Why I Started Granolagrrl
Before we get in to how I started granolagrrl, I want to give you guys a bit of backstory. So, let’s take it back to 5th grade Madeleine. If you told 5th grade Madeleine that seven years later she would be making smoothies with cauliflower and burgers with portobello mushrooms, she would have probably laughed in your face. Now, I’m not saying that I refused to eat any and all vegetables, I just simply preferred them in fry form. Back then, if you told me that I’d have a food blog in the future, I would have probably thought it would be about the best chicken tenders and fries in Memphis; considering, I once had a month-long streak where I ate fries every single day.
So, how does this information have anything to do with how granolagrrl started? Well, around the end of 6th grade, I started getting tired of the doctor telling me that I was overweight. Before then, I had never really cared much about my size, but man, midway through middle school it became all I cared about. Almost overnight, I traded my french fries in for carrot sticks and wouldn’t allow myself to even have a bite of anything sweet. My relationship with food immediately changed from one of indulgence to one of restriction with absolutely no in between. However, because I was achieving my goal of losing weight, I really thought nothing of it.
This regimented mindset toward food consumed me for my 7th and 8th grade years; I wouldn’t eat a bite of anything without calculating the calorie count in my head, complemented by the impulse to go on long runs to “run off” each calorie. At the time, this was my idea of a healthy lifestyle. And yes, technically the foods that I was eating were healthy but the lifestyle certainly wasn’t – especially considering the amount that I was running. Even once I met the goal weight for my age and height, I still felt compelled to keep up these regimented eating and lifestyle habits. I know now that this is not how to live healthily, but back then my mindset and methods all rooted back to one goal: I had to lose weight.
Now, let me pause and say that I am not sharing this part of my life with you solely to expose my 13 year old self who was potentially on the road to an eating disorder. No, I’m sharing this with you because, at the time, I thought restriction was the key to “being healthy” and I know I’m definitely not alone on this. For so many women and men who struggle with body image, this can seem like the right route. Midway through freshman year, if my mom had not confronted me about my eating habits, I may still be counting the calories in my salads.
After this realization, I tried to completely shift my negative thoughts toward food into positive ones. It wasn’t easy at first, but I knew that this was a shift I had to force myself to make. So, I started trying to find more of a balance between my broccoli and brownies; realizing that although I need to eat larger portions of broccoli, I do not need to cut out brownies entirely. It was during this time that I actually began to love healthy food for its benefits and versatility. Through this, I also began finding myself in the kitchen more and more often. Specifically, I began my journey through healthy cooking with my blender. I loved experimenting with it and trying out new recipes. Soon after this lifestyle shift, I started sharing nutritious, easy-to-make recipes with family and friends, and through this granolagrrl was born.
The instagram username “granolagrrl”– which was actually meant to be “granolagirl” but that username was taken – originally was just a fun alliteration that revolved around my favorite food at the time. My initial intention for the account was simply to post pictures of my homemade smoothies and bowls, simultaneously sharing the affordable ingredients and positive thoughts that went along with them. But, overtime, I found this account really uncomfortable to share, even with people I knew well. In a way, I felt as though granolagrrl was my secret life as a health food connoisseur and I couldn’t really imagine it being any other way. In fact, around this time last year, I had only really told my instagram handle to about ten friends and family members.
Although granolagrrl officially started in August of 2016, consistent posting actually began summer of 2017. Toward the end of that summer of 2017, about a year after I had begun the instagram, I began to grow more and more passionate about the lifestyle I was promoting through social media. The platform itself gave me an outlet to express my newfound creativity for healthy eating and love for all things local. As I gained confidence in the brand I had created for myself, I became increasingly comfortable dropping the name “granolagrrl” into casual conversation. When my senior year of high school began, I started getting a lot of positive feedback from friends about what I had posted over the summer and how that had encouraged them to eat healthier. Their words really pushed me into putting more time into the content that I was creating.
Although I began to feel confident in this brand, I wanted to feel confident in my knowledge and started to spend more time researching the ins and outs of nutrition. During this time, I started recipe testing more often, branching out from my blender and into the world of the oven and stove. Movie nights with friends soon transformed into group cooking nights as my mind buzzed with excitement about healthy meal possibilities. I had never really considered myself to be a chef, but this inexperience actually served as a strength, making me better able to gear my recipes towards my friends who rarely touched their ovens and stoves either. I especially learned a lot from buying my own groceries for recipe-making, realizing that a healthy lifestyle can be accomplished on a budget.
One night around 1 AM in late September I was perusing one of my favorite instagram foodie’s blogs. Looking at her content, I suddenly understood that sharing my recipes and recommendations through a more text-based platform was exactly what I wanted to do. Impulsively, I started my free trial with Squarespace and got to work. During my free trial month, I stayed up until all hours of the night working on creating about 5 posts to serve as my initial content, loving every minute of this brainstorming process. However, the closer I got to the end of my free trial, the more doubt I had about actually sharing what I wrote onto this larger platform. Although my posts were not super personal, the vulnerability that came with voicing my opinions on restaurants and sharing my advice for recipes made me consider ending my trial and just sticking with the instagram portion of granolagrrl.
As you can tell, fear and self-doubt played a huge role in my journey of putting myself out there with granolagrrl. But eventually, as with the instagram, I knew that I had to let my passion for what I was posting override the fear of actually posting it. I’ll admit that clicking that publish button for this site was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. However, I must remember that if I had completely given into that natural feeling of doubt at any point in these last couple of years since granolagrrl began, I would still probably have around 15 followers on instagram.
Two years ago, I had no idea that my smoothie bowl photo account would transform my relationship with food so much. The more I think about it, the more my goals for the site have constantly evolved and grown since then. Yes, I still want to share recipes and redefine what it means to eat healthily, but I would also like granolagrrl to become more of a means of expressing the attainability of healthy living to young people - less idealized, much more real with you guys (hopefully this blog post is a decent place to start). Lastly, if you’ve taken anything from reading this, know that it is never too late to turn your relationship with food around - even if you’ve just finished your month long french fry streak :).
As always, feel free to email me with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me through @granolagrrl. Also, don't hesitate to comment below about your thoughts toward this post and whether or not I should do more personal or lifestyle posts like this - I’d love your feedback!