Saying No to Diet Culture

Hi Everyone,

This week I’m talking all about diet culture. What is diet culture? It’s essentially a society and mindset that is centered on weight and size (over your actual health). Is this healthy? No. Is it super common right now? Unfortunately yes.

Society has a gravitation towards “thin” bodies because it’s what we see most in media and on magazine covers. Whenever you see notifications in your email inbox or advertisements for the latest skinny tea or magical vitamin, chances are the words “weight loss” will be in there somewhere to reel you in. How to get a bikini body, how to drop the pounds… these headlines are so common and are associated with “getting healthy.” While there is a lot of progress happening to expand the definition of beauty and less emphasis on the “ideal” body that truly does not exist, so many people worldwide are still get discouraged from the effects of diet culture.

Diet culture essentially ignores science and body diversity. Body-types exist for a reason! Genetics play a major role in how your body responds to nutrition and fitness, as well as different types of fitness. Weight loss has become more marketable than promoting how to maintain authentic emotional and physical health, and positive relationships with food.

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Why do you need a positive relationship with food? Because you don’t want to spend your life seeing food as calories. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend calorie counting to anyone, unless istructed by a doctor for health reasons. Seeing food as solely negative or positive for weight loss is not only restricting, but it creates stress and anxiety if you “slip up.”

My motto for food: if you do indulge in something that is low in nutrients, has higher saturated fat than you would like to admit, or is full of empty calories, indulge in moderation. For instance, I probably haven’t had soda in a month, but I had a root beer today while I worked on my website and it was glorious (shoutout to Trader Joe’s for making a more natural formula). I had zero guilt.

While we’re on the topic of guilt, stop referring to food as “guilty pleasures.” Even if it’s a joke between you and your friends, it could be effecting your relationship with food at a deeper level than you think. Peep me eating a cupcake below for my brother’s birthday. A cupcake, yes. It was piña colada flavored. 

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Diet companies are advertising weight loss in the form of trends, making them more attractive by categorizing them by season or attempting to customize them to you by pulling at your emotional insecurities with body image. The tricky thing is, we’ve become so used to it as consumers that it seems normal. And people feel bad if their bodies don’t meet the margins.

To be clear, I don’t read the magazines or look at celebrities diets they swear by to maintain their figures. I listen to my own body. This is crucial. If one take-away from this post resonates, I would hope that would be it. Focus on what works for you, learn what your body likes and dislikes. I can guarantee that piggy-backing on what works for someone else will frustrate you anyway. If this sounds opposing from what companies and sponsored instagram advertisements have been trying to sell you… good. That’s music to my ears.

A little background on my weight (not weight loss) journey. I had a somewhat negative relationship with fitness up until 2 years ago, given how much cardio I felt I needed to do to be “fit” and skinny. I honestly had no business doing cardio on top of my collegiate tennis training, and I was over-exercising. Yes that happens! I didn’t want to do extra, I just felt that I was more attractive being a lot lighter in weight. No wonder it was hard for me to gain a bum! How much I have learned since then, let me tell you. And I am spending LESS time in the gym.

I’m not saying it’s easy to navigate all the types of fitness or the broad spectrum of healthy diets. I myself am now questioning if I need to make changes for my digestion and gut health, not for a trend or for the goal of weight loss. I just want to live my life feeling good internally, because that is more important to me now, as I’ve jumped through hurdles with my body image in the past.

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I sincerely hope this discussion of body image and diet culture either resonated, or has inspired you to look at nutrition and fitness in a more positive light!

Stay bold and confident xx

Check out my Instagram for my recipes, fitness tips, and mental health  at k_stateofmind.

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-Kelly

 

Surrounding Yourself with Plants for your Health and Happiness

Hi loves,

This is a plant dedication post. Because plants are essential, not to mention they have 10/10 aesthetic.

As the air gets progressively more polluted, you know what saves the day for your oxygen and respiratory health? Plants. They may as well be the superpower of global warming. The earth is heating up and there are more cars made every day, and more chemicals are released into the air and water. No, this isn’t a negative post. Read on.

I love plants. When I walk into a nursery and there are designated rooms and sections for various plants, my heart is warm. No joke. I’m growing my plant collection and there are so many benefits of owning plants in your home.

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Pictured above is me finding the adorable cafe in Sky Nursery and explaining to the barista what it’s like shooting for my blog when random people are staring at me like I’m not wearing pants. She found it all pretty entertaining. Back to the plant admirations..

Plants are the cleaners of the air we breathe. They absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace that carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen. There is a reason why people feel they can breathe again when they go into nature after living in the bustling city. There aren’t as many plants and trees in a city. In fact, cities like New York, the city of concrete, are known to be extra unhealthy for your lungs and skin because there is no plant life around you. Your skin is just taking in all of the free radicals in the air.

In addition, research studies have revealed that indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. There is quite an accumulation of dust and bacteria, even mold, that can occur in your household. Homes have a lot of plastic from plastic bags and containers, trash, cleaning supplies, detergents… all items that can cause allergic reactions. If you have sensitive skin or have had history of contact dermatitis, you might want to consider switching to healthier “greener” household products and adding plants to reduce your indoor air pollution.

If you want me to get all historical on you, the early Greeks and Romans started the trend of bringing plants inside, and they were onto something. The victorians also favored potted plants. A University of Michigan study even noted that being in the presence of plants can boost your memory retention up to twenty percent. I do not have the direct link to this resource, that is completely off of memory.

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I really got into my plant collection due to receiving them as gifts. Plants make amazing gifts, simple yet thoughtful, and they have a higher life expectancy than flowers. Flowers are a nice thought, but they wilt in that vase in your kitchen whereas plants grow and expand.

On another note: if you are trying to train yourself to get a pet, get a plant first. Pay attention to its health. If you leave a plant in a dark corner, that’s a red flag. Plants kind of need the photo in photosynthesis.

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Plants have amazing healing properties. Instead of buying aloe vera gel, why not have the gel from the real source? I now have my own aloe plant and I use the gel for sunburns and scratches. Not to mention it will continue to grow and the gel will be 100% natural and directly plant derived, instead of getting it from a plastic tube in the supermarket.

Another reason I have personally become so fond of plants is my recent switch to plant-based makeup and skincare. The result? Absolute bliss. My skin can tell the difference. No extra chemicals, no fake ingredients, just the good stuff.

I fully plan to continue this plant loving series with details of my new “green” makeup and skincare routines, so stay tuned for those! I hope you enjoyed these pictures in the nursery and my reasoning to start becoming a plant mom. xx

My outfit in this photo set is all from Athleta, paired with my Adidas Originals Superstars.

My Instagram blog page is @k_stateofmind and my photography page is @kellyzphoto.

-Kelly

 

 

Hiking: For Your Mind And Body

Hi everyone,

Given that Seattle has given us given us amazing weather the last few weeks, I’ve been taking to the trails more than usual. I’m much more focused on weights and interval training now as opposed to long stints of cardio, however, hiking is a much more enjoyable full-body workout. And it’s not just physical.

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Research shows that hiking is linked to higher amounts of brainpower. If you crave a better attention span on upcoming work or projects, spend the morning outdoors to clear your mind. Although physically being in nature allows your mind to de-clutter, being away from so much technology is just like hitting the reset button. How good is your Wifi in the woods? Exactly.

Good news for calorie counters: You can burn well over 500 calories in just an hour of hiking. I personally love walking on trails because I’m prone to shin splints, and the forest floor is way softer on your joints as opposed to asphalt or concrete.

Regular hiking activity lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. The cardiovascular aspect the ups and downs of hiking is extremely good for your heart and BMI. Changing altitude has been recorded to reduce fat loss.

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Hiking is a great alternative to traditional indoor workouts in the gym. I get the feeling of not wanting to workout indoors on the elliptical, or be inside at all. When it’s beautiful out, why not get creative? If you haven’t found your workout niche but want to get in better shape, hiking could be perfect for you.

Hiking is definitely great to do in a group. You can make a day trip out of hiking anywhere and go to a lake, hang out on the top of a mountain and eat lunch, or sunbathe. There’s something in it for everyone.

Some mistakes I’ve previously made (not just me my family was there):

  1. Remember where you started your trek. If you need to drop a pin on your phone, do so.
  2. Overestimate trail time. I always try to factor in traffic and add on time for sight seeing etc. Avoid planning a long hike the day you have a set appointment mid afternoon that you will be rushing to make. I’ve been there.
  3. Bring water if it is a longer hike. Altitude can get you more dehydrated, so even bring a small attachable flask if that’s more convenient.

John Muir once said: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

Nature has been called a “mental health prescription” due to its positive influence. People often spend so much time in urban settings, and the change of pace brings a much greater balance of exposure.

A Stanford study revealed that city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety and 40 percent higher risk of stress when compared to rural residents. And we don’t often know we need the nature break until we are mid-hike, thankful for the minimal cell service.

I hope you all enjoyed my health check in. Enjoy what’s left of the summer months and go out in nature to clear your mind and senses.

For more photography, visit my blogger Instagram page @k_stateofmind and my portraits page @kellyzphoto

xx

-Kelly

 

Why Chemical/Facial Peels Actually Work

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve heard of a chemical peel, and I know guy’s reactions to them can be comical. I wanted to share my experience with them to put aside any fears of the process. I personally think the sound of them turns people away. Just to make sure it is known: you are not “peeling” off your skin as it sounds from the name.

Chemical peels in short speed up the cell turnover of your skin. Your skin usually takes 21-28 days to complete this process. Peels can make this process more efficient, while exfoliating dead skin cells and surfacing a new layer of healthy skin.

If you have acne, fine lines and wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation, chemical peels would really benefit you. A series is very effective, and the time in between depends on the intensity of the peel.

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I only do PCA Skin peels, which is a line of peels proven to be gentler on the skin with much less “down time” than other harsher peels. Very high end peels that are a lot harsher, most done at dermatologist offices, require much more down time. If you work full-time, play sports, etc. you won’t necessarily have that down time. This is why PCA skin peels do a great job, without the dangers of major skin irritation and prolonged peeling that deeper peels cause.

Peels are that much more effective when coupled with a quality skincare routine catered to your skin type and needs, as well as consistent application of SPF daily. If you have hyperpigmentation, never forget your sunscreen, regardless of the weather. Peels make your skin more photosensitive. Everything with skincare and managing the health of your skin longterm needs to be about balance. Multiple factors play into it.

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In order for me to have my healthiest skin, I definitely incorporate peels into my regimen to minimize pores, prevent fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce previous post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

If you have any questions about my experience with peels, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading xx

How to Easily Bring Mental Release Into Your Daily Routine

Hi everyone,

I’m a believer that positive mental health is crucial to an overall healthy lifestyle. I also think it is often prioritized last. Giving yourself mental release is so important to reset your mind and stay focused for longer durations. It is also crucial for reducing stress.

Seems a little odd, but my first relaxing part of the day is when I get out of bed and head to my bathroom to do my makeup. I play music on Spotify and I take extra time, letting my full perfectionist come out. Slowing some activities down can be beneficial to not being so rushed. Of course, you have to give yourself enough time to get ready! I do not wear a lot of makeup, most of my routine is skincare based. Just to clarify.

Throughout the day I take a few minutes at a time with my photography. I edit pictures and play around with my Instagram feed, or I will be doing flatlays and other shots. I find working with my camera to be super therapeutic. I also use my photography and style to demonstrate my artistic side, which brings me to my next relaxing activity.

Sketching. You can spend 20 minutes or 2 hours sketching and your mind dives into the artwork. You don’t think about your schedule or your obligations, you just use your creativity and vision. I used to sketch more before I got my DSLR, but I find both to be beneficial for mind release.

The gym. I love going to the gym above all else, and this may seem obvious already. It’s not just to get a better body, it’s also extremely healthy for your mind. Exercise can boost your mood, improve your sleep and memory, and increase your self-esteem. There have been scientific connections between exercise and the prevention of cognitive decline. Cardiovascular exercise has been known to spike brain performance. I tune everything out at the gym, with my headphones in and my workout on my phone.

Cooking. I’m not the best cook, but I’m learning to experiment more in the kitchen. When I do cook I often play music to make it more fun, while I wait for water to boil or food to cook. Cooking is known to be an art form to some, with the creativity behind it. Quality nutrition of cooking your own meals at home is also linked to positive mental health, for you know all the ingredients going into your meal and control all of the nutrients you’re receiving.

Winding down. At the end of the day it is always good to have a winding down period. I personally like to get ready for bed and make a cup of decaffeinated tea. I go on my computer or read a book, and these days I’ve had the heater on while I slip into knee-high wool socks (Seattle problems). I tend to sleep a lot better when I incorporate this time, as opposed to just hopping into bed and turning the lights off. My body and mind seem to recognize the transition better this way.

I hope these ideas were helpful to add some mental release into your day! Stay mindful and motivated. xx

-Kelly

Plant-Based Protein Ideas

Hi everyone,

It’s a common mistake to think you can’t get protein from meat alternatives. If you choose not to eat meat, there are a lot of options that just require a little more creativity! To put it in perspective, I am a pescatarian. I’m happily only eating seafood, the rest is either tofu or plant-based. In the future I may consider being a complete vegetarian when the mercury content in fish becomes an even greater issue. Not to mention the price of fish is definitely something to consider.

Featured above is a plant-based protein powder smoothie from Vega One. I love this line of powders because you totally get what you’re paying for, and the labels are all very transparent. I do not like Whey protein, which cancels out many if not all of the major protein powders circulating social media. Whey is milk based and has been connected to skin imperfections, not to mention my slight intolerance to large amounts of dairy.

I’m going to be honest about Vega- it’s not going to taste like a milkshake. Hence the no milk part of plant-based. I use the Vega protein and greens, the energizer pre-workout, and the recovery powder. They don’t taste bad, they just don’t taste like dessert like so many other powders are now turning starting to. Personally, I don’t think something that is solely supposed to replenish you needs to taste like an ice cream sundae.

I feel as though I need the extra kick of protein powders and energizers for me to meet my daily protein quota as well as benefit my fitness goals. I would highly recommend this brand not only to vegetarians or those who have gone gluten free, but also those who want a low sugar option that doesn’t make your stomach upset or be the culprit of unwanted calories. I do have a shaker for all of these, do yourself favor and grab a shaker instead of doing the glass and spoon method.

As for a very simple recipe: (bear with me I’m not the best cook, but I love smoothies)

1 scoop vega one protein and greens

1 1/2 cups of non-dairy beverage (I like coconut milk or even a juice like apple or guava)

1 cup of frozen fruit (highly recommend a tropical mix!)

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Now getting onto other ways of getting that protein in.

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  1. Lentils- 1 cup of cooked lentils is about 18 grams of protein! You can use lentils in a soup, use them as a base in bowl, or even as a filling
  2. The power of SEEDS: 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds means 10 grams of protein (sprinkle that magic on a salad) and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds is 4 grams of protein.
  3. Quinoa- this a great thing to add to recipes given it is a starchy protein, so it is has the carbs as well as about 8 grams of protein per half cup, and added fiber.              *tip:  fiber adds elasticity to your skin so stock up!*
  4. Nuts- to get about 8 grams of protein, you just need about a 1/4 cup. Simple enough. I’m not one to puts nuts in salads, so I’ll make my own trail mix to carry around. They make a great snack for long hikes.
  5. Tofu- And no it does not taste like cardboard. Tofu essentially tastes like whatever seasoning you add to it. One average serving is about 20 grams of protein. The possibilities for recipes are pretty endless. Tofu crumbles in tacos, tofu squares in stir-fry, veggie tofu sausage with your breakfast… there ya go.
  6. Protein peanut  butter- this has been my personal favorite addition because peanut butter is awesome. GNC sells a line of high protein spreads, including the Nuts ‘N More peanut butter flavor. I like to put it on apples or organic rice cakes for a snack.

The best part about focusing on plant-based proteins when I’m not eating seafood is how I feel. My stomach doesn’t hurt, nothing needs to be fried to taste better, and I feel full but not bloated. I try to load up my plate with greens and foods packed with nutrients and I have certain motivations to do so. They all have really powerful benefits.

Vitamins and minerals from plants help your immune system, anti-aging in your skin as well as inflammation and clarity, and even energy and long-term health. A way I like to look at it is how you look and feel is reflected from what you EAT. So eat well and prosper.

I hope you found these ideas beneficial for your nutrition planning, and I’m excited to add more nutrition into my blogs and daily posts.

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To see my love of photography, check out my instagram @kmzwicker for correlated posts!

Thanks for reading xx

~Kelly

Weekend Outdoor Workout

Hi everyone,

In light of my long seasonal work hours this weekend, I’m posting my favorite outdoor workouts that keep me in shape when I don’t visit my gym. They’re simple, and they don’t require any extra equipment.

Cardio 

Running stairs: Your heart rate increases and the constant climbing and descending pushes your muscles to work harder. You get the cardiovascular activity as well as the muscle-building. Because of the step incline, the activity is engaging more of your leg muscles and is easier on your joints. Not to mention running stairs is great for toning your glutes.

Trail running: I personally want to encourage trail running over pavement due to the extra cushion on the joints. I’ve had experience with shin splints, and the thought of running on pavement makes me cringe. Trails are also more therapeutic, given you are surrounded by forest coverage and nature as opposed to traffic and cement.

Uphill sprinting: This is a great shorter, high intensity cardio workout

HIIT

If you have a park bench or something similar:

  1. Single leg step-ups
  2. Tricep dips
  3. Decline push-ups

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If you want to really make your arms burn:

Commandos: these are done just with your bodyweight, and they are great for toning

Push-ups: these are a standard arm workout with no equipment and done with bodyweight

For your abs:

Mountain climbers: These are so effective for the abdominals. I usually really start to feel them at 30-40 reps!

Straight leg raises: Be sure to support your back by placing your hands slightly underneath

Ab bikes: I prefer to do these slow to really target my abdominals correctly. I often see people rushing through these and I never find them as effective that way!

*For the ab exercises above, make sure to keep your core engaged the entire time to get the best possible tone*

Legs:

Squats: These are so common because they’re great for building your leg definition as well as your glute muscles. I like to get really low with my squats to better train all of my leg muscles, including my hamstrings.

Lunges: I do either reverse lunges or walking lunges, depending on space. If you have a lot of it, aim for doing 20 walking lunges each leg in one set.

*With squats and lunges, be sure not to let your knees come over your toes in sake of your form*

Ready to get outside and sweat? Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly