Q&A's – Round 4

Q: What is the BEST gift you have ever received?

A: This is a tough one.  My immediate reaction would be to say when my parents surprised me on Christmas morning with a brand new car in my senior year of high school!  That definitely topped the charts!

But I’ve also received so many other “gifts” which, while not exactly material, still mean so much more.  For example, the gift of maturity, forgiveness, & time, which brought my now husband (then boyfriend) back together after a year apart.  Without those three things, I don’t know where I’d be today.

Q: When did you become interested in fitness and wellness? Was there a turning point for you?

A: This question could potentially end up being a pretty loaded one, so bear with me!

I’d say that fitness and wellness, in a positive light, really didn’t come into the picture much for me until I was about 24.  Up until that point, my mindset was more heavily focused on exercise and losing weight, but not in a positive manner.

Quick backtrack…

Growing up, I did some modeling which I always LOVED.  However, I wasn’t really ever a “skinny” girl, and was actually much more on the chubby side.  I would occasionally feel self-conscious, noticing how my body wasn’t exactly built like the other girls, but I still loved doing it just the same, and was almost too young to care.

As I continued to grow up, some of my modeling brought me to bigger and more exciting experiences.  I participated twice in the Miss New York USA pageant (trust me, I’m NOT a “pageant” girl…I went into it both times expecting not to win and just enjoyed the experience) and finished as a semi-finalist both times.  It was fun, exciting, and has left me with many memories.  However, seeing myself surrounded by these drop-dead gorgeous, size 0’s with huge boobs, my self-conscious self started surfacing more and more.  I tried to shove the thoughts that were battling with my realistic-self to the back burner, but they slowly kept creeping up.

It wasn’t until a local contest to try out for the TV show America’s Next Top Model came to town that things began to change.  Shockingly enough, I ended up winning the local contest, providing me with the opportunity to travel down to New York City to try out with the actual casting directors of the show.  I can still remember the day I got the news: I had just been on the computer and printed off a recipe for Malt Caramel Brownies…that quickly got thrown into the garbage, along with my love for food…

I had about 4 weeks until my trip to NYC, which I saw as an opportunity to “get thin”.  Now at this point in my life, not only did I put the stress of the contest on me, but I was also feeling the stress of losing Jay.  During this time, Jay and I decided to take a break; to grow up, and sort out our issues.  It really took a toll on me, and in turn, I focused all of my attention on food and losing weight.

I can tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever been hungrier than I was at this time in my life.  I ate minuscule meals (if you could call them that); I avoided fat at all costs– heck I avoided food when I could; I hated even the slightest feeling of fullness in my stomach; I was constantly counting calories in my head; I ate sugar-free jell-o like it was going out of style; and I worked out harder than I ever had.  I can actually remember one of my lowest moments: my mom was preparing dinner, and I saw her adding a little extra butter to a dish.  I completely freaked because it was going to “ruin all of my hard work”.

Obviously, I was in a horrible place, and even after the contest was over, my misconstrued way of thinking continued.  I was miserable and depressed, but I was still getting thinner so I kept at it.  I would run into people I hadn’t seen in a while, maybe since high school, and they’d say “Oh Courtney, you lost weight? You look great!”.  During high school & the beginning of college, I was pretty average.  Certainly not overweight, but could afford to eat a few less cosmic brownies.  Well all of those comments kept me going.  Even the ones about my “so skinny arms” got me excited.  I thrived off of things like this.

My mom urged me, gently, to go speak to someone on more than one occasion, but I refused.  I didn’t want to go telling some doctor I had a problem.  I thought, sure I don’t want to eat fattening foods, but that doesn’t make me one of “those people”.

Luckily, a very close friend of mine could totally relate to what I was going through.  She had battled through some very similar issues in the past, and I knew I could always count on her.  We would talk a lot, about food, about feelings, about life.  The best part of it all was that she did not once judge me, and that’s exactly what I needed; just somebody to listen, and somebody who understood.  Had I gone to see a doctor, who knows whether or not I would have been diagnosed with anything?  But I’m glad I wasn’t, because I don’t want to ever have any kind of “label” floating over my head.  Yes, I had a problem, and I’ll leave it at that.  Thankfully, I had my own doctor in the form of my close friend.

While I slowly started to improve, it wasn’t until Jay and I got back together in May of 2008 that things really started to look up for me.  I was happy again, I felt complete, and I had more to focus on than just food and how to avoid it.  This is when I started reading food blogs, such as Tina’s & Kath’s.  At first, I looked at these meals and would think, “Geez, there’s no way I could eat all that without getting fat!”.  But slowly, as my mental and physical health started to improve, I realized that I was really just begging to be able to enjoy food again the way that these girls were, and the way that I used to.

I’d say it still took a good solid year until I felt totally comfortable with food that wasn’t “fat free” or “low-fat”.  But the more I read these blogs, and the happier I became with life, the easier it was for me to see the light.  It was amazing when I realized how much more energy I had when I actually ate some healthy fats and carbs!  And my moodiness?  So much better! (although Jay may beg to differ on that one sometimes ;))  Fitness also became an enjoyable hobby for me, rather than a dreaded requirement.  My workouts these days are MUCH more intense than they were then, and that’s because I have the stamina to do them.  I love the way a hot, sweaty workout makes me feel.  I love being sore the next day from a killer BodyPump session.  And the best part, I don’t love it because it could potentially make me “loose weight”…I do love it because it makes me feel, well…flippin’ fantastic!

Looking back, it’s crazy for me to see just how low things got, because I always had felt such joy with food and exercise.  Thankfully, all of that love is back, probably 100 times more than ever before.  I realized that I have so much more to focus on in life than being the “skinny girl”.  I have a loving husband, a phenomenal mother and father, a pretty kick-ass brother (most of the time!) and the best group of friends you will ever find, guaranteed.

To be honest, I’m pretty nervous about all of this being posted, because I’ve never opened up about this to anyone except my one close friend, Jay, and my mom.  My friends didn’t know, although they may have had an idea.  And my co-workers & acquaintances certainly didn’t know.  Most people are probably going to read this and think, “Geez, I never realized that you were so screwed up, Courtney?” Well, I was; plain and simple.  I battled some hurdles, but I overcame them; and to me, that’s more courageous than someone finding out about those battles in the first place.

Q: What is your skin care and make-up routine?

A: Skin Care

My skincare routine is probably one of the simplest you’re going to find around.  As much as I am occasionally drawn to try new products, I know what works best for my skin, so I just stick to it.

Cleanser: Noxzema The Original Deep Cleansing Cream

I love how cool and creamy it feels on my skin, I like that I can use it on my eye makeup, and I LOVE the fact that I can buy it for only $4 a jar!

Moisturizer: Olay Complete SPF 15 (for Normal skin) & Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

I’ve just recently started using the L.M. tinted moisturizer and I seriously LOVE it – especially for summer when my makeup routine is a little more lax.  Currently, I’m using the L.M. for day, and the Olay Complete for night.  In the dry winter months, I usually incorporate a heavier moisturizing cream at night. I’ve always used a moisturizer with SPF, so it’s just one less step to worry about.  Plus, the feel of greasy sunscreen on my face isn’t my fave.

Scrub: Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream

I use this scrub about once a week, to try to get rid of excess oils and dead skin cell.  My face can be pretty sensitive, but this scrub is gentle enough for me.  It’s one of the only pricier items I’ve splurged on with skincare, but I think it’s worth it.

Most estheticians are pretty much appalled when I tell them my cleanser of choice, but whatever – they’re always the ones to come back 5 minutes later and say, “Oh you have such beautiful skin!” (Hehe, shows what THEY know!) ;)

Make Up

Last month, I talked a little bit about dirty makeup, so you may have seen some of my goods then; but this is pretty much my full “base” skin routine when it comes to makeup.  When I’m not feeling too lazy, I’ll use the primer, but usually I don’t worry about it unless I’m going to a fun event.  My foundation & bronzer of choice for the spring/summer are both Bare Minerals (I can’t use it in the winter – it just doesn’t blend into my skin right).  Some days, if I don’t feel like wearing blush, I’ll use the Maybelline #10 bronzer on cheeks for an extra little “glow”.  The Maybelline eye shadow you see there actually goes on my eyebrows after using the eyebrow pencil; I just like to fill them in a little bit and even them out with color.  I’ve been doing it for years.

Warmth is one of my best friends – I’ve been using only that with my tinted moisturizer for the past few weeks and it works like a charm.

When applying the warmth, I usually sweep each side of my face with the brush in a number “3″ pattern.  That way, I cover the forehead, cheeks, and chin/jawline, with an even sweep, and nothing gets too overdone.  Because really, there’s nothing worse than looking at a photo of yourself and having the first reaction be: “Holy Bronzer!” ;)

When I feel like playing around with color, I consult these two pallets – one Urban Decay, one Maybelline – both of which I’ve been using forever.  They both go on super smooth, and last for a really good portion of my day.  I’ll also play around occasionally with eyeliners – either grey, black, or purple, which really looks awesome against super-dark brown eyes like mine.

And last but CERTAINLY not least, is mascara.  Very rarely do I leave the house without it – just a touch of it is all you need to brighten eyes.  My current obsession is Cover Girl Lash Blast in Very Black.

Q: How many pairs of shoes do you own?  Is there an upper limit that is too many?

A: After doing a quick sweep, I just counted 33…however all my summer shoes are put away right now…so probably closer to 45ish? Obviously, there is never too many shoes. EVER.

Q: How have you influenced your significant other’s eating habits?

A: Hubby is now much more willing to eat a wider variety of fruits and veggies. He never really had “bad” eating habits, but he knows what he likes.

Q: Have you ever had a “fat kid moment”?  What did you inhale eat?

A: Not sure if this means when I was a “kid” or now, but I tend to have serving size issues with ice cream. Seriously, I want to know who thinks 1/2 a cup is a serving…?

Q: What is your favorite chain restaurant?

A: Currently, I’d have to say Ruby Tuesday’s or Olive Garden.

Q: Who was/is the biggest influence in your cooking and/or baking?

A: My MOM has definitely been a huge influence, but I’d also have to say that there are a TON of blogs who have also influenced my cooking.

Q: Who is your celebrity crush?

A: Ryan Reynolds, how I love you so. Smile Paul Walker is right up there, too.

Q: What is one of the best compliments you’ve ever received?

A: Yikes, this is a tough one? Any compliments I receive on something I’ve worked hard on in the kitchen are always exciting.

Q: Have you ever tried Bikram?  If not, would you?

A: I’ve tried Hot Yoga, but apparently that’s not the same thing? I’d definitely try Bikram…I’m always up for trying new workouts!

Q: What 3 things are you most thankful for?

A: Family, friends, my health

Q: What European city would you most like to live in?  Why?

A: Probably Rome, Italy – The stores, the food, the architecture…what’s not to love??