For this week’s flab, I’m trying out an audio newsletter edition. It’s a recorded chat with one of my favorite journalists in the wellness & beauty space,, who writes a called, .
We talk about working in the wellness industry, diet culture during wedding planning, and of course, the NY marathon, which Zoe just finished last weekend!
I loved her post recapping the race, which pretty much proves that while wellness products and protocols may be nice to have — the only thing you NEED to tackle life’s biggest challenges is a strong mindset. It’s the best tool we have for optimizing and accessing real well-being.
This convo is a way of me widening my community of like-minded women (from my home office, because that’s all I have the capacity for right now) with whom I can share my thoughts on diet culture, discuss ideas for the future, and spark our creativity.
We don’t have all the answers, but as I’ve discovered, connecting with others on these topics and trying to make sense of it all is, surprisingly, really important for developing my sense of self.
Pick your poison - check out the audio issue by hitting play (10/10 recommend!), or skim the transcript below.
P.S. — I didn’t edit the AI-generated show notes, so please enjoy any hilarious assumptions the robot made.
“You can stack your routine with as many recovery products, as many electrolyte fancy drinks and all of that, but that's not what's going to get you out of bed in the morning for the training.
That's not what's going to get you across the finish line.
It's really making that commitment to yourself.
The other stuff is nice to have, but if you've got a good sports bra and a good pair of sneakers and you drink enough water — you’re good to go!”
— Zoe Weiner
SPEAKER 1 -
This is flab welcome to a special audio edition of the newsletter today.
How are you?
Good to see you.
SPEAKER 2 — Zoe Weiner,
How are you?
I'm so good.
I just finished reading this morning your post on the marathon and was like, I can't believe you're here today.
So thank you so much for the time.
I feel like a normal human. The last few days have been rough, but I'm sure we'll get into it.
Well, but yeah, let's let's just get right into it.
So today I'm catching up with Zoe Weiner to chat about all the things like her career as a beauty editor turned freelancer.
We're going to talk about the wellness and beauty industry.
And of course, the marathon, you also recently got engaged, you've got a lot going on.
I'm going to share this as an audio conversation with my substack flab where I write about all of my attempts to boost my body image and explore how to find real wellness after an eating disorder while also being totally entrenched in all things diet culture as a wellness publicist.
So, Zoe, you are a former beauty editor for Well and Good and you've recently gone into the world of freelancing, writing for some great sites like Bustle and PopSugar.
You're also an amazing writer.
I love reading all of your posts.
It's so relatable.
How has kind of joining the world of Substack, your Substack, it's all under control.
How has that been?
I've always loved to write and hence why I've made it my profession but something that I've lost over the years as a professional writer and writing for brands and adjusting my voice to places that I'm working for has really been my own voice honestly and a couple of months ago when I decided to go back to Substack that was go to Substack for the first time not even go back that was really my goal was to just start writing for myself again I kind of figured if anyone reads this I don't care it's really just about
Figuring out how to write for me and not caring about quotas or selling things or even the journalistic quality of it.
Just as my identity happens to be on the internet, it's like a therapy session for my brain and that's been so empowering for me.
And it's also been really amazing that people are reading it and responding to it.
And I feel like for me, the biggest benefit of it, is I've shared a lot of personal stuff on there, even in like the eight Issues that I've written about losing my dad, about training for a marathon, about quitting my job, and hearing people who've experienced similar things, getting DMs from people saying this helped them in x, y, or z way has just felt amazing and really kind of put some power back into my words.
I think it often feels like you're kind of writing into the ether and I forget that people, you know, are actually, it's out on the internet and people can read it and I think that's been really amazing and really empowering for me personally.
Yeah, I've been thinking about substack is almost like you said, kind of my therapy.
I find, you know, even before I was a mom, but now especially as a mom, it's like, I have no time to, to have a conversation that deep about what I'm thinking about, like in the 10 minutes when I have with someone.
So to actually find a place to kind of process those words and put them down on paper and get them out into the universe, just means so much.
And it's like unpacking my brain and organizing my brain to do that.
So it's been, awesome.
I actually dug through my emails to find out when the first time you and I connected and kind of that journalist, publicist capacity, and I found it was the summer of 2020.
So good on you.
I think that's still definitely a trend that we're in.
Fast forward to today now you've kind of moved on from fitness to um working a little bit more in the well a lot more in the beauty space I'd love to hear sort of like how that transition went from going from beauty to uh or sorry from fitness.
I kind of didn't know what I wanted to do at that point.
And it was a lot of fun to just try on different different paths.
I did travel writing, I did fashion writing, and I really fell in love with wellness as a whole.
It was something that's always been really personal to me and my personal journey and realizing that I could make it my job was very exciting to me.
And I always said I was never going to go back somewhere full time and that I got an opportunity to work at Well and Good, a beauty and fitness editor, meaning that I could kind of tow both of those lines under the wellness umbrella, which was very exciting to me because I think
My approach to both beauty and fitness has always been very wellness-focused.
Like for me, beauty is all about feeling good to look good.
And the same thing with fitness.
I've struggled with my own fitness routine for many, many years with eating disorders and exercise addiction, and kind of got to a place in my late twenties where it was about the wellness aspect and the feeling good part of it.
So that was a really exciting time for me to be able to address both of those things.
And I think working at Well and Good for five years, I just kind of found my footing in those spaces and found ways that they could work together, found ways that wellness could really impact both spaces.
And the wellness portion of beauty has been something that I focused a lot more on in the last, like, two, three years, I would say.
And I think it's been really exciting because the beauty industry seems to have picked up on the fact that it's not just about aesthetics.
I think it used to be, you know, the 2016 Instagram makeup days, which is really when I first started writing about beauty to now, where it's all about sensory experiences and doing what makes you feel good and turning your shower into a spa.
So I think the beauty world has really found its niche within wellness.
And that has kind of been how I’ve transitioned so solidly into this space, but you know, I still love the fitness stuff I still write about lots of different things in the context of wellness, but beauty hasn't this this particular moment It's awesome.
Yeah, and I think you're like you sit at this really interesting and like well-vantaged point of beauty and wellness because we are seeing really these two worlds collide.
And I think as there's been a lot of reform in the fitness industry, we're starting to see that also in beauty, like in a positive way where, you know, now we kind of all agree of kind of how we're going to talk about our bodies and fitness and things like that, where, you know, we're not we're going to be accepting of, you know, all different sizes and things like that.
But then, you know, for a while there, like the neck up was fair game to kind of manipulate and change and all of that.
But it's we're starting to see that movement take hold in beauty also where it's like, hey, this isn't about like someone else's expectations.
This is about like doing it for yourself and You know finding ways to make yourself feel beautiful or give yourself an experience whether that's you know expression or you know something that feels great like you said turning the shower into a spot I have my you know, eucalyptus and all of that going right now also, so I see that as like a really positive sign to see kind of the trend of what happens in wellness and how we sort of, I mean, it's not 100% right, but like how there's been a movement to kind of remove as much diet culture as we can from fitness and focus on the positive things of fitness.
We're starting to see that in beauty.
And I think you having that kind of experience allows you to sort of have a good view of that and like keep a close eye on that.
I think what's been really interesting to see in beauty is that we're now sort of seeing the same backlash is the wrong word, but the same response to anti-aging in beauty as we've seen in diet culture, in the context of fitness, where I think we're realizing, you know, it's aging is a beautiful thing and navigating the kind of do what makes you feel good.
If you want to get Botox to get rid of your wrinkles, that's fine, but if you don't do and kind of navigating through that conversation is certainly interesting, especially now because, you know, we're seeing Gen Z on TikTok with anti-aging skincare routines and all of that.
So I think the beauty industry still has a little bit of a ways to go as far as finding the balance between those two things.
It's like, if Botox makes you feel good, you should do it, but I guess ask yourself why you're doing it and what cultural influences are telling you you have to and to be clear, I love an anti-aging skincare routine.
I personally get Botox.
Like I do all of these things, but I've even for myself, and in my writing, I've had to kind of challenge the why behind that.
And I don't know if I have the perfect answer for it, but I think that we're kind of in this moment in the beauty that we were in, in fitness, like let's say three years ago.
Yeah, I feel that.
And, I even posted I think it was the cut an article about 14-year-olds having like, two-hour skincare routines.
And it was something that I thought was like, so like, of course, that's crazy.
But I actually had other moms reach out to me and be like, Hey, another perspective on this, like we, we incur not encouraged, but like, we allow our kids to do this, because it's
It's a time that they're having for themselves too, you know, for them, it's like self-care, they're alone, they're not kind of having to be like needing somebody else's input.
It's like a time when they can be alone.
So, I mean, I don't know, like, I'm so not there.
My kids are four, you know, so we're so not there.
Yeah, it seems like a tough thing.
And I think the answer is always what you said about like, asking yourself, what's the why behind some of these routines, to make sure that they really are truly about kind of self-care and taking care of yourself.
Um, one of the things that stood out to me about your marathon piece, so for you know, everybody listening, so we just ran the marathon, which is incredible.
You have to read the post about it and that journey.
But one of the things that I loved about your piece was that you didn't and I know I pitched you like 100 products and things of like
optimize your marathon and all of this but like you didn't really do much besides like the basic kind of training and I thought it was so great that like it shows that like really kind of all you need is like this mental toughness and like you don't necessarily need yeah all these things are great and it's cool and it's fun if you're into that but like at the end of the day whether it's beauty or fitness like
It kind of seems like you didn't really need much besides your mind.
And I'd love to kind of hear what you're if I'm interpreting that correctly, but I mean, I wouldn't necessarily recommend training for a marathon the way that I did in that I went in very blind and probably could have prepared myself a bit better.
Like they tell you don't do anything for the first time on the day of the race.
You know, I said it in the piece, like, I didn't ever really expect to actually, like, make it to the starting line, let alone the finish line of that marathon.
And the biggest and most important part of the process was just making the decision every single day.
Um, to just say yes and do it, even when it was hard, even when it meant I couldn't drink wine on a Friday night because I had to run 15 miles the next day.
I learned a lot about myself and my body through the process and it definitely was a journey and there are things that I certainly would do differently.
If I were to ever do it again, I'm probably not going to ever do it again.
It was really hard.
Yeah I think you know I think so often in the wellness world and in the fitness world you're pushed products where it's like this is going to make you faster this is going to make you run harder you need this supplement you need that and all of that stuff I'm sure it helps like I think that there are things with legitimate science there are sneakers out there that can make you run faster I've tried a lot of them like all of those things certainly can help but ultimately
It's up to you to make it happen and that for me was the biggest learning.
It's like you can you know stack your routine with as many recovery products as many electrolyte fancy drinks are not what's going to get you out of the bed out of bed in the morning for the training that's not what going to get you across the finish line it's really you know like making that commitment to yourself the other stuff is nice to have but you know we've got a good sports bra and a good pair of sneakers and you drink enough water we're good to go.
Okay, well, kind of last topic.
On that note of mental toughness, I'd love to hear about your decision to go freelance.
And like, how did you muster the strength to totally change your life like marathon crazy, but I feel like leaving a steady job and like deciding to go freelance like that's even wow like that's that takes a lot of courage to just shake up your life and you mentioned you've you had been freelance before but I'd love to hear just sort of like how you came to that decision and like how you found the trust in yourself to execute and follow through.
So often, like, how long were you thinking about going freelance?
And my answer is either three years or three days, because like, it had been percolating for me for so long, wanting to go off on my own, find a new challenge, kind of explore what I wanted to do next.
But then I talked about it for three years.
And then when I decided I was ready, it took me three days to actually make the decision and kind of pull out of the job that I was doing.
And I think, you know, there's, it sounds so cliche, but there's an Instagram meme that always comes up on my feed.
And it's like, if you started today, think about where you'd be a year from now.
And that stuck with me so much.
And I think like, there are always reasons to not make changes.
There's always something that's going to get in the way.
It's never going to be a perfect time.
It's always going to be, you know, I knew that I was probably, I just got engaged.
So I knew that I was going to be leaving my job and I'm probably going to start finding a way.
Like, it wasn't necessarily the perfect time for me to change my life.
But that idea of like, if I do it now, where am I going to be in a year felt really exciting.
And the idea of staying in the same place and being in the same place a year from now felt scarier to me than making the leap.
So I think that was a huge piece of finding the courage.
And then it was a little bit less scary, you know, as you said, like I've done it before.
So it wasn't necessarily jumping into the unknown.
But, Yeah, it was it was certainly a big leap.
And I've been really lucky to have support from my professional community support my personal community, just kind of people helping me navigate this new world.
But yeah, it's like it's the same thing.
It's like you lace up the sneakers and go there's there's a lot of like funny metaphorical parallels, I feel like between running a marathon and, and leaping into a new life.
Okay, and I said that was the last one.
But I remembered another thing I wanted to ask you about the kind of last big area in your life, you just got engaged.
So congrats on that as well.
So when we talk about like diet culture, obviously, when I think like wedding season, that's kind of like one of the biggest times that
you know, that voice gets really, really loud.
Have you thought about or do you have a plan yet?
And no is an okay answer. But like, have you thought about how you're going to kind of keep that noise at bay during wedding season for you?
It's something that I thought about my entire life.
Like I knew I've known forever that planning a wedding, I mean stress, I've, as I said, I've struggled with eating disorders throughout my life.
Like I consider myself in recovery, but it's never perfect.
And it always somehow finds a way back.
Um, so I've always known that getting ready for a wedding was probably going to be a trigger for me.
Um, and that's something I thought about a lot.
And I think
I think it's a positive thing that some of the language is shifting away from like shedding for the wedding, but very much is still there and very prevalent.
And I think for me, it's about trying to avoid that as much as possible and telling myself, like, I don't want to let myself ruin what's supposed to be an amazing experience by obsessing about my body.
Spending I don't know the last few months of my fiance me being Miserable because I was upset about food and obsessing about getting up at five o'clock in the morning Like I just want to enjoy the whole process and I think focusing on what the wedding is about which is the marriage and getting to spend the rest of my life with my partner versus like being a certain size I Can't promise that I'm not gonna get lost in him, but I'm really trying to keep that purpose for now
Yes, yeah, it's definitely challenging.
I, for me, it's funny, because you talk when you talk about the photos, like, I remember, at my point in recovery, like getting engaged, and the photos from my engagement, or like when, you know, the photos after when we got engaged, I remember that being a moment when I was like, really high and doing well in my recovery.
And like, that's what I think about when I look at that photo is
is that not like my size or, you know, I was wearing actually a big puffy coat, like, you can't even tell my size.
But like, I remember looking at my face and being like, wow, that was such a happy moment, obviously, of getting engaged.
And also, like, I was at such a peak moment of my recovery.
And like, of course, kind of things came together beautifully.
And that's when I got engaged and like all of those things.
So I think when you are kind of in that recovered, recovering space, it's, it's funny how
it changes what you look at in a picture.
It's like less about my body and more about like, oh, I remember like how on top of my game I was.
So if that's like inspiration for you of like what to look at in your wedding photos, if that helps at all, that's that's kind of what I remember.
So yeah, the wedding planning is crazy.
It's all crazy.
The day after though, you're like, all right, I can put up with anything because we were stuck together for the rest of the life and all of that.
It was so great talking to you.
You've accomplished so much this year.
I have no doubt more great things are on the way.
We didn't even talk about all the money that you raised for The Israeli Red Cross and just want to like congratulate you again on all of that and all of the great things you've been doing!
For anybody listening who wants to read more of Zoe's writing, definitely go check out her substack.
I'll link it here. It's called.
And share this convo with someone who you think will like it too.
But that's all for now.
We'll see you next time.
And thanks again, Zoe, so much for taking the time to meet with us.
So so soon after your big race.
Glad we didn't do this yesterday.
We'll take care of it soon.