Monthly Archives: October 2010

Operation Beautiful Hits Oswego State

I had heard about Operation Beautiful before and thought it was a really moving, inspiring and motivational international body image movement. But I never did anything about it myself. I would follow the website and read the stories of random girls placing Post-It notes in the bathroom or hanging signs throughout the campus, reminding women that they are beautiful and they shouldn’t berate themselves. But I never once saw a Post-It note in a bathroom at Oswego State; I never put one there to inspire another girl.

I decided today that was going to change.

In the final hours of Sunday night, I learned that this week is Fat Talk Free Week, “a national public-wide awareness effort” that targets negative body image and stops it in its tracks. For only one week, the founders want girls to completely abolish all forms of fat talk, look at themselves in the mirror and focus on their strengths instead of their flaws.

I work at the campus fitness centers as a student manager, so I like to believe that I’m in an influential position of power. Today I put my power to good use and finally put Oswego State on the map with Operation Beautiful.

I made Post-It notes in both gyms and lined the mirrors with reasons why the girls  at my school are beautiful. Some that pertain to me in particular: “I love competing with the boys,” “I don’t need to run…I go because it makes me feel great,” and “Smile…you never know who’s falling in love with it.”

No matter what, the message behind this movement is important. Girls need to stop focusing on their bodily flaws and remember all the great things about themselves. Nobody has the perfect body and nobody ever will. In fact, the “perfect” body doesn’t exist. So stop chasing it. Embrace your differences because they’re what make you unique. You are beautiful because there is no one else like you.

What is fat talk, exactly? It’s anything that berates a woman and her body image. Saying things like, “I need to lose 10 pounds,” “Look at my love handles,” or “I despise my back fat” is considered fat talk. Even giving someone a backhanded compliment like “You look great! Did you lose weight?” constitutes fat talk because you’re only feeding this girl a compliment because of her physical appearance. You’re buying into the mainstream ideal that women need to be stick thin and are only beautiful when they’re skinny. This can lead to a girl focusing solely on her body image to keep your approval, when she should be focusing on all of the other things that make her fantastic. Being beautiful is about confidence and health, not being thinner than a rail.

So remember, no fat talk! And not just this week, either. Do it every day. Tell yourself every morning how great you are, or put a Post-It note somewhere to remind another girl.

Have you seen an Operation Beautiful note on your campus, or in a bathroom somewhere? What did it say?

National Dessert Day a Treat

Isn't he scrumptious? Photo: JETSTAR

One of my favorite holidays arrived: National Dessert Day!

Ok, it’s not really my favorite holiday, but it deserves a lot of credit! Too many people spend their days counting every single calorie and worrying over their figures. But the first thing you need to understand is that you are beautiful! I know it sounds cheesy, the whole “beauty is on the inside thing,” but that’s where it starts. If you’re not confident about yourself, then you’re not going to look attractive to anyone, no matter how much you workout or how much you watch what you’re eating.

I fully believe in desserts and don’t believe anyone should deprive themselves. Girls are especially prone to crave sweets more than men, so don’t cut yourself off from that piece of chocolate! All you have to do is enjoy in moderation. Have a scoop of ice cream instead of five. Better yet, try frozen yogurt! It’s usually just as tasty and slashes the calorie count nearly in half.

Be mindful of what you’re eating. If you enjoy something sweet, you can usually find a healthier version that will help you keep your calorie-count in check. So in honor of National Dessert Day, here are a few healthy dessert options I turn to when experiencing a severe sweet tooth:

1. Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches

These delicious treats taste just as good as  “normal”  ice cream sandwiches, but only register 140 calories. They come in a variety of flavors, like chocolate peanut butter, strawberry shortcake and cookies n’ cream. I enjoyed the traditional vanilla ice cream sandwich today, settled between two chocolate wafers.

2. Low-Calorie  Cupcakes

After watching episode four of The Biggest Loser, I can’t stop craving Curtis Stone’s 100-calorie yet oh-so-delectable raspberry frosted cupcakes. The secret: you don’t use any butter! Replace white flour with wheat flour and use pureed raspberries instead of sugar-concentrated frosting, and you’ve drastically reduced the calorie count but kept the great taste! NBC provided Stone’s full recipe, and I can’t wait to taste-test it myself! (Psst: Stone also gave NBC 14 other healthy recipes to try!)

3. Jello

Who doesn’t love this childhood treat? I remember gorging on this when I had my wisdom teeth taken, out and I turn to it when I have strep throat and need a break from chicken noodle soup. Jello only has 80 calories, so feel free to toss a dollop of fat-free whipped topping on top. Two tablespoons will add 20 calories and you’re entire snack is only 100 calories!

What’s your favorite healthy dessert to munch on? I have a pretty big sweet tooth, so I’m willing to give it a try!

Temptations Begin on The Biggest Loser

Chocolate Sundae cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop

 The stakes are rising on The Biggest Loser and temptations have been presented to the contestants. If you haven’t seen previous seasons, temptations are an optional challenge that involve food and allow the players to opt into game play. However, every contestant is allowed to decide whether they want to play. If they do decide to play and they win, a source of power is granted to them, such as immunity or a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in.

For the first temptation of the season, the players were offered cupcakes. But they weren’t boring chocolate or vanilla cupcakes that don’t really entice anyone. No, there were about 400 cupcakes of various sizes, colors and decorations. I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes and  even I thought these looked delicious, much like the ones from Crumbs Bake Shop (Warning: If you are ever near a Crumbs, walk quickly in the other direction because once you have one it is difficult to resist the rest because they are all different and delectable!)

Adam, Rick, Jesse and Elizabeth played in the temptation. Adam and Rick competed closely with one another, but Adam won out in the end. Unfortunately, his victory was earned to the tune of 1,350 calories (only three cupcakes!). He still has his one-pound advantage disc, so it will be interesting to see how long he hangs on to it!

With temptations comes more game play on The Biggest Loser. After Adam won, Brendan Donovan, 32, made it his mission to put a target on Adam’s back and side as many people as he could against him. He pressured Ada Wong, 27, into a pact to vote Adam off the show once he falls below the line. Donovan also brought three others into the pact, convincing them that Adam will have too much power if they don’t get rid of him. 

Brendan wants to eliminate Adam right away.

Now, I understand game play is a part of the show and it’s automatically integrated when there is $250,000 on the line, but come on! Leave the guy alone, he busts his butt in the gym and is terrified he’s going to die like his mom. If he deserves to be there and he’s losing weight, then don’t get rid of him because you’re scared. Man up and have a higher percentage of weight loss than him. Simple as that.

It’ll be interesting to see what other temptations The Biggest Loser producers throw at the contestants. What’s the hardest temptation for you to turn down?

Chilean Miner Runs While Trapped

It’s been all over the news today — the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days were finally pulled out. All 33 of them were rescued after the mine collapsed, and the pure emotion of love and hope on these miners’ faces is heart-wrenching.

But one interesting fact has surfaced about one of the miners. According to London’s Daily Telegraph, Edison Pena, 34, has been classified as the fittest miner and to keep his sanity, he ran 10km every day while underground.

Why would someone do something like this?

If I were trapped underground, running would probably be the last thing I would think of doing. Instead, I imagine I would sit underground curled into a corner for most of the day, rocking back and forth and wondering whether or not I was going to make it out of this alive. Pena, however, thought rationally and did the one thing that he found solace in – exercise.

After all, isn’t that the main reason why most fitness-enthusiasts exercise? Sure, a small part is to stay in shape and look physically good, but we all know it goes much deeper than that. Scientifically, running releases endorphins to give you those feel-good emotions that might keep someone looking forward to another day because that might be the day they are rescued. And running lets you forget. It lets you forget about life’s problems and daily stresses; it lets you forget about dire situations and it lets you escape the mental turmoil rolling around in your head. When you run, all you have to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other, or breathing in and out.  For a brief moment in time, the world just falls away and life isn’t so bad.

So Pena, in the end, was smart enough to preserve his sanity by running. He was able to do an activity that reminded him he was alive and encouraged him to keep holding on so that he would see the world in all its beauty once more. Bravo to you, Mr. Pena, bravo. Please, go for a run and stare at all the beautiful nature you can surround yourself with — once you’re done relishing the fact that you’re alive and get to be with your family again, of course.

Life Despite Ed: My Mind is Half the Battle

Here at The Pulse, I encourage exercise and nutrition that keeps you healthy in mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes a need for control pushes someone to an unhealthy state because the body is one thing that can be controlled. Mike Kraft, 20, is a student at Oswego State who has struggled with anorexia, and he realized that it’s about much more than physical control. Read about his journey here and support him in the fight to regain control of his mind, body and spirit.

My name is Mike Kraft and I have suffered from an eating disorder for the past five years.

Don’t worry, I’ve already come to grips with that unsettling fact, so this isn’t a form of confession. I accepted that there was something wrong when I checked into an eating disorder help program in 2009 at the University of Rochester Medical Center at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

I’m also not here to make you feel sorry for me because there are hundreds of thousands of other people out there who suffer from eating disorders. Instead, I’m here to say that eating disorders are more painful on the mental side than the physical side, even though that’s all anyone sees.

No one knows you more than yourself, which is why those who don’t suffer from an eating disorder can’t wrap their minds around how people succumb to one. Well, it’s not by choice. An eating disorder is much like any other addiction; it always has some form of control and never truly allows you to be “healed.” Negative thoughts run through my head from time to time, but the key is to minimize these thought processes and focus on being healthy.

Perhaps the worst form of negativity comes from those I’m surrounded by. A simple comment like, “go eat a sandwich,” or “you’re all skin and bones” had devastating consequences on me. I felt horrible about myself and sank into a depression – anorexia’s best friend. I believed that I was imperfect and worthless; the only thing I was good at was being skinny. So I did everything in my power to remain skinny: starve, over-exercise and vomit.

Surround yourself with friends who help, not harm.

Even after treatment, when everything appears to be back to normal, the battle is never truly over. I suffered from this for so long that it becomes a part of my lifestyle, and I was confused when I had to battle against it. It was normal for me to eat one meal a day, so bumping it up to three was a challenge. I fight every day to be healthy because like I said, it’s never over. At any moment anorexia can rear its ugly head back and I’m no longer in recovery.

I’ve been recovered for about a year now, but I still attend monthly psychiatric therapy and wonder “what if.” What if I didn’t have an eating disorder? Would I have more friends? Would I have a girlfriend? Would I be happier? I will never be able to answer these questions, which is frustrating. There are times when I blame my eating disorder for the horrible things that have happened in my life, but I know that’s not right. I’ve blamed my eating disorder for being depressed, for being alone on a Saturday night, for a girl not liking me back. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be satisfied with the way I look, or if I’ll ever be able to stop these thought processes. But it’s a daily battle I’m ready to face. My life is too important not to.

– Post written by Mike Kraft and edited by Samantha Shelton

The Biggest Loser: No Room for Slackers

Now in its tenth season on ABC, The Biggest Loser producers are proving there is no way they’re going soft on the contestants. Possibly one of the toughest season beginnings thus far, Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and Alison Sweeney have let it be well-known that if you want a spot on the ranch, you need to earn it. So if any of the contestants thought they’d be able to game play or pass underneath the radar for half of the season, well, they thought wrong.

However, those at The Biggest Loser have also proven that they still have a soft spot for people with great stories. Let’s take a look at Aaron Thompkins, 29, from Kent, Ohio. He lost the original 500-step challenge during the season premiere, in which he had to be in the top two out of three contestants to complete 500 step-ups. For many Loser-hopefuls, a loss meant the end of their weight-loss journey in front of a national audience. This graphic designer made a soft spot for himself with Harper, though, and was allowed to move to the ranch as one half of the yellow team.

A 468-pound man with a three-year-old son, Thompkins struggled with weight partly because of his strained relationship with his alcoholic father. Without realizing it, Thompkins sank into his fathers’ destructive habits, only turning to food instead of alcohol. Luckily, he has realized the error of his ways and is pushing to change his life for his little boy. Personally, I’m rooting for this guy. Nothing like a great family story to tug at my heart-strings.

Aaron Thompkins, 29.

But back to the brutality of this season. Although Thompkins wiggled his way to the ranch, The Biggest Loser trio made it perfectly clear the contestants were no longer in paradise. If you want to stay here, you need to kick some serious butt. During day one’s workout, Michaels and Harper worked them to the bone (Michaels mentions the first speed on the treadmill is set at 7.0); with many puking or passing out. One contestant, Brendan Donovan, 32, asked Harper, “Are we almost done?” I shook my head once the words left his mouth. Harper went on a rampage, running this guy into the ground until snot was literally hanging out of his nose. Yum.

Then the producers kicked it into high gear. After only two workout days, the contestants were called for a weigh-in. This might seem insane, but remember they had two weeks to work out since their initial weigh-in. That’s not all, though! Remember that dreaded yellow line that two people were terrified of falling below? Well, it’s been bumped up — to eight. With 16 spots on the board, half were safe and half were eligible for elimination. No slacking, here!

To be saved from elimination, the seven women who found themselves below the yellow line (Patrick, the one guy below the line, was saved by Rick, this week’s weight-loss leader) had to complete sprint races and be the first to grab a flag at the finish line until only two contestants remained. Allie Ishcomer, 22, and Tina Elliott, 58, were the final two. The competitors who were safe from elimination participated in the final vote, and Allie was sent home.

I love that they’ve upped the ante, but do you think they’re pushing too hard?