Body Image DOES Matter

Yes yes, we keep saying that we shouldn't care about body image, that anyone of any size is fine and we should stop body shaming. We should be confident with the way we look and not care about what others think and just accept the way we are. We should ignore the media and just accept and enjoy life. Ha - easier said than done.

Technically, I believe that, too. However, all these "should" and "should nots" can make me go crazy sometimes! This is a battle I have been fighting since I was a teenager when I started caring about the way I looked. I started caring because everyone else was caring about MY body and made fun of me. Unfortunately, instead of owning up to it, I reacted by body shaming myself and hitting my own fingers whenever I grabbed food, trying to resist the temptation but failing ever so badly. Seven years later and I am talking about positivity and self acceptance, and this is still the biggest challenge I struggle with. Whereas I am much happier with the way I look, there are a couple of days each week where I catch myself staring in the mirror, judging. In fact, it is pretty much every morning if I am being honest already. And I can't stand it. First I tell myself off for having some flab around my tummy, and then I tell myself off for telling myself off and on the cycle goes. As soon as breakfast comes around, I ask myself 10 times what I should eat, instead of what I want to eat. 

So as much as we want body image not to matter, it still matters enormously. Whereas it doesn't really matter what everyone else thinks about you; I feel like most people don't mind that too much, it matters extremely what we think of our own bodies. And this is not something you can wave a magic wand with and hokey pokey you like yourself in the mirror. No, for most people, including me, it has been and still is a life long process. It is a daily struggle, and the media, ads and fitness frenzy are not helping. 

So what's the solution? To be honest, I haven't found a definite one yet. For me, the more I do what I love every day - which is dancing - and stay true to who I am, the more I have the genuine urge to be healthier and eat more consciously. Sweets and carbs are less appealing to me, because I want to feel at the top of my game, and I only feel that way with a balanced diet. So when I wake up with a flat tummy, I automatically feel better about myself. Of course, I don't want that to be the deciding factor for the way I feel, but I am working on it. I do believe that once you truly accept yourself for the way you are, this gets better. 

After all, we are all human beings, made of flesh and bone. We all have a soul, which I am sure we can agree on, is the most important of all. And some people are simply skinny, while others are curvy. Every body is so different, that I don't understand why we have come to the point where we say that a "perfect body" even exists. Then we'd have to kick 90% of the population off the planet. Plus, where would the fun be if everyone looked the same? 

 

So let's just do what feels good. Observe whether your body really needs as much food as you're giving it, whether you crave to do some sports, and how you feel after specific meals. Tailor your lifestyle according to your personal feelings and emotions. If you don't like to have breakfast, then don't. If you like chocolate, then just eat it. I absolutely love chocolate, and when I try to go with out it, there are times I go crazy. Yes, my skin gets clearer and I know the sugar is "bad" for me, but why torment myself? The difference lies in the fact that instead of uncontrollably eating a whole chocolate bar, just to eat a little every so and then, when I truly feel like having it. When we stay true to our inner feelings, and not our brain chemicals (which stimulate addictive behaviour), that piece of chocolate can even have a positive effect on our body. 

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Life is here to enjoy, to have fun. Occasional challenges are exciting, too, but a daily dose of putting yourself down first thing in the morning is not necessary. Note that I am speaking to myself too here. So I get you - easier said than done. Yet I do believe that if we work on it step by step every day, one day, we will get there. 

I wrote "You are beautiful" on my mirror with my lipstick, and seeing that brings a smile to my face every morning. So that's the first step I took. 

What are you going to do?

 

Your Dream Is There. Just Grab It.

So, and the second day is over. How do I feel? As though my body went through a washing machine over and over, like I was hanging on a rope for hours with my bare hands and as though I just ran a marathon. At this moment, I am too tired to do anything but fall asleep. But even that is proofing difficult with all my bruises and sore spots on my shoulders and hip joints.

Pain and exhausts aside, I feel amazing. Do you know the feeling you get why you have been working for something halft your life, have been told by teachers, friends and adults that you cannot achieve it, but then you do it anyway?Well, that is how I feel after my second day at Dance School. I kind of still can't believe it, but I am actually studying dance. Every day, 6 hours a day, pure dance. It is so empowering to have achieved one of my biggest dreams. I know the soreness will be gone next week - or at leas I hopse so - as my body gets used to the high strain and athletic exertion it must endure. For that, my body, I love you very much. You can do this!

Being in this position now, I know why I never gave up, didn't listen to people's advice telling me to just go to university and give up my dream. It was definitely worth it. And this is just the second day! I have three more years to go, woohoo!!

Comfort Zone? Boring.

There is something so easy about comfort zones. They are part of our every day life, and to be honest, they usually lack interest or that special something. At least that is how my comfort zones look like. It is in my comfort zone to sit at home all day and browse the internet, or to go out and shop, or even to go to dance classes. If I were to live my life like this, I would be so bored that I couldn't really call it living after all.

So I go out of my way to get out of my comfort zone. It is easier at times and takes a lot of courage other times, however, I very rarely, if even never regret it. It widens my perception and my experience of life. It shows me that fear means nothing - as long as what I am doing is not going to kill me - fear is just an excuse.

I would like to share with you what I just did last week. My friend and I (both dancers) were walking around in town, when we heard this amazing violinist play classical songs. We edged closer to the sound and found him to be playing in a circular dome, with an even floor and beautiful atmosphere. My friend just started dancing. Right in public, when the violinist was the one playing and was collecting money for it. Crazy right?

At first I was watching, yearning to join her, because this is something I had always wanted to do. However, my stomach clenched and my heart started beating really fast. I was so scared. After contemplating for a few minutes and remembering how good it feels to get out of my comfort zone, I just went for it. I danced. From the heart. And as we were dancing, an audience started to form. People came from all directions and were watching. A couple of them took out their phones and filmed us. Instead of scaring me, it gave me even more courage and I had even more fun. It felt amazing. People applauded, came to us and told us how well we danced. Both of us felt empowered.

This is what life is supposed to be like. Just do whatever makes you happy, whatever is fun in this moment in time, and don't let fear stop you. I am forever grateful to my friend who started. Without her, I would not have joined in. I feel like I successfully let go of some of my fears, just by dancing for around 15 minutes and not caring what anyone thought of me. And exactly that - not caring - is what drew people to us. The fact that we just did it.

This is one of the best advice I can give you - go out of your comfort zone, even if you are scared. Just do it.

Love,
Ula

Why Challenges Are Great

People have always called me crazy. Crazy for doing a gazillion things at the same time, including things I initially don't know how or am not qualified to do. I always find a way to busy up every moment of my time, to learn something new or take up another challenge. Because as soon as one challenge is achieved, it gets boring, because the journey to the mountain top is complete. Yeah, the mountain top is beautiful, but you can only stay there for so long, before you get all nervous and itchy for something new ( or at least thats me ).

After contemplating what life is for and why we humans exist on this planet, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is so that we learn new things, experience an array of emotions, situations and relationships. Hence, when passing to the next part of life is near, we know we truly lived. We laughed,danced and celebrated, we cried, grieved and had anger outbursts. It all comes together and thats great. Thats the wonder of life.

Once I realised that life is here to experience everything, searching for new challenges became easy. What do you enjoy doing right now? What would you really want to do? You are not qualified? Doesn't matter. Find a way, and go for it. Or go for it, then you will find a way.

Perhaps this story will help - a true story by the way:
I am a ballroom dancer, however, 2 years ago I had not learned tango yet. Thats when my boyfriend at the time tells me that his school is looking for a tango teacher, as their orchestra is performing a couple of tango songs. He said the school had asked if I could teach it, and though he told them probably not, he still asked me ( he knew I couldn't tango). But me being me, I instantly said yes. I didn't think about it. All I knew was, I love dance, I love teaching. Plus i get paid to do my passion - perfect! It only occurred to me later, that I said yes to something huge. People were actually paying to come to the ball we were performing at. The ball was to take place in a 5 star hotel and we danced with a live orchestra! People were expecting us to be good. 

That's where I couldn't hide my fear anymore. "Like seriously, Ula, you're in your final year of high school, don't know any Tango steps and you are going to teach this to a group of teenagers - non-dancers - in a mere 10 weeks? Why don't you ever think about your decisions?" I thought to myself in despair. But, I had said yes, and it was too late to back out now. They were counting on me. 

So i spent the summer learning tango, from youtube, and a little from my dance instructor. Male and female steps, mind you. Then, my wonderful group of students and I had 10 weeks, of 1.5 hours per week to showtime, with them having even less dance experience than me. 

It was not easy, and I pushed my students a lot. And how we did it, I have no idea. I had such a strong belief and passion in my students and the performance, and I let them feel it, too. They gave me all they had, and I gave them all I had, and together, we performed 3 amazing Tangos. They blew me away, they were simply amazing. 

What I learnt from this story is that anything is possible. - IF you put your mind to it, believe it, and do it with all your heart. A challenge is exactly that, merely a challenge. And challenges exist to be overcome. 

I best overcome them by following my heart, and if something appeals to me, I say yes, before I get to think about it. As soon as I think about it, I can find all the reasons why it is a bad idea. So, by simply agreeing, I have to find a way to solve it, in whichever crazy, creative way that comes to me. 

What's my next challenge? 

And what's yours?