Hungry Haley

it's more than food


Accepting and Embracing

Life, Faith, HealthHaley Hansen10 Comments

Emphasis on the "and". Keep that in mind. 

When I think about the things - the events, the mistakes, the issues, maybe even the people - I accept and the things - the experiences, the successes, the surprises, and the loved ones - I embrace, I sometimes think I should replace the word "and" with "versus" because there's a difference between the two. Right? There are some things in my life I just accept and move along with, and some things I embrace and kiss and squeeze and cherish. 

Two different things. Right? 

Not always. 

As life has done its thing throughout the past six or seven months, two dense clouds have fogged up a chunk of my brain. Not to the point of interfering with my daily functioning, but just enough to... well, cause "weather changes" (if you will) that hinder my thoughts. Both of these clouds have everything to do with this topic of "accepting and embracing".

1) Weight gain. 

Truthfully, I didn't think I'd be writing this. Ever. I didn't think I'd ever struggle with weight or body image ever again. That was two years ago, when two years prior to that, "accepting and embracing" was just not something I did. Heck, if I had done that, life as I know it now would probably be very different (but we won't get into that because how do I even know/who even cares/that involves a lot of thinking and it could be its own blog post). My eating disorder began because I refused to accept and embrace. I swore to myself I would change my eating habits and my outward appearance. And I did. And I maintained that weight - and the consequential nagging need to always portray "perfection" - for somewhere around a year or two...

... Which brings us here. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything - I've gained weight. I've tried to forget about it, ignore mirrors, etc. to pretend it hasn't happened, but it has. My first little taste of acceptance of weight gain did not taste good. I practically (and theoretically) gagged. No! I have NOT gained weight and I will not. I've worked too hard to get where I am, I feel good both physically and emotionally and this weight gain isn't necessary. 

Those thoughts intruded, unwelcomed I knew, yet I let them hang out and direct my actions. Unlike the last time they barged into my life - four years ago - this time, no change in my physical appearance happened. I didn't lose weight like I wanted to and I felt even worse because of it. 

Thankfully, I have a life that distracts me from such potentially destructive thoughts, and as life has gone on over the past few months, those thoughts have lost some of their energy. In other words, this is the "acceptance" part. I didn't necessarily welcome the extra weight, but I did turn my attention away, to more pressing priorities like school, blogging, family, friends, etc. However, this was not without the personal promise to return to these thoughts and eliminate the weight. 

A C C E P T.

If I could identify the "turning point", I would explain it in all of its glorious detail, but I can't think of one. So, something just clicked in my brain, I guess. That click probably hit the '"embrace" button. 

Finally, I began seeing the image - not just the body, but the person, the beauty - in the mirror looking back at me. FINALLY. The "click" reminded me that, my lower weight left me with more stress about food and what I was eating or not eating and the fact that I was damaging my body than my higher weight did about just weighing more and having a bit (emphasis - A BIT) of extra tummy cushion ever will. Like, wow. Duh. 

 E M B R A C E. 

Finally, I've reached a weight that doesn't leave my stomach growling, my knees aching, and my stress levels through the roof around one of life's pleasures I absolutely adore - F O O D. I'm at a weight that's about 8-10 pounds heavier than what I wanted a year ago and a jean size 2 sizes wider than before, but who. really. cares. 

I can go out to eat with friends without needing to analyze the menu beforehand and plan out what I'd order according to what's left in my calorie intake for the day (though I still look at the menu to get pumped for F O O D). I can dig a spoon into my favorite peanut butter at any hour of the night and enjoy it, even if it's 11 PM and I'm going to bed soon. I can drool over vegan double chocolate brownies that may not be low-carb or low-sugar or whole-grain and made with simple ingredients. 

I can embrace my body. 

me, making love to one of Minimalist Baker's  lentil sloppy joe's  in my favorite class EVER. 

me, making love to one of Minimalist Baker's lentil sloppy joe's in my favorite class EVER. 



My advice to you, you ask? 

The amazing woman behind the Food Psych podcast - Christy Harrison - reminded me that everything good and valuable and worthwhile, like my period, healthy joints, hydrated skin, strong hair and nails, etc., have only come with the addition of extra weight. So, I can have a thin figure that I may see as and that I hope others may see as "desirable", OR I can have actual health, a physique that isn't pain when forced to workout, a body that fits. 

What does that look like for you? 

Some of my favorite inspirations: Kylie, Christy, Robyn, and Alexis

2) Faith. 

This one is harder to put into words, and quite honestly, I haven't wanted to try for a long time. But, last Sunday as I went through the usual motions of church, Psalm 8 was presented and I will be forever thankful for it (and every other Bible verse, of course, but this one particularly): 

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
— Psalm 8:3-4, NLT

And here I am, concerned about keeping up with Instagram posts, ace-ing my psych midterm, prepping pecans for pecan milk (not to discredit its deliciousness), and comparatively useless, fleeting obsessions more than I am motivated to open my Bible, even to ask the Lord why these idolatrous thoughts are again taking over. 

As you can see, much of this has had to do with idols - the things and people and practices I prioritize before my God. Been there, done that. And I must say, I'm really not cool with hanging out here for much longer. What a perfect depiction of God's mercy and grace that He would present me with this verse amidst perhaps one of the deepest dives I've taken into this cyclic world of idolatry. 

A C C E P T. I recognize that I have fallen off track. I see the things/people/etc that have contributed to my distraction. I am here, and it is okay. I am human, and I am imperfect.

The book of Isaiah will probably be my forever-favorite of anything, and as I read through my summary/what I learned from it, I'm reminded yet again the simple blessing it is to have a relationship with God. Heck, I can even consider this uncomfortable confusing place a blessing. 

E M B R A C E. I thank God for this place. I thank God for the fact that my faith isn't stagnant or boring, but rather always challenging me and pulling me closer to Him. I am still imperfect and will always be, but I embrace the God who has always embraced me. 

Am I completely comfortable yet? No. I'm still trying to figure out my faith, and as I said before, that's one of the benefits of a challenging faith - it pushes you into growth and pulls you toward the Creator of it. Part of me didn't even know if I wanted or needed to share this, but I did share it because doing so is an important part of my faith. I wouldn't have recovered from my eating disorder had I not leaned on the Lord (and part of my current struggle with food is because I haven't been leaning on Him - duh, Haley), and the majority of this blog is about me, my recovery, and my life walking as close as I can behind God. So, sharing this would only make sense. 

Ahhhh. So, I hope that has made some sort of sense. I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think anyone else could relate or gain something from it. If you've made it this far, thank you. Your support and dedication to my blog means almost as much as the blog itself! 

Can you relate? Is there anything I can help with or you can help me with? Leave a comment down below! 

Life Lately #3

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen10 Comments

It, my friends, is time for a life update. These life-update posts give me weird, mixed feelings - like, do people actually care? Does anyone want to know what goes on in my life aside from school, school, and school? 

Those of you who do are reading this and are much appreciated :) I won't waste your time, so let's get right to it! 


A couple weeks ago, Jeannette from @sweatysweetpotato and I teamed up for a week-long sugar cleanse. We excluded any and all refined sugars from our diets - the typical ones being maple syrup, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, and the like. One of the main questions you guys asked me was if we planned to continue eating fruit (or a more aggressive and concerned "wait, why are you cutting out fruit?!?!" - which we never planned to do) - let me tell you something: unless type 2 diabetes creeps up on me or some nasty, potentially life-threatening allergy to fruits suddenly squeezes itself into my biochemistry, I will NEVER cut out fruits. Bananas, berries, melon, and mangoes are some of my favorite things ever! So are apples, but I would've ruined that alliteration if I including them in that previous sentence, ya' know? 

Anyway, our intention was not weight loss or simple restriction and control, but rather pure experimentation driven by the desire to a) understand more of sugars' effect within our individual bodies and b) learn to detach ourselves from the habitual (and sneakily sugar-laden) protein/energy bar in our daily diets. We did NOT plan to change our lifestyles completely to forever exclude sweet treats. Over the past couple of weeks, I'd been feeling like I needed to come face-to-face with our prevalent sugar is/was in my diet. No - nothing like refined cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but additives like the ones I mentioned above that the body still metabolizes similar to how it would traditional sucrose (table sugar). 

So, what did I find? Clearer skin, less need for "a little something sweet" after each meal, prolonged focus level for a longer period of time after a meal (not thinking about my next snack five minutes after I just finished lunch), and less bloat (because gut bacteria likes sugar) . Sorry for all the hyperlinks, but each of those simply explains a bit more in depth about how dietary fat and sugar both affect specific physiological feelings and the resulting bodily reactions. Like I said before, by no means am I never eating a cookie again. BUT I'm now much more aware and cautious of the amount of sugars - everything from fruits to protein bars to my favorite vegan ice cream - I consume everyday and how my body feels afterwards. I definitely will cut back, but I will not cut out. 

homemade pecan milk - sugar-free, additive-free. DO IT. 

homemade pecan milk - sugar-free, additive-free. DO IT. 


I mentioned this in my Instagram story the other day, but by now, it's disappeared. About two months ago, I quit my donut job in hopes of lightening up my life-load (work + school + blog + me-time + social life = omgthisiswaytoomuch), but God presented me with another opportunity with which I could fill some extra time and, of course, be of benefit to my peers in need. After the application and interview process, I was chosen to become a Peer Health Educator on my campus, and I'll specifically be consulting with students who have any sort of nutrition- or fitness-related question. This can be anything from navigating the campus dining system to squeezing in more veggies throughout the day to creating a workout plan to - this one is the one I'm most excited for - assisting with potential or existing eating disorders. My position is not a paid one, but it's already worth just as much (if not more than) any paid job I've had before. 

I'm SO excited - and yes, I use capital letters to help portray that sense and hope that maybe it's contagious for you readers - to get started and involve myself more in the campus that has helped foster immeasurable growth for me in the past three years. 


More blogging - YAAAAAAY! - more capital letters - more YAAAAAAAAAAY! One of my goals as I emptied my plate over these past few months has been to invest more time into this place. Since then, I've been wrestling with reminding myself that this can be considering my "job". However, I don't want anyone to think that my motivation here is to make the most money I can. My motivation is and always will be sharing and loving and encouraging, not advertising. Investing more time into this place means investing more time into you as my beloved readers, into me, and into the future. 

That being said, I want to hear from you! What kinds of posts do you want to see more of: recipes, workouts, nutrition tips, life posts? Be specific and leave comments below. I truly cherish your input!


Don't get ahead of yourself - I don't have my life figured out or anything. What I do know is at a least a layout of the next year and a half-ish. A significant chunk of classes still stand between myself and my graduation, so that represents the year and a half ahead of me. Once this quarter is all finished up (in about 8 weeks), I'm heading on home down to SoCal for the summer to spend some mucho needed time with my parents. Homesickness hit me hard this quarter, so I'm taking that as God's way of welcoming me back home. Allllllso a large part of my summer plan includes more involvement with NuttZo! More details to come on that, so stay tuned. And for the remainder of my time, I'm hoping to take a few classes to lighten the load when I go back to school for my senior year. 

And now for the more unknown. When I do finally graduate from Cal Poly, my plans are to apply for a grad school a coordinated dietetic program - which is basically a combo of grad school + dietetic internship, after which I'll be eligible to sit for my RD exam. As of right now, I'm loving this idea because, by 2024, all RD's will be required to have a Master's degree, so why not do it now, anyway? 


My workout routine has shifted immensely throughout the past 12 months. After letting go of running (officially), I've had to turn to other forms of cardio not only for my physical health, but also for my mental health. I've tried swimming and cycling, but those never seemed to satisfy my desire for something more steady-paced that I could do while I let my mind clear itself out. When I ran, I didn't have to think about my next stroke or my next interval - I just ran. Thankfully, I found that the stairmaster has a similar quality to it! Though it doesn't allow me to breathe in the fresh air of outdoors like running did, I can pop my headphones in and indulge in some podcasts (my favorites right now are Dr. Stephen Cabral, Food Psych, The Chasing Joy Podcast, and Bulletproof Radio). For about 45 minutes, I climb at a low-medium speed just to get my heart rate up and sweat a bit. On the weekends, when Cal Poly's gym sleeps in with the rest of the college students, I lace up my sneakers and head out for a long walk (yes, this includes more podcast-binging). Fresh air - fiiiinally! 

the final hill of my saturday-morning route. it's a tough one. 

the final hill of my saturday-morning route. it's a tough one. 

Finding an exercise routine that works for me, that makes me feel good, and that I don't have to force myself to follow took months (maybe even years), so be patient if you're struggling with the same thing. Keep an open mind, too, because you never know what you and your body will love! 


my favorite bowl from  Bliss Cafe  - the Green Energy bowl + side of cashew cheeze. blis

my favorite bowl from Bliss Cafe - the Green Energy bowl + side of cashew cheeze. blis

dad. love him. 

dad. love him. 

tempura sweet potatoes. YES.

tempura sweet potatoes. YES.

tofu eggplant stir-fry for me, something else with tofu for dad (he orders tofu because he loves me).

tofu eggplant stir-fry for me, something else with tofu for dad (he orders tofu because he loves me).

lunch with dad @  Shine Cafe  - best vegan place near me! a sprouted grain bagel with tofu cream cheeze + veg for dad & a taco with tempeh, quinoa, greens & avo for me (its buried, but I was cool with it). 

lunch with dad @ Shine Cafe - best vegan place near me! a sprouted grain bagel with tofu cream cheeze + veg for dad & a taco with tempeh, quinoa, greens & avo for me (its buried, but I was cool with it). 

last but not least, a stupidly good Mediterranean take-out meal to end a lovely weekend with Paps. 

last but not least, a stupidly good Mediterranean take-out meal to end a lovely weekend with Paps. 

oh, but I couldn't forget lunch @ Cafe Gratitude with  Connie ! 

oh, but I couldn't forget lunch @ Cafe Gratitude with Connie

Aaaaaand that's about it! Want to know something funny? My teachers and professors have always taught me to never end an essay or presentation like that - "so... yeah. that's it!" - yet, I end almost every non-recipe blog post with a similar line. Oops? Good thing I'm not graded on these. 

Thank you times a million for reading. I'm so grateful to be included as part of your day and I hope you've benefitted from this post somehow, someway. Leave some feedback below! 

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