Category Archives: beauty

All I did was … nothing

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I recently realize how much I love the length of my hair.

I wash it, of course, and dye it because I have some grey. I use a few basic products I use. And a straightener to cut down on frizz.

But the main way I achieved this fantastic length was … not getting my hair cut!

It makes me wonder what else in my life is like this. In what other ways can I just take it easy, be patient, hang on a little longer … and things will really pan out for me?

I’m quite Type A. I like to do stuff. I like to take initiative and get stuff done. Not all life is like hair, of course, but a lot of it is, like, you can cut things off but you can’t make them grow. (Well stated, I know). I sometimes struggle with when to let gravity do the work.

Maybe it is time to let things take their course and just wait a bit, instead of trying to fix things.

Mirror, Mirror

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So, yeah, I hate them.

I started practicing yoga in a super cheap gym. I found a few amazing teachers and got hooked. Classes took place in the “group exercise” room, which had mirrors on two walls. I didn’t mind at first.  I also didn’t wear yoga clothes for a few months. Then I did but I was so used to the mirrors that they didn’t distract me.

Then I started practicing at studios, most of which chose not to have mirrors. And I agree with their reasons. We focus on outward appearance to the detriment of so many other things in our society … not being able to SEE how your body looks in a pose makes you focus more on how your body FEELS the pose … I have had some pretty big body image issues and I think it helps me to avoid mirrors.

Now, though, after a mirror-free period of several years – they are back. I practice in a place with mirrors and am committed to practicing there for at least a few more months. I chose this location and stand by my choice.

Still, the mirrors. I let myself get distracted by them. I look and look and hope I look thin rather than too large. I position myself in certain ways because of how I look, not because I am thinking about alignment. “Stop that” is easier said than done. It sounds like vanity…but vanity is a choice. Lots and lots of people have judged me – and others who are not or were not “thin enough” – negatively. That wasn’t my choice, but it affects how I feel now.

Mirrors can be helpful for alignment. It’s really, really hard for me to tell if my hips are squared forward in Warrior 1 or revolved crescent. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to get used to mirrors so much that they no longer matter. I’m just not there yet.

But where I am is: even though I don’t like the mirrors, I go practice at this place for the reasons I have. I wear the same yoga clothes. I see myself in a way I perceive as unflattering, and this is unpleasant for me, but I can let go of that thought and not let it ruin my day. Five years ago, I would have given up. This isn’t 100% where I want to be, but it is progress.

Renewing

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I haven’t run more than 3 miles since my half marathon in mid-March, and it feels great.  I now go to yoga or run on any given day – but not both. I haven’t ballooned up four size or anything and in fact I fit into jeans I couldn’t before. Having a more normal activity level makes me less hungry in general. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is!

I’m moving halfway across the country next week. I am nervous but also excited about the opportunity to renew in this way too. It’s not a new year, but it seems like a good time for some resolutions:

– I will try to love my body as it is. I don’t want to need a number to feel okay, but I may need it to start. A size 6 or 8 at 5’5″ tall is thin enough. No one is perfect.

– I will be mindful of the time I dedicate to yoga and running in relation to other activities, and so I am doing these healthy, beneficial activities for their own sake, and not compulsively.

– I will pause before reacting strongly in words or actions. I will keep trying, because “failures” or “rejections” are not about me personally.

– I will be mindful that loving myself is important before I can accept the love of others.

– I will go ahead and do things, without waiting to be perfect, or to be perfectly prepared. I am ready now.

– I will take advantage of LOTS of new student deals at yoga studios before enrolling in a monthly unlimited pass because I love the first studio I attend.

If people can make themselves healthy, should we blame them for getting sick?

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Slate recently asked If people can make themselves healthy, should we blame them for getting sick? This is framed around the “obesity crisis”, which doesn’t surprise me: being overweight is probably one of the few things you can write an article about, blaming people for, and hardly make a splash.

As much as people might reference other health issues that are considered preventable, people mostly don’t publicly say things like, hey, you’ve got cancer? Why didn’t you eat more carrots and kale? I don’t want my insurance to subsidize your expensive treatment. Your mother had a heart attack? She should have gotten up from the couch every once in a while! It would be considered very mean and unsympathetic – and rightfully so, in my opinion. Read the rest of this entry

Am I an Unexpected Runner?

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“You’re running?!”

Someone said this to me at a charity 5k this weekend. 5k is 3.1 miles, so this is not a far distance at all.

I work as a dog walker, and spent about 4-5 hours per day on my feet, walking dogs, parking a car and getting in and out of it. People in different circles of my life know different things about … but the people expressing shock that I was running 3 miles knew this.

I wear a size 6 or 8 and I’m 5’5″. I’m definitely not thin, but I’m not overweight either. I’m in my early 30s.

When I run in my neighborhood, people sometimes encourage me, pretend they’ll run with me, cheer me on… I think it’s sweet. Most of the people who do this are black men. I live in a city that is about 50/50 white and black, and in a neighborhood where the vast majority of my neighbors are black. I would say I have a body type that black men tend to like.

I took this to be the reason for the attention. It’s never been harassment. Now I start to think – are people commenting because they are shocked to see a not-super-thin person running? I was overweight as a child and it really, really offends me to think this. I’ve had issues with food and body image, I’ve lost a lot of weight, and it makes me extremely sad not only to realize not only a) it’s not enough and b) something I took as a compliment is actually a negative evaluation of me.

Body Image Inspiration

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By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body…

This comes from an online comment of a woman whose picture was posted online in order to make fun of her facial hair.

It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve come across in a long time. I love her ability not just to discard peer pressure, social pressure, whatever, but to so publicly come forward and identify herself as the person in this picture. I hope one day I can see myself as she sees herself. If I have children, I hope they will feel this way.

As much as I do admire and also find inspiring Lada Gaga and Christina Aguilera – they became famous having what society accepts as beauty. It’s different for an average person who has not had hordes of fans cheering them on.