Body Aware or Just Plain Vain?

Marks on abdomen for cosmetic surgery

I have a moral dilemma. Help me out, would ya? First, some background.

Last year seemed to be the year of fine tuning my mind, this year it seems like the focus is, among other things, on fine tuning my body. Inside and out. While I have things that I’m self-conscious about I’ve never been particularly dissatisfied with my body. I’m at a healthy weight. I’m physically fit. No scary health concerns to speak of. My only complaints are the ones I’ve made a thousand times about loose skin and cellulite left after losing a bunch of weight in college. Things that just won’t go away with regular diet and exercise.

For a few different reasons, though, I’ve started to become more and more aware about how those little dissatisfaction take a toll on my life.

 

For example, I’ve worn a bathing suit maybe once in the last two years. I don’t wear shorts without leggings underneath. I perpetually stand with my hips tilted to one side because it makes them look smaller, and I cross my arms to hide my midsection when I’m standing in a group of people.

A friend said to me recently in regards to my strange self-conscious idiosyncrasies, something like “You know I just wish you could feel as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside.” And, I’ve also gotten “I’m attracted to you, but I’m really not attracted to your confidence.” Harsh truths. It never occurred to me how much my little dissatisfactions were taking a major toll on how I lived my life. Then, as soon as I became aware of it I noticed how much other people are too. People ask why I always have my arms crossed (they think I’m angry! How sad!) or they jokingly imitate my dramatic hip tilt when they see me doing it across a room.

Well enough’s enough. Time to start loving myself and my body.

But here’s where the moral dilemma comes in. My all-natural, spiritual, love-everyone-with-no-exceptions sort of self says that this is mental. Everyone has imperfections, but it’s about how you look at them that dictates whether they are a problem or not. Some women LOVE their stretch marks. They are a mark of some special triumph in their life. The birth of a child, losing weight, whatever it may be. Some women embrace a curvy figure and prefer it tenfold over a stick-thin model body. And, well, I can’t think of anyone that’s been particularly thrilled about cellulite, but…who knows?

At the same time, there are a hundred and one options that I can pursue that will remove the issues that bother me.  Suck out the cellulite, tighten the skin, lift the boobs, maybe even make them larger.

So, which is it?  Where is it that I’ve crossed the line from making an effort to be comfortable in my own skin, into plain ‘ol, surgically fueled vanity?

I KNOW that there are people out there that love and will love me for exactly how I am and how I look. I know because I make a point to surround myself with them. In general, no bit of cellulite or loose tummy skin deterred my last boyfriend from loving or being attracted to me, and I don’t have any friends who avoid my company because I have a little arm jiggle. Why should I hold myself to any lesser standard? But, this doesn’t keep me from being bashful about it. I can’t say it ever entirely leaves my mind that I didn’t have the body that a 20-something is ‘supposed to’ have.

Is this a good point to go start talking to doctors and surgeons about fixing things, or do I just need to try harder to get the f*ck over myself and embrace it all?

What are your thoughts?  Anyone out there gone either route?  Let me hear ya!

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Hello February, Life Lessons & Resolution #37 Get Published on YCN

I can’t believe it’s already a few days into February.  I’m even more dumbfounded that I’m staring down the barrel of the age of 24, just a week away. (Happy Birthday to me!)

The shiny newness of 2013 hasn’t even started wearing off yet and it’s already proving to be so much better than its totally lame predecessor, 2012. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten a few leads on writing gigs, including a couple of guests posts for a new e-mag being started by the lovely Danasia over at Born at Twenty-Five called The Urban Realist.  It’s going to be fabulous, I can’t wait for it to launch.

Resolution #37: Get Published on YCN

Speaking of legit writing gigs, I actually got a piece published on Yahoo! Voices last week!  Me! A Yahoo writer! Please excuse the tooting of my own horn. But, if you’re interested in checking it out, I wrote about 5 Free/Inexpensive ways to keep that ‘Get Fit’ resolution.  It’s local, here in Austin, of course, but even if you don’t live in Austin, every time someone goes to read the article I get a few pennies from the big men over at Yahoo! Corporate.  So please go check out the article: 5 Free or Inexpensive Ways to Keep Your Get Fit Resolution in Austin

6882880373_5eda9dff5b_bI’ve also managed to get through an entire month of the paleo diet, with the exception of a few cheat days thanks to a birthday party featuring s’mores and a cookie cake, and an outing to a restaurant called “Bacon” where I didn’t even put up a fight against the powers of Chicken and Waffles.

IMG_5460What caveman could say no to that, huh?

Other life lessons learned this past month?

1. Lock Your Car

Everyone knows this is a good idea. And you may think that I say this because I got my car stolen, or something stolen out of it.  Luckily, and I mean really luckily, this is not the case. But, I did come back from a night out to discover an unconscious stranger in my backseat. Turns out this classy gent got a little too drunk downtown with him brother and stumbled back to what he thought was his car to sleep it off in the back seat. He was harmless. Not a thief, or a serial killer, but just to avoid that terrifying moment when you’re friend opens the back-seat and exclaims “…who is that?!”  Just lock your damn car.

2. Your inner child isn’t dead, let it out of its cage.

This past weekend I spent Saturday afternoon at the zoo. I can’t even claim the idea as my own, I would have never thought to go to the zoo on a Saturday, but Dru did and it took exactly 4 minutes before I was back to 10-years-old saying things like “Oh my god they have a tiger!!”  “I want to feed the deer!”  “Can I PET it?!” I had more fun feeding petting zoo food to baby goats and making conversation with parrots than I’ve had doing any ‘adult’ things lately (What would that be?  Drinking I guess?  Rated R movies?).

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Then on Sunday I skipped the Super Bowl and went and saw the Lion King (stage version) with my sister.  I’d originally bought tickets for she and her son for Christmas, but her son was still a little too young for live theatre, so she took me with her instead. We already have a special mutual connection to the show, but it was also great getting to giggle at Timon and Pumba’s antics and bouncing along to the Disney sing-a-longs.

3. Just say yes.

2035781407_23e1c60febThere were a few times this month where I found myself in a situation where I was presented with an opportunity and thought “Er…well, shoot…I don’t know if that’s a good idea.” or worse, “I’m scared.” I said yes anyway. Many times it involved a little nudging, or a violent shove from my friends, but I pushed past my own fears and limitations and just…did it anyway.  And guess what? Most often they were the most fun, most exciting, or most rewarding things I’ve done in a while.  Sometimes–they were not. Sometimes they were terrible ideas that I immediately regretted, but even then they turn into good stories or lessons learned. Either way it’s better than having to answer the question “What’ve been up to lately?” with “Oh you know, same ‘ol same ‘ol.”  Just say yes.

Resolution #42: Toss/donate/sell at LEAST 25 things that I do not need…Now 100!

You heard me right. I am now minus 100 of my belongings.  And I don’t think my room has been this clean and organized since–okay, well, never. I’ve never been clean and organized.

It feels a little like this:

Empty Room

Okay, just kidding. That’s not my room. But I’m surprised I have anything left. I had a lot more stuff than I thought.

I got a bit stir crazy while I was sick and started shuffling around my room, still cluttered with loads of stuff I have no space for, piling up things that I thought I could do without.  I started with my bookshelf, de-shelving outdated web development books, fiction novels I’d never read, and old college anthologies I was sure I’d touch again and never found the time.  I moved on to my closet and started plucking dresses and sweaters from hangers. I sorted through an unnecessary collection of scarves. Perched on the edge of my bed, I counted each book and article of clothing and realized that I’d already nearly surpassed my 25 object goal, and hadn’t even touched the rest of my room.

…Could I…could I actually make it 50?

I sure did. Then 85. Then 100! I got a bit more scrupulous and pulled about 15 more articles of clothing, cleaned out my jewelry, removed all the useless and broken technology from my desk drawers. I tossed the scale that that broke but that I still stepped on periodically to see if it magically started working again. I finally threw out the batch of business cards that still had the wrong job title  printed above the wrong office address.

“Why do I keep these things?” Was the question du jour. Seriously. Am I the only one that keeps literally over a hundred things that she really has absolutely no foreseeable use for?

85 items

Here’s the pile, 85 objects in.  I didn’t get a photo of the whole 100, because I boxed everything up before I finished collecting things. But here’s the final tally:

  • 18 books
  • 6 dvds
  • 1 scarf
  • 4 Dresses
  • 18 shirts
  • 5 jackets
  • 7 pairs of pants
  • 1 skirt
  • 10 pieces of jewelry
  • 6 pairs of shoes
  • 2 bags
  • My Nook E-Reader
  • A photo holder
  • Old business cards
  • A stuffed animal
  • Pack of pastels
  • Pack of colored pencils
  • Resistance Band
  • An old wallet
  • Bathroom Scale
  • A pair of false eyelashes
  • Contact case holder
  • A toy
  • Tabletop S’mores Kit
  • Framed Stock Photo
  • Straightening Iron
  • Broken Blow Dryer
  • Decorative Pillow
  • 5 Coffee Mugs

Phew!

I ended up taking my stuff to a few second-hand stores and made just over 50 dollars for what they would take, donated the rest of the clothes toward Project Heartbeat (through Buffalo Exchange) and the non-clothes to Goodwill. The extra cash was nice, but seeing as that went directly toward paying bills…the greater gift was coming home to a room I felt I could actually live in.  Hasn’t been that way since I moved in! Better late than never, eh?

How to Keep A New Year’s Resolution

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Confession time.

I’ve already broken some resolutions.  I know, I know. We’re not even a month into the new year and I’m already breaking my “good habits” resolutions.  It’s making me realize that changing a habit or routine, even starting one, is a lot more difficult than just putting it down on paper–or in my case, out in cyberspace (does anyone call it that anymore?).

Then, I got sick.  Seriously, someone told me that statistics are now showing that 80% of the people you hear coughing out in public have the flu.

map_flu_ltst_4namus_enus_600x405Look at that thing.  Nowhere is safe! Your Ami wisdom for the day: Stock up on the vitamin c and break out the hand sanitizer.

But, I’ve decided to look at my bed-ridden week of death as nature’s own little reset button. I will start next week like it’s the first of the year all over again. I’m going to get back to my resolutions, plan out some adventures, and just blatantly ignore the strike on my record.

That, my friends, is how you keep a New Year’s Resolution.  By pretending like you never broke it at all.

We’re human, see?  Without some sort of godly determination and willpower, the idea of not breaking ANY habit for an entire year is–well–it’s just unreasonable.  I guess technically speaking that means that I’m using my non-existent authority to give everyone permission to break their resolutions, but think of it this way:

Say you resolved to “Lose Weight” or “Workout More” or something similar. Now, in reality what you see is this GIGANTIC influx of people at the gym, the weight loss supplements fly off the shelves, there are social media weight loss challenges and fad diets become even more faddy.  Then, inevitably, about four or five weeks in, the gyms empty out and people stop weighing in. They toss around excuses like “I missed four days at the gym.”  or “I broke my diet already.”

“The resolution is broken.  Oh well, I’ll try again next year.”

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Guess what, guys?  There are still eleven more months for you to get back on that wagon.  Just because you can’t say that you made it through your year flawlessly doesn’t mean that you should go back to bad habits for another eleven months. I don’t know about you but I’d rather get to the gym even 50 times in a year and get through it imperfectly than to go 7 times and quit because I missed a week or two. It’s one of those rare situations where it’s quantity over quality.  Your body probably won’t care so much that you missed a week at the gym, but it’s sure as hell going to care if you sit on the couch for another eleven months waiting for next year to come around.

Find ways around your excuses. If you’re bored–try something new.  You’re not the only one who is bored to tears by the treadmill.  Try Zumba or go running outside for a change.  There are going to be days when all you want for breakfast is chocolate cake. Eat that piece of cake; who cares? Just pick back up on the healthy tomorrow. Again, one day of chocolate cake for breakfast is far better than 330, just because you got off track one day.  See what I mean?

Me, for example? I didn’t work out this week, or blog 3 times like I planned. And, I didn’t have a healthy eating resolution, but if it makes anyone feel better I also ate an entire chocolate bar and half a pint of ice cream yesterday just because I felt like crap and that’s all that made me feel better. I was just a big mess this week.  Things happen, things get in the way, but instead of quitting the blog all together and re-adopting my “fat pants”–I’m going write 3 times next week. And pick up where I left off on exercise once my head no longer feels like it’s going to explode.  It’s going to be like my off-week never existed and I will fill the rest of my year with accomplishment (hopefully?) because I’m okay with a victory even if it’s not quite flawless.

So for those of you who have broken your resolutions, get back on it.  For those who haven’t yet, but may have their own “off-day,” or even “off-week(s)” sometime this year, calm down.  You made those resolutions for you, keep going, no one’s judging you. Unless you entered an office pool or something…then they might be judging you, and taking your money, but still–don’t give up.

funny-new-years-resolutions-office-pool

The first bit, the actual making habits bit, is the tough part.  Cut yourself some slack, and then proceed to have a great 2013.

Question of the Day:  What’s your new year’s resolution?

Paleo Living: Hunting and Gathering in the Land of Convenience

grocery

Whoever said that there is no ‘hunting and gathering’ in the modern world has obviously never tried to grocery shop on a ‘hunter-gatherer’ diet.

For those that aren’t yet familiar with this paleo/primal/caveman diet thing that seems to become such a big deal in the health and fitness world, it’s pretty simple and yet highly restrictive. Basically, you eat like our paleolithic ancestors might. Anything that could be hunted or gathered is what you are allowed to eat. This includes grass-fed/cage free meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Simple. That, in turn, eliminates grains, legumes, dairy, refined/added sugars, soy and any artificial flavors, ingredients and preservatives of any kind. The idea is that it goes back to what we are meant to eat on an evolutionary level, the argument being that things like grains, dairy etc. are the products of modern technology and agriculture and we are not really ‘programmed’ to have them as dietary staples.

“Sure okay, no problem.” you say?  Okay, maybe you don’t say, but that’s what I said…and then I went grocery shopping.

A friend of mine keeps joking with me when he watches me eat, “You didn’t hunt down that cow, you can’t eat that.” But, oh did I ever have to hunt it down. Just like I had to hunt down tomato sauce that didn’t have sugar added, almond milk without preservatives, trail mix that didn’t have peanuts, and chicken stock made with sea salt. It’s never more brutally apparent how unnatural our society is until you’re trying to live all natural. Even with things like organic and  even gluten-free foods becoming more mainstream, the grocery trip for a paleo eater is still most definitely a hunt.

But it’s not impossible.

Here are a few things that have made paleo living just a little easier for me since I started:

The Paleo Central App for iPhone

paleocentappThis little gem was developed by the fine fellow over at nerdfitness.com, who has a hilarious and awesome blog that you should probably check out and read. I’m a firm believer in the fact that there’s an app for everything, and sure ’nuff there’s one for this too.  I can’t tell you how full my google history was with “Is _____ paleo?” (the answer is usually no, by the way) before I found this thing. It’s basically a big, long, ridiculous, I-don’t-even-know-how-he-curated-this-thing list of foods, paleo and non-paleo that you can search or browse to find out if a particular food is allowed on this diet or not. It’s a life-saver when I’m combing grocery isles for anything I can eat.

Home-Delivery Groceries

So I can’t exactly get a pizza delivered anymore, but it surprised me to find all the companies that exist solely to bring healthy, organic groceries to your door. It’s not really an inexpensive option, which is why I don’t do it often, but if it’s a really busy week it’s nice to have as a back-up.  My sister bought me a voucher for the Paleo Perfect Tasting Menu over at Beetnik Foods which I can’t wait to receive. Grass-fed steaks and burgers, perfectly portioned snacks of fruit and nuts, veggie sides. All boxed up and brought to me. There are also options like Greenling and Farmhouse Delivery, who carry local and organic produce and groceries.  I’ve used Greenling off and on for a couple of years now, even when I wasn’t on any special diet. It’s like bringing the farmer’s market to your door. Or, if you’re up for some regular super-local deliveries, local farms like Johnson’s Backyard Garden offer Community Support Agriculture (CSA) memberships that get you a big box of farm-fresh food delivered weekly or bi-weekly.

Chipotle

chipotle The paleo diet almost immediately eliminates a lot of eating-out options, which is pretty debilitating for people with a busy-bee on-the-go lifestyle. Sure, it would be ideal to cook every single meal at home, but really–who does that? I’ve found a lot of restaurants that will cater to dietary restrictions. Hell, even my favorite sushi restaurant agreed to make me rolls sans rice so I could still eat there, but Chipotle is great because they have options straight off the menu that are paleo friendly. There’s no feeling like a pest for making special requests here.  Their meat is all grass-fed/cage free, they have tons of veggie options and of course…guacamole. My favorite paleo friendly friend. My go-to is a salad with double meat, peppers, onions, pico, salsa and a hearty helping of guac.

Paleo Bloggers

Paleo bloggers are like your own hard-working, totally kitchen savvy support system. Not only are they always there to answer your paleo questions, but they are also there to tell you that it’s okay to slip up, show you that you CAN make donuts and pancakes paleo, and collect all the ways and reasons that bacon is your friend. Blogs like PaleOMG and Everyday Paleo are the reason that I get through some days. Especially the days when I’m like, “ALL I WANT IS A COOKIE!”  …yep, they can show you how to do that too.

Overall, I’m 10 days in to this whole paleo thing and while it’s wildly inconvenient sometimes I am really loving it.  I feel really good, have a lot more energy and surprisingly I don’t even really feel that restricted even though I’ve eliminated about half of the things I usually ate. Heck, I almost feel like the most difficult change I had to make was to start drinking black coffee at Starbucks since I can’t drink soymilk anymore.  I’m aiming to make it at LEAST a month doing this thing, I love all sorts of food far too much to stay this restricted forever, but who knows, maybe I’ll like it so much that I’ll stick with it for longer.