It’s a snowy afternoon and we’re cozied up on the couch, which is the perfect time to be writing. I’m also sipping this tea as I write.
1. Tea Bags
I’ve been obsessed with Christmas teas the past few weeks which is actually really inconvenient because the stores aren’t carrying them anymore. The only place to buy them is online. Last week I saw Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride on sale at Whole Foods for $2, but when I got home to make a cup it tasted awful, like rancid oil. I was so bummed. I’m thinking it must have been stored in a humid place or something, because even the last bag from last year’s stock pile tasted better. Second after Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride is Candy Cane Lane, which is a bonus because Trader Joe’s and ALDI both have versions that are just as delicious.
Tea isn’t expensive, but I realized that since I’ve been drinking to so much lately, using a new tea bag for every cup isn’t really sustainable. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, but a friend of mine made a pot of tea when we were over for dinner, and it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever seen. Ever since, I’ve started brewing larger batches of tea (using a four-cup Pyrex, as I don’t own a tea pot) and it tastes just as wonderful. I’ve found that pouring new water over a used tea bag doesn’t turn out the best, but brewing a bigger batch, up to four cups at a time per bag, is great. Warming it up in the microwave doesn’t affect the flavor much in my opinion, unlike coffee which tends to taste burnt after being reheated.
2. Pants That Fit
A few months ago, I started noticing that the dress pants I owned weren’t working anymore. One pair was old old old with flared bottoms, and that isn’t my style. The second pair (Old Navy Pixie) was becoming faded and stretched in all the wrong places. Wearing them actually was making me feel pretty crummy. My third pair, which I wore all the time fit perfectly and were super comfortable, but they were also really old. They were actually hand-me-downs from my sister, and I estimate they’re at least 6 or 7 years old. The buttons were coming loose, the belt loops were falling off, and even the elastic fibers were snapping and sticking out. Up close, they looked furry. It was honestly pretty ridiculous that I kept wearing them. But Maurice’s discontinued them years ago, and I’m super picky about pants in general.
They need a flattering shape, they need to be stretchy due to the nature of my job, and they need to be reasonably priced. (That excludes Lululemon…) So anyway, I’ve been actively searching for new dress pants and I finally found some at Kohl’s! It’s a bonus because they were on sale, too. I felt a little silly buying Junior’s pants, but after trying on pretty much every pair of dress pants at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, J. Crew, Gap, Old Navy, and then Kohl’s, I literally did not care. Junior’s or not — heck, I’d even wear men’s pants if it meant they fit how I wanted them to fit — I’d wear them! The Junior’s pants fit, and I was so relieved. After I found my size, I ordered two more pairs online before I even left the store!
I realize that I might be excessive in my approach to pants. But I also don’t want to set myself up to feel badly in my clothes when I could just look a little harder for pieces that make me feel great. It’s the same reason I’ve been wearing the same jeans for the past 4 years: a wardrobe that helps me feel good in my body helps me accept and take care of my body, even on days when it’s hard.
3. Diet Culture
As my husband and I were cooking breakfast on Saturday, he asked if I wanted some toast with our eggs and bacon (to which I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”) I thought back to my eating disorder days when toast was not an option for me because I was trying to eat low-carb and lift weights so I could (supposedly) look like the toned women I saw on Pinterest. Ironically, that diet (as with many others that I’d tried) actually caused me to gain weight because it left me unsatisfied. The lack of satisfaction led to me to overeat on the unsatisfying foods, and in that case in particular, I ended up binge eating because my body was starved for carbs.
I make a lot of criticisms toward diet culture on this blog, and it isn’t simply on principle — it’s because diet culture never actually helped me towards my goal of liking my body more. Even though I started the diet with the purpose of losing weight, I ended up gaining. And as with other diets, even though I thought losing weight would make me like my body more, it just made me dislike my body. I became frustrated with my stomach, distracted by hunger, and obsessive about every bit of food and every calorie burned through exercise. Dieting made my life way worse, and without dieting, my life is so much better. I feel good in my skin, at least most of the time, which is something I never experienced until I gave up on dieting. Even though there a million other benefits, that reason alone has made it worth it for me to eat intuitively.
4. Intuitive Eating and Natural Health Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
I’ve been writing on this topic quite a bit lately (check out this post and this post for more) but it’s something that I think needs to be talked about. I work in both worlds, and more often than not, the two seem at odds with each other. Intuitive eating practitioners seem to spread the message that promoting nutrition knowledge is inappropriate, or suggest that therapeutically avoiding certain foods is never helpful. On the other hand, functional medicine practitioners tend to make sweeping generalizations about the entire population receiving benefit from avoiding certain ingredients, additives, or types of food.
Here’s an example: non-celiac gluten intolerance. It’s a real thing for around 20% of the population, and there is more and more research available every day backing up the diagnosis. Intuitive eating influencers (hate that word, but it’s most appropriate) tend to discount its existence despite the science, and functional medicine influencers tend to claim that everyone should avoid gluten in order to be proactive, just in case. But the reasonable and, I believe, most appropriate middle ground is to recommend a gluten-free diet only to those for whom it is clinically relevant. In other words, if you don’t tolerate gluten, don’t eat it. If you do tolerate it, then eat it! But let’s stop criticizing interventions that actually, truly, measurably help people just because it’s newly understood science. Smallpox was a real threat fewer than 200 years ago until new advancements in scientific understanding wiped it out. Can we all agree to be a little more open minded? Please and thank you.
5. Leisurely Reading
I tend to prefer to read non-fiction books because I’m an information addict. If I’m learning something, I want to learn everything I possibly can. If I’m taking the time to read, I want my efforts to be as productive as possible. But I’m learning that not every minute needs to be spent working. I listen to non-fiction podcasts in my car, study up on patient cases during the day, and read non-fiction books in my free time. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a break!
For Christmas, my husband bought me the last two Harry Potter books that I needed to complete my own set of the series, and I’ve been re-reading them and loving it. There’s something so wonderful about getting lost in a novel, and I can see it benefiting my life even though my brain isn’t acquiring knowledge. Drifting off into creative imagination is a wonderful gift, and I’m grateful to have re-discovered it!
Do you read for fun? What are your favorite ways to relax and unwind?