In the last few weeks I have been thinking pretty heavily about body image, stress and healthy weight. In the past few days, the topic has been smacking me in the face with articles I've seen, fellow bloggers coming under attack and my own personal reflection and so I thought writing about it would be helpful as I get closer and closer to probably the most stressful thing I will go through in the next year (positive thinking) which is moving.
There has been stress everywhere I have turned in this last semester (as you can see by the shape that my nails are in) whether it came in the form of tests, doubling up on classes, group projects with people not pulling their weight, 10 hour work days, job interviews or the stress of figuring out my moving situation.. all exacerbated by getting an average of 5.5 hours of sleep a night before doing it all again. These stressful situations have worn me down and almost brought me to the point of tears for just being pulled in too many directions without enough time to be everything to everyone... at the same time I feel stronger for getting through it all. Some times I just didn't have the energy to get to the gym, sometimes it was easier to grab coffee and candy for energy than worry about taking the 20 minutes in the morning to cut everything up for a salad or cooking something to take in.. my bed looked more enticing.
I did my best to maintain my health because I couldn't afford to take the time to get sick and I needed the energy to continue this pace. It made me start to think though, with everything that I am trying to accomplish (getting my MBA, starting a new job, living on my own, etc) why am I placing how hard my work out was at the top of the list of important things? I work out and eat right for my health first and foremost but also anyone that works out does it for a secondary reason of feeling good about themselves. Knowing that you did something good for yourself, knowing you feel good in your clothes, feeling good that you've lost weight or what have you. I have found a good balance between the time I have, the food I eat, the stressful situations and using exercising to battle that stress.. but it got me thinking about all the men and women that might not have found that balance and then pressure that's on them.
As a 20 something woman, I feel the pressure everyday to fit the stereotype of beauty. Expected to balance love, career, school, politics, drama and still fit into a size 2/tall pair of jeans and have perfectly quaffed hair or risk being considered a sloppy mess. (Which..lets face it.. I usually look like anyway.. leggings are my friend) Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that my life is harder than anyone else's.. I know there are people that have so much more on their plate than I do. I am just speaking of my own personal day to day experience. I usually wish I lived in the era where pale skin, dark hair and and a healthy figure was enough to make you a perfect 10. I believe that those time periods usually came with dysentery too though.. so I am not willing to do that trade off.
Anyone that is reading this from the health/fitness blogging community, I'm sure knows that one of our fellow bloggers got a very rude comment on their blog about running a marathon. The girl was in shape enough that she could run a marathon (how many of us can say that?) and she was asked "If you're so active.. why don't you have a better body?" She is a beautiful young girl, by no means overweight and healthier than 90 % of Americans but the question she got had nothing to do with her health but instead was about why she didn't look like Paris Hilton if she runs so much?.. oh what a disappoint that must be..I bet she thinks that same thought everyday.. NOT!
It made me wonder.. what do people think about me? My friends know me as an exercise and healthy eating advocate. While Ill sit there and devour a cupcake or a cookie, I will also spend my hour in the gym eating healthy greens for lunch. Its a good balance and my weight hasn't fluctuated more than 5-10 pounds since high school but saying that you are a health and fitness nut leaves you open for a lot of criticism. If you choose to skip a day at the gym to just go home and relax or if you eat a piece of cake.. someone always has a comment. Its a very strange thing when really its all part of a balance in life.
I ran across a few articles in the past few days that have talked specifically to the point of this social pressure. The first I read was about a teeny bopper Disney star Demi Lavato. She had a nervous breakdown on stage and had to go to rehab for 3 months at the age of 17 because the pressures of her life were too much for her. She was on a terrible cycle of binging and starving herself. She stated that it was the pressure to be perfect that led her to this terrible place in her life.
|I am in love with this picture..|
The most shocking that I've run into was an allegation made by an heavier American Idol audience member. Ashley Kaufmann, who is only 19, was blatantly told by ushers and idol producers that she was too heavy to be featured in the front row of the broadcast. I'm sorry but isn't she the epitome of the average American?? So apparently you can't be a part of the American dream if you are overweight even though that's 80% of America and on the rise. I commend this girls strength for getting up and talking about this.
Here is an article about the incident:
and her video interview with Good Morning America
There are so many things that Americans should be worrying about. I do not care if I see an average American in the crowd at American Idol but I do care that nothings getting done in Congress. I do care that bipartisan bullshit is going to drive us into a hole that we wont be able to get out of financially. I do care that people are defrauding the welfare and unemployment systems. I do care about tax hikes for the poor and tax breaks for the rich and powerful. I do care about peoples health and wellness but I don't care whether they wear a size 4 or a 10.
I wish I knew what to do to make people open their eyes about the important things.. sigh...