My Top 5 Healthy Holiday Snacks

My Top 5 Healthy Holiday Snacks | Writing Between Pauses

I definitely believe in indulging during the holidays. Christmas cookies and dinners only happen once a year, alongside those special Christmas or holiday cocktails, appetizers, and more. Enjoying them is something that is very important to me and ever since I started practicing intuitive eating, I became aware of the fact that if I don't allow myself to eat my favorite holiday treats, I just don't have a good time. 

However, I also know that if I eat like that all time, I won't feel my best physically. So for the last few months, I've been collecting my favorite healthy holiday recipes to make this month, test, and see if they're as good as they look. Having these around the house helps me feel like I'm indulging, without the heavy feeling that happens from eating gingerbread cookies every single day for a month! 

These are my top 5 favorite recipes that I've tried through November and the first part of December. 

1. Pomegranate Chocolate Candy Cups

These are as easy as they look: pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and coconut in dark chocolate. And gosh, they are tasty: satisfying that need for a little chocolate bite, but adding in the tang of pomegranate and the crunch of pistachios. (I'll be honest: I left out the coconut because I'm not a huge fan.) You could really add any kind of nut or dried fruit to this: I want to try dried raspberries, almonds and white chocolate next. 

2. Frozen Yogurt Drops

I've been making these for Forrest forever, so it was something we could share this month! I actually bought salted caramel Greek yogurt to try and it worked out fantastic. I usually chop up dried fruit to mix with it, so we had salted caramel Greek yogurt with diced dried mangos. Absolutely delicious! As holiday yogurts get to grocery stores, you can do this with just about any yogurt for a healthy holiday treat before or after meals (or, you know, with meals in Forrest's case). Adding sprinkles is a nice festive touch. 

3. Vegan no-bake Gingerbread Bars

I wanted to include something vegan because I've been avoiding dairy for a few months now. (And over Thanksgiving, I ended up consuming a lot of dairy and let me say, my skin absolutely knew it.) These definitely aren't a traditional gingerbread, but they definitely get the flavor right; I opted not to do the thick glaze and just sprinkled the tops with a little powdered sugar mixed with pumpkin pie spice. Absolutely just as lovely! They make great breakfast replacements as well, for those days when you don't have time to make something. 

4. Healthy Gingerbread Cookies

One note about these cookies: the recipes calls for coconut oil, a substance I choose not to eat. (It's 65% trans fat! It's not healthy!) I used plain old butter to replace it and they were just as good; you could also use applesauce or mashed banana and it would be lovely. The addition of almond flour and oat flour is really genius and gives them a unique texture and taste. However, they definitely satisfy that need of mine to eat as much gingerbread as possible--without feeling like I've eaten approximately 8 bags of flour. 

5. Chocolate Mint Balls

This is another super easy recipe that gets the flavor exactly right. I make these chocolate and peppermint cookies every December and these balls taste really, really similar (although the texture is not that of a cookie, obviously). They are a great afternoon pick-me-up at work when I just want something to munch on, but want to avoid the massive platter of cookies in the break room! 

How to Be More Active When You Don't Have Time

For an entire year after Forrest was born, I really struggled to get back into being active. When you feel like you don't have time, when you're always moving from one thing to the next, it can be hard to add "go for a walk" or "do an exercise video" to that. In the last three months, I've tried harder to be active: to take Forrest on walks, to not just sit on the couch. 

If you're busy in the same way I'm busy, and you're not willing to wake up at 4am ahead of your toddler (someday, Forrest will sleep in, right?), here are a few tips for trying to be more active. Here's the caveat of these tips: I'm not claiming you'll be able to work in a 2 hour work out. It won't be easy. But here's what I do. 

1. Get a Fitbit 

This is a daunting one for some people. But I love my Fitbit. I have a cheap, $50 Fitbit (it's the most simple version) and a hand-me-down Fitbit One. Both work just fine. You don't have to get the fanciest version for it to work, I promise. I mostly just need my steps. Here's the thing: I work a sedentary job, I have a toddler. I know it's going to take a while of practice for me to hit 10,000 steps a day. (For some people, who live in cities where walking everywhere is possible, this is nothing.) So my goal everyday is 5,000 and if I hit that, I feel pretty good. If I can hit 7,000, I feel like a champ. Set realistic goals for you and your Fitbit. 

2. Fit in what you can 

Ok, this is a big one for me. I used to love going to the gym every single day after work. I would spend an hour doing cardio and lifting weights. It kept me healthy, made me feel good, and improve my mood. But the truth is, I just don't have time to do that anymore. I've thought of ways to fit it in: going before work, leaving work earlier, going in the evening once Forrest is in bed. But I'm so exhausted by the end of the day. Instead, I try to go walking when the weather permits. Forrest and I will walk around the park, then play on the play structure. It's a nice little exercise and we get outside the house. On days where I'm home with Forrest, we go in the morning, and then usually play outside for a little while in the afternoon. 

3. Download workout apps. 

I have tons of work out apps. FitStar and Pump Up are two of my favorites. In the evening, I have about enough energy to clean the house and then for a 10-15 minute work out using one of these apps. It's not a huge time commitment, but it's enough to make me feel like I'm active. I like FitStar because it automatically syncs to my FitBit. However, I like Pump Up because you can generate work outs depending on what areas you want to target and whether to include cardio or not. So if nothing else, a quick work out using an app is doable, especially in the evening or early morning. 

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How Intuitive Eating Changed My Life

A few months ago, I started listening to a new podcast called Food Psych, hosted by Christy Harrison, a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor as well as a Registered Dietician Nutritionist. I had heard of intuitive eating before (although it hadn't been called that) through Geneen Roth's books, but I had never actually tried to put it into practice. 

I am nothing if not a victim of diet culture; I have been thinking about diets, and shaming myself for eating, for as long as I can remember. I still remember the vivid horror I felt, at 9 years old, that my thighs were bigger than my best friend's and how I needed to fix it immediately

For years, I've known that my eating behavior was not normal or healthy. I fixated on food at all times: worrying about it, wanting it, dreading it. I never really knew when I was hungry; I ate when I was expected to, then I ate out of stress, boredom, or feeling nothing. I read an article recently called Hunger Makes Me (that I highly, highly recommend) and I never identified more with a passage of writing than this one: 

I will rely on any other cue—the ease or difficulty of procuring food, the time of day, what other people are doing, the timing of my work and gym and social plans—before I’ll remember to look inward. Imagine being told that your biggest secret—your weirdest sexual fantasy, your most embarrassing faceplant, your favorite Nickelback song—was supposed to dictate your behavior, publicly, as many as three times a day.

When I started listening to Food Psych, something clicked inside of me. 

All these things we view as healthy--going low carb or no carb, posting on fitness Instagrams, taking diet advice from uneducated strangers on the internet, signing up for Weight Watchers--are killing us. Diets, I've since learned, only increase your chances of gaining weight. A study of diabetes patients found that the group that was instructed to diet actually ended up in worse health than the control group that maintained an "overweight" status. 

Here's the thing: weight doesn't determine your health. You're just as likely to get diabetes if you're fit and healthy as if you're overweight. If your reaction to reading that sentence is "No, I've learned diabetes is a fat person disease!", then congratulations, you got played by the diet industry. We are seeing just as high of numbers of diabetes diagnoses in fit, healthy people as overweight people, leading us to believe that diabetes is more genetic than we have previously believed. 

That's just one example. There are many. 

Beyond that, diet culture confuses us about what we feel: we eat what we've planned, when we're supposed to, versus eating what our body craves when it is actually hungry. When you get rid of "taboo foods," when you allow yourself to eat a cookie when you're hungry and want a cookie, but also allow yourself to eat a salad when you're hungry and your body craves a salad, then you are letting your body lead you. The arbitrary lines of "good" and "bad" foods cause us to obsess over them. 

This is all damaging behavior. I know it is, because I'm living it and it's damaging me, mentally and physically. 

I started reading a book called The Intuitive Eating Workbook (I'm still working through it, but will review it soon) that walks the reader through the 10 principles of intuitive eating. It's hard work and I won't pretend I'm perfect at it already. It's hard to get rid of everything I've ever known in terms of "healthy" food and "healthy" bodies. But opening myself up to body positivity and health at every size, I can only see my mental health improving. 

The hardest part of practicing intuitive eating is telling others around you to stop talking about their diets, to stop talking about dieting around you in general. I find (and really, have always found) that diet talk triggers my anxiety eating, but after starting to practice intuitive eating, it's even worse. The moment someone starts talking about never eating cookies again, or giving up cake or bread for life, I start to doubt what I'm doing. I start to wonder if maybe intuitive eating is wrong and all these diets are right. Certainly, all those fitness Instagrams seem happy...

The truth is though that I can't imagine a life where I permanently give up a bad food. I would never be happy never eating cake with my son or baking cookies with him just to eat the dough. That's just not a life worth living, nor is it sustainable--because eventually you'll be confronted by your "off limits" food. It's not a matter of having self-control. It's a matter of listening to your body and allowing yourself to eat. 

But I still struggle with telling others that I cannot listen to diet talk. I still struggle with confronting the beliefs other people still hold about diet culture (and who believe I should be actively dieting). I still struggle with health anxiety that I'm giving myself diabetes or going to die early for no reason. 

It all takes work. But I can tell you: intuitive eating, truly, changed my life. 

Is it Possible to Lose Weight & Still Be Body Positive?

I've written before about how I had a (very elaborate) fantasy about how easy losing weight would be postpartum. I truly imagined that I would shrink down to nothing, due to my breastfeeding and activity and going walking 2 weeks postpartum! None of those things happened, hilariously enough. I did manage to give birth to a 6-pound baby and an impressive 6-pound placenta, and then managed to pee out about 10 additional pounds of water. 

Yes, water. For two weeks after Forrest was born, I would wake up just soaked in sweat. The horrible part was that, of course, I was barely sleeping, but I knew if I fell asleep for even an hour, I would wake up completely and totally soaked. That's what postpartum life is like: everything hurts and you start sweating out all the extra liquid you saved up over 9 months for your joints and body. And in my case, I had been VERY swollen. 

After that, things stopped. I didn't lose any more weight, mainly because I couldn't think about it. Alongside taking care of Forrest, pumping, and eating whatever I could to keep my milk supply up (cheesecake? Tried it), I didn't really care. Then, around 12 weeks postpartum, I cared. I suddenly, crushingly cared. 

I also still care. I told Danny the other day that I know I have pretty severe body dysmorphia issues and I'm never 100% confident that what I see in the mirror or in photos is what I actually look like. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and I'm like, oh I'm not that big! It's not so bad! But then I'll see, say, a family photo and I'll think, I've transformed into a small whale. I am baby Beluga. Under the sea, where I should be. 

I have absolutely no idea which one is accurate. Am I huge? Am I chubby but otherwise normal looking? Am I slowly engulfing the planet? No idea

My body image issues aren't helped by the fact that I align myself, wholeheartedly, with body positivity. It's so easy for me to look at my mom friends and say, "You're gorgeous. Never change. You are the most beautiful woman on the planet." And of course, it's easy for them to say it in return. It's harder to say it to ourselves, to look in the mirror and say, "You look great, even if you're not [insert desired size here.]" 

I feel very torn with the idea of trying to be body positive, but also being aware that I desperately want to be a different size. It's all well and good to preach body positivity until I'm tearing myself down, privately and painfully, for being a size that, generally speaking, some people would kill to be. 

I've been losing weight recently (I have no idea how much and for the sake of my mental health, I don't actually weigh myself--but the people around me assure me that I do, indeed, look smaller) and wondering if losing weight negates all the body positivity work I've done in the past few years. 

It's difficult to think what changing my body says to other people. But, living as an overweight person the last two years, especially while pregnant, did a number on my self-esteem... not that my self-esteem was that great to begin with. The way people treat me, ignore me, act like I am taking up space that I'm not allowed is incredibly difficult to live with--and, of course, I want to change it.

I don't want to change my body just to please other people; but I do want to lose weight to be taken more seriously in my job. Plus, I just want to feel better about myself: I hate getting dressed, I hate taking pictures. I don't take pictures with Forrest simply because I know what I look like. That's hard to wrestle with. 

With all that being said, I hate that I've allowed myself to feel that I should change just because of how other people treat me (and how I perceive they see me.) I don't think anyone should lose weight or change their appearance to make other people happy. If it makes them happy, sure, go for it--but not other people. 

And even though I tell Danny that I just want to be able to wear the clothes I want, to be able to shop anywhere and feel confident and not like the sales associates can't wait to get me out of there, I also want to lose weight so people are nicer to me. I don't want to be called a fat ass while crossing the street anymore (a real thing that happened, yes.)

I also don't want to have a teenager point at me, during the middle of my next pregnancy, and say, "You think that's pregnant? That's just fat." (Yes, another real thing that happened.) I'm tired of being made to feel inconsequential because of others. I just want to be taken seriously.

I just want to be seen as the hard worker I am--and, by and large, most people see overweight people as stupid and lazy, a fact that could not be further from the truth for a vast majority of the population. 

I try my hardest, every day, to be body positive. I have lost friends over calling them out for negative comments, calling others "fat" (as a clear insult), or trying to make others feel bad about their bodies. I try to treat myself with love and kindness. It's hard to lose weight, but I don't want to lose my ability to treat all bodies positively in the process. 

That just means I have to work at it a little bit harder than everyone else. 

Committing to Whole30

I have a few things I don't want to admit to, but I should. Firstly, as I write this, I just finished eating a mug cookie. It's my last one, I swear to you all. Secondly, Danny and I ate an entire bag of Pirate's Booty from Costco in three days. It's the last one we'll ever buy, I swear. Thirdly, while I write about this Whole30 thing, I have a headache from not drinking a soda--which suggests to me, at least, that 30 days without sugar, carbs, or anything processed might be the thing that does me in. 

I'm a carb lover. If I had my way, I would eat entire meals of carbs: toast and pizza and noodles and potatoes and plain bread, honestly. It's actually a little embarrassing how high my carb percentage is on MyFitnessPal at the end of the day. At this point, I have to acknowledge that it's kind of an addiction. I don't need this many carbs, I think as I eat another peanut butter sandwich, and then promptly start imagining making some pasta. 

When I mentioned starting Whole30, one of my friends (shout out to you, Charlotte!) mentioned not becoming one of those "Whole30 people." You know, the annoying ones. 

Whole30 is kind of cultish. If I do it (and it's a big if--I'm sure the minute my first carb craving hits, I'll be scream crying on my office floor), I refuse to pay for it. I don't need to pay money to get emails to tell me not to eat carbs or dairy today. I might try to conveniently "forget", but I'm sure I'll remember eventually. I also don't plan to give up sweeteners like stevia and honey; if I'm going to be giving up my coffee creamer, I deserve to have some freaking stevia to sweeten it. 

If you've never learned about Whole30, here are the basic rules: 

  • For 30 days, you cut all foods that are not whole fruits and vegetables, plant-based fats, and proteins. 
  • Random foods that aren't allowed include "imitation foods" (like banana pancakes), legumes and beans, and sugar of any kind. 
  • Dairy products are also not allowed, including any "imitation" dairy products like homemade creamer or that banana ice cream you see floating around on Pinterest and Instagram. 

A lot of the rules are kind of arbitrary. I will admit the creators sound distinctly Not Very Fun, but who am I to judge? They also admit that the original rules, as presented, are based on their personal beliefs and decisions--and so yeah, it's arbitrary. But in their defense, they're only suggesting you do this for 30 days--not the rest of your life. To me, I just need something to cut the cord between me and delicious, delicious carbs; I just need a hard reset. 

Here are my rules for Whole30: 

  • For 30 days, I will cut all foods that are not whole fruits & vegetables, plant-based fats, and proteins. 
  • I will be allowed to eat imitation foods like banana pancakes as long as they don't include processed ingredients. (In your face, original Whole30 creators!) 
  • I will let myself have stevia and milk for coffee because I have a 10-month-old. 

My official start date is August 1. 

I'm really excited to see how well I do at this--and how I feel after a few days. I'm best at sticking to "diets" (although I'm not thinking of this as a diet--more of as a reset for my life) if I have very strict rules to follow. I'll probably just come up with a menu and eat the same thing each and every day because I'm boring and I like a plan. 

If you'd like to follow my Whole30 journey, you can follow my fitness Instagram @fitforforrest. (And you can always follow my main instagram @michellelocke6!)

Get It, Girl: 6 iPhone Backgrounds to Motivate You

I'm someone who only stays motivated if I see reminders day after day for my goals. Because, here's the thing, I will straight up forget to take steps towards my goal if I'm not continually reminded. I always use my iPhone backgrounds to remind myself to do things (taking screenshots of my Notes and setting it as my background is life), and I especially love downloading new wallpapers to get myself motivated to work out or eat healthy. Here are a few of my favorites right now:  

Have iPhone backgrounds you love? Share a link with me on Twitter!

I'm Ready to Talk about Postpartum Weight Loss

While going through a journal recently, I discovered a plan I had written for losing weight after I had Forrest. The date on the page in my journal says July 26, so it's been almost a full year since I wrote down possibly the funniest, stupidest plan ever. I listed times I would go walking, workout plans, meal plans to follow. 

You know what happened? None of it. 

I had neither the time nor the confidence to take Forrest on stroller walks three weeks postpartum, let alone three months postpartum. For the first three months, I survived entirely on lactation cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, and whatever I could cook for a few minutes while Danny held Forrest. After 3 months, I was so tired of paying attention to what I ate that I just gave up. I canceled my gym membership. I never went walking. 

I could have lost the weight by now. It's true. And actually, I am at my pre-pregnancy weight right now (but my pre-pregnancy weight was not exactly where I want to be either). I could have lost all kinds of weight by now, but sometimes, we just aren't ready. 

And we aren't ready to talk about it either. 

I read an article recently about having your picture taken when you're not exactly your ideal weight. This is a fact: I don't have any pictures of Forrest and me together that aren't selfies. I don't let people take my picture. I just don't. I also don't take my picture without carefully posing and even then, I'll probably cry about how it looks if I see it. Another fact: I know I'll regret not having pictures, good ones, with him when he's older and when I'm older. 

Not having my picture taken is my attempt to deny that I've gained weight. I always have this idea that if I can put it off just a little bit longer, give myself more time, I'll avoid having to confront the idea that I am bigger than I've ever been. I have a fear of people I knew in high school looking at pictures and saying, "Wow, Michelle got big." I was self-conscious in high school and I'm still self-conscious now. I went through a phase where I finally felt pretty... and now I've lost it. I'm back to high school me, nervous and embarrassed about how I look, and it's not fun. 

One more fact: I am bigger. I have gained weight. Yes, I've gotten "big." But I like to think that, in reality, when people see pictures of me they won't think, "Wow, Michelle got big." Instead, they'll think: Michelle had a baby, or Michelle got married, or Michelle looks so happy.

I like to think that as a society we can move past the expectation that we will all stay at our ideal, pre-adult bodies forever; I like to think that we can move past the expectation that the minute you have a baby, you should start restricting calories. I like to think we've moved past the discussion of women's bodies as assets. I want to believe that we can move past the idea that women should only take up a tiny amount of space. 

The truth is: I'm bigger now than I ever have been. But my life is bigger now too. 

It doesn't mean I will stay like this forever. I eat healthier than most people I know: I eat banana pancakes and boiled eggs; I snack on cheese sticks and carrots; I cook chicken and broccoli for dinner more often than not. I won't pretend to see my errors: last week, I ate an entire box of Cheez-its in a day because they were there and if Danny even suggests Taco Bell, I have no willpower to refuse. This is my body, though. This is the size I am. I can't deny it anymore. 

It doesn't mean that I got here through laziness. I worked out every day for two years. Then I had a baby. Then I fed a baby with my body (via an electrical pump) for 6 months. 

I'm ready to talk about postpartum weight loss. I'm ready to say I'm just starting, that I'm working on it every day, and that I know I will succeed and move past my food issues right now. I'm ready to admit that I struggle every day, that I wish I could eat pizza as nonchalantly as most of the population. I'm ready to say that I'm tired of my clothes not fitting. 

I wasn't ready before, but I am now. 

Follow my weight loss journey on my new fitness Instagram, @fitforforrest

What I Talk About When I Talk About the Kayla Guides

The first draft I wrote of this blog post, I let sit as a such (a draft) for three whole days. When I came back to it, I realized that the entire time I danced around my true opinion about the Kayla Itsines Beach Body Guides. I was also really negative, which made it harder to express my opinion. So I'm going to start from the beginning and that beginning includes a major, major point that I need to communicate. 

A few months ago, Kayla posted something akin to "if you want a beach body, you can never drink alcohol." Which, ok, whatever. I'm not a huge drinker. I'm really not. But that kind of statement rubs me in such a wrong way that I can barely explain it. The extreme restriction of your food, even if you end up with a "healthy" body like Kayla's, is not healthy. This leads me to a secondary point: Kayla's entire bit is about having a body that looks a very particular way. If you want a body that looks just like Kayla's, then these are the workouts for you. If you want your body but better, then maybe hold off. 

Saying you will never eat this or never eat that because it's "bad" for you is incredibly disordered, but is masked by the guise of being "healthy." There are many, many fitness "gurus" with extremely severe eating disorders -- one I used to follow stir fried her vegetables plain in WATER and said it was "tasty and flavorful" with no sauce. Excuse me, but that's boiling a bunch of veggies and calling it a stir fry; not only does it sound frankly gross, it's extremely disordered. It's like the watermelon Greek yogurt "cake" or apples sprinkled with cinnamon and called a "pie." All I'm saying is, thinspo has morphed into fitspo and there are a lot of girls with bad, bad eating disorders hiding it behind "Paleo" diets and weight lifting. Being obsessed with restricting your food and your body is not healthy, no matter how you express it, and denying yourself things you want, from stir fry and cake to a glass of wine, is not only life sucking, but pretty bad for you emotionally. It is possible to live a well-rounded like where you enjoy alcohol and cake as well as kale and chia seeds.  

The fixation on one type of healthy body is not only ridiculous, but damaging, and undermines Kayla's entire message of being healthy. I definitely fall prey to the "bikini body" idea -- I mean, I'd kill for a body like Kayla's -- but the fact is, I'm about 5 inches shorter than her with a completely different body type. It's just not going to happen. There is a way to be healthy, fit, and happy without looking just like Kayla or super thin. The only "fit, healthy" bodies we see are bodies that are thin, and that is wrong. You can be in shape and not that shape at the same time, but you wouldn't know that browsing through Kayla's instagram feed. All the girls end up looking the same (and just like Kayla) and to me, there is something inherently sad about that. 

Beyond those issues, I have issues with the guides themselves as well. Mainly, they cost about $60 a piece (there are two guides, so $120 total) and are about 100 pages long. But way, the workouts only consist of about 15 pages in each guide. So, the bulk of the guide is not workouts: it's Kayla's writing, which hovers somewhere around "big sister telling you how to live your life" and "omg what". For a $60 guide, that kind of grinds my gears. I like to get my money's worth and personally, a 100-page digital file that contains only about 15-20 pages of workouts is kind of a bust. If it was a physical book, it'd be different -- but c'mon, that's just a rip off! 

The guide suggests that alongside the circuits you do 3-4 sessions of HIIT workouts (high-intensity intervals, basically) and then 2-3 sessions of light cardio (like walking). That's a lot of working out. I work out a lot, but I simply do not have time to dedicate nearly 10 hours a week to it. I just don't. I could use that 10 hours to work, write, hang out with Danny, cook delicious dinners, grocery shop, play with my dog, or whatever. 

So what are the workouts themselves like? Most of the workouts are intense and tiring; I find myself sweating, red-faced and exhausted at the end. That being said, Kayla workouts have a reputation as being intensely hard and yes, some moves are challenging (I personally HATE sit ups with a twist and commandos, because I think those moves could easily be replaced by simpler exercises with the same result), but the workouts themselves are not exactly I'm-gonna-die hard. 

It's a difficult concept to express but: most workouts are hard. These workouts are also hard. But I would not rate them the hardest workouts I have ever done. (I think that title will always be held by conditioning weeks in Track when I was in high school.) 

I can see why they get results -- it's nice to follow a simple plan. However, are these workouts worth the $60 Kayla charges? Absolutely not. You could put together these plans on an app like PumpUp or find similar workouts on Pinterest. 

I also want to talk about Kayla's "H-E-L-P" guide, which is about healthy eating and lifestyle planning. It includes a week's sample meal plan and let me tell you, that meal plan is sad. Here are my issues with it: 

  • It is not vegetarian. There isn't a vegetarian option. I hope you like eating meat two times a day (and therefore, have the money to do that). 
  • It is dry

The suggested meal plans are painfully lame. One lunch is literally: flax seed wrap, two cups of lettuce, 1/2 can of tuna. THAT'S IT. I think I would just find the nearest bridge and jump off of it if that's what I decided I needed to eat for lunch everyday to have my ~ideal body~. Way to suck all the joy out of life.  

There are totally ways to eat healthy food that is also fun and flavorful. You don't have to eat plain, dry lettuce with plain, dry tuna on a flax seed wrap, I promise. 

I'm not saying that Kayla sounds like a total bummer to hang out with. Except that I totally am. She advises girls to order "cereal or muesli" when eating out "or just plain fruit." Honestly, get out. That's ridiculous. Have some fun, child, and some restricting your eating so much! Living life miserable and eating cereal while your friends enjoy pizza or pasta or whatever is absolutely not worth it. 

I'm not trying to say that healthy food can't be fun. There are lots of healthy foods that are delicious and fun. But Kayla's guide seems to suck all the fun out of food. She even refuses to call "treat days" treat days. She says you should get one treat meal and that's it, not a day to just enjoy yourself and not stress about how you're going to eat as much dry protein as possible.

Healthy food can be delicious and fun and you don't have to obsess about it like a total weirdo. But that's just me and I guess I don't have Kayla's "beach body" so maybe I'm totally wrong and my life will change when I start eating everything dry and protein-filled. But I also suspect I'd be deeply miserable if I did that too -- and sometimes, you have to make a choice. 

The Verdict

I have a lot of issues with self-styled "fitness gurus", obviously. The fixation on healthy bodies all looking the same way (that is, like Kayla's body) is extremely unhealthy. As well, while I know I need to make choices to eat better, restricting until I'm miserable and forcing myself to never eat certain foods again (like ice cream or full fat cheese) is a concept I don't really want to be involved with. Kayla doesn't seem to have mastered the concept that food can be healthy and delicious, nor does she seem to embrace the idea that there are more examples of healthy bodies than just generally "thin."

Do I like the Kayla guides? Yes, I enjoy them as a workout to supplement my usual cardio and running. Do I think they are the greatest workout ever? Absolutely not. Do I think they are worth the money? No, definitely not. Do I think Kayla needs to think long and hard about the advice she gives to people, especially young girls? Uh-huh, you bet I do.