All posts by Ashton Bennett

Hi! My name is Ashton. I am a wife, a first grade teacher, and a dog mom. I am striving to live a happy, healthy, and balanced life, and hopefully inspire you to do the same. I am a cross trainer and yogi. I try to push myself to step out of my comfort zone in many areas of my life to challenge myself to keep growing. My main goal is to stay mentally healthy. I want to emphasize working out to feel good and create a healthy lifestyle. The goal is not to change my body, but love myself no matter what.

7 Tips to Attend an Event When Anxiety Sets In

I didn’t want to go and the anxiety was taking over. Ten years since high school and I agreed to play in an alumni basketball game. I haven’t really touched a basketball in ten years. I didn’t know who was going to be there, and I thought it might be awkward. I didn’t want to get hurt either because… well for many reasons, but mostly yoga of course.

I was battling thoughts left and right and the fear was taking over. The thoughts of not good enough… the thoughts of not perfect enough and never was good enough were running constant. I pictured missing shots and turnovers and people laughing. The nervous feelings that I used to get before games were all back… along with having to use the restroom a lot and shaky hands. I could think of all these reasons not to go.

I knew if I didn’t go I would regret it though. I had to open myself up to new experiences and keep pushing the comfort zone to stay mentally healthy. I knew that I had to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I tried to take steps to set myself up to go and have a good time. These are all based on personal experiences.

1. Sign Up – The first step I do is sign up for the event I want to go to or make a commitment to someone by saying that I will be there. If I do this, then I feel obligated to go even when the nerves set in.

2. Do Yoga – I went to hot yoga to try to calm the nerves. My intention was to let go of some of the expectations I was placing on myself to be perfect and release some of the tension. It helped a little, but I was still kind of nervous. I wish I would have known more about yoga when I was in high school. I really think it would have helped me a lot before games, and I think it could help so many athletes.

3. Act Excited- I remembered talking to my therapist about what we can do when we are nervous, and she talked about acting excited instead since nervousness and excitement are both very similar. So I gave myself some little pep talks and reminded myself it is for fun and to have fun. I love basketball, being part of a team, competition, and great memories. Get excited!

4. Be Prepared- I planned what I would wear and put it on early. I also got my stuff ready early in the morning. I put my bag together to make it harder for me to say no. I would be all ready when it came time to leave.

5. Breathe- When I started to feel like I shouldn’t go, I took long, deep mindful breathes and reminded myself it would be alright. Don’t underestimate the power of your breath.

6. What’s the Worst?- I asked myself what are the worst things that could happen, and I gave myself some permission to sit with those nervous, anxious feelings without guilt. I decided some of my fears were irrational, and I could live with the worst of what could happen.

7. Picture Success- After I asked myself the worst, then I tried to picture what could go right instead. For instance, I pictured making shots and dribbling and passing successfully. I pictured enjoying the competitiveness and being part of a team again.

2008 Graduates
Oldies but Goodies
Everyone

I did have fun except for the running out of breath thing. I played very similar to how I played in high school… which was focusing on defense. I was glad that I got to see, talk to, and play with past players too. I was happy that I went!  I have discovered I always end up happy when I wanted to retreat, but go anyway. Overcoming those fears feels so good, and is another great reason to go!

These tips have been helpful for me for several events that I have felt nervous about, and I hope they give you some ideas.

Here is something I couldn’t do in high school. I am a lot more flexible and agile, but sprinting up and down the floor got to me.
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You Know Yourself Best

No Energy to Write

I have not really felt like writing lately and keeping up with social media. I get done teaching first graders, going to yoga, making dinner, tidying up, and I am tired. I have felt drained, and writing for an audience feels emotionally tiring at times. The worry of judgments can be exhausting. Bringing up things from my past, struggles with disordered eating, and trying to go against the grain of diet culture is not easy. I feel like I am on repeat at times and no one is listening.

Fear of Judgements

My last blog led some to believe and share their opinion that I should go back on anxiety/depression medicine. This has really effected my voice lately because of the fear of judgments that has come with it. The fear that people are judging all my words and decisions. What I choose to share in writings is only part of the story though. Anyone can have a few bad days or a little rough patch. We all have our struggles. It does not mean I need to go back on medicine. I am not saying medicine is a bad thing at all. I really believe it helped me through some tough times. However, I want to try this without medicine, and I think I am doing alright. If it comes to the point where I think I need it, I may try it again.

You Know Yourself Best

No one knows the whole story but me. I know myself better than anyone else. While people have the right to care about me, it is also my right to set boundaries and make my own decisions. Some people do not see the whole picture. I share snippets of my journey to help people who can relate. I might share a struggle to let people know they are not alone. I try to use this as a positive space even with the struggles.

My point of all of this I guess is just to reiterate that you know yourself best. You are the only one that knows the whole story. Try to be honest with yourself and your intentions.

I personally am going to work on keeping my voice even with the fear of judgement because it has been so important to my recovery and continued growth.

 

Colorado Vacation

Vacation

I went to Colorado and stayed in a cabin with my family. Vacations always seem like a fun idea… but then it comes time to actually travel and the anxiety sets in. I always feel like I am the only one that gets that way, but I know there are others out there. Traveling is fun, but it is also difficult. My anxiety intensifies with the decrease in control I perceive I have.

Sharing Space

It was difficult to share my space. I have been married to my husband for five years now, and I am used to roaming freely about our house and controlling the day. We shared the cabin with four adults and two little boys so this was completely different for me.  They are family so it made it a little better, but it was still uncomfortable for me.

Food

Not having control of what and when we would eat bothered me. I tried to prepare myself before we left and go into it with the mentality to be alright with whatever we ate, and I thought I did a pretty good job. I ate things that weren’t as nutritious. I ate past fullness sometimes. I ate more because I didn’t know when we would eat next. I can’t stand that feeling of being extremely hungry.

Exercise

In the past, I had to run and do strength work on vacation whether I wanted to or not. I didn’t run, but I did walk a lot, and I practiced yoga every morning for at least 45 minutes. I never made it to a studio. The appeal wasn’t there for the ones that were somewhat close and a way to get there was kind of difficult since we rode with family. I accepted it and enjoyed the movement that I did.

Traveling is Worth It

I am happy we went, and I know it was good for me to be forced to let go of some of that control. I did have fun, and the scenery was so beautiful. I think it was worth the fear and anxiety I get about traveling. I have lots of memories, and it was not all about food and exercise even though there were still thoughts.

Looking at Pictures

I was looking at pictures the day before we left, and I cried a little. I thought my legs looked huge. I started to have thoughts of restriction and exercising a lot when I got home which I know is not what I am supposed to do. I started to feel guilty for talking about body acceptance and giving advice on how to look at pictures because here I was picking my pictures apart. One thing I have discovered is that it happens to so many women no matter where they are in their self acceptance journey though. The courage of women talking about it helps me to move past that guilt.

Restricting

I still had trouble with the urge to restrict though. When we returned home, it was my birthday and few more not so nutritious foods. I know what I was supposed to do the next day. I knew I needed to try to move on and continue to work at intuitive eating and not start restricting. Well the next day, I started restricting amounts and “bad” foods, and it carried into the next day. I know restrictions lead to binging and that is exactly where it led me. I never say these things for people to feel sorry for me. I say them so that those who struggle with this can relate. I say this to bring awareness. I don’t like to admit that I struggle, and it is scary for me every single time. I want to say I have been doing alright with workouts and going to do things that I want without overdoing it.

Compassion

The struggle to show myself compassion has been real, but that is what I am going to continue to work at. I keep telling myself I am stronger than I think I am, and I CAN show myself love instead of hate. I WILL continue to work at intuitive eating. This can be a little hiccup and not a big rut.

Be Kind Always

If you have seen me out and about the past couple of days or looked at my social media feed, I am guessing most would never know the fight going on inside my head. There are so many people that appear to be fine but are dealing their own struggles.  That is why it is so important to always be kind and try to get rid of assumptions and judgements. We never know what people are going through.

Challenging My Comfort Zone

Teaching Our First Yoga Class

Yesterday, as a group at yoga teacher training, we taught our first class for people other than our fellow yogis in training. We planned the class together and then each person had a part to teach. I practiced my part of the flow quite a bit at home, and even recorded myself and put it on YouTube yesterday. (I posted the video at the bottom.)

Anxiety Was Calling My Name

I was really nervous and had so much anxiety about teaching this class in person though. I freaked myself out over it. My stomach hurt, I didn’t want to go, I had to pee like a million times. I thought about it and thought about it, and I practiced it a lot because I wanted to say everything perfectly.

We Aren’t Perfect

It is interesting to me how I can film a video and put it to the internet for people to see, and it doesn’t bother me as much as teaching it in person. I am obviously an introvert. The video that I made has mistakes, too. I said put your thigh on your knee at one point and didn’t even catch it while saying it. I said other parts wrong as well. The dog walked in front of the camera at the end, but by that point I was like, oh well! I decided one of the main points of Balance Queen is to show that we aren’t perfect anyway. Part of me just thought that no one is probably going to watch it, so just post it. It gives me practice teaching, and I don’t have to do it for a live audience.

Giving Ourselves Credit

Before the class, I reminded myself that I had practiced and felt pretty good about how much I had improved teaching that flow in the past couple of weeks. I reminded myself that I am a beginner, and I need to allow myself to be one without picking myself completely apart to the point of shutting down. I was nervous while teaching it, and started sweating profusely. I did make mistakes, and I forgot some of the things that I wanted to say. I showed up when I was scared and didn’t want to though. I did what I needed to do. Sometimes, we are so hard on ourselves and don’t give ourselves any credit for what we did do.

Will Teaching Yoga Serve Me

I honestly don’t know if I even want to teach yoga when I am done. I have thought about doing yoga videos like Bad Yogi or Yoga with Adriene as well. I do yoga to have fun and reduce anxiety and depression. If I teach it, will it just create too much anxiety for me? Will it be worth the time I put into it? Do I want to teach it? Am I good enough to teach it? I don’t want to let fear stop me, but I do think it is important to question if it aligns with what I want and what best serves me and my mental health though. I think back to when I started teaching first grade, and how I was a hot mess of anxiety. Sometimes, I still am because teaching little kids always brings new challenges. Overtime, I have become more and more comfortable with it though, and I know that is just how it works. We learn as we go, we get better, and it becomes easier.

We Don’t Always Have to Know Where We are Going

For me, the experience of challenging myself to take the yoga training, grow as person, learn something new, and get out of my comfort zone is pretty amazing when I think about it.  I have learned a lot about yoga and myself, and it has been a great experience whether I end up teaching it or not. I am just trying to challenge myself,  be open to new possibilities, go with the flow, and see where life takes me. I know there are other ways to challenge myself, too. I don’t think we have to always know where we are going (and we need to let ourselves just be sometimes), but I do think it is also important to try to question our intentions and challenge our fears.

What are you going to do that challenges your comfort zone?

Eat and Savor the Desserts you Love

If I Don’t Want It, I Don’t Eat It

It was my grandma’s ninetieth birthday party on Sunday afternoon. I knew there was going to be cake from Sam’s. I am kind of a dessert snob I guess. I really like wedding cake and good buttercream frosting, but if it is from most grocery stores, I don’t really care to have it. People I know are aware of my rocky relationship with food. I figured if they saw that I did not get a piece of cake, they probably would think that I am not really practicing what I preach since I support the anti-diet. That is not the case though. Intuitive eating is eating if I want it and savoring it. It is also turning it down if I don’t really want it. I was not hungry or I probably would have eaten it because it was the food that was available. I do try to eat what is available now if I am hungry even if it isn’t my first choice. However, I wasn’t hungry, and I did not really want it.

If I Do Want It, I Savor It

The night before, I wanted ice cream. My husband and I went to Cold Stone Creamery to get some. I am kind of an ice cream snob too. If I have ice cream, I usually wait until we go get soft serve. When I got there, I couldn’t decide what I wanted… as usual. None of the signature creations looked good. I just wanted something simple. I finally decided on a small cup of salted caramel. (Salty and sweet is my jam!) It was really rich, and I did finish it. I don’t think I could have eaten any more than what I had. I enjoyed every bite and took time to savor it. There are times when I want a turtle sundae or extra toppings, and I try to honor that too. I try to remind myself that I can have desserts again so I don’t make myself feel sick by over eating.

Desserts Are Made Available

I do not keep a lot of desserts in the house, but that is not to restrict or avoid binging on it anymore because I know the more I tell myself “no,” the more I want something. The mindset has changed and the mindset is everything. The main reason I don’t keep it here is because I do try to buy food that will make me feel good for the most part, while also trying to keep the grocery bill down. I usually keep chocolate in the fridge or some other dessert so that I do have the option available if I want it. I don’t make desserts very often because it is a lot of work to make them, and then throw half of it out because we didn’t eat it. I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen anymore either or waist money on ingredients that we will only use some of.

The Obsessive Thoughts Go Away

There has actually been chocolate in the fridge from Aldi that I do like, and it has been there for about three weeks. There are three out of five bars left. This has not been from restriction. It has been from asking myself what I really want. I haven’t even really thought about them, unless chocolate has sounded good. In the past, they would have been on my mind constantly because I would be thinking about how I shouldn’t have them. Now the option is there to have it any night if I want it.

You Can Have Dessert

I don’t always have everything figured out, and I don’t like to pretend that I do. I don’t always follow this exactly. I am only human.  These are just ideas about what has helped me the most. Sometimes, I go on kicks where I have a small dessert almost every day. It is always changing. It may not work for you and that is ok. Your balance may look completely different than mine.  I am sharing my story because I want you to see that if you are struggling with your relationship with food, there is hope that it can balance out. You can have some dessert and enjoy the shit out of it!

My brothers and I with my Grandma.

How to Cook Moist and Tender Chicken

How to cook moist and tender chicken.

We used to have so many problems baking, grilling, and slow cooking chicken breasts. It would always turn out dry and tough. Here are some tips that I have found help me get moist and tender chicken!

  1. Pound the chicken so that it cooks even. I use a gallon bag and a rolling pin.
  2. Marinade or season the chicken. I try to let it sit at least 30 minutes. (My favorite easy way is just olive oil and a dry rub.)    
  3. I usually cook it at about 400 degrees in the oven. I have found I can cook the chicken at slightly lower or higher temperatures and as long as I remove it when the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees it is still moist and tender. I would say follow what the recipe says for cooking temperature. On the grill, I generally am at medium low heat.
  4. I can remove it exactly at 165 degrees because I am constantly monitoring the internal temperature of the chicken with the Weber iGrill. This little handy tool is a game changer for getting perfect chicken (or any meat). I don’t have to guess and keep checking if the chicken is done. It alerts me on my phone or I can just look at the screen of the device! (If you are grilling you still need to make sure it isn’t on fire or getting burnt). I use it for grilling, baking, and even slow cooking in the crockpot!
  5. Make sure you insert the probes into the thickest part of the chicken breasts. Also it needs to be in the center of the thick part. I like to insert the probe parallel to the chicken (not up and down). You can use up to four probes at a time.   
  6. Once the chicken reaches temperature, remove it from the oven, grill, or crockpot, and let it rest covered for 5 minutes! I just put it on a plate and cover it with foil. Do not skip this step even though I know you want to dig in!
  7. Enjoy your moist and tender chicken!

 

Kiwi Mango Smoothie

Kiwi Mango SmoothieSo I had some kiwi and mango and thought a smoothie sounded good! I threw some ingredients in a blender and this is what I got. It makes about 2 servings so I froze the other half in a mason jar. The next time I wanted the rest of it,  I set it out on the counter for a few hours. Then, I dumped it in the blender and pulsed it until it was smooth! Enjoy!  

Serves 2 Servings

Kiwi Mango Smoothie

This fruity green smoothie is great for the summer!

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Ingredients

  • 2 Kiwis
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Small Ripe Banana
  • 2 tsp. Honey
  • 1 C. Coconut Milk
  • 1 C. Ice
  • Handful of Spinach (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel kiwi and mango and cut into smaller pieces.
  2. Put ingredients in the blender and pulse until all ingredients are mixed.
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Get Your Rear In Gear

Free Time

I am a first grade teacher, and school ended for me on Friday. I always am excited to be done, but I also get a little anxious and lost feeling. “What am I supposed to be doing?” Yesterday, I felt like I had way too much free time in the afternoon. When I am busy, I don’t have as much time to worry!  I cleaned some and added the crab rangoon tacos to the blog, but it still seemed to drag on. I am a little rigid with my routines  sometimes so it is hard for me to work out so late in the evening…. especially for a 5K event because I always get a little anxious for them.

Anxiety

I have not even been running very much and decided where ever I was at by race day was what I had to work with. This is a much different mentality than I have had in the past. I have not even ran three miles in a row since last summer. This was definitely the least prepared I have ever been for one that I signed up for and that may be partially why I was feeling a little anxious. I started feeling like I couldn’t go to the race because I started feeling really lethargic too…anxious but lethargic. A strange combination, but it exists. I started to think that if nothing else, I had at least donated money to a great cause. I kept telling myself that I could do it, and that I was going to run.  I drank some coffee and moved around. I even asked my husband to go support me, and he said that he would. That helped ease some of the anxiety.

My husband supporting me!

All Winners

I also told myself I could just walk if I needed to, but I really didn’t want to. (I did end up walking a couple times by the way!) I finished the 5K in about 31 minutes (my worst time for a 5K ever). I thought that was pretty alright for the amount of training I have done though. The great thing about this race was that it was for a good cause though (proceeds going to colon cancer). So I felt like everyone who participated was a winner. I have never done a race before that went to such a worthy cause. I think that in the future I should sign up for more of those types of runs.

Start!

Motivation

You don’t have to be in great shape if you want to run/walk in a 5K. You don’t have to overtrain either. You can do it just because you want to, and it is a great way to help motivate you to run a little extra. I am a fan of movement, and I love running. I like the idea of moving because you want to move and you want to take care of your body. Signing up for a 5K can help give you a little extra motivation for movement though as long as you can do so safely.

Chilling after the race!

After the Race

After the 5K, my husband, our friend, and I went out to get Sushi. Then we went and listened to live music. It was a beautiful evening, and I was so happy I had signed up. That is how it always goes though…I get so anxious over nothing! Maybe someday I will learn. Maybe.

Sushi… One of my favorite foods!

Medication Update

When we got home, I slept great. I woke up at 5 a.m. like normal, but sleeping the whole night through instead of waking up at 3:00 extremely anxious has been an improvement. If you have been following me, then you know that I stopped taking my anxiety/depression medication. Since then, I have not been having night sweats, and I feel like I am doing alright for the most part. When I first quit taking it, I felt like I was in a slump, but as time has gone on, I have felt like I am handling things ok. I am doing a good job of eating and taking care of myself.

Open-Minded

I never wanted to go on medicine, and I always knew that I would want to try to stop taking it at some point. I actually do support it, and I think it helps a lot of people. I may even go back on it at some point. I try to stay open-minded about it, but if I can go without it, I personally am going to go without it. I feel like I am at a place where I can do that and things are alright now after getting out of the initial rut. My coping skills have improved a lot since I started taking it. If you are trying to make a decision about medicine, you know yourself best… just be honest with yourself.

Third Place Medal

P.S. This morning when I went in to do yoga, I found out that I actually got third for my age group. I do not feel like the time was third place worthy, but hey, I’ll take it.

Crab Rangoon Tacos

No Cook Meal: Easy Crab Rangoon Taco Recipe
Easy Crab Rangoon Taco Recipe

8 Tacos

Crab Ragoon Tacos

These crab rangoon tacos are a super easy no cook meal!

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Ingredients

  • 8 Small Flour Tortillas
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 2 Packages of Imitation Crab Meat (8 oz. each)
  • Bunch of Green Onions
  • Jar of Sweet and Sour Sauce

Instructions

  1. Soften Cream Cheese just enough to spread on tortilla.
  2. Lay out crab meat in the tortilla.
  3. Garnish with chopped green onions.
  4. Drizzle sweet and sour sauce over it.
  5. Serve with raw vegetables!
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I Quit Taking My Medicine

I stopped taking my medication for depression.

A Month With No Medication

I quit taking my medicine for depression about a month ago without being advised to do so by my psychiatrist. (I don’t advise you to do that, by the way!) I was told that the kind that I was on can stay in your system for about a month though. Well it has been a month. I don’t know if I have noticed a huge difference. I felt like I have had good and bad days on the medicine and without it. One thing I am noticing is my urge to restrict food seems to have increased. I still have been eating, but it has been more of a battle.

Feeling Stuck

I want to be sneaky and secretive. I don’t want to talk to people that I normally do about it because then I am afraid they will try to make me eat more, and I don’t need to. At least I don’t think I do. At this point, I am still eating when I am hungry, but I really want to lose weight. Right now it is really difficult. I do see diet culture everywhere and lots of people talking about getting their body ready for summer, and it is hard. I feel like I need to change my body too. Maybe I gained too much weight? Maybe I have too much food freedom? Maybe I need to have more will-power? Ugh. Everything I have worked for feels stuck.

The Appointment

I went to my psychiatrist yesterday and told her the news that I had stopped taking my medicine. I didn’t want to talk about anything. The meeting just seemed off. She could tell I was on the verge of tears, but I just told her I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to ball in front of her. I knew it was not going to be a couple tears. It was going to be the opening of floodgates, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed. It was like I didn’t want help even if that is what I know I needed. Why do we do this? Why do we turn down the help that is right in front of us? Why is being skinny more important than being happy? Why do we try to hide everything and all those deep feelings.

I Never Wanted To Take Medicine

I never liked the idea of taking medicine in the first place, and I hate having to deal with making sure it is refilled and having to go get it. It was a fight for me to start taking it, and then later on increasing it. Everything was a battle. Yesterday, my psychiatrist let me know that she can’t make me take it. She just tried to encourage me to. Then she sent me on my way and told me to call if I needed anything.

Stubborn Ways

She probably wondered why I even went. It was really a pointless appointment. I had made up in my mind before I even went that I wasn’t going to open up. I wanted to actually cancel, but I never called, and my husband and my friend told me I needed to go and tell her that I had quit. Well my stubborn ways said to them…  you can tell me to go and I will, but you can’t make me get anything out of it. I don’t think I really did. All I ended up doing was crying in my car after the appointment.

I Am Not A Good Actress

When I talked to my husband after the appointment, I was trying to seem all cool like everything went fine, but he could see right through me. He could tell I was off, but I still didn’t want to talk about my insecurities and self hate at the moment. He tried to get me to talk about it, but I kept avoiding and bottling it up.

Climbing Out of the Ruts

I don’t know if I will go back on medicine soon. I don’t know how long I will keep feeling stuck either. I don’t know when I will try to get help if I really need it.  I just want you to know that I have come a long way, but I still struggle. I can make it sound like I have everything figured out sometimes, but I don’t. A lot of the social media posts that I do are reminders to myself of things I need to hear over and over again. They are mostly my wins and not my losses. This is to let you know that sometimes the mental illness wins. We just have to pick ourselves back up and keep fighting. It may not be right away, it may take a little while. Sometimes, we fall in a little rut, and sometimes, we fall in a big one, but that doesn’t mean we won’t climb our way out.

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