Balancing Health and Self-Love

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Facts surrounding weight in America are as extreme as they are polarizing.

74.1% of Americans are overweight or obese. All the while, 94% of seventeen-year-old girls have been on some form of diet because they perceive themselves as fat.

Studies revealing that thinner, attractive people are more likely to get hired and make a better paycheck. All while, nearly 50% of people with eating disorders also meet criteria of clinical depression.

We love bread and French fries and milk stouts. It’s fun and feels good to eat big delicious meals, they are communal, comforting and joyous.

Yet we look at images of super-thin women and feel inadequate. No one likes feeling heaviness on their bodies that wasn’t there a month ago, or feeling sluggish going up a mountain because of a greasy meal the night prior, or squeezing into a dress they used to look fantastic in.

Living life fully and healthfully simultaneously can be tough. Here’s some advice for doing it better:

Coordinate mega-meals and epic activity. Plan a big hike the day after thanksgiving, go on a long bike ride after a big meal out, do the sweaty yoga class after too much ice cream (except not right after because yoga farters are the worst). Exercise fights the slump that over-eating can cause and combats weight gain.

Love your veggies. Vegetables are basically the only food group everyone agrees is absolutely great food you. So eat a large amount of diversely colored veggies. Use this stunning infographic for more ideas how.

Embrace your body. We all have entirely different genetic makeup. Our metabolisms, weight distributions, and hormone levels can all play a major role in how we gain and lose weight. Many women at their healthiest look nothing like anything you would ever see in a magazine, and may perhaps resemble one of these lovely figures:

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(source)

If you can love yourself when you eat well, move, and have the energy you need to live your life, regardless of your size or shape, you are golden.

Luckily, there are a-thousand-and-one fantastic books, blogs, and speeches about how to love yourself better. Learning to be okay with who you are regardless of anyone else’s approval is the hardest, most tiresome, completely worth it process there ever was.

No matter how you slice it, our relationship with food, our bodies, and the world is a complicated one.

Being healthy, active, and properly nourished will ultimately help us appreciate our bodies as unique and powerful, and we will feel more free to let ourselves eat the damn cupcake.

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The Value of Vulnerability

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Until recently, when women told me they didn’t have other lady friends, I took it as a sign to run away as quickly as possible.

“Women are so catty!”

“Men are so much easier!”

“I just don’t get girls!”

My eyes glazed over and all I heard was insecurity.

We are cultured to compete with one another, which makes avoidance of friendships with other women the easiest route to success. Befriending people, and dealing with all that entails, is tough.

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People make messes of their lives that you have to see them through, go through break ups and ramble about them too much, disagree with your politics.

Friendships can also do funny things to you. You tell someone that embarrassing childhood story you’ve never told a soul and suddenly feel lighter. You find a space to share how hard work has been and how life isn’t turning out how you’d planned. You start crying out of nowhere and by some magic they don’t get up and walk away.

On the worst days, Sartre is right, and Hell is other people, and you have to spend your day off helping the girl from your Pilates class who’s obsessed with her cat move across town.

But there are days that friendships are so incredibly important and uplifting.

I’m pretty sure vulnerability is the key to keeping friendships good. And so far I’ve learned that that looks like these things:

Honesty with yourself, with the other person, with reality. If you are incredibly angry, or lonely, or you just fell on your face (metaphorically or literally), you’ve got to fess up. Otherwise, walls will build, and you aren’t vulnerable anymore.

Self-Love, an appreciation for who you are, what you do, and how you contribute to this earth. You don’t feel the need to compete or break others down when you feel confident in who you are.

Empathy, the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s circumstance is vital to being open and receptive.

Celebrating the successes of the people you love. It is really brave to do this, and sometimes takes practice, especially when things in your own life aren’t fantastic.

Vulnerability isn’t just a feel-good sentiment, it has a powerful impact on your entire existence:

Learning all of this has changed my perspective drastically. Now, when women tell me they don’t get women, I try to convince them to get coffee with me. I try to understand, love, appreciate, and celebrate them. I try to show them we don’t have to be the worst things people say about us.