Tag Archives: healthy eating

Why I hate the “Real Women Have Curves” Movement

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Author: Kara Adamo.

We have a problem, ladies…and it’s not the men.

There is an idea that has been leaching its way through computer screens, tablets and phone browsers that has gone unchecked for far too long.

Looking back, I suppose I can pin-point the first signs of it easily. It began in my parent’s generation: the 1970’s-1980’s period where “Thin was In” and people began going to insane extremes to get there.

We’re all familiar with it: the stories of women and men wasting away with any number or combination of eating disorders that left them emaciated and filled with a nearly incurable self-hatred that was then passed on to my own generation.

Even now, after all of the published personal stories and all of the attention aneorexia and its bretheren have gotten from the media, people are still starving themselves with this evasive idealist perfection in mind.

Celebrities probably get it the worst. They’re in the public eye and, as with every moment that lapses from the perfection we like to associate them with, that public eye zooms in and judges loftily from its self-imposed moral high-ground. We find our strength in numbers because these people lead lives that the “average Joe” could only ever dream of.

We’re really just jealous and resentful, but they’re the minority, so we can shrug it off and shoot them a “you asked for it” glare.

It makes us feel good about it for five seconds and is, in all honesty, a sign of our collective ethical degradation.

We all do it and they probably do, too.

Forever struggling with pressures from the media to maintain a perfectly composed, perfectly thin, perfectly groomed image, these celebrities starve themselves in the hopes that the negative publicity will cease.

And then, when we see them getting thinner, we copy them.

Men do this a bit, but it’s no secret that women are the worst. We like to point fingers at guys and scream to the high-heavens that it’s their judgmental pickiness that drives us to do it, but for the most part we’re full of it.

We do it.

We’ve always done it. There is a reason the movie “Mean Girls” did so well: it speaks to all of us because it’s based, on some level, in an unfortunate truth about our society.

Girls are, well, mean.

Now, my long-winded griping about anorexia and the “Thin is In” motif that pervasively plagues our culture has done nothing to warm me to the other equally evil notion, this piece’s title phrase: “Real Women Have Curves.”

You see, when I was in high school, I graduated at 149 pounds.

This seems fine, except that I am a tiny little pixie of a thing. At 27 years old, I measure a full 4-feet, 10-1/4 inches tall.

That’s it.

So, when you spread 149 pounds throughout that small of a frame, you can get a rough mental image of what I looked like: I wasn’t huge, but I was certainly “big boned.”

I did a lot of stupid things to lose the weight. I starved myself, resulting in the aggravation of a then-dormant condition called Diabetic Hypoglycemia which now affects me severely every single day.

I hated myself. Looking back on all of the pictures, I realize that, while the weight wasn’t healthy, I didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I thought I did. But you could have never told 17-year-old Kara that.

Then I started skim-boarding and I managed to lose twenty pounds in a four month period. I started eating again and then continued to lose weight until I was 21.

A number of issues that year resulted in my falling below 93 pounds. I couldn’t tell you what the final weight was because I stopped checking. It was too painful to find out. Nothing fit me and I was too ashamed of my financial situation to ask for help. I had bruises on the skin over my rib cage from sleeping on my stomach and my skin had very little color.

Because I wasn’t being honest about things, people thought that I was starving myself again—but this time successfully.

Six years later, I am at a healthy—albeit still unknown—weight. I run on a near-regular basis and I survive on fresh fish and veggies. I’m no longer nauseous after I eat and I finally feel good about my image.

I’m sharing this because I need people to realize that I have actually been on both sides of the track: I have been heavier and ridiculed for it and I’ve been called “anorexic” and a “skinny-mini,” too.

And I’m going to clear something up right here…right now: both suck.

I actually discussed this with a girlfriend of mine yesterday over coffee.

This girl is stunning. She has beautiful dark blonde hair, piercing catlike blue eyes, and long legs I would kill for. She’s that pretty, slender-but-athletic build that healthy-minded models would dream of and the wardrobe to match.

At any moment, this girl looks like she stepped out of a high-fashion magazine.

And yet, this girl has body image issues…just like the rest of us.

She doesn’t have big breasts or a curvy bottom: she’s taller than she wants to be and she sometimes wishes her complexion was clearer.

She’s confident, but she’s a woman: and that means that, no matter what, she will manage to find fault with herself.

Now to be clear on this: men love her.

And they love me—we’ve actually dated the same guy before (at different times, of course)—and we look completely opposite of one another.

This is important: the issue, overall, isn’t men. My weight fluctuates just as much as the next girl and I can always manage to find a date or someone to flirt with. I’ve dated when thin and when heavier and I was called beautiful regardless.

The issue is women.

This friend—we’ll call her Lucy—made an amazing point that I think needs to be addressed on a larger social scale: real women don’t have to have curves.

Lucy is a real woman. I was a real woman when I was scrawny.

Real women have vaginas. That’s what they have.

Some have curves…some have thin waists. Some are short and some are tall.

The issue is not that we are opening the door to social acceptance when it comes to curvier and even heavier women. I’m all for that.

The issue is that we are shutting that door on other women—thinner women—who have feelings and who are just as beautiful. And the reason we’re doing it is the same reason we ridicule celebrities: many of us are jealous and many of us have this misplaced misconception that thinner women have it easier.

To be honest, after having been thin and big and everything in between, I would venture to say that it was harder to be underweight and the reason behind that claim actually has virtually nothing to do with physical size.

It has to do with the emotional support I had from women.

When I was larger, I was told by my friends that I was pretty. I was encouraged to feel good about myself and I was told that my inner beauty was what mattered, anyway.

But when I was thin, that went away. I was scolded for having eating disorders I actually didn’t have and I was called “gaunt” and “thin” with a derogatory tone.

And that, pardon my French, is bullshit.

Lucy said it best at coffee: “All women are real women…women need love from women!”

And she’s 100% right.

We need to lift one another up. And we’re not doing it. We’re failing miserably.

It speaks poorly of our self-image (both internal and external) when the most popular weight-based slogan involves lifting up one group at the expense of another.

We don’t need to imply an exclusion to a group that has historically been complimented in photography and in the media. We just need to include everyone else.

Real women have skin. They have tears and they have humor and they generally have people in their lives that wouldn’t change them for the world…thin or heavy…short or tall.

This idea that we have to cut one another down to lift ourselves up is just as lethal as the notion that you have to starve yourself to be pretty. Some girls won’t ever put on weight. They’ll have to buy breasts if they ever want to fill an A cup and they’ll never have “dat base” everyone keeps singing at (to the peril of my eardrums.)

They’re just as “real” as the girl who fills a larger pant size and who can’t seem to drop the pounds. And we need to love both of them.

It’s a hate campaign disguised as a message of love and acceptance…and that’s what I can’t stand about it. Words mean things and they affect everyone.

So, the next time that you blurt out, “Real Women Have Curves,” think about the sweet girl off to your left that feels awkward about her thin frame and feels like she’s treated like a little kid by people who should be building her up. Think about how you feel whenever someone makes you feel bad about yourself.

And then shut-up.

Turn the phrase around in your head, and change it. Because what you really mean is that curvier girls and heavier girls are pretty too.

So just say that. It includes us all and it builds us up. We need each other, ladies. If we were nicer to one another, maybe we would all stop hurting ourselves to fulfill this unobtainable image of perfection we seem to perpetuate.

And, for the love of god, eat a cupcake. No matter what weight you are, cupcakes rule.

Staying Fit During My Quarter-Life Crisis

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Author: Kara Mae Adamo. 

I’ve spent a great deal of time at the bar over the last couple of months–and eating au gratin potatoes at work (I’m a vegetarian working in a fine dining steak house…they feed us…but most of it previously had a face…you see how my options are a bit limited)

I have, however, been maintaining an active lifestyle. I’ve been switching it up a bit: I have gone rock climbing recently (my friends go a lot, so I really have no excuse outside of my insane schedule not to go), and I’ve started hitting the gym more, too.

I also bought myself some roller blades. I can’t decide if this last one has anything to do with my sudden mid-twenties freak-out, but I have also been looking into buying a ninja 250. It suffices to say that I may or may not be experiencing a quarter-life crisis…but either way I bought the blades. I also went skateboarding for the first time in my life. Granted, I was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette at 4 o’clock in the morning when I was on said skateboard, but it actually didn’t go too bad…aside from when I ended up on someone’s driveway while on my friend Alex’s long-board. As it turns out, going down-hill is completely different than going straight or up-hill. The board shot out from under me and I fell right on my tailbone.

It was still fun.

And, honestly, why shouldn’t I go skateboarding or rollerblading? Why? Because I’m a grown woman? Meh. I’m the size of a ten year old, and I feel that somehow earns me the right to play like one. I’m not hurting anyone but myself most of the time, anyway.

Perhaps it will keep me young. I’ve sworn off plastic surgery and face-lifts. Perhaps if I keep that youthful glow that comes from climbing trees and making mud-pies, I will never have to consider these things. (Just kidding on the mud-pies…sort of).
I actually am developing a school of thought surrounding this. So what if I want to do all of these things? I didn’t do them that much as a teenager and, well, I’m a grown-ass adult. I pay my bills and work 60+ hours a week. I do my own taxes, clean my own house and own my own car. So if I want to get grass stains all over my jeans by falling down because I haven’t figured out how to stop on my new roller blades then who’s to stop me?!

No one; that’s who.

I’ve also taken to buying more food from the grocery store. I feel as though this is key. I tend to eat healthier when I’m, well, not at the bar. Tonight, for instance, I sauteed some asparagus with some carrots and a touch of soy sauce. I also let a vegan grilled “chicken breast” simmer in some ginger dressing and a little claret. I topped both of these with a bit of caprino cheese and had a small side salad of mixed greens, radishes (an excellent blood purifier, btw) and ginger dressing. In lieu of a beer, I had a glass of juice (a combo of two of my favorite V8 fruit blends).

Honestly, I feel better already.

I’m trying to get myself in shape so that, when I take off over seas a year and a half from now, I’ll be in tip-top condition for the training regimen.

This has helped get my mind off of a few upsetting things and, honestly, it’s how I usually live. I’ve been in a rut for a while and I feel like I’m finally climbing out of it. This makes for a happy Kara–and it also gives me an excuse to shop for cute clothes this spring 🙂

The Health Benefits of Vegetarianism

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A staunch vegetarian for the last 3 years, I’ve taken a lot of heat for my diet. From the ageless question, “Humans need meat, Kara…where do you get your protein?”, to the perplexed and simply executed “Why?” from a disconcerted meat eater, the unconventional choice has yielded questions upon questions about why I would choose this lifestyle.

The fact is, I used to eat meat. I was the single person in my family willfully scarfing down thick steaks cooked Pittsburg-style and covering my baked potatoes with bacon. I worked out. I wasn’t overweight, so I couldn’t understand the idea of giving up meat myself. “Why limit yourself?” I’d ask, unable to see past the coveted animal-based entrée in front of me.

And then I started to look at the facts.

On the very tip of the proverbial health-benefits-iceberg, we have fiber. Because we’ve evolved past our initial archaic selves (we no longer have fang-like teeth for tearing into animal flesh, for instance), our digestive systems have changed. When you leave a restaurant or the dinner table feeling sick and uncomfortable, it is because our bodies have a hard time digesting meat. This can lead to constipation and, eventually, even intestinal cancers. Vegetarian diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, so they actually aid in digestion. Meat alternatives, such as El Burrito Food Products’ Soyrizo, also aid in that process because they are plant-based. And, since your body doesn’t have to work so hard to try and break down all of that meat, you’ll notice a significant increase in your energy levels after a meal.

This is even better news for diabetics, because the fiber and complex carbohydrates found in vegetarian and vegan diets can help control diabetes and hypoglycemia. In fact, if you consume legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can even eliminate the need for diabetic medicines in some cases–and any diabetic will tell you, that can save you a lot amount of money.

According to a study from Loma Linda University (backed by the China Health Project), vegetarians live an average of 7 years longer than meat eaters do. Those who follow a vegan diet (vegetarianism without dairy or eggs) live 15 years longer. This is partially because the toxins found in meat can cause skin problems, allergies, influenza and other ailments. In severe cases, they have also been known to cause infertility and cancers.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, grilled, cured and smoked meats and fish produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, both of which are carcinogenic in nature. They cause cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute says that women who eat meat are 4x as likely to get breast cancer than vegetarian women. Vegetarians, on the other hand, lower their risk of cancer by 50% simply by eliminating meat from their diets because their immune systems are effective in killing tumor cells. Vegetarians, on average, consume more fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are full of sulfide compounds, isoflavones, isothiocyanates, and glucarates–all of which work as effective preventative measures against cancer. You can further lower your risk of cancer by another 20% by consuming an adequate amount of whole grains.

By giving up meat, you can naturally rid your body of many toxins. This is because fruits and vegetables (especially those that are organically grown) don’t have as many preservatives and chemicals. In fact, cruelty-free diets are filled with disease-fighting phytochemicals. In essence, this means that the prettier your food is, the better it can boost your immunity, preventing a range of illnesses.

By cutting out dairy and eggs, you can shave off another 4% from the likelihood that you will suffer from cardiovascular disease or stroke between the ages of 40 and 65. This is partly because the cholesterol levels for vegetarians are an average of 14% lower than cholesterol levels among meat eaters. And then, of course, there is the inherent link meat consumption shares with cardiovascular diseases. This starts at a surprisingly young age. According to the Bogalusa Heart Study (conducted at Louisiana State University), children as young as 3 years old who are raised on meat and fast food are already showing early signs of heart disease. Studies show that the average American male omnivore is about 15% more likely to die of heart disease than a man who doesn’t eat meat…a significant drop in mortality rates simply for opting for a cruelty-free alternative to that burger at lunch. Vegetarian diets are low in salt, which is a major cause of hypertension and high blood pressure. They are also lower in cholesterol and saturated fats, which are main causes of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Fruits and Vegetables like papaya, strawberries, eggplant, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, squash and parsley can actually lower your blood pressure levels.

El Burrito Food Products’ Soyrizo is made from a soy protein and so it contains important isoflavones like daidzein. These isoflavones can slow and in some cases even stop tumor growth. They lower cholesterol levels, diminish bone loss and decrease your risk of blood clots. Basically, this translates to lower risks of heart diseases, stroke, osteoporosis and cancer.

And then, on a purely vain level, there is the issue of weight. Billions upon billions of dollars are spent every year on weight loss plans and dietary supplements, but the fact of the matter is, the answer has been in your backyard all along. On average, vegetarians are thinner than meat eaters are because our diets are higher in vegetable proteins and lower in fat. Products like Soyrizo mimic the texture and taste of meat, but they are lowering cholesterol and saturated fats because they are made from tofu. By opting for these healthier alternatives, vegetarians are more likely to keep the weight off for up to seven years longer than meat eaters are.

Because of its link with hypertension, cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, gallstones and food-borne illnesses, meat consumption attributes to an estimated $30-$60 billion a year in medical costs in the United States alone (Barnard ND, Nicholson A, and Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med 1995; 24: 646-55). Doctor visits aside, by replacing chicken, meat and fish with vegetables and fruits can actually cut your grocery costs down by up to $4,000 a year. A decent amount of pocket change in exchange for a healthier, cruelty-free lifestyle.

Oh–a note on the “pingback” to El Burrito Food Products’ blog….I’m the one who writes their blog entries…so I wound up having a “pingback” to my professional self!! hahahaha!!