I dread the day when my daughters realize negative body image is a thing. I worry they’ll adopt the perception that skinny and flawless is the ideal and start picking apart the things in themselves that don’t match up to that.
I got in contact with Emily when High Fitness was just a baby. I had heard the buzz about this new workout and was impressed that a local mom had started it (with her friend, Amber). I featured High Fitness as part of an article I did for UtahValley360.com about the latest workout crazes, and talked to Emily about getting an instructor at the gym where I teach, Cahoots Fitness.
Although I miss the sweatbands and super high-cut leotards with legwarmers, there are so many amazing workout DVDs and YouTube videos that can help you get a workout that rivals your gym class.Read More
Yoga can be intimidating for first-timers. Between the Sanskrit terms and challenging poses, a would-be yogi might be tempted to throw in the towel (or mat, rather).
Instead of missing out on the many benefits yoga can offer to the mind and body, the Daily Herald got some tips from Brittany Andrews, owner of The Yoga Underground alternative yoga studio in Provo. Andrews discovered yoga when she was 15 years old and recovering from knee surgery. She continued practicing yoga for its physical benefits while she pursued cycling and triathlons, but she has stuck with yoga because of its mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.
“Yoga is the most organic, integrated practice that uses mind, body and spirit that I have yet to discover,” Andrews said. “I wanted to share my philosophy and love of yoga with the community, so I opened a studio about a year and a half ago. I like finding teachers who share my philosophy of yoga — that it should be sweaty, lighthearted, fun, upbeat, and a journey of strength-building and self-discovery.”
Here are seven tips to get you started on the right foot in yoga:
1. Be open-minded: When it comes to yoga, Andrews says first impressions aren’t everything. “Don’t judge yoga after one class,” Andrews said. “Give your body and mind several classes to adjust to the movements, feelings and poses, and I promise you’ll love it!”
2. Dress for the occasion: Yoga clothing is synonymous with comfortable clothing. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many people walking around in their yoga pants long after they’ve said their namastes. Andrews says the only dress code for yoga is comfortable, breathable exercise clothes.
3. Don’t be shy: Andrews encourages yoga students to give everything in class a try, but don’t be afraid to sit back and watch after you’ve given it a shot. “Look at the amazing things others can do as motivation rather than discouragement,” Andrews said.
4. Listen to your body: “Be careful and know your body and its limitations, but at the same time trust your own strength,” Andrews said. There is a simpler version of many things in yoga, so you can ask your instructor for the modified version or simply do what feels good to you.
5. Food for thought: Don’t go to yoga on a full stomach. Drink water only if needed throughout the class, and your body will need lots of water, protein and vegetables afterward, Andrews said.
6. Strike a pose: You’re enjoying Child’s Pose during yoga class and suddenly everyone around you is in a position you thought was only for contortionists. Not to worry. They got there with a lot of practice, and you can, too. “The key to challenging poses is practice, practice, practice,” Andrews says. She says to believe in the quote, “Practice and all is coming,” by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga. There are also plenty of how-to yoga videos on YouTube and other websites to help you perfect those poses.
7. Don’t sweat it: If you aren’t keeping up in class, just relax and remember yoga is all about progressing in your own way and in your own time. You won’t find a more laid back group of people than those who practice yoga. “I believe that yoga should make you smile,” Andrews said. “It should make you stronger inside and out, and it should make you sweat and breathe and stretch, all while listening to really fantastic music.”
If you’re ready to hit the mat, there are plenty of yoga studios and gyms that offer yoga classes around the valley. The Yoga Underground, for example, is at 78 W. Center St. in Provo. It often has free classes (usually the first Monday of every month), which are posted on The Yoga Underground Facebook page.
Be honest. Did that declaration make you feel a little uncomfortable? Does it strike you as sort of a stuck-up thing to say? Me too. And that’s sad. Somehow it’s ingrained in us to push against positive statements about our bodies. I often find myself responding to a compliment about my appearance by rolling my eyes, saying something like, “You’re too nice,” or by pointing out an imperfection.
But as I get older, I’m slowly realizing how trivial appearance is compared to the weightier things in life. I want to stop asking myself, do I like how I look? What are others going to think about how I look? And instead ask, do I like myself? How do I make other people feel when they’re around me? The answer to that question is far more important than if my look is on point.
Don’t get me wrong—exercising, eating well and trying to look your best are all important. They contribute to your self-esteem and help out big time in the self-love department. It gets unhealthy when we use how we’re doing in those areas to define our worth and determine the extent to which we’re going to love and accept our bodies.
I love this analogy of how you can’t truly connect with or help other people if you’re always looking through a mirror, so to speak, as you interact with someone—always worrying about how you’ll be seen, or how what you say (or post, in this social media world) will be received. I’m trying to toss that mirror to the ground and let it shatter. I’ll take my chances with seven years of bad luck in favor of trying to focus on the people in front of me and their needs, their desires, and their struggles instead of getting caught up in my own.
The real motivation for me in this body-image-makeover is that I have two little girls. Two innocent children who don’t even know body shaming is a thing. I dread the day when they realize it is. And although the “I love my body” statement seems like a rare one in our society, I want them to love theirs. So, I have to start loving mine. I have to start celebrating my body for what it is, not what it isn’t. Yeah, I’d love to switch my bum for a less flat one. I wouldn’t mind having my sister’s perfect nose instead of the one I think is a little too out there. I’d love to smooth out the cellulite, the freckles and the moles and not dread the hollow-boob you post-breastfeeding women know all about.
But the fact that I have a healthy body outweighs all of that. I can walk. Run. Dance. Exercise. Grow humans inside of me, then take care of them and play with them. And that is beautiful.
These thoughts led to my “Redefine swimsuit-ready” project. Some really amazing friends of mine and a few local companies who believe in a positive body image got together for a photo shoot. Our purpose is to help spread the word on social media that you don’t have to look a certain way to be “swimsuit ready” and to enjoy your summer to the max. Thank you to Center Style Studio for being the perfect backdrop for our simple photos and Roxana Baker for taking them!
Want to help the movement catch fire? Post a photo of yourself in a swimsuit on social media and share your thoughts on body image. Make sure you tag #redefineswimsuitready!
I wrote this article for Utah Valley 360. See the original post here.
Approximately one in seven women in the U.S. experience some form of postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum OCD or postpartum anxiety, which may be more common than PPD. And these mood disorders don’t necessarily just come right after a baby is born — they can hit up to a year postpartum. Sadly, many women suffering from postpartum mood disorders receive no help or inadequate help.
Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered or is currently suffering from a postpartum mood disorder. As part of National Maternal Depression Awareness month, I want to share these tools that will hopefully help you or someone you love get needed relief.