Are you coping with diabetes? Is your doctor shaming you because of your weight? Do you wish you had some body-positive advice for coping with this disease? I’m pleased to share with you episode 004 of The Right Now Show. In this episode, I answer a viewer’s question about dealing with Type 2 diabetes. Tune in for helpful hints for taking a Health At Every Size (R) approach to coping with this challenging disease. I offer tips for integrating exercise (even when coping with chronic pain), managing stress, and how to keep loving the skin you’re in through it all.
There are more tips available about coping with diabetes in a special article I wrote for the Association for Size Diversity And Health available here.
And there’s a really fun music video I did with Ragen Chastain all about managing family boundaries during the holidays available HERE.
For better health, find a few minutes per day to just breathe…
The idea of meditation may seem a little “woo woo” to my Midwestern upbringing, but there is more and more evidence that it actually does lower blood pressure, improve attention span and help manage stress. There’s even new evidence that indicates that meditation actually changes physical aspects of the brain over time as well. But our lives are crazy busy, and sometimes it seems impossible to add even one more thing to it. So how do we add meditation to our lives without stressing out about adding meditation to our lives?
Many experts suggest that you begin by adding just ten minutes per day. Meditation is an incredibly rich practice which can be deepened and enriched over years of practice. But you can get your start by simply focusing on your breathing. I sometimes use a really terrific iPod app called “Breathe Together”. It’s a very simple app that simply provides a breathing noise. You just synchronize your breathing to the app with the added benefit of knowing that you are synchronizing your breathing with others who are meditating throughout the world. At certain hours of the day, a specific focus for your meditation like “peace” or “joy” are suggested. One word of caution, it can sound a little odd to innocent bystanders. The first time my husband came across me using the app, he was convinced that either A) I was dying or B) Darth Vader had taken over his wife’s body.
Meditation is simply a time of quiet directed focus and can encompass many things including introspective prayer, repetitive prayer (like saying a rosary) or even a guided relaxation. In fact, I’m currently creating a special body love-inspired guided relaxation track. It will be available free for members of The Fat Chick Clique, so if you’re looking to get your OM on, hop right over to my website and join already.
In any case, my little chicklettes, I want to invite you to find just a little time, maybe just a minutes per day to take a deep breaths and relax your mind. It’s a little bit like bicep curls for your brain. You’ll feel better and be better able to manage stress better. Both of which are powerful tools for better health.
Loving your body can really help reduce stress in your life!
Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about satisfaction and stress. Today I’m going to stand at the intersection of these two ideas and talk about how feeling bad about your body is bad for your health. There’s no question that many of us are dissatisfied with our bodies. The cult of media and celebrity focuses our minds on a body ideal that is not even achieved by the most beautiful of the “beautiful people”. The vast majority of images in magazines are digitally altered to even more impossible beauty standards. And it’s a not so carefully guarded “insider secret” that a number of film and television stars demand that the image be “vertically stretched” to make themselves appear even taller and thinner on TV and the silver screen. It’s no wonder that so many of us have negative thoughts about our bodies. We’re not talking about a few minor thoughts now and again. A recent survey suggests that young women have an average of 13 seriously negative thoughts about their bodies per day–nearly one for every waking hour. And a surprising number of us have a lot more negative thoughts than that with 35, 50 or even 100 brutal thoughts about our bodies every day.
Unfortunately, all this body hatred is very bad for our health. Aside from the well known ties to depression, anxiety, and even suicide, body dissatisfaction leads to increased stress and ultimately to poorer physical health. Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver links women with poor body image with increases in the stress hormone cortisol. And increases in cortisol can lead to higher blood pressure, sleep disturbances, digestive problems and can negatively impact virtually all body processes.
So one important element in dealing with stress in our lives, is learning to love our bodies as they are, rather than constantly comparing them with impossible ideals. One way to do this is to put yourself on a media diet, and minimize exposure to fashion magazines and prime-time television. Another is (not surprisingly) to get regular exercise, as women who exercise tend to feel better about their bodies. And finally, don’t hesitate to seek advice from amazing healers like Golda Poretsky who help you make peace with your size and shape.
So whenever you’re stressed my little chicklettes, consider the notion that body dissatisfaction might be a central cause. And resolve to love the skin you’re in.
There is a lot of evidence out there that pets are a great way to relieve stress in our lives. That’s not to say they are stress-free. As anyone who has ever blotted desperately at Grandma’s hand tied-wool rug or stared despondently at the back of their once pristine leather sofa knows, pets can certainly be the cause of stress as well. But there is more and more research linking pet ownership to lower incidence of heart disease, better stress management, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. One study indicates that people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack.
So my little chicklettes, here’s my prescription for stress relief: spend some time with some four legged critters. If you already own them, spend a little more time loving on them. And if you can’t own a pet, why not spend a little time volunteering at your local animal shelter? There are lots and lots of wonderful dogs waiting for walkies. And you get a 3-fer the price of one: exercise, stress relief and making the world a better place, all in one go!