Category Archives: tuning in

Body Image: Circles and Puzzles

On Monday, as I was getting ready to leave work, I stopped to chat with our office manager (Hi, Ali!).  As I somehow always do with other women, I got onto the topic of body image and weight. I find this happens so easily because most women I know have had some bad blood with their bodies in the past.  But it’s so easy to talk about it now because so many smart women are getting wise to the fact that no, this isn’t normal, and it isn’t healthy, and we want to talk about it.  Because we want to resolve it, and just be OK with our bodies and use the time we spend worrying about our butt and abs to, I don’t know, fix the economy or reverse global warming.  But I digress.

Anyway, we started talking about how, while we’d like to improve upon our figures now, it’s not the most important thing in our lives.  Yes, we might want to lose a little weight or tighten up our rear ends, but these things aren’t our focus as they once were.  We both have our stories of the times in our lives when focus turned to obsession, and examples of when our quests for health became the antithesis of health itself.  But we’re realizing now that creating a good life doesn’t swirl around that one goal of ‘getting skinny.’ We’re understanding that this singular objective won’t make the other ones fall into place.  Getting healthy, losing weight, toning up… all nice things, but not the key to happiness.

“I realized recently,” Ali told me, “that losing weight or getting the body I want is one little part of that circle that is my life.  Whereas before, those things were the circle itself.” When she said this, I knew she had summed up how I had been feeling lately.  In college, everything centered around sticking to my plan and staying small, meaning I let social events or enjoyable company with delicious food pass me by because it wasn’t what I had laid out for the day.  ‘Oh sorry, I didn’t go running yet, I can’t.’  Damn, I bet I’m going to hear all about how fun that was tomorrow. ‘Oh, no thanks, I’m not hungry.‘ Plus that doesn’t fit into my calorie count for the day.

That circle had me spinning around and around, but I never got anywhere in life outside of my body.  I stayed the same, and my goal never changed.  I never progressed beyond, ‘Stay small and fit into that dress.’ It was like my life was a wheel of calories and miles and pounds and jeans sizes, and occasionally, the other stuff –my life — would happen because it accidentally got trapped in the spokes, and I would roll with it until I would snap out of it and get back to the plan.  Lately, though, the circle of my life has involved so much more.  Instead of those life experiences getting stuck to my tires, they ARE the tires. And I’ve decided that I can go ahead and let losing weight be a part of those rolling circles, but I won’t let it steer.

“In the same sense, I used to think that losing weight was the key, was the piece of the puzzle I needed to find before all of the others would fall into place, ” Ali said. “But now, I’m finding that I’ve got this beautiful puzzle, and there’s only one piece missing, but I’m working on it.” And again, it was as if she had read my mind, because this is truly the way I’m feeling about my life.  Am I entirely happy with my body?  No, but I’m working on accepting where it is and improving on it as best I can daily.  But the puzzle pieces I thought would fall into place when I was skinny or toned enough? I have so many of them now that I never had when I was thinner.

Career?  When I first moved to Chicago, I thought life would just be easier and I would like my 9to5 if only I could get skinny again.  But then I decided that I needed to be happy before I could get healthy, and the desk job wasn’t going to do it for me.  So I quit, became a personal trainer, and I’ve been calmer and more content with my life (not to mention healthier!) ever since, no matter that my size 4 jeans are a long way from fitting.

Love life? I had boyfriend and a few little crushes and flings in college, but you know what?  Even at my smallest, I never felt like myself around them.  I had been working so much on my ass that I let the work I had to do on my head pile up to the point where I didn’t even know who I was.  Now I’m dating someone who makes me feel more comfortable and happier in my own skin than I have in a long time, with or without makeup, “bikini-ready” or not.

Friends?  I seemed to have some friends in college who liked to hang out with me because I looked a certain way and because I was the ‘how can I make this healthier aka lower-calorie’ guru.  I was told that I was ‘inspiring’ more than once, and while this might sound flattering, it was also a lot of pressure, and it meant that they didn’t see the personality part of me.  They liked hanging out with me because I made them want to go running or make a salad, not because I was quirky or a good writer or because I lived for awkward stories and always had one to tell.  But my friends now are the friends I’ve chosen, because I’m confident in who I am as a whole, and I know that I can afford to be picky.  I can choose the friends whom I love for their never-ending optimism or no-nonsense logic, and who love me for the things I always wanted people to notice when all they paid attention to was what I was putting on my plate at dinner in the sorority house.

So you know what?  Between my job and my friends and my dating life and my family and everything I have to be thankful for, I’ve got so many puzzle pieces in place, that while I would love to be perfectly fit and trim again, I’m not obsessing over that tricky middle piece that finishes the puzzle but doesn’t necessarily hold it together. That one piece didn’t make the others fall into place — it actually did quite the opposite.  I was missing so many wonderful pieces when I did have a death grip on that elusive piece, because I let all of the others fall away.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

But, as always, dear readers, I want to hear from you!  Does body image or weight play (or has it in the past) a huge role in your happiness?  Is it the puzzle or the circle itself, or is that something you’re working for, but not feeling incomplete without?  Have you learned that, while it can be important, it didn’t make or break your life?  Spill!

Friday Food For Thought

First up, thanks to everyone who voted on their favorite muscle groups to work at the gym!  All eight of you (or maybe seven since I can’t recall if I voted or not) made my poll very representative of the blogging population (sarcasm alert!).  Although, based on what my I’ve heard my friends and clients say, it actually might be pretty accurate!  Looks like legs and core tied for first, with back and chest coming in second, and no one liking arm work at all.  Which, like I said, pretty much reflects everything I’ve ever heard when training!

Moving on, though!

Although last Friday’s post also involved food, I’m obviously talking about a different sort here.  I know I talk a lot about body image and staying sane and healthy with it, but today I was clicking around on my favorite blogs and came across a video that does the topic more justice than I can right now.  Leah posted this video of Jean Kilbourne lecturing about images of women in the media, and it reminded me of WHY I choose to write about these topics.  It reminded me why I write about eating disorders and self love and everything else.  I remember seeing other Killing Us Softly videos when I was a Women’s Studies major at Michigan, but this one really struck a chord with me.

So there you have it, folks.

THIS is why I was a Women’s Studies major. THIS is why I want to go back to school for a graduate degree. THIS is why I want to teach about destructive images of women in the media and how we can change them. THIS is why it’s so easy for me to hop up on my feminist soapbox. THIS is why half of my blog is about body image and being healthy but not succumbing to the pressures of someone else’s version of perfect.  Because it is a public health problem. It’s not just us girls being silly and taking things too personally. Although, when I see my fellow women beating themselves up, and even DYING, striving to be some ideal that doesn’t exist, I DO take it personally. But it’s not just our problem. It is the problem of every single person who has any relationship with any woman. It is EVERYONE’S problem.

(That was actually my exact comment on Leah’s blog, but I realized it conveys precisely how I feel about the topic, and I could think of no better words to express my thoughts, so there you go.)

Anyway, you know I love a good discussion, so lay it on me! What do you think? Of the video? Of the topic at hand?  Do you think the media is damaging to the self image of today’s woman?  Do you think it’s a public health issue?  Do you think we can change this?  How?  I know that’s a lot of questions, but SPILL!

Owning It: A Few More Confessions

So I’ve posted a couple times already about how I’m not a foodie, and on multiple occasions I’ve let you in on the not-so-secret secret that I still have body image/food issues. Then a few weeks ago, I posted myconfessions as a personal trainer.  And I’m going to post a few more here today. But unlike the confessions of my Catholic school days, I’m not going to ask for forgiveness or justify myself.  And I am most certainly not going to do penance for them.

These are a few of the things I’ve realized I need to own up to — things about myself that I need to lay out there because they are who I am and what I do, and, well, sorry I’m not sorry about them.  So what inspired this sudden show of bravado, you ask?  What made me decide to own up to all things Heather without feeling the need to explain myself?  Well my good real-life friend (we go wayyyy back, which is what I’m going to say when she becomes a ridic famous author) and blog buddy, Rachel, started the ‘Own It’ challenge, encouraging other bloggers to come out and state what they’re about, no apologies necessary.  Hmm, I thought, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that I am constantly apologizing for that I really shouldn’t be.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed that my happiness factor has gone up exponentially since I stopped asking for permission so much.  And I actually remember having a conversation about this with Rachel on one of our many Starbucks dates back home in Michigan.  Last year, I told people that I was quitting my salaried desk job to become a trainer.  This year, Rachel told people she was up and moving to Texas.  We didn’t ask if these actions were OK, and we didn’t give a laundry list of reasons for why we were doing them.  And because people in general are so used to everyone (especially young women) asking if what they’re doing is right, this confused them.  You mean you don’t care what I think? Nope, or at least not enough to change my mind.  I’m forging on either way.  Anyway, inspired by that conversation and by her post on it, here are some more confessions that don’t bother my conscience one bit.  My opening declaration:

Since I’m a trainer, let’s start with something fitness related.  I hate running in the summer.  HATE. I do not like it at all.  Running in 90 degrees with 80% humidity just so I can tell people I’m a real runner?  No thanks.  I’ve been one, and maybe someday I’ll be one again, but not right now.  I like to breathe and not feel like I’m wading through the soup that is a Midwest summer.  If I run at all during the months of June, July, and August, it is at the gym or at night, and I do it because I know how many calories it burns, or sometimes because I need a change.  But you know what I would rather do for hours at a time in the summer? Bike or swim or dance or anything besides run.

Here’s another one: I am not a morning person.  Props to all of you that are, but I get pissed off when people make it seem like you are a lazy, slothful person if your internal alarm clock doesn’t have you springing out of bed at 6am.  Stop acting so damn self-righteous about it.  I get just as much accomplished as you do, but I just do it later in the day.  Give me a project to work on at 8pm and I’m way more inspired than I would be at 8am.  I like my workouts later in the day too.  I’m programmed this way, and I’m owning it.

For as much as I talk about loving the skin you’re in, I’m with Rachel on the fact that I would still like to lose weight, even if I do think I’m beautiful right now.  And as much as I talk about how unhealthy I was when I was at my skinniest (not having a period is usually a bad sign, folks), I sometimes still look at pictures and remember how much control I had and how good it felt to slide that XS or S on without a snag.  I will own that I feel that way, and I will also own that I still have some work to do, mentally and physically.

I also own that when fat talk starts with my girlfriends, I shut down.  I do not respond, or I get quite curt, all of my response being two words or less — if that.  I mostly do it because nothing about that conversation is healthy for any party involved.  We don’t need to perpetuate the cycle of caring more about our jeans size than our actual mental wellbeing.  But another part of it is that for the first time in my life, I’m not one of the skinny friends.  And that sounds catty, I know, but I know I didn’t fish for compliments even when I was the skinny friend.  It also hurts my feelings when my size-4 friends comment on how they need to ‘get rid of this flab’ because they are just ‘soooo disgusting.’ Gee thanks.  By the way, thanks for being a bitch and not thinking about anyone else’s feelings before you opened your mouth.

I also jump up on my feminist and body image champion soap boxes pretty quickly, much to the chagrin of any males in my life.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

I did a total 180 as far as careers go and quit my secure corporate job to become a trainer (with an unstable hourly wage) and a freelancer, and I put myself in a lot of debt doing so.  I also freaked my parents out and made them wonder why they paid for a bachelors degree in English and Women’s Studies (take a guess at how many times I heard, ‘So what are you going to do with that degree?’) from a good school for their eldest daughter.  I switched jobs again about a year into my gym job because it was so sales focused, and I refused to force people to buy training when they could hardly make their rent.  Sometimes I worried that I had made the wrong decision going into training.  But now I don’t regret it because I found a better fit that reminded me why I love what I do, and I love the freedom I have working at two smaller studios who really want the best for the clients.  I stumbled along the way, and I still don’t know what I’ll ultimately end up doing, but at 25, I don’t need to yet.

Even though I’m a trainer, I do not live at the gym.  And I won’t tell my clients that they have to either.  I won’t tell them they aren’t allowed to drink, because I do it, too (give me whiskey or beer, and I’m ready to go!).  I refuse to be a complete hypocrite with my clients, and I’m usually honest with them about how much I’m working out at any given time.  Also, lately, some of my workouts have taken a backseat to seeing friends or a boy.  But I’m good with this, because for a long time, it was the other way around.  I still work out, but I don’t let it take it over my life. I like this, and I own this.

So now it’s your turn — what are you owning, what have you owned, and what are you going to start owning that maybe you were afraid to before?

Confessions of a Personal Trainer

So this post was inspired by a combination of things.  1) I’m being a total copycat here, but I really liked Eat, Live, Run’s “Confessions of a Food Blogger.”  I’m totally not a food blogger, but I am a personal trainer, and I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about what we do/think/say/eat.  2) I’ve been taking it kind of easy lately and went back into the gym this morning for a less-than-intense workout after a week of avoiding it even though I live across the street. 

What kind of penance do I do for this?

Anyway, without any further ado, here are my confessions.  Forgive me, gym rats, for sometimes I sin:

I love working out, but I go through phases where I would much rather read in my bed than hop on the treadmill or do a set of squats. 

This summer has been HOT and humid in Chicago, even in the supposedly air-conditioned gym.  So, for the past week and a half, I have been calling my bike rides to and from work cardio.  And I don’t really feel guilty about it. 

I think there is a point of pushing yourself too hard and being too obsessed.  Contrary to what many trainers I know have said, puking at the end of your workout isn’t healthy and ignoring injuries to get in 3 workouts per day is more insane than it is tough.  Call me weak if you want, but I’ve never gotten more from a workout because I saw my lunch afterwards. 

Sometimes I use being a PT as an excuse to wear leggings, sports bras, and t-shirts as my daily uniform — even if I’m not training that day.  And on the extra lazy days, I chalk up not wearing makeup and donning a wide stretchy headband with a pony tail to working in a place where people are sweating anyways. 

If I demonstrate ab exercises enough during the hours I’m on the job, I might call it core work. 

Lately, I’ve been paying attention, but not really freaking out over what I’m eating, and people are telling me I look smaller.  I’m chalking that one up to chilling the eff out for once. 

Sometimes sleep takes precedence over my workout.  In the last two weeks since leaving my old job and starting to work at these smaller studios, I’ve slept a LOT.  To be fair though, working 13-hour days didn’t really do me any favors in the rest department.  But now I’m catching up, and feeling sooo much better since rest is pretty essential to recovery. And to me not being cranky. 

I know that body fat percentage is the best indicator of health, and that how your clothes fit is more important than weight, but sometimes when I’m working hard, I (sadly) get the most motivation out of seeing a little drop in the numbers on the scale.

Even though core strength is totally important, I HATE working my lower back.  Abs follow pretty closely.

I am not a rippling mass of lean muscle, and although I’ve been that way before — and liked it and would actually love to get back there — for the time being, I’m actually kind of liking having a booty. 

So there you go. I’m sure I have more, but I think that’s plenty for now.  I need to save some transgressions for the next time I come to confess, right?  Any other PTs out there?  Do you have similar confessions?  Anyone else feel that sometimes they’re totally human and aren’t the epitome of everything their profession says they should be?

New Year, New Me


So I know we usually hear those words around January 1st, but this is a different kind of ‘new year’ for me. 

I’m turning 25. 

Yeah, I know. 

I can no longer claim to be in my early 20s, and I’ve officially hit my mid-20s.  I can’t blame my age as much when I do ridiculous things, and I’m expected to be a little more responsible.  On Sunday I will have officially been on Earth for a quarter of a century.

But I’m actually kind of excited about it.  I know there aren’t many new perks to turning 25 (I can now rent a car. That’s something, right?) like there were when I hit 18 and 21, but I feel that up until this point I’ve sort of been teetering on the edge of adulthood, waiting for that certain something to tip me over.  And although it’s just a date, I feel that June 20th is going to shove me out of feeling like such a kid.  And that’s a very good thing. 

That’s not to say that I won’t still be a complete goofball — afterall, that’s part of who I am. But I think that, to me, 25 will leave me feeling a little more sure of myself.  A little less hesitant to take life by the horns.   A little better prepared to run with whatever life throws at me.  I’m no sage just yet, but I do feel that I’ve learned a lot –about myself and life in general — in the past year. 

I quit my nice secure office job to try my hand at a completely new career path that I knew I would be much more passionate about.  From this I learned that doing what you love can be hard, but if it makes you happy, it’s more than worth it.  I started actually dating again, and I remembered what it was to open myself up, leaving myself vulnerable to heartbreak.  I discovered I’m a lot more fragile than I ever knew, but also more resilient than I had imagined I could be.  I made a lot of decisions on my own this year, and instead of asking people if I should do something, I told them.  This meant dealing with the consequences alone as well, but I slept better knowing my choices were solely mine.    Overall, with the many changes I’ve gone through in the past year, I found out I still have enough glue to patch myself back up when I start to crack.  And that I have so much to be thankful for and happy about, no matter that I’m not exactly where I want to be in life just yet.

So what about this ‘new year, new me’ business?  Well, I’ve changed so much in the past year, that I think it’s worth trying to continue with the education and evolution of Heather.  I’ve got a lot I want to do this year, so there are things I’m going work on with me:

Be gentler with myself. 

Sometimes I berate myself and tell myself that I haven’t done enough.  But the thing is, I usually do try my hardest.  And when I don’t I need to go a little easier on myself.  If I wouldn’t speak to a good friend a certain way, then I shouldn’t speak to or treat myself that way.

Be more realistic with myself. 

This means being honest with myself at all times.  And if I haven’t done enough and I know it, then I need to admit that too.  I know this sounds like the opposite of the previous statement, but I can apply the friend philosophy to this one as well.  If my friend is being ridiculous and making excuses for herself, it’s my job to tactfully snap her out of it.  So it’s all about finding balance.  Being nice, but also not letting myself get away with silly things.

Aim higher.

This actually goes with both of the above statements.  I need to remind myself that I am capable of a whole lot.  So I need to give myself pep talks here and there, being kinder to myself and building up my own confidence.  I also need to be realistic when I think I can’t do something.  When I’m being honest, I realize I’ve been through things a lot more difficult than things I’m doubting myself on.  The scary talks, the job risks, the potential of falling on my face.  I’ve already done them all and survived.  I can do whatever I put my mind to because I’ve probably done it before.

Love myself for who I am right now.

Not for what I was in college or who I want to be by next year.  But for every quirk, flaw, strength, and bit of potential I have this very second.  I have to love me. For me.  Right. Now. 

Have any of you reached milestone ages recently? Are you approaching one?  How did it or does it make you feel? Anyone else turning the big 2-5 soon?!

Happy Birthday to me!

Link Love and In Response to Anonymous #2

I am so so sorry I’ve neglected the blog, but this week has been crazy!  This was the last week of the month, meaning I was working 13 to 15 hour days and didn’t even have time to breathe, let alone blog.  Anyway, for now, I want to leave you with a few awesome links that really hit home with me this week.  If you aren’t already following these bloggers, I suggest you check them out!

First up, Gena from Choosing Raw wrote an amazing essay on embracing our appetites… for everything.  As a feminist and a woman, I can totally relate to this.  For a major chunk of my life, I was so focused on being the ‘good girl’ or the ‘skinny girl’ that I ignored everything and anything I was craving.  This essay really brings to light the fact that many of us do this all the time.  

Next, my good friend Rachel from Shedding It & Getting It wrote a few awesome posts related to the same idea.  Her first one about going with her cravings and deciding not to justify to herself or anyone else what she wanted was so inspiring that I just had to smile.  She also wrote one a few days ago about “Your Unruly Appetite” that was inspired by Gena’s post.  My favorite line? “Sometimes a girl needs to eat. And get laid. It’s biology, people — not a big f****** deal.” (Man, my parents are going to love that one…Hi, Mom!).

Another blogger, Kristin from Cook, Bake, and Nibble, talked about her experiences with disordered eating and denying herself as well.  Since it was NEDAwareness week, she talked about her struggles with body image and food.  I love the honesty of all of these ladies this week!

And one last thing before I go, I really wanted to address a comment left on my last post ‘Are Eating Disorders Contagious?‘  The second anonymous comment had this to say: “It sounds like you have an eating disorder and have had it since college. That’s what therapy is for. I don’t know if you can begin to get healthy until you face your demons and not project them on to your surroundings. I hope you take the steps to get help.” While I appreciate the honesty, and I think everyone has a right to state his or her opinion, I did want to discuss this one.  First of all, when I state my opinion in this way, I at least own up to it.  I wish “Anonymous #2″ had done the same. 

However, I would like to say to this commenter (and everyone else reading) that I have never denied having an eating disorder in college.  I had major control issues, and what I was doing was not healthy.  And I did get help.  Therapy got me my sanity back, and I give a ton of credit to the counselor who got me through so much at UMich.  And now, for the first time in a long time, I’m not counting calories and I’m not freaking out over every minute of cardio I miss or about every morsel of food that goes into my mouth.  The point of this post was to say that I am finally sane, but I know I still need to be careful because recovery doesn’t happen overnight.  I am not blaming anyone at work for any residual issues I have, just stating that I need to watch myself in that kind of environment so that I can take preventative measures to keep myself from going back to that darker place.  In the same way that someone might load up on vitamin C to keep from catching a cold that’s going around, I am forcing myself to notice what everyone is doing so that I don’t lose what I’ve fought so hard to get back — my health and my sanity.  I’m not saying I don’t still have a ways to go, but please belive that I am healthier and I am not ‘projecting my demons’ onto the amazing people with whom I work.     

To everyone else who left comments, thank you!  Your support and the fact that you read means the world to me!  And you know what, thank you to Anon #2 as well, because it’s important to address these things, and you gave me the opportunity to do so.

Hope everyone is having a fab weekend!  What you think of the links posted?  How do you feel about cravings and trying to control our appetites?  And for all of you bloggers or writers out there, how do you address the less-than-positive comments?  Do you address them at all?         

Are Eating Disorders Contagious?

Lately at work, everyone has been sick! We all have colds right now, and it probably doesn’t help that we all hang out with each other for 14 hours at a time on very little sleep at a super germy gym. We’re totally passing it back and forth to one another.

At the same time, a lot of us here are working towards certain fitness goals and training for sports or competitions, especially with summer coming up. Being trainers, we’re all pretty committed to it, but I’m starting to get a little hyperaware of what I’m doing, how much I’m training, and what I’m eating. While I like the discipline I’m getting back, I’m also getting a little nervous about how much I’m starting to think about my training and my diet. Because the guys are constantly talking about their food and calories and how much weight they need to cut and how if they don’t puke they aren’t working out hard enough, I’ve caught myself thinking about these same things. A lot.

The thing is, I really don’t want to. Yes, I want to be healthy and make conscious choices about my food and workouts, but I don’t want it to escalate to obsession. Because I’ve been there before, and I have no desire to let being a certain weight or size completely run my life again. In college, I was so focused on keeping my weight down (at a weight that was far too low for me, in fact), that I planned out every little thing I put in my mouth (planning isn’t bad, but the level to which I did it was ridiculous), and I ended up putting so much stress on my body with exercise that my period stopped.

So I think you can understand why getting anywhere near that territory again scares me. Before, I was influenced by other people too. All of my friends being fixated on their weight and food put in my head that I should be too. I sort of ‘caught’ disordered eating habits from the women around me (and maybe society as a whole, but that’s another post). Here it’s a bunch of guys with “athletic goals,” so no one says they have eating disorders. They admire each others’ commitment, even though sometimes it clearly is disordered behavior.

Before, when I lived with all girls in the dorms and in the sorority house, it was actually a similar situation. We talked about food and calories allll the time, and girls were always giving each other tips or asking questions on how to cut calories and fill up on the smallest amount. The girls that could eat the least seemed to have a whole lot of self control and received praise, but I think we all knew it wasn’t healthy. I happened to be one of those girls for most of college. I ate “super healthy” all the time – which actually meant that I stayed away from sweets, loaded up on veggies to stay full, and ate the least amount of calories possible while running every day. But there was also a backlash from that, with my house mom telling me I looked a little too skinny and someone starting a rumor that I didn’t eat dinner at the house some nights because I didn’t want people knowing how little I actually ate (for the record, I had to work during the little half hour window they gave us for dinner at the house.)  Anyway, at one point I was living on 700-1000 calories a day (unless I drank, then it was just a little more – that’s what we call “drunkorexia,” folks), running 6-7 miles daily, and lifting a few times a week. I’m shocked I never passed out, honestly. Anyway, I convinced myself that I was just really disciplined, when in fact, I was really obsessed and had major control issues.

I do want to keep up this discipline and renewed commitment to feeling like an athlete again, but I don’t want to drive myself crazy with it as I did in the past. I already caught a cold from the guys I work with, but I’d like to avoid catching anything more serious.

What do you all think? Can you ‘catch’ an eating disorder or disordered eating from someone else? Or do you think some people are actually predisposed to EDs? Do other people influence your food and exercise choices? I really want to know how you feel about this topic, so spill!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Soooo let’s talk about good old, February 14th, shall we? Some years I’ve hated it, others I’ve loved it, and somewhat more recently, I’ve just pretended it wasn’t happening. But this year, I think Valentine’s Day and I will be able to peacefully coexist. It’s not like I’m dating anyone, and my mom is most definitely still my Valentine, so I don’t know what has changed, but I just don’t loathe it the way I have in years past. Maybe I really, truly, finally am understanding the whole “you’ve got to love yourself before anyone else can” thing. And for real, I’m starting to love who I am and the decisions I’m making. I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin, and I’m not looking for approval (at least as much as I used to) from every single person in my life. I’m treating myself better, I’m more confident in making goals and plans for achieving them, and I’m really happy with the people I’m surrounding myself with. Maybe I don’t have a boyfriend or a Valentine per se, I do have a whole lot of people in my life that I love to death.
So let’s make today all about loving everyone around us, and most importantly, ourselves! Name something you love about you and show the people in your life how much you care about them. As for me, I love that I am able to embrace awkwardness in life and that I’ve learned how to be direct when I communicate with people when dealing with whatever issues may arise. I also love how strong I am getting physically and how confident I am becoming in my abilities. Physically, I like my eyes and the fact that this white girl has little bit of a booty. As for the people in my life that I adore so much, I love that they support me and help me believe that I can do anything, even when my faith in myself wavers. And I love that they are all unique and bring so many amazing things to the table. My family, my roommates, my friends, my coworkers – a post on all of their fabulous traits would take allll day.
What are you doing for Vday? Do you have a special someone to celebrate with? Or are you celebrating a lot of special someones in your life, including you? And continuing with the self-love theme, include something you love about YOU in your comment!

100-Calorie Scams

Even knows: Just because it’s low-cal doesn’t mean it’s good for you!
I recently saw an ad featuring Venus and Serena Williams for Nabisco’s 100-Calorie Packs on Now, I truly love Glamour for its mainly positive message to women, and I think the Williams sisters are pretty badass for their complete domination of tennis, but I have a major problem with the magazine and the sisters promoting a nutritionally void snack that uses “Diet Like a Diva” as its slogan.
First of all, Glamour has been running all sorts of articles about what eating disorders will do to your body and how eating wholesome foods is the way to go when it comes to losing weight or just staying healthy. They’ve also got the Body by Glamour plan, which, again, promotes eating healthy foods with redeeming nutritional qualities. It’s not supposed to be a ‘diet,’ but a plan with plenty of smart takeaways that will help you make permanent lifestyle changes. So it’s understandable that I take issue with the mag for pimping packaged products with the lowest amount of calories possible, right?
Additionally, the fact that the Williams sisters are the faces of this campaign really irks me. I honestly do not think that these athletes are munching on 100-calorie packs all day to keep themselves in shape. To compete like they do, I’m pretty sure they’re eating a wholesome diet full of lean protein, whole grains, and lots of produce. Sure, maybe they’ve tested the products they’re pretending to eat in the ads, but really? Do you believe that the million-time Wimbledon champs are refueling with Wheat Thins substitutes?
To be honest, I’m rarely one of those “everything in moderation” people (still working on it), and in my calorie-obsessed college days I will admit that I totally fell for this idea, but I simply can’t justify it anymore. I do understand that everyone needs a treat sometimes, but why not promote the idea that we can indulge just a little bit every now and then with something a little closer to the real thing? Personally, a little baggie of imitation cocoa-flavored wafers does not nix my chocolate craving. But you know what does? Actual chocolate (the darker the better in my case). And if I have a small enough piece, it’s going to be about 100 calories (give or take) as well, so why would I waste calories and money on little baggies (not so eco-friendly either there, Nabisco) of satisfaction-free chemically-laden ‘food’?
Anyway, I want to know what YOU have to say about this. Have you seen these ads? What do you think of them? How do you feel about Venus and Serena as well as Glamour promoting the products? What do you think of the 100-cal marketing scheme in general?

Thursday Tip: Love the One You’re With

And by that I mean the one you’re with allll the time – YOU!

Trying to lose weight or tone up or just improve something about yourself in general? Then start liking where – and who – you are now! Instead of talking about how much you need to firm up your less-than-rock-hard abs or how you’ll be happy when you just lose those next five pounds, enjoy the progress you’re making right now. In other words, work with what ya got!
Now I’m not saying, ‘Hey, go ahead and be completely content with everything about yourself and never change,” because change is healthy, and we should all try to evolve in some way within our lifetimes. Honestly, I’d be worried if you had no desire to change anything. What I am saying is that you’re not even going to try to change if you hate everything about yourself. I’ve found that the times when I’ve made the most forward progress with my goals are the times when I’ve accepted – and even embraced – who I was right at that very moment. Use what you like as a base and go from there.
My favorite metaphor for this is so anti-feminist (since most of my readers are women) that I probably shouldn’t say, but whatevs, it works: Think of yourself like a car. (I know. Comparing the female body to a piece of machinery. Right.) If you think of yourself as a total junker that should just be scrapped for spare parts, then, well, you’ll probably treat yourself that way. Feed it junk food, let it sit around without moving it, let it rust, never try to increase its worth in any way. Yeah, that sounds like a fabulous plan for getting yourself where you want to be.
However, if you visualize yourself as a classic cruiser that just needs a few adjustments, then what do you think you’ll do? You’ll make those adjustments! Not only that, but you’ll see the potential in yourself from the beginning. So you have a dented bumper or you’re kind of a slow runner.  Why not focus on those great headlights (yeah, I just took away my own feminist card) or the fact that you can outswim everyone you know? Maybe your gas mileage isn’t so great or you want to lose those muffin tops. So focus on the fact that your brakes work perfectly and that you have killer arms.
I’m going to stop with the car references because the above is pretty much the extent of my auto knowledge, but the message here should be obvious by now: Focus on the positive, and the rest will follow. Treat yourself well – even if you aren’t exactly who or what you want to be right now – and your mind and body will respond in turn. You can’t improve yourself until you love yourself.
What do you think? Can you improve yourself if you don’t care about yourself? Do you make the most progress when you find things you really like about you? If you like yourself more, do you treat yourself better so that you can keep advancing your goals? Do you beg to differ with everything I’ve said and think I’m totally full of it? Let me know!
I like to think of myself like this classic ’57 T-Bird rather than a hoop-D with bad shocks.

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