Self-esteem and body image are difficult at any age. As I approach my mid-thirties, though, I am learning and growing at a rate previously unimaginable. I truly feel like I am maturing and learning to love previously “unlovable” parts of myself.
In this “Learning to Love” series, I am excited to explore the parts of me that have felt ugly or less than and, in some cases, foreign, in hopes that maybe you, the reader, will find some reasons to love them in yourself.
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It was almost exactly a year ago that I received concerning lab results from my primary care physician. At that time, I was at the height of my mental health improvement. I had been regularly taking my anti-depressant for over a year and was attending regular therapy sessions. I was proud of the growth I had achieved and looked forward to further improvement. When my Doctor called about my concerning lab results, I struggled to reconcile my physical inconsistencies while I felt healthier than ever mentally.
The first step necessary in order to improve my health was weight loss. Quick weight loss to be exact. My doctor recommended at least a 20-pound loss in order to hopefully lower some results to ensure better health. I had learned to LOVE my body and really liked what I saw in the mirror, so finding the motivation to lose weight was difficult. Unfortunately, my physical image has always been my primary motivation for weight loss. I had only ever tried to lose weight if I no longer liked the way I looked. Sound familiar? For the first time in my life, though, I was completely in love with the way my body looked, so hearing that it wasn’t functioning at its best requiring at least a 20lb weight loss was jarring.
One of the first businesses I turned to when I knew I wanted to lose weight in a healthy way was Prepp’d.
Prepp’d has a mission to help busy people eliminate overwhelming mealtimes and prioritize their wellness through healthy, convenient meals. They make it possible to eat healthy, low-carb, delicious meals without the time and effort of meal planning and preparing; for me, that looks like meals prepped weekly that I pick up, take home, and microwave as needed. The bonus is that they are locally-owned and woman-run and their team is the absolute best! I love their mission to educate on appropriate nutrition and am so excited to share knowledge from Bri, Prepp’d Nutritionist and Part Owner.
When people think “healthy,” the common misconception can be a focus on weight loss. Unfortunately, many people are led to improve their health based on certain weight loss goals. Initially, losing weight was definitely my goal, but as I’ve improved my relationship with food through therapy and hard work, I have learned that I prefer a focus on overall nutrition and health rather than simply monitoring calories/carbs. There are three major lessons I’ve learned from Bri that I’m thrilled to share: understanding macros, micros, and eating the rainbow.
“Macros” is a term I associate with healthy people. I often heard the term macros tossed around in the gym and when exploring various diet options. To be honest, the term was intimidating until I realized it really only means the three main components necessary for healthy eating: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. That’s it. Balance these three components and you’re well on your way to health. Different people may require different balances, but it is generally recommended/safe to just keep them balanced as they all have essential functions within the body. Carbs are used for energy, proteins are the building blocks for your body, and fats help with brain, heart, and hormonal health. I can’t imagine going without any of those functions, can you?
“Micros” refer to the nutrients the body needs. These are things like calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, and the letter vitamins. While different women have different needs based on their body chemistries, the basics are the same. I’m relying on Bri’s knowledge as a nutritionist with the following recommendations:
- Women should get 1,000mg of calcium daily! Women over the age of 50 should get 1,200mg of calcium daily! This can look like 3 servings of dairy, but calcium can also be found in some vegetables, fruits, fish, tofu, fortified foods, and supplements.
- Women should get 320mg of magnesium daily and more while pregnant. Magnesium has been shown to help with nerve function and can be linked to better sleep and depression/anxiety improvement.
- Women should consume at least 400mg of folate daily to help have healthy blood cells! Pregnant women should get up to 600mg daily per doctor’s orders.
- While I have learned to love Idaho weather, it is physically impossible to get the recommended daily dosage of 700-800 IU of Vitamin D from the sun alone! Fortunately, vitamin D can be found in fish, milk, egg yolks, and butter.
- Vitamin C is fairly straightforward and women should get 90mg/day!
- Iron is incredibly important for blood health and it is recommended that women get 18mg/day and drop to 8mg daily after menopause.
While the above recommendations are basic for women, it is important to tailor your micronutrients to your specific needs with the help of a licensed health professional. Beware of anyone who tries to steer your health without a license to back it up!
The last major lesson I learned from Bri was actually one I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of before: Eat the rainbow. While this tempts me to eat Skittles, I assure you they have no place in the nutritional spectrum we need for overall health. Basically, all fruits and veggies are composed of different compounds that influence their appearance. The quantities of micronutrients determine the depth of the color. If a person is eating a variety of colors, she will be consuming a variety of nutrients. This may seem incredibly obvious to you, but trust that it was mind-blowing for me! Here are some recommendations for the following colors of the rainbow:
Red, orange, and yellow
- These fruits and vegetables contain a high level of vitamins! They have an array of vitamins including A, B, C, and E, as well as Potassium. These also have great antioxidants like Lycopene and Flavenoids.
- Some great fruits and veggies in these colors are apples, berries, citrus fruits, peppers, red onions, and tomatoes
- The vitamins found in these play important roles in the health of your body structure including bone, blood, nerve, and heart health.
- These fruits and veggies have a high concentration of minerals. You can generally find iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Usually, the darker the green, the higher the concentration.
- Greens are well-known and include lettuce, peppers, spinach, asparagus, apples, and pears
- Minerals are essential to body performance such as functions within the metabolism, DNA, bones, immunity, and thyroid.
Blues and purples
- These foods will be high in antioxidants! Anthocyanins are a large Calais of antioxidants that give these foods their color.
- Some examples of blues and purples are eggplant, plum, elderberries, purple cabbage, and grapes.
- Antioxidants prevent oxidation/ cell damage due to free radicals found in our environment or produced as normal results of metabolism. Consuming adequate antioxidants may reduce your risk of some cancers, heart disease, and possibly even Alzheimer’s.
Overall, I have learned that it doesn’t have to be hard or limiting to eat healthy foods. I am working on the overall balance of my macros, ensuring my micros meet my daily recommendations, and incorporating more colors into my generally pretty boring food habits. I am grateful to have Prepp’d in our community to not only make and sell prepared, healthy meals but also to educate the public about nutrition. Slowly, I am learning to love what my body needs to perform at its best.
Bri is available for FREE nutritional consultations by clicking here: https://calendly.com/bri-preppd/30min There is no obligation to purchase Prepp’d Meals or become a customer. She is truly passionate about empowering people to live their healthiest lives!