Healthy Byte: No Immunity to Body Image Woes

Personal Note: According to the latest statistics from WHO, the modern day average woman is 5’4″, around 140 lbs, and is between a size 12-14. On a good day, standing the tallest without flat out cheating on demi pointe, I measure 4’10”, 95 lbs, and a size 0. This stark difference shouldn’t insinuate that there’s something wrong with me or should it mean that I’m a closet anorexic or that I am immune to snide remarks that I am “too skinny,” “too thin,” “need to eat something.”  Can you imagine the overwhelming backlash if I suggested someone should lose a few pounds or eat a little less? Undoubtedly, I’d be quickly be chastised as the soulless devil ‘fat shaming.’ However, when similar line of remarks are conveyed to those who has worked hard to be fit or just naturally tend to be slender, it goes on as accepted jest. Why is that? This double standard is rather perplexing and I think this article is a nice highlight that shows no matter what someone’s size is comments about their figure – in jest or no, can be hurtful to one’s body image.

Skinny Minnie, Bones and Toothpick are just a few of the nicknames I’ve been assigned over the years.

I’ve always been thin and boney. My clavicles jut out, my chest and abdomen are mostly rib cage and I have what my family calls “chicken arms.”

Growing up I was a lanky kid, moving through life like a windmill of long appendages attached to pointy elbows and knees. Now, in my late 20s I’ve filled out a bit but am still naturally slim.

When I was younger I laughed off comments about my weight, knowing that I was still growing, but now they really bother me. Instead of being greeted with a typical “How are you?” when hugging friends hello, I often hear, “You’re skin and bones. You need to eat.” This statement insinuates that I don’t take care of myself. In my mind I reply, “You know I eat. All we do is eat when we hang out. My body hasn’t changed in the five years we’ve known each other.” Outwardly I smile and move on with other conversation. After all they don’t mean to offend me. But would these same friends instruct me to consume a few less calories a day if I was curvy? Definitely not.

I’ve been skinny shamed.

I practice proper eating habits, giving equal opportunity to both clean, organic meals and junk food alike. Occasionally I work out, mainly in an attempt to build and tone muscle. After annual doctor’s appointments I’m given a clean bill of health, yet friends’ negative comments about my weight imply otherwise.

Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, emails me, “There is a range of body sizes that exist naturally in the world. You cannot make a judgment on someone’s health simply by looking at them. We are in this cultural moment when there are so many confusing messages about what is ‘healthy,’ and so much of how we’ve come to define health is linked to external measures — a number on a scale or a chart or what someone looks like. Just because someone has a larger body doesn’t mean they don’t take good care of their physical and mental health. And just because someone is closer to the mainstream image of a healthy body doesn’t mean that person is healthy.”

With no two people exactly alike, it seems archaic that society classifies one particular silhouette as a woman’s “ideal” body shape. I’ll never be curvy, just as some ladies will never be flat chested, and that’s ok. We shouldn’t create unrealistic expectations for what the perfect female should look like. Differences are what make us beautiful and diversity should be celebrated.

British personality and fashion maven Alexa Chung is no stranger to this scrutiny. In 2012 the naturally tall and slender muse took a break from Twitter and set her Instagram account to private after social media followers accused her of starving herself. Back then Chung told reporters, “[…] just because I exist in this shape, doesn’t mean that I’m like advocating it and being like, ‘I look great.’ How do you know I’m not looking in the mirror and going ‘I wish I could gain 10 pounds?’ Which is actually quite often the case…People that are bigger can be on the front covers of magazines being like ‘I’m really happy with my shape.’ But if I was to do that, I’d be completely criticized and ridiculed. But why can’t I be happy with how I look?”

Body-shamers continue to berate Chung with hurtful words, referencing her thin frame and stating she’s unfit to be a role model.

In a recent video for Vogue, Chung explains that haters often comment on “how scrawny I look or how gross I am.” She says it’s difficult to know how to respond because “I want to be able to promote a healthy body image…I would love to look like Daisy Lowe (an English fashion model), but I don’t, but I’m happy with how I look. Equally, I don’t want to use this as an example of how young girls should look.”

In November one Twitter user referred to Ariana Grande’s body as an unsexy stick. The singer responded with a reminder for people to love and celebrate their bodies regardless of shape or size and included few choice words for the troll who insulted her.

A tweet from Ariana Grande addressing body shaming. (Photo: Twitter)

It seems that society still has a long way to go before we are able to completely look beyond a woman’s physical appearance and simply appreciate her for her talents, intellect and spirit.

Earlier this year I participated in my alma mater’s career day, providing students with insight and tips for succeeding in the media industry. After the event I asked a family member who works at the school if the students had any feedback on my presentation. She told me some of the girls said, “Wow, Noelle is so skinny.” That was it. Wait, what? The only thing some of these students took away from my conversation was the shape of my body? The response was hurtful and made me feel disappointed in the future generation and the ideologies that are being ingrained in young women’s minds.

At the time I was an editor at Lucky Magazine. A few weeks after this experience, my picture was posted on Lucky’s Instagram account to promote their online shopping platform. Most of the comments were positive, but I couldn’t help but focus one: “Does she eat anything?”

The author’s photo posted on Instagram. (Photo: Instagram)

The criticism upset me. I thought to myself, “Doesn’t this woman know that I can see her comment?” In a response that admittedly wasn’t mature, I clicked over to her account and passive aggressively liked her photos. Every single one. Honestly, I hoped to get her attention. I wanted her to realize that there was a real person on the receiving end of her negative statement.

When discussing remarks like this, Mysko told me, “It can be hard to recognize just how damaging these comments can be because they are validated everywhere in our culture. There’s a whole body shaming lexicon that is used in the name of ‘entertainment.’ But shaming hurts. No matter how anonymous or jokey you think you’re being, there are real people who are victimized by these comments.”

If an individual is truly dealing with an eating disorder, statements like this can be detrimental. “This brand of concern trolling is dismissive and hurtful to people who are struggling with anorexia, a life-threatening illness that has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis.” Mysko says, “If you are truly concerned that someone has an eating disorder, the most damaging thing you can do is make that person feel ashamed about her/his appearance. And of course, eating disorders affect people of all shapes and sizes, so the fact that very thin people get singled out doesn’t match up with the reality of who actually struggles.”

We saw this scenario in November when model Magdalena Frackowiak shut down a TMZ reporter backstage at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. He asked Frackowiak what she was most looking forward to eating after the show. Ticked off, she replied, “What? No guys, not with this kind of questions [sic]. This is stupid. Ask more smart questions. No, you make me feel like, you make me look like, an idiot…But it seems like I’m starving myself and I can’t wait for the show to end to eat.”

This is another example of an individual drawing ignorant assumptions based on a person’s body type.

Incidentally, it’s a problem the plus-size community is all too familiar with. For over four years, blogger and creative consultant Nicolette Mason has penned her column “Big Girl in a Skinny World” for Marie Claire. While most remarks from readers are positive, she still receives cutting feedback.

“When I’m featured on Marie Claire’s Instagram, I receive a lot of negative comments,” Mason tells me. “People say I’m promoting obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle when in fact I’m the healthiest that I’ve ever been. It’s incredibly invasive and presumptuous to look at someone and think you know whether they are healthy or not.”

As an advocate for body positivity, Mason believes the fashion industry and society as a whole should explore new beauty norms. “I think it’s awful that thin women are also attacked for their weight,” Mason says. “Body shaming is body shaming whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20.”

Nicolette Mason, who pens a column for Marie Claire. (Photo: Instagram)

My hope is that society and women specifically will stop fanning the flames of the body negativity movement that has become dangerously pervasive. By simply thinking of the consequences our words can have on an individual before we post or speak them, we can take great strides in extinguishing the inferno.

Mysko says, “At the end of the day, it’s important to acknowledge that every person, regardless of weight or size, deserves body confidence.” Hear, hear.

If you or someone you know would like information on eating disorders, or to learn how to receive help and treatment visit the National Eating Disorder Association or call their live helpline: 800-931-2237 (U.S.), National Eating Disorder Information Centre(Canada), The Butterfly Foundation(Australia), BEAT (UK) and We Bite Back can help.


Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.”

~ Grenville Kleiser

Healthy Byte: 12-Minute Full Body Workout

You’re welcome!

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most efficient ways to improve your fitness. Trainer Farouk Houssein (pictured) created this plan to target your entire body in only 12 minutes! (Photo: The Fhitting Room)

When life has you down or stress seems overwhelming, sometimes there’s only one thing you can do: Sweat it out.

The body benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are well-known: You reap the results of your plan (whether it be cardio, strength, or a combination of both) in a super-short workout. The mental benefits, however, shouldn’t be underestimated: After a HIIT session, you’ll feel refocused, proud of yourself, and powerful. The workouts are so short that even the most crazy-busy person can fit one in.

That’s why we reached out to the HIIT specialists — The Fhitting Room studio in New York City — for a quick, full-body workout that’s also a heck of a lot of fun. The routine below, created and demonstrated by Fhitting Room trainer Farouk Houssein, delivers results in only 12 minutes!

“This workout is efficient and to the point. Anyone who is pressed for time or limited on equipment can do this,” Houssein tells Yahoo Health. “These dynamic exercises combined with the high-intensity design of the workout will build lean muscle and blast fat long after your workout is complete.”

How to do it: The workout has two parts: a 2-minute interval session and an 8-minute circuit challenge. Rest 2 minutes after the intervals before going on to part two of the workout.

PART 1: 4-Minute Tabata Burn

Tabata is a method of interval training that combines all-out bouts of exercise with very short rest periods. For this workout, you’ll do 20 seconds of max effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat this eight times (4 minutes total). Alternate between the two exercises below each round.

1. Tuckups

Start on the ground, balancing yourself on only your butt and hugging your knees. 

This will be your start and end position.

Then, simultaneously extend the legs and arms out.

Bring your knees and arms in to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.

2. Burpees

Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees and hips to lower your body into a squat, then place your hands on the floor in front of your body.

Then, kick your feet back so that you are in pushup position. Lower your chest to the floor.

Then reverse the movement: Press up to finish the pushup, kick your feet into a squat, and stand up. Complete the move by jumping into the air with arms overhead. All of that is one rep.

PART 2: Full-Body Challenge

For the second part of this workout, set a timer for 8 minutes. Do eight reps of each exercise below, in order. That’s one round. Complete as many rounds as you can before the timer buzzes. (Rest as needed.) Record how many rounds you finish so that you can try to beat your number the next time you do this workout.

1. Dumbbell Thrusters

Perform this exercise as one continuous movement.

To begin, hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders with palms in and elbows facing forward.

Then, bend at your hips and knees to lower your body into a squat.

Now rapidly stand up while pressing the dumbbells overhead. (It’s OK to use the momentum of your body to help press the dumbbells.)

Return the weights to your shoulders, and repeat the steps. 

2. Renegade Row with Pushup

Grasp a set of dumbbells, palms in. Set up in a plank position: dumbbells and your toes on the floor, arms straight, with your body forming a straight line from head to toe.

Keeping your body in a straight line, pull one dumbbell up to your chest, squeezing your upper back at the top of the movement.

Return to the plank position.

Row the dumbbell on your other side, then perform a pushup. All of that is one rep.

3. Jumping Alternating Lunges

Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Take a big step forward and lower the body until the back knee gently touches the ground. Keep your shin vertical, and don’t let the front knee pass your toes.

Jump both feet off the ground simultaneously and switch leading legs in the air.

Land in the same position, but with the other leg in front. That’s one rep.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: “Betcha can’t eat just one”

Remember this early 90s campaign?


Turns out there’s some truth to it.

Ever been elbows-deep in a jumbo bag of potato chips, telling yourself just a few more, but stopping when only crumbs remain? Ever baked a pan brownies and shaved just a few millimeters from the edge every time you walked into the kitchen? Ever go to the movies and just had to get buttery popcorn? We like to call these trigger foods and some people are more prone to lose control than others. But the first step in breaking their hold is understanding why they hypnotize us in the first place.

(Photo: Getty Images)

For starters, it’s basically encoded in our DNA to binge on salty, fatty, and sugary foods, or on various combinations of the three. Back in the day, foods with high levels of these nutrients (and ergo, lots of calories) were rarely found in nature, so when our hunter-gatherer ancestors discovered them, they ate them to completion to ensure they wouldn’t, you know, die of starvation later.

Unfortunately, that same instinct now primes us for binging on junk, says Gary Wenk, PhD, author of Your Body on Food. Whenever you eat super sugary, salty, and/or fatty foods, the dopamine neurons in your brain become very active, producing feelings of pleasure that encourage you to “eat that again!” These also happen to be the neurons that are activated after someone takes cocaine or meth. Yikes, right? That makes those brownies legitimately addicting.

(Photo: Getty Images)

But what are the absolute biggest trigger foods? Foods that combine salt, sweet, and/or fat, like pizza (salt-fat), donuts (sweet-fat), and peanut-butter pretzels (sweet-salt-fat) will lead to the most cravings and tendency to overeat, says Wenk, noting that these flavors work synergistically to enhance each other’s addictive properties.

How to break free? The key is to snack on something that captures the essence of what you’re craving, but that’s far less addicting—that is, the food doesn’t combine high levels of sugar and fat or salt and fat (or all three). That might mean opting for plain roasted nuts over salted and roasted nuts, apples sautéed in a little coconut oil instead of apple pie, a square of 70% cocoa dark chocolate instead of a half a sheet of double fudge brownies, or a coffee with almond milk and a dash of cinnamon instead of a pumpkin spice latte. These help at least partially satisfy the itch without setting you off on a junk food bender.

One thing to take comfort in: Our brains are very plastic, or adaptable to change, and learn to crave the molecules they’re exposed to on a daily basis, says Wenk. In other words, the more you make you’re new healthy snacks a habit, the more you’ll crave them and the less you’ll fall victim to drug-like trigger foods.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Ambivert … Yes It’s a Thing

ME in a nutshell.

Psychologists studying personality have long looked at the extreme traits of extroverts and introverts. Now they are focusing on the ambiverts in the middle.

Emeroy Bernardo enjoys spending time alone, meditating, exercising and working. When he goes out for dinner or drinks with friends, he sometimes quietly observes people’s facial expressions and body language. Often when he’s shopping or running errands, he ignores people he knows—pretending he doesn’t see them—to avoid small talk.

Still, the 27-year-old dance instructor who lives in Glendale Calif., considers himself friendly and meets new people almost everywhere—at the gym, at Starbucks, waiting to board a plane. At parties, Mr. Bernando is often the guy who starts a dance circle and then shows off his break-dancing moves.

Is Mr. Bernardo an introvert or an extrovert?

He is an ambivert, a solid mix of both.

The personality traits of extroversion and introversion fall on a spectrum, and most of experts’ focus has been on the two ends. Now, social psychologists, behavioral scientists and business experts are taking a closer look at the overlooked category smack in the middle—ambiversion—and deciding that people with this trait may have some personal and professional advantages for being adaptable.

Experts believe that the personality traits on the introvert-extrovert spectrum remain stable throughout life—they appear as early as infanthood and are difficult to change. On one end are extroverts (sometimes spelled “extravert” in psychology circles) who become energized externally. They love to have lots of people around them and to be the center of attention. They enjoy brainstorming with others and often form their thoughts as they speak. When by themselves, they easily become bored or restless.

Introverts, on the other end of the spectrum, become energized internally. They prefer to spend time alone, with one other person or with a small group. They feel drained by a lot of social interaction or a crowd. They gather their thoughts carefully before they speak.


Speaker, author and coach Beth Buelowdescribes typical behaviors.

  • The Ambivert
  • Socially flexible—comfortable in social situations or being alone.
  • Skilled at communicating—intuits when to listen or to talk.
  • Moderate in mood—not overly expressive or reserved.
  • Adaptable—no default mode, so they change their approach to fit the situation
  • The Extrovert:
  • Energized by external stimulation—with people, environment, activity
  • Processes thoughts while talking
  • Motivated by external rewards, recognition and feedback
  • Outgoing—easy to get to know
  • The Introvert:
  • Energized internally, while being alone
  • Craves solitude to balance out social time
  • Speaks only when they have something to say
  • Thinks before speaking, processing thoughts internally

Ambiverts have introverted and extroverted traits, but neither trait is dominant. As a result, they have more balanced, or nuanced, personalities. They aren’t the folks yammering your ear off. Nor are they the totally silent ones happily ensconced in the corner.

Ambiverts move between being social or being solitary, speaking up or listening carefully with greater ease than either extroverts or introverts. “It is like they’re bilingual,” says Daniel Pink, a business book author and host of Crowd Control, a TV series on human behavior, who has studied ambiversion. “They have a wider range of skills and can connect with a wider range of people in the same way someone who speaks English and Spanish can.”

You can tell if you’re an ambivert by asking yourself how you’d behave in common situations. What do you crave after a long day at work when you need to refuel—a happy hour with friends, or your couch and the remote control? At a social event, at what point do you want to leave—as soon as you get there or after the last person has left? In a conversation, do you prefer to think through your answers before speaking, or throw out whatever idea comes to mind and bat it back and forth? (Mr. Pink, the author of “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others,” has developed a quiz.) If you’re an ambivert, your preference will often be somewhere in the middle—you choose to have a drink with a friend after work but then afterward go home and take a long walk with the dog.

A study of ambiverts, published in June 2013 in the Journal Psychological Science, looked at 340 outbound call-center representatives. It showed that the social and emotional flexibility of the ambiverts in the group made them superior sales people. The participants filled out a 20-measure personality test, then the researcher assessed each person’s sales revenue for the next three months, controlling for other variables. The employees with the highest revenue per hour—an average of $208, compared with $138 for the full sample—were ambiverts who had a personality test score exactly between extroversion and introversion.

“Ambiverts are like Goldilocks—they offer neither too much nor too little,” says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He believes this emotional acuity gives ambiverts unique skills in parenting and marriage as well.

The drawback to being an ambivert, Dr. Grant says, is that it can sometimes be difficult for them to know which side of their personality to lead with in a given situation. Unlike extroverts and introverts, who tend to know what energizes them, ambiverts may not always be so sure. That means they can sometimes get stuck—not realizing that they need to change their approach to feel more motivated.

Carl Jung popularized the concepts of extroversion and introversion in the early 1920s; he identified a third group but didn’t name it or write much about it. It wasn’t till the 1940s that the term “ambivert” began to be commonly used by psychologists.

Ambiversion has gotten more attention in recent years, as books, TEDx talks and consulting firms have sprung up focusing on introversion and how personality traits impact people’s behaviors in marriages, families and work. More than half the population is ambiverted, according to Wharton’s Dr. Grant. His research shows that roughly two-thirds of people are ambiverts, while one-third are either strong introverts or strong extroverts.

“An introvert and an extrovert know pretty quickly what they crave,” says Laurie Helgoe,author of “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength” and assistant professor in the department of psychology and human services at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va. She says introverts generally want to pull away from stimulation or interaction and regroup, while extroverts want to seek out people and activity. Ambiverts could go either way, based on the situation, she says.

If you’re an ambivert, be mindful of it, says Dr. Helgoe. “If you are aware that you can go both ways, then you can look at a situation and see what behaviors are going to be most effective and rewarding.”

Think of “introvert” and “extrovert” as verbs, says Beth Buelow, a speaker and coach who is founder of The Introvert Entrepreneur, a website for introverts. “You can choose to introvert (turn inward) or extrovert (project outward) depending on what’s called for.”

Wharton’s Dr. Grant cautions that ambiverts should try not to get stuck in either an introvert or extrovert role. Ambiverts should remain nimble. Also, sticking with one or the other tendency too long might leave an ambivert drained. The warning signs will be boredom or burnout.

Dr. Grant recommends “unleashing your inner ambivert.” “Read each situation more carefully,” he says, “and ask yourself, ‘What do I need to do right now to be most happy or successful?’”

Originally Posted HERE

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