Beach Body Ready

We see it every day: Women with curves are on the front cover of Sports Illustrated and members of the LGBTQ community preaching free love and good vibes over social media. We are finally living in a world open to acceptance, where we can be free to be who we are and love who we love. But, does this mean we love who we are? Does this mean that since society says it is okay to be thin or curvy that we think it’s okay? No, not really.

Just because we know we are loved and accepted does not mean we take the extra step to love and accept ourselves. It is not always easy to see someone preaching “big and beautiful” and feel like your curves are actually accepted.

But why is that?

What keeps those feelings of self-doubt floating around our minds when we are told we are perfect just the way we are?

It is because we do not allow ourselves to incorporate three basic traits into our daily lives: Love, forgiveness and humor.

We are taught self-love is the most important trait and that you must learn to love yourself before you love others. Although it is healthy and important to love yourself, sometimes, in the process of finding love for ourselves, we do not allow love of any kind in. We disregard the love from our family and we ignore the love given to us by our friends. It is acceptable to learn to love yourself and learn what it feels like to be loved by others as well. So, if we feel love, we can learn to accept love. If we learn to accept love, we can learn to give love.

Forgiveness is tough. We can forgive others and look past the mistakes they make but when it becomes personal, it gets a little tricky. The grudge we create for ourselves, subconsciously, make that body positivity we are striving for just a little farther out of reach. Maybe we start a diet and cheat a little two days into it. Maybe we begin a workout routine and it only lasts for a week. Things like this can definitely cause some frustration but that should be the extent of it; temporary frustration. Acknowledge that a mistake has happened forgive yourself because the point of life is not to diet and go to the gym. Continue going to the gym because you enjoy it. Change your eating habits for your health, your well-being, your happiness. To forgive is to move forward. Holding a grudge with yourself will only result in the lack of results. Keep pushing forward, we are only human.

Lastly, we forget to introduce humor. Laugh at the stigma that we still remain to see within the media, regardless of the self-love action going on. There are still girls that we see with the “perfect” bodies and men we see who are “perfectly” buff with symmetrical abs and 15 inch biceps. Those bodies are what Americans have portrayed to be ideal. This is a stigma that we, as a society, is slowly breaking down but we are not quite there yet. Instead of focusing on how you wish you could be them, chuckle at the absurd idea that every human should look that way.

In a study don’t by Psychology Today it was shown that women have a higher sense of self- worth after looking at an Instagram account created to challenge the societal norms. Celest Barber is a famous instagramer who creates “images of celebrities and models and recreates them herself in a humorous way. Both the original image and her parody image are posted side by side, accompanied by a witty comment. Together, her posts poke fun at our society’s absurd and unrealistic appearance ideals.” In this study they had a separate control group of women who only looked only at the model pictures.

The study proceed as follows:

Before and after viewing the images, all women completed questionnaires to assess their mood and how they feel about their body. The researchers found that the women who viewed Celeste Barber’s parody images experienced an increase in body satisfaction compared to the women in the control group. Further, the women in the control group, who only viewed the images of the celebrities and models, experienced a decrease in happiness. With this being said, it is easy to see how humor can be used to change the perspective we have on our bodies. It is relieving to see people who look like we do, normal, on a large platform similar to models and celebrities.

Saying something and actually doing something about the way we feel about ourselves are very different. It is important to surround yourself with positive people and good vibes. It’s summertime here and Florida and EVERYONE has a “Beach Body.” So enjoy the sun and the waves and love yourself just the way you are!

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Dads You Matter Too

Dads are typically overlooked when it comes to raising kids, but many of us know that without the great and positive men in our lives, we would just not be who we are. Dating back only a few short decades it was normal to think of the words “Parent” and “Mother” as synonymous.

According to previous social standards, dad’s sole purpose within a family was simply to provide and protect. Mom, on the other hand, was known to be the housekeeper, child-barer, and care taker. Due to this overwhelmingly inaccurate ideal that men were not meant to raise children, there was a stigma, that has since been challenged, that men could not be a stay at home parent or be an active member in the raising of a child.

In the 1970’s, research on fathers and parenting started coming to light. There were studies that showed that there is a direct correlation in paternal parenting to the positive impacts of emotional, social, and education development. It is actually affirmed that fathers spend more time practicing stimulation, playful activity during one-on-one interactions with infants and children than mothers do, increasing the child ability to regulate feelings and behaviors.

Fathers who have a positive involvement in their children’s lives:

  • Aid in the well-being and general health of their children.

  • Help their children increase self-esteem.

  • Help girls to grow up having a more positive opinion of men, making healthy relationships come easily to them in the future compared to those who do not.

  • Help boys establish what a great male role model and father figure are for their own future families.

Aside from the facts and the statistics, dads are awesome.

They are the first ones to teach us things like sports and roughhousing. They push you to play your hardest and work your hardest just to be the best version of you that you can be. They have the best (worst) jokes and somehow instinctually know how to rock a barbeque grille the moment their first child is born. There is no car problem they cannot fix and no heart they cannot mend. At the end of the day, we know they are human and maybe sometimes make mistakes, but we love them anyways. Thank you to all the awesome dads out there. We wouldn’t have known what it’s like to have the world’s best hamburger if it wasn’t for you!

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New Mommy Love

The things we “forget” to talk about as new moms:

Moms have a lot on their plate and soon-to-be moms are no exception. There are a lot of things that we just don’t talk about when it comes to motherhood, pregnancy, and childbirth. But, why? Why is it so difficult for us to have conversations about these things? Where are these unwritten rules that we should let a mother figure this all out on her own?

It is important to expend all of our efforts in helping every mother be the best version of themselves. After all, this new journey is no walk in the park. Being a mom is hard work and the more help you get, the better off you, your mental health, and your baby will be.

Here are important concepts moms wish they would have known before they became pregnant:

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are real and are not Baby Blues.

Research is now proving that if you have untreated depression or anxiety or a predisposition to depression or anxiety to seek therapy as a precaution. The chances of depression or anxiety returning during your prenatal or postpartum stages are high. Make sure you are in touch with your thoughts and recognize that feelings of sadness, guilt, loneliness and fatigue are related to depression. As well as thoughts related to past negative events and loss of pleasure in things you would typically enjoy. Also, be attentive to negative what if scenario thoughts related to parenting and motherhood. Feelings of extreme fear, worry or panic are also a red flag.

Your body will never be the same.

One new mom stated, “you look at yourself in the mirror one day and you are a normal woman, the next day you are growing a human being inside you. Then, you’re a mother with stretch marks and saggy skin. I know it’s a beautiful and incredible thing, but I wish looking myself in the mirror to tell myself ‘It’s okay. It will all be okay.’ was something someone could have prepared me for. No matter how strong you are, it is something that is a true battle.”

Some women struggle with self-image, others struggle with loneliness, being left alone for significant amounts of time with the baby when their significant other goes back to work. It is important to know that these feelings are normal. It is important to know you are not alone and other people go through these feelings.

It is easy to lose touch with your significant other.

All of a sudden the dynamic changes. No more late-nights and parties, all of a sudden your whole world revolves around a baby. Your significant other now sees you in a way they never have before, having to help you go to the bathroom and having leaky breasts. These are not things either of you have experienced so it’s normal to want to push them away or reevaluate the dynamic you once had. It’s important to give yourselves time as a couple to reconnect and find time to remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Taking time for yourselves does not make you a bad parent, it allows you to keep a healthy relationship and loving environment for your new addition.

Even though you may have heard about these things before you experience them, you still may not be prepared when the time comes. Talking about it can help you better prepare for the changes you are about to encounter. Mama, you are never alone.

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Infertility Does Not Define You

1 in 8 couples will have trouble conceiving a baby, that means 1 in 8 of your family members and friend group. That is too many people to even count, yet why do we feel all alone when we can not grow our family? Instead of talking, sharing and learning to empower each other we create guilt, fear and shame that does not allow us to grow. Infertility does not have to define you or hold you back, your worth is not based on your ability to have a baby.

So what is infertility?

According to the Office of Women’s Health, for women under the age of 35, infertility is defined by not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. If you are over the age of 35, it is categorized by 6 months of trying. In the United Sates, about 10% of women between the ages of 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are some common Misconceptions about infertility:

It is the woman’s fault.

This is not always the case. In fact, about 1/3 of infertility cases are due to maternal factors and 1/3 are due to paternal factors. The other third of problems regarding infertility are unknown or caused by a mixture of both.

Most people can conceive whenever they want.

In fact, according to the Fertility Specialist Medical group, it is normal for even two perfectly healthy, fertile people to try for a few months to get pregnant. Over five million Americans of child bearing age have some sort of issues with fertility in their lifetime.

Infertility means you cannot have a child.

Infertility only means that you have been unsuccessful in conceiving a child naturally after one year of trying. In today’s society, with the help of modern medicine, the majority of people who seek help and are given the proper treatment do go on the have children.

Now, because infertility is typically a private thing, you may not know that your sister, cousin, friend, brother, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew is struggling with the stress of not being able to conceive. Therefore, it is important that we stay impartial to those who may be having a hard time.

There is no reason to place stress on couples to grow their family.

Questions like, “So, when should we be expecting a new member?” or “You’ve been together for a while, why haven’t you gotten pregnant yet?” can be extremely painful questions.

Parenthood is a transition into adult life for men and women individually, as well as a couple. Being unable to have a child can lead to serious negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger which can ultimately lead into marital problems and social isolation.

Couples that are going through this may feel burdened by the ideas of stigmatization and diminishing self-esteem. This is why empathy is so important.

If someone you know reaches out to you about their struggles with infertility, here are a few things you should NOT do:

Offer recommendations.

Unless you are an expert on the subject, chances are you will offer the same advice google did, which can be extremely stressful and redundant. Sometimes offering an ear is the best you can do.

Be overly expressive about your own pregnancy.

Although it is great for you to be excited for yourself, this is sensitive for others. If you know someone who is dealing with this, it may be difficult for you to share your good news with them. If they are your friend, you can still tell them, just in a more sensitive manner. Instead of bursting with joy over the phone, maybe reach out over dinner and casually let them know, including the fact that you do not want to upset them but rather keep them in the loop.

Be dismissive.

Saying things like “It will work itself out.” Or “You’re still so young!” can make someone feel as though their feelings are inadequate. Instead, offer support and let them know you are around to help if they ever need it.

Just remember, you don’t always know what is going on behind closed doors. You don’t always know what people are battling. Be cautious with what you say to couples who do not have children (or are trying for a second) and try to just listen.

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Make Change Happen

Routines are hard to maintain. They are healthy because they keep us organized and help us maintain some sense of normalcy. But what happens when there is a glitch in our routine? What happens when we have to make a change?

Now, change can be a very broad term. We can change many things like the color of our hair, the clothes we wear, the way we act or even the way we think.

Each form of change comes with one common factor: the unknown.

Every time we make a change we take a risk, no matter how small or how noticeable this change may be. The changes that are the hardest to make though are those that come from within, rather than those that appear on the outside. Working to make an inner change is hard and it is completely normal to not know where to start or how to go about it.

Let’s talk about some examples of what making an inner change looks like.

It is healthy for us to notice our negative qualities and want to adjust them.

A bad trait we sometimes have is addressing ourselves with a negative tone. By this I mean you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, walk past a mirror and think “yikes” to yourself as you walk out the door because you’ve had better hair days before and today was just not cutting it.

We can start by taking baby steps toward the changes we wish to make that will create an overall happier version of ourselves.

Step 1: Identify the problem. What is causing you to be upset? When you go through your daily routine, take note of the things that make your day better and of the things that make you feel uncomfortable. By identifying the underlying causes of our feelings and insecurities, it becomes easier to change these behaviors slowly over time.

Step 2: Create a plan to make things better. If you notice every day you do happen to be that person that tells yourself you don’t look that great when you walk out the door in the morning, make it a priority to find something about you that you DO like. Look at yourself and find one thing to compliment. This will help build self-esteem and help us realize that no one is perfect so we must love our imperfections.

Step 3: Surround yourself with support. If you feel uncomfortable around a group of people, you feel like they are not good for your mental health, find a way to fix it. This does not always mean kicking people out of your life or cutting them off but, instead, try to find other grounds to talk about, other common factors. Learn to listen, rather than talk for a more positive outcome.

Step 4: Maintain a routine. Once we have identified the things we wish to change and come up with a plan to enact this change within our daily lives, we must find a way to keep the positivity prevalent.

As I’ve said before, being human is hard. It is not always easy to know right from wrong. It is not always clear what steps we should take to make ourselves feel happier. Change is ultimately inevitable. So, if we can learn how to maintain a sense of normalcy while going through a change that we decide on, it will make it easier to cope with the changes in our lives that are out of our control.

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