My name is Carly, and I am a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication. For the last year, I have been completing pre-requisite science courses needed to begin my 2nd degree, a B.S. in Nursing, which I will be starting in January. My blog was originally created to showcase creative and easy ways to cook healthy meals, but recently, I have started to document my day-to-day life as I strive to balance being a full-time student, part-time teacher, 24/7 fiance, friend, daughter, and sister with the challenge of living a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Growing up, my weight was a constant struggle. I can remember being in the 3rd grade and telling my mom that I needed to be on a diet because I weighed 65lbs, while the other girls weighed 50lbs. Boys called me fat and always “liked” the cute and skinny girls in my class, and by the time I reached the 5th grade, my self-esteem was non-existent. I can’t remember a day going by that I didn’t feel insecure about my body. During the summer before 6th grade, I grew up a little, and consequently, lost a little weight. Boys finally “liked” me, but I still didn’t like myself. It seemed that the older I got, the more my insecurity grew. By 8th grade, I started skipping breakfast and lunch, which caused me to over-eat to an extreme when I got home from cheerleading after school.
In high school, I hated myself. I was jealous of every other girl, and wished that I could change the way I looked. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t in shape. I obsessed over celebrities and hated that no matter how much I “dieted”, I could never look like them. When cheerleading ended during my senior year, I gained about 10 pounds.
Everything went downhill when I left for college and had to make decisions completely on my own. I had no idea what was healthy, and working out just wasn’t a part of my life. My roommates and I ate out three, sometimes four, times a day, and slept most of the day away. Drinking alcohol became the norm on the weekends, which only helped me pack on the pounds faster. By March of my freshman year, I had gained 25 pounds since my senior year of high school, and I was truly miserable. It finally dawned on me when I came home for a weekend and my dad asked me why I was wearing sweatpants in the middle of the hottest month in Florida. I had an internal Mean Girls dialogue moment and said to myself, “Sweatpants are all that fits me right now”.
When I returned to school, I knew I had to make a change. It all started when I turned on the Food Network, and fell in love with Rachael Ray. She inspired me to try one of her easy “30-Minute-Meals”. My creation turned out to be delicious, and I realized how much I enjoyed cooking. I started experimenting with new recipes, buying more fresh foods, and I even added running to my weekly routine. I started out small, just a few laps around a track outside my dorm. I noticed the change in the way my clothes fit me, and I realized that whatever I was doing, was really working! I got up the nerve to try going to the gym at my college, and by the end of my freshman year, I had lost about 15 pounds.
During my sophomore year, I made the decision to compete in the Miss Orlando Pageant, a dream that I had had since I was little. To prepare for the pageant, I kicked my healthy eating and workouts into high gear, and when it came time for the pageant, I had lost all the weight I gained when I got to college, and then some. I didn’t win, but I ended up winning another local pageant and was able to compete in the Miss Florida pageant that summer.
Today, I am the healthiest and most in shape that I’ve ever been. Am I completely satisfied with my body? No, and I don’t know if I ever will be, but that is a part of myself that I am constantly working on. The point is that I finally found the balance between eating foods that are good for me, working out, and still enjoying all the indulgences that life has to offer. And it’s a great bonus that I was able to discover that not only do I love to cook, but I’m not bad at it, either!
This journey has helped me to understand how great eating healthy and exercising makes me feel. I realize that so many people want to feel this way, but they just don’t know where to begin. In my mind, it all starts in the kitchen. Anyone can cook, you just have to try!
I want my blog to be a place where anyone can come to get inspiration and find simple and healthy recipes that are easy to re-create.
I enjoy different kinds of exercise to keep things interesting, but my favorites are running and spinning. I never thought I could ever run in a race, but I have completed two 5K’s to date!
Corey and I met when we were freshmen in college, and we have been together for 4 years. We got engaged last March, and we are getting married in November of 2011. Corey is a former football player for UCF, where he enjoyed a very successful career, and he is currently finishing his MBA.
My parents and sister have always been my biggest fans, and I am so thankful for them.
My mom owns her own music school called “Miss Jane’s Music for Young Children“, where she teaches group piano classes to 12 students at a time, with their moms or dads included! She is also the chorus teacher at my former middle school. My dad owns a company called POS International that provides point-of-sales systems and software to businesses.
My sister is almost 20-years-old, and she is currently a sophomore at Florida State University, majoring in Hospitality. We’re best friends 🙂
Can’t forget this little nugget! Bella is me and Corey’s 3-year-old maltese/daughter.
I grew up in a very musical household, and music is a huge part of my life. I took piano lessons for 13 years, private voice lessons for 6 years, and was very involved in several school and church choirs. Here are links to some of my past performances:
- “How Beautiful”, age 16
- “For Good”, duet with my sister, accompanied by our mom, age 20
- National Anthem audition, age 21
Last year, I participated in Paula Deen’s Real Women of Philadelphia Recipe Contest. Contestants were required to submit videos of themselves cooking original recipes using Philadelphia Cream Cheese as an ingredient.
- Buffalo Dip
- Twice-Baked Potatoes
- Philly Chicken Cheesesteaks
- 5-Star Stuffed Chicken
- Fried Chocolate Ravioli w/ Strawberry Dipping Sauce
P.S.- These are NOT healthy recipes, if you couldn’t tell 🙂
You can e-mail me with any questions or comments at: CookingWithCarly@gmail.com
I am not a registered dietician. My meals and recipes are based around what I consider to be healthy food. If I post a recipe that does not meet the standards for heart healthy, low-calorie meals, I will point it out. My fitness regimen may not be right for everyone, and you should always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program. I do NOT post everything I eat.