Life in Balance

Through this online art blog/gallery we can encourage, inspire and share hope with one another…We invite who you to share your “NAPS” (News, Art ,Poetry, Songs) or inspirations. Email if you would like to share inspirations. Please note we can not post advice with regards to nutrition and exercise.

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Thursday inspiration: "Shake it Out" covered by the Capital Children’s Choir

When I got into the office this morning, I checked the Facebook page for Rock for Charity 2.0. Before I was able to do that, though, the above video, which appeared on my news feed, captured my attention.
The Capital Children’s Choir from London cover “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine. They recorded it at Abbey Road Studios after meeting Florence Welch, the lead singer of the band, earlier this year at Alexandra Palace.

Let’s just say I watched it this morning and got chills from the moment the little boy at the beginning started singing the lyrics until the very last “oh woah.” And, when I watched it again…the chills returned.

I leave you with this video for Thursday’s little bit of inspiration. Don’t forget, “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back. So shake him off, oh whoa.”

— Leviana Coccia

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Writing to cope

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I’ve always been a writer.
In grade one, I kept a diary in a book with Tweety Bird on the front cover. It had a lock and key as well as confessions of my first crush.
In grade eight I had to write weekly journals for school, one being about a neighbour who passed away from Leukemia at the age of five. I was asked to share this one to my class. When I looked up from my notebook, everyone had tears in their eyes.
In high school, my journal’s front cover was decorated with City and Colour and Dashboard Confessional lyrics. On the inside, I wrote about high school frustrations, parties, friends, ex-friends, fights and stresses with family.
For the majority of my university career, I kept a blog, where I would write on a daily basis and communicate with my 100+ followers about how things were going, issues I felt like ranting about and my battle with confidence.
Photo by: Basykes
Last week, I felt the urge to start journaling privately again (in a notebook for my eyes only). So, I went out and purchased a notebook from the dollar store. I don’t just write about difficult topics or not-so-great days, but I also write about challenges, opportunities and my goal to stay positive.
It’s safe to say that for majority of my life, I’ve been writing to cope.
Sometimes, I keep feelings to myself. After a hard day at work, a family fight, a crushing realization or a difficult encounter, I really do not want to talk about the traumas I’ve experienced. As time goes on, though, I don’t feel relieved. Instead, I feel as if the things that have gotten under my skin are now in my blood stream preventing me from sleeping at night.
My thoughts revolve around the bothers that soon begin to eat away at my self-confidence, spirituality and sense of self.
After writing a journal entry about my day, including how I felt in each situation, however, I feel freed. I feel my chest change from the mass of a heavy paperweight to a light feather. I feel at peace and continue my day, or move on to the next one, with ease and a smile.
When traumatic or inspirational incidents take place, they fall into those two categories subjectively. What I feel is traumatic may not be on the same level as another person’s trauma, but the incident that may have disturbed me has subjectively become my own.
Writing down my thoughts allows me to communicate with my number one: Me. I can confide in my journal and myself because book binds, lined paper and pens don’t judge and neither do I. I know the thoughts and feelings I have and when I write them down, I am communicating with the one person who knows me best.
Most of the time, these journals become self-reflections. I’ll start off writing in an irritated or concerned tone and by my last sentence, I’ve mentally accepted the situation and found a way to look past it. I write down these re-evaluations, too.
The best part about journal writing for me, though, is when I go back and read entries from years, months, weeks, days or moments before. When I write, I keep in mind that my audience is myself. So, when I go back and read what I had written, I’m not only remembering how I felt earlier, but I’m also effectively coping with whatever experience I had written about (whether good or bad).
And when I close my journal and cap my pen, the tough moments or exciting revelations are still there, but this time, they don’t keep me from doing my best nor do they keep me up at night.
— Leviana Coccia

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Diets: You lose more than just weight

A friend of mine teaches Sunday school and a few weeks ago he texted me from class saying, “These [girls] are in grade six and seven and they are talking about their weight.”

After reading the text message, my jaw dropped! These girls weren’t even in high school and yet they were fussing about their weight. I also thought back to when I was nine or 10-years-old. I was told numerous times that I was fat, ugly, worthless and a goody-goody. Once, before performing a dance in the talent show, a boy in my class said to me, “No fat chicks allowed dancing.” After my short blast from the past, I asked my friend to elaborate on what he had overheard at Sunday school.

“Talking about how they had a slumber party and all weighed themselves at the beginning and end to see if they lost weight,” my friend said. “One lost one pound and [the others] were jealous.”

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), 40 per cent of nine-year-old girls have dieted, despite being within a healthy weight range. NEDIC also says that human bodies come naturally in a range of sizes.

“We inherit a genetic set-point around which, with healthy lifestyles, our weight will fluctuate a few pounds,” reads the centre’s brochure called, “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction.” 

Being asked, “Did you lose some weight?” is often followed by, “Wow. Great job. You look fantastic,” or something of that nature, when really, an individual who lost a certain number of pounds may not have needed to, at all, should they have been at a healthy body weight.

NEDIC also says the following in their “Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction” brochure, “Some people will naturally be thinner, a larger number will be naturally average and another group will be naturally fatter. It is healthiest to remain at your natural set-point weight.”

Although my natural body-weight may not be my ideal, it is the weight at which I am going to be the healthiest.

“And when we are healthy, we have the energy and vitality to live our lives to the fullest, and to look our best,” the NEDIC brochure says, as well.

A person receiving the positive reinforcement may be suffering terribly and addicting comments encouraging negative behaviours like restricting food and excessive exercise can lead to self-doubt and acts of self-harm.

Photo by: Leviana Coccia

There was a time in my life where I was extremely concerned with my weight and I spent months obsessing over the number on the scale, like the girls my friend texted me about. It was as if losing weight was the only thing that was supposed to be on my to-do list.  These behaviours of mine could have turned into an obsession that could have eventually taken my life, literally speaking if they were to result in an eating disorder but also because these actions slowly started to take away my joy, resilience and openness that are all vital to a healthy life.

It was as if a number on the scale defined me, in place of my self-worth, self-love, self-awareness and ability to stay centered on goals of my choice. Everything about me on the inside seemed not to matter when I was given addicting compliments about how great I looked at my new weight. And, it was extremely hard when others around me were dieting and exercising excessively, essentially doing the same thing as me, and losing more weight than I was. I felt jealous, like those girls my friend talked about in the text message. This competitive edge can be dangerous because self-worth can be replaced by external measures, like negating oneself that could spark the beginning of isolation.

That’s when I realized I would never be able to look the best, be the best or feel the best based on other people’s standards because I couldn’t define myself based on what others perceived of me. And, no two people are comparable, because every person is so unique. Instead, my self-awareness and self-definition needed to come from who I was entirely: How I defined myself, without outside prejudices and judgements.

When on a diet, you can lose more than just weight. NEDIC says you can also lose your sense of humour, muscle and lean tissue, water (which means you could end up dehydrated), money (after spending tons on diet products – and for the record, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate) and time and energy (that could have been spent on something that could ensure lasting self-esteem instead of dieting, which could lead to lowered self-esteem and poor health).  A preoccupation with food can also lead to loss of friends, goals and life.

For more information about dieting facts and fiction, visit our website.

— Leviana Coccia