Open Letter to an ED Blog Owner

I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that someone, anyone, made you feel less than powerful, less than beautiful, and less than exactly who you need to be.  I know what it’s like to feel powerless, to feel unseen, to feel like if you’re perfect enough then you’ll finally be seen by the person who matters most.  I know that feeling of disappointment in yourself when even your screaming cries can’t make him stay.  I know that feeling of powerlessness when someone you trust grabs you and uses your body.  I know what it’s like to feel like you’ll never feel powerful again, to feel like even your own body will always partly belong to someone else.  I’m so sorry if anyone in your life ever made you feel that way too.

I want you to feel happy.  I think you want to feel happy too, and I think there was a time when that desire was a strong, bold part of you.  There was a world you loved and couldn’t wait to explore more of… which world was it for you?  Theater?  Chemistry?  Engineering?  Music?  Literature?  Social Activism?  Something completely different?  What was it?

Whatever it is, that’s going to save you.  I know because it saved me.  I hated myself and my body and I felt so overwhelmed and confused I didn’t know what to do and I felt like I had no clue what I cared about anymore.  I was completely lost.  I wrote a lot.  I tried to remember who I was before the body hatred and constant thoughts of food.  I remembered I was a feminist.  I remembered how angry I felt when I saw my dad grab my mom.  I remember how angry I got when I saw negative portrayals of women in movies, TV, on billboards, anywhere.  I remembered how much a part of me that was.

Feminism became the lifesaver I held onto, the reminder that I am a whole person.  You are a whole person too.  As I held on tighter and stayed on, I saw how strong I really was.  I was actually building a part of myself that was really me!  My inner feminist and the negative thoughts about my body and food fought a lot.  There often wasn’t a clear winner.  That’s okay, I was still becoming me.

As my inner feminist got stronger, I could build other parts of myself too.  I discovered that I liked bouldering (indoor rock climbing on shorter walls, without harnesses), and editing videos, and writing!  I liked interviewing people, especially other women.  I pursued all those things, played around with them, began building my life.

For a really long time I thought I would never feel anything as strongly as my desire to lose weight.  Nothing would ever feel as satisfying as an empty stomach.  But I found so many things that feel so much better.  I found satisfaction with no emptiness, just genuine happiness.  I found me.  I found my life.  I hope you find all those things too.

Much love,

– E





Simple and Scrumptious Cheesecake


I absolutely completely love cheesecake.  Unfortunately most cheesecakes have a lot of sugar, which I don’t love so much.  After searching on Pinterest, I discovered this recipe from Eat Live Run and tested it out.  It is truly amazing.  For the filling, I hand whipped the ingredients (instead of blending) which gave it a true cheesecake texture.  I also swapped out some of the sugar for truvia, and added shredded ginger and cinnamon (these are completely optional – I’ve made this recipe without ginger and cinnamon and it still tastes amazing).  The original recipe calls for a springform pan, but I used a normal stainless steel cake pan and it worked wonderfully.  For the crust, I used Chocolate Covered Katie’s super simple recipe for the graham cracker crust.  Here are the full recipes, with my adjustments:

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 6oz of graham crackers)

3 Tblsp butter

2 Tblsp milk

If you don’t already have graham cracker crumbs, put the crackers in a thick plastic ziploc bag that’s inside of another thick plastic ziploc bag, and smash it with a hammer.  (Bonus points if you get the reference  ;) 

Then add the butter and milk and mix until it’s the consistency of damp sand.  Note: the original recipe calls for only butter OR milk, but after I mixed in the butter it was still too dry so I added the milk.  This may vary, depending on the crackers you use.  Press the crust into a 9 inch pan.  There’s no need to pre-bake the crust.  Just put it in the oven before preheating to 350.  This will make the crust warm, helping the filling cook more quickly and evenly. 


For the Filling:

2 eggs

2 cups 2% plain greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)

1/3 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)

1/3 cup Truvia or stevia powder

1 Tblsp cornstarch

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 small piece of ginger (about half the size of your thumb), shredded

sprinkle of cinnamon

pinch of salt

Whisk the two eggs until completely mixed.  Then add the yogurt and mix until completely blended.  Continue to mix, adding one ingredient at a time.  If you use coconut sugar, it may stay looking like brown specks and and not completely dissolve, but it WILL completely dissolve in the baking process so don’t worry.  FYI, to make ginger easy to shred store it in the freezer.  This also helps it keep for a lot longer.  Pour the filling into the warm crust, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, being careful to not overbake.  When it’s done, the center will still be jiggly, but the top will have started to turn a light golden brown.  Let it cool for up to an hour before chilling it in the freezer or fridge, depending on how soon you want it to be ready.  Decorate with honey, chocolate, jam, chopped nuts, whipped cream and/or fresh fruit. 




Girl Power Anthems (For All Ages)

My 4 year old sister loves music, so I created a fun playlist we could both enjoy.  It can be tough to find music with a good dance beat and positive girl power lyrics.  This inspired some exploring on the internet and discovery of a few new artists.  Here are some of my top picks from the final playlist.  I specifically chose lyric videos, so you can check out all the lyrics for yourself:


1. Postcard – Bridgit Mendler

Postcard is a real girl power song.  The lyrics are about rejecting gender roles and being true to yourself.  It’s sweet and fun and a little gutsy.  More of Bridgit’s songs on the playlist include City Lights, and We Can Change the World  and Turn Up the Music which are both from Bridgit’s band Lemonade Mouth.


2. Lindsey Stirling – Electric Daisy

After hearing this song, my sister listened to it on repeat for a while and since then she’s often asked for the “violin song”.  Lindsey is seriously talented and this is my absolute favorite track (and my sister’s too).  It’s so upbeat and pretty much always puts me in a good mood.  Plus I got the chance to see her live recently, and she was so sweet and put on a great, fun show.  Other favorites include her cover of Nicki Minaj’s Starships, and her version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (Lindsey changed that lyric to “We found love in a whole new place”, and the music video is wonderful.  I highly recommend checking it out.)


3. Sweet Sixteen – Hilary Duff

Sweet Sixteen is one of those pure bubble-gum pop songs.  It’s all about celebrating life and having fun and enjoying being a girl.  Hilary Duff has a good couple other songs like that, like Wake Up and I Am.


4. We Are Who We Are – Little Mix

We Are Who We Are is a great party anthem song, and I love that it honors moms too.


5. Real Girl – Mutya Buena

Real Girl is another song about loving who you are.  It’s got more of a hip-hop vibe, and is really fun to dance to.


6. Everybody Got Their Something – Nikka Costa

Everybody Got Their Something is about how everyone has something special about them.  Musically, It’s got a more soulful groove to it.


7. I Am Not My Hair – India.Arie and P!nk

This last one is slower than all the others, but has to be included.  India.Arie and P!nk are two of my most favorite women in the world, and my sister seems to play this more often than other similarly paced songs.  The energy between India.Arie and P!nk creates a real sisterhood vibe within the song.  The song is also about being who you are and gets more specific than the others: “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations […] I am the soul that lives within.”  India.Arie’s songs Video, A Beautiful Day, and I Choose, are also wonderful.

What are some of your favorite songs?  Do you have any favorite girl power tracks?

Top Trainers: Dance

I love dancing.  My best experiences in high school were in my African dance class, and one-on-one sessions with a friend who’s “fluent” in tribal belly dance.  After graduating high school, I tried several different classes and discovered that I’m not a dancer.  My feet are really uncoordinated, so the simplest turns feel confusing.  I really don’t like staring at my body in the mirror while doing the same movement again and again, trying to do it better each time.  And my brain is bored with choreography before my body even understands the first couple of steps.

When I tried some “Just Dance!” style classes and DVDs, I just felt frustrated.  The movements aren’t broken down enough for me to get them, so I feel like I’m flopping around the room.  I eventually gave up on trying to find a good dance practice and just stuck with the fitness trainers I liked.

Recently, I stumbled across the online BUTI (pronounced like “booty”) workouts.  About 40 minutes each, they’re a fast-paced combination of yoga, dance, and plyometrics.  The movements are creative, doable modifications and combinations of simple yoga, circuit training, and African dance moves.  The movements are constantly changing but Bizzie’s cuing is clear so it feels natural instead of jarring.  She gives just the right amount of description and reminders on form.  Her attitude is between Kathryn Budig and Jillian Michaels – she’s positive and calm while having a certain intense and genuinely encouraging trainer energy.

The dance aspects of the workouts are what really impress me – the movements are challenging in the ways that drills are challenging, minus the boring repetition.  In addition to becoming stronger and more flexible, I can feel myself getting better at all the isolations (moving just one body part at a time).  African dance and belly dance are both extremely isolation-heavy, so that’s what I really want to work on.  To help keep the whole body working, Bizzie combines these isolations with isometric holds (like staying in a lunge, squat, or pushup position).  Instead of feeling awkward, the dance moves make the exercise moves feel more organic and creative.

Plus, the workouts are totally killer.  Bizzie’s workouts are on the same level as Jillian’s, and that’s the biggest compliment I can give a trainer.

Before each of the three Youtube workouts, Bizzie breaks down a very short choreography.  Each piece is unique to its own workout.  About halfway through the workout, she runs through the whole choreography a couple of times before moving on to the rest of the workout.  They’re a nice mini-break, and are perfect for people like me who want a little choreography to practice without the pressure of it being the whole workout.

The Youtube workouts are also sponsored by a brand of tea which Bizzie promotes in the first bit of the video.  Fast-forward to 00:39 for the short choreography breakdown, or 1:17 for the workout:

Her other workouts are Sweetly Twisted, Sweet & Spicy, Toning-Based Workout #1, and Toning-Based Workout #2.  She also has a 3 DVD Set and a subscription to her online classes available on her website.

One of the first things I noticed was how much hip and pelvis movement there is.  I had a moment of hesitation, because I feel like fitness is often manipulated by the media into “Another Way To Be Sexy!” instead of another way to nurture yourself.  External “sexiness” is prioritized over the body’s internal experience.  Then as I did the workout, I noticed how good it felt to stretch out that area of my body and how fun the workout was as a whole.  Bizzie never talks about being sexy or looking good in a club.  She’s encouraging and supportive, holding the space for you to tune into your body and enjoy challenging it.

What kinds of dance do you love?  Who are some of your favorite instructors?

Top Trainers: Online Workouts

Yoga: Kathryn Budig

Yoga and I usually don’t get along – I’m not very flexible and get bored very easily.  The poses that I’m supposed to “relax and breathe into” just hurt and agitate me.  By the end, I’m in a worse mood than when I started.

Kathryn and her routines are somehow different.  I got her Aim True Yoga DVD (now on sale for only $7 on Amazon!) almost a year ago, and it’s since been the only yoga workout I do.  Kathryn’s instruction is very clear and detailed using everyday language.  Her voice is energetic without being condescending or fake-perky.  The beautifully lit, gently colorful environment is very pleasing to the eye.  There’s enough pause to feel each stretch and just before I start to feel bored or fatigued we’re already moving into the next stance or movement.  That, combined with the changing camera angles, keeps me engaged.  There are two routines: a 20 minute beginner’s routine (my favorite) and a 40 minute intermediate/advanced routine.  Here’s a 5 minute video sample:

If any of you want to try a full yoga workout with Kathryn, she’s made a few 20 minute routines for Gaiam and posted them online.  Here’s her “Move & Sweat” routine, designed to help raise the heartrate:

Her other online routines include Twist and Detox, Strengthen Your Core, Arm Balances, Inversion Essentials, and Gentle Yoga Flow.  She also has an extremely useful 9 minute instructional pose guide.

Getting Sweaty – Keli Roberts and Jillian Michaels

The very first workout video I ever did was Keli Roberts’s Your Best Body: Abs.  I immediately liked her gentle, highly detailed instruction.  She has a genuine sweetness and I love her Australian accent.  Her routines are straightforward without any complicated choreography, but have a variety of moves.  Her Breakthrough Upper Body and Core DVD is actually a good toning-based workout for the whole body:

Generally, most of her workouts are kickboxing, step, toning, and cardio/toning.  Her one online workout is a 40 minute shadowboxing workout (I don’t have her weighted glove belt so I hold very light weights):

Jillian Michaels is a fitness goddess.  Her workouts are challenging at a level I’ve never experienced before.  I didn’t watch the reality show that got her famous, but I listened to her podcast, eventually got all her DVDs, and developed a mega girl-crush.  She has a very intense personality with an edge that Kathryn and Keli definitely don’t have.  She’s intense in exactly the ways my mom is, so that’s part of why I respond so well to her style.  And her workouts are truly killer, with moves like weighted burpees and scorpion pushups.  Her workouts are always in circuits with no rests.  She uses a multitude of techniques, including Active Recovery (following an intense cardio move with a simple toning move so the heart rate comes down but the body is still working) and Peripheral Heart Action (doing upper body moves immediately after lower body moves and vice versa, so the heart is constantly working hard to send blood all over the body), to make her workouts the beasts they are.  Her cuing is solid, and her cocky attitude makes me laugh.  My current favorite is Hard Body, her newest release.  Generally, I prefer her newer stuff because there’s an even greater variety of moves and she seems like she’s having more fun.  Plus, Hard Body has a live DJ in the room! (even though he’s not in the preview):

7 of Jillian’s other workouts are online.  Here are the click-through links, organized by type and then in order of release date (newest first):

Cardio/Tone (whole body): Rip:60 (made for the company’s product, but can be creatively modified), Banish Fat Boost Metabolism, 30 Day Shred: Levels 3, 2, and 1Cardio Kickbox

Cardio/Tone (abs and lower body): Killer Abs: Level 1, Six Week Six Pack: Level 1

Yoga: Yoga Meltdown: Level 1

I also wanted to cover dance DVDs but it will have to wait until the next post…

Who are your favorite fitness trainers?  Which are some of your favorite workouts?

Sassy Shows: Gilmore Girls

For anyone not familiar with the show, Gilmore Girls is a dramedy about a 32 year old mom (Lorelai) and her 16 year old daughter (Rory) who are best friends.  Lorelai is more outgoing and playful while Rory is more shy and studious.  They live in a small town in Connecticut with other spunky characters.  Here are some of the reasons I love it:

1.  The heart of the show is a healthy, supportive mother/daughter relationship.


In contrast to the typical conflict-heavy mother/daughter relationships typically portrayed on TV, Lorelai and Rory have a very strong and honest relationship.  Rory’s not a surly rebel and Lorelai’s not a clueless tyrant.  They’re well-rounded characters who draw strength from their relationship and support each other through life experiences.


2.  Lorelai’s and Rory’s personality traits don’t define them.  Rory is a very dedicated student dreaming of attending Harvard, and she’s also witty and shy and fallible.  Lorelai is a spontaneous free spirit who’s also responsible, determined to provide the best life for her and her daughter.

Image Image

This also applies to Emily (Lorelai’s mom).  Although she seems to be more concerned with status than personal happiness, as the series progresses we get to see her tenderness and desire to connect with her daughter and granddaughter.


3.  Sookie



Sookie is the chef at the inn that Lorelai manages.  She’s a vibrant, passionate professional.  She’s sweet and compassionate and is a very significant member of the “village” that helps raise Rory.

Also, she happens to be larger than the typical actress and this has no impact on her personal or professional life (this is unfortunately extremely rare in Hollywood).  Her size is never used as a source of humor or conflict.  Her character could be played by a talented actress of any size.  Like Lorelai and Rory, she’s a fun, spunky woman working very hard to have the best life possible.  On a personal note, I particularly identify with her combination of enthusiasm and perfectionism.


4.  Paris’s evolution (Warning: Spoilers)


In the beginning of the first season, Paris is the typical preppy mean girl bully.  However, unlike other TV “mean girls”, we see Paris’s personal struggles early on… her parents are going through a very messy divorce, the boy Paris is crushing on barely acknowledges her, and she holds herself up to extremely high academic standards.

As Rory gains confidence, fights back against Paris’s bullying, and sees Paris’s pain, she and Paris develop a mutual respect for each other.  They don’t become close friends, but they do share some tender moments that show the depth and vulnerability of their characters.

I also really like how the show handles the whole bully issue.  Paris isn’t some villain to be vanquished.  Rory doesn’t get revenge through passive aggressive tactics like pranks.  She fights back by directly confronting Paris about her cattiness.  This immediately reduces and eventually stops the bullying.  In a social climate where bullying is such an issue, I think this is a really positive message to send out: Bullies are people who are struggling emotionally, and you still shouldn’t put up with their negative behaviors.  If it can be done safely, being direct is the best way to respond and is going to earn you the most respect.


5.  The women have personal goals completely independent of their romantic relationships.



Rory wants to attend Harvard and become a journalist.  Lorelai and Sookie want to open their own inn together.  Rory’s friend Lane is obsessed with music and finding a related career.  All the women support each other emotionally and professionally.  In a culture that too often portrays women as competitors, a show that has a full cast of women helping each other achieve their personal goals is really powerful and positive.

There are a few things I don’t love about Gilmore Girls, like how the romantic relationships tend to take center stage, but it’s still one of my favorite shows.  It’s funny and sweet and leaves me with the warm fuzzies.

What are your favorite movies and TV shows?  What aspects of them do you love the most?

Pinterest, Body Image, and Feminism

As a body positive advocate, I follow many bloggers and pinterest boards who post a lot of images like these:


These images are all beautiful and have helped me and many other women feel more comfortable in our own skin.  I’ve read the stories of many plus-size models and have so much respect for them and how they’re working to expand our culture’s definition of beauty.

That said, there’s something about all these photos (other than the ever-pervasive hour-glass figure, photoshopping, and lack of racial diversity) that’s bothered me.  They still show women using their bodies to fit a certain kind of “sexy” – a sexy that is appealing to the heterosexual male demographic.  The women are always seductively posing, rarely engaging in an actual activity.  They are putting their bodies on display to be consumed by a lustful gaze.  They are still using their body to satisfy the viewer’s desires instead of their own, empowering the viewer more than themselves.

I know that’s the modeling industry.  Models are supposed to just look good in clothes – that’s their job.  But can’t they look good driving a car or reading a book or taking in a sunset instead of just waiting to be seen?  As bloggers, can we share and spread more images of women enjoying their own bodies?  Let’s celebrate our abilities that go so far beyond “being sexy”.  Let’s celebrate other women of all shapes and sizes who engage in activities that nurture their bodies and souls…

Writing this, I’m reminded of a comic where a woman is breastfeeding her baby in front of a well-known lingerie store.  There is a full-window-sized poster of a model’s bust bursting out of a skimpy bra while a mall cop scolds the mother for public indecency.  Women’s breasts are considered property of advertising companies to the extent that it’s “inappropriate” for us to publicly use them for their intended purpose of nurturing our own children.  Let’s take back the ownership of our own bodies and all that power…

What activities do you love to do?  How do you show your body appreciation and love?