January 1, 2013

Holiday Reflections (& Cake!)

by britainknee

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe the holiday season has come and gone! I hope you all had a great holiday and ended 2012 on a positive note :)

This year, things were a little different for me – I absolutely love the winter holidays, but there was a cloud of melancholy looming over my family this time. I grew up in a town called New Milford, Connecticut. Most people haven’t heard of it, but by now, the whole country knows of its neighbor, Newtown. Our community was so shaken by the events on December 14th, 2012, that it was difficult to uphold holiday cheer knowing that such a tragedy had occurred one town over. So many of my closest friends are from Newtown, and the town itself is near and dear to my heart. It’s a beautiful community, with a lovely town center, gorgeous old Victorian homes, and some of the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever tasted (if you’re in the area over the summer, try Ferris Acres Creamery – a must whenever my sister and I are coming home from the beach).

My mom was personally affected, as she used to work with Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was one of the victims. The mother of one of my best friends worked at Sandy Hook Elementary up until last year, so that hit close to home as well. I certainly had a wonderful Christmas in that I was able to spend it with my family and closest friends, but unlike most years, once it ended, I was ready to move on.

I always look forward to ending the year and beginning a new one. I find comfort in having the chance to begin fresh, even though January 1st is only one day away from 2012. It makes me reflect on the past year, and think about what was successful, and what I need or want to work on. I don’t really make concrete New Year’s resolutions, but it’s helpful to set goals and keep them in mind to make the new year the best and most productive it can be.

As far as the holiday itself goes, I prefer quiet celebrations- going to a nice dinner and having low-key drinks with a few close people is my ideal, but I can certainly appreciate the love of wild partying. My parents decided to throw a bash at their home in Connecticut, where they invited a bunch of neighbors over for food and drinks. My mom loathes baking, but I love it, so I offered to make a few desserts for her to serve before I headed back to New York for the night.

First up was a Kahlua-soaked chocolate cake, pudding, and toffee trifle:

Kahlua Chocolate Cake Trifle(I used this recipe). I used a gluten-free chocolate cake mix, as one of their neighbors has a sensitivity to gluten, and I used three boxes of pudding instead of four – it still made too much too fit in our trifle dish, but since when is leftover cake and pudding a bad thing? My mom said everyone loved it, so I’ll definitely be making it again. So easy to put together too!

The next dessert was a rum Bundt cake:

Rum Bundt Cake

Yes, that puddle in the middle is a pool of buttery rum sauce that dripped off the sides of the cake- HEAVEN. I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe (found here). I omitted the pecans, as my parents weren’t sure if any of their guests had nut allergies, but I think they would be delicious if you know it’s safe to keep them in. My mom said this also came out really good- the cake was super moist because of the vanilla pudding added to it, in addition to being drenched in the rum butter glaze. She said the only thing she would change would be to heat the glaze longer once the rum is added (the recipe says to heat it for 30 seconds). She felt the glaze was too strong in terms of rum flavor, but she also isn’t crazy about the taste of alcohol in general. Overall, I’d say her guests’ sweet tooths (teeth?) were satisfied.

In terms of goals for 2013, I can think of a few that come to mind, and I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list as the year goes on.

For now, they are:

  • Try to spend more time with friends
  • Be a little easier on myself regarding petty things/things out of my control
  • Be a little harder on myself regarding important things/things in my control
  • Prepare more meals at home
  • Worry less about my appearance
  • Read more! I have so many books I’m dying to read, and I need to make the time to actually read them!
  • Perform more acts of kindness towards both acquaintances and strangers

Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions, or at least in setting goals for the new year? If so, what are some of yours?

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2013!

December 5, 2012

Body Dysmorphic Disorder- Never “Good Enough”

by britainknee

About a year ago, I was at the lowest weight of my adulthood. I weighed in at eighty-eight pounds, which, despite my petite five-foot frame, was still unhealthy. I rarely weighed myself until I started seeing a nutritionist. I never cared about the numbers; I only cared about what I saw in the mirror. Before I stepped on the scale, my nutritionist asked me to guess what my weight was. I wasn’t sure, and told her I was probably around a hundred pounds. To say I was shocked when I saw a number that was twelve pounds lower than I had predicted would be an understatement. I knew that eighty-eight pounds was too light, even for me. My nutritionist then asked me if I still thought I was too big. Even though I could rationalize that the number was too low, I said yes. What I saw in the mirror was someone who was bigger than I wanted to be.

 

When you suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, it’s nearly impossible to accept the facts and move on. All of the therapists, health experts, and medical professionals in the world can tell you that you’re below a healthy weight, but if what you see in the mirror is a pair of chubby cottage cheese legs and a stomach that’s far from flat, you just don’t care about numbers. Your emotions override reason, and while you acknowledge that your weight is a scary number, your only thoughts are, “how can I only weigh eighty eight pounds and still not be skinny?” This inability to accept the truth at face value is an enormous factor in the challenge of escaping an eating disorder.

 

I’ve always been a very pragmatic person. I tend to think things through rather than letting my emotions take over, so my irrational struggle with body image was not customary for me. As much as I tried to convince myself that I could not be fat at eighty-eight pounds, the un-toned cow that was my reflection controlled my rationale. It’s almost like those scenes in movies where a character is trying to decide what to do, and there’s an angel on one shoulder (the voice of reason), and a devil on the other (the voice of emotion). Most of the time, in my case, the devil was the victor. My eyes couldn’t lie to me, could they? My therapist would constantly say that my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I couldn’t understand how I could see myself differently than I was.

 

I’ve slowly progressed to a healthy weight, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride. I still have anxiety in the rare instances that I do weigh myself and see triple digits (perfectly normal for my height, but still scary to me). I tell myself that this is what I’m supposed to be, and that eventually I’ll get used to it and accept it. It’s a work in progress, but it’s still progress.

 

Have you or anyone you’ve known ever suffered from body dysmorphic disorder? Has the situation improved, and if so, what helped?

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