I've had these thoughts rumbling around in my head for a while. I haven't really know exactly how to talk about them in the context of me as "me" and me as "health coach."
But I'm going to go for it anyway!
Media Controls Our Body Image
I sometimes get pretty riled up when it comes to how media affects us in our day to day. There is the incessant marketing of processed junk "food" products, often targeting children, low income, and other more susceptible markets.
There is the deception across the board of how healthy a food is (or usually ISN'T), in marketing from the ads to the packages.
Then there is the one I want to talk about today: objectification of women and how that affects our body image.
Because I thought for a VERY long time that I had sheltered myself from the effects of the objectification of women in media (and the world at large). I thought because I avoided a lot of mainstream media, having watched little TV most of my life, surrounding myself with communities of true health like the YMCA, and just generally thinking that I'd kicked that bullshit out of my life.
Because there is a lot of crap we have to avoid. The extremely limited scope of what "beautiful" is, the putting of certain phenotypes and cultural heritage on a pedestal of beauty, the shame and degradation of others that don't fit this type.
We Are Oversexualized
And there is more! The over sexualization of women, starting a woefully young age... I got some hand me down girl clothes, thinking I'd be a bit gender neutral with my two boys, I kept some of the shirts ... the girls t-shirts were all TIGHT. Why does a 3, 4, 5 year old need to wear TIGHT clothes? It disturbed me.
And here is where my own relationship with body image gets complicated. I am healthy, I eat well, I exercise... and I'm also naturally thin, and tall. Just by default I somewhat "fit the mold" of what is considered the most "beautiful" or "sexy."
I know in my teenage years and even young adulthood, I fell into what was expected, wearing tight, revealing clothes, etc. And I'm not against making yourself feel beautiful or desirable, I'm actually totally in favor of it.
And yet the objectified version of it is so intertwined with the authentic version of it, it's completely confusing.
Having Kids Is Like WTF
So here I was, thinking that I was in control of that definition, thinking that I wasn't confused at all, that I was only doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, that I knew I didn't care about this societal pressure, I was being authentic to just what felt good to ME!
And then I had kids.
And while to an outsider I probably looked like I lost the baby weight fairly easily/quickly, my body changed. Lots of subtle, but pervasive changes. I'm not going to list them all out here, because I'm not trying to show how so many things went downhill.
I'm trying to grapple with the fact that I thought I was free from this objectification/social expectation of beauty, when I wasn't.
Because I think the one change, no matter how naturally thin or traditionally beautiful you may be, no matter how hard yo try to preserve whatever desired qualities you have... there is ONE thing that NO ONE can avoid.
And that is leaving youth behind.
Media is Obsessed With Youth
I've been mourning leaving behind the maiden phase.
And I've been working on embracing my growth into mother, and eventually, I know, grandmother and crone. Because I know there is a lot to embrace and admire.
And yet, all the things I thought I'd been immune to all my life about beauty, I realize had a place in me that I didn't know existed. I think it's fine to mourn a life change. And yet it's become complicated because I've also discovered all this baggage that I didn't even know I had, that society's perception of beauty HAD, indeed, set firm root inside me. So I am working to untangle the judgement and objectification from my authentic self.
I share this here to let you know that I know personal health can be complicated. Our beliefs about ourselves and our body change and evolve over time, as we age, as we leave life phases behind, as we come to realizations about ourselves we didn't even know we had!
As a health coach, most people want practical information they can apply in the day to day. And that is totally my jam! I LOVE talking health and solving logistical problems with health.
And at the same time, if we unearth complicated, tangled up things, I want you to know that our time together is a safe space to be honest about things that are affecting our lives and our health.
Find out how big an influence media has been on your healthy body image with my awesome quiz.
And then of course let me know, what do you think about media and body image?
People are kind of obsessed with protein these days. Whether it's because of the Atkins diet or the paleo diet or some other cultural phenomenon it's a topic of conversation in the health and wellness world.
As always, my advice is get your protein from whole foods. Not the store. The foods that are whole.
Very few people need to supplement their diet with extra, and especially not processed, protein. In fact supplement protein generally have lower nutritional quality than whole foods, because they are processed. An egg has all kinds of goodness in it, from healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, lecithin... egg white protein has all that good stuff removed!
Also always emphasize the lower-fat versions of wholesome protein foods. For example, beans are amazing for your health! If you're not in the habit or don't have a desire to eat beans, then fish or chicken or turkey or grass fed beef can all be good sources of protein.
Still no matter what your protein source, you should probably be emphasizing VEGETABLES in your diet more than protein.
Almost no one in the modern Western world is short on protein.
The only broad exceptions to this rule are older individuals who have a lower appetite. In those cases some supplementation can be helpful. But in those cases you should probably be talking to your doctor about your health first.
Because supplementing with high protein foods can be bad if your kidneys. Again most healthy people have strong kidneys that can process with hurting. But occasionally a low version of kidney disease can be present in a person and they can be unaware.
So if you're planning to supplement protein in your diet I do advise talking to your doctor. But the rest of us all we need to do is make sure we have a few quality sources of protein-rich whole foods.
If you eat eggs... or nuts... or beans... or legumes... or lean dairy... or fish... or lean meat on a daily or weekly basis... you've got your bases covered.
There is mixed evidence that spreading protein out throughout the day can help with metabolism blood sugar and or weight loss.
There doesn't seem to be strong evidence that this is important at this point but it may help you feel fuller and help you choose healthier balance of foods throughout the day.
So it might be worth trying to move some of your protein out of dinner (which tends to be protein heavy in the US) and into breakfast and lunch (which tend to be lighter in protein).
Other than that there is probably nothing to worry about!
Okay, but you still want to know what protein supplements I recommend just in case you want to use one anyway? I hear ya. It's a pretty American thing to want to buy supplements, so I have opinions on those, too! Lots of opinions!
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I'm excited to start sharing recipes with you that will stand on their own and that can be incorporated into my meal planning program for even more ease and speed.
Here is a super healthy, simple, fast recipe. This is the stand alone version.
However, if you sign up for Meal Planning for Healthy Family Harmony, you will see that this recipe fits perfectly into the "mid week" category, when you have already done the "prep heavy" meal earlier in the week. AND you will continue to get simple, fast, healthy recipes sent to you directly.
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If you have peanut sauce on hand (which keeps for weeks in the fridge if you use only shelf stable ingredients), and if you've made the grains earlier in the week (step one of Beyond Meal Planning), and if you've already chopped veggies (step two of beyond meal planning)...
Well imagine how quickly this super healthy meal would come together!!
Peanut Sauce Delight
Peanut sauce is a staple in my kitchen. It is great for a quick, easy, healthy meal. You just whip up the peanut sauce (if you didn’t already have it on hand), steam some vegetables and roast some tofu/chicken/meat if you like, then cook some rice or other grain (quinoa is a favorite because of it’s high protein and minerals) - or maybe you committed to the first step of "Meal Planning Beyond Meal Planning" - COOK GRAINS - so you already have that ready to go, too.
Serve it all with a bowl of peanut sauce and it’s a solid meal, ready in 15 minutes (or less!).
Basic Peanut Sauce
Other optional ingredients include:
First put the brown rice or quinoa on to cook (20-45 minutes).
Then, whip together the peanut sauce using a whisk or fork (5 minutes).
Then steam veggies, such as: carrots, snap peas, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, etc. (5-10 minutes). You can serve some raw as well for the finicky little fingers.
When grains are done, serve veggies on a platter, peanut sauce in a bowl, and rice from the pot!
Let me know if you have any questions about my new Meal Planning Beyond Meal Planning. It's a program unlike any others I've ever discovered (and I'm compulsive about my health and food research!).
By integrating prep throughout the week you can have healthy food on hand without spend hours in the kitchen at one time.
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Let me know what you think about this recipe!