When was the last time you looked through an old photo album? Reminisced about how thin and cellulite-free you were at 17? How many times have you told friends about how good you used to look?
I used to do it all the time.
Until recently, I was in complete denial that my body was forever changed and would not go back to its prepubescent era. For motivation to diet and lose weight, I would look through old pictures and fantasize that I could look that way again.
I’m not sure what it was that changed my perspective, but I finally stopped obsessing over the past and came to terms with the present. I had reached my body mass index and no matter what I did, I would rarely fluctuate between 3-5 lbs. It would take drastic measures to do so, and being the health and fitness freak that I am, I was not willing to do anything drastic.
Instead, I learned to let go of the 17-year-old me and put her back where she belongs – an old photo album on the shelf. I embraced my body and its development, and I realized that though it had changed, I liked how it looked – curves and all, and it was time to celebrate it.
Something some of us struggle to understand is that we are all made differently and that our bodies are designed to develop in a certain way. It makes us unique – distinguishes us from one another. The most beautiful you will ever be is when you are comfortable in your own skin and stop seeing things as flaws but as little bits and pieces that help make you an individual.
Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but try to keep a healthy mindset about it and appreciate where you are in life because you will never be there again.
Anne Frank was born today in 1929. This quote is from her diary, “The Diary of a Young Girl” which was written while her family was in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She died in 1945 and her diary was published in 1947 by her father, Otto Frank. You can get a copy of her diary at the library.
For some of you this may come as a shock, for others you might have known longer than I have, but I am an introvert. One of the most confusing kinds – I might add.
I am social. I enjoy being with friends and doing activities, but essentially, I get my energy from being alone. Days without solidarity and time to myself drive me to the point of insanity. It causes me stress and high anxiety, and if I’m not careful, some really horrific breakdowns.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. It is my day to decompress, relax and crawl back into myself, so that I am prepared to face another week full of activity.
I live in a big city with lots of people and LOTS of things to do. It is stimulating to the point of being overwhelming. There is always something going on that demands my attendance, and for a while I struggled to turn things down.
See, I moved here right after college, not knowing many people. I believed that the only way I could survive and make this place my home was to immerse myself in the social realm and develop new and strong friendships. I felt pressured to keep up.
So I went out. I did happy hours, went to as many concerts and parties as possible and participated in numerous group dinners.
To an extent, I was successful. After two years of living in DC, I can happily say that I have developed amazing friendships that I truly cherish.
But I recently noticed that while I focused all of my energy and attention on building these relationships, I had neglected a big part of who I was. I oppressed my inner hermit and suffered greatly for it.
After experiencing what was a painful and troubling identity crisis, I rediscovered what brings me peace and joy: solitude. Through exercise, meditation, reading and journaling, I rebuilt my inner structure and found comfort once again in my own company.
For the last several months, I have been working on finding a balance between my social life and my introversion. I refrain from committing to anything that doesn’t require a ticket and ensure that at least one day a week, I stay in and limit the external stimulants as much as possible.
Instead of spending time with friends, I go for a run, cook myself something delicious, climb into bed and write or read whatever book is currently sitting on my nightstand. And I love it.
Living in a city can be extremely difficult and scary for introverts like myself. The stimulating environment can drive you inward, creating a lonely and recluse lifestyle, or it can push you so far out of your comfort zone that you suffer from anxiety like I did.
However, living in a city can also be incredibly enriching and teach you a great deal about yourself and how to contribute to society without being too overwhelmed. All you need is a little balance. Getting there is the tricky part, but stick it out, because once you get there, I assure you that you will be pleased with what you find.
I still dream of living in a cabin in the woods with a lot of land and the closest neighbor living over a mile away, but now I can say that before I got there, I successfully and happily lived in DC where I met amazing people, worked with some of the most influential people in the world and developed a stronger sense of self. And it will taste that much sweeter.
spring salad mix
chopped yellow pepper
light balsamic vinaigrette
Life is a dance we try to perfect with each step we take. Some people waltz because it is safe with the same few steps repeated again and again. Some people free style because it’s exciting, for they never know what may be their next move. Some people lead. Some people follow. Some people get better as they go, and some people just don’t have rhythm.
And then there are those who came out of nowhere and completely catch you off guard. You watch them take the stage with this natural, confident aura that tells you this dance will be special, one worth watching.
The music begins, but you don’t recognize it. Its something you’ve never heard before, and immediately you’re intrigued. The suspense builds, and finally the dance begins.
The moves are fast but controlled, sexy but graceful. The dancer becomes one with the music, creating something hypnotizing. There’s something about it that makes it impossible to take your eyes away. It’s captivating and beautiful, and you don’t want it to stop.
Suddenly, you begin to pick up the steps, and before you know it, you’re out of your chair dancing along. At first you’re scared. You feel bewitched by this riveting dance, and then you realize, you have entered a world you strangely seem to know. The place you used to fantasize about, not knowing it would one day exist.
And this is where you stay. Dancing an infectious dance to music you’ve never heard before in a world you thought was only a fabrication of your mind. All because of the dancer that took you by surprise.
Young girl jumps to her death on a hot summer day in August.
Leaving her mom and three sisters’ in tears, Courtney Miller, 15, died from a tragic bungee-jumping accident. The cord was too long, and Miller snapped her neck after jumping off a two-story platform in Gatlinburg, TN.
That is what my obituary would have read if the experience had gone awry.
I was aware there was a chance I could get hurt or maybe even die; statistics said so. Screw statistics. I like to consider myself a risk-taker, someone who likes to live on the edge. You say, “Jump.” I say, “How high?”
This was one of those times. It was my mom’s birthday, and my three sisters and I decided to go bungee jumping. I was second. Daring to be different, I decided I wanted to jump backward.
Was I scared? Not at first. It did not even look that high, not from the ground at least. It was when I got to the top of the platform that everything changed. I looked down and noticed that the people on the streets looked like ants. I could feel my knees go weak and my heart begin to race.
I almost considered backing out, but then I heard my dad’s voice ringing in my ears saying, “Millers are tough,” an over-used quote of his when we show a sign of weakness and want to give up.
Stubborn that I am, I decided to go through with it. The instructor could smell my fear. He told me not to worry, that he knew what he was doing. He then measured my height and weight, which did not bother me since this was before puberty did its damage. After that, I was ready to get into the harness.
Considering it was the only thing keeping me from plunging into oblivion, the equipment seemed rather light and simple to me. Regardless, I had made up my mind, and I was going to follow through.
The instructor told me to go to the edge of the platform and turn around to face him. I did, and that is when the intensity began to pick up. He gripped onto my vest, with nothing to hold him steady, and told me to lean back. Instead of rethinking the insanity of the situation, I complied with his orders. Talk about trust issues.
With half of my feet dangling from the platform, I slowly leaned back. Unable to see anything below me, my eyes locked into the instructor
’s, pleading for him not to let me die.
“On the count of three I’m going to let go,” he said. “One. Two…”
And I was gone; falling into thin air with an elastic rope hooked to my waist. I could not tell you how fast I dropped. To me, it felt like an eternity. Once I reached the lowest point, I could feel the tug of the cord. It was taught, holding all of my weight, about to fling me upward if it did not break beforehand.
I closed my eyes tight as I was thrown back up into the air. In all actuality, that was the scariest part about it. It was then that I felt helpless, weightless, like a feather floating in thin air. My stomach turned the way it does when you are driving quickly over a hill. I felt like I was going to throw up. It was exhilarating.
Once the oscillation came to a halt, I was carefully lowered onto the mat. My blood was still rapidly pumping and I was trying to catch my breath. I walked away with a smile covering my face, happy I did not back down.
I am glad I went. In fact, I would do it again. Maybe next time instead of a platform, I will jump off a bridge. The point is, I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone and had an amazing experience that I will never forget.
For some people, dieting seems easy. Maybe they just don’t get hungry, you think. Maybe they have some magical hormone that suppresses their appetite, allowing them to get by with very little.
Or maybe they have more psychological problems than you could imagine.
Regardless, you are not one of those people. You enjoy food. In fact, you love it – sometimes a bit too much.
After indulging in what you know is “bad,” you try to justify it by telling yourself that you deserved it because you had a really shitty day or you’re out celebrating something.
Then when you feel sick later, you scorn yourself for over-eating and punish yourself by not eating the next time you’re hungry. It’s an abusive relationship that repeats itself over and over again.
I want you to know that you are not alone. Many people suffer from having an unstable relationship with diets.
The problem is not that they don’t know how to be healthy. It’s that they don’t know how to stay healthy – how to have a sustainable diet and make it part of their lifestyle.
They know what healthy food looks like; they know they should be eating carrots instead of french fries and that the pizza the other night was not the best idea or the ice cream that came afterward.
But they don’t know how to make the transition to eating healthy without regressing.
Dieting, or depriving yourself of certain foods to quickly shed pounds is not always healthy, nor is it sustainable. Hints why so many diets are considered fads. Eventually, they wear off, old habits return and the weight that was once lost comes back with a friend.
If you want to develop a healthy lifestyle, you are going to have to take it slow. Approach it as you would a relationship. Be patient and flexible. Don’t berate yourself when you struggle, just get back up and keep moving forward.
You may not see results immediately, but that is no reason to give up. You’ve lived a certain way for a long time and got accustomed to your eating habits, which now feel threatened.
There’s nothing wrong with going out of your comfort zone, though. Sometimes, that’s the best way to learn about yourself. So, I encourage you to try new things.
Find recipes for vegetables you’ve never cooked before, try walking or biking to work and sign up for a group exercise class like zumba or kick boxing.
Find the fun in being healthy and it won’t be something you dread or have to obsess about.
After a while, you may come to find that you can actually crave a salad and that pizza can give you a hangover. Running, when you’ve been walking to and from work for the last few months, won’t seem so difficult and being in the front of your kick boxing class won’t seem so intimidating.
Just remember that if this is something you want for the long run, you’re going to have to take baby steps and maintain a positive attitude. There will be ups and downs, but a healthy lifestyle is a relationship worth committing to.