. WIAW … what true health is [to me] .

by Amanda @ .running with spoons. on October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Finally, eh? It only feels like we’ve been waiting forever for it to come around, and now that the spookiest day of the year is finally here, the only thing I’m afraid of (thanks to my wimpy avoidance of scary movies ;) ) is the fact that I may have bought a little bit too much of this stuff…

I’m currently camping out at home watching Nightmare Before Christmas with a big bowl of candy approximately 7 feet away from me, and although it still might be a little bit too early to tell, the trick-or-treater pickings are looking pretty slim this year. Where are all the kids going?! And what am I going to do with ~100 mini candy bars?!

Eat some of them, obviously; but as much as I love candy and believe that it’s totally part of a healthy diet, even my seemingly insatiable sweet tooth has it’s limits. And yes, I did just say that candy is part of a healthy diet…

A few years ago, I was all about completely obsessed with eating clean 100% of the time. No sugar. No junk food. My cookies were made with applesauce, my chocolate was basically unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with water, and my ice cream was… well I don’t even want to think about what my ice cream was. Let’s just say there was nothing creamy about it and leave it at that. Think frozen and slightly thawed almond milk. Yeah.

Was my diet tasty and exciting? I sure as heck tried to convince myself that it was! Did it make me any healthier? Ehhhh… maybe in the very beginning. Eventually the constant stressing, obsessing, and coveting began to take their toll, and it wasn’t long before my health began to suffer as a result.

See here’s the thing… you can be as diligent as you want when it comes to trying to adhere to an 100% clean way of eating, but your efforts are all for naught if your mind isn’t in a good place. Honestly, stressing over trying to eat a ‘perfect’ diet is probably doing you more harm than if you were to actually eat that less-than-perfect diet. And what the heck is a perfect diet, anyways? It’s not a set number of daily calories or a golden ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats – it’s eating in a way that makes you feel your best. It’s nourishing your body with wholesome foods and satisfying your soul with tasty treats. It’s being flexible enough to adapt to changing situations and circumstances – sometimes you eat more, sometimes you eat less; sometimes you eat clean, sometimes you don’t. That’s what healthy is to me.

And this is what it looks like…

Starting the day with my favorite breakfast: plain Greek yogurt mixed with a sliced banana and then topped with Kashi Cinnamon Harvest, roasted almond butter, and homemade chunky applesauce (Ksenija, you’ve created a monster!)

Giving in and not questioning my crazy cravings. Don’t judge me.

Doing my best to get some daily veggies in, even if they only amount to a couple of random handfuls at lunch. Every little bit helps, and besides… everyone knows that the cheesy turkey melt is the star of the show anyways.

Satisfying my soul with indulgent snacks – Chocolate pudding topped with almond butter and mini marshmallows thrown in for good measure. The only thing that would have made this better is if I had crushed graham crackers.

Nourishing my body with wholesome snacks – Homemade pumpkin pudding (½ cup pumpkin puree, ¼ milk, 1 Tbsp. vanilla pudding mix, 1 date, and a dash of cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves blended up).

Treating myself daily – Starbucks cappuccino with a sprinkle of chocolate.

Not stressing about not making everything from scratch. Homemade foods are great, but sometimes there’s just no time or desire and that’s perfectly okay. I’m not Superwoman, and my friend Amy makes one good pizza.

Never going to bed hungry. No matter how late it is, I always eat before I go to sleep. This almond butter and [blueberry] jam waffle was probably eaten somewhere around 10:30 last night and it lulled me right to sleep.

. – . – . – .

Health, to me, means caring for your body, but never at the expense of your mind. It means being flexible, seeking balance, adopting a carefree attitude, and enjoying the entire process. It’s means being able to admit when something that’s ‘supposed’ to work just doesn’t and going on to make the necessary changes instead of being stubborn and trying to stick it out. True health is a beautiful thing, and one that’s definitely worth celebrating.

. – . – . – .

What does true health look like to you?
What are some of your truly healthy habits?

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex @ therunwithin October 31, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I think about how miserable I was when I claimed I was my healthiest. Oh gosh such a lie. I enjoy life so much more now that I just let myself have what I want when I want it. that means sugar everyday but also veggies. I have never had any of Amy’s products, how is that pizza? Looks delicious. Hope you get some trick or treaters tonight.
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2 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

The pizza is definitely a good one, especially for being frozen. Her ‘cheese’ one is also pretty great.

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3 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers October 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I love love love love love that “A Balanced Diet” sketch. So true!

BTW, what is this coffee candy you have?!?! I want that!
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4 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

Heehee! I think it’s something we have in Canada that you guys don’t have down there, which is kind of sad because it’s gooooood stuff. It’s kind of like a KitKat and has wafers layered with this coffee flavored cream, then the whole thing is covered in a layer of chocolate. Light, crispy, and deeeelish.

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5 Matt @ The Athlete's Plate October 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Love this! Life is definitely about balance.
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6 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale October 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I can truly and ever most proudly say that my days look very much like yours. :D I’m not trying to make comparisons, but it was barely ten weeks ago that I was 100% clean 100% of the time, just as you were. And now? Cupcakes, please!! ;) Co-worker brings in muffins for breakfast? Why of course!! Salad at lunch? Yum!! (But in addition to a sandwich – gasp! – with bread!! – double gasp!!) Maple syrup and PB all things!!
Honestly, sure, my body is different. But I LOVE my new body!! I’m getting a booty!!!!! (Totally just noticed it today. It’s so cute!! :) )
And I’m HAPPY!! I’d say that joy is worth sacrificing a six pack for any day!! ;)
Congratulations, my dear!! You’re SUCH an inspiration!! I’m so proud to be able to rock my “rebellious” WIAW experiences with you!! <3
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7 Aimee October 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’m saving this post forever! Great words to live by! I’m still trying to desk with the horrible effects if hurricane Sandy / no power- destruction everywhere- definitely no trick or treaters here. They say we might get power back in 10 days!

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8 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

!!! Omigosh I’m -so- happy to hear from you! I couldn’t stop worrying when the storm hit :( E-mailing you soon!

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9 Miss Polkadot October 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Love this post and had funnily planned a similar one, too. Your food philosophy seems to be pretty much the same as mine. I find it sad to see how many people in the world adopt overly rigid and “healthy” lifestyles that end up being not quite that healthy (for the mind) at all.

True health to me means going all out means living life the way you feel like. Eating the foods you crave and not trying to always make the seemingly healthiest choices that you don’t actually enjoy. Exercising only when you feel like it and in the way you want. Who has the right to tell me when and how often to work out, what to eat and else? I’m not even listening to my mum’s advice on which shoes to buy – why am I still letting magazine and websites tell me to eat less sugar?

One truly healthy habit I’m still in the process of developping is reading these things, listening to my friends talking about how bad sugar is and then grabbing another square of chocolate – because I want to.
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10 Aimée @ AussieinEngland October 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I just think you’re fantastic. That’s about it.
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11 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie October 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I love this! There is a big emphasis on ‘clean eating’, especially in the blog world, but what does that really mean? Eating only veggies and lean protein? Making all your food from scratch? Eating no preservatives? I think it means something different to everybody but the term itself bugs me. It bothers me because I tend to fall into the trap of thinking I need to eat clean 100% of the time, and it’s super stressful. It makes me feel guilty for not eating a certain amount of veggies each day, or consuming too much sugar, even though it’s from natural sources, and it’s just too much. I feel like it’s another way to slip back into that restrictive mindset, at least for me, so I’m working on overcoming my fears of not eating clean all the time. And I’m starting out by finally buying ricemellow (a vegan version of marshmallow fluff) this weekend, and not caring that it’s basically just brown rice syrup. Sometimes I just need a little marshmallow goodness in my life!
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12 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 8:35 am

Everyone needs marshmallow goodness in their life. Enjoy it! :D

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13 Missy November 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

Go you Ash!
Get yo rice krispie treat and fluufernutter on!
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14 Morgan October 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Just throw the leftover chocolate in the freezer- I do it every year and pulled a bunch out last night to hand out.

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15 Jenna hall October 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

AMAZING post, Amanda. Inspirational and poetic wisdom. Love your blog! Keep writing, lady. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world every day.

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16 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles October 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Love this so much Amanda! Life is absolutely about balance – eating clean 100% of the time isn’t going to make you happy, so it’s not worth it!

I’m feeling you on the leftover candy thing…I did not get one trick or treater this year. Not one! So now I have to figure out what to do with my leftover candy…eat some of them, obviously, but the rest will probably go to the office. :-)

Healthy habit? Eating chocolate or sugar in some form pretty much every day. Because I love it and it makes me happy. :-) (actually think I’m going to go finish off the cupcake in my fridge now…)
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17 lindsay October 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm

nourishing the soul means letting go of extremes and enjoying flavors. Am i right? I think we’ve all have been living in two extremes. It’s hard to determine what’s healthy when you don’t know the difference. i truly think God created and wine and chocolate for a reason. ;-)
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18 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

“i truly think God created and wine and chocolate for a reason.” <– sherpa wisdom right there <3

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19 Catherine October 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I just found your blog through wiaw, and I have to say, I feel the same way regarding true health. I find that when I obsess over eating only wholesome, healthy foods I am more likely to over-indulge on the food I crave (chocolate, candy, cake, whatever) later. Balance is key. Health is all about fueling your body with the nutrients it needs as well as being in a positive place mentally. Luckily I didn’t buy too much Halloween candy this year (knowing we get no trick-or-treaters), but I am not ashamed to eat that Reese’s cup when the urge hits.
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20 Kate October 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!! Your body doesn’t know the difference between physical stress and mental/emotional stress – it produces the same hormones, which, if they’re always around, are SO damaging. You’re better off eating in a way that keeps your body healthy and your mind RELAXED. I’ve found that 90% of the time, I do want “healthy” foods, but when I do want something sweet (it’s usually froyo), I eat it. And carbs. I need a LOT of them. So important to be in tune with yourself rather than what everyone else is doing! :)

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21 debbie October 31, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I think you’ve found that perfect balance :) Food that is good for the soul IS healthy in moderation, you know?
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22 Sara @ Nourish and Flourish October 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Your eating philosophy is very similar to the one I strive to incorporate into my own life. It’s taken a long time to reach a point where I’m at peace with eating the foods I crave, rather than the foods I *think* I should be craving. I too was once cocoa powder chocolate-eater and an almond milk “ice cream” adherent, and I was 100% convinced that I preferred those versions to the real thing. However deep inside I knew my soul was craving Lindt and Haagen Dazs. Today I enjoy a balance between the two; sure, I’ll make protein “frosties” and “cheezy” spaghetti (squash), but most of the time (*most* being key ;) ) I’m not afraid to go for a plate of full-fat macaroni and cheese from time to time too. I crave meals that are both super clean and indulgent, and thoroughly enjoy both! :-D
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23 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl October 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it! It is a great reminder for all to not stress about being the “perfect” eater. Indulging is most certainly important for a healthy life.

I totally hear you on having to eat every night before bed. I do not follow the “no eating after 7, 8, 9, or whatever people say” rule. If I am hungry, I listen to my body. Especially since it will be without food for a good 7-9 hours.
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24 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

Definitely! I can’t even make it through the night if I don’t eat before bed… My stomach will be waking me up at 3 AM demanding to be fed.

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25 Jessie October 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I absolutely love this post & your outlook! You are just amazing Amanda!

P.S. I can’t get over how delicious that pumpkin pudding looks!! Even though it’s only 8:35 in the morning here, I kinda sorta wanna make it right now!!
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26 Lucie November 1, 2012 at 2:35 am

Thank you Amanda! Such a fantastic post! I love your writing. Balance and moderation is the key, right? I have chocolate EVERY DAY, period. And I drink half a liter fresh hot lemon water after my daily-first-thing-in the-morning-meditation. There’s nothing that takes this healthy habit away.

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27 Khushboo November 1, 2012 at 4:29 am

I am not even going to try and comment about what “healthy” means to me because you have already so in such an eloquent manner!! Like you said, healthy means nourishing your mind as much as nourishing our body. And it’s okay if they some actions contradict each other- ultimately it ALL balances out to bring out the best possible YOU (and me)! A few truly healthy habits of mine include sleeping at least 7-8 hours daily, eating breakfast regardless if I’m hungry or not, eating what I want instead of what I “should”, and eating some chocolate daily.
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28 Sara @my less serious life November 1, 2012 at 4:49 am

mini marshmallows on your pudding concoction! are marshmallows soy free? if they are i am SO getting some this weekend for my snacks/desserts.
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29 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

Mine aren’t :( But if you GOogle ‘soy free marshmallows,’ there are some recipes online if you want to try making your own.

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30 Hollie November 1, 2012 at 4:51 am

This is such an awesome post (when do I not say that about your posts?). People who don’t treat themselves or are very strict on their diets are just as unhealthy as those eating only fast food and junk. Your mind has to be mentally clear, balanced and happy too!
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31 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance November 1, 2012 at 4:52 am

Amen! I think “health” means something completely different to everyone. When I was overweight in my childhood years, “health” definitely would’ve meant cutting BACK on junk food and learning how to make healthier choices, however recently “health” has been more about letting go and not restricting myself. It’s pretty cool how there’s a different solution out there for everyone.
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32 Alexandra November 1, 2012 at 5:18 am

This was AMAZING. I loved the ending paragraph– “It means being flexible, seeking balance, adopting a carefree attitude, and enjoying the entire process.” Totally, totally agree :)
I don’t think its about trying to be perfect 24/7 with diet, exercise, and healthy living– I think its about balance, happiness, and truly being at peace with yourself :)
You’re the bomb Amanda, thank you for always being such a positive, inspiring soul!
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33 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

Love this post and you know I agree 100% with you! I don’t care if someone claims to love eating totally clean – anytime you’re not allowing yourself to eat something, you are restricting yourself and that to me is unhealthy. Health to me means viewing food not only as fuel, but also as a means to celebrating our culture, enjoying social festivities, and experiencing pleasure!
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34 Shreya @ rushofendorphins November 1, 2012 at 6:36 am

Girl, you never ever fail to bring a smile on my face. It’s taking me a little while to come to terms with this, but it is spot.on. Hope you had a great Halloween love :)
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35 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

I think it’s something that takes a little bit of time for everyone – I know it definitely did for me! You’ll get there though :D

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36 Laura Agar Wilson (@keephealthstyle) November 1, 2012 at 6:39 am

I couldn’t agree with you more on this – primarily the part which is about finding what is right for you – there is no one size fits all! For me, I feel like after 25 years of trying to figure this out I finally know – I need lots of healthy food to feel balanced but if I don’t have ‘treats’ often I feel seriously sad and deprived – as you say food has to feed your soul as well as you body, its just about finding a balance that works for you and makes you feel your best :-)

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37 Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness November 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

Love this post!!! You truly are an example of health and balance!!!
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38 Kat November 1, 2012 at 7:46 am

AMEN TO THIS. I cant stand people who literally think healthy means eating nothing but fruits and veggies. Sure, maybe you wont get sick or any disease, but health is much more than that. Health is mind, body and soul. And are you really completely healthy when you are left wanting something more at the end of each day?! When your sitting there drooling over someones cake? I think not.
BTW, i adore those smartie candies!! Another Canadian blogger sent me some to try, they dont sell them here in the states and they are BOMB!!
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39 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’m very much sensing a Christmas package coming your way if you’d be up for something like that :D

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40 Brittany @ Delights and Delectables November 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

I love this!!! When we try to eat a completely “clean” diet it becomes a “God” in our life almost. It is all we focus on! I think you are right about a balanced diet… you need some good treats in there along with clean eats for sanity!
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41 Shannon November 1, 2012 at 8:22 am

I could not agree more. Health is not about the perfect diet, or eating clean, or sweating dirty. Health is so much more complex. What makes one person healthy will not make someone else healthy necessarily. I think it is really important to remember that happy goes along with healthy. If things in your life are either not bringing you happiness, or are causing so much stress on you that you have trouble functioning then you are not loving your body. I be healthy you have to love yourself.
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42 Katie @ KatieEnPursuit November 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

Great post & awesome reminders of how we need to strive to balance! I indulged with candy yesterday…do I feel “bad” about it today? Not really, I’ll just enjoy that I ate the candy & eat the healthy foods I enjoy again today. As for habits, hydration is always a staple of mine, water all day!
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43 kris November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

uh, what is this coffee crisp bar I see?? looks delicious!
Love your definition of healthy! I think one truly healthy habit is to honor your cravings and not deprive yourself of desserts :)
Hope you had a great Halloween!!
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44 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Heehee! Coffee Crisp is kind of like a KitKat in that it’s wafers layered with a coffee flavored cream and covered in chocolate. It’s light and crispy, and actually perfect with coffee.

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45 Meghan @ After the Ivy League November 1, 2012 at 10:30 am

I love your approach to a healthy lifestyle! I’m shouting an “Amen sister” in my mind after reading basically every word of this post. Especially about how it all balances out. I used to think that every particular day I needed a certain amount of food, a good amount of protein, however much healthy fats, etc etc. What I’ve realized now is that if you listen to your body it all balances out! There are days when I don’t have much appetite (they’re rare) and there are days when I seem to be exceptionally ravenous. There are days when all I want is peanut butter alldaylong, and then there are days when honestly, all I want is a big salad with tons of veggies. It’s amazing how smart your body is, if you just listen to it :)
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46 Natalie @ Free Range Human November 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

I love your food philosophy, and I’m striving everyday to get to the same mind set. Thanks for sharing!
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47 Missy November 1, 2012 at 11:04 am

I pinned this post.
Every single word bears repeating. Again. And again.

We need to campaign this – broadcast it to the entire “healthy living” community.

You are just….the bee’s knees and beyond.

*standing ovation*
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48 Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin November 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

You’re awesome. That is all hehe :)

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49 Lisa November 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Love, love, love! You are so awesome. I think I need to steal this post idea;) Your food philosophy is the type I really want to have for myself, don’t get me wrong I’ve made huge strides but I could definitely use improvement in some areas! Health is NOT based on perfection, because perfection with health or desired perfection (in my opinion) is a disorder too. Orthorexia. It’s something a lot of people aren’t aware of, but it can definitely be just as dangerous as anorexia or any other eating disorder. I can’t even fathom how much time I have spent obsessing with my health, calories, weight, and all silly things that really don’t matter in the long run. It’s ridiculous. This post made me smile so big! PS I had a dream we met last night, and went to yoga together, it was super duper random! Ha ha.
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50 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Eehee! Random but awesome! It would definitely happen if I was ever in your neck of the woods though!

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51 Ellie@Fit for the Soul November 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Wow girl! You couldn’t have put it more concisely and intelligently than this! “Health, to me, means caring for your body, but never at the expense of your mind” That is so true. I think that the more lenient I’ve learned to be with myself, the better I’ve felt emotionally! :D
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52 Brittany November 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I am allllll about balance. I’m trying to figure out where to get the word “balance” tattooed on my body I love it that much!! Candy/sweets MUSTTTT be consumed, or I will go crazy!! I love my veggies and healthy foods..but always balance them with sweets!! I love your outlook on health, I def agree!

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53 Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset November 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I couldn’t agree more!!! The rigidity, the stress…it drives you mad and is the furthest thing from healthy, no matter how much kale you’re eating. I’m slowly getting there…my meals are still super clean, low carb, yadda, yadda, yadda (for the most part), but I am implementing challenges and goals to push me outside of my comfort zone. I’ve had a bagel, milk chocolate, fro-yo and a pumpkin spice latte, among other things all in the past 2 months! And it feels oh so good!!!! :)
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54 Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm

It does feel great :) And even slow, small steps add up to make a big difference. All that matters is that you’re going in the right direction!

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55 Lauren November 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I always think it’s a good reality check to have an outside perspective and I think an outsider would think your eats from the day are pretty darn clean. I sometimes get down on myself and think “I could’ve made better choices today” when in reality, I do pretty damn good!
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56 Irina @ Chocolatea Time November 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

What is this wonderful candy that you have up in Canada and we don’t have here?? Totally unacceptable…I’ve been a lover of candy my entire life and somehow it’s all worked out for me health-wise. Consuming candy does not equate to health deterioration and people need to stop fearing it! As everyone agreed – it truly is all about balance, plain and simple. You said it perfectly: care for your body but not at the expense of your mind because the mind is just as powerful as our physical being and it plays a huge role in our relationship with food. Well said my dear! Oh and cheesy anything is a win in my world :)
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57 rach November 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I would 2 of those pizzas in one meal…then more…oh Amanda,, (frequent reader, feel like I know ya, ha), I just binged bigtime. And I’m not an exerciser, so I don’t feel “better” about it the next day. I hope this madness will end !!!

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58 Jenn November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am

So glad you have found the freedom in healthy living! I too have spent years locked in rules of “good” and “bad” foods and no longer feel locked away in a crummy life. It is so nice to feel free from all that and really allow myself to eat whatever my body, mind, and mood are wanting instead of what I “should” (according to a stupid list of rules). : )
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