On Beauty

August 29, 2010

This was added to Operation Beautiful a few months ago and I completely forgot to post it up here!

We cut, wax, color, clip, pluck, straighten, shave, and curl. We lift, curl, run, squat, and sweat. We spend far too long staring back at that person in the mirror, scrutinizing, worrying, and wishing. Wishing that our stomach could be just a little bit flatter, that our arms could be a little more toned, that our legs could be longer. Wishing we could look just like that woman we see in the office, the grocery store, the gym, the mall. Fantasizing and pretending, telling ourselves “if only.” It happens because we’re getting messages thrown at us everywhere we look – we watch shows that tell us we’re not good enough, we read magazines that tell us to work harder, and we take diet pills that only take off our self-esteem. Ad campaigns for stores and clothing lines feature women who you wish you could look like in your dreams.

Stop comparing yourself!

We feel worthless, repulsive, flawed, and never good enough. We’re exhausted both physically and mentally both day in and day out from everything life gives us. We constantly compare ourselves to others and fall short of the images we see, our ideals, and expectations. We aim so high and are shocked when we can’t make the mark, when in reality, our own beauty isn’t dependent on who we would like to be.

So where does beauty come from? Where can it be found? I can assure you it isn’t hidden in the words of any beauty, diet, or fitness magazine article. It doesn’t come in a 12 can pack and promise a smaller waistline. It’s not something that comes out when it is covered up with makeup or ejected from a needle, and it doesn’t come included with jewelry or price tags. You won’t find it on a treadmill or in the weight room. No – beauty is what lies within you.

“The most happy people are the beautiful, not the other way around.”

Real, natural, strong, and powerful beauty comes from within your heart. It blossoms like a rose in spring and encourages such an alluring, captivating, exquisite spirit that cannot be contained. A confident woman is a force to be reckoned with! Nothing can stop her, and nothing can get her down. I have both witnessed and experienced this. I have been where many of you have been, currently are, and, sadly, will be. I have hit rock bottom more than once. But I have come so far where I used to be with the realization I am about to share with you. From one woman to another, take these words fully: you are beautiful, just the way you are. You, right now, as you are reading this, are enough. In this moment. Today, tomorrow, and forever. Just as you are. Be confident with the person you have grown to be. There will never be another you, so why would you try to be like someone else? Beauty comes in different forms for every woman. Natural, wonderful, healthy, fabulous, unique. That’s what you are, and that’s what beauty is.

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Break the Fast

August 25, 2010

Good morning!

I swear, this is the alarm I wake up to every day now.

So you know what’s nasty? Eating cafeteria food every day. Living on campus (AKA having a required meal plan) is lame. You know that food’s not good for you, especially at breakfast. How can you call processed sausage “meat,” fake scrambled eggs (they use instant egg powder, nasty much?) and butter filled grits a great way to start the day? I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I could do that, even if I was able to eat that shiz. The whole “roll out of bed and drink a cup of coffee for breakfast before running to class” thing is not for me. And don’t even get me started on skipping breakfast all together. If you do that, you just lost a ton of cool points. So what do I start my day with? What keeps my full through class, work, dorm events, and a busy social life?

It sure as hell ain’t cafeteria grits, y’all.

Fruit and veggie smoothies!

Soy/Coconut milk yogurt with oatmeal and fruit.

Banana freaking pancakes.

CHOCOLATE banana pancakes. Seriously, why wouldn’t you start your day with these?!

Weetabix with maple syrup, almond milk, and strawbz. AKA the cereal laxative.

Aaaaand my absolute morning favorite! I’m sure this beautiful girl would approve…. oatmeal!

The stuff truly is wondrous. It’s such a blank canvas. You can make anything.

From PB&J oats…

to green tea oatmeal…

…to strawberry banana oatmeal..

…and even cinnamon raisin oatmeal so good it’ll make your tastebuds dance!

You could even make chocolate covered strawberry oats. Katie approved and all!

So you see, if eating a healthy breakfast in a dorm room is possible, it’s possible anywhere! Here are my top tips for a fantastic, fulling, and delicious breakfast.

1) Go for fiber! Fiber helps keep you full as well as helping you…well, you know. Adding fruit to your cereal can be a great boost, nutrition-wise. I think bananas are epic in nearly everything breakfast-y.

2) Fatten it up. Add a glob of peanut butter to your oats, go for coconut milk in your cereal, heck, melt a square of dark chocolate to anything. (Fellow cheap college kids: you can usually find peanut/almond/soynut butter in your caf and pilcher as much as you need!) Fats are like fiber – they’ll keep you full for longer because they have more calories per gram. Remember: they are your friend!

3) Swap out your sugary cereals for their healthier, 100% whole grain, refined sugar-free counterparts. Seriously. Stop eating Sugar Smacks and Cookie Crisp. Come on, man. Those don’t even sound healthy. If my cereals contain any of the following, they are out like Seacrest: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated anything, [refined] sugar, refined grains, artificial colors/flavors, dyes, preservatives, or chemicals. These little devils leave you craving more and hungry with a headache later. They’re the reason so many kids fall asleep in lecture.

4) Make sure you have 100% juice if you must drink it. Fresh pressed, unpasteurized orange juice is a winner. You’ll get a crap ton of vitamin C as well as a serving of fruit. Fresh apple juice tastes so much better and has so much more going for it. When buying juice, remember this: the murkier your juice is, the less processed it is.

5) Plan the night before. Set out everything you’ll need for breakfast the night in advance. My mum has done this for years and it’s never failed her. Maybe try making this stunning gal’s overnight oats. Simply put your oatmeal, milk, banana, and whatever else you want in a bowl and let it sit overnight. Viola! Breakfast will be waiting for you once you’re ready to eat. If you’re gonna be on the go, make a green monster and put it in a portable coffee mug. A little planning goes a long way.

6) Wait until you are hungry to eat! This is probably my favorite tip. Breakfast should be savored, not shoveled down your throat because you didn’t plan ahead or because you have to leave the house in a hurry. If you’ve followed the whole “plan ahead” idea, you should be able to eat when you’re hungry, not when your schedule says to.

7) Buy a blender. Do it. I invested in a single serve blender to make breakfast smoothies and it’s super convenient in my room as well as on the go between classes (the top swaps out and it becomes a cup!). It was cheap, definitely under 20 bucks, and it’s lasted quite a while. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in fruits and veggies, especially if you tend to consume a lot of *ahem* beverages or find yourself eating too many slices of pizza or bowls of ramen.

So there you have it. What I do for breakfast, and how to start the day off right.

Of course, it won’t start out right unless you have the same alarm as me. 😉

What’s your best “healthy breakfast” tip?

3 Things

August 22, 2010

Let’s play a game. You’re trapped on an island and you can only have three items with you. What would you take?

I kind of want to go here now.

We’re assuming that said deserted island is a tropical one. That way I could have a steady coconut and banana supply. Land and tasty eats ahead. Hells yes.

Otherwise, I would bring…

Yogatastic.

1.) My yoga mat! Even though I’m super duper new to yoga and don’t know much about it, I love the practice. There’s something about it that I love more than a workout at the gym. I feel strong and powerful after a class, and it’s not about burning calories or losing weight when I go. It’s about learning to trust my body and know that I can try to do things I never thought I’d be able to before.

Spread love, not germs!

2) Hand. Freaking. Sanitizer. I don’t care if I just lost a million cool points or if I look like a nerd, but I absolutely adore this stuff. You guys know I hate germs. It’s the public health student/germaphobe inside of me. Last semester, I went all night without my precious sanitizer and touched rides, money (ugh! i hate touching coins/bills), and lots of germy things at a state fair. When I found the hand washing station, I was overjoyed. Besides, the best rides are always the free ones. In fact, I’m so germaphobic that I always sanitize my dorm room before move in and twice a month during the semester. Okay, maybe I have a problem…

Sexy man.

Oh, what? Michael Buble’s not allowed? 😦 Fiiiiine.

Give it to me.

3) Choc. Because life is not complete without it.

What are your 3 things?

Dorm Life

August 19, 2010

Time for a quick dorm tour!

Party in our room?

Where I, you know, sleep.

Where I pretend to work!

See the lights from Boston’s Chinatown?

You know you’re still a kid on the inside, too.

I don’t care if they’re against the rules. I have extension cords and a blender and a fridge that’s too big too. Oh, I’m such a rebel.

What does/did your dorm room look like when you went to school? Was it organized or messy? Tiny? Did you coordinate with your roommate?

POM….just for breakfast?

August 17, 2010

A few weeks ago, Ryan from POM Wonderful shot an e-mail my way offering a free case of juice. (Thanks again, Ryan!) I was anxious to get my juice because I’d never had it before. Being the cheap arse student that I am, I didn’t want to buy it in case I didn’t like it – the stuff is expensive around here!

When I returned home from my Florida trip with the fam, I found our fantabulous house sitting friend had placed a ginormous box in the fridge. I thought maybe when Ryan said they were offering me a case they’d send 3 or 4 bottles. But they sent me 8! Win.

So I’ve been busy experimenting with POM lately. The fails include:

-POM pancakes

-POM + coffee

-POM french toast

Apparently I’m in a breakfast-y rut with this juice. Anyone got any recipes I can try that don’t involve oatmeal?

I ask because the successes include:

-Girlie Pink and Purple Oatmeal

1/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup POM, flax seeds, blueberries.

It’s quite feminine.

-POMsicles

Fill your popsicle molds halfway with pomegranate juice and fill the other half with something sweet to balance the tartness. I used mango juice…om nom nom.

-Fruit Oatmeal Bars

2 cups oats, strawberries, blueberries, banana, mango, POM juice, and flaxseed.

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and then spread into a flat layer on a baking sheet. It should be quite sticky – if it isn’t, add more flax to help things stay together. Bake at  350 for about an hour, or until the edges are crisp.

-POM parfait

All I did was soak the strawberries in POM (not kahlua this time, sorry :P) and mix some into the yogurt as well. Then layered it up and enjoyed.

Overall, I really love this pomegranate juice. Straight up, it’s a little tart for my taste so I like mixing it with mango juice. I love the color it gives to things, the health benefits, and the great generosity of the company doesn’t hurt either. 😉

Have you ever tried POM Wonderful? What’s your favorite way to use it?

Goodbye, Summer

August 15, 2010

How do you tell when summer’s over? Here’s a clue.

How is all of this going to fit in the car?!

That’s most of my stuff for the dorm. My fridge is the only thing not pictured. The pasta sauce on the table is for dorm events (I cook for the dorm programs) and the TV on the table isn’t mine. Otherwise, all that crap that you see has to be moved 150 miles away. Oh gosh.

It’s official. Summer’s over. Today’s my last day in the Dirty Dirty before I stuff the car full and head up to mi escuela. On one hand, I’m really excited and ready for a new academic year, but on the other, I’m supa sad I’ll be leaving all of the wonderful bloggers I’ve met this summer.

I’m glad I have my car this semester, I’ll be making trips back to see everyone for sure.

I’m soaking up the last weekend at home by eating food I can’t normally eat at school. You see, my school has a ridiculous rule that no matter where you live on campus (even if it’s in an apartment with a full kitchen) you HAVE to get a meal plan. Ungodly amounts of money are spent on food that I can’t eat. If I were to move off campus to an apartment, it would be more expensive than living in a dorm…without my grocery bill. Faaantastic.

Trying to stay summery I made a beaautiful spinach salad that I later topped with balsamic reduction.

Strawbz + balsamic = yummo.

Fresh strawberries just scream summertime to me! In the mix was spinach, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, chickpeas, raisins, sunflower seeds, and one lone kidney bean that was hanging out with in my chickpea tupperware.

I don’t have access to a legit oven (the one oven we have in my dorm fails at life) so lately I’ve been loading up on my favorite…roasted veggies!

I don’t care what time of year it is or how hot it happens to be outside – I’ll eat these till they come out of my ears.

You have no idea how much I miss these when I’m not at home.

But it’s time to say goodbye to summer and hello to a brand new year. I’m moving in two days early so I can help move all the new residents into my dorm. I’m in a living-learning community and I’m the food loveseat (not chair, because there’s 2 people running it. I was so proud when I came up with that during a hall meeting.) so I’m also on the welcome committee to cook the welcome night dindins. Now you see why the bulk pasta sauce is relevant!

So at this time tomorrow I’ll be lugging all my things up stairs and squealing like the girl I am when I see my friends again. The next time I post it will be from a cozy new dorm room. Hopefully it won’t look like this.

What do you miss most about summer when it’s gone?

Eats and Treats

August 12, 2010

What a wonderful night I’ve had!

Tonight, I met up with Caitlin, Megan, Jessie, Lori, Megan, Emma, and Cindi.

The location was one that I’m quickly becoming addicted to… Luna’s Living Kitchen! Remember this post? I swear, Luna’s is always a great place to eat. Always.

I’d been looking longingly….erm, glancing at the menu for a while before I left to dine with these beautiful ladies, and my mind was made up quite quickly. To be honest, I didn’t even need to look at the menu – I knew what I wanted. Every time I’ve gone there, I’ve been silly enough to not order the sprouted quinoa and kamut burger. Every time I go and don’t order it, I’m sure something bad happens. Maybe a tree or a kitten dies or something. Way to be morbid, Lauren.

Hey there, gorgeous.

Guys. Seriously. I’m not even kidding when I say that I am so glad I finally got this sucker. The bread was sprouted Ezekiel style, crusty and warm. There was a generous layer of garlic and avocado hummus and a sliced tomato as well, and then the glorious burger. Where to start? It was crunchy, warm, and pretty filling. The only complaint I had was that it fell apart pretty easily, so I had to eat it with a fork.

Oh yeah, and it was totally legit not being the only person photographing their food.

Sadly, after dindins the lucky legal ladies went to a nearby pub for drinkies and I headed home, ashamed of my underage ways. But THEN I stumbled upon something magical. Fantastic. Spectacular. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my excitement.

The words “health” and “specialty food” got me.

It was AMAZING in this store. It was like Earth Fare, but the prices were at sea level instead of being at the top of the Empire State Building. There were rows and rows of everything you could ever need. There were so many products I wanted to buy, so many bulk bins, and so many friendly employees. The store also focused on local produce and was mostly vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. I was a kid in a candy store. Okay… a cheap college student in less expensive health food shop. It doesn’t take much to keep me happy.

In the end, I got away with only spending $13.

Blurry but delicious.

I have a reason for all the bars, I promise. I love ’em. Along with dark chocolate, they’re my grocery store splurge.

In my bag:

-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar (HELL YES)

-Clif Protein Bars (Vanilla Almond and Cookies ‘n Cream)

-Vega smoothie packet (Vanilla Chai)

-Mini Raw Revolution food bar (Chocolate and Coconut)

-Late July Oreo knockoffs

-Justin’s Maple Almond Butter

-Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter

Reviews to come!

OB Note of the day:

Drive-up ATMs need lovin’, too.

What do you buy when you “splurge” at a grocery store?