I will be away for the next couple of days. A post may happen if the flow opens for it.
Most likely, see you Monday when I return with all my (wellness) tales!
Pluto, the 2006 demoted and subsequently dubbed dwarf planet has not gone down without a fight; (where are we now?: Lost one; looks like 8 planets left in our solar system?) The surprises keep coming: Scientists found a fourth moon—calling it “mini-moon”—orbiting the plutoid today.
It was 1992. We would hop the train to the Hayden Planetarium on Central Park West. Six year old me—always insecure about my large size comparative to my classmates—adored our trips to the Natural History Museum. In nature, I could go somewhere else—far from my body (I thought).
While Earth (rocks, plants, animals) would fascinate me, Space would captivate me; I even had a wall-length poster of the post-Star Gazer constellation map hanging directly beside my bed at which I would stare mid-afternoons or late mornings.
Sitting with my class trip buddy—the kid with whom you were commanded to hold hands in fear of being snatched and plastered on a milk carton—I would lean and gaze upward—aided by the special reclining seats at the Space Theater, this dome in my sky, wondering what it would feel like to be up there.
I was a pudgy youth. My schoolmates made this clear to me. Outside to the left of the Space Theater, after a riveting projection of the Big Bang or, I think, colliding galaxies, I saw scale convertors where you got to see how much you weighed on various celestial bodies. (Click this link to get your calculation: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/)
Brought my class trip buddy along, who thankfully was considered a nobody-weirdo like me, and did not draw much attention when we dipped from the line to see what our lot would be in the heavens.
Jupiter’s was humongous; Venus’, less but about the same number [as Earth]; Mars’—wow, now we are talking; Eureka! I found the Moon. There on the Moon, I was something like one-fifth of my weight. "This is where I need to be--somewhere I was “normal,” I thought. (I look back wondering how did, at such a young age, I learn to live so adversarial in relationship to by body, to refer to it as this expendable other, to live outside of it.)
Clearly, this six year old picture of myself is distorted—hinged upon escaping and leaving behind this burdensome vessel—my body. Somehow by casting myself into space, I imagined I would escape not only my physical form but the other taxing elements in my early life.
To think that we can isolate or put into a vacuum, for example, eating-related pathologies or excessive weight gain from the emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc—literally by removing ourselves from Earth—from what we all over experience is misguided and also, believe it or not, mass produced.
A first grader did not in an isolated chamber develop these injurious and cancerous self-images. What signals were she receiving? From where?
This age group transitions from primarily home children to full-time school children; and, thus, they are developing new reference groups and standards and evaluation tools for learning about abilities and skills.
The effects of peers (positive/negative) and other societal forces (positive/negative) on self-composition as a child reverberate--sometimes even until adulthood where one finds herself no longer holding hands at the Hayden but a quarter of a century old, disembodied and still pulling the pieces together.
Interesting study on this very topic!
In terms of the media or societal influences, examples presented in the thesis:
(1) YMCA health and fitness initiatives are discussed regarding how potentially harmful presenting a one-size fits all (mainstream cultural) approach that favors thinness and not necessarily health could be on a child's self-image.
(2) The impact of toys (ex. Barbies) in fostering dissatisfaction with one's body image
“My Body, My Weight: Body Perception Among African-American and Caucasian First-Graders and Their Parents,”
by Dawnavan Scott Davis, Master of Science, Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, October 2, 2003
Here's the abstract:
"Research suggests that body dissatisfaction can develop by first-grade...There was no main effect for race on child body ideal. No main effect emerged for gender on child body ideal or body satisfaction.
Only a few significant correlations emerged between child body image and parental factors.
Other factors such as mass media and peer group may be more salient in influencing body image among young children."
With temperatures in the triple digits in some places over the last couple of days, running 11:00am under a summer Sunday overcast sky was an immense relief. Started stretching at 9:00am. Sounds like I must have been this nibble yogi bouncing gazelle-like gracefully down Rutland Road in Brooklyn? Yes, that is what I would have wished, too. Reality check: My four year old niece, excited Auntie Shayna came to visit, slowed down the pace of my normal work out/stretching routine starting at 7:00am when she walked into the room where I was sleeping and asked me to play stuffed animals with her. I said,
“Yes, but only if I get to work out in a half hour.”
She so sweetly agreed.
Two hours later, after a back and forth about whether “Moosey the Moose” would save “Pinky the Unicorn” from the “I Love You Bear Troll,” I just got up and started stretching around the house. My niece followed.
No, really, by following, I mean she actually started mimicking excercise routines in my circuit around our sixth floor apartment.
- I stretched my hamstrings on the stairs; she did leg lifts while lying on the floor (probably derived from her Riki Di creative movement dance classes).
- I went in for the triangle side pose; she bended forward touching her toes.
- I did an arm stretch, elbows locked; she bet me that I did not know how to do “this” [a beetle squat].
Most stark was when doing the downward-facing dog [a full-body triangle stretch], she crawled underneath me and like congruent triangles—or Russian nesting dolls—folded into me, under me, with her own four year old downward-facing dog.
While there felt something ancient about that moment with her, with her--without hesitation—contorting into the next asana (yoga pose) seamlessly—like we had done this somewhere together before—I am not one to immediately say that proves yoga is innately familiar to my niece.
Or it can be explained by the burgeoning discourse in publications like Yoga Journal that includes writings that occasionally claim toddlers’ ability to achieve inner peace and calm by doing yoga.
For me, most poignantly is what power leading by example and genuine engagement holds.
Playing with my niece, honoring her desires, allowed her to without friction transition into what I chose to do. This genuine engagement reinforces trust channels between us that allowed her to follow me with remarkable confidence. This following will be remembered in her mind and body—opening up the stage for future introduction to daily wellness practices.
For a great article on whether yoga has the same reported effects on children as adults from one family’s story, click on the following link:
Downward-facing Dog for the Diaper Set
“While the children didn’t seem noticeably more chilled out in the end, yoga did amuse them and introduce them to a practice they can use to de-stress when they’re older. ”
After my run around the track at Betsy Head Memorial Playground in Brownsville, I cooled down and headed on the Fort Hamilton Parkway to my new fav eatery: Cebu Brooklyn.
Sat outside to what felt like a Parisian or European styled bistro. The people were beautiful and the overcast created a slow motion effect as folks meandered along South Brooklyn as not to exert any unnecessary energies during a heat wave.
In an exercise in being present, I let my eyes roam to everything blowing: The veranda, the napkin, the summer dresses, the pieces of trash. This added to the slow moving bodies, I felt like I was in some artsy, black and white, silent film. I had a blast under overcast.
@ Cebu Brooklyn (83rd & 3rd Av):
● Lunch - Warm Spinich Salad: pancetta, onions, mushrooms, crumbled Goat cheese, walnuts, herb vinaigrette
● Cocktail - St. German Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and gin (Martin Miller's)
● Water with lemon
My mom always had sturdy and thick journals with the pre-written calendar dates lying around the apartment as well as her “special notebooks”—usually dollar store, spiral-bounded, lined paper—where she doodled, scribbled to-do lists and wrote letter drafts she never planned on mailing.
I’d always admire her regularity with journaling, with calendars, with marking things down. When she would allow us a look or two into her entries, I noticeably would feel that I had missed something by not registering where I was or what I was feeling on paper (or electronic device) for future references. This reaction would soon dissipate; in it’s a place would appear the pattern of sharply shunning journaling as a practice that does not work well for my type.
“I am just not a detail-oriented person.”
“I cannot remember to write every day or week? That is just not me.”
Today, I watch reactions such as the ones above as signs clearly displaying a learned aversion toward looking myself squarely in the emotional mirror.
Our body is a well-integrated system. If there is turbulence in the emotional realm, there will be turbulence spilled over, for example, in the mental or physical realm. Daily awareness regarding our actions (or lack thereof), eating habits (reasons for eating), and mood around all of this is key to more conscientious living.
Now that I have made clear choice on standing squarely in front of that emotional mirror, I cannot go without frequently using my home journal, small “To-Do” list notebook and my purple, edgy food and fitness journal. This is because deep down I saw, in my mother’s life, the priceless benefit of recorded reflection. However, to make the practice stick, I had to be clear about what I wanted and would need in a book.
Food and fitness diaries can be great ways to add some seriousness and reflection to your budding fitness routine.
Multi-layered journals (perfect for today’s texting, emailing, Facebook-ing working professional) function more successfully with me by providing layouts that allow me to list not only what I eat but also my feelings or motivating forces.
The journal that I am using is pictured below. I adore it. It is a well-matched fit. I picked it up at a community fair in Chester and been glued ever since.
It is not the stickers or tons of pages for writing notes that makes this journal a well fit for me per se. It was the care crafted into the design with the aim of making accessible for young womyn this vital practice of writing down nutritional shifts and weight management plans. Other reasons include but are not limited to:
- Playful colors and design as a subtle reminder to have fun and be lighthearted in the process
- The section for notes, mini-journal entries and to-do lists
- The fill in the blank calendar weeks (I never understood my mother’s penchant for the pre-filled out calendar dates)
- Mainly, the spaces for writing down one's mood at each meal
There is one bit of a blemish with Best Journal Ever!: My Food and Fitness Diary. (And, yes, I will just come clean with it and share that my journal was intended for teenage girls and not for presenters sitting next to display tables passing them out for free. It still rocks!)
The only blemish is that there is not designated space for calorie counting—although there are places with conversion charts, food pyramids and places that let one look up the nutritional value of some meal combinations.
All and all, find something that works for you. Journaling can work for most people; however, most people will have to do the work to find out which journal is the best fit.
My mother excitedly called me yesterday five minutes after our earlier call ended to share she was interested in picking up something she had just heard about from a close friend called a daily nutrition journal. I chuckled lightly to myself as she began a litany of reasons as to why this kind of journal would be good for her wellness plan—one reason being that this is what she has known to do; she just did not know one could apply journaling to food.
I said nothing about the journal I was using—well at least not yet; for, sharing my multi-layered (teenage girl) purple, edgy food and fitness journal as a way to get folks excited about using a journal everyday would have been superfluous for womyn who just discovered the possibilities of fitness journaling and who has been in the practice of recorded reflecting her whole life.
Who would have thought that, fast forward, my mom and I would be in the same place with (fitness) journaling. Synchronicity
Journal Best Journal Ever! My Food and Fitness Diary
The spiral-bound Best Journal Ever! provides bone health tips and information and includes stickers and lots of pages for girls to journal their food and fitness habits and thoughts.
WebMD Printable Food Journal
This Wellness blog is to share the author's trials and triumphs in becoming more present and centering her daily routines around health practices that build from the inside out.
It is her hope to spark dialogue and resource sharing as well as encouragement for those newly embarking on their journey toward healing all over.
(This is a personal blog with resources for educational purposes only.)