4/26/13

PART 2: BODY IMAGE AND BEING “HEALTHY”

I hope you read my first post in the 3-part series on body image, but if you didn’t, you can find it here. In this post, I want to talk about body image and being “healthy”. You see how I put those quotation marks around “healthy” and my reason why is because healthy can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some think being healthy means being skinny and some people think they’re healthy even if they’re not skinny. I think it all depends on your diet and your habits. Everybody’s different. You are different and you should love yourself for those differences.

Chicago Now

Instead of focusing on weight and looks, we should be focusing on health. Women, especially young girls, are always focused on losing weight and being “skinny”. I think that adults don’t realize the effects that the media has on young girls relating to body image. Today, more than ever, girls are being pressured to keep this certain body image (you know which one I’m talking about…that Victoria’s Secret body that every girl aspires to have) in their mind and over time, it has been causing more havoc than ever before. Here are some statistics from Chicago Now that are a bit frightening:

80% of children who are 10+ years are afraid of being fat

more than 50% of 10-year old girls wish they were thinner

8 out of 10 women are not happy with their reflection

approximately 1 out of 100 women in the US binge and purge in order to lose weight

And the most important (though not shocking) statistic is: The current media ideal of thinness is achieved by less than 5% of the female population. I have a personal story about a family with whom my family are friends with. The mother, father and 3 daughters were decently active, but at very young ages, the mother would tell the daughters that they were starting to look big and that they needed to lose weight. However, she did not encourage them to exercise. The end result was that 2 out of the 3 girls became bulimic. Isn’t that sad? In my opinion, girls need to be taught at a young age that being healthy is the most important thing! Everyone, young and old, should be eating foods that are good for them and exercising! I recently started dieting and exercising regularly (due to major weight gain over my college career), and I have never been happier and the hard work is paying off. I really wish that my parents would have instilled healthy eating habits and exercising habits when I was younger because I would have been a lot better off…but hey, better late than never! Anyways, I’d like to share the things and some advice that have been helping me.

#1) It will NOT be easy, but the outcomes are totally worth it. Honestly, getting into a good routine of eating healthy and exercising has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but there have been so many upsides to doing it! Besides getting healthy, doing these things have really improved my mood and positivity. Bad food=bad mood and exercising helps you to blow off a lot of steam. The combo of the 2 will make you look like there are sun rays emanating from your face…ok, well that was an exaggeration, but it really does help. A lot.

#2) Plan, Plan, Plan. One of the most important things I started doing was planning things out more. I plan my exercise routine, complete with times and everything, because if I don’t, I won’t end up exercising. Also, planning out meals is really important. I sit down on Sunday and plan out meals and write a grocery list. If I don’t do this, I’ll end up going out to eat or eating food that I shouldn’t be eating.

#3) Save the good stuff for special occasions. I get some baaaad cravings for some baaaaad stuff sometimes. It’s inevitable, it’s going to happen. My rule of thumb is moderation. It’s totally ok to go out to eat or have that ice cream bar, but in moderation. Save that stuff for the special occasions, like when you’re visiting with family or an anniversary, things like that.

#4) Measure yourself. I hear of a lot of women getting discouraged because they are not losing the weight that they think they should. Weighing yourself alone is not always a good way to gauge how fit you’re getting. You really should measure yourself, around your bust, waist, hips, and legs especially. Even though you may not be losing weight, working out can make you gain muscle, which weighs more than fat. When that muscle replaces that fat, it may even out the weight or even make you gain a little weight, but you will be losing inches.

#5) Switch it up. Doing the same thing over and over again gets really boring and monotonous, in turn making me not want to work out. Switching up your exercise routine and doing different things will make it more fun and enjoyable. I personally, like to do weight training twice a week, run and do the glider. Every once in a while, I’ll go to a class at the gym. I really enjoy working out when I’m not doing the same things everyday.

These are just things that I’ve realized and have really helped me throughout this process of getting healthy. So, what do you guys do to get “healthy”? What do you do to keep your workout routing from getting monotonous?  What do you think about the media and body image? Do you agree with the statistics? I’d love to hear your advice and thoughts on it.

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