health

Kristen Stewart’s plastic surgery remarks aren’t body positive. Here’s why.

In case you somehow missed it online or on social media, plastic surgery was once again a buzzy topic this weekend, this time thanks to Kristen Stewart. In her cover interview for the June issue of Harper’s Bazaar U.K., the 25-year-old actress said that not only would she never consider getting plastic surgery, she had some strong opinions about women who do:

“I am so freaked out by the idea of doing anything. And maybe that’s completely arrogant but I don’t want to change anything about myself. I think the women who do are losing their minds. It’s vandalism.”

Predictably, the internet exploded, with lots of people proud of her for standing up against the pressure on women to alter their looks to be “better” or prettier. I think it’s great that Stewart is confident in her own skin and doesn’t feel the need to bow to Hollywood pressure to conform to a certain body standard. However, I think we need to pause for a moment before we retweet her remarks, because her comments are not as body positive as they appear to be.

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24-day diet challenge update

Unsplash Glen Carrie

(photo by Glen Carrie via Unsplash)

I’ve been promising to post about my diet for a while now, and I finally bothered to sit down and write up a meal plan! I’m in the middle of a 24-day cleanse challenge with a girlfriend and so far I’ve had great results.

A lot of people hear the word “cleanse” and automatically think of green juices, liquid diets, taking lots of pills and laxatives, etc. This isn’t any of those. It’s based around healthy, whole foods, lots of water, and a lack of the junk we typically inhale. You can take whatever vitamin supplements you wish. If you like replacing the occasional meal with a protein smoothie you can. But at the core, it’s just healthy, simple foods–lots of lean protein and vegetables–and no processed food. Simple!

On the cleanse you cut out:

  • Coffee, soda, alcohol, and any other sugary drinks (like juice or sugared tea)
  • Processed food (chips, packaged foods or “fast food”)
  • Fried food and any fatty add-ons like creamy dips and dressings
  • White sugar (basically anything with added sugar)
  • White flour (bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Most dairy
  • Red meat

 

Instead you eat:

  • Lean protein (tofu is perfect for me–my friend is eating lean chicken and Greek yogurt but obviously I don’t eat those)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Complex carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc.)
  • Healthy fats such as nuts, beans, hummus, etc.

 

You also drink a lot of water. As a general rule you take your body weight, divide that number in half, and drink that many ounces of water per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll drink 75 ounces of water each day.

Each day you have three meals based around a lean protein (like tempeh), a vegetable (or fruit for breakfast), and a complex carb (like sweet potatoes or quinoa). You also get three small snacks (of 200 calories or less) and endless cups of unsweetened tea and water. Here’s a sample meal plan from a recent workday:

  • 30 minutes before breakfast: green tea with lemon, no sugar
  • Breakfast: oatmeal* with a banana and a dab of peanut butter
  • Mid-morning snack: carrots and hummus
  • Lunch: veggie stirfry with tempeh; berries for dessert; more tea
  • Snack: apple
  • Dinner: large spinach salad with quinoa (for protein–could also use chickpeas or tempeh) and diced veggies; fruit for dessert
  • Snack: glass of warm almond milk

 

*I mix oatmeal with flax, wheat germ and chia seeds and shake it up in a large container so it’s premixed and ready to cook in the microwave. It’s tastier than plain oatmeal and gives you a nice health boost.

Obviously I’m eating a lot, but amazingly enough, I’ve lost ten pounds in the past ten days. I can’t say it’s because I’ve upped my activity level, either, because I’m being as lazy as ever (hey, there are books to be read!). Since starting this diet I have so much more energy and I feel so much better. I thought I would miss donuts, noodles and tons of coffee with tasty sugary creamer in it, but I don’t.

By contrast earlier this year when I got in a rut and was not eating healthy at all, a typical day might include…

  • Three or four cups of coffee with flavored creamer
  • Toast
  • Fritos and an apple (at least I tried to be a little healthy) for a snack
  • Teriyaki noodles for lunch; more coffee or an energy drink; some kind of dessert
  • A donut or other “pick-me-up” for a snack
  • Pasta, French Toast, mac n cheese, or some other similar comfort food for dinner

 

Very little in the way of vegetables and fruits, not enough lean protein, and way too many carbs and processed foods. It’s no wonder I was sluggish and cranky. The weekends were even worse, with fried foods, soda and extra desserts thrown into the mix. I was still eating vegan, I just wasn’t being a very health-conscious vegan.

A big part of this diet has been learning to swap out my less-healthy old favorites for better options. Once a week I’ll still treat myself to my old favorite, pasta, but instead of a big bowl of white pasta with garlic bread on the side I have a small bowl of whole-wheat pasta with an extra-chunky veggie sauce and a salad instead of bread. I’m drinking tea instead of coffee. I spread a little peanut butter on a banana instead of eating a plate of toast.

How much I eat also depends on the day. If I have a busy workday and feel I need to up my protein intake, but don’t have time for food prep, I’ll mix up a vegan protein shake. If I’m at home all day and I’m not that hungry, I’ll sip lots of tea and graze on fruits and veggies instead of forcing myself to eat a big meal. I listen to my body and eat more or less according to what it’s telling me.

Another key has been learning to “arc” my meals according to the rhythm of the day. I used to eat very little until I got home from work, when I would load up on pasta, French Toast or other “comfort foods”. Now I try to get most of my carbs in the first half of the day, when I really need to power up my energy (and admittedly, my mood). I also aim to start the day with a boost of protein and a little fat, since these help with energy and tamping down hunger. As I shift into the second half of the day, I’ll shift to lighter snacks/meals based around fruits and veggies. By the end of the day I’m not really hungry or if I do need a little something, I can have a tiny snack and be happy.

So that’s it! Simple, really. I still crave potato chips, bread, desserts and lattes now and then, but the longer I stick to my protein/veggie/complex carb system of filling out my plate, the easier it gets.

Any questions? Anything I didn’t cover?

Monthly covers: August 2014

I thought it might be fun to start doing a monthly run-down of the magazines I’m reading for the month and what’s inside. I read quite a few, but these are the more popular fashion and beauty-related titles that showed up in my mailbox this month.

Monthly covers Aug14 1

Allure. On the cover: Rachel McAdams. Highlights: Finding out that lots of fall’s hottest clothes are already in my closet. Not so hot: Yet another article on the “new” nude makeup. (Is there really anything “new” about it?)

Elle. On the cover: Kristin Wiig. Highlights: Guys, Kristen is wearing my uniform, aka my Olivia Dunham outfit. Not so hot: More of the same ol’ “miracle products” and “sexy hair without a blow-dryer” articles that have been done to death. Yawn.

Glamour. On the cover: Katie Holmes. Highlights: An awesome ’60s-mod fashion shoot with Anna Kendrick. Not so hot: Most of this issue was a bit of a yawn, which is weird, since I normally love Glamour. Oh well.

InStyle. On the cover: Zooey Deschanel. Highlights: Zooey talking about feminism. Not so hot: So much fur. Why does fall fashion have to include so much fur?

Monthly covers Aug14 2

Lucky. On the cover: Solange Knowles. Highlights: A piece on fall’s pants silhouettes, plus some neat jeans to shop for autumn. Not so hot: This was another issue that just felt really snoozy to me.

Marie Claire. On the cover: Zoe Saldana. Highlights: Zoe’s interview. She’s so feisty. Not so hot: Everyone’s going bonkers about denim right now, and so many of the pieces featured are just out of my budget range or not at all suited to my body.

Natural Health. On the cover: Jenna Dewan-Tatum. Highlights: I didn’t know Jenna was a vegan! Some interesting articles on mediation, yoga and natural stress relief. Not so hot: Product recommendations that are only partially natural or are tested on animals.

Women’s Health. On the cover: Shailene Woodley. Highlights: Shai’s interview; I feel like we’d be great friends in real life. Plus, a really interesting article delving into the possible root cause and recommended cure for most types of chronic pain (like migraines). I struggle with migraines so any chance at a natural cure is always interesting to me. Not so hot: Swimsuit magic? Please. It’ll take more than a magic swimsuit to get me beach-ready. I like fitness magazines because they inspire me to be healthier, but I also feel like some of the articles can really trigger self-loathing–if people who are already so hyper-fit are looking for visually slimming swimsuits, what hope is there for the rest of us?

 

Review + giveaway: MatchaDNA Black Matcha Tea

(Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.)
 

I have another review and giveaway for you guys! MatchaDNA was kind enough to send me a package of their Black Matcha Tea for review. A blend of organic black and green teas, this powdered matcha is perfect for smoothies, lattes and more! Less bitter than traditional brewed green tea and with ten times more antioxidants per cup, it’s also a great metabolism booster and offers increased energy without the crash you get from drinking coffee.

I find that I only use about a half teaspoon to make a latte, so the package will last me a long time. You can add a bit of sweetener if you like, though I find that this tea has a slightly more floral note than straight green tea, so you might be able to skip this step. (And honestly, I’m trying to get away from sweetening all of my drinks anyway!)

If you’re trying to kick your coffee habit or just cut back a little, this is a really nice replacement. I feel like this gives me a much more sustained energy burn, as opposed to a quick pick-me-up and then needing more caffeine shortly thereafter. It also doesn’t leave you with the jitters you expect from drinking too much coffee or energy drinks, so if your caffeine habit is leaving you tossing and turning instead of sleeping soundly at night, give this a try instead.

If you’d like to pick up your own package of Black Matcha Tea, head over to Amazon.com; this product typically retails for $39.99/10-oz., but it’s currently on sale for $12.71. Or enter my giveaway below using the Rafflecopter widget! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents through June 30th; a winner will be drawn and notified on July 1st. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)
 

Product review: KissMe Organics Green Tea Matcha Powder

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

 

Woohoo, I’m back to doing reviews! I’ve been so busy with school that I haven’t been doing much regular blogging this month. (Luckily that’s about to change.) Today I have a product review for a really cool green tea powder kindly provided to me by KissMe Organics. Matcha green tea packs ten times the nutrients of regular green tea, which means it’s doing all of the things green tea does (give you energy, burn fat and relax stressed nerves, to name a few) but in a super-charged way. This version is a finely milled powder that can be prepared as a beverage or worked into your favorite recipes. In fact, the Matcha powder comes with a digital recipe booklet containing over fifty recipes for everything from smoothies to muffins to soups.

Inside the pouch is a bright green powder. This stuff packs a huge punch–half to one teaspoon is plenty for a latte. I strongly recommend measuring this stuff in careful increments, since it has such a strong flavor. You know that bitterness you experience with green tea? If you overdo it with this powder–and it’s easy to do–your food or drinks will have a very strong aftertaste, so follow the recipes to the letter!

I tried the KissMe Matcha Green Tea Latte from the recipe booklet and was immediately hooked. It’s delicious, and healthy too!

KissMe Organics Matcha Green Tea retails at Amazon.com for $39.99, but it’s currently on sale for $25. Find it here or check out their website here.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Healthy eating: kale, quinoa & sweet potato soup

Today I have an easy, healthy and tasty recipe to share with you: kale, quinoa and sweet potato soup. This dish requires only four ingredients, freezes easily, and is not only vegan but also free of soy and gluten. The combo of ingredients stuffs a ton of protein, fiber, iron and other vitamins & minerals into a fairly low-cal package, making it a great healthy option for “diet” days or anytime you need to get the maximum nutrients possible from your meal.

You’ll need:

  • Three quarts vegetable stock (about twelve cups)
  • Several cups washed chopped kale
  • Five or six large sweet potatoes
  • Cooked quinoa–I cook a 26-oz. package of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa, which yields about twelve cups

 

Peel and chop up the sweet potatoes and add them to the vegetable stock. Cook over medium high heat until potatoes are nearly tender; add kale and cook an additional ten minutes. Dish quinoa into bowls and ladle soup over the top; add salt & pepper or other seasonings to taste.

Obviously this makes a LOT of soup. If you’re cooking for one or don’t plan on freezing any of the soup for a later date, then you might want to halve this recipe to avoid soup burnout. I prefer to store the soup and quinoa in separate containers in the fridge so the quinoa won’t soak up all of the broth overnight, but if you’re ladling this into single-serve Ziploc containers to freeze for later then I wouldn’t worry about separate storage.

So now you know what I’m eating this week! Do you have a healthy dinner recipe to share with me? (Don’t forget, you still have time to add your healthy recipes to the January Recipe Writers link-up!)

January 2014 Recipe Writers: Healthy Eating!

It’s time for another round of Recipe Writers, and in celebration of the New Year, this month will focus on healthy eating! We want your favorite healthy recipes, and the easier they are to prepare, the better. This is the time of year when many of us recommit to a healthy lifestyle (especially after the Christmas cookie binges of last month) so now is the perfect time to start swapping healthy recipes for entrees, snacks, smoothies and more. Personally I’m excited to get back on track with healthy smoothies, salads and vegan burgers, so it’s going to be hard picking just one recipe for the link-up!
Here is how Recipe Writers works:
At the beginning of every month we will introduce a new theme and all share our recipes here. The link party will close on the last day of the month. This way you will have time to share a recipe before and after the holiday (if there is one) so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself  and impress your family and friends with the delicious flavors of the season. For example, November was Thanksgiving Favorites and December was Christmas Cookies!
Co-hosts:
Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say

Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month starting on the 1st.  Don’t forget to check in next month to see if your recipe was featured. 
So, what are you waiting for? 
Make your favorite healthy recipes, blog about it and share them with us!

SewMuch2Say.com

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This year…

I was browsing Twitter yesterday when I saw this Pin tweeted out by Elle from the blog ElleSees (go check it out, it’s one of my faves).

What an easy way to make a list of resolutions, right? I have lots of changes to make this year, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to think of a list of resolutions in one giant chunk. I think that’s part of the reason so many resolutions fail–it’s just too much all at once. I like how this list gives you just nine very specific things to focus on.

A bad habit I’m going to break…Spending money for the hell of it because I’m bored or sad. I’ve never been one to spend money I can’t afford to spend, and I don’t carry a credit card, so it’s not that I get myself into financial hard spots with frivolous spending. It’s just that I have a really bad tendency to say, “I’m bored and I had a crappy night at work. I think a trip to (Target, the bookstore, ULTA) is just the thing I need.” And while $20 doesn’t seem like a lot, it really adds up at the end of the year to a houseful of stuff I don’t really need and a chunk of cash I would have preferred to spend on a big-ticket item, like a vacation or a piece of furniture. I’m going to do a longer post on this later, but 2014 is going to be a year of minimal buying, partly to save money, partly to save myself from an avalanche of unneeded stuff, and partly so I can learn better ways to cope with dissatisfaction (a bike ride, reading a book, etc.).

A new skill I’d like to learn…I want to improve my yoga. I have a lot of problems with back pain and I think this will do wonders for my physical health, as well as my mental well-being.

A person I hope to be more like…I don’t like to pick out one person as a role model. I think there are a lot of reasons not to model yourself after a single person, but rather to look at the traits of a group of people you admire and emulate the things they do that you admire.

A good deed I’m going to do…I don’t talk much about stuff like this because I feel like good deeds, charity or what-have-you should be a bit more private. But I do have a couple of things in mind for 2014.

A place I’d like to visit…I don’t have a particular place in mind, but I do have a general goal of getting out of the house more. I’m hugely introverted and my idea of a good day off is snuggling under a blanket with tea, a book and my cats. I want to get out to go new places, do new things, and see new people. I don’t think being introverted is a bad thing, by the way, and I wear my badge proudly; I just know that for myself personally, my love of hiding in the house can sometimes cut me off from new and fun experiences, and I don’t want that.

A book I’d like to read…Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve always been scared away by the idea that it must be really long and hard to read, I suppose simply because it’s a classic, and we all know that classics are scary with a capital S. But I finally bought it and stuck it on the shelf, so no more excuses.

A letter I’m going to write…I’m going to write a letter to my future self and tuck it away to be opened on January 1st, 2015. I think it will be really interesting to read it and see what goals and plans I had and how I achieved them.

A new food I’d like to try…I want to be more experimental with my cooking in general. I tend to get in a rut and not try out new recipes, even when I’m bored to death with the food available in the house.

I’m going to do better at…Exercising daily. I tend to get into these modes of either exercising daily and feeling very proud of myself, or not doing it at all and loathing myself. With all of the other things in my life that eat up time and energy, it can be really hard to stick to an exercise routine, so this year I’m going to try for a simple fifteen minutes each day throughout the month of January. Obviously I can do more, but this is just a basic benchmark to hit on even the really busy, exhausting, I-can’t’possibly-do-one-more-thing kind of days. I think doing something daily will make me feel better physically and will make the routine easier in the long run.

If you decide to fill this in, be sure to leave me a comment with your blog post link so I can check it out!