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When I was 12 and again when I was 18, in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, I’d hear it a lot. “Wow, you’re so thin!” – “Your belly is so flat.” – “Your thighs got so much slimmer!” I’d beam upon hearing those words, but I didn’t know how to respond. I wondered how the person delivering the “compliment” expected me to respond. But I would quickly translate the comment to mean, “You look better / prettier / hotter / more worthy of my attention or affection.” Given that, the only way I could think to reply was with a genuine “Thank you so much!!!”
Every day, interactions like these have young girls and women on the fast-track to associating their weight with their worth. But at least now, there’s a growing conversation about the problem … specifically in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn J.A. Silverman, Ph.D. Based on the dissertation she did at Tufts University, the book looks at the various forces that chip away at girls’ body image and explains to adults how they can best influence daughters, nieces, sisters, cousins, students to embrace varied body types and “thrive at any size.” While the book seems to primarily focus on the body image challenges facing adolescent girls and young women aged 16 to 21, I bet — for better or for worse — women of all ages can relate to the “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” myth.
Below, a powerful trailer for the book that really drives that message home …
I love that Dr. Silverman doesn’t seem to think it’s fair to place the blame solely on anorexic actresses on primetime teen soaps and reality shows; damaging “Be/look/act skinny!” cover lines on magazine covers; Hollywood or even the fashion industry. As she notes, we’re also to blame for our daughters’ and our mothers’, friends’, our sisters’, our daughter-in-laws’ poor body image and low self-esteem. So what can we do?
Today, tell a woman you love why she’s beautiful … inside. Tell her that she’s witty, she’s brave, she’s charming, she’s brilliant. She might just start to feel like a rock star.
“Girls who see themselves in terms of strengths, who feel supported by those they love and have come to a place of acceptance about their bodies, are the ones who flourish,” writes Dr. Silverman.
Are you flourishing?
By Megan Monique, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
“Well, shit.” I thought as I weighed myself this morning. I had gained a pound from the last time I weighed myself two days before.
I knew what the scale was going to tell me before I even stepped on. My monkeys had already talked to me about before I had a chance to pull the covers off myself and get out of bed earlier that morning.
They sounded something like this:
“Really, Megan? You are going to have ANOTHER chocolate covered graham cracker? Are you sure that is the best idea? I think I saw a new indention of cellulite on your thigh yesterday. That one last graham cracker just might be enough to break the seal. The next thing you know it you will be one giant ball of cellulite. Then who will love you?”
I sat in a pool of pity for a moment until I heard the last part. “Who will love me?!”
I will love me, dammit.
It is time for me to do away with the monkeys in every area of my life. They don’t only show up when I gain a pound. They also show up when I make less money than I want, or when I have a big dream I am working toward. (Lately it’s been becoming a life coach.)
But what purpose do these monkeys serve? They only keep me playing a small game.
I decided to create a mental box. When the monkey chatter starts happening, I mentally duct tape the monkeys mouth and put him in the box. I only let him come out if he is saying things that HELP me in my process of creating the life I love.
So what if I have cellulite. The only way I can rid myself of it is by making healthy choices, one by one. Inch by inch. Meal by meal. Listening, and more so BELIEVING the monkey chatter will only keep me in the same place I have been trying to move away from.
Armed With a Roll of Duct Tape,
Megan Monique is a writer & Lovemuffin Extraordinaire for Owning Pink and so much more. Her most prized piece is her personal blog entitled If I Were A Rainbow I Would Be Chocolate where she shares personal revelations and life adventures with her audience. Megan is also a life coach who focuses on living life creatively and abundantly with no limitations.
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By now you’ve probably heard about the incredibly tragic turn of events in which a Rutgers University freshman named Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another boy was broadcast online. My heart is breaking for this young man and so many others like him who have been harassed and bullied for being themselves.
What can we do? Lady Gaga’s cries that it’s OK to be a little monster and let your freak flag fly only go so far. We need the conversation to grow and get louder, so that LGBT kids won’t have trouble picturing their bright future.
Thankfully, others are raising their voices in response to the alarming headlines of gay teen suicide. There’s a YouTube channel started by love and sex columnist Dan Savage, called “It Gets Better.” His aim: To have LGBT adults share with LGBT kids that it does get better. That they can be themselves.
You can check out Dan and his boyfriend, Terry’s personal stories here:
I heard some ridiculous DJ on the radio say last night that we’re less than 100 days away from Christmas. That means we’re close to 2011. And as a society, we’re still dealing with inhumanity, hatred and bigotry that seems, well, barbaric. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been any progress—we definitely seem to be getting somewhere (slowly) with legalizing same-sex marriage and repealing DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell“)…
But I’m afraid that we are still so far from young people nationwide just knowing they deserve to be loved, accepted and respected for who they are—whatever race, religion, size, shape and sexual orientation. Completely realizing that it is their basic human right to lead their fullest life as their most genuine self. That’s why, there should be absolutely no question that Tyler’s death and similar incidents are and should be prosecuted as hate crimes.
What are your thoughts?
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L’shana tova! Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I should be in temple, but Dan and I don’t belong to one, and I have to save my vacation time for, well, vacation. But I plan to observe in my own way, even if it is more of a spiritual, personal observation, as opposed to a getting dressed up and going to listen to a rabbi blow the Shofar-type way.
The holiday has always reminded me of apples and honey (the traditional Rosh Hashanah treat to symbolize a sweet new year, yum) and of course, new beginnings… While I hate to see the summer slip away, I am eager for a fresh start—from cute new fall clothes to new outlets for writing (exciting news next week!) While I’m not sure I want to call them resolutions, there are some things I’d like to work on as we head into the fall… Slash, as I head into my 28th year of life. (Oh boy, that sounds odd. Yeah, side note: I celebrated my 27th b-day on Labor Day.) I figure, I’ll share these goals with you, and then maybe they’ll be more definite just by floating out there in the Universe. I think I’ll employ a format developed by psychotherapy expert Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. Called sentence completion, the technique works on conscious and subconscious levels to help people come up with insights that bring about meaningful change in their lives. So, here goes.
This fall, I want to…
–Advance my career. Professionally, I want to take my writing to another level. Here, on other blogs, in other publications. News and features. Personally, I want to spend time on creative fiction. I miss it, because to me, it’s about being truly imaginative. It’s a high I haven’t felt in awhile.
–Read more. I’d also like to find the happiest balance between working on my own writing and reading much, much more. There’s nothing like snuggling up with a juicy book that you’ve been just waiting for the right time to read. I have both a non-fiction and a fiction patiently waiting for me to crack their covers.
–Find a new way to take better care of my body. Long story, and definitely the subject of an upcoming post, but I recently hit a wall with my wellness regimen. It’s time for a change. My #1 priority is to take care of my body, honor my health and love myself, while minimizing negativity and stress.
–Organize. Right now, my desk at home is… well, you could say it looks like Tropical Storm Maressa had her way with it. I could really stand to stay more on top of filing all of my papers/bills, etc. Not only will it give me better peace of mind, but I really think Dan would be relieved, too. (It drives him nuts.)
–De-clutter. Dear Clothes/Shoes I Haven’t Worn/Makeup I Haven’t Used/Purses I Will Never Carry Again, etc., it has been nice knowing you. Now off with you to Good Will.
You don’t have to be celebrating Rosh Hashanah to channel a fresh start for the fall. What do you want to do differently this season?
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I usually get a lot of flack for my unending love of the original, the ultimate ’90s teen primetime soap Beverly Hills, 90210. I can’t help it. I grew up watching Brenda follow her dreams all the way across the pond. I aspired to run the school newspaper like Andrea Zuckerman. I wanted a boyfriend who had sideburns like Brandon’s. (And I found him!) The show lasted an entire decade! And I’ll admit, I ditched it for Dawson’s Creek once Jason Priestley left and it got kind of intolerable. (I mean, really, how many awful things had to happen to poor Kelly Taylor? My friend Elizabeth and I agree that after she had been burned in a fire, sucked into a cult, addicted to coke, almost killed by a mixed-up sociopath, raped twice and shot, the girl must have been from Hell.)
Still, I will always sing the praises of the show’s earlier years, because it was the first hour-long drama to take teens seriously (sorry, Saved By the Bell, that wasn’t you). The story lines of the West Bev crew touched on important, timely issues that applied to ’90s teens—from AIDS to suicide to premarital sex (oh, Donna Martin, you goody-goody) and even the consequences of drinking too much champagne at prom. Where’s that show today? Oh, right, there was nothing but a pile of sugar-coated, Hannah Montana crap—so the CW had to just remake 90210.
At any rate, today is actually 9-02-10! To commemorate, I thought I’d spotlight just a few of the show’s life lessons on body image, love and sex.
Diet pills suck – Remember Kelly Taylor’s friend who came to Brenda’s sleepover but acted way too cool? Well, she was actually just a grumpy ex-chubby girl who was on loads of diet pills. And beautiful but insecure Kelly herself later abused diet pills. The show portrayed pill-popping to stay slim as sad and scary. Maybe this stuck with me, because years later, I found myself trading a bottle of Metabo-Life for a healthy lifestyle change with Weight Watchers.
You don’t have to wait ’til marriage—just ’til you fall in love – Before Brenda and Dylan did it at the Spring Dance, she gushed, “How many girls get to have sex for the first time with someone they love?” That scene likely shaped my own and many other girls’ views of virginity. Why do it with someone I didn’t love? But that didn’t necessarily mean having to wait until marriage. (Besides, it’s not like I’m Catholic, like Donna. Oh, wait, she had eventually did it with David before they got hitched!) Turns out Brenda’s swiping of the V-card was pretty revolutionary, too: According to an article in Slate, “The most shocking part was that she shows no remorse. A teen girl having sex—even if she used a condom—and gloating about it didn’t go unnoticed (or unpunished).” …until of course they wrote in Brenda’s pregnancy scare of season 2. Whatever. Sorry, Jim Walsh, she just wasn’t your little girl anymore.
Andrea Zuckerman was beautiful – She may have started out as the geeky girl with the hopeless crush on Brandon Walsh. And granted, she never got that guy, she was still adored—by Brandon, Steve and many a hot (and often older) dude. In her all of her straight A-earning, editor-in-chief of The Blaze, getting into Yale while wearing high-waisted jeans glory, the Jewish girl from the wrong side of the tracks was truly aspirational.
Put your sisters before misters – Really, what the heck, Brenda and Kelly? Dylan had that sexy James Dean thing going on, but he was also super screwed-up on booze, coke and later, heroin. Not hot. And definitely not worth throwing out your BFF bond.
Being a model is not worth sleeping with some sleazy French guy – That is all.
Be yourself! – This was a running theme, of course—being a teenager is all about figuring out who you are and staying true to that. But the most literal lesson on being yourself may have been when Brenda pretended to be French with hottie-pa-tottie Rick (played by Dean Cain) in Paris. The ruse got her in a lot of hot water back in Bev Hills once “Reek” showed up to attend UCLA—classic! After attempting to enlist mom Cindy and bro Brandon to play along, Brenda quickly learned that she was better off calling the whole thing off and just being herself—the all-American Brenda Walsh from Minnesota. She could save random accents for the stage.
More hilarious life lessons from 90210.
Alright, I’ve had it! It is time to take a stand on what’s what in the world of lady health, and I need you with me. We have to make sure that we’re not buying into, parroting or perpetuating even more BS about what’s best for our sex lives, boobs, genitalia or hygiene. So without further ado, let’s get a few things straight.
–Douching is a no-no. There has been a lot of hullabaloo about a new Summer’s Eve ad that is titled, “Confidence at Work: How to Ask For a Raise” (see left). They claim they know what can really help you smash that glass ceiling: Manmade contraptions and chemicals used to wash your cooch, of course! …But, no. No, it isn’t. Don’t we all know that? When I heard about it, I thought, “Um, what? Why does that product even exist anymore? Who out there still thinks it is a good idea to douche?” I thought we all knew this by now—douching is generally not recommended, as it can adversely affect the body’s natural balance of bacteria, leading to vaginal infection and other problems. So, yes, this ad is totally ridiculous, but even more wild and crazy to me that there’s even a market for Summer’s Eve. Hey you, Mary Sue! The 21st century called—it wants you to walk away from the douche bag…
–Big mouths speaking out on breastfeeding. Please shut up, Gisele, and anyone else who thinks they know what is best for every single woman. Just stick to what works for you, mm’k?
–Vulva, vulva, vulva! OK, I don’t care if you think it’s school marmy. I’m a writer, so right there, you know why I’m a bit of a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Also, I heart me some correct terminology. And I’m personally super-annoyed when women refer to their own gorgeous genitalia with the wrong name. A perfect example in the news: Kim Kardashian was quoted as saying, “I don’t know, I never looked at [sister Khloe’s] vagina. I thought it was, like, a shaved rashy vagina.” Ehhh! Sorry, Kim. You’d need a speculum to really see your sister’s vagina. It’s her red, bumpy bikini line that you must be referring to…or if she gets Brazilians, maybe it’s her vulva. That’s the outer part. I really hope it’s not her vagina. (Ooouchhh.) Bottom-line: If you’re not going to call it by it’s correct name, at least use something fun—like “honey pot” or “lady business.”
–Myths or missing info about birth control. This is a huge umbrella under there is one really nasty storm is going on. One golfball-sized piece of hail… The idea that the Withdrawal Method or “pulling out” is hands-down, no questions asked an express ticket to being called Ma-ma. The reality of it is that coitus interruptus is nearly as effective as condoms. That’s good news for many responsible, monogamous couples who trust one another and are in tune with their bodies. Then there is the missing info (and sometimes straight-up lies) about ParaGard, the copper-T, nonhormonal IUD. Some resources won’t mention it to you if you’re young and unmarried. Some dishonest practitioners will shoo you out of their examining room if you tell them you’re interested in using it instead of the Pill. (Really, you ask? Stay tuned. My sister will report on a personal experience in a future post…) The truth is that the IUD can be inserted in younger women who haven’t had a baby, and it is safe, 99% effective, good for up to 10 years and a stellar choice for birth control especially if you’re in a monogamous relationship.
Ok, now it’s your turn. What totally un-sexy trend would you like to blow the whistle on?
Last night, my boyfriend turned to me as we were falling asleep and said, “I think I’m going to pass a stone tonight.” Not your average pillow talk, right? I asked, “How do you know?” He alluded to the fact that not only could he could feel it physically, but he also sensed it—he knew it.
Dan suffers from a condition called Cystinuria, which is marked by an genetic abnormality that causes him to produce too much of an amino acid called cystine. The cystine builds up and forms chronic kidney stones. What we know right now is that one of the best ways to keep the stones at bay is to hydrate like crazy. But given a particularly difficult season of high temperatures and exhaustive outdoor work (he’s a movie electrician), that hasn’t been easy. In turn, stone incidences have become frequent. But as a result of this, Dan has become adept at reading his body’s signals and I think, without really meaning to, more intuitive about his health. And by extension, I think he’s on his way to being a proactive, empowered and self-aware patient.
Until recently, our first line of defense against a health concern was a visit to the doctor, who we hoped would offer us a diagnosis and treatment. Now, we’re all leaning more on WebMD and self-care. Only sometimes, after an Internet-induced hypochondriac rampage, will we (if we’re lucky enough to have health insurance) consult a real MD for a fix. In either case, we’re often leaving out a crucial step: tapping into health intuition. In fact, we can usually get some of the most accurate preliminary info about our problem just by stepping back and tuning into what our body is telling us.
I became familiar with the term health intuition when I wrote a short piece for my job on the subject. I interviewed Karen Grace Kassy, a life and health intuitive who wrote the book Health Intuition: A Simple Guide to Greater Well-Being (Hazelden). She explained how intuition can offer vital clues and serve as a great jumping off point for patients to discuss their concerns with their health practitioners.
So, you want to know why you’re exhausted all of the time or why your head feels like its pounding every day around 11 a.m.? Ask an open-ended question, in your mind or aloud to yourself. Try something like, How can I stop these chronic headaches? Kassy says that the answer can come in many ways—you could visualize it (maybe it’s that they’re actually hunger headaches, so you see an apple) or you could just sense it (a feeling that the answer lies in the kitchen).
She also noted that there are various “hallmarks” of an intuitive message:
– First impressions are usually right.
Go with your gut. When I first started experiencing back problems, I had a feeling that the root cause wasn’t just something superficial—like a pulled muscle from an overambitious yoga workout. When I saw a general practitioner, he shrugged it off as “tweaking something,” and he sent me home with ibuprofen and a worksheet of stretches. Weeks later, an MRI showed that I had a severely herniated disc in my lumbar spine. In a way, I had known the source of my pain was something like that all along.
– It keeps knocking on your door.
Sure, your lethargy could be tied to lack of sleep. Or it could be something else. If you have a recurring thought, like, “Huh, that article I once read in a women’s magazine about hypothyroidism causing tiredness, weight gain and mood swings seemed really spot on” or “I’ve been so stressed and tense while I’m falling asleep,” don’t brush it aside. That nagging little voice in the back of your head is likely your intuition clueing you in to the problem.
– It comes out of the blue.
Even when you’re not consciously seeking a response, intuitive information can suddenly float into your consciousness—for example, in the form of a thought that cautions, All that sugar is making you sick. Or you could have a meaningful dream. “I’ve worked with women who went for mammograms after having a ‘breast dream’ and received a life-saving diagnosis of early breast cancer,” says Kassy.
When honing intuition, it’s also possible—and likely—that you’ll get in your own way. “What can interfere is not being really comfortable with the truth,” says Kassy. “You can choose to block out the truth and not listen to your intuition, because you want something else so badly.” The solution? Make sure you really want to know the answer to your question. Feel at peace with it, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Stay open-minded.
Think about it: Who knows more about your body and your health than you do? By tapping into that knowledge, we can be empowered to heal whatever ails us. “If intuition works for you, it can have life-enhancing qualities,” says Kassy.
Get this—Albert Einstein agreed. As spiritual as he was scientifically-gifted, the physicist/philosopher found great value in intuition. He once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” For the sake of our own well-being, we should all try to remember.
My favorite time of year, when sundresses and flip-flops and sunshine prevail, is supposed to come to a screeching halt after Labor Day (which is also my 27th birthday, by the way…) That’s why late August is when I usually start sounding like a whiny child. “But, do we have to consider it late summer? I refuse!” My argument: Fall doesn’t start until September 23, which is more than a month away! So why can’t we devote a full 3 months to Summer? I mean, that cruel ice queen, Winter, practically gets 5!
Anyway, in an effort to savor the last little over 2 weeks of the “technical” summer, here are 5 cheesy-but-awesome songs and how to make the most of their feel-good power. They will make you smile, dance and hopefully, remember to do like Baby and Johnny and have the Time of Your Life. 😉
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
Summer wouldn’t be the same without at least one dance to this. Quick how-to: Pretend your guy just defended you against your overprotective parents by saying that no one puts you in the corner. Imagine you’re wearing a flowy pink dress. Take the stage. Do not giggle when Patrick Swayze touches your armpit. Then sway in his muscular arms. And run to him and do the lift. Sigh.
“SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake (featuring Timbaland)
Around this date in 2006, we were all about to be seduced by a track that would change the direction of pop music…and make us hot and bothered! Quick how-to: Show up on your significant other’s doorstep after spending a night out with the guys/girls. Request that your S.O. put “SexyBack” on, so they can see what you’re “twerking with.” (Because it’s the last song you heard in the bar, of course.) Now, go ‘head. Be gone with it.
“Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & the News
In the summer of ’85, I was 2. Over the next 20 or so years later, I became a wee bit obsessed with the time-travel romantic comedy about the McFly fam. This upbeat pop track that scores Marty’s skateboard ride through downtown Hill Valley—just the icing. My infatuation somewhat reached its pinnacle, in the early fall of ’05, when I saw Huey Lewis perform the hit live in Burbank. Quick how-to: Wear cool shades. Play air guitar. Imagine going 88 mph. Now, that’s the power of love.
“Just Dance” by Lady Gaga
Two years ago, we really didn’t know who this Lady Gaga chick was. She was blonde and had a pop single, so she was probably just another Madonna/Britney incarnation, right? WRONG. We had another pop revolution on our hands here, people! And why not usher it in with a song that celebrates the joy of throwing your hands up and saying, “I’m too drunk to know what’s going on. I might as well just have fun. Everything’s gonna be OK!” Quick how-to: Turn your shirt inside out. (Optional: Wear a bra made from mirrorballs.) Splash around in a blow-up kiddie pool. Then, just dance.
“Jump In The Line” by Harry Belafonte
I realize that 3/5 of my songs were featured prominently in ’80s movies, but you know what? ’80s movies rocked. This song from Beetlejuice was the track of choice for my college roommates and I when we’d dance ontop of our desk chairs. We couldn’t float like Winona, so chairs would have to do. Quick how-to: It’s simple. Just shake, shake, shake, senora!
What is your favorite feel-good summer song?
My boyfriend has iPhone envy, and sometimes when I’m brushing my teeth and he’s already in bed, he’ll tuck into my New York Times or CNN apps to catch up on the day’s news. Last night, he read me this story, from The Frisky, in which Anna Sophia Martin tells her tale of a first date gone horribly wrong. Dan thought I’d get a kick out of it, because I was the Queen of Online Dating until he and I met on JDate in late ’06. While Anna had spent a few months pointing and clicking in search of a soulmate, I spent a few years scouring guys’ profiles in Boston, L.A., Chicago and New York. I was even bi at one point—coastal, that is. And all I can say is, I feel the girl’s pain—and her pride.
Anna went out with a guy named Dan who sported “a round, waffle-sized bald patch” and 20 extra pounds (which he claimed was muscle, mmk…) She wasn’t into it. And neither was he…sort of. He chose to e-mail her after their first date to explain where he stood. He confessed that he just doesn’t have chemistry with “very curvy women.” He inquired as to whether or not she was planning to “embark on and commit to a process of a transformation”… If so, he’d be down to go out again.
As my (very unbald, extremely handsome, respectful, considerate, etc.) Dan read Anna’s tale aloud, I couldn’t help but laugh, shake my head and groan. I flashed back to various cringe-worthy or ridiculous moments of my dating career, in which I experienced similarly outrageous encounters regarding men’s superficial, unjustified expectations. A couple of my horror stories for your entertainment:
Whackadoodle Dude #1: Not long after I moved to L.A., I met Kyle* online. He was getting his Masters in New York, so I ended up flying across the country to a.) visit my friends at NYU and b.) go on several dates with Kyle. He was a theater geek who religiously watched “Battlestar Galactica” and who didn’t seem to have too many friends or much of a life outside of school. But I shrugged all that off, because he looked a bit like Fred Savage and seemed like he could be a nice Jewish guy. And he was quite the gentleman…until we were hanging out in person for the second time, and out of the blue, he said, “Promise me that you’ll never turn into a fat Jewish mom.” As you might imagine, my head nearly exploded. “WHAT did you say?” I responded. He laughed hysterically. I wasn’t amused. I hailed a cab and left him to find someone else who wouldn’t mind passive-aggressive requests regarding her bagel eating habits and circumference of her thighs 10 years from now.
Whackadoodle Dude #2: I once started chatting with a guy online who fired questions at me via IM as if I was interviewing for a six-figure corporate job. He felt he had the right to know how often I worked out, did I consider myself fit, how much I weighed? Although with that last Q, I should have just closed out of the conversation, I found myself wrapped up and trying to prove a point… That I was attractive. That I consider myself a work in progress when it comes to my fitness. (Aren’t we all?) That when it deciding whether or not to go on a first date with me, my recent, clear-as-day photos should have been enough—my body fat percentage, on the other hand, was a non-issue. Mostly I just couldn’t believe he had the audacity to request this info. He argued that he was “looking for the whole package.” Meanwhile, the guy didn’t even have a photo of himself on his profile. I didn’t waste much more than a second or two before hitting the good old X button.
I’m all about being forthright about what you want in a relationship and from a potential partner. And I don’t deny that physical attraction is crucial. But telling someone you barely know to go on a diet, hit the gym daily or vow to never become a nasty stereotype is just plain crazy. And having deliriously high standards and/or acting like finding a significant other is the same thing as placing a customized order at Starbucks is a prescription for eternal singledom. I’m really just baffled as to where these guys get off. But I’d take a wild guess that Anna’s Dan and my own delusional dates are destined to be alone until their attitudes—and likely subpar looks—seriously shape up.
*=Surprisingly, I never dated anyone with this name! So it works as a pseudonym.
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My mom likes to laugh at me sometimes, when I’m freaking out about something. She’ll tell me that I’m driving myself nuts. I don’t know about nuts, but I certainly do drive myself sick. How? I’ll worry…about everything, either situations that have already occurred or that I am convincing myself will occur. Such as, I didn’t call my friend back when I had hoped to; I want to be two places at once in order to visit with family and also go out with friends; I’m convinced I’ll miss a deadline; I fail Weight Watchers by going a week or two without journaling or exercising, etc., etc. In all of these cases, it boils down to a common theme: I’m afraid of letting others down. I am a social perfectionist, or someone who has really high expectations of herself and her success. I put myself under pressure to achieve this success, which some may argue as a good thing (I’m motivated, right?), but I definitely also believe consciously and subconsciously that my family and friends expect SuperDuperAmazingAndNothingLess! achievement from me.
I’m working on this, by first of all, setting realistic goals. But I still end up really stressed. Then, laid up with back pain, stomach pain, headaches (once, an out-of-the-blue migraine that lasted for approx. 12 hours). There’s no doubt in my mind that emotions are inextricably linked to physical ailments. My friend Carey and I talk about falling down the Stress-Sick rabbit hole all the time — she swears by acupuncture and homeopathic cures. I’m not adverse to trying those, but I’m always looking for nutrition/exercise or 10 minute strategies that I can implement easily throughout my day. That may be why I was drawn immediately to a book called So Stressed: The Ultimate Relief Plan for Women by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D. with Diane Reverand (Free Press, 2010).
Having read it, I can’t recommend it enough to women who wonder why they’re always tired, why they’ve lost their libido, why they can’t lose weight no matter what they do or even to friends who feel fine—but would like to feel better. Because I’m currently stressed—I’ll take the opportunity to open the floor the authors, who in the below video, explain what their book is all about:
Of the four types represented in the book, I identify the most with “Hypo-S,” which McClellan and Hamilton describe as “the most common type of stress response in women.” Hypo-S is calm on the surface but easily reacts to even a small amount of stress. Hypo-S’s stress manifests in aches and pains, PMS, asthma, weight gain, lethargy. The good news is that there are lifestyle management techniques that help.
For instance, I was thrilled to read that the Exercise recommended for a Hypo-S is low-impact, rhythmically paced exercise like walking or a graduated weight resistance program (which boosts endorphins, which lead to an increased sense of well-being). Not that the Stress Docs are excusing me from high-impact aerobic exercise, but they do explain how lower impact activities may come more naturally to me, reduce pain, boost energy and improve mood and memory. Oh yes, the icing: They recommend that Hypo-S types eat a small piece of dark chocolate (70 percent or more cacao) for pain relief! Score!
Besides the free pass on my chocolate fix, I got a slew of Nutrition advice, which makes a lot of sense—like eating low-glycemic foods (to avoid my arch-nemesis, The Blood Sugar Spike-Then-Crash) and being sure to time meals to a tee (to entrain the rhythm of the stress hormone, cortisol). One piece of advice that stood out in particular: Eating a lunch that is packed with protein and complex carbs. We know that’s just healthy eating anyway, but the So Stressed Docs explain why it’s especially crucial for Hypo-S types like me: Steering clear of a lunch that is too carb-heavy hinders 2-3 p.m. konk-outage. (Used to happen to me all the time my junior year of high school. To this day, I’m amazed that Mr. O’Rourke never shoved me away in the middle of our group reading of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”)
Then, there are “Restoration” techniques for each stress type. As a Hypo-S, I should focus on diaphragmatic breathing, cognitive therapy and aromatherapy (I learned that it’s helpful that I’m already a fan of “parasympathetic activity-boosting” lavender oil).
Overall, So Stressed arms its readers with advice that is tailored, interesting, logical and easy to act on. That’s why I really have to remind myself to refer back to it, as if it’s a genuine prescription. Because taking care of myself in this completely whole way is not just about stress-relief—it’s about avoiding sickness and attaining true vitality. Neither of which are unrealistic goals, if you ask me.