Brooke Beautiful

I'm Having A Moment. A Real Good Moment.

Happiness, Mindset, Food and ExerciseBrooke BrownComment

Hello! It's been so long. I know. But I'm here now, and that's what is important.

It's currently 7:23 a.m. on a foggy Saturday morning and I'm sitting on my deck because I need to write this. First, it's important to note that I have not been awake at 7:23 a.m. on a Saturday morning for probably all of my adult life. I took my mom and her husband to the airport this morning and normally I would have fallen back into my bed the second I walked in the door, but instead I began texting my BFF Breanne, and I told her about this moment I'm having and she said "BLOG THIS NOW!" 

So here I am. I have so much to tell you. 

Here I go. 

The Backstory:

Ok, so as you know, I've been REALLY struggling with my weight, body image, self-love, and self-esteem for the past 10 years. Like, in a bad way. I've pretty much become a shut-in and I've undervalued myself and ignored what I have to offer this world for way too long. 

About 1.5 years ago, I quit a job that just wasn’t serving me anymore to follow my dreams. It was a huge leap of faith and I believed with all of my heart that by quitting my job, all of my food issues would just magically disappear and that I’d live happily ever after. I believed it so much that I told my husband that would be the case. I told him that over and over again.

And boy, I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong.

In reality, this past year and a half has been one of the hardest AND best periods of my life. I’ve never before gone deeper inside of myself and really attempted to understand what the HELL was going on in my head and my body. I knew something was really wrong, but I had been operating on the belief that going on a diet and exercising until I collapsed were the only way to fix me, and that I just wasn’t doing it. So that was the issue, right? I knew what I had to do, but I just wasn’t doing it. Simple as that.

And again, I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong.

First, I just need to say that diet and exercise are not connected to self-love. That’s a myth that we really need to bust. You do not have to diet and exercise in order to love yourself. In fact, I’ll say that you need to love yourself first in order to be healthy and move your body. We are doing things in the wrong order. And diets are so dumb. But, I’m really getting ahead of myself so I’ll stop there.

My Journey To This Moment:

So pretty quickly after quitting my job, I was shocked that my extra weight wasn’t just falling off. I was still eating more than I should and drinking three glasses of wine a night, but still, man I was shocked. Wasn’t this all supposed to get easier the second I quit? Wasn’t that the ONLY REASON why I hadn’t achieved my body goals?

Well, much to my surprise, I realized that no, it wasn’t. And slowly (R.E.A.L. slowly), I began to understand that my reasons for overeating and over drinking ran much deeper than I ever could have imagined.

And so then I began my journey to self-love. My journey to this fucking incredible moment.

I started asking myself questions. I began wondering why I needed a really huge plate of nachos instead of just a regular portion. What was I getting from the chips that I wasn’t getting from life? Why did I like eating four brownies after my husband went to bed? What was the joy in that? Why did I need to stop at In N Out after leaving my friend's house when I had eaten a perfectly healthy dinner while I was there? Was I still hungry? Or was it something more?

The key to these questions was that I didn’t judge my answers. I just answered. No matter how shameful or gluttonous or sad. I became ridiculously curious about myself and for the first time ever; I stepped into my issues instead of running from them. And then I started this blog to bring my problems to light even more and to share them with other people who I thought were struggling with the same things. I wrote here consistently for a couple of months, and it felt really great. And then I left to go on this journey by myself for a little bit longer.

Another key thing to note is that while I was asking myself these questions and blogging, I was still trying many different ways of eating exercising, but nothing stuck. And I was feeling so frustrated, but I knew I was on the verge of something good, I just didn’t know exactly what it was. This felt different than anything I had ever done before, but I still had such a hard time continually kicking the conventional diet and exercise knowledge out of my head.

The conventional diet and exercise wisdom was my comfort zone, even though it had never helped me before. It was cozy and warm and I knew a lot about it and I kept running back to it when my inner work would get too hard.

But I pressed on. I knew that I needed to figure myself out. And I knew I needed to learn how to love myself totally and completely just as I was.

I know I keep saying “key thing” but I have one more of them for you to note. While I was doing all of this self-reflection and having an unreal amount of “me” time, it looked to everyone on the outside that I was literally doing nothing to “help myself” in regards to my weight. I wasn’t really eating that well, I was rarely exercising, and I was spending a lot of time by myself thinking about myself. Not really what other people would think is a successful “weight loss plan.”

And honestly, they couldn’t have been more wrong :)

One of the hardest things I had to do during this journey was STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE PEOPLE. I had to worry about me, and me alone, for the first time. I had to really stop caring about what everyone else thought. I had spent the last 10 years doing what everyone else thought I should do to lose weight, and I was real real real tired of it. Because that shit didn't work.

Some days I cried, some days I felt like a failure, some days I texted Breanne (BFF mentioned above) to ask her if I was crazy, some days I felt amazing, some days I told my husband I felt different than I ever had, and other days were just good. But, I pressed on. For the first time in my entire adult life I didn’t quit what I had started. My introspective journey kept going...and going.

I started some “Happy Habits” in October of 2015 designed to maintain my happiness and health and I’m SO proud to say that I’ve kept them up. That is so not me. I mean, it IS me now, but I’ve never kept a good habit before.

BUT, again, you guys. I’ve had some REALLY bad days throughout this journey. Days that would have caused me to quit before. Days that would have overridden all the progress I made in this journey to self-love, but I just kept going. I had to see where this was going to lead me.

I kept trying to love myself no matter what, and if I made a choice to overeat or drink too much or spend too much money, I just made a different choice the next time. And doing this over and over again gave me the confidence I needed to trust that I could keep doing it.

The Moment:

So, what am I trying to say with all of this?

I’m trying to say that I now know what I have been missing. I’m wiping the sleep out of my eyes after this 10-year slumber. I feel like I’ve been hiking up this mountain for a year and a half, and now I’m at the top and the view is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

I honestly feel as though I've shed the last of my self-limiting shit and I’m now FLYING.

Ok, I have to say some real words now and stop speaking in metaphors.

This past Monday I woke up feeling different than before. I felt great. I came out to my deck to work, and I got so much done. Then I walked inside and looked at my indoor cycle and then…I GOT ON IT. AND I RODE IT FOR 20 MINUTES.

Ok, that was weird. I hadn’t felt compelled to exercise in…well probably ever. But after, my muscles were twitching and it felt so good.

I also ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full.

And then, it was National Margarita Day and my husband brought home all the stuff to make them and we drank way too many of them.

Tuesday came and I woke up without my normal "too many drinks" shame and I ate a good breakfast and decided to do another workout.

What?!? So weird. But I went with it.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday followed suit.

You guys. I worked out five times in one week. I never forced myself, I never went longer than I wanted to, I never hated it, and I just did it because I love myself and because it felt good.

It was really a mind-blowing experience. To see that something I’ve hated so much for all of my life could be something so good was just really amazing. This may seem so simple, but to me nothing could have been more powerful.

And I had a similar experience with food and wine. I ate what sounded good, I never felt compelled to overeat or drown my sorrows with wine. I didn’t even drink from Tuesday to Friday.

Two times I ate pancakes for breakfast and each time I gave my husband one of the pancakes I was planning to eat because I decided that I loved myself too much to overeat. Not because I was worried about calories but because I loved myself. In the past, giving one of my pancakes to my husband would have literally been a painful experience for me. Because I would have considered the pancake like my arm, and giving it to him would have been like cutting it off. That’s how much food has meant to me. But this week, there was no pain, there was no regret, and I didn’t think about it for longer than 5 seconds. I’m not sure if you understand the magnitude of this, but it's really really huge.

I’m feeling genuinely hungry and I’m feeding myself with delicious and healthy foods and then I’m feeling satisfied.

What I’m trying to say is that I am no longer feeling like I have to stuff myself with food and wine to feel full…to feel whole. And I'm not have to push those feelings out, I’m just genuinely not feeling them. I want to shout it from the ROOFTOPS.

But also, I know that there will be days in the future that I eat too much or drink too much and that will be OK too. I won’t need to hate myself or punish myself for it. I’ll just move on and make a different choice the next time.

I’m not following any diet or any plan, I’m just living, and it's incredible. I finally feel like I’ve found what I’ve been looking for and it’s really so simple and all about trusting myself to know what I need. There is no one size fits all plan, people. It’s all about what sounds good to you.

Why Am I Sharing This?

Because I want you to see what it took for me to get here.

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be healthy once and for all. I hope I conveyed this correctly, but I spent this past year and a half treating myself with kindness (most of the time…sometimes I had to be reminded to be gentler) and understanding. I got curious and travelled into a place that I had been avoiding for so long…inside myself.

And even then, I had to stay there for a long time to figure out what was going to work for me.

And after that, I had to try some diets and meal plans to REALLY make sure they didn’t work before I could get comfortable with trusting myself to know what was going to work for me.

My point is to hopefully inspire you, beautiful soul, to get curious about you. Go inside. Ask yourself what you are missing. Ask yourself the questions you’ve been avoiding. Start this journey right now. Take your happiness and your health into your own hands and tell the haters to back off.

Only you know what you can do, and only you know what you’re capable of. Trust that. Honor that. Appreciate the hell out of that.

I can promise you you’re capable of way more than you can imagine in this moment.

And I can promise that your soul is craving the self-love you’ve been holding back from it for so long.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.

I’m so happy to be back here.

XO,

Brooke  

5 Ways To Make Peace With Your Food Addiction At Thanksgiving

Brooke Brown2 Comments
Feeling anxious about your food choices on Thanksgiving? I have a list that will help you make the best choices and feel at peace.

I know that Thanksgiving (and the entire holiday season) can bring up a lot of feelings and create major anxiety for people who experience food addiction and/or binge eating. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I am a food addict, so I created this list for myself as a way to create inner peace throughout the holiday season without having to pretend to be someone that I'm not. I think so many food addicts struggle with this exact issue, so I decided to share the list with all of you in hopes that other people could create peace in an area that has previously been filled with chaos. 

  1. Let go of losing weight. Lets face it, Thanksgiving is literally a holiday about food. I will never be an advocate of "skinny" Thanksgiving recipes. I find they are unsatisfying and they don't closely resemble the foods they are trying to be. Also, real food is so much more satiating, so I find I eat less of it if I give myself the permission to eat "regular" Thanksgiving recipes. I go into the day knowing that it is going to be full of delicious foods and sticks of butter, and let myself know that it is ok to try everything. But, it's important to make sure that Thanksgiving is ONE DAY in your life, and that you're not beginning a Thanksgiving-Christmas binge. Then, don't restrict, don't create too many rules, and don't worry about calories. I find that my addiction is most out of control on Thanksgiving the stricter I'm trying to be. Figuring this all out before the big day lets me go into Thanksgiving with no "food noise" in my brain, so I'm ready to enjoy it wholeheartedly.

    Now, please don't take this the wrong way. I am in no way suggesting that you go into Thanksgiving with a binge mentality that causes you to eat plates upon plates of food. That's not healthy either. Personally, I just think its so much easier to eat reasonable amounts when I tell myself I can have a little bit of everything. 
     
  2. Focus on what you're thankful for. Like I said in number one, Thanksgiving has turned into a holiday about food, and we have sort of forgotten that we are celebrating more than turkey and mashed potatoes. I find that I can begin the day in a much more peaceful state when I think about all the things I have to be thankful for. And, when I keep those thoughts in my head throughout the day, I care less about food and and can enjoy spending time with the people I love more. 
     
  3. Talk about your Turkey Day plan with someone you trust. I always find that talking with someone I trust about my plan to stay balanced helps me get clear about my intentions and it also helps me stay accountable to the plan itself.
     
  4. Ask yourself how you want to feel before you begin eating. This has been a hugely helpful strategy for me in working towards developing a healthy relationship with food. It takes all the emotional charge away and focuses on self-care instead of how food tastes or the cravings I am having. If I simply ask myself how I want to feel after the meal before I begin eating, I often choose a different food than I would have before, or I just eat less than I would have before checking in with myself. And, (this is the best part) if I eat more than I planned, I don't have the intense feelings of guilt and shame that I've had in my past, because I took care of myself before I began eating.
     
  5. Put some effort into your physical appearance before heading to your dinner. This has been another amazing habit that I've implemented recently into my life. I haven't bought any new clothes, and am still admittedly wearing yoga pants every day of my life, but I do my hair and makeup every day. I know that many food addicts suffer from low self-esteem often related to being overweight. So, by putting this effort into my appearance, I'm practicing self-love and raising my self-confidence level, therefore lessening the list of reasons I have to overeat. I'm sort of nipping the problem in the bud before it even has a chance to exist because I'm going into the day having created happiness inside myself before I step out into the world. So, on Thanksgiving, you'll find me with great makeup and hair in my yoga pants and favorite sweater. I think you should do the same!

Are you feeling anxious about sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Do you have any amazing strategies to cope with food addiction throughout the holidays? I'd love to know in the comments!

Thursday Things

Brooke BrownComment
Thursday Things. Check out some things I'm loving this week!

Hi guys! I'm back with another round of Thursday Things. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite beauty items, a recipe, and a few things that have made have more hope this week. 

  1. This curling wand. This little baby is glorious. As you may know, I've been trying to incorporate more happiness in my life. One of the ways I've been doing this is by getting ready in the morning by properly doing my hair and makeup. I notice what a HUGE difference it makes in my day when I pass by a mirror and smile rather than judging myself. P.S. If you decide to get one of these wands, make sure you google around for a coupon code, I bought mine for around $40. 
     
  2. This hair serum. I'm growing my hair out and dealing with some breakage because I'm heat styling for the first time in years, so I've been looking for something to help. I found it! This serum is smoothing, protective, and smells like a beach vacation. One pump is just the right amount and I love the results!
     
  3. This matte lip cream in Stockholm. This is perfection. It's matte, smooth, smells like cake, and has great staying powder. Sometimes I use it with the NYX lip liner in Pale Pink. I think its a really nice combo. 
     
  4. This mascara. I've literally hated every single Cover Girl mascara I've ever tried before...until this little number. It is so good. The wand is weird and so wonderful. You should try it. 
     
  5. This chicken recipe. My husband and I absolutely loved this recipe! I made a few changes. I used my favorite shredded parmesan cheese from Trader Joe's instead of mozzarella, and I used 2 slices of diced salami on each piece of chicken instead of turkey pepperoni. It was a hit in my house!
     
  6. This Facebook post by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was horrified by the terrorist attacks in Paris last week just like everybody else. My heart is with France and the families and friends of all of the victims as they attempt to recover from these awful events. When these kinds of things happen, I immediately go into an intense panic and have a tendency to use my introversion for protection. I know that its normal to do these things, but I know I carry on for too long. I am just so mad that this stuff keeps happening. I don't know what the answers are, so I will just keep sending love out into the world. 

    I think Elizabeth writes about this so beautifully by sharing her post 9/11 story. She lets us know that while we are allowed to be heartbroken about what has happened, we can respond to these events however we choose. And, that it may be more powerful to keep our dignity intact instead of falling apart, like I have done so many times in the past. 
     
  7. Along the same vein, this eloquent FB post by Patton Oswalt. He wrote this post after the Boston Marathon bombings, and its just such a good reminder that there are so many more good people in the world than bad. I think it is very important to remind ourselves that the light exists during such dark times. The comments are very active...so if that sort of thing bothers you, I'd recommend just reading the post itself. 
  8. 18 Unbelievably Rude Texts From Your Anxiety. You may have already gathered this, but if not, I'll let you know that I'm an EXTREMELY anxious person. I really like this humorous take on anxiety, and think it can be helpful to the human psyche to smile and laugh during times like this. And, all of these are so dang true. 

I hope you all are having a great week, and are continuing to look for the light. 

XO, 

Brooke

What Would The World Be Like If Fat Talk Didn't Exist?

Happiness, MindsetBrooke BrownComment
Are you plagued by fat talk like me? Today, I'm challenging you to imagine a world where it doesn't exist.

Fat talk. 

You know that voice inside your head that tells you you're a piece of shit because you're fat? That thing that stops you from going for your dreams because no one will listen to a "fat girl"? 

Shitty fat talk. 

Terrible fat talk. 

Fat talk is awful. And, personally, it has kept me from living the life I've imagined for far too long. I'm always telling myself that I cannot do things because of how I'll look, or because I'll sweat too much because I'm too fat, or because I'm not athletic at all, etc, etc, etc. 

I think fat talk is so different from other excuses/shortcomings. Fat talk is wide-ranging, all encompassing, and can be used in every situation. Kind of like the F word. 

For example, if I was embarrassed about how I couldn't swim or was bad at public speaking, those thoughts would only keep me from doing very specific activities. But I find that because I'm fat (and therefore the fat talk in my brain is NEVER ENDING), I can literally stop myself from doing EVERYTHING. 

It's really sad...tragic even. The most sad thing was realizing how early the fat talk started happening for me. I had this thought when I worked at a preschool and I was supervising the little kids play while we were outside. I could tell the difference between the the little girls who thought they were different from the other girls and the ones who were still in that no-self-awareness childhood bliss. They held themselves differently and they played less. These girls were like 4-6 years old. They shouldn't be thinking about their bodies in that way. But, I was too when I was that age and I remember it clearly. 

In today's world, we (especially women) pile all of our self-worth into our appearance. And, if we continue to come up short in that area then we believe we aren't worth anything. How silly is that? Just because I'm overweight doesn't mean I'm not a wonderful person. I am a super
wonderful person. I'm kind, I'm smart, I'm generous, I'm creative, and I'm a great cook. Why don't I think about those things first? Instead, I always feel like I have to apologize for what my body looks like first before I list those great qualities. 

For the last nine years, most of my brain space has been crowded with obsessive thoughts about how I'm not enough, how I'm physically disgusting, what my weight prevents me from doing, and all the ways I need to change. No wonder I've been sitting on my couch depressed, getting nothing done, in a "diet" fog, and generally hating myself for all these years. 

Fat talk is a waste of time. It holds us in a prison that is inescapable. Life is short. Lets give ourselves break from the fat talk and start talking about what we are good at and what we contribute to the world. Lets stop talking about what weight we want to be at and start talking about our dreams and what makes us happy. Our focus has morphed into a super unhealthy and shallow mindset fueled by unrealistic expectations for our appearance set by the Hollywood, Social Media, and ourselves. What do you think would happen if we decided to become obsessed with our happiness instead of our skinny-ness? 

I'm not saying that we should just give up on our appearance all together. I'm just saying I think it would be so much more powerful to ask ourselves what we needed to be happy rather than what we needed to be skinny. Because I find that when I am happy and doing things that are fulfilling to me, I no longer need excess calories to fill in the holes in my happiness. Do you see what I mean?

You know that famous saying, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" 

Well, I've discovered that I don't really have a fear of failure, so I'm changing it. And I'm asking you a new question: 

What would your world look like if fat talk didn't exist?

Let me know in the comments. I am dying to know. 

XO, 

Brooke

Thursday Things

Brooke BrownComment
Thursday Things. Check out some things I'm loving this week!

Today is my 4th anniversary with my sweet husband, and I'm feeling pretty pumped for our anniversary date tonight. We're going to our favorite restaurant and I got a new outfit! I hope you all are having a beautiful Thursday afternoon in your neck of the woods. Smooch!

On to the Thursday Things! Here are the things I'm loving lately: 

  1. This hair dye in the shade 300 Pure Darkest Brown. I tried to dye my hair "Black Cherry" last week and I ended up with bright cherry red roots and black lengths. Not really what I was going for. So, my mom and I chose this one to cover up my weird multi-tonal hair and it worked like a charm. Just a warning though, this shade turned out fully black on my hair, but it looks great. The foam formula was awesome. It didn't drip anywhere, and it was super easy to use. It got some pretty bad reviews online, but I found that if I continued to shake the applicator while applying the dye there were no problems. And, the best thing is you can save the leftovers to touch up your roots in the future!
     
  2. This article about mindful eating. My friend Keri sent this article to me last week, and it really hits home for me. I've always believed that appreciating the food you eat while you are eating it probably leads to being more nourished from that food, no matter what it is. This article is along those same lines, and I love that its not about WHAT food you are eating, but HOW to eat your food. 
     
  3. This WEIRD video of Shia LaBeouf. If you're ever in need of a little boost, here you go. You're welcome. There is so much to love here: his little pony tail, his weird body movements, the yelling, and the fact that its filmed on a green screen (so many possibilities). Just do it! 
     
  4. This Buzzfeed article of rude texts your period would send you. Yes. Just yes. Buzzfeed gets me.
     
  5. These Twinkle Lights. Another purchase with mom :) There is no picture of the actual lights when you click that link, but they are those lights on copper wire with little dew drop lights along the strand like this. I got two strands and wrapped them around each of the curtain rods in my living room. They make me feel like I'm in an Anthropologie display, and are the most perfect little fairy lights I could ever imagine. The coolest part is that you can't really see them during the day, and they are a little cozy touch at night. I'm in love. 
     
  6. This Tessemae's hot sauce. I copied my girl crush Melissa Hartwig and made this salad. I wouldn't have been anything special without that hot sauce. Enough said. 
     
  7. This beef stew recipe. I credit the Pioneer Woman with teaching me how to cook 8 years ago, and my family should thank her for our Thanksgiving menu. And, especially for the mashed potatoes from this recipe. Anyways, I made this stew on Sunday (its the only stew recipe I ever make) and its just so good. I make a few changes, I sub mushrooms for the turnips and add in about 1/2 cup of red wine to deglaze the pan after I take the beef out. So. Good. 
     
  8. This news. Although, I don't know a lot of people who would consider 3 glasses of champagne a day moderate. But woo hoo! 

What are you guys loving lately? I want to know! Tell me in the comments! 

See you tomorrow loves!

XO, 

Brooke

#SORRYNOTSORRY: I'm Stressed And I Need To Take Care Of Me

MindsetBrooke BrownComment
Ever wonder what to do when you're super stressed? I've created a list to help you!

I was talking to my good friend on Sunday night and we had a good long chat about how we were both feeling stressed about different things in our lives. And, from that conversation, this little baby of a blog post was born. So, this is dedicated to you, Cornbright!

Let's rewind to last week...I was feeling stressed due to some family issues and some frustrating technical work problems. I didn't recognize how much the stress was affecting me, and I just kept going along like normal. Then, on Tuesday, I fell up my stairs with four grocery bags in my hands while thinking about work, and on Thursday I developed a super annoying rash on my leg. At the time, I just accepted these things as accidental, instead of taking a step back and re-evaluating what was happening. 

Looking back now, I see that I was preoccupied with my stress when I fell and wasn't actually looking at where I was walking, and I probably developed the rash as a result of stress. This is in no way a "please feel sorry for me" blog post. I only scraped my knee and cut a few toes (and majorly bruised my ego, because my neighbors saw me fall). This is merely a series of observations that I want to share with you guys to encourage you to take a different approach and learn some things about yourself and your relationship with stress. 

Last week, in the middle of my stress it would have been very beneficial to ask myself if I was ok and think of some ways to become a little more grounded and a little less frantic. Instead, I just obsessed about my to-do list and all the things I wasn't doing because of the work issues that making it harder for me to get stuff done. And then I felt guilty because I wasn't doing all I had wanted to get done for the week. And then I felt like a failure. But, what was happening with my work and my family was fully out of my hands and there was nothing I could do about it.

I don't know about you, but for me, stress and guilt are closely linked. I think its very common for women to feel guilty about everything in their lives these days. Guilty for eating too much, for eating the wrong thing, for not exercising, for not cleaning my house on Sunday, for not doing "enough", for not eating organic everything, and the list goes on and on and on. And, for some reason, I feel more guilty about these things the more stressed I become. 

So, last week, the guilt level was high and I was feeling like such a victim because of it. And I was taking such bad care of myself. I stayed up way too late every single night, didn't eat enough vegetables, didn't cook the meals I had planned, and didn't exercise at all. Do you see how I just kept creating more and more things to feel guilty about and letting the stress control me?

Well, remembering this whole journey of self-love, self-discovery, and acceptance I am on is great. Because, even though I didn't see this as it was happening last week, I can see what happened clearly now (just a few days later) and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I can create a plan for how to deal with stress going forward. And, I am excited to deal with the issue with forward-thinking and optimism rather than self-loathing and stagnation like I always have in the past. What a difference. BUT, I want to again point out that even though I dealt with my stress in what I would call my "old way" last week, it doesn't mean I can't create a new solution going forward. I think thats the MOST important point. 

So, below, I'm listing out some steps I'm going to take when I find myself in the middle of a stressful situation in the future. I encourage you to take a moment and list out some stress management techniques that sound good to you. I find that when I write stuff down, it makes me WAY more prone to come back to it and use it in the future. 

Now I present to you: 

The #SORRYNOTSORRY: I'm Stressed And I Need To Take Care Of Me Protocol:

  1. Step into the stress. Sometimes I do this thing where I try to talk myself out of recognizing what is really happening. I don't want to do that when it comes to stress anymore. I spend so much time resisting the stress that it just elongates the stressful period. Instead I'm going to say, "Ok, I am stressed. This situation is stressful AF, and it's ok to feel this way for awhile. I'm not going to die. It won't last forever, and the stress is letting me know something is not right, and I am going to fix it as best I can." That seems so much better than just ignoring it and trying to block it out. I think sometimes I just need to feel the feelings so I can move on from it. 
     
  2. Incorporate some stress relieving activities. The first thing that usually goes out the window for me during times of stress is self-care. Well, thats dumb. Because stress is hard enough on my body as it is, so the last thing I should do is stop caring for myself. In the future, I am going to incorporate walks, yoga, or spin into my days to remind myself that taking care of my body is important, and to release some of the stressful energy.
     
  3. Eat what will make me feel good. I also usually do this thing where I eat shit 100% of the time I am stressed. I justify it by saying it's a reward and that I don't have time to cook healthy food anyways. I am proud of myself for not doing that all the time last week. I managed to stay healthy some of the time, and only ate food that didn't make me feel good occasionally. In the future, during stressful times, I'm going to focus on eating food that makes me feel good, and thats it. I always try to put crazy rules on myself and stick to complicated food plans (that I know won't work), instead it will feel great and so simple to just focus on feeling good after eating. 
     
  4. Relax at the first available opportunity. After the stressful period ends, I think its common for us to just move on and immediately try to catch up on all the regular stuff we didn't get to while we were trying to put out the fires. Instead, I think its important that we acknowledge the fact that our bodies have just been put through the wringer, and practice some self-care by CHILLING OUT. (With NO guilt!) Watch some Netflix, order some takeout, and give yourself some much needed rest with no questions asked.

    IMPORTANT REMINDER: Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to relax and reassure ourselves that we will get to everything else in a few days. Sometimes I find that if I don't provide myself the permission up front, I don't actually get any restorative energy from the relaxation because I'm just going over and over my to-do list in my head while Netflix is playing in the background. 

So, this is my new stress plan, and it sounds GOOD. I know I will not be perfect at following this protocol the next time stress knocks on my door, but I feel much better knowing that I have some strategies at the ready. Does this sound good to you? What are some of your favorite stress-relieving activities? Do you already have a favorite way to deal with stress?

Chicken Sausage And Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Food and ExerciseBrooke BrownComment
Chicken Sausage And Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Today I'm coming to you with my first recipe post! You guys now know that I love that "Tasty" Facebook account that I mentioned in yesterday's Thursday Things post. So, I decided to cook one of those recipes and show you my results! 

You can find the original recipe from Tasty here. I made some modifications to the recipe to make it in a way that would make me feel good. You can see my changes and what my process looked like below! 


First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice a thin layer off the top and bottom of each acorn squash to create a flat surface. Note: you'll only see one squash in my photos because one of them was bad when I cut it open. Annoying!

Next, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 

Then, place the squash halves onto a baking sheet or pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into the oven for 40 minutes to roast. 

While your squash is cooking its time to prepare the filling! Dice two stalks of celery and one medium white onion. 

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and dump in your diced celery and onion. Additionally, add in a 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. 

While the celery and onion are softening, prepare your chicken sausage. I used Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage links (the raw ones, the fully cooked ones would not work in this recipe). They come in a pack of five, so I used 2.5 links and removed the casings. 

After the celery and onion have cooked for five minutes, add the half pound of sausage to the pan. 

While your sausage is browning, dice a small apple. I used a Gala apple for this recipe, and really liked the flavor it imparted. Add the apple to the pan when the sausage is fully cooked and stir until apple pieces are soft. 

When your squash is done roasting, remove from oven and place to the side. This is what my squash looked like after 40 minutes. You should be able to pierce it with a fork easily and the flesh of the squash should feel soft when you pierce it. 

Back to the filling...

Next, add in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir it around until the cheese is fully melted. I'm including a picture of the best shredded Parmesan cheese from Trader Joe's, I highly recommend it. Delish!

This filling makes enough to fill four halves of two medium size Acorn squashes. Evenly distribute the filling between the squash halves, and sprinkle with 1 additional tablespoon of Parmesan cheese each. 

Place squash back into 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. This is what they look like when they come out of the oven, they were so delicious! Enjoy!

Chicken Sausage and Apple Stuff Acorn Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 medium acorn squash, sliced in half
1 medium white onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium Gala apple, diced
1/2 lb Sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1/2 cup + 4 tbs shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a thin piece off of the top and bottom of each squash creating a flat surface, then cut each squash in half. Place squash on baking sheet or baking pan and drizzle each half with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in oven for 40 minutes. 

While squash is roasting, its time to make the delicious filling. First, dice your two stalks of celery and medium onion. Put a skillet on medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add your celery and onion to the skillet. Next, add in the dried rosemary, dried thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sautee mixture for five minutes until vegetables are soft. While vegetables are cooking, prepare your chicken sausage by removing the casings. Add the sausage to the pan and stir until browned. Dice your apple, and add to the skillet, cooking until apple pieces are soft. 

Remove your roasted squash from the oven after the 40 minutes has passed and place to the side. You should be able to pierce the flesh easily with a fork. 

After apple is soft, add in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is distributed throughout the filling and fully melted. 

Divide the filling amongst the squash halves, filling each one evenly. Sprinkle one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese on each half, and place back in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven after the 20 minutes and enjoy! 

Thursday Things: Random Loves

HappinessBrooke BrownComment
Thursday Things. Random loves.

Hi beautiful people! I'm back today with another list of loves for you on this beautiful, but COLD Thursday!

Random info: being that I'm overweight, I'm not often cold. I sometimes say that being overweight is like wearing a skin parka at all times (sorry, kinda gross), which sucks in the summer but is a nice perk in the winter! But this November is turning out out to be a very chilly one here in Northern California. It was 64 degrees in our house this morning, which may not sound cold depending on where you live, but here thats FREEZING! Kind of a nice change :)

Ok, onto all the Thursday Things!

  1. This magic after shower lotion. Guys, this stuff is genius. I hate putting lotion on because I hate sticky skin. Also, I don't really enjoy the actual act of rubbing the lotion on myself because of the complicated relationship I have with my body. This results in me having itchy, scaly skin all the time that is extra bad when the seasons change. This product is the perfect solution! You put it on right after you turn the water off in the shower on your soaking wet skin. You basically just swipe it on all over, and it goes on super easy. The product absorbs into your skin, and then you dry off with the towel normally. If you decide to try it, just know that it will look like you're wiping it all of when you're drying off with the towel. Don't freak out, enough product has absorbed into your skin, just don't scrub yourself with the towel, dry off gently. Then you have moisturized skin thats not sticky when you get dressed! Magic!
     
  2. These little babies! I have this thing where I think I need to eat something different every single day and can't repeat meals. As you can imagine, this results in ridiculous grocery bills and a ridiculous amount of wasted food. Well, I've found an exception to the rule! Apparently, I can eat taco salads over and over again, and its all thanks to these tortilla shell pans. I love them. I put a large tortilla in them (make sure to either slice or tear some slits in the tortilla to avoid air bubbles) and toast them in the toaster oven for five minutes. My standard taco salad recipe: shredded iceberg lettuce (shredded kale will NOT do here people), either salsa chicken or ground turkey taco meat, this taco sauce drizzled over top like dressing, and two scoops of sour cream. This. Is. So. Good. I've eaten it 3 times this week alone, and probably 100 times in the past 5 months. 
     
  3. These little DEVILS. Truth be told, I'll probably never buy these again. I've found I can't stop eating them after I start, and realize they aren't the best thing to have around. But my lord, they are damn delicious. Coconut, chocolate, and almonds all rolled together in a little ball of amazing-ness. If you love coconut things, these are calling your name at Trader Joes!
     
  4. This Facebook Page. Have you guys seen these Tasty videos floating around Facebook? They are so amazingly cool! I'm making it a goal to cook more so that I can share recipes with you guys, and so I can take better care of myself and eat more nourishing food. But, anyways, if you aren't familiar with this account, they post recipe videos that are around one-minute in length. It makes cooking look so fun, and I always think seeing the recipe cooked from beginning to end makes things less intimidating and inspires me to get back into the kitchen. 
     
  5. This tea. This is from a really cool company that has so many different kinds of tea! But this one is my favorite. When you open up the bag it smells like a creamy dessert and that entices and baffles me. And the flavor is just incredible. I recommend it for a relaxing nighttime beverage. Its even better with a little splash of coconut milk or cream. 
     
  6. American Horror Story. I never thought this would be a favorite of mine, not in my wildest dreams. But, my husband and I were looking for a new Netflix show, and I said I'd give it a try even though I hate scary stuff. Well, now we're addicted. We got through season 1 in three days, and now we're half way through season 2. Its so good, albeit, EXTREMELY creepy. But good!
     
  7. My happy habits. Did you guys read the post I wrote about the five habits I was adding into my daily routine to reclaim my happiness? Well I'm proud to say its working! I have been doing better than ever been at adding habits into my life, and I think its because I chose habits that are tied to my happiness instead of weight loss. My favorite one so far has been asking myself how I want to feel before I eat. It has just been really eye-opening to realize that things can be that simple. This food thing can be as simple as eating foods that make me feel good, who knew?
     
  8. This lipliner and this liquid lipstick combo. The ColourPop lip pencil in Bound topped with the Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Sugar are a match made in heaven! I first color in my lips all the way with Bound and then go over it with the Too Faced Melted. I'm putting a picture of me below from a date night below wearing the combo so you can see what it looks like. I think its the perfect fall nude!
 
IMG_2554.JPG
 

What are you loving? I'd love to know! Let me know in the comments!

Behind The Scenes Of Food Addiction

Self LoveBrooke Brown2 Comments
Are you a food addict? Today I'm telling you all about my food addiction and what I'm doing to accept it and begin to move forward.

Hi Friends. Today, I'm continuing my current journey of stepping out from the shadows and into the light by admitting on the internet for all who choose to see that I am a food addict. 

So, hello, I'm Brooke, and I'm a food addict. 

I have actually just recently come to this conclusion, because I've been in major denial. First of all, being addicted anything is seen as pretty shameful and thats hard in and of itself. Second, I've just been kind of talking myself out of this addiction, constantly trying to justify my behavior, promising that every "tomorrow" will be different, and that I'll finally be healthy when I really "try." 

Well, after nine years of failed "tomorrows" and thousands of dollars spent on diet preparations, gadgets, books, and programs, things have clicked. And I'm super excited. 

You may be thinking that this seems like a strange thing to be excited about, so allow me to further explain... 

The reason why I've finally came to this conclusion is in big part thanks to the person behind my favorite Instagram account, @danikabrysha. She has dealt with food addiction, and one of the many times I was stalking her Instagram account from beginning to end, I came across this post where she talked about her experience with food addiction. While reading it I got that feeling where she was speaking to my soul. You know that feeling? I can't find the post right this second, but if I find it before tomorrow, I'll link it in my Thursday Things post. 

So, after reading Danika's post, I got up the courage to google food addiction. Here are my results: 

According to Healthline.com, signs and symptoms of food addiction include the following: 

  • constant obsession with what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and how to get more food
  • overeating at mealtimes
  • constant snacking
  • eating at strange times like the middle of the night
  • hiding eating habits from friends and family or eating in secret
  • bingeing and then purging, exercising, or taking laxative pills to “reverse” the binge
  • eating even when full
  • eating to accompany pleasurable activities like watching TV or talking on the phone
  • associating food with punishments or rewards
  • feeling shame and guilt after a binge or after consuming particular foods
  • consistent failed attempts to control eating or eliminate bingeing episodes. 

Well, be still my heart. I had found my soulmate in a list of addiction symptoms. This list perfectly describes my relationship and habits with food. 

While you might think it would make me feel terrible to realize I have food addiction, its actually a huge relief. Reading these symptoms made all my past struggles MAKE. SO. MUCH. SENSE. 

Looking at my past weight loss struggles through my newfound lens of food addiction took away my shame and provided such clarity. No wonder I haven't been successful! I have all of these behaviors that I'm not addressing that are constantly working against me. Its like trying to walk up a mountain while carrying all my belongings in my hands at the same time. Not going to work very well. 

It also made me stop feeling like a failure because I've gained all of my weight back so many times (and more). Its the same thing as being what people call a "dry drunk." I lost the weight, but didn't work on my behavior. I didn't work on any of my issues, or address the fact that I had an actual problem with food. 

I've done some weird shit with food, like stealing five brownies from a party by wrapping them in napkins and quickly shoving them in my purse to eat at home in private. And, when I was about 10, I would beg my parents to go to my brother's dance class to "watch him" and do homework. Really, I had no interest in watching him dance. I really only cared about the vending machine at the dance studio that held my favorite candy, Skittles. I'd sneak money from my piggy bank, buy a pack or two and sneak them into school and very quietly eat them during class. So weird. Why didn't I just ask my mom for some Skittles? 

The thing that sucks about food addiction is that I'm always going to have to eat food. I can't say I'm never going to eat again in order to beat this. So, the thing I'm addicted to is always going to have to be in my life. The only option I have is to create a new relationship with my addiction. 

I think the thing that is really going to help me is to just finally admit/realize that I can't eat like a "normal" person. At this point in my life, it's essential that I admit that sugar/carbs/wine are triggers for me and sometimes these foods take me to dark places within myself. Places where I'm looking to self-medicate and create harm by overeating and not caring about the effects. 

So, in an effort to not end this blog post in such a dark note...I'm writing a little bit more :) Haha. 

The point of this post is just to begin my acceptance of my food addiction, and to begin my journey of self healing, self love, and moving on from this place of being stuck in this never ending cycle I've been in for so long. 

I'm excited to share with you my successes, my failures, my adventures, and what works and what doesn't. Does any of this post resonate with you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings about food addiction, and if you have struggled with any sort of addiction currently or in the past. I think all addiction is similar, its just what are addicted to that is different. 

XO, 

Brooke 

Thursday Things: Things That Make Me Feel Good

Brooke Brown2 Comments
Thursday Things. Things that make me feel good!

Hi guys. 

Today I'm starting a blog post series where I can chat with you and tell you about things that I love every Thursday. I'm doing this because I'm a SUPER nosy person and I love anything that gives me a peek into someone's everyday life. So I thought it might be something you'd enjoy too. I've found some of my favorite things reading through these kinds of posts. 

Today, because I've been blogging about topics like self-love and happiness this week I'm going to share with you a list of things my current favorite things that make me feel good. 

  1. This book by Elizabeth Gilbert. You guys. This book is life changing. It has inspired me to take hold of my creativity and to stop listening to my fear. I recommend it to everybody, even if you don't feel like the typical "creative" person, because everybody is creative in their own way. 
     
  2. This candle by Bath and Body Works. Scent + memory go hand in hand for me. So, when the seasons change and I light this baby up for the first time, all of my favorite Fall time memories come flooding back and it feels like a cozy memory hug. 
     
  3. This lipgloss by NYX in Eclair. As I mentioned in my More Is Just More post, I'm obsessed with lipgloss. I have a drawer full of it, and I don't feel like myself without some on at all times, much to my husband's dismay. I always come back to this one as a favorite. I think this is the most perfect neutral lavender-y, nude-y pink and it goes with everything. And, the best part is that its buttery and smooth and not sticky at all. My husband will even kiss me when its on. And for a bonus drugstore option, this lipstick by ELF in Tea Rose is only $3 and it pairs perfectly with this gloss and is one of the best lipstick colors I own.
     
  4. This news about my favorite show of all time! I can't describe how excited I was when I heard this! GG is a show that I turn on when I'm feeling like I need some comfort and it never fails. I can't wait to see all my favorite characters back together in some new episodes. 
     
  5. This Paleo Ranch recipe. Even though I'm not eating a Paleo diet anymore, I can't stop making this! It's pretty darn easy, and even though its not "light" in any way, I feel so light after I eat a salad dressed with this. And its so delicious. Another favorite way to use this is as a dip for roasted potatoes or home fries. Delish!
     
  6. This Instagram account. Danika is a GORGEOUS plus size model who has struggled with binge eating and eating disorders in the past. Her account promotes a healthy body image and creating a healthy relationship with food. She started a company called Model Meals and she's just an all around badass who inspires me so much.  
     
  7. This Instagram account. Melissa is the co-creator of Whole30 and a recovering addict who has been clean for 15 years. I love her account because of her humor, no-nonsense attitude, honesty, and food photos/ideas. She recently did a Periscope where she talked about what strategies she she implemented to get clean and I fell in love with her even more. I think her strategies apply to anyone who is/has been addicted to anything (like me with food) and it inspired me to write my Happy Habits blog post. You can watch the Periscope here
     
  8. This magical kitchen gadget. Although LaCroix sparkling water will always be my number one, my habit was getting to be too expensive, so my husband bought me the Soda Stream for Christmas. Best gift ever. I use it to make sparkling water, and I can have unlimited amounts daily. Its like my dream come true.

I hope you guys enjoyed my first Thursday Things post! I am excited to be able to share more of these things with you in the future. Let me know in the comments below what things make you feel good. I'd love to know what you are loving!