health

I’m over the body positivity movement

I feel better than ever about my body, but I'm over the body positivity movement. Here are five reasons why.(photo by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash)

Ooh, unpopular opinion time. Because if there’s one thing that seems to have really become “in” over the past few years, it’s body positivity: loving your physical form exactly as is, basically giving a big ol’ middle finger to society’s established norms of acceptable beauty, weight, and body shape. It’s a nice idea on paper, but IRL, although I now feel better than ever about my body, I’m over the body positivity movement. Here’s why.

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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.)