“I was just having a conversation with my partner the other day about how we as women struggle with our relationship with food. I love to eat, and he was like why is that a bad thing? Why do people think that is a bad thing? And here’s the thing with women. We tie a lot of our value to the way that we look. So if the food we are eating is making us look a way that we don’t deem as beautiful, then we feel like food is the problem. When really how we are eating is the problem.”
Soraya is the creator of Project S Lifestyle, a business built to help women lose stubborn body fat and create a flexible, sustainable, and fulfilling lifestyle. I know, her tag line alone is enough to make me want to sign up myself. Receiving a degree in finance from North Carolina State University, Soraya talked about the fact that she grew up consistently playing sports and didn’t really have to watch what she ate. However, like many of us, when she got to college she began to eat excessively and at not the best times. On top of that, she wasn’t exercising because she didn’t have a structured schedule like she did when she was an athlete.
“It wasn’t just that I gained weight. I also had no energy to even walk across campus. I felt low energy ALL the time. I never drank coffee until I got to college. One thing that I thought was interesting was that when I first started gaining weight, people would always tell me that I was getting “thick”. I felt so good about it because of outside validation, even though I felt terrible inside. It took a while to realize I’m not really comfortable anymore with the way that I feel.”
Even when Soraya started working out, she wasn’t seeing the changes that she wanted. One day it clicked for her – it wasn’t just about the physical fitness component she had to change but also her eating. And if we are being honest, eating is the most important part.
It’s Not Always About Working Out.
“One day I realized that I could work out all I wanted, but if I didn’t change the food that was going into my body nothing was going to change with my energy or physically. So I started learning how to meal plan and create a plan where I could eat foods that I loved in moderation. In a couple of months, I had lost 25 pounds. But the thing is I really enjoyed the process and it didn’t feel like I was on a weight loss journey. When I came back to school the next semester everyone was telling me how different I looked and asking me if I could help them do the same. And I was like wow, I can turn this into a business! Since January of this year, I have been able to be full time in my business.”
I really wanted Soraya to help us debunk some of the myths that are around meal prepping – because only when we operate on FACTS and not OPINIONS are when changes happen.
- Do you have to eat the same thing for seven days straight?
“That is simply not the case. You can make meal planning work for your lifestyle. I have some clients who are fine eating the same thing 7 days a week. And I have some who don’t like leftovers at all. Some of my clients can eat certain things all week but want to make the veggies fresh. So no, you don’t have to have the same thing every day. Your preferences are how we create your plan.”
- Are cheat meals okay to have?
“I like to call them treat meals instead of cheat meals. And the reason is when we think about a cheat meal, we feel like what we are eating on a regular basis sucks. And so because of that, we need to cheat on ourselves. Calling it a treat meal makes it something positive. It is something you are rewarding yourself with during the week. I recommend 1 to 2 treat meals every week because you are not yet disciplined enough to have more than that starting off. But I really encourage meal planning things you enjoy so that it isn’t that you are hating what you are eating. It should be that you are enjoying what you are eating throughout the week, but also looking forward to that slice of pizza you get to have.”
- Is meal prepping expensive?
“There is a huge misconception that healthy eating is expensive. If you eat out a lot that is expensive because it’s usually a minimum of 7 dollars a meal. If you are shopping appropriately and accordingly then you are buying what you need and not wasting money on food that is going to end up going to waste. Go to the store with a plan. If you buy things you are using over and over again, you also are saving money because you’re not having to restock on everything that you need.”
- Is it hard to make meal prepping a habit?
“My business is based on helping women learn how to master meal prepping. How to make it quick, efficient, and convenient for each of my clients. It becomes second nature to them. Even when they lose 20 to 30 pounds they are still going to meal plan because they know it is a time saver. It is what they are used to. If you create a habit it is easier for you to stick with it and if you are not really working to transform completely, then you might do it but then fall off. The beauty is that you’ll have the support you need to make it a habit – after that it becomes your lifestyle.”
- Does meal prepping take forever?
“There are a lot of ways to do it. Some of my clients meal prep on Sunday for the entire week. Some meal prep on Sunday, but they make half the week one thing, and something else for the second half of the week. Some make half the food on Sunday and the other half on Wednesday. You know yourself best. You have to know what is going to work for you.”
- What is your biggest piece of advice when it comes to food?
“Food is not bad. It is more about watching the number of calories, proteins, fats, or carbs that are in the food. For example, people say “oh I am going to cut all my carbs” – but vegetables are also carbs! Don’t be afraid of food. Food is not just there to help you stay alive. Food should be enjoyed. It isn’t a matter of, I have to diet, I have to do this, or I have to do that. It is just about finding a healthy balance and portion sizes of the foods that you do like.”
All of this was SO helpful Soraya. Thank you so much for sharing some tips that will hopefully help us all be more intentional about the food we are putting into our bodies.
For more information about meal prepping and Soraya’s incredible business, please visit her Instagram page at @project.s.lifestyle.
Water Your Garden today.