It’s Not too Late to Motivate!

No, a squirrel didn’t knock out your power… You’ve just lost your motivation!

Blog Post 5 - It's Not too Late to Motivate 1With finals week upon us, it is extremely easy to lose your motivation and slowly, but surely, slip into the Winter Break mindset. Nope, it’s not break just yet, and the finals won’t be going anywhere until they are completed.

5 classes, 5 exams, 3 papers, 2 presentations, and finals week. Stressed is an understatement and to go in typical college-student fashion, I’ll be running on mass amounts of coffee and Red Bull. And it’s true; anything that could go wrong, will go wrong RIGHT NOW.

 

However, there are ways around all of that.

If you find yourself struggling to regain your motivation, here are some tips that I have found to extremely useful in my own experience:

  1. Focus on what will impact your life the most.
    • That’s why we’re all here, right? We aren’t here to have a glorified, expensive gathering; rather, we are here to further our education. Rank the 5 exams, 3 papers, 2 presentations and the rest of your finals in order of importance. Then, re-rank them in order of the time that they are due. Finally, only take necessary breaks and get your work done!
  2. Create a new challenge.
    • For me, I find that if I challenge myself I am more likely to remain interested in whatever I am doing. Changing how I view something, such as an assignment, forces me to think about the assignment in a different way. Different ways of thinking will keep you interested in the topics and that interest will be what keeps you going.
  3. If you’ve met your previous goals, establish new ones!
    • Goals are essential to keep your motivation strong. For me, if I am struggling with something, such as writing a huge term-paper, I break it into smaller sections. I will designate a certain section to be “due” on a certain day of the week and by “due,” I mean that I want to have that section done by that set day so I can complete another section as a later time. Therefore, the entire term-paper gets completed in little sections and does not overwhelm me nearly as much as it would if I sat down and tried to write the entire thing in one sitting. Projects, papers, and presentations become much more easy to handle if they are broken into smaller sections.
  4. If you find yourself struggling, don’t dwell on it!
    • There are quite a number of people on UC’s campus that are here to help you. I have found that I lose my motivation more and more if I become discouraged about something. Rather than getting discouraged all of the time, I find people to help me with something I may not understand or something I need an opinion on. Sometimes it’s necessary to just talk things out with others. So, don’t dwell on it, learn to deal with it in meaningful and useful ways.
  5. When you accomplish something, acknowledge it!
    • If you accomplish an assignment, a final exam, a presentation, those 3 papers that are due all at the same time, acknowledge your successes. If I complete an assignment early, I usually reward myself by relaxing that night and watching Netflix. Therefore, by getting ahead, I open up more time for myself, which is also necessary when my stress level is at an all-time high.

So when you think you’ve lost your mind and that you may have lost all of your motivation, just remember… it’s true that finals week can be extremely overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time going through finals week. However, with the right tips and tricks, it’s easy to overcome. Stay strong, stay motivated, and finals week will soon become a thing of the past.

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The Blame Game Won’t Fix Negative Female Body Images

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In one of my communication classes, we have a lot of interesting discussions about gender differences and the effects of these differences on American society. In one of our conversations the other day, I watched the blame game play out: men vs. women arguing over whose fault it is that women feel pressured to meet an impossible physical appearance standard.

It’s no secret that these body image issues are particularly prevalent in college-age women. Eating disorders are frighteningly common among college students, and according to Brown University, “74.4% of the normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance ‘all the time’ or ‘frequently.'”

Photo by Brittney Sabo
Photo by Brittney Sabo

But can we really say this is because men have unrealistic expectations of women, or conversely, that women pressure each other into looking a certain way?

As I watched my classmates go back and forth defending their own gender and condemning the other, I realized herein lies the problem. If all we ever do is declare that the fault belongs to someone else, then we ourselves will never change.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short 20 years, it’s that you cannot change people who don’t want to change. The most you can do is work on improving yourself.

Of course, changing yourself isn’t much easier than changing someone else. In the past year, I have done a lot of work on self-improvement – not physically per se, but mentally. I used to be like many other women who look at 6-foot, stick thin models and flawless celebrities and felt the crushing self-criticism as I analyzed every difference, every thing I thought I lacked.

I’m 5’1″ and not stick-thin. I knew I couldn’t change my height, but I thought losing weight was the most important thing in the world. Slowly, I have been trying to change this mentality. I am trying to accept my body as unique and beautiful for what it is. It’s a simple enough concept, but an incredibly difficult process, and it’s easy to fall off track.

Here is the thing that fashion magazines don’t tell us: we’re all built differently; our bodies don’t do the same things. You and I could have the same diet and workout regime, and still look drastically different.

If you think about it, it’s sort of ridiculous that we should find one very specific body type beautiful when there is such a rainbow of body types out there. Why not embrace all the differences?

Everyone, including men, needs to try to join me in this process of changing our own thoughts. Don’t worry about anyone else right now; just concentrate on you. Start looking at your body differently, and when you feel those negative thoughts coming, remember that there are parts of you that other people are jealous of. Your beauty is different from everyone else’s, and that’s what makes you so incredible.

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Remember to be realistic. You can beat yourself up endlessly for not having longer legs, but is that going to change anything? Stop fighting yourself, because the second you start working what you’ve got, you’ll become exponentially more beautiful.

It’s all much easier said than done, but the first step to improving society’s feelings toward female body image is reevaluating our own thoughts first. The next time you look at a female and start picking out what’s “wrong” with her, stop and ask why you’re doing that. Is there really anything wrong with her, or is that just what you’ve been made to think? Are you just jealous of things she has that you don’t?

And don’t forget to include your own body in this. Unless your “problem” is endangering your health, it’s not a “problem” at all.

Change how you think; it’s infectious – others will follow.

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Why Pinterest’s “Health & Fitness” Section Gets it Wrong

Generally speaking, Pinterest is a happy place for finding inspiration, recipes, fashion, endless photos of your celebrity obsession, funny memes, and more cute, fluffy animals than you can count. In fact, most people associate Pinterest as being one of the more positive forms of social media.bafeb8990846b5bda2d3127d3abd5b67

One of the most popular sections of Pinterest is the Health and Fitness feed where you can find an infinite amount of healthy recipes, tips for well-being, and “fitspiration” (fitness + inspiration). On one hand, I love this part of Pinterest. It motivates you to be healthier and more active, and it gives you millions of ways to do so in one easily accessible place.

But there is a downside to this. Although most of the Health and Fitness pins tend to have good intentions, some of them send the wrong message. A common theme for a H&F pin is a skeleton-thin woman in next-to-no clothes and some sort of “inspirational” quote written across it. The problem is that the women in these photos are usually completely unrealistic and subconsciously send the message that if you don’t look like this, then something is wrong.

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This was captioned “fit.” This isn’t fit; girl has no muscle!
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Again, no muscle or strength. You could snap this girl like a toothpick.

And the quotes aren’t always helpful either, saying things like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or, “Don’t reward yourself with food; you’re not a dog.”

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It’s almost contradictory. These pins are preaching being healthy and fit but also saying there is only one way you can be that: by being stick-thin. In reality, there is more than one body type that can qualify as healthy. Similarly, there is no guarantee that someone is healthy just because they’re skinny. They could eat fast food all the time and sit around 24/7 but have a fast metabolism.

These pins send across the same incorrect idea that most of the media today does: being skinny is the best thing you can be. This is the kind of thing that perpetuates eating disorders and other serious body-image issues. If you’re doing good to your body, then why should anything else matter?

There’s another big problem that comes with a feed full of user-generated health advice: probably only 25% of what you see is accurate and from a credible source. I hate to break it to you, but when you see pins about workouts claiming to burn 300 calories in two minutes, that is impossible. Much like how doing 100 jumping jacks before every shower isn’t going to make you thin. And a lot of diet pins are misleading too; cutting out chocolate for a month will not cause you to lose weight if you’re still eating a ton of other crap.

Those pins have the “magic fix” message; and I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing when it comes to health and fitness.

The Health and Fitness Section of Pinterest is a good idea in theory; it’s just not being executed correctly. Unfortunately, this is through no fault of Pinterest, but of the pinners using it. Pinterest doesn’t have any say over what gets pinned; we do. So we need to focus less on body-shaming and constantly judging each other’s bodies, and instead focus on what really qualifies as healthy: eating well, being active, and feeling good about yourself.

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Let’s see more pins like that one, eh?

*All pins taken straight from Pinterest’s Health and Fitness section.

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