Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • Real-life expert: "I'm a marathoner!"

    How do you go from being told you can't run to crossing the finish line of a marathon? Ask a woman who's been there. Roni is the author of many blogs, including Roni's Weigh, a chronicle not only of her 26-mile triumph, but also of how she learned that the way to feel good about yourself isn't the quest to be skinny, it's to set a goal and achieve it.

    Why did you decide to run a marathon?

    My entire life I thought I couldn't run. At a young age I was told I couldn't run. I was told I was fat. That I would be "pretty if" and that "if I just lost a few pounds," I'd be perfect.

    I fell into that perfect trap for years. Yo-yo dieting and punishing myself by starving and then binge eating. It was a vicious cycle I know many get stuck in, and for me, I consistently gained more and more weight and felt more and more hopeless.

    But things started to drastically change for me when I had my son 5 years ago. I started to work on accepting my body. I learned how to eat and balance my meals

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  • Make over your teenage habit: collaging your dreams without the glue stick

    It's a practice I consider a bit embarrassing to admit --- a holdover from adolescence, if you will --- but I get a lot of pleasure out of collaging. Just to be clear, these are not the works of an artiste; it's me, sitting on the floor watching When Harry Met Sally for the 47 millionth time, and ripping out pages from magazines that appeal to me. It's an activity, like knitting, that gets you out of the chatter of your mind and into a layer below that's quiet, even meditative. Usually I just rip out the colors and shapes that appeal to me and then realize like a bolt of lightening --- oh! --- I just cannot get enough of red, orange, and yellow, or that I want to wear soft artistic clothes, or that I am repeatedly drawn to anything that vaguely evokes France. It helps unify a vision for decorating my apartment or what spring clothes I want to buy.

    But you can also use collaging to get to something deeper, or to envision a bigger goal. Athletes use visualization to sharpen their

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  • Enough with the body hatred!

    When we recently took a poll on how you were feeling about your body, the results were at first saddening. In the comments, the stories you shared were unbelievable: How could so many young women so clearly not overweight feel that they were? And how could those who admitted to being overweight feel so crippled by self-hatred that they felt unable to start taking better care of themselves? But that initial sadness turned to anger and the anger turned to action.

    We, as women, have got to stop hating on our bodies.
    It's not something that can be accomplished instantly or in one blog post; we've consumed too many negative messages over too long a period of time to expect to undo the damage instantly. But this is serious, and it's not just vanity. This is a kind of oppression that we willingly engage in. Think of all the brain power 51% of the population is wasting worrying that our thighs are too fleshy. That is brain power that could be applied to something magnificent, like writing the

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  • Spring clean what you're eating

    With the seasons changing, you may feel like your dinner, just like your outerwear, needs a bit of adjustment. Here are seven simple ways to embrace the freshness of spring on your plate.

    Start by eating clean
    Spend a day or two eating as cleanly as possible: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. For the time being, cut out dairy, animal products, sugar, white flour, and if you're strong-willed, caffeine. A seasonal bout of clean eating can feel like pressing reset on your system.

    Clean up your plate
    Adjust the foods you're eating to match the new lightness in the air. Cheesy casseroles taste just right in the dog days of winter, but with buds on the trees and crocuses popping up, lighter fare is in order. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with complex carbohydrates, one quarter with lean protein.

    Embrace beans
    As for that lean protein, give beans a whirl. Eating legumes in place of beef, chicken or pork is a great way to get the cost of your

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  • Does where you live promote healthy well-being...or pulling into the drive-thru?

    I recently spent a week in a town totally different from my own (and I'm not just talking about politics). Instead of my usual urban experience of walking more than half a mile to the subway and always having to forgo cute shoes for comfort, I got to step outside the front door and hop into a car. My clothes could be ill-matched for the weather, my heels could be sky-high, and it didn't matter. I knew no matter where we were going there would only be the task of walking from the car. It was perfect for a vacation.

    But my trip to a drive-everywhere town got me thinking about all the sorts of communities like this. So many Americans live places where either the culture doesn't support walking (bad sidewalks, extreme weather, cultural expectations) or their homes are just too far from anything to walk to. Makes it kind of hard to pop out for a coffee or decide to walk to dinner. Sure, you can still "go walking" purely for aerobic exercise in a loop that leads you back where you started.

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  • How do you move on after life's worst blows?

    Sandra Bullock won the highest award for a female actor at the Oscars, but she suffered a huge blow when she learned that husband, Jesse James, was cheating on her. This situation raises the question of how we, in our own blessedly more private lives, can best deal with life's worst disappointments. Here are seven things to think about to help you through a hard time.


    This isn't the "get out there and go roller skating!" pick-me-up advice you might have been expecting. Our happy-go-lucky culture so emphasizes picking yourself up and brushing yourself off that the importance of mourning gets short shrift. If you pour your time and creative heart into a project that goes nowhere, it's unrealistic to think you'll be able to shrug your shoulders and go out for an ice cream cone. In fact, doing so seems scarily like divorcing yourself from your true feelings. Sit with that disappointment. Cry. Mourn what could have been. Wail to your girlfriends. Letting it out is the only way

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  • 10 ways health care reform affects women

    Health care history was made this week and a big abortion brouhaha followed, but a lot of us are still scratching our heads, wondering what this bill means in concrete terms. Here, a run-down of the facts especially applicable to women in plain black and white.

    • The big idea: the passed health care bill will extend insurance to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, including 17 million uninsured women. How will this happen? By adding people to Medicaid, extending insurance premium subsidies for low and middle class families, penalizing employers for not offering health care, and creating state-run insurance exchanges where people not covered by one of the initiatives above can shop for competitively priced private plans.
    • Starting in 2014, Americans who do not obtain health insurance - whether through an employer, a government program or their own purchase - must pay a fine starting at $95 or 1 percent of income the first year and rising to to $695 or 2 percent of income
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  • Spring clean your friendships

    When the spirit of spring takes hold, we find ourselves wanting to clear the clutter from every area of our lives. We don't just long to dump the junk from our closets and dust the corners that were barely noticeable in the dark days of winter; we want to streamline our lives in more meaningful ways, too. Shasta Nelson of GirlFriendCircles shares tips on how to strengthen our existing friendships and cast off the ones that aren't working anymore.

    When we're crazy busy but still want to maintain the friendships that we treasure, first thing's first: how can we keep those relationships that we treasure going strong?

    Consistency is key. Instead of the scheduling emails that can go back-and-forth for a week ("I can't do Tuesday but are you free for Wednesday lunch? How 'bout two weeks from next Thursday?"), set one regular date and stick to it. Nelson suggests making a standing date for brunch the third Saturday of the month, or cheap manis every other week.

    Get deep. Our friendships

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  • Is your body image super healthy or utterly out of whack?

    You've likely seen footage of women asked to draw a life-sized outline of their bodies on a piece of butcher paper taped up against the wall. Inevitably, the outlines are wonky and out-of-whack: the thighs are humongous, the bellies bulge. Our images of ourselves can be practically grotesque compared to the reality.

    So where's this coming from? I will admit that usually when watching movies, it's practically impossible to not notice all the ways in which a svelte actresses' body is unlike my own. Perhaps her triceps bulge or she looks really, really good in short shorts. But last night, when watching the old 1960's movie The Misfits, I couldn't take my eyes off Marilyn Monroe. Yes, she has "It," that unmistakable star power that expands to fill the entire screen. But she also had a butt that jiggled and soft upper arms. In fact, it was her very humanness --- that visceral, fleshy appeal --- that contributed to her sexiness. It was enough to make me see my own fleshy bits in a new,

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  • The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Q&A with authors Lucy Danziger and Catherine Birndorf

    In a culture hung up on happiness quick fixes, The Nine Rooms of Happiness is a breath of fresh air. This thoughtful book goes through the house of your life, room by room, with ways to clear the clutter. But it's also a book that acknowledges the realities of a real, messy, full life and encourages us to "get over life's little imperfections." Here we talk with authors Lucy Danziger, editor-in-chief of Self magazine and Catherine Birndorf, M.D., a women's health psychiatrist, on finding our passions, the most cluttered "rooms," and how to make peace with the mess.

    Why the house metaphor?

    We found that thinking about rooms in a house worked well to help women create an organizational template for their emotional lives. It's easy to picture a house with many rooms in your mind. And it helps create distinct places (rooms) to put your problems. I find that women can be easily overwhelmed by all the things bothering them, but when you can separate them out and place them in "rooms", it

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