If you’re vegan or vegetarian and getting married, you’re in for a world of hurt commentary. It must be so *amazing* to sit in your ivory tower and subsist solely on plants and carbs. In all seriousness, intaking a sh*tload of green things is super good for you, so I’m glad at least one of us is embracing the health thing. But when it comes to your wedding, not as many people will be thrilled by your lifestyle choices. People, namely your guests, will wonder wtf you’re going to serve since you’re not down with the whole animal murder thing. However, there are actually tons of dishes and easy ways for you to incorporate your life choices without everyone leaving hungry and mad. Here are a few tips you might want to consider if you’re having a vegan wedding.
Apps And Hors D’oeuvres
Stuffed mushrooms, hummus and olive platters, cheese plates, and crudite are all vegan and/or vegetarian options (depending on their preparation—minus the cheese plate, obviously), so getting away with meatless dishes during cocktail hour should be a breeze. Additionally, this is a period of time during your nuptials when you actually want people to carbo-load, since not doing so means they’ll be getting drunker faster. So, in the interest of not being billed for someone throwing up on your floor, talk to your event planner about dishes that incorporate your love of animals with tasty foods that’ll fill people up. Some dishes to consider are self-serve Mediterranean platters with hummus, baba ghanoush, olives, and pita; passed appetizers like mushrooms stuffed with artichoke hearts and bread crumbs or vegan bruschetta toasts; and tiny glasses of individual carrot spears, celery, and peppers.
Pictured above is vegan mac and cheese, also known as a sin against God and man.
Moving on to dinner. Whether you’re hosting a buffet or a served meal, there are several options you can throw out there that people won’t really notice are vegetarian or vegan. We do highly suggest not going entirely vegan or vegetarian for main dishes on your wedding day since it’ll turn a lot of people off, but you do you.
Italian: Italian is the first choice, because, unless you’re gluten-free, digging into a big plate of spaghetti with classic red sauce is filling, satisfying, and gives your guests the energy they need to do the Cotton-Eyed Joe. If you want something heavier, eggplant rollatini or eggplant parmigiana are awesome choices, although they’d be considered vegetarian and not vegan, because, ya know, cheese.
Salad Extravaganza: Maybe you don’t want a giant plate of Italian food, which, if it’s the middle of summer, fair. In that case, offer a buffet of colorful salads from kale, Caesar, or arugula to wilted spinach (sans bacon dressing), plus add toppings like grilled tofu or falafel for a heartier option.
Grains: Rice, farro, quinoa—people are insane for grain (trademark) these days, so giving your guests a few classic and interesting grain salads with different toppings is a good way to shove the whole vegetarian thing down everyone’s collective throat. You can opt for Mediterranean-inspired Tabouleh or herbed farro, or you can embrace fall flavors (and colors) with something like a butternut squash risotto that uses veggie stock and starchy root vegetables instead of chicken broth and cheese.
Add-ons: If you’re planning on a smorgasbord of meatless dishes, consider plating up meat separately or allowing your guests to choose it even if you won’t. Set aside a few servings of salmon, shrimp, chicken, and tofu so that you don’t have to deal with the horror of meat touching your dish, but your guests can also get what they need. It’s something to consider, especially since it’s v unlikely that every single one of your guests is going to be PSYCHED at the prospect of a vegetarian wedding.
You can get a lot of vegan and vegetarian sweets when it comes to dessert, so it’s relatively easy and painless. Tons of companies make and sell vegan truffles, which are usually created with things like pure cacao and coconut cream. Vegan cakes and cupcakes are pretty straightforward, too—just ask your baker to prepare without using cream, milk, eggs, or lard. For vegan ice creams and the like, check out what sorbets are available to you. Nothing beats a lemon shaved ice during an August wedding, amirite?
At the start of the summer, I decided to go vegan. Before you come at me (plz chill) I know there are a billion articles about how it ruins my health, destroys the environment, and exists only as trendy holier-than-thou diet (thinking of you, Gwyneth Paltrow!)
People loveeeee to hate on vegans. Sure, we have a rep for being pretty judgmental hypocrites (like Phoebe from Friends and her love for her fur coat in that one episode—but tbh in the spirit of journalistic integrity, she was vegetarian, not vegan, but still). And I was one of those haters. I used to think veganism was a fad diet that wasn’t even that healthy. Also, how do you even get enough protein? Tofu, a chalky white sagging blob I’d seen at my dining hall’s salad bar, didn’t seem a particularly appealing alternative.
So what changed? Well, I moved to California and was brainwashed started learning more about veganism. One of my best friends at college is vegan, so I learned more about it this year by eating with her. Obviously, we went to the most extra vegan restaurants in LA, but that was the first thing that convinced me: I actually liked the vegan food.
Judging by my super healthy diet of vodka and brownies, by the end of the school year I felt like crap. I needed a lifestyle change, and this summer was the perfect opportunity for that. I would be cooking all of my own food for the first time while living in a dump old frat house on the Row at Stanford.
My family was concerned by this idea—well, actually, I didn’t tell them initially because I knew they’d freak out, but had I informed them of my plans before, these are the questions they would’ve asked:
What will you eat for breakfast? Ummm….seaweed and hummus? Some nuts? Kale chips? Tofu? Realistically a really weird assortment of food, but also, like, who even eats breakfast? I’m in college. Coffee counts.
What do you eat at restaurants? Since one of my best friends is already vegan and since California is the Mecca of vegan restaurants, it isn’t hard to find restaurants that served, like, salads and tofu.
Can you still drink? JK, my fam wouldn’t have asked me that, but for all the concerned alcoholics out there, vodka is vegan. In fact, all liquor is, though some wines and beers are processed with animal products. Yet another reason shots reign supreme.
It’s 11pm and I’d just arrived at “The House,” aka the
trap fraternity house where I’d be living this summer. Even though it’s no longer a frat house, it still feels like a frat house. The state of the house may seem irrelevant to my diet, but the kitchen is a disaster. It’s a place where we’d all made blackout quesadillas at 2am during the school year, so using the same pans crusted with our drunk food seems rather unappetizing.
After moving all of my stuff up three flights of stairs alone (chivalry is dead), I head to Whole Foods to scour their vegan options. This being California, they have loads of options. I buy what would become the starting lineup for my summer diet: eggplant and tofu from the salad bar, a few pre-made salads, kale chips, seaweed, pickles, hummus, and vegan jerky. I feel so healthy.
A few vegan days pass. Do I feel any magical results? No. I do not feel less tired, as some people have promised. I do feel healthier though. Like those vegan models that I follow on Instagram, with my Bragg’s Nutritious Yeast (vaguely cheesy powder?) and zucchini noodles (these taste like zucchini, not pasta, don’t let others convince you otherwise).
That Friday my friends and I go to San Francisco. It all fun and games until everyone decides they want to go to IHOP for some drunk 3am pancakes. I then realize I can’t have any because they aren’t f*cking vegan. I eat some kale chips instead to soak up all the extra vodka in my stomach. The next morning I want to kill myself. Kale chips aren’t a good drunk food. My hangover is deadly. Who would’ve f*cking thought?
Weeks 2 & 3
The glow of being healthy is fading. First of all, I’m worried I’m anemic because I’m tired, like, all the time. Literally, allll the time. All I want to do is sleep. I went from being fine on six hours of sleep to wanting to sleep 12 hours. What college student sleeps for 12 hours? HOW IS THIS OK.
Also I really, really, really want something sweet. I’m craving chocolate like mad. So I buy some Hu Chocolate from Whole Foods and happily eat an entire hazelnut-butter dark chocolate bar. It’s vegan, so ha!
Realistically, there isn’t much more to say about these weeks. They pass in a sort of foggy blur of vegetable eating. I don’t go out because of my summer courses. This is shaping up to be the best summer ever, wow!
I questioned stopping. But that would be giving up, now, and I’m no quitter.
This weekend, I drive down to LA with my vegan best friend, and naturally, she brings me to all of her favorite vegan restaurants. The Green Temple for the best tofu sauce (literally I want to drink the sauce). Café Gratitude has absurd buffalo cauliflower and honestly it’s expensive ($11 for a side of cauliflower? What is the profit margin here?). By Chloe (there are multiple in New York too!) has the best vegan kale Caesar salad I’ve ever tried in my life. It has shitake bacon and almond parmesan and literally, this is why I became vegan. Also, there’s a little sign that says how much waste you’ve prevented by eating vegan food inside By Chloe, which just made me feel like a really great person.
The next day I get a migraine and lie in bed for the entire day. Soooo fun. Exactly what I drove six hours for! We go to Whole Foods that night though, to find dinner stuff, and I’m delighted by their eccentric chip selection (jicama chips. WTF?) and extremely elaborate salad bar selection. They also have about five types of vegan mac and cheese, which is like, absurd.
We head to the Farmer’s Market in Hollywood the next morning. Everyone makes fun of me because I buy a jar of pickled brussels sprouts and a tin of soy shitake mushrooms to eat for breakfast. Yes, I get that’s a really weird breakfast. But seriously, anyone who knows me by now should realize that I thrive on eating really strange foods. And pickled (well, technically fermented but stick with me) foods are good for your gut health. It’s why so many people are obsessed with drinking apple cider vinegar!
We drive home, stopping at the Ostrich Farm on the way through Santa Barbara. This trip has taught me:
- LA has the best vegan restaurants. New York may have By Chloe and Candle 79, but LA just has sooooo many more options.
- I actually can drive for seven hours without killing someone. Genuinely a miracle!
- Ostriches are vaguely cute.
- There is nothing to do in LA besides workout, eat food, and sit in traffic (while occasionally visiting ostriches).
I feel less tired, so maybe my body was just adjusting. Or maybe I am anemic and should start taking iron supplements. My doctor keeps bugging me to do bloodwork and I keep putting it off because I’d have to fast before getting it done and that’s so annoying. Yes, I am a responsible adult, thanks for asking.
I make the mistake of telling my mom that I decided to go vegan, and receive a whole lecture about how it’s a horrible idea. You will ruin your health and become anemic and are you getting enough protein and don’t you know about living life in moderation?
I give her a speech about animal rights and the environment (yes, this is a little late to the game, but I started following all these vegan Instas because I needed more motivation), and the environmental benefits of veganism. It really tugs at the heartstrings. But photos of cute little pigs with the caption “is eating bacon really worth it?” kind of make me want to cry.
Now that my mom hates my vegan diet, I’m even more motivated to continue. I’m massively stressed studying for my summer course midterms, but at least I’m stress-eating seaweed and hummus instead of cookies. After I finish midterms we go out that weekend to celebrate one of my friend’s birthdays. Personally, I blame my later behavior on the restaurant for lacking vegan options. A plain salad is not an ideal pre-drinking meal, tbh, and my lack of memory for the rest of the night can be entirely explained by my meager dinner of iceberg lettuce in conjunction with the seven shots of ginger vodka I had later.
Weeks 6 & 7
These two weeks are also a blur. My family comes to visit the first weekend and are genuinely incensed that I refuse to eat meat. We all go out to dinner to some non-vegan place where the only thing I can eat is a kale Caesar salad without dressing (because of the fricking anchovies). So I basically eat a bag of dry kale for dinner. Yummmmm. But I can’t back out on being vegan now. That would mean my mom was right. Again. I abandon my family after dinner to run to Whole Foods to buy a late night snack of eggplant and hummus (why am I so weird?!).
The next day, my mom treats me to dinner at Nobu, which opened in Palo Alto at the start of the school year. I’d been dying to go the entire year, but it’s not exactly a place you go with your friends when you’re in college on a budget. My mom orders sashimi for the entire table and I eat a piece of tuna.
YES, I BREAK MY VEGAN DIET. NO ONE IS PERFECT K?!
Seriously though, the tuna is fine. High-quality fish, but ultimately not even that tasty. Honestly, one thing I’ve realized is that food tastes good because of the sauces and spices on it, not because of the base. It could be cauliflower or steak, chicken or tofu, all that really matters is the sauce. (Okay, clearly I’m not a steak connoisseur. Red meat has always grossed me out and I know theoretically a good steak doesn’t need any sauce. This is why I’m a mostly successful vegan, and my brother will never be a vegan. He thinks vegans are wussies and real men eat wagyu beef.)
My family leaves, and I’m getting bored of eating the same 10 foods every day. So I start exploring some of the other weird vegan foods that Whole Foods sell. Vegan cheese dip, for example, is disgusting. It’s a mix of pureed potatoes and cashews, and it does NOT taste like cheese and now I feel nauseous. I also buy chocolate covered chickpeas a few times, which sound gross but taste like chocolate covered pretzels. They are as addictive AF so consider yourself warned. Banana brittle (pureed dehydrated bananas with coconut flakes) is also incredibly addictive. As is chocolate mousse made with silken tofu and cacao powder.
If I sound like a raving lunatic who has lost all concept of what good food actually tastes like, it is quite possible that veganism has addled my brains.
I spend the entire week studying for my finals. Woohoo. All I want is to go home and sleep. The fatigue never entirely left, so maybe I really am anemic. But I honestly feel much healthier. My body is more toned, my hair is thicker, and my complexion is brighter. Most importantly, I don’t feel gross every time I eat. It’s nice to finish a meal and not regret eating junk, but instead feel happy knowing that I’ve put healthy nutrients into my body.
Even though I’ve been eating less protein, I feel more muscular too. Until I have to move all my crap and I realize I still lack basic upper body strength. Veganism forced me to abandon my mini fridge since I don’t have enough strength to carry it down three flights of stairs (if anyone wants a mini fridge HMU. I warn you though, the freezer has about an inch of congealed apple vodka on the bottom because my idiot friend put a bottle of vodka in it sans lid). I fly back home to New York and eat a bag of coconut chips for dinner because the airplane has no vegan food.
Week 9 – ???
Now that I’m home and no longer cooking for myself, I guess I could stop being vegan. Despite the fatigue, I really have enjoyed it. It forced me to cut the unhealthy junk out of my life but still allowed me to treat myself by eating things like chocolate covered bananas or vegan brownies. Moderation!
I did finally get some bloodwork done and it does turn out my iron levels are dangerously low (oops?), I can always start taking a supplement to fix that and start drinking blackstrap molasses because apparently, that has 20% of your daily iron per serving. Yum. Besides that, I really do feel much healthier. I feel fit again, instead of constantly stressed about what I’m eating. My hair and skin both feel amazing.
It’s honestly not hard to find food to eat, either. I just eat the vegetables my mom makes for dinner and heat up some tofu for protein. Now I’m campaigning for my dad to join me since his cholesterol is through the roof and I know he’d benefit from less butter and red meat. (I’m really trying to not become one of those preachy vegans that try to indoctrinate everyone though, don’t worry.)
If you’re still not convinced
a) I don’t care
b) it’s fine, you can join my family, who are still convinced that I went to school in California and became “some sort of new-agey hippie.”
Realistically, will I stay vegan forever? I have no clue considering it’s been only 10 weeks and forever is, like, a really long time, but I have no concrete plans to stop anytime soon. Unless I actually do become anemic from an iron deficiency. Then my mom might start force-feeding me red meat again…
I once learned in AP European History that the first king of England was too fat to get on his horse, so he decided to eliminate all food from his diet and only drink alcohol in the hopes of shedding a few pounds. A thousand years have gone by, and it feels like our diets haven’t really progressed (and tbh his sounds pretty logical). We’re constantly being harassed by new diets and healthy foods, and some of the facts can get confusing, mostly because it all comes down to your own individual body. Although there aren’t specific foods that will straight-up make you fat, there are some foods that are marketed as super healthy, but they aren’t really doing you any favors. Here are some of health foods that are not so healthy.
1. Gluten-Free Bread
The “gluten-free” buzzword is often written on food items, but unless you’re actually gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease, these products aren’t necessarily healthier for you. In fact, gluten-free bread is usually packed with so many artificial ingredients and sugars to make up for the lack of gluten. You’re honestly better off eating regular bread.
2. Orange Juice
The whole “fresh orange juice” health fad started like, 60 years ago, but let’s keep in mind that women were still smoking while pregnant at the time. AKA, it’s outdated. I mean, I’m not saying orange juice made with minimal ingredients is at all dangerous for you, but if you think you’re drinking a glass of health with your oatmeal in the morning, you’re wrong. Orange juice is basically a cup of sugar, and even if it’s just made with oranges, which have a ton of vitamins, it’s a lot of sugar to gulp down at once. Plus, lower sugar fruits like strawberries and papaya have more vitamin C than oranges do, so there goes that excuse.
Granola is one of those foods that really isn’t terrible for you, but it’s marketed as this magic bag of health and wellness, and honestly, nobody takes the serving size into account. Most granola companies, even the ones that use “clean” ingredients, don’t make it clear that the serving size is usually 1/4 cup. Anyone who’s ever looked at a measuring cup knows that is tiny. Many people (hi) end up eating entire bowls of granola, ingesting like, 600 calories in one snack. Granola is meant to be sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt or snacked on in small doses, so keep that in mind when eating half the bag before lunch.
4. Restaurant Veggie Sides
I’m one of those people who are guilty of going out to dinner and ordering a bunch of vegetable sides, thinking that it’s the healthiest option on the menu. Honestly, they’re usually not that healthy. It’s pretty much known that vegetables suck, taste-wise, so these restaurants often douse them in oils and sauces and butter to make people want to order them. Like, if you’re wondering why your Brussels sprouts appetizer tastes like french fries, maybe it’s born with it, maybe it’s tons of added fat. You’re better off ordering a lean protein, like fish or grilled chicken. You don’t have to avoid vegetables completely, but just be wary of what you’re actually ordering when you’re out to eat.
5. Agave Nectar
Ever since Miley went vegan and açai bowls became trendier than Momofuku cake, agave nectar is trending in the wellness world—but unless you’re vegan, it’s not that healthy for you. Like, agave is supposed to be the “healthy” sugar substitute, but the reason it has a low glycemic index is because it’s filled with fructose, which, when ingested in large quantities, turns to fat because your liver can’t turn it into energy. Instead of demonizing sugar and turning to agave as an alternative, just add sugar in moderation and realize what you’re actually putting into your body when you buy these alternatives.
6. Dried Fruit
Ugh, this one makes me so sad because dried mango is actually the best thing since watermelon Sour Patch Kids. Dried fruit is similar to granola in the sense that it’s really not harmful for you, but nobody talks about serving sizes, and they’re SO sad. Dried fruit is all carbs and sugar, and often companies add even more sugar to them. Like, have you ever realized why Craisins are so much sweeter than actual cranberries? Spoiler: it’s sugar. If you’re eating dried fruit, find a brand that has no added sugar, and try not to eat the whole bag in one sitting. You can do this.
Images: Jannis Brandt / Unsplash; Giphy (4)
People say the camera adds 10 pounds, but like, I’m convinced that only applies to when you open your iPhone camera and it’s accidentally on selfie mode. Celebrities are known to have perfect bodies, and despite a few bad paparazzi shots of a hungover Amanda Bynes, I fully agree. I mean, I know they spend a lot of money on personal trainers and nutritionists, but I think we deserve to know some of the tricks they use to get their stomachs to look perfectly flat and feel amazing despite all the flying and drinking they do. After doing some thorough research on the topic, I’m ready to share. Here are some celebrities’ favorite tummy hacks.
Jessica Alba: Probiotics
Jessica Alba is a client of celebrity nutritionist Kelly Leveque, and her clientele also includes Chelsea Handler and Emmy Rossum. This woman knows how to make women look great, and her trick is probiotics. In fact, Jessica Alba doesn’t even diet or watch her calories, because she’s mainly focused on eating in order to improve her gut health. Apparently your gut health helps regulate your hormones and control your weight, so by improving the microbiome in your gut, you’ll slim down and feel great.
Kourtney Kardashian: Green Tea
As much as we love our coffee, green tea is having its moment right now, and the Kardashians are totally funding it. Kourtney Kardashian can probably write a book about her list of health hacks (Kris Jenner, great opportunity here), and we’ve already tried a few of them. The flat tummy hack she swears by right now is her daily green tea latte. She drinks it with honey and almond milk, and she says it makes her stomach feel and look its best.
Meghan Markle: Water
An article recently came out about how Meghan Markle can take long flights all the time and still avoid bloating and puffiness. Important news right here. Anyway, it turns out she swears by her probiotic and drinking tons of water. She says this combo actually helps with jet lag and it prevents your body from bloating and even becoming constipated. Especially when flying at high altitudes, your stomach becomes filled with air, so loading up on water while traveling is a must. Start chugging.
Adriana Lima: Breakfast Smoothie
If you thought all Victoria’s Secret models skip breakfast and eat three unsalted cashews for lunch, Adriana Lima says drinking a filling smoothie in the morning is actually what makes her look so good. Obviously aside from all the ab workouts she does, Lima says she looks her best in a crop top when she drinks a breakfast smoothie, usually with avocado, honey, or yogurt. She claims it boosts her energy and kick-starts her metabolism for the day. And I mean, it seems like it’s working for her.
Khloé Kardashian: 5 Staple Foods
Khloé has obviously hired a team of health and fitness professionals to get her body to look its best, but she has her own tricks when she’s not getting her ass kicked by Gunnar Peterson on national TV. Apparently Khloé sticks with five foods that give her that slim stomach look: avocado, ginger, watermelon, tomatoes, and oats. I assume she eats other foods aside from these five, but she likes incorporating these into her diet and says they helped her see results that complement her hard work in the gym, and they obviously work. I mean, there’s a reason Revenge Body exists.
Emmy Rossum: No Fructose
I haven’t heard the word fructose since freshman year biology, but apparently Emmy Rossum avoids fruit when she wants to de-bloat and feel her best in a tight dress. Fructose is the natural sugar in fruit, and although fruit is obviously good for you, having too much of it can make you bloated, and that’s because the fructose feeds the gut bacteria that could make you look puffy and full. Honestly, if we’re talking about giving up FRUIT, I’m scared to see what else she avoids, but like, it’s her life.
Miranda Kerr: Dandelion Tea & Goat Milk
Okay, this could be the weirdest hack of all, but Miranda Kerr is literally goals so let’s talk about it. People always ask Miranda what she likes to eat, and she usually has normal answers, like toast and eggs and green juice. BUT Miranda also swears by this mixture of dandelion tea with goat milk. She says it has cleansing and detoxifying effects. I looked it up, and it turns out dandelion root actually has a ton of antioxidants and it can work to detoxify your body and reduce inflammation, so she’s not crazy. She doesn’t explain why she adds goat milk, but dairy from goats tends to be easier to digest than from a cow, so that’s probably the reason. Personally I don’t plan on trying this one right now, but if anyone does, please report back. I need to see what this girl’s raving about.
Images: Giphy (3)
After nearly starving to death on Gwyneth Paltrow’s low-carb diet, I decided to try something different for my next experiment. I thought about other celebrities’ diets to try, but they all looked so boring. Ever since I started lifting weights, I began following some female bodybuilders on social media to get workout ideas, and I remember being floored by how they train and how much they eat. Like, these girls look amazing and they’re definitely not ordering a juice cleanse before the holidays. So I thought, is the bodybuilder diet (and lifestyle) realistic for the average person? I obviously had to find out for myself.
I did some research into the typical bodybuilder’s diet, and as you’d expect, there’s a lot of protein involved. Lesson one is macros, which is bodybuilding slang for macronutrients. These macronutrients consist of protein, fats, and carbs, and the typical bodybuilder works with a coach to figure out the exact macros they should be eating each day. But apparently the bodybuilder diet changes throughout the year, depending on if you’re “cutting,” “maintaining,” or “bulking.” From what I’ve gathered by eavesdropping on dudebros at the gym, cutting is getting leaner and losing fat, bulking is gaining a bunch of muscle, and maintaining is staying the same (duh). Basically, you eat according to your fitness goals. Once you have a certain number of each macronutrient, you try to hit that number every day. Plus, in addition to hitting macronutrient goals, most bodybuilders drink a gallon of water each day. That’s a lot of water. I’m all for staying hydrated, but like, all this eating and drinking sounded exhausting.
After a quick Google search, I found an online macro generator, filled out a few things about me, and found out my maintenance numbers for each macronutrient. One thing that bothered me is that I noticed a lot of the products these people love are packed with artificial sugars and additives. There are plant-based, clean-eating bodybuilders out there, but the majority are stocking up on protein bars and Halo Top. I decided to do a slightly cleaner version of the typical bodybuilding diet while still hitting my macronutrient goals.
Anyone who knows me is pretty aware that I like working out. But this week would be different, because bodybuilders follow “workout splits,” where they work certain body parts on each day of the week. They also take one or two days off, or “active rest days,” which basically means light jogging and foam rolling. I did some research on a typical workout split, and decided to break up my workouts into two leg days, a day for back and biceps, a day for chest and triceps, and a day for shoulders and abs. That gave me room for two rest days in which I would stretch my crying muscles and judge all the girls on the elliptical. I even met with a trainer in my gym who showed me the most effective exercises for each body part and told me how many sets and reps I should be doing for each day. I was ready to go.
As I expected, the first day was the biggest adjustment, mainly because bodybuilders usually eat 5-6 meals per day. I had to figure out how to squeeze in my meals, my workouts, and my gallon of water while still being a functioning member of society. Lesson one is that breakfast has to be a substantial meal. These girls aren’t running out the door with half a Kind Bar and a cold brew. I read that it’s important to incorporate proteins, fats, and carbs into the first meal of the day, so I went with a coffee, three sunny-side up eggs, a sizable bowl of oatmeal, and an apple. The eggs provided the fats and protein, and the oatmeal and apple are both carb sources. Bodybuilders don’t eat that much fruit and prefer to get a lot of their carbs from rice and oats, but like, it was 8am and I wanted a piece of fruit. I also managed to get down a liter of water with my breakfast, so I was off to a decent start.
Apparently the next golden rule of bodybuilding is that the most important meals of the day, contrary to what you heard in kindergarten, are your pre- and post-workout meals. It sounds fair, but I struggled with the pre-workout part. I was still pretty full from my breakfast, and I don’t usually like working out while feeling full. I also wasn’t down to start taking the pre-workout supplements that a lot of pros take, but I still wanted to feel that sort of energy boost that a pre-workout drink provides. For dramatic effect. I went with a rice cake, a plain Greek yogurt, and another cup of coffee. IDK what pre-workout feels like, but after two large cups of coffee in three hours, I was sufficiently buzzed.
Then came the workout. It was leg day. Looking back, this day was probably my best workout of the week because I wasn’t sore yet and I had a ton of momentum going. I did a leg and glute workout that resembled this one, but I used heavier weights and did fewer reps to focus on slowing down the movements (instead of getting my heart rate up). I basically did simple barbell squats and deadlifts on the Smith machine instead of using dumbbells, and I took out the kettlebell swings and jump squats to substitute them with the leg press machine and the hamstring curl machine. My legs were shaking by the end, but I felt good about it.
The rest of the day wasn’t that important, so let’s fast-forward to 7 pm. I struggled with dinner because I’m not much of a meat-eater, but I figured I couldn’t go through this week without meat because like, #gainz or something. Plus, meat is an easy source of protein, so I can see why these bodybuilders are pounding steak filets after their workouts. You get like, all your macros in one sitting and don’t have to think about scarfing down Quest bars later on. So, I bought a raw chicken breast from the grocery store and cooked it on a grill pan with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I had brown rice on the side for carbs, and chugged water until I thought I was gonna puke. At the end of day one, I looked in the mirror and still wasn’t jacked. Just full.
I knew I had to be smarter about eating day two, because I didn’t want to get to the end of the day and want to die. I had the same breakfast as day 1, but I skipped my pre-workout meal to feel a bit lighter and more energized in the gym. This day was the back & bicep workout, which basically consisted of a few rowing variations, lat pulldowns, and bicep curls. I was pretty hungry by the end of the workout, but it was still too early for lunch so I went with a post-workout shake. The post-workout meal is supposed to be a protein and carb together, and most bodybuilders avoid all fat sources during this meal because something about fat slowing down muscle-protein synthesis. Bodybuilders swear by their whey protein shakes, but TBH whey doesn’t agree with my stomach. I bought a vanilla vegan protein powder instead, which seems fine. I mixed it with almond milk and had a banana on the side. Protein and carb. Check. And obviously more water.
By lunchtime, I wasn’t even super hungry, as opposed to my regular “about to pass out in the Sweetgreen line” starvation level. I picked up a huge piece of grilled salmon with roasted sweet potatoes from Whole Foods. Even though I wasn’t that hungry, I basically forced myself to eat the whole salmon because I realized I was way behind in my protein count. Salmon is a protein and fat source in one, and sweet potatoes are carbs. I was killing these macros.
I had leftover chicken and rice from the night before, which came in handy because I was NOT down to start cooking again. IDK how these bodybuilders do it. Down went the chicken and rice, but I kinda wished I was eating sushi instead. I finished the whole portion to hit my macros for the day, but honestly it was kind of nauseating. I def could’ve done without the last few bites, but I wasn’t backing down at that point. I’m a pusher.
If I went through every moment of this week, we’d be here forever. So I’m just gonna sum up the next few days because they were pretty consistent. The first thing I realized was that I was getting super sore from my workouts, so I made sure to stick around the gym for a few minutes after the workout to stretch and foam roll and
take selfies. I also realized that hitting my carb goal was pretty easy, but the fats and proteins were harder to incorporate. What saved me were these vegan protein bars called No Cow Bars, which have like 22 grams of protein per bar and don’t taste like complete shit, so those were helpful.
I also realized that I never wanted a huge dinner, but I always wanted a little dessert, so I had to figure out how to factor that into my macros. I usually have a sweet tooth at the end of the night, but most bodybuilders don’t believe in the whole “one square of dark chocolate before bed” motto that all the healthy celebrities swear by. Instead, most of the bodybuilder girls I found online like to create a sweet concoction with protein powder that helps them hit their protein goals for the day. Most nights I nailed my carbs and fat, but needed more protein to hit my macro goal. I learned that you can mixed a scoop of vanilla protein powder with almond milk and some baking powder and pop in in the microwave for a little makeshift mug-cake. I made my concoction and it definitely came out kinda grainy and weird, but it wasn’t terrible. On day four I caved and bought a Cookie Dough Halo Top. I ate the entire pint in one sitting. That’s the point, right?
I was really fucking happy to reach the last day of this experiment. Every muscle in my body hurt and the thought of that post-workout shake was making me gag. I also have to admit that I was barely drinking any water by the end, so I definitely failed on that front. If it were summer I may be compelled to drink more, but at this point I couldn’t stomach the gallon. It was a lot. I did manage to finish my No Cow bars despite buying a 12-pack, so call me a hero.
The last day was also my rest day, which was convenient considering I could barely sit. I’m also pretty sure I tore something in my left shoulder. The basic betch inside me couldn’t wait to get back to SoulCycle and hot yoga. But first I need like, a three week nap.
After a week of eating a ton of protein and pushing in the gym, I can confidently say that the bodybuilder lifestyle is respectable. It’s also not for me. One positive thing I’ll say is that I really enjoyed the weight-lifting, despite my tragic soreness. The more I learn about weight training, the less I feel compelled to do cardio to burn a million calories. Getting stronger is so much more rewarding than cycling off the cheesecake you ate last night. I intend on keeping up with this sort of training, with maybe a couple extra rest days in between.
I’ll also mention that I weighed myself before and after the week, and I only gained about two pounds. For me, that’s nothing. My weight fluctuates all the time, so two pounds is like, having an extra cup of water before bed. I was pretty pleased with this, not only because I wasn’t looking to gain weight, but because it’s cool to know that by eating a little more and doing less cardio, you’re probably not gonna get fat. I think that’s something a lot of people are scared of (including myself), so that’s important to note.
In the end, I’m retiring as a bodybuilder. Aside from the fact that I’m actually *not* one, I don’t want to live in a world where I crave a salad after eating chicken and rice all week. People obviously get amazing results from eating and training this way. It’s also a huge commitment to be so particular about all the macro numbers you have to hit. I’m not sure I need that stress in my life. And what’s with the bullshit protein desserts? Can’t we just eat cake and not tell our coaches about it? Am I too invested in the role?
Anyway, LMK what I should try next. I’m gonna go eat a carrot stick.
Images: Scott Webb / Unsplash; Giphy (6)
These days, everyone wants to be vegan! And gluten free! And all natural! But when it comes to beauty products, are these just bullshit marketing ploys to convince you to buy the products, or do they actually hold value? Well, thanks to major loopholes in federal laws (and according to the FDA’s website), the FDA doesn’t have a list of approved or accepted claims for cosmetics—odds are, they’re most likely meaningless. But *extremely JLo voice* because we’re real, we’re here to clear up all of the confusion about the misleading beauty terms associated with some of the products on the market right now.
So if you’re overwhelmed with trying to figure out which products contain ingredients that are actually safe for you, and which are using fancy buzzwords and misleading beauty terms to try to trick you, keep an eye out for these words and phrases.
1. All Natural
What you want “all natural” to mean versus what you think it means is a lot like those “you vs. the girl he tells you not to worry about” memes. If a label claims a product is all natural, all it really means is that some of the ingredients are plant or mineral-based versus synthetic. That itself in no way guarantees that the product is safe since the FDA doesn’t regulate it. If you want to know if a brand is really committed to being natural, check for certifications by organizations like the Natural Products Association, BDIH and EcoCert. Unlike the FDA, these third-party organizations have standards that products have to meet in order to earn their approval.
By FDA standards, a “non-toxic” label literally just means that the company left out ingredients in the product linked to toxic reactions in humans: neuro or hormone-disruption, cancer, and death. Cool, thanks for looking out! In general, a good rule of thumb is to check the ingredients list for major no-nos like formaldehyde, petroleum, hydrous magnesium silicate (aka asbestos) and lead acetate.
What does “chemical-free’ on beauty products mean? Nothing, that’s what. It’s really one of the most misleading beauty terms out there. A chemical-free label really makes the marketers behind the products look like incompetent people that didn’t pass seventh grade science, because it’s literally impossible to have a chemical-free product since chemicals are any forms of matter or pure substances. To illustrate this point, I asked my friend with a B.S. in chemistry about this, and she said, “Excuse me. Water is a chemical. Its name is dihydrogen monoxide. Just because you can’t pronounce it doesn’t mean it’s scary.” What these companies probably want you to believe is that the product is free of synthetic chemicals, and maybe it is. But there’s nothing inherently bad about synthetic chemicals, the same way there’s nothing inherently good about many non-synthetic chemicals.
If a product claims it’s vegan, then it’s saying that the product does not contain any animal products or byproducts. To ensure that that claim is true, look for logos by Vegan Action or Vegan Society, third party organizations that actually regulate the term and confirm that the product does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. However, just because a product is vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean the product wasn’t tested on animals. To make sure that the product wasn’t tested on animals, look for PETA’s little pink and white bunny logo.
Once again, the FDA does fuck-all when it comes to regulating the term “organic” on beauty product labels. If a product claims it’s organic, all it really means is that the raw ingredients contain no chemical pesticides. But the products themselves? They could (and probably do) still contain preservatives. If you want to know if a product’s really organic or not, check the label for terms like “parabens,” “phenoxyethanol,” and “benzoic acid/sodium benzoate.” Those are signs that some inorganic shit is in there.
6. Dermatologist Approved
A dermatologist may have approved the product, it’s true. But that dermatologist could be literally any Tom, Dick or Harry from Nowheresville, U.S.A. It also doesn’t mean that the product has gone through any standardized testing. “Dermatologist approved” most likely means that said derm knows that the product may work. But it doesn’t mean that they’ve evaluated the safety of the ingredients in the product.
The takeaway? If you are conscious about what you’re putting on your body, good for you! It’s a good idea to read the label to check for ingredients that you might not want to put on your skin.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (6)
From Atkins to intermittent fasting to low-carb to high-fat to juice cleanses, betches have tried every diet on the market. I mean, yeah we could just eat clean, watch our portions, and exercise regularly, but like, what’s the fun in that?
Any betch you pass in the Equinox steam room or the granola aisle of Whole Foods has tried the Paleo diet at least once. I mean, it seems to work for Nina Agdal and a ton of hardcore CrossFit bros, so why not?
If you’re not familiar with the Paleo diet, it basically restricts all dairy, grains, soy, and anything else human beings didn’t consume in ancient times. The idea is to eat like our ancestors and basically go to extremes to avoid the modern-day Western diet of French fries and churros.
If you’re a die-hard Paleo fan, you might want to sit down for this news, and put down the zoodles. According to new research published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, you’re doing Paleo all wrong.
It all started when some researchers found 780,000-year-old remains of edible fruits and seeds in the Northern Jordan Valley, which revealed a lot about what our ancestors actually ate, and it wasn’t medium rare steak or spicy tuna tartar. Most people who follow the Paleo diet today focus mostly on meat and fish, thinking the lean protein is what makes you skinny. However, apparently our ancestors actually ate mostly vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit, which means meat and fish were more like the side dishes they barely touched. Looks like you can chill on all the protein for now. Should we go Vegan?