Bon Bons to Yoga Pants
The Health and Happiness Society Book 1
by Katie Cross
Genre: Chick Lit
*Winner of the 2015 Watty Awards Best of HQ Love*
Lexie Greene has always had such a pretty face.
Unfortunately, that's where it seemed to stop. She's grown up hearing her Mother constantly remind her that she needs to lose weight. And twenty-two-year-old Lexie knows she's overweight.
With her younger sister's wedding on the horizon and a crush to stalk on Facebook, Lexie's had enough. She gives up her constant daydreams about food and joins a dieting group. As the pounds melt away at the gym, she finds that life on the other side of junk food isn't what she thought.
Bon Bons to Yoga Pants is an inspirational hit about a girl coming to terms with herself, and her past, all while navigating a world of food and fitness.
I Am Girl Power
The Health and Happiness Society Book 2
Cardiac nurse Megan Bailey has it all. Until she doesn’t.
Thanks to a string of horrible relationships, an unexpected twist in her career, and mounting credit card bills, Megan escapes to Adventura Summer Camp to work as camp chef.
Instead of a relaxing summer in the mountains, she faces a persnickety oven, squirrels in the kitchen, and a host of uncertain staff. With the help of her twin brothers and a quiet, blue-eyed camp ranger named Justin, Megan will have to navigate the treacherous waters of a storm she never expected: her parents possible divorce.
I Am Girl Power is the second book in the quirky new Health and Happiness Society series. Join Megan as she experiences heartbreak, laughter, and the frightening winds of change.
**Kindle countdown deal from Nov 6th – 13th!!**
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You'll Never Know
The Health and Happiness Society Book 3
Rachelle Martin is a hot mess.
After losing 110 pounds, she expected to be happily flirting her way through countless dates, not lost as a college dropout. Now that she’s arrived at her ideal weight, why isn’t she happy?
When an injury prevents her from running her dream race, she realize she can’t run from her ghosts anymore. Rachelle must take the one step she’s sworn she’d never take: professional therapy.
Can Rachelle push herself through pain and let go of the past? Or will her demons continue to haunt her one bad decision at a time?
You’ll Never Know is the unforgettable novel in the groundbreaking Health and Happiness Society series. It tackles the false idea of conditional happiness and the exhausting path to self forgiveness.
**Kindle countdown deal from Nov 13th – 20th!!**
Only .99 cents Nov 13th - 15th
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Hear Me Roar
The Health and Happiness Society Book 4
Bitsy Walker is a woman in control.
She eats 1200 calories a day, prepares three rounded meals on a budget, runs her own cleaning business, and never leaves the house with an unmade bed.
When her ex-husband crashes back into her immaculate world, her daughters fall in love with their father all over again. Rumors of joint custody surface, driving Bitsy to the edge of dieting desperation.
Can she handle losing control without giving into binge eating? Or will losing the battle make everything unravel—even her?
Join Bitsy in her journey through calorie counting, the intricacies of self care, and surrendering control in the fourth book in the Health and Happiness Society Series.
**Kindle countdown deal from Nov 20th – 27th!!**
Only .99 cents Nov 20th - 22nd
Only.$1.99 Nov 23rd-25thOnly $3.99 Nov 26th - 27th
What Was Lost
The Health and Happiness Society Book 5
Mira Montgomery is the only one left.
Her brothers unexpected death leaves her tragically alone. No kids. No husband. No family.
Fifty-one years of unrealized dreams crash down on her when a real estate development company threatens the only stability she has left: her store. To make matters worse, her friends in the Health and Happiness Society have more good news than ever before.
Mira is faced with the decision to walk away and start fresh, or stay and fall apart.
Can she survive life without the comfort of her friends? Or will she fall farther into her depression than ever?
Join Mira on her new path through old grief, new loss, and the burning importance of gratitude in the fifth and final book in the Health and Happiness Society series.
**Kindle countdown deal from Nov 27th – Dec 4th!!**
Only .99 cents Nov 27th - 29th
Only.$1.99 Nov 30th – Dec 2ndOnly $3.99 Dec 3rd - 4th
A Health and Happiness Society spinoff
Anna Buchanan is a freshman college student with one plan: travel abroad.
Except . . . college life isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Her new roommate definitely has a quirky side. All those romantic comedies she watched growing up? Not happening. Money is harder to come by than she thought, and her first kiss is less-than-foot-popping.
Not to mention the fact that there aren’t enough hours in her day to sell blood plasma, work at the deli, and volunteer at her dream internship.
All of Anna’s hard-thought dreams tumble around her ankles when she buries herself too deep in dreams. Then the most terrifying news hits her like a slap in the face.
Can Anna salvage the time and money needed to fulfill her dreams? Or will she have to face the truth: that sometimes our greatest adventures never take us very far away.
Join Anna Buchanan in Finding Anna, a heartwarming novel about odd roommates, unattainable college boys, and the epic quest to find yourself.
My world revolves around my husband (who is a major hottie), my precious kids, my Vizsla’s who act like children, and the mountains.
I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day.
I don’t eat bread because my thyroid doesn’t like it, although there are days I miss it. Especially ciabatta. Sweet potatoes are kind of my thing. Cookies too.
I write because I never stopped.
Author of The Network Series, The Dragonmaster Trilogy, and The Health and Happiness Society.
Confessions of a Chubby Girl
A monster lives inside every girl.
Sometimes it’s a big one that drowns out all the others.
Sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes it’s a crowd. Sometimes it’s just one. My biggest monster was a creative beast that craved chocolate and felt good if I drowned her in starch and, on occasion, an overabundance of exercise that cancelled out ALL those calories.
Then she spawned a piece of art I never anticipated.
The Chubby Girl Monster
By twelve years old, I was blatantly imperfect, flawed, and terribly insecure about it—like a lot of humans. So I did what any hormonal, emotional wreck-of-a-tween would do.
I turned to the loving, constant arms of food.
Brownies were a favorite, though I wouldn’t turn down Ben and Jerry’s or mozzarella sticks or any other battered goodness that I could just pop in the oven or microwave. Fistfuls of animal crackers? Perfect snack with a quart of sugary-sweet guava juice from concentrate. Mom cut up carrots and apple slices, but I dipped them in gobs of peanut butter.
Nutrition therapy at it’s finest.
Growing Up Chubby
Being a kid is hard enough, but being an overweight kid is even harder. Combine frizzy hair, an odd obsession with books, and an absent father, and I was a walking monster mine. By third grade, I knew I was a “big girl” because the other kids told me.
That’s when my whispering monster started.
I didn’t really notice the monster at first. I mean, I did. When you’re in fifth grade canvassing a room to see if you’re the biggest kid in there, you know something is different about you. But I didn’t really understand how much power the monster had until the cutting verbosity of seventh grade teenagers shredded holes in the curtain of my denial.
You need to be smaller, the monster would say. Look at how big you are.
I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say that kids and monsters are mean.
Learning to Wog
Fortunately, I had many friends that loved me in spite of my mongster, one of them being the lean, red-haired, spit-fire Breanna. She invited me to jog with her one day when I was in 8th grade. Because I wanted her to like me and I wanted to be cool and svelte like her, I agreed.
The monster, for once, was quiet.
“Jogging” is an generous term for what I did. (see shuffle and walk.) But it didn’t matter. It was one of the first times that exercise felt good. Breanna didn’t make me feel like the fat kid, and helped me learn how to breathe through side cramps. Silencing the monster felt amazing.
“The world is much more clear after you run,” she pointed out one day. I remember blinking rapidly because she was right. Even my vision had came into sharper focus through the lens of exercise.
After profusely apologizing for being slow, I decided I could do more of this “running” and asked if we could go again the next day.
And the next.
It became our thing together. We’d run in the country by her grandpa’s house. We’d run along the canal. Through the neighborhood. At the cabin. Anywhere. My wog slowly turned into a trot, and then a jog, and eventually I could almost keep up with her on the sprints at the very end.
But never, ever did I beat her.
My monster reminded me all the time.
I’d love to tell you I slimmed down to a lean size 6, started a spinning class, and ate only sprouts and carrot sticks sans peanut butter, but it didn’t happen. Sometimes, my love of exercise cancelled out my greater love of food, but not enough to make me like myself. Or be actually healthy. In fact, I kind of went crazy on both in middle school.
In ninth grade I satisfied the monster and joined a gym. I’d work out for an 60-90 minutes after school. My favorite? Walking 4.0 mph on the treadmill until it maxed out at 100 minutes while reading cheesy romance novels.
Hey, I was exercising, so the monster was quiet. Then I could dream of being a damsel-in-distress. Remember, I was kind of bookish weird?
I went from a size 18 in seventh grade to a size 12-14 sometime in ninth. For the most part, I hung out around there. It was a far cry from the emotionally fragile seventh grader that had been made fun of so much, but my insecure monster still thrived, never satisfied. She chanted to me late at night.
Must get smaller. Must get smaller.
Not even exercise could silence the monster now.
After getting my RN at twenty and working as a pediatric nurse, my obsession with nutrition and exercise became my favorite hobby.
I dove into half marathons, marathons, centuries (100+ mile bike rides), snow shoeing, lots of hiking, and trail running with gusto. Did my weight drop? Nope. I leaned out, could hike like a boss, but the scale never seemed to go anywhere. I counted calories, drank water, avoided pop, and worked my butt off.
Not literally, of course.
Ever run 20 miles and watched the scale maintain? #frustratingas@#$*(!%*(
Must get smaller, sang the monster. You’re still a size 14. Must do more. Must get smaller.
Figuring It Out
Thanks to other issues in my life, I started seeing a professional therapist and learned that food had *gasp* become the way I didn’t cope with my emotions. Truly, I’d never, ever, ever comprehended that food was an emotional escape. It seems to obvious to me now.
Not quite. Because no matter what, the monster reminded me that I still wasn’t smaller. Despite an active lifestyle, the pants size didn’t waver. My health was good, and I felt okay with how I looked. A veritable 3-4 on my self-diagnosed “Hotness Scale”.
Then I met the love of my life at 24 and suddenly my perception of health, self, and food took on a whole new meaning. The mega attractive, sarcastic, intelligent guy I was dating didn’t care that I was still imperfect, insecure, needed therapy, size 14, and loved California Pizza Kitchen to a fault.
He also didn’t know about that niggling monster who insisted you aren’t small enough for him.
Loving the Chubby Inside Me
Meeting my husband and realizing that he didn’t care about me being smaller threw everything I perceived about myself into question. I started realizing that I’m good enough just because I’m me, not because I measure up to some defined quality of beauty established by a magazine.
I’d love to tell you that I banished the ugly monster who controlled me like a puppet, who reminds me that my weight hovers dangerously close to Husband, that a wife should be smaller. I’m still not model size perfect and never plan to be. I still love CPK, and I still battle food cravings and the need to turn to food for comfort on a daily basis.
And I still have a monster inside me.
Write It Out
That monster is why I started writing Bon Bons to Yoga Pants. I knew I couldn’t be the only person to have a chubby girl monster, because there are skinny girl monsters, and straight hair monsters, and knobby knee monsters.
There are monsters for everything.
Lexie Greene is born from that insecure, flawed little girl I told you about at the beginning of the post. Like me, Lexie struggles with weight, she doesn’t want to diet, and when things get tough, she turns to Little Debbie. Lexie and I are not the same person; I love exercise and she tolerates it. She has a sister and I don’t. But we are the same insecure little girl with similar monsters.
We’re all fighting monsters. But that doesn’t mean we fight them alone.
We are perfect just the way we are.
The Scale of Hotness
Where the scale of hotness is concerned, I broke the rules and married someone way hotter than me.
Before you throw tomatoes at me with You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are written on them, let’s turn down the Bruno Mars song and have a frank discussion.
The Scale of Hotness
I grew up with a bowling ball face, a frizzy mess of curls a mile wide, and what curves I did have had certainly weren’t in my chest. While I never had the curse of braces, the tune of ‘you’re just big boned,’ whistled in my ears from total strangers.
Trust me, that’s way worse than braces ‘cuz you can’t change bone structure.
I’d walk down the halls at school and hear my teachers say, “She has a great smile, doesn’t she?” While my brothers friends said, “Well, she’s not the brightest bulb on the tree.”
Fast forward a decade and I landed on my feet, a full-time RN, living in a downtown and working with kids. My career made me awesome, but not enough. Here’s the shocker: I was single.
I dated all kinds of guys. I mean all kinds. I got an Air Force guy who yelled at me for not being willing to pick him up on our first date. A gentleman that worked for the forest service who was so quiet that I had to lean over my pasta to hear what he said. Then there was, of course, Mr. Medical School Man. He used me for a few rides, a couch to crash on, then broke up with me over a text message.
The common thread was this: they were all pretty much my facial equal. Attractive enough, but nothing so beautiful that I wanted to attach to it with suction cups and scream, “Never let me go!”
Then I met the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.
I was twenty four. We’d been emailing for weeks via eHarmony before he flew out to see me. He was an Army officer just off deployment, had thick eyelashes I’d kill for, and more sarcastic humor than I could handle. I’d already had a good feeling about this one, and I was a pro about dating vibes, so I pulled out all the stops and dressed in my girl power outfit: black yoga pants, a vest from Eddie Bauer with fuzz on the inside, and hiking boots.
Yes, hiking boots.
My curly hair is an entity until itself, so after an hour-and-a-half battle, I’d tamed the tresses into straight, highlighted strands, then arrived at the airport with my hands steepled in prayer, begging the gods of first dates that I wouldn’t get sweaty pit stains. Which I so did.
He strode off the plane and right into my heart. The moment I saw him my mouth dropped open, my hands turned to ice, and all I could think of when I stared at his strong jaw and crooked smile was, oh no. He is way too attractive for me.
Although I stood there like a mute, he put his muscled arms around me in a warm hug. I melted like butter in southern Alabama on a hot July afternoon. My heart fluttered. Is this real? Is this a joke? He’s too beautiful. I could feel the suction cups forming on my fingertips. He wasn’t Calvin Klein model perfect: he was rugged, manly, five-shades-of-stubble-in-the-morning perfect.
I pulled myself back together, managed a somewhat coherent mumble, then started toward my car so I didn’t have to see his face. We took a forty five minute drive up a gorgeous canyon to a famous diner for brunch. My eyes never strayed from the road. His gleaming, angelic face would certainly blind me if I looked over. More than that, I didn’t want to face the reality behind the voice in my head.
He’s way too hot! Scale of hotness is tipped! Must. Stop.
Breaking the Rules
We sat across from each other at a shabby table in a kitschy restaurant filled with people, sunshine, and odd decor. I glanced up to find the undeniable truth again: He was beautiful. He was everything sturdy and strong that I ever wanted. The voice screeched on in the back of my mind.
You’re breaking the rules!
Never mind that we hit it off like a pair of gloves missing their mate. Never mind that his eyes sparkled when he laughed at my snarky comments because he thought I was funny. Never mind that he held my hand that night and it felt like coming home. All I could think was: I can’t do it. I’d never match up. I have big hips and volatile hair. I love food way too much—and it shows. Doesn’t he see the issue here?
To my dismay, he didn’t seem to get it.
It would have been a lot easier if he would have just stepped away after the first date with a kind smile and flippant Hey! Let’s do this again! just like the rest of them. But he didn’t. He wanted to see me in the morning, so I took action into my own hands. This beautiful man would not be forced into an unequal relationship that surely he’d regret.
The next day, after washing my hair into its full-scale-curly-haired-massive-glory, and ensuring it was full and wild, (because who wouldn’t that scare off?) I picked him up from his friends house. My plan was already in action.
“Want to go for a run?” I asked.
That’ll show him, I thought with smug superiority. He’ll see my wobbly legs and butt trying to get up the hill and he’ll realize what I’ve seen since the beginning.
“Of course!” he said, as I knew he would.
We ran up a mountain trail (where I practically reached down and grabbed handfuls of dirt to rub on my face as I went) and then back down. We laughed when he accidentally embarrassed himself by farting—twice. We swapped stories about nightmare dates. We enjoyed the sun and crisp mountain air. He didn’t turn away in disgust, the jerk.
No, we just kept having a great time.
Breaking the Scale
Three days later, my heart broke as I watched him walk back into the airport on Valentines day. Our weekend of sharing frozen yogurt, cuddling up to Finding Nemo, and star gazing from the top of a mountain had altered my universe forever. He was my perfect match in all ways . . . except one.
I wouldn’t hear from him again, I already knew that. And really, who would blame him? The scale of hotness never lies. It cannot be broken. There was a Mrs. Perfect with blonde hair and blue eyes waiting for this Mr. Perfect. Except she was probably wearing heels, not hiking boots, and spreading her divine glitter over orphaned puppies. I couldn’t deprive the world of their stunning children, so I drank in his perfect smile and brown eyes until he disappeared from view.
Every heartbeat on my drive home caused me pain. Just as I was sitting down in front of the TV, Lifetime movie at the ready, a barrel of fun sized snickers and a box of tissues in hand, the doorbell rang.
“For you,” a delivery man said, holding out a long box that said 1-800-Flowers on the side. I dropped the Snickers, slammed the door in his face, ripped the box open, and found a dozen red roses nestled inside. A note accompanied them.
Thanks for the perfect weekend of running, laughing, and playing. I can’t believe this is real, and I can’t wait to see you again. I’ll call after my plane lands. Can’t wait to talk to you again.
My hands trembled. I blinked in disbelief and fell to the chair behind me. The letter, and the gorgeous crimson flowers with dark veins running through the petals, were from him, there was no doubt. But how could that be?
The scale of hotness never lies.
Shattering Old Beliefs
After 8 years of more gritty-faced runs, listening him say I love your beautiful face, wife and staring at his stubbled jaw, I’ve realized that the scale of hotness I judged myself by was never really a thing after all.
I created those rules and bounds in my own mind and then put them onto my perfect mate. (Don’t get me wrong—we’re not perfect at all. We’re imperfectly perfect, which is way better.) Out of a place of insecurity, I led myself to believe that no one could possibly love a girl that’s sometimes not functional, is abhorrent with fashion, forgets her phone and keys in the most random places, loves adventure, carries her own gun, hikes every day, and loves to laugh, simply because she’d believed in a cultural scale that said she didn’t measure up.
But the truth is the opposite: the scale of hotness existed in my own mind, and my worth has nothing to do with the size of my hips, the spread of my hair, or the fact that I sweat on hot days just like everyone else.
Marrying Mr. Right didn’t even teach me that—I spent the first 5 years of my marriage believing myself to be inferior, when in truth I was just right. It took a lot of digging into belief systems I had in place that were false—and working with a professional—for me to see the truth.
That I’m just as hot as my husband, and just as imperfectly perfect.
If you’ve ever believed in the scale of hotness, let me shatter that one for you. Because here’s something I never understood at the time:
Looks don’t really matter.
You Can’t Quit Food
You know what’s ugly about food addiction?
You can’t quit.
Isn’t it interesting that a lot of addictions start with our base needs? Food. Drink. Happiness. Sex. Safety. By avoiding what we actually need and diving face first into what we want, we end up creating a complicated mess.
Like an unhealthy self perception and the idea that we need food for comfort.
Now that is something you can never actually “quit”.
The Grocery Store
This problem is never more apparent to me than when I go back to the grocery store.
I’ve contemplated ordering and picking up—just so I don’t have to go inside and see the endless options. Smell the saccharine scent of donuts in the air. Dream about loading my cart up with the cakes that are not only on display—but look so freaking pretty!
(It’s really unfortunate that food has to be so visually appealing too. A pile of sawdust sure doesn’t draw me in.)
For me, ordering and avoiding the store is a great strategy when I’m going through a hard time or am super busy. But I’ve found that avoidance just breeds more fear. Fear of the food itself. Fear of choices. Fear of myself because I lack the control to hold back.
But really—fear that I’m not enough.
Most of the time, it takes me going to the grocery store and facing those fears to really face the issue.
No, I say, I am good enough even if I buy a brownie as a treat and not because I feel I need it to cope with my day. Or I still have value even if I don’t look like that model. (Yeah, I often have to do that just while grocery shopping. These fears crop up.)
Why is this important? Because otherwise, I grab food for comfort. If I don’t face the demons, then I hand the control over to fear.
It Comes Back
Even though I’ve learned how to love myself in an imperfect state, that doesn’t mean I always do. There are days that I forget how much food is an obstacle to me. Then it comes back.
And suddenly I remember it all so clearly.
There are days where I have to double my meditation time just so I can confront a crowd of people as an author and still feel I have value even if I’m not perfect. There are days when I have to coach myself in the mirror to remember that I have important things to say even though I don’t have a stick thin body. Or I have to calm the panic that rises if I don’t get a work out in, or ate too much dessert.
It’s all right, I have to tell myself. My worth is not based on my workout or my food intake. I’m sorry, body, for not treating you right. We’re going to do better.
Because even when I try really hard to remember, it comes back.
Sometimes I have to dig deep to find that morsel of self love. Sometimes I don’t believe myself, so I turn to my people. The ones that stand behind me. That affirm my value without certain perfections being met.
Even then . . . sometimes I just have to remember me.
That me is good enough without a single digit jean size. That me is perfect now even when it all seems to hopeless. Health, longevity, and feeling good in my own skin are my goals.
No matter what, it always comes back. Why?
Because you can’t quit food. And that’s okay.
I wouldn’t ever want to.
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