Do I Belong in the Body Positive Community?

In the body positivity world, I often hear self love adages like “love your cellulite” and “eat what you want.”  I love these and have since added my own affirmations to the list:

  • Eat what feels good (like pizza for breakfast!).
  • Relax and release my stomach, taking up the space I deserve.
  • Release food from being the enemy; instead thank it for nourishing me.

I love these affirmations and strive to live by them every day. But these sayings are dominant in the bopo community, while other things I enjoy feel wrong to mention — outlier affirmations I haven’t found space for.

These are happy-moment tickets like:

  • Splurge on the pre-made salad: I love it plus it spares me from cooking.
  • Be bold and beat yesterday’s spin class PR.
  • Get curious around recipes, replacing applesauce for eggs and almond flour for all-purpose, to make them more filling and satisfying.

I love vegetables, I love my dairy-free zucchini bread, and I love to sweat. But I also love my stomach rolls (#feedthepooch!) and am a student of intuitive eating (eating as I please, without assigning value to foods).

So where do these pleasures fall? Are they invisible peripheral dwellers that no one talks about? Or worse, are they outside of the body positivity world and counter-productive to its efforts?

I have chosen to make them a part of my body positive world. I shout for inclusion of these happy-moment tickets and simultaneously make sure I’m shouting loud for inclusion of all bodies: for mine, for a friend’s, for the oppressed’s, and for the underrepresented’s. There is no difference or value attributed to eating a salad versus eating a cake, just like there are no good bodies and no bad bodies.

I refuse to think I need to act, eat, or be a certain way to join the body positivity movement. In my opinion, doing so would degrade the body positivity movement to match the dangerous exclusivity of today’s whitewashed “wellness” clique (where anyone who doesn’t juice cleanse and can’t meditate for 30 minutes on a white sand beach need not apply).

Body positivity does not mean I change what I genuinely enjoy: it means loving myself regardless of size, shouting loudly in support of all bodies, and creating more spaces where bodies can be loved, not judged.

Things That Makes Me Feel Good (Like This Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe)

You know what makes me feel good? Blasting Bomba Estereo and dancing in the sun rays. Sweating until my lungs fling wide open. Loving my body and loving my pooch. Sitting on my couch and just staring at my awesome home. Eating and totally savoring good food.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

There is something special about eating good food. There’s this amazing Chicago style pizza place near my apartment. Every time I eat there I feel so good. When I go, I’ll still order the large to make sure there’s extra for 2 breakfasts’ worth. Because when I eat herbed tomato and feta cheese baked inside a cornmeal pie in the AM after a workout, I feel ultranourished. My taste buds light up, my stomach is sooo satisfied, and my brain is honored with how well I’ve decided to treat my body that morning.

My friends and family laugh when I explain how good Chicago style pizza makes me feel in the morning: how can a heavy piece of pizza for breakfast make you feel good?? IMO diet culture has succeeded in replacing critical thinking with knee-jerk judgements. Like when my body craves a bag of potato chips and the first accompanying thought is, you’re a pig worthless. Or when I eat a burrito and a cookie for lunch and a mocha a few hours later and then tell a friend “I was so bad today.”  So when I tell a friend how much I love pizza for breakfast, diet culture invades his brain, then he looks at me like I’m crazy, and then he waits for the punchline that never comes.

chocolate icing on dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loa

Luckily I realized a long time ago that I write the rules of my life and no one really cares what I do or don’t put into my body. All this to say, find out what food makes you feel good and eat it. Be patient throughout this discovery process. And try this chocolate zucchini bread recipe below to start.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 cup shredded zucchini*
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly smear an 11″x8″ pan with canola oil (oh, you have cooking spray? oooo girl you fancy.).

Mix the 2 flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

dairy-free chocolate zucchini bread loaf

Whisk (or beat aggressively with a fork) together the applesauce, sugar, yogurt, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Add zucchini and 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Once well blended, slowly add batter to dry mixture, being careful not to overwork. Spread into lightly greased pan and pop into oven for 30 minutes. When finished, a knife show come out clean (minus for any melted chocolate! yum!). Remove from oven and, if desired, top with the remaining cup of chocolate chips. Let them sit and melt for a minute, then smooth them over the top of the loaf with a spatula using light pressure so as not to deflate the warm bread.

 

Cool completely before cutting then enjoy! I recommend saving it on the countertop so the insides don’t get mushy in the fridge. Pre-portion it out to throw in your work or gym bag for a yummy, well-deserved snack that’s as good as breakfast pizza!

*If you have a poorly stocked kitchen like me, use a potato peeler to skin the zucchini then peel it into long strips. After, chop the strips into smaller pieces and wala! shredded zucchini!

 

Wellness To Me: Taking Action Against Body Shaming

“Why is she so BIG?” I was watching a movie with Woman X. As Actress Y entered stage left, those were the words that left her mouth. Instead of laughing at Actress Y’s entering line, commenting on the  or even…I don’t know…paying attention to the movie whatsoever, Woman X decided to stop all things to comment on Actress Y’s weight in a judgmental and shocking tone. The moment suddenly became mine: the camera slow-panned from Woman X to me and zoomed in on my face. I owned the stage and had three very obvious options: do nothing and let the moment awkwardly pass, react angrily, or confront the situation calmly. I chose option 1 and the evening proceeded without interruption.

Fast forward 2 years to present day. Woman X and I are out to dinner when she tells me that a family gathering the last weekend was awkward. Why, I ask? Because they’re all so BIG. They must eat soo much, she tells me, as she takes another bite of salad and I’m digging into my taco. Oh how the universe was testing me.

taco dinner with friends

In a previous life, I would have chosen inaction. But then again, in a previous life I felt  comfortable and blissfully complacent. In between then and now, my eyes have opened and my courage has grown out of necessity. I no longer feel comfortable accepting my surroundings as they are. And I’ve realized that as hard as it is to confront friends with differing opinions, that’s where change happens. So I started a conversation with Woman X. It was an awkward redirection of the conversation: the tone changed from light and flippant to interrogative and constructive. There was no avoiding it. But Woman X is a rational woman and, although I don’t believe she fully agreed with my take on her words, I planted a seed. I have no doubt that it will live inside her for a long time and serve as a reminder next time she thinks about body shaming as I way to define a human being.

Wellness Today: Women! Stop Saying “Sorry”

I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a strong woman. I consider myself a person who has learned to not let others trample on her. That’s why a piece of feedback from a colleague today really shook me. It was one of the most intentional pieces of feedback I’ve ever received: she had obviously thought about the phrasing of it. Stop apologizing for setbacks or issues, especially those that are out of your control, she wrote. I thought of all the times I had probably apologized when aspects of our project didn’t work out. I can’t specifically recall having apologized, but I believe it.

Around friends, I am more aware. Around likeminded women, I keep my “sorry’s” to myself. But put me in a room where I am out of my element and likely intimidated, and I begin to apologize.

women stop apologizing at work notes

It has been debated whether encouraging women to stop apologizing is actually shameful in and of itself. Although there is a linguistic argument, I think the most personally compelling part of this argument is that setting parameters around what women should and should not say is stifling. That said, I am still of the mindset that I need to stop apologizing.

When I apologize, others just hear an “I’m sorry.” Whether or not I register as inferior to them at that moment is not the issue. The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented. With every apology, I carve the belief that I am less-than deeper within my psyche.

The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented.

I don’t want to doubt my badass self. I don’t want to wake up one morning realizing I’ve apologized myself into a self-deprecating, self-depreciating hole. If I’ve learned one thing on this journey of reinterpreting wellness, it’s that wellness wholly depends on self worth. I won’t shame myself when I apologize, but I will be intentional about categorizing impersonal changes/issues/setbacks as just that — and not accrue the blame myself by implementing the s-word.

Eat Your Oats

overnight oats with berries

This morning at 5:30am I found myself awake and deeply regretting the pizza I ate last night. Usually, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but this morning I had to get to spin and could not move due to the stone in my stomach. You think I’d learn by this point that dairy is not my friend but I still go for it, when given the option. Throughout spin, I was very aware of my unhappy stomach which made it hard to push through to tempo. But I love these classes so much so even in my stomach’s angst, I had a good time.

By breakfast, I could still feel that damn pizza and was not feeling breakfast. Regardless, I wolfed down my magical overnight oats. I’m very aware of how good and satisfied a bowl of oats leaves me feeling all day. Gotta stick to the plan, even if I veer off path for a dinner. or two.

These overnight oats are so easy and delicious. I love making things that just require me to take them out of the fridge and plate when hungry. I eat a bowl, refill the same container with enough ingredients for the next day’s breakfast, and repeat throughout the week. I feel so satisfied and energetic on the days I start my mornings with overnight oats: I’m less prone to snack and have energy for my lunchtime swim.

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Very Berry Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk (you could make it unsweetened or you could #treatyourself and get the real delicious deal)

Contents will be liquidy. Stir until it’s all mixed together. Put in the fridge overnight (or for at least 2 hours). The next morning, I like to take mine out about an hour before I eat it. Usually, this will be before my morning workout class. By the time I come home, it’s warmed up a little so it’s still cold — just closer to room temperature.

Gorriti: You’ve Got What A Foodie Needs

♪ ♫ Oh babay youuuu, you’ve got what I need.  But you say he’s just a friend, you say he’s just a friend…OH BAB BAY YOUUUU ♫ ♪
For any Palermo-ite, you know Calle Gorriti {pronounced Cay-jjjjay Gore-eat-eeis more than just a friend.  Calle Gorriti satisfies your every craving; your every want; every lust, longing, yearning. If you’re Buenos-Aires-bound anytime soon, scribble down the street name Calle Gorriti in your planner so you can nom your way to pure bliss when your in town. Start your weekend morning  on the corner of Scalabrini & Gorriti at 10 AM and fulfill your every desire. Let’s begin.

First you’ll start at the corner of Gorriti & Malabia, and walk into the Parisian paradise that is COCU boulangerie. Try your best to fake a French accent as you place your order with one of the adorable French servers waiting attentively behind the counter.  It’s early (for Argentine standards) so you’ll want to start your day strong. I suggest the café con leche and a pan du chocolat.  Trust me. No one does either better than these Frenchies.

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While you wait for your coffee, feel free to steal multiple glances at the delectable bakers, all decked out in old fashioned suspenders as they intently and skillfully knead dough amidst the café’s hustle and bustle.  There’s more than likely a short queue at the cash register, and the servers are so cute they may jumble your order, but if you politely remind them you asked for a croissant con jamon and not a sandwich, they’ll politely hurry to fix the err.

After you’ve had your caffeine and sugar fix, you’ll need to settle your stomach with some probiotics. That’s when you walk a few paces down and find yourself at Top It! Frozen Yogurt. If you’re feeling healthy, get the swirled selection. If not, go for the natural flavor and top it up to your hungry heart’s desire with mantecol, oreo, y chocolate.

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Take a seat at one of the high tables with the girls, and nom on your delectable froYo. You’ll spend so much time chatting and giggling with the friendly servers behind the counter, that you won’t realize how much time has gone by. You check your reloj –it’s 2pm!

2pm means it’s lunchtime, so you’re off across the street to Ninina Bakery to lounge and refuel.

Upon stepping foot in Ninina’s bright, fresh, and airy atmosphere, the first thing that will catch your eye will be the wall of windows looking in to the kitchen. You’ll zoom straight to the far table, take a seat, and press your face up to the glass as you watch baker’s fuss over fresh bread, cooks perfect each waffle’s presentation, and servers milling in and out to keep up with orders. Start off with un jugo de zanahoria, naranja, y jengibre. The juice is a miracle medicine and will perk your senses to be fully alert and ready to enjoy the meal to come.

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You can’t go wrong ordering from Ninina’s menu. If you’re more in the breakfast mood, the granola casera will be unlike any you’ve tasted. But then again, how could you skip their lunch menu or their sandwich de pollo de granja al horno? It’s all too tempting.

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After enjoying your meal, you’ll feel very at ease amongst the constant murmur of conversation and espresso machines. The staff is in no rush to swish you out the door, so feel free to bring a good book, good music, good friends, and relax in the airy, open atmosphere.

Then, once 5 o’clock rolls around, you’re out the door again to go get drinks at La Fábrica del Taco –Buenos Aires’ best (and only!) taco joint. How lucky you are that it’s just a few steps away at this point. Indulge in a margarita de frutilla. . . or two. . .or a full pitcher! Ask them to rim your glass with salt instead of sugar, and let the cool contrast of the chunky salt and sweet strawberry crash together against your tastebuds.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.50.49 PMAnd don’t even think of not ordering nachos with your marg! Once your hunger kicks up a few notches, order a Taco Pibe and Taco Castor (con queso).

Enjoy deliciously, my gente! And remember: dream in cupcakes.

COCU boulangerie: Malabia 1510, esquina Gorriti, web

Top It! Frozen Yogurt: Gorriti 4721, web

Ninina Bakery: Gorriti 4738, web

La Fábrica del Taco: Gorriti 5062, web

Shedding My Shame {And Daring You To Shed Yours}

Preface: Within this post is my promise to you. And, just like all those “post this now or your sister will die tomorrow” sort of spams, I am begging you to not read any further, unless you are willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it. And that responsibility is this: upon reading this post, you make yourself a promise, that you’ll stop being so shy/embarrassed/ashamed about one thing that gets to you; that one thing that sometimes pulls you down. Why? Because the only person that has to live with you forever, is yourself. So fall in love. With you. Because you’re fucking beautiful. If you accept the challenge, then feast your eyes on the following. . . 

Sometimes I get really …how do I say this… caught up in myself. And not just in the usual Rachael’s-talking-to-herself-again-so-let’s-watch-this-private-kookooshow-for-a-bit-until-she-returns-to-Earth kind of way. It’s more like I think things in my head, over and over, until they become my reality. Like that time I convinced myself I got pregnant from not using toilet seat covers during my trip to Europe. You may shake your head and sigh, but to a young teenager with babyphobia, the terror is real {and my friends still crack up about it. Apparently, there’s nothing funnier than a virgin who thinks she’s preggers}. Anyways, that’s neither here nor there. . .

This falsified reality I speak of is exactly what makes me sometimes fear the Spanish language.

I just get into this mood where my tongue trips over itself in my mouth; I can’t get over an incorrect verb conjugation or vocab slip; and I become completely mouth-paralyzed in mid-conversation.

Days like this, I ask my friend to order the pizza, so that I won’t have to talk to a stranger over the phone, who’s voice I’m not  yet accustomed to. At its worst, I’ll avoid going to the supermarket so I won’t have to speak Spanish to ask for a grocery bag. You’d think with the amount of embarrassing things that happen to me on the reg, I wouldn’t mind speaking a little Spanish –but for some reason, that isn’t the case.

And the thing is…I know Spanish. In July, I took a literature course taught at an Argentine university; in August, I began working at a Peruvian bar with latino coworkers/customers; in September, I spoke my way into an apartment complex; in October, I befriended the sweetest set of Argentine sisters; in November, I royally told-off an aggressive loiterer; and in December, I started dating the sweetest, most handsome porteño (yes, he’s perfect. no, you can’t have him).

So why, oh WHY, do I still sometimes blush when ordering empanadas?

Storytime of how this topic came to fruition today of all days:

This afternoon, I went to a café after work to read more “Gone Girl,” and to sneak a coffee while my roommates weren’t looking {because we’re pretty sure a baby stomach ulcer monster is growing inside of me, so the coffee pot is off limits until further notice}. I ordered in my charming California girl accent {enter sigh & eye roll}, and was slightly offended when after a few minutes of talking, the waitress told me the price of my coffee. In English. I was like girlfriend doesn’t think I’m porteña? So even though we continued our conversation in Spanish, my ego had been shot. I was just pulling my bloody mess of a self through our conversational battlefield, attempting to dodge any other English bullets being puttered my way.

Up next, I stopped in a hair salon para hacer una cita. Well, no. Apparently, to make an appointment is to sacar un turno. News to me. And I’m not trying to be too harsh on the Spanish language or anything, but that makes no sense. And I’m saying this after getting butt hurt numerous times as I rejected the receptionist’s multiple offers to schedule me in, thinking she was offering some sort of bizarre beauty treatment or something. Luckily, the receptionist was a good sport, chuckled at our misunderstanding, and then asked for my number, probably so we could hang out sometime {ya, I know it’s just so they can call me to confirm, but I like to think I’m just that charming}.

After two stabs to my Spanish-speaking, English-born linguistic heart, I needed a factura con chocolate to mend my wounds. But alas, in true porteño style, the bakery was out of all things chocolate, so instead I got into a conversation with the two bakers about which would be the yummiest substitute. We settled on dulce de leche. Obviously.

As I was paying, they asked me where I was from. Again with the bruised ego. Why are they asking me this? I thought. Am I not fluent enough for them? When I answered California, one of them responded with a “Aaah, that’s why your Spanish is so good.”

First off: that has nothing to do with it. The only time I ever speak Spanish in California is when I’m drunk and even then, it’s spoken with my equally-wonderbreadish friends.

But, SECOND OFF {my point}: the baker said my Spanish is good. Meaning, he thought it was good. Meaning, it’s pass-able. Do-able. Who cares I don’t know all the words? Who cares I can’t write or place my accents for nada? And most importantly, who CARES that I have an accent? I never laugh at my dad when he says “sorry” all funny in his Canadian accent.

SO, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, I PROMISE TO MYSELF & TO YOU DEAR BLOG READER {because I need someone to hold me accountable}, THAT I WILL NO LONGER BE EMBARRASSED BY MY SPANISH –OR LACK THERE OF. 

I shall enunciate proud and clear when ordering my submarinoknowing I represent the marginal, curious {yet cursed-with-ugly-accents} traveling community of the United States. I’ll answer my telephone in Spanish to tell telemarketers with authority that no, I really honestly truly don’t have the time to talk to them due to the fact my life is presently happening at the moment. And lastly, I’ll no longer fear telling the grocery store clerk with a smile that yes, I will need a bolsita for my bottle of wine.

So you’ve made it through the end of this long-winded post.

Now, it’s your turn.

What will be your promise to yourself? No one will hold you reliable. No one will scoff at you should you forget your promise and appear bashful in the face of onset fears. But it’s the little steps that count, so why not at least try it out? And if you can’t think of anything now, then wait it out for a week. Life is a cycle of both the good and the bad, and surely something will reveal intself. And when it does, grab it by its horns, pull it out of hiding, and tell your fear/timidity/embarrassment that you are that Barney Stinson kind of AMAZING, and you no longer have space for it in your vida. You’ll love yourself for it.

Happy thoughts, travels, & day my gente. Besos xx