love

Get Stronger: Be Strong, Sexy, & Confident

The other day at the gym, I got the pleasure of putting one of the regular guys to shame while working out my back in the free weight area. He had that look on his face that just screamed: “Wut. But you’re a girl.”

7 Weeks ago that would have never happened. fitspo

My husband is in law enforcement and he has a physical fitness test coming up in a few weeks, so a month ago when he came home from work and told me that he needed to get in the gym, I challenged myself to get in there with him!

I’ve basically done a 180 from the workouts I was used to doing (i.e. cardio, cardio, cardio, abs, cardio) and went to weight training 4-5 days a week for about an hour at a time. As a weight lifting noob, I was pretty self- conscious about being in the free weight area with all of the manly men. However, my husband was right there with me. We did the exercises together, he showed me proper form, and over the last month I have gotten a lot stronger!

I tell you all this because lifting weights has changed the way I view myself and my body.

I feel strong.

I feel powerful.

I feel like I can face any challenge and conquer it.

I can already see the changes my body is making to compensate for the damage I do to it in the weight room.

And that is really, really, cool.

I don’t know about you friend, but the hours I used to spend on the elliptical seem nearly ridiculous now. I never felt strong or powerful on the elliptical. The little emergency band that keeps you tethered to the machine was my mindset. I was a slave to cardio and to always eating at a caloric deficit. But now, I’m slowly increasing my caloric intake. All the research I’ve read tells me that it is impossible to build muscle when eating at a caloric deficit.

infographic weight trainingTo lift weights, to build muscle, we need to eat!

And eat well!

Since high school I would say that I ate a healthy balanced diet. Lean meats, lots of veggies, lots of fruit, almond milk (I can’t drink normal), whole wheat. I mean I ate really well! But a couple weeks ago, I stumbled across this blog and she was describing my life. She had always eaten pretty healthy, but wasn’t seeing the results she wanted. So she started tracking her macros (i.e. grams of protein, fat, & carbs).

So I went to a few of the different macro tracking websites: MacroFit,

Elite Impact Labs

and http://macronutrientcalculator.com/.

The numbers these give you will be different! Take an average, pick the one you like the best and start there! All of my calorie estimates were almost 1200 calories more than I’d been eating, so I’m slowly working my way up to that! I’m currently at 1600 per day, but even getting that high is a struggle for me some days! My compensation for this is that I focus on my overall percentages of my macros. I’m eating 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. So my goal every day is to eat those proportions of calories throughout one day!

And let me tell you….I feel awesome! I have energy, I’m not hungry all the time, I feel like my body is utilizing every single calorie I give it!

And this new weight lifting regimen coupled with my new found love of macro tracking has given me my biggest boost of confidence in years!

I feel sexy, confident, and beautiful!

So…what’s holding you back?

I challenge you to click on some of those links I posted, read about macro tracking, read about weight lifting! And then get out there and try it! Grab a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, whoever and do it together. Commit to a lifestyle change that will give you both a huge boost of confidence and make you feel awesome!

Well I need to go hit the gym. It’s leg day.

Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.

Stay smiling, & Stay strong, beautiful!

Happy and Confident look great on you (:

 

I Had No Idea… | The Power of Words

This past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I know what you’re thinking…

There’s a week for everything these days….Zzzz….Zzzzzz…

And you’re absolutely correct…there is a month/day/week for just about everything. March alone is home to National Puppy Week, Pi Day, Skipping Day, and British Pie Day just to name a few.

But, this really is a cause that deserves its own week. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S according to ANAD.

This is nothing to scoff at.

In the last 6 weeks, this blog has posted on topics ranging from eating disorders to body image to photo manipulation ethics, but this week I want to discuss something different.

I want to talk about you.

What is your struggle?

Do you look in the mirror and poke, push, and grab every part of your body that you don’t like?

Do you get anxious about leaving the house without makeup on?

Do you use filters on your pictures in order to give yourself a “better” appearance?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions: you probably struggle with some form body image issues.

You’re not alone…I’ve been there too, and so have a lot of other women.

There is no easy answer to this epidemic. If there were, we would have figured it out by now. But as it stands, three quarters of US women are unsatisfied with what they see in the mirror.

NEDA’s campaign revolved around the phrase: I had no idea…

I had no idea that so many women and men are affected by poor body image.

I had no idea that I wasn’t alone in my struggle.

I had no idea that those who meant well in my life, lied to me when I was young.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

Bullshit. A more honest phrase would have been:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will crush my heart, soul, and self esteem.

I had no idea how powerful words could really be.

I had no idea how devastating words could be to my psyche.

I had no idea how uplifting words could build me up but also cause me to doubt.

I had no idea how complicated life can be.

I had no idea about you.

In life there are always insiders and outsiders. In groups and out groups as the sociologists would say.  And it seems to me, and most likely to you as well, that no matter what you and were always in the outgroup. So what happens when a bunch of so-called outsiders band together?

We become an IN group.

According to Erin Morgenstern “there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”

Even in our darkest days, our ugliest days, our days when the darkness of our beds are the only comfort, “things keep going on,” your story is wrapped up in my story and “there is no telling where any of them my lead.”

You and I are in charge of our own stories, yet they are both intertwined. We do not exist in isolation. We were created for community. You keep me accountable for the words I say and think about my body, and I will do the same for you.

Because we are beautiful.

And no one should tell us otherwise.

Stay Smiling Beautiful! Happy, looks great on you.

Going on a Binge

“Going on a binge.” 

I hear that phrase getting tossed around quite a bit especially in the college world where it is usually accompanied by a lot of booze in a very short time frame. 

But Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a very real thing and it doesn’t get a lot of air time. It’s estimated that 1-5% of Americans suffer from BED, of those 60% are women, 40% are men. (NEDA)Image

BED is “type of eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.” (National Eating Disorder Association) So in laymen’s terms, this is consuming a lot of calories in a very short amount of time, without self induced vomiting or laxative abuse (or some other weight control measure) directly following the binge. 

Symptoms of BED: 

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior. (NEDA)

To be clear, the key word in diagnosing BED is recurrent. The occasional Ben & Jerry’s pint, mountain of french fries, or pre-PMS food monster do not fall into this category. Especially us women have had the occasional food attack where we must consumer everything in our sights, but that doesn’t mean we all have BED. BED consists of frequent, recurring episodes of eating a very large amount of food. We’re talking 1,000s of calories in a sitting. According to DSM-V there are several behavioral and emotional signs the frequency must be at least once a week for 3 months, eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period), lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating). (Binge Eating Disorder Association)

Just like any eating disorder, treatment is almost always necessary for recovery. If you or someone you know suspects that they may be suffering from BED or any eating disorder, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Most treatment options are considered outpatient, meaning that they do not require overnight stays. Treatment can include: 

  • “Level of care” assessment and treatment planning
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Support or therapy groups
  • Family/couples therapy
  • Family member support/education
  • Specialized nutrition counseling
  • Medical/psychiatric support and medication management as needed

The first step in receiving any care is to talk with someone you trust about it and then schedule an appointment with your family doctor where they will prescribe the route of treatment. 

As always, 

No matter what anyone says or thinks, 

Not your mom,

Your sister, 

Your grandma, 

Your dad, brothers, grandpa, 

Your friends,

Not even you,

Not matter what they think,

You are beautiful.

You are worth knowing it, believing it. 

So keep your chin up. 

Embrace you

Stay smiling beautiful. 

 

You’re Worth More Than That | Disordered Eating

I was a chronic dieter. I honestly do not remember a time from 6th grade through sophomore year of college that I wasn’t dieting in some way shape or form. I would skip meals, restrict calories, exercise obsessively, and overall be dissatisfied with my body. It wasn’t until last year that I realized what I was doing to myself had a name, and that it wasn’t normal or healthy behavior.Image

I was a disordered eater.

The National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) defines disordered eating as “when a person regularly engages in destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals.” Examples of disordered eating behaviors include “fasting or chronic restrained eating” also known as chronic dieting, skipping meals, binge eating, self induced vomiting, unbalanced eating (restricting just one food group perceived to be ‘bad,’ and using diet pills/laxatives. 

According to a study by McCargar and McBurney published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, almost half of Americans suffer from Chronic Dieting Syndrome. Most of those who suffer from it started dieting at an early age (typically teenage years). A staggering 78% of participants reported extreme dissatisfaction with body size and shape. The kicker of this study is its age. It was published in 1999. And disordered eating habits have only gotten worse. 

In a US News Report in 2011, “nearly half of boys and girls in grades three to six want to be thinner, research suggests, and about 37 percent have already dieted.” And when students were surveyed again 5 years later after reporting they would continuing dieting, most weighed more than non-dieters. 

These habits are simply not healthy. They lead to psychological problems and complete body dissatisfaction. 

This article hurts my heart to write. It hits too close to home. Almost every woman I know has struggled with disordered eating. Including myself. And even though I’ve conquered my own self-loathing, it is not something I want my children to struggle with. 

I want my kids to know that they are beautiful and that they are loved. 

And I’m sure that what all of you want for your kids too…

So why don’t you want it for yourself? 

Why not tell yourself you’re beautiful? 

What kind of role model can you be for the kids in your life if you don’t believe what you’re telling them? 

This week, I want you to take 5 days off from counting, obsessing, exercising, all of it. Eat when your hungry. Eat what tastes good and what makes your body feel good. Take a walk. Rock climb. Play with your dog. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be free. 

You are more than the sum of the calories you take in; and you are more than the ones you burn off during your workout. 

You are a beautiful human being. You are the product of all your experiences and the ones of your ancestors. You are the culmination in a unique pattern of genes that combined in your mother’s womb to make you. No one else has your fingerprints. No one else has your exact eyes. No one else has the mole on the inside of your left pinky finger. You are the only you there is in the whole world. To quote Whitman: “O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be? 

Stay Smiling, Beautiful (:

Happy looks great on you!

You’re More than Photoshop.

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The main promotional image used for Victoria Secret’s 2010 “I Love My Body” campaign

Victoria’s Secret is one of the biggest sellers of “sexy” in the America. They know this; America knows this. Therefore, what Victoria’s Secret sells as sexy, America literally and subconsciously “buys” as sexy. The women in this photo are extraordinarily thin and tall. I’ve never seen a woman look like these women. They have perfect skin, breasts, legs, hair, and stomachs. They don’t even have pores. In the real world, these women do not even exist. They are created. They are created using photo editing techniques (commonly referred to as Photoshop) to shrink their already tiny waists, erase any moles or lines, and airbrush a smooth look over their entire bodies. Why does this photo manipulation work? It’s because it is just real enough. It teeters on the edge of imitation and genuine. Women want to think that they could look like these models even though it is an unreasonable, even unattainable standard of beauty. 

This week in class I was given the privilege of playing with Photoshop, so I took it upon myself to see if I could manipulate an image of myself and my family from my wedding over the summer. As a Photoshop noob, I figured the realm of cinching waists and airbrushing skin was beyond my abilities. I was wrong. Within 20 minutes I had smoothed my grandmothers’ wrinkles – taking off an easy 25 years from their appearance. I had also managed to shrink my waist, slightly accentuate my breasts and hips, smooth my complexion,and overall give me a celebrity worthy experience. 

But here’s the problem. 

It wasn’t me. 

It wasn’t my grandmothers. 

They were creations. Representations of who I made them. 

They weren’t real. 

My grandmothers’ wrinkles are signs of their wisdom and years of experience. They give them character. They make them unique. And Beautiful. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the average American woman is 5’4″ tall, weighs 166 pounds, and has a waist circumference of 37.5″. Alessandra Ambrosio (one of the women in the above photo) is 5’10”, 112 pounds, and has 24″ waist! How is it acceptable for the largest seller of lingerie in America to perpetuate this ridiculous fantasy? In September 2013, one VS model even exclaimed to Telegraph UK: “I don’t look like that picture.” 

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Love My Body vs. Real Beauty Campaigns

Women in America are suffering from “Photoshop Syndrome.” We are seduced by images of impossibly beautiful women with impossibly perfect features but that’s just it. They are impossible. Real women don’t look like that.

Some are slender, some are curvy, some lie in between…but all of them are beautiful.

And while Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has met with some criticism, its overarching claim is that real women are beautiful and should always remember it. We should stop focusing on our “flaws” and focusing on the beautiful fact that , as Stella Boonshoft puts it, “Our bodies are all beautiful because they are vessels for our souls. They allow us to feel, express, hurt, love, laugh, cry, and most importantly create change in the world.”

So go out – women of America!

Go out and love your body. 

Go walk your dog, dance in your underwear, sing in the car, workout, binge on ice cream!

Do what makes you happy. 

Do what makes you feel beautiful. 

Be kind to your body. 

Love your body. 

It is the only one you get.

You’re beautiful. 

You’re more than Photoshop.

You’re you. 

Unique. Exclusive. Alluring. Dazzling. 

Beautiful.

You.

Stay smiling! Happy looks great on you

From Body Hate to BodyLove

0814-lizzie-miller_vg

The above picture is of Lizzi Miller, also known as “the woman on page 194”, of Glamour Magazine. She appeared in the magazine in the September 2009 issue and started a body image revolution. She’s a size 12-14. Considered “plus-sized” by industry standards, but to you and me is a normal, happy, American woman.

The pursuit for perfection is an incessant, sometimes perilous journey that affects nearly all American women and over half men. In the U.S., this quest often manifests itself in the form of disordered eating, eating disorders, and exercise addiction. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.” That is not acceptable. Nearly every photo that is published of a celebrity is edited in some way: some drastically, others only minor changes are made. But why is altering one’s appearance the norm? Who is setting this unattainably high standard of beauty? How is it affecting children, teens, and adults? And perhaps most importantly, how can the individual change their view of themselves for the better and what can be done to combat this unattainable standard?

This project is near and dear to my heart. As an elementary student, I was obese, depressed, and lonely. As a middle school student, I was average, critical, depressed, and deeply unsatisfied with myself. It wasn’t until high school that my body hate hit its deepest low; I found myself in my bathroom staring at a reflection, honestly believing that if I worked hard enough, if I obsessed long enough, I could make myself beautiful. I obsessed over calories. They were my God. I worshiped them; idolized them. I lovingly tracked every single calorie that entered and exited my body. In my eyes, if I were thin I would finally be beautiful and people would love me. It wasn’t until I eventually injured myself partially from over-exercise and partially due to poor nutrition for years that I realized that I was not in a good place and that only I can determine if I am happy – not a number on a scale or a flat stomach. That moment began my quest for Body Love. It’s been a long and difficult road but I can happily say that now, 95% of the time, I love my body simply because it is mine.

However, I know that this is not the case with many women my age and it’s killing them and me. I want this blog to raise attention to body hate and help women along the way to Body Love.  I will do this by doing research on the various manifests of body hate such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, disordered eating, bingeing, chronic dieting, etc. I will also look at the various medias that promote thinness as the only acceptable form of beauty. Women are beautiful and unique in their own right and there is no reason for them to not see their own beauty inside and out.

Smile, you’re beautiful, and happy looks great on you.