Category Archives: reflection

new beginnings

We all have chapters in our life that we close for one reason or another whether it’s a relationship or school related. Right now, mine’s the latter, and while I’ve been waiting for this day for about 2 years, I’m also nervous.

Thanks to this blog and all of you, I have figured out where my future goals lie and I’m so excited to share them with you.

I’ve loved the sweetest thing and while it didn’t start out with a lot of focus, it surely ended with such a purpose. I’m so proud and so happy to show you this…

….my final independent study book! It’s 97 pages (60% dually printed) and has all the posts from here and my survey analysis, which I’ll post tomorrow. [NOTE: the cover page was created using Wordle]

Thank YOU so mcuh for following, commenting and just helping me out. WE did this together  and I can’t express to you enough how much that means to me 🙂

However, because of that, I’m now leaving the sweetest thing behind and am currently working with a designer for a new blog!!! From this study last semester, I’ve found that my passions still are heavily weighted in food (duh! I went to culinary school), but in a healthy way promoting body image. I’d love to go into nutritional programming for young women to understand how food plays a role in their lives and that’s it’s more than the latest diet.

Finding Peace in Chocolate is going to be that outlet for me. It’s going to focus on us building a good relationship with food physically, emotionally, and mentally so I’m going to share with you recipes that are great for those areas of our life- fruit, veggies, whole grains for physical health; chocolate for emotional health and then how to understand your body and it’s needs for mental health. Body image will still be something I talk about, but more from this angle than from fashion. I’m so excited to get back into the kitchen!!!

From there, my plans are up in the air. I’m looking into grad schools (primarily Tufts) to possibly start next spring or fall in Nutrition Communication or Public Health, but until then I’ll continue to work at the restaurant, blog and take each day as it comes.

Oh, and how could I forget this???

Because of my new purpose/mission, I’m also submitting a proposal for the Healthy Living Summit 🙂 Are you going? Maybe I’ll see you there…!

For the first time, I’m truly at peace with not knowing what the future exactly brings, but do know what I want (and I’m stubborn enough to not settle for less!) My study will always be housed here, but for now, I need to take the first step to my future…

I’ll see you soon!!!

Will you come to my new “house”? I hope so.

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celebrity or not, we’re all the same

Well yesterday’s post about Julie Henderson definitely got people talking and in a good way… Now we just have to try to take that conversation from this blog and to other women so they can see our society’s ideals and find their own beauty.

Linking up to that discussion, I wanted to talk about a woman I met at the NEDA panel. In case you missed my summaries of that event, you can click here to read part 1 and part 2.

Now I have to say that I usually don’t get worked up over celebrities. Yes, I’ve been known to flip through some magazines like People and US Magazine to past the time, but not because I can’t wait to know what happened to whomever. I always had the idea that they were really just like us, but had people actually follow their every move because of the work they’ve done and frankly, I knew I’d never want that attention.

However, at the panel, it made me think about who is truly a celebrity or a role model to you. Is it that movie star or is it a writer? All the panelists were successful and passionate about what they were doing and while they might not be a celebrity by our societal standards, you don’t know how happy I was to be able to talk to some of these leaders in their respective fields on a topic we all love.

But there was one celebrity in the fashion industry who was at the panel and a NEDA Ambassador, Emme.

(source)

For those of you who do not know, Emme is known for being the world’s first full-figured supermodel and full-figured model to have a cosmetics contract with Revlon. Then as a host of E! Entertainment Television’s “Fashion Emergency.” she became an icon not only in the U.S, but around the world. She’s been on many television programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, 20/20, The Rachel Ray Show and Entertainment Tonight, in magazines like People’s “50 Most Beautiful People” twice and has also spoken to many women on body image, greener living and  surviving cancer. Inspiring, right?

I had seen in the pamphlet that she would be there and was excited to hear her perspective, but in true Jacquie fashion, I arrived early so I just started to talk to people here and there. There was a group of three women talking and one started to bring me into the group to tell me about her newest venture in this field to stop fat talk. While it wasn’t something that got me excited, I’m still impressed by the amount of voices there are trying to help women succeed.  After we finished talking, another woman from the group came up to me and asked me why I was there. I told her bits of my story and the project I was working on, but was instantly drawn to her warmth. She told me about the Body Image Council, an organization in relation to NEDA which she’s starting to put together and before parting, we said we’d talk more after the panel.

I found my seat and waited for my friend Stephanie to meet me since it was about to start when it hit me… I had just talked with Emme.

I was floored and felt terribly silly. There she was, a well-known and highly regarded woman, and I didn’t recognize her 😦

After the panel, we were both busy speaking to people, but I was able to say goodbye quickly before she left for a interview. She gave me her card as I apologized for not realizing it was her at the beginning when we met.

You’re a woman. I’m a woman. We’re both here for this cause and that’s it.

It’s so straight-forward. It’s so true and just solidified my first thought about celebrities from the beginning of this story. Celebrities, no matter how well-known they are, at the end of the day, they’re just like you or me. She wasn’t “Emme, the model” at the panel, but “Emme, the NEDA Ambassador and body image advocate.” She was a woman there who was just as concerned and interested as I was about these issues, but was able to share some knowledge because of her experiences.

I have since talked with her and might I say again that she’s so down to earth and warm- just like my first impression- and I can’t wait to talk with her more.

Have you ever met a celebrity- either by society standards or your own? Who and did you actually recognize them?

going with the flow

Happy Monday!

I woke up with this beauty in a bowl so my week’s obviously starting off well despite the rain…

It was 1/3 cup of my oatmeal mix made with 1/2 cup of almond milk + 1/2 cup of water + cinnamon + nutmeg and then topped with strawberries + frozen raspberries (so convenient and tasty when raspberries are expensive) + shredded coconut + drizzled, melty cocoa bliss! Why didn’t I try this before?!?!?! Well I know why- it was the price- but it’s so worth it. Yummmm…..

But let’s talk about this weekend. How was yours? Except for some fun on Saturday night for my friend Julie’s birthday…

…mine was dedicated to work. Icky I know, but I only have about a month left so I really can’t complain. But along with that lovely statement of “only a month left,” there’s the “what’s next?”

Honestly, I’m not sure what’s next. It’s too early to search seriously into PR jobs and while I’d love to work in a field that I’ve majored in, I’m having so much fun writing to you on here. It’s given me a space and a voice to talk about something I’m passionate about and luckily, I’ve reached more than I could have ever imagined.

Because of that, I’m thinking of graduate programs to gain the creditability I’d need to work for either a PR firm or magazine in the future. I’m currently look at George Washington University (for Public Health Communication and Global Health) and Tufts University (for Nutrition Communication). Both of those programs would allow me to continue to do what I love to talk about and fit right in with the project I’m thinking of and looking for grants for. However, if I’m applying, I need more prerequisites so I’ll be writing,  learning (with more class) and working too. Busy busy, but I like it that way and you can’t complain when you love what you’re doing.

The best part of trying to piece everything together is the fact that I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Now you might be saying, “What?!?! How would that be a good thing?” and frankly, even last summer, I would have told you that I love everything planned out. I still do, but at the same time, especially since finding myself in this study and blog, I’ve found that the best things have come from just taking things day by day.

That’s what I had to do during my recovery when even though I hated getting better, it was the right thing. Now, I’m long past those horribly painful days, but even being healthy, I still take those baby steps. When you plan out life, life always seems to have another plan- and most times for the better so why fight it? We have to make every effort to follow what we love and make things happen for ourselves, but you never know who the next person you’ll meet will be. How fun is that? Well fun and maybe a little scary, but as my dad always says, “life’s an adventure” so I might as well listen… for once.

Are you a planner or more spontaneous? Even though I’m learning to go with the flow, I wish I was more spontaneous. I like my schedule!

How do you handle things as they come? I think they’re exciting, but I’m always uneasy. But nothing comes from being afraid, right?

searching for a job

I have to admit that as much as I love following fashion and the effects on body image- good and bad- with the various international Fashion Weeks, this week has been devoted more towards relaxing and looking/applying for jobs.

As you know I went to NYC last weekend and it was a lot of fun, but also very productive. I had some “getting to known you interviews” and hope that come May, they will help, not just because it’s a job, but because these companies and the people I’d work with are wonderful. At the same time, I’ve been wondering how to merge this blog into a career of its own. Even if it wasn’t the blog itself, but me more as a writer, speaker or just working in a company where I could talk about food, health, fashion and a postitive body image, I would be in heaven. But where to start?!

That’s where Jess Weiner comes in. Have you heard of her? If not, you should because she’s an inspiration and doing great things to empower girls to grow up loving themselves and have a positive body image. Knowing she knew what she was doing, I asked her for advice and like most, she started without a plan and speaking to small groups which eventually grew.

But I’m not sure I just want to speak since I love writing so much. A dream would be to work for a magazine and I’ve applied so we’ll see what happens. I guess I’m just kind of jumbled and everywhere. The things I love are similar, but not in a way that is straight-forward. I’m all for adventure, but I also love a slight plan which just is happening. I guess this is where going with the flow comes in.

Good food, health and fashion. How do you connect?!?

If you could do anything as a career, what would you do? I’m just so unsure now, even with location, that I’ll in limbo until I graduate in May. HELP!

taking care of #1

I have a confession. It came to me in the shower (as most of my realizations do) last night.

I haven’t been taking care of myself this past week. No, I haven’t used any bad behaviors (Mom, I’m fine, I promise!), but I haven’t been listening to myself as much as I would like to think I have.

How did this realization come about? Well first, I had a panic attack last week (which I think started this process) due to the snow. While snow is pretty, DC just isn’t ready for the kind of snow we’ve gotten this winter. Did I mention we broke a record after the last storm? Yup, we did at 54.9 inches.

Anyway, after being basically stuck inside for a week, I got very restless. I was by myself (since I live by myself) and even if you wanted to move, you just couldn’t. The streets and sidewalks weren’t plowed well. The buses were running on a modified schedule. The metro was running every 30 minutes just underground. Stuck is a good word for what was going on 😦

Now I had a great fabulous time in Texas. It was so nice to be with family and celebrate my uncle’s no-more-chemo recovery! He was very very sick when he was first diagnosed, but my uncle (and family for that matter) is amazingly strong and he fought with all of his might. I love you Uncle John.

That was a good part of this past week, but then when we got back, everything that had to be done came back to me. See, nicely my teachers didn’t hand out too many extra assignments as we missed class due to the snow, but now we’re trying to crush 2 weeks into one since midterm week is only 2 weeks away.

Oh, and my PR portfolio group has an event at a local bar on Friday night to raise money for the Arlington Academy of Hope. (For my fellow DC-ers, come to Town Tavern from 6-11 pm to help us give Ugandan students an education. With a $5 cover, you get $2 drink specials and $5 burgers!)

Oh, one last thing, the walk is Sunday, which I’m so excited about, but it unfortunately crept up after missing a week of planning.

Needless to say, the tension headaches/migraines that I’m prone to have been with me since Monday morning. My shoulders have been holding all of that tension and I just haven’t cared. Oh, and I know I need to get my eyes checked because I’ve been wearing my glasses more lately and not wearing them probably hasn’t helped my head.

Fun little tidbit in case you didn’t know that I had glasses for far distances.I’ve tried to give my body rest when I can and skipped yoga so far, but I realized last night that maybe I shouldn’t have.

Taking care of myself is about rest, but it’s also about doing things that are good for myself and that I love. Well I love yoga. It brings me peace and a time where it’s all about focus and moving my body. I need that right now. I also love fueling my body (while being indulgent at times) which has meant reducing my meat and dairy consumption lately since it’s made me feel so much better. Yup, I’ve completely ignored that one. I’ve been having milk and eating cheese and meat everyday since Monday and I feel horribly sluggish. I had andouille sausage tonight at dinner with grits, onions, peppers and tomatoes. It was very very good, but my stomach was so torn up my stomach after having the rich sausage 😦

So why am I telling you this?

One, to let you know that I’m not perfect. No one is. I may be honest and outspoken, but that doesn’t mean I have a perfect life. Two, to tell you that having a bad week is OK, but realizing you need a change or to do something for yourself is the first step to make yourself feel better. Three, I talked about being your own best friend before and taking care when you’re sick, but wellness and health isn’t just physical, it’s mental and emotional too and when those components aren’t three working together or balanced, something’s got to give. What does your body need physically? emotionally? mentally?

So what’s my plan for today to make myself feel better? Well I have to go to class, but first I’m going have a nice soothing bowl of my recent favorite oatmeal combination- sauteed apples with spices over my oat mix (made with almond milk and coconut water) with a blob of almond butter.

After class, I’m going to stop at Whole Foods to get a few things I need for the rest of the week/weekend since I might have a visitor Saturday and Sunday- yay! 🙂 Some work might be done then and depending on the time, I might even fit in a yoga class at 5:30 pm. If not, that’s OK, I might just need a calm night with a good dinner and good book! Perfect. Tomorrow morning will definitely have yoga in it 🙂

It might feel selfish to only think of yourself, but you gotta take care of #1. If you don’t, who will? Love yourself. Love your body. And know this to shall pass ❤

What do you do to make yourself feel better in a stressful time? Do you take care of yourself?


FDA woes

With all of this snow, I’ve definitely caught up on reading, just not writing yet. But I’m getting there… I promise.

There was an article in the NYTimes last week that caught my attention. While I had drafted commentary to it, there was still something nagging me about why I didn’t really like this article, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought what the FDA wants to do (which I’ll get into in a minute) is silly and stupid, but why? Well let’s discuss…

In this article, the FDA is saying they want manufacturers to put the calorie counts and nutritional information on the front of food packages. Why? Because with this whole “let’s fix the obesity problem” bandwagon, they want to give consumers a jolt of reality and for them to understand that their portions might actually be more than one serving size.

My initial reaction to that idea was that nutritional information is already on the package on the side. If people aren’t looking for this information in the first place, that’s not the government’s fault. They either don’t want to know or they don’t care. You can’t force people to care about something.

They may also have trouble seeing it, where it usually appears in small type in the Nutrition Facts panel on food packages. In surveys conducted by the foundation, many more people say they look at the calorie number than at the serving size on which it is based.

Maybe this is my own political belief, but the government isn’t here to save us from ourselves. If you can’t  see the label or understand the label, we need to do more nutrition education and consumer education than proposing this new idea.

Next, for anyone who’s into nutrition or health, we’re aware of portion sizes. Some are small (like for packaged foods) and some can be quite large and satisfying (think fruit, veggies and grains). So what does this tell us? If you limit your packaged food consumption, you can eat a larger, satisfying portion and not worry about the guilt. You can’t tell me how great that sounds.

And if manufacturers increasingly push key nutrition facts to the front of packages — as many have begun doing — the confusion could be magnified. Rather than helping fight obesity, it may simply add to the perplexity over what makes a healthful diet.

I thought this was an interesting statement too. Some people who haven’t want to or had to learn about nutrition might not completely understand labels. There’s many things to consider. Of course there’s the calorie count and fat grams, but where are the the sources of fat? How much fiber? How much protein? How much of the other vitamins like A, C, D, B12?

Take peanut butter. At first glance, it looks like a “bad” food. The serving size is 2 tablespoons (and it’s easy to go over if you’re in love with it as I am!) and it’s high in calories at about 100 calories per tablespoon. The fat grams are high too and I know that while almost everyone who’s had an eating problem as banned peanut butter (or any nut butter for that matter) at one point because of these facts, once they start to get healthier, they always add it back and it becomes a favorite food. Why?

While the fat grams are high, they come from a good source. Not a fatty animal fat, but an oil-based fat from the nuts. Not only that, the fat and the protein (about 7 grams per serving) keep you satisfied for a long time and keep the munchies away. Also, the sugar count is low so while it has a few carbs, this food will not spike sugar and personally is wonderful on sweet, juicy apples or grapes 😉

Now I get the natural peanut butter with nothing in the ingredient list but peanuts, maybe salt and sometime palm oil. Some people don’t like that you have to stir it, but I’ll give you a secret: if you stir it once and then put in t in the fridge or upside down in your pantry, you won’t have to majorly stir it again. Keeping the ingredient list small and simple is a guaranteed way to ensure your packaged foods are healthy.

Standard serving sizes were created by the F.D.A. in the early 1990s, partly to make it easier to compare the nutritional values of different products. Congress required that the serving sizes match what people actually ate. To determine that, the F.D.A. evaluated data from surveys of Americans’ eating habits taken in the 1970s and 1980s.

The F.D.A. has vowed to re-evaluate serving sizes before. Amid concern over obesity, it said in 2005 that it was considering changes. That effort languished, but has now been revived by the Obama administration.

This could be a good idea, but at the same time our portion sizes have grown in the last few decades so changing them to how the average person eats might not help us as a population.

I personally don’t look at portion sizes a lot and I’ll tell you why. One, I ate a lot of fruit and veggies which are both good for you and fill you up before you can really overeat them. Two, I’m more of an intuitive eater which is that I eat until I’m satisfied, not full, not stuffed, just satisfied. Now this second habit comes from practice and well-being so I can see how portion sizes could help someone who’s learning to listen to their hunger signals.

But as I stated before, if we move further away from packaged foods and revamp our food system in that way, I feel like the FDA wouldn’t have to worry about these things. Maybe I just don’t trust the government that much, but I feel like the more they try to regulate, the more we’re going to be stuck into a big business, packaged food system when we need to focus for on fruits, veggies and grains. Now I know that that many in the FDA used to work for meat packers and factory farms which is obviously a conflict of interest, but maybe that needs to be revamped more than our nutrition labels.

What do you think of this new idea? Do you focus primarily on labels and serving sizes?

I loved this comment. I thought it said exactly what I feel and how I live to eat GOOD food.


be your own best friend

I’m not going to lie. I feel horrible and have for a few days. I’ve had a headache, been tired, felt like there are 50# weights on my shoulders and just want to curl up on my couch and watch movies. Which frankly, is what I’ve been doing other than a little homework and work on my independent study. Oh, and I’ve eaten. That is important.

As a blogger, your life can get pretty transparent depending on how much you share. Sometimes you can build friendships through email, keep up with each other on a blog for months before you ever meet.

As an advocate for body image and at times, eating disorders, not only is your life or story transparent, but some people can get caught up in trying to be the “perfect” advocate which can do more harm than good. You think that because you’re healthy and strong again, you have to be healthy and strong all the time. But that can’t be true all the time because let’s face it, we all have bad days.

I’ll even tell you a secret here too. I may be a blogger and I may be an advocate, but I’m far from perfect. Even I have bad days and that’s ok. Monday was actually one of them. Not only did I not feel well, but my equilibrium was off and I was very anxious. Finally after staying in my pjs all day, I ventured out to Whole Foods to get around round of food before getting caught inside for another round of snow that’s raging right now as I type.

Luckily it didn’t take long, but what happened next made me realize 1. how far I’ve come, 2. bad days happen and 3. respecting yourself does your body a whole lot of good in a bad situation. I had been wanting to make this chili dip that my mom used to make for neighborhood parties. It’s a layer of no bean chili, a layer of cream cheese and then topped with a mexican cheese blend. No, it’s not low fat or even remotely vegan, but with Fritos, it’s wonderful.

So on Monday night after I went to the store, I had all the things I needed to make this dip and that’s just what I did. It came out of the oven all warm, bubbly and smelling delicious, but just as I was about to put a chip in, I realized something- I didn’t want it. The last time I had it I just purged because it was too much for me to handle and while I can handle food situations now and am healthy, I also know what I want in my body and what I don’t. I didn’t want this. Five minutes after I took it out of the oven, I dumped it. Yes, it was a waste of money, but it was the best waste of money since even though I wasn’t feeling well and anxious, I continued to take care of MYSELF.

It’s taken me almost 2 solid years of no bad behaviors, but taking care of myself is actually getting easier everyday. I’ve started listening to what my body wants and respecting it. I can describe my emotions with words and not hurt myself in return. Oh, and I’m a friend to myself which is so very important. We live in a culture and society where women either tear others down to make themselves feel better or treat themselves horribly which they’d never do to a friend. I was the latter. I’d be mean to myself, destroy myself all because I wanted control, but nothing I ever said or do to myself would be something I’d want a friend to do to herself. Double standard? Yup!

Be a friend to yourself. Love yourself. Love your body and if you take care of it, it’ll take care of you! 🙂

What do you do to take care of yourself?

After I realized what I needed was just plain rest, that’s what I did. I pushed it a little bit yesterday by going to yoga for my anxiety, but since then, it’s again been all about a good movie, good movies and my sweats. 🙂