that amount, and feel a lot less satisfied!

(this recipe could easily be double for a more hearty post-workout snack)

1/2 frozen banana
2 T. fat free cottage cheese
1/3 scoop vanilla whey
1/3 cup almond milk (add more for thinner)
5-6 ice cubes (add more for thicker)
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 drop butter extract (optional)
2-3 drops coconut extract
1.5 T. Torani sugar free salted caramel syrup
Pinch Xantham gum

Blend everything but the gum until smooth. Add the gum to thicken it up and blend again until you reach desired consistency. You can always add more banana/ice/cottage cheese to make a larger volume/ thicker shake.

I topped it with coconut to make it look pretty :)
Are you hungry thirsty now?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Healthier Samoas Cake

It was my sister's birthday this weekend, and I really wanted to make it special. So, what did I do? Cooked of course! I wanted to give her a beautiful, delectable cake that she would salivated over. Literally. Okay, maybe not, but still.
Ever since we were little girl scouts in our cute little brown vests, her favorite cookie has been the samoa. (Mine is a tagalong, in case anyone is curious, which you're probably not) Shortbread covered in caramel and toasted coconut, drizzled with chocolate...I'll admit, it's pretty yummy. (Still doesn't beat chocolate and peanut butter in my opinion thought!) So I decided I'd try and make a cake to rival that cookie!
It's not a super great picture, I know, but it truly doesn't do the cake justice. It is just an iPhone camera after all though, so be sure to reserve judgement until AFTER eating it.

And, bonus, you can eat more than one slice without feeling TOO guilty, because I decided to healthify it just a little!
Normally, a butter and sugar-laden cake dripping with dulce de leche, sweetened coconut, buttercream, and chocolate would certainly put a dent in your daily calories...I don't even want to know how many a single slice has. This, on the other hand, is in no way low calorie, but for a cake it's pretty darn good as well as having significantly less fat, calories and sugar than the traditional version.
Move over girl scouts, samoa cake is coming to town!

1 box sugar-free devil's food cake mix
1 can (12oz) diet coke

25-30 pitted dates, soaked in water
Pinch Salt
 2 T. Torani Sugar Free Caramel Syrup

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1.5 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 T. Light Margarine or Butter

  1. Grease a Bundt or angel-food cake pan WELL and preheat oven according to package directions. You could also make it as a regular cake, but I think this looks more fun.
  2. Mix cake mix and diet coke in a medium sized bowl until all lumps are gone. Pour into greased pan and bake as directed (it may take a few extra minutes than 'normal')
  3. Meanwhile, put the dates, caramel syrup, a pinch of salt, and about 1-2 Tablespoons water in a food processor and blend well until there are no chunks and you get a thick, caramel-like paste. You may need just a bit more water, so adjust as necessary.
  4. When cake is done, spread coconut flakes on a cookie sheet and toast in oven, about 5-7 minutes. Check on them frequently and "stir" or move them around often because the coconut will burn easily! You want it to get lightly tan but not too crispy
  5. When cake has cooled, take it out of pan and frost using the date caramel you made. Then cover it with toasted coconut. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave 30 seconds, stir, and microwave in 10 second intervals until melted. Pour in stripes over cake, like on a samoa cookie.
That's it! The entire cake has about 2600 calories (like I said, it's not light by any standards), but compare that to this samoa cake, which has a whopping 7,850 calories for the entire cake!! That's a lot, so even a modest slice probably has 300-400 calories. My cake has only 1/3 the calories, so even with a pretty large slab you get about 200 calories and all the delicious flavor! Take that!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hazelnut Mocha Frappacino Smoothie

In case you couldn't tell, I've been on kind of a smoothie kick. They're a great way to sneak in some extra fruit, protein, and, if you can handle it, veggies…Unfortunately, green smoothies just weird me out, so either I need to buy an opaque cup and blender to make them with, or I'm just sticking to the tried and true.

And since I'm a poor college student who is still using her iPhone as her blogging camera… well, I think you can probably guess which of those choices I'm opting for. But hey, I love salad, so I make up for it right?
Evidently, salad loves me right back. Pictured above is a nice little combo I got at a falafel place in Cambridge, MA- plain old green salad topped with enough hummus to make even ME happy (and it was AMAZING hummus. So creamy. I need a recipe) and 4 huge falafels! Plus, a smile, which is priceless in my book.

These past couple of days I have been craving Starbucks HARD. Despite the less-then-optimal weather conditions, this girl is in need of a nice cold frappacino. My dirty little secret… that's the only thing I ever order from Starbucks. Can I really call myself a coffee snob? I'm a fake ! *dramatic sob*

Well, on to the recipe. Coffee snob or no, it's delicious. It's so thick and creamy that I wanted to call it a shake, but it's also a candidate for a smoothie, AND a frappacino. I was going to make the title some ridiculously long thing, but that's neither her nor there (okay, it was going to be Smoothakacino. There. I said it.)

Hazelnut Mocha Protein Frappacino
1 packet instant coffee grounds 
6 large ice cubes (probably a cup?)
1/2 frozen ripe banana
2 T. cottage cheese
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 scoop vanilla whey powder (or chocolate)
1/2 T. dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 T. Sugar-Free Torani Hazelnut Syrup
Pinch Xantham Gum (can omit, but will be icy)

Blend everything but the gum together until smooth. Add the gum and blend until thick. You can always adjust the amount of ice and milk to suit your preferences

Slurp that sucker up and enjoy! It's about 150 calories and 15 grams protein!