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What I Wish I Knew About Body Image as a Freshman

Dear Freshman Juliya,

 

I want to start off my saying how much you are loved and valued by solely who you are as a person, apart from your external shell. You encapsulate such a kind heart that is far more powerful than any cosmetic feature you hold.

 

It will take a while to appreciate your body for what it can do and not for what it looks like it can do. However, you will get there with time, self-compassion, and self-work.

 

It was not long ago when I sat in your seat- in the depths of an eating disorder relapse. I remember convincing myself day-in and day-out that I was just going through a “phase” despite the alarming increase of unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors.

 

However, the consequences of these behaviors will catch up to you one day. So much so that you will find yourself at 8 AM doctor appointments rather than 8 AM lectures.

 

I know it may sound scary to walk through recovery, but do not fear letting in people who you trust into your life. There is immeasurable strength through the act of opening yourself up to vulnerability. It will honestly be hard to strip yourself from the security blanket of ED that you’ve held onto for so long.

 

However, you will realize that the security blanket was only holding you back as you rediscover your identity and faith. Without this “shield,” you may feel naked, but the reward (full recovery) in return yields far greater gifts that allow you to live life in its fullest color and health.

 

The recovery journey can be a messy and challenging venture. However, I believe that you can and will do it. Where you are right now, is not who you are as a person.

 

Do not let your eating disorder or circumstances dictate your will or spirit to overcome this tribulation. Stick with it, and celebrate every single small victory. I encourage you to let in the people who unconditionally love you and to put forth the work to recover.

 

Every step matters- regardless of its size. Keep fighting the good fight. Lastly, remember that your body is an instrument, not an ornament. Bloom where you are planted.

 

Sincerely,

Senior Juliya

 

P.S. No Rain, no flowers. There is beauty from ashes in all situations if you allow yourself into that frame of mind.

 

Learn strategies for body kindness, self-love, and eating disorder support during Love Your Body Week 2021. During the week of February 21-26, twenty-three events will take place virtually, focusing on educating, celebrating and creating a sustainable and supportive campus environment for all body types and experiences. Love Your Body Week offers a wide range of programs including fitness classes, educational programs, art therapy, mindfulness, and more.

 

All OSU students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate.

 

 

Juliya Hsiang, 4th year  

Major – Heath Promotion Nutrition Exercise Science (HPNES) 

My Yoga Journey: From Addiction to Connection

I was seventeen and in my car bawling because I arrived a minute late to my hot yoga class and the door was locked. For months, I planned my whole day around when I could take a hot yoga class.

I would skip hanging out with friends after cheer practice and miss out on countless family dinners so I could make it to a class each day.  I had read somewhere that a hot yoga session burned calories; since all I wanted to do was burn calories, I was willing to sacrifice anything to make it to a class.

The Oxford Dictionary defines yoga as “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.”

That definition does not say anything about burning calories.  Nowhere does it say that missing a day of doing yoga should negatively affect your wellbeing and cause you to eat less to make up for it.  I was listening to my teacher talk about breath and love and balance, yet I was only focused on burning calories.

Fast forward to age twenty and I decided to start Yoga by Adrienne’s 30-day yoga challenge called “Breath.”  Since age seventeen, I have done quite a bit of healing on my relationship to my body, fitness, and food.

Participating in The Body Project freshman year changed my whole perspective.  It allowed me to analyze my relationship to myself in a way I had never imagined possible.  And while I still had struggles with my relationship to my body, this 30-day yoga journey made me realize just how far I have come with the help of The Body Project.

I listen to the wisdom Adrienne shares, I focus on my breath filling my lungs, I notice minute parts of my body, I clear my mind, and I do not think about how many calories I am burning.  My relationship to yoga had completely changed.  My relationship to my body had completely changed.

After three years of telling myself positive affirmations that I didn’t quite believe, I finally was believing it.  I move my body because it makes me feel relaxed and connected.  I eat to fulfill my needs so I do not live in the cycle of binge and restrict.  I look in the mirror and see myself as I am.  I no longer obsess about missing a workout.

By comparing my relationship to yoga from when I was seventeen to now, I realized the impact The Body Project had on me.  Life is so much happier when you learn to love and accept the body you are given.  I am so proud to be a part of this loving community and hope you allow yourself the same kind of love and acceptance, even if it takes some time.

“Inhale lots of love in, exhale lots of love out. Namaste.”

Learn more strategies for body kindness, self-love, and eating disorder support during Love Your Body Week 2021. During the week of February 21-26, twenty-three events will take place virtually, focusing on educating, celebrating and creating a sustainable and supportive campus environment for all body types and experiences. Love Your Body Week offers a wide range of programs including fitness classes, educational programs, art therapy, mindfulness, and more.

All OSU students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate.

 

Bella Fiore, 3rd year 

Major – Public Management, Leadership, and Policy 

Minor – EEDS & Economics 

 

PSA: Exercise is Important, but Not Because it Burns Calories

Take a quick second and ask yourself, if exercise had no effect on your appearance would you still do it? If exercise had no effect on your weight, muscle tone, or appearance, would you still make time for it in your routine? It is important to establish a healthy relationship with exercise that is rooted in appreciation for your body, not hatred.

One way to do that is to focus on all the benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with calories!

According to the CDC, some of the benefits of being physically active include:

  • Reduced risk of anxiety.
  • Reduced risk of depression.
  • Improved bone health.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as dementia, heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduced risk of 8 different cancers (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach.)

There are so many kinds of movement and exercises that the options are endless. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to movement. Especially when we are all stuck in the house all day it can be so easy to forget to move in the day. Choose a form of movement that energizes you, makes you feel good, and is enjoyable to you!

Are you interested in body positive exercise and movement? Do you want to focus on having fun and maybe even breaking a sweat in the process? Do you want to learn how to incorporate movement in your life without focusing on calories?

Love Your Body Week is a university initiative taking place from February 21st -28th and there are so many movement focused events you can attend online! These events focus on the joy of movement and getting in touch with your body.

  • Sunday, February 21st 7-8 pm – Yoga for Everybody
  • Wednesday, February 24th and Thursday, February 25th 5-5:45 pm – Breath Strong (meditation)
  • Thursday, February 25th 5-7 pm – Find What Moves You
  • Thursday, February 25th 6-7 pm – Radically Restorative (yoga)
  • Friday, February 26th 12-1 pm – Zumba for YOU

Learn more about these events and the many others taking place on our Love Your Body Week 2021 website. All OSU students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate. You can sign up for Love Your Body Week events using our Love Your Body Week – RSVP Form (qualtrics.com). Come join us and take some time to thank your body for all it allows you to do every day.

 

Tali Spira,  4th year 

Major – Human Nutrition 

Lessons Learned in 2020 for a Better 2021

There is no doubt that this past year has challenged many people across the globe in many different ways.  One of the biggest struggles people faced in the past year was financial instability.  Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and do not have an emergency fund set aside for when unexpected events happen, like unemployment.  We can take some of these hard lessons that many have lived through and change our habits to create a better future. 

In Spring of 2020, COVID19 hit United States and the employment rate reached 14.8%. To add to this sudden financial stress, CNBC reported that only 39% of Americans have at least $1,000 set aside for unexpected expenses.  The pandemic escalated a lot of the financial issues that many Americans face. The good thing is we can learn from the past and change our actions in the future. 

There is no doubt that 2020 was a hard year for the world, but I believe there are many lessons that can be learned that we will take into the coming years.  Here are some simple practices that everyone can engage in to ensure financial security for the future. 

  • Create an emergency fund with six months of living expenses for unexpected events
  • Use split direct deposit to save money from every paycheck in a savings or retirement account
  • If possible, spend less than you make. Use a monthly budget to track your spending and income.

The Student Wellness Center’s free Financial Coaching service can provide education and assistance in planning for the future. Schedule a 1on1 appointment today!

A Personal Account of my Body Image Journey

I don’t think most people stop to think about how early in life the societal pressure to be thin sinks in. But seeing magazine covers with extremely fit women on the covers at the grocery store, hearing people talk about their bodies negatively, and only seeing certain body shapes in television and movies are all messages that are absorbed by children. At the age of 7, I went on my first diet. Leading up to age 21, through 14 years of childhood, I went through constant cycles of hating my body, dieting, bingeing, then back to restricting, and so on.

It wasn’t until this past year that I reached the point of body acceptance. I didn’t love the way I looked, but I accepted my body for what it was, because I realized that I was doing my physical and mental health a major disservice by not loving my body and all the things she does for me. I figured out that food is fuel for my brain and body to perform at their best. I began seeing exercise as a stress reliever and strength builder, rather than an opportunity to burn the most calories.

These were all radical perspective shifts after so many years of believing differently. However, even after all the time wasted on calorie counting and anxiously wondering how my body was perceived by others, I wouldn’t change a thing.

In fact, it’s because of those moments that I am now studying dietetics and psychology, with the hopes of becoming an advocate for intuitive eating and body positivity for those that don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. I want to be a dietitian that helps people struggling with disorderly eating find joy in nourishing their bodies and trusting their intuition, so they don’t have to continue to suffer the way I did.

Additionally, I created an Instagram account to spread body positivity and share yummy recipes with my friends to get them excited for mealtime. I joined The Body Project program so that I could be a voice that fights against diet culture and the media that tells us how we “should” look. My story back then is why I love myself now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Learn strategies for body kindness, self-love, and eating disorder support during Love Your Body Week 2021. During the week of February 21-26, twenty-three events will take place virtually, focusing on educating, celebrating and creating a sustainable and supportive campus environment for all body types and experiences. Love Your Body Week offers a wide range of programs including fitness classes, educational programs, art therapy, mindfulness, and more.

All OSU students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate.
Kristen Etzler, 4th year  

Major – Dietetics 

Minor – Psychology 

The Whitewashed, Diluted Reality of Modern Body Positivity: The Important Black History of the Body Positivity Movement

Historical Background

Over the past few years, the body positivity movement has gained substantial momentum on social media. This movement, originally formed by a group of fat, queer Black women in the 1960s, was, at its heart, a fat liberation movement, and meant to create a space by and for marginalized bodies. It was absolutely revolutionary for a group of fat, queer, Black women to demand respect from society.

In 1972, activist Johnnie Tillmon said, “I’m a woman. I’m a Black woman. I’m a poor woman. I’m a fat woman. I’m a middle-aged woman. In this country, if you’re any one of those things you count less as a human being.”

Where Modern Body Positivity Falls Short

The body positivity movement of the 21st century is unfortunately an often watered-down, whitewashed version of what it used to be. White women dominate the conversation. The larger bodies celebrated are often still relatively small. The intersection of body positivity and gender identity is largely ignored.

It seems as though society has taken the body positivity movement, originally an absolutely radical rebuke of societal beauty standards, and warped it to still be revolutionary, just not “too” revolutionary.

Black model Simone Mariposa commented on these limitations of the modern-day movement, saying: “Body positivity right now is centered around women who are still conventionally desirable.” Research has shown, time and time again, the importance of representation for marginalized groups—and not the token “checking-the-diversity-quota” representation we see so often in America.

We need real, intersectional representation. It feels important to note that thin bodies and white bodies are not excluded from the movement; they just shouldn’t be the center.

Going forward, it is vital that when we use the term “body positivity” we acknowledge and remember the history behind the movement. We need to continue to advocate for Black voices, queer voices, and fat voices in the movement, and recognize the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexuality, and weight stigma.

Love Your Body Week: Ohio State’s Body Positive Initiative

Love Your Body Week 2021 is an initiative to drive conversation around body image to the Ohio State community and takes place during the last week of February. When recruiting events for the week, we wanted to make sure there were events that pushed this conversation beyond what we normally see on social media:

  • Book discussion events on The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor and Hunger by Roxane Gay center Black voices.
  • Our Gender Identity and Body Acceptance event brings awareness to the gender dysphoria that trans and nonbinary individuals experience, and how that relates to body image.
  • Our Weight Stigma in a Diet Culture World event emphasizes the systemic stigma and hostility that fat people experience every day.

We are so proud to be offering events that include and celebrate everyone. You can learn more and sign up for events on our Love Your Body Week 2021 website.

 

Claire Pitrof, 4th year 

Avalanche Versus Snowball Debt Repayment

As winter comes to Ohio State, students are nestled in their homes protected from the snowfall. During this quiet time while we are surrounded by snow, students will find it is the perfect time to start attacking their debt! If you think debt and snow have no relationship, then maybe you have never heard of the snowball or avalanche method! Both are fantastic ways of attacking those student loans, car loans, or balances on your credit cards. 

The snowball method works by the paying off your smallest debts regardless of any of the balances interest rates first before prioritizing the debts with the larger balances. To be more precise, you should arrange your debts from smallest to largest, make the minimum payments on each of the balances besides the smallest, and pay as much on your smallest debt as possible. Repeat the process until each debt is paid in full. The advantages of the snowball method are it allows you to modify your behavior and you can visibly see the progress of paying off your debts because you started with the most attainable balance! 

The avalanche method, on the other hand, is a way of paying off debt by having you pay off the balance with the highest interest rate first. Like the snowball method, you will make minimum payments on all your balances, however any extra cash will be put towards the balance with the highest interest rate. You will continue to the debt with the next highest interest rate until all the debt has been paid off. The advantages of the avalanche method are that, compared to all the of the rest of the repayment methods, it allows you to save the most money by attacking the most expensive debt first! 

So, although the cold and snow brought on by winter might not be your favorite season, it gives you a great opportunity to start addressing your debt and the earlier you pay it off, the better! 

Emotions, Relationships, and Covid-19.

 As of our lives have been uprooted and sent online, and we all are coping with this craziness in our own ways. It is often easy to overlook mental health, and I think many young adults do. With this pandemic sweeping the world, I think it has made many of us stop for a second and hopefully take care of ourselves, but now with the school year back in swing and being back on a college campus there are many things we need to remind ourselves, especially in keeping healthy relationships. 

From the fear of contracting Covid-19, to the isolation it has brought upon us, it is not uncommon that we may be feeling completely overwhelmed. It’s also not uncommon for these emotions to play into our relationships. Here is a guide to help you navigate through these feelings, while still maintaining healthy meaningful relationships.  

You have to let yourself be vulnerable. Open up about the emotions you’re experiencing and be honest about them. Let your friends, partners, or family know that you are struggling right now and could use some extra support or patience. That is much easier said than done, trust me I know.

If you aren’t comfortable opening up to a close friend or family member, contact a coach or counseling service. While having a virtual mental health coaching or counseling session is a different experience, it is still an objective source that can help you work through your emotions and why you may be feeling the way you are. You don’t have to go through this alone, and there are resources to help you.

During these confusing and changing times, we may not fully understand how we are feeling. These emotions can often interfere with our relationships because they impact how we relate to others. It is easy to try and push away or cover up these feelings, but this can negatively impact your mindset and may make things worse long term. It takes courage to open up about what you are dealing with, but most often you will find it is a relief to share and acknowledge your feelings. I know it is scary and challenging but please reach out and support each other during this unprecedented time. 

Resources

Wellness Coaching: https://swc.osu.edu/services/wellness-coaching/

Buckeye Peer Access Line: https://swc.osu.edu/services/buckeye-peer-access-line/

-Sarah Frederick, Wellness Ambassador 

Breathing Yourself into Pleasure

Orgasms are one of the most fulfilling and climatic experiences that can come from sexual activity. So large it usually signals the end of the sexual experience (unless one decides to continue). It is interesting to see how exercising some control over breathing can increase a person’s erotic pleasure. First, consider what your breathing is like when you are having sex with someone else or alone? Are your breaths short, are you holding your breathe, is your exhale area your nose or mouth? These small things about breathing and allowing a larger air capacity can impact the pleasure of orgasms. 

It may feel pretty normal to hold one’s breath as one nears towards orgasm, but this has the ability to undermine the sensation. This can be a natural reaction from nervousness, excitement, and the need to be quiet to not disturb anyone or anything else, but holding ones breathe actually causes the body to tense up. This tension causes the flow of oxygen in the body to stagger and cease inhibiting the response to the orgasmic sensation. Prioritizing deep, full, and controlled breathing helps increases oxygen in blood flow, reduces stress, and stretches and relaxes muscles including the pelvic floor. This is essential to the sexual response cycle as it boosts the circulation of blood and internal movement within the body allowing one to feel the orgasm intensely all over. At the same time, don’t concentrate too hard on breathing and become self-conscious. This can lead to a disruption of the flow that is attempting to be achieved. The goal is to experience pleasure at a heighten stage, but do not force it; allow it 

Some tips for focusing on breathing and maximizing pleasure: 

  1. Practice breathing fully and deeply into and from the diaphragm while performing Kegel exercises with the pelvic floor. Kegels are using the pelvic floor muscles to contract and release. This exercise will increase pelvic floor strength, which increases contractions during orgasms. The breathing with allow blood and oxygen flowthe flow and circulation can help produce lubrication and erection as the pelvic area is focused on. **This can also be done without Kegels if desired! 
  2. Edging. Edging is purposefully denying orgasmic relief when close to it on multiple occasions in one occurrence until finally deciding to release. This can make an orgasm more powerful as the sensation receptors are being built up until ultimately they are released. In the process of denying oneself or allowing a partner to deny orgasmic relief, using those moments to also focus on breathing, keeps oxygen and blood flowing in the body to release tension that will make the final climax more enjoyable.  

Some college students are sexually active with partners, and some college students are only sexually active with themselves. Either way, they deserve to have fulfilling sexual experiences on their own terms. Sexual pleasure is an important aspect of sexual health, and maximizing that aspect is equally as important.  

Below are some resources filled with tips and helpful knowledge!  

 

Kiana Rattliff, Safer Sex Wellness Ambassador 

Condoms: So Many Choices, So Little Time

Ribbed or regular? Latex or polyurethane? Flavored or not? When it comes to condoms, there are so many things to consider that deciding which kind to buy can feel overwhelming. As a college student, it’s important to buy condoms that work well for you, because condoms are crucial in preventing unintended pregnancy and they are the only contraceptive that can reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here’s a guide to help you separate myths from facts and choose the best condoms for you! 

Size matters
One of the most important parts of using a condom is making sure it fits! Condoms that are too tight can cause pain, and condoms that are too loose run the risk of slipping off during sex. Sizing varies depending on the brand, so your best bet is to try out your chosen brand’s standard size and then size up or down if the condom feels uncomfortably tight or slips off easily when you try to move it. Choosing a condom that fits well will help both you and your partner experience more pleasure and peace of mind — you’ll thank yourself for it! 

Latex to lambskin– choosing the right material
The most common type of condoms you’ll find at your local drugstore are made of latex. Latex pairs well with water-based lubricant; silicone-based and other types of lube can cause latex to tear. Latex works well for many people, but if you or your partner has a latex allergy, you’ll want to look for other options. Polyurethane and lambskin condoms are alternatives to the traditional latex condom. Polyurethane is a form of plastic, and condoms made of this material are effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs; however, polyurethane is thinner and breaks more easily than latex, so it’s a good idea to use a water- or silicone-based lube to help avoid breakage. Lambskin condoms are made of natural animal material and also prevent pregnancy, but they don’t prevent STIs. This means lambskin isn’t the best choice for most college students.  

Textures, flavors, and sensations, oh my!
If you’re like me, you’ve probably passed through the family planning aisle at your local drugstore and been astounded by the huge variety of textures and sensations promised by many of the brands: “ribbed for her pleasure,” “fire and ice,” just to name a few. Condoms that feature a ribbed or studded design are meant to increase the pleasure of the receptive partner during intercourse, but we’re all different, and not all of these work for everybody. It’s a good idea to try a number of these types of condoms if you’re interested in finding ways to increase pleasure. Thinner condoms can also be a good choice to increase sensation for both partners! 

Flavored condoms look fun, and they can be- but only for oral sex. They actually aren’t designed to be used for vaginal or anal sex because the sugary ingredients they contain can cause yeast infections.  

“Warming” condoms are designed to increase a sensation of warmth to make erections last longer, while “numbing” condoms desensitize both partners, which seems a little counterintuitive to the pleasure most people want during sex. These types of condoms can be fun to try, but they may cause irritation for some. If that happens, just opt for a different type of condom that feels good for both partners! 

Now that you can tell the many types of condoms available to you apart, go and find the best type of condom for you and any partners you might have. Remember, it can take some trial and error- but it’s worth it to keep you safe and feeling good. 

Note: This post is about external (male) condoms. Internal (female) condoms and dental dams are other barrier methods that are effective in preventing the spread of STIs. Resources with information about them are below.  

 

Resources 

 

Sara Kleine, Safer Sex Wellness Ambassador