Tag: Worth

My Unexpected (but Totally Worth the Wait) Journey from Diet-Obsessed to Body Positive

I’m not sure when I first started worrying about my weight, but I suspect it started around the same time I started growing breasts and worrying what boys thought of me. Or, more likely, what other girls thought of me.

Until then, I assumed that adolescent girldom came the way it was depicted in movies — at least back then. The “average-sized” girl always played sidekick to the model-type who had it all: the grades, the looks, and the boy.

So by the time I was 14, the word “diet” to me meant “eat like this until you reach your goal weight and then everything will be OK.” Though it never was, I spent those formative years trying to balance my love of food and my disdain for any form of exercise that broke a sweat outside the swimming pool — my weight yo-yoing within a narrow range through the remainder of my teen years.

When I went away to college, this range moved (mildly) up the scale. Still, since I constantly charted my weight, I didn’t see it as concerning. Instead of losing the initial five pounds, I’ll just have to lose 10 pounds, I thought. And on came the weeks, if not months, of fad diets before they officially entered the mainstream (paleo, keto, and Dukan come to mind) and charting my ups and downs — at first on paper with a habit tracker and later with a Fitbit.

At 24, however, I reached my heaviest: 137 pounds. I was two years into therapy and one thing became increasingly clear: I did not have “it” (whatever it was) together, especially when it came to my body.

Consumed by my day-to-day life — school, work, and the social life that comes with college — I didn’t even realize my initial weight obsession started out of sheer neuroticism. Working out blanketed me into believing I was in control of my anxiety.

With a Fitbit, I was constantly reminded of my daily goal and whether or not I had reached it. I would jog on the spot until midnight to make it, or excuse myself at a friend’s and take a freakishly long call or an extended visit to the restroom until the black band on my wrist started buzzing to signal that I was done.

On days I missed ticking a box or making my step goal, I’d mentally scold myself like a child, guilt myself into doing more tomorrow, and watching my food twice as closely in the days that followed.

Until therapy, it never occurred to me that my anxiety and eating were also enmeshed in something bigger — that gaining weight during my years of therapy was linked to reliving repressed memories.

When I happened upon old diaries from my teenage years, one thing became obvious: Every hundred odd pages, without fail, I’d start a health kick, hoping that “this” would be “it.” My monologue was always consistent: “If I’m 110 pounds, my anxiety will go away, and I’ll be happy and not have to binge-eat when life gets tough.” For me, food was comfort, and I needed extra comfort in those days.

But that was then – and this was now. I was at my heaviest weight ever, and something had changed. It wasn’t until the elastic of my underwear was digging into my hips that I realized this bout of weight gain was different. Unlike years gone by, this time I didn’t hate myself for it.

At my largest, I suddenly discovered that I was much more than my weight. For the first time, I didn’t feel exhausted by the continuous cycle of weight watching, and I realized that being healthy wasn’t at all about vanity.

I was, without knowing it at the time, body positive. So much so that when I did start working out again — on my terms this time — I questioned whether or not I was being true to my new, body-positive self.

I thought, just as many women did, that body positivity couldn’t go hand in hand with weight loss or healthy eating or working out. And that’s simply not true. As cliché as it sounds, for me, body positivity is a mental state that involves accepting my body the way it is today.

There’s a slightly cheesy quote I think of whenever I do weigh in after a swim, about how it’s not the destination, but the journey itself. For me, my journey involves swimming because I enjoy it and it expels anxiety from my mind — or choosing to meet a friend at a chocolate workshop because that’s something I enjoy too.

There’s so much more to a healthy life, I’ve found, without all the extra weight that comes with chasing a goal that ends where it’s met.

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Meal-Prep an Entire Week’s Worth of Dinner With Just 8 Ingredients

There's nothing worse than coming home after a long day of work with absolutely zero clue as to what you're having for dinner. That's when pizza happens for the fourth night in a row. Not that we're saying anything is wrong with that: We love pizza too, but since we already ate it three times over the weekend, it's about time we get in a few healthier meals. Thanks to this super-simple meal-prep plan, you won't have to think about dinner again. Except for like 30 minutes on Sunday. Let's do it.

Step 1:

Hit up the grocery store.

Got a pen and paper and 15 minutes? Write down these eight ingredients. Yep, only eight. We challenge you to time yourself in the store, because this is the shortest grocery list ever.

Shopping List

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 8 ounces fresh salmon fillet (or fish of choice)
  • 8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 avocado

Don't forget your storage containers:

  • 5 glass containers (1 for cooked sweet potatoes, 1 for salmon, 1 for chicken, 1 for quinoa, and 1 for black beans)
  • 2 large plastic bags for kale
  • Plastic wrap for avocado

And a few kitchen staples (you probably already have on hand):

  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Lemon juice

Step 2:

Prep everything in 30 minutes.

After you go to brunch and speed through the grocery store (but before the binge-watching begins), set aside 30-40 minutes on Sunday to prep the simple ingredients.*

1. Cook chicken.
This is the best way to cook chicken so it's not one big piece of dried-up cardboard. *Wait until Tuesday night to cook your chicken. Foodsafety.gov says cooked chicken stays good for up to four days, so it's better to play it safe.
2. Cook salmon:
Whether you want to bake it or pan-fry, we've got you covered.
3. Cook quinoa:
Quinoa is simple. It's a 1 to 2 ratio; if you're cooking 3/4 cup quinoa, you'll need 1 1/2 cups water. Boil it until water dissolves, about 20 minutes, and it's ready for ya.
4. Roast sweet potatoes:
Roasting is so easy. Cube one of the taters and cut fry-shapes with the other. Add them to the same pan but separated, toss with olive oil, and bake for 20-25 minutes.
5. Rinse black beans:
Drain and rinse the black beans from the can and store them in a glass container so they're ready whenever you need them.
6. Prep kale:
Wash and remove stems from kale leaves. Break into smaller pieces (ya know, the size you'd want if you were eating a salad) then store in a large plastic bag with a paper towel to soak up any leftover moisture.
7. Arugula and avocado can stay as is:
No prepping necessary since those boxes of greens typically get triple-washed, and all you have to do with the avo is slice into it.

Step 3:

Enjoy ready-to-eat dinners Sunday through Thursday.

We like eating home-cooked meals Sunday-Thursday and saving Fridays for a night out on the town. We deserve it after being good all week.

Start-Your-Week-Off-Right Sunday Night

  • 4 ounces salmon
  • 1/2 of the roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 avocado

How to plate: Toss arugula and avocado with olive oil and lemon juice. If you want to heat up the taters and salmon, pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Meatless Monday

  • 1/2 cup canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 avocado

How to plate: Combine all ingredients into a bowl and toss with olive oil and lemon juice.

Taco (Salad) Tuesday

  • 4 ounces chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 of the cubed, roasted sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 cups kale

How to plate: Heat up the chicken and sweet potatoes in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Toss kale with olive oil and sea salt and massage so kale starts to soften. Add to a bowl and then top with avocado, beans, and shredded chicken. Shake as much hot sauce on it as you'd like and enjoy sweet potatoes on the side.

Workout Wednesday

  • 4 ounces salmon
  • 1 cup sautéed kale
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup arugula

How to plate: This one requires 4 minutes of cooking if you prefer cooked kale over raw: Sauté the kale in olive oil with sea salt for 4 minutes, until wilted. Microwave the salmon for 1-2 minutes. Combine quinoa with arugula and a drizzle of lemon juice, then pair with salmon and kale.

Thirsty Thursday (a Good Meal to Soak Up Happy Hour)

  • 4 ounces chicken
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Sweet potato fries
  • 1/4 avocado
  • ​1/4 cup quinoa mixed
  • 1/4 cup black beans

How to plate: Before you go out for happy hour, get in a big meal by adding warmed-up chicken over a bed of arugula, a side of sweet potato fries, and a combo of quinoa, black beans, and avocado smothered in hot sauce (if you want). We bet you'll even have leftover fries for those late-night munchies when you get home.

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