Guilty.

Long time no post. I try to really only post when I have a lot to say on a certain topic. Older posts that just have a food/day recap bore me to tears and really aren’t fitting with the purpose of this blog. It’s not a food diary, an exercise diary, or anything like that, but has really become a place for me to throw my thoughts when I need to straighten them out. I guess that’s why people say writing is so therapeutic, because you can write and erase and cross out and draw arrows but the finished product is more thorough and hopefully more complete than the mess of thoughts floating around my cerebral cortex. 

I’ve been out of commission lately with a partially torn calf and have had to find a new way to cope with stress besides high impact exercise. I’m still working on it; the lack of endorphins is a continuous shock to my system. I use exercise to control the intensity going on inside my head and to relieve stress and anxiety. I also really enjoy it. I like to run, I like to box, I like to cycle, and I really do enjoy jumpsquats. I’m really trying to embrace this injury and figure out a lasting way to deal with stress other than exercise. Bref.

Back to the title of this post. Obviously, when I’m not working out hard, I’m not burning the calories that I’m used to burning, and my body goes through changes. For the first time in my life, I’m not worrying about it and I’m proud of myself for that. I can’t say that I’ve changed a lot, but I’ve come to accept that it’s a normal part of being injured and I can bounce back from this. I’m not overly obsessive about what I eat-I just eat when I’m hungry. Most importantly, I don’t feel guilt over it. The whole idea of “food guilt” frustrates me so much. I’ve felt it and I hate it. This was another topic mentioned in my class on Eating Disorders: the whole idea that guilt is associated with food in any way is terrible. More and more “guilt free” items are showing up on grocery shelves, and proclaiming something “guiltless” suddenly makes it desirable. Oh, okay, I can eat that and not feel guilt because it’s healther/lower carb/lower fat/whatever. First of all, no. I see no reason why I should eat something that may or may not have more ingredients or artificial sweeteners in it than it’s full fat/carby/starchy/sugary/buttery/whatever counterpart, and no matter what I choose to eat, I don’t see any reason that I should feel guilt about it. Butter and sugar? Bring it on. Chemicals? Bite me. I do tend to choose items with ingredients I can pronounce because I THINK I feel better, but I don’t feel any guilt whatsoever about those fruit snacks I ate last week. Guilt over not sharing? Maybe. Why should I feel guilt because OMG I ATE SOMETHING WITH BUTTER? I. Don’t. Care. 

There are certain things to feel guilty about. Hurting someone’s feelings for your own amusement, yes. Not appreciating the beauty of where you live, yes (kicking myself for this one). Food? No. Not now, not ever. I see so many “healthify this, healthify that! Eat dessert without guilt!” headlines and it’s really frustrating. Eating a dessert that is NOT made with stevia or coconut oil or garbanzo beans but has sugar and fat in it should NEVER make you feel guilty. Eating a dessert that IS made with beans is fine too, don’t get me wrong (although I’ve learned my lesson on that one-disgusting), but the whole idea that guilt is associated with any kind of food makes me sick. 

Seems like a lot of clever marketing, to me. Like people putting out the idea of a “healthier, lower-guilt” item that suggests that you should feel guilt for the food you eat really only benefits them. Like oh, okay, I was going to feel guilty for eating something that I love and just adding in a few extra minutes on the treadmill, or not even, but now I can eat this “guiltless version” and feel totally fine about myself because I’m an amazing person. Makes sense, right? That makes me even sicker: the idea that we suddenly feel ashamed or guilty or less incredible because someone wanted to make money. I’m trying to steer clear of foods with major processing, but I don’t feel guilty because I think Flamin’ Hot Cheetoes are delicious. No, they won’t fuel a marathon very well, but of all the things in life to worry about, whether or not my food choices should make me feel like less of a person doesn’t even register. 

I see it everywhere. “Health” bloggers throw it around like it’s nothing, grocery store chains (even Trader Joe’s, which I love) entice customers with “guiltless gourmet” labels, and food posts on Pinterest and other food photography sites are captioned with “guilt-free” and “you won’t feel guilty after eating this!” Well, I wasn’t going to feel guilty about it anyway, but glad I’ve got the approval of some random person on the internet. Really.

It’s sickening, infuriating, and any other logical synonym. How dare people tell us that guilt and food have anything to do with each other? How does eating something “guilt-free” help us to live healthy lifestyles? Sounds like a recipe for anxiety to me….but I do happen to be massively opinionated.

I should probably clarify something. I’m not trying to say that if you follow a particular diet as part of your  religion, culture, or beliefs regarding the treatment of animals or anything I haven’t thought of or do not know enough to barrel through an informed rant about, that you’re wrong, idiotic, or less of a person for it. That’s none of my business and I have no right to tell you how to feel. No need to agree with me or like what I have to say; you’ve got free will. My concern is with the damaging message sent out through packaging and “healthy” blogs that food and guilt have any connection.

On that note, it’s been a long time since I’ve had Hot Cheetoes. Made without gluten ingredients and scarily addictive. Guilty? Not even a little bit.

<3 Court

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Deep meaningful philosophical questions.

I’m used to my life going about 800 miles an hour, and that’s the way I like it. If I’m not busy I let myself overanalyze all of life’s little details instead of enjoying them. Lately, though, I’ve had a flurry of profound questions pass through my mind, such as, how the @#$$* does hairspray work? I tried, really, I did, but I ended up with a helmet and a sticky arm. Another good one…what if spandex didn’t exist? That one elicited a solid shudder.

Really, though, one of the questions I’ve had lately involves giving yourself credit. I’m taking a psychology course on Eating Disorders, and it’s really interesting and informative. I was shocked though when my professor put up results from a qualitative study of EDs and the elderly. Only men said that they thought of their bodies in terms of what they were able to do, not in terms of how it looked. It’s taken a long time, a lot of miles, and a lot of jump squats, but I finally see myself in these terms too, and I really hope that more women do.

Like I said, it’s taken a long time. I’m guilty of doubting myself, criticizing myself, hating myself, and taking my able body for granted. If only this looked more like this, I’d be happy, I used to think. And I know it wasn’t only me, that’s pretty obvious. We all thought that way. Funny how things change, I guess. When I started to run I realized that it was my body carrying me through those miles, my “imperfect” body that wouldn’t stop even when my brain started screaming at it. I wish everyone thought like this. My legs let me run, jump, skip rope, and do a lot of jump squats (which I love because they show me how strong I am), and my core keeps me supported through all of this. It’s exhausting to think about what you can’t do, and I’d rather run around with a little bit of pride over the fact that I can move every day than discount the positive because it’s not “perfect.”

I guess my thoughts run something like this: why was it just men in this survey? What should stop any one of us from seeing our bodies as powerful machines. NIH and the media have us so focused on BMI, which I think is disgusting anyway, that we really don’t look at what we can actually DO. BMI is a number, that’s it.

It frustrates me so much because while a pound of fat and a pound of muscle have equal weights (a pound), muscle has a higher density than fat, so someone could be very lean and still be obese by BMI standards. Personally, I’d rather be muscular.  It’s a number that says nothing about you or about how healthy your lifestyle is. Someone could have a “healthy” BMI and still be missing the key nutrients that you need to function. Truly though, given a choice between a “healthy” BMI and the muscle that I’ve worked so hard to build up and maintain, well, there isn’t really a choice. I could care less about my BMI because it doesn’t reflect how hard I work and how long I’m going to live. My BMI could label me as obese, for all I care. I’d rather feel strong and capable any day.

Just my thoughts.

Court<3

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Advice from the past.

Today I received a letter from myself, written my senior year of high school. I had toooootally forgotten about this but aside from the obnoxious penmanship flourishes, like the circles instead of dots over the i’s, I did a really good job on this. Serious positive points for Courtney.

It goes something like this:

Well, what can I say? You’ve pulled through so much, even at your worst you manage some incredible feats. You know you can take care of yourself and you know that in the end, you do the right thing. In case you forget, here are some things you’ve learned:

1) It’s okay to be imperfect. I find that in trying to control everything in your life, you lose much of the joy that comes from trial and error. It’s okay to make mistakes and there’s no reason to punish yourself. But you know that already, don’t you? You know that you can make mistakes. But trust your judgement.

2)  Love conquers all. Don’t be afraid to love, and don’t be afraid to be loved.

3) Time heals. Things may happen outside of your control (shocking, I know, but go with it.)

4) You are smart. Don’t forget. But sometimes you are ridiculously dim, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. Just go with it.

5) Keep praying. If God brings you do it, God will bring you through it. Okay, you know what you have dealt with (edited so that I don’t put myself on blast on the internet). But as bad as it seems, you don’t have to fix everything yourself. This is a warning now. It’s okay to seek help. You don’t always have to handle everything without help.

6) Take care of yourself! Keep your body and mind fit. You won’t regret it.

7.) Smile! You don’t care what people think as long as you respect yourself.

8.) Relax.

9.) Don’t for a second doubt your strength. You are capable of so much: don’t ever let go of your hopes and dreams.

10) One of the greatest joys for you is making people laugh with happiness and cry because you’ve truly touched their hearts.

11) You have the strength to support people when they can’t even support themselves. Never doubt it.

*This is my personal favorite*

12) Love your sister. She looks up to you, and no matter how much she jacks your clothes, you have a relationship with her that is so precious, and so profound. Spoil her!

Finally, never give up. Hold your head high and wish for what you want with all your prayers and all your heart. You’ve experienced rock bottom, and there’s no where to go but up. It’s like the Edwin Hawkins singers: ooh child, things are going to get easier. Trust yourself. Just like you, isn’t it, writing this letter in first period physics the day it’s due. Way to procrastinate, kiddo :). I hope you still speak French, and I hope you also now speak Hindi and have made progress in Italian. And you had better be doing yoga. Remember to always love yourself.

<3 Courtney

-Senior year :)

By the way, you have a supercute signature…

…So there it is. I was dealing with one of the roughest parts of my life back then, but this letter makes me proud of the insight that I had. As for religious beliefs, I am spiritual and do believe in God. I was raised Episcopalian Christian but feel that at the core of everything, I need to be a good person. If you’re a jerk, I don’t care which religion you preach or practice, I still won’t want to talk to you. And I probably ended up giving my sister those clothes anyway. Still can’t deal with those little circles, though.

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I hope there are triathlons in heaven.

No matter how many times I hear that life is precious, I still feel like we’re all truly invincible and couldn’t possibly be taken before our time. I wish I had coherent sentences to write here, but how do you explain your grief for someone you only met once? Once was enough to see the light in her, the amazing spark and love packed into a pair of compression running tights as she charged up the 101. As much as I try to be a Team in Training regular, my plans are always thwarted so I really didn’t have the chance to get to know her. That being said, the day I did meet her she was so sweet and so friendly that I felt I wanted to get to know her. I’m still in shock right now, but this isn’t about me. This is about Melissa, who touched so many lives and who will never be forgotten<3

You’ll PR in Heaven<3

“But know this; the ones that love us never really leave us.”

-Sirius Black

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Things no one tells you

…about studying abroad. There were certain things that were way more difficult than I expected, if I even expected them at all. I’ve found it hard to talk about them to anyone back at home who hasn’t done an exchange or wasn’t there with me in Lyon, because often I feel like no one wants to hear me complain. It’s supposed to be all fun, traveling, exotic foods, high fashion, and weird money, right? I’ve tried to approach this subject several times but each time I get the impression that all anyone wants to believe is that it was a nonstop blast and I loved every second. I did love it, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, and I definitely did not love every second. There were quite a few seconds, minutes, hours, and days that I thought were practically impossible to handle, and while I know that every one of them made me a stronger and more ambitious person, they weren’t easy AT ALL.

These are things that I’ve found hard to confide in any one individual because, as I said, I don’t get the feeling that anyone really wants to believe it, but more and more I realize that I have this blog so that I can confide in anyone who clicks over, and if no one does, I still have somewhere that I can share my thoughts and feelings. I’ve been needing that ever since I got back, and I find that I’m brave enough to write things that I don’t know if I could eloquently vocalize.

Loneliness. We were given ways to combat homesickness: joining a club, playing a sport, etc. I signed up for weight training right away, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. It was an hour an a half every week during which I could work myself to exhaustion and keep my muscles from disappearing. I even came back with lats :) I found that homesickness wasn’t as much of a problem as the loneliness. You’re nine hours ahead of your friends and family, so you can’t easily reach someone if you need a quick word or a small bit of comfort. You’re also in a new, and huge, city that is constantly buzzing with activity, but it takes a long time to get acclimated and start to immerse yourself in the lifestyle. The people around you aren’t the ones you’ve formed close connections with and on top of that, they speak another language. No matter the degree of fluency you start out with, it can be hard to communicate your feelings and emotional state without sounding like a twelve-year-old. The depth of language comes with time, and while I was there, it was often hard to express every intellectual thought that I had, so I found myself simplifying a lot of ideas just so I could put words to them.

That is a very isolating thing: you are separated from the most intense intellectual discussions that you’d have no problem with in English, so half of the time you’re frustrated with the fact that you feel like a bit of an idiot. This gets better with time, and I think would have continued to improve had I stayed longer.

Another contributing factor is your somewhat limited social circle. Yes, I did make friends (including some AMAZING Californians that I miss dearly), but the circle is smaller, and it takes some time to get used to the fact that you don’t have immediate access to your friends and family in America. Thus, the amount of human contact I had decreased a bit: in San Diego, I know that I can call a much larger number of people, so staying at home alone doesn’t bother me. I think the issue abroad was the idea that I COULDN’T reach out if I wanted to. My friends made this experience amazing, though. We all went through the same need to adjust. I thought I could do the same thing over there: stay home and not feel lonely. Once I realized that this didn’t work, I started reaching out a lot more, but for a long time it was really hard to handle.

A lot of people have asked if it was all one big party, living abroad. They commented that I went out at night a lot more to clubs and bars. Part of this stems from that intense loneliness: you don’t want to be alone at night, and you NEED to have some human contact during the day, otherwise it gets really really hard. The only things that were really open at night were the clubs and bars, so in order to combat that feeling of isolation, that’s where we would go to hang out.

It feels like a huge relief to finally write this all out. One of my friends recently asked if there was something that had happened while I was abroad that I didn’t feel I could talk about, and this was it. I’ve tried talking about this before and it does fall on deaf ears, which makes it worse. Finally having a friend ask that question touched me deeply: I started feeling like I could bring all this up and by writing it out, get rid of the weight pressing down on me. I think that’s why I keep my blog public, instead of just writing in a journal. I’m not ashamed of my feelings, good or bad. I know I’ve got more strength than even I am aware of, and nothing to hide. By making it public, I feel as though my thoughts have been heard, and that means a lot.

-Court<3

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So, what do you like (and now miss) most about Lyon?

…Of all the answers to this question-the gorgeous architecture, the crisp but sunny fall days, the farmer’s markets, the ever-amazing Rue de la République, the fashion, the shoes, the shoes again, the regional specialties, the rivers, the cobblestone streets…my brain decided to take a lovely holiday and when it came time to actually respond, I said…wait for it…the métro.

The MÉTRO?!? Come on, Court, you can do better than that. Or at least say something a little less spastic. Funny, that day we went over the word spasmodic (au sujet de GPS) in my translation class. I shouldn’t have bothered trying to find a word, clearly I managed to act it out quite perfectly a few hours later. If my brain had been anywhere near me at that moment, here’s what I would have said, in my mix of français et franglais, bien sûr:

  • Walking! You can walk most places in Lyon quite quickly and easily, and there is always something beautiful to see!
  • Quai Saint Antoine. They hold a fantastic farmer’s market  in the mornings, and vegetables are fresh and inexpensive! Vendors call out prices and products all around you, and the colors and smells were amazing.
  • MACARONS. It was HARD to be gluten-free in Lyon. Practically impossible. When I found a dessert I could actually eat, I jumped on it. Having a bad day? Macaron day. Monday? Macaron day.
  • Architecture. The architecture is old and absolutely stunning. The attention to detail is amazing: the windows, doors, and storefronts are all so intricate!
  • Windows. The windows have actual windowsills but don’t have screens. I may or may not have spent a lot of time leaning out watching the people shopping below.
  • Keys. I have a key obsession. I love them in jewelry and in functional form, you know, as door-openers. The keys in Lyon fit the most incredible and ornate doors, which meant that they themselves were large and ornate. Like keys you imagine in old Victorian neighborhoods.

 

I miss it a lot. I’m still trying to figure out where to go from here, and while I have a lot figured out, there is a lot of uncertainty (a lot of which I’m stoked for, actually).

I also think that my favorite things about Lyon can be summed up by this: they start with the letter M. Mates, metro, macarons, markets, musculation (weight training), and shoes. Okay, so shoes isn’t an M word, but that’s okay. Definitely miss the shoes.

So these are some of the major highlights from la vie lyonnaise. There were also major tough aspects that I don’t think I was prepared for, but I’ll talk about those in another post :)

-Court<3

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Perfection does not equal strength.

I’m a really lucky girl. I have several amazing friends that love and support me and always remind me that despite my flaws, I’m worth it. I’m so grateful to have them in my life and strive every day to be an amazing friend back to them. They remind me every day that I have strength in me, even when I forget.

One thing that I write about a lot is perfection. When things in my life start to spiral out of control, I up my effort and instead of accepting change and rocking it, I try to stand still and be perfect. Perfect body, perfect grades, perfect personality. And then I remind myself that perfection is boring, perfection doesn’t mean you’ve overcome anything, and perfection is just plain impossible. The point is, I SAY this all the time. As for really convincing myself that it’s okay to let go of the need to be perfect, that’s a little harder. I’m definitely not there yet….

I try to stay motivating and inspirational, but I’ll admit that I don’t always fully believe in myself. I write so that I can express everything that I struggle with saying verbally, and so that I have reinforcement for myself. I do read past posts (and occasionally find atrocious grammatical errors) and reflect on what I’ve written. I write so that I have somewhere to look for little tidbits of inspiration when I need them. I’m a work in progress, without a doubt.

I struggle with accepting imperfection. I struggle with embracing my flaws. I struggle to admit it when something is wrong. I struggle to admit defeat. And then I work harder, thinking that strength lies in “fixing” your imperfections. Now, I don’t think so. I think maybe strength lies in embracing them. In admitting that you’re hurting, or that you actually aren’t in control and are struggling to find your balance. Maybe strength lies in admitting to weakness and dropping the “everything is perfect, I’m fine and don’t ever hurt” façade. Maybe it lies in allowing your guard to drop and letting yourself feel.

I don’t know for sure, but I do know that strength doesn’t come from perfection. And for that, I think I’m grateful.

I work on this every day, practicing what I preach. Believing in myself. Accepting my flaws. I’m not fantastic at it; I still get down on myself and think that maybe if I was better I wouldn’t hurt, or that it would make me happy. When that doesn’t work, I try harder.

Work in progress.

-Court<3

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