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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Self-Growth is a Steady Journey

This week I decided I needed to take my own advice.

As I have been writing about self-care, self-growth and the preservation of the love we have for our own selves, I came to the realization that these things are much easier said than done. I looked in the mirror and saw someone I love, but she’s not quite present on the surface. The part of me that loves myself to the fullest potential was hiding somewhere deep within.

So, the question stands:

How do I find the version of me that is capable of loving myself, and others, to my fullest potential?

Well, first I had to figure out what was shadowing me and what it was that was dimming my light. This was not easy. This came with tears and telling myself some things that I had been pushing behind me for a long while now. I thought about why I felt like I am not good enough, why I felt like I need someone else to love me, for me to love myself, and why I allow the opinion of others to affect my mood and cloud the lens that I see the world through. Ironically, the answers were simple.

Some very hard questions that revolve around a simple explanation:

I was afraid.

I was afraid that the negative people that surround me are, in fact, right. I was afraid that the ME I see every day in the mirror is not the version of me others perceive. I was afraid that I will never get my happy ending.

This, though, is negative self-talk; something we may acknowledge but ultimately want to stay away from. There is no good reason to consistently try to believe the negative accusations that you direct at yourself.

So, I joined a yoga class. In my practice I focused fully on my breath and my intension. I brought those negative feelings in with me and I let them melt away through my pores as I went through the flow of Vinyasa.

By the end of my practice that day, the stress and anxiety that filled my head and my heart had calmed down and I finally felt grounded for the time being.

After this I suggested connecting with loved ones. So, that is what I did. I met my sister for dinner and we talked about irrelevant topics like school and how we want to redecorate our rooms. A day that started so wound up and uncomfortable turned slowly into a calm, comfortable conversation.

The last step is to set a goal. I am often very busy and find myself feeling overwhelmed by all of my responsibilities so I had to truly think about what I needed. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin. I needed to be calm and collected while I navigate my day. I needed to show myself that I am capable of giving my body and mind more love than it has been receiving.

With that being said, I set two goals:

My first goal is to attend at least four yoga classes a week. These classes will help me become more in-tune with my physical self, helping me feel grounded in the process.

My second goal is to make time for breakfast every day. I do not always have time for more then a coffee and a quick bite on the go. Changing this routine will not only help adjust my health and eating habits it will become a healthier alternative for my mental stability and sleep cycle by creating a routine and forcing myself to make time for one specific thing each day.

I have been active in following through with these goals for two weeks now. After a week of this routine I felt better. My mind had found a safe space and I began to understand how much I had truly been neglecting myself.

After two weeks, I am thrilled. I have started to see changes in my physical self and I am finally focused on creating a better me for ME, not for others. My path may not be the right path for you, everyone is different, but I encourage you to find one.

As the wise Buddha once said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

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4 Steps For Self-Growth

How often do you find yourself looking in the mirror wondering where the 18-year-old version of you disappeared to? You look at yourself, thinking that the size of your jeans actually plays a part in your ability to make friends or fall in love. You may catch a glimpse of yourself while walking out the door and think that if you could look a certain way, maybe people would treat you differently. Negative thoughts of yourself swirl through your mind just to pollute the your self image.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those thoughts are not working for you. You will always be the only version of YOU and no one can take that away. As humans, we sometimes believe that growth is something that just comes with time. We think that things will eventually just change for the better and we will naturally just grow into the person we want to be. It is important to think deeper into that theory and imagine what our lives would be if we choose to do nothing and just assume growth will happen.

You can think of it almost like the life of a plant. Now, I have no green thumb but I do know that if you forget to water your plant and keep it out of the sunlight, it will soon wither away to a very little, frail version of its previous self. This is similar to what happens to us as humans. If we forget to love ourselves, to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, to love the body we have, we will become weak and frail. The best way to avoid this is to simply tell ourselves we are enough.

Now, I say simply, but I know this is no simple task at all. This will require work and dedication. It takes discipline. If every time we looked in the mirror we told ourselves we loved the body we live in, rather than hate it, eventually we will. Like a plant, we all need a little love, compassion, and sunlight to help us grow. Being mean to others never got you ahead in life. What makes you think being mean to yourself will?

Here are some steps to help you focus on your good qualities and the love you deserve to show yourself.

Step One: Locate the problem. What is affecting your self-esteem? Is it a relationship or an outside source? Where is it coming from?

Step Two: Avoid negative self-talk. Like we talked about before, speaking negatively toward yourself will only harm you.

Step Three: Connect with those who love you. This may be a relative or friend, anyone who sees the good in you that maybe you are having a hard time finding. Being around positive supports can help us remember why we love ourselves. .

Step Four: Set a goal and make it your challenge. Focus on the good around you and create routines to achieve it. Having good hygiene and a clean room will help clear your mind as well. Open the blinds to allow light and take a walk outdoors.

All of these things will be pieces of the puzzle that will eventually fit together to complete your challenge, finally showing you the full picture. Don’t forget, we are all human and no one is perfect. Rather, perfectly imperfect in our own ways.

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3 Ways to Treat Yourself this Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the longing for a significant other becomes overwhelmingly apparent for those of us lacking our “perfect person.” For those of us in a relationship, the pressure of Valentine’s Day can be growing and we may be running to find the “perfect gift.” It is impossible to walk through a retail store without feeling overwhelmed by oversized teddy bears and heart shaped chocolates. It is natural for us to want another half, someone to hold or hug, someone who brings out the best in us.

We all know a perfect first date doesn’t exist, even if we are in a relationship.

How can we make Valentine’s Day About Self-Love?

Movies portray an unrealistic vision of how love really looks like and ultimately forces us to create unhealthy and unnecessary expectations for a potential partner and Valentine’s Day celebration.

So, instead of blindly searching for your person this February, or the perfect gift, I challenge you to find your self-love.

Here are three tips to spend your day in a healthy way:

1. Galentine’s day (or we can call it Palentine’s day for the fellas out there): Have a Valentine’s Day exchange with some of your friends, Secret-Santa style. This time, focus your gifts on self-love: everyone loves a good face mask, scented candles, great book, a gift card to your favorite spa or restaurant.

2. Snag a friend for the day and take advantage of Valentine’s Day deals: A half-off couple massage and discounted dinner for two are definitely some deals to take advantage of. You do not have to be in a relationship to enjoy great discounts.

3. Pamper yourself: Maybe you don’t want to go out, that is totally fine. While others stress about the pressure of planning the most romantic day of the year, you can sit and relax in your bathtub, watching standup comedy or horror movies, while eating your favorite chocolate. Soak in those positive endorphins and focus on you.

Love is everywhere we look, including inside ourselves. Searching in the wrong places will just leave you finding something you were not looking for. By finding and loving ourselves, we attract others who have the same energy. Your Valentine’s Day is what you want to make of it, be positive about your relationship status and focus on the relationship you have with yourself.

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