Coping With Pain and Worry

I wrote this staring at this white blank space on wordpress, and I didn’t really worry about editing it….In fact, I couldn’t even come up with a title and I’m going to bed to try to at least fall asleep….

“You look like you lift…” (I heard this in the gym a few times)
Really? Well, I do…
Can you see the pain; the bruises, the deep nest that anxiety and most recently, depression, has burrowed itself into?
You look like you lift
Thank you, because underneath I feel like I have to lift this burden off my body every single day
It feels so heavy, and I’m so tired so battered tethered and worn
Oh you were talking about weights
Weren’t you?
Every day I struggle to lift; to carry the pain that recklessly pulls at my core
As I desperately try to cover up and hide
(I’m) Not willing to unveil the demons that fuse the flames between the angst and desperation that wrestles inside of me
I lift in my sleep
I lift the pain, I lift the emptiness;
The chaos that corrupts my entire being
I lift when I awaken and when I am dreaming
There is no calm there is no storm
It’s all in mind, but then again it’s really not
It’s physical and I keep lifting
I keep fighting
I keep lifting
Internally; externally my body won’t even let me shut down
I fear the worst, I fear the least
I fear FEAR
But the fear is deeper than me
Damn It
It’s a curse
But every day
I lift
Every moment of every second
I lift
And therefore
I become stronger
I become able
I become willing
I can lift more, I can see more, do more, live more
So yes, you say, “you look like you lift”
And physically, emotionally, mentally
Yes I do. I do lift
My body reflects my fight

I give it all I got, I leave all of me behind…

I grasp the iron, contract the muscle, divert the mind

reaching for something that weighs heavier than what’s inside of me; heavier than what’s trying to suffocate me; something that reminds me that I’m still alive; vulnerable, yet in control…

Tonight, I was sitting on the floor with a barbell weighing 275 pounds preparing to do hip thrusts, when I awkwardly made eye contact with a girl who was obviously talking about me to her friend. At that point, I was exhausted, but still wanted to push that amount of weight, but I just couldn’t; my mind unraveled the worst….

She was probably seeing the weakness in my eyes, or that the fight in me was fading…

I did feel broken and detached, and with that barbell hovering over my hips, I just couldn’t seem to make my mental and physical self connect.

I sat there feeling like I was no longer in control.

I decided to at least unload the bar down to 205 and completed a set. 8 reps and I was done. I couldn’t stop sweating, I was burning up, and my heart was pounding hard. After putting the weight back (of course), I was leaving the gym, and the girl who had been watching me, made eye contact with me and quietly said, “Every time you’re in here, you’re always killing it in the gym”…..

That made me smile. That made me feel vulnerable, but only for a little while.

Tomorrow is my doctor’s appointment with the endocrinologist….

Depression: I Can’t “Just Get Over It”…Yet

I remember when I started this blog. I wanted to fill it with everything fitness…and I still do, but I’m really struggling. I haven’t wanted to burden anyone’s eyes with words of sadness or dismay, but everyday for the past couple months has been a struggle, so hoping this will be therapeutic….

I am not where I want to be, nor am I who I want to be…

I haven’t done any cardio for weeks (almost a month), In fact, I haven’t really done much of anything, except fighting some darkness, and trying to find the light that once ignited the fire deep within me. These days, it’s all it takes for me to get out of bed. I’ve had more off days from the gym than I’ve had since I started this journey about 5 years ago. However, when I do get there, I go heavy. .

I go heavy to push all that darkness out of me…

But when a new day begins, I’m plagued by the same demons.

It’s no secret that I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for the same amount of time I started going to the gym. The gym, the weights; the control it gave me, molded my purpose, and made me fight harder than I ever knew was possible. It showed me what I was capable of and chipped away at a lot of fears and buried a lot of doubts I had about myself; about life, my purpose etc…

Fast forward, when my best friend of 16 years, passed away at the end of July, and I suddenly felt alone. I went to Las Vegas a week later for an already paid vacation and I couldn’t shake the invasive thoughts of how, I, too was ready to die.

Honestly, I don’t know how I made it through that week. 

But, Vegas, I guess was a distraction. It felt different. But I felt different. I felt that it wasn’t me who was experiencing the things that surrounded me; I felt like I was just existing, and all these things; the lights, the photo taking, the eating, the laying out in the sun, just happened to be occurring, with each breath I took, every step,and with all of that, I was stuck with an extremely deep and penetrating pain and void…

And it only got worse when we came back from our trip. I was forced to deal with the reality every time I felt pain and went to pick up the phone to call her, and suddenly realized that she wasn’t ever going to be there to answer, and all I had was a voice mail from her, but I wanted so much more. I started eating like shit, my obsession with the gym was waning, and social media just became too painful to log on to.

All of it seemed like a waste of time; a vacant place to unload a false perception of my reality.

And I certainly didn’t want to socialize or interact with anyone else in person. I was being buried and I didn’t want to fix it. For once, I didn’t care to fight, to fix anything, I just wanted to shut down and sleep. I’ve suffered from acne since I was 16 and at this point, the medication that had gave me clear skin and helped my confidence was suddenly ineffective. My face was breaking out like I was 16 all over again. I was embarrassed, I felt ugly, and I was sinking into a further depression, especially when my reflection in the mirror would point out 5 or 6 more pimples to look at. And I couldn’t stop crying over the loss of my friend. I was grieving and feeling desperate…

Finally, I went to my primary doctor for help.

She ordered blood work to test my hormone levels as well as my thyroid and vitamin d levels which all came back normal, but after feeling around my thyroid, she requested that I also have a thyroid ultrasound done. She found a nodule and all I could think was the worst. Of course, I researched what it meant to have a nodule, and grew even more scared and anxious. And where I once was following a more flexible diet, I cut out all dairy, sugar, and processed food, hoping that it would make me healthier. That maybe I did something to my body; I caused this. I did this to myself…

I’ve always struggled with insomnia, but now I would lay awake until 6 or 7 am. Every night is plagued with worrying, crying, panicking, feeling my heart race, my whole body shake and perspire, I want so desperately to just be able to close my eyes and fall asleep that when I finally do, I don’t want to open my eyes to feel the pain.

In the past couple days, I’ve received two phone calls: one confirming that I have a nodule and one to to schedule the appointment with the endocrinologist, and now I just want to sleep even more to forget.

Funny how I sit here and as, I write this, I wonder what happened to me? What happened to that woman who fought so hard for strength and the freedom from the terror of anxiety and panic attacks that make me feel confined, institutionalized within my own mind. Where I once started to stand strong, I have now crashed. I am at my weakest. I am vulnerable; I feel shattered, broken, and stumbling over my own thoughts. Yes, I feel I’m at my weakest point. I’ve allowed the intensity of my emotions and circumstances to grow and wrap snug around my neck much like a venomous snake.

Depression is real. You may not be able to see it, there may not be blood tests to determine that you have depression, there will be people who don’t understand it, who think it’s made up or you’re just doing all of this on purpose, or for attention. There will be people that will tell you to ask for a higher dose of medication, more xanax, more ativan, more of anything that will numb you. But what is forgotten is that not all depression is “fixed” with medication. Going out more, socializing more, or getting out of bed is not something that will “fix” a depressed, anxious person. It’s bigger than that. In fact, it is quite similar to a venomous snake wrapping itself around your entire body and mind. It’s not a phase and it doesn’t matter if you are attractive, rich, drive a nice car, or live in a huge mansion, depression affects everyone. It’s just unfortunate that there are some people who don’t understand it and make ignorant comments that only causes the sufferer more pain.

Trying to rationalize a person’s thoughts or behaviors is not helpful. Making a statement such as, “If you’re going to live this way for the next 30 years, you might as well kill yourself” is not helpful. (Yes, I had someone say this to me) That’s just toxic. (Maybe if people weren’t so callous with their words, people suffering with depression and anxiety wouldn’t hide away and shut down.) Your anger at someone’s depression or anxiety isn’t going to make the person “snap out of it”.

Things that are helpful are:

1.) Letting the person know that although you may not understand, you are there for them when they’re ready.

2.) If the person tells you that they’re not suicidal, don’t keep bringing it up.

3.) It’s okay to worry about the person and only natural to want to help, but don’t take it personal and share your anger. It does not help at all. It only makes the person feel even more hopeless and depressed.

4.) You are not a therapist, or a doctor, leave the treatment plan between the patient and their doctors. What worked for you, may not be what will work for everyone else. Everyone experiences depression for different reasons and sometimes there’s actually a reason.

Any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Is Fear Suffocating You?

Be okay with who you are and what you see in the mirror. Your imperfections are only seen by you and no one else…

You’re pushed up against the wall. The grip around your neck is getting tighter and tighter. You want to move your arms, your legs, something, anything to remind you that you’re alive; that you got this. You got this.

You’re trying to make yourself fit a mold that doesn’t belong to you; doesn’t exist into your realm of desire; a vision you have falsely envisioned. Created. It’s a fallacy; you feel drugged, poisoned, toxic. How do you stop the suffering? Simple. Stop thinking of it as suffering. It’s a chance for you to start over; to share your experience and witness determination and your will to succeed. You will make it because you ache; something is missing and you won’t be able to let go so easily this time. You’re alive. You got this.

Why are you allowing FEAR to establish control? What has it done to you to become so powerful? What happened to you? What happened that has made you so willing to praise FEAR and hand over your entire being so that you can continue to worship it. Every night you lay awake, does it come to you? Does it reveal the face it hides behind the mask it wears to control you? And you are under its spell….

Laugh in its face. Don’t be afraid to embrace fear as part of the process. You’re alive. Fear doesn’t have to be.

Remember, You got this.

 When you make a mental transformation, you also make a physical transformation. And slowly, you grow, right in front of your eyes. Right in front of the mirror.

Your physical transformation will challenge you mentally and vice versa. It’ll call on fear to come and “rescue you” but you’ll remember that piercing pain that gripped your neck and you’ll remember that, you’re alive. You got this.

When you make the decision to let go of fear, it’ll still haunt you. It’ll tempt you and plead with you daily to come back; to serve once again. Remind yourself that it’s a process; the transformation you make mentally is an ongoing process, there is no finalization, no dotted line to sign, it’s constantly evolving, overcoming, processing, capturing, it’s telling you and reminding you that you’re alive. It’s telling you that you got this….

Mentally AND Physically.

You got this.

The Truth About Binging (My Perspective)

Binging. Many experience it. Many wait until they’re all alone before they binge. Some do it out in the open. You just can’t stop eating. And eating. And eating. And even though you’re out of control, you actually feel very much in control. 

Food is a social experience; it is at the center of social gatherings, relationships and communication.

Many have suggested binging comes after following a restricted diet for so long; denying or looking at food as “unhealthy” and No I can’t eat that or that or that….

But I don’t think that’s the entire story. I believe that because we already have an established relationship with food, when we “go on a diet” it can feel like a loss and we experience grief.

And I believe once our relationship with food is questioned or altered, it becomes one of the major battles to confront.  It impairs us mentally and emotionally.

Why?

Because food is more than just food. It’s our way to connect and forge relationships with others. It’s our way to prevent feeling like a social pariah.

And a lot of memories and experiences culminate around food. Food can bring back a memory of a loved one who has passed on, and can make us feel more connected to them.

It’s a way for us to carry our relationship with us well after they are gone.

I remember, every Sunday, my father and stepmother would take that day off from work and we’d drive an hour or so away for a fun afternoon of jet-skiing and a picnic. I yearn for those days of eating together at an old rustic picnic table, flies swarming our food, my father cracking jokes, and my family and I just laughing and spending time together before hopping back on the jet-skis.

I remember my grandmother’s delicious hamburgers every Thursday afternoon. Even when I grew older, I could always visit grandma and she’d insist on making me a cup of tea with milk and sugar, and something to eat. We would sit in the kitchen, and I would talk her ear off for hours.

Moments like those made me feel connected. When you “diet” you essentially are denying yourself a relationship and disconnecting yourself from that relationship. And I wouldn’t change anything.

If only I could have those moments back.

Just this past Thanksgiving, I broke down and cried when I tried to make a recipe of hers and it all just fell apart.

A diet, while often necessary to achieve a desired result along with exercise, is not just a restriction of food to aid in weight loss, it’s not just a caloric deficit, or cutting out carbohydrates, fats, or gluten even, it’s a break up; a detachment from memories, old and new, past and present with family, friends, laughter, and comfort.

A diet becomes a grieving process; it’s not sustainable long term because you feel isolated from friends and family, so more than likely, for the sake of reestablishing those familiar feelings and memories, you binge to find those emotions again; to try to reconnect and feel somewhat kind of “normal” again.

Binging doesn’t have to be an option. It’s a hard habit to break. I know, I’ve been there. Over and over again.

But I also know that no matter how challenging it is, it’s also not impossible. I can still create new memories that still align me with my goals, while not giving up my memories entirely with flexible dieting.

Flexible dieting is an alternative to the old standard “diet”, it’s not the solution, but it’s a much better approach from a psychological point of view.  With flexible dieting you aren’t restricting yourself from any particular food groups and therefore, allowing yourself to have more freedom and control.

With “clean eating”, the idea behind it is to eliminate processed foods, eliminate sugar, eat small meals throughout the day, and you limit or don’t allow yourself to have “junk food”.

The idea behind Flexible dieting is to get you to count macros such as carbs, proteins, and fat. It focuses on getting a nutrient based diet from whole foods, but allows you to treat everyday if you want. It makes  “dieting ” a little bit more sane, however, it’s equally as challenging from the standpoint that you still have to make sacrifices. It’s still a diet, you’re still committing the act of restricting yourself, so it still fucks with you mentally because the mind will always want what it cannot have.

Keep in mind, this approach has its challenges as well. For example, it’s impossible to not develop or hone your OCD tendencies with either approach. Counting calories, macros, weighing food, it’s impossible to NOT develop a more direct, focused relationship with food; to be more cognizant of what you would like to eat vs what you’re actually able to “fit within your macros” for the day.

But the overall objective is to develop a positive relationship with food as well as with your body.

(Because of course, micromanaging your meals when you suffer from an extremely low body image is only going to make it that more mentally destructive and damaging.)

As I said, I’m a “recovering” binge eater, so I have recently started following a macro counting approach (Again) to combat my binging and to provide more structure and accountability. The benefits of a more structured plan, after taken into account past experiences definitely outweighs the risks; mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Trying to control my body from a healthy, physical aspect, is extremely challenging and takes just as many years if not more to undo the relationship that we previously had with food while we were growing up. But I realized, binging isn’t acceptable either. Not in this society. You’re either an addict or your not. And it’s a slippery slope that anyone can stumble onto if not careful. The relationship that we have with our physical being doesn’t always align with our mental being. Binging is only going to be self destructive and following a structured approach has more potential to guide you away from the beaten path.

While you may discover some OCD behaviors, structure is sometimes what is necessary to establish so that we don’t become a menace to ourselves in the long run.

I’d also like to note that I have an extremely addictive personality, and come from a family that has suffered from addictions as well (I’ve been there at a point in my life as well) so I need some kind of “rehab” if you will….

I need structure and accountability or else I’m going to just keep binging; I’m going to keep self- destructing. I want to keep my memories, but I also want to achieve my fitness goals as well.

And I aim to achieve that by striving to establish a positive relationship with food.

Admittedly, the feelings I have of beginning a macro counting “lifestyle” again, makes me crave things that I can’t have. So you see, there is some degree of restrictiveness there. Once I hit my macros, I’m done for the night. No more food. Regardless if my stomach is growling and my mind is trying to convince me to just have a midnight snack, or an afternoon snack. But I still have my sanity. I still have my memories. I still feel connected.

I feel cranky because I’m hungry and I can’t just eat. I want to binge, I want to raid the kitchen, but I’m staying strong and telling myself this is only temporary. It’s like a detox anyone with a drug addiction or really any type of addiction goes through.

See, the training part is the easy part. You clap yourself on the back when you are able to increase your strength, run a bit faster, your mind is there. Your mind is there cheering you on and your focused ready to tackle the weight, the run; you’re driven, you’re focused, but as soon as your mind drifts over to thinking about food and, “how many macros do I have left,” it wants to fail and shut you down. It wants to tell you to just eat, it wants to make you feel weak and vulnerable. And you’ll realize you can’t stop thinking about food. You’ll eat one meal and then anxiously await your next meal.
But in the gym, when your lifting weights, your mind is ready to take on a challenge because there are no limitations , the goal is to become stronger, faster, the goal is to do MORE….NOT LESS.

But then again, it’s possible to overdo it in the gym, and I know that there are times when I should lighten the load and/or take a rest, but I don’t want to because I just want to keep pushing.

The mind is constantly playing devil’s advocate.

If you can remember that, you will succeed.

And never do something that is going to bring you down. Find a way to fight back while still allowing you the opportunity to achieve your goals while maintaining a positive relationship with food and your body.

In memory of my grandmother and father….

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Dust Yourself Off and Try Again.

Last week, I felt so destroyed and so damaged. When is it okay to get fed up? When is it okay to say that you’ve had enough? I mean, why can’t I just surrender and accept that this is how I was created; it’s who I am?  I do realize that when I try to fight it, I am actually denying a huge part of who I am, and yet, I still can’t surrender to this fight that actually gets off on antagonizing me. And while I’m defending myself against the pain that grows deeper and deeper inside of me, I struggle to not feel like a failure. I also struggle to understand and make sense of why I try so hard to convince myself that I have total control over it, when, in fact, over and over, I am actually proven wrong. No, I cannot just rip it out of me like one would rip a weed out of a garden to make room for a growth that’s much more beautiful and serene. So, while it constantly tries to break me down and get me to surrender to it, I get back up and keep fighting. I can recall many moments where I have even struggled to recognize the person standing in front of the mirror, and there are times that I question the shadow that glides alongside my every stride on a day where the sun shines the least in my heart.

But as long as that shadow is there, I know that all of this is very, very real.

At first, I felt failure starting to set in (I fear that the most.).  Then I felt an insurmountable amount of guilt that would go on to rip through my body all day long.

 Panic. More anxiety. Panic. I tried to brush it off.

 With every calorie burned, with every ounce of sweat that dripped from my forehead burning my eyes, I carried on. The anxiety spread and the panic pulsated through my veins, and I couldn’t seem to push it back; I didn’t know how to make it stop. I thought, it’s just how I’m supposed to feel, this is what contest prep is all about. I’ve done it twice before and felt this same exact way, so it was normal.

I wasn’t sleeping; I’d lie awake and cry in pain, and in horror. It felt like I was being shredded to pieces; my insides screamed for mercy. I was jumping out of bed and pacing because in moments where I feel out of control, it somehow seems to be the only logical solution, followed by nights spent crying and waking my husband up, trying to seek reassurance somehow that I wasn’t failing or losing myself. I didn’t want to feel like I was becoming too weak to overcome it. I mean, what reason did I have to complain, give up, or even take a break. People suffered through much more than contest prep and anxiety. What was anxiety anyway? Just another scapegoat ; a crutch; a pass to be let out of the game early? Oh, but it pissed me off. I couldn’t even sit still without feeling restless. And one day to the next, as my cortisol levels were at an all time high, the scale didn’t budge, I mean, it fluctuated, but never any lower than the week before. I was beginning to feel desperate, but not desperate enough to say anything to my coach because I didn’t want to let my guard down. I didn’t want to seem weak. But after a week with no improvement, the email from my coach was out of concern:

 Why wasn’t I losing weight?

Was I being precise with my macros?

 I sat. Staring at it. Taking it all in. The words on the computer started to fade. Cortisol and adrenaline rushing through my body like a reflex. I knew why the scale wasn’t moving, I knew why, but I just didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want it to be real. But as I stared at that email, I knew that if I was going to continue to make progress, now was the time to conquer the demon head on. I had to be honest, and not just with my coach, but with myself.

 True success doesn’t happen from being dishonest.

 I clicked the reply button and began to slowly type out how I have been feeling to my coach. I didn’t want any sympathy, I just wanted a solution.
Still….I thought if I wasn’t struggling and suffering; if I wasn’t feeling miserable, anxious and hungry than I wasn’t working hard enough. I wasn’t being strong enough.

 Okay, Megan…enough is enough. I have to get out of this funk. When you feel sorry for yourself, you dismiss all of the parts that make you who you are. That’s giving up; that’s letting failure come out on top.

 I hit the send button. I’m not one to give up. I’m not one to not finish something, especially if I feel passionate enough about it. When you really, truly want something, you will fight like hell for it.

 Hey, we’re all suffering here. We’re all trying to become better than who we once were…who we currently are. We all have our demons, our moments when we’re not feeling our best. Heck, maybe you smile all the time, but the only thing you truly feel inside is a clenched fist wrapped around your heart. I urge you to address it. To write about it, talk about it, share it because the truth is, if you hold it all inside of you, it’s only dimming the light that has the potential to shine and reflect so bright inside and out of you.

The great thing about life, is that you always have an opportunity to start over; the choices you made yesterday, the guilt that might have consumed you before you said goodnight and crawled into bed to stare at the ceiling or laid in bed to subconsciously listen to the faint sound of the ceiling fan, the hurt you might have endured from not feeling good enough or at the expense of others who may not be happy with themselves, all have to succumb to the darkness of nightfall. And it’s all up to you to either let it all go or carry the burden with you into the light of a brand new day.

Your choice. Always.

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Challenge Meets Challenge

Before I set out to get my personal training certification, I would have underestimated the power of how much of another person’s life can affect your own. We are all ridden with our own insecurities, ailments, limitations (most of the time more so mentally than physically) that we suffer from; that we hold onto and quietly allow them to saturate our minds and bodies until they make us feel paralyzed. Once we become aware of ourselves, we tend to place even more limitations and restrictions on ourselves, and very rarely are willing to step out of our comfort zone. Yes, even if we’re already uncomfortable, because even when we’re uncomfortable, most of us can still find comfort in our own current state of discomfort. Understandably so, it’s familiar to us. And even though some of us suffer in silence, we are still afraid to open ourselves up to change.

For a long time, after the college degree, I found myself becoming remarkably absent and unmoved from life in general. I had grown tired of constantly trying to discover “who I was”, and while I was desperately trying to savor any possibility of discovering who I really was or was supposed to be, I found myself slowly collapsing rather than rising to any sort of podium that would scream success. I was in place where it felt dark all of the time and at that point, going to the gym became my saving grace; it became something to look forward to; to be able to at least allow me to feel something; anything.  It was something I used to challenge myself, mentally and physically. It became more of a test mentally rather than physically because lifting weights seemed to defeat any self doubt or fear that might have been lingering around, waiting for me to reach back and grab onto it for one last fall.

Everyday was a new challenge, a new workout; one more day of hope and one more moment of feeling alive and present, and the best part was that no one could take it away from me.

My passion for fitness was never tested and I soon knew how desperately I wanted to share it with others; I just didn’t expect to feel even more motivated, more challenged by the work that the people who I would spend an hour with would put in. Each one of them was so unique and had a different story to tell; a different kind of shadow haunting them; chasing them and some were so willing to lay it all out on the gym room floor, beads of sweat dripping out of their pores, making me feel like I was someone to believe in just as much as I believed in them.  And I knew, right there that I wanted to be more than just someone who told you how to lose weight; someone who would put you through some vigorous workout that I knew that you might not be able to even achieve, not because I didn’t think you were capable, only that I knew the limitation; the mental barrier that needed to be torn down in order to move forward.

It has become much more than just a scheduled time, a scheduled workout. No. It was about earning trust and lending support. It was to help them destroy defeat rather than feel defeated.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer because you want to change lives; you want to help people lose weight, feel better, understand that you’re life will be changed as well, you will grow, and you will have to accept that you don’t necessarily know everything. You will have to understand that clients are people not science experiments, not a number or an outcome. No. They are much more than that. They are relationships, life changers, life savers, fighters, and while they hired you, that doesn’t mean that they are going to trust you right away, so don’t expect to throw some numbers at them, or change their entire method of living or diet the very first time you meet with them.

So, again, if you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer because you know how to get a six pack or a reduction in body weight, that’s only short term for them. Are you prepared to set them up for the long term? Are you prepared to give them the tools necessary to achieve success and overcome obstacles even when you’re not with them? Are you willing to create a plan that challenges them emotionally, mentally and physically? To help them feel confident, strong, and healthier for the rest of their life? Even after you stop working with them?

Images Speak Louder Than Words…

Has anyone read this father’s letter to his daughter written by, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a clinical psychologist?

First, I would like to point out that I thoroughly enjoy his writing (his letters to his daughter). His letters provide insight to a world that he has already discovered, and he wishes to protect and warn his daughter about all of the deep dark secrets of the world that we now live in before she becomes tainted.

I do admire his intention of trying to make his daughter learn that “it’s on the inside that counts”. In fact, I applaud him for giving a damn. I understand the message behind it and I congratulate him on instilling a solid foundation of self worth and self respect within his little girl.

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Author: Samantha Towle

 Book: Trouble

In a recent article circling the Internet, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, writes about the powerful impact that the words and phrases that grace the cover of magazines have on how women define their worth. “Words have power…” he states. It’s a good read with some great points, however, aside from the obvious fact that these are just target words that marketers use to persuade the consumer to buy the magazine. From my experience, actions and images have a much more powerful meaning than words can ever have.

In fact, I’m even more than willing to state that images alone have the most powerful impact when it comes down to how a woman makes her choices or how a woman begins to desire and strive for a certain degree of success in career, health, fitness, family, and in LIFE.

What motivates women to become successful is not the words on the cover of a magazine, but the images. Those words have to be far less abstract than what he has listed to garner any “power”.  Yes, sure does it make us hurl insults off of our tongue or curse in our minds because that woman is probably a whore or a slut when she puts on makeup, offers beauty tips, flaunts a body that she has worked hard for, all on the cover of a magazine. Those are not abstract words. Those have power. Imagine those magazines that he has taken a photo of and replace the phrases with words like, “whore, slut, etc”  How would a woman react then? Simply the same way as if they were to have the word, “fat, fake, or ugly” on them. It would sting. Now, that, would be powerful. 

And he is right, women are intelligent, beautiful creatures inside and out, thus it takes more than just abstract words/phrases for women to buy into the so -called power printed on the cover of a magazine in some bold sans serif or serif typeface. Images are promoted front and center, whether they are age that has been altered; airbrushed and painted over; they are what screams out at you, and makes you pay attention. At least that’s the first thing I see.

It’s stimulation of our senses that are provoked when an image is flashed in front of our eyes.  It is an attraction, admiration, envy that connects me to a magazine. It is not abstract words/phrases, it is not ONE thing that can be controlled, or that we can be immune to, or forewarned; it is our environment, our society that has long before print media defined its ideal standard of “beauty” that lives in us; breathes for us. Through social media, the internet, inside and outside of our home; around the clock.

We strive for independence, confidence, a career, family, friends, but we want to look good doing it. We all want to be the woman that someone looks at and is inspired or motivated by.  Most people cannot be reached verbally, especially through abstractions.  Actions, images, carry a far more profound effect than any abstract phrase being displayed on a supermarket shelf.

Self worth and self respect comes from within. None of us are truly weak; we are strong, so strong in fact, that we go so far as to mutilate ourselves just to find perfection. But that mutilation, that sad little girl existing in a powerful, somewhat tragic world, is reaching out for help; there’s something inside of her that hurts and I can guarantee the pain is not from a magazine.

We are all capable of strong; it’s what you have to be strong for that matters.  

Image

What are your thoughts on this letter?