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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The Price of Poor Posture

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America as a whole hunches.

We are stressed out, over-worked, and most of us sit in front of a computer far too much (she types from a computer). It’s not just adults, middle-schoolers cave under the weight of 30 pound backpacks for God’s sake. It’s a mess.

Our bodies function best when properly aligned. We walk, run, and even breathe the best when our bones sit nicely on top of one another.

Chronic back pain and spinal injuries are on the rise, which can be attributed to the drastic change in lifestyle most Americans live in comparison to even our recent ancestors. We overeat and sit at desks all day.

The effects range from depression to drug abuse and can be debilitating.

In addition to all the reasons to avoid bad posture, good posture can have fantastic health benefits.

Good posture protects your joints, strengthens your core, and makes you feel better about yourself (That’s not even feel-good nonsense, it’s science.)

After a very in-depth study I preformed (I went to two coffee shops and looked around to see how people were slouching) I saw the same poor postures over and over.

Here are the common postures (good and bad) as demonstrated by my foxy friends, Noelle and Rachael:

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The hardest thing about getting good posture is remembering to do it. It takes time to build the muscle memory that keeps proper alignment. When you are sitting on your desk, check-in with your body:

Is my spine straight?

Are my shoulders away from my ears?

Are my shoulder blades pressed together?

Am I taking big breaths?

Are my knees hips-width apart?

Are my feet pointed straight?

There are also stretches that encourage proper alignment:

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Take five minutes every morning and stretch. You don’t need to run four miles before sunrise to start your day energized, but give your body a little love in the morning to set it up for greatness.