Meet Zena! In her interview, she explains her healthy journey and how it change her life! Read below about how a healthy lifestyle can change you physically and mentally! :)
Zena, tell us more about yourself!
I am entering my junior year at Michigan State University with a major in kinesiology and minors in health promotions and Arabic and am pursuing a career as a physician's assistant. Using my minor in Arabic, I hope to bridge the language gap between the younger and older generations of my Chaldean Community here in South-East Michigan. I have a passion for holistic health and therefore plan to be a certified in functional medicine practitioner as a PA. Along the lines of health and wellness, I have a strong passion for cooking and serving others. This is one of the main reasons of why I started my Instagram account-- to inspire others with healthy food. My dream one day is to own my own restaurant and/or health food brand. Other than health and wellness, some fun facts about me are that I've been singing in my church choir since eight years old, play beach volleyball in the summers, and taught myself how to play guitar in the 7th grade!
What inspired you to start a healthy journey?
My "health journey" stemmed from corrupt media where I developed disordered eating habits at the young age of 12 years old. I was on and off vegan/vegetarian for 5 years thereafter and used these diets as a means to mask my disordered eating. I was never clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I truly believe I had orthorexia. Due to my eating habits, I was bordering 95-100 lbs, developed secondary amenorrhea, as well as a few other health issues. After many doctor visits, I finally listened them, gained a normal, healthy weight and have since become vividly passionate about the healing powers of food to the body.
Why do you feel that it is important for us to eat healthy and to take care of ourselves?
We only have one body. It is our temple. Everything that we put into it has an affect... from food, to hair products, skin products, makeup, nail polish, etc. Our body does so much for us, so it's only fair to treat it fairly back. When we feel 100%, we will give 100% back to the world.
Do you consider meal prepping? Why or why not?
I meal prep for convenience. When I'm living at my university, I don't have a lot of time to cook everyday because I study, go to classes, and lead clubs and organizations. Therefore, I would meal-prep to save myself time so that I can focus on academia. However, when I talk about meal-prep, I don't meal prep specific meals. I would meal prep individual items that I could customize into a meal so that I would not get bored of eating the same thing for a week. For example, one week I roasted chicken and roasted vegetables, made pesto and hummus, cut-up fruit and vegetables, boiled some eggs, cooked quinoa, and spiralized zuchinni noodles. Therefore, I could prepare quick and easy meals from these already prepared items. Meal prepping allows me to still eat healthy on a budget and also helps me avoid eating meals out.
Oftentimes, people say that eating healthy can be expensive. What are ways to stay on the budget and to stay healthy?
I keep track of all my food spending! I have a list in the notes on my phone for all my food, grocery, and coffee spending (yes, coffee has it's own category). I'm sure there are apps that help you organize this, but I use my phone. I write down the date and the amount spent, keep a running total and calculate how much is left. I do this each month. It has helped my budget so much. I also buy in bulk and try my best avoid the Whole Foods food bar (it's a problem :)).
What challenges have you faced as a woman from staying consistent of eating healthy products? How did you overcome them?
As a female in college, I faced conformational pressures to go and live the "college lifestyle." This lifestyle consists of going out to drink, party, and eat fast-food late at night to "sober up." There have been times where I feel like I'm missing out on the "college experience" and where I would disappoint my friends for not going out with. But there have been times where I reminded myself that the lifestyle that I choose to live needs to be a lifestyle that is authentic to myself. If everyone around me is drinking and I simply don't feel like it, I do not have to go. Anyone who judges me for the decisions that I make not only doesn't deserve an explanation, but they don't deserve my time or presence. If staying in for the night to make paleo cookies instead makes me happy, I will do that. The decisions that I make are to make myself happy and nobody else.
Women’s bodies experience rapid changes. Why is it important for us to stay healthy in our eating habits and working out at all times?
It is important to foster a healthy relationship with food and exercise from a young age before a women experience's rapid bodily changes. It is the foundation for healthy living.
What changes may a woman feel when she begins to eat more healthy?
She will notice that she becomes a more vivid, vibrant version of herself. She will attract different people into her circle; she will attract the RIGHT kind of people. She will experience a life of more color. When you are 100%, you can give the world back your 100%. What you put out is what you receive.
What changes may a woman feel when she begins to workout more? Why is it important to workout?
She will not only notice her physical strength grow and improve, she will notice her mental strength increase. "The gym" isn't only a place for physical improvement, it has helped show me that even if something is challenging (like lifting 200 lbs off the ground), if I pursue, if I persist, if I practice, then I will one day be able to overcome that challenge. It has showed me that no matter who you are, you can't please everyone and that someone will always judge you. I have gotten many dirty and degrading looks in the gym. However, I come to the gym for ME and that's all that matters. I block everyone out because in the end, I go to the gym to improve myself. I don't go for anyone else.
How often do you go out to eat? Is it okay to go to restaurants from time to time or is it best to stay away from restaurants?
I don't limit myself to how often I can or cannot go out to eat. I go out to eat for the experience: to spend time with friends and family, to enjoy the food in good company, and to appreciate a new ambience. If I am craving a burger at a restaurant, I will eat that burger. And I will enjoy the damn burger. And I will not compensate for cardio the next day. At the end of my life, I won't be thinking, "wow, I can't believe I ate that burger and those few fries." I would regret had I not gone out to eat with my loved ones just because there were no "healthy" food options. Being healthy doesn't only mean taking care of your body, it also means nurturing your mind... and restriction in any shape or form does not help foster this.
What are some future goals that you have for your healthy lifestyle?
While I have come far from my disordered eating habits, I still struggle with having a perfect relationship with food. Therefore, I am always trying to strengthen a healthy relationship with food and exercise. It is also a goal of mine to cultivate an environment on Instagram through my page to show that healthy living is fulfilling and rewarding.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I see myself as an entrepreneur! I would love to own my own restaurant and/or brand. I would also hope that I am married and have at least one child :)
The purpose of the Fabuluxe platform is to help women feel fabulous and sophisticated. What advice or words of encouragement that you can give to our readers about feeling fabulous as a woman?
My one piece of advice is to be authentic to YOU.
Learn how to say no, but also let yourself say yes.
Stop caring what others think because no besides yourself can determine your worth.
Find your purpose, stop existing, and start LIVING.
Social Media: Instagram: @coconuttyandnice
Country: United States