It’s 2019 — the top two highest paid celebrities are women, there are whole marches and movements dedicated to the power of females, and there are more women in congress than ever before (let’s hear it for the ladiesss!!). So why, oh why, are we smashing through glass ceilings and demanding equality, but still dealing with such intense societal pressures? It’s because there are some traditions and beliefs that are so inherent to society that sometimes we don’t even know to question them — one of these beliefs is the idea that we have a specific timeline to follow. But what happens when the timeline — degree, marriage, children — doesn’t work out as expected (because it never really does)?
The Video Our Editors Can't Stop Talking About - YouTube
Three of our editors are sharing their experience with the pressure to stick to a timeline, in order to bring awareness to the unfair expectations that are put on our shoulders by society, loved ones, or ourselves. We are going to be the new generation that writes our own rules, and decides to do things our way. But in order to do that, we have to recognize the timelines we give ourselves first.
One of our favorite girl crushes, Katie Couric partnered with the global skincare brand SK-II for the latest #ChangeDestiny campaign, inspiring women all over the globe to follow their own dreams and rewrite their timelines. We were inspired by the powerful video exploring women’s dreams and how they clash with loved ones’ expectations.
Watch SK-II’s video to learn more about the clash between dreams and expectations for women, and read on for our own perspectives and how we’re ready to do things differently.
My mom and dad married each other at the ages of 22 and 25 respectively — a fact I knew in my head from a very young age. And while they have never put a certain pressure on me to follow the same timeline they did, I remember growing up having the thought that “22 is the age when you get married.” Not only that, but both my mom and sister met the men who would become their husbands when they were each 17 years old — another fact that I’ve subconsciously carried with me for years.
Both the milestones of ages 17 and 25 have come and gone, and I’m no closer to marriage now than I was then. Again I say that no one in my family has ever placed pressure on me to align with their own timelines — but it’s easy to feel that you’re doing something wrong (or missing out on something) when you don’t follow a pattern.
Unfortunately, the timeline in my head depicting when I should get married has nothing to do with what I grew up wanting or what I see and want for myself — instead, it focuses solely on how others see me. I put pressure on myself to get married sooner rather than later because I never want anyone to see me as unworthy, pathetic, or as damaged goods — things I would never say about anyone else unmarried, but that I frequently allow myself to think about myself. When I see other women living out their career dreams, forming friendships, traveling the world, and doing other things independently, I applaud them — but worry that others wouldn’t applaud me for doing the same.
It’s important for me to remember and to hear from other women that we are all in this life together — we all want to support each other and lift each other up as opposed to tearing down each other’s choices. As quick as I am to praise other women for embracing a life of individuality and independence, I should be even quicker to praise those qualities in myself. I may or may not get married some day — but that decision should be and will be based on what I want, not on what I think others would respect.
While I haven’t felt the same societal pressures from culture like these women in the video discuss, and I am #blessed with parents who truly only want me to be happy (whatever happiness looks like to me), there’s still no escaping “the Timeline” (capital “T”). My Timeline comes in the form of an inherent desire to have children. Like, if I could have 10 kids, I would. I’d be like that little old lady who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do — some girls dream of being CEO, I dream of being a nursery rhyme.
However, I still want the dream career that lasts a lifetime, and I still want the Happily Ever After with a marriage that sweeps me off my feet before children ever become a part of the picture. Add that on top of ongoing reproductive problems that have instilled a consistent anxiety that my fertility journey won’t exactly be a breeze, and my window of time, even at a young 24, doesn’t exactly seem so wide.
I feel very fortunate that I’m in a healthy, happy relationship, much younger than I ever thought I would be. My boyfriend and I are very much on the same page about pursuing our individual careers and lives for the time being, but there’s still the anxiety of the uncertain. Sure, it feels like “forever,” but in the chance that it doesn’t work out, does that mean I have to start over? As young as I am and as much life I have yet to live, I can’t escape the nagging thought in the back of my mind that there’s a timeline I need to stick to in order to start a family. It almost feels like I need to not only be “on time,” but be ahead of time in order to make that anxiety go away. And being “ahead of time” or even just “on time,” will probably never happen like it should.
Is it just me, or is it painfully apparent to anyone else that men don’t really have the same idea of “Timeline,” if for no other reason than they do not literally have a biological ticking time bomb? SK-II’s video reminded me to be aware of the pressure I put on myself to follow a timeline, and try to separate my dreams from my own expectations. I may not become the little old lady who lived in a shoe, but I want to enjoy my 20s with a little more faith that everything will happen when the timing is right — not “right” because it’s the next notch in my Timeline, but “right” because I’m actually happy.
Back in my 20s, I had a life plan that would determine my happiness. I would figure out my career, get married, and have a baby by the time I was 30.
My career was just starting to come together at 29 when we launched The Everygirl, and I struggled financially the next few years while we grew our website. I was already failing. This video spoke of timelines and milestones: a degree, a marriage, and a family. I can relate so much to these young women who feel pressure to reach those milestones by a certain age. There’s so much pressure to do the things society tells us will make us complete.
The self-imposed timelines killed me for most of my 20s and 30s. Some days, I felt great about where I was; others, I felt like I’d never figure it all out. Whether it’s reaching a certain point in your career, owning a home, buying that designer bag you’ve wanted for forever, starting a family, or gaining more Instagram followers, there’s always something we want or think we need in order to be happy — in order to be enough.
When these things don’t happen exactly when we think they should – which is often how that works out – we’re left feeling “less than” or incomplete. In an age where we can follow thousands of people we don’t know on social media, seeing how good we think everyone has it can be really damaging. The engagement and baby announcements, weddings, vacations, designer clothes, and often curated moments are a small piece of the puzzle – a glimpse.
I was a victim to the pressure. Learning to let go of timelines was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I got married at 35 had a baby a few months before my 36th birthday. The way my life turned out is exactly what I was afraid of, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything happened years after when I thought they should, but I learned so much along the way. I grew a company, traveled, and figured out who I was before finding someone to commit myself to — before taking on parenthood when I had so much growing up to do.
I forged my own path. I wish I had worried less, embraced where I was, and that I knew everything was going to be better than OK.
You’re in a team meeting, talking about a project that your entire department is working on. Your boss is making an announcement and says, “Sophie had a great idea to streamline our processes…”
Your manager then launches into an explanation of how your team is going to switch things up.
Normally, you’d be thrilled for Sophie and her obviously brilliant contributions. There’s only one problem: that wasn’t actually Sophie’s idea — it was yours. In fact, you just shared it with her yesterday when you were both getting your mid-morning coffee refill in the break room.
Sophie avoids eye contact, and your stomach plummets into your shoes. Now what? What recourse do you have in this sort of scenario? You don’t want to seem petty or like a tattletale, but you also want the recognition that you deserve at work.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens to almost everybody, and it’s a difficult situation to navigate. Below are some tips for how to deal when someone else puts their own name on your work or idea.
1. Understand the Intent
You’re irritated, which means your initial reaction is to assume that Sophie is out to get you. Clearly she’s out to elevate her own career — while sabotaging yours in the process.
That knee jerk reaction is understandable, but it’s ultimately not your best starting point. Instead, you’re better off taking some time to understand exactly what’s happening here.
Was this really malicious on Sophie’s part? Or is this all just a big misunderstanding? Is the reason she’s avoiding eye contact because she feels uncomfortable about the mixup too — but doesn’t have the gumption to correct your boss’ mistake in front of everybody?
Maybe your initial assumption will be correct and she really is just stealing your ideas. But either way, it’s important that you get clear on the details of the situation before you bust in and put your foot down.
It’s important that you get clear on the details of the situation before you bust in and put your foot down.
2. Ask a Question
OK, but how exactly do you find out more about what’s happening here? Well, you’ll want to ask some clarifying questions.
Let’s stick with our Sophie example. Rather than jumping right in with, “Wait a minute, that was my idea!” try asking something like, “Sophie, is this the process change we were talking about over coffee yesterday?” You can ask this question directly in that team meeting or one-on-one with Sophie — whatever suits you best.
Asking a question like this one puts the ball back in her court. If she responds by saying, “Yes, you were actually the one who came up with this original idea!” then the whole issue is resolved right then and there. You get the credit you deserve.
But, if she instead responds with a simple “yes” or “no” (or worse, flat-out denies your contribution), then you know there’s actually ill intent involved here.
3. Approach the Person Directly
Sophie didn’t take the opportunity to give credit where credit was due, and now you’re fuming. You’re clenching your jaw and balling up your fists under the table, and it’s taking every inch of willpower you have not to make a scene in that meeting.
In reality, you could speak up right away and assert that it was actually your idea in the first place. However, be forewarned that approach isn’t always well-received — especially if you don’t have any sort of proof on hand.
Instead, like so many other workplace conflicts, it’s better to address this directly with the other person. So, following that meeting, pull Sophie aside and lay your perspective out for her. Here’s an example of what that could look like:
Hey, Sophie. I wanted to talk to you about what happened in today’s team meeting. Karen seemed to think that process improvement was your idea, when I think we both know that I just talked through that suggestion with you yesterday. I appreciate that you thought it was a great idea, but it’s important to me that I get credit for my own work and contributions. Can we talk about how to make this right?
Hopefully, your colleague will be willing to engage in a conversation about how you can be recognized for your idea — whether it’s having her email the entire team to applaud your idea or approaching your boss for a conversation together.
You have the flexibility to figure out the way forward that works best for you. But, from experience, taking this more direct approach usually works out better than being passive aggressive or going directly to your supervisor.
4. Know When It’s Time to Loop in Your Boss
With that said, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to appeal to a higher power. Perhaps this has been a continued issue, and Sophie continues to steal your ideas. Or maybe she’s unwilling to engage in a conversation with you about the incident, and it’s important to you that this doesn’t slip by unnoticed.
If you’ve tried to handle the situation yourself to no avail, then request a meeting with your manager when you can lay out the problem. You can explain that you don’t want to seem greedy or petty, but that you care about your job and your ideas and want to ensure you’re always associated with them.
This conversation will be extra impactful if you can come with any sort of proof of your original work or ideas — whether it’s a dated email that mentions your suggestion or some notes you took when mapping out that proposal.
From there, it’s up to your boss to figure out the best way to respond. But at least you can rest easy with the knowledge that you stood your ground and took credit for your own contributions.
5. Add Additional Value
Here’s one final tip to put your name on your own ideas, without needing to be overly direct or aggressive: come prepared with additional information.
Even if one of your coworkers is the first one to speak up about the idea (ahem, your idea), being the one with supporting data, facts, anecdotes, and examples makes it clear who has ownership of that idea — even if you aren’t the one who first pitched it.
Being the one with supporting data, facts, anecdotes, and examples makes it clear who has ownership of that idea — even if you aren’t the one who first pitched it.
So, if you have something to add, speak up and do so. You’ll engage in the process, while also subtly making it obvious that you know more about that suggestion than the person who stole it from you.
If you’ve ever had someone take credit for your ideas at work, you already know how frustrating it is. And it’s also not an easy situation to respond to — after all, you’re trying to preserve your reputation in the office, not damage it.
Fortunately, you can get the credit you deserve without seeming like an overeager know-it-all. Put these tips to work and you’ll be well on your way to getting recognition for your own contributions.
Has someone taken credit for your ideas at work? How did you handle it?
It’s no secret that here at The Everygirl, we’re completely head-over-heels obsessed with Queer Eye. It swooped in and saved 2018 with moments that made us laugh, cry, and since the very first episode — can anyone ever forget You Can’t Fix Ugly? — it’s made our hearts overflow with emotions we didn’t even know we had in us.
All of Queer Eye’s features have made us cheer them on from the moment the Fab Five waltzed through their door, but one person’s story stuck with us far beyond the closing credits: Jess Guilbeaux. As the first lesbian featured on the show, she stole our hearts with her story — and even more so, her endless resilience.
We spoke with Jess about how the show helped her find her voice, how her life has been since, and what her plans are since fans raised over $100,000 to send her back to college.
Your story on Queer Eye resonated with much of America — but sharing your story must have taken a lot of courage. What made you decide to share the intimate details of your life on TV?
At the end of the day, I wanted to make just one person feel like they were heard. We exist in a time of information where storytelling is important and I knew my story wasn’t unique. I wanted to tell my story so that if there was someone in a similar situation, they would know that they can make it and thrive.
You were adopted, and when your adoptive parents found out you were gay, they disowned you at age 16 — as Karamo described it, “it was like a one-two punch.” How did the Fab Five help combat your former feelings of inadequacy?
They showed me that vulnerability and asking for help are not weaknesses. Opening up and allowing people to help you is a strength, and doing so gives you the ability to find your inner beauty. They each highlighted a part of myself that they already saw in me, and by allowing them to do that, I experienced the true beauty and power of vulnerability.
When you experienced what you did with your family, how would you have preferred others to show support for you? What advice would you give someone on how to support a friend or family member experiencing something similar?
I don’t think it’s about what others didn’t do for me — the people who supported me did everything they could and I am forever grateful for them. If someone in your life is going through a difficult time, be patient and be present. The biggest battle is creating an environment where they feel like they can come to you. To do that, try nurturing an environment free of judgement or pressure. The way you do that is with your constant presence and patience.
On Instagram, you wrote, “This experience was life changing for me. I learned how to love my natural curls, love my highly melanated skin, and all of who makes up who I am (a fiercely gay kween).” How did the Fab Five bring your newfound confidence out of you?
The Fab Five is supportive in every way. They’re literally like five dads. They are encouraging and welcoming and so positive — it’s hard to not feel confident when you have a support system like that in your life!
On the show, you explained that you often felt “too black,” “not black enough,” “too gay,” or “not gay enough.” What would you say to someone currently feeling the same things?
I would say YOU ARE PERFECT. Throw yourself into self love and self care and just be yourself because that’s all you can be. When we spend time drowning in those sayings, we’re thinking of everyone else’s ideas and opinions except our own. Find your own voice by grabbing onto things you love about yourself, because those things are perfect. Labels don’t make us beautiful — loving yourself and investing in your own happiness is where true beauty is.
Do you think those feelings were sparked from your personal experiences, or from society as a whole? How do you think we — as a society — can work to prevent others from feeling similar ways in the future?
I think it was a combination of both. I think we need to stop picking people apart and putting them into boxes. If we nurture an environment free of labels and embrace each other’s differences, we can finally focus on the real issues. Nobody can be completely defined by one word, box, or label — people are complex! Let’s embrace that beautiful complexity and stop limiting each other.
Throw yourself into self love and self care and just be yourself because that’s all you can be. When we spend time drowning in those sayings, we’re thinking of everyone else’s ideas and opinions except our own. Find your own voice by grabbing onto things you love about yourself, because those things are perfect.
On your episode, you said, “You all just showed me that it’s beautiful and sexy to care for yourself.” How do you continue to care for yourself now?
All kinds of ways! I love playing with my hair and learning how to take care of it. I’m patient with myself when it comes to my mental health and I have healthy outlets for when I’m not having the best day. I also communicate to those around me when I need them instead of trying to tackle everything on my own all the time. I’m human and I give myself space to be exactly that.
You recently did your first drag show — congrats! How else have you embraced your new identity since Queer Eye?
Doing drag was such an eye-opening experience because it allowed me to express myself in ways that I didn’t think I could. I presented as hyper-femme, which as a cisgender woman, I didn’t think would be well received. However, drag is an art form for everyone! I was so welcomed by my community and it was such a freeing experience for me. I love presenting as more femme some days and more masculine other days. I am who I am and I cannot be solely defined by either!
You explained that you had to drop out of college and stop pursuing your computer science degree, but since your episode’s debut, a Go Fund Me page has been started to send you back to school. How did that feel? Are you planning on going back to school? What do you hope to do with your degree?
It was overwhelming! School wasn’t something I was even thinking about doing and I’m so grateful by the public’s kindness. I will be going back to school and I want to work as a software engineer upon completion of my degree in computer science.
What is the best thing that came out of being on Queer Eye for you?
Honestly, meeting and talking to all the people that were touched by the show. The Queer Eye fanbase, The Fab Five, crew, and everyone in between make up a loving and accepting community that I am so honored to be a part of.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be patient with yourself.
If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell her to keep pushing, because it’s hard to be a person who never gives up.
Jess Guilbeaux is The Everygirl…
Favorite item in your closet? The black leather vest from the episode!
Bold lip or bold eye? A bold lip with a touch of glitter!
Go-to karaoke song? Any Janelle Monae or Nicki Minaj song
Last show you binged? Besides Queer Eye, Schitt’s Creek and Pose!
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why? Janet Mock! She’s such an inspiration to women everywhere but especially to the queer community. I would love to hear her wisdom in person!
Ah, Trader Joe’s — you know it, you love it, you’ve meal prepped it, you’ve memorized shopping hacks for it, and you save a whole lot of $$$ from it. Maybe you even stumbled upon your new favorite beauty products during a routine grocery trip (or on an emergency run for more Cookie Butter, I’ve been there) — it’s like the America’s Sweetheart of grocery stores. We at The Everygirl cannot get enough of TJ’s. It’s not just because the food is delicious, or because the prices are so good you don’t think twice about getting a jar of cold brew coffee (usually $$$ anywhere else!). It’s also because Trader Joe’s makes healthy eating really easy and delicious, and nutritionists notice. Below are the healthy products you can score at Trader Joe’s that nutritionists swear by. Accomplish your health goals, cook your own delicious meals, and maybe splurge on a dark chocolate PB cup every now and then.
Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta
Next time you’re craving mac n’ cheese or pasta alfredo, don’t deprive yourself! Just make a healthier version with this gluten-free pasta made with brown rice and quinoa. Not only is it void of the starchy, white carbs of regular pasta, but it’s replaced with protein and fiber-packed ingredients that will give you long, lasting energy for hours. Order online here.
Organic Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce
This nutritionist favorite is a much healthier version of traditional soy sauce, being a wheat-, gluten-, and soy-free alternative. It also has one-third the sodium content of traditional soy sauce, making it the perfect guilt-free topper for all your stir fries and sushi rolls. On top of the health benefits, it’s much cheaper than other coconut aminos sauces on the market. Order online here.
Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip
It’s like all the deliciousness of your favorite creamy dips with double the protein and half the bad-for-you fat and calories. It’s the perfect guilt-free appetizer when you’re entertaining, or you can save it just for yourself as a snack with veggies or your favorite healthy cracker (trust me, after you try it, you’re going to want to keep it to yourself). You’ll never believe it’s as good for you as it is.
Organic Sprouted Tricolor Quinoa
Quinoa has long been known for it’s superfood status. It’s high in complete protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, and vitamins B1, B3, and vitamin E. They’re also loaded with plant antioxidants (called quercetin and kaempferol) and have a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar levels. A tricolor blend ensures you’re getting the most nutrients possible. Order online here.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Perhaps one of the most beloved Trader Joe’s products of all time, the cauliflower pizza crust revolutionizes “fast food,” replacing greasy and fattening crusts with nutrient-dense cauliflower and gluten-free corn flour. Spread on your favorite sauce and toppings for an easy meal that everyone (including picky kids!) will love.
Vegan Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto
Delicious pesto gets an upgrade with this vegan-friendly version that boasts more nutrients than the traditional version by adding kale (antioxidants and vitamins) and cashew (iron, magnesium, and healthy fats). Magically, it even tastes creamier than the traditional kind while typically being lower in calories. Top bruschetta or pasta with this guilt-free alternative.
Unsweetened Açai Puree Packets
Ever wanted to DIY your own Instagram-worthy breakfast? Now you can with the help of Trader Joe’s. While many açai bowls you can get at smoothie shops or restaurants are loaded with sugar, you know there’s no sugar added since these packets are unsweetened. The superfood berry helps fight inflammation and contributes to heart health, plus tastes really delicious. Add to your usual smoothies or make your own açai bowl and top with fruit.
Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
This cult classic is transforming the way you eat your basics, and satisfying carb cravings everywhere. The iconic seasoning can be added to dips, scrambled eggs, and marinades for a delicious salty taste that makes any food delicious. Trust me, you’ll love Everything so much, you won’t even miss the bagel. Order online here.
Whether you’re into zucchini, spaghetti squash, or carrot noodles, Trader Joe’s has got you covered. These pre-made frozen packages are one of the best things to have on hand, because I know you are not about to zoodle your own zucchini noodles during the middle of a busy Tuesday. Prevent picking unhealthy choices by keeping these healthy and nutrient-dense packages on hand to be easily reheated into a mock pasta dish that’s as satisfying as it is healthy.
Got a major salty tooth that only a bag of potato chips can fix? Beat the unhealthy habit by reaching for this chip alternative for an afternoon snack. They’re literally just beets (name makes sense, doesn’t it?), so you know they’re not loaded with sodium, and beets pack more good-for-you nutrients than starchy potatoes. Plus they’re dehydrated instead of fried, so no unhealthy fats or oils. Order online here.
Nut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds
It’s the same nut butter you love for PB&Js or to eat with celery, except with no added sugar (like other major brands), and with the healthy addition of chia and flax seeds, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids and bloat-busting fiber. Peanut butter just got more interesting. Order online here.
Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry
Another cult favorite that we like to keep on hand for quick and easy meals to make in a pinch, the stir fry (made with cauliflower rice and other veggies) is basically a meal ready to go. Plus, there’s no added sodium or sugar like other stir fries — what you see is exactly what you get. Reheat over a skillet and add egg, tofu, or chicken for a nutrient-dense meal under 10 minutes.
Broccoli and Kale Slaw Salad
Most prepared produce comes with a steep price at other grocery stores. But Trader Joe’s knows that price is as important as convenience — they offer a wide variety of prepared produce that’s not only fresh, delicious, and easy to cook with, but will not add up to take your whole paycheck, even if you want everything on the shelf (and you will!). Try the Broccoli & Kale Slaw for a fresh and nutritious mix to add into stir fries or toss into a salad.
Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea
Every health nut needs a ginger turmeric tea — the combo of superfood ingredients busts bloat, beats indigestion, and reduces inflammation. Use it to get rid of nausea or as a daily drink to replace your second cup of coffee with an added nutritious boost. Order online here.
As we get older, our friendships tend to shift and change. Relocations, time taken up by partners, and busy careers all mean that scheduling in so much as a coffee date can become a tricky task — but there are few life events more all-consuming than becoming a parent. While you and your bestie might once have been each other’s number ones, you may find yourself a long way down the list once kids come into the equation.
Although this phase of your friend’s life will be incredibly different, it certainly doesn’t have to spell the end of your friendship. These are some ways that you can ensure that your friendship continues to thrive around childcare, playdates, and breast pumps.
1. Respect that their life has changed
It goes without saying that having a child is a monumental life event. It is one of the biggest responsibilities that many of us will ever undertake, and your friend’s time, energy, and capacity to socialize will understandably become limited.
Although no longer being a top priority in your friend’s life can be a bitter pill to swallow, it is important that you respect the significant transition that they are going through. If you’re sleep-deprived and knee-deep in dirty diapers, the last thing that you need is someone whining that you’re impossible to pin down nowadays. Instead, give your friend the space that they need to adjust to becoming a parent and be sympathetic towards their constraints.
2. Plan in advance
For most parents, spontaneity is a thing of the past. The need to arrange babysitters and working around a busy schedule might mean that those last-minute dinner invites need to be reserved for your childless pals. But just because your friend can’t commit to a catch-up until next Christmas doesn’t mean that they don’t want to see you. Make sure that get-togethers are planned well in advance so that your friend can relax in the knowledge that they are well-prepared to enjoy your company by the time that your date rolls around.
3. Be prepared to be flexible
Because your friend will likely have little space for flexibility, you may find that you need to be more adaptable to their needs. This could mean letting them take their pick of dates and times or being willing to rearrange plans last minute if their childcare arrangements fall through.
You may also find yourself becoming more flexible when it comes to which activities you do together. If your friend is too stretched to afford childcare and too exhausted to change out of their pajamas, then you could suggest a night in once the baby is in bed. Pay attention to your friend’s needs and try to find something that fits you both.
4. Offer to babysit
One of the best things about having friends with kids is the opportunity to get to know and love their children. Even if the thought of babies makes you squirm, you might find yourself surprised by how quickly you come to adore your bestie’s bundle of joy.
When a date night or chance to let your hair down feels like a distant dream, there will be nothing that your friend will appreciate more than an offer of your babysitting services. It will signal that you are there for them and give them a break. And you never know — you might have fun too!
Sure, you might not have previously thought that a kid’s birthday party was the best way to spend a Sunday, but while cocktails might once have been your go-to, it’s time to consider what child-friendly activities might better suit your friend. Can you arrange a day or a picnic in the park? And can your friend involve you with the plans that they have lined up to keep their kids entertained?
Embracing activities that involve children can be fun, as can signaling to your friend that you want to part of their kids’ lives. It also gives you a chance to spend time with your bestie without them having to struggle to get a sitter or worry about whether they can bring their baby along. Your friend will appreciate your willingness to join in their new life and all the Chuck E. Cheeses it involves.
If you find that the topic of children is a sensitive or challenging issue then be open about this. Tell your friend how happy and excited you are for them, but explain that you may need space and time to adapt.
Although this situation can throw up a host of complex emotions, it can also be deeply rewarding. The dynamics of your friendship can change in positive ways, and you may find yourself even closer to your friend and enjoying having a whole new person in your life.
My husband and I said “I do” six weeks ago, and it truly was the best day of our lives. We partied with our closest family and friends, indulged in delicacies, and sipped too much champagne. The prior year of planning was totally worth it. Luckily, we had a team of vendors who helped us to coordinate every detail in the month leading up to the wedding. The day after our wedding, we said goodbye to family members and headed to the Pacific Palisades for a mini-moon. We decompressed from all the excitement over a few days at the beach before driving home. When we arrived back to our apartment, we returned to unopened gifts, my dirty wedding dress, and my husband’s rented tuxedo, which was overdue for return. At this point, I thought, “Now what?”
Everyone knows there are numerous responsibilities for a couple leading up to the wedding itself. Once you are married though, there are a few more tasks that you should prioritize before you can truly put it all behind you. For weeks, I couldn’t stop daydreaming about our wedding, so I used this time and energy to motivate myself to complete post-wedding to-dos. My friends were impressed by my promptness. A few of them have been married for over a year and haven’t gotten around to these things. Use your newlywed excitement to fuel yourself to complete these post-wedding to-dos so you don’t put them off indefinitely.
Preserve your wedding attire and accessories
My husband was given the option of purchasing his rented tuxedo after our wedding, but he had to decide quickly. Rented suits and tuxedos often need to be returned the day or two after the wedding, so if rent-to-own is an option, it’s best to start thinking about this prior to the wedding. Ultimately, my husband decided he probably wouldn’t wear the tux again, but he purchased his bow tie as a small keepsake. Rather than putting the bow tie away in our closet, I decided to put it on display with my crystal bridal headband in a shadowbox. I used this West Elm shadowbox and secured both items with safety pins to give us the option of hanging it on the wall.
It’s inevitable that your wedding dress will be dirty from the big day. The sooner you take it to a professional for cleaning, the better chance you stand of all the stains being removed. Whether you want to keep your dress forever or want to sell it, cleaning and preserving it will give you options and ensure that your dress remains in pristine condition. I didn’t know what type of service I should look for when it came to cleaning my dress (I didn’t even know preserving was a separate service), so I asked my seamstress if she knew someone who could help me. Luckily, word-of-mouth recommendations never fail in the wedding industry, and my seamstress had just the person to help me. The business owner I worked with explained to me that they are part of the International Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, which offers a guarantee against yellowing of the dress in the future. I was glad to hear that I can take my wedding dress back to any business within the association, and they will inspect it and press it for free if it will be worn again someday.
Deposit your wedding gift checks and cash
It can be overwhelming to keep a large amount of cash on hand, so use this money to tip any remaining vendors or deposit it into your bank account right away so you don’t worry about it. Out of respect for your wedding guests, it is best to deposit wedding checks as soon as possible. Unless you instruct your guests on who the wedding check recipient should be, you will most likely receive checks written in a number of different ways. If checks are written out to you and your partner (ex. Mr. and Mrs. Smith), you may want to go to the groom’s bank together. When my husband and I went to his bank, I brought two forms of identification. The teller checked my driver’s license and passport and requested that I sign with my signature and fingerprint on the checks before submitting. Every bank is different, and some may accept the checks via mobile deposit, but we didn’t want to run the risk of getting charged a fee if there was an issue.
Update your medical benefits and insurance
Marriage is considered a qualifying life event for updating your medical benefits, but you only have 30 days to make a change. Be sure to review your benefits as a couple and decide if it makes sense to consolidate into one medical plan. This is also a good time to update your beneficiaries in your workplace insurance plans and retirement accounts if it isn’t already set as your partner.
Don’t forget to inquire about family discounts when looking into combining your benefits or insurance accounts. My husband was able to get our monthly car insurance bill reduced by inquiring about discounts. We qualified for multi-vehicle and multi-driver discounts which saved each of us about $25 per month. Take advantage of these unexpected perks of married life!
Manage your wedding photos and make an album
We received over 1,000 wedding photos from our photographer. After scrolling through and obsessing over them for days, my husband and I decided to purchase a large portrait for our apartment and to make 4×6 prints of all the photos. I loved the idea of having these printed photos to browse through with friends, but I found an additional benefit to having them on hand when it came to designing our wedding album. Because there were so many photos, I found it easiest to lay them out on the floor and arrange them together to mock up our wedding album pages. As I put together each page, I edited layouts and dragged and dropped photos on the album website to match my physical mockup. This method was much easier than trying to switch between the digital wedding album design and all of the photos online.
Write thoughtful thank you cards
This can be a daunting task depending on the size of your wedding, but that’s more of a reason to get started sooner rather than later. Use your newlywed excitement to motivate you and your partner through it! You can write a few cards each day, keeping in mind The Knot’s recommendation of mailing thank you cards within three months of the wedding. Try to think of memorable wedding moments to include in your notes to guests. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Be sure to order thank you cards before your wedding so you can start writing after opening your gifts and cards. My husband and I wrote the gift that was given inside each wedding card so we didn’t forget who gave what. For guests who gave us gift cards, we made purchases before writing their thank you cards so that we could tell them what they bought us. This may require a Saturday filled with errands, but who doesn’t like picking out their own gifts?!
Don’t forget to thank your vendors! While you may have tipped them for an exceptional job, a hand-written thank you card is a sentimental way to show your appreciation to the people who made your special day a reality.
Capitalize on compounding interest
Every couple is unique in their approach to money management. I’m not a money expert, but luckily, my husband is well-versed in the subject. While I tend to daydream during his money management lectures, there is one piece of advice he would be proud of me for remembering, and it’s the benefit of compounding interest.
Capitalizing on compounding interest is the main advantage to combining your funds. The more money you have in an interest-bearing account, the more money you receive in interest. This interest compounds over time, so the longer you let this fund grow without touching it, the more your accumulated interest will work for you. Taking advantage of an interest-bearing account is a powerful tool when saving for a goal that is five or more years away. This may be a good approach to build your fund for a down-payment on a house or for starting a child’s college fund. Consider consolidating to one mutual fund or savings account to take advantage of compounding interest.
Merge your dreams and goals
When you’re planning a wedding, it’s difficult to think about the future beyond that day. My husband and I knew we wanted to discuss longer-term goals, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to focus on these until after the wedding. Once the big day had passed, we decided to spend a night brainstorming about what our next few years would look like.
To get started, we came up with the two questions below to think deeply about our individual dreams and goals.
Where do I want to be in life in six years?
What do I want to have accomplished before then?
After pondering the questions separately, we shared our answers with one another which prompted lots of good discussion. We realized there are so many things we want to see and do. To visualize how we could achieve all of our goals, we created a timeline of the next six years and mapped out what we wanted and when it made sense to do it. After a few iterations, we had a plan!
This exercise was a lot of fun and helped me and my husband go from wondering whether or not we could ever accomplish our goals to creating a plan to make our dreams come true. As a newlywed couple, set aside a night to think deeply about what you want and how you can work together to achieve the life you desire. Exploring these ideas together makes you excited for the future and motivates you to take the small steps that will move you towards your goals.
Strategically schedule your name change (If you’re changing your name)
My final post-wedding to do is changing my name at the right time. My husband and I will be traveling internationally for our honeymoon in a few weeks. When we planned our trip, I wasn’t sure what the process was to change my name or how long it would take. I didn’t want to take a chance on having mismatched names on my airline tickets and my passport, so I decided to book the trip in my current name to take the stress out of it. Once we return from our honeymoon, I plan to start the name change process following the Wedding Wire’s step-by-step guide.
It’s important to be strategic about when you will change your name if you are an active traveler. For example, I have another airline flight booked for two months after our honeymoon, and then again one month after that. I went ahead and booked these tickets in my new name since I feel confident in completing my name change before then. Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly contact your airline about changing your name on your reservation, but I wanted to keep things as simple as possible.
It may feel like all the excitement is over after the big day, but you can extend your wedding-mode mindset longer by completing these tasks. The post-wedding to-dos kept me reminiscing about the best day of my life, helped me plan for the future, and brought me peace of mind. I know when my husband and I hit our one-year anniversary, we will be grateful to have a wedding album to browse through and relieved to look back over the year knowing that we completed all of the post-wedding tasks that were important to us.
What were some of your unexpected post-wedding to-dos? Tell us in the comments!
While there are so many sustainable fashion options on the market, I never thought it was something I could support because I don’t wear straight sizes. I want clothes that are made sustainably and offer a fair wage and working conditions for the people making the garments as much as the next girl, but I simply never thought it would make its way down the chain and into the hands of women above a size 10 or 12. It was something I reconciled as impossible a few years ago, and I moved on.
Sustainable fashion, however, is becoming more of a necessity rather than a luxury as time goes on. Have you ever thought about where all of your old clothes go? I realized the importance of sustainable fashion when I finally understood that the dog T-shirt I wore in my second-grade school picture is still somewhere on this earth. Every pair of gauchos I begged my mom for in fifth grade, the denim skirt that never fit me right freshman year of college, and those absolutely awful bootcut jeans of middle school are sitting somewhere, taking up space.
Now that so many people are finally taking notice of the environmental impact of fast fashion, retailers are realizing there’s a huge market of plus-size women out there looking for clothes they can feel good about mentally and physically. These are the seven brands getting it right.
When Reformation first launched its plus-size offerings, I was ecstatic. However, it took a while for them to build up their line and even longer to offer it at Nordstrom. Reformation has made themselves a leader in sustainable fashion since they launched, and it’s the cornerstone of their entire brand. They calculate all of their emissions and create a yearly report (available online) to showcase their carbon footprint and express the impact fast fashion has on the environment versus everything they’re doing to stop it. I also love that they put a large focus on working conditions. They make all of their products in Los Angeles instead of outsourcing it to factories or sweatshops in other countries, and all of their employees (listed on their website — amazing!) make a living wage.
Girlfriend Collective has you covered on sustainable workout gear in sizes up to xxxl. All of their garments are made with recycled plastic in Taiwan. They’re dedicated to transparency and explain their entire production process from start to finish on their website so consumers can understand exactly how their products are made and who is making them. Other activewear companies should look to Girlfriend Collective!
Mara Hoffman is known for high-quality styles that stand the test of time, and their plus-size offerings are just as amazing. They use sustainable materials for their garments and prioritize using natural, organic, and recycled materials when possible. Many of their pieces are made with hemp, linen, Tencel, and organic cotton, and are made to be washed less, reducing water and energy in the process. They also support sustainability throughout the rest of the brand with tags made of 80 percent recycled paper that are printed with soy-based inks, as well as using compostable bags and recycled and sustainably-sourced trims and buttons.
HDH has classic but trendy items up to size 4x. All of their products are made-to-order, so they don’t waste materials on mass-producing items. Everything is made in-house in their studio in Minnesota. Their items are made to last, and they’re all made by one of their six seamstresses. They also have their Sustain Shop, a process that lets you return your old clothes to be updated and resold. When you send your items to HDH, they send you $20 in store credit for your next purchase! They have a wide range of plus-size offerings, so feel free to level up your wardrobe with their variety of basics.
Eileen Fisher is dedicated to sustainability at its core. They’re a Fair Trade Certified brand, meaning all of their products are made in factories that have been certified for paying a fair wage and provide comfortable and safe working conditions for all of the employees. These products are not made in sweatshops or through child labor overseas — they’re made by people who can actually live and support themselves with the income they make from making these garments.
Along with environmental sustainability, Eileen Fisher’s clothes are made with organic fibers that are undyed or naturally dyed, and they offer a renewal program to reduce clothing waste (one of the biggest issues with fast fashion that’s filling our landfills). Their renewal program allows people to return the clothes they’ve loved and worn to death, and then updates them and sells them at a lower rate. It’s basically a really cool consignment shop, but it’s online!
Levi’s is understanding that the garment-making process uses up a lot of nonrenewable resources, especially water. They’ve developed their “Water<Less” technique, which reduces water use in the denim-making process as well as reuses the water they actually use. By 2020, they hope to make 80 percent of their products using this process. Currently, 67 percent of their products are made this way, and its saved more than three billion liters of water.
This Los Angeles based clothing company specializes in bright colors and has the best graphic T-shirts in the plus-size game (if you’re asking me!). Their products are locally made in LA and are inclusive in both sizing and in that all of their items are unisex. They’re a small brand that you can feel good about wearing and purchasing!
Memphis has been on my list of places to visit for a few years, mainly because so many people I love are from there or live there. Although I’m from Atlanta, I transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in my junior year and made lifelong friends that have encouraged me to visit. When you mention Memphis, what comes to mind for many people is BBQ and Elvis, but locals want us to know there is much more to the historic city than that.
My recent trip to Memphis inspired me in ways that I never dreamed of. From the young Black creatives that are making it their mission to create safe spaces for the youth of the city to Global Café, an international food hall that supports immigrant and refugee food entrepreneurs from Nepal, Sudan, and Syria — Memphis made a lasting impression on me. Memphians are taking control of the narrative of the city and creating a city where creatives, entrepreneurs, and community organizers can thrive.
Here is a guide full of places that will feed your soul, fill your belly, and open your mind.
The Hu Hotel is new to the downtown area, replacing the Madison Hotel. The 16-floor property overlooks the Mississippi River and comes with amenities like a bathtub and a rooftop bar. The Hu is also a nice option if you want to walk to Beale Street since it’s less than a 12-minute walk.
If you prefer a home away from home that makes you feel like you’re snuggled in your bedroom, Talbot Heirs is where you should book. Each of their suites has a full kitchen (stocked with complimentary breakfast items), so you can save money on eating too many meals out. Like the Hu, this property is located within walking distance of all of the action Downtown Memphis has to offer.
The Peabody Hotel is a staple of Memphis for their service and their ducks. Yes, the Peabody ducks could be more famous than the hotel itself, making it a hot spot for tourists. The full-service hotel offers spa treatments at the Feather Spa, rooftop parties on Thursdays from April 11-August 15, and plenty of history, as the hotel has been a known establishment in Memphis since 1869. Book the deluxe king room and enjoy sleeping on luxe Egyptian cotton linens.
If you’re someone that enjoys live shows and supporting the arts, the Hattilioo is a must. Located in Overton Square, the theatre is one of four freestanding Black repertory theatres in the country. Their 2019 season kicks off in August with the Tony Award-winning musical, Jelly’s Last Jam. With tickets priced $35 and under, you can make space in your budget to support this magical establishment.
Visiting the Stax Museum was one of my favorite moments. Much of the time when we hear about the music scene of Memphis, Elvis dominates the conversation, which is difficult for many black Memphians, since Elvis ultimately experienced significant success after recording records like “Hound Dog,” which was originally recorded by Blues Icon Big Mama Thornton four years prior to Elvis’s 1956 release. The Stax Museum gives the soul musicians of the time and beyond the credit they deserve. You’ll find items from artists like Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, and the Staple Singers. Be sure to take a moment to admire Issac Hayes’ souped-up ride. It is truly a masterpiece.
The Civil Rights Movement is an essential part of Memphis history, especially with the city being where Dr. Martin Luther King was fatally shot April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel. The museum holds 260 artifacts from the beginning of the resistance during slavery to the events of the late 20th century that have shaped our society.
As I mentioned above, Graceland can be troublesome for black Memphians and tourists alike, but as the most popular attraction in the city, I couldn’t leave the 13.8-acre estate off this guide. Graceland provides an intimate view of the superstar’s life. You’ll see inside his home, his on-stage costumes, and even his private jets, one of which is named after his daughter, Lisa Marie, which has a living room, conference room, private bedroom, gold-plated seatbelts, and 24-karat gold-flecked sinks.
When I walked into Cheryl Pesce, I almost left my debit card at the counter because I wanted to buy everything. Many of the items in the store are made by local artisans like Mo of Mo’s Bows (who you might have seen on Shark Tank), along with collections like “Angel” that are filled with adorable onesies and small stuffed animals for baby.
Formally a Sears Roebuck & Co Distribution Center (and one of the first integrated workplaces in Memphis), the 87-year-old building has taken on a new life. The renovated space is not only serving up good eats and cocktail with shops like Global Cafe and the Art Bar, but the building is becoming a communal space for artists thanks to the Crosstown Arts Shared Art Making space. There, anyone can use their art-making facilities and equipment to make everything from a piece of furniture to large digital prints. The Concourse is also home to the A Step Ahead Foundation (which provides women with free long-acting reversible contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies), Church Health, and Crosstown High, which are all helping provide services and education to the community.
When I arrived at the Broad Ave diner, I was struck by their full-service bar and the healthy option the menu provided alongside their specialties like the biscuit beignets. I opted for the sweet potato hash, and it didn’t disappoint. If you find yourself with a little post-flight sniffle, ask for a hot toddy. Not only did it help my cold, but it was delicious.
This establishment came up over and over again as a place we must stop by to have a meal. Decorated with vintage hooded hair dryers, their Sunday brunch serves up unique items like grapefruit brulee, Beneduck (Eggs Benedict served with crispy spiced duck), and lemon ricotta pancakes.
You don’t have to venture to NOLA to get a taste of Creole classics, as chef Chef Kelly English has brought the flavor to Overton. The “irrationally good bbq shrimp” is just that. You’ll want to lick the mini black skillet the dish is served in, but to keep it classy use the bread to soak up the leftover gravy. The Mississippi catfish sauce piquant and roast beef + gravy + swiss po’ boy are staff favorites and crowd pleasers.
The Global Café is now one of my favorites of all time. Supporting women in the business of food that are sharing their beloved dishes from their countries with us feels special. My eyes were certainly bigger than my stomach when it came to ordering. The wrapped grape leaves from Chef Fayha, the soup du jour with stuffed cheese potato bread from Sudanese Chef Ibti, and the Mo Mo dumplings from Nepalese Chef Indra were worth every calorie.
This historical establishment needs no introduction, as the restaurant served civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. when he spent time in Memphis. The fried green tomatoes, catfish, mac & cheese, and fried chicken are a must.
Tucked away at Crosstown Arts, the Art Bar is a full-service bar opened Tuesday-Sunday from 5 pm-1 am. What makes this bar special is its nostalgic decor that includes a cat and dog room, and each month the bar features work from a different artist.
High school health class was a trip. We spent so much time laughing and gossiping about how weird the subject matter was that we never actually learned the stuff we’re supposed to know about our bodies. I can’t tell you what fallopian tubes do, but I sure do remember the day we learned about it in class because some annoying 15-year-old boy made a joke about them.
Understanding our anatomy is such an important part of feeling comfortable with our bodies. When we know what’s actually going on inside, we can point out when things don’t feel quite right. It’s also just cool to know — the female body is bananas, people.
Throughout my time as a sex writer (thanks for sticking by me!), I’ve spoken about the pelvic floor a lot, especially in relation to how it affects your libido and ability to orgasm. However, there is so much more to know about this part of your body, from how it impacts your bladder function to sexual pleasure to pain and more. We’re taking you on a crash course on the pelvic floor — what it is, how to know if it’s functioning properly, and how to strengthen it for better sex and a healthier reproductive system. Basically, it’s everything you need to do.
What is it?
The pelvic floor is the group of muscles around your pelvis (AKA the area where your bladder, rectum, uterus, and prostate live). The pelvic floor basically holds it all together and keeps it tight — it acts as a sling to support those organs. In women, it helps with urinary continence, sexual pleasure and arousal, bowel support, and supports the baby during pregnancy and the birthing process. It’s a muscle, just like your arms or legs, so you can train it and strengthen it as necessary.
Why it’s important
Keeping your pelvic floor healthy and strong is important for so many reasons. When your pelvic floor becomes loose, it can cause urinary issues (such as painful urination and incontinence), constipation, pelvic or lower back pain, pain during sex, muscle spasms, and more.
How to know if it isn’t working properly
Knowing when something is off about your body can be all about intuition, but because the impact of the pelvic floor isn’t as glaringly obvious as other issues, it’s easy to forget or move on when something feels wrong. Pain during sex is a big culprit for issues with the pelvic floor — whether your pelvic floor is too loose (which can occur from age, pregnancy and childbirth, and high impact exercise) or too tight (often because there are other issues causing pain making your body tense up).
What to do
If you’re experiencing pain in the pelvic region, muscle spasms, or urinary or bowel issues that don’t seem like the typical, talk to your doctor. There are various different reasons you could be experiencing problems with your pelvic floor, such as endometriosis, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, and fibroids.
Your pelvic floor can also weaken with age, childbirth, and more, but these can be easily managed by strengthening the area. Just like you work out your arms to build your bicep muscles, your pelvic floor muscles can be trained through exercises!
How to strengthen it
Whether you experience issues or just want to have stronger or more frequent orgasms, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is a great way to boost your reproductive health and sex life.
The first order of business is finding the correct muscles. Doing these exercises is pointless if you’re using the wrong muscles. Imagine you’re laughing so hard and feel like you’re about pee. (I can’t be the only one!) The muscles you clench to stop yourself is your pelvic floor. Make sure you’re not using your abdominal muscles or your glutes — your body shouldn’t be moving while you do this, as you should only feel it rather than see any of your body moving.
To exercise and strengthen your pelvic floor, clench the muscle and hold it for five seconds. You can do this lying down, sitting, or standing. This can be done while you’re binging Stranger Things on Netflix, doing the dishes, sitting at work — your options are seriously endless here!
Have you ever seen the movie Ex Machina? Well, if you have as much of a girl crush on Alicia Vikander as me and my friends, then you definitely should. Plus, it’s a really great movie.
To the point… at the end of the movie, Alicia walks through a gala in a beautiful, cap-sleeved white dress. Actually, she glides effortlessly, weightlessly, and softly through the party. I remember thinking to myself, what is it about her presentation in this movie and in real life that makes her seem so confident and poised? Then it hit me: her posture is what I would consider perfect. Once you realize this, you can’t help but notice. She’s a dancer, so I guess it makes sense. (Mom, why didn’t you force me to stay in ballet?)
Activating our muscles to maintain posture is our body’s way of responding to gravity. To simplify and create a humorous visual, without posture we would just fall over.
While we often relate our health to physical fitness and nutrition, posture is a core component of our well-being and something we should focus on for longevity and vitality. Plus, everyone looks better when they have good posture.
Ensuring that your muscles are used correctly to prevent degenerative arthritis and joint pain
Helps your muscles work efficiently by allowing your body to use less energy
Prevents back pain and muscle strain
Reduces chances of injury having less stress on ligaments that hold spinal joints together
If you’ve ever felt wrist, shoulder, neck, or low-back pain, poor posture could be part of the problem. These are the most common areas of pain, according to NYDN Rehab.
When your mom used to say “stand up straight” she had good reason. Poor posture contributes to a whole host of health-related problems, including things you might guess like neck pain, back pain, poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties, along with a few others that might surprise you like incontinence, constipation, heartburn, and slow digestion — more indications that the entire body is interconnected.
Keep your abdominal muscles pulled up, in, and tight (hello, abs!)
Your upper body should be fully upright with shoulders square, pulled back, and down. Be mindful of rounding shoulders, especially if you’re working at a computer.
Your spine should be neutral so that your back isn’t strained in one direction of the other. Think about how you tuck your hips in a barre class.
To keep your spine neutral your chin should stay parallel to the ground. It might even feel like you’re tucking your chin slightly.
Now that you’re mindful of these things, you might notice that you can make little tweaks that could make a big difference. I noticed I was always looking up and my low back was slightly arched.
A few months ago, I traveled to Portugal with a friend. Needless to say, we had to capture all of our favorite moments — if you don’t snap it, did it even happen? I gazed out over a beautiful scene of the waterfront in Lisbon as she took a candid — I totally felt like my inner Alicia was shining, effortlessly gliding through this magical city.
Well, much to my horror as I scrolled through our shared album from the trip, I realized that not only was this not a glam shot, I looked like the hunchback of Lisbon. Not exactly the look I was going for.
While this isn’t the first time I’ve been self-conscious of my posture (or lack thereof), it was a huge wake up call. The next sign was more like a fire alarm when my mom told me that she noticed how my head was jutted forward when I was walking.
With this new sense of awareness, I started noticing poor posture — mine and everyone else’s — everywhere I went. It’s no surprise, given our sedentary lifestyle, that many of us suffer from poor posture.
After the big wake up call from my mom and new sense of awareness, I was so self-conscious and realized what an important part of my well-being this is. I want my spine to carry me through life for a really long time, so I decided to see a posture doc. I was ready to prioritize it, so I went to New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy in midtown Manhattan and I learned so much and really loved my experience.
While many of us assume we need to strengthen our core, my docs took a holistic approach that included seeing a chiropractor, physical therapist, and an acupuncturist. I started with an initial consultation where my doc told me that I’m not that bad — instead, I’m just like everyone else. But I also learned that it’s a good thing I went early in my life, because had I waited, my habits could have created a lot of pain.
They also talked to me about all of the things that could be affecting my posture in my daily lifestyle, including stress, weak postural muscles, high-heeled shoes, incorrect working posture, poor cell phone habits, and even rigorous workout classes (I’m looking at you, spin).
During our conversation, my doc also talked about a general lack of education about how our bodies should be aligned, move, and feel, and how awareness of the breath is important contributors to good posture.
Mindfulness was an interesting component of posture. As I became more mindful about my mindlessness, it all made sense. We don’t know what it should feel like, so we move through our days with shoulders rounded, backs arched, and necks jutting out.
Every morning I wake up in some funky position that makes my neck crack. I get ready for the day by throwing a computer, a book, a charger, my lunch, workout clothes, and a water bottle in my bag, and run out the door in a pair of super cute shoes with my bag on one shoulder. If I’m commuting on the subway, I’m usually looking down at my phone or my book, and if I’m in the car, I’m anxiously hunched over the steering wheel. For at least eight hours a day, I am sitting cross-legged staring at a computer. Without even realizing, it I sink lower and lower into my chair. I barely get up to move because I’m so busy, but at the end of the day run to a spin class.
I think you can pick up what I’m putting down here. We move through our day so quickly that most of us don’t pay attention to the position of our body and muscles during activities. It’s not our fault — just like no one taught us how to manage our money in school, no one really showed us how our bodies should be positioned.
After the first appointment, I got fitted with some shoe inserts and then he did a myofascial release exercise where he used his hands to massage and help soften the muscles in and around my armpits and lower shoulders. OMG this hurt, but the release felt amazing. I felt my shoulders soften away from my ears, and they were less rounded by the end of this session. We also focused on taking deep breaths to relax my whole body so the muscles would be less tense.
In my next session, I got the full kit and caboodle with the chiropractor, PT, and acupuncturist. I had a regular chiro adjustment where we also talked about expanding my diaphragm through breathing and rib expansion exercises. I never related breathing to my posture before — so cool!
Then the PT and I worked together on some exercises that would bring my body back into balance. My right side was way dominant. This included some wall sits, these funny little rotation exercises with my legs in tabletop and using a tennis ball to roll out my back.
Finally, the acupuncturist released the muscles in my back and shoulders with the needles and additional cupping. I felt so Michael Phelps.
I’ve been going for about a month, but to be honest, I am not that diligent with my exercises. I hope by writing it here, I become committed again. There’s no magic pill for getting Alicia-worthy posture, but I think the hard work is worth it. In good news, I just saw my mom and she said she noticed the difference.
Are you ready to get out of your slump? Here are a few tips and tricks to work on your posture every day.
Meditate / Develop a Mindfulness Practice
Reading this article was the first step in becoming more mindful, because now you have the awareness that you want your posture to be better. When we’re more mindful about how our body moves and how our muscles are engaged, we’ll be more likely to fix our posture in the moment. There are a lot of resources that can show images about how your posture should be when sitting, standing, and even sleeping.
Back to the diaphragm here. The diaphragm is the main muscle that helps you breathe. When our posture is bad, it can’t work as well because there’s not enough space. Try simple deep breathing exercises. Sit up tall and straight using the tips I shared earlier. Inhale for five, hold for five, and exhale for five.
Sleeping on your belly can affect your posture during the day. Try to catch your Z’s on your back or on your side with a straight back.
Strengthening your body has many positive effects — not limited to a toned bod! But a strong body can also create better posture. There are many exercises including lunges, planks, and hip raises that can help your posture improve.
If you feel like your posture could use some support, try finding a doctor who specializes in posture so you get a more holistic experience where the results will last you longer.