Tag Archives: Beach Body

The Reason I Avoided Ab Exercises During Bikini Season (Pelvic Floor Health)

Let’s dive into an awkward subject, shall we? In fitness, we’re accustomed to discussing our hamstrings, glutes, biceps, the like. We explore the ins and outs of the large muscles in our body because they’re familiar and frankly, easy to feel (and sometimes see) during exercises. We’re less apt to talk about the small muscles deep in the pelvis because it typically involves discussing the big “V-word”…that’s right, VAGINA. I said it. Now let’s embrace the elephant in the room. 

Many of us are hesitant to talk about incontinence, leaking, prolapse and pains “down south.” We hear that mysterious exercises called “kegels” help, but we wonder whether we’re doing them right or not. Beyond that, we’re left in the dark. We assume that surely, these issues only happen following childbirth or into old age as we decline in fitness, but that’s not the case. Women can suffer from weakened pelvic floor muscles at any age, with or without having given birth, despite high or low levels of fitness, and even when knowing how to perform kegels. Sounds a bit daunting, but fear not… 

Confession Time

Take me, for example. I was at the gym doing a HIIT workout a few months ago when BAM. A gush of fluid rushed out of my “V-word” during a squat jump. I felt my face flush. What the ****??? I scaled down my workout that day and was nervous to run or jump during my next couple workouts. I wasn’t having any more leaking following that incident but I felt an increasing urge to pee, like all the time, for the next few days. And my girlfriends who have road-tripped with me already know about my notorious “tiny bladder” and its pit-stop needs. 

It was about four days later and my body still felt off. My husband and I decided to spend that Sunday evening taking our toddler to the grassy park overlooking Reagan National Airport to watch the planes coming in to land. Our son was giddy with excitement, having seen these planes many times from afar. Everything felt blissful and I was entranced by my child’s smiles. We were walking back to the car to head home when I felt a very sudden and very alarming feeling. It was as if something had fallen out of my vagina. It freaked me the heck out. Big time.

When I followed up with my OBGYN, I was told that my bladder was slightly lower than normal but that I wasn’t even a stage-1 level of pelvic organ prolapse. I was shocked because I thought certainly this feeling had to be associated with a more extreme condition. I was told to go home and do more kegels. That just wasn’t good enough for me, though. As a fitness professional, I know to always question one-stop-shop solutions, even healthy ones like performing kegels more regularly. That just couldn’t be enough, I thought, especially if I’m at a higher risk for developing true pelvic organ prolapse moving forward.

Let me take a step back and give you a little background as to where my body was at the time:

  • It was almost 1.5 years after giving birth to my son and I had recently finished breastfeeding
  • I stayed in shape during my pregnancy and postpartum, and was still regularly exercising
  • I had experienced zero issues with my vaginal health as I returned to pre-pregnancy fitness levels following childbirth – no vaginal tears (wowzers, I got lucky there) and no leaking or issues with bladder control
  • I was confident that I was doing kegels right but, admittedly, hadn’t done them as much following the first 6 months of the postpartum period

I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me at this point in time, so late after giving birth to my son, and with no warning signs. I knew there had to be a professional who could shed more light on the situation…and there was.

The Pelvic Floor 

I met a fantastic professional named Dr. Jennifer Nelson (PT, DPT, COMT, CMTPT) with Therapydia in Washington, DC, and she was the one who helped me get to the bottom of why this could be happening to me…and let me tell you, the answers were completely unexpected, but perfectly logical, at the same time. Here’s why she believed *my case* of near-prolapse occurred:

  1. Overly TIGHT muscles, not weak ones, particularly in my abdomen.
  2. Years of being in the fitness industry, sucking every core muscle in unnaturally, shifting the tilt of my pelvis under muscle tension and creating excess intra-abdominal pressure.
  3. An accident from nearly 10 years ago that caused my left piriformis to stay cramped up, causing a chronic stress on my pelvic muscles (this was something that could only be released through INTERNAL, manual palpation…that’s right, through the vagina).
  4. Caffeine consumption irritating the bladder and causing it to become hyper-reactive and perhaps inflamed (ahem…yes, I confess I was drinking more coffee than I should have been due to normal mom-fatigue). Apparently artificial sweeteners and alcohol can cause similar irritation.
  5. Hormones adjusting back to pre-pregnancy levels following the natural weaning of my son. In other words, breastfeeding hormones can keep joints and muscles more loose and tender, just like during pregnancy, so my body’s sudden, enhanced tightness may have been from hormones acting like a roller-coaster.

Every woman’s experience with prolapse symptoms, whether they’re full-blown or not, is different and brought on by unique causes.

 

Reality Check: Prolapse is Common (albeit not talked about)

While learning more about my own experience with these sensations, I discovered how common pelvic organ prolapse is. Prevalence in post-menopausal women is over 40% and in younger, pre-menopausal women, who have given birth to one child, mild to moderate prolapse has been discovered to be quite common as well. While weakened pelvic-floor muscles are thought to be one of leading causes of prolapse, there is still more being discovered.

 

Running, Lifting & Pilates

There are some researchers who suggest that increased abdominal pressure, created from lots of endurance running, heavy lifting, and/or Pilates and core exercises, contributes to prolapse issues. This begs the question: Are we hurting our bodies through modern exercise?!? 

My thought is that we are doing our bodies GOOD through modern exercise, but that we need to increase our awareness of the excess pressure we create in our core which contributes to the “downward push” of our organs, when not kept in check. We also need to keep in mind that just because contemporary images of beauty align with a flat stomach, devoid of any of the natural roundness which has marked beauty and women’s bodies for centuries, doesn’t mean that standard is right. Modern women are sucking in their tummies at the expense of their vaginas. That’s the unfortunate truth, ladies.

 

How Do Women Prevent Prolapse?

For starters, it’s important not to ignore those good, ol’ trusty kegels. They help maintain the integrity of the small, but oh-so-crucial, pelvic floor muscles. The key is to practice these regularly (I know, I know…not the first thing most women add to their to-do list at the start of each day) and to hold the contraction for the appropriate amount of time; 10 seconds per kegel. Focusing on the release of the muscles from the contraction is just as important as the tightening of them. This is a good rule to apply to gym exercises too.

Another way to stay on top of preventing prolapse is to take a gradual approach to getting back into shape following childbirth. Upcoming app Matriarc is a great place to start. It helps women regain fitness during the postpartum period with a heavy focus on SAFE core and pelvic exercises.

Additionally, allowing the stomach to be soft and relaxed, in its natural state, is important. Frankly, it sucks to think about the damage our egos (mine included) could be causing to our bodies. So, let’s all be confident women in the shapes we possess rather than twisting and contorting (and sucking in) to conform to society’s “norms.” Our bodies are pretty awesome without all the [intra-abdominal] pressure. 😉

*Please note that this list of suggestions is not all-inclusive. If you’re concerned about your risk of pelvic organ prolapse or are experiencing leaking, incontinence or a feeling of pressure in your vagina, please contact your OBGYN right away.* 

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

 

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I’m Out of Shape

Hello. My name is Maggie Winzeler. I’m a fitness professional. I’m out of shape.

This is how I feel about it…

Less than thrilled…wouldn’t you say?! Lol.

Over the last few months, my life has been a whirlwind; one weekend-long hospital stay for my toddler while he was *conveniently* getting all his molars in (blessed that he is OKAY!), closing on the sale of a town home, closing on the purchase of a single-family home, several weeks of packing and moving, one month of contractors doing work in the new place, adjusting to relocating in a brand new city (grocery shopping at new stores is crazy overwhelming with a toddler in tow…just saying), lots of baked goods hitting my front door as housewarming gestures, and a child who decided to hit the “terrible twos” at 18-months old. Who has time to work out in the midst of all this beautiful chaos? Not me. Plus, I was told by a physical therapist NOT to do abdominal exercises this summer…fun fun during bikini season, right? We’ll talk about this next time.

…At first, not working out for a stretch felt perfectly natural. I was busy-busy and on my feet all day during the moving process, not to mention on my hands and knees cleaning at every day’s close because contractors were threatening to derail my sanity by turning my home into a construction zone every day. Complete with exposed razor blades and nails scattered about within lethal reach of my toddler. Fun times. 

…After the rapid pace of moving and house work slowed down, I tried really hard to figure out how to work out but somehow it just wasn’t top priority. The summer heat and humidity were discouraging. The amount of home decorating that “needed” to be done felt way more pressing than hitting the weights for the millionth time in my life. My attempts at stroller runs in my new neighborhood threw my body off thanks to weeks of long days, short nights, and tight muscles. And then there was vacation.

It’s definitely more fun hanging out on the beach trying to kiss pudgy cheeks than breaking a sweat. Definitely.

…After getting back from our annual family beach trip, thoroughly stuffed from crab cakes and hush puppies, I was determined to establish a routine. And then the crappy, free-week trial at a local gym began. I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry. I hated that gym experience for many reasons. I knew that wasn’t how someone was supposed to feel in a gym and reminded myself of what I always tell clients and gym-goers; “you’ve got to find a place that FEELS good and meets your needs, or else you’ll never want to go.” I put on my big-girl pants and walked through the front doors of a different fitness facility, one that put a sparkle in my eye the second I entered it. I took a deep breath of relief.

I suppose I’m a bit mad…this was the second longest stretch of rest from formal exercise that I’ve taken in my adult life. As a woman in her early 30s and a fitness professional for about 12 years, I’ve only taken a full month off from exercise once; during my honeymoon in Europe (sooo worth it and hilariously people told me I looked like I had LOST weight when I returned…maybe there IS something to be said for the “European lifestyle”). So, I guess when I look at being “out of shape” through the lens of how much stress I’ve put on my body over a decade, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. But, despite not feeling remorse I did start to feel a bit blue….

Food truck nights in the new neighborhood both helped and hurt the situation. 😉

After a few weeks, being out of a routine can start to change my mentality. It starts to feel harder to mentally get on board with working out again. It feels easier not to, to be frank. Exercise is work! I start to feel like my clothes fit a little differently and I definitely feel bloated, in part from not exercising and partially because the food choices I make when I’m out-of-routine aren’t as “clean.”

But heeeyyy, home decorating is coming together! Woo!

What’s a girl to do?

I’ve found time and time again that when I feel out of shape, I just have to force myself to do a workout. It might be a completely pathetic, reading-my-phone-for-30-minutes, barely-breaking-a-sweat cardio session, but it’s something. I might mentally procrastinate and throw a temper tantrum over the ordeal, but I get it done. And I repeat my actions a couple more times over the next week, getting in maybe 2-3 forced days of exercise, through gritted teeth and all. And guess what happens then?

Suddenly, just a few sessions into reestablishing a routine, I don’t feel out of shape any more! I mean, of course, I still am, but I don’t FEEL it because I’m not thinking in terms of how scary or tiring it is to get myself back in tight spandex and push some weights around. I’m just doing it and leaving each sweat session just a little more confident than when I walked in. Within a few workouts, I’m back. Of course, I still have a ways to go to perform wind sprints with oomph and squat near my max, but that doesn’t matter anymore because I’ve discovered that once again, the only thing telling me exercise is difficult is my mind. Once my mind gets on board, my body follows suit.

What does it take for you to get mentally back in shape? I bet once you figure that piece out that you’ll be exercising again and feeling pretty awesome in a very short period time.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

Bulky vs. Long and Lean

People are often concerned that they will get “bulky” when starting a workout program. I hear something like this a lot: “I want to get lean and toned, not big and bulky.” Packing on bulky muscle isn’t likely something you have to worry about though. Here’s why you don’t have to stress about bulking (unless you want to!) and how you can adjust your workouts to feel “long and lean.”

bulk vs lean 4

Why You Don’t Have to Stress About Getting Bulky

Bulking takes a LOT of effort

I hate to say it but you will probably have a harder time increasing muscle size and strength than having an overabundance of voluminous muscle suddenly added to your frame. A couple months of hitting the gym is not likely to make you truly bulky. Even regular exercise only does so much to build up muscles in a “bulky” manner. This is especially the case for women due to differences in hormones that prevent us from being able to acquire muscle in the same way that men do. Not fair, Mother Nature. Not fair.

The truth is, bodybuilders spend a ton of time hitting the weights (we’re talking potentially hours every day of the week) and follow a very strict diet (much more protein than the average person consumes). So don’t sweat it if you’re trying to avoid your pants feeling too tight or your suit jackets not fitting. Although, in my opinion, if this results from healthy muscle gains then you’ve got a GOOD “problem” on your hands! Your exercise program will probably not be vigorous or specific enough to bulk you up.

bulk vs lean 3

Heavy weightlifting does not necessarily result in bulky muscles

Heavy weight training and light weight training aren’t all that different. If you exercise, with any weight range, to the point of fatigue, you will get micro-tears in your muscles which repair and allow you to become stronger and more toned. Building muscle can result from any kind of physical exercise, weight training or endurance activity. This is a good thing, just to be clear! Heavy weightlifting tends to get a bad rep though (among people concerned about bulky muscle), but heavier weights are one of the most efficient ways to spend your time exercising since they give you great results. The more you progressively overload your muscles with heavier resistances, the more muscle you will gain. The more muscle you have, the higher metabolism you create for yourself and the more calories you burn overall throughout the day. Greater calorie burn = greater potential for becoming lean. When coupled with a balanced diet that is…sadly, you still can’t eat cake every night and get away with it.

To sum, building muscle strength through light or heavy weight training (although the latter is generally more efficient) is not synonymous with the specific training for maximal muscle acquisition that comprises the process of bulking.

What ACTUALLY Makes Someone Look “Long and Lean”

We’ve all seen that person walking into the gym with muscles so puffed up that their arms barely look like they will touch their sides. Clearly, this is not a physique that screams long and lean. More often, images of ballerinas and thin Pilates instructors come to mind. In reality, there isn’t a lot these individuals are doing to “lean out” their muscles though. They often look “long and lean” because they are themselves thin and toned. Sometimes this is the result of hard work and sometimes it’s simply genetic.

bulk vs lean 2

While it’s true that stretching helps elongate muscles, stretched out muscles don’t aesthetically look a whole lot different than tight muscles. There’s no major discernable visual difference in spite of what many Pilates, Barre and yoga instructors might preach. Yup, the “long and lean results” claims are mostly marketing ploys. I haven’t met a single person who is 5′ 4″ that has done Pilates three times a week and looked “longer.” Have you? Someone doing Pilates, Barre or yoga might look lean (although typically cardio exercise and weight training produce a leaner physique thanks to burning more calories), but they aren’t suddenly looking like some sky-high beanpole. They probably feel longer thanks to muscles that are nicely stretched out throughout these exercise formats. Balancing strength and cardio exercise with stretching is the ideal way to help you feel longer, relax tight muscles, speed recovery and avoid injury.

As an exercise professional, I can tell you that the only way to *potentially* look “longer” is simply by being leaner – and maintaining tall posture. Perhaps less bulk on your frame (from shedding fat, not muscle) will help you look in the mirror and say “aha! I look taller!” If so, wonderful! Whatever helps ya sleep at night and, of course, stay healthy.

bulk vs lean 1

Here’s how you get and stay lean:

  • Burn calories. Through whatever exercise modality you love and can do regularly, workout to burn energy and shed fat. As you lose a layer of fat your muscles will emerge. Ever seen a young skinny boy with a six pack? He didn’t work for those ripped-looking abs at the ripe age of 10, he just doesn’t have much fat to cover them up! Yes, a six-pack lies within all of us. Literally. 
  • Do a variety of exercises. That’s right, not just Pilates or yoga. If you continue to stimulate your body through new exercise types and challenges, you will avoid a training plateau and continue to reap calorie-burning and muscle-building results. This will lean you out. As mentioned earlier, don’t forget to stretch!
  • Switch up the way you work each muscle. One of the ways that bodybuilders achieve bulk is by repeatedly doing the same exercise over and over again at heavier and heavier weights. There are lots of benefits to this, don’t get me wrong! You can achieve great strength gains, burn fat and boost confidence as you master your technique, but you are also more likely to hypertrophy specific muscle fibers that will get larger over time and *may* result in a little bulk. To avoid this, try rotating what type of equipment and angle you use to work each muscle group. For example, try doing chest fly instead of push-ups to work the chest muscles. After mastering the chest fly, try an incline bench chest press with dumbbells. Keeping the muscles stimulated in this manner will help them stay strong and balanced. It will also help you achieve an overall toned look.
  • Eat clean. There is no way to get lean without controlling caloric intake and the best way to do that is to limit junky foods which are laden with calories. Eat clean, get lean. It rhymes!
  • Drink lots of water. Our muscles swell or hypertrophy after tough workouts, retaining fluids during the healing process. Help your body out and drink lots of fluids to keep things moving and avoid feeling puffy. Sometimes people quit effective workout routines before they’ve had a chance to see results because this post-workout muscle swelling can feel bulky. But it’s not! It’s a sign of progress! 

Get long and lean, or get bulky if that’s what you want! Whatever your fitness aspiratoins, just stay YOU in the process. And have a little fun while you’re at it!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

How to Keep Your Cool in the Summer Heat

beat the heatPoolside lounging, long bike rides and sunny picnics are the joys of summer. Unfortunately, spending so many hours outside basking in the summer sun may put an individual at risk for heat exhaustion, a serious condition with short and long-term side effects that no one wants to deal with during sunshine-filled vacation months. It’s easy to be susceptible to it, too. So how do you identify heat exhaustion and stay safe while exercising outdoors (or even when spending extra time by the pool)? Let’s find out…

According to WebMD, “heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures, and it often is accompanied by dehydration.” The symptoms of heat exhaustion may include dizziness, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat and more. I think these symptoms would hamper my ability to feel good! Don’t you?

Outside of causing immediate discomfort, heat exhaustion may impact you for days or even weeks following the incident. In fact, people may be more sensitive to heat, light and smells after suffering from heat exhaustion, putting one at risk for a repeat episode OR a more serious condition: heat stroke! The later can actually cause organ and brain damage and even death! Things just got serious, people!

outdoor exercise

Obviously most fit people really love their warm weather workouts – not to mention a good sweat – so how does one stay safe and prevent this condition? Ahhh, there are many ways. Let’s unveil a few simple strategies:

  • Wear lightweight clothing that whisks sweat away from the skin so your body can cool itself down.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after an outdoor workout. Ever seen a water bottle carrier that wraps around your waist or a water carrying backpack? Drop the ego, strap on the H20!
  • Remove restrictive clothing that may be causing you to overheat. Note: This is NOT an excuse to be an exhibitionist…unless in DIRE emergency…
  • Place cool towels or ice near your pulse points to quickly cool your core temperature (side of neck, inside of wrists, crease of elbows, behind the knees, top of the inner thighs) or take a cool bath.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors on days that are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit since the risk of heat exhaustion rises above this temperature.
  • Check the heat index before choosing the trail or park over the gym. According to WebMD, a relative humidity of 60% or more prevents sweat from evaporating off your skin, leaving your body feeling like you neglected to leave the steam room within the advised time limit.
  • Be wary of exercising alone or in a remote outdoor environment since you will not be able to get help as quickly, if you need it. Better yet, get a workout buddy!
  • Avoid mid-summer workouts in urban areas that are full of concrete and asphalt since these materials trap heat and raise the temperature.
  • Schedule your workout for the early morning when the temperature is likely to be at its lowest.

hydrateNo one wants to spend summer tucked away in a dark room or gloomy feeling gym, and you don’t have to! Just stick to the simple strategies above and have the courage to cut a workout short if you feel that you’re in danger. Finish up indoors with core exercises – can never get enough of them!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

References:

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/heat_exhaustion/page5_em.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/4133-need-heat-exhaustion/

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/heat-exhaustion?page=1

Boudoir Lessons for Bikini Season

Beach Body

So, I have a confession to make. Back in March, I decided to embark on a mission to discover how Victoria’s Secret models feel when they’re in a photo shoot wearing…not much. It started as a little oh-la-la present for my husband, who travels four days out of the week, but it turned into a full-fledged, top-priority operation [on behalf of my readers]. I sought to discover how on earth someone could feel comfortable in little more than a bikini’s worth of material, and learned way more than I bargained for. No, I’m not sharing pictures, those are for my hubby’s eyes only, but I will share the lessons learned along the way, and the ladies I encountered who are changing the world, one bikini-fearing, underwear-shopping-adverse woman at a time…

When I signed up for a photoshoot with Three Boudoir, I knew I would have to restrain myself from going crazy over the next few months. I’m the type of person who likes to have event specific goals to train for (weddings, bikini season, road races). It’s easy to be motivated by external pressures that have tangible deadlines attached. It gets us tying up our gym shoes a little faster, and choosing salmon and broccoli more often than steak and fries. But, I wanted to challenge myself to refrain from ramping up my exercise and trimming out a few hundred calories every day, in preparation for the photoshoot. I actually wanted to just feel like myself for once. I knew that if I could step into that intimidating environment, cameras flashing, feeling…normal…that I would really put myself to the test.

I have to tell you; I’m SO glad that I did. Upon signing up for the photoshoot, I anticipated that I would be plagued by major stomach cramps from pent-up anxiety and a ten-fold increase in nervous butterflies on the day of. Surpisingly, my tummy only did a small flip-flop or two.

Body Confidence Bobbi Brown

I was grateful to the Three Boudoir girls for the encouraging emails they sent me prior to the photoshoot. I was initially worried that I may have put myself into a queue to be objectified, but when I got their first email, I understood that they were all about empowerment, and that thrilled me. They incrementally boosted my confidence and made me feel reassured about just being my natural self. Here’s a little sample of their enthusiasm: “Give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are brave and fearless. You are about to take on a super fun boudoir shoot that is going to leave you feeling sexy and ready to take on the world.”

Every single email that the company sent me was full of positive language. I’m pretty sure they used “hot,” “sexy,” “gorgeoous,” “amazing,” “brave,” and “beautiful” dozens of times each. Even though I giggled and let the comments slide off of me at first, over time, I started to feel better about myself, and was more excited than nervous. I started to believe in my bravery and beauty. What an even grander benefit than having pretty pictures!

On the day of the shoot, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the women who helped me pose and look my best. I give myself ZERO credit for being able to strike those poses on my own; it’s hard work! They were encouraging, natural and fun. The time actually flew by. I felt my long-standing intimidation of models, and the unnatural poses they’re photographed in, begin to melt away. I might not look exactly like a lot of models, but I’m me – and that’s pretty awesome. Likewise, for you! 

What made the biggest impression on me though, is that apparently lots of women are more accepting of themselves than I knew. Apparently, plenty of women prefer to leave their simple “imperfections” front and center rather than edited out of photos. The boudoir ladies told me that lots of women prefer to let birth marks and scars show in their pictures. For example, without naming names, they told me that even women who have undergone surgery following breast cancer may prefer to let their scars show, because it’s part of their identity. This fits exactly within a message, on Three Boudoir’s website, that all women can take to heart: “Every single person that comes through our studio has unique qualities that we know exactly how to draw out and capture in photos.” Oh man, I might as well be their spokeswoman with all this good PR! Haha. No, they did not ask me to write this. I prayed for the confidence to share this all on my own.

Done with Guilt, On with Life

Unfortunately, positive affirmations and mood-lifting information isn’t internalized very well by women. Glamour magazine polled 1,000 women, ages 18-40, and found that body image today is actually worse than 30 years ago.  Even though women have been dominating in many professional fields, proving to the world that we should have been taken more seriously long, long, long ago, we’re suffering from a lack of self-esteem more than ever. Why?!? Someone tell us why!!!

According to Glamour, modern women compare themselves more to the girl next door than celebrities. Instead of flipping through magazines a few times a month, as may have been the case 30 years ago, we’re now inundated by at least 1.8 billion, yes BILLION, new pictures posted to social media every day! Since we’re seeing a lot more normal people, we curiously scan the endless images until we find someone that looks like our “ideal body,” and then believe we should and can look like that too.

Nowadays, the thinking is a little like this:

“Oh, I know I can’t achieve a Cameron Diaz or Madonna body. It’s unrealistic because I’d have to be super rich and paying a personal chef and world-class trainer to sculpt that kind of bod. But, my friend Michelle’s recent pictures on Facebook and Instagram make her look super amazing and she’s not a celebrity. She has a child and a full-time job! If she can get a ripped stomach then I can do it. If I can’t look like her, there must be something wrong with me. I have to prove that I can be just as on-top-of-it and slim. Why not, right?”

I’m all for women feeling empowered because of other people’s successes, but comparing ourselves to others is apparently at the core of what makes us dissatisfied. Geesh. What to do?

Here are few simple steps towards feeling your best:

1) Quit comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, I know. But, you should try anyways.

2) If looking at other people’s pictures makes you feel bad, then place a limit on yourself by monitoring your media browsing.

3) Reinforce positive language about your body whenever the urge to shame it creeps up – aka, fake it until you make it. Positive affirmations breed positive thinking.

4) Exercise – it’s a natural self-esteem, feel-good boost.

5) Give yourself some love. Think about what healthy actions make you happy and do more of them, instead of repeating negative habits or actions that lead to frustration and anxiety.

Bikini Joy

Another fun thing you can do to feel invigorated and ready for bikini season, is treat yourself to some new underwear that will make you feel great and build up your confidence! I recently met a fellow UVA alum, Katie Fritts, who started a company called UnderClub. Katie discovered that many women often don’t toss out their older pairs of underwear and are so pressed for time that they don’t have the mental energy to make a one-off trip to the mall for minor but necessary basics like underwear. Underclub offers women a way to turn this chore into a fun subscription-based service, delivering customized high-quality undies straight to their doorsteps. To accompany the cute packaging with every order, Underclub includes a personalized note for customers; a simple reminder of their beauty or a little something to make them feel good. Love it. 

Whether or not you’re planning to buy chic new undies or a fun seasonal bikini, I encourage you to remember what you love most about your body, mind and soul this summer. You don’t need to be in skimpy stuff to feel worthy or attractive, and you certainly don’t need to be objectified, but you can put on a sleek, sexy, feminine, bold, fun, or classy attitude that makes you outshine the sun. YOU make any little piece of fabric look good. Don’t forget it.  

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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References:

http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2014/10/body-image-how-do-you-feel-about-your-body/1

http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2011/02/shocking-body-image-news-97-percent-of-women-will-be-cruel-to-their-bodies-today/1

http://www.threeboudoir.com/

http://www.underclub.co/