Monthly Archives: September 2011

Happy, Happier, Happiest

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I came across “The Insanely Fabulous Girls Guide To …” site and I think there is some related and favorable content on it.

I especially liked the 12 Steps on How to Feel Happier http://girlsguideto.com/article/how-feel-happier

Numbers 3 through 8 on this list really speak to what our blog is looking to focus on: creating healthy habits, not comparing ourselves to others,  focusing on the positives, being accountable to ourselves, accepting the good (not the perfect), viewing and valuing what is fabulous about ourselves.

I especially like the Quote of the Day from this site “If someone wants to be part of your life, they’ll make an effort to be in it. Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for someone who doesn’t make an effort to stay” which coincided with a post on Facebook I just read ” Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head”. I think part of my progress toward a healthier me is letting some of the past go – which is one of the twelve steps.

Being a tee-totaller, I never thought I would be part of a twelve step program. Never say never 🙂

 

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Not Defined by Numbers

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I don’t want my self-esteem to be defined by numbers.  I’m the only one who can give numbers the power to make me feel unworthy.   These are the numbers that do not define my value:

. . . . . . . . . My age

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . My weight

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My height

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My BMI

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My clothing size

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  My bust/waist/hip measurements

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The number of calories that I eat in a day

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The number of minutes that I exercise each day

I am so much more than this data.  Yet it’s easy for me to feel shamed by numbers related to my body size.  I want to neutralize these numbers.  They do not define me.

I Love My Body . . .

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an affirmation by Louise Hay:

My body is a glorious place to live.  I rejoice that I have chosen this particular body because it is perfect for me in this lifetime.  It is the perfect size and shape and color.  It serves me so well.  I marvel at the miracle that is my body.  I choose the healing thoughts that create and maintain my healthy body and make me feel good.  I love and appreciate my beautiful body!

From Love Your Body:  A Positive Affirmation Guide for Loving and Appreciating Your Body by Louise L. Hay

Where do I want my tree to grow?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Eve Ensler’s story about the African woman describing her body.  Somehow her words “love your tree” seem to resonate with me.  Here’s the clip again, just in case you missed my post yesterday

So today on my walk, I focused on looking at all of the different trees.  I found all sizes and all shapes.  Even trees that were the same species were different in many ways.  I could look at each tree and see its beauty, from the young saplings to those that were tall with large sturdy trunks.  Some trees were imperfect, damaged by disease or trimmed back to avoid power lines.  But all were worthy and beautiful in some unique way.

Then I walked through a densely wooded area.  There were many trees close together with tall trunks stretching up to the sky.  It was hard to tell the difference between the types of trees.  The sizes of the trees were mostly the same, except for the small saplings underneath.   The trunks were about the same diameter and the leaves were very far up the trunk.   All of these trees in the woods were competing for the limited resource of sunlight and water in order to grow.  So to survive, they had to have tall thin trunks.  There was no room to spread out branches until higher up.  These trees that were competing for limited resources and adapted in order to survive.  All the trees looked pretty much the same.

In the middle of these tall, narrow, similar trees, I  thought about our society’s standard of beauty.  Beautiful women are supposed to be thin and fit a certain look that’s in vogue.  Are we being encouraged to live like those trees in the woods with limited resources?  Does it mean that woman all have to be tall and thin in order to survive?  Do women feel that they have to compete to get limited resources, such as love?   Maybe it sounds crazy, but there in the woods I could imagine that I was surrounded by anorexic models that pretty much looked the same.

As I continued my walk beyond the woods, I noticed the trees with room to grow.  Trees that don’t have to compete for sunlight and other resources are able to grow to their potential.  I can tell the difference between a maple and an elm and a dogwood by the size of the tree and the shape of the branches.   Trees with room to grow look the way nature intended.  There were many different trees, but each was unique and beautiful in its way.

So it made me realize that I want my tree to be planted in a space with room to grow.  I don’t want to be a tree in the woods, looking tall and skinny like the other trees so that I can better compete for limited resources.  I want to look the way that I was meant to be, different but still beautiful.

Documentary: “America the Beautiful”

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As I was surfing the internet last week, I came across reviews for an award-winning, 2007 documentary called “America the Beautiful”, written and directed by Darryl Roberts.  I watched it this morning on Hulu.  You can watch it too by clicking  on the link below: 

America the Beautiful on Hulu

At the start of the movie, Mr. Roberts shares that he didn’t marry a woman that he loved because he felt that there might be a more perfect woman out there for him.  His curiosity about why he might feel that way inspired this movie project.  I was immediately hooked.  Through interviews with a wide variety of people, he explores how the media has shaped our concept of physical beauty and how most of us don’t believe that we measure up.

The media does play a tremendous role in shaping how others define beauty and how we think about ourselves.  Although this movie provided me with much food for thought, here are three big ideas that stuck with me:

Do you remember that big Dove soap advertising campaign that was launch a few years ago?  The one that promoted “real women” in its ads?  Well, here is a video clip of a photoshoot for a billboard advertisement for make-up.  She does start out as a real woman, but is transformed by make-up, lighting, and Photoshop. What we see in magazines and advertisements is very far from real. 

If this is a “real woman”, then how can I ever measure up?   Media like this not only affects my own self-esteem, but also sets the standard for how all of us regular folk are viewed in society.

Another interesting bit of information confirms that societal views about beauty and body type does have a strong impact on our self-image.   Dr. Ann Becker, a researcher from Harvard Medical School, studied how TV altered girls body image on the island of Fiji.  Before TV was introduced on the island of Fiji, fat was in and thin was out for women and men.  A round and robust body was a sign of a community’s wealth because it could afford to feed its residents well.   Dr. Becker’s study showed that in just three years after the introduction of television in 1995, teen girls in Fiji who watched TV were 50% more likely to describe themselves as “too big” or fat.  Before TV was introduced, dieting was very uncommon.   After just three years of TV, 69% of Fiji’s teen girls admitted to being on a diet at some time.

Click here to read more about the Fiji study in the New York Times

If the media can have this much impact on how teen girls feel about their bodies in just three years, I’m appreciating how much I’ve been effected during the last 52 years of my own life.   It’s no wonder that I struggle with feeling good about my body!

The biggest gift I got from this film was from a story told by Eve Ensler, the playwright who authored the Vagina Monologues.  She tells it best in this clip from the movie:

I want to love my tree with that kind of enthusiasm!

I’m eagerly anticpating the sequel “America the Beautiful 2:  The Thin Commandments” which premieres in October.  I’m hoping that it eventually comes to Cleveland.  Here is the trailer:

Love your tree!

Workout Room Makeover

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Workout Room Makeover

Standing near door looking to back of the room

 I actually do have an underutilized home gym in my basement, complete with a True treadmill and a Pre-Cor Elliptical, just like at the Y.  I also have an exercise bike, weight bench, hand weights, leg weights, a step, multiple video tapes, among other miscellaneous equipment.  At one point, I was using most of these things regularly.  But I haven’t really gotten into a consistent routine since I moved to my current home 6 years ago. 

Standing at the back of the room looking to front

While I was on the elliptical yesterday, I really noticed how unappealing the space is.   It’s a long narrow room with a glass block window at either end.  The room is poorly lit.  The equipment is clustered near the door in front of a small TV.  It’s okay, but not a place that I’d want to spend time in. 

 

So, my plan is to get started with a room makeover!  Here’s the plan:

 

  1. Paint the walls a pleasant, cheerful yellow
  2. Post motivational sayings, like a border, around the top of the wall near the ceiling.
  3. Hang poster-sized photos of ocean scenes where I’ve been. 
  4. Cover the floor with those blue carpet squares (an easy DIY project, and cheaper than getting the floor carpeted professionally – but I’ll check on the price)
  5. Put up new ceiling lighting to make the room brighter.
  6. Rearrange the exercise equipment so that it’s in the back of the room, on a diagonal line to kind of break up the long and narrow feeling in the room.
  7. Reserve open space at the front of the room for stretching, weight training, and floor exercise.  Put a large mirror on the wall in this area too.
  8. 8. Get an LCD TV mounted on a swing arm, so that it can be viewed while on the exercise equipment or while in the open floor area.
  9. Get a small refrigerator for water

 

I’m excited to get started!  I’ll post the after pictures when I’m finished!

 

 

Am I fabulous just as I am?

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I’ve spent hours over the last couple of days surfing the internet for websites related to body image, fat acceptance, and healthy eating without dieting.   It’s certainly given me a lot of food for thought, but it’s hard for me to focus on any one big concept or “aha” revelation.

The big take-away for me is that I’m not alone.  There are a lot of people out there who are like me, unhappy with body size and shape and frustrated with the standard diet and exercise solution.  I do want to be healthy.  Somehow, finding a way to truly love my body, just as it is right now, seems to be a big part of achieving that goal.  Is it possible that I am fabulous just as I am, without losing a single pound?

Okay, so I do think that I am fabulous – in some ways.  But when I list my positive qualities, none of them have to do with my physical self.   For as long as I can remember, my body has been imperfect and my weight has been some kind of problem that I needed to conquer.   But I’ve never been able to look in the mirror without some self-criticism or pass judgement on my body data (weight, measurements, clothing size).  I’ve gotten better about catching and stopping that negative self-talk in my head, but I can’t say that I truly love my body just as it is. 

One “aha” that I had recently is that I truly appreciate and value my mind, but not my body.  Since I do value my mind, I take care of it by nurturing my curiosity, indulging in my thoughts, reading, and engaging in stimulating conversations.  However when it comes to my body, I don’t always take care of it with regular exercise and nourishing food.  Taking care of my body seems like work, while taking care of my mind seems like fun.   If I love and appreciate my body, then taking care of me might be less of a chore.   At least I think I’ll want to make exercise and eating well a true priority, rather than doing it because I should.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” ~ Carl Jung

Truly learning to accept and love my body, just as it is, seems to be a good start.   All of me is fabulous, just as I am.  I hope someday to really believe it.