Body Awareness

31 Jul

So lets get real here for a minute. I have been in Tennessee all summer with my boyfriend of over 4 years.  We know each other very well and I have to say I am beyond comfortable around him.  I say and do things around him that I would not fathom of doing around others.  He is so unjudgmental of me it is amazing, and when I say this I am most definitely talking about conversations/thoughts along with appearance.  I can actually count on my hands the number of times I have put on make-up and dried my hair this summer it is so few. 

So what am I getting at?  Well, I go back to Michigan this weekend for school and while I am very secure with who I am, I would be lying if I said I do not care at all what others think about me. This includes my appearance; I do not want to come across as the total slob just as much as I do not want to be known as the snob!  Again it is about balance!  I will be meeting a lot of new people this fall, along with reuniting with friends and some family.  It makes me nervous, excite, but mostly aware.  I think that is the biggest thing, getting ready to go back home is making me more aware of my appearance.

As I mentioned, awareness does not have to be a bad thing, I mean without some awareness, we wouldn’t brush our hair or rub on some deodorant each morning!  However, what I am going make a point of is not to be over aware.  It is so easy to be put in a space with a bunch of other women and start to compare and I can be guilty of this as much as the next woman. However, my plan for now is to make my self conscious of these behaviors (over awareness of appearance and comparing) in hopes to avoid and keep them to a minimum because really what do these behaviors do for me…. nothing! Absolutely nothing!  So, while the last few days I have become a bit more aware of my pimples, less muscular than I prefer arms, or stomach pooch, I am making a point to recognize it, accept it for what it is and move on to more important things because trust me I can think of way better ways to spend my time!

Understanding body image

27 Jul

 

 

 

Recently, I have been spending a large portion of my days reading and thinking about body image.  Some of the things I am working to sort through include: how a woman’s body image affects her internally, where she develops perceptions, ideals, and norms about body image, and how this body image may or may not affect her eating habits.  There is so much research out there, tapping into each of these different aspects of body image, the wealth of knowledge is amazing.  I think to help myself better understand and really process each individual aspect I am going to take on each separately, giving it, its own post and space to develop.  In addition, I would love to hear anyone input who happens to read or come across these thoughts and ideas about the subject.  With that said lets get started….

 

 

I am going to start first with something that seems so simple, the definition of body image.  I think the issue with the phrase ‘body image’ is that as a whole women hear/see the word and immediately make negative connections with it.  Even when reading the literature often time you find the phrases body image and body dissatisfaction used interchangeably.

In my eyes this is a problem.  How can a young girl ever create a positive body image if every time she is confronted with the word or topic the first thing she reads is negative.  Why is it that when ever something pops up in the literature, media, or educational front we are presented with a negative under tone or pathology? I do not understand why it is that so much of the education on body image focuses on the absences of pathology (i.e. eating disorders, obesity) oppose to the presences of health.

Now, listen to me, using such a negative tone about others using a negative tone about something I am so passionate about, sort of a hypocritical!  Now, like I said I am focusing here purely on the negative, when there are some really awesome positive body image campaigns out there (hello, Girls on the Run, Operation Beautiful and Dove) but my only grip is that these programs are the minority not the majority. So I guess my thought here is that somehow the phrase ‘body image’ needs to move back into the neutral zone where it belongs.  Body image is meant to be something that is comprehensive, something that looks at both ends of the spectrum along with everything in between.  It needs to be something that young women, actually all women, are comfortable discussing and not anticipating that the conversation will consist only of pathology, weight and body shape or size.

 

 

 

A lesson from the boys

24 Jul

 

 

‘Diet’ such a cliché  word.  Some read it and see/ think restriction, others low carb or fat, and still others may see boring.  I am trying to move away from all these perceptions.  I have been working on building a better mindset for myself these last few months, so from now on when I see or think of the word ‘diet’ I am going to say the word ‘balance’ out loud.  Ultimately, balance is a word I want to be able to use to describe all aspects of my life but for now I am going to continue to work on diet.

 

Honestly, food and I have a love hate relationship.  In the sense that I love food, I love baking, eating, and enjoying meals with friends, but also I can be obsessive over it.  Thinking about how much I should/should not be consuming, when I should be consuming it, and what is the quality of the foods I am eating.  Now in a balanced lifestyle these are necessary things to consider, but honestly sometimes I find these thoughts consume me and as of now I am just over it.  Over thinking about numbers, amounts, times, and all the rest of it, so here is what I have been doing to work on it.

 

As I mentioned before I am currently visiting my boyfriend in the lovely state of Tennessee and have been living with him for the last month and a half, meaning we eat almost all our meals together.  For me this has been more than a blessing. Honestly, all women should take a lesson from men in the eating department.  What I have observed is that he does a few things that I personally fail at 98% of the time…

  1. He eats only when he is hungry (this means that if he had a big dinner he doesn’t eat dessert or if its lunch time but he ate a late breakfast he waits until he is hungry) Well lets get one thing straight, I never, ever skip dessert. In fact I live for dessert, I would skip dinner before skipping dessert and in all honesty when I worked that high stress job, I did this probably 3-4 times a week, terrible but true!  So again while skipping dessert is NOT something that is going to happen maybe if I am truly full I can just scale it down in size, otherwise I am working on eating only when I am hungry
  2. He eats what he is craving. He never asks me to go light on the cheese or to hold the olive oil.  He eats what he likes and then is done with it.  Again so simple, but sometimes I find I will scale back on things because I don’t want to have too much sugar, fat, or calories but in return this usually backfires and I am searching for something else to eat an hour later.  So, goal number two, eat what your craving
  3. He drinks water all day long.  My boyfriend probably drinks a gallon of water a day!  He is always hydrated, always has his water bottle with him at work, at his desk, and at the dinner table.  I have never seen him drink anything other than milk in his cereal when at home and the occasional beer when we are out.  Then there is me who could live off coffee, bad but true.  So note to self one cup of coffee to every three cups of water.
  4. He does not obsess, worry about food.  He eats at meals, has a snack in the afternoon, and maybe one at night if he is hungry but other than during those meal times I do not think the kid ever thinks or worries about food.  He doesn’t look at websites for something to bake or cook tomorrow or daydream about meals.  Well lets be real, I will always be searching for something new to bake and will always think about food because I truly love it and being creative with it, but I can work on not obsessing over it because really that’s where the hate part of the love hate relationship really comes in for me!

 

So that how I am working on creating a healthier relationship with food. Is it fool proof, hardly. Is it anything we have not been told to do before, of course not? Is it easy…not for me!  Is it a start, yea I think so…

Question- How do you balance your relationship with food to keep a healthy mindset?

Wake Up Call

22 Jul

 Sometimes it takes getting hit with some cold water to make us realize what is important.  In Aurora, Colorado, 12 individuals went into a movie theater to enjoy time with friends, family, or just themselves with no idea that would be the last movie they would ever purchase a ticket for.

My initial reaction to this news report was fear.  I began considering all the what ifs scenarios in my life.  What if I do this instead of that?  What if I choose to live me life here instead of there?  What if I choose this career path instead of that one?  Then I went to church this morning, and immediately took a step back to re-evaluate all this ‘what if’ mumbo jumbo I was going through in my head.

One would not have to be religious to take from the sermon today.  It was simple and to the point.  We can choose to live a life in fear or not.  Obviously the choices we make each day effect who we are, what we become, and often the people around us. We have the choice to take on each day diving in head first or tiptoeing through it.  We can choose to do what we feel is right, trust our gut, and live, or we can evaluate, re-evaluate, and then half commit to what we are doing because it is the safe option.

 This message has been making my wheels spin all day.  It has forced me to really look at my life.  Look at where I have been playing it safe, falling into a routine because it is comfortable, and not challenging myself. Now don’t get me wrong I love a routine, I actually thrive on routine, however, I do not want to become a slave to one.  I do not want to miss out on things because there is a chance it may mess up my routine and even more so my life plan.

A great example of this for me was not getting into a doctoral program for the fall.  It is honestly something that tore me apart.  I was lost, had no clue what I was going to do, had destroyed ‘my plan.’ So what did I do, I shut down.  I continued working in a high stress job, with crazy hours, 8 hours away from my boyfriend of 4 years.  To say the least I hated life, but more obvious to me now, I was taking the easy way out, by feeling sorry for myself but still making rent and holding a job.  Then I did the unthinkable (for me) I quit my job and came to spend the summer in Tennessee with my boyfriend going to graduate school.  It was a bold move for me, but a smart one.  It has given me a chance to recharge, to read, and to go to church.  And guess what, I was offered a position in a master program at my undergraduate university. My ideal situation…no.  An opportunity that will give me a chance to grow…absolutely.  Does it scare the crap out of me that, it will lead to nothing, that it is missed time with my boyfriend, is a waste of money that I do not have, sure.  Am I going to do it anyway?  You bet!

God is slowing teaching me that I cannot plan out every moment of my life.  That really it’s not my will but His that is going to get me places in life.  That sometimes I need to trust that situations work out for a reason and wasting time constantly worrying about money, what is next, and does it fit into the plan, is just that a waste. I know now God is saying to me, “Amy, would you be happy with what you did with your life right now if that was all you did?” and I want every day to be able to say yes, I took chances and did something to better this place, others, and myself.

 

So now that I have rambled on, and this may not make sense to many of you, because as I said my head is just spinning, I am going to take a breather from this post.  But if you take only one thing from this word vomit of a post take this, do not fear life, take it on by diving in because everyone is so unique and has something so different to offer to make this place better. 

 

– I send all my thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, and anyone affected by the terrible incident in Aurora, Colorado

Trusting your body

20 Jul

My body and mind have a love hate relationship. Meaning when it does and looks mostly how I want, I love it and when it doesn’t often times I hate it.

 

The thing is my body is pretty smart. It knows what it needs, when it needs it, and often the correct doses, the trick is my mind likes to be in control of everything and thinks it should get to decide all the above. Typical examples of this for me, is choosing to eat only at certain times of the day and only having certain quantities, exercising to a specific degree at a specific weekly volume, sleeping ‘x’ amount of hours, avoiding certain food products, or pushing through obvious signs of sickness or injury to participate in activities. As I write this it sounds silly even to me, the one making these choices. Why not just eat when I am hungry? Why workout when my body is begging for rest? Why not just go to bed when I am tired, chances are I will want to wake up earlier anyhow?

I think, as women, myself especially, have fallen into feeling like we have to met a certain standard or expectation. The question is, what happens if we don’t? If I don’t eat three square meals a day with two snacks evenly spaced out or don’t workout for ‘x’ amount of minutes each day what happens? Well, I am quickly coming to see that what actually happens is nothing. No one seems to care, comment, or even notice. It’s funny, I think sometimes I can get so caught up in what I think I should be doing and feeling like someone is keeping tabs when really they are not. I believe I have adopted these expectations from media and society but blame myself for internalizing each. Only I can choose to make or not make these expectations part of my life style, so to help me choose not to, I am making some goals for myself.

1. Eat when I am hungry, period

2. Eat what I am craving

3. Do NOT eat when I am not hungry

4. Stop exercise when in true pain (duh?)

5. Go to bed when I am tired

6. Drink more water 

7. Do not place a time/distance expectation on runs

That is a lot of goals for me! I think 1,3, and 7 are going to be the toughest but have to give it a whirl! 

From Who’s View?

17 Jul

Ever wonder what it would be like to be famous for a day, an elite athlete, or even the opposite gender or some other ethnicity? For a day? A week?

I sometimes think about these things at the extreme (aka being an elite runner!!) but rarely on a less extreme playing field. I go about my day taking in the world as a rather independent educated Caucasian 23 year old, without little thought. This is not necessary a bad thing, as this IS who I am and my life by no means has been a walk in the park. I have  been faced with some very challenging family situations and experiences unique to me and no one else, it would be unfair to say I have skipped through life without any hardship.  However, I have recently been thinking about how others may view this world and how that view can alter how each individual goes about approaching situations and living.

A very in your face example hit me the other day when I was talking with a Korean exchange student I am presently living with. I am spending the summer in the South, and mentioned to him how welcoming people are down here. How nice it is that people ask questions and truly want to hear an answer or how males hold the door when you walk into stores or restaurants when they see you coming from 10 feet away! Something for me that is unheard of up in the northeast part of the country where I live. He however, as a 19 year old male of a foreign ethnicity, seem to be experiencing quite the opposite reaction from these same people. Stating that others are rather unfriendly and stand offish and even rude at times, which was the exact opposite of his experience when he spent time up in the northeast!

Source: etsy.com via Amanda on Pinterest

 

Now obviously, this is just two peoples experiences and perspectives and  by no means cold hard facts or truths about the South or North or the people residing in either. It does however, make me think. It makes me think about how I present and represent myself to others both intentionally and unintentionally. It is making me more aware of how I respond to a situation and to others in particularly others who do not know me. Most importantly, though it is teaching me not to take comments, responses, or actions of others personally, because really all those things are a reflection of that person, however,  how I choose to respond is a reflection of who I am and may even alter the schema they have created of who or what they may think I am. 

Source: quozio.com via Katrina on Pinterest

I love my….

14 Jul

I love my….

.…legs that let me run

….ability to look at situations objectively

….competitiveness that allows me to continusly chanellge myself

….nose, because it fits nicely on my face

I am learning to appreciate….

….my body and all it does for me

….critiques others give me (while working to sort through the worth while ones)

….the little acomplishments

….real friends

QUESTION- What do you love about you? 

Comparing

10 Jul
                                                                        

 

I think as humans, particularly as women, it is natural to compare. As babies we watch others and copy what they do, comparing our technique and searching for ques and approval of our actions. At a young age it’s a way of learning, comparing how well we copy letters onto a paper to the ones on a chalk board, move our feet in a dance lesson to match the instructor, or making our bed so it looks just like mom and dads. However, as we age we begin to run into trouble when we start comparing things such as our body, hair, workout or eating routine to others. I believe the biggest issue with this type of comparison is that often we do not have the whole story. We compare our bodies to others without knowing their family history, their health status, or other circumstances. We view others workout schedules and begin to compare without understanding of their previous training, how they worked up to this point, their sleep schedule, their food intake, or what their life looks like outside of just training. We look at someone’s food consumption maybe for one week, one day, or even one meal and begin to make comparisons to our own. Yet we often fail  to factor in what they may have eaten earlier that day, what their health status is, how they train or don’t train, their genetics, or even if they may have just come back from an overly indulgent vacation. No instead we just begin to compare them to ourselves.

I think making comparisons is natural, often we do it without thinking or realizing we are doing it. I believe sometimes making comparisons can even be helpful. However, as I grow into myself more each day I am learning that the best comparisons I can make are of me to my old self. Looking at how I have made improvements from last month to this month and tracking progress has proven much more rewarding than comparing how much faster or slower I may be running then the person across the street, or balancing my diet in a healthful way for me opposed to looking at a body builders diet online of pure protein and beginning to compare. Because really how can I even make a comparison there, we have such different goals. So while it’s not easy, I am working on it. Working to stop comparing things that are not comparable. I would never compare a banana to a pea so why am I comparing myself to others I do not know!

Source: via Bob on Pinterest

Question?

Do you catch yourself comparing yourself to others?

What do you most often compare about your life to others?

Happy vs. Healthy

9 Jul

So, while reading blogs, because in the summer sometimes that’s all I do! I came across this really cool idea from the blog ‘Happy is the new healthy’ where it challenges you to define what happiness looks like for you day-to-day, what healthy looks like to you day-to-day, and then compare and contrast. This is an awesome exercise, so let’s get it started….

HAPPY=

Running 8-10 miles each day

Working on my doctorate of psychology researching cognitive processes and body image in preadolescent females

Eating lots of sweets and drinking unlimited iced coffee

Making dinner with Jay

Feeling confident in my body and clothes, and abs would be nice!!

Hanging out with friends

Not dealing with injuries!

Healthy=

Running less than 40 miles a week and slowing building back from an injury

Not planning out every second of my schooling, taking opportunities I am given and being happy with working on a masters for the moment

Eating protein, drinking less coffee

Being thankful for the time I do get with Jay (especially if we happen to be making dinner!)

Listening to my body

Understanding that health is not defined by looks alone and being grateful for what I have (even if there is a lack of abs!)

Hanging out with friends

Now the fun part, time to compare! 

In both my happy and healthy world, exercise, school, and my relationships  are all definitely  priorities, just at different amounts and with different emphasises. Doing this exercise reminds me that I need to continue to work on not being such a control freak and that sometimes planning every second of your life isn’t possible as well as not worthwhile. Accepting where I am now is a tough thing for me! I want to be running a million miles, studying at a prestigious school, and want my boyfriend within an hour drive, which right now none of those things are possible. But you know what, that’s ok! I have to learn to accept where I am now, live in the present, and make  the best of the situation I am in, because you know what, it’s not that bad! Actually, it decent! I get to start school in the fall working on my masters, which is a step in the right direction, I am slowing coming back from an injury and am able to run some, and I have a boyfriend of 4 years who would do anything for me. Yep, life is pretty good, so let go of feeling like you must have a flat stomach, plan everything, and lay off the coffee a little would you!!

 

What do you do for YOU?

2 Jul

Today I wanted to talk about the things I do that make me feel good about me. I think there are so many things in society we as women do because we are expected or are suppose to do. We workout so we can look good in a swimsuit, we read “classics,” New York Best Sellers, or CNN because we want to keep up with the world, we cook dinner because even in today’s society it is often an expectation of most women/mothers, or do countless other things because it is considered the standard. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing any of these things, in fact I take part in most and some truly because I love them however, as I was think of each of these things I challenge myself by asking which of these things would I take part in if I didn’t feel I should or I was expected to. Also, if any of these activities would look different if there was no hidden expectation behind them. So here is what I came up with

1. Run- I would run no matter what. No questions! I started running in high school, ran for a couple of years in college, and have never stopped. My high school coach actually use to call me the energizer bunny because I just love moving around. However, recently I have been battling a number of injuries and have not been able to run consistently for quite some time, which has led to me working out in different ways to stay in shape (exercise machines, lifting weights, blah blah) What I have come to realize though is I actually do not really like working out, really I just like running. I am not that girl who wants to do a tri, take every workout class, or even run races and you know what that’s ok. I don’t have to be a fitness buff, workout a certain number of minutes everyday, or pretend I like zumba because I don’t. I do have to take care of my body, fuel it, and make sure I get some movement in each day, until I can run again.

Source: via Chrissy on Pinterest

2. Bake- Love it. Love making desserts, cakes, pies, you name it. I like trying to make food look pretty and enjoy sharing it with others. I think I enjoy baking so much because I have a crazy sweet tooth and would take a cookie over a chip any day of the week so subconsciously I bake for others thinking it will bring cheer to their day as well. Whether it does or not who knows. Cooking on the other hand, not something I would choose to do everyday. I don’t mind it but really I could take it or leave it. When my boyfriend asks what do you want for dinner I often respond with grocery store salad bar? haha he is learning to no longer ask the question!

3. Reading short articles and blogs– Love a good blog entry, especially ones that often have a lot of thought put into them or are especially straight forward and honest (healthytippingpoint.com or runeatrepeat.com are a few favorites!). Love a good research article on a topic I care about (i.e. health, body image, women’s issues) but get bored with books, articles about celebrities, or constant political bickering.

4. Showering and dry hair– Lets get something straight, I hate getting ready. I hate the idea of dressing up everyday, putting on makeup, and I really hate doing my hair. Hate it! If I could have one magical power it would be that as soon as I stepped out of the shower my hair was dry and straight ( I have curly nappy hair, it’s gross). However, I loveeee showering, something about standing in warm water at the end of the day ( I always shower at night!) is just so relaxing!

So your turn, what are things you do just for you?