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Archive for the ‘Self-care’ Category

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to read Sarah’s Wedding Graduate post for APW, which was published on the APW website early last month.  Sarah challenges two common myths about women and love that run rampant in our culture: “If you’re not thin you will never find love” and “The only way to look and feel beautiful on your wedding day is to be thin.”  Because these messages  are so dominant, it’s easy to wind up accepting them as truth. I certainly accepted them as the truth about myself for a very long time, and could easily relate to Sarah’s story because I had similar experiences with learning to feel beautiful in the body I have as I planned my own wedding.

I encourage everyone reading today to consider the possibility that you can love yourself, be loved, and feel beautiful in the body you have right now.

Food for thought: What did you think of Sarah’s post? What other myths about women and love do you notice in our culture?

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Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club 2012: dashing toward the Atlantic Ocean on New Years Day with some of my favoritie people.

2012 has been off to an amazing start! At 3pm on New Years Day I gathered along the beach with some of my favorite people. We stripped down to our bathing suits, lined up arm in arm, and on the count of “three,” took off running into the ocean to join the ranks of the 2012 Polar Bear Club.  The air temperature was a warm-for-new-years-day 52 degrees with a steady wind blowing, and the ocean water temp was 47 degrees.

I’ve wanted to do a New Years Day polar bear swim for at least the last 10 years. This year, with a little encouragement from my friends, I quit just talking about it and made that dream a reality.

Before joining Polar Bear Club 2012, it had been a very long time since I had set and then achieved an outrageous goal. I am pretty good at setting goals and seeing them through to their completion, but usually they are goals I feel pretty certain I can reach. This one felt like a stretch. I was pretty sure I could do it but there was always that niggling doubt at the back of my mind.

“Will I turn around and give up as soon as my toes touch the cold water?”

“Am I too out of shape to do this?’

“What if I get really sick afterwards?”

Which is why it felt so amazing afterward and realize I was stronger than I imagined I was capable of. When push came to shove the momentum and me “want to” were greater than my fear. Which opened up the thought in my mind.

“If I could do THAT, what else is possible for me?”

My Polar Bear Club adventure came with an unexpected bonus too. My mother-in-law came to watch our new years day swim and took video of us on my phone. In the past week I have watched that video a few dozen times and every time I do I smile. I have been much thinner in my life and cringed while looking at photos and videos of me. At those times all I could see were my “flaws;” I was unable to enjoy the moment in time being captured in the photo or video. This video is different. When I see it I smile at how strong and beautiful my body is for taking me on this awesome adventure. I see my body standing next to the bodies of my friends, and I see that my body is neither better no worse than theirs. Even though we all vary greatly in height, weight and body structure, we are all able to accomplish the same goal. My body, just as it is right now, is as good as anyone else’s.

I encourage everyone reading this to set at least one outrageous goal this new year. Pick something that stretches you just beyond what you think you are physically, mentally or emotionally capable of.  And then go about the business of making it a reality!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes I feel like life is just an exercise in repeating the same lessons over and over again until they are mastered. As we head toward a new year I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am on the path to mastering the lesson of accepting my body.

At the beginning of this year, instead of once again vowing to lose weight, I made a resolution to make 2011 the year I finally made peace with my body. One of the ways I followed through on this resolution was to start this blog. My journey this year, just like the timeliness of my blog entries, has been far from perfect. At the same time I can see signs of progress.

Last week I read a fantastic post at the blog Already Pretty about flawed notion of  body flaws.

…the assertion that bodies can even have flaws implies that some bodies are flawless. It creates an imaginary and impossible hierarchy of beauty that women strive to ascend. It makes us all feel inadequate on a fundamental level because flaws are damage, errors, mistakes. Flaws are wrong…

…Your body is NOT WRONG. Your body is NOT FLAWED. Your body is also not perfect, but guess what? Neither is anyone else’s, and that’s just biology. Anyone who wants to talk to you about how to hide or mask or eliminate your flaws wants to sell you some crap that they’ve invented. And whatever crap they’re selling may slowly, subtly strip away your humanity and uniqueness. Because the Beauty Machine believes that we all want to look like identical airbrushed photos of former humans, and it sells us that desire over and over again.

You get to decide what you love about your body and what you want to show off. You also get to decide what you don’t love about your body and what you don’t want to show off. This is not to say that if you haven’t learned to adore and proudly display your keratosis pilaris that you’re a failure. No, indeed. Bodies are complex and our relationships with our bodies are complex. You as an individual get to make choices about how you dress your body and why, what you downplay and what you highlight…

This post stuck with me when, exactly a week ago today on vacation with my husband, I took the opportunity to really look at my body in a full length mirror. My eyes focused on my usual “problem areas” that have lead me to have an on-going love/hate relationship with my body. He saw my narrowed brow and asked me what I was thinking. I admitted there are parts of my body that I still don’t like, but said that I have decided to love them anyway, because they are a part of me. He hugged me and told me he found my answer “deep and impressive.”

I laughed and admitted that I was paraphrasing something a friend had said about a different situation that she chose to accept because it was a part of her. This friend, Kim, also helped me re-learn a lesson about body image with her recent post on A Brave Life. In the post she talks about how everyone has their own body “flaw” that they feel is holding them back, and described her own experience coming to accept her percieved appearance short coming. The reason this struck me is because I know Kim in real life and to me she always looks beautiful. This “flaw” that was once so apparent to her I never even noticed. It made me wonder again how much my percieved flaws really matter to anyone but myself.

While I know I still have more work to  do before I can say that I’ve mastered accepting my body, I know  for sure that I’m farther along now than I was when this year began.

 

 

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It’s that time of year again.

Halloween has come and gone, the days are getting shorter and the temps are getting colder. And thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. This time of year we shift our focus on what he have instead of what we lack (something that honestly helps no matter what time of year it is!)

So much of the focus on body image — in the media, in research and in our self-perceptions — is on the negative. Today I want to do something radical and focus on the positive.

No matter what challenges we face, everyone can find something the like and appreciate about their body. One small thing that we can marvel at and appreciate. This doesn’t make our problems any less real, but it does shift our focus from anger to one of gratitude, giving us more energy to address the challenges we do have.

Repeat after me and then finish the sentence: “I love my body because___________”

I love my body because it has never given up on me, even when I have tried to give up on it.

I love my body because it is strong.

I love my body because it is a part of who I am.

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about health and self-care as it relates to body image. What is health, at the most basic level?

It’s all to0 easy when you hear the word “health” to lock onto certain images in your minds eye–  a lean, muscular person in spandex after a run or weight lifting session; a vegetarian living in the mountains or by the ocean who meditates 3-5 times per day; exercising for an hour daily and following a specific diet etc.

For me, health is doing the best I can with the circumstances I have at any given moment to take care of and honor my body.

This week it has meant focusing more on sleep.

Although I’m not a teacher, my job follows the rythyms of the school year. The summer is a time of peace, ease and relaxation for me. Self-care and balance are often as natural as breathing for me in the summertime. Yet as the nights grow longer and the temperatures drop in the fall I have to make self-care a conscious priority as my stress level and to-do list increases.

In the past I would just push through the stress and exhaustion with the aid of caffene and  weekend sleep binges. This year I am attempting for more balance. A small cup of coffee in the morning, in bed at a reasonable hour most weeknights and up for more of the day on weekends so that jumping back into Monday morning isn’t such a challenge. I am at the very beginning right now, so only time will tell how well this works, but in the short term it has been helpful to pay deliberate attention to how much sleep I’m getting and how my body responds to different amounts of sleep.

Food for thought — What is one aspect of self-care you can focus on this week? How do you feel it will affect your health? Your body image?

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