The “Perfect Body”

Harper Frye, Staff Writer

‘How do I lose weight in my thighs?’ ‘How do I get the ‘perfect body’ in the shortest amount of time?’ Men and women from all backgrounds struggle with their appearance, more specifically, their weight. The constant battle of achieving the ‘perfect summer bod’ consumes people, as a result of an unrealistic portrayal of the human body. Social media has added an extra desire to look like the people on our screens, whether it is a toned stomach or clear skin. When this is all we see, we often forget that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

Now trust me, I get it. Being a sixteen year old girl in high school is not easy, nor is being a sixteen year old boy in high school, as you are constantly told what you should look like. And if you do not live up to those incredibly far-fetched standards? Well that comes with a lot of pain and disapproval, often from yourself. Nutritiously explains, “Our diet is one of the most impactful parts of our lives. It determines whether we’re going to end up with certain diseases, which businesses make money off of us, and it’s a statement of how conscious we are.” Now try being a sixteen year old girl in high school who is vegan.

Hello, my name is Harper Frye and I am vegan. You must be thinking, “She must weigh seventy pounds,” or “She’s probably a hippie.” Or one of my favorites, “They only eat green foods.” All of which are not true, although I do eat a lot of green foods. These are some of the many stereotypes associated with the diet known as ‘veganism.’ Freshman Ava Bruns explains that she has never considered going vegetarian or vegan “because I believe that there are certain proteins we need and if I go vegetarian or vegan, I might not get those needed meats.” Sophomore Finn Kronstad had the same concern, centered around his love for meat: “I love meat, especially steak and burgers.” Deciding to switch from, any diet really, to a vegan diet, is a difficult switch, which makes it understandable why so many people are appalled at the idea of it.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t even know what veganism is, let alone its stereotypes.” For those of you curious or confused by the term, I will explain it to you, especially because all of those foodie terms like pescitarian and vegetarian can get a little confusing. Veganism is a diet where one does not eat animals nor any food produced by an animal. For example, if you are vegan, you do not eat any meat, seafood, or milk (because dairy products are produced by a cow.)

Now let us get this clear, I am in no way shape or form trying to persuade you to become vegan. That is a personal choice, and one that took me many months to decide. This is not a persuasive argument; I am just merely trying to help others that may be going through the same things I was. Becoming vegetarian, and then vegan, really helped me overcome some of my fears of dieting and what I should look like as a girl. Junior Ashley Guptill says, “I believe being vegetarian or vegan can be a lot healthier than other diets because you are not consuming as much fat, and I feel there is more portion control and it is always healthier to eat more vegetables and fruits.” Guptill also says, “For me, when I became vegetarian, I started eating a lot healthier because there was more of a balance in my diet and I was not just eating junk food to replace meat. I was actually looking for good alternatives for protein.” A vegan diet is not for everyone, but it certainly does help give insight on what a healthy diet looks like.

Let us say that you can not part ways with chicken. Which is okay, chicken has a lot of health benefits, but as a result, the vegan diet is not for you. Again, that is okay. If the vegan diet is not for you, here are two “foods” I recommend incorporating into your diet. First up, matcha. Healthline states that various “studies of matcha and its components have unearthed a variety of benefits, showing that it can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even aid in weight loss.” I know, it looks nasty, but trust me, once you get past the color, you will be thanking me. Second up, mushrooms. I know I just lost you there. Good Housekeeping says, “An entire cup of mushrooms has only 5 mg of sodium! Mushrooms also make an excellent, satisfying substitute for red meat in any dish, eliminating calories, fat, and cholesterol from the equation.” Yes, they are technically a fungus, but cooked with a little bit of olive oil and salt, your taste buds will thank me.

The continuous discussion of dieting, and whether or not it is healthy, maintains not only its popularity, but also the confusion and dismay that typically surrounds it. People all over the globe continuously ask the same broad question in copious ways. People want to know how they can lose the most amount of weight in the shortest amount of time. We need to look at the definition of dieting from a completely new point of view. We need to shift our overall outlook on losing weight as not crucial, but instead a lifestyle; a way of thinking and living. People need to grasp that weight is always fluctuating. You may have noticed that in the morning, when the last meal you had was nine or 10 hours ago, you weigh 140 pounds. And then, once you have had breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you are now one hundred and forty three pounds, or maybe even more. This is normal, and we need to start normalizing this right away. I even notice a surprising increase in my weight after drinking a single glass of water. This is also why it is so important to note what we are putting into our bodies every day. That what we had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is not just protein and carbs, but instead a healthy serving of protein accompanied by a small portion of carbs, vegetables, and fruit. Variation is key for a healthy diet, and I know I sound hypocritical when I say, that being a vegan, but even a vegan diet can have variation. Senior Omar Sayoud’s favorite meal is “Algerian couscous because it reminds [him] where [his] family is from.” In order for us to go back down to that original one hundred and forty pounds, and then eventually start to lose weight at a healthy pace, the foods we put into our body need to fuel us for the day and keep our bodies healthy and running smoothly. Because guess what! We only get one body, and that is the body you have right now, so put foods into your body that make you feel good. Live Strong states that “if you hope to lose a relatively small amount of weight, you can construct a healthy diet plan by consulting with your doctor about your personal calorie needs and any individual health concerns you may have.”