Keeping Score: The Conversation We’re Not Having About Healthy Living (But Should Be)

Keeping Score: The Conversation We’re Not Having About Healthy Living (But Should Be)

Body Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

You know the feeling: you hear a song on Spotify shuffle, you tune into the local radio station, an in-the-know friend plays you a record – and you’re in awe. You become more than a fangirl. You follow the band’s online presence, you make a point to see every show. You support even though no one know, you cheer because they make you feel something you’ve never felt before – or maybe felt all along.

And then the world picks up on it.

In the last few years, being healthy, and specifically, eating healthy has become a “trend.” And in the midst of this health revolution we’re having, there is a conversation that is not going on right now: Marketing health as a trend diminishes its value, its credibility, and its true lasting power on a person-to-person basis.

Look on billboards and advertisements the next time you step out to start your day: what do you see?

Gluten-free. All natural. Organic. Real.

Magazine covers tell us about the “one diet we all should be following,” and bookstores overstock the window shelves with the latest bestseller on our bods. Which, of course, all pique our interest, because it’s new, exciting, and speaks to our desire to be our very best selves….as well as our desire to be a part of a movement, something bigger than we are. Something we can connect with.
Creative Start Katie Horwitch Record Collection
The great thing about the healthy living trend is that it means there’s a slew of information at our fingertips. Like, an unprecedented amount. People who’d never consider drinking greens now gladly experiment at their local juice bar. That man or woman who used to mock “hippies” at the grocery store is now actually reading labels and questioning restaurant chains. Huge media outlets and high-profile celebrities (Beyonce!) are making healthy living a part of their brand, giving it a cool-kids feel it’s never really had before. Heck, the fact that my parents watched Fed Up together on a freaking Friday night means that this movement is real. It’s now officially hip to be green.

On one hand, viewing health as social klout has gotten the more people eating whole, minimally-processed foods on a regular basis. And hey, the more, the better! The more information out there about the benefits of a health-filled lifestyle, the better off we are as a society. Surely we want to see our society’s obesity epidemic decline, our culture’s heart disease levels decrease, our diseases and deaths become sparsities, not statistics. Healthy is cool and that gets us on board.

On the other hand, the lines between cool and uncool are being drawn in very thick ink. Whereas once-upon-a-time (well, #iwish) we used to have buzzterms like low fat, fat free, and “diet” drilled into our stomachs, now we’ve got an emphasis on uber-health. Paleo. Gluten-free. Sugar-free. All-natural. Healthy fats only. Complex carbs only. Calorie control. Non GMO. Unprocessed. Etc etc etc. And let me reiterate: none of these things are inherently bad or harmful. It’s the spin on virtuosity that’s hurting us, the idea that it’s my-way-or-the-highway.

How about the people who are now eating turkey sandwiches instead of pizza for lunch? How about those who choose a cup of greek yogurt for a snack instead of a bag of potato chips? How about the one woman who is trying so hard to make positive changes in her life but everything she reads and everything she sees tells her that something is “bad” or “off-limits?” It can seem daunting, so daunting that she gives up altogether. I’m overwhelmed by rules, she thinks – and she quits altogether.

Our emphasis on uber-health is estranging those who just need some time to adjust. 

If healthy living – and specifically, healthy eating – is a trend right now, that inherently means that at some point it will morph into something new and noteworthy. It means that the media will no longer flash “organic” or “unprocessed” in our faces in favor of another new buzzword or concept.

Our emphasis on uber-health fails to realize that health is an ever-evolving journey, not just a fixed destination.

The thing about healthy living, true healthy living, is that it’s completely individualized and customizable. How wonderful that we have this wealth of information at our fingertips, that the latest research and moreover, common sense points, are being embraced by huge name brands and retail outlets! My fear is that much of it could turn into a flash in the pan, that these decisions might be being made by those big brands out of a desire to nab the general public, not serve the general public. And just like that band you loved for years before the world caught on – I don’t want this wonderful movement of healthy living to fade back into the dark as a forgotten one-hit wonder.
healthy living is an anthem, not a copy
To eat well, really eat well, we need to take advantage of all the wonderful information that’s at our fingertips right now. We need to take this opportunity to educate ourselves, because never before have we had this kind of information at our fingertips.

And then we need to listen to our bodies, open up our eyes, and take what works for us to fit our lifestyle. At a sports game or concert and you’re hangry with no veggies in sight? Go for the thing that looks most like real food you can find – then go have a blast with your friends. Having trouble in the breakfast department when all you’re used to are pop tarts or frozen waffles? A cup of yogurt with some berries is a great step in the right direction. I know that I personally love to snack on popcorn, and not always the air-popped kind. Most websites will tell me I’m doing horrible at the whole “eating” thing. But I know, with a lifestyle that is mostly plant-based and garbage-free, and a past that involves both bingeing on candy and cookies our of boredom and eating so strictly it endangered my well-being, my conscious choice to enjoy some kettle corn is one that feels balanced for me. Just because your meal is not food blogger material or the nutritional value of your one snack isn’t as “clean” as the trends say it “should” be, I promise, as long as you are making an informed decision, you are doing more than okay.

Eating well does not have to be an all-or nothing scenario. We owe it to ourselves to make healthy eating and healthy living more than a trend. Because just like that awe-inspiring band you found long ago with the one single everyone went crazy over, your lifestyle deserves respect and reverence whether it’s in vogue or not. The foods you eat and the way you live can make you feel things you’ve never felt before – or maybe felt all along – if you stop keeping score and follow your truth.


WANT YOURSELF
What is one decision you’ve made in the last month to live healthfully on your own terms?


photos: cortnee loren brown/creative start

 

The WANT Women: Jessica Murnane On Determination, Dysmorphia, And The Power Of Drake

The WANT Women: Jessica Murnane On Determination, Dysmorphia, And The Power Of Drake

Body Community Most Popular Posts WANT Women Work

Online-friend offline hang-outs are kind of like blind dates. Except you actually know a pretty good deal about that person, and you’ve already developed a shorthand and tone. But just like blind dates, you have no clue if that tone will translate in real life. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I’m not what she expected? What if we have nothing to talk about without the internet as a buffer?

Simply put: Jessica Murnane is a COOL cool chick. So cool, in fact, I was a bit nervous to meet her.

As the brand genius behind the sassy, soulful wellness site JessicaMurnane.com (formerly One Part Plant), author of not one but two plant-based cookbooks (A Year Of Cookies and A Year Of Breakfast – read on to win the latter!), and host of the wildly popular One Part Podcast, which features entrepreneurs and creatives of all types dishing on the fun stuff, the tough stuff, and everything in between – she’s got that wellness-cool thing going on without a stitch of pretentiousness or elitism.
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I mean, the girl loves rap music and the NBA just as much as she loves roasted veggies and Louise Hay. Her brand (based on the premise that change doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it’s about working through things one part at a time) has a cult following, her weekly podcast is binge-worthy, and she’s maybe one of the best I’ve seen at responding to her readers and followers with a personalized touch (I know it can be easy to fall into the trap of a generic “Thanks!’ response on the internet). 

Jessica is one of those people I’d follow online and think, I bet we’d be friends in real life. So when she asked me to be on her podcast, I flipped. And when she was in town last month, I minorly freaked. 

What if she doesn’t like me? What if I’m not what she expected? What if we have nothing to talk about without the internet as a buffer?

Fast forward and in-person Jessica is just as COOL-cool-chick as online Jessica, if not cooler. Like, you can both cry-snort-laugh with her and dig into the deep stuff kind of cool.

My body is- important, but does not

Jess’s generosity and her openness about topics like her struggle with endometriosis, how and why a plant-based way of eating can work wonders, her choice to adopt, etc are just a part of who she is at her core; the way she listens so intently and asks all the right questions in her interviews is just the way she’s wired.

Jessica Murnane is all-inclusive, down-to-earth, and proof that you can make a life (and career) out of living well on your own terms. I am so proud to introduce you to her.

WANT JESSICA.
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Name: Jessica Murnane


How you’d know me (occupation or role): My website jessicamurnane.com or the One Part Podcast or that girl that is always talking about plant-based food.


What I love about myself (and why): I love that I’m a good connector of people. One of my most favorite things in the world is to bring new people together that I know will hit if off or getting to share another person’s story to inspire others.


What is your definition of “positivity?”: To be able to look ahead at the day and know that you’re going to try your best, no matter what happens.


When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?”
Wow. I think it’s always a work in progress. There are certain days that I need to work harder on loving myself. But I’ve come so far that even my “off” days are pretty great compared to the way I used to feel.

I suffered pretty severely from body dysmorphic disorder – brushing my teeth in the dark, avoiding mirrors, but then the next day obsessing over my reflection, wearing crazy makeup and clothes to draw attention away from my face, and just straight up not wanting to leave the house. It’s crazy, because I’ve always been a really social person and was always surrounded by people – but no one ever knew my secret.

As I got older and found a therapist I loved, things began to get a lot better in my late 20s. But I truly feel that my “turning point” to loving and accepting myself more came when I changed to a plant-based diet. Everything changed. Feeding my belly with good things, made my brain feel better too. It’s weird how it’s all connected – but I truly believe it is. I am happiest I’ve ever been and even if I don’t have perfect-love-yourself days…I have come such a long way that I feel proud.


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Negative talk seems to rear its ugly head when I’m not taking care of myself the way I need to – working out consistently, taking my Vitamin D, and skipping meals. The negative thoughts start creeping in and I know it’s time that I need to get back to my wellness routine. My routine works like a big honking bodyguard to my brain – protecting it from those trifling words getting anywhere near me. Oh, and the winters in Chicago. Sometimes my bodyguards aren’t strong enough to fight off a Chicago winter.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…when I’m running late. Always when I’m running late.


When others talk negatively about themselves…I try not to encourage them. I’ll always present something positive to counter what they’re saying or ask if I can help. If they don’t bite, don’t actually want to make changes, or are just complaining to complain – I try to shift the conversation. It’s not that don’t have compassion for them, I just know from my own experience, that most times there’s nothing you can say to help change someone else’s negative talk. They have and want to make the change in themselves.


It baffles me that women still…gossip about lame ass shit that doesn’t matter.


I wish that more women…would remember social media (Instagram, looking at you) isn’t always the full story. We do a great job at comparing our lives to people we don’t even know…their clothes, vacations, elaborate plates of food. When really we know nothing about them. They could have their own host of problems we don’t even know about. Gotta stop comparing so much.
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The coolest thing about women is…our resilience.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: I think “this will be a really great story in a few months!”


My top female role models: I know a lot of people usually choose celebrities and famous people for their role models – but I’m gonna have to go with my friends and sisters. My strong ass friends are my role models: Marina Birch, Liz Kores, Kristen Hayes. My sisters Alissa Ramsay, Kellie Murnane, and Abbey Grissom. These women are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. I can’t believe what some of them have done and experienced in their lives. Oh! And every woman I have interviewed on my podcast has inspired me like no other.


Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by…giving women compliments that have nothing to do with their looks. Tell a woman how much you love her sense of humor or how she’s the hardest worker you know. Something that feels a little more meaningful than, “you look hot”.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Actually saying “STOP IT” out loud to myself. This generally works best when I am home alone and not on the train or in a public place!


Fave self-love ritual: Taking time to care for myself and feeling an ounce of guilt about it. Getting a haircut, taking a super long walk, playing hooky from work and hanging out in my pajamas all day.


Favorite feel-good food(s): My feel-good foods are so different than they were before. My feel-good foods used to be comfort foods that actually ended up making me feel bad (ice cream, pizza, gummy candies). Now, I treat myself to giant bowls of plants with awesome sauces or a giant scoop of almond butter on some celery can make my heart feel so happy. I can’t believe I just typed that. Celery is a feel-good food to me now?! Kind of awesome.


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: If it has the word “romantic” and “comedy” together…I’m in. I really only watch movies that are happy. If I have to cover my eyes because it’s scary, violent, or sad – it’s just not worth watching it. By the way, if there are any filmmakers reading this – can you please make more happy movies?


Favorite empowering book(s): I love the book Daily Rituals. It’s not exactly a business or self-help book, but it’s really made me feel more comfortable and confident about the way that I work and go about my day. I also love Louise Hay – Heart Thoughts. A lot of mornings I’ll just open to a random page and read a mantra. And it’s usually the exact one I needed.

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My feel-good playlist: It would involve some Drake, some dirty South hip-hop, some weird Euro DJ music that I won’t ever remember the name of…basically anything that has a good beat that gets makes me want to dance or put on my running shoes.


Advice I would give my…

  • …4 year old self: Keep doing you.
  • …14 year-old self: All that acne WILL go away. Boys WILL get cooler (you’ll actually marry the coolest one of them all). And eventually you WILL learn how to take care of that unibrow.
  • …24 year old self: Don’t feel so defeated – this won’t be your only career (you’ve got three more ahead of you and that’s ok). And embrace those boobies…let them out more!

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:

  • Make enough money that I’m able to share more with others that need it.
  • Write a book.
  • Have my One Part Plant restaurant program partner with an airline and sports stadium.
  • Take a two week vacation with no email or phone. Ok, a month. If we’re talking Bucket List here – sky’s the limit!
  • Figure out how to make my Grandma’s Scotharoos (her famous dessert) planty

My best tip on self love: Something my dad taught me. When you’re not feeling your best– write a list of ten things in your life that you are grateful for. Once, during a very low point in my life – my dad sent me a list about my life to me. It was a game changer. I still have it.


When I truly love all of myself…I talk a mile a minute and bounce around the house. I’m totally wired with energy from the love.


Right now, I am most excited about…my new son, Sid. He is the kindest most special boy I have ever met (besides his poppa). I love being a mom more than I ever imagined.


My body is: important, but does not define who I am.


Three words to describe me: determined, determined, determined


Current mantra: You got this.

jessica-murnane


WIN A COPY OF A YEAR OF BREAKFAST! Love breakfast at all times of the day just as much as Jessica and I do? One lucky WANT reader will win a digital copy of Jessica’s newest book, A Year Of Breakfast, to help you create all kinds of plant-based breakfast concoctions in your own kitchen (hello french toast, how you doin’)!

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us one thing you love about yourself and why. Extra entries if you follow Jessica Murnane and WANT on Instagram – just leave a comment saying you did.

One winner will be chosen at random. Giveaway closes Friday, April 17th at 5pm P.S.T. and winner will be announced in the comments. Good luck, WANT women (and men)!

 

Photo credit: Eva Deitch

What’s Food Got To Do, Got To Do With It: Defining Diet On Your Own Terms

What’s Food Got To Do, Got To Do With It: Defining Diet On Your Own Terms

Body Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

Growing up, my elementary school had a pretty extensive hot lunch program. Pizza, deli sandwiches, ravioli, chocolate milk. Delicious, yes, and every savory-toothed kid’s dream. Most days, my friends and I would bring our own lunches, which would all follow the one guideline that could get us writing standards through recess: no sugar in the first three ingredients.

Fast forward to high school, we switched over to baked chips instead of fried. College, fat-free froyo was the thing. Now, I can’t enter a room without hearing someone mention what they ate and how they ate it (myself included – I can’t help that I love food like it’s my job). Working with various bloggers, chefs, nutritionists, fitness pros, and health fanatics every single day has taught me one huge lesson about health: everyone has an opinion.

One family member might swear off dairy, saying it’s a life changer. One book might preach the gospel of gluten-free. Another might say that all grains no-matter-what are the devil; a magazine on the table says our bodies need whole wheat as nutritional puzzle pieces. Eating for your blood type, eating for your ayurvedic type, eating for your genotype…

Combine the lessons, books, experts, and health fanatics with the amount of incredible information that’s literally at our fingertips – hello, Google! – we’ve started to not only talk reactively instead of proactively, we’ve started to eat reactively instead of proactively. What we’re told should fuel us makes us feel crummy, but we keep going because hey, that’s what we’re told we should do.

No wonder we are so confused.

We like to think of food in black-and-white terms; healthy vs unhealthy, grains vs. dairy vs. meat vs. fruit vs. veggies vs. fat. We limit our views of what we can and cannot eat based on generic categories – and it’s not our fault. Whether you grew up in 1965 or 2015, the slowly changing “food pyramid” has been a visual reminder of the shoulds and should-nots of healthy eating since childhood. We’ve had it drilled into our brains that there is a clear Good Vs. Evil when it comes to food, and diet trends such as low carb, low fat, gluten free, sugar free, fat free, high protein, etc have given us even more extreme and generic views as to what should and shouldn’t go into our mouths.

My question is: if these norms are true, then why do so many of us end up feeling so bad?

By volume, our biggest, most universal behavioral norm is that we all eat. Whether it’s three large meals or periodically grazing throughout the day, it’s also by function our most important behavioral norm.

Here’s the deal: everything you put inside your body puts some sort of chemical reaction into motion, and those chemical reactions not only affect the way we feel, they affect the way we feel about the way we feel. You know how you’re more likely to bash your bod when you’re feeling physically crappy? That negative talk is directly related to the ins and outs of what you eat. Even if you think you are eating well, you might not be eating well for you.

Whether you’re making an effort to follow the healthy guidelines you’ve heard about on the streets (this is actually what you hear about on the streets in LA) or you just go where your tastebuds (or eyes – food is pretty) take you, it’s time to start tuning into what makes your machine run at peak performance.

We need to get back in touch with what makes us vibrant and healthy on an individual basis – and that starts by learning how our food makes us feel and how it actually tastes.

And if you think about it, you’ll probably find that you already know more than you think you do. Here’s how to get back in touch:

Notice how your body reacts to the foods you eat. Think back on your last few days of eating. What has made you feel more energetic, or helped you sustain your energy levels? Have you had bouts of extreme mood swings unrelated to sleep or that-time? Were there mornings you woke up feeling sluggish, flu-like, poofy-bodied (I prefer this adjective over “bloated,” it’s kinder), foggy-brained? Take note of how you’ve felt and look at what you ate during those times.

Your body is quick to react to the good stuff, but can be a little slower to react to what makes your insides cry for help. Whether it’s after twenty minutes or twenty four hours, if you’re not feeling good – listen. And if you’re feeling great – listen. Notice patterns. Your body is smart and tells you what it really loves. Listen. Don’t confuse that love with what your body lusts after in the moment.

Learn what your food actually tastes like. It’s astonishing that so many people think certain foods are seemingly tasteless – when the only foods that are truly tasteless are those made in plants by chemicals, not grown amongst plants by farmers. When you start to strip away all the fixins – sugar and salt-laden heavy dressings, sauces, creams, etc – you’ll realize that everything has a very distinct taste to it. So many people shun veggie because they think they don’t like them, when in reality, we’re so addicted to the junk-filled gunk we throw on top of them that we’re not even giving them a chance to get to first base on their own.

This isn’t about eliminating food groups or going on a regimented diet – it’s about taking control of your food choices instead of letting other people, brands, and businesses control what you crave. Don’t worry, you’ll get to add sauces and fanciness back onto your plate – but not until you know what you are adding them to and why. Is it because they compliment your dish or they mask it? Is it because they round out the meal or feed your cravings?

You won’t eat healthfully for life if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating…so learn what you actually like. Once you figure out what you enjoy eating and what makes you feel good, you’ll start to see a pattern; a correlation between the things you enjoy and the things that make you feel good. They’ll become a dynamic duo; one won’t be able to exist without the other.

Does this mean you’ll shun loaded nachos, chocolate chip cookies, and buttercream frosting forever? Of course not. Loaded nachos, chocolate chip cookies, and buttercream frosting are some of the most wondrous parts of life. But you won’t let them take control of your mind and body. You’ll know what makes you feel like crap and how much indulgence your body can handle before it starts to feel abusive or self-sabotagey. And you’ll be able to really enjoy it without feeling like you’re “cheating.” There’s no way to cheat when you know yourself inside and out.

Whether you’re leaving sugar out of the first three ingredients or swearing off dairy, a healthy diet isn’t really about the food. It’s not about a rulebook or an outline or even a label – certainly not about a pyramid. Healthy eating is about feeding your body so it can move into its best self. It’s about learning to listen to what your body is telling you and taking note, honoring what it has to say. It’s the best friend you will ever have, the most honest confidante you’ll come across. A healthy diet is about loving yourself enough to treat yourself with respect and kindness. Just like any worthwhile relationship, your relationship with your body is about love. Lead with love and the body will follow.

WANT yourself:
When it comes to the foods that make you feel your best, what’s worked for you in YOUR experience? Or, how can you apply today’s WANTwisdom to your own life?

Feel free to get specific or keep it general, just keep it you. Seeing examples of how different we all inherently are can sometimes be the lightbulb-moment that makes others finally feel ok living by their own rules, instead of abiding by someone else’s.


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