Thoughts on Going Vegan and Feeling Judged

Thoughts on going vegan and feeling judged.I had big plans to shoot a bunch of workout videos for the blog this week but my body had another idea. If you follow me on Instagram you’re already painfully aware from my stories that I’ve completely lost my voice (sorry for scarring your eardrums these past couple days!). My throat has been a bit scratchy for a couple weeks now due to springtime allergies and teaching without a mic Tuesday morning just put me over the edge—it’s been all downhill since then. Luckily I don’t teach again until Tuesday so I have plenty of time to rest the ol’ vocal chords.

Since videos are out of the picture, I figured it’d be a good time to update you all a bit on how my food choices have been gradually changing and some thoughts I have about it.

Going vegan without the label

I’ve mentioned it in passing and you can probably tell from the types of recipes I’ve been posting lately: I’m slowly, and in a very imperfect, unforced way, going vegan. Emphasis on “going” (work in progress). I currently eat eggs and very occasionally fish so I’m not there yet, but that’s the direction in which I’m moving. I’ll do a blog post going into the “why” behind it soon, but today I want to talk about the reason I’m actually a little uncomfortable associating myself with the word “vegan”. I get defensive. I don’t eat animal products but I’m not a veganI’m not like that.

For me, this distaste stems from the association of vegans with judgement. Holier-than-thou attitudes. Throwing buckets of paint on people wearing fur. Bashing meat eaters on YouTube. Trying to force their diet on others through shame tactics. This association for me probably has to do with the fact that my first introduction to the word “vegan” as a kid was in watching PETA protest red carpets and yell/act aggressively at people wearing fur.

The vast majority of vegans are far from this extreme. I know this, yet the negative connotations stay deeply ingrained and I can’t help but want to disassociate myself from them. I’m much more comfortable with the term “plant-based”. Crazy how powerful words can be, right? Yet we are the ones who give them meaning in the first place. In this lies the issue with labeling people, but that’s a tangent for another day. 😉

Ultimately, I just hate the thought that anyone would feel as if I were judging them for what they choose to eat. And I think some people do feel that way when they hear the word “vegan” (ironically myself included!). There have been times when I’ve sensed an immediate switch to defense-mode with people justifying why they eat meat upon finding out that I don’t anymore.

Feeling judged because of food choices

Have you guys ever felt this way? Ever had an experience where you felt judged or shamed because of what you were eating? It’s the worst! I was actually at an event with a group of bloggers a year or so ago and still remember this seemingly small incident clearly because it rubbed me the wrong way hard. You know how at some sushi restaurants the seaweed salad is a dark green/brown color and then at others it’s the neon green color of the slime Nickelodeon dumps on people at the Kids’ Choice Awards? Both equally delicious, but the radioactive green color probably means there are artificial dyes in the seaweed. So is the natural color variety better for you? Yeah. But will it kill you to eat the bright green stuff once in a while? No.

So at this event I order seaweed salad with my sushi and when it’s brought to the table it’s neon green. I honestly didn’t think twice about it. But this other blogger scowls at my dish and through her disgusted grimace says to the person next to her, “I just would never feel OK putting that in my body. Look at it.”

My response:

I’m kidding. I didn’t suggest we go fight in the parking lot. But I was so put off by her comment! I thought it was just the rudest, snobbiest thing. And then I felt all self-conscious eating my seaweed salad. I was surprised at how upset it made me. How one little comment could make me feel so bad about myself and what I’d chosen to eat. Who was she to pass judgement on me? Gwyneth Paltrow?! My blood was boiling through the rest of dinner. When I got back to my hotel room I just kept thinking about how I NEVER want to be the reason someone feels this way. And it’s something I often stress about when I post food-related stuff to the blog and my social media accounts.

***For the record, I wish I had pulled her aside and let her know how her words made me feel. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and we would have had a great conversation from which we both would have walked away understanding the other a little better. But I didn’t. Maturity takes time, OK?! 😉

Sharing my experience, not telling you what to do

I’m really happy about this gradual shift in my food choices (again, I’m not fully plant-based yet!). I feel downright incredible actually. And I’m excited to share more on the blog about why, how, the challenges, etc., etc.

Food choices can be a heated topic because there’s so much that goes into why we eat the way we do beyond taste and survival. Emotions, religion/spirituality, health, society, environment—the list goes on. We should be mindful of what we eat and how our bodies feel because food can be our greatest medicine or truly our worst poison. For that reason, we should learn from others but ultimately always do what’s best for our own body. Know that when I share the occasional blog post on my (evolving) plant-based diet, I am never implying that it’s better than however you’re eating. I want to encourage you on a journey to find what makes you feel your best, not my journey.

Foam Rolling for Runners

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

This post is sponsored by HoMedics® as part of the #NotGonnaStop campaign. All opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible!

In a recent Instagram post, I talked about how I pretty much completely stopped running after crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April. I had ZERO desire to go for even short runs so … I didn’t. There are so many other ways to get a quality cardio workout in so why force running? I instead turned to spin, boxing, bootcamp and HIIT workouts for a sweat and for the last year have probably only gone for a handful of runs, none of which were longer than four or five miles.

Maybe it’s the warm weather creeping in or the fact that it’s marathon weekend in Boston, but it’s only just recently that I’ve started to get the itch to run again. And like with most activities you haven’t done in a while, the first couple long(er) runs left me super sore last week (my calves!!).

Foam rolling is important for mobility and injury prevention, and I’m never more vigilant about doing it than when I’m running regularly. With perfect timing, I was recently sent a package of HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers (available on Target.com!) and have been putting them to good use.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.What you won’t be able to see in these pictures is that all the HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers include vibration for a deeper, more effective, more hurts-so-good massage. I especially like using the vibrating option when I’m pinpointing a knot. I’ll roll over the muscle first and when I hit a sweet spot, turn on the vibration and press firmly on it for 20-30 seconds.

Everyone can benefit from foam rolling, but with the running spark reignited in me and the Boston Marathon on Monday, let’s go over some muscles to focus on in particular if you’re a runner.

Foam Rolling for Runners

The following muscles are the ones I show the most love with the foam roller when I’m running frequently. Every body is different and we’re all working with different muscle imbalances, injuries and workout regimens so think of this as a general guide, not an exact foam rolling prescription for you individually. Especially if you’re injured, check with a doctor or PT before whipping out the foam rollerit can makes things worse to roll directly on an injury.

You’ll want to spend at least 1-2 minutes on each muscle, slowly rolling up and down, stopping when you hit a sweet spot (knot). Apply pressure to those knots for 20-30 seconds before continuing the larger rolling motions.

I’m using the HoMedics® Gladiator™ Vibration Foam Roller in the below pictures which has battery-operated vibration for an even deeper massage. There are three vibration intensities to choose from and I usually stay on the lowest one while doing the big rolling and then the highest for pinpointing knots. The roller also has multiple foam textures on its surface so you get a variety of sensations. It also has a hidden compartment so that you can store your keys, ear buds, etc. if you’re bringing it to the gym.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

Quads | Unless my quads are particularly tight, I typically roll one leg at a time so to increase the pressure. As pictured at the start of this post, I’ll also sometimes use The HoMedics® Vertex Vibration Stick Roller which has six spinning rollers and is of a harder material than the HoMedics® Gladiator™ Vibration Foam Roller. I roll up and down the center; up and down at a slight angle to the right; up and down at a slight angle to the left.

Adductors | When rolling out the adductors, place the foam roller lengthwise alongside you and come into a half frog position. 

Calves | With the other muscles, foam rolling is a hurts-so-good feeling. With my calves, it’s full on torture. A long time ago I blogged about my experience getting a runner’s assessment and the trainer working on me actually called over her colleague to watch what was happening with my calves because it was literally as if she were rolling over marbles. Oy vey. When I’m holding on a knot (which is every centimeter), I’ll do so with my foot flexed and then with it pointed to really try to work it loose.

Glutes | I’ll cross my leg over the knee to better hit the piriformis (sometimes I feel like a ball is more effective), but when I do the glute max and med, I usually like having the leg out straight.

TFL / IT Band | When it comes to the IT Band, you need to think about foam rolling the muscles to which it attaches. I usually start with my glutes and TFL and then gradually make my way down towards the tibia. As I roll down the IT Band, I don’t roll directly on my outer thigh, but rather lean my body forward at an angle so it’s more the outer/front thigh area.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

Last but not least—that’s an understatement, actually. Last and BEST, the feet. I could massage my feet all day. The HoMedics® Atlas Vibration Acu-Node Massager offers a gentle vibration and its acu-node texture delivers pinpointed pressure that my arches love.

All these HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers and more are available at Target.com, HoMedics.com and in-store at Rite Aid.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

What’s the most painful (in a “good” way) muscle/muscle group for you to foam roll? Anyone like me and say calves?!

 

Inner Thigh Workouts Won’t Give You a Thigh Gap

Sharing some truth bombs about the current obsession with having a "thigh gap".

^Anyone else’s’ Mom have a Suzanne Somers thigh master back in the day?? LOL

One of the most frequent workout requests I get is for one targeting inner thighs. Normally with workout requests, I add them right to the list and do my best to have them created and posted within the month. I find myself putting off the inner thigh workout, however, because I get the feeling the popularity of the request has something to do with this thigh gap craze.

I don’t want to make assumptions, and am sure some people just genuinely are looking to strengthen this muscle group. And for that reason, I’m absolutely going to put together some adductor workouts. But for those who are thinking inner thigh workouts = thigh gap, I just want to share my thoughts and some facts about the topic that I hope are helpful.

In sharing the info below, I’m in no way suggesting you should strive for a gap between your thighs (as will become clear as the blog post goes on). The term honestly makes me cringe a little. Yet here I am. Writing an entire post about it.

The Truth about “Thigh Gaps”

Not everyone can achieve a thigh gap.

Whether we like it or not, not everything is within our control (hi, genetics!). You can be the most petite of petites and still not have a gap between your uppermost thighs if your hips are narrow. So the idea that this would be a beauty standard to which we all try to aspire is just ridiculous. Who even decided this was a thing?? We come in different shapes and builds; we store excess weight in different areas of our body; and we use our bodies in different ways depending on the activities we love.

I'm sharing some facts about the thigh gap craze.

And with all that being said, let’s also not forget that some thigh gaps in pictures are just there because of the way the person is posing. If I stand regularly with my ankles touching and good posture, I don’t have a thigh gap. But if I stick my butt out, tilt my pelvis forward and internally rotate my thighs … boom. So maybe that Insta-famous chick whose legs you’re coveting is just posing at a drastic angle–you have to take social media with a grain of salt and can’t let it make you feel bad about yourself.

Working out is an important piece, but the fix you’re looking for probably lies in your diet.

I don’t think a thigh gap should be your goal, but it’s helpful to talk about the general way in which we approach body parts that we’ve deemed “problem areas”. My intent in sharing the below information isn’t to be like “Hey guys, this is how you get a thigh gap!” but to explain in general how weight loss works, should that be a *healthy* goal of yours.

So let’s break down a “thigh gap” and assume it’s not due to an anterior pelvic tilt (a postural muscle imbalance that can often happen if you have tight hip flexors): It’s a combination of thin (ish) thighs and wide (ish) hips. So reducing the size of your thighs (aka losing weight) would be the way to get there. Now, don’t get me wrong, working out is an integral part of the process, but the biggest influencer is what you’re eating. Any time you’re talking about losing weight, it’s about 70% diet and 30% exercise (that’ll vary by person).

Muscle is more dense than fat (weighs more, takes up less space), so you absolutely want to do strength training, but that needs to be paired with a healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods eaten in reasonable portion sizes. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to see the majority of that hard work you’re putting in at the gym.

So if you see some bullshit clickbait workout on Pinterest titled “Thigh Gap Workout” or “The Best Workout for a Thigh Gap” please regard it as garbage.

I get questions like this a lot: “Will this core workout help me lose my love handles?” or “Will this quad workout give me thinner thighs?” And it doesn’t exactly work like that. Yes, exercise plays a role. But I can’t overemphasize how important food is.

You can’t spot reduce.

Working out your thighs doesn’t mean you’re going to lose weight specifically from your thighs. Doing a million crunches won’t make you lose weight just from your stomach. You can target where you build strength, but not from where you lose fat.

Let’s say you burn 3,500 calories in a week during your workouts. That’s equal to about a 1-lb weight loss. That one pound isn’t going to be lost from the area which worked the hardest. If you burned the entire 3,500 calories doing glute work, you’re not going to lose one pound of fat directly from your butt. You might lose some from that area, but it really just depends on our individual bodies and how our weight tends to be distributed.

Don’t let beauty standard trends affect how you feel about your body.

I know, I know. Easier said than done. But beauty trends are just that: trends. And like all other trends, they come and go. Being waif thin was “in” then J. Lo burst on the scene and having a big butt was “in”. Remember in the early 2000s when everyone would over-pluck the shit out of their eyebrows because that was “in”? Now we’re all penciling and even tattooing on more brow because the bigger and bolder the better. Already, I see the thigh gap talk growing quieter (thank the lord), and while I’d idealistically love for our society’s idea of beauty to just revolve around things like kindness, health and happiness, I’m sure some other physical trend will take its place.

I'm sharing some facts about the thigh gap craze.

Even if you can and do achieve certain physical markers deemed beautiful by society, I promise you those alone can not make you feel fulfilled. If you’re unhappy with yourself when your thighs touch, you will not suddenly radiate joy with a gap between them. There’s nothing wrong with caring about your appearance–I care about mine!–the issue lies when your self value is completely defined by it.

I realize that as a thin white woman, I’m not exactly the most powerful messenger for championing body diversity, but it’s still important to me that I talk about it on the blog. The distance between your thighs has absolutely nothing to do with your worth. Just focus on being the best version of you. Maybe your thighs touch because they’re strong AF and you’ve been training them consistently for years. That’s something to be celebrated!

So with all that being said, I am going to share a workout targeting the inner thighs soon. Not to help anyone achieve a thigh gap, but to help us strengthen our adductors. Let’s focus more on what our bodies can do and less on what they look like.