May 31, 2014

A Powerful Argument against “Body Shaming”

 Teen Tennis Star's Success Is A Powerful Argument Against Body-Shaming

Teen Tennis Star’s Success Is A Powerful Argument Against Body-Shaming

I am beyond inspired by an 18-year-old tennis player. Taylor Townsend was told she would not be supported by the United States Tennis Association until she lost weight. She didn’t and last week the 205th-ranked player became the youngest U.S. woman to advance to the third round at the French Open since 2003. Her success speaks for itself. 

 

Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors … I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour. — Serena Williams 

 

Many Americans struggle with being overweight and overeating. And for many this issue is kept not only private, but proliferating due to body shaming, or even the fear of being judged. 

Most of us who struggle with overeating feel embarrassed when we gain weight. As a yoga instructor and group fitness instructor, I find this particularly true. 

It has been a struggle to accept myself at my current size. I didn’t gain the weight overnight, nor will I lose it overnight. And at times, I decline invitations to things I would love to do. 

Ironic that although I think body shaming ishurtful and unacceptable behavior, I do to it myself every time I turn down an opportunity. 

 

If your comfort zone is misery, it is time to get uncomfortable.  — Coach MD

 

For those of us that may be big or bigger than we want to be, let’s still think BIG about who we are, like Taylor Townsend did.

If we don’t believe in body shaming, we ought to extend that same respect to ourselves.

This one is for the woman who is heavier than ‘they’ think she should be.

This one is for the woman who is heavier than ‘they’ think she should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2014

Beautiful Minds

 

Many of us do daily battle with addictions, disorders or diseases invisible to the eye.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

In October of 1984, my pediatrician referred me to Strong Memorial Hospital. I was 17 and was to begin treatment for anorexia nervosa. My  first appointment was scheduled on Columbus Day. 

Years before I had an eating disorder, I knew something was wrong. My parents didn’t. It wasn’t until I literally began disappearing that I flagged their concern and protection. 

On the same day of my appointment, in the same hospital, my older brother died from a motorcycle accident. As loving and strong as my parents were, despite their overwhelming grief, they couldn’t save me from what was coming. Any more than my brother could be saved. As much as they tried. 

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

Fast forward through an 11-week inpatient program for eating disorders/major depression, college, career, marriage, children and divorce. Breast cancer. It wasn’t until I was I treated for breast cancer in 2012 that I understood that not only was my depression biological, it was the bigger threat. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer and scheduled for treatment, I found myself at the center of my family’s love, among friends, neighbors and medical professionals. Others worried; I didn’t

 

 I never worried that I wouldn’t survive breast cancer; with the support around me, I never felt more alive. 

 

After my final surgery last June, my circle of support dispersed. I crashed in a way I hadn’t since the initial months following my brother’s death. Somehow I knew that if something were to destroy me, it would be depression, not cancer.  It would be slow. It would be isolating. It would be humiliating. 

My parents who had been so relieved that I dodged the breast cancer bullet, were devastated when they recognized I was in trouble. I knew I needed help and I was transparent with them. In the weeks and months that followed we engaged in an ongoing discussion about my experience of depression.

Be You Bravely

Depression creeps, then blindsides.  

I binge, my emotional equivalent of hitting Life’s eject button. 

Shame strikes.

I retreat into isolation.

 It takes a leap of faith to emerge from self-loathing. Reentry begins with a phone call. I express myself. I find my breath. I brighten.

 

The hardest part of emotional pain is seeing it through when every instinct cries: DUCK!

 

My parents shared with me that at times they felt like they lost two children. Over the years, they lost me intermittently. They celebrated my ups, felt helpless during my downs. They grieved when I withdrew. They have been unflinchingly present, unwavering in their support, eventually accepting that they couldn’t fix it for me.

 

It has taken me a lifetime to realize that I need not be ashamed. 

 

Learning to be in full acceptance of myself is the only way through. I’m resilient. I’m creative. Every day I am grateful to be alive. I have people to turn to, a faith that catches and redirects me. I have daughters to adore.

 

Yoga is so much more than the best antidepressant available. It is my practice for life. 

 

The brain is a vital and powerful organ. The more I learn about mind-body connection, the more I understand and accept that all illness, physical or mental,  is a call for medical intervention and ongoing wellness strategies. It is a call for self-care, not self-blame. It is a call for community.

 

 

images-6

Hope lives in communities with open minds and open arms. 

Connection is the ultimate healing. 

 

Please support the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
February 14, 2012

The Waiting

Cell biology

Cell biology (Photo credit: Arenamontanus)

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.” — H.G. Wells. 

Valentine’s Day 2012: Yesterday I was admitted to Reston Hospital for surgery. A small one. I had a biopsy excision to remove what appears to be a benign mass of cells. The surgery was relatively painless. Thanks to preventive measures by way of a mammogram, a biopsy, and then yesterday’s procedure, who knows? A life could be saved.

The wait begins: pathology results take a week or two to come in. But one-day post-op, I’m carefree. The radiologist detected irregular cell growth early. I acted assuredly, connecting with Dr. Jane Hanscom a surgeon at Reston Breast Care Associates. So, if  the pathologist discovers a malignancy, that just might be the good news. Finding what could be life-threatening is the reason I pay healthcare premiums that are second only to my mortgage in monthly expense.

On some days I can let worry lay waste to hours . . . and for things a lot less vital than my health. But on this day, I’m tingling. The commitment to my health drops from my head to my heart. From here,  I’ll make the daily decisions that allow each one of my 60 trillion cells in my body to thrive while I’m alive.

 

%d bloggers like this: