Taking Care of Your Body, Inside and Out

A lot of us are quick to critique our exterior selves, but what we put into our bodies has a lot to do with our outward appearance. Exercise undoubtedly has many important physical and mental health benefits but clean eating INCREASES those benefits. I’m not saying we have to completely give up our favorite dessert or ban french fries but switching out processed and fatty foods for more healthy alternatives will increase energy levels, clear up your skin and help our digestive system.

As a recovering ice cream addict myself, beginning the journey to clean eating can seem overwhelming. Old habits die hard, especially when we’re stressed out or get those late-night cravings. So, to help y’all out I’ve compiled a list of some great diet tips and pages where you can get recipes and inspiration…

 

10 Clean Tips to A Better Diet:

1. Drink MORE Water, our bodies are made up of 50-75% water. We need about 8 glasses of water a day to properly hydrate ourselves. Water helps to flush out toxins which leads to brighter, clearer skin as well as more energy. Also when we think we’re hungry, we might just be dehydrated. Drink a glass of water before a snack or meal and see how much less you eat.

via @fijipearl's instagram page

via @fijipearl’s instagram page

2. Start Juicing! I am a huge fan of juicing because its an easy way to meet your daily requirement of fruits and veggies and you have an endless amount of ways to mix them. A lot of the fruit juices advertised and sold in stores is full of sugar, preservatives and additives. Sadly, even Naked had to remove “All Natural” from their label. If you don’t have a food processor, juicer, or blender I highly suggest investing in one so you can make your own homemade juices and smoothies.

3. Cook with Color (and I’m not talking about Red Dye #40). Adding more colorful fruits and vegetables when you cook not only makes your food better to look at, but it adds flavor and important vitamins and nutrients to your meals.

4. Eat Breakfast! Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and its true! Note the words “break” and “fast,” from the time we go to sleep and the time we wake up, that’s about 6-8 hours of no water and no food, our bodies are literally fasting while we sleep and it is essential to replenish ourselves once we wake up. Whether its a full continental breakfast or just an apple and some yogurt, eating in the morning jump starts your metabolism and prevents you from making that unnecessary trip to the vending machines before lunch.

5. Read the Labels! I can’t expect anyone to get rid of ALL prepackaged foods from photo 1their diet. So when you go to the store and are making decisions about what products to buy, take a quick look at the Nutrition Label. The most important thing to remember: less is more. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. And if you have to sound out an ingredient because its 10 syllables long and you’ve never heard of it before? Put that box back.

6. Delete Fast Food from your diet. Entirely. I don’t think I need to explain to you the health risks associated with fast food. (If you haven’t already, watch the documentary Super-Size Me) Taking the extra time to plan and cook your own meals throughout the week not only saves you from the salty, fatty and sugary meals that lead to high cholesterol and other health problems, it also saves your wallet.

7. Balance your meals. Cutting out entire food groups from your diet is just as detrimental as binge-ing on one food group. Instead of giving up bread eat whole grain. Rather than giving up all dairy products, try almond milk or unprocessed cheeses. Each food group has its health benefits that are necessary for your body.

photo 28. Be creative with your cravings. A few weeks into clean eating, that Ben & Jerry’s is starting to look reallyyyy friendly, and it would be so easy to just get a spoonful…but you have to fight it! There is nothing wrong with a cheat meal every now and then but one cheat meal can lead us right back into our old eating habits. When you have a craving, try to find a recipe that can substitute a prepackaged or drive-through meal. Craving chips? Slice some potatoes and fry them in a little olive oil and a *sprinkle of sea salt. Want ice cream? Find a recipe online and make your own. For every craving there is a healthier alternative, I promise you.

9. Take your time when you eat. It’s hard to slow yourself down, especially when you’re eating your favorite meal, but taking your time when you chew helps your digestive system and prevents you from overeating.

10. Remember, one cheat meal doesn’t break you like one healthy meal doesn’t make you. Clean eating is not a destination, its a lifestyle change the requires daily decisions.

 

Well, there you have it! Need more inspiration? Here are some pages to follow on other networks:

Twitter Pages to Follow: @EatNutritious @FITNESS @sugar_nation @EatThisNotThat @healthyeats @FOODILY

Instagram Pages to Follow: @fijipearl @blackgirlsjuice @eatnutritious @veganmetolife @my_healthy_habit

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Slim-Figured Girls Love Fitness Too!

GRACE

Age: 20

Occupation: Earning Bachelor of Science in Behavioral & Community Health; Pursuing image (1)Career as an Occupational Therapist

Hometown: London, UK

 

Q: Describe your body metamorphosis. How have you grown to love your body more now as compared to before?

A: I’ve pretty much been skinny all my life. Some people would say that I was lucky to have a slim figure because it was the “ideal” body type. While I would receive some compliments here and there, looking back, I definitely had body image issues. On one hand, I had people saying “you could be a model.” On the other hand, people thought I was too skinny and would encourage me to eat more. I was in middle school when my body images issues really began to develop. Not only was I skinny, but I wasn’t “maturing” as fast as other girls. I started to secretly hate what I’d see when I looked in a mirror.

Then one day, I stared at my reflection and had a life changing conversation with myself. I asked myself, “What are you doing? Why do you care so much about what other people say or think?” As much as it sounds like I took this all from a feel-good, cliche-filled movie, that really was the moment my life changed. I stopped listening to what others were saying and started thinking and feeling for myself. That was almost a decade ago. Here I am at 20 and I love what I see when I look at myself. I’m not perfect, but then again, who has the correct definition for perfection?

Just like when I was younger, people are still either telling me that I have the perfect figure or that I should eat a little more to put on more weight. On top of that, a couple months ago, I began my fitness journey which now includes a lot of weight-lifting. Some question why I want to gain muscle mass while others congratulate and compliment my progress. Everyone has an opinion! The difference now is that I don’t laugh when people say things and try to hide a feeling of self-consciousness or self-hate. I just…laugh. Haha! Why? People will always have a compliment, a critique, an opinion on the choices I make. At the end of the day, though, this is MY body and I have to live in it. All that matters is what I’m thinking and feeling.

 

Q: What are your favorite ways to stay healthy?

A: I LOVE FOOD! Since beginning my fitness journey, food has played one of the most important roles. Although, in the past, I wasn’t what you would call a fast food junkie, I didn’t pay that much attention to what I was putting in my body. Fried foods, sugar, and salt were ever present in my daily diet. Thanks to my high metabolism, I’ve managed to never go above 120 lbs. However, health goes far beyond one’s physical appearance. Now that I’m a “clean” eater, I not only look, but FEEL my best. I eat lots of protein, fruits and vegetables and am working on increasing my water intake. I love eating and have been incorporating a lot of new, clean recipes in my diet. It’s definitely my favorite way to stay healthy.

I also have grown to love weight-lifting. When I first started to work out, I did a lot of cardio. The pounds started melting off, but I wasn’t building much muscle. Now that I’m weight-lifting, I see much more muscle growth and I’m loving every second of it! I love pushing myself and seeing the physical progress I’m making. It’s amazing to see what the human body is capable of doing with a little motivation and some heavy weights!

photoQ: What inspired you to get/stay healthy?

A: I used to be one of those people who always said, “I should start working out” or “I need to go to the gym.” A couple of months ago, I created an Instagram account. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon fitness pages, but before long, I was hooked! (Some of Grace’s favorite Instagram pages are @ashleyfreeman, @sammybfit & @kee_ma_la_shmexy) I saw all these women documenting their fitness journeys through pictures and videos. Their transformations are amazing. While some are professional figure or bikini competitors, most of those I follow on Instagram are regular people just like me. I’ve always wanted to put on a little weight, build muscle, and whip my diet into shape. I just continued to tell myself, “I’ll start tomorrow.” Enough was enough! After seeing the progress other women were making, I decided it was time to put my words into action.

I started going to the gym regularly and slowly making changes to my diet. Fast forward a couple months and i’m looking more lean, seeing some muscle growth, and feeling my absolute best. Things aren’t perfect, though. I have lazy days when I don’t work out and “cheat” meals where I indulge in foods that no longer have a regular place in my diet. That doesn’t get me down. Once skipped workout or one cheat meal won’t make me unhealthy just like one workout or healthy meal won’t make me healthy. After all, life is about balance right?

More importantly, after beginning my fitness/health journey, what motivated me to KEEP this lifestyle are the changes I see and feel. My body surprises me every time I go to the gym and lift weights. Physically, I’m gaining muscle mass little by little and am moving steadily towards my targeted physique. Mentally and emotionally, I’m a happier person. My confidence level has boosted and I am enjoying life in ways I’d never imagined. It’s true what they say: be good to your body and it will be good to you.

Q: What advice would you give to other girls trying to get healthy?image

A: First and foremost, SET REALISTIC GOALS! Whether you want to change your diet, drop a few pounds, or build muscle, don’t set goals that require overnight miracles. These are LIFESTYLE changes and there isn’t a magic pill or one day miracle that will get you immediate results. Start off small and make little changes. Also, give yourself the credit you deserve! Don’t be hard on yourself because you dropped 2 lbs instead of 20. Don’t start calling yourself a failure because you indulged in the Brownie Obsession dessert at TGI Friday’s (oh my goodness…it’s so delicious!). You’re still down 2 pounds and you definitely deserve to treat yourself to some chocolatey goodness here and there. Always remember that SMALL PROGRESS IS STILL PROGRESS!

Secondly, don’t compare yourself to others. People make different choices. Everyone’s health journey will differ. When you look at yourself, don’t focus so much on where you want to end up. Continually remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Set goals, stay focused and keep going!

Last but not least, remember that being healthy isn’t a destination, but a lifestyle. Take it day by day. Don’t get so wrapped up in things that you forget to enjoy life. you’ve only got one life to live so make it worthwhile!

 

Want to see more of Grace?

Check out her instagram page @gymspired_grace!

 

Why You Shouldn’t Want a Body Like Your Favorite Celebrity

Celebrities are arguably the most admired people in society. We love them for their talents, their personalities and most of all, their looks. For many of us, our favorite celebrity holds our standard of beauty. Katy Perry, Rihanna, Halle Berry; all of these women are prized for their beauty and ability to seemingly look flawless whenever they are seen in public. But what many of us fail to realize, is that many of the images that we see of our favorite celebrities have been tampered with, some more than others. Every image in a magazine, commercial or billboard has most likely been retouched or photo-shopped.

Here are some examples:

Jennifer Lawrence is known for her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, the main character from the Hunger Games series. On the left is her photograph before retouching, the right is after. In the edited image, Lawrence’s whole body has been slimmed, her arms, face, neck, bust, waist and thighs have all been thinned out to achieve an almost emaciated appearance.

Kim Kardashian, praised for her fashion and her booty. This socialite has been

under constant scrutiny for her curves. Are they real? Has she gone under the knife? Regardless of whatever rumors there are, in the image to the right we see a clear retouching of Kim’s body. The left is the original image and the right is the edited version. Her thighs and butt have been slimmed and her face given extra contour. Kim’s body has been made curvier by the increased space between her arm and right side and we see the lower left side of her abdomen cropped.

 

Beyonce doesn’t need much of an introduction. Her die hard fans adore her not only for her dancing and singing talent, business skills and commanding presence on stage but her curves as well. However, the image to the left shows her before and after retouching. In the right, we notice how her bust has been lifted, arm toned, waist cropped and even her calf muscle made less defined.

 

Now, I’m not posting these pictures to pinpoint our favorite celebrities’ flaws or be critical. I’m posting these pictures to tell all of these girls striving to look like Beyonce, BEYONCE DOES NOT LOOK LIKE BEYONCE. No doubt all of these women are beautiful, but the images we see of their bodies are modified and therefore unrealistic to try to obtain! Jennifer Lawrence’s curves are beautiful on their own, why is she made to look nearly emaciated in her edited pictures? Why are Kim’s legs and abdomen thinned? To have a curvier body and be proportional, you are going to have thicker legs and wider hips. And who’s stomach doesn’t have folds when they bend over? Why did they get rid of Beyonce’s calves? Shouldn’t we be proud of our muscles? The media creates and manipulates the images of beauty we try so hard to meet.

There is nothing wrong with admiring celebrities for their talent or skills, that is what got them famous. But just like everyone else, famous people are human, they have flaws. Nothing and nobody are perfect. The high standards we hold ourselves to trying to reach the level of perfection that celebrities seem to have is exhausting, because they are computer generated, not real! So, instead of hanging a poster of your favorite celebrity as motivation when you work out, hang a mirror. Admire yourself and marvel at your own beauty and progress. It is much more gratifying than trying to recreate someone else’s body in your own.

 

Full-Figured and Fabulous!

Age: 21Dziko 1
Occupation: Pursuing Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology
Hometown: Bowie, Maryland

 

Q: Describe your body metamorphosis. How have you grown to love your body more now as compared to before?

A: My relationship with my body has been a very rocky one. I am 5’11” and I have always been tall. I had embraced being tall very early and even when people tried to tease me because of it, I was able to brush it off more easily than other things. Since I was always tall I would of course carry more weight, but around the age of 11, I started to gain a significant amount of weight. I never noticed there was an issue until I was ‘encouraged’ by my family to get on these various diets. I can’t tell you how many diets I’ve tried but none of them really worked. It was really hard for me to understand myself and what I looked like because I was constantly on these diets and getting certain remarks from my family, like there was something wrong with me. I eventually came to the conclusion that no matter how good I was at something, I wasn’t good enough because I was still fat.

Looking back on it at the age of 21, I’m pretty sure I was depressed throughout my adolescence. I was always the biggest person wherever I was. People would mistake me for  being older, I have even been mistaken for someone’s mother a couple of times. And at 14, 15, 16 years old, that’s not something you want to be mistaken for. All I wanted was to look like a teenager but I didn’t feel like I was. I didn’t enjoy it. Every year was the same. Like everyone else, I wanted to make a change and lose weight. I wanted to come back to school a different Dziko. So many times I would try this and I’d come back to school the same, or with another 20 lbs.

These feelings of disappointment and disgust with myself definitely did not help me achieve the sense of style that I wanted either. I wouldn’t say that I aspired to be a fashionista or anything, but I definitely looked up to ladies who always had a polished look every time they stepped out of the house. I wanted to feel that way, but because I felt such anguish in my body, I didn’t feel like I deserved to dress nice. I would wear sweat suits, jeans with a hoodie, baggy clothes and just things that never were really that flattering. It wasn’t until college that I decided to make better attempts to look better and feel better about my body.

Dziko2I truly believe that if you look good, you feel good! I found a lot of this inspiration when I discovered this subculture of body positivity that embraced full figured women and their passion to expand plus size fashion. I found various blogs of women who looked just like me and were flawless! (Some of the blogs Dziko found were: GarnerStlye.com, nadiaaboulhosn.com, kurvayshusb.com, TheBigGirlBlog.com, & stylechick360.com) They had style, fabulous wardrobes, and an amazing aura of confidence that i desperately wished I had. These blogs not only helped inspire me to make a better effort to dress nicer, but to take care of my body as well. A lot of these plus size bloggers that I came across debunked the myth that full-figured women were not active. I came across a lot of these blogger stores who were parallel to mine and they gained the courage to start their weight loss journeys.

I was so ecstatic to find people that I could FINALLY relate to. Being able to take control of my mind, body and spirit has most definitely helped me appreciate the body that I have. It makes me cry to think of how I wish my 11 year old self could see me now. I am definitely happier than I was 10 years ago. I didn’t think this type of confidence was possible for me. I have such a long journey ahead of me, but I am just amazed at the progress I have made. I still have a laundry list of insecurities to tackle, but I have the rest of my life to deal with them.  As long as God keep waking me up every morning, I am going to make a conscious effort to be a better person than I was the day before.

 

Q: What are your favorite ways to stay healthy?

A: Some of the behaviors that I practice to stay healthy are sleeping, exercising, eating balanced meals, drinking water, taking breaks, enjoying myself and smiling at myself. I am a believer in maintaining good mental health in addition to physical health. There are so many stressors and obstacles in each of our lives and often our mental health takes a huge beating. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are prominent disorders that plague millions of people and are often ignored and given the acknowledgement they need. Not only can these disorders negatively affect an individual’s mental health, but they can take a toll on physical health and disrupt daily life as well.

Simple things such as 6-8 hours of sleep, laughing, and looking at the mirror and smiling at yourself can help build and maintain a strong sense of self worth. As far as exercising goes I loveeee the elliptical. After feeling my way through different ways to get a cardio workout, I found that the elliptical was the most comfortable and I felt like i was getting the most out of my workout. I like doing an hour of cardio even though it is recommended that you only do 30 minutes.

I personally like to make the most of my time at the gym and for me, I’d rather spend an hour on the elliptical than sitting on the couch, eating something crappy. I also have found a strength training routine that works best for me. It was a bit harder to get comfortable with strength training because I knew little about it. But with the help of the internet and some friends that are more fitness savvy, I was able to find some workouts that I liked and were effective. Some of the strength training workouts that I do are bicep curls, tricep curls, weighted squats (my favorite) and lunges, and some variations of crunches (my least favorite).

Q: What advice would you give other women trying to get healthy?Dziko 3

A: 1. take it one day at a time. It’s not easy trying to go from being sedentary to a gym rat in one day, so don’t even try it lol. Take baby steps! Adjust something in your normal diet, like instead of fries or chips with a sandwich have a salad or some veggies instead. Include a walk a couple times a week. Start off on the treadmill or elliptical for 15 minutes and work from there.

2. LEARN TO FORGIVE YOURSELF! I feel this is so crucial to getting healthy. Maybe you’re feeling frustrated with yourself about the current state of your health. I’ve been there, and constantly reminding yourself of your mistakes is just going to set yourself up for failure. Don’t dwell on the past. Just focus on the better healthy choices you will be making and move forward.

3. Find supportive people to help you on your journey. It is hard to do by yourself and there will be people that may not understand what you’re going through so finding people that understand your journey can help you stay centered and focused on your goals.

4. Skipping meals is not going to make you skinny or healthier. you need to eat. And if you’re going hard core in the gym, not eating can end terribly. You gotta fuel your body! Focus on eating better foods. Avoid processed foods and you can never go wrong with veggies and protein!

5. STAY CONSISTENT! This is definitely something I struggle with as well so I’m saying all this to remind myself too! You gotta stay consistent with everything! Staying consistent with these healthy behaviors gets easy with time. But sometimes life happens. Stress gets the best of you or there’s a life change that occurs. Things like this may throw you off but you have to do your best to stick with it! Its sooooo easy to get off track and then get back to your old habits. Been there, done that lol So no matter what goes on in your life, stay on track. It may take a couple slip ups to figure it out but hey, they don’t call it a journey for nothing right?

6. LEARN TO LOVE THE BODY YOU HAVE! Very, very important. No matter how much weight you can lose, you can still have underlying resentment about your body and still have a lingering feeling of disappointment. This may be the toughest thing to overcome, to be honest. Take the time to appreciate you body! Do what makes you feel good! Throw on something that makes you feel nice! Slap on some make up! Give yourself some TLC! Take the time to understand yourself. Doing this makes the journey that much more worth it. And even so, you may not ever get to that specific goal but always appreciate the progress you’ve made and love the body at whatever state it is in. If you do, you’ll feel good =)

Dziko4

 

Want to get in touch with Dziko?

Facebook: Dziko Kiya
Twitter: @SilentDeee
Tumblr: Zeigh-Keaux.tumblr.com or SilentDeee.tumblr.com

Next post coming next week!

Every Body is Different!

Every woman, regardless of her size, age or ethnicity, has dealt with body image. Positive or negative, women especially, are held to some very strict standards on how our bodies should look. Every day we are bombarded with opinions on what looks the best. Stop and think, as you go through your daily routine: your drive to work, surfing the internet, skimming a magazine in a waiting room, half-watching the commercials during your favorite show; how many images do we see of models? actors? celebrities? How many bodies do we see and how often do we think to ourselves: “I wish I had her…” or “If only I looked like…” After getting out of the shower and standing in front of the mirror, how many of us have poked at our “problem areas” or criticized some part of our body?

Trust me, I’ve been there. Body standards have been a plague upon women since, it seems, the beginning of time and body dissatisfaction is a natural result. Constantly comparing ourselves to other women and the images pushed through the media, how are we ever to be satisfied? But that’s the thing, if we are constantly looking at others, we can never truly come to appreciate the beauty that is in ourselves.

This month, the theme of the F.Y.M. Project, is Body Appreciation! Recognizing all body types and emphasizing the importance of HEALTH. The beauty of diversity is that we are not all the same! Everyone is built differently, so how can we all fit one standard? Forget what you see in magazines and music videos, stop and admire yourself. Instead of focusing on getting a body like your favorite celebrity or dropping or gaining so many pounds, focus on being healthy and the best YOU.