The Books I Read In 2018

You all know by now that I’m a pretty avid bookworm, so I decided to do a round up of my 2018 reads! These books are in order of when I read them with a rating system below 🙂 Did you read any of these? What were your favorite books of 2018? Leave a comment and let’s chat!

5 stars: Had a SERIOUS book hangover after finishing. Cannot get the characters or the storyline out of my head. Will definitely read again.  
4 stars: Amazing! Would highly recommend and could not put it down. 
3 stars: Good, not great. Didn’t hate it and don’t regret reading it, but probably wouldn’t again. 
2 stars: Meh. Wouldn’t recommend and was a waste of time. 
1 star: No. Just…no. 
  1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

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On a foggy night, 11 people (10 privileged, one a struggling painter), depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet heading to New York. 16 minutes later, the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs (the struggling painter) and a four-year-old boy. As the survivors recover, the mystery behind the accident evolves. Did the accident happen by chance, or was there something more evil at work? 

While it was an interesting plot, this book draaaagged on and I found myself wandering off mid-chapter. It started great, had me somewhat interested halfway through, then went completely downhill. It became more of a character study of the adult characters rather than the mystery I was hoping for.

2. Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah

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In the summer of 1987, Kate Mularkey has accepted that she’ll never be the “cool kid” in her eight grade class. Until the coolest girl in school, Tully Hart, moves across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully’s got it all: beauty, brains, ambition. Polar opposites, yet destined to be forever friends. So, they make a pact. Friends forever. So begins this amazing novel, sprawling across three decades to tell the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices.

THIS BOOK. Wow. Kristin Hannah never fails to amaze me. Firefly Lane made my heart sing and made my heart ache. It made me laugh and it made me cry. Like all of Hannah’s books, the characters are super compelling. I also love books told through multiple decades that make you feel transported to a certain time. I finished this book with a face full of tears. Kristin Hannah, you really know how to reach your readers!

3. Sweetbitter – Stephanie Danler

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Twenty-two year old Tess lands a job as a backwaiter at a famous restaurant in New York City (fun fact: it’s Union Square Café). This book is about her education in the restaurant industry. From cocaine and lust to dive bars and dining rooms, Tess learns to navigate her new chaotic life and the fragility of being young and living in New York. 

This was one of those “I really wanted to love this” type of books. The subject was intriguing to me – I live in NYC and I used to work in a fancy steak restaurant. But after a hundred pages or so, I got frustrated, and while I was enjoying Tess’s foray in the restaurant world, I kept waiting for, well…A PLOT. I didn’t really understand Tess (or even like her, for that matter) and felt like she was just following people around the whole time. In fact, most of the characters were pretty unlikeable. Overall, entertaining subject matter especially given my personal interest but wouldn’t recommend.

4. The Wellness Project – Phoebe Lapine

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I wrote a whole blog post about this one HERE.

5.  The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

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Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all —  a loving relationship, a beautiful home, and a precious baby girl, Cora. But one night when they’re at a dinner party, their baby goes missing. What follows is a deceptive tale of deception and unfaithfulness. 

I read this book by the pool in one sitting next to my friend (hi Kelsey) and she can attest to the fact that I literally was LAUGHING at how bad this book was. Okay, at first it was captivating. Then it becomes SO convoluted and predictable and not to mention the horrrrrrible writing. Thank you, next.

6. A Stranger In the House – Shari Lapena

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Newlyweds Karen and Tom Krump seem to be happy, until one day, Tom gets home and Karen has vanished. The police take Tom to the hospital, where he finds his wife who has been in a car accident that leaves her with no recollection of what she was doing…and the police won’t stop asking questions. 

I know, I know. WHY would I read another book by Shari Lapena if The Couple Next Door was soooo bad? Because I was sitting by the pool and didn’t have another option. The premise of this one is actually decent, but again with the terrible writing!! Sentences like “Tom felt sad” and “Karen was nervous” read like a children’s book. The characters were so boring that I had to finish the book by breezing through the short sentences to the end. MBL is annoyed. The end.

7. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

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In Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb, everything is perfectly planned and structured, making this the perfect community for Elena Richardson who always plays by the rules. Then Mia Warren, kooky artist and single mother, shows up with her teenage daughter Pearl and rents a house from the Richardsons. But Mia carries a disregard for the rules that threatens the order of this structured community. When the Richardsons’ friend attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town, putting Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia’s motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets of Mia’s past…but her obsession comes with a devastating cost. 

It had been a long time since I’d read a book that challenged my mind and problem solving skills. This book was so incredibly well-crafted and examines whether or not we can really measure “good” and “bad” in black and white terms. At the core, this story examines the notion that being a mother doesn’t mean being perfect; it comes down to love, sacrifice, and sheer will. Through a cast of captivating characters, Celeste Ng showcases how each and every one of us is full of cracks and flaws, no matter how we try to cover it up. That’s what makes this story so good – there is no black and white, despite the obviously drawn lines between the different characters.

8. Heart of the Matter – Emily Giffin

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Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned plastic surgeon who has recently given up her career to to pursue domestic happiness. Valerie Anderson is an attorney and a single mother to a six year old son who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance and even some friendships, believing that it is always safer not to expect too much. Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, they don’t have much in common besides having children…until one night when a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. 

Emily Giffin is to my go-to author when I’m looking for a mindless, chick-lit novel. Her books fly at a surprisingly fast pace and she reallllly knows how to pull you into a novel! But the characters in this particular book were SO frustrating. The female characters were pretty weak, but I liked the fact that no one had a “perfect” relationship and that Emily Giffin didn’t write the token happy ending. She tackles the topic of adultery from both parties (the betrayed woman and the woman who portrays), which was definitely an interesting POV!

9. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

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If you knew the date of your death, would it change the way you live your life? It’s 1969 in NYC’s Upper East Side and word has spread of the arrival of a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they’ll die. The Gold children sneak out to hear their fortunes. Each of the four siblings has segment dedicated to their life story. How will they each decide to live their lives? By throwing caution to the wind, living every moment like it counts, or will they become a slave to the fortune teller’s predictions? 

This was my very first book club read, and it was definitely a good one for discussion. It’s an interesting concept with some magical elements, but overall this is a family saga that’s a little bit heavy and mournful, but not necessarily bleak. I’m glad I read it, as it covers a lot of philosophical subjects about life and death, faith, destiny, our susceptibility to suggestion, just to name a few. However, I did have some problems with the execution and each character’s story is a little too brief to allow for attachment. It was enjoyable, but definitely missing something.

10. Goodbye Vitamin – Rachel Khong

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Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life is really not going the way she’s planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves home, and heads to her parents house…only to find a situation that she really wasn’t expecting. Her father is losing his memory. Her mother is completely erratic. However, Ruth uses humor to cope with the love, loss, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in life. 

Okay, don’t get me wrong, there were some moments of brilliance in here. Real, gentle, but comforting insights into what it is to lose yourself in your own mind, and what it means to watch it happen to someone you love. On the whole though, I really didn’t enjoy this book. At all. I felt like Rachel Khong didn’t really know what she wanted this book to be. Funny? Sarcastic? Dark? I think some of the really good stuff got lost between the humor and the seriousness. This novel was cluttered and felt cold and detached, the characters felt underdeveloped, and the writing was just…off.

11. Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

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Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor hears gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen live and changing the fabric of this close knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, blaming them for their son’s actions, little Zach retreats into his secret hideout and loses himself in books and art. The adults are all trying to cope in their own ways, but what they don’t see is that Zach is there listening to everything they say and do. 

Wow. What a POWERFUL and remarkable novel. It’s heartbreaking but one of those books that will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. It’s a beautiful story of a child’s resilience and and his desire to make things right. With Zach as the narrator, I was instantly engrossed by the way he describes his feelings and I quickly fell in love with this six-year-old’s huge heart. While the subject matter was a bit difficult to read, the characters are as real as a book can get and the writing is impeccable. It’s fascinating and perhaps even valuable to understand this serious subject matter from the mind of a child.

12. Educated – Tara Westover

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Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she spent her days preparing for the end of the world. In the winter she canned peaches, in the summer she stewed herbs. Her father forbade her family from going to hospitals or school. Her family was so isolated from modern day society that there was no one to give them a proper education, so Tara begin to educate herself. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her to Harvard and Cambridge. 

Difficult to read, impossible to put down. I don’t often read memoirs, but this one realllllly stuck with me. Tara’s story is one of both hope and horror. I grew up with my nose perpetually in a book, so the concept of not being able to go to school hit me pretty hard. Parts of this book are definitely cringeworthy, but I liked that this book didn’t sugarcoat things. Tara was able to rise above her beginnings and be able to thrive despite the attempts of people trying to hold her back.

13. The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill

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Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Pierrot becomes a piano prodigy and Rose lights up the room with her dancing and comedy. Before long, they decide to travel around the city performing their own joint routine, eventually following in love with each other and dreaming up a plan for the best circus show the world has ever seen. However, they get separated as teenagers, both dabbling in sex, drugs, and crime in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite after years of searching for each other, they go to extreme lengths to make their dream of creating the world’s greatest circus come true. 

This book is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like vulgarity of any kind, then don’t read this. There is beauty and pain and slight redemption in these pages, but it comes with a heavy dose of depravity and sex. I, however, am weird and enjoy dark and gritty books and this had the promise of being edgy and dark and romantic. Heather O’Neill has a really interesting style of writing. On one hand, it was lyrical and filled with lovely metaphors, but on the other hand it was pretty choppy and consistently depressing. As I write this, I realize how torn I am about this book. It’s most certainly crass, vulgar, and dark, but it does still have some magical elements. I just wish there was more magic and less of the other stuff.

14. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

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Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he decides to move his family to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni is caught in the riptide of her parent’s passionate yet stormy relationship, and hopes that moving to Alaska will lead to a better future for her family. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to her prayers. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, the family beings to fracture and Ernt’s mental state deteriorates. Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: in the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. 

Kristin Hannah, YOU HAVE DONE IT AGAIN. This book was simply epic. It’s an unforgettable portrait of human frailty, resilience, love, loss, and the fight for survival. I stayed up SO late reading this. It was all-consuming and I couldn’t think of anything else but this story. I really don’t think I have felt so many different emotions from reading a book in quite some time. It’s really hard for me to put a finger on the magic that Hannah has created here, so you’re just gonna have to read this one for yourself 🙂

15. Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

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Nine people gather at a wellness resort. Some are there to lose weight, some are there for a reboot on life, and some are there for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. They know the next ten days will take some work, but none of them can imagine just how challenging the next ten days will be. Could the director of the health resort really have all the answers? Or should the guests run while they can? 

I read everything Liane Moriarty writes. Her novels are complete page turners, so I knew I had to pick this one up. However, this one fell a little flat for me. It was just SO WEIRD. There definitely were some interesting characters to follow with fascinating stories, but the constant shifting of narration made it difficult to keep any sort of rhythm. Honestly the whole situation with the director of the health resort and her decision to take things into her own hands was kind of laughable and sooooo hard to believe. I did like the way she tied things up with some of her characters and this was definitely a page-turner, but not my favorite!

16. Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

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Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a lie that Rachel Hollis once believe that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a women who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mindsets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward. 

I’m not big on self help books. I prefer to read novels rather than have someone preach at me. But for some reason I decided to pick this one up and BOY, was it worth it. Each chapter is about a lie we’re told and why that lie isn’t actually true. “I’ll start tomorrow.” “I’m not good enough.” “I should be further along by now.” It’s such a motivating read that made me want to go out and conquer the world (or at least my own life). Rachel’s truth is poignant, it’s devastating, and it is healing. Her Christian outlook on honesty is admirable. She’s doesn’t sugar coat it, she doesn’t tell you that it’s going to be easy nor does she tell you that change will happen overnight. What she does tell you is that you are worth it – worth the fight, the struggle, battles, and the pain. You are worth the hard work, the tears, the rejection, and the exhaustion. Because life isn’t meant to be merely survived – it’s meant to be lived.

17. Marriage Vacation – Pauline Turner Brooks

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By all appearances, Kate Carmichael had the perfect life: two adorable daughters, a town house on the Upper East Side, and a successful husband. But when Kate attends one of her friend’s weddings, she suddenly sees her life in a different light and decides to make a drastic change. She uproots her life and flies halfway around the world so she can clear her head, but she ends up feeling more trapped than ever. 

I wanted to read this because I love the TV show Younger. But UGH. The main character is so unlikeable. She ditches her family (her CHILDREN) for an entire year to find herself. And that is the entire story. She seems like a giant whiny baby and I really couldn’t stand her. It reallly pushes the boundaries of believability and I am someone who LOVES Younger!!

18. Woman No. 17 – Edan Lepucki

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Writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son. So, she turns to Craiglist, where she finds S, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back. S is supposed to take care of Lady’s youngest son, Devin, while keeping an eye on her other teenage son, Seth. But in the heat of the summer, S becomes intrigued by Seth, leading Lady to believe S has other motivations behind her babysitting job. 

SIGH. I’m a little torn about this one. The storytelling and writing was really good and I didn’t want to put the book down. I enjoyed the complexity of the characters but I wanted to slap Lady and S sometimes. They’re both pretty selfish. Another problem for me was the PLOT (or, lack thereof). I kept waiting for more to happen! The book alternates between S and Lady’s POVs and I found myself getting confused and a little distracted at times. I also found Lady and S’s relationship to be quite….strange. This book has a super high weird factor, but also has an abundance of sex, secrets, and lies that kept me turning the pages.

19. Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2) – Stephen King

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The now middle-aged Dan Torrance (boy protagonist of The Shining), has been drifting for decades, haunted by the inhabitants of The Overlook Hotel where he spent one traumatizing childhood year. Finally, he settles in a small town, joins AA, and finds a job at a nursing home where he’s able to use his remnant “shining” power to provide final comfort to the dying. He becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Then Dan meets Abra Stone, a special 12-year-old girl that he must save from The True Knot, a tribe of murderous paranormals who live off the “steam” that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Abra’s spectacular gift summons Dan to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. 

I LOVE STEPHEN KING. Seriously, I am so transfixed by everything I’ve read by him, especially The Shining, so naturally I had to pick this up. King is a master of characterization, and that shows with many of the characters in this book. While this takes off from where The Shining left off and then goes on to tell its own story, this explores a lot of the same themes that makes King one of the best writers. Themes of family, life and death, extra sensory perceptions, and the demons that haunts us (paranormal and mundane). You will read several points of view and everyone has their own distinctive voice. We get an insight into the lives of the characters that makes them seem real, believable, and entirely relatable. King’s capability to write in such small details in a certain way will make you feel like the characters are alive and with you in this very room. His writing is smooth as silk and I was hooked the entire time.

20. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

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Meet the Sinclairs, a wealthy seemingly perfect family who spends every summer gathered on their private island. When Cadence, granddaughter of the wealthy Harris Sinclair, suffers a traumatic head accident in Summer Fifteen, she loses most of her memory from that summer. Two years later, Cadence returns to the island, only to find that much has changed…and finally remembers what happened that Summer Fifteen. 

I had heard so many good things about this book so I’m pretty sad to give it two stars. It’s a very clever and sophisticated book for a YA book. But the writing was choppy and somewhat boring. Sure, the ending was a total surprise, but this book could have done with a little more plot. There were some good moments, but sadly the story never grabbed me.

21. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

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Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say EXACTLY what she’s thinking. Her life is perfectly structured. Eleanor spends her days working her mundane job, avoiding social interactions, drinking vodka and having phone chats with her mysterious Mommy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bubbly IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three becomes the kind of friends who rescue each other from lives of isolation. 

Oh, this book. I loved every single second of it. I laughed, I cried, I cringed. Eleanor is damaged and quirky, but she’s oh so special. On the surface level, this is a very funny book about a socially inept 29 year old woman. Her attempts to become “normal” and integrate into society by having waxes and manicures are sources of hilarity. But it is ultimately very sad to see when her coworkers are talking about her and Eleanor is oblivious to their scorn. It’s sad how alone in life she is. But that’s also why I fell in love with Ralph, who appreciate Eleanor for who she is and welcomes her with open arms. This isn’t a romantic book and for that, I’m glad. Instead, Eleanor falls in love with herself, gaining well-deserved happiness and self-worth 🙂

22. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

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When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore visiting her boyfriend’s family, she expects a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she hopes to marry one day. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s home is basically a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than private cars, and that she’s dating one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors. Kevin Kwan shows us a funny, but real, insider’s look at old money vs. new money, between Overseas and Mainland Chinese, and what it means to young, in love, and gloriously rich. 

I had very high expectations for this book. I did like it, but didn’t love it and didn’t really understand the raving reviews. It was a really fun and fast read, with some literal LOL moments. The fact that the book took place in Singapore was cool and allowed Kwan to (briefly) touch on deeper issues of prejudice and toxic social norms within the rich Singapore community. However, the story got repetitive pretttty quickly. Kwan’s descriptions of luxury don’t differ very much (how many times can we read “the most luxurious blah blah blah…” Also, the ending was kind of jarring, and while it left me on my toes, I don’t feel incentivized to read #2 in this series. But, I will definitely be seeing the movie!

23. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy

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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on a story of many years – starting from the cramped neighborhoods of New Delhi into the burgeoning metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forest of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war. Anjum, who used to be Aftab, unrolls a threadbare carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home. A baby appears quite suddenly on the street in a crib of litter. The enigmatic S. Tilottama is as much of a presence as she is an absence in the lives of the three men who love her. The one thing they have in common: they are all heroes who have been broken by the world they live in and have been mended by love. 

This book was DENSE, slow, and hard to follow. It took me a couple hundred pages to see what was happening here…there is no story. At all. It essentially follows 2 main characters through South Asia, but there is such a mess of characters introduced throughout the book and I couldn’t remember anybody’s names nor what they were even DOING. Not only are the characters unforgettable, but it zips back and forth between past and present, third and first person, with almost ZERO dialogue to separate the massive paragraphs of dense descriptions. Sure, the writing was beautiful. But a book without a plot is just not the book for me.

24. The Stand – Stephen King

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This is the way the world ends. With a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man. 

Hands down the best book I read in 2018 (or, ever). I devoured every. single. word of this 1,348 page marvel. It’s incredible, riveting, and entirely unforgettable. The plot is divided into three books and follow the survivors before, during and after the catastrophe. It’s dark. It’s intense. It’s TERRIFYING. It’s uplifting. There’s hope, love, faith, fear, religion, sex, hate, fear, fate, and redemption. It’s a suspenseful and emotional buildup to the inevitable final face-off of good vs. evil. There’s a MEANING to everything that happens in the story — the dreams, the betrayals, the deaths, the births. But what really stuck with me was the deep characterization. Complex and REAL characters that jump off the pages and will stay with me for a very, very long time. Stu Redman, a quiet, moral and unassuming character that inspires people to fight the good fight. Tom Cullen, an innocent soul with the biggest heart who in my opinion, might just be the star of the show. King portrayed good and bad characters in such a human way. There were no perfect protagonists and no flat antagonists who were easy to hate. The characters are real people, and I connected with them all in their own little way. Finishing this book felt like saying goodbye to a good friend, and I’m still not over it 2 months later. Bravo, Stephen King, BRAVO.

25. All We Ever Wanted – Emily Giffin

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Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. Her husband made a fortune selling his business and their adored son has been accepted into Princeton. Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla, who gets a scholarship to Nashville’s most prestigious private school. Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. At the heart of the lies and scandal, Nina, Tom, and Lyla are forced together, questioning relationships and who they really are. 

This was definitely different from other Emily Giffin books I’ve read. She took an ambitious step away from her love story narratives and attempted to tackle relevant topics surrounding social media, privilege, racism, and self-worth, and more. I’m just not so sure it worked. There was a lack of emotionality and there were TOO many issues going on. Entertaining for sure, yet all too forgettable in the grand scheme of things. While Giffin introduces these big topics, she doesn’t jump into the deep end, leaving readers with only a shallow examination of these issues, equally unexplored depth to her characters and an ending that was tied up too easily. Overall, this was still a page-turner that was a good escapist read.

27. Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan

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Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she guesses, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that were once held by men. One night, she meets Dexter Styles at a nightclub and begins to understand the reason why her father might have vanished.

For me, the book started off really well for about 25%, then I honestly don’t know what happened. It all seemed a bit underdeveloped. There were parts that were really good and well written. Egan does a great job of transporting the reader to the 1940s and she beautifully captures the atmosphere of Manhattan Beach. Unfortunately, there were parts where Egan loses herself in her lengthy descriptions and the text gets a little lengthy. Ultimately I didn’t find a sustainable rhythm.

My Thoughts On “The Wellness Project” (And Why It Should Be Required Reading)

“Healthy choices don’t happen in a vacuum.”

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Like many other women today, I strive for balance in a complex world. Just read the bio of my site. Living in New York City can be completely overwhelming and seeking that balance amongst all the madness can seem, well, next to impossible.

In general, it can be more than daunting to think about living a “healthier” life (what does “healthy” even mean?) The reality is that life is busy and stressful, and despite our best intentions, sometimes a little “healthy hedonism” is what it takes to keep the balance. 

In her book The Wellness Project: A Hedonist’s Guide To Making Healthier Choices, Phoebe Lapine spends a year learning how to tune into her body by making various lifestyle changes. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in her early 20s, she tried every fad diet on the market in her attempt to get well, only to experience a life of deprivation that seemed unsustainable and left her feeling even more off balance. 

The Wellness Project tells the story of Phoebe’s yearlong journey through 12 of her own wellness endeavors, including eliminating sugar, stressing the importance of sleep, sustaining a work-life balance, saying goodbye to birth control and embracing her natural cycle, and altogether focusing on happiness. 

While reading this, I felt as though I had a best friend in my pocket (or, in this case, my Kindle). Phoebe’s approach to life is so refreshing, constantly reminding me that no matter how busy I am, it’s okay to take a breath, ask myself what I need, and then give myself that nourishment—whether that’s a Reese’s Cup, a bubble bath, or simply getting up from my desk for two minutes. 

Phoebe’s voice isn’t preachy (unlike other wellness books that I’ve picked up and put right back down after a few chapters).  She does not manipulate nor dictate what’s “right” or “wrong.” Instead, her words feel like a conversation with a best friend, taking a “do what works for you” approach that allows readers to make well-informed decisions for themselves. This book is not a guide to wellness. It’s Phoebe’s personal story, and she was brave enough to share it allfrom painful menstrual cramps and GI issues to her first SoulCycle experience and the struggles of sharing a bed with her beaufrom a humorous, incredibly relatable perspective. 

Although the book is given its pulse through Phoebe’s journey with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, it is truly written for everyone. The Wellness Project breaks through the cultural perception that taking Barry’s Bootcamp every day and only eating kale is the only way to achieve “balance.” It emphasizes that personal sweet spot between what is healthy for the soul and what is healthy for the body. 

Sure, your body will thank you for starting your day with a flaxseed smoothie and saying “No, thanks” to a third margarita. But Phoebe illustrates that our wellness is made up of so much more. And sometimes, it’s okay to say “Yes, please!” to that third, fourth, or fifth margarita. Because, you know what? It’s good for the soul. 

Phoebe, you nailed it. 

Everyone else, GO BUY THIS BOOK.

“Because if there’s one diet rule I’ve already learned the hard way, it’s that if you’re obsessing over what you’re eating all the time, no amount of kale salad can make you healthy.”

 

May Monthly Must Haves

And just like that, it’s halfway through May. HOW did this happen? I can’t believe it’s already been an entire year since I’ve graduated from college. Time seriously flies by y’all, and I have been beyond nostalgic lately.

A new month means new beginnings, especially with the beginning of spring. It also means another Monthly Must Haves post 🙂

May Monthly Must Haves

A handy dandy life planner: Life has been busy y’all. I traveled for Easter, went to Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and work has been absolutely nuts. One of my goals for 2017 was to focus on time management – particularly on “me” time. My momAgenda planner has been a total game changer. I write literally everything down, from HIIT workouts to work meetings to face mask nights. It even has inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout to keep me extra motivated. And yes, this 100% replaces the use of a digital calendar. Just further embracing my grandma-like qualities.

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A high-quality hand lotion: I’ve been thinking about writing a more in-depth post about how I’ve dealt with eczema all my life (let me know if you would be interested!) No matter the time of year, it’s something I’ve always struggled with. With that, it’s next to impossible to find a moisturizing cream that doesn’t irritate my skin. Even my hands suffer from this irritating skin condition, and this Juara Coconut Hand & Nail Balm has been such a game changer. Most scened lotions tend to bother my skin, but this coconut-scented cream has done wonders.

juara_coconutillipehand_nailbalm_pd_900x900.jpgEating Evolved Chocolate: I know I’m not the only one that can’t finish a meal without rounding it out with something sweet. And not just anything sweet (I’ve never understood how people can eat a bowl of berries and have it satiate their sweet tooth), but yo girl needs some CHOCOLATE. I recently discovered Eating Evolved and am in love. It satisfies my sweet tooth, but it’s also chockfull of antioxidants and all of their products are completely free from dairy and refined sugars. The coconut butter cups are a friggin’ DREAM y’all. Pair them with peanut butter and you’ve got yourself the perfect night cap.

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Homemade Nut Butter: As indicated by my website and Instagram handle, I love peanut butter. But my obsession with alllll the nut butters has turned into a pretty expensive obsession…so, I decided to experiment with making my own! I was shocked at how easy this was – you’ve got to try it for yourself. I’ve recently experimented with a Banana Bread Pecan Almond Butter creation, but I’m looking forward to experimenting with new flavors, too!

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Some good tunes by The Revivalists: Last weekend, my parents treated my best friend and I to a weekend at Jazz Fest in New Orleans! I had been to New Orleans before (once for Mardi Gras and another time for kicks and giggles), but Jazz Fest was a whole new world. We saw so many talented artists (Darius Rucker, Stevie Wonder, Corinne Bailey Rae, and more), but The Revivalists have officially stolen my heart. Think Avett Brothers meets The Lumineers. Think folk meets rock ‘n roll meets jazz meets soul. Think AMAZING and download “Keep Going” right freakin’ now.

Until next month, friends! Let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments below! 🙂 

Monthly Must Haves #1

Hey y’all and happy APRIL! I know I’ve mentioned this before, but spring is literally my favorite season. After my first New York City winter, I cannot be more excited for the warm weather. I’m genuinely a happier person in the sun.

With it being the beginning of the month, I thought I would start a new blog series called “Monthly Must Haves,” where I’ll give a list of a few things that I’m obsessing over this month (food related and non-food related goodies!)Monthly Must Haves

Rebbl Drinks: After drinking at least one cup of coffee a day in college, I decided my body needed a serious break. Not only did coffee make me extremely jittery, but I was the type of girl that needed copious amounts of cream and sugar in her coffee to make it taste good (I’m talking two Starbuck’s chai lattes a day…not kidding). So, in October, I decided to make the adjustment to tea. But, like any addiction, old cravings come up. And let’s be real, while a cup of green tea may make you feel good, it just simply didn’t satisfy me in the way that a good ol’ cup of cold brew does. Thanks to Rebbl, I’ve been able to kick the cold brew cravings to the curb in a healthy way – and one that doesn’t leave me crashing due to high volumes of added sugars, weird ingredients, and absurd caffeine levels.

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My favorite Rebbl product lately has been the Reishi Cold-Brew – a “super herb powered coconut milk elixir.” With a list of minimal, real, super-herb ingredients, I can indulge in a cold brew while improving my health. Rebbl also has lots of decaffeinated drinks – I highly recommend the golden turmeric milk too! 

Cocokind Skincare MYMATCHA All-Over Moisture Stick: My first New York City winter was not kind to my skin. At. all. I’m talking painfully dry. I also have a history of bad eczema, so I’m always on the lookout for natural moisturizers that won’t cause an eczema flare up.

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The MYMATCHA All-Over Moisture Stick may have saved my life this winter. I tend to get eczema flare ups on my eyelids (I know, gross, but just being real), and putting this moisturizer on the flare ups actually helped to rejuvenate my dry spots overnight. It also functions as a dark circle corrector, lip balm, and facial highlighter…basically IT DOES IT ALL. With just three ingredients (coconut oil, beeswax, and matcha tea powder), my sensitive skin has never been more grateful for one little stick. 

Energy Balls: I’ll dive more into my Class Pass obsession in a little, but early morning workouts have been my JAM lately. I’m sure I’ll get burnt out eventually, but right now, I’m loving rolling out of bed and getting in a sweat sesh before work. But, I always wake up starving and not ready for a full meal at 7am. Here’s where energy balls come into play. I’ve been experimenting with a few of my own recipes, but I think Blair (@balancewithb) NAILED it with her Cinnamon Peanut Butter Protein Bites. 

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I love popping one or two of these before a workout just to give me a little boost before diving into a spin or a barre class. They’re chockfull of a perfect combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fats – and they taste pretty darn good, too. 

Wedderspoon Manuka Honey on the GoWhen I cut coffee out of my daily routine, I also made the commitment to cut artificial sweeteners out, too. Having a Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbuck’s every day meant I was indulging in copious amounts of chemicals from the aspartame. I didn’t even realize that this was making me feel bloated and sluggish until I decided to cut it out completely and, yes, I replaced those zero-calorie sweeteners with real, natural sweeteners, such as HONEY!

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Wedderspoon makes these adorable individual honey packs that are perfect to keep at my work desk to put in a cup of tea or add to plain yogurt for a natural sweetener. They’re cute and easy as can BEE. 

ClassPass: After the holidays, I was in a workout rut. I have a gym in my apartment complex, which is rare and amazing for New York City, but I was getting bored and feeling unmotivated on the treadmill every single day. My coworker introduced me to ClassPass, and I don’t think I’ll ever turn back.

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You choose between a BASE or a CORE packet, with the base offering 5 classes per cycle for $75/month, and the core offering 10 classes per cycle for $135/month. I’ve definitely had to make some extra room in my budget, but it’s been so worth. I’ve been loving experimenting with such different classes, from rowing to hot yoga to cycling, while pushing my body and mental stamina (and having fun!)

Sweaty Betty Gym Bag: With this ClassPass obsession came the need for a gym bag. I knew I would be going to the majority of my classes before work, so I wanted a bag that I could stuff a lot of things into – makeup bag, hair products, clothes, yada yada yada. I found this bag and I am obsessed! It has a separate compartment for wet clothes and shoes, and additional straps on the bottom for a yoga mat. 

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There are so many thing’s I’ve been loving lately, but that’s just a quick snapshot of things that I’ve been using to lead a healthy and balanced life. Let me know what you’ve been loving lately too in the comments below 🙂 

Here’s the Skinny

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week next week, I wanted to share a really important article that I wrote a while back. Y’all, eating disorders are not to be ignored. Let’s destroy the myths. Let’s get the facts. Let’s celebrate the heroes who have accomplished recovery. Let’s talk about it. 

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Here’s the Skinny: The Truth Behind Anorexia Nervosa on College Campuses

Two college females reveal what it truly means to be beautiful, happy and healthy in a society where “skinny” has become the epitome of perfection.

All Part of the Routine
She wakes up in the morning, yawns and wipes her eyes. She throws on her Nike shorts and running shoes and heads straight to the gym before a single thought even crosses her mind.

It’s become her daily routine. She runs. And runs. She just keeps on sprinting, focused only on the number on the “calories burned” calculator and her feet pounding on the treadmill. Her stick-thin legs are exhausted, but she can’t ignore the constant nagging voice in the back of her head telling her to just keep going.

After one hour of exerting herself, her fatigued body tells her she’s hungry.

The voice in the back of her head, however, tells her that she’s not.

Back at her dorm, she hesitantly dips her spoon into her 100-calorie plain yogurt. Her stomach rumbles, ravenous after aggressively exercising on an empty stomach. She ponders anxiously about what she ate for dinner last night. Oh, that’s right. Nothing.

Two years later, Lily*, now a senior at Wake Forest University, looks back upon these distressing, hungry days and cringes.

“My eating disorder started the summer before my freshman year at Wake,” she reflects, “but I wasn’t fully diagnosed with anorexia until a year later.

“My mind was in a constant battle … half of my mind was saying, ‘Go ahead, eat it,’ and the other half was saying, ‘Don’t you dare touch that.’”

Lily was one of about 5 percent of 18- to 23-year-old women who meet the criteria for an eating disorder. Dr. Clinch, MD and WFU Student Health Services Clinical Director, defines an eating disorder as “a condition in which an individual struggles with their relationship with food, body image and/or exercise.”

“It can take several forms,” Dr. Clinch says. “In my experience, patients may experience their eating disorders in different ways over time.”

According to Lauren Smolar, Director of Hotline Services at National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), anorexia nervosa is “characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.”

While all sorts of eating disorder behaviors can affect college-aged women, 55 percent of college students treated for eating disorders are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa: the same disorder that has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

Morgan, junior at Wake Forest, is part of this 55 percent. She is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the end of her sophomore year of high school. Four years later, she relapses while in her sophomore year of college.

It’s the morning of Morgan’s weigh-in appointment and she is water loading: drinking excessive amounts of water so it seems like she weighs more in order to manipulate her doctors.

“I even strategically ate salty foods the day before my weigh-in,” she says, “just so I would hold more water I drank and have more water weight the next day.

“I would put on a front for every health professional that I saw and tell them that I was trying really hard and wanted to get better, when in reality I just wanted them all off my back so I could get back to it.”

Get back to what?

Get back to calorie counting. Get back to obsessing over food. Get back to waking up every morning with absolutely nothing on the brain but anxiety over what is going to be served for dinner that night.

Get back to the routine.

“It’s not denial. It’s fear.”
It’s been four years since Morgan was diagnosed with anorexia and is “recovering” – or so she thinks.

She stands on the scale at her weigh-in appointment as her nutritionist tells her that her body fat percentage is “like a 12-year-old girl.” Her weight constantly remains on the line of okay and not okay.

“I personally don’t believe I recovered between my first bout of anorexia and my relapse,” Morgan remembers.

“I was kind of just forced to physically reach an acceptable point, but nothing was done about the way I thought … aka, the actual ‘disorder’ was literally not touched,” she says. “It was still there, just as strong as ever.”

That’s because for most anorexia nervosa patients, starvation limits one’s ability to think rationally.

“It’s one of the things that makes treating eating disorders difficult,” says Heather Meyer, Staff Psychologist at the WFU Counseling Center. “Starvation often leads to denial.”

This denial makes it hard to determine the actual statistics of eating disorders, leaving one to wonder how many people suffer without ever getting professional help.

“Denial can be very strong and it can be scary to seek help. Many individuals who experience an eating disorder do not engage in care from a mental health or medical provider,” Dr. Clinch says. “They can go for years, suffering from their illness before it is diagnosed, if ever.”

For some patients like Morgan, friends and peers will express concern far before the person is officially diagnosed.

It’s an ordinary day in high school and Morgan is waiting outside with her best friend. In the midst of ordinary conversation, her friend turns to her and asks the question for the first time: “Are you okay?”

Morgan recalls her friend’s worry very clearly:

“She said she had been getting lots of questions about me. She even said one of the boys we had hung out with a few days before then had referred to me as ‘the anorexic one.’”

Yet despite these recurring questions of concern, Morgan can’t see that she is withering away in front of her family and friends’ eyes. She even tunes out the repeated question coming from her aunt and mom, family members whom she has idolized since she can remember:

“Morg, you seem like you’ve lost a lot of weight. Are you okay?”

The truth is, no, Morgan isn’t okay. She has a battle going on in her head, an internal conflict that most anorexia patients deal with 24/7.

Patti Patridge, Licensed Professional Counselor located in Winston-Salem, says: “One part recognizes the problem and wants to get rid of it, the other is scared and tells her it’s really not a problem. I see this as fear, rather than denial.”

The battle against her disorder and her inner thoughts has begun. It’s not Morgan who doesn’t want to get better. It’s the evil voices of the disorder or, as she calls it, “Ana,” that won’t allow her to change.

Back at home, Lily fights her own internal demons. She sits on her couch the summer after her first year at college with a broken heart. Her friends ask her to hang out, but she simply isn’t happy. Her loved ones want her to get better, but she doesn’t listen.

She wants to change, but she is terrified of gaining one single pound. To Lily, disobeying “Ana” means the end of the world.

Living in a Weight Loss Culture
After a long summer, Lily steps back onto the WFU campus, discouraged and overwhelmed. All she sees is perfection. People more motivated and smart than her, not to mention more beautiful and blonde, are everywhere she looks.

This overwhelming presence of “beautiful and blonde” perfection can set impossible expectations for women.

According to Dr. Clinch: “Media and our culture do promote both eating disorders and disordered eating as well as issues with body image and satisfaction. Unrealistic models of beauty are held up as the ideal.”

Patti Patridge agrees and argues that we live in a culture where beauty and a small body are touted as most attractive. “Working hard to achieve such a body is a strength,” she says, “which becomes the perfect storm in which to lose weight.”

Dr. Clinch also struggles with the extreme focus of weight loss that has had devastating effects on our society. On one hand, there is a need to reduce obesity in order to combat illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

“Health care providers have made recommendations whose focus is to counsel individuals to lose weight to prevent these illnesses,” she states.

But on the other hand, this focus on numbers can be absolutely destructive to one’s mental health.

“Imagine the patient who comes to their doctor restricting calories to 500 per day, exercising three hours a day, avoiding friends and social events because there is food.”

Lily and Morgan are these patients. They stand in line at restaurants that have government-mandated calorie-counts on their menus, such as Panera or Chick-fil-A, and become completely paralyzed.

Dr. Clinch says: “Beverage machines have labels on them that read, ‘Choose wisely, calories count!’ I cannot tell you how triggering this has been for my patients who know they need to eat more.”

Walk into any college’s cafeteria and just listen to the conversations: “I can have this because I’m going to the gym later,” or, “I can’t have that cookie, I’ve got to get that spring break body!”

“We need to become aware about our permission to eat,” Dr. Clinch says. “It is so common now that we don’t see it as damaging.”

Yet sometimes media and society is not all to blame.

Morgan says: “My eating disorder has not been much about how I actually look. It’s been more about control and stress. I felt as though everyone had their lives together, and I was the only one that didn’t … my disorder told me to keep up with my habits, and I would be better than everyone at one thing, at least.”

For Morgan, to let go of the control of this “one thing” means embarking on the biggest struggle of her life: recovery.

Kicking “Ana” Out
I don’t understand how people are just a-okay with tossing a Snickers in their mouth, Lily thinks to herself. She just told her mom about her eating disorder, who has called every doctor she could to find her daughter the best help possible. Lily is terrified. The girl that analyzes the amount of calories in a Lifesavers mint is about to embark on the toughest journey of her life.

The recovery process begins and it is nearly impossible. It’s heart-wrenching and traumatic, a battle that not only Lily fights, but a battle that her friends and family also wrestle with.

“I wanted to change because my friends and family were rooting for me, and I no longer wanted the disease to control me,” Lily remembers. “But I definitely had my ups and downs while looking in the mirror because I was so terrified of gaining weight.”

Recovery happens very slowly. It’s a long, dragged out tiredness, one that often leads to lost friendships and anxiety from family members.

Before Morgan starts recovery, she sees how worried her family is. She sees her mom cry as she asks Morgan what she’s eaten that day, if she’s eaten enough, if she’s eaten at all.

True friends voice their concerns, but friends who are not as genuine just leave.

“I was so sick of it all,” Morgan says, “so, I eventually tried to fix my mindset and kick ‘Ana’ out of my head for good.”

Luckily for Lily and Morgan, professional nutritionists and therapists are available to ease the difficulty of the recovery process.

Therapy plays such a crucial role in recovery. According to Dr. Clinch, “Understanding the trigger and learning new ways to manage the pain allows patients to release their eating disorder.”

However, getting an eating disorder patient to actually connect with their therapist can be difficult. Patients are forced to get out of their routines and reflect upon their experiences – experiences that, at this point, have become habit.

“I went to so many professionals,” Morgan says. “I developed a hatred for my pediatrician … but I think only because she was the one who ‘caught me’ or ‘found me out.’”

This “hatred” Morgan experiences is normal. An eating disorder can be “very mean and rigid,” according to Patti Patridge. “It can cause one to lie to herself, so sometimes pushing someone a little out of their comfort zone is important for growth.”

Lily takes similar steps to kick “Ana” to the curb. She meets Susie, a nutritionist, who changes her life. They talk about everything: boys, clothes, school and the food she eats that week.

“She would reassure me that whatever I felt was okay,” Lily says. “She would reiterate this is a process and I’m going to do well going forward.”

Most therapists also involve parents in the treatment process as much as possible to make sure they are fully educated about eating disorders and their own child’s experience with one.

Patti Patridge stresses the importance of this involvement, emphasizing that work should be done with everyone “to negotiate what will be helpful and supportive versus what will feel controlling or triggering.”

For Lily, strong support from friends and family is ultimately what enables her to continue pushing herself until she gets better.

“Having my friends and family tell me I looked better and better as I gained weight was what really pushed me to continue my treatment,” she recalls.

Lily’s experience with recovery is hard, but it pays off. Her mind and heart are no longer at war and she’s “simply happier.”

Yet not everyone is this lucky.

It’s Time to Speak Up
The numbers are increasing, and the statistics are scary, shocking and heartbreaking.

According to a survey done among 3rd-grade girls, many of them are already dieting and unhappy with their bodies.

The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 42 percent of 1st-to 3rd-grade girls want to be thinner. 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. In elementary schools, 25 percent of girls diet regularly and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss.

“The age at which children become aware of the meaning of weight and dieting is disturbing,” Dr. Clinch remarks. “This is so sad to me.”

Children as young as 8 years old have become exposed to our culture’s strong emphasis on weight, beauty, diet and exercise.

Patti Patridge says, “While eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are important for maintaining a healthy body, the culture has taken it to an extreme, and we tend to focus on weight rather than health.”

So, what can we do?

NEDA professionals admit that while there has been an increase in programs that encourage body positivity and self-confidence on college campuses, there are still lots of mixed messages and pressures that can use some improvement.

Some campuses are doing a better job than others. The University of South Carolina has “The Body Project,” a small group conversation about body image and the influences of cultural and social interactions. Student advocates at California State University-Northridge hosted a series of programs during “National Eating Disorders Week” to promote self-confidence and eating disorder awareness around campus. Nationally, the “Body Positive” program trains students, faculty and staff on issues about body image and how to promote healthy attitudes.

However, according to Morgan, some schools “avoid the subject.”

She says: “Wake just doesn’t advertise enough for the things they do have, like the counseling center. I think it would be beneficial for Wake to speak up about body image and eating disorders.

“I have seen so many girls struggling on the outside that I can’t even imagine how many are struggling on the inside.”

Dr. Clinch reports that there are actually a few programs at WFU “currently underway to help chip away and challenge the pervasive national attitudes about body image to begin to shift toward a healthier balance,” but they are “still working” to bring the “Body Positive” program to campus.

However, rather than depend on these developing on-campus support groups, Morgan is one of many eating disorder patients who has turned to social media for support during her recovery process. She maintains an Instagram account where she posts her thoughts and her yummy food creations.

She says, “It’s just somewhere I can post what’s going on in my head … I have people who understand what I’m going through and they listen and offer support.”

Morgan also follows other recovery accounts and keeps track of their influential journeys.

“My favorite account is *****,” she says. “I have seen her entire inspiring transformation through all her ups and downs. I feel like I am kind of her friend in some way even though I do not know her.”

There’s Still Hope
Nationwide, the statistics of anorexia nervosa may continue to grow, but not all hope is lost.

After years of battling a controlling disease that wreaked absolute havoc on Morgan’s body and mind, she is healthy enough to study abroad her junior year of college.

Traveling abroad gets Morgan out of her comfort zone. She changes her environment completely, surrounding herself with great friends, fun activities and even better food. She gets out of her harmful routine and starts to live again.

“I could keep my mind away from thinking in old ways and getting into old habits,” she proudly reflects. “I made so much progress that it was easier to keep the improvements going when I got back home.”

Lily makes similar improvements after enduring her own battle with anorexia. After endless therapy sessions and visits to her life-changing nutritionist, she can smile again.

“The sense of freedom I’ve gained after my eating disorder is incredible,” she gushes, a radiant smile on her face. “When I’m having a bad day, I remember that even my worst days now are better than my best days then.”

Lily gains control. But this time, it’s not about food. Years after battling a disease that could have taken her life, she has control over her body, mind and, most importantly, her happiness.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

To the Lady Gaga body shamers…

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” 

I can’t sit here and say that I’m a huge Patriots fan. I can’t sit here and say that I’m a huge football fan (or sports fan in general). I can’t even sit here and say that I was planning on watching the Super Bowl at all. But I can sit here and say that the halftime show just so happened to be on at work. I can sit here and say that my eyes were absolutely glued to the screen as Lady Gaga started her halftime performance.

I can sit here and say that my coworkers and I were literally in awe as she strutted her beautiful, talented, powerful self around that stage. I can sit here and say that I was literally amazed at the immense talent of this woman and her ability to dance so impeccably AND sing her heart out at the same time (without running out of breath, mind you!) I can sit here and say that I thought it was one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen (male or female) and the only word I can think to describe it was EPIC.

But I, unfortunately, can also sit here and say that when I logged onto Facebook after the show, the first post I saw was “Lady Gaga could sure use a body wrap to tone, tighten, and firm!”

Do I even need to mention that this post was from a man? A well-respected father? A father to a DAUGHTER? I saw this post and my heart pounded. My jaw dropped. I was angry. And I am still am.

That post wasn’t the only one I saw. By the looks of my social media feeds, it seems as though society doesn’t care one bit that Lady Gaga put on a truly epic, mind-blowing performance. Y’all, since when did it become okay to completely disregard one’s talent in order to pave way for discussions entirely focusing on her body? The mere fact that there are people out there, fathers of daughters, who have the nerve to call Lady Gaga out for having a “gut,” for needing to “tighten” and “tone” her already beautiful body is actually disturbing.

It makes me so sad that there are people out there who still value a woman based off her body. There is no such thing as the “perfect body.” There never will BE such a thing, and insinuating that people need a “toning wrap” to look better only contributes to the lie that women need to be skinnier, tighter, and toner in order to be deemed worthy in a man’s eyes.

There are little girls, daughters of the fathers who have made these remarks, who look up to pop icons like Lady Gaga. Should they also be buying into the lie that they need to have rock hard abs and a flat stomach to be considered “perfect”? Because if the legendary Lady Gaga can’t even avoid this judgement, who the heck can?

Well, you know what. We can and we will survive this judgement. There will always be haters who will choose judgment over love and acceptance, and there’s unfortunately nothing we can do about that. But whether or not we, as strong, independent, beautiful women, choose to listen to these haters is entirely our choice. I choose not to. I will NOT buy into society’s misconception that I need to be skinnier, fitter, toner to be more valuable.

Because I choose to believe that imperfection is beauty. 

 

 

Diving right in

First of all, HI! I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. “This” as in writing my first blog post, well, ever.

So, forgive me, but I have no idea where to begin other than to just start writing! (Advice from my lovely friend from The Real Life RD – I’m doing it Robyn, I’m finally doing it!!)

I’ll start out by saying thank you to those who already know me as “mb with a side of pb” from our weird, loving, adorable, supportive little community of Instagram health nuts. After starting my “foodstagram” in July, I couldn’t be MORE excited and grateful to have met so many inspirational people with my same interests. People who share my same passion for health and nutrition and embracing the real food lifestyle. People who understand the importance of counting memories over calories, who understand that nourishing your body with real foods is 1000x healthier than any type of restrictive diet. People who have stepped away from the scale and that meaningless number and towards a healthier mindset of self-love. People who embrace the importance of self-care, even if that sometimes means a 9pm bedtime on a Friday night (shout out to my fellow grannies…) Aaaaand of course, my ladies who share my love for peanut butter, duh.

You know who you all are, and THANK YOU.

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with me and my weird obsession with peanut butter and avocados, hello 🙂 I won’t delve into an introduction (you’ll find that in the About section of this somewhat wonky site – it’s definitely still a work in progress), but thank you so much for visiting my page! Over the past few years, I’ve developed such a strong passion for nutrition and balance, especially since moving to New York City, where things tend to be anything but consistent. I’m so excited to share how I achieve this peace and harmony (without breaking the bank) with such a hectic lifestyle.

Over the next few weeks, this website is definitely under a lot of construction, but I thought I’d dive right on in! My first question for you guys: What type of posts are you all interested in reading? My focus will mainly be on nutrition and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a busy life, but I also want to share what you all are interested in reading about! I’m open to any and all suggestions 🙂

Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for much, much more!

Xx,

MB