Nourish Your Body. Feed Your Soul. Shine Your Light.

Month: July 2018

Picture Not So Perfect: Real Life Behind the Highlight Reel

We take pictures to preserve memories, so we can look back on them in the future and reminisce about those moments. I have dozens of photo albums full of pictures from childhood through today. I still print off digital pictures and put them in frames and albums because there’s something special about holding a picture in your hand and not just looking at it on your phone.

Before the digital age, taking pictures was marked by surprise and spontaneity. We had to wait until the entire roll was full before turning it in to get all of our images developed. We’d pick up the envelope and eagerly flip through and see which ones were worth keeping. We didn’t have the option of editing them or curating a collection of only the best images.

I still love pictures today, but in recent years, I’ve let how I look in them impact me and how I think of myself more than I’d like to admit.

Around this time last year, Bill and I were on a trip to Colorado to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary and his cousin’s wedding. I was feeling more energized than I had felt in months after spending the better part of last year recovering from Epstein-Barr Virus. I was ready for the hours of dancing that was sure to follow the outdoor ceremony because Bill and I love to dance.

It was a beautiful day, and we were taking pictures with a backdrop of the Colorado mountains behind us. The scenery was picturesque and looked like something out of a magazine.

As we prepared to snap some pictures, I remember feeling pretty good about myself. The lack of humidity meant a great hair day, and I was wearing a dress I’d bought the year before at Marshall’s that was comfy (and had pockets). We smiled as someone took a few photos, photos I hoped would be picture perfect, capturing the essence of that moment and the beauty of the day.

I waited until just Bill and I remained.

Then, I looked at the photo.

“YIKES!” I remember thinking, as a feeling of disgust crept up inside of me.

“My arms and legs look so BIG! That dress is TOO short. Rachel, what happened??”

I thought back to three years prior when I was about 20 pounds lighter and satisfied with nearly every picture I took. This picture was not the same person.

I proceeded to crop the photo from the waste down, so no one could see my thunder thighs (yes, we are each our own harshest critic). That way, no one else could judge or critique my not-so-toned body. I posted an image I was sort of okay with on social media.

I remembered not too long ago – only about four years or so – when just about every picture taken of me was worthy of sharing.

No filters or cropping needed.

I was thrilled with how I looked.

What most people didn’t know about those pictures was that I was coming out of a defining part of my health journey, restoring my health after being clinically malnourished. As I’ve shared before, I was concerned about my body and my ability to have kids because I had lost my menstrual cycle for seven months in the midst of my weight loss. That’s the truth about what was behind my smile and that sassy blue dress.

I hadn’t had my big career breakthrough yet. I had barely dipped my toe into the personal and relational growth that I’ve experienced since then.

But, man, did I like how I looked in pictures.

Fast forward to 2017 to the Colorado photo. In all honesty, I hadn’t exercised consistently for over a year, primarily because I was recovering from an acute form of mono and had completely burned out. I was just trying to rebuild enough energy to go about my daily activities, so looking toned and fit wasn’t at the top of my priority list. It wasn’t even on my radar.

Having all of my insecurities shoved into my face as a result of looking at one picture made me feel like I’d been blindsided.

As women, we can feel so insecure when we look at certain pictures of ourselves. We berate ourselves when our face or legs or arms or butt or tummy doesn’t look slim enough. Body shaming is a universal struggle for many of us, yet our perceptions are rarely based in reality.

I’m sure some of you looked at the picture above and did not see anything remotely like what I saw. Maybe you thought, “What is she talking about? She looks fine. She’s just being really hard on herself.”

And you’d be right.

Because our perception is not reality.

I’ve heard women who weigh 125 pounds and women who weigh 185 pounds look at pictures of themselves and say the exact same thing, “Ew, I look fat.”

Instead of living our lives, we spend more time than we’d like to admit cropping, curating, editing and perfecting an image of ourselves and our lives to share on social media.

Do you know what this body shaming does?

It causes us to miss the moment, the joy, the love, the happiness, the people, the experience itself.

I was talking to my husband, Bill, about this over lunch, and he commented that we used to wait and see pictures because it took time for them to develop. Now we can see them immediately, and we can edit them to look more attractive in seconds.

That’s not real life. 

Bill is a teacher and commented that his young teacher friends are especially image conscious. When they take group photos, everyone looks at and comments on themselves and how they look in the picture. With all of the pressure from social media and online dating, our images are more carefully curated than ever before. We only want to put forth images of ourselves and our families that look flattering.

Granted, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look good in a picture. It’s totally normal to want physically flattering pictures of ourselves, but our degree of obsession around it is unprecedented.

We let our perspective ruin our pictures and special moments in our lives. We let how we think we look interfere with how we want to live.

Around this time last year, I was talking to a friend who was going through a divorce and had gained a noticeable amount of weight. She doesn’t like to be in pictures with her kids, knowing that other people might see her and judge her.

Do you think her kids cared what their mom looked like, or do you think it mattered more that they were in the pictures with her? When it’s her time to go, do you think her kids will wish they had a more attractive mom or more photos of their mom?

I don’t say this to shame and judge anyone in a similar situation, but I know firsthand what this kind of body shame does to us and to our lives.

When we constantly live out of a place of insecurity, we rob ourselves of living. We shine a little less brightly, love a little less deeply and live a little less fully. The pain of living less fully will eventually surpass the pain of being insecure in our bodies.

Here’s the truth.

The body you have in this moment is yours.

It is a gift from God.

Maybe you’ve neglected it, “let it go”, or forgotten about the importance of loving and honoring it by nourishing it and taking care of it. Maybe you just had a kid or have three kids or lost a loved one or went through a bad breakup or hate your job. Maybe your body is taking the brunt of all of your emotional pain. Maybe you are as harsh as or even harsher than I’ve been in this post when you judge yourself in pictures.

Whatever you are dealing with, you are worthy of living fully and being loved – regardless of how you look.

Regardless of whether we see an extra wrinkle, skin fold, double chin, cellulite, or varicose vein, can we be a little kinder to ourselves and not allow our pictures to define our worth?

The reality is, we can still experience so much love and joy in our bodies, even if they don’t resemble the ideal standard we have in our minds. God can use us and our bodies regardless of what we perceive to be limitations – physical or otherwise.

I want to leave you with one more story about the power of perception and the truth about our bodies.

At the end of last summer, I was seeing a massage therapist who practices “visceral massage.” In other words, she uses her hands to move and release fascial restrictions in my abdomen and pelvis to encourage the normal movement and function of my internal organs. She helped me release some physical stuckness and shared insightful nuggets of wisdom every time we met.

During one session, I had to lay on my side, so she could do work on my back. I noticed my shirt come up a bit and could see my belly generously taking up its space on the massage table. For most of my life, my stomach had always been flat, but now it wasn’t. I felt sad, ashamed and embarrassed.

I shared how I was feeling with her and, at the end of our time together, I showed her a picture of me from an event four years prior, when I was about 25 pounds lighter. I told her how I liked that face more than how my face is now. It was thinner and more attractive, I thought.

She said she liked the “now” me better, and when I made the comment about my face being fuller, she responded in her kind and gentle way with a beaming smile and these words:

“Isn’t that radiant?”

Radiant.

Did she know that “radiant” is one of my words and that it perfectly captured how I want to show up in this world?

She said I was radiant.

I had never thought about it that way, that I may have looked better and more alive, with a fuller face.

I was moved to tears as I let her words lift my broken spirit.

Yes, I am radiant.

I have a fire flowing through my veins and a light burning bright in my soul. It’s who I was made to be. I wasn’t meant to hide it.

What would happen if we stopped critiquing our (and other’s) worth by our pictures?

What if we chose to see the whole person behind the image in the photo instead of just what society has brainwashed us to notice?

What if we could offer ourselves a little more grace and compassion and a little less shame and judgment?

As much as I loved the way I looked in that electric blue dress, I love who I’ve become as a woman, a wife, and a friend more in the less physically flattering photo.

One year later, as I look back at that same photograph, I don’t have the same emotional reaction to it. I have more grace for the woman in that photo, knowing how far she has come in the past year and in this lifetime.

Instead of pasty thighs and not-so-toned arms, I see a women who has come a long way, a woman who has grown and transformed, a woman who has been strengthened and anointed, a woman who loves and who is loved more deeply than ever before. I see a beautiful, beaming woman who is becoming more comfortable with and less apologetic about who she is.

I hope that reading this invites you to shift your mindset.

I hope it gives you a new, more life-giving perspective to consider about your body.

I hope it gives you the courage to see the whole person, not just the perfectly edited, cropped and curated version of yourself that shows up in photos.

Writing posts like this takes a lot out of me because, in them, I am exposed. I’m not hiding behind success, accomplishments or a pretty smile.

I’m sharing anything but the highlight reel because it matters more to me to be real.

If this resonated with you, I’d love to hear from you below or by email. Send me a photo from your journey that has a story behind it even if you don’t love the picture itself (connect (at) rachelsnourishingkitchen.com). I’m honored to walk alongside you on this journey of discovery, acceptance and grace. 

7 Healthy Dining Spots in Lake Placid, New York (And Why You Should Go There on Vacation!)

Since I was a little girl, my family has spent our summer vacation in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York.

My mom’s family is from the area, and she spent summers as a kid in Keene at her parents’ farmhouse, working at The Land of Make Believe as a teenager. My dad fell in love with her and the area over 40 years ago when they started dating. My parents love Upstate New York so much that, after decades of renting other people’s cabins, they bought their own place in Wilmington, just outside the resort village of Lake Placid. It’s been in our family for over 15 years and will remain for years to come.

Each summer, Bill and I return to our grounding place, to small towns where time stands still, and to the breathtaking beauty of the Adirondacks. We go to be near the mountains, lakes, streams, cleansing air, and for peacefulness that being in nature brings.

If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it as a travel destination, especially if you like being outdoors. The days are typically mild, and the summer nights are often so chilly that you need to bundle up and wear a sweatshirt or jacket.

Our favorite thing to do while we are up there is hike one of the hundreds of peaks in the region. If you’re looking for options, I suggest checking out this site, which sorts hikes by distance and difficulty. Bill and I try to climb one of the 46 High Peaks each year, but we also love to do shorter climbs, including Ampersand, Round Mountain, and Hurricane. With all of the lakes in the area, we also love to canoe, paddle board, or make friends with people who have boats 🙂 It’s also a great spot for fishing.

My family of triathletes swims, bikes and runs throughout their time there. I love to go for a run around Mirror Lake or near my parents’ house and take in the mountain views. One of the Ironman triathlons (140.6 miles – 2.4 mile-swim, 112 mile-bike, 26.2 mile run) takes place in Lake Placid each July and draws in thousands of athletes and their friends and family. If you’ve never witnessed an Ironman race, I highly recommend attending one. We volunteer each year at one of the bike aid stations and cheer in the runners at the finish line in the evening. It’s an incredible testament to the power of the human spirit and a feat of the body and mind. My dad has finished the Lake Placid Ironman six times; my sister, Jane, three times; and my husband, Bill, once. To learn more about the race, click here.

When Bill and I are on vacation, one of the things we love to do is find delicious and nourishing places to eat. With my dairy-free, gluten-free limitation, I have to be selective about where to dine out, but I have become particularly skilled at discerning where to go. I don’t think that being away from home means that we have to sacrifice nourishing ourselves. My goal is to find places that serve delicious and nourishing food. It’s totally possible.

Here is my list of seven spots to dine in Lake Placid, New York!

Green Goddess Natural Foods

Locations: 2051 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY; 2419 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523-4676, www.GreenGoddessFoods.com
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

This is my #1 spot because it’s a cafe and a grocery store. If you consider yourself to be a healthy foodie, then you have to know about this place. Originally located on Saranac Avenue on the way out of Lake Placid, Green Goddess Natural Foods has expanded and recently opened a second location on Main Street.

At both locations, you can build your own smoothie, smoothie bowl, grain bowl, breakfast bowl, and salad. You can also get homemade, cold-pressed juices there, too. The markets have hundreds of gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, and vegan options including products, soups, baked goods, grab-and-go deli sandwiches and dips, snacks, and even supplements.

I’m a fan of the make-your-own-salad option, and if you get one, I highly recommend including the curried cashews and green goddess tahini dressing (seriously awesome). My husband is a fan of their sandwiches loaded with local ingredients.

For a look at the Green Goddess and Scape Cafe menus, click here, and for updates to daily specials, follow them on Instagram.

The Good Bite Kitchen

Location: 2501 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-637-2860, www.TheGoodBiteKitchen.com
Meals: Lunch, Snack

It’s easy to pass right by this little gem, but we were stoked to discover it a few years ago. The Good Bite Kitchen is an “inventive vegetarian” cafe with lots of  plant-powered, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo options. They change out the selection on their chalkboard menu on a daily basis and have everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies to grain bowls, zucchini noodle bowls, and sweet treats.

Seating is extremely limited, so depending on what time of day you’re there, you might want to get your order to go and sit by the water to eat your meal. A few of the my favorite meals that I’ve gotten there are the Mung Bean and Zoodle (zucchini noodle) bowl served with a vegan ranch dressing and topped with pumpkin seeds. I’ve also tried a zoodle bowl made with toasted cashews and chickpeas. They always have some combination of a veggie noodle and/or rice bowl loaded with lots of other veggies and something crunchy.

Bill loves the GBK Tomato, which can be prepared as a sandwich or salad, and includes heirloom tomato, balsamic hummus, basil vinaigrette, pickled onions, feta and greens. Follow them on Instagram to keep track of daily specials.

Note: As of this blog post publication, they are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11a-5p.

Salt of the Earth Bistro

Location: 5956 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523-5956, www.SaltoftheEarthBistro.com
Meals: Dinner

Most of the time, Lake Placid seems like the town that time forgot. Very little changes from year to year, so it’s obvious when a new store or restaurant comes to town. As we were searching on yelp (my go to app for finding dining options), we stumbled upon this farm to table spot. After checking out the menu and seeing icons designating gluten-free and vegan options, I knew we’d found a winner! We went with my parents and everyone loved their meal and the appetizers. There aren’t many high quality dinner spots in Lake Placid, but this is definitely one of them.

We started with an appetizer of onion fritters breaded in chickpea and cauliflower flour and served with an addictive tamarind dipping sauce. Everyone at the table raved about them and the goat cheese stuffed piquillo peppers drizzled with honey and chopped hazelnuts, topped with microgreens. I couldn’t eat the cheese but did manage to snag a bite of a pepper with some honey and hazeluts, and it was delicious. I had eyed up their curried chickpea dish served with cauliflower, red peppers, carrots, plump raisins, and chickpeas atop a bed of turmeric rice. It had a bit of a kick to it, but the flavors were on point. My mom had the special, which included perfectly seared sea scallops on a bed of black quinoa and sautéed spinach served with a beet yogurt sauce.

If you’re looking for a spot for nice night out in Lake Placid or for a place to go for a celebration, I highly recommend Salt of the Earth Bistro.

Big Slide Brewery & Public House

Location: 5686 Cascade Road, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523-7844, www.BigSlideBrewery.com
Meals: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Drinks

Another newer addition to the Lake Placid dining scene, Big Slide Brewery received about 4.5 out of 5 stars on yelp, which caught my attention. It’s a great spot for a group and you could easily spend an afternoon there. Their farm-to-table menu that sources ingredients locally had plenty of options for gluten-free, dairy-free and anyone without restrictions, too. Bill and I had a great meal there. I’m not much of a drinker, but their mule served with cranberry maple ginger beer was calling my name, so I got that to start, and it was definitely the right call.

To start, I loved the humor they put into their menu titles. With names like The 40 Year Old Vegan (a vegan pizza), The Yawner (a traditional house salad), What a Fun-gi (mushroom pizza), and Trout It Out (my second choice for an entree!), just reading the menu put me in a good mood. I have an appreciation for puns.

For dinner, I opted for the Thai Cobb Salad (another funny play on words, right?), and Bill had the pork chop entree. My salad was made with julienned carrot, cabbage and jicama; spicy micro greens; tomato; avocado; applewood smoked bacon; peanuts; and a 7-minute egg and was topped with a lime and smoked chili vinaigrette. I wasn’t starving, but if I wanted to amp it up a bit more, I could have added grille chicken. It hit the spot, and I would highly recommend it! 

Bill’s entree was a bone-in pork loin chop served with caramelized onion, blueberry and bacon salsa, roasted carrot and spinach lentils and finished with an apple bourbon jus. I don’t think anything else needs to be said other than it was awesome. Like, ridiculously awesome and packed with flavor. We can’t wait to go back to Big Slide Brewery for another mouthwatering meal!

Caffe Rustica

Location: 1936 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523-7511, www.CaffeRustica.com
Meals: Dinner, Dessert; Closed on Sundays

This place is easy to miss if you’re not aware of it because it is off the main drag and in a shopping center with a Price Chopper grocery store. We first went to Caffe Rustica (yup, it’s spelled differently) a few years ago with family friends who live in the area, and it has become one of our annual dinner destinations since.

I started with a house salad made of mixed greens, poached pears, charred onions, walnuts, and avocado (they let me sub that for cheese) topped with a maple balsamic dressing. What a perfect way to start a meal. I had the fish special, which was a meaty white fish served with a homemade basil marinara sauce and served on top of sautéed broccolini. It was a light meal, great for the hot summer day we were there. I’ve had the salmon before, too, and it is often served with root vegetables and quinoa, so I’d recommend that, too.

Photo credit: Olivia Serafini, Whole Cal, So Cal. Used with permission

After dinner, if you’re looking for something to do, play a round of mini golf at Pirate’s Cove. It’s a fun course. The last time we were there, Bill got four holes in one!

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery

Location: 813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523- 3813, www.UbuAle.com
Meals: Lunch, Dinner, Drinks

If you want to hit up the beach at Mirror Lake and then walk to lunch or dinner or to grab drinks with friends and family, then the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery is your spot. We went there with a group of almost 20 people last summer after my sister, Jane, did her third Ironman triathlon, so this is a great spot for groups.

Once again, this is another spot that accommodates gluten-free, plant-based diners. All items are prepared in the same kitchen as gluten-containing foods, but they label their menu with a GF symbol to indicate which items are made with gluten-free ingredients. I’ve gotten the hummus starter (lots of crunchy veggies for dipping!) and superfood salad (kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and mixed greens galore) with salmon on top. My mom loved the salmon bowl with maple and brown sugar glazed salmon served with cilantro lime rice, radishes, cucumbers, scallions and toasted sesame seeds. If you’re gluten-free, ask for a gluten-free sauce / glaze option, as it appears that something in that dish is not gluten-free.

If you’re in the mood for a pizza, burger or sandwich, good news! LP Pub & Brewery offers gluten-free pizza crust and burger buns.

Lisa G’s

Location: 6125 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid, NY
Contact: 518-523-2093, www.LisaGs.com
Meals: Lunch, Dinner, Drinks

This is a popular neighborhood restaurant and bar and tends to get busy around dinner time, especially on weekends. Lisa G’s has something for everyone a menu that labels menu items as “gluten-free” or “vegan,” which is super helpful for someone like me.

Here are a few of the gluten-free options: Lentil Salad with mixed greens, green lentils, carrots, scallions, roasted red peppers, and green olives tossed in a thyme vinaigrette and topped with walnuts and feta. I’d hold the feta and ask for avocado instead, which most restaurants are willing to accommodate. Lisa G’s has a few side dish options that I’d recommend mixing and matching with a protein to build a nourishing, fueling meal, including roasted veggies, sautéed kale, rice pilaf and rice and beans. For entrees, you could try the Sweet Potato Chili and Salmon dishes (ask for a different sauce on the salmon if dairy-free), as both are gluten-free (hold the corn bread for the chili).

If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you have a broader menu to choose from, including salads, apps, wings, sandwiches, tacos, burritos, and land and see entrees.

And there you have it! Those are my top seven, tried and true dining spots in Lake Placid. Looking for more options? Here are four other spots to check out in town:

  1. The Cottage: 77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, NY. The view from the outdoor patio of The Cottage is beautiful, sitting right on Mirror Lake. I’m a fan of their House Salad served with artisanal greens, heirloom cherry tomatoes, roasted butternut squash, sweet and spicy almonds and served with their maple balsamic dressing.
  2. Base Camp Cafe: 2488 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY. Breakfast the other day was a toss up between this place and The Breakfast Club. We didn’t make the right choice (the food and vibe were not so awesome at the Breakfast Club) and wish we’d gone to Base Camp instead. They serve old fashioned oatmeal and have build-your-own omelette or scramble options served up with home fries. They also have all day breakfast bagels that can be made with gluten-free bread instead. Base Camp also serves hot and cold sandwiches and variety of drink options, including a wide selection of specialty lattes.
  3. Top of the Park: 2407 Main Street, Second Floor, Lake Placid, NY. Tapas / small plates restaurant with creative but limited menu and a few vegan and gluten-free options. We haven’t been yet, but this place comes highly recommended by the staff at Green Goddess Natural Foods for the quality of their food and willingness to accommodate different dining preferences.
  4. Liquids & Solids: 6115 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid, NY. If you consider yourself to be a bit of an adventurous eater, check out this spot. Their menu is heavy on animal products and not an ideal spot for plant-based diners. They’re also known for their extensive and ecclectic drink menu.

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