Safer Living

simple changes for safer living

If you are anything like me, I get overwhelmed with all the stats, facts, and news about the environment and health. How can little me make any difference in the whole scheme of things? Since joining Beautycounter, I have learned how even the smallest changes can have an impact on my health and the planet. The small changes add up! So, I want to share with you 6 simple, inexpensive changes you can make to live safer:

1. Choose glass over plastic

Some plastic containers contained the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which the FDA has labeled hazardous to our health. To minimize exposure to harmful chemicals leaking into your food, choose a glass container. If you must use plastic as you switch out, do not microwave in a plastic container.

2. Replace non-stick pans with stainless steel, cast iron, or ceramic-coated

Non-stick (teflon) pans are hazardous to your health and the environment. The non-stick coating is made with the chemicals PTFE and PFOA which can release harmful chemical fumes. These chemicals are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and damage to the environment. I admit that I recently threw away our one teflon pan that I used for eggs, but we invested in a ceramic-coated pan that I love (HERE)! Target and Amazon sell both cast-iron and ceramic pans.

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3. Choose a safer detergent

Our skin is our largest organ and quickly absorbs what we put on it, including what we wash our clothes in. Just like with personal care products, some detergents contain harmful ingredients that may come in contact with skin (i.e. “fragrance”). Thankfully, there are safer detergents out there! In our house, we love 7th Generation, who also has a great selection of safer cleaning products!

4. Buy organic when possible

If I could, I would buy all meat and dairy organic, as well as many fruits and veggies. However, at this point in our lives, that’s not financially possible, so I buy organic when I can using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list for fruits and veggies with the highest risk of pesticide exposure. Aldi and Trader Joe’s have a great selection of organic produce and dairy! Also, this summer I have been loving all the local produce at the farmers market, which usually has a great selection of organic and/or chemical-free produce.

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5. Carry reusable bags

We all know this one! Plastic bags are destructive to the environment by suffocating wildlife, blocking soil nutrients, and filling up landfills and the ocean. Build a stash of canvas, cotton, or other heavy-duty bags, and also keep a couple in your car for last-minute grocery story stops.

6. Wash your hair less often

This one is my favorite! Let’s be real, I am just too lazy to wash and style my hair every day, but I also love the body and texture of my second and third day hair. Not only does this save water, but washing your hair less often is better for your hair. Conventional shampoos strip your hair of it’s natural oils, as does washing your hair too often. As you wash your hair less, it will produce more oils but will ultimately lead to less oil production and healthier hair. I am a huge fan of dry shampoo (non-aerosol)! Here’s the one I currently use – Be Green Bath & Body.

What changes have you made to live safer?

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body image

saying goodbye to my teenage body

During my twenty-six years of life, my body has gone through several changes. From a baby to a toddler, toddler to preteen, preteen to teenager, etc. I know that the body I have now, will continue to change if I become a mother and as I enter menopause. Body changes are a natural part of life, yet many women, including me, fight these natural changes.

I first became aware of my body size was when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I felt bigger than most girls and often times felt helpless to change my body. These were some of the feelings that led me into my eating disorder. Years later, I now know it’s common for pre-pubescent girls to fill out, but at the time my body size felt a life sentence.

These feelings led into a seven-year struggle with anorexia, where I religiously controlled my weight and body fat. Looking back, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had let my body be. What would it have been like if I had let it naturally develop?

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Because of my restriction and over-exercise, I never went through the natural changes of puberty. My body stayed in it’s pre-pubescent state. This drastically changed when I went through treatment for my eating disorder. In 3 months, I went from underweight to a healthy, stable weight for my age and height. Restoring weight was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. The body I had known for 7 years was completely foreign to me. I wanted to crawl out of my skin, to mask what I had become. In reality, this weight was much easier to maintain than my previous weight. However, it didn’t feel “safe.”

It took me years to somewhat accept my new weight. I thought I was over the hard part, but no, there were still changes to come. In college, my body went through another change. I added a little more weight, and my body filled out in certain areas. I was so scared and frustrated. I had just started feeling normal in my body, and it had to change on me again. I bought new clothes and tried to accept these new changes.10369743_10202128400146982_1539850783066765785_n

After college, my body went through yet another transformation – into a woman. Suddenly I had curves. I was again faced with the need to find clothes that fit my changing body. During this time, I never weighed myself – to this day I still don’t really know how much I weigh – but I could feel the changes. There were many tears as I tried on clothes and embraced the idea of being X size. I was also filled with fear and doubts – Am I eating too much? Am I not exercising enough? I felt completely out of control of my body, because while I was doing the exact same things as I had been doing for a couple years, my body had a mind of its own.

This transformation was one of the hardest. I didn’t know if I could trust my body or my lifestyle decisions. However, I did not want to fall back into a life of rules and restriction. I reached out to trusted friends for support, I surrounded myself with positive messages, and I cleaned out my social media feeds. It’s not easy, but I am coming to accept my new womanly body because it is healthy for me.13938164_10206989854480302_3206533756796738888_o

Something I have learned in this process, is that women’s bodies go through a “second puberty.” Just as a girl’s body changes in her preteen years, her body also changes in early to mid 20’s from a young girl to a woman. I find solace in this, because I don’t want to look like a young girl all my life. I want to look like a woman, curves, softness, and all.

I know what it is like to control my body at a certain size, and to me it’s not worth it. I don’t want to hold onto my teenage or young woman body. I want to live in freedom to enjoy life and trust how my body changes with time. This life is so much more freeing! Believe me!

If I can leave you with one thought – let go of control. Your body is an AMAZING creation and you can trust it! As you let go and learn to listen to your body, things may change, but give yourself grace. Love your body and all that it can do for you.

You are beautiful!

 

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weekend happenings

I am a deep-thinker and always love a thought-provoking conversation, especially surrounding eating disorder recovery, intuitive eating, safer living, health at every size, and living a balanced life, which is why I started this blog. However, I also love sharing the little things about life, like a new recipes, fun coffee shop, travels and adventures, and other things I am loving! So, you will also see some of these topics on the blog as well!

This weekend was a busy one for me, but that was good since I am still not feeling 100% myself emotionally. After work, Blake and I headed to a local wine shop, Solo Vino, for their weekly wine tasting. It was our first time there, and loved the shop’s vibe and wine selection. They had so many different wines that I’d never heard of and all the staff were very knowledgeable! The tasting was also amazing – they had a great selection and knew their wines. In addition to good coffee, Blake and I love good wine. Now we are far from experts, and our usual wine purchase is a Bota Box, but we love the opportunity to taste wines and learn all about them. The night ended with take-out pizza and Downton Abbey…I know, super exciting.

Saturday mornings have become are favorite time of the week. Recently, we’ll either go to a coffee shop for coffee, pastries, and catching up/reading/studying, or we’ll make a fun breakfast at home. This Saturday, I totally slept in (8:30, woohoo!) and then ran out for fresh bagels. I wish I would’ve taken a picture, but we made the most epic bagel breakfast sandwiches!

After brunch, I headed out for work at my part-time retail job. It was a beautiful day, and was so thankful for all the windows in our shop.

 

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We had fun evening plans with my parents! We met up at a local park for a picnic dinner that my mom prepared – love her cooking! She made quite the spread of italian beef sandwiches on homemade buns, corn on the cob, coleslaw, garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies! A little voice in the back of my head told me it was too much food, but I didn’t want to miss out on all the good, homemade foods. I told myself that I don’t have to eat it all – if I get full, then I can stop eating. Also, I had a reality check that it wasn’t too much food. I would be ok.

After dinner and a little “photo-shoot,” we attended a free concert by the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute. I love good, classical music and this concert filled really blessed my soul.

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Sunday morning, we dashed out the door to church so we could get a parking spot! Side note – we love going to the early service, but we never give ourselves enough time to have a real morning before church. Blake and I have been attending Hope Community Church in downtown Minneapolis for almost 2 years, and absolutely love it. This Sunday I was reflecting how much I love this church as a whole and how much of a blessing it is to me. I especially love the gospel-centered teaching and worship. If you are looking for some good worship music, check out Hope Hymns on Spotify. It’s amazing!

Following church, Blake and I visited his 7 month-old nephew (our nephew?), Jasper, who recently had heart surgery. It was heartbreaking to see him connected to all these tubes and wires, but he is a trooper and is recovering well.

The afternoon flew by. I really wanted to just sit and be with Blake, but there were things to do. Over the last 5 months, Blake has dedicated so much time to studying for the LSAT. I am so proud of all the work he is doing and how dedicated he is, but we will both be thankful for the time when we have free weekends and evenings together to cook and explore together. Less than a month till he takes his exam!

Later that afternoon, I met with a friend for coffee at one of my favorite spots – Quixotic Coffee. It was so good to talk about life, marriage, dreams, and more. Again, if I could make a career out of meeting women for coffee, I totally would do that.

I came home to a surprise! Blake had tidied up the apartment and set the stage for a date night at home complete with candles and Josh Turner music. We rarely cook together, but it’s something we hope to do more of this year. Last night we made sushi for the first time, and it turned out pretty well! It was no speciality sushi, but it was much cheeper than going out for sushi. The only thing I missed was seaweed salad – I guess I’m going to have to learn how to make that too. The night was just what we needed – fun memories, wine, sushi, and Downton Abbey.

Hope you all had a restful weekend!

What was the favorite part of your weekend?

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self-care

I’ve struggled to get a post out because I haven’t felt on top of my game the past several days, but I want this to be an open space because perhaps it can be an encouragement to some of you.

Blake and I have a big transition coming up, and while it is good, it is challenging for me. I love new things, but I’m also a creature of comfort and familiarity. This weekend was filled with big decisions and future conversations, and my emotions and anxiety were all over the place.

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Normally, when I’m feeling off emotionally or physically, I push through and just do what I need to do. However, in the past year I’ve started honoring my need to slow down and take care of myself. Self-care is a buzzword now, but for good reason. Our culture tells us we need to push ourselves farther, constantly be busy, and always say ‘yes’. I felt that pressure for years –  and I finally hit a breaking point. I was constantly tired and unhappy, and I didn’t have the time or energy to do life-giving things like spend time with my husband, read books, bake, or go on walks.

Perhaps I won’t get as ‘far’ as others, get as much done, make as much money, or know as many people, but I don’t care. I’d rather be present for the moments and people I have right now.

Practicing self-care and slowing down is not easy. Sometimes I worry I’m missing out, or that I’m not doing ‘enough.’ However, what is the measure of ‘enough’? I believe this comes from knowing and trusting ourselves. I know, that is hard, but you are the only judge of your capacity.

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If you are feeling burnt out and exhausted, or like you never have a spare moment in your calendar, then maybe you need to make room for slowing down and practicing self-care. One way I have done this is by taking a Sunday sabbath. After church and lunch, I spend the day doing life-giving things – no work or big plans. Recently I’ve spent that time reading, baking, watching a show, getting coffee with Blake or a friend, or spending time with family. During an emotionally or physically challenging time, perhaps self-care involves taking a break from exercise, taking a nap, or making sure you get a good night’s rest.

What keeps you from slowing down?

How do you practice self-care?

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embracing my body in pictures

This past weekend, Blake and I attended the wedding of one of his dear high school friends. The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque – a bright, open church, surrounded by trees in the middle of the Wisconsin countryside. After the ceremony, I wanted to take some pictures. I am terrible about documenting life events and people, and am trying to be better at it. However, I knew the personal struggle that would ensue…

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I don’t like having picture taken of me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Even in a group photo, my eye immediately hones in on myself, and I base the “quality” of the picture off of how I feel about my body in the photo. In individual and group photos, I pick apart my body, criticize my “trouble spots”, and completely degrade myself. Sadly, this one photo can affect my mood the rest of the day – bringing me down, isolating me from people, being afraid to eat too much, blaming my habits for why I look “so bad,” etc.

Despite knowing this would happen as we took pictures, I tried to be confident in my body and my individual beauty. I took pictures of Blake first – such a stud – but then he wanted to take pictures of me. I was awkward. I didn’t know how to pose in a way that hid my “flaws” and made me look natural and elegant. I looked off to the side because I hate my face straight on. I told him to make me laugh because I think my smile looks funny. I tried to have fun, but nothing felt natural.

After our photo shoot, we piled into the car and I proceeded to look at all the photos he took. I cringed. Not because he’s a terrible photographer, but because my insecurities about my body were confirmed and my confidence in my beauty dissipated. However, there was one photo that made me feel beautiful. He had caught the right moment and added depth, which elevated the whole look.

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I was deflated and insecure after seeing the photos, but what struck me was how I felt so different about my body from photo to photo. It was the same hour, and I was wearing the same dress, my hair and make-up were all the same, and it was me the whole time.

Photography is able to capture the beauty all around us. Like make-up or a cute outfit, it can enhance the beautiful aspects of a person, place, or object. And I’m not just talking about appearance, but also personality, emotions, and relationships. However, a photo can skew an image. Lighting, angle, camera quality, editing, and composition all play a role how “good” a photo is. I love my wedding pictures, but that’s because they were done by a professional photographer who edited them beautifully.

When I was in eating disorder treatment, I participated in a body image group. I remember talking about how we see ourselves in photos. We do exactly what I just described – pick ourselves apart. I know many women who do this, even those without an eating disorder. We do the same thing with mirrors. How many times do you look in the mirror and actually feel better about yourself? How often do you hone in on that one part you don’t like? I never feel better about myself when I look in the mirror, and I still focus on my arms and tummy – they will never be good enough.

As I build my presence on social media and the blog, I don’t want to just be the photographer. I want you all to know who I am. I want to be able to look back 50 years from now and have pictures of my 20s. As I ponder all this, I realize that I fear pictures, because I worry they will confirm how awful I already feel about myself.

I firmly believe that every woman is beautiful…so why should I think differently of myself? Every woman (and man) is beautiful! We all have unique talents, personalities, strengths, passions, abilities, experiences, and bodies. The world tells women they can only feel beautiful if they have the “idealized” body at the time (which, by the way, is constantly changing).

The root of my struggle is not whether the picture is good or bad, but how I already view myself and how much I base my worth on my appearance. What would happen if I accepted my body and was confident in its beauty? Would I view a picture of myself differently?

I make it sound like an easy equation, but it’s not. Accepting your body for all it is and all that it can do for you takes time. I am still a work in progress.

As women, let’s encourage each other to cherish the bodies we have and celebrate the woman we see in the photo.

 

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introductions

I am passionate about people, and one of my favorite things to do is hear peoples’ stories. I joke that if I could make a living meeting people for coffee, I would totally do that! I believe building a true relationship with someone requires getting to know them on the inside – their upbringing, their passions and dreams, and what brought them to where they are now. So, before I go into the depths of my thoughts and experiences, I feel it is only fitting to introduce myself to you!

I had quite an exciting upbringing! Both my parents are Americans, but worked oversees when I was growing up. I was born in Germany, and when I was 1 1/2, we moved to Moscow, Russia, where I lived for 17 years. Many people ask me what it was like to live in Moscow, and honestly that’s hard to answer because it was all I knew. Looking back on it now, I loved living in a big, bustling city! I love history and culture, and there was never a lack of either. I remember going to ballets and museums regularly, listening to classical music, and being surrounded by so many cultures. I loved the food (especially the bread), taking the Metro, and being able to travel to other countries easily.

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After graduating from high school in Moscow, I moved to the US with my parents (my 3 older siblings were already there for college). While adjusting to living in the US was a challenge, there was a bigger beast I was dealing with at this time. I will go into much more detail in a later post, however after 5th grade I developed an eating disordered which largely went unaddressed until my senior year of high school. I finally agreed to get help after graduation, so moving back to the U.S. was also combined with finding a treatment program. At this time, I also deferred my acceptance to college so I could focus on treatment.

Fast forward a year, and I started at St. Olaf College. I had no idea what I was going to major in, and was still incredibly shy. I can’t say those 4 years of college were the best years of my life, but I can say I grew immensely and am so thankful for the experiences I had and people I met. I graduated in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Social Work, with no intention of practicing social work or going back to school. After a summer of working at a coffee shop and searching for my first “real job,” I moved to the Twin Cities for a job as an admission counselor at private university. I loved my team, but was completely burnt out with the job. After 1 1/2 years in admissions, I had a short stint at corporate job, but hated the corporate environment, and I found myself back at the university, but this time I was a data manager. After a year as a data manager, I was ready for a change of pace. I was not happy with my job and felt burnt out. I had little time or energy to do what I was really passionate about, which is to invest in people, my home and family, and beautiful things. All this led to me joining Beautycounter, and I can honestly say I could not be happier with my decision. Much more on that later 🙂

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During all of this, I met my now husband, Blake. We were set up by a mutual friend during my first year after college. He was studying abroad, so our first interactions were on Facebook and Skype! We met for the first time in December of 2014 and started dating a couple weeks later. A year and a half after that, we got married! Blake was my first real boyfriend, and the first man I ever loved. We have learned so much together and grown a lot in the 2 1/2 years we have known each other. He has brought the little girl out in me, and has been my biggest support through these years.

Currently, we live in St. Paul with our little kitty, Rosie. Blake and I are both cat-lovers to the core! Blake is an aspiring lawyer and plans to take the LSAT in September! We both LOVE exploring coffee shops – thank goodness the Twin Cities has a lot to choose from – watching documentaries and Grey’s Anatomy, going for walks, hosting people in our home, and spending time with family.

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If you ever want to grab coffee sometime, I’d love to hear your story!

 

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welcome!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping over at my blog. As an avid blog-reader, I have toyed around with the idea of starting a blog for years, but didn’t know what exactly to write about. But I’ve decided to bite the bullet and give it a try because I have things on my heart that I want to share with others. My dream is that through my sharing, you will be encouraged and inspired.

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What brings me here is my passion finding balance in life. For years I struggled with anxiety, worry, and perfectionism, and trying to fit into a “perfect” body, be the perfect student/daughter/sister/friend, and do everything the right way. I was so worried about being myself, because I didn’t trust myself and I worried so much what people thought. Over the past couple years, I have come to know myself better, and the true Katherine has started coming out. I am by no means perfect at embracing who I am or finding the right balance in life, but I am learning. I see so many people, especially women, striving to fit a perfect image of appearance, success, abilities, and personality, and it only leads to burn out and missing out on life’s true beauty.

So, here on this blog, I want to share my journey to embrace my true self, find balance in all its forms, and present a holistic approach to health. I am by no means a professional writer or an expert in life, mental health, or nutrition, so bear with me as I fumble through thoughts and putting those on paper. I am beyond excited to share with you all. Here’s to something new!

~Katherine