Health

The Ridiculously Colorful Diet of This Fitness Boutique Owner Will School You in Eating the Rainbow

Sarween Salih's grocery store haul is as colorful as her diet. All food photographs courtesy Salih.
Sarween Salih (center) is the owner of S3 Active. Photograph by Gary Williams.

Nutritionists are constantly reminding us to “eat the rainbow” by downing a wide variety of fruits and veggies, and it would seem that Sarween Salih has taken this rule to heart. The owner of athleisure boutique S3 Active near Union Market, Salih is no stranger to the health and fitness industry. She’s also no stranger to a busy schedule, and for that reason, she prioritizes convenience.

“When it comes to nutrition, I’m a true believer in listening to your body. Every one of us is built differently so it’s important to be in tune with your body and learn what makes you personally feel good and not so good,” says Salih. “Between managing the store, meetings, and daily workouts, my lifestyle commands high-energy and productivity levels. I learned very quickly that what I put in my body can make or break my entire day and there is no space for me to be feeling drained and lethargic. You literally are what you eat.”

A self-described “creature of habit,” Salih says she sticks to eating the same things, with a few surprises mixed in to help balance her sweet tooth and incorporate more protein into her vegetarian diet. Here’s what a day of her typical diet looks like.

Pre-Workout

“If I don’t start my day with this water, I feel completely off,” says Salih. “It’s always good to start your day with water in general but alkaline water is a game changer for me. It neutralizes the pH in your body so you’re energized to kick off the day and keeps you balanced and hydrated. I order these by the case from Gouter to make sure I always have them on hand.”

Breakfast

Salih’s smoothie consists of 8 oz of water or almond milk, 1 scoop of chocolate Performix, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup spinach, and 1 cup strawberries and blueberries.

“I try to have my smoothie within 30 minutes of my morning workout. It’s critical for a number of reasons (replenishing energy stores, improved recovery, etc.). Since I’m a veggie with an intense workout regimen, it’s a constant effort to find creative ways to get more protein and I’m always trying new protein powders,” says Salih. “I was off of whey for a while but recently picked up Performix based on a trusted recommendation. It’s made with a technology that has multiple release points to help maximize the performance of the ingredients, which I find fascinating. The combination of the protein with the fruit and veggies keeps me full and energized for a few hours.”

Lunch

“Sweetgreen Rad Thai with my personal modifications: kale, arugula, carrots, basil, bean sprouts, cucumber, cabbage, tofu, and spicy sunflower seeds. I usually hold the bread but days when my body needs more, I go for it,” says Salih. “I have eaten Sweetgreen multiple times a week for years and it continues to be the most exciting part of my day. It’s ideal for me given it’s healthy, clean, and most importantly, fast. They also open at 10:30 which gives me time to grab before opening the store.”

Dinner

“Buddha Bowls. The ingredients vary depending on what veggies I have on hand, but I roast a combo of veggies (sweet potatoes always included) with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the oven and throw them on raw greens with some apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast, then add a couple eggs for protein. If I got in a double workout that day, I up the amount of eggs and will add some avocado and quinoa,” says Salih. “When I get home in the evenings, I’m usually exhausted beyond measure and need dinner to be as effortless as possible. Buddha bowls are super easy and so tasty.”

Dessert

“When my sweet tooth becomes uncontrollable and I’m behaving, I go for fruit, Gouter Patty Melk, a South Block Aqua Bowl or some Halo Top. When I’m not behaving you can find me at Ice Cream Jubilee, Dolcezza or on my couch with some soft baked cookies,” says Salih. “Again, this is how I eat for the most part. Some days I’m hungrier than others and I have to improvise and some days I just need a Whisked cookie. C’est la vie.”

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.