Category Archives: Social

Social wellness refers to your ability to meet the expectations and demands of our personal roles without harming others. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others and creating a support network of friends and family members who care about and love you for who you are. Social wellness includes showing respect for others. By joining a group or organization, you create a sense of belonging in which you can contribute to the group, your community, and to the world. In this way, you are not only respecting others, but you are respecting yourself as well.

House Party

VHP Blog

Social Media Microphone

I remember quite clearly when Facebook was introduced to me by a friend. It was the fall of my freshman year of college, 2004, and she swore this was going to be “all the rage” in no time at all. I bought into it, thinking it’ll be a nice way to keep in touch. Of course, the trick back then was trying to get your friends to join so it would work right.

It was a time when you were limited on the number of characters you could use in a status,  and it was always “Stacey is…” You were given a lot less freedom in creating yourself on a webpage than what we have today. Things began to evolve, and soon you could have your very own picture, you could write your very own statuses (without the annoying “is” directing your path), and you could find almost anyone in the Facebook family.

My friend was right; this had become the “place to be.”

As the years have flown by, I’ve been disheartened and encouraged all at the same time. I see things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as  awesome people connectors and a form of self-expression. I’m able to tell my story creatively through pictures and thoughts. I’m able to keep in touch with friends and family- both near and far. I’m able to spread the word on anything I choose…which leads me to this question for you:

What are you trying to tell the world?

As times have changed,  I’ve seen some sobering displays of disrespect, distasteful outspokenness, and downright embarrassing outbursts. I won’t lie; I’m just as guilty as many in saying that I’ve posted a thought or opinion that I’m not proud of. At the time, it was too easy to post something to “get back” at a person or vent about a situation. All I had to do was write it, hit post, and wait for the satisfaction of people liking it- and therefore obviously (-in my own mind) agreeing with me…

But that’s just.not.right. Remember when you were little, and you said something out of anger or spite, perhaps even taking a swing at someone because you felt like they deserved it in that moment- but were corrected for your behavior shortly thereafter? The trouble with Social Media Microphones is that we don’t always have a parent or a teacher that corrects our behavior or unplugs the power source- so things can escalate quickly. Feelings get hurt and friendships get lost. And unfortunately, sometimes it all happens because of a misunderstanding.

Sometimes I’m so proud of the way people use social media to spread a positive message or awareness of something, to share really exciting life news with their friends and family, to connect with new people in new ways. And sometimes… well, in the wake of things like elections or this “instant news source” that doesn’t always even allow us to know the whole story before forming opinions and taking action or the ability to create alternative personalities and profiles online to totally trick and … sometimes, I just need to quiet the World Wide Web. All of those opinions just get to be too much, and I’m not proud of our human race.

I get that there are times when emotions take over and passion is not containable, but in those moments try to go for a walk. Or write it down using a pen and paper. Find something that will make you slow down and really think about what you want to say. Many of you cannot imagine a time when you didn’t have this Social Media Microphone to blast your thoughts out to the world, but it used to exist. If I was frustrated with someone, I had to just sit with that uncomfortable feeling, write a letter, or make a phone call. 2 of those options made me face the person, and that was not always attractive enough to pursue. As a result, feelings were hurt less. Relationships were destroyed less.

You hold a lot of power with your Social Media Microphone. Use it wisely. Please remember that we’re all human on the other side of the screen.

Retro microphone on stage

 

A new kind of Bump.

When I was younger, my “life plan” was to be married by 20 and have at least one child by 21. I was also going to live in a purple house and play saxophone for the former President Clinton. (Because he was President at the time, also played the saxophone,  and I was obsessed with that instrument.)

Then life happened.

I starting losing weight… graduated from high school… started college… lost too much weight… struggled to find my purpose… switched colleges and degrees (again)… found a healthy and attainable weight… graduated from college… first “big kid” job in a new city… new job in a different city… met a boy and his dog… bought a house… got married… next job…

and now we’re here. I’m almost 29 years old and I don’t live in a purple house. I rarely play the saxophone for ANYONE- definitely NOT the former President.

But, now the “child” thing is happening. I’m 1/2-way to meeting our newest family member, and it’s been quite the journey so far. In terms of symptoms, I’ve had a ridiculously easy pregnancy. Aside from feeling like a walking zombie for most of my baby-growing time, I’ve had just a few aches and ailments, and I’m pretty darn thankful.

My loose skin which has hung so haphazardly for 10 years is now forming into a rounded “bump.” I love that little bump.  I’ve often found myself just holding it- holding my baby- to keep it safe and show love to both the child and my body. It’s important to do that. Just as important has been to surround myself with love- having people who support me and lift me up, who encourage me with their words and actions. I’ve felt an outpouring of all of these things since sharing our exciting news and there are so many days that these people have been the reason that I am able to remember how lucky I am.

The biggest struggle in all of this has been in the growing. In the beginning, I can remember having conversations with myself about what pregnancy may entail, and that it WILL include a weight gain. A good and important kind. And there was nothing wrong with it- as long it was done in a healthy way.  I’ve worked so hard on losing and maintaining a weight loss of over 100 pounds, and for the first time since I can remember, I’m having to process that it’s OK to gain. That when a shirt or pant or skirt no longer fits it’s a natural part of the process rather than a sign that I need to kick myself for eating all those peanut M&Ms.
If any of you have lost a significant amount of weight before pregnancy, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a weird (for lack of a better word) thing to have to accept and be OK with. It’s even harder when you have the appetite of a linebacker and a strong addiction to cake and candy and French fries that no longer seems to be avoidable. I’m certain that lost a lot of my self-control, and I swear people can just smell it on me… and know just what to offer to make me drool and make my knees buckle. I mean, even the Ice Cream truck drives by me while I’m out walking and by my house at least 4 times a week (I wish I was kidding).

So for now my goal has now been to (try to) eat healthy about 90% of the day (and yes- I do count down the minutes), as well as try to get some form of physical activity in almost every day… I know I eat more than I should, so this way I rest a little easier knowing that I’m trying. Like I said, I’m by no means perfect (like the times I’ve eaten jars of peanut butter as a “snack,” or the entire popcorn cake by myself, or that pan of delicious double cake, or….), but I give it a shot. Every day.  Just like I did before I was growing a human.

I want my child(ren) to grow up with healthy self images and love their bodies rather than avoid any reflective surface because they hate what they see. I want them to see food as fuel rather than “good or bad.” And I want them to enjoy playing rather than feeling like they need to torture themselves with exercise. I know that all of these messages- negative and realistic- are out there. And I know I can be one of the first to send the “right” messages about bodies and health from an early age.

Until Baby D arrives, I can practice being a good role model to those around me by keeping my self-talk positive, by forgiving myself for the jar of peanut butter, by appreciating the fact that I can still exercise and eat what I want.
Being love and showing love.

Is THAT what You call Commitment?

Throughout your day, if you really think about it you commit to a lot. You commit to the outfit you’re wearing. You commit to wearing your seatbelt on the way to school/work. You commit to riding your bike or walking to work. You commit to your responsibilities at work. You commit to cooking supper or maybe choosing where to pick up something to eat. You commit to taking the dog for a walk or going to the gym. You commit to sleeping at night.

Do you think of it that way? Do you see your life as a series of choices to commitments you make?

Maybe I’m off… maybe your car is broken so you HAVE to ride your bike or walk. Maybe your favorite shirt is dirty so you HAVE to wear the other shirt. Maybe it’s raining out so you HAVE to find a different way of exercising. But really, don’t you still have a choice in committing to these things at a certain level?
I mean, you could call for a ride, you could pick your 2nd favorite shirt, you could embrace your exercising alternative… do you see what I mean?

I’m not saying that you need to walk around and high five everyone you pass on the street because you were “tasked” with picking up all of the dog poop at a recent volunteer event… but you could at the very least remain a pleasant human being. I think most people would agree that isn’t the best job in the world, but you are greatly appreciated for doing it. Pull up your big kid pants and put a smile on your face- after all, it’s only temporary!

There are other times when you choose to do things- like attend an after work event with coworkers. It’s up to you to be mindful and respectful of all of the others present with your conversation… meaning, you aren’t bashing those who chose not to come. And you aren’t negatively simmering over the fact that you showed up. You are simply there and enjoying whatever unfolds. Choosing to see the bright side of your choice and only worrying about yourself.

Commitment… what does it look like? In my mind, it looks strong. It looks reassuring. It looks positive. It looks attractive.

What does your commitment look like?

example

You are Allowed.

Dear Self,

Sometimes you push too hard. You forget to take a break for fear of failure. You let those silly voices tell you that ‘you are not worthy of rejuvenation because the person next to you must be working harder. You have to keep going. Even allowing one hour or one evening of rest will undo all of your efforts. Get up. Get going. Keep going’.

Do you ever find yourself feeling this way? It might be at work, or at the gym, or at your place of residence… this overwhelming sense of guilt for daring to listen to your body and take care of yourself by breaking for a nap to to watch your favorite show or read a chapter in your book. I do- like, all the time. I found myself in this predicament last week. The previous week at work had been pretty crazy and I don’t think I ever did recover. You know, because there’s always a house to clean, a dog to walk, clothes and dishes to wash… the list never ends. Every time I thought about sitting down I would feel like I was just wasting time.

I could feel my body telling me I better slow down “or else” on Monday, but once again ignored it; I had stuff to do!

And then it hit me. HARD. By mid-afternoon Tuesday I felt physically and emotionally exhausted. It hurt to sit. And think. And function. By the time I got home I was going back and forth from tearing up to yawning. All I thought about was taking the dog for a walk and picking up the house and finishing the dishes and cleaning off the counters and all of the other little things that I felt like I HAD to get done that night or risk total failure as a human. (I know, I know… totally ridiculous, right?!) But … my body had officially had enough.

So I stopped. I allowed myself permission and space to just sit, and then just sleep. After a 2 hour “dead sleep” nap plus a full nights’ sleep, I woke up the next day feeling human again.

In a go-go-go world, it’s easy to get caught up in a rough cycle that will eventually lead to breakdown. It’s important that we remember that the majority of people feel this way- that we are all “competing” for that “I’m the busiest person” trophy… and yet, you don’t win a prize for that.

Slow down.

Allow yourself to sit and enjoy life- whether it’s through a hobby, a phone call to a friend/family member, or even taking a little bit of time to catch up on your favorite TV show. From my experience, the police won’t show up on your doorstep because you chose to take care of yourself… and the dishes/clothes/messes will be there tomorrow.

How will you slow down this week?

slowdown

Crossfit – Friend or Foe??

OK – Admittedly this the first time I’ve ever really wanted to get on my soapbox and really SCREAM about something.  But this is touching my heart and my passion on such a deep level that I can’t keep my mouth shut and idly sit by.

I’m getting really really tired of all the negativity (social media, as well as closer to home) with Crossfit. Tabata Times has a great Crossfit 2response article to some of the recent negativity that speak so well to what I’m trying to get at.  Read that blog HERE

I don’t care that you don’t like Crossfit or believe in it.  Crossfit is how I’VE managed to improve MY fitness levels, get stronger and have better endurance than ANY other workout I’VE ever done. Yes, I’ve tried the running and training for races – guess what?  I hated it – it became a chore for me –  Something I had to do (And I’m the person who LOVES exercise).  Now Crossfit on the other hand has given ME a true support system, both for enhancing MY fitness and also for finding the accountability to keep going when schedules get tough.

 

Yes – I’ve even gotten injured doing Crossfit (shoulder issues that rest & stretching cured) – but I’ve also gotten injured straight up weight training on my own (pulled hamstring), playing volleyball and basketball (3 knee surgeries from those alone!), running (I twisted my ankle and face-planted in the process -HA!), rollerblading & biking (once again – face-planting on a sidewalk next to a busy street).  Heck I’ve even twisted my ankle walking down stairs (ok – that one is just pure clumsiness!)  Every physically active thing you do sets you up for injury if you don’t pay attention to what you body is feeling or doing – Crossfit isn’t the ONLY culprit.

Carter - 2 Weeks

Hi there!

There are even the articles bashing Crossfitting while pregnant (even exercising in general – calling those women selfish). (Read one here and here and be sure to read comments from those articles as well.)  WOrking out while pregnant is a great thing (if you are cleared by your doc!)- read this article! While I was pregnant with my first child. I did crossfit workouts up until my 9th month (and the only reason I stopped then was because I had TONS of things to complete at work before going out on maternity leave and my workschedule didn’t allow for it).  What people don’t realize is that with ALL workouts, women need to make small changes to their routine, weight and form to accommodate the growing belly and child.  Pregnancy is not a “Get out of Jail Free” card that allows you to sit on your arse and eat bon bons (what are these things anyways??)  Its a time to really get to know your body, what it can do and how it feels.  I didn’t have all those pregnancy “ailments” like swollen feet or aching back. I will also tell you that my labor was not as arduous and traumatizing as some people make it out to be.  Yes, I was in labor for 24 hours, but when it came down to go time – I pushed less then 10 minutes total and I had a very healthy baby boy.  I had an easy & uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery and I completely attribute that to the fact that I did stay physically active for almost the entire time.
I’ve been a personal trainer for 7 years (WOW! Its been that long???) and all I ask as a fitness professional is for you to find what you love to do for exercise and improving your fitness and do it! Don’t go with the flow just because its the trend – what everybody is doing.  Find what speaks to you and excites you and gives you something to look forward to everyday, whether that’s training for a marathon, walking with your family every day, taking Zumba classes or using your exercise DVD’s at home. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are moving and working to improve YOUR health.

regret workoutJust don’t try to make me feel bad for doing what I find fun and enjoyable.

ok…end rant and off my soapbox :)

Restoring Meaning

There seems to be a struggle between perceived expectations and reality in the wake of social media.

America just celebrated Memorial Day, and people seem to have different interpretations of what it means: a sign of summer, the perfect time to fire up the grill, invite your friends over, and hopefully bask in the sun vs. a time to remember our Fallen Soldiers and honor all those who gave and give so we could enjoy all of the freedoms we have today.  I see the same thing happening to Thanksgiving (overeating, parades, and football vs. being Thankful for life’s blessings), Christmas (presents, shopping, Elf on the Shelf, Santa, parties, decorations vs. Jesus being the Reason for the Season), Weddings (the “perfect dress,” over-the-top decorations, showers and parties before the party, invitations, flowers, pictures, food, music, attendants, schedules, presents, registries and favors vs. Celebrating the Love that has brought 2 people together into a Lasting Union), Easter (dressing up, Easter Bunny, candy, egg hunts, and more presents vs. Jesus dying for our sins to Save us)* and even Birthdays (pinterest-worthy recipes, decorations, and presents vs. Celebrating Life with loved ones).

Too many people are competing for the “biggest and best _(insert celebration here)_,” but seriously- what is it all for?

When I was in 3rd grade, we loaded up our family suburban with a bunch of friends and went to the Winnepeg waterslides and Old Spaghetti Factory to celebrate my Birthday. Do you know what I remember about that day? I remember the Border Patrol ripping the heads off of my brand new Troll dolls, probably checking for drugs. (If you don’t know what Troll dolls were- Google it. They were AWESOME!)

I can’t even tell you what I got for Christmas last year… but I do remember all of the awesome family gatherings- just sitting around and sharing stories and memories.

OK fine, I guess I’ll admit that there are times I remember a recipe or food from a holiday- like the almost-entire delicious popcorn cake I consumed at Easter this year; but to be fair, I’m kind of obsessed with food sometimes. 

Popcorn cake aside, my point is this: I think we can all do a better job of restoring- maybe even discovering- meaning in our celebrations. Stripping away the expectations to out-do the neighbors next door, to spend all of the money (or even more) than you have, to win the perceived invisible trophy among human beings for throwing the best celebration. Sometimes it stresses me out just thinking about all of the thought, time, and planning that went into some of the celebrations I’ve attended.

I’m challenging you in the next year: strive more for meaning than the perceived societal expectations. Take note of the warm fuzzies that come of just being with loved ones. Cut yourself enough slack to enjoy a celebration rather than stress over a timeline or making sure “the perfect memory” was made. Know that you’ve done a wonderful job. You’re doing a wonderful job.

I recently heard a story from a mom who had pulled out all the stops to give her daughter the BEST birthday party imaginable. A few months later she asked her daughter what the best part of the day was, to which the girl replied “shopping for last-minute supplies with you in the morning. I liked the ‘us’ time.”

simplify2What kind of memories are you making?

Will you join me in Just… Being?

*Full disclosure: I’m a Christian and believe in God and Jesus, so you may have other beliefs or celebrate other holidays. This is just my story. 

You still have a Choice.

When it rains, it pours… you know what I mean? raincloud

Like, when the clouds fill the skies for more than a day, people accidentally grab their grumpy pants when they get dressed in the morning. Without knowing it, they are claiming victims right and left- simply by forgetting to be kind. Or forgetting to be thoughtful. Or forgetting that we are all human and we all make mistakes.
You know what I mean?

It can be rough to survive one of those days. But then sometimes it happens for 2 days. Or 5 days. Or an entire week.
And at the end of each day you start to look forward to shutting out the world and hiding under the covers… and sometimes when your alarm goes off the next morning you plead with God that it’s actually Saturday and you forgot to shut your alarm off.

I’ve been there. Have you?

It’s really easy in those moments to slip into pity party mode and pass the negativity on to others… BUT… do you really want to do that?

You still have a Choice.

Just like so many other things in your day, you get to choose the path you’re going to take when the dust settles from the raincloud people. You can become one, or you can be the Sunshine- perhaps it’s what that person needs to flip the switch in their own world.

We’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we’ve never been raincloud people. I speak from experience when I say there have been days when I couldn’t stand myself. Sometimes I figure it out by myself, usually in the moment when I’m freaking out over a very minor thing- like having a total meltdown because my hairspray didn’t set correctly and I now look like I have bedhead. (Don’t lie- you’ve been there.) Sometimes I figure it out because other people let me in on the reality of my attitude. There’s a general rule in my house that my husband isn’t allowed to ask me if I’m crabby or call me crabby, because in all honesty that makes everything worse. But there are key phrases and words that alert me to the fact that I might just be a little hard to handle- like “are you tired?” “do you need to eat?” or simply “how was your day?”

Whether you figure it out on your own or find it out in the reactions or statements of others… You still have a Choice.

Upon hearing/figuring it out, you get to decide whether you’re going to sink into a deeper funk, making the world even more miserable, or you’re going to reset your attitude in that moment. I get it- it’s not always easy to “snap out of it.”. Try one of the following:

  • go for a walk/run, or do your own favorite exercise
  • deep breaths… remember that You still have a Choice
  • write down 3 things you are thankful for, and then spend a few moments thinking about those things
  • SMILE. at yourself in the mirror. at the strangers on the street. for no reason in particular- just fix your face
  • if possible, hug someone. the power of human touch is incredible
  • take a bath, read a book, meditate… something relaxing and enjoyable

I cannot promise you that these things are the magical cure, because remember: You still have a Choice. If you go for a walk but stew on all the crappy things your friend said to you that day, it might not be so effective. If you make your thankful list but follow up each thing with “BUT,” you missed the point.
Channel your mind into knowing that you are working towards the goal of happiness and contentment.

Of being Sunshine for others.

you are my sunshine colored

 

 

You still have a Choice today.
Make it a good one!

A Party & Synthetic Marijuana

For my birthday, I hosted a bonfire at my house and everyone in my high school was invited; however, I did not think many people would show up, but a lot of people ended up coming! People started drinking and smoking and basically doing things that my parents would not have liked or approved of. I didn’t know what to do at the time, so I just let the people do what they wanted and tried to enjoy myself- it was my birthday, after all.

Later on in the evening, one of my best friends was offered synthetic marijuana from another female at the party. My friend took a few puffs and reacted terribly. She began having intense anxiety and freaky hallucinations. After the high wore off, she said it was the worst feeling she had ever experiences and she thought she was going to have to go to the hospital.

Synthetic marijuana is also known as K2 and spice. It contains a variety of different chemicals which are not tested for safety. A lot of people are deceived by this drug, and are told that it is “okay to use” or, “better for the body than regular marijuana.” In actuality, the chemicals in synthetic marijuana are much worse. Health effects can include severe anxiety, nausea, increased heartbeat, seizures, and hallucinations. Like any other emergency, call 911 immediately if a friend is experiencing any of the above symptoms.

So…Do you want to?

Asking for consent before you engage in sexual activity is important because it will keep you and your partner comfortable and in control of what is going happening.  When asking your partner for consent, there is no right or wrong way.  You just have to say what feels most comfortable for you in the situation, whether that means you get straight to the point or sugar coat it.  Some ways to ask for consent are:

 

  • Can I kiss you?
  • What are you comfortable with?
  • May I …?
  • Would you like to try this with me?

 

If you still feel unsure on what to say, just remember to ask exactly what you would like to do with your partner and get a yes or no answer.  If your partner gives you a vague answer or seems hesitant on what to say, that may be a sign that they don’t want to engage in the activity.  If that happens, tell your partner that it is okay if they don’t want to engage in that activity or anything at all. 
 
Once you and your partner have given consent, that does not mean things can’t stop.  You and your partner always have a right to say “no”, even if an agreement was made beforehand.  Some examples of what a partner might be doing if they want you to stop are:

 

  • Lack of eye contact
  • No response
  • Discomfort or tensing up
  • Saying things like, “I’m not sure,” “I’m scared,” or “Wait, I…”

 

If your partner doesn’t show any of the signs listed above but you feel that they might want to stop, just ask.  Overall, taking the time to pay attention to how your partner is responding will make them feel comfortable and respected. 
It’ll also help you to know when you are doing something right because your partner is giving you “yes” signs. Some examples of a “yes” sign are:

 

  • Telling you to keep going
  • Directing you on how to do something
  • Telling you that they are okay with that

 

Just remember to ask for consent before engaging in any sexual activity, pay attention to the “yes” or “no” signals, and always stop if you or your partner don’t want to engage in the activity anymore.  
If you are going to be sexually active, make sure you are always using protection.  The only way to be 100% safe from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy is to abstain from sexual activity.  Information in this blog was found from Think About It.   ​
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