Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Post-Pregnancy Photos

A Tale of Two Post-Pregnancy Photos
MariaKangWhatsYourExcusePhoto credit: Body Image Movement | Facebook 
These two post-pregnancy photos have been all over the media lately. The first photo of Maria Kang with the caption "What's your excuse?," has been in the line of fire with people labeling her a bully.
The second picture, along with others, have been posted by an Australian woman, Taryn Brumfitt, largely in response to Kang's photo. 

Brumfitt wants to paint a more realistic picture of women's post-pregnancy bodies, saying, "I’m on a quest to redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty. Women have been brainwashed into thinking fat, wrinkles and cellulite are bad. They’re not. It’s just a part of being a human being."

Team Kang or Team Brumfitt?
After reading about the two women on Fox 8 WGHP, which seemed to be very pro-Brumfitt, I was unsure at first whether I was Team Brumfitt or Team Kang. While I haven't had a baby of my own yet, Kang and women like her give me hope that I can look great, even hot!, post-pregnancy. And, between the two, I know which photo I would rather have.

Ultimately though, I am Team Brumfitt, for this reason: in a world full or Photoshopped, Facebook pictures and glamorous profiles, she had the courage to be authentic. 

My Take
I don't know about you, but if I'm having a bad day, when I'm feeling fat or unattractive, I try to avoid Facebook, because I don't want to see pictures of people dolled-up at parties, the selfies of people in their workout clothes with six-packs and the beach-bikini photos. 

As much as we know it's wrong to envy, sometimes social media makes it particularly hard, because it preys on our insecurities. The internet is rampant with photos like Kang's, that show people looking their best, but few like Brumfitt's that draw attention to their flaws. 

Social media sites like Facebook allow us to project an idealized image of ourselves to the world, and I know I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. We are able to weed-through unflattering photos of ourselves and only post the best ones. We can share statuses of our accomplishments and success stories, while keeping our not-so-proud moments quite. But the problem is, our lives are much more than just the highlights. We can't be perfect every second of the day!

Maybe we should be alright with sharing some of the darker times. Maybe, like Brumfitt, we should post an unflattering picture now and then.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Have Yourself a Stress Less Christmas

Have Yourself a Stress Less Christmas 

The countdown to Christmas has begun. Tis the season for holiday music, mistletoe, Christmas shopping, waiting in line and stress!

On Black Friday as I stood in line, one that went from the very front to the very back of an Old Navy store, I asked myself, "Why do we do this?" By this, I don't just mean the Black Friday shopping, which is a tradition for the females in my family, but all the holiday stresses and pressures that we go through each year.

While the holidays should be a time of celebration and enjoyment with friends and family, I often approach the holidays with a great deal of anxiety. We tell ourselves to plan ahead, to get things done early, and say things will be different this year. But, almost inevitably, Christmas Eve rolls around with presents still to wrap, recipes to make and shopping left to do. A stress free holiday seems just about impossible, but here are some suggestions for reducing seasonal stresses.

Be the Early Bird
I once knew a family that had all of their presents wrapped and under the tree by Thanksgiving. I am honest enough with myself to know that's never going to be me. But, I think that having all the presents purchased and wrapped a week before Christmas is doable. 

Another upside to starting early is you can keep a lookout for good deals. Black Friday is usually the best time to shop, because things are drastically discounted. While, the closer you get to Christmas day the more likely things are to sell out.

Savor the Season
There is pressure from society and retailers to get the perfect present. There's pressure from kids to get the it toy of the year. And there's pressure from family members or friends to throw and/or attend parties and functions.

But, ask yourself, what does Christmas mean to me? Think carefully about what your favorite things are and what you want to prioritize. I always enjoy going to see A Christmas Carol. Even though I've seen it so many times, something about a live performance makes it new every time. It's a great story that always puts things in perspective.

Whether it's an old tradition from when you were a kid or one that you start, it's important to take the time to do things that you can't do other times of the year. Preferably something that involves giving or reminds you of charity, peace and the positive messages of Christmas.

Take Care of Yourself
During the holidays more than ever, it's important to treat yourself and your body right. According to "The 'Merry Christmas Coronary' and 'Happy New Year Heart Attack' Phenomenon," an article from the American Heart Association Journal, there are significantly more heart attacks in December and January, specifically around Christmas and New Years, than any other time of the year. The culprit? Primarily, stress.

In terms of heart-health, the article advises avoiding "excess physical exertion...overeating, lack of sleep, emotional stress, illegal drugs, and anger...excess salt and alcohol intake." Does any of this sound familiar? Because, this pretty much sounds like my Christmas, minus the illegal drugs.

Avoiding these may be easier said than done, but it's a good idea to minimize these factors as much as possible. Think before you add that extra item to your plate, drink a little less alcohol and a little more water and get those extra Zs when you can.

Even if you're not immediately concerned with your heart, taking care of yourself overall will make you feel less stressed, grumpy and agitated.