Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Self Love is More

Self love is more than face mask-selfies you put on Snapchat or that cup of coffee you Instagram story. It's more than bubble baths and and eating a tub of ice cream.

See, self love (to me) is still these things but there's more to it. I see self love as a tiered cake.

You have your bottom layer, it is the largest. That is where your bath bombs, face masks and eating chocolate fall under. This is a great first step. These are what get you thinking about self love. They give you a gateway to your night of relaxation.

The middle layer takes those elements a bit further. It's your self-reflection. This isn't what you usually put all over your Instagram story. It's analyzing how happy you are and why your answer is what it is. I think a lot of times people will hop into the bath tub with a book and think their problems will melt away, and they do for a time. But then the bath water turns cold and you have to get up. Use this tier of the cake to look at what you've accomplished and what makes you proud. However, also use this tier to reflect on what is stressing you out and what is draining you. Identifying these factors can sometimes lessen their affect on you. Self-reflection is SUCH an important part of self love. This tier of the cake leads us to the top and final tier.

The top layer is what you do after you've done your face mask and pondered some questions. This is what I like to call the action part of the cake. What are you going to do with the information you learned about yourself? As a writer, I find it helpful for me to journal. I've kept a journal since 8th grade and I find it very therapeutic to write out how I'm feeling (it's also neat to be able to flip through different notebooks and see where you were at a certain day of your life so many years ago). My journal is a place where I can ramble, unload my problems, or celebrate the positive moments, while I do still highly suggest talking out these things, it's nice to have a place to put everything into just for myself. Take action to improve on your daily life. That action truly just depends on you-- do you want to try to give yourself one night a week to do absolutely nothing? Do you want to put your time into a volunteer organization? Do you want to spend more time with your loved ones? There is always a small thing you can do to enhance how you feel. 

Life is too short to feel constantly overwhelmed. Do what is best for you. Start off with that bubble bath and a good book-- that is still so incredibly important to having "me time," but I encourage you to take it a little further. Look inwards and I think you'll eventually see that shift outwards, too.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Listen to your body

This past week was NEDAwareness week (National Eating Disorder Awareness) and as I read through countless men and women's stories on their battle in their relationships with food, my eyes were opened even more to how important this conversation.

Last semester I was in a class called "The Future and Ethics of Food" which looked at our relationships with food, the American food system, what's healthy, etc. I enjoyed it significantly more than I thought I would when I had to sign up for my required CORE class. Something I didn't expect to get out of it, though, was a self-reflection at my own relationship with food. 
You have to go to Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans
And while I may not have an eating disorder, I do realize that my relationship with food hasn't always been healthy.

I used to think that I had to workout or do something to "deserve" a dessert or an extra serving of fries. Freshman year of college was especially hard because I went out to eat so much. You can say you are going to stay home and cook most of your meals but even then you still go out 1-3 times a week. My first semester of my freshman year I totally embraced the college lifestyle, not eating healthy, etc. By second semester I was sluggish. I don't weigh myself frequently but I knew I didn't feel great. So when I returned in January I wanted to start running again (I talk about this more in my fitness journey blog post). This was great but I'd still get so nervous going out to eat with friends. "Will they judge me for getting a salad? Will they notice I'm not eating all of the bun of the sandwich? How can I bail without anyone noticing?" I didn't enjoy eating in front of people, I wanted to eat alone. This, I now know, wasn't a healthy behavior.

Another thing that I tried and failed even before college was using the app MyFitnessPal. While it's great for some, it became a negative and obsessive habit for me. If I was over my calories I'd feel so bad about myself. Or I'd eat a smaller breakfast and lunch but then extremely overeat for my afternoon snack/dinner. I wouldn't record it because I'd assume it fit into how many calories I had left for the day. The app is great for some people, but for me it wasn't.

What I learned from reflecting on my experiences with food is that for me the best solution is to listen to my body. Over the past year I've learned that it's "okay" to eat that second bowl of ice cream even if I haven't worked out. I've learned to love the body I am in and use fitness and healthy eating to help me continue to love who I am. It's no longer something I "have" to do, but something I want to do. 

Earlier this week my body was tired and exhausted and I took an extra rest day. If you overwork your body you aren't going to get the results you're trying for because it's just trying to recover.

I'm listening to my body on what to eat, too. I made an earlier blog post about going gluten free, which I still try to do during the school week because, like I said, it makes me feel more energized and less bloated, but *just an update* I haven't completely cut it out (I definitely ate 6 pancakes at the Tri Delta pancake event today-- and hey that's okay). I'm not making myself feel guilty for treating myself with food. A brownie here or there isn't going to ruin me.

Listening to my body has taught me so much over the past semester. I am happier and more positive because I don't have to worry so much. My body is strong: I was able to run 10 miles on Saturday, I've biked 40+ miles for BikeMS in 100 degree weather, I've done triathlons. Our bodies should be praised not criticized by our own minds.

Although NEDAwareness week is over I think it's still important to encourage the discussion of positive eating behavior year around. You never know who is affected by an eating disorder. I hope that people begin to recognize the impact it has on people nationwide. Food serves as a tool during social gatherings, as a conversation starter amongst different cultures and creates memories, it shouldn't be a burden.

Listen to your body, don't be too hard on yourself and live in the moment. Having a healthy relationship with food and your body makes all the difference. 

Until next time,
Taylor xx 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

So about your guns

I had another post ready to share today but I felt that I needed to talk about this today as I was walking home from the gym and got a notification on my phone.

I really try not to express my political views on my blog. Now if you know me personally you know I don't shy away from talking about my distaste for our current political climate, but I really do try to stay away from it on this platform. You may ask yourself why. I don't want to have to debate through a comment section. I don't like that I have to scroll through Facebook posts from people at my church calling me a "anti-American" for my political views, because last time I checked I was pretty supportive of my country (even in the midst of this turmoil). 

And trust me, I recognize the other side, too. And if you're on the other side, please don't take this as me attacking you. I'm not. I'm simply stating something I don't agree with and I hope you can respect that, just like I respect your opinions. I can respect your opinions and work for change, though.

See, the moment I got this notification I sent this screenshot to my mom. Please tell me how we live in a nation where our leader thinks a possible solution is to arm teachers? Not only do I strongly disagree with this, but I have so many questions regarding it.

1) How are you going to go about funding every public school teacher in the nation with gun training and a gun? (Especially when you're already cutting $9.2 billion in funding for education, according to NPR)

2) What happens if a school shooter comes in and now instead of having one gunman you have 20+ because every teacher is shooting. Think about the difficulties for law enforcement and first responders going into that scene.

3)Think of all of the incidents that could occur with that amount of guns in schools. How many "accidental" shootings, how many "oh a student broke into the lock" stories would come out. You may argue not a lot or potentially less that the going rate of school shootings, but guess what-- 1 incident is too many.

Teachers don't go into teaching to wield guns. They go into their careers to educate the future generations. Never in a million years did I think I'd ever have to be worried about my mom going to work to teach a classroom of 5-6 year olds.

I truly don't understand how President Trump listened to the parents of victims and students themselves and thought that the answer was to arm teachers. 

The answer is obvious but sadly will never be accomplished. Politicians have to put politics aside and put the safety of the nation's children at top priority.

So about your guns... No I don't want to get rid of all your guns. All I want is a little bit more regulation, and guess what all of you people I know who are so passionate about your guns will get to keep them. Would I like to see militarized weapons like the AR-15 not allowed, sure. No person needs a weapon like that. But realistically I think it's fair to ask that you can keep all your guns (of all types) if you just beef up your paperwork.

Some may call me naive for wanting to live in a world where I don't fear my future kids going through a school shooting. "Danger is always out there" is true, but school shootings don't need to be a part of that narrative. 

And some may argue that these people will still have access to guns, but that's inevitable. Drugs are illegal but people still do drugs and ruin people's lives. But if we can get stricter gun laws and maybe save one or two children, that's one or two more children who get to grow up, pursue their dreams, and live the life they wanted. That's two children whose parents who don't have to visit them in a graveyard. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

**All of these thoughts are my own, they do not necessarily reflect the views of my friends or family**

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Gluten Free

Do you want to know a secret? 

I use my blog posts as an accountability tool. See if I'm being honest I didn't really sign up for my half marathon when I made that post about it. I made the post so that I would follow through on that commitment. I have to stay true to my word when 100+ people now know about it. That's partially why I'm sharing my story today.

If you're one of my close friends you know about my struggle with acne and inflamed skin, feeling sick/bloated, and overall just not feeling 100% of myself. In mid-November I vividly recall so desperately wanting a Domino's pineapple and ham pizza so I ordered one, ate it and felt my stomach twist and turn. So since around that point I began vocalizing to my friends about how I should go gluten free and that I thought I had an intolerance but I did nothing about it.
Surprise- Bread Co's oatmeal is gluten free... but really this photo has no relevance to this post I just needed to put a picture in or else a picture of my skin would be attached with the preview of this post and I didn't want that.

I told myself that over winter break I'd go gluten free but then the holiday treats surrounded me and, trust me, I didn't come close to being gluten free.

That led me into this semester. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I did A TON of research and it was challenging because some was mixed and other things I read made it clear that I had some sort of gluten intolerance. I found hope when I discovered a fitness YouTuber, Sarah's Day. She also suffered with gut problems and hormonal acne similar to mine. As I watched more and more of her content I realized how similar our stories were.

I decided to do a little trial and I went gluten free for 7 days (January 31-February 6). I started to notice an improvement in how I felt both in my energy and mood. But then on February 7 I ate some pasta and I was ready to have that sinking feeling again, but it didn't happen instantly like with the pizza. So I thought "well maybe I'm overreacting." Over the course of the next 5 days (Feb 7-11) I started consuming gluten again. Which leads me to two days ago. I felt so drained and demotivated. I was bloated, unhappy and my skin started to itch again. I talked with my friend Kaitlyn who is gluten intolerant about my symptoms and they aligned with hers. So as of Monday, February 12 I started going gluten free again. 

I've already noticed some positives- my mood improving, my motivation to work out going back up, etc. 

I do still have a dermatologist appointment scheduled to get a professional opinion on my skin, but I have a feeling that cutting out gluten will vastly help. I have documented my skin through photos so if my skin really clears up by the time I go to the dermatologist I will still have pictures to show him.

Here are some photos of me without makeup around September/October. I have more recent ones but they're just me staring deadpan into the camera and I don't really want those on the Internet forever.
Ignore the weird cropping

I am really excited to have a (potential) answer to why my body felt like it did. I know going gluten free will be challenging at times especially when living a college lifestyle but I also know I am going to feel 10x better because of it.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

PS: Even if I am not gluten intolerant, I mentally and physically feel better when I don't eat it and that's a good enough reason for me to cut it out of my diet. When I go home for spring break I will most likely meet with a doctor to see if my suspicions are confirmed.

Friday, February 9, 2018


Hello my good friends, I am back (finally) with another blog post. For some reason the past few weeks have been booked, I never seem to have a free moment.

Most of my friends get onto me because I haven't seen a majority of the "classic" TV shows or movies. I honestly don't know why I don't watch a ton of movies or TV, I really don't know what I do when I do have free time. I have watched shows like "Parks and Recreation," "Criminal Minds" and "Gossip Girl," but usually I choose to watch random documentaries on Netflix. 

My problem may be that I'm picky... if a show doesn't grab my attention and really reel me in, I abandon it. For every show like "Gossip Girl" or "Parks and Rec" there's a show similar to it that I should watch but I don't like, for example "One Tree Hill" or "The Office." Or because I don't have a ton of free time I end up just playing "Criminal Minds" in the background while I do homework. 

I promise I'm trying to work on my knowledge of movies/TV, and that's what I'm writing about today. See I watched a movie that really made me think (and I wasn't expecting it too) and I'm watching a TV show that has truly drawn me in.

First, the movie, or rather the muscial.

"The Greatest Showman" was a movie/musical I thought I would enjoy but then walk out of the theater and forget about. With so much hype I knew I wanted to see it but, again, wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it. But even now, 3+ weeks out I have still caught myself listening to the soundtrack on Spotify and thinking about the story. Sure, it wasn't my most favorite movie of all time but I really did enjoy it. I would recommend everyone see it. While watching it in the theater was enchanting, watching it once it's out to rent would suffice, too. I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was that it was relatable. Everyone has these huge dreams at one point of their life or another where they make it big, are famous and have everything they could have ever wished for. But then it also addresses what really is your dream, what (or who) are you living for and how much can you push the boundaries to make it. It got me thinking about my future and what I wish to accomplish. 

Last is a Hulu original, "The Handmaid's Tale." I have a student Spotify account which means I get Hulu for free. I hadn't heard of "The Handmaid's Tale" until watching part of the Golden Globes where I saw a trailer for it (and it won best TV drama). Dramas always intrigue me and I thought I would check it out. It is so good. There's a precaution before every episode that it's for mature audiences which I agree they should have, but I would say it's more "raw" than graphic. I cannot begin to describe how "The Handmaid's Tale" has made me rethink how our world today works. Basically, this show is set in a dystopia when the remaining fertile women have been collected (ripped from their families) to help the government officials continue their legacy by bearing their children. But do the handmaids get to be married to these men? No. The government officials have wives who can't get pregnant so the handmaids are there for that "service" and that service only. This series had me invested since episode one and the ideas the show raises are eerily  similar to that of "Black Mirror"-- too close to comfort for one day in the future.

My favorite kind of entertainment is that which makes me think. If I watch a show I want to be engrossed in the plot line, characters, and their future. These two have really done that for me and I wanted to share with all my friends that I am watching more shows (so be proud of me).

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What I can

As a little update for you all, my half marathon training has been going pretty well. I just finished up week 6 of my beginners plan. This week I ran 4 miles Tuesday and Thursday and on Saturday I ran 8.

I was really happy that I could do the full 8 miles with minimal walking because last week my IT band was causing some discomfort on my right knee so I stuck to the elliptical for 2/3 of the training days.

On most of my "off days" running I'm at the gym doing some kind of lifting/weights: arms, back, chest. I didn't do any leg days but those are my favorite so I'm going to try to reincorporate those in.
Wow yet another blog post where I put photos from my Hawaii trip even though it was 3 years ago. Anyway... this is a monumental spot for so many triathletes as it's the beginning of the swim and end of the run of the Kona Ironman and it was the most fitting picture I could find for this post.
Now you may be wondering how the "what I can" title fits into my update post. Well you see on Thursday of my training I was running my normal route when up going in on my second lap I saw a woman and a man way up ahead. The man had crutches so he was obviously moving pretty slow. I was able to complete the entire second lap and start the third when I finally crossed paths with them. 

When I run I put my hair in double french braids, I put my wireless headphones in my ears and then a running headband on over my ears to keep my hair out of my face and headphones in place. As I got closer to the couple I turned down my music because for some reason I anticipated him saying something to me. What he said has changed how I have gone about running this week.

The man on crutches told me that he wished he could move as well as I did and longed for the ability to run again. At the time I was caught off guard and my response was just a quick "oh" and a smile because I was still jogging past him. His words left an impact on me though. 

How many times do we take advantage of our bodies' abilities? I chose to sign up for this race so a part of that commitment is to train. I shouldn't be sulking that I have to run (x) amount of miles during the day. I have a body that can do incredible things. All that man wanted was his mobility back and here I am complaining that I have to walk more than 5 minutes to class or go out on a beautiful morning and run.

I thought about that man a lot when I was running my 8 miles yesterday because, let me tell you, it wasn't easy. But I just kept thinking back to "wow God gave me this body and I can do this." 

It's easy to make excuses. It would have been easy to give up yesterday and return to my bed before my other plans. But why waste your life laying around? Your body is capable of so many things, use it, cherish it, and make it the best it can be.

I'm thankful that I just so happened to cross paths with this man who helped me rethink my prospective. I wish I could have told him that I was grateful for his words and how they left a lasting impression on me.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What I've learned

Whether it's journaling or talking out my life with some of my closest friends, I find that reflecting is a healthy and important part of growing.

As I look at my life over the course of my time in college I have learned so many lessons. These are just a handful of the countless ones and I know I'll share more in the future.

Saying no is okay, and that goes for a variety of things. Last year I had the potential for being one of Drury's first female triathletes. The sport of triathlon has played a huge role in my life and when I originally said yes I explained my prior commitments. It ended up not working out due to a lot of factors and honestly it was for the best. I already can feel swamped at times with what I'm involved with, I wouldn't have been ready to compete at a collegiate level. Nor would I have the friends I do this year because I would have always been traveling.

From saying no I learned that failure happens. Whenever people ask about my biggest fears I think of a lot of things but I usually say failure. I'm sure many people can relate. I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning and sets out to disappoint people but it happens. Unfortunately the cliche is true and failure is necessary. Without failure some of the greatest things wouldn't have come to be. While it can be disappointing to fail, I have used that as motivation to strive to be better.

I've learned to find balance. It can't be 90% school/10% fun, but it also can't be 90% fun and 10% school. You have to balance friends, a social life, jobs, extracurriculars, schoolwork, and free time. One way I have done this is by prioritizing sleep. I was pretty good at this in high school and I've been pretty good at it in college, too. A well-rested body is one that can get you through the long days. I try to sleep 7-8 hours a night so that I can achieve a healthier life.  

That brings me to my next point-- listen to your body. I am training for a half marathon in April while also continuing to lift on the days I don't run. It's easy for me to push myself even when I'm tired. That little push is good to an extent but you also have to tailor how you're living to your body's response. If I'm too tired I've learned that a rest day is okay. I have also learned that just because I didn't go to the gym doesn't mean I don't "deserve" that ice cream from Andy's (in fact- nothing makes you "deserve" some kind of food, eat what you want in moderation). 

These principles are things I try to remind myself of. Many of the changes I've made to my life throughout the past 1 1/2 years of college are ones I am proud of. I have also learned to accept my shortcomings and used what I learned to improve.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

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