Embrace Your #Selfie

As popularity of social media grows people are becoming more and more exposed. There is little personal information kept private and people quickly post, tag, and respond to proclaim intimate details of their lives. The selfie has evolved to allow people to provide a pictorial account of their life.

The occasional selfie can be cute and fun. Scroll any fitness, health, fashion, and lifestyle social media page and you will find it is full of selfies. Many use selfies to show progress, motivate and encourage others, and help tell the story of a personal journey. These selfies are fun and I think they should be embraced.

There are some that believe the selfie phemonenom has gone too far. Some researchers claim selfies are a sign of narcissism and decreased self-esteem and even suicide. This is a shame and shows how things can go too far. (The problem is not the selfie. Rather the person posting. We must remember there are people that have untreated and unaddressed issues but these are not the majority).

I am an advocate of the selfie. I believe the selfie can be used to promote and encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image. The selfie does not have to become a tainted trend.

I have worked with hundreds of young people. Most with low self-esteem and negative body image. Many of these kiddos withdrew and criticized self because they did not want to sound conceited. They were taught to be humble and respectful. These are very important values that should be taught. However these young people also received the message they should not feel pride or express self praise for accomplishments. Rather our youth are too quick to identify what is wrong with them. They cannot accept a complement and they have an easier time telling you what is wrong with them instead of what is right. It has been socially acceptable to speak poorly of self, identify flaws, and point out failures.

When children and young people criticize self, they are quick to criticize others. Ultimately we now have a problem with bullies. Perhaps limiting self-expressing and not allowing children (and ourselves) to freely express positive attributes in self has created an environment where criticizing self and others is common practice. Rather then groan about selfies. Let’s embrace them.

A selfie can be a practice of self love. I want to see more people show off their self love, strengths, and accomplishments. Let’s celebrate ourself so,we can celebrate each other. The selfie is a platform to encourage self esteem and self pride.

1. Selfies show appreciation for self. Now a days there is too much self depreciation. Let’s turn self depreciation into self-appreciation.
2. A selfie shows pride. More people need to know when they have done well and when they have accomplished something. There is a difference between being prideful and proud. To be proud is OK and when we are proud of accomplishments and hard work it is not being arrogant or selfish to want others to know.
3. A selfie promotes posivity towards one self. This picture is saying “I feel good” and “I look good” or “I have a sense of humor”. It is a good thing to think you look good and to feel good and to be able to laugh at yourself. More people need to embrace these thoughts to increase self love.

Selfies should be embraced not to encourage criticism and narcissism. Rather I want people to embrace their selfie as a way to improve self-esteem and increase self-love. Use your selfie to show off how great you are. Next time you see a selfie, rather then roll your eyes, praise God a person has the esteem to show off to the world. Let’s stop discouraging and start encouraging a healthy love for self. When we can love ourselves more we will love others more!

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Eat for Health – the Weight Loss and New Body Will Just Be An Added Benefit

There is so much emphasis on fad diets nowadays and people are frequently talking about the newest workout trend.  These things can be exciting and are fun to try.  The trick for maintaining wellness and health, for life, is to find what works best for you.  This requires patience because it takes time to have your body adjust to a new diet and workout routine and then it takes time for your body to show the progress of these changes.  I encourage you to try different things.  Try different workouts.  Try different ways of being physically active.  Try different diets.  This will help you find what is best for you.

However, as far as diet is concerned, adjusting your meal plan too much can cause serious health problems.  You see what you eat impacts your body, every single square inch of your body, all the way down to your cells.  Let’s discuss a little biology 101.  (Don’t worry I am not a biologist, so I will keep this simple).  As a living organism we are made up of cells.  These tiny little life sources contain many parts, including DNA.  DNA, without getting too complicated, is the roadmap that provides the directions to live, to be you, and to be human.  DNA, although tiny, is what contains your uniqueness, your ability to breathe, your ability to think, and your ability to live your life.  DNA is always replicating and reproducing in our cells to make more cells.  As long as we keep making cells then we can continue to live a healthy life.   What you eat will contain chemicals, nutrients, and products that will be metabolized down to your DNA.  Your DNA needs food and will use these chemicals, nutrients, and products (healthy or not) to continue replicating and reproducing.  It has been said before, you are what you eat!

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Some foods contain nutrients and products to help DNA continue to grow in healthy manner.  However there are also foods that can destroy and damage DNA.  Literally there are foods that will change your DNA, and this will increase risk for heart disease, cancer, blood disorders, and speed up the aging process.   Cells will be damaged, although cell death and cell damage is a natural process, you do not want to speed up this process.  What causes danger is when cells become mutated and rather than die they work to replicate the mutated cells.  This may be a slow process in the body, however, in the form of some illnesses and disease the health implications become more evident.

What you eat can slow down the aging process.  Food can actually heal the body from illness.  What you eat may not cure your illness, but it could improve your health.  What you eat can reduce the risk of disease and illness in the future.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring nor does it have to taste bad.  Eating healthy is as simple as adding some foods and spices to your diet.  Consider adding these things to your diet to help fight aging and improve your health.

  • Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that can slow down cells destruction. They are also associated with reduced heart disease, cancer risk, and disease.  Strive for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Try adding 1/2 of blueberries to cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, a banana mid morning will keep energy levels up, add a cup of broccoli to your lunch, an apple mid afternoon will help avoid that 3:00pm crash, and eat asparagus with your dinner.  Sadly french fries are the most consumed “vegetable” by American children.  Not knocking potatoes or French fries, but other fruits and vegetables offer better health benefits.
  • Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that only they can provide.  They provide the type of nutrition that cannot be obtained from a supplement or vitamin.  Try eating orange fruits and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, cantaloupe, and apricots) to improve the health of your eyes.  That is not just a myth, carrots contain nutrients that contain the same properties needed for your eyes! Eating green and yellow fruits and vegetables like melon, avocado, kiwi, green beans, and spinach are associated with decreased cancer risks.  Onions, mushrooms, potatoes and turnips lowers bad cholesterol.  Blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant improve memory and reduce the effects of cell aging.  Peppers and apples reduce risk of cancer and improve heart health.  Eat a rainbow for wellness and health!
  • Rather than cooking with butter try adding olive oil.  Do not be dismayed that oil is a fat.  We need fat in our diet.  Cooking with oil will help protect cells from damage, and oil is associated with decreased heart disease risk.
  • Nuts and flaxseed are another great fat source with added health benefits.  Walnuts, soy, flaxseeds, and beans contain nutrients to lower heart disease risks.

Perhaps eating vegetables, nuts, and beans is not your favorite thing – never fear there are things you can do to spice up your food that will help decrease adverse health complications.

  • Not only will many herbs and spices add a nice flavor to your foods but they offer health benefits as well.
  • For example garlic has chemical properties associated with decreased cancer risk.  Evidence suggested that properties of garlic fought against tumor growth and lowered risk of heart disease.  Garlic is easy to add to most foods.  Simply buy a bulb, crush, and add to meats or vegetables for a flavorful and healthy dish.
  • If garlic is too overwhelming add onion, chives, or leeks to meats and vegetables.  Research has demonstrated these additions can reduce risk of heart disease.
  • Another simple spice to add to your diet to improve the health benefits of your food is cinnamon.  Cinnamon can be added daily and adding cinnamon has been associated with decreased inflammation and decreased blood clotting.  In other words cinnamon will improve your immune system and can help keep the heart healthy by keeping blood clots from developing.  Another perk of cinnamon is that it helps with metabolism and research demonstrated it helped the body process carbohydrates.  This is important for the risk and management of diabetes because it will help blood sugar levels remain stable.  Cinnamon can be added to toast, cereal, oatmeal, coffee, and tea.  All that is needed for health benefits is 1/2 tsp.
  • Rosemary is an easily found herb that can be quickly added to foods.  Rosemary will improve food flavor and is associated with decreased cancer risk.  Try seasoning meats with rosemary.

Do not fall for the belief that dairy is bad.  Dairy is a fat, but again, fat is needed in the diet.  Here are some dairy options to consider adding to your diet for improved health.

  • Yogurt contains probiotics and probiotics (a bacteria needed for digestion) helps keep the colon and digestive system healthy and working properly.  Many yogurts contain high sugar amounts in order to improve taste.  However it is easy to keep a healthier version and still the enjoy the taste.  Add peanut butter – peanut butter makes everything better.  Or add microwaved frozen cherries, strawberries, or blueberries to a plain non-fat yogurt.  Adding granola or nuts will give the yogurt a nice taste and a crunch.
  • Drink milk because it contains calcium to keep bones strong.

And if you are still not sure you will enjoy the healthier food options discussed, try eating chocolate.

  • Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is associated with decreased risk of heart disease.  Chocolate contains chemicals and nutrients that helps arteries to improve blood flow and heart strength.
  • Chocolate, however, should be eaten with caution.  This does not give you permission to binge on chocolate.  Eating chocolate in moderation provides a health benefit.  It is easy to binge on chocolate due the association of chocolate and the pleasure receptors in the brain.  In order to avoid overeating chocolate use mindfulness while eating.  Have a seat in a relaxed area with limited distractions.    Enjoy the taste of the chocolate as you eat it.  Remaining mindful while eating chocolate will decrease the likelihood of overindulging in chocolate.  Calories may need to be replaced elsewhere when chocolate is consumed and strive to eat 3-4 oz of chocolate a week.

Carbohydrates are not bad either.  Carbohydrates are necessary for metabolizing food and for maintaining and growing muscles.  Carbohydrates are helpful for health in the following forms:

  • Carbohydrates contain fiber.  Look for foods that contain about 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber.  Fiber helps reduce risk of heart disease, reduces inflammation, and helps with digestion.
  • The problem with fiber and carbohydrates is that Americans may be consuming types that are more difficult for the body to process and metabolize and increase blood sugar levels rather than stabilize.
  • Oats and beans are high in fiber, have improved health benefits, and will also help you feel fuller longer.
  • Quinoa is a grain not only high in fiber but tons of healthy nutrients.  Quinoa is easy to eat instead of rice.
  • Eat whole grains to reduce the risk of heart disease.  There are many foods that claim to contain whole grain.  However Americans are still not consuming enough.  Look for food products that list “whole wheat flour”, “whole oats”, or “whole grain corn” first.  Wheat bread or brown bread may not contain sufficient whole grains so choose breads carefully by reading the ingredients.

You do not have to eat chicken and broccoli at every meal to find health and weight loss.  Health and weight loss can happen by simply adding fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, fats, and whole grains to your daily meals.  To be healthy does not mean you need to cut out foods you enjoy, to be healthy means to eat various foods, eat more colorful foods, and eat all foods in moderation.

Evaluate Your Future!

I have worked with many young people, in fact hundreds.  Of the young people I have worked with I am saddened by how few of them are unable to dream.  So few young people have a plan for the future.  Perhaps this is due to circumstance, perhaps it is due to the state of our economy, and perhaps it is due to society.  Despite the reason, not all hope is lost.  People young and old can continue to dream.

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose.  Notice this definition does not include “lots of money”, “fame”, or “being the boss”.  Perhaps this is why dreams die.  Perhaps people think of success as something that is too difficult to achieve.  You have success when you reach a goal, any goal!

Success is doing what you want!   Here is how you can set goals, reach goals, and have success!

  • What do you want?  It starts as simple as asking yourself that question.  The answer to this question is unlimited.  Do not be afraid to answer with something that seems to big, too complex, too unrealistic, or too difficult.  If you want a unicorn then you want a unicorn!
  • Write this goal down.  Put this goal in a place where you will see it every single day.  This will help you remember your goal and will help you stay focused.
  • Which goals are realistic and which are possible?  Here is where you evaluate your goals.  There are goals that may not be possible.  For example I, as a female, cannot play in the NFL.
  • Do not abandon your goals, for when there is a will there is a way!  Here is where you will evaluate your motivation to work for this goal.  Yep, work.  Obtaining success takes work.  So you need to ask yourself what are you willing to spend, sacrifice, and do to achieve this goal.  Use a scale of 1-10 to rate your motivation to work toward the goal.  1 is no motivation and 10 is 110% motivated.  This step is necessary to evaluate if the goal is worth keeping or if you need to move onto other goals.
  • Still motivated?  Great!  In order to get to the Big goal it is necessary to set up little goals.  Rome was not built in a day.  Make a “to-do” list of things you need to do, collect, practice, or improve to reach your goal.  Then prioritize this list from easiest to hardest.
  • Once you have your “to-do” list you can start checking things off your list.  Start with the top and work your way down.
  • Re-evaluate your goals from time-to-time.  Perhaps your day requires you to move stuff around re-prioritize your list.  Perhaps things will come up and you will need to change your short term goals.  This is OK.  Things happen.  Life happens.  Each step you take toward your goal is a step in the right direction.

The bottom line is this.  You can!  You are the variable to your future, your goals, and your dreams.  Do not be afraid to dream.  You can do all things!  Start today to do the things you can to get you there!

Accept Your Flaws

This month I am going to focus on how you can be the best you, you can be.  First of all, know and understand you are not perfect.  Let that go!  No one is.  You never will be.  No one will ever be perfect.  Release the desire, the expectation, and the hope to be perfect.  It will never happen.

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Now let us be thankful that no one is perfect.  Let us be thankful for our imperfections.  It is imperfection that makes us beautiful, unique, interesting, and fun.  Perfection is boring.  Perfection is so expected, so normal, so plain.  Consider perfect for a moment.  What does that look like to you?  Is it a family that is happy every single day?  Is it a job that you love and look forward to going to every single day?  Is it having unlimited income to buy whatever you desire?  Is it having the ideal body?  The list probably goes on and on.  So let’s say you wake up tomorrow in your perfect scenario.  Then what?  You will spend your life doing the same thing over and over every single day.  Where is the fun in that?  You see when you reach perfection you stop growing.  You can no longer learn, you can no longer change, you can no longer enjoy an experience. But because we are flawed we have the opportunity to continue to grow.  Our flaws allow us to live.

I heard this story once and I would like to share it here with you.  There are two vases.  One vase is beautifully decorated, shiny, and made with the finest porcelain.  On this vase there are beautifully hand painted flowers drawn to perfection.  Anyone who looks at this vase sees its beauty.  Then there is another vase.  This vase has been dulled due to wear over the years.  The hand painted flowers have faded.  There are cracks throughout the vase.  The first vase is used to simply sit on the mantel.  Those who enter the home and see it admire the vase and then move on.  The second vase has a more powerful story.  The cracked vase has been used for years by the family and it is worn because of its usefulness.  This vase is used to carry water from the stream back to the family to use.  Over time the vase developed cracks.  The vase is still useful for holding water, but the cracks have also let water escape as it travels from the stream to the house.  As the vase watered the Earth the path from the stream to the house filled with flowers and green lush grass.  This vase not only watered the family but it watered the Earth.  Without the flaws of the second vase this path would not be beautiful, rather it would be dead.  This vase helped make the long journey from the house to the stream and back more enjoyable.  You see the flaws of the vase contributed to growth and beauty.  Although the first vase was beautiful to admire for a moment the second vase helped nourish and water a family and the Earth.

I know so many people that say “I am so fat”, or “I am so out of shape”.  They say “if only I was skinny or more fit then I would go to the gym”.  They believe they are too flawed to work toward health and fitness.  It is easy to look at a fit person and think they have life figured out.  But the stories that are most inspiring are the people that were obese or overweight and fought, struggled, and worked hard to lose the weight.  We are not inspired by the “fit” person we see in the gym.  Sure we may want to look like them and may strive for their particular physique.  But then when we compare ourselves to that person we feel inadequate.  This comparison leaves us lacking.  However when we hear the story of the 300 pound woman that started working out and eating right and how she lost over 150 pounds we feel inspired.  Her imperfections inspire others.  Because of our flaws we can!  Flaws inspire change, hope, and growth.

Perfection does not make the world a better place.  It is the flaws of others that makes the world better. Through our flaws and imperfections we can strive to be better and we can grow, learn, seek, and inspire.  Others will see our flaws and see how, even with our imperfections, we can be good moms, good friends, good wives, good partners, good daughters, good employees, good teachers, and contributors to society.  Your flaws help you strive to be fit and healthy! Your flaws will help another!  Isn’t that worth striving for?  So rather than strive for perfection, embrace your flaws and embrace how your flaws will change you and change the world!