Resolve Well: Body

matthew-1AH! It’s the first day of the year!!! Have you joined the gym, yet? Have you lost those ten pounds?! Too soon? Well, you’re not working hard enough, yet.

Haha, just kidding. Remember this year that your resolutions take time. Your body doesn’t magically change and get rid of all that pie you ate at Christmas or all that wine you drank last night.

This year, we don’t just want to make the same ‘ole New Year’s Resolutions. We want to resolve well. We want lifestyle changes to start now and perfect for the rest of our lives, adding to them, revising and editing every New Year because we get this amazing opportunity for a fresh start. We want holistic change – body, mind, and soul.

As I’ve already told you, I have a plan. It took me a couple of weeks to develop, but right now I feel like I’m on top of this year. Today, I’ll share with you my “Resolve Well: Body” plan. I hope it’s pretty simple because both you and me tend to over-complicate life.

My motto for 2017 is “Be well”. I will repeat it as often as I need to. So, everything I do, I want to connect to that. So, under the BODY category of wellness, I have three goals:

Three Goals for Body Wellness

 

1)      Eat well.

 

Eating well is a very, very difficult thing for most of us, I would venture to say. It’s a complex task these days because we have so many options – and the easiest option is not the healthiest. I want to make my “food resolutions” to be simple. So, for me, to eat well means…

 

  • Eat often. 4-5x a day, depending on how late I wake up 😉
  • Focus on getting lots of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Make healthy snacks to have in my bag when I get hungry!

 

2)      Do well.

 

Being active is almost as hard as eating well. If you’re like me, it’s soooooo hard to exercise! And when I can exercise, I just want to do something else (anything else, really). I reckon we have a very bad view of exercise (probably comes from middle school athletics). Exercise doesn’t have to be jogging or lifting weights. Though, if you enjoy that, then great! A couple of weeks ago, my husband said I could join a gym because he remembered I enjoyed it last I joined one. I chose one that has lots of classes – like yoga and pilates – because I like the classes. But more importantly, the gym I chose has a HOT POOL! And hot pools are way up there with my favourite things – like sloths and coffee. So when I go to the gym, I can listen to my favourite music or a book on tape to keep my mind away from how boring the treadmill is… and then I can wash off and go relax in the sauna or the spa.

 

Both my husband and I enjoy nature. So camping and hiking gets me outdoors and gets me quality time with my husband (contributing to mind wellness at the same time!). We also just got a kayak for Christmas! Talk about an arm workout! Being out on the sea or in the harbor is therapy on a different level (contributing to spirit wellness!). What?! I can multitask with wellness?! That’s awesome!!!

 

  • Gym 3-4x/week.
  • Be outside (hike, kayak, picnic).
  • Hydrate with activity.

 

3)      Clean well.

 

Confession. I hate showers. I don’t remember a time that I enjoyed them. Mom would wake me up and tell me I’d feel better if I showered. No. It’s soooo much work! You have to shampoo and rinse and condition and rinse and shave your legs and armpits with shaving cream and then use soap and then rinse out the conditioner hoping the knots in your hair come untangled and then you have to get out and be ineffably cold until your hair dries, which is a longer process with curly hair because it has to air dry after putting gel or mousse or both in it. I have to actually psych myself up to shower and that takes energy. Energy is a commodity. There have been times in the past five years that I haven’t been able to shower because I couldn’t get out of bed. If you have or know someone who has CFS/ME, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There have been other times when I had to choose between getting out of the house and showering because I had to decide which output of energy was most important that day.

 

Because this is my year of wellness, I want to dream big. And if I’m going to dream big, I need to set goals. Here they are:

 

  • Take all my medicine every day.
  • Use great products – like Arbonne, Origins, or New Zealand Eco products.
  • Keep my gut healthy so that my body will be follow suit.

I’ve signed up to be an Arbonne Independent Consultant, so I have a whole range of Nutrition, Skincare, Makeup, and Toiletries at my fingertips. I’m using these products for all of January, but most of what I’ve purchased will last me all year.

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Whelp, there ya have it. I’ll leave you with a list of resources here to help you along with your “well” journey.

My Arbonne Page – www.ashleyruthstirling.arbonne.com

A Little Sanctuary Pinterest Board – Adrenal Fatigue/CFS

Arbonne & Wellness: Why I Do Arbonne Post

30 of Health Living & Beyond PDF – Arbonne International

 

Disordered Eating

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In a world with so many voices telling us the “right” way to eat, it’s hard to know what is actually correct. My brain gets frazzled trying to keep up with it all. It’s just so overwhelming.

disordered eating for pinterestI want to do want is right. I don’t want to do what is wrong. My sense of morality becomes interwoven when it comes to eating.

My generation has grown up with the mentality of 1990s diets. Yeah, there were good things, too – like Boy Meets World and Saved by the Bell. Oh, and obviously Full House. But, we were also taught that carbs were bad (Atkins diet) and that we needed to cut out fat. We were told that margarine was always better than butter and that if the package said “sugar-free”, we should go for that brand. Counting calories was a good thing – the less calories, the better.

I’ve learned since that the ‘90s really messed me up as far as food goes. I naturally wanted good food, but somewhere along the way I got confused. I began to see fat as negative, carbs as negative, and even protein as negative. More on this tomorrow.

Today, we are taught better things… but from too many people. You have Paleos, Vegans, Vegetarians. You have the Gluten-Free crowd, the No-Sugar crowd, the No-Dairy crowd. You have the Eat-Mostly-Meat Texans and the other Deep-Fry-Everything Southerners. There are those who believe that the less you eat, the better. Some believe you need to eat more and more, and some even say you should eat whatever you want. You have those who still have the diet mentality – we should always be trying the next big thing to see if that one will work. There is an excess of diet pills, of protein powders, of supplements. What do we choose? Who do we listen to?

We’ve become disordered. Maybe we don’t have an eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean we’re not confused.

The most succinct information I’ve found on Disordered Eating comes from the National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) based in Australia, so this information comes directly from their website. I recommend going here to learn more. In fact, their fact sheet on disordered eating and dieting is one of the most helpful resources I’ve ever read.

NEDC defines Disordered Eating as “a disturbed and unhealthy eating pattern than can include restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals”. Examples of this might include:

 

  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating
  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Unbalanced eating, such as restricting a major food group (i.e. fats or carbohydrates)
  • Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse
  • Steroid and creatine use
  • Using diet pills
  • Dieting, which is “one of the most common forms of disordered eating”

 

People with disordered eating patterns might experience some or all of these:

 

  • Fatigue and/or insomnia
  • Overeating, resulting in weight gain
  • Feelings of guilt & of failure
  • Guilt and self-disgust resulting from binge-eating, failure to stay on a diet, or gaining weight
  • May isolate themselves out of fear of social eating
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Impaired emotions
  • Increased thoughts of suicide
  • Head and/or muscles aches
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • May develop or have an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), or OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder)

Disordered eating is, I guess you could say, the “gateway drug” to eating disorders. It can start with a simple diet. It can start with hearing too many voices and cutting out certain food groups. Have conversations about healthy eating practices – real ones – like eating and balancing fats, carbs, and proteins. Begin to talk about good fats in a positive way – avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, milk, yogurt. We can’t tell someone that might struggle with disordered eating that avocadoes have fat, especially if we have a negative tone about it.

Changing our perception of food to a positive one will help yourself and others. I, for one, am trying to shift my views on food. Join me in fighting against the noise surrounding what we should and should not eat. Be a positive voice for those who are struggling.

The Skin You’re In: Body Type, Image, & Ideal

We come in many different shapes and sizes. You’ve heard of some of them. For men, there are the ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph body types. For women, apple, pear, hourglass, and rectangle/straight. I even found a website that had eight body types for women: straight, pair, spoon, hourglass, top hourglass, inverted triangle, oval, and diamond. That’s pretty extensive.

When I was twelve years old, my family went to Europe to see my cousins in Portugal. We got to spend a week in Paris as well. We saw what my brother termed at the age of 10 “the famous naked lady” (a.k.a. the Venus de Milo) in the Louvre. We saw beautiful paintings, both men and women, both clothed and unclothed, both rich and poor. Even at the age of twelve, I loved how the women portrayed looked so natural. They were different from the women I saw in magazines in the grocery store line, different from the women I saw on television. I didn’t quite know what the difference was then, but I admired the women in those paintings. My idols were not those in the magazines, but the ones painted by Monet, Manet, and Degas’ round-faced, fully formed ballerinas. Thus, I never really wanted to look like Jennifer Aniston or Kiera Knightley. They are beautiful, yes. But, I wanted to be more like the statues lining the great hall of the Musee d’Orsay – natural, comfortable in their own skin, not caring how they sat or lay or stood because their form was being shown as it was rather than how it should be.

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Kids can see beauty in a different way than adults. It’s the innocence. And I don’t want to lose that. I know now that I what I saw in those sculptures and paintings was important, and I’m glad that our parents took us there because it gave me a healthy view of the human body. The human form is beauty no matter its shape and size. A magazine photo editor seems to take away the passion, the texture, the light and soul of the model. But the impressionists, the classicists, and even the moderns show what we would now call imperfection – that passion and soul – the layers of the person inside and out. There was no Photoshop, no airbrushing during the Renaissance and the human body was portrayed as the very essence of beauty.

Even with what I believe to be a healthy view of the human body starting out, the years have worn and weathered my subconscious views of beauty and the way that I look at myself. There have been days when I have, rightly, looked in the mirror and seen a piece of art – a piece of the Renaissance standing before me and inside of me. Even at the age of 16, I wondered why any girl would struggle with self-esteem issues, eating disorders, self-harm, depression, and the like. All women were beautiful and I truly believed that. I’ve never seen an ugly woman in my life. It’s not that I was what the world would call “pretty” – I was just a short girl with curly hair that I didn’t really know how to fix. But, I was content with who I was – happy.

The world is unkind, though. I began to feel invisible, like many teens do, that year. And at the age of 17, I began my journey through clinical depression and anxiety. When you feel invisible to the opposite sex, even for a day, you begin to think differently. I still didn’t feel ugly, but I didn’t feel good, and I started down a road that I’m not sure I could have helped not going down.

I don’t think I really, truly felt ugly until I was halfway through college. I got back from a summer in Nepal having gained a few pounds because I couldn’t jog there and the people fed us so much. A guy friend of mine was talking to me about my summer there, and I showed him how we had to eat with our hands. I thought it was funny and interesting, but he had such a disgusted look on his face and I won’t forget that feeling of inciting disgust on the face of someone who had been interested in me for quite a while. He began to sit at a different table from me during meals, with other girls. Sometimes at night when that disgust in his face made its way into me, I’d leave the apartment and just try to run – more to hurt myself than anything, really. I’d run as hard as I could and then get frustrated that I couldn’t run that hard for very long and then find a corner to cry in. I felt hatred toward myself, toward my body and I wanted to punish it. I remember the first time I went to Wal-Mart after midnight because I couldn’t take it anymore, buying diet pills with the little money I had, looking through them all, reading their promises, wanting them to work quickly. I’d skip breakfast and feel like I was helping myself lost weight, but then I’d crave carbs and eat as much, binge-eating, as I could because I was a tired, sleep-deprived, stressed college student.

There have many different times in my life when I have gone through this similar cycle. A sudden hatred of myself that carried on into a hatred of how I look – watching movies where the female protagonist is both strong and skinny. And so my beauty idols all became bony, tight-faced actresses who have enough money to have trainers and make-up artists and yoga instructors and nutritionists at their disposal 24/7, not to mental people toning, contouring, and editing their bodies both on screen and off screen.

But, I still prefer the female bodies of the Renaissance to the female bodies in the ads. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I can relate to their body type. But, I know from my introduction to them at the age of twelve that this is just not true. I relate to them because they are real. They have genuine bodies, beautiful and healthy. And that’s what I want.

I do have days when I look in the mirror and see a masterpiece. I see the brushstrokes across my face, intricate and detailed and lovely. I see the shape of my body and think back to the Musee d’Orsay. And that is how it should be.

We need to, as men and women, to remember what true form is – and true form happens to be the form with which you were born. True form is who you are – a true, genuine you. Apple, pear, banana-morph, whatever. Each person is a work of art – unique in size, colour, and spirit.

The shape of you and the shape of me is a masterpiece. I am strong inside, but you will never see my bones through my skin. You will probably never even see muscles when I flex. But, the skin I’m in is a skin I want to be in. And I will continue to strive toward that ideal, whether it is the ideal the world has or not.