If you're ever feeling bad about your weight, particularly when looking at old pictures of beautiful, slim people - don't.
The rise in obesity is strongly correlated with the decrease in smoking rates. Basically, post-1964, we stopped lighting up and started reaching for the potato chips as an alternative way to self-soothe. Combine that behavioral change with the increased availability of junk food and prevalence of eating out and you've got yourself a three-punch combo that makes staying trim a constant struggle (at least for us Americans).
I mean, you can't even go to Staples, an office supply store where they sell paper, without being confronted with a wall of junk food at the cash register. Same for the FedEx store. Why are they selling Pringles next to the packing tape? On my old commute (which was long and stressful and topped off a long and stressful day at a job I didn't particularly like), I passed probably a dozen fast food restaurants and another half dozen gas stations stocked to the gills with junk food every. single. day. How long could I resist that level of stimulation and advertisement encouraging me to bliss out with a bag of cheesy popcorn or a crunchwrap supreme?
So if we're not suppressing our appetites with cigarettes anymore (cause we don't want cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emphysema), and we're exposed to more calories/day than any previous generation has ever experienced in the history of humankind, then you probably shouldn't feel bad about your weight.
Go ahead and eat healthy, exercise more, get fit, etc. Those are all great things. Just don't let yourself fall into a cycle of despair and guilt over weight issues or for caving into a junk food craving, because the odds are stacked against all of us. It's really unsurprising that it's an issue given the conditions. It's not all about free-will. You are the product of the society and culture you live in, and right now things are out of whack.
And this NOT a PSA to encourage you to smoke, which is infinitely worse for your health than carrying some extra weight. This is just a reminder to be kind to yourself.
-signed, the person who stopped at McDonald's for a Shamrock Shake and decided she wasn't going to feel bad about it. She'll change when everything else does too.
Look, I know I'm not very good at yoga.
If you've ever been to a yoga class, I'm that girl in the room. The one that can't do the splits, sit cross-legged without a block, or generaly mimic the teacher in any way because I'm overall so god-damned tight.
But I'm ok with that. Because it's not about looking cool, it's about feeling better and slowly improving my strength and flexibility.
When I do a little bit of yoga every day, my entire body feels good. My back issues go away. My stomach muscles are noticeably stronger. And I feel like Catwoman, which is a good thing.
So to keep up this good yoga habit through the holidays, I bought myself an early Christmas present - a travel yoga mat, specifically this one from Jade Yoga.
Like a lot of people, travel has always disrupted my healthy habits. I went up to D.C. several times this past summer and fall, and it was such pain to drag my thick yoga mat along, that I just didn't bother. But then when I'd get back to North Carolina, it would take me a little while to get into yoga again. I think it's way harder to start or re-start healthy habits, than it is to maintain them. Ergo, I should do yoga even when I'm away from home.
This Christmas we're visiting my husband's family up in New England, where I'm sure we'll be enjoying plenty of holiday cookies and candy cane drinks. We're usually pretty good about taking long walks with the dogs, but I want to keep up with the yoga as well.
So I did some research and survey said: Jade Voyager Yoga mat.
Every now and then I'll make a purchase that turns out to be the best thing ever, and I think this mat is one of those things.
It's super thin. Look how easily it fits into the front pocket of my suitcase.
It's also full-sized and super gripy - which I prefer in a yoga mat. I hate slip-sliding around.
My regular yoga mat has gotten kind of old and worn down (I think I bought it in 2003, so I may have gotten my money's worth). It's just a tad too slippery for me to feel completely comfortable sometimes. The Jade Voyager travel mat is a little too thin and unpadded for daily use, but when I decide my old yoga mat has finally given up the ghost, I might upgrade to this Jade Harmony mat, which is thicker, and definitely a little pricey, but not if you think of it in terms of price per use (i.e., for daily yoga practice, it might be worth it to splurge on a higher quality mat).
It looks nice and padded, but still extra-grippy, so you can really push down and away from the mat to get that nice downward-facing dog stretch in your lower back.
Anyway, yoga is just one of the ways I'm planning on staying healthy this Christmas and into the New Years. I refuse to feel bad about enjoying some holiday treats with my family. Yoga is a more positive and sustainable activity I can incorporate into my life to help me feel good.
How about you? Any healthy living goals for the holidays you'd like to share?
Sorry for the lack of posts around here. Been a busy bee on the editing front. Also remember that cold I told you about? Took me a solid 3 weeks to get over it. Seriously, this horrible cold has been an epidemic in Chapel Hill. Seems like everyone I meet has "just" gotten over it.
Despite feeling less than 100%, my husband and I managed to take a quick visit up to D.C. to see my parents and squeeze in a sail. Fall sailing is the best. The wind was pretty strong out on the bay (gusting up to 24 knots!), but once we got the sails double-reefed it wasn't too bad. Here's a picture of my dad. Doesn't he look happy?
I think sailing is his favorite thing to do in the world. It's one of my favorite things to do for sure. We sailed to Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore and had the most amazing crabs at Waterman's Crab House. They were so big and sweet (crabs get huge in the fall). Lately, I've had an itch to move out West, but I'd definitely be sad to be even more land-locked than we already are in Chapel Hill. Maryland is a pretty nice state if you know how to take advantage of what it has to offer (the water, mostly).
On the editing front, business has been good. Maybe too good. I'm getting loads of jobs, but then I feel like I'm always scrambling to keep up. I definitely need to start charging more. I have about 5-10 professors who have been giving me great repeat business, so I think they see the value I add to their research, so maybe it's almost time to start inching up my rates. I spend way too many hours on their manuscripts for how much I charge. This has been a reoccurring problem for a while now.
I don't mind working that hard, but it kind of defeats some of the purpose of starting this business, which was to free up more time for me to write. I'm sure some of you more experienced readers out there could have seen this coming. Starting a business is really, really hard work, and I feel so much more motivated to succeed than I ever did when I was working for somebody else. But that also means I haven't had nearly as much time to write as I had hoped I would. There were some quiet weeks over the summer when I had few editing jobs and could write all day long, but I haven't had a single day of that kind of "free time" in weeks. Part of the problem is I'm just not making time for myself to write, but then again, I'm also pretty exhausted trying to meet editing deadlines.
But all of that kind of pales in comparison with the other issue we've been dealing with at home, which is Lyme's disease. A few weeks ago, my husband was collecting fire wood out the woods and then a few days later he found a strange rash on his leg that itched like crazy. It looked like this:
In this neck of the country, we are very Lyme's disease aware. Deer ticks hang out in leaf litter, so my guess he got bit while he was collecting fire wood. He went to the doctor and came back with a 3 week course of antibiotics. Good thing he did, because even after taking the antibiotics, he started to develop symptoms: painfully sore/stiff joints, especially his knees, a serious fever, chills, congestion, etc. They say that the early-stages of lyme's disease is like a really bad flu, but I think the pain goes beyond any flu I've ever had or seen. It's like every immune response in his body suddenly turned on, and all his nerves are on fire. He describes it as a constant, deep aching or shooting pain. My husband is one of those people who hates taking time off work, but even he's very willingly stayed home these last 3 days and pretty much hasn't gotten out of bed. It just hurts too much to move around. It's really hard to watch him suffer like this (he's in serious, serious pain) when all I can do is try and make him as comfortable as I can, and ensure he's drinking lots of fluids and taking his medication. Poor guy, especially since he just got over his own horrible cold a few weeks ago. He just can't catch a break.
Way too much sickness going around here, lately. Just a lot of bad luck, I guess.
Anyway, I think we might go back to the doctor and see if they can't prescribe any stronger antibiotics. I know a lot of people who have had Lyme's disease (friends and family members) and all of them say to takes at least 3 weeks of antibiotics, and maybe another round to really get rid of all the symptoms. Fortunately, the doctors around here don't seem to be that resistant to treating it.
Wish us luck.
Writer, editor, scientist.