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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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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Four Ways to Love Yourself on Valentine’s Day

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February 14th can be tough on single folks. The shameless public displays of affection and bouquets of flowers that aren’t for you can get a lady down.

If V-Day is killing your vibe, do these things:

Celebrate. You have the ability to do whatever you damn well please so use that power to dance wildly to Jason Derulo’s ‘Ridin’ Solo’ (or something equally fun and single-affirming).

Take yourself on a date. Do something you’ve always wanted to do like eat Singaporean food or listen to live jazz. It is really empowering to do things alone. It feels brave, and it also confronts the silly myth that life is on hold until you have a sig.

Unplug. Turn off your phone and computer. Go on a walk, cuddle up with tea and a book, hike a mountain. Give your body and brain a rest from the screens we constantly have in front of our faces.

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Give. Buy a flower for someone who is going through a rough time. Buy coffee for the person behind you. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Valentine’s isn’t a popular public service holiday, but why shouldn’t it be? Love and service are undeniably connected.

Regardless of your relationship status, celebrate love, in every and all forms it exists in your life.

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How To Grow Your Gratitude

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You go to a few yoga classes or read a spiritual book, and the word ‘gratitude’ will eventually show up. The idea to be thankful for the good things in our lives is tied to all major spiritual ideologies and religious schemas.

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Okay. Be thankful. It’s a simple enough task, but how do we integrate gratitude into our daily lives?

There are workout buddies for exercise junkies and book clubs for voracious readers, so I propose a new kind of accountability: gratitude partners for those looking to better engage in thankfulness.

Every day over the past six months, my friend Emmy and I text one another five things we are grateful for.

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Emmy and I being supremely grateful for one other.

The things can be momentous (I passed my boards, the cyst was benign, I made it home on the treacherous icy roads alive) or simple (big comfy wool sweaters, sweet potatoes, postcards from old friends).

Going off the mantra “you should meditate 30 minutes a day, unless you don’t have time to meditate, then you should meditate an hour”, the harder or more frustrating the day, the longer the gratitude list. The days the cat peed on the floor, the friend let you down, you are exhausted, overworked, sick: list twenty things you’re grateful for.

This simple practice has done more than make me happy for the things I have. It has moderated my entire perspective on life. When things work out, I am grateful, but not elated or so tied to the success of whatever that thing is. When things fail, don’t work out, or otherwise disappoint me, I feel far less attached to them, because I still ate that fantastic sweet potato, I still have love and health and really good coffee in my life.

This Melody Beattie quote lives on my to-do chalkboard, an it is one of my favorite reminders that gratitude permeates our whole lives, if we let it.

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So it is my humble suggestion that you find someone to help encourage appreciation every single day, and watch it change everything.