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Throw Back Thursday!

Throw Back Thursday!

God, that hat! Did I really think that looked good? Yikes.

This photo was taken just two days after my 15th birthday. By 15, I was already a very big girl. I was struggling with my weight and learning – quickly – that I didn’t fit in with society’s expectations for a teenage girl.

My body didn’t look like the women in the magazines, especially not the TeenBeat or Seventeen, which I read with frenetic energy back then.

My body didn’t look like the girls I went to school with, either. I was twice their size, developed, and struggling against tom-boy tendencies and a desire to be more feminine like the rest of them.

I’m not alone in saying that my teens were the most challenging years of my life, partly due to my weight and partly due to the fact that I was unsure of my identity. I found solace in my confusion through food – lots and lots of it – and it took me several years to gain control of my eating and learn the source of my bad habits.

I used to look at these photos and get mad at myself: why was I so lazy? why didn’t I care more about my health?

Now, with fifteen years perspective, I can look back at the younger me with forgiveness and without judgment. I recognize that my priorities were different, I wasn’t fully self-aware, and I had other issues to deal with at the time. Now, I can see this photo for what it was: a birthday celebration at a theme park with my family. I remember being happy, feeling loved, and enjoying the day, and, in retrospect, those good feelings are all that matters.

Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori

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Throw Back Thursday!

Throw Back Thursday!

This is one of the few photos from my family album that had an electronic date stamp on it: January 17th, 1999.

I was at a theme park with my mother and father. I can’t remember the park based on this photo, but my guess is Universal Studios.

I cropped it out, but my father stood across from me in this picture. It was very hard for me to see this, as my waist was easily twice the width of my father’s. Granted, my dad was a thin man by nature – he wore a men’s size 28 pant – but to see us standing next to one another, the size difference was a painfully stark contrast.

I know my shirt was an XL and barely fit. My pants were at least an 18, but probably a 20. Man, I could EAT!

I still enjoy a frozen margarita (not a virgin one, as pictured!) now and then, but I definitely recognize and respect moderation. Life is about enjoyment, not stressing every calorie. I’ve learned that eating healthy 80% of the time makes the cheats I have now and then that much more fulfilling and I can savor the food/drink/candy without guilt. Life is about LIVING!

Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori

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Throw Back Thursday!

Throw Back Thursday!

This picture is really hard for me to look at. This was definitely my largest: I know I was over 200 lbs by this point, as I remember worrying if my ocean kayak could really hold my weight.

This photo was taken during the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school. The summer, for me, consisted of playing computer games until 3-4am (while drinking Mountain Dew and eating junk food) and then sleeping until 1-2pm. As a result, every summer during high school normally packed on 10-15 lbs.

My mother tried to keep me active – I really did love kayaking and biking – but it was hard to counteract the damage I was doing with my late night binging and irregular sleeping habits.

Looking at this photo reminds me that exercise alone is not enough for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition, healthy sleeping patterns, and regular fitness are the secret to success: not pills, not restrictive diets, not excessive exercise. This photo reminds me that BALANCE is crucial to long term health and body satisfaction.

Find your balance, my friends!

Bon appetit,
~ Tori

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Throw Back Thursday!

Throw Back Thursday!

This photo was taken while I was on a religious youth trip (Lutheran, ELCA – “Dancing at the Crossroads”) in St. Louis, Missouri.

At this point I was broaching my heaviest weight in high school: I was at least 190 pounds in this photo. I remember being very upset just before this picture, as I had struggled to keep up at volunteer event that day. My weight made it challenging for me to run around and hustle the way the organizers needed me to in order to keep everything running smoothly.

I started to distance myself in pictures by this age (this snapshot is actually part of a larger photo of our group – I snuck off to the side to try to avoid the central focus) and I really noticed my weight was impacting the quality of my life.

These TBT photos help to remind me of the girl that I was and the woman I became as a result of taking control of my health, my fitness, and my life. A good reminder of the past helps to keep your focus on the present!

Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori

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Throw Back Thursday!

Throw Back Thursday!

A velvet dress! Boy, that dates me, doesn’t it?

This photo was taken at my Confirmation ceremony (Lutheran, ELCA) back when I was 15 years old.

At this time, I was probably teetering between 180-185 lbs and wearing between a size 18 and a size 20.

I was my heaviest between the ages of 15-17, reaching my max of 214 pounds at the end of my junior year of high school.

I hang on to these photos to remind myself of how far I’ve come and the never-ending journey I am on to be healthy, fit, and happy.

Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori

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Track Shack Ladies 5k – Saturday, 2.1.2014

Track Shack Ladies 5k - Saturday, 2.1.2014

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I ran a 5k as part of the Track Shack Winter Series and to follow through with my New Year’s Resolution to get out of the GYM and back to the outdoors!

It was a cool, humid morning and a scenic route through Mead Gardens made the run unusually easy. In fact, I set a PR of 28:14, the fastest time I’ve ever recorded – and that’s counting treadmill runs!

I took this picture immediately post-race (I tried to capture the massive crowd at the finish line behind me) because I wanted to remember this moment: how PROUD I felt of myself for setting a goal (get outdoors & run under a 29 minute 5k) and achieving it.

As my fellow yo-yos will likely attest, it’s easy to forget the successes you have on your journey to fitness, but oh-so-easy to linger on your setbacks and failures. To help remind myself of how far I’ve come, I’m making a conscious effort to take photos (even if they have to be the baneful selfies, like this one), just to ensure that I can’t deny myself the joy of this memory.

My next run is coming up on February 15th: The Run Around the Pines! It’s the best course in Winter Park as it’s flat, scenic, and not overly crowded. My goal is to break the 28:00 minute mark! Wish me luck!

Bon appetit and happy journey, my friends!

~ Tori

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Product Review: MaraNatha Caramel Almond Spread

MaraNatha

Looking for an alternative to peanut butter (aka, the Reese’s peanut butter cups I was inhaling prior to the New Year), I scoured the shelves of the local Publix for something new and different from the plain almond butter I’ve been living on. Bless my lucky stars, I stumbled across this hidden gem: MaraNatha Caramel Almond spread. It was approximately $7 for the jar – a bit steep – but I decided to give it a try.

WARNING: This is NOT Paleo!

I didn’t realize until I got the jar home that it contained both soy and milk derivatives – two things you’re encouraged to avoid on the Paleo/Caveman diet. However, given the fact that I’d paid so much for the jar and was curious about the flavor, I decided to count it as my “cheat” and dig in for a spoonful.

DearSWEETLordBabyJesus.

This stuff is AMAZING. Crack-in-a-jar.

It has a rich, buttery, and sweet flavor that hits your tongue in a foodgastic explosion of taste. It’s more of a butterscotch flavor than caramel but I assure you that I mean that in a complimentary way: it’s decadent. The texture is much like normal almond butter, only it had a creamier (more sinful) residue on the tongue.

A serving consists of two tablespoons packing a whopping 190 calories, 14g fat (4g saturated), 13g carbs (11g of which are from sugar – yipes!), and only 4g of protein.

Fortunately, the flavor is very strong, so I was able to use less of it and still get a satisfying experience. The label on the package actually suggests using it on cake, so I probably should have been prepared for the ambrosial experience. Who needs cake when you have this stuff?

Confession: I ate 1/3rd of the jar the first day.

I had to hide it from myself to avoid eating more. It’s so good, it’s bad.

So, for those of you looking for a heavenly sweet treat (and not worried about the extra sugars/lack of protein), I would strongly suggest picking up a jar of this stuff. But make sure you have a sturdy padlock to put on the cabinet you store it in because I promise you it’ll be a Herculean feat to stop yourself from eating it all once you taste it.

On that note, bon appetit!

~ Tori