Tag Archives: health

Why I hate the “Real Women Have Curves” Movement

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Author: Kara Adamo.

We have a problem, ladies…and it’s not the men.

There is an idea that has been leaching its way through computer screens, tablets and phone browsers that has gone unchecked for far too long.

Looking back, I suppose I can pin-point the first signs of it easily. It began in my parent’s generation: the 1970’s-1980’s period where “Thin was In” and people began going to insane extremes to get there.

We’re all familiar with it: the stories of women and men wasting away with any number or combination of eating disorders that left them emaciated and filled with a nearly incurable self-hatred that was then passed on to my own generation.

Even now, after all of the published personal stories and all of the attention aneorexia and its bretheren have gotten from the media, people are still starving themselves with this evasive idealist perfection in mind.

Celebrities probably get it the worst. They’re in the public eye and, as with every moment that lapses from the perfection we like to associate them with, that public eye zooms in and judges loftily from its self-imposed moral high-ground. We find our strength in numbers because these people lead lives that the “average Joe” could only ever dream of.

We’re really just jealous and resentful, but they’re the minority, so we can shrug it off and shoot them a “you asked for it” glare.

It makes us feel good about it for five seconds and is, in all honesty, a sign of our collective ethical degradation.

We all do it and they probably do, too.

Forever struggling with pressures from the media to maintain a perfectly composed, perfectly thin, perfectly groomed image, these celebrities starve themselves in the hopes that the negative publicity will cease.

And then, when we see them getting thinner, we copy them.

Men do this a bit, but it’s no secret that women are the worst. We like to point fingers at guys and scream to the high-heavens that it’s their judgmental pickiness that drives us to do it, but for the most part we’re full of it.

We do it.

We’ve always done it. There is a reason the movie “Mean Girls” did so well: it speaks to all of us because it’s based, on some level, in an unfortunate truth about our society.

Girls are, well, mean.

Now, my long-winded griping about anorexia and the “Thin is In” motif that pervasively plagues our culture has done nothing to warm me to the other equally evil notion, this piece’s title phrase: “Real Women Have Curves.”

You see, when I was in high school, I graduated at 149 pounds.

This seems fine, except that I am a tiny little pixie of a thing. At 27 years old, I measure a full 4-feet, 10-1/4 inches tall.

That’s it.

So, when you spread 149 pounds throughout that small of a frame, you can get a rough mental image of what I looked like: I wasn’t huge, but I was certainly “big boned.”

I did a lot of stupid things to lose the weight. I starved myself, resulting in the aggravation of a then-dormant condition called Diabetic Hypoglycemia which now affects me severely every single day.

I hated myself. Looking back on all of the pictures, I realize that, while the weight wasn’t healthy, I didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I thought I did. But you could have never told 17-year-old Kara that.

Then I started skim-boarding and I managed to lose twenty pounds in a four month period. I started eating again and then continued to lose weight until I was 21.

A number of issues that year resulted in my falling below 93 pounds. I couldn’t tell you what the final weight was because I stopped checking. It was too painful to find out. Nothing fit me and I was too ashamed of my financial situation to ask for help. I had bruises on the skin over my rib cage from sleeping on my stomach and my skin had very little color.

Because I wasn’t being honest about things, people thought that I was starving myself again—but this time successfully.

Six years later, I am at a healthy—albeit still unknown—weight. I run on a near-regular basis and I survive on fresh fish and veggies. I’m no longer nauseous after I eat and I finally feel good about my image.

I’m sharing this because I need people to realize that I have actually been on both sides of the track: I have been heavier and ridiculed for it and I’ve been called “anorexic” and a “skinny-mini,” too.

And I’m going to clear something up right here…right now: both suck.

I actually discussed this with a girlfriend of mine yesterday over coffee.

This girl is stunning. She has beautiful dark blonde hair, piercing catlike blue eyes, and long legs I would kill for. She’s that pretty, slender-but-athletic build that healthy-minded models would dream of and the wardrobe to match.

At any moment, this girl looks like she stepped out of a high-fashion magazine.

And yet, this girl has body image issues…just like the rest of us.

She doesn’t have big breasts or a curvy bottom: she’s taller than she wants to be and she sometimes wishes her complexion was clearer.

She’s confident, but she’s a woman: and that means that, no matter what, she will manage to find fault with herself.

Now to be clear on this: men love her.

And they love me—we’ve actually dated the same guy before (at different times, of course)—and we look completely opposite of one another.

This is important: the issue, overall, isn’t men. My weight fluctuates just as much as the next girl and I can always manage to find a date or someone to flirt with. I’ve dated when thin and when heavier and I was called beautiful regardless.

The issue is women.

This friend—we’ll call her Lucy—made an amazing point that I think needs to be addressed on a larger social scale: real women don’t have to have curves.

Lucy is a real woman. I was a real woman when I was scrawny.

Real women have vaginas. That’s what they have.

Some have curves…some have thin waists. Some are short and some are tall.

The issue is not that we are opening the door to social acceptance when it comes to curvier and even heavier women. I’m all for that.

The issue is that we are shutting that door on other women—thinner women—who have feelings and who are just as beautiful. And the reason we’re doing it is the same reason we ridicule celebrities: many of us are jealous and many of us have this misplaced misconception that thinner women have it easier.

To be honest, after having been thin and big and everything in between, I would venture to say that it was harder to be underweight and the reason behind that claim actually has virtually nothing to do with physical size.

It has to do with the emotional support I had from women.

When I was larger, I was told by my friends that I was pretty. I was encouraged to feel good about myself and I was told that my inner beauty was what mattered, anyway.

But when I was thin, that went away. I was scolded for having eating disorders I actually didn’t have and I was called “gaunt” and “thin” with a derogatory tone.

And that, pardon my French, is bullshit.

Lucy said it best at coffee: “All women are real women…women need love from women!”

And she’s 100% right.

We need to lift one another up. And we’re not doing it. We’re failing miserably.

It speaks poorly of our self-image (both internal and external) when the most popular weight-based slogan involves lifting up one group at the expense of another.

We don’t need to imply an exclusion to a group that has historically been complimented in photography and in the media. We just need to include everyone else.

Real women have skin. They have tears and they have humor and they generally have people in their lives that wouldn’t change them for the world…thin or heavy…short or tall.

This idea that we have to cut one another down to lift ourselves up is just as lethal as the notion that you have to starve yourself to be pretty. Some girls won’t ever put on weight. They’ll have to buy breasts if they ever want to fill an A cup and they’ll never have “dat base” everyone keeps singing at (to the peril of my eardrums.)

They’re just as “real” as the girl who fills a larger pant size and who can’t seem to drop the pounds. And we need to love both of them.

It’s a hate campaign disguised as a message of love and acceptance…and that’s what I can’t stand about it. Words mean things and they affect everyone.

So, the next time that you blurt out, “Real Women Have Curves,” think about the sweet girl off to your left that feels awkward about her thin frame and feels like she’s treated like a little kid by people who should be building her up. Think about how you feel whenever someone makes you feel bad about yourself.

And then shut-up.

Turn the phrase around in your head, and change it. Because what you really mean is that curvier girls and heavier girls are pretty too.

So just say that. It includes us all and it builds us up. We need each other, ladies. If we were nicer to one another, maybe we would all stop hurting ourselves to fulfill this unobtainable image of perfection we seem to perpetuate.

And, for the love of god, eat a cupcake. No matter what weight you are, cupcakes rule.

My Ridiculous Girl-Crush on Jennifer Lawrence

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ImageAuthor Kara Adamo.

I have just spent the better part of the last two hours e-stalking a celebrity.

I know that there are a million things I could be doing with that time–including 8 out of the 9 items on my to-do-list for the day–but I fell into a crazy zen-like trance akin to the one people go into when they find stuff on Reddit. It was out of my control.

To be clear, I usually do not bother all that much with people like Snookie, the Kardashian Wenches or the talented but sadly-still-a-train-wreck Miley Cyrus. They take up very little of my mental focus throughout the year, and unless somebody brings them up, I generally create a happy little bubble for myself where they hold little sway over anything.

It isn’t that I am immune to the addicting practice of star-gazing. I’m human; it’s what we do. But, true to my rather particular nature, I am choosy in which celebrities I care to pay attention to.

In recent months, Jennifer Lawrence made that short list.

I will be perfectly honest. This was an entirely bandwagon-based process. I had no idea who the girl was until a couple of months ago. I did see the Hunger Games last year, but I never really cared about who was playing Katniss. I just loved the books and enjoyed the film. I did, however, know who she was when I watched the second movie that just came out. I found her talented and beautiful and appropriately casted…

…none of which mattered to me at all.

It wasn’t until later that week, when I was watching the Daily Show, that I paid any attention to who her whatsoever.

And I am enamored.

Contrary to the popular trend of becoming famous and instantly losing all sense of personal identity, she comes off utterly genuine. She has a charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor that makes you want to be her best friend and her intelligent, bubbly mannerisms make her wildly entertaining in interviews.

Plus, the girl is wicked-talented. Her character in Silver Linings Playbook was complex and layered. It may be one of my all-time-favorite performances by a young female actress.

This is all wonderful, but it really has nothing to do with why I would like her enough to write a blog about it.

I am writing a blog about her because I respect her.

We are in the wake of a revolution and it is rooted in social media. There are videos that show the process involved in digitally altering already beautiful women and these videos are going viral. Finally, at long-last, my gender is waking up. We are realizing that even famous women do not actually look like famous women. The first-world-problems intellectual war on women is starting to lose some footing. We are realizing that we not only can be as beautiful as the women we see in magazines…but that we are. 

This ties into Jennifer Lawrence because, standing dead-center in the middle of her rise to incredible fame, she is championing this cause. She stands among the few stunning but very healthy, very real female celebrities who eats. She exudes a confidence in herself that makes her a wonderful role model to little girls and that will hopefully bring some balance to the damage done by the opposition.

Best of all, she is outspoken. This is a girl who recognizes the platform she has been given and, instead of twerking on live television, uses it to instill a message that a healthy body-image is far more important than slinky, swanky glamour. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, she chastises open-criticism over other people’s body weight issues, deliberately pointing out that young girls are learning to talk and be cool by watching these shows.

It is a shame that she stands in the minority in Hollywood, but it is refreshing. I like that intelligence and actual talent is being encouraged.

Here is the link to the Barbara Walters Interview. 

Staying Fit During My Quarter-Life Crisis

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Author: Kara Mae Adamo. 

I’ve spent a great deal of time at the bar over the last couple of months–and eating au gratin potatoes at work (I’m a vegetarian working in a fine dining steak house…they feed us…but most of it previously had a face…you see how my options are a bit limited)

I have, however, been maintaining an active lifestyle. I’ve been switching it up a bit: I have gone rock climbing recently (my friends go a lot, so I really have no excuse outside of my insane schedule not to go), and I’ve started hitting the gym more, too.

I also bought myself some roller blades. I can’t decide if this last one has anything to do with my sudden mid-twenties freak-out, but I have also been looking into buying a ninja 250. It suffices to say that I may or may not be experiencing a quarter-life crisis…but either way I bought the blades. I also went skateboarding for the first time in my life. Granted, I was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette at 4 o’clock in the morning when I was on said skateboard, but it actually didn’t go too bad…aside from when I ended up on someone’s driveway while on my friend Alex’s long-board. As it turns out, going down-hill is completely different than going straight or up-hill. The board shot out from under me and I fell right on my tailbone.

It was still fun.

And, honestly, why shouldn’t I go skateboarding or rollerblading? Why? Because I’m a grown woman? Meh. I’m the size of a ten year old, and I feel that somehow earns me the right to play like one. I’m not hurting anyone but myself most of the time, anyway.

Perhaps it will keep me young. I’ve sworn off plastic surgery and face-lifts. Perhaps if I keep that youthful glow that comes from climbing trees and making mud-pies, I will never have to consider these things. (Just kidding on the mud-pies…sort of).
I actually am developing a school of thought surrounding this. So what if I want to do all of these things? I didn’t do them that much as a teenager and, well, I’m a grown-ass adult. I pay my bills and work 60+ hours a week. I do my own taxes, clean my own house and own my own car. So if I want to get grass stains all over my jeans by falling down because I haven’t figured out how to stop on my new roller blades then who’s to stop me?!

No one; that’s who.

I’ve also taken to buying more food from the grocery store. I feel as though this is key. I tend to eat healthier when I’m, well, not at the bar. Tonight, for instance, I sauteed some asparagus with some carrots and a touch of soy sauce. I also let a vegan grilled “chicken breast” simmer in some ginger dressing and a little claret. I topped both of these with a bit of caprino cheese and had a small side salad of mixed greens, radishes (an excellent blood purifier, btw) and ginger dressing. In lieu of a beer, I had a glass of juice (a combo of two of my favorite V8 fruit blends).

Honestly, I feel better already.

I’m trying to get myself in shape so that, when I take off over seas a year and a half from now, I’ll be in tip-top condition for the training regimen.

This has helped get my mind off of a few upsetting things and, honestly, it’s how I usually live. I’ve been in a rut for a while and I feel like I’m finally climbing out of it. This makes for a happy Kara–and it also gives me an excuse to shop for cute clothes this spring 🙂

Yogi Munchkin

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Author: Kara Mae Adamo.

So I decided to do some yoga today.

I used to do a little yoga every day for about half an hour (actually, exactly half an hour. I follow a Jillian Michaels dvd when I do it) but ever since I moved to this apartment I’ve managed to put it off. It’s actually not a lazy thing…at least not entirely. Kira and I were actually really good about going to the gym for a while there.

Over the last month and a half I’ve perfected the sloth position.

It’s great–you should try it–you just veg out until you can’t take it anymore.

Alas, that does nothing for my flexibility, waistline, or muscle tone, though. So today I decided to revisit Jillian Michaels.

This woman is a beast. She’s in great shape and a little scary, but you can tell she knows her stuff. She combines classic yoga poses with a bit of cardio and you’re sweating within fifteen minutes.

I actually really enjoy the routine. It pumps your metabolism and calms you down all at the same time. I also love that you’re relying on your own body during the workout. It’s just you out there–you and everything you’ve got. And when you start to stabilize and you start getting more flexible, that’s all you, too. There’s really something to be said for that. When I’m doing the routine, I actually imagine what it was like thousands of years ago, when people really didn’t “workout”…they just existed and moved and bent and lived and managed to be healthy and toned and had energy without the use of a 24-hour fitness center. I can’t help but feel like that is probably how we’re supposed to be. Ever-active, with energy flowing in and out of us in a natural, vaguely cosmic sort of way.

Yoga rocks.

You even kind of get into the cheesy way they talk during the routines. “Seal it in mountain pose…melt your heart to the sky…” that sort of thing. You actually do feel waves of energy shooting up and down your body and it feels amazing.

I’m not gonna lie, today I was not the yoga guru I have been in the past. I was on the beginner’s video (I’m always on the beginner’s video), and I was shaking like a mo-fo about ten minutes in. But you know what? My muscle memory is pretty decent. I know that if I managed to squeeze in a routine before I head to work tomorrow, I’m going to be a lot more confident and stable throughout the workout…and that alone is enough to keep me going.

I’d also like to point out that I did this in the comfort and, most importantly, PRIVACY of my own home. There is no way in hell that I am jumping back into yoga in the not-so-spiffy shape that I’m in right now in front of people. If you want to do it and you feel you need the support-group, by all means, go for it. I’ve thought about joining a class after I get a little more secure and a little less chunky-monkey-ish. I’m betting it would be a lot of fun. But right now I think I’ll stick to the DVD until I’m confident enough to go for the advanced workout…then we’ll talk peer pressure and socializing.

I’m also all healthy-feeling now, so I’m downing water left and right and even eating a healthy meal for lunch. Yoga kinda does that to you: brings about that feeling of positive energy, cleansing and change.

It really couldn’t have come at a better time, either. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to go ahead and do it. Stop with the “I’m not flexible” bullshit, too, because the beginners stuff is less about flexibility and more about stability. The flexible stuff comes later. You work your way up…and it comes about faster than you’d think.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy holidays, everyone 🙂

Nameste
🙂

Endive: A Nutritional Powerhouse

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This is a blog I did for work several months ago. The blog was for California Endive, an Endive distributor based out of California. I figured it would go well in my “Apple a Day…” section. 

 

Crisp and unique with a slightly bitter taste, endive (pronounced “on-deev“) has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since the ancients documented its use 5000 years ago. A member of the chicory family, it is referenced in the infamous Ebers Papyrus (1550, BCE), and praised in the writings of Horace, Ovid, Virgil, Galenus and Pliny. It was rediscovered in the mid-to-late nineteenth century in Belgium, and has since traveled to France (where it is referred to fondly as “White Gold”,) and North America.

Bursting with important minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, folate, zinc, magnesium and fiber, endive can be used in all-natural cleansers for your liver and gall bladder. Among typical salad greenery, it is the richest source of vitamin A. As a result, endive is an excellent source of beta-carotene (an important antioxidant that boosts your immune system). In fact, by eating endive or drinking endive juice (especially when mixed with carrots, parsley and spinach), you can improve and sometimes even reverse degenerating eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Endive is also an excellent source of vitamins C and B. Regular consumption of endive can lower your risk of heart disease and cancers of the rectum, bladder and melanoma. Because of the complex fibers cellulose and hemicellulose, endive can help regulate your digestive tract and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. Endive is also low in fat and sodium and has no cholesterol. One head of endive delivers over 50% of the potassium found in a banana.

Naturally crisp and slightly bitter, endive can be boiled, braised, put in coffee or served fresh in salads. By pairing endive with other juices, you can actually prevent and even reverse many illnesses and other, less serious malodies, such as acne. By mixing endive juice with celery and carrots, asthmatics can significantly reduce their susceptibility for asthma attacks. Anemia can be tempered by mixing endive with celery and parsley. It’s helpful in weight loss. Endive provides a whimsical, curly flair to any salad. Its delightfully crisp texture and slightly bitter taste pair well with other mixed greens and vegetables,

Visit http://endive.com/healthy-eating for nutritional facts about California Endive. For delicious recipes, visit: http://endive.com/recipes.

Wine Health

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Author Kara Mae Adamo. While Ponce de Leon never did find his coveted Agua de Vive, the echoes of his fervent battle against mortality still affect our daily lives. From using anti-aging creams to undergoing more extreme methods like invasive plastic surgery, society is laden with tireless efforts to prolong our youth.
So how do we do it? How do we live longer, healthier, happier lives?

It appears that the answer to this unremitting question is simpler than we think. Studies show that people who enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner live an average of up to 34% longer than people who predominantly drink other alcoholic beverages and even longer than those who abstain from alcohol  altogether.[1] This is partially because resveratol, an antioxidant found in wines—especially in reds—extends the life span of cells by up to 80%[2].

Resveratol also inhibits tumor development and boosts your immune system.[3] Indeed, wine was used for medicinal purposes in 450 BCE when Hippocrates recommended certain wines for the purging of fevers. It was also used to disinfect and dress wounds and as a diuretic. In fact, around the 18th century, wine was considered safer to drink than most of the available water.

Wine calms your nerves, relieves tension and lowers your blood pressure. In fact, moderate wine drinkers that do have high blood pressure are still 30% less likely to have a heart attack than people who do not drink wine.[4] This is partially because the tannins in wine contain procyanidins and flavonoids, which protect the heart against heart disease.[5] Wine is also anti-coagulant and dilates the small blood vessels, preventing angina and clotting.[6]

The flavonoids found in wines also prevent cellular damage and reduce the production of LDL Cholesterol (the “bad” kind) while boosting the HDL Cholesterol (the “good” kind).[7]Flavonoids also favorably influence your lipid profiles following meals and prevent arteries from hardening.[8]

People who drink wine in moderate amounts every day also have 30% less risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes.[9] They also reduce their chances of liver disease by nearly half.[10] It reduces your possibility of stroke and even lowers your chance of developing cataracts by 32%.[11]

Going back to the fountain-of-youth motif, wine also appears to preserve cognitive function in older people. Regular-to-moderate wine consumption may help prevent many forms of dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.[12]

Do different wines have different medicinal properties?
In a sense, yes. Darker reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noirs have the highest flavonoid concentrations, while white wines are better for improving lung function,[13]reducing ulcers, decreasing ovarian cancer, and even strengthening your bones by up to 20%.[14]

So how much wine should I drink?
Like anything else, it’s about moderation. Women should drink about 4-ounces (about 1 glass) of wine a day. Men can have up to 8-ounces (2 glasses) daily. Anything past that, however, increases your risk for fat-build up in the blood stream. Long-term excessive alcohol damages the liver, the pancreas, nerve cells and can also contribute to malnutrition. It’s also important to consult your doctor before you start drinking wine if you already suffer from uncontrollable hypertension, congestive heart failure, liver disease, or pancreatitis.

There are a variety of delicious wines to choose from at your local grocer, restaurant or wine bar. There are some, however, that are turning towards making their own wine with products like The Artful Winemaker. By making your own wines, you can explore the varying complexities of different varietals and tweak and blend your creations to fit your palate.

Auguri e buona salute!

[1] According to a study published in the 2007 Journal of Gerontology
[2] According to a Harvard study of factors that influence aging conducted May of 2003
[3] Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA.
[4] According to a study published by the 2007 Harvard School of Public Health
[5] According to Dr. William Davis in his Nov. 13, 2009 “Heart Scan Blog Redux: Cheers to Flavonoids
[6] O’Reilly R. Lack of effect of mealtime wine on the hypoprothrombinemia of oral anticoagulants. Am J Med Sci 1979;277:189-94.
[7] American Chemical Society (2003, September 9). New Cholesterol Fighter Found In Red Wine.ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 19, 2011,
[8] Phytother Res. 2001 Aug;15(5):395-400. Impact of certain flavonoids on lipid profiles—potential action of Garcinia cambogia flavonoids.Koshy ASVijayalakshmi NR. Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Kariavattom, Thiruvananthapuram-695581, India.
[9] According to a 12-year study at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center in 2005
[10] According to researchers from the University of California in San Diego.
[11] According to a Stony Brook University study in 2005
[12] According to a 2006 study at Columbia University
[13] University of Buffalo (2002, May 21). Drinking Wine, Particularly White Wine, May Help Keep Lungs Healthy, University At Buffalo Study
[14] According to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia, 2004;