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One Year Later

Well well well; it’s been a while. It feels weird to be back here writing a blog post. The last time I posted on here was in April. Now it’s October. Where to begin?

The reason I’m making today’s post is because it was one year ago this month that I made the decision to delete my instagram and stop using my social media accounts. (You can read the post I made last December about it here.)

One year later and here are my thoughts:

I do not regret my decision at all. If anything, I felt liberated and complacent about the whole ordeal. My instagram/blog/youtube became a sort of brand for me. And when you have a following like that, you develop a sense of community, especially online and in the “vegan” community. But honestly, this past year I’ve never felt better since simply distancing myself away from it all and starting fresh. I’ve just been living my life – doing what I want. I never have to worry about taking photos or making blog posts, developing recipes, making/editing videos, etc. All of that pressure and need to uphold something vanished and was replaced by a feeling of freedom.

It’s weird to look back at my life a year ago and see the person I used to be. Everyone changes, obviously. No one stays the same forever. We are constantly growing and evolving into new people every single day. Once I distanced myself from that certain lifestyle, I was able to see how unimportant it all truly is in the grand scheme of things. Likes, followers, etc – none of that matters. What matters is what kind of person you are; how you treat the people around you; the mark you leave on this planet after you’re gone.

So what have I been up to for the past year? Well, I went blonde. Discovered a “new-me.” Made new friends and had a bunch of new experiences. Got two new tattoos. Went to NYC. Went to England. Had the time of my life. Started uni again. Wrote two novels. Have been working on getting published. Explored. Adventured. Lived my life and appreciated every single second of it.

The highlight of my life recently was visiting Charlotte in London. And so this is the part where I have to give credit to the internet and social media. Because it was through this online/vegan/instagram community that I first connected with Charlotte, then subsequently met her last year when she moved to Toronto. And then one year later, I was flying across the world to see her in London. OH and we got cute travel tattoos together.

So thank you, social media. Because while I do have my issues with it and will be the first to admit how flawed and corrupt it can be, it did change my life over the past four years and so I say thank you for that. But life is what you make it. So from now on, I’ll just manifest a new life for myself without social media.

For more updates, you can find me here on my lil baby account where followers and likes don’t matter. I just post for me. http://instagram.com/katrisse_

Thanks for reading,
Katrina xx

2017

Personal

2016 Book Challenge

Anyone who knows me, even just the slightest, is aware of the fact that I have a great love affair with reading. If I’m walking somewhere and I see books, I have to stop to look. When I order books online and they come in the mail, I feel as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. Just looking at books is mesmerizing for me. Getting lost in the stories; gaining new knowledge and perspectives. It’s all so powerful.
 
In the beginning of January of this year, I decided to set a goal for myself: read 50 books this year. That averages out to about 4 books a month.
 
Being a full time university student, with a job, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it. I love reading, don’t get me wrong, but with a goal in mind, especially when that equates to about one novel a week… the pressure was on. I worried that if I was too busy and didn’t read a book one week, that I wouldn’t meet my goal.
 
I faced some difficulties, such as missing a complete month (March) because of so many assignments being due for school and exams coming up. Luckily, I made up for that missed month by overcompensating during other months. (like reading 7 in July alone, and 9 in October.)
 
Not only did I complete my goal, but I surpassed it by fourteen. In 2016, I managed to cram 64 books into my brain, on top of writing three novels of my own.
 
So without further a due, here is my book list of 2016! Please keep in mind: my favourite genre (at this point in my life) is mystery/thriller, so those are the majority of the novels that comprise this list. (I also read other genres, but mostly m/t)
2016-09-12-007
 

JANUARY

1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book blew up SO fast, became a worldwide bestseller, and got a movie deal with Emily Blunt.  When I read this book in the beginning of January, I hadn’t even heard of it before my friend (thank you Matt Agius) suggested it. It was a really good thriller. You have Rachel, your unreliable narrator who you are unsure if you can believe anything that comes out of her mouth. There are so many twists and turns that you don’t see coming, making it a fast-paced read.
  • Update: I saw the movie in October and it was great, but it changed so many details from the book.
 
2. The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • A man and woman meet on a flight and plot a murder.
  • No words. This book is a literal masterpiece. So different and unexpected, unlike most novels. GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. It’s officially my favourite book. 10/10.
 
3. The Last Good Day of the Year – Jessica Warman✔️ 8.5/10 (YA/mystery)
  • At this point, the only other book I’d read by Jessica Warman was Between, and that book was one of my favourites. Her writing style is very well done and she keeps you so captivated, even during very mundane story lines. I loved Between and I LOVED The Last Good Day of the Year. The juicy stuff doesn’t come until the end, but still Jessica maintains a captivating story line until the big reveal.
 
4. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle✔️ 8/10 (nonfiction/spirituality)
  • This book was recommended by so many people in the vegan/mindfulness community. It’s definitely a life changer. It really makes you think and change your perspective on so many aspects of your life, and makes you want to change yourself for the better and just live in the NOW. (Although it was a bit slow and hard to get through at times, definitely worth it)
 

FEBRUARY

5. A Piece of Cake – Cupcake Brown✔️ 8/10 (memoir)
  • oh. my. god. This is an autobiography/memoir about a girl who lost her mother at the age of 11 and was then thrown into the foster care system, experimented with drugs, alcoholic, prostitution, abortions, drug dealing, gang banging, and MORE all before the age of 19….. It’s literally CRAZY. And it’s all TRUE.
 
6. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert✔️ 10/10 (nonfiction)
  • Another book I saw recommended quite a bit on my instagram feed. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author famous for her book Eat, Pray Love. You’ve probably seen the movie with Julia Roberts. Anyways, this book is all about creativity and art, especially writing. And since I myself am a writer, this book was like my bible. I literally highlighted so many pages and quotes that I found useful, and even now I look through the book when I need some hope and inspiration. If you are into arts or writing, you will LOVE this book. It inspired me so so much to just follow my passions and do what my soul needs. And it’s such an easy, fun read. UGH. 10/10.
 
7. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn✔️7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • My first Gill Flynn book. I had heard such great things about Flynn as a writer and I love the way her mind works. Dark Places is her second published book. It was really interesting, but a little slow at times. I liked the narrator, Libby, but didn’t care for the other characters as much as she switched perspectives. The twist at the end is seriously crazy though, and it makes me wonder how she thinks of these things.
 
8. Where They Found Her – Kimberly Mccreight✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • A dead baby is found. Who killed her?
  • This mystery was really well done. The book’s narration alternates between three different women who are not connected in any way. Or so you think. This was really easy and intriguing to read, right from the beginning. It was so interesting watching all the lives of everyone intersect in one way or another. Really good book. 8/10.
 

APRIL

9. Beautiful Lies – Jessica Warman✔️ 8/10 (YA/mystery)
  • Okay, so remember what I said about Jessica Warman before? Well, this book wasn’t on my ‘to-read’ list or anything, and a premise such as this wouldn’t normally peak my interest. But I love Warman’s writing style so much that I decided to read this book as well, because, why not. This book is a psychological thriller that keeps you wondering what the hell is going on. Let me break it down for you: there are two twins: one goes missing. They have a supernatural connection, and when one feels pain, so does the other. So twin A has to find twin B, before it’s too late.
  • dun dun dun. No, really though, it’s a really good book. Creepy. Interesting. And that amazing writing style Jessica always comes through with.
10. Until You’re Mine – Samantha Hayes✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was so creepy! It’s about a woman who is expecting her first child and hires a nanny to come live in with the family. Only the nanny isn’t who she really says she is……… Really good read, lots of twists and turns near the end that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
11. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver✔️ 9.5/10 (YA contemporary)
  • OH MY GOD. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. The story is basically about a teenage girl who dies and has to keep living the last day of her life over and over again. Sounds boring, right? I thought so. I was like, am I really going to keep reading the same thing over and over again? But oh no, Lauren Oliver is a literary genius. This book is all about life lessons, redemption, forgiveness, and finding yourself. It made me cry so many times. I love it so much.
12. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book started off kind of slow, but it picks up pace and excels. The narrator, Camille, is a gripping heroine, who, like most of Flynn’s protagonists, is very problematic and disturbed, which essentially fuels her character and drives the story.
  • I loved this book so much more than Dark Places. Really really good. The ending is probably one of the best plot twists I’ve read to date. That’s all I’m going to say. Very creepy. Very Gill Flynn. I love it.
 

MAY

13. Blessed are the Dead – Kristi Belcamino ✔️ 4/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Lol don’t read this book. I was so annoyed by the protagonist. I thought this was going to be a really good mystery thriller. It’s not. You get a winy narrator who just talks about her love life, and then get a shitty ending.
 
14. Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly Mccreight ✔️8/10 (contemporary/mystery)
  • This was a really good read. It’s about a mother who learns of her daughter’s sudden and unexpected suicide at her private school in NYC. By tracking down friends, teachers, and looking through her daughter’s social media, has to reconstruct the final days leading up to her death and find out what really happened. EEK, I just got goosebumps writing that.
15. These Things Hidden – Heather Gudenkauf✔️6.5/10 (mystery)
  • This book was alright. Not that it was slow or anything, but the majority of the book is side-stepping the main mystery and giving background and filler for 80% of the novel, then literally the last 20% you find out what happened.
16. Still Missing – Chevy Stevens ✔️7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was pretty good. About a woman who gets kidnapped, but as she tells the story, it’s told through sessions to her psychiatrist, so you know she escapes somehow. And the whole point of the book is that she’s still missing because of the trauma. Oh and because there still possibly could be a looming danger. The protagonist was a bit annoying most of the time.
17. The Forsaken – Lisa M. Stasse✔️ 5.5/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • I stopped reading YA a while ago, and this book reminded me why. The protagonist is very annoying and clueless, but portrayed as the Katniss or Tris of the story. The storyline was interesting (years in the future, America, Canada, and Mexico have joined into one nation, the UNA. They send ‘criminals’ and ‘degenerates’ to this island to get rid of them), and guess who gets sent there? The main character. She immediately falls in love with this cute blonde haired boy who we know nothing about, (classic YA), and the characters and storyline is just very childish almost. Some things I found interesting, but some reveals you could smell coming from a mile away.
 

JUNE

18. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver✔️ 7/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • in 2013 I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and this was the second book in the trilogy. Requiem (listed below) is the third. I must admit, I absolutely LOVED Delirium. It’s probably one of my favourite books to date. A futuristic dystopian YA novel where love is illegal. It’s such a cool concept, and the way the story was written was very well done. However, I didn’t care too much for the 2nd or 3rd books. Kind of disappointing. The protagonists character development was very good in the 2nd book though.
19. Requiem – Lauren Oliver✔️7.5/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • Read above. I kind of liked the 3rd better than the 2nd though.
20. Vanishing Girls – Lauren Oliver✔️ 8.5/10 (YA, mystery/thriller)
  • Since I was on a Lauren Oliver streak, I decided to read another one of her books. This book was actually very well written and has an interesting concept. Surprise twist ending? Yes please.
21. Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! It’s so creepy and dark and twisted. Like, I’m not talkin light stuff. It is very graphic and sadistic. So if you’re not into that stuff, you may find some content very disturbing. But it was such a good story and there were so many TWISTS AND TURNS!! UGH.
 
 

JULY

22. Fool me Once – Harlan Coben✔️ 7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was really interesting and keeps you hooked from the beginning. Maya’s husband died, but after his funeral, she sees footage of him playing with their young daughter on the nanny came. Is Maya crazy, or is her husband still alive!?
 
23. In the Blood – Lisa Unger✔️7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • As I was reading this book, I was so captivated and allured. There are so many things that don’t make sense and it really has you wondering what could possibly be happening. However, once I finished it, I looked back and found the overall concept kind unrealistic.
 
24. Cuckoo – Julia Crouch✔️ 7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was kind of a let down for me. I spent the whole book wondering what was going to happen, only for it to end and me be like, WHAT? I literally was so confused. It kind of just drops and doesn’t conclude very well. I’m still confused now.
  • After the death of her husband, Rose’s friend Polly comes to stay. But once Polly comes, Rose finds it very hard to get her to leave…
 
25. Under a Silent Moon – Elizabeth Haynes✔️ 7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was very well written. The text was superb, the protagonists were likeable. The author switches perspectives to tell the story of two women who died on the same night,(one a suicide, one a murder) completely unrelated. Or so we think. However, the ending was so mundane and the reveal wasn’t that shocking to me. Dammit.
 
26. Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This wasn’t so much a mystery/thriller, but it was very interesting. Tiffani (who now goes by Ani) has the perfect life. Perfect job, perfect fiance, etc. But she has a dark secret looming in her past that could expose itself any moment. The whole novel was really good and really captivating/well written. I liked the character development from a cold-hearted bitch to someone we can actually relate to. However, I was hoping the book would go one way (which would have been SO rad and made so much sense), but then it ended quite mundane and happy-ending like. I smiled.
 
27. Follow You Home – Mark Edwards✔️ 4/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Do not read this book. It presents itself as so creepy and eerie and makes you want to find out what the hell the grand mystery is. However, the writing is SO POOR, and the protagonist is SO ANNOYING. And the plot that unfolds is so unrealistic and annoying. Mark Edwards, you tried too hard, mate. That is all.
 
28. Don’t You Cry –  Mary Kubica✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was really good. In 2014, I read Mary Kubica’s debut The Good Girl, and that was a very good psych thriller. This one was also very good. You think you know what’s going to happen just by reading the plot synopsis, BUT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE IN FOR! I literally read this in one day. 9/10!!
 

AUGUST

29. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak✔️ 9/10 (historical fiction)
  • WOW. I don’t know why it took my so long to read this book. It came out in 2005 but I didn’t even hear about it until a few years ago, (I guess when the movie came out). I actually purchased the novel in 2014, started it, but thought it was too slow so I never finished it. But this time, I was determined to finish it. And I’m so glad I did. The book is about Liesel, a young girl living in Nazi Germany. The cool concept is that the book is told from the perspective of Death (the grim reaper). It spans four years and is a book full of life lessons. Not only does the reader learn about Hitler and the awful holocaust, what it was like to live in Germany during that time, but also the struggle of a family with no money, friendships that last a lifetime, and overcoming struggles. I cried at the end. I really enjoyed this novel.
 
30. Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys✔️ 9.5/10 (historical fiction)
  • Since I was in the 1940’s historical genre, I decided to read this book next as it had been on my list for a while. Usually when I see a book on Goodreads, it has a majority of 4 stars. But this book had the majority being 5 stars! I went and checked out the other two books by this author and they also were majoring in 5 stars. That’s how I knew I had to read this book. Because this is a raw, pure author who writes about things that MATTER. Between Shades of Grey tells an awful story, but is an incredible book. Lina, a 15 Lithuanian girl, tells her story of when her family was taken in the middle of the night by Soviet soldiers. This book hurts. It hurts to read the terrible things that these people endured (it’s a work of fiction, but based on true events), and the awful ways that people can treat other people. But it’s an incredible story and you definitely should read it.
 
31. Behind Closed Doors – B.A Paris✔️ 9.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Ah, this book was fantastic. I started it in the morning on August 31st, and knew I had to finish it in 1 day to meet my monthly quota. (lol, and as you can see, I was already behind and only read 3 books in august.) But this book was not difficult at all to finish in a day. SO SO GOOD. AND IT’S A DEBUT!!
  • The perfect life; the perfect marriage. But not everything is as it seems…. Grace and Jack are the perfect couple; or so everyone thinks. But why does Grace never go anywhere without Jack? And why are there bars on the bedroom window? Perhaps the perfect life, is actually the perfect lie.
 

SEPTEMBER

32. In The Woods – Tana French ✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This was my first Tana French book and I’m already in love with her. Like Gill Flynn, Tana is a literary genius with a unique mind for mystery thrillers. This book was long and intense, and such a great story. Tana has many other books that I plan to read in the near future.
33. Beautiful Lies – Lisa Unger✔️ 5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • What started off as a good read unfortunately didn’t end that way. The only thing I liked about this book was the protagonists name – Ridley Jones. So much potential for a great character. But unfortunately, Lisa fucked up. The protagonist, Ridley, became so damn annoying and the whole mystery story turned into a desperate love tale of Ridley falling head over heals for some dude she barely knows. I HATE WHEN BOOKS DO THIS. God, can’t the female protagonist solve her life mystery on her own without the aid of some guy or having a crucial love story involved? Not only that, but Ridley’s character was so dull, clueless, and annoying. Clues that were right in front of her (literally people telling her facts), and her being like, “huh… no, that doesn’t seem right.” OMG, you idiot. My recommendation: save yourself the time and energy and read a different book on this list instead.
 
34. The Perfect Neighbors – Sarah Pekkanen✔️ 8.5/10 (adult fiction, contemporary)
  • Not really a mystery or thriller, but to my surprise, a very good read. Told from the perspective of four different women who live in a idyllic, suburban neighborhood with their husbands and children, The Perfect Neighbors reveals that not everyone’s lives are as perfect as they seem. And when the new neighbor, Tessa, moves in, well… she may be harboring the biggest secret of all.
  • What I liked most about this book is how it depicts reality. Problems, fighting, unhappiness, imperfection. And it ended so nicely and dare I say… perfect? A genuine, happy ending that made me smile. This novel is one of those life-lesson stories that give you a satisfying feel and a new perspective on life. Oh, and you obviously want to find out what Tessa is hiding.

35. The Widow – Fiona Barton✔️8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This was a really good read. A story about a husband and wife, alternating P.O.V’s, and a mystery that keeps you reading through every page. Is he guilty? Is he really the murderer that everyone said he was?
  • What I really liked about this book was the idea that Glen kept his wife, Jean, silent and compliant all the years they were married, and now that he’s dead, she can finally do things for herself. (This is not a spoiler; the narrative propels from the death of Glen before the book begins.)

36. The Silent Wife – A.S.A Harrison✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I purposely read this one right after The Widow, based on similar story lines, and I have to say, I liked The Silent Wife more. I really like the authors voice she used through the characters. The author, A.S.A Harrison, actually passed away in 2013 from cancer. She was an artist from Toronto, and the book was published after her death. The writing was eloquent and well done. The story was very intriguing, even if there was no suspense in the first half. You like the characters, you hate the characters. You want things to happen. You want justice for Jodi. Her common-law husband of 20 years, Todd, has been cheating on her. And now it’s time for her to get revenge.

37. Blood Ties – Samantha Hayes ✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This book was incredible. I also just found out that this was Samantha Hayes debut novel…………
  • Earlier this year, I read Sam Hayes’ novel Until You’re Mine which was also a really good mystery/thriller. However, after completing this novel, I can 100% say that this one is much better! I actually have nothing negative to say about this book. Samantha Hayes has such an interesting writing style, where she alternates narrators through the chapters, and leads you to think one thing, and then completely blows your mind by the end of the book. I honestly read the synopsis and thought I knew what was going to happen. Pages in, I was confused. Then my mind changes again – then again. And then it ended and I was blown away. Chills. Such a good novel. I definitely recommend this book to anyone, even if the subject matter may not intrigue you.

 

OCTOBER

38. The Weight of Silence – Heather Gudenkauf ✔️ 6/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I wanted to like this book; I really did. Earlier this year, I read These Things Hidden by Heather, and I wasn’t really satisfied with it. The premise of The Weight of Silence sounded interesting, and so I put it on my to-read list a while ago, but because of my dissatisfaction with the other book of Heather’s, I put off reading it for a long time. But then I heard good things about it, and my curiosity was getting the best of me. So… I FINALLY read it. And oh no….. It wasn’t that great.
  • The premise makes this book so much more interesting than it is. In reality, there’s not really any suspense or questions left hanging. The majority of the book was spent focused on flashbacks of two main characters old love life from their childhood, which was not relevant to the plot whatsoever. Anyway, I won’t get into detail and spoil it, but if you love mystery/thrillers, I would not recommend this one. Yet I’m still giving it a 6/10 because it wasn’t awful to read. I was still intrigued at the story line at parts.

39. The Woods – Harlan Coben ✔️ 7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I read this book in a day, but I still only rate it a 7.5. Harlan Coben is a very popular author with many NYT Best Sellers. In July, I read his book Fool me Once, and it was actually very good and well written. However, in October, I attempted to read The Stranger, and also had four other books of his lined up to read. (e-books) Fifty pages into The Stranger, and I could not stand the writing. It was not eloquent at all, and sounded almost immature. I went on to read reviews on the other books I had on my list, and people noted the same thing. So I gave up on The Stranger and read The Woods.
  • In sum, it was a good book. A good mystery that keeps the pages turning because you just want to know what happened to those kids in the woods 20 years ago!!!

40. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini ✔️ 10/10 (historical fiction)

  • Oh my God. No words. I read The Kite Runner back in 2012, and it was incredible. This too is just… life changing. Hosseini is magical in the way he writes and tells stories. He reaches out, grab your heart, and pulls on it. Hard. This book is awful, in the way we see how the characters face struggles in Afghanistan, and the problems they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s just heartbreaking. But you fall in love with the characters, and the story as a whole is just magnificent. I cried at least twice, especially at the end, that very last line broke me. I 100% recommend EVERYONE to read this book. 10/10

41. I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai ✔️ 8/10 (biography/memoir)

  • This book has been on my list for a long time, and since I just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, which takes place in Afghanistan, I thought, what better time to read this than now? If you haven’t heard of this book….. Google it right now. It’s a biography by Malala, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ rights to go to school. (In 2012). The story of what happened to her is scary and incredible all at once. I must admit, the first 100 pages were a bit slow when she’s talking about war and the Taliban, but it picks up speed and I was so invested in hearing her story and what an amazing person she is before all of this even took place. I finished it in one day. 8/10

42. Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes ✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • OH. MY. GOD. One of the best books I’ve read, by far. I was so captivated by this novel, right from the beginning. It’s over 400 pages, but the chapters are so short than you keep saying to yourself, “okay, just one more chapter,” and then you end up fighting with yourself to put away the damn book to go to sleep at 1am. It was AMAZING. And it’s Elizabeth Haynes debut novel!!! Incredible. The story touches on domestic abuse and mental illness (OCD, PTSD), and gives you those 50 Shades of Grey feels. I hope this book demonstrates how terrible those kind of men are and abuse is NOT love. This book was creepy, thrilling, exhilarating, and down right SCARY. I got chills so many times. Because it could actually happen to you…….

43. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • The most anticipated book on my list. I saw the movie when it came out back in 2014 and didn’t know it was based on a book. Then I began reading about Gillian Flynn, and came to the conclusion that she is a literary genius. So I read Dark Places, then Sharp Objects, and now, finally: Gone Girl.  Without going into too much detail, this book was a masterpiece. Incredible. Definitely a hallmark for books and authors everywhere. Hence why every new book since is referred to as THE NEXT GONE GIRL. Well done, Gillian. So much respect for this woman.

44. Twisted – Andrew E. Kaufman✔️ 5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I am honestly baffled how this book has a majority of 4 stars and 5 stars on Goodreads… This book was not that good. The writing style annoyed me very much. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really dislike books with bad writing style. Not eloquent whatsoever, the narrator’s voice was whiny and annoying, almost immature.  Anyway, the twist at the end was pretty decent (but lazy/predictable) and that’s the only reason I’m giving this 5/10. But I would not recommend this book.

45. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr ✔️ 8/10 (historical fiction)

  • I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book (it is the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer prize, after all), and don’t get me wrong, it is riveting and the writing is just outstanding, but this is a book about war. And more heavy than previous historical fiction’s I’ve read (The Book Thief, Between Shades of Gray, A Thousand Splendid Suns). This book was kind of slow getting into, and like I said, the majority is about war. There’s two storylines: Marie-Laure, and Werner. I personally enjoyed reading Marie-Laure’s chapters more, and though I liked Werner, and his reality was of many of boys his age in Germany, it was just a bit slow for me most of the time. Good read though, and quite frankly, the last thirty pages were the best.

46. You Belong to Me – Samantha Hayes ✔️ 9/10 (myster/thriller)

  • Wow, Mrs. Hayes, you’ve outdone yourself once again. This is my third book by Samantha Hayes and she is just incredible. Keep in mind when you’re reading her books: whatever you think is happening, or whatever you think you know, you’re wrong. She tells the story, throws you a curve ball, and leaves you gaping, never even seeing it coming. This is a creepy thriller that keeps you turning the pages.

 

NOVEMBER

47. Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys✔️ 8/10 (YA historical fiction)

  • After reading Between Shades of Grey, I knew I had to continue reading books from Ruta, who does a phenomenal job at portraying true historical events, in a fictional story. This book is about four teenagers, struggling to survive the war in 1945, as well as the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustaf, which is one of the most tragic shipwrecks in marine history, but is never talked about. It was a great book, but I personally preferred Between Shades of Grey.

48. Me Before You – JoJo Moyes ✔️ 10/10 (contemporary fiction)

  • I honestly don’t know what to say right now. I am utterly speechless. Never have I read a book that has made me feel so many emotions. The only other time that I have really cried during a book was in 2013, when I read The Fault in our Stars. Let me just tell you… I bawled reading this book. Multiple times. I’m talking red face, puffy eyes, hysterical sobbing. And not even because it was sad! Sometimes I was just crying because something good happened, or because I was so in love with the characters and their story. UGH. I was so enthralled by this book, the writing was so magnificent and the story and characters were riveting. I literally couldn’t take a break or stop reading it. I finished within a day, stayed up till 1am, eyes red and bloodshot. I can honestly say (ready for this, this is very very rare), that this is one of the best books I have ever read. Okay. I’m done.

49. The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult ✔️ 8.5/10 (adult contemp/historical fiction)

  • This was a great book. A 25-year-old girl develops an unlikely friendship with a 95-year-old man. Only thing is, the girl, Sage, is Jewish. And the man? Well, he’s an ex nazi S.S officer. And he wants Sage to help him die.
  • The first 3/4 of this book were phenomenal. I especially liked Minka’s chapters (a survivor of Auschwitz) who takes us back in time to the brute reality of the Holocaust. It’s absolutely devastating and heart wrenching to read. The story makes you think a lot about religion, forgiveness, blame, etc. It’s interesting because at this very moment, I’m in a Nazi Holocaust class at uni, and we are discussing if the S.S soldiers are completely at fault, and whether or not they truly had a choice or not. It’s a great ethical debate, and this book touches a lot on that.

50. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl✔️ 8/10

  • For my fiftieth book of the year, I decided to read one of the most important books of our generation: The Diary of Anne Frank. I was blown away by the eloquence of Anne’s writing. She possessed a wisdom well beyond her years. I do admit, it was a bit slow at times, since you are essentially reading the everyday mundane thoughts of a 13 year old girl, but nonetheless, everyone should read this book. Anne talks about her daily life in the secret annexe that her family was forced to hide in for two years. She discusses the family she lives with, activities she busies herself with, and even boys. Oh how Anne had an affinity for boys. It was a great read, and very disturbing knowing that she was eventually sent away to Auschwitz and died only months before Russia liberated the concentration camps. Her journal was left in the secret annexe and was returned to her father once he was liberated and returned home.

51. Animal Farm – George Orwell ✔️ 8/10

  • If you weren’t aware, Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about the 1917 Russian Revolution. “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
  • This short novel depicts how the Russians overthrew one hierarchy, only to replace it with another. In the story, we have the Jone’s farm, and all of the animals take over, planning to get rid of the humans. But as the story progresses, you see how a new hierarchy begins to form and a leader rises.

52. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart ✔️ 8/10 (YA contemporary/suspense?)

  • This was a really interesting and different book. The narrator has a very unique voice, which at first sort of confused me because it’s so drastic (she almost speaks like she’s insane), but it’s kind of poetic in a way. The whole narration of the story is, really. And I grew to appreciate that narration.
  • As for the story, it was good. Not extraordinary, but it was a nice read.

53. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware ✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • Oh my God!! This book was the definition of a thriller. I got chills so many times while reading this. Basically, a woman working for a travel magazine boards a luxury cruise ship. On the first night, she witnesses a woman being thrown over board. Or so she says. Because everyone on the ship is accounted for, and there is no evidence that said woman even exists….
  • This book has an Agatha Christie Murder Mystery style to it. There are only so many passengers on board… so who dun it? Mind you, we also have an unreliable narrator, similar to The Girl on the Train. Wow, this was really good. 9/10.

54. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath ✔️ 8.5/10 (literary fiction)

  • This was a very different read for me since it’s outside of my normal genre. But regardless, The Bell Jar is a classic and I really wanted to read it. It was a great book and such a unique, intriguing story. The protagonist, Esther Greenwood, tells the story of her life in New York City as a nineteen-year-old, as well as her slow decent into insanity.
  • Very witty, feminist, and coming-of-age. I really enjoyed it.
  • It’s quite sad, really. The Bell Jar is sort of an autobiography for Path’s life and her many years with depression. She ended up committing suicide in 1963 at the age of thirty.

55. The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison ✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller/suspense)

  • A very creepy story about a young girl who is rescued from The Butterfly Garden, a beautiful place where a sadistic man who they call The Gardener keeps his Butterflies, consisting of dozens of young girls.
  • This was a really good read that kept me on edge and anticipating what was to come next. The writing was flawless and eloquent and I can’t really find anything wrong with this novel! Highly recommend!

56. Wild – Cheryl Strayed ✔️ 8/10 (memoir)

  • I started reading this book two years ago, in 2014, and got through the first 70 pages before I stopped. I’m not sure why. I guess it didn’t captivate me enough. All I remember from two years ago is that I literally bawled at the end of the first chapter. That’s how emotional it is.
  • So it’s been sitting on my bookshelf all this time, and I finally was like, I NEED TO FINISH THIS DAMN BOOK. So I did. And oh my god, it was wonderful. I know there’s the movie with Reese Witherspoon, but you have to read the book to get the full effect. I mean, it’s a memoir. A movie can’t portray her journey, her thoughts, her feelings and emotions. It was riveting. So inspirational.

 

DECEMBER

57. Still Alice – Lisa Genova ✔️ 8.5/10 (contemporary/adult fiction)

  • I watched the movie two years ago when it came out and bawled my eyes out. So why not read the book? It was absolutely heartbreaking. If you weren’t aware, Still Alice is about a woman’s decent into early on-set Alzheimer’s. My grandfather has dementia, so reading this book really gives you an insight on what it’s like for the individual experiencing it. It’s horrible. But the book was beautiful and is able to shed light on this subject that needs to be talked about.

58. You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott✔️ 9.5/10 (mystery/adult fiction)

  • This book was very well done! Abbott has a very unique writing style which flows elegantly through the novel. The books is about gymnastics and the gymnastic community, training for the Olympics, wanting to be the best etc. But when a death occurs, their tight-knit gymnastic group begins to crumble.
  • I really liked the story and found it very interesting since I myself used to be a gymnast. But even if you don’t like gymnastics, it’s an interesting read nonetheless, and has important lessons about family, community, lies, and how well you truly know a person.

59. The Secret Place – Tana French✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller/crime)

  • Here’s the thing about Tana French: She’s an incredible writer and a mesmerizing storyteller; but her books are just so damn long! I have about four of her books on my to-read list, but I subconsciously find myself putting them off because they’re so long. Anyway, I decided to just say screw it, and read this one already. It was amazing, of course. Her writing style is just so unique and superb, and the story was captivating. All of Tana’s books are crime/mystery/thrillers, by the way, and this story took us deep into the minds of teenage girls. Scarier than you may think…

60. Every Secret Thing – Laura Lippman✔️ 7/10 (mystery/crime)

  • I heard about this book because of the 2014 movie with Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Banks. It was a very interesting book. Seven years ago, two 11 year old girls went to jail for the murder of a baby. Now, they’re out. And another child goes missing.
  • A bit slow at times with the in-depth description of each individual narrator (there’s like, 7), but overall, a very intriguing premise and story. 

61. All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • The narration and story line was very captivating and interesting. Never really a dull moment. However, the author chose to tell the story backwards, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me due to the circumstances. Still a really good read though.

62. Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain✔️ 7.5/10 (historical fiction)

  • Interesting concept. This book details the Eugenics act and mass sterilization that occurred from the 1920’s to 1970’s. This means the state was sterilizing men and women who they deemed unfit to have children, based on the justification that they were mentally ill feeble-minded, black, poor, etc. While the story is very touching and educational, the writing style wasn’t favourable in my opinion. This book had so much potential to be better than it was, but because of the narrative, I can only give it a 7.5.

63. The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This was a really creepy/eerie read. Sarah and Angus have twin daughters. A year after one of the twin dies in an accident, the surviving twin claims to actually be the one who died.
  • The writing was well done and it was a captivating enough story. Very very creepy at times that gave me chills. Good read.

64. The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld✔️ 9/10 (literary fiction)

  • Today is December 31st, and what a great book to end off my challenge. This novel was shorter than most, but don’t be fooled, it was powerful. So unlike most of the books on this list. It wasn’t a mystery and it wasn’t a thriller. It wasn’t historical fiction and it wasn’t a memoir. It was something else entirely that I’m not even sure what genre to put into. The Enchanted tells the tale of a man on death row. He tells you stories that grow from his imagination that is able to run free while in prison. He reads copious books and has a mind like no other. The entire book is him telling you stories, whether it be made up, magical, or recounting daily life on death row. This book was definitely something else, and it captivated me from the very beginning. When he speaks of his love of reading, and details about entering other worlds, I relate to him. This book sheds light on death row inmates and reminds us that they too are human, regardless of what they’ve done. Denfeld humanizes these serial killers and psychopaths and makes us empathize with them. She tells stories of not only the inmates, but of the guards, the warden, the priest, and The Lady, a woman who’s job it is to get men off death row. It was a phenomenal read and again, a great finale to my year long reading challenge.

 

*Final note:

I managed to read 64 books this year and I feel privileged with this abundance of knowledge and experience from each world I was immersed into. It was a great experience and a super fun challenge. Not only did I read 64 books, but I also worked on and completed three of my own novels, as well as one novella. On top of this, I also read two of my books twice each to prepare to send off to literary agents. So much reading!!!!


FAVOURITE BOOKS ON THE LIST

Nonfiction

  • Big Magic (amazing book for creative people, my new bible)

Contemporary

  1. Me Before You ***
  2. Before I Fall
  3. The Enchanted

Mystery/Thrillers

  1. The Kind Worth Killing (best overall story)
  2. Into the Darkest Corner (best overall story)
  3. Gone Girl (best twist)
  4. Blood Ties (good overall story and great twist ending)
  5. Pretty Girls (such a good overall story, as well as twist)
  6. Behind Closed Doors (creepy/thrilling overall story)
  7. Don’t You Cry (good overall story, great twist ending)
  8. Sharp Objects (good overall story, GREAT twist ending)
  9. Vanishing Girls (good story with a great twist ending)
  10. Where They Found Her (good overall story with a great twist ending)

Historical Fiction

These books are just incredibly moving, sentimental, and educational.

  1. Between Shades of Grey
  2. The Book Thief
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns

 

 

Personal

Why I Deleted my Instagram With nearly 60k Followers

Disclaimer: this blog post is not to put blame on the app or the people who followed me. Rather, it’s simply to illuminate what was wrong with my mentally and ideologies regarding social media and instagram.

Okay, where to begin? I guess at the beginning.

I first got instagram back in 2011 when it wasn’t really a thing. I used it to post photos of me, my dog, my friends, etc. It wasn’t until May of 2013 that I created a “healthy food fitspo” instagram account that eventually became what most of the people who follow me know as  “addictedtofruit” which then became “katrinanerisse_”

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The account started off very basic. I’ve always liked photography, and one day I guess I just started taking pictures of little snacks I made. During this time, I was really trying to be fit and healthy for summer, so the account was kind of created as like, a motivation for myself. I never created the account with an intent of gaining followers. Not at all! It was kept to myself and I didn’t tell anyone about it. Like I said, it was my own personal motivator or “fitspo”.

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But then something strange began happening. I started gaining followers. LOTS of followers. Within a month my account had one thousand followers. Another month, another thousand. And then it kept increasing, faster and faster, that by late September of 2013, I had reached ten thousand followers.

And after that, well, it only kept going from there.

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The more food photos I would post, the more people would ask me for recipes. That’s when I first created a blog in November 2013, because I needed one place for all of these recipes.

Everything was going so well. I was getting tons of traffic to my blog, and it was actually becoming something. Here I was, six months later, with all of these followers and a cool blog that was blooming, all because I randomly decided to start posting my food pics one day.

In December 2013, I randomly decided to go meat free.

In January 2014, I discovered veganism.

In February 2014, I went vegan.

During this time, (Feb 2014), I realized that I needed a proper website, not some amateur blog on blogspot. At this point, my instagram had over 21k followers. So, I signed up on WordPress and created my site. Since then, it has gone through so many transformations. From being solely a food and recipe blog called “The Colourful Kitchen”, (as some of you early followers may or may not remember), to eventually what it is today, “Mindfully Bliss” in November 2014, nearly one year after I first created a blog.

You see, I loved this new found “fame” I was having. I absolutely adored creating recipes, food photography, veganism, etc. I loved posting and sharing my life and food. But as my following grew, so did I. We don’t stay the same, forever, after all, and with this growth of followers came a personal growth within myself. I was eighteen-turning-nineteen that year, and I realized I wanted my website to be more than just food and recipes. I wanted it to help people. I began posting more and more about not just food, but veganism, mindfulness, self-love, etc. I wanted the website to represent who I was as a person, and what my goals were, which was to help others.

That’s why I eventually changed the name from “The Colourful Kitchen” to “Mindfully Bliss”, to better suit my website.

Okay, let’s fast forward to March 2015. I had just reached 50k and I was on cloud nine. For some reason, my little mind equated likes and followers with value, so apparently I was successful and a better person because of a social media account.

Around this time, I began wanting more. I followed so many lifestyle and travel accounts and I loved their content. I personally have always been into photography, travel, adventure, etc, and I had soooo many photos just stored away on my computer that never really went anywhere. I thought to myself, I wish I could post some of these on my Instagram. But I couldn’t – I had a food instagram, after all. And that’s like, forbidden. You stick to your content. You never stray out of those boundaries or change your feed in any way!!! Gosh.

So I continued on with my life, posting away about food, and just accepting this was my fate.

Over the next few months, I began experimenting with altering some of my content. I still posted vegan food (don’t worry), but I also began posting a sunset photo here and there. Or a travel photo. A selfie with my food. And I was getting a pretty good response! Didn’t lose followers, didn’t have my likes ratio go down. Everything was going swell. As long as I stuck to only doing this sometimes.

Over those last few months, I had a desire to change my username. It was, after all, “addictedtofruit,” still and I just wanted to change it to be my name. Because I wanted to be more than just food. But I was too afraid I’d lose a ton of followers.

Fast forward to November 2015. I finally gained the courage and changed my username to “katrinanerisse_” MY NAME. FINALLY!

I was so excited to have my username as my actual name! Now I could have the freedom to post whatever I wanted without feeling restricted or suppressed to only posting food photos!!!!

Ha, was I ever wrong.

First of all, I lost about nine hundred followers. It’s not even like I changed my username and then deleted all my food pics and replaced them with selfies. I changed my username. That was it. I continued posting food photos to eventually ease into this whole “lifestyle/account with MY OWN name” thing. But still, right when I changed my username, I lost followers. And it just kept going down.

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Now, this blog post isn’t here to talk about my follower progression and eventual decrease. I’m here to talk about WHY I deleted it.

So let’s fast forward to around one year since the name change: October 2016. (two months ago)

I felt unhappy with my instagram account. My life had changed so much since May 2013 when I first created the account and was so in love with creating recipes and taking photos. I had lost a ton of followers, and since my trip to Europe over the summer where I posted ‘more than usual’ personal/non-food photos, I not only lost thousands of followers, but the average amount of likes on my photo went from 1800-2000, to 600……

I just want to point out that followers and likes didn’t really mean much to me. Well, that’s a lie. In the beginning it did. Oh, for sure it did. How could they not? I was so excited when I first saw that I had one thousand followers on that account.

But eventually over time, as I lost more followers after the username change, I got to the point where I no longer cared. I knew I would lose followers if I posted a certain photo, but I did it anyways. Because I said to myself: I created this instagram account for me. I do it because it’s what I love to do, not for other people. So if I want to post a photo of something, whether it be me, a travel photo, a cute artsy photo, or even a food photo, I’m going to post it. For ME. And if I lose followers, so what? At least I knew the ones who didn’t support my account’s content were out of the way. Why would I want them following me anyways?

And again, I am placing no blame whatsoever on the people who followed me. I get it. If you’re following a food account and they change their content to start incorporating more lifestyle photos, you may not want to follow that content any longer. Personally reasonable.

But it got to the point where I couldn’t do it any longer. I was/am at a point in my life where there are so many things happening. I just started my fourth year of university in September, and you may not know this, but I am an aspiring novelist, so I write stories and novels and such. I’ve been focusing a lot on my writing and trying to get published, and also school and assignments. The passion I once had for the account was a flame. Once burning so brightly and strong, had now died down to a small flicker.

The spark was just no longer there.

I think it might have been different if I was gaining followers and likes. But I wasn’t. Not only was the passion fading away, but so were the followers. So I got to the point where I was like, what’s the point? If I’m not enjoying it, and my followers aren’t even enjoying it, why would I waste my time any longer?

I still enjoy making vegan food and taking photos. But you have to understand, to someone who’s life revolves around that, and literally to have people relying on you to post certain criteria… you feel a sort of pressure. Especially when you have nearly sixty thousand people following you.

Taking food photos isn’t easy. You need to have the right ingredients to make the food like aesthetically pleasing. You need a good backdrop. Good lighting, etc. During this time two months ago, and for a long time before that, I didn’t have the desire to take food photos! I’d wake up and just want to freaking EAT my breakfast, not worry about photographing it. I’d have to go to the store and buy certain products and ingredients. I had this massive pressure on me to post, and to post good content, and not let my followers down.

Not even going into detail about the stresses this whole thing had on my life. Not mentioning the tons of companies emailing me to do product reviews, telling me to post a certain thing, doing it a certain way, etc.

It became too much.

Along with the longing desire I had to just freaking post what I wanted, not what I was expected to post. My photography became so limited. I could only post a certain food photo, because hell, if I posted a photo with bad lighting or not at a good angle, or even if someone just didn’t like it, I’d lose followers.

I couldn’t do that anymore. So finally, two months ago, I deactivated my Instagram account.

I didn’t delete it permanently because I could never do that, especially after three years of documenting and recording my life there. So I deactivated it with the goal in mind to just take a break. I wasn’t thinking of a time to come back at all. It could be in a few months. It could be never. But I didn’t think about it. I didn’t set that limit or pressure on myself. I just did what was best for me and left.

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I must say, my life doesn’t that different. Other than the fact that all of those stresses and pressures are gone. I can wake up and not worry about photographing breakfast. I can go to the store and not feel pressured to buy freaking ACAI to get a good acai bowl shot. I can do whatever the hell I want with my food and what I eat. And let me just say, that’s a lot of weight off my shoulders from the past three years.

I’m writing this blog post not only give you an update (in case anyone is wondering, hey, what happened to her instagram?), but also as a lesson. Because I know that there are tons of people out there who may be feeling the exact same way as I did. And maybe they’re too afraid to do anything about it.

This sounds so trivial because, well, IT’S FREAKING SOCIAL MEDIA we’re talking about. People will tell you this whole blog post is ridiculous because it’s a first-world problem. But the reality is, this is the generation we live in. Where social media controls people’s lives. It’s a valid thing to feel stressed and overwhelmed over these sorts of things, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So if you want to make a change, then do it. Don’t let the fear losing likes or followers control your decisions, because at the end of the day, IT DOESN’T MATTER. When you turn off your phone, all of it ceases to exist in your present reality. You are just a person. If the world suddenly lost all technology, you’d just be another regular person. Having one hundred followers, a thousand followers, or a million followers doesn’t change that.

It doesn’t increase your worth. It doesn’t make you happier or more successful.

All the followers in the world, and you could still be unhappy with your life. Take Selena Gomez for instance. As she stated in her recent AMA speech, she is the most followed person on Instagram IN THE WORLD. And she was empty and broken inside. She had to take a break. She didn’t use her instagram for over three months. She was dealing with depression and anxiety and did what was best for her: she checked into rehab.

So don’t let these insta-famous people fool you. Life doesn’t instantly become better once you reach 1 million followers. Because that mindset consumes and ruins your life. I had this mindset that I’d finally be considered successful when I reached 10k. Then it was 20k. Then it was 50k. And when I reached 50k, despite the happiness I felt, I already had a new goal forming in my mind: 100k.

It’s obsessive. It’s dangerous. It’s not healthy.

Don’t be like that.

Your worth is not determined by likes. Your value is not determined by how many followers you have.

You’re more than just a number. You’re so much more than that.

Thank you.

ps. not self promo or anything, but I finally created a brand NEW account, this one just for myself. Here, in this space, I don’t care about likes or followers. I honest to God just love photography and am so passionate about it. I do really love Instagram, despite all of this. So I didn’t want to completely have nothing, considering I use no other social media apps (except Facebook on occasion). So this is a space where I can truly express myself as an individual. I can post my photography. I can post my thoughts and inner feelings on the captions. I can post whatever the hell I want and not feel pressured by anyone.

https://www.instagram.com/katrisse_/

Follow me there. We can be friends 🙂

 

Events Personal

August 28 Potluck

If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘fruitluck’ or ‘potluck’, let me quickly catch you up: Basically, for the past two years I’ve been hosting vegan potlucks/fruitlucks in Toronto for vegans to all come together and hangout 🙂 It’s a great way to meet new people, try new food, have good conversations, etc.

Yesterday I hosted the final potluck of the summer, due to the fact that we do them outside and fall+winter is too cold here in Canada. Anyway, as always, it was amazing.

Every single time I host one of these, so many amazing people come out and I end up going home later that night with so many new friends. Words can’t really describe the amazing feeling I felt yesterday, but for you, I will try to put into words.

2016-08-28 014 2016-08-28 004I don’t how, but all of us have the same beliefs and ideologies on so many topics. It’s crazy to think that just because someone is vegan that they’ll automatically get along. But somehow, every single time I meet all these kinds of people, our conversations drift off into far away places and we all find we have such similar beliefs on so many things! And talking to a few different girls, I was sitting there literally thinking, “we have the same mind.”

Not only does it feel so great to be able to just talk to people about a polithera of topics (environment, having children, hair, marriage, pets, families, etc), but also to be inspired by the people around you. One friend I made at the June fruitluck I hosted, Megan, inspired me a lot yesterday. She had just gotten back from traveling Hawaii and then Iceland. She told us how she booked her Hawaii trip very spontaneously and last minute, and then even invited two other vegan girls she met at the July potluck and they spontaneously went as well! Megan and I also found we had the same mindset on SO many other topics (like not having kids), as well as our old personalities in high school and how we’ve grown and changed.

Jess is also super inspiring. She quit her job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand to fulfill her dreams of being a jackfruit connoisseur 😉 No, but for real though, that takes some real guts to do. Maybe I’ll have to do a spontaneous travel plan or buy a one-way ticket sometime soon.

2016-08-28 018Kassie explained to us the law of attraction and how you have to live in the present and manifest the things you wish to have in your life and think positive in order to receive positive energy back.

I can’t even get into much more of what we discussed all day because there was literally SO much. Everyone was so nice and friendly. There was so much amazing food that people made that we all had the opportunity to try and talk about.

I just love how because we all have this one thing in common (veganism), we all got along so well.

2016-08-28 009A few girls that attended yesterday had actually mentioned that they weren’t planning on even coming because they were too shy and scared. But after re-evaluating, decided, why not, and came. And they were so glad they did. And I’m so glad they did too! Because they were able to meet so many awesome, like-minded people. I don’t want people to feel scared or shy to come to these things. Trust me, I know how scary this kind of thing can be; going to a place where you don’t know anyone. But you’ll never know what you missed unless you try. So get outside of your comfort zone, and go try something that makes you feel alive!

Thanks to everyone who came out. I had such an amazing, exhilirating day. I went to bed exhausted with a tired throat from talking so much, and my feet and legs sore from walking all day, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I hope to see you all again soon, and to anyone who lives in Toronto or close to Toronto, PLEASE join the facebook group and be a part of our lil family: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1677243792505263/?

ALSO, I vlogged the whole day, so you can check out that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ArbtMObfg&feature=youtu.be

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Advice Mindfulness Personal

How Australia Helped Cure my Acne

Throughout my life I’ve gone through stages of pimples, (doesn’t everyone?) but never anything too severe. However, in the fall of September 2014, I noticed I was getting more pimples than usual.

For the next few months, it continued to get worse. I read many different articles online/heard of other people’s experienced, and I tried a number of things to help. I stopped wearing all make-up, I started washing my face with coffee scrub, at one point I tried cutting out bread/gluten because I read that certain people can get sensitivities to it that cause breakouts. I knew it wasn’t my diet because I was eating a plant based vegan diet comprised of all healthy foods. In high school I would breakout if I ate greasy/fatty foods, or even when I drank alcohol. So basically, I didn’t know what else to do, and I was so distraught.

In December 2014, it got really bad. I still didn’t know what was causing it and it continued to go on for a few more months. Finally, I made an appointment with a dermatologist, but that would take 3-4 months before I saw him. In the meantime, I visited a natural path, who helped me immensely.

We talked for a long time and basically she narrowed my acne down to one thing: stress. She analyzed my personality type, my life stressors, and basically told me how I’m the type of person who takes on other people’s stress and makes it my own. I’m also a very neat freak/perfectionist type person, where everything has to be perfect/in order/my way. I guess that could be quite damaging to me. So once we knew it was my stress, we had to figure out a way to cure the acne. She gave me these natural remedies, and while they helped a little bit, what I’m about to tell you next helped the most:

I went to Australia.

Here’s something you should know about me. 1) I’m a very structured person. I can’t be spontaneous about anything because I always have to plan every single detail. 2) I’ve wanted to go to Australia for a long time and even planned to go to school there and live there.

So in June 2015 when I woke up one morning thinking, “anything could happen. We don’t live forever. I need to go see Australia”, I booked a flight within days before I left. Spontaneous. Wow.

You can read my journal entries from Australia here, but what I’m basically trying to say to you is this: from the moment I booked that spontaneous flight, to the entire time away traveling, I experienced something that I couldn’t at home: I wasn’t thinking about my stress and worries. I forgot about all my problems and left them back home in Canada. I explored the country, traveled on different trains and planes, saw places I’d never even heard of. I went biking a lot, and when I didn’t know what to do, I started biking to different fields or parks to do yoga and to meditate. I’ve never done that before!!

And then I forgot about my acne. I stopped staring at it in the mirror every day and I didn’t even notice when started to disappear.

It wasn’t until the day before I left that I remembered my acne. I looked in the mirror, and to my surprise, there was barely anything there. I took a photo and made a collage to compare how it was before and my eyes started to water. I was so happy. For so long I had to look at it every day and feel the pain it brought to my face (pimples hurt), and it just wasn’t a fun experience, especially when I couldn’t solve it.

Australia didn’t cure my acne – I did. My lifestyle choices and mindset did. But traveling there, getting out of my comfort zone, and just doing things to relax and find myself truly helped me immensely.

And afterwards, I changed myself and brought all of that positive thinking back with me. I stopped being so uptight and worrying about every detail. I noticed myself starting to relax a bit and not caring if my room was a bit messy. (That is a big deal for me). I tried to keep up with stretching my body every morning and taking time to meditate and relax with my own thoughts per day.

So if you are experiencing a similar problem, I truly hope this can help you. I am by no way promoting that aesthetics and looks are everything – in fact, I think looks are very irrelevant. You should feel confident in your own skin and acne does not define you. However, acne is not random. It happens for a reason, and it is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right.

Acne can be caused my many different things from stress, hormones, foods, not enough sleep, dehydration, bad living environment, etc. Narrow down all the things in your life and try to determine what could be causing your acne? Hey, it could be food; too much fat, not enough fat, who knows!? Nina and Randa had acne and once they cut out soy and fat, their acne disappeared. Maybe you have a gluten insensitivity. Maybe you’re stressed. Maybe you’re a teenager and going through hormones. WHO KNOWS!! But you can figure it out 🙂

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Advice Article Personal

Welcome Back, Bread

To all those people cutting out bread/wheat/gluten because of the ‘gluten free’ fad happening: it is not necessary. Bread is not the devil. It is not unhealthy and it will not make you fat. Unless you have celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance, than you can eat bread!!

So this post is basically my history with bread, why I ditched it for a while, and how/why I eat it again.

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Back in March 2014 (a couple months after going vegan) I decided to cut out bread and any other products containing wheat and gluten. I had been hearing so much about the ‘gluten free ’ fad and seeing books like Wheat Belly that say wheat is not good for you. I didn’t know what to believe, so I just took the safe route and cut it out completely.

This isn’t the first product I’ve done this with. Within 2013/2014, I just randomly stopped eating bread, pasta, rice, jam, crackers, chips, and anything with ingredients that I didn’t recognize. I think this was me being an obsessive health freak and trying to eat as clean as possible.

Near the end of summer 2014, I began eating Sourdough Bread because I heard it’s actually much healthier for you than regular bread. It is so delicious, and with the health tip in mind, I had no problem eating it. But then I kind of became obsessed with it and had a bit too much. Around that time I also started breaking out with pimples pretty badly. I read an article by Organic Burst saying sometimes people have wheat/gluten intolerance that they aren’t even aware of, or are so small that they only cause things such as…. acne. So I decided to cut out wheat again to see if that would help any.

A month or two went by and I realized my breakouts weren’t getting much better, but they also hadn’t gotten worse. I figured that cutting out bread/gluten was not the answer, and I decided to incorporate it back into my diet in small amounts. I would buy this Chia Hemp Flax bread that had all the healthy ingredients and actually tasted good. I would use it to make pb&j sandwiches, or avocado on toast.

In November of 2015, I would only eat bread moderately, only buying sourdough bread once in a while. I listened to my body and would only eat it if I knew it was what I wanted. My stomach also did this strange thing where if I ate over 3 pieces of SD bread, my stomach would feel full for HOURS and I wouldn’t even be hungry for dinner. But I look back now and think that maybe it was because my body wasn’t used to it. After all, I was eating mostly fruits and veggies for meals all summer.

But now it’s February 2016 and I eat sourdough bread every single day. I’ve been doing this for the past 2-3 months now and I absolotely LOVE it. I have sliced avocado on fresh sourdough and it is the best! And if there’s no Avo, I have peanut butter and jam. And sometimes when I come home at night after class or work and I’m hungry, I make another pb&j. So much bread. So much love.

I am a huge supporter of listening to your OWN body, and not just following fad diets and doing what other people are doing. (ex going HCLF, gluten free, paleo, raw till 4, etc) Depending on the time of year, my body craves different things. So if some days I crave raw fruits+veg, then that’s what I’ll have. But if I’m craving sourdough bread, then I will never deny my body of it.  Do whatever your own body wants. If your body craves starch/cooked foods, then eat that. If your body craves raw food one day, and (vegan)chocolate cake the next, then eat it. If your body wants bread, THEN EAT IT!!

My point is: don’t be afraid of eating certain foods just because you hear other people saying they are bad. Everybody reacts differently to different things. Let your body be the judge of that. If you eat bread and feel like crap afterwards, then cut it out. But if you don’t have a problem with it at all, be thankful you’re not celiac and eat that bread!! It’s not going to kill you, and neither is wheat, gluten, carbs, pectin, or any other ingredient you might fear.

Just remember; food is fuel. As long as you’re eating healthy foods that make you feel good, then continue eating it.

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Personal

Why I Love University

I love University because I love learning; it’s that simple. I’m not always the most eager to head back to classes after a long, relaxing summer break. But once I’m there, I forget about how bad I make it out to be. I am so grateful that I chose such a great University to attend. I love the program that I chose, and I love that I can actually take classes that I like, am passionate about, and am good at. And I love that I’m actually able to CHOOSE my education, because I am very privileged and many people around the world do not have that option.

It wasn’t always like this though; I use to hate school. I despised high school and the educational system they have currently set up. I do not agree with the way things are run, and how students are treated and marked. In high school, I always thought I was stupid. I was forced to take classes that I didn’t even like or excel at, and this resulted in me getting poor marks. They tell you that you need math and science for the real world, but in reality, I haven’t even used anything I’ve learned like trigonometry or biology once in my everyday life. This is because I am not going into a field that requires either of those things. In high school, I excelled at English, history, and the arts. I liked those classes because I was good at them. I hated math and science and would cry over how stressed they made me. I shaped my opinion about myself over the fact that these two classes brought my overall average grade down, as well as the fact that it is just plain discouraging to have to take ‘applied’ classes, vs ‘academic’, which is the regular.

So I spent four years thinking I was stupid. I never thought I would attend university. I thought that maybe I’d just go to the local college in my area. But when application time rolled around, my friends invited me to go see Trent University with them, and I absolutely fell in love. It forced me to start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I remember one day, a while before this, my friends and I were having a conversation, and I asked them, “if you could have any job in the world, what would you choose?” and they both replied, “teacher,”. When they asked me, I said I would choose to be a director/film maker. Then my one friend asked me, “well, why is that just a dream for you? Why not make that into a reality?”

Those words changed my life. Because after that I started thinking to myself, ya, why is that such a far fetched dream? Why can’t I go to school for that and work towards my goals? It also made me realize how passionate I was about writing/film/photography. Because in high school, I was conditioned to think ‘logically’, and to pursue a job or career that is a) high paying, b) realistic, c) fits the norms of society. I had never even considered being a writer of filmmaker. But after those words, I started to consider it.

I also just want to point out that I despise the school system when it comes to deciding on a career. Literally at the age of 17 you must decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.. Nobody knows such a thing at that age. But we have to decide, then apply to schools, then go to school. And so many people drop out after the first year because it wasn’t for them or they were failing. If it were more accepted in our society (North America) to take a gap year to travel, work, experience the world and acquire our own knowledge and opportunities, than maybe more people would do that instead of feeling pressured to jump right from high school to college/university.

Note: I also hate how high school tests and exams are graded. You learn everything from a semester, then the exam requires you to stuff as much things into your brain the night before, memorize it all, and rehearse it back the next day on paper. This isn’t how we learn. This isn’t how we should be tested. It’s all about memorization, and if you can’t remember things well, you are screwed. That was me.

My favourite class in my University career thus far has been a class called Narrative and Performance. I took it last year (second year) and it was a part of my major, cultural/media studies. The professor was Ian, and he was an older British gentleman. He told us how he didn’t believe in the standard way that students are taught; the whole, professor talking at you in large groups such as a lecture hall. He believes in teacher/student interaction – talking face to face, understanding each other, learning from your fellow peers. So that is what we did. Each week, we’d have a 3 hour workshop. We would move our chairs so we were seated in a circle, then we would literally talk for the next three hours. A little bit about the readings, but then we would venture off to so much more. We would all share our experiences, our stories, what we’ve learned in life, etc. And that class was my absolute favourite because I actually felt a genuine connection to the class. I learned so much, and not just stuff you get from a textbook. But genuine experiences and lessons learned from people.

I believe in all sorts of learning. I scroll down Instagram and read people’s stories and lessons that they learned. I go on Tumblr and learn SO much about social activism: racism, equal rights, veganism, feminism, stereotypes, body positivity, poverty, educational systems, etc. I scroll down my Facebook news feed and read articles about what is happening in our world today. I read books and watch documentaries about conspiracy theories on 9/11 or how factory farming is destroying our planet. I travel the world and experience different people and cultures, and not only learn about others, but I learn about myself. I just LOVE learning.

Now with all that being said, I do still believe we as humans can benefit so much from going to university and college. I respect people who decide to drop out and pursue alternate forms of learning, or becoming entrepreneurs at a young age and starting their own business. Or hell, even working 9-5 at a shitty job just so they can save money to travel. I appreciate and respect those people. But personally, I love and appreciate my university education. It has taught me so much that never occurred to me in the real world. I read my textbooks and go to lectures. I engage with my professors and other students. And I have a genuine understanding of the content I am being presented with. It’s only been three months so far, (I just started my third year) and already I feel so overwhelmed and enlightened with all this new knowledge.

I am happy that I can take classes that I actually love and excel at. I find you learn better when you are actually interested in the topic. For my final assignments of this semester, I get to write about: 1) War Photography, mass media, and propaganda, 2) A comparative essay on British vs American television (I chose to do The Walking Dead vs In the Flesh), 3) Creating art 4) Literally writing a research paper topic on how animal agriculture is destroying our planet. 5) How women are objectified in hip-hop music and culture.

I have learned so much that I had not even a clue about before, and I just feel so enlightened. I get so excited to tell my parents and friends about all the stuff I’ve learned so far because I just think it’s valuable information that could benefit others, and I want to help spread the knowledge and educate others.

So that is why I love university. Because I love learning, and I love who I am becoming.

Personal

Favourites

fav-foods

all vegan of course:

  1. Mango
  2. Nana Ice Cream
  3. Brownies
  4. Pizza
  5. Sushi (avocado+cucumber rolls)

fav-songs

  1. Enchanted – Taylor Swift
  2. Arms – Christina Perri
  3. Nothing More – The Alternate Route
  4. White Houses – Vanessa Carlton
  5. Thinking of You – Katy Perry
  6. The Man Who Can’t Be Moved – The Script
  7. Trip – Hedley
  8. Hero – Boys like Girls
  9. When I’m Gone – Eminem
  10. All too Well – Taylor Swift
  11. I Will Be – Chantal
  12. Tattooed Heart – Ariana Grande

fav-films

  1. Titanic
  2. Avatar
  3. Interstellar
  4. The Life of David Gale
  5. Law Abiding Citizen
  6. The Green Mile
  7. The Notebook
  8. Remember Me
  9. The Number 23
  10. Lockout
  11. Salt
  12. Knowing
  13. The Help
  14. The Best of Me
  15. The Uninvited
  16. The Social Network
  17. Mean Girls
  18. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  19. Shawshank Redemption
  20. Shutter Island
  21. Changeling
  22. Fast Five
  23. Unknown
  24. The Butterfly Effect
  25. My Sisters Keeper

fav-novels

  1. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  2. The Divergent Trilogy – Veronica Roth
  3. The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson
  4. Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter
  5. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
  6. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. The After Trilogy- Anna Todd
  8. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
  9. The Program – Suzanne Young
  10. Between – Jessica Warman
  11. The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken
  12. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzinifav-tv-shows
  1. Prison Break
  2. The Following
  3. Revenge
  4. How to Get Away with Murder
  5. Lost
  6. Fringe
  7. Orphan Black
  8. Quantico
  9. Grey’s Anatomy
  10. Vampire Diaries
  11. American Horror Story (coven, asylum, hotel)
  12. Doll House
  13. Game of Thrones
  14. Hannibal (season 1)
  15. Touch (season 1)
  16. Elementary (season 1)
  17. Ascension (mini series)

fav-director

  • James Cameron
  • JJ Abrams
  • Shonda Rhymes

fav-actor

  • Tatiana Maslany
  • Nina Dobrev
  • Leonardo Decaprio
  • Sarah Paulson
  • Ian Somerholder

fav-musicians

  • Lana Del Rey
  • Taylor Swift
  • Harry Styles
  • Lorde
  • Ariana Grande
  • Katy Perry
Events Personal

Final Fruitluck of Summer 2015

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a personal post on here in a while, so since summer is coming to an end, I thought I’d give it a go.

This summer has been amazing for meeting so many vegan friends! In Australia I met SO many amazing, like-minded people, and just got to spend good quality time with them and make long lasting friendships. I even got to make friends in my area (Toronto, Canada) through Instagram! I will be honest; there are some days that I dislike social media and the idea that everybody is constantly online and always connected. But then there’s times when I’m hanging out with the amazing friends I have made through Instagram, that I remember this is why I do what I do; and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Okay, so basically, in the past week I went to the One Direction concert, hosted the final summer fruitluck in Toronto, went out for dinner with the girls, and then went to a Yoga event for Toronto Bloggers. So I will briefly touch on a few of those things below.

2015-08-22 032Toronto Vegan Fruitluck

So on August 22nd, I hosted the vegan fruitluck at the Toronto Harbour Front. It was the last one for the summer, and we had such a great turn out. So many amazing people came out, some who I had met before at the other fruitlucks, and of course some new faces as well. It’s such an awesome feeling being around people who completely understand everything you believe in and stand for. People who don’t ask you where you get your protein, and people who don’t mind if you take a billion photos of your food; cause they’re doing it too.

After the fruitluck, a bunch of us went to a park in Kensington to hangout. We found an awesome vegan bakery called Cosmic Treats, then we all sat in a circle at the park, and went around to say our names, where we are from, and what made us go vegan. It was great to see such a variety of people, all different genders, races, ages, etc; all coming together for one common purpose.

After that, a few of us went to King’s Cafe for dinner and of course, took a ton of photos like crazy vegan bloggers hahaha.

2015-08-22 028 2015-08-22 029 2015-08-23 002 11903827_10205241207898719_4322990819951080719_n 11885371_10155847266065018_5127105668176135470_n 11923227_10205241205378656_917953521354152207_n 11218875_10155847269640018_4944939698880573329_n 16922_10155847265850018_9152341376969349950_nDinner with the Girls

Then last night, August 26th, about 11 of us met up at Urban Herbivore (UrbHerb) in Kensington for dinner. It was great to see everyone again and just chat about classic vegan things and share our opinions of different topics. It was also quite comical watching 10 girls crowding around the table all snapping photos of the food.

After dinner, we walked over to Cosmic Treats and we all got vegan cashew based ice-cream, and some of us got cookies and other treats. A few people also got Vegan Cinnamon Buns from BUNNERS!!

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Photo from https://instagram.com/taylor_kangas

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Photo by https://instagram.com/taylor_kangas

2015-08-26 006 2015-08-26 005 2015-08-26 007It’s so great to get together with fellow like-minded vegans. It’s such a shame that everyone is going their separate now that school is beginning again, but I know we will all keep in touch and see each other again soon.

Lots of love,
Katrina xx

Advice Food Personal

Why I’m no Longer “HCLF” or “RawTil4”

I’ve mentioned this before in previous videos I have made on my Youtube channel, but I haven’t written anything about it here on my blog. So… that’s what I’m going to do today.

(I also just uploaded another Youtube explaining the same thing as my last video, but in shorter terms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aHClR2bIAM )

Basically I started off eating HCLF and “RawTil4” ish lifestyles around May 2014. HCLF means “High Carb Low Fat”, and Raw Till 4 is a diet/lifestyle where you eat raw fruits and veggies for breakfast and lunch, then have a nice high carb cooked meal for dinner. They are both created, I think, by Youtube sensation Freelee the Banana Girl.

When I first found this diet/lifestyle, I thought it was AMAZING! As you can see here, I wrote ecstatic blog posts detailing how amazing it is and how it works for everybody. Little did I know at the time, it doesn’t, and I was acting like a little brainwashed Freelee child.

 But let’s back up a little bit.

So before I switched to this lifestyle, I was still eating lots of fruit and veggies, and was super healthy and stuff; I just did whatever I wanted, not following any rules or guidelines. I was slim, fit, and happy.

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But the more I watched Freelee’s videos, and the more people on Instagram who I saw switching to this lifestyle, made me want to be just like them and do exactly what they were doing. I eventually started increasing my portion sizes and eating tons more because that’s what everybody else does, and that is what Freelee preaches after all: Eating in abundance, no restricting, and eating unlimited calories. Oh, and may I add she also would say “I barely even work out”, or she’d show her stomach off in videos and say, “I eat unlimited calories with minimal exercise”

article-2601633-1CFF8BED00000578-843_638x624I was so brainwashed that I literally believed that just eating raw fruits and vegetables automatically gave you a flat stomach. And whenever I’d feel full or bloated on days, I’d try to go Fully Raw, as if it were a cure for not feeling slim.

So fast forward to Winter 2014. I was eating quite large portion sizes of all HCLF meals. I know many people on this lifestyle eat about 8 or more bananas for breakfast, but I could never do that. I’d always have 4 bananas for breakfast, either in a smoothie or nana ice cream. So 4 bananas, plus fruit, or water/almond mylk, whatever I added to the smoothie. Then for lunch I’d make a sandwich, or oatmeal, or have veggies and hummus. Then for dinner I’d make GIANT salads with spinach, avocado, and every single vegetable in my fridge. Or I’d have 2 cups of rice pasta + tomato sauce, or 4 potatoes cooked into fries. (This is all while I was living away for Uni)

Everybody knew I ate a lot. My family would always ask if my giant salad bowl was for the family, and I’d be like “uhh… no, this is just my portion size”. And at my house where I lived with my friends, they would sometimes say, “oh, you can’t finish all that,” and I’d be like, “yesss I can! This is how much I need to eat!!!”

I literally stretched my stomach so that it needed bigger portion sizes. And I convinced myself that this is how much I needed to eat to suffice myself and “get in enough calories”.

I also wasn’t working out much, because I don’t usually workout in the winter time. (Cause school=stress, and it’s freezing in Canada, and ya) (I usually always start working out in April for summer time and go for bike rides daily etc) AND I THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS OKAY BECAUSE APPARENTLY FREELEE DOES MINIMAL EXERCISE AND HAS THE MOST BANGIN BOD EVER.

This clearly wasn’t working for me, but I was oblivious to that.

I had a wakeup call when I went to the doctor’s for my yearly physical, and glanced down at the paper work to see my weight.

Now, coming from a past of disordered thoughts and eating, I stopped weighing myself over a year ago. Once I found plant based veganism, I was so happy and learned self-love and happiness. I never needed to weigh myself.

But once I saw the number on that page, I freaked. According to the doctor’s scale, I had gained 30 lbs (13.6 kg for you Aussies) over the winter.

I WAS SHOCKED. APPALLED. How could I have gained so much weight when I was eating all the right foods and doing exactly what Freelee and everyone else says to do?

I was determined that it was my fault. That I was eating too many vegan treats, like chips+hummus as a snack once in a while. So I cut out all my favourite vegan treats and stopped night time snacking.

It wasn’t until about April or May 2015 (so now it’s summer season approaching) that I noticed I had stretch marks on my bum, and cellulite on my tummy. I have NEVER had these things before, and it made me so upset.

I heard about Dry Brushing, and had to try it to get rid of cellulite on my stomach.

I feel like I was in a state of denial about my eating and weight gain, until my mom told me, “it’s because you’re eating too much”

And I was all like, “NO, YOU’RE WRONG. Freelee eats 3000+ calories a day and barely works out, so can I”

I had this brainwashed mindset that was so CLEARLY WRONG FOR ME, and wasn’t working for me, yet I ignored all the signs my body was giving me because I was too busy listening to other people’s advice instead of my own body.

In June 2015 (current time) I went away to Australia for a month to travel. I ate out at a lot of vegan restaurants, had vegan treats, but I also had fruit and veg a lot and went for lots of walks and bike rides. I didn’t care what I was eating and I was happy.

When I came home, I knew I had to make a change because I was so unhappy with my body.

Currently:

It’s now July 2015 and I’ve made some great changes so far in my diet and exercise.

I now understand that Freelee wasn’t wrong, and I wasn’t wrong, I was just too caught up in other people’s lives/advice, and what works for them that I forgot what works for ME, Katrina.

That’s amazing that Freelee can eat 2500 to 3000 calories a day – but now I know that she cycles A LOT. In Chang Mai, she cycled up the mountain every single day. She works her body and is constantly moving, so she NEEDS that many calories to sustain herself. So she is 100%…. for her OWN body.

My body is different. Everyone’s bodies are different. So I don’t think she should be taking what works best for HER, and recommending other girls and boys being doing the exact same thing.

It messes with people’s lives because here I was, a naive teenage girl, thinking that I could eat 3000+ calories and not workout. And look what happened – I gained weight.

So I appreciate what she is doing and that’s awesome that it works for her – but remember people, your body is not her body. We are all different and what works for one person may not work for the next.

I currently have shrunk my portion sizes to eat until I am satisfied, no longer stuffing myself to fit in calories.

Also when I was in Australia, I think I was eating less amounts because I didn’t always have such a huge variety/selection of food. I was constantly traveling from city to city and couldn’t do a proper grocery shop, so I basically just ate whatever I bought that day or day before, which resulted in eating smaller portion sizes.

So it was no problem coming home and eating less. In fact, on my second day home, I tried to have 3 bananas in my nana ice cream, and I was so full half way through. I didn’t listen to my body though – I pushed through and finished the whole thing. Then I felt like shit afterwards and was way to full. After that, I learned my lesson and now will eat less, and stop when I am actually full. No more making the same mistakes as before.

I also started cycling everyday. I usually do that in the summer anyways, and it felt so good to get back on my bike and just ride. I started off doing 5k, then 8k, then I was doing 10k for a couple days, and now, just two days ago, I did 20k in one day 🙂 I feel so proud and accomplished when I finish a long cycle.

I still eat the exact same foods as before, just smaller portion sizes.

Because my body still doesn’t need as much as Freelee’s. So I bike as much as I want, and I eat as much as I can, and if that means only 2 bananas and 2 mangos in 1 smoothie, then that is fine with me. I also used to make GIANT salads for dinner, but now I use a smaller bowl to portion-control myself.

Hopefully this new regime works for ME and helps me tone up and lose that excess weight that I gained over the winter time. I just want to be happy and healthy, with both my mind and my body.

And I want that for everybody else as well.

So if you’re reading this, just remember, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! Eat what works best for you. Some people can have smoothies for breakfast, some people can have oatmeal. Some people can eat 20 bananas, some people can only eat 1. And that’s 100% okay because we are all so different and unique in our own ways. So from now on, throw out the diets and advice from other people. Stop following what works for them, and start doing what works for YOU!

I’m not ‘high carb low fat’, or ‘raw till 4’….. I’m just Katrina.

I hope this helps and I’m sorry for ranting for so long. I just had to talk about this.

Lots of love,
Katrina

best day (14)