I’ve debated about posting this for a long time. But, I felt that it was important, and I owe it to myself to celebrate how far I’ve come. And as long as I am sharing the positive parts of my life on here, I owe it to all of you to be open and honest about the hard times, as well.
For most of you – friends and family included – you probably never knew that I battled an eating disorder. That's perhaps one of the scariest truths about eating disorders: they're not always obvious. Just by looking at me, you wouldn't have been able to tell that I was struggling. I suffered with bulimia on and off for three years, and it was the biggest, most shameful secret I’ve ever kept from anyone. It became my reality behind closed doors, part of my daily routine. I lied to my family and friends. I kept it to myself and let it weigh on me for months and months. It took a toll on my relationships. It ruined my life. I had completely lost sight of the beautiful person God created me to be and let my own distorted self-image take over my life. I felt alone, simply because I was too afraid to ask for help. I ended up in the hospital because of it. But it wasn’t until the fifth or sixth time my mother asked me if I was "okay" that I finally admitted to her, and to myself, that I was not. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders that day and I felt like I could finally breathe again. Just telling someone – that was the first step to getting my life back.
If you can relate to my story, if you’re struggling in any way, take that first step and talk to somebody about it. Don’t stay stuck. It is okay to ask for help. People are willing. People care. I wish I had talked to someone sooner. I wish I had listened to those who loved me when they told me I was “perfect” the way I was. I wasted three years of my life hating myself, not feeling good enough, killing myself to achieve an unrealistic and unreachable "goal."
Recovery wasn't something that happened for me overnight. It was an uphill battle. I relapsed. Several times. But I grew so tired of lying and hiding things from people who were trying to help me. Without their support, and without God's unfailing love and mercy, I would probably still be struggling with those issues today.
But I'm not. I'm healthier and stronger than I've ever been. I have come a long way and am proud of it. I no longer hate my body for how it looks. Instead, I love it for all the amazing things it does for me, and for how hard it works every day.
If you’re thinking about doing something, changing something, I am here to tell you that you can fight your demons (whatever they are) and win.
“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14
Music. If you're obsessed with music as much as I am, you'll appreciate Music Row. The biggest artists in country music were discovered there. And even if you're not a country music fan, you are sure to have a good time at one of the honkytonks on lower Broadway. You can't walk down the street without hearing a song you know. Nashville never sleeps. There is live music all day, every day, wherever you go. And every artist/band you hear is good. Really good.
Food. You can't go to Nashville and not go to these places:
Demos' Restaurant. The wait staff is awesome and the food is even better.
The Pancake Pantry. Just check out their Instagram page. Enough said.
Jack's Bar-B-Que. If you can walk past this restaurant and not go inside, I applaud you. Actually, no, I don't.
The Farm House. Their homemade mac & cheese is the best I've ever had. And I love my mac & cheese.
Mike's Ice Cream. Because you can't not.
Night Life. I already mentioned lower Broadway, but there's also Midtown, which is a little more laid back. I recommend checking out both. If you do hit up Broadway, you'll have to do some bar-hopping. All the honkytonks are fun, but some of my personal favorites are Tequila Cowboy, The Second Fiddle, Tootsie's, and AJ's Good Time Bar.
Vanderbilt and Belmont. If I could start this whole college-thing over, I probably would've gone somewhere in Nashville. The campuses are beautiful and people are really cool.
Art. Nashville is a work of art in its entirety. No, seriously, it's all over the place. The architecture, the paintings, the vibrancy of the city. Check out the infamous "I Believe In Nashville" mural, the colorful Hillsboro mural, or my personal favorite, the Johnny Cash wall. Another cool spot is the Parthenon in Centennial Park.
Views. Everyone knows about the Pedestrian Bridge. From the bridge, you have a perfect view of downtown and can hear the music from lower Broadway. It's most beautiful at night when the city is lit up. Not a lot of people know about Love Circle, though. Look it up and then go there. You'll never experience another view like it.
Book your trip to Nashville and you won't want to leave. Promise.
Mornings are hard. Especially on days ending in "y." Here are 5 things you can do to guarantee a better day:
1. Say a quick prayer. Thank God for another day and you're sure to start it off on the right foot.
2. Stretch as soon as you wake up. You don't even have to leave your bed to do this. This will wake your body up and boost your mood.
3. Get a workout in. It doesn't have to be anything extreme. Go for a walk, jog for 20 minutes, or do a short HIIT circuit. There's no better way to start your day. Endorphins!
4. Put yourself together. It's true: when you look good, you feel good. If you just throw on sweatpants and yesterday's t-shirt, not only will you feel less confident, you'll also be less productive.
5. Play feel-good music while you get ready. Something to get your day going and put a smile on your face.
These are the products I'm loving right now, my saving graces during these dreaded winter months.
Shampoo & Conditioner: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
This is the ONLY product that has not left my hair dull and lifeless! My hair never feels dry in the winter.
Curling Iron: Bombay Hair 32MM
Your curls will hold for days. Seriously.
Lip Balm: Burt's Bees Blueberry & Dark Chocolate or Coconut & Pear
I don't know why I even bother trying anything else 'cause I always come back to this stuff. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
Lipstick: M.A.C. Twig
I've finally found the perfect everyday color.
Mascara: Better Than Sex by Too Faced, L'Oréal Voluminous
I swear by these. There's nothing better out there.
Foundation: Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturizing Photo Edition
This stuff is so lightweight and moisturizing, but it's pigmented enough to give you complete coverage.
Skin: Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil (makeup remover), IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser (morning), Era Organics Cleanse and Restore Face/Body cleanser (evening), Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (moisturizer)
These products are perfect for all skin types. They're gentle, but get the job done.
Body Lotion: Victoria's Secret Pure Seduction
Perfume: Daisy Dream by Marc Jacobs
What are your favorites? Help a sister out in the comments!
The end of January is approaching, which means, statistically, half of us have already given up on our New Year's resolutions. According to statisticbrain.com, the most common resolutions made every year are related to bettering ourselves physically. But I think the real, underlying goal - the one thing we all want - is to feel good about ourselves and gain confidence. Because, well, confidence is attractive.
Here are 5 qualities that make someone attractive (and I don't just mean physically):
1. They make their health a priority.
Nothing makes you feel more confident than taking care of your body and feeling like it is running like a well-oiled machine.
If you don't love working out, start slow. When it comes to setting goals, make them short-term, or weekly. You'll be more likely to stick to them.
There are so many benefits to working out. You'll look good, but more importantly you'll feel good.
2. They have busy calendars.
You know what's attractive? A woman who goes out into the world and gets shit done.
Stay busy. Be productive. Go out. Meet people.
When you're keeping yourself busy, surrounding yourself with awesome people - new friends, as well as those who've stuck by you forever - you'll feel loved, inspired, and confident.
3. They spend time doing the things they're passionate about.
Singing. Reading. Painting. Training for a half-marathon. You name it.
It's not easy making time for hobbies when you're busy with work, school, errands, and all the other boring "have-to's." But guess what. Your passions and hobbies are also "have to's," as they're essential for your overall health and well-being. That 45-minute yoga session could be the difference between a peaceful night's sleep and a mental breakdown.
We're always saying we're "too busy" or have no "free time," but is that really true? Think about how many hours you spend scrolling through social media in a week or binge-watching a show on Netflix. (Don't get me wrong - sometimes it's completely necessary.) As relaxing as it is, it's not a hobby. So fill your time with the things that light you up. Those things are a lot cooler to talk about on a first date than that last episode of Stranger Things.
4. They ditch any negativity in their lives.
That toxic relationship, friendship, job, or bad habit. It's not doing you any good, so why stay stuck?
Stress and negativity can take a serious toll on our physical and mental health.
Everything is a choice. You can choose who you want to be friends with. You can choose to stay at a dead-end job that you dread every morning around 7am. You can choose to stay in a relationship that you know isn't right. Or you can walk away and refuse to settle.
Let go of the negative things in your life that hurt you or hold you back. You don't need 'em.
5. They are happy just as they are.
Accept yourself, the way you are now. You don't have to love every single thing about yourself. Everybody has things they wish they could change, whether it's a "flaw" in their appearance or their personality. But as long as you're doing your best to better yourself, those things will seem insignificant. When you're happy and putting yourself at the top of your list, you are your most attractive.
Stop trying to be what other people want. Be you. That's what people want. That's why people like you in the first place.
You meet someone, you decide you like them, and then you try to fit the mold of what you think they want. Here's the kicker: they probably liked you better before you went through all that trouble to change for them.
It's so rare to be unapologetically yourself, but you shouldn't have to compromise who you are or what you believe in for somebody else. Stick to your guns.
Being "true to yourself" is about owning it all - the good and the bad. You make decisions based on how you feel and what you want. You live by your own rules. It's about knowing your worth and liking who you are, exactly as you are. It's about having strong morals, knowing your values, and standing firm in your convictions. The best things happen when you are so incredibly sure of yourself and proud of the person God created you to be.
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." - Romans 12:2