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This breakfast toast recipe is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. I’m excited to be partnering with them over the next few months to bring you more recipes and ideas about Montmorency tart cherries, which are not only delicious, but good for you too.
About This Toast:
A slice of this Banana Breakfast Toast with Tart Cherry Swirled Yogurt + Cacao Nib has all the elements of a banana split (sans pineapple!), while being wholesome. Creamy, toasty, fruity, and a chocolate, coffee-ish crunch of cacao nibs. Instead of using pre-flavored yogurt, I swirled Montmorency tart cherry concentrate into plain greek yogurt. You’ll notice that tart cherry juice is thicker than normal juice, almost like a balsamic syrup. It’ sweet and tart at the same time. Beyond tasting wonderful, it has anti-inflammatory properties that our muscles benefit from. These properties help us recover from inflammation and oxidative stress due to the concentrated amounts of anthocyanins inside.
I finished the toast with honey and crushed pistachios, but make it your own with other toppings you love, or almond butter instead of honey.
It’s what I use to fuel my newfound healthy relationship with exercise. A topic that isn’t talked about much, but I think needs to be. Which is why I’m sharing my story.
My relationship with exercise has been complicated since the day I figured out it wasn’t just about being a better, stronger athlete, but also negated the calories you consumed.
Since the day I figured out it was a way to numb other pain in my life.
Since the day I figured out it was something I could use to feel in control.
Running and cardio was immediately what I latched onto at the end of high school. Throughout college I ran, climbed stairs, or got on the elliptical seven days a week – in addition to all the other training I was doing as a college athlete. In my eyes, those workouts weren’t the same. I couldn’t escape when I was with other people. But alone, I could tune everything out and hide in my feeling. It gave me comfort I couldn’t get from anything else. And when I missed a day, my world crumbled with guilt.
After college, my running and gym time continued. I eventually hurt myself from the constant 10 mile+ days and had to stop. Only to be replaced with other ways of fueling my compulsive exercise. Interestingly enough, I was never concerned or even knew how many calories I was burning. For me, it was about doing the same thing, the same way, every.single.day. The comfort of control. That meant skipping functions to do so, getting up at crazy hours, always packing workout clothes for any type of travel, and basically my days revolving around it.
But not anymore. It has taken years. Along with a few health scares, and a lot of emotional and physical pain to realize that I couldn’t live like that, nor was it normal….. Lots of therapy sessions and a gigantic change in thinking and purpose.
And being forced to sit with the discomfort of not moving my body for awhile, on purpose. (As in, so much discomfort you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin. Which is also how you know there is a problem.)
To sit through the painful feelings of guilt, and shame.
To realize I wasn’t going to look completely different because I wasn’t compulsively exercising.
To work with a therapist to dig through the messy reasons of what my behavior was covering up deep down inside.
To set boundaries, and know my red flags.
To retrain my brain.
Now I embrace what I refer to as healthy movement. Meaning I MOVE MY BODY, not abuse my body. Pump my lungs, hike, stretch, engage my muscles. Celebrate a healthy body and mind, and all that it provides me with. And I’ve never felt better, or happier.
I wake up and the first thing I do is think about life, not the gym. I sleep in sometimes and don’t feel guilty. I go out for brunch on the weekend instead of a run. I go on vacation and don’t even think twice about when I’m going to work out. I say yes to dates with friends instead of asking them to switch the time because I usually go to the gym then. That is what free feels like.
In terms of what I do to move my body these days – it’s usually walking in the morning, setting my day and mind in a clear direction. I like to hike with Brian, or stroll around the neighborhood with him. We golf in the summer together. And one of the biggest differences – I refuel after moving my body. I repair the energy that has been expended, and give it new life. Like a car, the gas tank is on empty, and it isn’t going any further without being filled. When I’m finished, I’m usually too hungry to make anything real time consuming for breakfast, so I turn to toast! Sometimes sweet, sometimes savory. But more often than not, this Banana Breakfast Toast.
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I can truly attest that I’ve had my fair share in exercise addiction and compulsive exercising tendencies myself. For example, sometimes my legs would practically feel paralyzed or broken, and I’d still force myself through leg day over and over again. Anyways, it’s still a journey that I’m constantly working towards, but I know I’ll get there with persistence. These banana bread toast slices look DIVINE! I bet peanut butter would combine with the bananas perfectly!
Thanks for sharing your story. I continue to struggle with this myself. I do my best not to feel guilty when I don’t exercise, but it’s an active decision I have to make. Why are we so hard on ourselves? It’s exhausting. I exercise for a lot of the reasons you mentioned, but also just to keep my body healthy and to feel better. But those negative reasons are in there too. Thanks for the reminder that so many of us deal with this and it takes time to tear ourselves away. xoxo
Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve had a rocky relationship with exercise myself, but I was extremely sedentary for years. Discovering a passion for exercise a few years ago helped me lose a lot of the weight I had gained from food blogging and working in restaurants. But I went from 0 to 100, which usually isn’t sustainable in the long term. I would panic if I missed a workout. Then depression caused me to finally crash and go back to zero, but I’m trying to work my way back to a healthy balance. It shouldn’t be all or nothing. I’m glad you’re finding a healthier place with everything. Hugs.
Thank you again for sharing your heart. I relate to the feelings of wanting to be in control and the desire to distract away from my anxiety. Such a good reminder to work through these issue, to struggle through the quietness, and come out more beautiful through it all. and Banana toast always wins here too!
I am so happy you have shared this post, because relationships to exercise are something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve only recently started working in the fitness world, but it is not an easy place to navigate when there are so many unreasonable expectations of how our bodies should be and how we should constantly push ourselves. The “comfort of control” is something I can so relate to, along with many other women I know struggling with this. Your journey of changing your mindset and overcoming these obstacles is so inspiring. Also- this toast is simply beautiful <3 xx
ruby, you are such a positive influence in the way i see my body, whether you know that or not. i hope that i can learn yoga someday, and attend one of your classes because i see how closely it connects you to the strength of your body, and love for it. dance too! it seems like a beautiful expression. all the love. xo
Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story here – food and exercise can bring so much joy, but so many of us have such complicated relationships with them both. Having come from a high school background of swimming 8-9x per week, I still often feel like I need to / should be fitting in a second exercise session in the afternoon, or have to run a certain distance / do a certain number of steps a day, even if it means sacrificing sleep, study time and energy to do so – and sometimes it’s hard to take a step back and realise that no, that’s not true.
On another note, this toast looks amazing!! So many awesome textures and flavours going on, and I never would have thought of putting greek yogurt on top – must try it.
yes, i feel like the competitive nature of sports, and just our bodies is certainly hard to balance. your training sessions sound very similar to mine as a college athlete. and it really fuels disordered thinking, that tends to stick with us. and as you said, food and exercise can also be joyful! they just need to be celebrated, instead of used for the wrong reasons. xoxo
I admire you so much for talking about this painful part of your life. And I’m so inspired by the freedom you’ve let yourself have (and the control you took BACK, in a way). Thank you for being you. Also I literally can’t stop staring at that swirly toast! IT’S FRICKIN’ INCREDIBLE.
This is so freaking pretty, Amanda! Huge kudos to you for sharing about your relationship with exercise and making it healthy and loving. A lot of what you’ve said here resonates with me. <3
You are wonderful. <3
thank you for reading Sarah…. girl power. ?
Thank you for sharing Amanda. I am so happy for you that you have broken out of the cycle and now are comfortable. I am sure your story will help others to seek help as well. And about this toast! I want!
Katie, I know you’ve spoken about similar things, vividly recalling your post on intuitive eating. Opening up about these kinds of things seem taboo, but truly, it effects so many people. And I hope to speak more in detail about the changes I made, as I think many people think it will just go away, or they are unsuccessful. That is where I believe that professional help, and a lot of tough love comes in. xo
First off, I just LOVE this toast! Great job adding the tart cherries, they are my favorite anti-inflammatories ;) This was all so beautifully written and could have easily been about me. I spent years exercising excessively and now at this age, I go through periods where I feel like I am doing too much, to doing nothing for a week. I struggle with those feeling still today but even if I am less active, I know I am not hurting my body anymore. I love that you shared this story (and this amazing toast!) xoxo
Amanda, thank you thank you thank you for sharing this amazing story. I can relate too closely currently. I am trying to find the balance of life and moving my body, in a healthy way. Reading your success gives me hope so I can one day be in your position! Keep on inspiring!
I had so much love and respect for you before reading this post and now of course I have even more. You’re so brave for sharing this and I know it will help others struggling with the same thing.
Also, I want this toast. And Montmorency cherries make me think of you and the other TC ladies. <3
You are incredible <3 thank you for sharing such an important message with the world. And know you are not alone in your struggles. xo
Thank you for sharing your story, babe. You’re a lovely writer <3
Love this toast!
Thank you for reading, and being a friend. Strong babes unite. xo
To come from where you were to where you are now is remarkable. And your bravery to share it here with us is admirable to say the least. I’m so freaking proud of you. And I love watching you grow and move within your truth now, Amanda. This toast (hello! banana split toast, I mean) is amazing. The shot of the swirly tart cherry yogurt is my favorite shot of yours to date. I love you, xx.
Thanks for all the info. It was hard reading how much you’ve gone through. We always knew you were struggling with some of it but we had no idea what you were going through. I prayed everyday you would find out how to lick it and I think you have. Thanks be to God
Compulsive exercise is no stranger to my past. I spent many many years as a fitness model/competitor and after so many years of doing what I thought was healthy, I had a huge shift in realization….my efforts were vain, unbalanced and actually not healthy at all. It was a very obsessive time in my life and yes, the guilt of missing a work out was excruciating.
I read once that exercise is a celebration of what your body can do…the simplest movements, like walking and dancing, are a true celebration of our body. As I get older, the importance of taking good care of my body grows deeper with appreciation each day!
Thank you so much for sharing this, Amanda! Beautiful!!
Heidi, gosh, thank you for sharing your story. I can only imagine what the competitive side of things in the fitness world would feel like. I’m so happy you’ve found happiness and the celebration of your body too. Such a beautiful journey! And I love love the idea of movement as a celebration of what the body can do. xo
This toast is everything! (plus that tray is amazingggg) And thanks for sharing your story Amanda! I have always struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with my body and how I perceive it. I think sharing experiences like this definitely helps everyone think about our choices in a more positive way. xoxo
This toast looks amazing – thank you so much for sharing your story with us, it is so inspiring! x
Thank you for reading, Izzy!
I loved that you shared this dear friend! I was the same way, I used to run every single day, thinking it was something I HAD to do, rather than what I wanted to do. Once I discovered I enjoy yoga much more, I felt guilty about not being a ‘runner’ anymore. But really, who cares? If yoga makes me happier and more fulfilled, why would I do something else just to say I do it? I’m sure there’s a lot more to unpack from that, but I loved that you brought this to the forefront of my mind! xoxo
I am starting yoga this summer and I’m so excited! I love the idea of stretching and being so close to your body, and also mindful at the same time. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you too. xo
Such a brave and beautiful post Amanda. You are definitely not alone. I see so many exercise abusers in these NYC boutique studios and no one ever gets told to slow down and replenish instead of deplete. So glad you’re talking about this. And even more glad you’ve found your exercise healthy hedonism xx
i see it here today. and i think finding a healthy balance is difficult when the media, and even our own peers project this way of need/should/must. and it certainly doesn’t mean we should be sedentary. but i think letting our bodies rest, and understanding that working out should just be one piece of the puzzle, not your whole life, is important. thanks for stopping by, xo.
Amen. And same goes for diet/food!
Thank you for sharing your story with exercise. It spoke to me in a lot of ways, and I’m still trying to learn how much is too much and how to listen to my body. This toast looks DIVINE by the way! Love it as an easy re-fuel!
thank you for reading Casey. hopefully it is helpful to talk about it, and see that living free of compulsive exercise is possible. it’s one of those things that hides deep amongst other issues, which is why it was hard for me to let go of. but so, so worth it. xo
Oh lady! This toast is divine, and I just love tart cherries – these flavors combined must hit all the notes.
Thanks for sharing your story on burn out and the obsession of exercise, I see it all the time, I’ve been there as well. It’s so important to find ways to stay active and move your body that make you happy for the right reasons. XOXO