Instagram: The New Fitness App

By: Dana Elise Baardsen “The Reporter”
Interview with: Vanessa Quintero, “19 Years Young,” Arcadia, Calif. 

Original Image by José Moutinho via Flickr
Original Image by José Moutinho via Flickr

What’s your go-to application when it comes to staying in shape? Is it My Fitness Pal? Runkeeper? Or, do you defer to one of the most popular smart applications to stay on top of your health?

Instagram is an app known for it’s ability to capture a photo, filter it with unique effects, and then share it with all of your friends. This smart-app has become way more than just another form of social media. For several users, Instagram is even utilized to promote businesses and ideas. 

There are actually entire communities of health-conscious Instagrammers who encourage each other by liking photos and sharing their own. Some of these users may have as few as five followers, to over 20,000.

The health-related trends on Instagram range from users sharing motivational quotes, to personal progress mirror shots, to healthy and nutritious recipes posted under a photo of the finished product.

Instagram, Health, Nutrition, Instagram Health, Trend, Health Trend, Smart Apps, Health Apps, Health Applications, Fitness Applications
“Life is tough, but you must be tougher.”

Vanessa Quintero, 19, from Arcadia, Calif., is an inspiring example. I connected with Vanessa through Instagram, and became so impressed with her photos, I needed to know more. Her passion for healthy eating is clearly displayed through her Instagram profile as she captures the beautiful detail of her meals, and includes a list of nutritious ingredients underneath each photo. There’s an amazing story behind all of it! Check out what Vanessa had to say: 

Q: Vanessa, how important is a healthy lifestyle to you?

A: How important is a healthy lifestyle to me? Well, let us just first start off and say it’s the reason behind my Instagram and tumblr blog.

Q: Why did eating healthy become such a big part of your life? 

A: In 2009 I developed a restrictive eating disorder and struggled with recovery. The past few months have been amazing, as I am recovered physically but mentally still battle restrictive tendencies to this day.

Q: How did you deal with the aftermath of an eating disorder? 

A: I am still in recovery and changing my relationship with food to a more positive and healthy light. It has inspired me to make a change in myself as well as encourage others in recovery.

Oatmeal, Strawberries, Instagram Health, Smart App Health, Health Trends, Health Applications, Young Women, Fitness Apps
“Vanilla cinnamon pear oatmeal with strawberries”

Q: Can you talk about how blogging and tracking your progress through Instagram helped you to do that? 

A: Initially, my recovery blog contained my uploads of my food intake just as a way for me to share with others that recovery is possible, and cooking is not only fun but also fuels your body.

Now, I gear my posts toward supporting healthy weight-loss, healthy weight-gain, or just simply a balanced life. In America obesity is a concern but so is anorexia, and bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

Q: What is your opinion on healthy eating? 

A: I want to make it known healthy eating does not have to be restrictive. It does not have to be boring, bland and tasteless. It does not have to be difficult and time consuming. It is easy, simple, efficient and full of flavor and life.

Q: How do you “make it known” that healthy eating can be all of those things? 

Instagram, Fitness Apps, Health Trends, Young Women, Fitness Applications
“Roasted zucchini and kale mix on top of avocado with a black peppered egg white round all on a whole grain pita! Actually tasted like zucchini fries…”

A: I do cook all of my own meals and I enjoy capturing my photos of my meals to share with the world. I inspire many to recover from their eating disorders and I even offer advice and ideas as well! I just really am passionate about a healthy lifestyle overall, and strive to make it known that it is easy and fun to cook clean, nutritious food!

Q: So what’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?

A: I love breakfast and lunch foods! Living in this fast-paced society, the meals I put together fuel you for a busy day. They also take less than 10 minutes to make! I am not even joking… my favorite thing to cook is egg white pitas. They are fast, tasty, clean, and full of nutrients! I love to use avocado and cheese with spinach and various vegetables as well.

Q: That sounds delicious. What are your staple go-to foods?

A:  I do, egg whites, whole grain pitas and sprouted bread, brown rice, spinach, oatmeal, and fish! I always have egg whites as a source of protein; they are quick and easy to be creative with!

Q: So what’s the motivation behind consistently capturing photographs of your meals and sharing them? 

A: I capture my foods on Instagram as well as tumblr and Facebook as a way to merely inspire. Nowhere in my photos do I wish to insult, trigger, or negatively affect anyone or just to gain “followers.” I do it because it is my hobby, my passion, and I wish to offer ideas to individuals and their families to make healthy choices and live longer, happier lives.

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“I died and went to heaven. Banana smothered in nut butter topped with raspberries covered in chia seeds with a sprinkle of coconut flakes! “

Q: How does it feel to see other users react to your photos?

A: To be honest, it feels amazing when I see how many users reblog or like posts of my food. I always say to myself, “Wow Vanessa, you are doing such a great job” and continue to do it everyday because I just want to make it known that healthy eating has its benefits. Recovery from an eating disorder is difficult but easier with healthy eating! I almost always feel confident as I see how many people enjoy my photos and it motivates me to continue my love of this hobby.

 Q: So do you agree that Instagram can be used for motivation in terms of health? 

A: Yes, definitely! I think Instagram is a great way to get ideas on meals and it inspires many to do the same! Since so many of us in our society are on our phones, Instagram is an easy way to gain access as it is fun and fast to just scroll through the tags!

It almost feels like a community and I hope to spread a sense of belonging as I inspire eating disorder victims and everyone in general to love their bodies and minds by cooking healthy foods! I have gained friends that I talk to everyday sharing recipes and excitement over grocery trips!

Q: What are your plans for the future? Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Apple, Pita, Instagram Health, Health Trends, Hashtags, Fitness Apps, Fitness Applications, Health Apps
“Whole grain toasted pita smothered in nut butter topped with blackberries, a crispy apple, and sprinkled with cinnamon!”

A: I aspire to become a Marriage and Family therapist in the future. I am majoring in psychology and minoring in nutrition, so this is a great opportunity for me to gain experience! Instagram is a great way to share photos that make you hungry and healthy. I believe food is beautiful and serves as our fuel, so to create masterpieces at each meal excites me as I receive energy from my food, as well as make it look like art.

If you ‘re ready to get motivated using Instagram, just search the following hash tags: #fitness, #diet, #health, #nutritious, #healthynom, #inshape, #fitmotivation. Don’t forget to find Vanessa @Vankaileen on Instagram, and on her tumblr blog which has over 2,000 followers!

Here’s to healing and health!

All photos provided by Vanessa and used with permission

10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Fruits and Veggies

By: Dana Elise Baardsen “The Reporter”  

Featured in:, The Montclarion, Print Media News

brussel sprouts, how to get your kids to eat healthy, healthy kids, strong kids, fruits, vegetables, diet, meals, meal planning

We all know getting the little ones to munch on the green stuff is a less-than-glorious experience. Check out ten tips to help your kids (or man) ease into the process of eating nature’s best source of vitamins and minerals!

  1. Mash it up! Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C and contains Phosphorous and Potassium. Blend into mashed potatoes and you’ve just packed your starch with some extra nutrients!
  2. Ditch the cans! Canned veggies may be high in sodium and lack flavor. Fresh vegetables tend to be naturally sweeter and crisper…much more enjoyable to eat.
  3. Freeze ‘Em! Stick a bunch of grapes in the freezer and watch the new version of hard-candy slowly disappear.
  4. Chef Need an Assistant? Children especially love being involved. Let them familiarize themselves with the greens before plated and they may have an easier time trying it.
  5. Juice it! Juicing is a great way to reap all of the nutritional benefits of fresh greens, while drinking something that tastes like sweet apples. Fruit flavors will overpower any bitter vegetable taste. Green monster juice anyone?
  6. Color Curiosity Get rid of competition with the more desirable-looking foods by serving vegetables centered on a separate plate. Surround the farm-fresh pile with different dressings or sauces to try. The kiddos will be so consumed with trying different flavors the pile will be gone before you know it!
  7. Put it in a Pop! Purchase some ice-pop molds and fill with yogurt and fresh fruits. Serve for a yummy vitamin and mineral packed dessert!
  8. Sunshine Salad Add chopped carrots and lemon zest to orange Jello mix. Serve chilled.
  9. Roll It Up! Serve bowls of taco-night-fixin’s sans the taco shells. Instead, offer a plate of large romaine lettuce leaves. Roll the standard taco ingredients into a healthier alternative.
  10. Chips Anyone? Instead of ripping open a bag of greasy store-bought potato chips, make your own. Try kale chips by lightly salting and drizzling olive oil over fresh kale and bake at a low temperature until crispy. DEB