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By Brianna Wiest

He wasn’t your soulmate and you knew he wasn’t your soulmate. Indecision is what happens when you can’t accept what you already know to be true.

He wasn’t your soulmate, he was an anchor that kept you steady, and then left you stuck. He was the sun in your universe when you weren’t sure what else to revolve around. You poured your energy into the idea of him. Your relationship was good because you made it good. It was a blank canvas you painted your love upon until it was beautiful. He was an easy feat. He was a sure thing.

He seemed perfect on the surface and then less perfect as time went on. Real soulmates are the opposite — the depth of your connection is revealed the more you are together. He was the perfect match for the person you were, not the person you needed to become. He was an old love map you thought you finally conquered.

You didn’t find yourself with him, you were becoming what he wanted you to be and you believed it made you good. You weren’t happy if you weren’t together — and you didn’t know what your life would be if you couldn’t have him. That’s not love, that’s an addiction. That’s a safe place. That’s a comfort zone that became a crutch.

He wasn’t your soulmate, he was a distraction. He was a temporary fixation that gave you relief from the big questions you couldn’t answer.

You know this because he faded as you found yourself.

The thing is that you’re not meant for the things you lose, and yet you have to lose them.

He wasn’t your soulmate, he was a lesson — and what you projected onto him tells you everything that you need to know.

The thing is that he wasn’t what you hoped he’d be, and yet you had to hope. He wasn’t what you imagined, and yet you had to let yourself dream. He wasn’t your future, and yet you had to wonder if he could be. The thing is that you’re not meant for the things you lose, and yet you have to lose them.

Your real soulmate won’t be the stitching that holds you together. They’ll be someone to walk the path with — your teachers will seem like the path themselves. They are here to show you something so fundamental about yourself and your life and your future, even if that lesson isn’t what it takes to keep someone forever. Their impact is permanent and irrevocable, even if you forget their names and faces and what you used to mean to each other. That was their purpose.

He wasn’t your soulmate, he was survival. You can’t be mad at yourself for that.

Sometimes we have to break our own illusions so we can understand what’s real when we find it. Eventually, you come out on the other end and realize that you’d go through it all again to get to where you are now.

Source : Medium

Start putting the phone down and picking wisdom up.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy for other people to be productive?Have you ever felt motivated to do certain things, only to have that drive dry out within a few days? Have you ever felt discouraged or frustrated when the people around you discuss their goals and how they’ve read 75 books and wrote 9 on top of maintaining a healthy body? Meanwhile, you’re still struggling with the third chapter of the book you’ve been trying to read for the last 2 months?

If you’ve answered yes to all of those, you’re in the right place. In an article written by Lisa Feldman Barrett for The New York Times, she says that you tend to feel tired and frustrated when you increase activity in your brain.

For instance, consider the last time you took a math test or pushed your physical limits. How did you feel? Hard work often makes you feel bad in the moment; you often think to yourself, “I’m never doing this again. It’s way too hard.”

Instead of challenging your brain, you start doing the things that make you feel comfortable or things that are easy. Then you wonder why you’re incapable of focusing on your work daily. You’ve trained your brain to like comfort, but discomfort is when growth happens.

Identifying the Root of the Problem

How often do you check Instagram? Or Twitter? Is it easy? Do you feel like it requires a ton of effort? Probably not. I can sit on Instagram for hours. I’ll refresh the feed multiple times despite seeing everything there is to see on the platform.

When it comes to doing other things, such as reading or writing — I struggle. I find that I can’t focus, I zone out, or even just get tired.

I was frustrated. Why is it that the people I look up to always seem so driven and motivated to work on their business or read 100+ books per year? Meanwhile, I was struggling to just finish one. What was I missing? How do I make doing difficult things, such as working on my business, easy?

The answer came to me in a YouTube video: dopamine. Dopamine is what makes you desire things. It’s what makes you reach for your phone with sleepy eyes first thing in the morning to check Facebook. It boosts your mood, motivation, and attention.

I quickly realized that my dopamine receptors were out of whack. The reason behind why I was feeling unmotivated to work wasn’t because I was lazy (maybe a little), but it was mainly because I had developed an extremely high dopamine tolerance.

Simple things like reading or writing didn’t provide me with the same dopamine level as other things such as watching TV, scrolling through Instagram, etc. Your brain doesn’t care that the levels of dopamine that you’re consuming could be damaging to you; it just wants more and more.

What’s wrong with having too much dopamine?

Our bodies have a biological system called Homeostasis; this means our bodies like to keep an internal physical and chemical balance. Whenever an imbalance occurs, our bodies will adapt to it.

Basically, when your brain gets used to having high dopamine levels, those levels become your new normal, which forces you to create a dopamine tolerance. Doing day-to-day life things will inevitably become impossible for you to do. On top of that, reading, writing, working, or improving yourself could be even more challenging.

Ever wonder why you can’t stop watching Netflix when you know you have work to do? Ever wonder why it’s impossible for drug addicts to quit? Speaking of which, in an article written in Healthline,

Certain drugs may interact with dopamine in a way that becomes habit-forming. Nicotinealcohol, or other drugs with addictive qualities activate the dopamine cycle. These substances can cause a quicker, far more intense dopamine rush than you’d get from those double chocolate chip cookies. It’s such a powerful rush that you’re left wanting more — and soon.

As a habit forms, the brain responds by toning down the dopamine. Now you need more of the substance to get to that same pleasure level. Overactivation also affects dopamine receptors in a way that makes you lose interest in other things. That can make you act more compulsively. You’re less and less able to resist using these substances.

This can apply to essentially any type of addiction — video games, pornography, social media, etc. Once your dopamine tolerance gets high, you’re unable to do the things that don’t provide you with the same kind of rush.

I felt helpless when I began putting the puzzle pieces together. I felt like I didn’t have any control over my mind nor body. I wanted a change, and I wanted it quickly.

With that being said, here are a few strategies I’ve been utilizing to balance out my dopamine levels and essentially trick my brain into enjoying hard things again.

Cut All Social Media 1x per Week

Every morning when I wake up, I go on Instagram. I check the feed, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, check Instagram, make coffee, check Instagram, sit down to work, check Instagram, start writing, check Instagram mid-sentence — well, you get it.

Writing was not as fun as Instagram. YouTube videos were dull. When I read, I thought about what new photos would pop up on my Instagram feed. If the book was made into a film, I’d stalk the actors on Instagram.

According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes,

When you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good. Dopamine is associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling, drugs … and now, social media. When rewards are delivered randomly (as with a slot machine or a positive interaction on social media), and checking for the reward is easy, the dopamine-triggering behavior becomes a habit.

Social media addiction involves broken reward pathways in our brains. Social media provides immediate rewards — in the form of attention from your network — for minimal effort through a quick thumb tap. Therefore, the brain rewires itself, making you desire likes, retweets, emoji applause, and so on. Five to 10% of internet users are psychologically addicted and can’t control how much time they spend online.

Brain scans of social media addicts are similar to those of drug-dependent brains: There is a clear change in the regions of the brain that control emotions, attention, and decision making.

Conclusion? Too much social media will alter your brain chemistry. I never considered this before; I was always unaware of my use of social media. I used excuses like, “everybody else is on it, and they’re fine…” or, “I need it for my business.”

I get it. Cutting it out is hard, and there are tons of benefits to social media. You can use it to network, connect with family members, promote your business, amongst many other things.

The problem is we’re oblivious to the negative effects that come with the platform, and while cutting it out completely isn’t an option, limiting it is.

How you can apply this:

You can go about this in two ways.

Option 1: You can do it cold turkey and do a hard and brutal detox, essentially eliminating everything fun out of your day. You can’t get on any social media, no phone usage at all, no TV, no music, no internet. Remove all sources of external pleasure out of your day.

Things you can do: meditate, journal, take a walk, drink your water, eat a healthy meal (no junk food).

You’re going to starve yourself of all the things you find exciting, and in turn, it’ll make the less exciting stuff — fun again.

Option 2: Pick 1 day of the week and refrain from one of your high-dopamine behaviors. For me, this is not going on Instagram every single Monday.

The easiest way to do this is deleting the app from your phone, write “No IG today” on a sticky-note, and put it somewhere that you’ll constantly see it. Or you could even have an accountability partner for this. Your first day will be challenging, but the more you do it, the easier it’ll become.

Consider the Costs of Inaction

When you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something, you usually think about what you will gain from it.

For example, when I’m pumping myself up to go to the gym, I tell myself that exercising is good for me. I’ve been sitting all day, and my body needs to move, and usually, I remind myself that if I work out, I can have something sweet (that always gets me).

However, something I’ve started doing is considering the repercussions of not doing the things I’m supposed to do. If I don’t exercise and take care of myself, my health will deteriorate. If I don’t eat well, I won’t think clearly. I’ll feel sluggish. If I skip a workout, I’ll feel like crap the rest of the week. If I don’t work on my business, I won’t succeed.

By considering the repercussions of not doing the things you need to do, whether that be in your personal life (like working on your relationships, taking care of your health) or even your work life (staying up to date on projects, showing up on time), you’re developing a focus on the potential losses you might experience.

In turn, increasing your drive to get things done.

How you can apply this:

Psychologist Ana Sofia Batista says that goals are made of two parts: the things you want and the things you don’t want.

Keeping the things that you don’t want in mind (failing, not having incredible connections in your life, not being able to support yourself, not going after your dreams) can be an incredibly powerful motivation mechanism for you.

I practice this daily. When I get into a negative mindset and want to give up, I go for a walk and consider what I could potentially be giving up if I don’t apply myself daily.

It’s a brutal mechanism, but it’s powerful.

It took me a while to accept that something as minor as social media could affect not only my work ethic but also my ability to take on challenges.

It’s frustrating to think that you have so little control over your mind, but gaining that self-awareness is the first step in turning the tables.

It’s not going to be easy, but if you want to see a drastic and positive change in your life, you’re going to have to go out of your comfort zone and cut out the things that hinder you.

Good luck.

Source : Medium

It’s an emotional rollercoaster — but you’ll eventually grow from it.

All relationships have their challenges.

Some relationships fall into the difficult camp. And others are just plain toxic.

Here’s a guide to the emotional rollercoaster you’ll go through when you’re in a relationship with someone who has toxic or personality disordered thinking and behaviours.

Read it, knowing you can — and will — be okay on the other side. And, if you are on the other side, read it to validate all that you’ve been through.

1. Fascinating.

In the beginning they’ll be so, so interested in you. They’ll hang on to every word that drops from your lips, they’ll want ALL of your time, they’ll make you feel like the most fascinating person on earth. It’s incredibly seductive; don’t beat up on yourself for falling for it. You’re not alone: Many smart, secure people have been suckered by a toxic partner.

2. Surprised.

Toxic people can’t hold the mask up forever — actually, not even for very long. The first time you see a glimpse of their true self (usually a flash of anger or a dark moodiness), you’ll raise an eyebrow in surprise. But you’ll let it go because, well, love. Or lust. Gradually, as you get to know them, you’ll realise it wasn’t out of character at all.

3. Anxious.

You’ll come to know their emotions are highly unpredictable. You’ll never be sure what mood you’re going to find them in so — even if you weren’t prone to anxiety — you’ll find yourself feeling tense and nervous more and more often; your own mental state will start to be dictated by theirs.

4. Exhausted.

Because being with someone so unpredictable, so emotionally demanding, and makes you feel like you’re standing on scorching sand, is mentally and physically draining.

5. Responsible.

For their finances, addictions, behaviour, problems, moods, fight with their boss, poor treatment of others: Take your pick. You’re holding the show together — and, after a while you start asking, for what?

6. Unwell.

The mental trauma takes its toll. Your energy will wain and you may begin to suffer from unexplained aches, pains, colds and flus and other physical problems. When the mind is exhausted, stress often finds a way to show up in the body.

7. Confused.

When your partner’s good, they’re amazing. When they’re bad, it’s a nightmare. But those good periods begin to dwindle. You feel like you’re always waiting for the next jab. Or criticism. Or complaint. Or explosion. Or (insincere) apology. Is this what love is supposed to be?

8. Adored.

Fleetingly. When they feel like it. Just to add to the confusion.

9. Trapped.

You want to leave, but then you don’t. You pack your bags, then you unpack them. Maybe things can be okay? But then they’re not. You feel controlled by your partner’s moods and behaviours. You stay, hoping it’ll get better but, deep inside, you know they’ve got you in a cage.

10. Hopeful.

On a good day. When THEY’VE had a good day.

11. Jealous.

Because they’re always on their phone. Or disappearing. Or behaving weirdly. Or being secretive. Or just making you wonder.

12. Diminished.

All those jabs, mean comments, all that dismissiveness of your looks, your personality, Who You Are. Your confidence has taken a hike. You’ve become less of the person you were and you don’t know how to get yourself back.

13. Changed.

Not in a good way. They’ve brought out the worst in you. They’ve pushed you to your limits. They’ve made you lash out. You’ve become angrier, resentful, negative, more anxious and at times depressed, and you worry it’s seeping into your personality.

14. Manipulated.

After a while you know you’re being manipulated but you don’t know to stop it. You’re doing, saying or believing things that serve their needs — not yours. Their tactics are aimed at convincing you that they know what’s best for you, even when what’s best for you is the last thing on their minds.

15. Foolish.

You’re forced to accept you’ve been conned. And you don’t want people — even those who love you — to know.

16. Angry.

Because you know how wrong and unfair it is. Because you know you’re being treated badly. Because you went into the relationship hopeful and with an open heart — and this what you got.

17. Worthless.

That’s the cruelty of the game, to make you feel you’re worth nothing. That you’re not a good person. That no-one else would want you. Which is hurtful but, luckily, utterly wrong.

18. Unloved.

Even if they wanted to love you, they couldn’t. The damage was done long before they met you. The day you fully understand this, is the day you will have the strength to leave and, even if you feel tempted to return to them, you won’t.

19. Relieved.

When you’re out of the relationship. When you have blocked them from your phone, social media accounts — and life. When you can begin to heal.

20. Free.

It will happen. You will recover. When you’ve processed the trauma, banked the lessons and are happily single or in a new, healthy relationship, you’ll know for sure it wasn’t your fault. And you’ll — finally, FINALLY — feel free.

Source : Medium

Understand this function of the gut to beat the bloat

The gut’s tiny housekeeper

The Migrating Motor Complex (MMC), a sequence of electromechanical activity in the stomach and small intestine, is responsible for maintaining a clean and tidy gut. Many scientists refer to it as the gut’s ‘little housekeeper’ as it works to sweep the undigested food from our meals and snacks onward from our stomach and small intestine to the lower parts of the digestive system. In her book, Enders writes that “an hour after the small intestine has digested something, it begins the cleanup process”. The MMC ensures that all food is processed and sent on its way into the large intestines and beyond, but critically the function only kicks in during periods of fasting, which is bad news for enthusiastic snackers.

Step away from the snacks!

In her book, Giulia Enders cautions readers about eating too regularly as, ”constant snacking means there is no time for cleaning”. Eating throughout the day interrupts the optimal function of the MMC and residual undigested food gets left behind and begins to ferment. Over time, this leads to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines and creates a prime environment for bloating and other IBS symptoms. The stomach and small intestine must be completely empty before the MMC is able to get to work. A mid-morning snack will break the natural fasting periods between breakfast and lunch and will hit the MMC’s pause button.

Give your gut a break

By reviewing the frequency of your meals you will allow the MMC to function and ensure all of the food from your last meal is properly processed before you load up the stomach with more. Enders explains what happens when you fail to insert an appropriate break between meals, “if we eat something before the cleanup is finished, the housekeeper immediately stops working and returns to waiting mode”. A gap of up to 5 hours between meals is recommended to allow the MMC to complete the cleanup cycle.

  • Eat a portion of food at mealtimes that will sustain you between meals
  • If you insist on a sweet treat or dessert, eat it directly after the main meal
  • Chew food properly and limit distractions by not eating at your desk or in front of the TV
  • Review your stress level and assess how it is impacting your digestion

Source : Medium

A science-based guide to tailoring your muscle-building program to your individual needs, capabilities, and recovery capacity

There’s now a growing consensus among exercise scientists that total training volume is the main driver of muscle growth. If you want to build bigger muscles, you need to spend time in the gym, and the number one thing you can do to get better results is probably just train more often.

However, this shouldn’t be seen as supporting the sort of fitness nihilism that says nothing other than sheer effort matters and that there’s no way to make your workouts easier without sacrificing results. Volume is the primary factor underlying muscle growth — but not the only factor.

In fact, there are quite a few ways you can train smarter, getting better results with the same amount of time in the gym, if not less.

Just as importantly, you can build more muscle while suffering less fatigue for your efforts.

Here are five ways to do just that, explained.


Train at Your Ideal Intensity

Popular wisdom holds you should perform sets of 4-6 reps for strength, 8-12 reps for hypertrophy, and 15+ reps for endurance. Popular wisdom is wrong.

For starters, let’s consider the nature of those three criteria: Strength and endurance are performance-based metrics, while muscular hypertrophy (growth, in plain English) is a morphological characteristic. So hypertrophy doesn’t really fit in with strength and endurance.

In fact, a multitude of studies have found low-rep sets build just as much muscle as sets of 8-12 reps — sometimes even more. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising; after all, there’s obviously a fairly strong correlation between being strong and having big muscles.

But what about strength and endurance? Common sense dictates that lifting heavy should build more strength, and lifting for high reps should be ideal for endurance. After all, lifting heavy is literally what strength is, and maintaining physical exertion for a longer period of time is literally what endurance is.

That isn’t necessarily the case, however. Amazingly, some people build more muscle mass — and yes, even more maximal strength — on high-rep sets.

In what might be the most underappreciated resistance training study of all time, 16 college rugby players were tested on four different workouts: a powerlifting-style workout with heavy weights and low reps, a bodybuilding-style workout with moderate weight and reps, an endurance-style workout with low weight and high reps, and a power-style workout with low weight and low reps (but high velocities).

After each workout, the researchers tested the athlete’s testosterone/cortisol ratio, which is considered to be the most reliable biomarker for recovery from exercise. The subjects varied in terms of which workout gave them the highest and which gave them the lowest T/C ratio.

For each athlete, the workout after which they had the highest T/C ratio was labeled their “best” protocol, and the one after which they had the lowest T/C ratio was labeled their “worst” protocol. Following this, half the athletes were put on their best protocol for eight weeks, and half on their worst protocol for eight weeks. Then after a three-week break, the two groups switched, so each subject spent eight weeks on both his best and worst protocol.

The results contradicted one of the core assumptions of modern exercise science: Every single subject gained strength and mass on their best protocol, even if it was the endurance or power workout. Twelve of the 16 either made no progress, or even lost strength on their worst protocol, even if their worst was the strength workout.

The researchers continued to test the T/C ratio throughout the experiment, and found that 12 of 16 subjects showed consistent responses; the ones with inconsistent responses were the ones who gained strength on their worst protocol. That supports a person’s best and worst protocol are, indeed, consistent, rather than being artifacts of random chance.

The upshot of all this is many people can build more strength by lifting light weights than by lifting heavy weights.

Incidentally, volume wasn’t equated between groups. The power workout had the lowest training volume and the endurance workout the highest; some people also do better with more or less volume than others.

Of course, the researchers in this study did a whole lot of blood work to identify the best and worst protocols. So how can you do this on your own?

Remember the T/C ratio is a measure of your recovery status. In the absence of blood work, you can simply take note of how hard it is for you to recover from a given workout by a) measuring how well your strength and endurance have recovered/improved two days later when you do your next workout, and b) taking note of how tired a given workout makes you both immediately afterward and a few hours later.

Note that I’m talking about tiredness, not soreness; soreness isn’t a good indication of recovery status.

Without blood work, you’ll want to test each protocol 2-3 times, rather than just once like they did in the study. But over time, you should be able to figure out which training style invigorates you and which one kicks your butt.

Note that this totally contradicts that common “broscience,” which says that being sore and tired is the sign you had a good workout. This study suggests that, in fact, fatigue is at best a necessary evil and at worst a sign you’re doing the wrong kind of workout for your body. More training volume with less fatigue should be the goal.


Cluster Sets

A cluster set is a set that’s broken down into several minisets, with short intraset rest periods between them. The weight is reracked or put down during these short rest periods, allowing the muscles a brief respite before the next miniset.

For instance, you might perform three reps, rerack the weight, rest 20 seconds, grab the weight and do three more reps, rerack and rest 20 seconds, and then pick up the weight and do two more reps before ending the cluster set. After that, you’d take a much longer rest — at least three minutes and sometimes more than five — before doing the next cluster set.

So why do people do sets this way? Because it lets them do more reps at a given weight. In the above example, eight reps were performed, but because of the intraset rest periods, you could use a weight that’s around your four- or five-rep max and instead do eight reps with it.

The preponderance of scientific evidence now suggests total training volume is the main driver of muscle growth. The more you lift, the more you’ll grow, at least up to the point where you start to have trouble recovering from your workouts. There’s such a thing as too much training volume, but in practice, that’s rarely a problem unless you’re truly hardcore about your training — and even then, it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re doing your best protocol, as described above.

Total training volume seems to have a less consistent benefit for strength than for hypertrophy. For strength, lifting heavy is more important than lifting a lot (for most people, anyway), but you do need to at least hit a certain minimum level of volume.

However, there’s another factor at play regarding strength and power: skill training. Each exercise is its own skill, in the sense you can get better at it by practicing that specific movement. Cluster sets help you get more skill practicing a certain movement by doing more reps at very high intensities. At least one study shows cluster sets help you gain more strength and power without compromising hypertrophy but don’t necessarily increase hypertrophy compared to traditional straight sets.

All of which is to say cluster sets are likely to help with strength more than hypertrophy and are more likely to be helpful if you’ve determined lifting heavy is the best training modality for you.

You can perform cluster sets with higher rep ranges, like three subsets of six at a weight you could do ten reps with. However, in this case, you’ll want to keep the intraset rest periods shorter, like 5-10 seconds.

As a final note, cluster sets may be less fatiguing than straight sets, even when work volume is higher. In one study, cluster sets produced less of a cortisol response than straight sets, indicating faster recovery.

Cluster sets are also great for unilateral movements — those where you work only one side of your body at a time, like one-legged leg curls. You can alternate sides, lifting with one limb while the other one rests.

They also tend to be ideal for barbell exercises like the bench press. Note, however, that muscle failure can sneak up on you with cluster sets, so it’s good to have a spotter if you lift heavy barbells cluster-style. Using accommodating resistance — described in the next section — does make this safer since it makes it easier to rerack the weight without getting trapped under the bar in bench presses and squats.


Accommodating Resistance

Accommodating resistance is a set of techniques for modifying the resistance (that is, the weight) of an exercise such that the resistance curve of the exercise matches your body’s strength curve for that exercise.

That probably didn’t make sense to you, but I’ll explain. With many exercises, the actual amount of resistance varies at different points of the exercise. With a barbell curl, for instance, you’re lifting the weight almost horizontally near the bottom and top and straight up near the middle of the exercise — thus the resistance is highest at the midpoint of the exercise.

Compare that to a squat or bench press, where the resistance is about the same throughout the movement since the weight goes straight up and down, at the same angle the whole way through.

This is the exercise’s resistance curve.

The strength curve of an exercise refers to how strong the active muscle groups are at various points of the exercise. Muscles are strongest around the midpoint of their active range of motion. Your bicep and tricep, for instance, are at their strongest when your elbow is about half bent.

This is why the hardest part of the bench press is the bottom of the movement, when the bar is on your chest: The weight is the same throughout, but you’re weakest at the bottom. Near the top, your pectoral muscle gets weaker again, but the shoulders and arms are more able to help than they were at the bottom.

By the same token, pull-ups and chin-ups are hardest near the top because the involved muscles reach the ends of their range of motion. That’s why people can often get 80% of the way up fairly easily yet not get their chin over the bar.

This is the exercise’s strength curve.

The reason many exercises have sticking points, like the bottom of the bench press, is because the strength and resistance curves don’t match. Accommodating resistance alters the resistance curve to match the strength curve.

There are several ways to apply accommodating resistance to an exercise.

First, you can attach elastic bands to the weight you’re lifting. This is most commonly done with barbell bench presses and squats using a pair of identical elastic bands, one attached to either end of the barbell. The lifting of the weight stretches the bands, causing the resistance to increase as the barbell goes up.

This video shows how to attach the bands for a bench press, and this video shows how to do it with squats. You can also use just a single band for the bench press as shown in this video; that isn’t possible for squats, though.

As a general rule, you should aim to replace 30-40% of the total weight with band resistance — so if you squat 155 pounds, you should instead squat something like 95 pounds plus a pair of bands that each add 25-30 pounds of resistance.

Note that because the resistance provided by the bands varies throughout the exercise, all bands will be labeled with a range, like 10-35 pounds of resistance. Base your calculations on the highest resistance the bands will provide. Since you won’t usually stretch them all the way, this will usually be a bit lower than the highest number listed — i.e., a 10-35–pound band may actually provide a maximum 20 pounds on the bench press and 30 pounds on the squat. Your calculations won’t be totally exact, but they don’t need to be.

As an added bonus, the use of bands makes squats and bench presses safer, since eliminating the sticking point means you’re not likely to get trapped under the bar. That makes them a great safety practice for those who lift without a spotter.

Note, however, that the bands do change the angle of the exercise somewhat, which means the muscles are worked in a slightly different way, and your technique has to adjust accordingly.

You can achieve the same effect by attaching chains to the ends of the barbell. At the bottom of the movement, most of the chain rests on the floor, and as it lifts, more of the chain is lifted into the air, increasing the weight.

Chains are expensive, heavy, and loud. Unlike bands, you can’t travel with them. The advantage of chains is they hang straight down so they don’t change the angle as a band would. This makes chains desirable for competitive weightlifters who are actually squatting to get better at squatting; the rest of us should stick to bands.


Agonist-Antagonist Supersets

Somewhat counter-intuitively, you can get stronger and lift heavier weights by selectively weakening your muscles.

Most of your skeletal muscles are arranged in pairs that act in opposition to each other. The hamstring bends your knee, while the quadriceps strengthens it. Your triceps and pectoral muscles push your arms forward, while your back and biceps pull things toward you.

In exercise science, the muscles used to power an exercise are called the agonists for that exercise, while the muscles opposing them are the antagonists.

Even when you’re not consciously activating them, the antagonist muscles still exert some force. As such, you can temporarily increase your strength on a given exercise by prefatiguing the antagonist muscles of that exercise.

The way this looks in practice is you superset two opposing exercises — movements that move the same body part in opposite directions — by doing one immediately after the other. For example:

  • Bench press
  • Rest 20-30 seconds
  • Barbell bent-over row

Although you might expect the short rest period to make you more tired, fatigue mostly occurs on the level of the individual muscle. In fact, when you perform a set of bench presses right before a set of seated rows, back and bicep activity increases and you can perform more sets of the seated row than you would otherwise.

The order in which you perform the two exercises seems to matter — in one study, bench pressing before rowing worked better than rowing before bench pressing. In another, doing leg curls before leg extensions produced greater performance increases than the other way around.

The takeaway here seems to be that the more fast twitch-dominant muscle group should be worked first. In general, this means that for upper-body supersets, the pushing motion should precede the pulling motion. Lower-body supersets, hamstring exercises, or those which bend the knee and/or extend the back should precede quadriceps-dominant exercises or those which straighten the knee.

A few examples:

  • Bench press/chest press before horizontal rows
  • Shoulder press before chin-ups/pull-downs
  • Dips or decline presses before shrugs or upright rows
  • Deadlift before squat
  • Leg curl before leg extension

It’s vitally important the rest interval between the first and second set be kept short, as the benefits of agonist-antagonist supersets start to disappear when the rest period is over one minute. In general, 30 seconds is a good guideline.

As an added benefit, even though you do more work, this style of training actually decreases perceived exertion.


Autoregulation

No, not car-safety laws. Autoregulation is a class of workout programming techniques that aim to dynamically adjust the amount of training load produced in order to allow a trainee to train exactly the right amount — not so hard as to excessively fatigue themselves but not undertraining so they leave progress on the table.

Now, many people try to do this by “listening to their body,” taking it easy when they feel tired and pushing themselves harder when they have the energy. That’s not what autoregulation is.

There are two shortcomings to the “listen to your body” approach. First, it’s subjective. Second, how tired you feel is mostly related to your central nervous system, whereas training fatigue occurs mainly at the local level, within the individual muscles. Thus, your energy level doesn’t particularly measure how strong you are.

Instead, autoregulation techniques estimate recovery status based on how you perform during your workout, after you’ve started it. This requires you to be recording your workouts — not on video but, rather, writing down how many sets and reps you do of each exercise.

One example of an autoregulation method is reactive deloading. In this method, developed by trainer Menno Henselmans, any time you backslide on an exercise — perform fewer reps at a given weight than you did in your last training session — you lower the weight and perform your remaining sets power-style, at high velocities.

For example, suppose in your last training session you performed four sets of dumbbell presses with 50-pound dumbbells, and your rep counts were 5, 5, 4, 4. In your current workout, you do five reps on the first set — but only four on the second set.

In this case, you’d use 30-35–pound dumbbells for the remaining two sets. You’d lift the weights as fast as possible, but you’d still only do five reps per set, even though you could do more with the lighter weights.

This style of speed work allows you to get a decent workout, work on your technique, and still make some progress — with relatively little fatigue.

Another approach for autoregulation is based on weekly training volume. Any time you have a bad workout overall — one in which you progressed on less than a third of your exercises — you could take an extra rest day before your next workout.

There are several other ways to implement autoregulation, but it’s a complicated enough subject to merit its own article. Suffice to say autoregulation is always a) objective,and b) dynamic.

In research, autoregulated training programs usually outperform programs that follow a fixed progression. However, this may only be true in more dedicated trainees — it’s conceivable an unmotivated trainee could use autoregulation as an excuse to slack off.

Note also that most approaches to autoregulation, like the two mentioned here, presuppose your baseline training schedule errs on the side of training too much rather than too little. If you were undertraining, reducing your workload in response to a lack of progress would be the exact opposite of what you’d want to do.


Work Harder? If You Want To. Work Smarter? Definitely.

It has now become a cliche to say “work smarter, not harder,” but there’s no need to choose between the two. You can combine these techniques and strategies with a higher training volume to build more muscle if you want.

Then again, you can absolutely choose to take the 80/20 approach, cut back your time in the gym a little bit, apply the advice in this article, and get gooHow to Build More Muscle With Less Work and Less Fatigued results with less time, effort, and hardship. Both approaches are equally valid, and it’s just a matter of what your goals are.

If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this: You should work with your body and design programs based on your individual needs, capabilities, and recovery capacity. However, this isn’t a subjective choice and can’t be based on intuition alone — it should be based on sound principle of exercise science and objective measurements of your performance with various training programs.

Source : Medium

I’m one week into the Chloe Ting 28 Day Flat Tummy Challenge

I stood gasping for air. Just 10 minutes of working my abdominal muscles and my skin was as sweaty as it gets after a 30-minute session of kickboxing at the gym. Maybe sweatier. Chloe Ting’s second-day video kicked my butt.

In my mind, my peak physical condition was my junior year of high school when I weighed 133 pounds, could bench press 150+ pounds, squat 225 pounds, and run a mile in 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

Since graduating, I’ve been in and out of fitness. I’ve done rock climbing, yoga studio sessions, Zumba classes, and kickboxing. I fail to stick with anything for more than a few weeks, though.

Everyone has their own fitness journey. Mine has been up and down. The most out of shape I’ve been was in 2016 when I weighed 156 pounds and hadn’t worked out for more than a year. I became winded after walking up a single flight of stairs one day and realized something had to change.

I began going to Planet Fitness to lift weights and get on the treadmill. I had a gym partner who kept me motivated for about six months. Then we had a falling out, and I quit the gym for three months. I started going again when we made up, but I wasn’t working as hard. Then I had surgery and was out for another two months.

Such was my fitness journey. In and out of the gym. Never being consistent.

At the beginning of 2020, I discovered kickboxing through a free 6–week challenge. I loved it so much that I became a member at the gym. Then Covid-19 closed everything down.

I’ve never been one to work out at home. I lack self-motivation. So when the gym stopped allowing people through the doors, I stopped working out. I tried. I followed two virtual workouts, and for about a month I would jog one or two miles around the apartment complex. But without the music and energetic coaches screaming encouragement in my face, I grew bored and unmotivated.


Each person’s path to health is different, but some things bring us together no matter our fitness level. Like social media challenges.

Usually, I’m not one to follow trends. They typically aren’t something I deem is worth the time investment. However, I recently started Chloe Ting’s 28 Day Flat Tummy Challenge.

Honestly, I had no idea who Chloe Ting was until I came across Alice Lemée’s article “How Chloe Ting Became the Queen of Home Fitness.” Chloe Ting is an Australian fitness icon and now, thanks to Covid-19, an internet sensation.

I began looking into workouts to flatten my stomach because my wedding is coming up in October. I want to look amazing in my dress. But I also want something that will last long term. My fiancé and I aspire to be the “fit couple” in the neighborhood once we’re in our forties. To be fit as we get older, we have to develop workout routines and healthy eating habits now.


So I started Chloe Ting’s challenge to see if the internet sensation lives up to the hype. She has multiple workout challenges on her website, targeting different areas (abs, thighs, etc.), so you can choose the one that works for your goals.

Here’s how mine is going so far:

Day 1: Not too bad. It consisted of a 20-minute Full Body Fat Blast video and a 10-minute abs video. I had to take longer breaks than the videos allowed for, but I made it through.

Day 2: Only a 10-minute abs video (a different one), but it was hard! So many plank positions. Up-and-down plank, mountain climbers, plank leg kicks. Each exercise is for 40 seconds, but I managed maybe 25 seconds.

Day 3: I watched a lot of Chloe Ting Challenge Results videos on YouTube after the workout. It occurred to me that I should take body measurements, too, to track my results.

Day 4: Same video as Day 2, but I managed almost to make it through the full 40 seconds.

Day 5: This day was hard. I didn’t want to work out, but then I imagined how I wanted to look on my wedding day and pushed myself.

Day 6: Double workout! I did the Chloe Ting abs video and went to the gym for a 30-minute kickboxing session.

Day 7: Today is day seven, and thankfully it is a rest day. I’m feeling the exhaustion in my muscles, but I can also feel my abs getting harder.

In addition to the workouts, I’ve been eating much healthier. All the research says diet is the most crucial part of being in shape. I’ve incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet and reduced my carbohydrate intake (hard to do for a pasta lover). Instead of a high carb breakfast, I’ve been consuming smoothies high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

I’ve also increased my water intake. My goal is to reach one gallon per day. So far, I’ve gotten to 112 ounces per day, so I’m almost there.


My goal with this challenge isn’t to lose weight, but to create a lifelong exercise routine. I’ve been getting up at 6:30 a.m. each day to start the morning by working out. Chloe Ting’s workouts are short, and she uses fun music in her videos.

After I finish this challenge, I will probably do another one of her workout programs. I want an early morning workout to become part of who I am.

The only way to become physically fit and stay fit throughout your life is to make working out and healthy eating part of your lifestyle. Fad diets and internet workout challenges are only temporary. Create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Source : Medium

Stop fooling yourself, and stop fooling them. It’s time to admit that you’re not in love with them.

We’ve been sold a lot of romantic visions of love, and while this might be the way things play out for some people — it’s not as common as we like to think. Relationships are hard. Building a life with someone else is complicated. Even when you think you’ve found the right person, the future doesn’t always play out that way. Even when you believe in your heart that you love someone you may not actually be in love with them.

Love is just as complicated, nuanced and fickle as building a life with an intimate partner. The true definition of love — while holding a few things in common — can differ greatly from person to person. We have to be clear on what love means to us in order to build something great with someone else. Have you spent time cultivating this definition of love? Are you in love with someone, or do you just love them for the value they bring to your life? The answer isn’t always as simple as it seems.

Loving someone isn’t the same as being in love.

When you think of romantic love, what are the first images that come to mind? Maybe you see a couple cuddling on a couch, or taking long walks on a summer beach. Maybe — to you — the definition of true love is building a family and piecing together a life with a house and some land of your own. While these are all great starting points, none of these paints a true picture. That’s because love is far more complicated than the dreams we focus on.

Loving someone isn’t the same thing as being in love, and that’s where our search for the true definition of love begins. Often, we confuse romantic love with genuinely caring for someone else, then find ourselves struggling through painful breakups that reaffirm our worst beliefs while broadsiding us emotionally.

Part of growing up is learning to question your emotions. Part of building better, stronger relationships requires us to be more honest with ourselves and the people we care for. Loving someone isn’t the same as being in love, but it’s still valuable. Why settle for fleeting feelings and self-centered conflict when we could have something that lasts the inevitable test of time? It’s time for you to take a step back and reconsider how you see love. It’s time to admit that you love them, but you’re not actually in love with them.

Signs you’re not really in love with them.

So, are you really in love with them? Or do you just love them as someone who brings something special to your life? While every relationship differs, these are some concrete differences that can point you in the right direction.

Feelings are fleeting

Are you experiencing an extreme fluctuation in emotion or feeling? Perhaps for one moment, the two of you are thick-as-thieves. The next, you’re distant and at one another’s throats. These kinds of extreme of ups and downs shouldn’t happen when we’ve truly fallen for someone. Instead, we should find that emotion and passion are steady and reliable, reacting naturally to the surrounding environment.

You come first

It’s impossible to build a stable and loving relationship when you are the only person you care to look out for. When we’re in love, we build lives together be engaging in compromise and finding ways to share and combine our lives. That’s different, though, when we aren’t “in love”. In these instances, you care for the other person (and you want the best for them) but you would still put your happiness and needs before their own if it meant getting what you want or finding fulfillment.

Too much effort needed

Are you or your new partner constantly fighting an uphill battle that never seems to settle? Is your friendship or budding partnership full of conflict and discontent? All relationships require effort, but they shouldn’t require total exhaustion or a depletion of self. The relationship that requires a constant struggle is not one based on love. It’s one based on forced standards and false perceptions.

It’s all physical

While physical relationships can be extremely gratifying and exhilarating, a physical connection alone is not always enough to indicate true romantic love. Instead, what it can indicate is a genuine connection between two people who enjoy one another and the things their bodies create together. Without the foundation of common future goals, partnership standards, or ambitions, however, it’s not really fair to expect lasting love to blossom.

Ownership and partnership

Our ideas and patterns around ownership and partnership can be a sign of where our heart truly lies. When we seek to control, possess, or change someone else — this is a surefire sign that we are not in love with them. That’s because (when we truly love someone) we encourage them to discover their greatness of their own. We support them with affection, but without the need to alter who they are or what they want from their lives.

Building an image

Sometimes, we confuse what we really want from a relationship with what society (or even our family) pressures us to engage in. Perhaps you’re forcing a partnership that doesn’t fit because you feel as though this person fits the standard you need to meet as a member of a certain sect of society. Perhaps you’re trying to enhance your own image, or the way people perceive you. Again, this isn’t love. It’s a form of conformity.

Making it a race

Thanks to the silver screen romances and fairy tales of our youths, we believe in magical ideas like “love at first sight” and passionate relationships that go from zero to married in 3 months flat. More often that not, though, this type of frantic rush (when it comes to love and romance) indicates insecurity and someone who sees marriage and even love as a “check mark” rather than a journey of mutual self-discovery.

How to move forward when you’re not in love with them.

It’s not always easy to admit that we’re not in love with someone we care about, but it’s an important process in our journey. By taking a deep-dive into reality and getting honest about our boundaries and needs, though, we can find the courage to admit the hardest truth that’s staring us right in the face.

1. Take a deep-dive into reality

You have to be honest about your relationship and you have to be honest about who you are and what you want. Taking a deep dive into reality is crucial when telling the difference between regular love and romantic interest. This isn’t a process that happens overnight, though. It’s one that takes some focus and looking inward for the right answers.

Step back and spend time considering what you really want from a romantic relationship and an intimate partner. For the next week, spend 10–15 minutes each day journalling about your ideal relationship. Completely imagine your partner and the life you want to share with. Record every single detail.

At the end of the week, look back over these notes and shed back any unrealistic expectations that might be clouding the waters. Be brutally honest with yourself and then be brutally honest about the person you’re standing across from now. Is this the person you need to feel fulfilled and loved? Is this the person you’re ready to sacrifice or compromise for? When you take a deep dive into reality, the answer becomes instantly clear.

2. Be honest with yourself (and them)

Once you know who you are and what you want, you have no choice but to be honest with the other person. Whether we are in love with someone, or we just love them as a friend, we owe them honesty — especially where there emotions are involved. While you might not be in love with them, they might be in love with you. Holding any compassion for them at all, you have to empower them to move on by freeing them from your grip.

If you’re not in love with them, you need to let them know. Find a safe and comfortable way in which you both can express yourselves. Ensure you won’t be interrupted, though, and ensure that there’s no one nearby who can interfere or interject. Share how you’re feeling, but be kind as you deliver the news.

Rejection is never an easy pill to swallow, but it’s often the right one. Share your emotions candidly and let the other person know that you genuinely want what’s best for them. Then give them space to express themselves too. Remember, relationships require the consent of both parties, though. Stay focused on your needs and don’t allow yourself to be swayed by and pressure they might exert on you.

3. Set boundaries that work

Boundaries are an important part of every relationship, but they become especially important when it comes to drawing the line between friendly love and intimate passion. Our boundaries are the spaces that make it clear where our expectations and rights to one another lie. Figure out how much space you need and then set boundaries you both can stick to respectfully.

Lean into your personal space and spend some time thinking about where you want the boundary lines to lie. Leave enough space between you and the other person to ensure that intensity can’t build. Perhaps limit the amount of time you spend seeing them face-to-face and agree to keep conversations within the realm of “platonic”.

There’s no right way or wrong way to go about doing this, but it should be a cooperative effort. It’s not always possible to move on as friends from an episode of “love-me-love-me-not” but it is possible. If you and the person you’ve failed to fall for are determined to keep it casual, then set some respectable limits that allow you both to remain comfortable and trusting.

4. Don’t fall into the force-it trap

Emotions can be complicated, but they can also come with a great deal of pressure and stress of their own. When you genuinely care for someone, you can feel pressured to select them as the one person you come home to every night. “They’re so good to me, I’ll never find someone else like them.” The problem here, though, is that forcing it when we don’t feel it only leads to settling (and heartbreak).

No matter how strong your feelings for them might be, don’t allow yourself to fall into the “force-it” trap if you know you aren’t actually in love with them. If you feel yourself, forcing something that doesn’t fit — STOP — and refocus yourself on that future and that partner you envisioned back in Step 1.

Don’t allow anyone else to pressure you, or make you feel like you have to make something work when it just doesn’t feel right. Stick to your boundaries and listen to your intuition. Your subconscious is always trying to point you in the right direction, you just have to get better at deciphering the directions. Part of this is in giving yourself time to process, which can be achieved by hitting the brakes when you feel things falling back into the same old forced patterns.

5. Maintain self-esteem (and self-respect)

When you’re confident about who you are and where you’re going, you don’t so easily succumb to the pressures of your environment. When you have a great deal of self-esteem, it’s much easier to say the truths that are in your heart — rather than playing along to someone else’s melody. You have to maintain self-esteem and then rely on that confidence when it’s time to be truthful with the people which you love (but aren’t in love with).

Break that pattern of defining yourself by some obscure definition of romantic love. Stop chasing relationships and the habits that other people have set for you. Look inwardly at your strengths. Look inwardly at that inner sense of love. You have a right to be happy, and you are worthy of having the precise sort of relationship that you want.

Build up your confidence by celebrating the things you do well. Lean into your passions and the friendships and pastimes which make you feel proud and at peace in yourself. Maintain this self-esteem always, and couple it with an undeniable sense of self-respect. You don’t have to settle for less than you want. You don’t have to keep carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Stand beside your truths with confidence.

Putting it all together…

Establishing a relationship with someone is no easy task. Even when we truly care for someone, it’s easy to get mixed up and find ourselves dealing with emotions that don’t really match up. Are you really in love with your new partner? Or do you just love them for the human that they are? You’re the only one who can tell the difference, but it’s a process which takes time.

Embrace reality for what it is, and kick-start this process by getting focused on what you realistically want and need from life and your partners. Once you’re clear on the facts, be honest with the other person. Let them know how much you care, but be clear about what space they need to inhabit in your life. We don’t owe a relationship to anyone, so set boundaries that keep the expectations clear. Once you’ve shared that you’re not in love, it’s important to maintain space — even if you’ve agreed to stay friends. Within this space, rebuild your sense of self-esteem, and allow that newfound confidence to propel you into the right relationship at the right time. Don’t fall into the force it trap. Have the courage to admit that you love them, but you’re not in love with them.

Source : Medium

The person you are meant to be with will not put you on hold.

Here’s something that most people will be too afraid to tell you:

A man who is in love will commit immediately, and without hesitation. The only way you can tell that you are “meant to be” with someone is whether or not you are actually with them right here, right now.

The person you are meant to be with will not put you on hold.

This is not an easy thing to accept because a man who doesn’t love you completely will do this dance where they bait you in, weave you through a forest of excuses, and leave you lost, unable to decipher whether you’re supposed to hold on for a little longer, or finally let it go.

Some dating experts say if your goal is to get married and you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know for sure that they want to marry you within 90 days of seeing one another, you’re with the wrong person.

It’s not that they are walking down the aisle on day 89, it’s that by that time they know you are the person they could see spending their life with, and they’re comfortable enough with that to continue to pursue a relationship with you.

Anything else is a waste of your f*cking time.

The problem isn’t that people can’t recognize a bad relationship when they’re in it.

The problem is that the “bad” is always muddled out with the good — all the “signs” that you’re meant to be together, that heart-thumping ecstasy that you swear you’ve never felt with another living soul, the connection that you are convinced is a once-in-a-lifetime, never-going-to-find-this-again kind of thing.

But people who know they’re meant to be with someone don’t need to justify it. They don’t look for “signs.” They don’t list reasons. They don’t need to talk at length about their other-worldly connection.

They just are.

This is really brutal to accept only when you don’t realize what’s at stake, and that’s your time.

Kyle Cease says that the only thing that’s scary about change is that you can measure what you’re losing, but you cannot yet see what you’re going to gain. It’s not easy to muster up the faith to believe that your on-again-off-again, “maybe someday when it’s the ‘right’ time” relationship is going to be replaced with your goddamn soulmate, so I’m not going to try to convince you that it is.

But what you need to know is that someone who is truly in love with you will fear nothing more than losing you.

Someone who truly wants to be with you will do whatever they can, however they can, to make your relationship happen. They will defy any odd, resist any temptation, and disregard bullshit like timing and age and distance. That’s what real love does. It rearranges reality around it.

And so if you’re wasting your precious days and youth with someone who doesn’t love you enough to commit in the way you know your soulmate would leave.

Leaving will open a door in which anything is possible.

It might mean you’re by yourself for a while.

It might mean you cycle through a dozen more lukewarm partners.

You cannot know what’s next. You cannot peek around the corner. You cannot rest assured that the love of your life is weeks or months or even years away.

All you can know is that the person who doesn’t want to be with you immediately is not the person who wants to be with you, and leaving will do one of two things: it will smack them awake, or it will show you how easily they were willing to let you go. It will show you just how much of that relationship you were single-handedly sustaining.

There are no promises for any of us in a life, but this we can know for sure: taking up time and space with the wrong person wastes your time and theirs. It holds you back from what could be.

Relationships are complex, but this is straightforward: the person who you need to be with will be with you when they meet you. They will know, and so will you.

People often think that the opposite of being sure you want to be with someone is being sure you do not, but really, the opposite of that certainty is doubt.

Indecision is just a decision you just aren’t ready to come to terms with.

Source : Medium

What many thin people refer to as ‘internalized fatphobia’ is a different side of the same coin

I know that you have learned to hate your body.

I know the messages, the images, the comments, both cruel and well-intended. I know the sinking feeling of seeing your changing body in the mirror, the sharp pain as your clothes dig into newly soft flesh.

I know it hurts, and the pain can sometimes feel immeasurable. I know it is tempting to validate that pain by asserting that you are the intended target of an oppressive system. I also know that, if you have never been a fat person, the name for that pain is not “internalized fatphobia.”


Internalized oppression is a longstanding concept in social sciences and social justice work: one that has been discussed for decades and one that transcends movements. Internalized oppression and its twin concept, internalized subordination, refer to the ways in which a group targeted by oppression begins to internalize the messages of their oppressors and begins to do the work of oppression for them.

Internalized oppression isn’t a simple matter of low self-esteem or lacking confidence. It’s a product of systemic oppression. In the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy, Laura Padilla maps out how internalized oppression takes root:

Dominant players start the chain of oppression through racist and discriminatory behavior. … Those at the receiving end of prejudice can experience physical and psychological harm, and over time, they internalize and act on negative perceptions about themselves and other members of their own group.

That is, internalized oppression isn’t just oppressive concepts that anyone can come to believeit is a direct result of being the sustained target of discrimination and prejudice. Author and organizer Suzanne Pharr expanded on the complexities of internalized oppression in In the Time of the Right:

Internalized oppression is more than low self-esteem, which implies an individualized mental health issue calling for an individualized therapeutic solution. … The damaging effect of stereotyping, blaming the victim, and scapegoating is not only that the general public accepts such negative beliefs, but that the targets of these beliefs also come to accept that there is something wrong with themselves and their people. … It is then a more simple task to dominate them, free of the threat of organized resistance.

Internalized oppression has never been as simple nor as innocuous as “low self-esteem.” It also isn’t as simple as any person — on the up or down side of power — coming to believe or agree with oppressive ideas. Internalized oppression is an essential component of marginalizing a group of people: making them believe their oppression is deserved, normal, and natural and may even require their participation as their own oppressors.

Similarly, the Texas A&M University Office for Diversity explains internalized oppression as “the result of people of targeted groups believing, acting on, or enforcing the dominant system of beliefs about themselves and members of their own group.”

Internalized oppression is a concept that, for decades, has been used to describe the experiences of people who are specifically targeted by a system of oppression. Women may have internalized misogyny; for men, it is simply misogyny. Trans people may express internalized transphobia, but when cis people like me invest in harsh and restrictive concepts of gender, even when it includes policing our own gender presentation, that’s not internalized transphobia — it’s just transphobia. Similarly, when thin people come to believe terrible, judgmental things about fat people and weight gain, even when they extend those judgments to themselves, that isn’t “internalized fatphobia” or “internalized anti-fatness.” It’s just anti-fatness.

Internalized anti-fatness is what happens when fat people police our own behavior and the behaviors of other fat people, having experienced a lifetime of that policing from thinner people. Internalized anti-fatness is what happens when fat people strive to be seen working out and eating salads, praying that our compliance with thin people’s wishes will spare us their scorn. It happens when we tell ourselves or other fat people that we should dress to look thinner, often using more palatable code words like “slimming” and “flattering.” It happens when fat people accept street harassmentfat taxes, and medical bias as the natural and reasonable costs of daring to live in the only bodies we have. And yes, internalized anti-fatness is what happens when fat people come to believe the harsh and constant judgments that other people — predominantly thin people — hurl at us.

If you don’t experience a particular kind of oppression, it isn’t yours to internalize.

None of this means that you and other people who aren’t fat can’t struggle with your body image — many do. Nor does it mean that the way you’ve been made to feel about your body is acceptable. Your suffering is just as real and valid as anyone’s. But that doesn’t mean that your experience is the same as people who are visibly, undeniably fat — those of us who are kicked off airplanes, even as paying customers; those of us whose doctors may refuse to treat us; those of us who are laughed out of eating disorder treatment because we “look like you haven’t missed a meal in a while”; those of us who are denied jobs solely due to our size.

Yes, you can feel very real, very deep hurt. But that isn’t the same thing as being systemically excluded from meeting your most basic needs because of your size. If you don’t experience a particular kind of oppression, it isn’t yours to internalize. And despite the pain endured by many straight-size people (that is, people who don’t wear plus sizes), that pain isn’t internalized oppression.

When I share this information with straight-size people, I’m met with a cacophony of objections: “That’s your opinion.” “You don’t know what it’s like to be me.” “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” They’re right; I don’t. But those objections often come from thin women — particularly thin white women — who struggle to conceive of oppression unless we are the target of it. Many white men are inclined to think that oppression isn’t real, having escaped its crushing grip. Many white women, especially those of us who consider ourselves empathic, are inclined to think that oppression is real but that we are the target of all of it. And when we claim that space, we erase and displace the many people who are intended targets of oppressive systems: Black people, indigenous people, people of color, disabled people, trans people, and in this case, fat people. What you are feeling — that compulsion to object — might be a sign of what happens when your sense of centrality is challenged.

In some ways, the appropriation of internalized anti-fatness mimics how thin women have taken over body positivity — a largely unintentional but deeply harmful coup that took a movement rooted in radical fat activism, appropriated it for thin people who already had immense cultural power, and wrote fat people out of our own movement. Today, “body positivity” is defined more by thin women’s struggles with self-esteem than it is by the radical fat activists who paved the way for it. And now, even as fat activists work toward our own liberation, thinner women are once again asserting themselves as those most oppressed, claiming that their insecurities are “internalized fatphobia” — both placing themselves at the center of a system that specifically targets fat people and simultaneously speaking over the countless fat people who are deeply, constantly impacted by anti-fatness in individuals, public policy, doctor’s offices, and more.

Instead of thanking fat activists for the work that has offered them so much or working shoulder-to-shoulder with us to build a more just world, many thin women instead appropriate our work, then write us out of it. That isn’t internalized oppression—it’s learned supremacy.


Yes, I know the fear of becoming fat and then the fear of becoming fatter. I know the urge to starve yourself, to succumb to the siren song of disordered eating just so you can meet the promise of thinness. I know the pressure that you level against yourself.

I also know the pressure you level against me and people who look like me. I know the look on your face when you see a body like mine and think, with momentary but great relief, “At least I’m not that fat.” I know the way you pray not to sit next to someone who looks like me on an airplane or a city bus. And I know the disgust you may quell when you see a body like mine with bare arms, legs, or torsos.

I know your pain. And I know that the depth of that pain doesn’t justify replicating it, visiting it again upon people with less cultural power than you. Your pain can be, and is, honored. Women who are not fat are centered in the vast majority of conversations about body image, eating disorders, and weight stigma. And now, many are displacing fat people once again, claiming “internalized fatphobia,” and once again centering themselves in a conversation about a system of oppression that specifically and primarily harms fat people.

I know that you struggle with your body image despite ostensibly meeting the beauty standard in so many ways. That dissatisfaction is part of living in this world, part of having a body. I know it hurts. But I don’t know how to explain to you that other people have different experiences, that they may have different needs, and that you may not have it the worstI do not know how to convince you to acknowledge—regularly and readily, to yourself and others—that you can feel hurt and also hurt others. You can struggle with your body image and still benefit significantly from anti-fatness. You can dislike your body and still push fat people to the margins, even in the movements and spaces we create for ourselves. And when it comes to fat people, you often do.

You haven’t internalized fat people’s oppression. You’ve learned to keep yourself out of the line of fire.

Thin women make up the majority of doctors who have refused to treat me. A thin woman once removed a melon from my shopping cart, tsk-tsking that it contained too much sugar. Thin women aren’t the exception to anti-fatness — too often, they’re the rule.

So, no, people who have never been fat, who have never worn plus sizes, don’t have internalized fatphobia. It isn’t internalized, it’s just fatphobia.

It is not your fault that you have learned to replicate oppression. You’ve been hailed into a system that tells you your body is an accomplishment, albeit a tenuous one. Your struggle to stay thin isn’t because of oppression you’ve internalized — it’s because of dominance. Because you see the ways fat people are regarded, treated, and tossed aside and because you likely know, by and large, that is not how bodies like yours are treated.

You may yearn to stay thin or get thinner, at least in part to avoid the discriminatory attitudes and actions that are so commonly leveled against fat people. You haven’t internalized our oppression. You’ve learned to keep yourself out of the line of fire. And instead of making the world safer for all of us, regardless of size, you focus on keeping yourself small — and maintaining the dominance you’ve been taught you earned.

Internalized dominance, like internalized oppression, is a longstanding concept that transcends movements for social justice. Where internalized oppression refers to the ways marginalized people take up the mantle of our own oppression, internalized dominance refers to the ways people with privilege internalize and enact the belief that they are naturally and justifiably superior to the marginalized communities they contrast. And, according to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, internalized dominance “is likely to involve feelings of superiority, normalcy and self-righteousness, together with guilt, fear, projection and denial of demonstrated inequity.”

Learning about these concepts and learning to see your own complicity in oppression may make you uncomfortable. It should.

Microaggressions are often rooted in internalized dominance, small and piercing reminders that marginalized people need to remember our placeSometimes those messages are coded; sometimes they’re explicit. And in a country with a self-proclaimed “war on obesity,” where so many of us are trying or have tried to lose weight, most of us have bought into internalized oppression or dominance.

Learning about these concepts and learning to see your own complicity in oppression may make you uncomfortable. It should. All of us should be uncomfortable when we realize the ways we’ve asserted our power over others. And we should use that discomfort to power our own growth — not to push painful realizations aside but to grow through them, to become better, to make new mistakes, and to grow through them too.

If this doesn’t sound like you, if you find your throat still crowded with objections, here are some examples of what internalized anti-fat dominance can look like. Read them carefully. Notice your own defensiveness and discomfort. Listen for what it’s telling you.

  • Recommending diets, offering to be “gym buddies,” or otherwise telling fat people to lose weight.
  • Insisting that your thinness is a hard-fought victory and suggesting that it should be rewarded with praise, healthier relationships, or better jobs.
  • Suggesting that fat people cover our arms, our bellies, our thighs, or otherwise offering style “advice” that suggests fat bodies cannot or should not be seen.
  • Wanting to lose weight so that you aren’t perceived or treated the way that fat people are.
  • Correcting fat people when we describe our own bodies as “plus size” or “fat.”
  • Bringing up fat people’s size and making it clear that you disapprove under the auspices of being “concerned for our health.”
  • Seeking to find a weight limit for body positivity or neutrality — finding the size at which thinner people can, once again, reject or judge fat people.

Doing these things is certainly harmful, but it doesn’t make you a bad person, at least not in my eyes. Most of us replicate internalized dominance without knowing or thinking about it. That’s how power and privilege maintain themselves: They make us their unwitting foot soldiers. After all, if fat people come to believe that we are inferior and that we need fixing, is it any wonder that thin people come to believe that their bodies are beyond reproach and that their culturally superior position is earned?

Having internalized dominance to work through isn’t an indictment of thin people’s character or goodness; it’s a reflection of a culture that reliably rewards thinness and consistently penalizes fatness. There are ways to uproot our biases and challenge our internalized dominance. After a lifetime of training, it comes to us as easily and naturally as breathing.

No, none of this is a reflection on your character. But what you do next is. So, what will you do? And who will you become?

Source : Medium

Hair trends are ever-changing, but the thing that is always on trend is healthy hair. While there’s still a prevailing idea that long hair always looks beautiful, it’s not exactly the case. If your hair is thin, brittle and damaged it won’t really look great even if it’s all the way down to your waist. What looks best is hair that’s thick, healthy and shiny. It’s always better to care about the health of your hair first and only once you get that under control should you attempt to grow it long. But if you already have long healthy hair here are the hairdos that are super popular.

Layers

Layers are a great way to add volume and movement to your hair and make it look bouncy. But it’s important to remember that these days layers are meant to look effortless, and give you that windswept look as if you just came back from a walk in the forest and your hair just happens to fall this way. Stray away from layers that are too perfect and super symmetrical, you don’t want that weird dated 80s look that makes you look like a freaky doll.

Shag

The shag haircut is making a comeback and we see why. It gives you a lot of volume thanks to the many layers. It’s a great haircut for those who like a shaggy, rocker look that requires minimal styling. It’s definitely one of those “I woke up like this” haircuts that look good even if you slept in and had no time for doing your hair. But again, it’s important to take a modern approach to it and not make the layers too short. You want a decent amount of length so that you don’t end up with ratty tails at the base of the skull and a very top-heavy look.

70s Bangs

The 70s are coming back in terms of style, you’ve probably already seen a whole bunch of fashion bloggers try out this style and since rollerblading is becoming popular again, a lot of quad rollerbladers like dressing up in 70s style. When it comes to 70s hairdos, be specific when you go to the hair salon. You want the Jane Birkin or Joni Mitchell bangs, not the pageboy haircut that’s verging on a grown out bowl cut.

Wild Curls

Curly-haired people have basically won a jackpot. Wild, messy curls are super trendy now and they don’t even have to do anything with them. Just take care of your hair and keep it moisturized, otherwise, just let it roam freely in the wind. That curly look is in and we don’t see it going out of style any time soon. There’s a reason everyone raves about the curly girl method. Look it up and try it, perhaps you’ll discover you also have texture to your hair that you didn’t even know about.

Sleek And Shiny

Keeping your hair long and sleek will never really go out of style, but make sure it’s actually healthy. But if you want to chop off the length do it all at once. Don’t do that weird thing where you only cut half of it. And for the love of god just forget about those weird asymmetrical haircuts. It’s time to leave them in the past and let them stay there.

And finally, remember that the best hairdos are the ones that look like they’re effortless. We live in a time where you don’t want to look like you’ve spent hours doing up your hair in complicated and twister hairstyles. The best way to achieve that is to keep your hair healthy and get a low effort haircut that requires minimum styling from you.

Source : Herbeauty