Fact: I Heart the Keep It Real Challenge

As I was browsing through Facebook status after Facebook status this morning, I stumbled across an interesting looking article posted by the National Eating Disorders Association. The status said, “Stand up to magazines that publish digitally altered photos!” Now, I could go on and on about how I feel disappointed every time I see a magazine promoting how to lose ten pounds in one week, or how sad I feel when some already slender celebrity lost five more pounds for her wedding, or how it disheartening it is to realize most faces and bodies printed in these magazines are, indeed, not real. So, out of curiosity and hopefulness I clicked on the article to see what this was all about.

What I found was nothing short of shocking…

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I read fact after fact, and each time my heart sank just a little bit more. Girls are so affected by the standards that the media sets regarding the way we should look…so much so, that, it seems as if hating and bashing your own body is the norm.

And my heart took a dive deeper into my stomach as I read the line in the article that said, “Eating disorders are the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-24 (National Eating Disorder Organization 2012).” Leading. Cause. Of. Death. These are children, young girls, that are so affected by the unrealistic definition of beautiful, that they will do anything to try to attain it.

As important as it is to teach the world the real impact the media has on poor body image and eating disorders, it’s just as important now to do something to make a change. And that’s exactly what the Keep It Real Challenge is all about.

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One of my favorite quotes from the article is, “Instead of young girls pushing themselves to fit into a swimsuit, this social media campaign will inspire them to challenge the media creators who propagate unrealistic images of young girls and women, and encourage them to enjoy their summer in other more positive ways.”

Inspire.

Challenge.

Encourage.

What if the media set a new standard. Not one that only idolizes women who are touched up with an airbrush, but one that says beautiful is you just the way you are. Dark circles, laugh lines, wrinkles, freckles, curves and all…beauty is what is real.

What’s stopping you? Let’s do this. Check out the Keep It Real Challenge for yourself, share it with your friends and families, share it on Facebook, twitter, and instagram, and participate! Today, right now, 78% of 17 year olds are unhappy with their body, and I’d almost bet that number increases with age. We can totally turn that number around if we all try to make a change. Real is beautiful. Believe it and represent it!

Let’s keep it real!

ang

A Friday Affirmation: Your Arms

I’ve always thought that limbs were kind of weird.

I mean, if you think about it, a human is a body with four limbs. Four gangly, weird limbs.

But boy oh boy, I sure do love my arms.

They let me give hugs as often as I want. They allow me to pick up my princess Tia. They give me momentum to run faster. They give me the ability to lift heavy things. They’re there to let you know that I love you this much.

Have you told your arms that they are beautiful lately? Ever?

Spread them out as wide as you can.

Remember to love your arms that much.

ang

Wanting and Wishing

My little sister has naturally curly hair. Beautiful curly hair. She has always had this curly hair…quite unruly at times, as evidenced by her third grade school photo in which my fifth grade self attempted to french braid it for the picture day.

She always wished for straight hair.

When I was little I had the straight hair, and wouldn’t you know it, I wished for it to be curly. My hair was long and boring, and all the cool kids had perms. Sure my mom fixed it beautifully everyday, curled bangs with a headache-inducing side ponytail, but I wanted more. This just goes to show that we all wish for the things we don’t have.

But, I’ve learned that it’s important to be careful what you wish for…now in my adult life I have this wavy/curly/straight/frizzy combo hair. Hair that doesn’t go out in public unless a blowdryer and straightener or curling iron has been put to it.

What I wouldn’t give to have my childhood hair back.

A few months ago, near the end of my spring marathon training, I told a friend of mine that I wished it was after my marathon and I could run shorter distances, less mileage, and strength train more. Long runs are hard and time consuming, and marathon training in general takes a toll on a person. I wished for the night I could drink a glass or two of wine and not worry about it hurting my long run the next morning.

And now that I can’t go on that long run…that’s all I want to do!

I vaguely scratched out a training plan for Chicago that started last week. By vaguely scratched out I just mean that I planned my long run schedule for each weekend. This past Saturday has an “8” written in the box.

I didn’t run eight miles. I didn’t run one mile. Girl, be careful what you wish for.

This morning I went out for a short “test” run, and fingers crossed, I think my knee is on the up-and-up. I made it a mile and a half, stopped for thirty minutes of a bootcamp workout in the parking lot with four other lovely ladies, then another mile and a half back home. All pain free.

The moral of the story friends? Be grateful for what you have going on right now. Today. I’m excited for my long training runs to come, but today I enjoyed running short, squatting low, and lunging forward.

And, I guess I’ll be grateful for this pile of frizz I have knotted on top of my head, too.

ang

Scatterbrained

I am pretty scatterbrained as of lately. I go through my day, come across something that sparks an interest, make a mental note to blog about it (or update my status, or tweet, or instagram about it), then I go on to the next thing and forget. I thought I’d have more time come summer, but so far it is proving the opposite.

So, since I don’t set aside enough time in the day to write a thoughtful, inspiring blog post, here goes a post of random things that have sparked my interest over the past few days.

First of all, did I say summertime? It’s summer! Summer is totally, without a doubt, my absolute favorite season…time for some sunshine and smiles. I love summer so much that I feel like I should have had a grand countdown to its arrival.

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I said that I didn’t set aside enough time to write thoughtful posts, but that wasn’t completely true. You see, I’ve reignited my addiction to pinterest, which means that my blog-writing time has turned into searching for pretty (or yummy) things that I want to make, but actually don’t have time to make.

I love pinterest and I love the creativity it opens up in me again, but like I said before, there is still a love/hate aspect to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop repinning cute outfits, yummy looking treats, or ideas for my dream home someday. However, you will never see me repin a “workout for your love handles” or a picture of a skinny girl as inspiration. A place where people with common interests to share their ideas and what inspires them is a great invention! However, some of these pins are degrading and aimed at making you feel bad about yourself.

But, I did repin this little gem…

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Word.

Did you know that I love Demi Lovato? Even if you didn’t know that, you probably could assume I loved her based on my background in eating disorder recovery and what she stands for. What an amazing (and real, might I add) role model to have out their in celebrity-land. Her song Skyscraper…pretty sure I could listen to it over and over forever and not get sick of it.

So, that’s what I’m doing right now. 🙂

Did you see she was on the cover of Cosmo? Love that. You know what I didn’t love, though? As I waited in line to pay for my groceries, I picked up this magazine (because this is pretty much the only place where I get any reading done) to try to flip through to see her article. I had to flip quickly because it was almost my turn in line, and I opened the magazine right to the article How to Get a Bangin’ Body For Summer (or something along those lines).

You know I’m all about fitness. I love being active, I love running, and I love anything that will give me a good workout. I love endorphins. However, I don’t love all these things because I think it will give me a “bangin’ body.” I love these things because they make me feel empowered. Confident.

Come on world. Come on magazine peeps. Let’s write an article How to Love Your Already Bangin’ Body that God Gave You This Summer. If I saw that article advertised in the grocery checkout line…I think I’d actually buy the magazine. (Cosmo…if you need someone to freelance write that article for you…)

So speaking of fitness, after taking a week off I went for a run yesterday.

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But today, these shoes were made for walking instead. Yesterday I felt fine for about two miles…and that’s when I should have stopped. The ol’ knee started acting up during the last two miles. I think it’s getting better, but I need to stay off of it a little bit longer. Better be safe than sorry. I’ve been hitting the weights hard, though, and I’m absolutely loving how strong I feel. If I see you in person I will probably have to show your my new guns. 😉

Did you like that last photo? Yeah, I discovered instagram. Love it. Find me, follow me.

Hey guess what? Joplin called. The hubs and I are going to jumpstart our road trip vacation by volunteering with Rebuild Joplin in July! Totally stoked. I hope I get to make my daddy proud and wear a hard hat.

And on that note, I think I’ll go make another cup of delicious coconut mocha coffee.

ang

Because I Love To Run

Guess what I’m doing on this beautiful day…National Running Day?!

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…not running.

At first I was utterly disappointed about the fact that I am not running today. I love running, and not participating in this wonderful and challenging sport that I love on its own national holiday just doesn’t seem fair.

But yesterday, as the day went on, that little pain in my knee started to go away. This morning when I woke up there was absolutely no evidence of any knee pain.

And for Chicago’s sake (and successful marathon training’s sake and potential PR’s sake), I want to keep it that way!

So instead, I am going to celebrate National Running Day by spending some quality time with some weight machines and dumbbells…so that when it’s time I will be running better than ever!

Today I don’t run because I love to run.

ang

Time For Chicago…Kind Of

This week marks the start of training for marathon number three!

Chicago!

Well, kind of. I’ve printed out blanks calendars from now through October, but I’ve only filled in maybe one fourth of the days. It’s always a tricky little thing deciding how I want to go forward with training…do I want to incorporate hills (ummm…not really, but I should), speedwork (heck yes!), strength, cross training, intervals, yassos, and so on and so on…? And by the time I fill in all the days, I probably will change it around a million and a half more times before October seventh. And then I have to consider how I am going to train while I’m on vacation at the beach in July. Where will I run? Will I want to run (or will I want to happily nurse a Corona hangover every morning instead?!) Do I run on the beach? If so, do I run with shoes on or barefoot? What if I’m running and I step on a seashells and cut my foot?

So many things to consider. Clearly all logical.

And as excited as I am to run Chicago, it still feels like a long time away.   Which, at this point, might be a good thing considering that as soon as my right inner thigh finally stopped hurting (last week!), my right knee is now hurting. Is there a correlation here (the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…the knee bone’s connected to the shin bone…)? So frustrating.

I’m getting old.

So on top of my obviously logical concerns above regarding a training plan, how do I get started? Do I rest a little longer and postpone training to try to get my knee to stop hurting? Do I push through it like I did last summer and hope the pain goes away like it did last summer? Do I make my husband give me leg massages daily until it heals up? Do I yoga more? Stretch more (duh)? Roll more?

Too many questions and choices and decisions to make. All I want to do is run…and start running faster. And strength train…and start getting stronger.

So for now, that’s what I’m going to try to do.

ang

A Friday Affirmation: Your heart

You have a beautiful heart.

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It gives you the drive to follow your dreams.

It sustains your life in this world.

It keeps going, even when it is hurt and broken.

It gives life to the rest of your body.

It continues to beat, after three miles, after six miles, and after twenty-six miles.

It allows you to give love and to have love.

Yes, your heart is beautiful.

ang

Change Your Thoughts…Change the World

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I haven’t been posting my Friday Affirmations very regularly, and I am missing that. Sometimes it is a challenge to come up with an affirmation every week, but it is a good way to dig down deep and figure out the things I love about myself. The things that we all love about ourselves.

But I’ve been thinking about how these affirmations, or any affirmation, compliment, or kind words can impact a person. Does it really make a difference? If a person looks in the mirror and tells themselves they are beautiful, does that mean they will believe it? Do I believe it?

One thing I do know is that the more a person tells themselves that they are ugly or fat or unworthy, the more they will believe it. So shouldn’t it work the other way around?

I have a challenge for you (and myself). Let’s change our thoughts to positive thoughts, and let’s send a message to the world. It’s okay to love ourselves. It’s okay to think we are beautiful just the way we are.

1. Change your thoughts. Look in the mirror each day and tell yourself one things that you absolutely love about yourself. It doesn’t have to be something big. It could be that you love that little freckle on your nose. It doesn’t have to be something physical. It could be that you love that you have a caring heart. No matter what it is, tell yourself something new you love everyday.

2. Change the world. Tell someone else that you think they are beautiful…and tell them why. Let someone know how important they are to you. Give a complete stranger a compliment. However you want to do it, make an impact on someone else…everyday.

The more we are able to share the beauty of this world…the beauty that is you and me…the more the world will start believing it.

ang

How We Respond to the “Bad Stuff”

Last night as my husband and I were laying in bed he asked me if I knew what tomorrow was. I’ll admit that at first I didn’t know. I thought to myself, but I couldn’t come up with anything. I knew it wasn’t any of our anniversaries, and I usually remember all the specifics, all the way down to what I was wearing, to anything important as it relates to our relationship.

Right about the same time he asked me, a commercial previewing the nightly news came on the television. That’s when I remembered.

One year since the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

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My husband asked if I remembered where we were when it happened. Of course I do. We were at our duplex here in mid-MO, we had just gotten some dinner, and we were preparing to cook it. At first when news came on about tornado development I didn’t think too much about it. Tornado watches, and even warnings, are fairly common in the midwest…but nothing ever really happens.

And then came the devastation. I continued to watch the news, and my level of concern continued to rise one-hundred-fold. Proof of the disaster kept appearing all over my television and it was evident in the news reporters…speechless and shedding tears.

There is one thing in life that becomes more apparent the older I get. Bad stuff is going to happen. Inevitable and simply out of our control. However, it’s in how we respond to the “bad stuff” that shows greatness, growth, and an immense amount of faith.

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I remember watching the feed on twitter that night as the news of the Joplin tornado continued on through the night. I remember my heart sinking each time a new, higher death count was revealed. I remember listening in terror to the youTube video of someone hiding in a gas station as the twister came through. I remember sending up prayers each time someone posted the description of a loved one they were missing.

But I also remember all the people jumping to help. Doctors, nurses, policemen, firefighters, construction workers, and ordinary, everyday people. So many people wanting to help that they had to turn away volunteers. I think that in this moment of time, humankind’s true compassion was more apparent than ever, and I’d like to think that the people of Joplin felt that they were not alone. That they were loved.

I haven’t been to Joplin since I graduated from college there four years ago, but this summer I plan to visit the city that I visited nearly every other weekend for three years and spent a year living there myself.  I have only witnessed the tragedy through photos and news stories, but even a year later I’m sure there is still evidence of it.  But greater than the proof of the disaster, I am sure I will see evidence of teamwork, hope, and the greatness that can be achieved when people all come together for a common cause.

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We will recover and come back stronger than we are today.”

With God’s help they have, and continue to do so. Please send your prayers to the people of Joplin today, and remember to count your blessings.

ang