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Health & Fitness Inspiration: Marilyn Monroe

During a discussion last week regarding weight and perspective, the name “Marilyn Monroe” came up. I had heard, and you probably have, as well, that the sex symbol was a size 12. Yet during this discussion, I realized I was not entirely sure what that statement means. When simply shopping different stores and brands can mean I range within 2-3 different sizes, how do the sizes of the ’40s – ’60s compare?

What size was Marilyn Monroe?

What size was Marilyn Monroe?

As it turns out, those sizes do not compare very favorably for the modern woman. The US currently uses vanity sizing for clothing; a size 8 today approximates the sizes 16 – 18 in the 1950s (again, accounting for differences between brands). And the average waist size for a woman in the ’50s was 25 inches – 9 inches smaller than the average waist size today!

While I am certainly not advocating that everyone needs to try to attain a 25 inch waist, I did find this piece of information startling, and it did immediately make me think about my diet. Not about the amount of food I consume, but the type of food I consume. Though portion control can be a problem, it is not really an issue with my diet. My problem is that I like sweets. Cookies, candy, cake, cream – if it has sugar in it, I am probably craving it. Right now.

You can imagine how much my diet suffered during the holidays...

You can imagine how much my diet suffered during the holidays…

My first thought, on realizing the disparity of sizing between me and the average woman in the fifties, was “I need to better my diet.” So I am.

I feel it is important to note, however, that while I think the size incongruity that has emerged over the decades should be viewed in negative terms, I do not think it should be personally viewed in a negative light. If you are not a supermodel and are above the age of 15, you are probably larger than the average woman in the fifties. However, when you look at images of women from that time period, people still desired women to be voluptuous. So use this knowledge of size difference to inspire you to remain healthy and strong, becoming the best you that you can, rather than focusing on getting “skinny,” etc.

800px-Marilyn_Monroe,_Betty_Grable_and_Lauren_Bacall_in_How_to_Marry_a_Millionaire_trailer

They may have been thinner, but they were still voluptuous & sexy.

This concept of individuality brings us back to Marilyn Monroe. What size was she?

Well, she wasn’t a size 12. Like most women, Marilyn Monroe’s weight fluctuated a bit – at some times, she was heavier, at some times, she was thinner. She always had an extreme hourglass figure, and would not technically “fit” into any clothing off the rack. Her waist was significantly smaller than her bust and hips, and she had her clothing custom made.

Marilyn_Monroe_and_Jane_Russell_at_Chinese_TheaterElizabeth Hurley called Monroe “fat.”  A blogger wrote that Monroe was “underweight” while filming “Some Like It Hot.” So even if Monroe cannot be used as evidence that a size 12 is not necessarily a bad thing, she is definitely an example of the struggle that women have over their weight. Whether you agree with Hurley, think Monroe’s weight fluctuated more than it should have, or think that Monroe always looked great, regardless of her weight, I’m sure you will agree that the varying perceptions of Monroe are strong indication that women should not care so much what other people think of them.

As a strong, but sugar-loving woman, I am striving to make the only perception that matters regarding my body my perception. This goal is also inspired by Monroe, who said: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” You know what’s boring? Obsessing over weight. But feeling healthy? That is beautiful.

Be Resolution-Free this Upcoming New Year

Most of us associate the beginning of a new year as a new beginning; a chance to set goals and accomplish them. Some fitness experts, however, are advocating staying away from fitness and health related resolutions this year.

champaggen

The reason for this advice? Thinking of fitness and health as something to push off until the beginning of the year, and setting a goal that is difficult to obtain is waiting too long, setting yourself up for failure, and thinking about these aspects of your life in the wrong manner.

  • Waiting too long.

Being physically active, and treating your body well with the proper nutrition and care are important. So important that these activities should not be pushed off until the beginning of the new year. If you know that you need to make changes in your nutrition and fitness regimen, then start it now, not tomorrow. Putting off changes involved with your health, even for a day, is a bad idea. Particularly since “tomorrow,” as in, the day after today, often turns into the day after tomorrow, the day after that, a week from now, a month from now; well, we might as well wait until next New Year’s so we can have a year of healthy.

As Caity Weaver would say: Thatz Not Okay.

Another problem with pushing off health and fitness related goals for awhile, is that it can sometimes result in overindulgence in a problem habit to “compensate” for the healthiness that is about to begin. Bingeing on donuts because you’re soon going to force yourself to eat vegetables, however, is not a good idea. Particularly since, as was previously mentioned, the healthiness you’re compensating for might not even happen.

Do you want to make healthy changes in your life? That’s great! Start now.

clock

  • Setting yourself up to fail.

Most of us think of New Year’s resolutions as large, lofty aspirations. The person who does not know how to swim, and is always confined to the kiddie pool, announces that she is going to swim the English Channel. When these lofty aspirations are achieved, that’s awesome! But most of us don’t operate well with goals like these.

The larger the goal, the easier it is not to achieve that goal. The easier it is to fail, the easier it is to give up.

Don’t give up. When setting resolutions/goals for yourself, start with small, easily achievable goals, and work your way up to the things that you want but are very difficult for you right now.

If you never exercise, going to the gym every day is going to be a difficult habit to immediately begin. Start with going to the gym twice a week. Once you’ve regularly begun twice-weekly attendance, add walks around your neighborhood after dinner. Once you’re walking nearly every day after dinner, add another day or two to the gym.

Slowly creating good habits makes it more likely you will continue to practice those habits.

Set yourself up to win.

Be a winner!

Be a winner!

  • Thinking about fitness and health in the wrong way.

As was mentioned previously, health and fitness are important. In addition, proper eating and fitness are ongoing. Thinking of fitness and health as a goal that can be “achieved” is faulty thinking. Once you have incurred healthy eating habits, you need to keep working at it; the same theory goes for fitness.

Healthy eating and exercise are something you should always be working to improve and keep interesting.

Don't think of health as a goal to be achieved; think of it as a way of living.

Don’t think of health as a goal to be achieved; think of it as a way of living.

A big problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that, while people begin the year with great intentions, it is still okay, possibly even expected, that most of us will fail to continue those resolutions throughout the year.  But when those resolutions are related to your health? Waiting until January 1 is too long; start now. Start with small, achievable goals, and work your way up to the goals that seem large right now. And don’t think of your health as something that can be achieved, before moving on to something else. Your health should always be important to you.

What do you think about New Year’s Resolutions? Please share in the comments below!

Healthy Holidays: Peppermint, Peppermint, Peppermint!

The Huffington Post recently posted an article relating 5 Health Benefits of Peppermint. In essence:

peppermint 5 take 2

Knowing that peppermint has health benefits is great, since this is the season for candy canes, peppermint candles, and we now have an excuse to use peppermint in our holiday baked goods.

Of course, this means we’re going to talk about a few recipes!

One of the easiest ways to incorporate peppermint into your baking is to add peppermint to Snickerdoodles. Add 3 crushed candy canes to the cinnamon-sugar mixture you roll your cookies into before baking, and voila! Christmas in a cookie.

The simplest way to crush your candy canes is probably to break the candy canes into manageable pieces with your fingers, and place those manageable pieces into a large piece of waxed paper, then fold the waxed paper in half. Roll over the candy cane pieces with a rolling pin until the candy canes are crushed as finely as you desire for your cookies.

A slightly more complicated recipe that involves making a cookie and an icing is Dark Chocolate Espresso Shortbread Bites with Peppermint Buttercream. Click on the link to try a recipe with coffee, chocolate, and peppermint elements (an impressive combination for party fare).

If you are baking holiday goods this season, try making smaller cookies to encourage smaller portion sizes and ingestion. In addition, check out this former blog post for some suggestions on how to make holiday cookies a bit healthier.

Abstaining from sugar this holiday season, or just not a fan of sweets? Try lighting a candle infused with peppermint oil. Many stores offer such candles during December, and the scent could help you eat less, focus more, and could even unclog a stuffy nose!

holidays

Do you know of any additional benefits of peppermint? Or have a different favorite scent/flavor during the holiday season? Share in the comments below!

Images:

By Mikereichold (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Weighing in on Eriksen’s Instagram Debate

A couple of weeks ago, Caroline Berg Eriksen posted the following picture on Instagram:

eriksen

She captioned the picture “I feel so empty, and still not — 4 days after birth.”

This picture prompted quite a bit of argument – with some claiming that Eriksen was promoting the idea that women need to lose weight, while others claimed that Eriksen was just showing off a body she was proud of, and possibly promoting her body for her fitness blog. So I thought it would be fitting to talk about this controversy on my fitness blog.

I find the picture interesting, because I would not know, or even guess, that the model had recently been pregnant, if I was not explicitly told. I also have a feeling that most people have the same response that I did when they first view the photo: head tilts to the left, eyes narrow, and the questions: “Really? 4 days?” pop out of the mouth without even thinking.

Then, my mind turned to the safety of losing a large amount of weight that quickly.

Is it possible to drop the baby weight that quickly? Apparently, yes. Is it recommended or expected for a new mother to drop any added baby weight that quickly? Definitely not.

Caroline Berg Eriksen is a fitness blogger. Fitness consumes her life; it is her work, it is her passion, to a degree that other people, women or otherwise, do not need to duplicate. Fitness is important, but that does not mean that it needs to be all that you think about. Since Eriksen does devote a rather large amount of time to thinking about her fitness, however, her body is more likely to “bounce back” from giving birth than someone who does not devote as much time to thinking about fitness.

We all have different bodies, and that is okay. It is health that is more important than being thin. And for new moms, it is not recommended to begin exercising again until six weeks after giving birth – maybe four weeks, with the permission of your doctor. Maybe. There are so many things to learn as a new, bonding mother, that losing weight should not be anywhere in your mind. A lot of the pregnancy weight gain will drop, anyway, without any conscious thought being involved. But weight loss doesn’t matter. Drinking enough water, breastfeeding your baby, if at all possible, trying to remain rested, these things are so much more important than weight loss.

In Eriksen’s defense, it is recommended for a woman to remain physically active, and eat as healthy as possible, while pregnant. If a woman is living by these healthful standards, then she will not gain as much weight while pregnant, nor will she have as much trouble losing the pregnancy weight after the baby is born. Yet all pregnancies are different, as well. Many women cannot exercise very much, or need to stay on bed rest. And even if you are capable of exercising regularly, if you have a day when you lay on the couch all day watching reality television, is that understandable? Definitely. Healthy living is important, but we all have different needs at different times.

Thinking along this track brings me, again, to Eriksen’s caption. I’m not sure I really understand what she is saying. “I feel so empty, and still not…” Having had a child myself, I understand that your feel oddly light when you are no longer carrying your baby in your womb. It is the “still not” that I am unsure of the meaning. Does she mean that she still has more weight to lose? Does she mean that it is fulfilling to have her child out in the world? So while she has physically become more “empty,” her heart is full of love for her baby? I hope that it is the latter interpretation. If it is the former, then that interpretation is a sign of an unhealthy state of mind.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, it is difficult to possess physical health without mental health. If you are not happy with your body, then it can be difficult to accurately gauge how much of an effect healthy habits have.

Does it really matter if Eriksen was trying to make other mothers feel inferior? No. At the same time, I don’t necessarily think that Eriksen had that objective in mind. She had lost at least a large portion of the baby weight she had put on, and she was probably feeling proud of that weight loss, viewing it as affirmation that the things she blogs and thinks about are creating beneficial results. The important lesson from this incident is to remember that your health is more important than anything. This lesson includes your mental health. Someone can only make you feel inferior if you let them. But you are your most beautiful when you are your most healthy, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, you don’t need to listen.

And if Eriksen’s objective in posting this picture was to increase readership, then she certainly succeeded. Since this picture was posted, traffic to her website has doubled.

Atchoo! What to do?

‘Tis the season for colds and flus! While we try to stay healthy, sometimes, becoming ill is unavoidable. This blog is meant to be a reference for some tips and tricks regarding illness during the winter months.

  • While it is a myth that you can become ill if you go outside with wet hair, it is true that wearing a hat will help your body retain heat. This heat retention is especially important if you are already ill, when your body has more difficulty regulating its’ temperature.
Keep warm; wear a hat!

Keep warm; wear a hat!

  • With the dry heat consistently running in the winter, and illness abounding, it is still very important to remain hydrated. Remember, the best drink to provide hydration is water. It is the cleanest, purest drink, and therefore the most healthy.
Stay hydrated via drinking water.

Stay hydrated via drinking water.

  • Sick of water? Maybe a little hungry? Don’t forget about your chicken soup! Chicken soup might help with congestion, and aids with inflammation, which helps you feel better more quickly.
Plus, it's delicious.

Plus, it’s delicious.

  • Being physically fit and eating well cannot prevent you from becoming ill. It can, however, improve your immune system, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Maybe you could exercise at Barre Bee Fit to boost that immune system... #productplacement

Maybe you could exercise at Barre Bee Fit to boost that immune system… #productplacement

Speaking of exercise – how do you remain active when you are not feeling well? It is important to keep moving; here are some recommendations:

  • Yoga

yoga

Relieving stress that has built up over your day/week/etc., yoga is a great form of exercise at any time. When you are feeling ill, this form of exercise can be particularly helpful. You can practice a yoga sequence that specifically targets areas that are sore, or just relieve stress in the body, overall. In addition, when you have relieved stress in your body, you are more likely to sleep better, which will aid your recovery!

  • Dance Break

Dancing is fun, provides the benefits of cardio, and is generally low interval. Of course, it is important to listen to your body, particularly when you are ill. You may not be able to push yourself as much as normal, you  may be less flexible, etc. Just listen to your body, and enjoy being active without punishing yourself for being ill.

dancing bear

  • Walking/Jogging

tmill

If you have a treadmill, walking or jogging is another great alternative. Try to avoid working out on gym equipment, since gyms often have a lot of people in them and you do not want to pass on your illness. Also, avoid going outdoors, since it is winter and you want to stay warm while ill. Again, just as with dancing, pace yourself. Remember that it is okay not to run, and just enjoy your walk/jog.

Is there another trick you have heard (and maybe even tried) that we did not cover? Please let us know in the comments below!

Thanksgiving Workout Links

A lot of us have trouble working out effectively without a class that we pay, and then sign up, for; yet, attending a class can be difficult when you are away from home during the holidays and/or on vacation.

If you are remaining in or visiting Ann Arbor, great news! Barre Bee Fit is offering a 75 minute Boot Camp, from 9 – 10:15 a.m., so you can sweat through a great workout before eating your turkey dinner. Simply sign up on our website, under the “Events” tab.

If your resources are limited during Thanksgiving break, use this post as a resource! Following are links to some on-line resources that will help you to stay active, even if you only have a limited amount of time and space.

  • Barre

Of course, one of our top recommendations is the Barre Bee Fit YouTube channel. The Barre Bee Fit channel has a myriad of short videos, most just a few minutes long, that will target a specific muscle group (abs, arms, seat, thighs). Just make sure you stretch and warm up before starting one of our videos! While these videos will not provide the same experience as a full class, they are a great tool when you are unable to make it to a full class.

Try some barre work (sans barre) to stay active.

Try some barre work (sans barre) to stay active.

  • Yoga

Whether you have never taken a yoga class before, or you are so familiar with yoga poses you have considered teaching, yoga is a great way to work in some “me time,” even amidst familial pressures. All you need is a yoga mat and some comfortable clothing.

There are many yoga resources available, but a couple of channels currently amongst our favorites are the Ekhart Yoga TV channel, which is very instructive and offers a range of videos, from beginner to advanced. If you are looking to add a little more contemplative activity into your life daily, a great option is to join the 30 day challenge. By signing up on-line, DoYouYoga.com sends a yoga video to you every day for 30 days, encouraging you to exercise during vacation, and afterwards.

Yoga: All you need is a yoga mat.

Yoga: All you need is a yoga mat.

  • Dance

Work up some sweat before luxuriating in a shower with a fun dance workout! There are many great options for dance workouts, as well. One that works very well if you do not consider yourself a dancer is this Dancing with the Stars workout (if you have experience with ballroom dancing, this video can still provide a good workout; just be warned that it is a little simple in some respects). Now, this Tracey Mallett video requires a little more coordination, and is substantially longer, at 3o minutes, but is a lot of fun! Of course, make sure to cool down and stretch when you are finished with any dance workouts.

Dance makes a great, fun workout!

Dance makes a great, fun workout!

  • Limited Space

Worried about noise and/or space limitations? Not to fear! Try the Quick + Quiet Hotel Room Workout, approximately 10 minutes of work demonstrated in a very tight space. Another option is the Dorm Room Workout; this workout is a great one, and the moves are demonstrated and explained very well. One possible problem with the Dorm Room Workout, however, is that the moves are not demonstrated for a full minute; if you continue to exercise while the next move is explained, though, you should be executing the moves about a minute. Or, utilize the pause button.

Limited space? That's okay; you can still work in a work out.

Limited space? That’s okay; you can still work in a work out.

Do you have a go-to exercise for vacations that we missed? Please let us know in the comments below! Also, share any thoughts on the links we have shared today – do any work particularly well? Is there one that did not work for you?

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

(Note: Barre Bee Fit has not been paid or encouraged to promote any of these products/videos. We are simply sharing these links because we think they can help people remain active during vacations. Also, it is always recommended that you check with your doctor before attempting a new form of exercise.)

Brown Fat: What is it & why do I care?

There are 2 types of fat in your body: brown fat and white fat.

One of the superficial differences between these types of fat is the color. The types of fat get their adjectival descriptor from their appearance; specifically, brown fat is darker in color than white fat. The reason for this difference? Brown fat contains mitochondria that are not present in white fat. In addition, brown fat is actually more related to skeletal muscle than to white fat.

It is only recently that it was realized adult humans possess brown fat; previously, most scientists thought it was only present in rodents and human infants. Brown fat is present in greater quantities in these latter two types because rodents and babies do not shiver; thus, the brown fat helps them generate heat.

Brown fat generates heat in babies & rodents.

Brown fat generates heat in babies & rodents.

Thus, brown fat is activated by cold. The exciting thing about this activation is that when brown fat cells are stimulated, they burn calories, and sometimes, also white fat.

Ready for even more impressive news? It seems likely that humans can turn white fat into brown fat (yes, please!). How, you ask? By exercise!

So taking a walk outside after your large Thanksgiving dinner is a really good idea.

So taking a walk outside after your large Thanksgiving dinner is a really good idea.

It is also possible that technology, specifically the use of central heating, has resulted in less brown fat in adults, making it more difficult for adults to utilize the activation of brown fat in cold weather to stay at a healthy weight. Yet scientists might also soon be attempting to activate brown fat without making humans cold. The possibilities for healthy weight loss are exciting!

Do you have any additional information regarding brown fat? What do you think of the possibilities of this line of scientific research?

Resources: