3 stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction

Review | The Hidden Power of F*cking Up

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The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by The Try Guys
Dey Street Books, 2019
Non-Fiction
288 pages
3/5 Stars

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Trigger Warnings: Mention of racism, homophobia, childhood mental illness, diet culture.

GoodReads Synopsis:

The Try Guys deliver their first book—an inspirational self-improvement guide that teaches you that the path to success is littered with humiliating detours, embarrassing mistakes, and unexpected failures.

To be our best selves, we must become secure in our insecurities. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, The Try Guys – Keith, Ned, Zach, and Eugene – reveal their philosophy of trying: how to fully embrace fear, foolishness, and embarrassment in an effort to understand how we all get paralyzed by a fear of failure. They’ll share how four shy, nerdy kids have dealt with their most poignant life struggles by attacking them head-on and reveal their – ahem – sure-fail strategies for achieving success.

But they’re not just here to talk; they’re actually going to put their advice to work. To demonstrate their unique self-improvement formula, they’ll each personally confront their deepest insecurities. A die-hard meat-lover goes vegan for the first time. A straight-laced father transforms into a fashionista. A perpetually single sidekick becomes the romantic lead. A child of divorce finally grows more intimate with his family. Through their insightful, emotional journeys and surprising, hilarious anecdotes, they’ll help you overcome your own self-doubt to become the best, most f*cked up version of yourself you can be!

Review:

Let me start by saying that I’m a pretty big fan of the Try Guys. I’m not like, a die hard fan, nor can I say that I’ve seen every single one of their videos or anything like that… but I really like them, and I know all of their partners’ names, so I think that qualifies me as a ‘pretty big fan’.

That being said, I was really disappointed by this book. I listened to the audiobook, and I thought I would love it, because I enjoyed the few episodes of their podcast that I listened to, but I felt like the narrator changed too often without being identified, which confused me.

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There was also a lot of diet culture talk which I found extremely disappointing. For example, Keith was talking about how since eating less meat and exercising more frequently, he feels so much more healthy… and then immediately followed that with how he’s lost a pants size. He then goes on to say that it’s about health, not weight loss, which simply isn’t true if he found his weight loss meaningful enough to mention in his book.

I also was disappointed that the guys never seemed to acknowledge the privilege behind many of their suggestions and experiences. This was super disappointing to me, because I never get that vibe from their videos. In their videos, they seem to be very aware of their privileges and mention it when necessary, but they seemed just so out of touch in this book, and it made me really sad.

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Similarly, many of their suggestions and experiences don’t seem to take things like mental health or class into account. The only mention of mental illness and health is when Zach talks about his experience with major depression as a child, which don’t get me wrong, was very interesting. But none of the guys really talked about how they take care of their mental health as adults besides exercise and meditation (which are very good things, but many, many people need medication, therapy, or other treatments for their mental health). A lot of their suggestions simply don’t seem sustainable for those who struggle with their mental health more than they do.

I still like the Try Guys. I still plan on watching their videos, but this book didn’t seem to be written by the same men you see on YouTube.

Perfect for Try Guys fans who watch the videos and think “wow, I really wish these guys were less likable.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.
positive affirmations

Positive Affirmations for You to Use the Week of September 12th – 18th.

Hi friends!

I hope that you had a fantastic week, and are ready to do some self care this week! I’m working hard to remember that taking good care of myself is a non-negotiable, because, personally, it’s so easy for me to forget to take care of myself. Sometimes, I literally forget to eat. Some people think that sounds absurd, and trust me, I get it. How the heck does one forget to eat??

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I think it’s an ADHD thing. I feel my hunger queues while I’m hyperfocused or hyperactive and then I mean to eat, but I get distracted or prioritize something else. Suddenly, I feel nauseous because I’ve gone the whole day without eating anything.

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It’s easy for me to check in with or take care of myself in other ways, too. Usually for similar reasons. So if you’re reading this, and you can relate, this is your reminder to mindfully practice self care this week!

One of my favorite ways to practice self care is to recite positive affirmations, and lucky for you, I like to share my practice with you, too!

Every week, I share the positive affirmations that I will be using. I always share them in the order I will be using them (1 is Sunday, 2 is Monday, 3 is Tuesday, etc.), but I encourage you to use them in whatever way works best for you!

I hope you find this week’s affirmations helpful, and I’ll see you again next week!

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  1. I get stronger every day.
  2. I take care of myself the way I take care of a friend.
  3. My voice is worthy of being heard.
  4. I make room for who I am, and who I am becoming.
  5. I always prioritize self care.
  6. I take things one day at a time.
  7. I give myself the compassion I give to others.
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3 stars · romance

Review | Float Plan

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item using my link, I will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you.

Float Plan by Trish Doller
St. Martin’s Griffin 2021
Romance
272 pages
3/5 Stars

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Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Addiction, Self-harm

GoodReads Synopsis:

Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller’s unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself…

Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.

Review:

When I was a little girl, my grandfather took my sister and I sailing in the Hudson River. We cried the entire time as the boat rocked back and forth in the New York night. I hated every minute. Meanwhile my grandfather was a sailor who had sailed the Caribbean and had sailing in his blood, so he enjoyed it immensely.

But. This book made me want to give sailing another shot so that I can sail the Caribbean and find myself. Okay, fine. Find the handsome Irish sailor of my dreams.

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This was a lovely book. I really appreciated Anna and Keane’s adventure and their growth as individuals. Is Keane the man of my dreams? I mean, he is Irish Catholic, and I’m Irish American Catholic, so probably.

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Please note that there were graphic mentions of suicide at times, which I found unnecessary and triggering, but also understood that it made sense for Anna’s inner monologue.

Perfect for dreamers and people looking to let go of the past.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

positive affirmations

Positive Affirmations for You to Use the Week of September 5th – 11th

Hi friends!

I hope you had a great week! I took the week off of Instagram, and decided to focus more on building and sticking to healthy routines after I kind of fell off the wagon after a hectic few months (May and June were just straight up difficult and rough, July I was out of town for most of, and similarly with August.).

But, things seem to be slowing down quite a bit (this is a very good thing for me.), and things are a little more consistent.

I am proud of myself for posting the affirmations almost every week, though! It wasn’t perfect, but choosing and sharing these affirmations with you here on the blog and on my Instagram (@KatieHasAnxiety) has really been good for my mental health, even if I’m not perfectly adhering to my routines. I hope they’ve enriched your life, as well!

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Every Sunday, I share the positive affirmations that I will be using that week. I always share them in the order that I personally will be using them (1 is Sunday, 2 is Monday, 3 is Tuesday, etc.), but I encourage you to use them in whatever order or way is best for you. I personally have benefitted from practicing positive affirmations so much, and my hope in sharing these with you is that they help you, too.

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Have a great week, and I’ll seek you next Sunday! Don’t forget to take some time for self-care and connection!

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  1. I let go of the doubt and fear within me.
  2. I nourish my body without fear of weight gain.
  3. I trust the process.
  4. My body always deserves love and respect, no matter my size.
  5. I always go after my dreams.
  6. My best is always enough.
  7. I treat my body like the masterpiece it is.

positive affirmations

Positive Affirmations for You to Use the Week of August 29th – September 4th.

Hi friends!

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I hope that this past week went well for you. I was extremely lucky to begin the week celebrating mine and my sister’s birthdays with my sister (who I got to see for the first time in over a year and a half!) and my mom, but was unlucky to end the week with an ear infection. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I start feeling better soon, because this stuff is not fun.

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I’m so excited to share this week’s affirmations with you all! I actually decided that this week, as soon as I post these affirmations, I’ll be taking a little break from Instagram. I try to take a break at least once a month, and this timing just feels right t me. Things are kinda rough, mental health wise, but are slowly going back to where I want them to be, and I think that taking a step back from social media will be very beneficial.

So, even though I won’t be on Instagram, I will be practicing my affirmations every day, and I hope you will too! Every Sunday (well, most Sundays, if we’re being completely honest.), I post the affirmations I will be using in the upcoming week. I share them in the order I’ll be using them (1 is Sunday, 2 is Monday, 3 is Tuesday, etc.), but I encourage you to use them in whatever way works best for you!

I’ll see you all next week with more affirmations, and hopefully this week with some book reviews – I’ve read so much this month and am so behind in book reviews, so hopefully during my social media break, I’ll be able to catch up a bit on content.

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  1. I do not have to feel guilty for saying no.
  2. Guilt and shame will not change my past. Worry and fear will not change my future.
  3. I am loved, no matter how I feel.
  4. I get stronger every day.
  5. I believe in myself and my strength.
  6. I am capable of creating my very best life.
  7. I can be kind and set healthy boundaries.
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positive affirmations

Positive Affirmations for You to Use the Week of August 22nd – 28th.

Happy Sunday, friends!

I hope that this past week went well, (well… as well as it could during these unprecedented times.) and that you’re ready to start this upcoming week with some positive affirmations!

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Every Sunday, I share seven affirmations that I will be using that upcoming week. I always share them in the order that I will be using them (1 is Sunday, 2 is Monday, 3 is Tuesday, etc.), but I hope that you will use them in whatever way works best for or resonates with you!

Can you believe we only have just over a week left in August?? 2020 went by so slow for me, and now 2021 is just zipping by. I would just like time to move at regular, steady pace, please!

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Have a great week, and I’ll be back next week!

  1. I am open to change.
  2. I am becoming the best version of myself.
  3. I can say no and not people please.
  4. I am grateful for all that my body is capable of.
  5. My worth is not dependent on the appearance or size of my body.
  6. I am proud of how far I’ve come.
  7. I am confident that I have the resilience to get through anything that comes my way.
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positive affirmations

Positive Affirmations for You to Use the Week of August 15th – 21st.

Happy Sunday, friends!

I hope you had a fantastic week and are sure to take some time today to rest and do some self care. My week had a lot of ups and downs, but I’m trying my hardest to get back to where I want to be. I’m also pretty excited because my (28th – eek!) birthday is on Saturday, and I get to see my sister for the first time since Christmas 2019! I hope you have something special to look forward to this week, too, even if it’s ‘just’ setting aside time for a bath, or treating yourself to your favorite food, seeing your favorite people, or taking yourself on a date to see a movie you’ve been wanting to see.

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And while you’re doing this… I hope you’ll join me in practicing some positive affirmations! Every Sunday (ok, most Sundays), I share seven affirmations that I’ll be using during the upcoming week. I share them in the order that I’ll be using them (1 is Sunday, 2 is Monday, 3 is Tuesday, etc.) but please feel free to use them in whatever order or way best suits you!

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As someone with mental illnesses, my self talk isn’t naturally positive. But, positive affirmations help me interrupt the negative thinking, and I find myself questioning if my negative thoughts are real, because I speak kindness to myself intentionally.

I hope that you find these helpful too, and I’ll see you next week with more positive affirmations!

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  1. I am falling in love with myself and my life.
  2. I do the best I can to get through difficult times.
  3. I belive in myself and all that I am capable of.
  4. My voice is worthy of being heard.
  5. My worth as a human being does not depend on my body being thin.
  6. I am capable.
  7. I do the best I can with what I have.
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body positivity · Health at Every Size · mental health · personal life

Why I Want to Change My Relationship with My Body & Food

Katie, a fat white woman, is laughing with her hand on her hip. She is standing outside and wearing denim shorts and a light purple top.

Trigger Warnings: Disordered eating, intentional weight loss, emotional abuse, self harm, suicidality, suicidal thoughts, mental illness.

When I was a kid, diet culture was a family tradition. Almost every adult around me had a toxic relationship with their body and food. I was surrounded by sugar-free candies, Sweet-N-Low, I can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, Skinny Cow, Crystal Light, and diet sodas. In fact, I really thought that Sweet-N-Low and Diet Sodas were “adult foods”. Like when you become an adult, you learn to drive… and bein putting Sweet-N-Low in your coffee and drinking Coke Zero instead of regular Coke.

Hating your body and having a toxic relationship with food was a normal part of adulthood in my eyes. I watched my grandmas and parents and aunts try Atkins and Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and go from Pilates Classes to Zumba classes. As a kid, I was always told that (despite being “chubby”) my body was perfect, but when you see the adults with body similar to yours doing everything they can to change them… even kids are smart enough to read between the lines.

When I finished meals, I would sneak food at night. I would quietly slip downstairs and binge eat whatever food we had. I had come to learn that the less food you could survive on, the better. So anything more was shameful and done in secret. This binge eating behavior was one that has followed me throughout my life.

It also didn’t help that as a preteen, my gramma brought me to Barnes and Noble, told me to pick whatever book I wanted, but then presented me with “The Diet for Teens Only”. True story. She also would insist on healthy snacks when my sister and I visited while my grandfather snuck us candies and ice cream. This was just more proof to me that eating foods like this was something that should be done in secret.

I’m not blaming my relationship with my body on my family. I truly believe that they were doing the best that they could, and diet culture is a cruel mistress. I just think that it set the foundation and core belief in my life that fatness is to be avoided at all costs. Of course, being bullied in high school and being very aware that I was the biggest of my friends throughout my life.

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In 2016, I lost a substantial amount of weight. And honestly, losing that weight felt like it was proving my beliefs true. Around the same time I lost weight, I was in my very first relationship, I had moved to a new state, I got to travel to Europe, I graduated from college, I was making new friends, I received more compliments about my appearance than I ever had before…

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And I began telling myself the story that I had bettered myself. I was better because I was thinner.

But life wasn’t as perfect as it seemed, even to me. My relationship was far from perfect, and to keep and maintain the weight loss, I was barely eating and exercising for hours a day, while still binge eating in secret. I asked my ex if he would still love me if I gained the weight back, and his response was “You won’t gain the weight back.”

Because of this, I was terrified to gain the weight back, and was doing everything in my power to continue losing the weight and keep it off.

But surprise surprise… the weight loss was not sustainable. Especially after experiencing trauma. I gained the weight back.

And in the years that have followed, I’ve gained more and more weight.

When I underwent more trauma in 2019, I gained weight. When COVID hit and I was isolated for almost six months, I gained more weight.

But despite this all, I don’t want to try to lose weight. What I’ve learned is that my story is not unique. Oftentimes, weight loss is not sustainable and the majority of diets are unsuccessful or unsustainable.

Something else I’ve learned is that when we talk about the importance of health, we need to include mental health in that conversation. Mental health IS health. If I push myself to try to lose weight, is there actually a war for me to do so without sacrificing my mental health? No. There’s not.

My relationship with food is still difficult. I still struggle with binge eating, specifically using it as an unhealthy coping mechanism. I’ve realized that emotional eating isn’t bad in itself, but when bingeing is used to excessively numb emotions… that’s the problem (at least personally.).

This leads to guilt and shame, and oftentimes, guilt and shame lead to more binge eating. It is such a vicious cycle.

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But this is why I am actively trying to improve my relationship with food and my body. My body has been through so much, and she does so much for me. She also happens to be fat. Why is it that society is so hyper-focused on the fat part instead of all that our bodies are capable of?

Why is fat considered one of the worst things a person can be?

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3 stars · Book Reviews · literary fiction

Review | Normal People

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item using my link, I will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Hogarth Press, 2019
Literary Fiction
273 pages
3/5 Stars

Katie, a white woman, holds a copy of "Normal People" by Sally Rooney.

Trigger Warnings: Abuse, suicide, self-harm.

GoodReads Synopsis

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Review

This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and opinions and thoughts. This book was… a lot.

I started out absolutely loving it. The way it was written reminded me of a lot of the books I read as an English major in college, and it took me back. And then… it got weird.

There was a lot of unexpected stuff. Not plot twist unexpected, more like wait where did this come from and why is this being brought up unexpected. it was a lot. I found it difficult to read and seriously thought about DNFing it, but I’m actually glad I didn’t.

While the ending wasn’t what I wanted, it was realistic and also hopeful enough to make me feel like the characters weren’t completely shitty people. If you’ve hung out here a bit, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a good ending. While this ending didn’t redeem the book entirely for me, it did help me appreciate it and the characters a little more.

But not enough to want to watch the Hulu series. I’ve had enough of Marianne and Connell.

Perfect for former English majors who want to relive their glory days.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

5 Stars · Book Reviews · fantasy

Review | Ella Enchanted

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item using my link, I will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Scholastic Books, 1998
Fantasy
232 pages
5/5 Stars

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Katie's iPhone, showing the audiobook of "Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine is on a blue background and surrounded by a variety of items - including a purple candle, a bamboo plant, and a Belle (Disney Princess from "Beauty and the Beast") bookmark.

GoodReads Synopsis

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

Gail Carson Levine’s examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

Review

Once upon a time, a little girl read this book, and it enchanted her, and she knew that one day, she would write books that enchanted others, too.

Fast forward almost twenty years, she hasn’t written any books (yet), but she did decide to re-read this book that had inspired her dreams all those years ago.

Anyway, the girl is me, if ya’ll didn’t figure it out.

Ella Enchanted was one of my all time favorite books as a kiddo, and when I first downloaded Libby through my library, the audiobook was one of the first books I borrowed. I listened to it while I waited for my first COVID vaccine (get vaccinated!) and ya’ll, even as an adult, this book is magical.

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And as an adult, the magic is difference. Ella’s curse to always be obedient no longer is just what it appears to be on the surface. As an adult, you realize that this curse doesn’t just exist in children’s literature. Women, even today, have always been born with the expectation to be obedient.

The book was so much more profound with this realization. The one thing I didn’t really love about the book was the ending. It still gave me the impression that a woman needs a man, and for a fairytale that screams ‘girl power!’, I thought it could be better. It wasn’t just that she ended up with Prince Char (which, I definitely don’t blame her for. He was one of my very first fictional boyfriends.), but rather how much weight Char’s existence had on her finally being freed from the curse.

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But besides that, this book was such a fun throwback, and re-reading it was a great way to care for my inner child.

Perfect for readers who never outgrew their princess phase.

Rating: 5 out of 5.