Finding Passion

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When you quiet your mind and look deep within yourself, what does your REAL voice tell you?  When you quiet your mind and block out all the negative noise from society, media, parents, or friends, what do you really hear?  When you remove the filter through which you understand and process experiences, what are other people really trying to tell you?


Today, I had an opportunity to sit on a panel for a Body Image class (yes, there’s really an entire class devoted to body image – so cool) at UNCC.



Honestly, I felt completely humbled to be sitting on the panel… especially besides women such as Janine Davis (the founder of Girl Talk) and Molly Barker (the founder and vision keeper of Girls on the Run).  There was also two representatives from Athenas’ Path on the panel.


Each of the panel members discussed how their body image was formed.  I talked about growing up in Miami and how hitting puberty early impacted the way I felt about my body and self-worth.


For the first time, I also publically talked about the ‘secret’ I revealed in the Operation Beautiful book, which is that I was in such a deep, dark place when I was younger I used to engage in self-harm.  I was really hesitant to write about it in the book and there was a lot of back-and-forth where I took it put and put it back in.  But I’m not ashamed anymore.  There’s no reason to pretend like I’m perfect or ever have been.  Now I realize that everyone has their demons and by being upfront about it, I can help more people.  If Molly is brave enough to talk about her struggle with alcoholism, I can talk about that part of my life.  (If you’re struggling, please find help.)


We also talked a lot about finding your passion, especially if your goal is to help other people.  Everyone in the class volunteered stories of how they want to help other people – one girl wanted to be an eating disorder counselor; another wanted to be a teacher; another wanted to be a nurse.  But the point was that each felt fulfilled following their path.  It made me so happy.


The class was great – all the students had great stories and experiences to tell.  I left feeling so inspired!  Also… I want to go back to school and take cool classes like Body Image instead of pointless (for me) classes like Russian Fairy Tales.  And yes, I really took Russian Fairy Tales.  🙂


Post-class lunch:


A glorious wrap with pre-made baked tofu, tabouli (still haven’t tried to make it myself), and spinach.



And carrots + a lovely little peach.


And a couple handfuls of animal crackers that I ate in line at the grocery store. 🙂


After such an exciting morning, I need to buckle down and get some work down before my friends arrive.  It’s going to be a gorgeous weekend in Charlotte, and I’m so excited to spend time with friends + explore the city a little more.



  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans September 3, 2010, 2:27 pm

    Caitlin I think its amazing that you opened up about such a personal issue in your book. There are a lot of girls and women that look up to you and I think that by discussing this you are giving them an opportunity to realize that everyone struggles with something at some point and that it is definitely possible to get past it and learn and grow a long the way. You should be proud!

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) September 3, 2010, 2:27 pm

    So good to hear they have awesome classes like that at UNCC! And I totally agree… the more open & honest that everyone is, the more we can all stop being ashamed of our “demons” and help each other.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete September 3, 2010, 2:27 pm

    Being upfront about our issues can help others, and I’m really glad you decided to share that with us today. I’m glad that you are in a better place now!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] September 3, 2010, 2:28 pm

    That peach is making my lunch taste buds salivate 😉 Should have gotten some at the farmers’ market yesterday – shucks!

  • Sara September 3, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Wow, that’s a cool class. Way more useful than the “Fantasy and Folklore” class I took. (I think that’s what it was called; close enough!). Seriously, I wonder if they even had cool classes like that when I was in school (I graduated over nine years ago; yikes!). I don’t think so.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin September 3, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Wow congrats on being on that panel! You really do deserve to be there. I have to admit, I was a little shocked when i read that in the book, but I think part of what makes you so special and your blog so wonderful is how open and real you are with your readers.

  • Heather @ The Single Dish September 3, 2010, 2:31 pm

    You are an inspiration to all of us. Half the battle is talking about it, once you do, the healing process can begin. Thanks for creating a place to talk about things!

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) September 3, 2010, 2:31 pm

    That class seems fantastic. How cool!

  • Leianna September 3, 2010, 2:32 pm

    What a fun thing to be apart of. I’m finally in a place in my life where I’m sharing my story of ED as well. It was hard at first but now I feel liberated telling people what I’ve been through!

  • Tiffany September 3, 2010, 2:32 pm

    Thank you so much for being open about such a personal issue. Everyone struggles and you never know when talking about it can help someone else out.

    It’s sooooooo cool that UNCC has a class about body image! I wonder how different my life would have been if I could have taken that class. Although, a class about Russian fairytales sounds fun, too!

  • Kaitlyn (College Girl Runs) September 3, 2010, 2:32 pm

    What an awesome class…hopefully OSU will get a class like that some day! I admire you for talking about your struggles. I hope to somehow be open to my family about my struggles…I feel like that is when I will know I am recovered from my ED. It is refreshing to see how far you have come since that time, and it gives me hope!

  • Sarah for Real September 3, 2010, 2:32 pm

    Congrats! What a cool class! You totally deserve to be on that panel. Hope you have a fun weekend with your friends! I’ll be looking forward to your 5k recap post 😀

  • Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels September 3, 2010, 2:35 pm

    That sounds like a great class! I think it’s great that you included your struggles in your book and are open and honest about it. Talking about your problems in the past (or even now) is always incredibly helpful towards others.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 3, 2010, 2:36 pm

    That is so brave of you to write about your self-harm. You are such a strong person.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) September 3, 2010, 2:37 pm

    I love that they have an entire class devoted to something we all struggle with and that we should be aware of in shaping the children of our future.

    I cried in my van after I bought your book and read that. It was my story and I was amazed at reading it that I wasn’t the only one.

  • Wei-Wei September 3, 2010, 2:39 pm

    That is such an awesome class. It’s actually great to know that someone like you has suffered, too… it makes hope so much easier for the rest of us! Good luck on your 5k tomorrow! 😀

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) September 3, 2010, 2:45 pm

    I took a psychology of body image and eating disorders class my sophomore year at Duke. It was VERY cool. It was a seminar so only 15 people. Animal crackers disappear so quickly 🙂

  • lynne September 3, 2010, 2:46 pm

    hi caitlin – i think it’s great that a powerful young woman like yourself is talking about your ‘secret.’ mental health is such a misunderstood topic in our society. people view those who have mental health issues as weak which is totally inaccurate. and we don’t talk about these issues because it’s a ‘taboo’ subject or we are afraid people will perceive us as weak which just perpetuates the problem!

    i too struggled with self-harm/cutting in my high school and early college years and never talked about it. i struggled in silence. it was only after i almost lost my younger sister (she was 19 at the time) to suicide that i realized i need to be speaking up about this and calling attention to the importance of mental health. knowing someone is in trouble or a stuggler knowing there is hope and help available is half the battle.

    so i commend you for using your book to promote mental health awareness and positive body image. kepe up the great work.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) September 3, 2010, 2:48 pm

    this was such an uplifting post! and i’m so thankful you posted the links to those other amazing women 🙂 i am so passionate about Faces of Beauty, and I hope to change the world through it! no one should ever have to feel the way i felt when i hated the way i looked…we all deserve better than that and to know we’re beautiful!

  • Tina September 3, 2010, 2:52 pm

    Having a passion ignites a fire in you that pushes any sort of negativity to the background. After finding things I’m so passionate about I feel more alive than ever. It is a truly magical feeling and I only hope to help others in the process. I think you are an excellent representative for that panel!

  • Stacey September 3, 2010, 2:57 pm

    😀 That’s where my boyfriend goes to college! He loves it. I’m glad you had a good morning, sending positive messages out to women 😉 All in a day’s work, right?? Now get that stuff done so you can have a relaxing weekend with your friends! 😀

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) September 3, 2010, 3:06 pm

    That is really great Caitlin! So glad you got to share your thoughts too! Your lunch looks delicious and good luck getting everything done before your friends arrive! I am so ready for a good weekend!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing September 3, 2010, 3:10 pm

    That wrap sounds so good!! And that class.. they need more like that!

  • Kiersten September 3, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I wish I knew you were going to UNCC today. That’s where I go to school, but I am never on campus on Fridays. I think it’s great that you decided to share your “secret” in public. In high school I was afraid to tell anyone (even members of my own family) about my eating disorder. I love being able to be so open about it now. If it allows me to reach out to other girls who have gone through similar struggles, then I am all too happy to share.

  • Caitlin September 3, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Dear Anonymous:

    Two strikes and you’re out. That’s the way the game is played at HTP.


  • Heather September 3, 2010, 3:28 pm

    what a cool class! We had nothing like that where I went to school!

  • Stylish1 September 3, 2010, 3:28 pm

    That class sounds amazing! I know it’s hard to sometimes quiet all the crazy thoughts/feelings/noise that goes on in our minds to really channel in to what our soul wants. Honestly I have tried that and I’m just not quite sure what I want to do but like you, I want to help other people. I used to want to be a high school counselor but it just never happened. I’ll figure something out, just need to start workin on it!

  • Sarah September 3, 2010, 3:39 pm

    I think a course in Body Image would have done more good than Philosophy of Mind!

  • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 3, 2010, 3:53 pm

    That sounds like an awesome class, I really hope the girls benefit from it. You are very brave to share the darkest moments of your life in your book.

  • ari September 3, 2010, 4:01 pm

    i so admire what you’re doing for everybody around the world. i used to hurt myself when i was in middle school; i was so upset with myself just because of who i was. thankfully, i’ve grown out of that dark place and am able to find support in blogs like your own! it’s such a great movement, but you already know that 🙂

  • emptynutjar September 3, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Sounds interesting.

    I think I often stop and think “what is your passion..what do you want?”…then I tell myself to shut-up 🙂
    I tend to overthink and dramatize things, when it doesn’t have to be so deep or complicated. Just me !
    So, I try not to think to hard on things and just go with who/what I am in the moment. (i.e , stop searching for happiness…you won’t find it, its already in your heart).

    Yummy wrap…I will be recreating something like sometime.

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write September 3, 2010, 4:05 pm

    When I read that portion of your book (self-harm), I was really surprised at first. But, honestly, so many of us do things like that. Weight, body-image, they have to do with how we feel about ourselves. A lot of girls (and boys, too) feel so much pressure to be something they’re not or to grow up too fast. It’s hard to like yourself when you feel like you’re never good enough. Talking about yourself and the way you felt at such a vulnerable time is really brave, and that kind of courage really touches people and reminds them it’s okay to feel the way they feel and to talk about it too. Way to go, Caitlin. 🙂

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman September 3, 2010, 4:07 pm

    I give you major credit for sharing that part of your past here and in your book. It’s such a personal issue but at the same time sharing it has the potential to reach so many girls and women who need to hear they’re not alone.

  • Emmanuelle September 3, 2010, 4:09 pm

    Sounds like an amazing class, and I think you’re a great representative for that panel! Thanks for sharing your secret, this is really brave, and inspiring!
    Check out my latest post, body acceptance all the way 🙂

  • Caitlin September 3, 2010, 4:33 pm

    1. Yay Body Image class! That would SO have been useful when I was struggling with an eating disorder during college.

    2. Good for you for not being ashamed of your past! It takes SO much strength to overcome such major issues, and you should feel proud for taking control and becoming a positive role model to women everywhere!

    Almost ALL of the reason I began my blog was to show other women suffering from anorexia that there IS an other side and that it is OKAY to feel like you still have demons that need to be worked out. Recovery doesn’t mean perfection. Honesty is always the best policy!

    3. Is that baked tofu from Trader Joe’s? I looove their marinated, baked tofu and am too afraid to buy any other brand.

  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) September 3, 2010, 4:39 pm

    caitlin, you get EPIC mad props for being so brave and putting your secret out in the world. you’re such an inspiration and for people to know that even you have been in a dark place gives hope that things will be a-ok.
    also… i really want to take that body image class now. a TON.

  • Tay September 3, 2010, 4:43 pm

    My roommate does Girl Talk at a local middle school here. I had no idea it was a national type of thing!

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow September 3, 2010, 4:44 pm

    What strength you had today!!!! That is awesome Caitlin…

    I just love how a community of individuals can come together and inspire SO MUCH!!!!!!

  • Becky September 3, 2010, 4:44 pm

    You continue to be such a huge inspiration to me. I am so impressed by your maturity and self-awareness and appreciation for yourself and others. You are doing wonderful things.

  • Laurie September 3, 2010, 4:45 pm

    It’s so funny, I’ve read Op. B (almost done) and whether or not I read about your “secret” yet, I can’t even remember. Isn’t it funny that something that could be so shameful for us, others don’t give a second thought about. Or, maybe I’m immune to it since I see it so often in my clients. Whatever the case may be, you are the strong and beautiful woman that you are, painful past or not, or maybe because of your painful past.

  • Jillian@ ReshapeYourLife September 3, 2010, 4:45 pm

    I have recently re-evaluated my life and realized that I wasn’t following “my path” and had completely forgotten about my passion! It was hard to get back on track, but it’s harder to stay on the wrong one.

    I think it’s great that you put your secret out there. It takes a lot of courage and I can only imagine how much better you feel to be able to FULLY let that go. You really are an inspiration. 🙂

  • L September 3, 2010, 4:46 pm

    Now I am going to buy your book. That is all.

  • Paige @Running Around Normal September 3, 2010, 4:46 pm

    What a cool sounding class! Awesome you got to share your story and inspire others:)

  • eri September 3, 2010, 5:10 pm

    i’m looking forward to reading your book over the weekend 🙂
    i think it’s amazing what you do.

    and btw, your lunch looks so yummy! i need to try tabouleh again 🙂

  • Maria September 3, 2010, 5:19 pm

    I struggle with self-harm currently. I’m only 17, but knowing that out of this dark place something as wonderful as you can spring out of it down the line, well, it gives me hope for my future. Thank you for having the strength to share it. x

  • Jacquelyn September 3, 2010, 5:20 pm

    I’m so proud of you for being able to be honest about your old demons.

    I have had a lot of issues but self-harm has been one that I feel is the most difficult to open up about. Reading your blog has inspired me to start running and to develop better self-esteem. I think reading this post was one of those “my past doesn’t define my future” moments for me.

  • Allison K September 3, 2010, 5:26 pm

    What an awesome sounding class!

  • suki September 3, 2010, 5:26 pm

    I remember reading that part of the book, and I’m really proud of you for being able to face your own demons like that b/c everyone’s got them. 🙂

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers September 3, 2010, 5:30 pm

    What a fabulous thing to be a part of. I love how you keep finding more & more ways to impact other women.

  • Nicole - yuppie yogini September 3, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I’m so jealous, what a cool opportunity. When I was in grad school Janine Davis spoke with our class and I actually volunteered once for her Girl Talk program. Charlotte has some really inspirational women!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter September 3, 2010, 5:34 pm

    What a cool class you got to be on the panel of. You are such a brave and amazing woman for sharing your personal story to so many people like that.

  • September 3, 2010, 5:42 pm

    one of the best made wraps ive seen in quite some time!!
    and im so excited and happy to hear how well the class went and that everyone was ready and willing to be open about their pasts and their hopes for the future!! <3

  • *Andrea* September 3, 2010, 5:52 pm

    yummy looking wrap! so amazed at everything you do. i was totally surprised wqhen you wrote about that in your book when i was reading. but it made me feel so good in that i am not a bad person for hating myself at times and treating myself badly because someone like you (gorgeous, thin but strong, married to a cutie ;), confident, smart, fun) can emerge from a bad place. made me feel hopeful!

  • Angharad September 3, 2010, 5:55 pm

    What an amazing opportunity to speak on that panel and how very brave of you to speak publicly about such a personal thing. I’m sure it was scary but I’m sure a lot of people in that room connected with some of the feelings and emotions you talked about, whether they have ever self-harmed in that specific way or not. Very brave of you!

  • Jacqueline September 3, 2010, 6:00 pm

    When I have a crazy day, your blog helps me get back on track…in terms of positivity and health. Thanks for writing. You make a difference!

  • Camille September 3, 2010, 6:35 pm

    That sounds like a fabulous class, something I would love to take!
    I used to be ashamed to talk about my eating disorder, but now I know it is just a part of me and the fact that I recovered is something I should be proud of, not ashamed!

  • Ashlyn September 3, 2010, 6:35 pm

    No way-you were at my school! I’d never heard of that class before but there are several groups on campus that deal with body image. How neat!

  • sarah k. @ the pajama chef September 3, 2010, 6:53 pm

    this is totally random… but where do you buy your spinach and how is it packaged? at my grocery stores here (whole foods + trader joe’s are over an hr drive), the “fresh” spinach is always soaking wet from the misters and even the spinach in the pre-packed containers is wet w/ condensation when i buy it. i’ve tried using a salad spinner to dry it off when i get home but that doesn’t really seem to do much good either. i love spinach but it barely lasts two days here without getting all gross. any tips would be much appreciated! thanks 🙂

  • lauren September 3, 2010, 7:10 pm

    My alma mater! I believe they offered that class when I was a student. I was also a student when Clay Aiken was attending & after American Idol, they had an “American Idol” class you could sign-up for. Oh the electives that are offered :o)

  • Wendy Irene (Give Love Create Happiness) September 3, 2010, 7:33 pm

    This was a beautiful post! Inspiration, especially in terms of helping others is such a wonderful gift!

  • eatmovelove September 3, 2010, 7:57 pm

    What a beautiful post! And can I just say that YOU are so beautiful Caitlin – yes, obviously on the inside – but you are so pretty on the OUTside too! Haha – usually we say it the other way around hey?! 🙂

    Very inspiring to do that talk. I once took a sociology course that was about society and the body (can’t remember) the exact name…or what we did fully really!…I do remember there was mostly talk about the history of it and relating it more to issues like depression and stuff though…I think? Oye…am I that old?!

    Um…I want to go back to school and take Russian Fairy Tales 😉

    • Jaya September 3, 2010, 8:31 pm

      Might have actually been Sociology of the Body? It is such an amazing/interesting subject area. I worked on some research with a friend about yoga and post-colonialism and we just couldn’t believe the incredible theory that is going on around body-related stuff in the social sciences! I’d love to hear more about that course!

  • eatmovelove September 3, 2010, 7:59 pm

    Oh – and I was also curious about the Cutting thing…it surprised me to read that in the beginning of your book – and your ability to just be YOU is so inspiring. I really wish I could just be open to people who “think” they know me like that. But I’d be so embarassed or feel weird. But you make it very acceptable.

    Do you do much freelancing on the side as well? I know writing is your living – but is that just through your books now?!


  • Heidi - apples under my bed September 3, 2010, 8:15 pm

    A whole class, on body image – how fantastic! And relevant! I do think that Russian Fairytales would be kind of cool also 🙂
    Well done, I’m sure they loved hearing from you. You have given me some lunch inspiration too!
    Heidi xo

  • Lee September 3, 2010, 8:16 pm

    I think it took a lot of courage to talk about that, in the book and on the panel.

  • Jaya September 3, 2010, 8:26 pm

    Caitlin, I agree with everyone – truth is very liberating and creates amazing new connections. I am so sad to say that I was also a cutter. It’s so hard to believe that when I look at where I am now, but I’ve only recently begun to own that part of my past and I feel much more empowered for doing it.
    My passions are really front and centre in my life, and thankfully, as a Sociologist, I get to build all of my personal interests into my research. I love my field, I love scholarship and I love to learn. Every passion comes with strings attached, but thankfully, I use those strings as reigns. I’m so glad you were able to participate in this panel and I would love to hear more about it!

  • Alex September 3, 2010, 8:41 pm

    I want to take this class! It sounds awesome!

  • Annabel @ September 3, 2010, 9:30 pm

    Part of my passion IS Russian fairytales. isn’t that the beauty of passion? it lies in the heart of the individual

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 3, 2010, 9:52 pm

    That was really selfless of you to share such a personal story in order to help out others! You’re amazing Caitlin! 🙂

  • diana @ i can eat, can't i September 3, 2010, 10:16 pm

    wow, i wouldnt have thought you were in the dark place too. you have come sooo farrrr! look at where you are today and you’ve accomplished soo much! you helped so many people (and me) out there! you rock caitlin!

  • 'Dee September 3, 2010, 10:38 pm

    I really, really, really love this post.

    You are so brave. SO many girls of all ages need to understand how BRAVE they truly are. They need to know they don’t have to learn how to be brave, they need to know they ALREADY ARE. Dig deep and find it. It is there. Whatever problem or challenge they may face, they are bigger than it. Whatever fear or phobia or difficult life experience they may have as their reality, they are stronger than it. Without doubt, without question. They just are.

    Trust that it is true. Your power is within. It does not matter what is WITHOUT.

    Oversharing now, but OK seriously. C., this was good. Really good.

  • Jaclyn September 3, 2010, 10:51 pm

    That’s so cool that body image is offered as a class there, I would love to take something like that!

    I completely agree with your being open and honest about your past struggles in your book. I wasn’t too surprised to read that, as you said, we all have our struggles of somethnig or other and if anything I think after reading it i have MORE respect for you as a woman, author and someone fully in touch with their healthiest happiest self. I think it’s also great that you are so open about sharing–and helping–others!

  • Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa September 3, 2010, 10:52 pm

    That class sounds awesome and that fruit looks delicious!

  • Anne September 3, 2010, 11:02 pm

    What an awesome class! I love that you’re getting out there and helping young women to realize that what’s inside matters so much more than outside appearance.
    Have a fantastic weekend, and good luck tomorrow. Run fast and don’t forget to HAVE FUN!!! 🙂

  • Gina @ Gina Eats Beans September 3, 2010, 11:44 pm

    I totally love the picture of you and the other panel members. The three of you look totally different from each other but are all beautiful.

  • Mama Pea September 4, 2010, 1:04 am

    You are so brave. I love you.

  • Lynne September 4, 2010, 7:12 am

    Thank you so much for all that you do, Caitlin. You are such a brave and inspiring woman.

  • whitney dargle @ whitney's blogtastic blog September 4, 2010, 9:31 am

    That’s so neat that you met Molly Barker!

  • whitney September 4, 2010, 10:13 am

    UNCC is such a great school with so many opportunities. That is so great you got to sit on the panel.

    I have been craving animal cracker’s their addicting.

  • Kelly September 4, 2010, 10:22 am

    That’s so cool that UNCC offers a Body Image class. I was so caught up in “academics” at UNC that I never looked for classes like that,which would have been more applicable to my own life. I love tabouleh too…there’s a place on East Blvd called Kabob Grill that has excellent tabouleh.

  • Kristine September 4, 2010, 11:18 am

    Thanks so much for sharing that Caitlin. I have also struggled with self-harm and it’s so inspiring to hear that you have overcome it.

  • Miranda @ MirandasJeans September 4, 2010, 11:39 am

    Caitlin, Yes thank you for sharing your personal story of self harm in your book and congratulations for opening discussing it.

  • Amber K September 4, 2010, 12:05 pm

    I wish I could have taken a class like that in college! It sounds like fun. And I think opening up about problems from the past is really hard, but it can be helpful not only to the person sharing, but to those who are going through the same things.

  • Ash @ Good Taste. Healthy Me September 4, 2010, 9:49 pm

    I think it’s really great that you were able to share that part of your past. I struggled from the same thing in my past and it took a good deal of time and therapy to get through it. Thanks for being such a fantastic role model and being open to sharing your story.

  • Martha Lilian January 6, 2011, 10:16 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. There is a lot that I don’t write about because I am still embarrassed and ashamed. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to be as open as you are, but it is great to know that I may one day be able to put it past me. Thank you again. You really make a difference.

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