A Year of Tacos

TW: eating disorders, body dysmorphia

I love tacos. I mean, I absolutely love tacos.

This year was a year of tacos when I think about it.

I had tacos in New York, New Jersey, Austin, Houston, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida, and arguably China. Tacos took me places this year or really, I took myself to tacos.

I featured photos this week on my Instagram of me at my most recent Taco exploit: Tacoria in Princeton, NJ.

I don’t post a lot of photos of me eating and I did so because there aren’t a lot of pictures of people eating in general on social media. I see plenty of skinny Instagram influencers posting fashionable photos with their Five Guys fries and soda, though.

And more power to them, I live for aesthetics and using food an an unapologetic prop. But there is also a lot of double standards in what bodies are allowed to look “cute” with food and others that are shamed for eating.

I love food, but I have always felt the need to combat fatphobia with stipulations on how I’m a vegetarian and that I don’t drink soda, as if those things we morally better. And truthfully our society sets us up to think that.

My relationship with food could be and should always have been described as disordered. I didn’t fully realize I might have been growing up with an eating disorder until I had a very brave friend share their experience with one. So I understand the impact of sharing honest experiences, I’ve set that as a pillar for my life’s purpose since the beginning.

It’s like my relationship with my body and food as been the great star crossed love of my life. I’ve always been thicc and I’ve always had a passion for food, but I’ve never had what I’d consider normal eating habits. I remember being young and thinking I was too weak willed to even have an eating disorder: because my habits didn’t fall in anorexia or bulimia, I figured I was just a fat kid destined to be a fat kid.

Then I became an athlete at the ends of middle school. And I became fitter and skilled in using my body as a tool. I learned about lifting and cardio and feeding my body to fuel it. For me, I didn’t feel like my identity was fat kid, it was an athlete with various accolades. My body became an asset, although I was still “overweight.”

My athletics, however, allowed me to cover my poor body image with a drive to be a better athlete. If I lost weight, I would be fast, I would perform better. Throughout high school and into college, my policing came from a place of “reason.” This policing was also enforced by coaches, teammates dieting behaviors & bodies, and doctors telling me to lose weight even at my smallest. I trained with a “no excuse mentality” which led to my worth being directly tied into how I performed and poor performances meant my body was the problem.

It wasn’t until I quit my sport that I fully realized the damage that behavior and environment had on me. It took me almost a year to get back in the gym without carrying the strategic training mindset with me. It was hard for me to alter my identity: I was a fat athlete and now was I just fat? This was when I began to understand that body dysmorphia was playing a huge role in my life.

Even at my smallest, having achieved a 30 pound weight loss because I was eating 1000 or less a day + working out, I never got out of the notion that I was still fat and that I needed to be losing a lot more. It wasn’t until after a year post-athletics that I began to miss the body I had my sophomore year of college. To get that body, I was working out a ton, missing out on my life, and was still unsatisfied with the way I looked.

This is where I’ve found myself: stuck in a cycle of knowing what it has taken in the past for my body to lose weight but now having the understanding that that behavior isn’t good for me.

I read a quote recently that went, “It’s very difficult to connect deeply with ourselves while thinking our body needs to change.” And that struck a cord with me.

I preach self love and truthfully I do feel very good about myself, it’s all very authentic, but the struggles I have with being plus size are things I’ve dealt with my entire life and are things I’m very exhausted to have hinder me.

I love fashion and this would really be more of a fashion blog if I could wear the clothes I like, but my options are painfully limited. Shopping trips are anxiety filled for me because the frustration is real.

Knowing all this however, I want to say how proud I am of body as well. It’s been a journey of realizing that my frustrations with being plus size has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the outside world. I’ve stopped blaming myself and that alone feels great.

It doesn’t make up for everything, but coming to peace with myself and feeling a real sense of pride in the things my body enables me to do helps.

Just this year alone, this body took me across the stage for my college graduation, through Acadia National Park, along the East coast, across the country, half way around the world, along the Great Wall of China, through the streets of Beijing, and to my jobs I love every day.

What is there to be ashamed of in that?

So dear reader, think about your New Years Resolutions this year and consider not putting “lose weight” on that list. Instead, consider working on coming to peace with your body and yourself, choose to celebrate who you are and where your body has gotten you up to this point. Think about all the places this body can take you and be thankful for that.

I know I am. And for tacos too.

x,

Lillie.

Welcome to: South Portland, ME

If Portland is a hipster older sister known for her great style and taste, South Portland is her younger sister on the verge of her major glow up.

I first heard of Portland, Maine a few years ago when I was looking at going to an art school there, but cold winters and colder out of state school price tags kept me in Virginia.

Needing a break from our yearly South Carolina beach trip, this would be the year of my family’s long discussed New England road-trip.

I was highly anticipating a visit to the place that could have been my past 4 years in some alternate reality.

So we booked an Airbnb in South Portland, just over the bridge from Portland Portland, packed up the car, and got the hell out of dodge.

What I didn’t know, however, was how this little town was going to be the most underrated part of the trip and I’m going to tell you the hell why:

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Next on my to do list: Install inside hammock

Airbnb’s are kind of exciting cause you’re never really sure what you’re going to get until you’re there. Our precious downstairs apartment situated in a #cuteAF neighborhood just happened to have a screened in side porch with a hammock. It was as heavenly and relaxing as it was instagramable.  It made for the perfect place to enjoy a bowl of Maine blueberries and think about absolutely nothing at all.

 

Our Airbnb also happened to be walking distance from the best bagels and cream cheese I’ve ever had. This location of Scratch Bakery is set up as a grab and go store with a gorgeous selection of pastries and baked goods (the Morning Glory muffins are also superb.) I could write love songs about the Maine sea salt bagel and herbed cream cheese. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

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Scratch Baking Co.
416 Preble St, South Portland, ME 04106
Mon-Fri 6am-6pm
Sat 7am-6pm
Sun 7am-12pm

Chewy and savory, the bagel itself is to die for. It doesn’t have the same density as a traditional bagel would, but this airy quality allows for a more powerful flavor. When paired with the herbed cream cheese, you’ll question if you’ll ever be able to touch another bagel and cream cheese again. Strong hints of dill with possibly oregano and a few other herbs, the cream cheese was good enough to eat by itself.

I have tears in my eye just thinking of this. Pairs great with a lemon Pellagrino soda, BTW.

One afternoon, as we scoped out the area, we stumbled upon the precious Willard Beach. It was my first glance at a real Maine Coastline and it did not disappoint.  As soon as I saw the seascape with the boats docked out in the water, an overwhelming wave of understanding washed over me as to why people come here to make art and to write books. If scenery isn’t your thing, I think the hoards of dogs running around in the evening will warm your cold heart.

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Willard Beach
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Bug Lighthouse
S Portland Greenbelt Pathway, South Portland, ME 04106

South Portland was able to give me my first taste of New England history at the Bug Lighthouse. Precious and petite, the outlook gives you the best view of the City of Portland just across the water. It’s free to visit and makes a great area for photos. Next to the lighthouse, you’ll find a large, metal structure commemorating the area’s ship building history at the Liberty Ship Memorial. I always love learning about history on my travels and this location is perfect to get #educated about ship building in Portland during the first and second World Wars.

 

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Red’s Dairy Freeze
167 Cottage Rd
South Portland, Maine 04106
11am-9:30pm

Best way to round out the day after being an #intellectual is a soft serve at Red’s Dairy Freeze. It’s located in a big, red and white barn right up against Cottage Rd. where there’s always a quick moving line (the locals know whats up – it was voted best soft serve in the state.) Tragically, I couldn’t try their famous, homemade strawberry soft serve made from local strawberries (sells out quick if they have it) – but you need to have one for me. I opted for a simple vanilla with a crunch coat and the soft serve was perfectly creamy. Simple, satisfying, and aesthetically pleasing.

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portlandmuseum.org
Summer Hours (till October 31st)
Sat-Wed 10am to 6pm
Thur-Fri 10am to 8pm
Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors (65+), $10 student with ID, free for 21 and under. Free Friday 4pm-8pm

You obviously can’t go to South Portland without going to Portland itself.

Having studied art for about half of college, I always try to hit the local art museums and the Portland Museum of Art did not disappoint. It’s free for anyone 21 or younger, so I highly recommend taking advantage of that (just bring an ID.) It’s not overwhelmingly large, allowing you to enjoy all the pieces in their collection on display. It had a great range of art to suit anyones taste. There were also a handful of pieces I remember specifically learning about in my classes and that’s always a worth while feeling to experience.

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Standard Baking Co.
75 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
Mon-Fri 7am-6pm
Sat-Sun 7am-5pm

My second recommendation would be to check out the baked goods at Standard Baking Co. They were voted to have some of the best croissants in America. Me being the wannabe Parisian that I am, I can attest they were marvelous. Although, what I also recommend you try are the cinnamon sticky buns. They’re made from the same dough as the croissants and are simply the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. They make me want to curl up with a hot tea in one hand, sticky bun in the other, and watch snow fall on the bay. Maine af.

My last honorable mention would be to check out the shops on Commercial St. Plenty of cute stores, specialty shops, and places to eat. I recommend stopping in Le Roux Kitchen to check out the specialty foods and try the vast selection of balsamic vinaigrettes.

Portland, Maine was such a beautiful, surprising, and inspiring area with incredibly nice people with Clinton/Kaine signs still in their yards. Laid back vibe with plenty to do, I give Portland/South Portland a 10/10 would recommend.

x,

Lillie