#thefemistdilema

As conscious women we often spend a lot of wasted time explaining that feminism is not about hating men and growing out our armpit hair. Both men and women are so quick to vilanize the term feminism as an exclusionary term to bring men down, or lift women up alone, when that is far from the truth. I am a proud feminist who loves humans, of all shapes, sizes, colors, and gender. I believe that we are all equal and we need to stop dividing ourselves by arbitrary socially constructed classifications. We have this concept that because most people seem to live up to the social idea of who they are based on gender and race, that these standards are actual hard-wired into our DNA, and this is far from the truth. While there are small differences between young boys and girls in terms of emotional IQ as children, this gap widens exponentially as they get older, but why? People like to believe that it’s biological, and to a certain extent it is, however studies are starting to show that experiences can highly influence the biological makeup of our brains. No study has conclusively found that gender is all nurture and no nature, or vise versa, what they have found is that gender is more fluid than we allow it to be. We have created such rigid standards for gender for both men and women that it becomes hard for us to live up to those ideals, and at the same time it is hard to live outside of those ideals, both because of social pressures, and the way those social pressures affect the way our brains develop. What people often don’t realize about feminism is that we want to break down gender stereotypes for both genders, fight against the idea that women are inherently emotional and that men are inherently not, that boys have to be strong and tough and women damsels in distress, that an empowered woman is a bitch while an empowered man is assertive. Putting ourselves and our fellow man in boxes of gender creates a repressed society of people scared to be themselves. It would be so beautiful to have the opportunity to see how diverse and interesting this world could be if people just felt free to be who the really are.
Now the social concept of race, is far more complicated, I can’t begin to dive into it right now, but what I will say is that I believe that in a society where race didn’t matter then race wouldn’t matter. It’s so simple because there really are no inherent differences between races outside of aesthetics. If we didn’t work so hard to divide ourselves, then we would be able to live as the human race and not hate other people because they have more or less melanin than us. Racism wouldn’t happen because we would all be born into the same opportunities, and we would see each other as equals. That’s the America, and world that I want to live in.

#thehealthyfeminist

Sometimes I feel a conflict between my desire to be healthy and active and also being a feminist, are these things mutually exclusive? As a feminist I’m expected to tell everyone their body is beautiful, and while I believe that, my “health conscience”, the part of my brain that reminds me what is healthy and what is not, is always reminding me that many body types and lifestyles are unhealthy. That’s not to say that being overweight is inherently unhealthy, or that being thin is inherently healthy, there is a big grey area here. But what people cannot argue with is that carrying around fat on your belly is at worst bad for you, at best neutral for your health. Am I not a feminist when I remind someone that this excess fat is n=detrimental to their health, is that me body shaming them? Is it really in everyone’s best interest to tell them to love their body at the expense of their health?

I have a friend who has put on some pounds since she had a baby, her boyfriend says he likes the extra weight and encourages her to keep it. She seemed to be struggling with her reaction to this, she thought that him loving her body should make her okay with it too. We have this idea that a man who loves our body when it’s larger is very evolved and that we should thank him for accepting us, in reality we should accept and love ourselves the way we are, but if we don’t like something about ourselves then we should change it. She felt like she should be happy with her body because because he likes it even though it doesn’t fit into the social construct of what her body should look like. While she should appreciate her accepting her the way she is, she doesn’t have to settle for that body just because he likes it. It’s funny how a man liking a woman when she is bigger is evolved and accepting, but when a man is no longer attracted to a woman because she has gained weight and no longer looks how she did during their initial attraction, he’s an asshole.

I was once watching a youtube video by  in which she said “if I were 120 pounds eating a pizza in my underwear on tumblr I would be ‘quirky’ and ‘cute’ and ‘real’, but if I’m 300 pounds and I’m eating a pizza in my underwear people are like ‘you’re killing yourself’ ‘you’re disgusting’ ‘you’re everything that’s wrong with America”

As much as my healthy lifestyle is about being a healthier person and not just the number on the scale, I am not immune to the social pressure to have the “perfect body”. I do find myself worrying less about the number on the scale, and more about the person in the mirror, but I don’t know if that is progress because I still pinch the love handles of that person in the mirror. Is it wrong for me to want to be skinny, to have perky breasts and a firm butt? Am I still a feminist even when I want a flat stomach? Is it irresponsible for me to tell a woman to love her body the way it is without encouraging her to take care of it?

#tobeornottobesexual

Female sexuality is both taboo and in your face, it has a dichotomy rivaled by few other topics. Our entire lives we are told to show our bodies, but don’t be a slut. Men want us all to sleep with them, but if we sleep with too many, again, we are sluts. Navigating the world as a young girl coming into womanhood can be more complicated than college level calculus. The funny thing is a lot of the toughest criticisms of women comes from other women, we call each other fat, then in retaliation spout pseudo-female empowerment mantra’s like “real women have curves”. We are constantly trying to exclude other from womanhood by defining it by our own standards. It makes me so sad to watch us taking each other down, it makes it that much easier for predatory men to take advantage of us.

We are so quick to be critical of the sexual decisions that other women make and to position ourselves above those that make more reckless decisions without ever taking the time to wonder why that woman may have made that choice. I spent a lot of time making risky sexual decisions myself, sometimes it was because I wanted to, others it was because I had spent a lot of my life being told I wasn’t pretty enough, or pretty at all. I was a tall pale girl with acne, it was not a good look. The first boy to ever be interested in me just wanted sex, but he told me I was beautiful while he was fucking me, that was the first time anyone had told me that. I began to only feel really good about myself when a man wanted to sleep with me, but afterwards I felt worse than ever because it never made them stay. I had no idea how to be the girl on the date and not the girl in the bed, so for a long time I was just the girl in the bed. I thought I was “sexually liberated” when in reality I was just sad and lost. It wasn’t until I met my current boyfriend that I realized that I was smart, and interesting, and funny, and most importantly beautiful, even with my clothes on.

The moral of the story is to not judge without knowing, let people be who they are without trying to tear them down, and most importantly tell other women you know and meet that they are beautiful, and smart, and worthy, because we all know society will not do it for us.

#backatit #fitnessaftersickness

In the past month I have been sick three separate times. Being sick always throws me off my game. I often find it so hard to get back in my healthy routines after spending days laying on the couch struggling to drink water, I often find myself making excuses days after for why I can’t go running or get a good vinyasa in. It’s so important to get right back into your routine directly after being sick, don’t push yourself too hard, however you also have to be very aware of whether you’re being cautious or making excuses. The longer you wait the harder it’s gonna be when you get back, what you did yesterday is a better predictor of what you will do today than what you did a week ago.

I’m in one of those lulls between sickness and health where I’m deciding whether it’s irresponsible to get back to work or if I’m just making excuses out of lack of motivation. Again I encounter that issue of motivation, why is it so much easier to spend our days wasting time than being proactive… but I digress. Not every level of activity is appropriate directly following a bout of the cold or food poisoning, but there is always something you can do.  One of the many amazing things about yoga is that if you are physically capable of moving off the couch, then you can do yoga. I spent last night making great use of my toilet for various bodily functions, so yoga was a little out of the question, but tonight around 7:00 pm I began to feel a little better so I got a quick flow in and it made a world of difference. It’s all about doing what you can when you can and not making excuses to not… if that makes any sense.

#firstlove #selflove #selfworth

I waited until I was 25 to love someone. I hadn’t intended to wait, life didn’t really give me a choice. I didn’t have that high school sweetheart or a college boyfriend. I was a broken girl navigating men and relationships with little regard for myself. A man I thought I loved had broken me, he taught me that my body wasn’t mine, that permission wasn’t needed for this ride. That my body’s purpose was to be given for consumption and that I had little worth outside of that. I was told to be seen but not heard so much that I had forgotten that I had anything to say at all.

I was 25 before a man that wasn’t my father told me I was beautiful. I was 25 before a man that wasn’t my father told me I was smart or funny, or interesting. I was 25 when I had my first relationship where I didn’t use my body as a bargaining chip because it was no longer all I had to offer. Before him I thought I was empowered, I told other women what they did and didn’t deserve in relationships and empowered them to assert their needs and wants. I thought that I was empowered with my sexuality and I thought that I didn’t crave the patriarchal construct of relationships because I was so evolved, I slept with whoever I pleased, whenever I pleased. I truly believed that these short flings and one night stands were what I wanted. In reality, deep down in the depths of my soul, I feared that I could contribute little to a relationship outside of the curves of my hips and perkiness of my breasts. I didn’t think anyone would want me and rejection was absolutely terrifying, so I gave men the part of me that I knew they wanted, and they received it, greedily.

Then one day I met this man who laughed from his belly at my jokes, who I caught staring at me because he thought I was so beautiful, who sometime just wanted to hold me because he slept better with me there. The relationship was far from perfect, but he filled up a part of me that I didn’t even know was empty. As these things often do, that ended abruptly and it broke me a little, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I’ve spent my teens and early 20’s letting men break me, letting them come in and take pieces of me. I never thought I would get those pieces back, but when he told me I was beautiful, I realized that I didn’t need those parts back, I was no longer the person I had been.From then on I wasn’t so fragile anymore. When he left me it cut me, but he didn’t take anything, he left me the way you should leave everything, better than it was before.

I’m not sure if he loved me, he never said he did, but that doesn’t really matter. He cared about me in a way that allowed me to love myself again, that love, love of self, is what got me to where I am today, it allowed me to look at health as a lifestyle and not just a means to an end, not just a way to be skinny as to be appealing to men, outside opinions of me were no longer important. Because of him I will take my own advice and demand more, I know my worth and I will never give myself to another man that doesn’t deserve me. Twenty years from now I will look around at my life and I will thank him for giving me back what they took from me.

#morethanbeautiful

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This is a poem from the book Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur a feminist poet with a great perspective on feminism and our world. The book itself is great, but this poem in particular spoke to me. We are all so quick to question our idea of beauty and the way that it excludes different body types and facial features, but rarely do we question the idea of beauty and validity of it’s importance to us. The body positive movement is great, but what about a brain positive movement. Instead of telling little girls that they are beautiful just the way they are we could tell them that they are smart, or funny, or talented, not because they aren’t pretty, but because we are all so much more than the physicality that we were born with. I write a lot about health and fitness and I fall into that trap of worrying too much about what I look like, however I try to approach health and fitness with actual health and fitness in mind, I work hard not to make it about an aesthetic goal and instead make it about living my best life and encouraging others to do the same. A big part of health and fitness is mental health, your feelings of self-worth and your concept of how you fit into the world, for some reason that has become intrinsically linked to our aesthetic beauty, when that is probably the least important trait we have to contribute. We have been given this great opportunity to interact with our world in a way that betters ourselves, those around us, and in turn our world, but we spend too much time pinching our belly fat and putting pounds of concealer on a tiny pimple to take advantage of all the things this world has to offer. So as women and humans we need to go out there and busy ourselves with being smart and funny and resilient, before we waste our time on something as insignificant as being beautiful.

#motivationmonday

We seem to hail monday as the day of all beginnings, many people seem to believe that it’s the only day you can begin a new lifestyle. While I do see the utility of this, mondays feel clean to us, a whole new week to shape however we want, it should not be hailed as the holy grail of lifestyle change. It’s not about the day of the week as much as the will power of the individual and real motivations behind the change. I struggle a lot with motivating myself to do things that i need to do and it boggles my mind, I cannot understand why I would rather scroll through the instagram posts of complete strangers than get a good vinyasa flow in and drop some pearls of wisdom on my blog. The more I think about it I’ve come to realize that it’s fear. Fear of failure is a strong motivation to not do things, while thinking about the benefits of success can sometimes do very little to motivate us in a positive direction. We need to let go of the idea that not succeeding at a goal is synonymous with failure, failure is the combination of lack of success and the decision not to try again. We only really fail when we give up, but we live in a society where instead of building each other up we break each other down because deep down we’re all a little broken, and we don’t want to be the only ones. Because of this we are always trying to save face and appear put together, often at the expense of achieving goals we really want. Once we start defining success and failure in more realistic ways, and learn to support and love each other, and find true happiness in the success and achievements of others, we will feel more comfortable striving for the same thing in our own lives.

Another aspect of motivation that can hinder oany future success is being motivated by the wrong things. At the beginning of any journey to a healthier lifestyle the main motivation is usually the numbers on a scale, and that can be a great motivation to get started, but it won’t help you sustain that healthy lifestyle. If you want to make any kind of long term change the motivation has to eventually come from within, it can’t be all about fitting into a bikini. It has to also be about loving your body and wanting to nurture and take care of it because when you take care of your body, it will take care of you. If vanity is your only motivator that can often lead to making unhealthy diet and exercise decision on your quest for this aesthetic concept of the perfect body, while in reality the perfect body is a healthy one. In our culture we have this perception that skinny is inherently healthy, and that is far from the truth. Starvation diets, and excessive exercise may give you the look that you want, but often at a great cost.

A third, and perhaps the best predictor for whether the change will stick, is whether you enjoy the journey, because it is often a long journey. If you’re just going through the motions with an extreme goal in mind and hating every second of it, you will almost definitely quit. The key is to find a fitness regiment that works for you and that you genuinely enjoy. I look forward to my yoga every day, a lot of people love lifting and going to the gym, other people do better in group fitness, and others enjoy working out at home. Find what you enjoy and what fits into your lifestyle and do that, it may take trying all kinds of different things, don’t be scared to try new things, and don’t be scared to quit it if you hate it, fitness is individual, not one size fits all. One change that was very hard for me to make was changing my diet, it took a long time to get to the point I’m at now where I genuinely enjoy cooking and eating healthy. Diet is the often forgotten but ultimately most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. I received a snapchat from a friend the other day and it was a picture of her dinner plate, she had grilled salmon, quinoa, and sauteed kale, the caption read “gross healthy food”, she seemed to be laboring under the delusion that healthy food could not taste good, but in reality healthy and delicious are not mutually exclusive. Very few people genuinely enjoy eating bland food, that’s why there’s so many seasonings and herbs you can add to your food, to take things from bland to BAM!!!! You’ll find that herbs and seasonings are your best friends when eating healthy.

#newyearnewme

It’s that time of year again where we make grandiose plans about all the things that we are going to change about ourselves in the new year. The most popular resolution is to get healthy. We go out on June 1st and get a gym  member ship, and plan an intense work out regiment that we will do every day. We go to the grocery store and get a bunch of healthy food to completely revamp our diet, the first week is full of optimism. That is where it gets tricky, when we don’t see immediate physical results, we become discouraged, we are so used to our society of instant gratification that the fact that we lowered our sugar intakes and went to the gym 5 times and don’t instantly look like a super model is unfathomable to us. We start to make excuses and going to the gym and eating healthy less and less and by the first of February we are on the “go home” part of the age old mantra “go hard or go home”. The sad thing is that it doesn’t have to ne this way, so here are some tips to making and maintaining that ever elusive New Year’s resolution:

  1. Do it for the Right Reasons: This is a big one, and one that many people struggle with. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between what we actually value and what society has told us to value. When making lifestyle changes we have to make those changes because it’s something important to us, and not because society has told us to look a certain way. This is because when we do things for ourselves we tend to be a little easier on ourselves and really appreciate the journey and the self-esteem that comes from our own determination. When we are making lifestyle changes so that some exterior factor can tell us we are beautiful, or worthy, that’s when we fail. Trying to live up to the expectations that society sets for us is unrealistic and sets you up for disappointment. Make your goal less aesthetic and more about gaining strength and feeling better, the sick body is the last part of the puzzle.
  2. Set Small Goals Along the Way: Goal setting can be really important in terms of achieving success in the long run. Make a lifting goal, or a timed running goal, make these goals relative to where your starting point is so that the finish line is in site. These small goals can help you see your progress and can be hugely motivating.
  3. Leave the negativity in 2015: This one is so simple, get rid of the negativity. Don’t keep people in your , life who aren’t contributing to your life and supporting you in any goals you may set for yourself. Sometimes when we decide to make positive changes in our lives we find that other people don’t want to be supportive of this and try to bring us down. Often times these are “friends” who try to hold us back because they are unhappy, no one needs that in their life
  4. Be Realistic: If you’ve never run a day in your life you are not gonna start running 5 miles every day. Start with walking and running when you feel comfortable, maybe that’s a lot and maybe that’s a little, it’s all about finding a balance between. When working towards a fitness goal pushing your limits is really important but first you have to find those limits so that you don’t push yourself too far. It can be really helpful to get a trainer or take a fitness class, these can make sure you’re workouts are more effective, sometimes when we try to do things completely on our own we end up wasting time doing exersizes wrong or ineffectively. When i first began working out I bought a book called “Women’s Health’s Big Book of Exersizes”, this book was extremely helpful in helping me build effective exercize regiments to target the parts of my body I wanted to work on.
  5. Another important aspect of transitioning to a healthier and more fit lifestyle is diet. In my opinion diet is the most important factor. Many people try to go from eating incredibly unhealthy to a very regimented and strict healthy diet, this is almost always a recipe for disaster. It’s all about eating foods you love in a healthier way, like avoiding added sugars, eating less processed foods, and choosing whole grains. You’re only human so you’re gonna slip up, but it’s all about recovering from failures and continuing to work towards your goal.

#healthandtheholidays

I know there are about a million posts out there about this exact topic, but I’m gonna take a little bit of a different approach to it. When we talk about “health” in our society, we are generally referring to what we look like, people always make wrong assumptions about other people’s health based on what they physically look like. You can be fat and healthy just like you can be skinny and unhealthy, there is a correlation, but being healthy and being skinny are not mutually exclusive.

That being said, the holidays are definitely a time where we indulge ourselves in the less healthy side of life a little more than we usually do. I for one eat very healthy most of the time, but on Christmas eve I will make my famously unhealthy macaroni and cheese and eat probably an entire plate of it. I’m gonna have some of my grandma’s apple pie and my aunt’s potatoes Diane, and retire into a fat and sugar induced food coma, that’s the american way. When talking about being healthy we often hold ourselves to impossible standards and that’s why we fail. We see any deviation from our planned regiment of diet and exersize as a failure and that often leads to us giving up altogether. It is unrealistic to expect people to enjoy these holidays centered around food and family with just a plate of salad, indulging on Christmas or thanksgiving does not make you a failure, it makes you human.

Another aspect of health that around the holidays can be even more important than sticking to your diet and working out, is mental health. This is an aspect of health that we generally only talk about around when something goes wrong. When someone who has been seriously failed by the mental health system in a really big way. Usually this person has found access to a gun and shoots some people and we act shocked and say “he must have slipped through the cracks”. We act like these cracks are so small and we don’t understand how he slipped, we spend a couple weeks talking about mental health reform and nothing really changes. What we all fail to realize is that in reality slipping through the cracks is easier than we think, it happens every day. One small thing that we can do for our own mental health and that of others is love and acceot each other, such a simple concept that so many people fail to grasp. Feelings of depression and loneliness are exacerbated around the holidays, times of the year centered around family are often hard for people who don’t have close family or friends to enjoy the season with. Because of this it’s important that we smile at everyone we see hug the people you love and tell them you love them every day. When you see a homeless man or woman give them money or food, or just say hi and treat them like a human being. Let everyone you see know that they are not alone, because they aren’t. Feeling like you are isolated from the rest of the world is a feeling that can ware on your psyche more than anything else. At our core we are all the same, we are all human, and we often forget what that means.The ability to feel for one another and care about one another is an important human trait that we let class, race, and socio-economic standing take away from us. We need to start defining ourselves as human before anything else, and watch how our world vies can change.

When assessing the “health” of our fellow humans, we put very little importance on mental health because the state of someone’s mental health isn’t something you can always see. Some people with mental health issues look disheveled or unkempt, we look at them and it makes sense to us, their mental health status has physically manifested on their bodies and that makes sense. The problem is that these people are a small percentage of people with mental illness. The rest of them walk among us often smiling through their depression or anxiety and trying to look “normal”, trying to fit in, trying not to let their “difference” show. When someone is struggling with demons in their own mind just one smile can make a world of difference.

We’re all fighting battles every day that no one else sees and just plain kindness can be the best weapon in these battles. One smile, one “happy holidays”, or one piece of home cooked pie can change someone else’s day, week, or life.