Let’s Have Happy Hour #5

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If we were at happy hour, I’d order a pina colada.  You’d ask me why I ordered such an obnoxious drink, and I’d tell you it’s because I leave for Hawaii on Saturday.  YESSSSS.

If we were at happy hour, you’d be shooting me jealous glances because of the whole Hawaii thing.  I’d notice, then flag down the waiter and order you a pina colada as well.  Something about a blended cocktail with an umbrella sticking out of it does wonders to improve a person’s mood.  Feeling better yet?

If we were at happy hour, I’d tell you that I officially signed a lease on an apartment in San Diego.  It’s awesome and I love it.  I’ll drive down on June 19th.  Your jaw would drop because that’s, like, a month away.  You’re gonna miss me, huh?

If we were at happy hour, I’d confess that I’ve been obsessed with furnishing my apartment.  All throughout undergrad, I lived in a pre-furnished apartment so I never had to buy big pieces of furniture.  I’m making up for it now.  I’ve been trolling home decor blogs and Pinterest boards and Instagram pages like it’s my freaking job (<< a problem because I have an actual job and therefore not enough time to do this).

If we were at happy hour, I’d reassure you that yes, I will definitely share pictures and videos of my apartment once it’s all decorated.  Because I know that’s weighing heavy on your mind.  I just know it is.

If we were at happy hour, I’d tell you that my online classes start June 1 (while I’m in Hawaii… whomp whomp).  The online classes will feed into the in-person classes, which start July 8th, I’d say.  Then I’d start whining: IT’S ALL HAPPENING SO FAST. 

If we were at happy hour, you’d call me out on my whining.  You’d be all, I thought you were “so excited” for grad school?  What’s with the bitching?  I’d thank you for calling me on my bullshit, because you’re right.  I am excited.  I’m excited to read my textbooks.  I’m excited to meet my cohort.  I’m BEYOND excited to live in San freakin’ Diego.  You’re such a good friend.

If we were at happy hour, I’d pull out my phone and start showing you pictures of the kids I nanny for.  You’d throw me a few obligatory “aws” and “so cutes” before asking why the hell I was bombarding you with picture of children that aren’t even mine.  I’d get a little teary-eyed and tell you that Friday is my last day of being their nanny.  And that I’m just so sad about it.  Then you’d instruct me to take a drink.  You’re crying in a restaurant, for fuck’s sake.  You need to keep chugging, you’d say.  Great advice, buddy.

If we were at happy hour, I’d tell you that I have to go finish packing (the worst), but that I’d be Instagramming tons of picture from Hawaii so you can live vicariously through me there.

CHEERS!

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IN THE COMMENTS:

Ever been to Hawaii?  What island?  We’re going to Maui… Can’t wait!

Favorite tropical drink? 

Cheesy Olive Toasts

These are the answer to all of your wildest hopes and dreams and wishes.

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Well, at least your appetizer-specific hopes and dreams and wishes.  I’m like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, except instead of giving you a kickass dress and flawless hair and a magical, romantic night with the love of your life, I’m giving you a recipe for cheese toasts.

Ingredients

But not just any cheese toasts!  These also have briny, salty olives, fresh green onions, and a mayo + Greek yogurt combo to bind it all together.  They sound bizarre and kind of boring; I get it.

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BUT YOU GUYS!  These are truly amazing.  Every time I bring these to any kind of party or gathering or seance or whatever, they get demolished.  And then I get all kinds of compliments on my amazing appetizer skills and I bask in the praise that I crave on such a deep, primal level.  Really, half the reason I make these is for the self-esteem boost.  The other half is because the flavor combination is unexpectedly fantastic.

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This recipe is an appetizer staple in my house.  My mom has been making and eating these since she was a kid (minus the Greek yogurt, of course) and it’s one of literally three recipes she can make (these, chicken pot pie, and scrambled eggs).  If she can make these, so can you.  (Sorry mom, but you know I’m right.)

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I love ‘em because they’re quick, simple, and require only 6 ingredients.  You don’t even need salt or pepper!

If you want, you can make the cheese mixture ahead of time, stick it in the fridge, and spoon in onto the bread whenever you’re ready to bake them.

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Cheesy Olive Toasts

Makes 45 pieces. 

Ingredients

1 lb sharp cheddar, shredded

2 4.25-oz cans chopped olives

1 1/2 C chopped green onions (2 bunches)

1/2 C + 2 T mayonnaise (add more if mixture is too dry)

1/4 C plain Greek yogurt

1 package cocktail rye bread

Method

Preheat oven to 350*.

Mix the shredded cheese, olives, green onions, mayonnaise, and plain Greek yogurt together in a bowl.  Spoon a heaping tablespoon onto each piece of bread.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starts to get golden brown.

Enjoy!

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I know this is cheesy, but olive these more than anything.

Blend 2015

Want to know what’s weird?  Explaining to the person on the plane next to you that you’re going to a blogger retreat. Conversations tend to go something like this:

Fellow plane rider: So, are you going home to Colorado or just visiting? 

Me: Oh, just visiting. [Starts reading book to avoid any further conversation].

Fellow plane rider: You’ll love it!  Are you traveling for work? 

Me: Nope, just for fun. [Continues reading book, making "I'm very engrossed in this" faces].

Fellow plane rider: How wonderful! Girls weekend? 

Me: Yep… Well… Sort of… I think so.  I mean, it’s definitely all women. Well, I think they’re all women.  Actually it’s possible that 20% of them might be creepy old men.  You see, we all met in the Internet.  But not in a weird way!  We’re bloggers!  We post pictures of smoothies and and protein bars and stuff!  And, like, talk about working out.  And share intimate details of our lives with strangers.  So yeah, it’s definitely not weird or anything!  

Fellow plane rider: [Starts reading book to avoid any further conversation].

Despite how seemingly bizarre it is to spend an entire weekend with a bunch of people you’ve never met, I had a fantastic time at Blend 2015.  It was a weekend of good food, good scenery, and fabulous people.  I got to see a few people I met at Blend 2013 and meet tons of my virtual blog friends in person – finally!  I promise I’ll keep this recap short and sweet (<< there I go, making promises I can’t keep).

Friday

I arrived at the Chautauqua cabins in Boulder, Colorado at almost 11pm on Thursday night and was greeted by Meghan, Amanda, and Lucie!  Thanks for waiting up for my late ass, ladies.  They also set up the pullout couch for me.  Sweethearts, all of them.

After a terrible night’s sleep (I was fighting a cold; damn nannying) we all woke up around 6am.  We spent the early part of the day walking around Boulder, getting some groceries at Whole Foods, and hanging around.

In the afternoon, we went to registration to get our name tags and swag bags.  Holy shit!  So much stuff!  I had to leave some of the bigger packages behind (#twss) but I took home most of the food and clothing.  Amazing.

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Photo via Heather

Later that day, I went on a trail hike with a bunch of the attendees.  It was so great chatting it up with everyone.  I was especially happy to finally meet Marisa!

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After the schweddy hike, I went back to the cabin to get ready for the cocktail hour.

Obligatory shoe picture… Amanda, me, Meghan, and Lucie.

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We had to whip out Lucie’s selfie stick for a picture in front of the cabin.

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It was so cool to see everyone all fancied up.  A definite rarity in the healthy living blogger community.

From L to R, Me, Amanda, Lucie, Meghan, Heather, Melissa, and Kait.

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Dinner was really delicious.  I had roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts, salad, pesto polenta, chimichurri beef, and ciabatta.

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After dinner, a small group of us headed inside to the Chautauqua Dining Hall for a few drinks in the warmth.

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Heather gave us these gorgeous Momentum Jewelry bracelets.  How cute are they?

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Saturday

Saturday started with a 7am partner bootcamp.  KILL ME.  Seriously, this workout almost did. Lucie made an awesome partner and the bootcamp was over before I even knew what hit me.

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After bootcamp came breakfast.  I had Love Grown granola over yogurt, a buttermilk biscuit, half a Flapjacked carrot cake pancake, fruit, and the most delicious and crispy bacon EVER.

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After breakfast… Another hike!

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After the hike, a group of us took our sweaty selves to downtown Boulder for the farmer’s market.  Meghan, Heather and I sampled tons of delicious food and bought some awesome snacks for our appetizer-esque dinner.

We also found a giant liquor store.  Pure happiness.

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I took a picture of Meghan taking a picture of Amanda, Lucie, and Heather taking pictures of our snack spread.

You know you’re surrounded by food bloggers when…

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Huge thanks to 34* crisps for being the delicious vehicle on which to transport cheese into our mouths.  I was SO excited that 34 Degrees was a Blend sponsor.  I love these crackers (toasted onion is BOMB); they’re something I ate and loved even before I learned about their amazing company.

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After dinner and Cards Against Humanity, Kait, Heather and I headed out downtown for a few drinks.  It was a night filled with booze, music, and delightfully inappropriate conversation.  I was in my element.

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We had these fancy prohibition-style drinks… Kait’s was some kind of gin/coconut milk concoction.  Heather and I sipped on the “So Much More Than a Toy” which had vodka, lemon, rose, and beet juice.  Strangely delicious.

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We got home around 1am and Kait (who got locked out of her cabin!) and I crashed on our pullout couch.  Zzzz…

Sunday

Sunday started with an 8am yoga class in the gorgeous Colorado sunshine.  We were SO lucky to have incredible weather for the entirety of the class, especially since rain was predicted for the entire weekend.

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Photo via Bhakti Chai

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Another great breakfast, though slightly lacking in the bacon department.  By “slightly lacking” I mean I only got 2 pieces, which felt inadequate but is actually quite reasonable.

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Then we had the closing ceremony and our good-byes.

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Cheesin’ with Mollie!

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One last airport picture with Heather and Melissa.  SO SAD.  Also, how cool are we in our matching tees?  We got a lot of confused looks.

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See?  I told you I’d break my short but sweet promise.  It was just too much excitement for a short post!

Okay… Who’s coming next year?

IN THE COMMENTS:

Have you ever met Internet friends in real life?  

Ever been to Colorado? 

Intuitive Eating Tip #4

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What Are You Really Craving?

Humans need to eat.  I’ve studied a lot of science things and after copious amounts of research, I’ve confirmed that the whole eating thing is a definite necessity.  Sometimes, we eat because we’re hungry.  Sometimes we eat because we’re bored.  Sometimes because we’re angry or stressed or avoiding responsibility.  Sometimes we eat because food tastes fucking awesome, and sometimes because we get asked an awkward question and need to stuff food into our faces so we don’t have to answer.  All valid reasons, IMO.

But have you ever finger-scooped 1,000 pounds of chocolate frosting from jar to mouth in a moment of intense frustration?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Just me, then… Here’s the thing about eating 1,000 pounds of frosting: you get a stomachache and gas and tons of pimples and you still feel intensely frustrated afterward.  Not great.

In those situations when you’re on the verge of drowning your sorrows in a Dominos pasta bread bowl, ask yourself: “What am I really craving?”  Am I craving sleep?  Social connection?  Alone time?  An entire day watching Netflix in pajamas?  Although you can’t always fulfill whatever particular craving pops into your head, simply identifying them can be a powerful tool to stop a potential binge.  Just acknowledging that you’re feeling exhausted or unfulfilled or lonely can help you avoid numbing out your emotions with food.  Feel those emotions, dude.

And you know what?

Your answer to “what are you really craving?” might just be “a god damn Dominos bread bowl, give it to me baby.”  And that’s cool too.

Intuitive Eating Tip #3

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Put Your Damn Phone Away.

I know, you’re already clicking out of this page.  I get it.  The smart phone is life. It’s everything.  It’s our connection to friends and jokes and endless validation.  But just trust me on this one.

I’m not advising anything crazy; just put it away whenever you’re eating.  Sit and enjoy your food.  Enjoy your company.  Don’t spend your entire meal photographing, Instagramming, hashtagging, and trolling for likes.

I know that some days, it’s impossible to turn off technology during meals.  We have important shit to do, like answer emails and Google that literary reference our coworker slipped into conversation.  But, whenever possible, disconnecting and engaging in your meal will leave you much more satisfied and in-tune with how full you’re getting.

Let’s Have Happy Hour #4

If we were at happy hour, I would tell you that, yes, fries sound great, but I need to save room for dessert.  I’d tell you that I’ve been craving ice cream cones lately.  I’d also tell you, head hung in shame, that I ate a cotton candy ice cream cone the other day.  Chalk it up to nostalgia?

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If we were at happy hour, I’d tuck my hair behind my ear and turn my head to the right, exposing my left ear.  You’d give me a what the hell are you doing? face and I’d ask, notice anything different? in an annoying sing-song voice.  You’d shrug, and I’d be all like, the piercings!  don’t you notice my new piercings?!  You’d tell me how nice they looked, silently judging me for being so excited over new ear piercings.

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If we were at happy hour, we’d talk about Blend 2015.  I’d tell you how excited I am to go to Colorado and meet some virtual friends in real life.  And then I’d pressure you into coming with me.

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If we were at happy hour, I’d tell you that I am finally committed to a graduate program.  I’d tell you that it came down to two schools: University of Southern California (USC) and San Diego State University (SDSU).  You’d ask what I decided on, and I’d tell you that I will be attending (drumroll please) San Diego State!  In the end, location and cost beat out prestige.  Both programs are incredible, but SDSU will cost me literally 1/10 of what USC tuition.  I’ll save so much money, I’d say, which I think justifies me paying for another round of drinks.  I’d flag down the waiter and order us another round, plus the charcuterie plate because it’s expensive and classy and cured meat-y.

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If we were at happy hour, you’d say, so explain to me again what your graduate program will be like?  I’d tell you that it’s a two-year program and there will be 30 students in my cohort.  It starts in the summer, so I’ll be moving down to San Diego in late June.  I will graduate in May 2017 with my Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy.  After graduating, I’ll have to accrue 3,000 hours before taking my MFT licensing exams.  And then, I’d say, you’ll get free therapy at every single one of our happy hours.  Oh shit, you’d think, I didn’t think these happy hours could get any weirder. 

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If we were at happy hour, I’d make you give me a list of every friend, friend of a friend, and 2nd cousin of a friend of your mom’s dentist you know who lives in San Diego.  Pleeeeeaaaase, I’d beg, hook a sister up!!  I’m gonna need new drinking buddies.

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If we were at happy hour, we’d pay the bill, put our napkins on the empty plates, and head straight for the nearest Baskin-Robbins so I could get another embarrassing ice cream cone.  Sorry ’bout it.

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Intuitive Eating Tip #2

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Add, Don’t Subtract.

Even if you’re an intuitive eater, there will be times when your diet is, like, 80% bread and 20% wine.  It happens.  Sadly though, our bodies cannot subsist entirely on carbs and alcohol (trust me, I’ve tried) so it’s likely that after a few days of eating this way, your body will start revolting.  The old Carly would immediately start restricting.  I’d cut out refined sugar and booze and everything delicious and fun in life.  BOOOOOO.

Now, when I want to feel better and be healthier, I add things to my diet.  Nothing is off limits — I can still eat cheese fries for dinner if I want (and I do want… I do).  But I’ll tell myself that I need to eat some veggies with every meal.  Or that I need to drink 10 bottles of water throughout the day.  Or that I should go for a 30 minute walk.  I add in easy healthy habits to refocus my choices without feeling controlled or restricted.

Try it.

Thai Peanut Soup

Thailand was seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life thus far.  I learned so much about a vastly different culture.  I became part of a new community.  I worked with the most beautiful, hilarious kids.  I really did meet some amazing people during my two months in The Land of Smiles.

Every person I met was warm and comforting; colorful and bright; spicy and coconutty.  Oh.  Wait.  I think I got sidetracked by memories of ridiculous Thai food.

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But can you blame me?  Thai food is fucking awesome.  I’m pretty sure my veins are still filled with curry instead of blood

When I was in Thailand, I actually took a cooking class.  I’ve been wanting to recreate those recipes, but they all require a special trip to the Asian market to hunt down Thai-specific ingredients and I’ve been way too lazy (see: curry pumping through veins).

So instead, I made this Thai-inspired soup.  It definitely isn’t 100% traditional, but it is full of easy-to-find ingredients, amazing Thai flavor, and peanut butter.  So how about we shut up about “traditional” and just drink our liquid peanut sauce in silence.

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This soup is definitely a new favorite.  The coconut flavor is perfect with the peanut butter, and the noodles and chicken really make it hearty.  The lime zest and spices give it so much flavor, but it isn’t overpowering.  SO GOOOOD.

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Thai Peanut Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 T sesame oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 lemongrass stalks, outer layers removed and finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

2 T brown sugar

4 cups chicken broth

2 13.6-oz cans coconut milk

2/3 C creamy peanut butter

1/4 C soy sauce

3 T rice vinegar

2 T fish sauce

1 lime, juice and zest

1-2 tsp sambal oelek (fresh ground chili paste), add more or less depending on desired spice level

2 tsp dried Thai basil, or 2 T fresh Thai basil

1 tsp powdered coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces

4 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 red pepper, sliced

1.5 cups snap peas, cut in half

1 pound chicken, thinly sliced

1 6.75-oz package dried rice noodles, soaked in cold water according to package’s directions

salt & pepper, to taste

Optional for garnish:

lime wedges, crushed peanuts, fresh Thai basil, fresh cilantro, green onions

Method

Put sesame oil into a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and cook until onions are translucent.

Add in chicken broth and coconut milk.  Whisk until coconut milk is melted into the broth.  Add in peanut butter, whisking constantly, until combined.  Add all ingredients from soy sauce through cumin.  Stir.

Raise heat to medium-high until soup is simmering.  Add potato, carrots, and rice noodles.  Cook until veggies are nearly fork-tender (about 5 mins)  Add pepper, snap peas, and chicken.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove soup from heat.

Serve with a squeeze of lime, crushed peanuts, fresh herbs, and some green onions.

Enjoy!

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I’m pretty sure this soup reminds me of the flavors of Thailand, but maybe I should go back just to make sure?

Intuitive Eating Tip #1

Eating intuitively is hard, and at times it really doesn’t feel intuitive at all.  There are times when, “intuitively,” I want to order a Dominos pizza at 11am (right when they open; I’m embarrassed I know that information) and eat the entire thing in bed while watching Parks and Recreation reruns until my stomach explodes and pizza splatters all over my walls.  My body told me that’s what it wanted, okay?!

Even now, a couple years into the whole “honor your cravings, moderation, mind-body connection” shit, there are times when intuitive eating doesn’t come easy.  And I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles with this.  So, I’ve decided that every Monday, I’ll share an Intuitive Eating Tip.  Just little tips and tricks I’ve found really helpful throughout this process.

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And so, the inaugural tip:

Stop Making Excuses.

I spent months and months promising myself that I’d try the new Intuitive Eating fad once I lost x amount of weight.  I was terrified to stop restricting my diet.  I was sure I’d balloon up to a thousand pounds and I wanted to have an insurance policy in case I did gain weight.  Do you do the same thing?

Stop it.

Stop promising to give your body what it needs after you achieve a certain appearance.  Stop letting your size dictate your confidence.  Stop making excuses.

If you want to make a change – to love yourself, to stop bingeing, to have a healthier relationship with food – do it now.  Because trust me: if you don’t do something now, chances are you never will.  Excuses are easy.  Taking that leap of faith is hard.

The good news?  This leap of faith is into a giant pile of bagels and gelato and roasted green beans and cocktails and full-fat yogurt.  There are worse leaps of faith to take. 

If you’re interested and don’t know where to start, I’d recommend checking out the Intuitive Eating book.  Or doing Jamie’s 21 Day Challenge.  Or browsing blogs and forums and tackling it on your own.  Shoot me an email if you want.  Or don’t.  Whatever works for you.

If you’re thinking about it though, just jump in.  Stop the excuses, and do it.

Dear Nutritionist

Dear Nutritionist,

Remember me?  I came into your office when I was sixteen.  I was blonde and tan and about 50 pounds lighter than I am right now.  Ringing a bell?

I told you my predicament.  I was trying to lose weight, but couldn’t.  I told you that I felt stuck and that I didn’t know what to do.  I cried in your office.  I cried pretty much every time I talked about my disgusting, fat, uncooperative mess of a body.

You used your calipers to pinch my nonexistent belly and arm and thigh fat.  I stripped down to step on that scale in the bathroom.  You pulled out a soft pink measuring tape and wrapped it around every part of me: calves and arms and hips and butt and boobs and waist.

You focused on those numbers.  You quantified my body.  I don’t blame you, though.  I loved being able to boil my happiness down to controllable numbers.  I thrived on that.  It’s want I wanted.

You were just doing what I asked for.  I wanted to lose weight.  You tried to help me do that.

But, Nutritionist, why didn’t anything about me raise a red flag?  Didn’t my obsession with weight loss tip you off?  I was already fit and healthy and by no means overweight.  Did you have many clients like me?  Was I the norm?  That thought makes me sad.

Nutritionist, why did you tell me to eat a mere 1800 calories per day?  I told you I was active.  I worked out at least three hours per day (another red flag right there).  I was young and growing and busy.  I shouldn’t have listened to you.  I should have listened to my body.  But, my body and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms.  I was screening the ol’ body’s phone calls.

Maybe it was my fear of sodium that caused me to accept your advice sans the proverbial grain of salt.  Maybe it was my age.  Maybe it was my desperation for a solution to the “problem” or my renewed hope that maybe I’d finally get my dream body.  It was probably E) All of the above.

Nutritionist, do you want to know something else?  Your willingness to help me lose weight was a confirmation that I needed to lose weight.  If you thought I was skinny enough, I rationalized, you wouldn’t have helped me.  By pinching and prodding and measuring and restricting, you were inadvertently saying, There is something wrong here, and I will help you fix it.  I know that wasn’t your intention.  It still sucked though.

I am sorry I came into your office.  I didn’t need a nutritionist.  I probably needed a therapist, instead.  I’m sorry that you didn’t notice how much I was struggling.  I’m sorry that I let your willingness to help confirm my self-hatred.

But, Nutritionist, look at me now!  I’m healthy and happy and content.  Based purely on appearances, you’d think the present-day Carly would need a nutritionist much more than the 2009 Carly did; present-day Carly eats donuts and pizza, and not always in moderation.  THE HORROR.

But I’m okay, Nutritionist.  I don’t need your scale or your calipers or your measuring tape.  I don’t need your diet plan.  I don’t need the unnecessary supplements you tried to sell me.  I’m really okay.  No — I’m great.

No thanks to you, Nutritionist.

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