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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blurred Lines: Why Miley's twerking isn't the real MVA embarrassment, and why society's reaction is.

What was really “impressionable” about Miley’s performance is the reaction that it both desired and enormously received. When social media platforms exploded with commentary during the awards show, we all became little moths desperately clinging to Miley’s PVC bikini flame.

The fact is, Miley’s marketing team achieved the holy grail of advertising: They sold ice to polar bears. The spinoff from the performance was and still is gargantuan.  Yesterday morning, they kicked back and gave each other high fives because entire nations bought into exactly what they wanted us to, and they didn't even have to try.

We were simultaneously delighted and outraged that she presented herself and her music the way that she did in collaboration with Robin Thicke. True to our collective societal character, we were solely outraged by Miley, and not her co-musicians.

Miss Cyrus was reprimanded and condemned for her every movement, her clothing, overall appearance, performance set, artistic concept, backup dancers and costuming, her foam finger, and her evocative gyrations. But Miley’s performance is only a small piece of a very unfortunate puzzle. A large argument against her performance being approved for the VMA stage is that her fan base consists of a younger, female audience who are vulnerable to absorbing her suggestive behaviors.

Let’s talk about Robin Thicke for a moment. A thirty six year old married man (with a child) sang about how much he KNOWS you (women) want it while allowing a twenty year old (engaged) woman to push her barely covered behind into his crotch and use his body as a stripper pole. I’m not only pointing out Thicke’s relationship status here, Miley is engaged and is just as much the culprit. However, just like dominos, society tumbled one by one into a fury of revulsion for Miley’s actions, but provided Thicke with tolerance and absolutely no judgement in light of his. Pretend for a second, that Miss Cyrus was a mother. It would be an infallible guarantee that her performance would have been explosively criticized because she was a parent. She would have been held to a hierarchical standard.

Now, let’s explore Thicke’s fan base- also largely comprised of young females and males. Why aren’t we making a spectacle of what HIS fans absorbed? His current hit single, “Blurred Lines”, talks about the male struggle to interpret the distorted ‘lines’ of perceived female sexual innuendo. The song’s music video features Thicke and his collaborators in the company of a troop of scantily clad models. What many people don’t know is that there’s an additional unrated version of the music video where the same models are topless and wearing nude colored panties. At a first glance, they appear to be totally naked.

Also important: Robin Thicke’s music video is the reason Miley was toting a foam finger as a prop. One of the models featured in “Blurred Lines” uses the same finger to playfully hide her breasts from view during the video. Also, guess why she was wearing nude, PVC hot pants? You guessed it, also featured in THICKE’s video. It’s a small world, ladies and gentlemen.

The fact of the matter is, what your daughter (or son, or any young female/male that you’re close to) absorbs and perceives from a provocative award show performance is NOT MTV’s responsibility. It’s yours. That’s right, you as a mother, or a sister, a mentor, or simply a more mature presence in a young female or male's life. Advocating for responsible media presentation and advertisement is a noble cause, but it’s also a failing one. If anything, media is becoming increasingly suffused with explicit, sexualized content.

The literal only way to combat girl's skewed perceptions of themselves and the realities of the world around them, is to fight the battle from home. Parents, educators, and mentors need to make a collective and constant effort to change the way we think, talk, and the messages (whether direct or subliminal) that we deliver to young girls and women. The same principle applies to young men.

Objectification is decreased when we break the continuous cycle of condoning and propagating it. Give the gift of critical thinking. Make sure your daughter or the young girls in your life are able to process and deconstruct what is presented to them by the media so that they KNOW they have a right to either consent or decline to any suggestive or sexual behaviors while still enjoying the music of their favorite artist. Ensure they don’t grow up believing that behaviors such as those exhibited by Miley are a requirement in their lives.  Make it your divine mission to instill values of self confidence, positive body image, self respect, and self worth in these girls. In turn, ensure that young men don't grow up believing that they need to embody what Robin Thicke represents. EDUCATE young men and women on what matters so that they know what doesn't.

A great start would be NOT calling Miley trashy, or a slut, or a whore, or use any other derogative language pertaining to her. Why, you ask? Because if YOU sanction those terms to oppress another woman, then in turn you've made it okay for everyone else to utilize those same terms to oppress others.

You’re entitled to hold your own reservations regarding her performance, but keep it out of the reach of younger ears. Perhaps you and your partner had some passing comments at bedtime regarding the spectacle, but that doesn't mean you need to incorporate it into more public forums of conversation. Spreading intolerance and hate isn't a supermarket of picking and choosing which statements influence others; everything is thrown into the same melting pot. By the same token, I'd be the first one on the dance floor after hearing the first three notes of "Blurred Lines". It's catchy and fun! The difference is that I'm an adult who appreciates the song at face value, and deciphers the subject matter to draw my own, informed conclusions, not a developing teenager.

Gauge what is damaging and what isn't. Use of the word “twerk” was rampant in post VMA responses, but there’s a significant difference between remarking a dance move and attacking a human being (that’s right, Miley’s one of us!) in a slanderous tone.

Also, be responsibly conscious. There’s something to be said for presenting tasteful humor in light of this VMA conduct. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t want to poke a little fun at the wildly creative set, the costuming, the dancers, and yes, the twerking. There is, however, a fine line between poking fun and participating in the defamation of a young woman who still has a considerable amount of growing up to do. I’m not even criticizing her maturity level with that remark, just pointing out that she is experiencing the same personal exploration and evolution as every other young woman her age. The difference is that Miley hasn’t been afforded the level of privacy that most young women are. She is experiencing this evolution in a very public way while catering to the expectations of a demanding and crippling entertainment industry. Will she look back on the performance with embarrassment when she’s thirty? Who knows? But also, WHO CARES?! As the songstress says herself “It’s my life, I can do what I want to”. And she’s RIGHT.

Miley isn’t the entity to be ashamed of as we emerge from this VMA controversy. Rather, it’s our failure as a population to think critically and apply our attention to a detrimentally influential situation that continues to be neglected.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Follow the Leader: A Battered Identity

An overwhelming amount of sexual assault, rape, 'slut shaming', and sadly, resulting suicides, have dominated news networks and social media feeds for months.

Each one has touched the hearts of many in unique ways, but we really need to let these tragic events start touching our minds in a more registering and progressive manner.

There are few things that can be said on these issues that haven't already been brought to the surface by history, by feminists, social leaders, families of the victims, clinical professionals, and really anybody with a sense of rationalism and compassion.

As is anyone who advocates for change on this platform, I tire of justifying. I am exhausted from analyzing and speaking out against the same mistakes only to be met with regurgitated responses.

I am all too familiar with being told that we're too concerned with being politically correct, or that women are seeking to place themselves above men. For the millionth time, pick up a dictionary and read for yourself that feminism is an advocation for EQUALITY. Nobody is trying to scramble to the top of this ethical food chain to eliminate the top predator. We just want to sit and harvest the bounty of parity together.

What we're really all too concerned with is resisting positive and worthwhile changes to our hard wired social and cognitive contexts. This is a history which malignantly continues to repeat itself.

I have always said that too many men complain in private about their close female friends or relatives in abusive relationships while they ACCEPT the abuser into their social circles and afford him privilege as though nothing is happening.

Silence communicates consent and complicity. The bystander effect contributes to an enormous portion of the ideologies that we accept and participate in, especially for men. When men in powerful roles continue to allow sexism and endorse abuse, it is a failure to lead by positive example. Leadership failures account for so much of what we accept, and even more of what we allow to happen.

Champion boxer, Floyd Mayweather, returned to the world of professional boxing at the coveted MGM Grand in Las Vegas over the weekend. Mayweather comfortably extended his unbeaten record to an astonishing 44 victories. You know what's even more astonishing? Society was too busy celebrating his welterweight title to remember that Mayweather beat his girlfriend and threatened to make her "disappear" in front of her two children just a few years prior. An act for which he avoided trial completely and was minimally sentenced to just three months in prison for. Let's not forget that the judge delayed Mayweather serving his time so that he could fight Miguel Cotto on the grounds that the fight would provide an "economic boost" to Las Vegas. An outstanding example of failed leadership at the cost of a continued acceptance of abuse.

Men do not only abuse women, this is not solely a women’s issue. Men abuse children, and most importantly, men abuse other men on a compelling level. So why do we continue to practice victim blaming when a woman is sexually assaulted or falls victim to domestic violence? Why are the questions only about her and not her abuser? Why do we force her to identify herself as ‘battered’ while we remove her abuser from the conversation? It is because cognitively, we’ve been structured to do just that.

For so long we’ve allowed these dangerous ideals to stand at the forefront of decision making, identity development, and societal implementation.

Take twenty minutes and share this video on your twitter, Facebook wall, or as I have done, on your blog. Sit down with some male friends and share it with them.


Dr. Jackson Katz is right, we don’t only owe solid leadership, education, and equality to women, but we also owe it to boys and young men who played no active role in being born into a society that demands such a skewed and dangerous ideal of masculinity from them.

Until next time,

A Fabulous State

Monday, 31 December 2012

Minutes To Midnight

I can't say much about my New Year's Eve this year, only that it isn't exactly (or even a little bit) like I had planned it to be.

This night has never been a happy one for me, and being the eternal optimist that I am, it's hard for me to admit that.

Tonight, although skewed in plan, is clear in purpose, and has given me the gift of a broadened perspective (and you know there's nothing I love more than perspective). In short, I have been reminded of all the reasons I have to be nothing but abundantly thankful for all that I have.

We are adamant in our ritual to reflect on this night, and the changing of the calendar has come to symbolize more than the beginning of a new day, month, or even year.

Our western society permits us the hyper notion that THIS year, THIS new calendar may provide us opportunities which surpass all those of years past. It is a time when we ponder the possibilities, whether positive or negative, of the twelve months to come.

2012 wasn't without its ups and downs, as I'm sure was the case for all of us, but given how I've found myself spending the last few hours of this now aged year, I can't say that the downs matter even a little. Spare of course, the lessons they so graciously taught.

This year I took risks and seized opportunities, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my years, and in turn I tasted the sweetness of my very own life again. I bought my first new car, took my first motorcycle ride, owned (and regretfully laid to a peaceful rest) my first pet, spent a day on a lake, and saw The Boss in concert.

I cried harder than I ever have, and found the deepest meaning in the worst sorrow.
I laughed with my whole heart, and loved with it, too. I nourished my soul with knowledge, experience, wonderful people, and a glass or two of Pinot.

I wouldn't change any of it, because there's nothing more precious and substantial than when life unfolds, unhindered, exactly as it is supposed to.

I wish the very best for all of you in 2013, and by the best, I mean laughter and tears, good times and bad, because life needs a healthy fusion of everything it can offer to be the very best it can be.

Wishing you lots of love with minutes to midnight,

A Fabulous State

Saturday, 8 December 2012

"I Always Tell Myself the Truth"

I can't count the number of times I've heard that little voice inside my head. Not my conscious, and no, I'm not schizophrenic, but the voice that tells me the truth. We all have one. It is unyielding and honest, and I often ignore it in my crusade to taste as much life as I can. The little voice is flawed only in that it doesn't necessarily tell us what is best for us, only what isn't. If you've heard this little voice, you've probably wondered how to explain it, or why you refuse to listen to it. Here's my perspective on the humanism in our little voices, and how they afford us a shrouded compassion to remind us that there's beauty in every breakdown. Enjoy!
                   (P.S Clicking on the photo will enlarge it for easier reading, imagine that!)

                                                       With Love,
-A Fabulous State

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons, All You.

It's really not accurate, nor is it human to say "I don't care what people think". To some extent, we all do, because if we didn't, we'd be absent of some very integral feelings (not to mention conversations) that are included as bonus prizes in the neatly wrapped gift box that is life. Something to strive for, in contrast, is to care as little as possible. Now, there's a real goal.

If you're someone who has managed to broaden their own perspective horizons despite rigidly placed social constructs, I congratulate you (your gift box no doubt has very pretty wrapping paper). If you're still scrambling like a mouse through a maze within some prison that has been built concretely to hold you within the boundaries of what this world wants you to believe, then let me allow you and your soul an escape route. You've got pretty paper, too, you've just got to learn to wrap the box.

A glowing fact of life is that people will always talk. Whether with praise or disapproval, it is a basic human instinct to validate ourselves through the medium of others. Unfortunately the well of praise tends to run dry at the hands of someone else's thundercloud (how's that for irony?). Your life, sadly, will always be someones (probably several someones) punching bag, but your own significance lies within how much you decide to bruise from the blows.

There is a sweet little place buried deep in your mind, where you rise above the hooks and jabs and simply decide that your own happiness and growth is worth more. Never stop searching for that place, even after you've found it, because the little bugger likes to fumble around, and so there's always more of "it" to find. Each time you unlock another little piece of that place, you become a more beautiful, intelligent, expanded, and experienced person than you were before. Looking for the "secret of life"? You're welcome.

At my high school graduation, myself and a classmate read a comedic speech aimed at all the quirks our various teachers had, our theater arts teacher was quoted with one of her own personal favorites (which we managed to get the entire class to retort in sync, pretty impressive if I do say so myself). The quote was by Eleanor Roosevelt, and it goes: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." If you had asked me then, at seventeen, if I'd be laying in bed at twenty two recounting that quote and its significance in a blog post, I would have said, "No b'y".  The quote speaks volumes, but even the greatest minds engage themselves in a gossip laden, bitterness sprinkled spew of tiny minded jabber from time to time.

If your every anxiety stems from over thinking and agonizing every little decision you fear judgement from, please stop, now. Life is short, don't be so foolish. There's nothing a small mind loves to talk about more than YOUR perceived lack of morality. Hold on to your hats, kids, because there's no bumpier ride than a journey over the roads of morality. What immediately determines whether or not your morality is questionable? Why, who've you've had sex with of course! Naturally, that determines your place in the proverbial heaven or hell which exists in the minds of others (don't forget, God's watching too) because surely there's no greater crime in this world than satisfying a biological instinct that you're born with.  There is a time and a place for every relationship you experience in this lifetime, don't let anyone tell you differently. The only morality to be concerned with is the one that feeds your own worth; the morality you learn from lending your love to others, or from easing pains with a conscious presence and an open heart.

Nobody knows your love or your life, your memories or your pains, and in the purest fashion of logic, it's just preposterous to think you can judge someone if you don't know those things. Even if you do, greater still are the accompanying feelings and individual differences which account for just how and why everyone experiences an "experience" as they do. If that sounds complicated, it's because it is, so stop thinking you can lay out flat lined "facts" which encompass the whole story in a cookie cutter fashion. You can't. Worry about fighting your own battle, because that's the one that deserves the bulk of your attention, and it's the one which yields the most virtuous rewards.

When you're hurt by someone's words or actions, there is a tiny ribbon you can hold in your palm, it is small and sometimes fragile, and it can be whatever color you want it to be, but what is most important is that the tiny ribbon leads to a whole spool of ribbon. That spool is your life, and there's plenty of ribbon for all your years. That's the ribbon that fits snugly around the corners of the gift box that is your existence, holding the pretty paper in place. It's also the ribbon that caresses the corners of the gift boxes you give other people just as snugly. That ribbon is patterned with all the amazing people you should intentionally surround yourself with, and further decorated by all the substance and beauty that is you. Don't ever stop giving gifts of support, of love, of compassion, and open mindedness. Remember that you are greater, and definitely happier, than someone who has to expel their own energies in an attempt to make you look or feel bad. Even if you HAVE done something bad, be great enough to own up to it, and realize that the mistakes you make are one of the greatest reservoirs of growth in your life. Don't be afraid to cut some corners of your ribbon ever now and then, either. Every experience has a lesson or two (if not fifty) packaged within it. It's like your birthday, or Christmas: you get to tear away the paper vigorously, and be really excited to keep what's inside the box forever.

To "wrap" this up, I revert back to Mrs. Roosevelt's statement by saying that you should permit your mind to be small only in the most limited amounts, for it is far too great of a mind to waste its thoughts on discussing the affairs of others. If you don't believe that for yourself, then rest assured that I believe it for you. Besides, you should be out there mingling in your own affairs, that's where you'll lose the more burdensome ideal of morality, and find all the most pleasurable indulgences.

Happy (Un)Wrapping!

-A Fabulous State

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Relation"ships": Are we as doomed as the Titanic, or will we avoid the iceberg?

The ways in which relationships (both intimate and friendly) have evolved in society is a little bit of an extreme situation to process, but maybe that's just me.

I love the this whole ideal of "YOLO" ("you only live once", for all you non-hipsters out there) but concurrently, I feel like the global shift has moved to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, and it's a little troubling.

We're all well aware of the crippling divorce rate which functions as a little thunder cloud over the heads of couples considering taking the plunge into holy (or unholy) matrimony, but the divorce rate amoung friends and family isn't all that promising either, and herein the paradox lies!

Our grandparents lived in a society where if something presented itself as being broken, whether it be a physical object or a relationship, you fixed it, and you didn't throw it out unless you absolutely had to. Society has found it's way into treating relationships as physical commodities, items that are present to serve a purpose in tandem with an almost "pre-determined" or at least "predicted" set of circumstances. If the relationship fails to fit perfectly into those preciously envisioned experiences, then our brains are quick to hit the little panic button in our left hemisphere that says "I'm not happy, I need to get out of this, now!"

Given all the options that modern psychology has granted us (who doesn't have a therapist these days?) you'd think that we'd be lining up in droves to fight for our undying love. Here's the other problem, deciding that your love is in fact "undying" much too quickly.

I can no longer count on both hands the number of early twenty year olds I know who just can't wait to have babies, get married, and build houses with "significant" others, not necessarily in that order. Call me cynical, but statistics don't lie, and in five to seven years, I'll have all the ammo in the world to rightfully scream "I TOLD YOU SO!" from the mountain tops. Of course, I'd never do that, it's just mean, it's your life and therefore not my business, and I'm not particularly fond of mountain climbing, either. But really, are we all just THAT frightened of being alone by the time we're thirty, or am I on some drastically opposite wavelength?

Let's have a look at how we form and function within our friendships. There is great, significant value in the statement that your friends shouldn't be measured in quantity but in quality. Having gone through the quams of this particular situation quite a bit in my life (and with full understanding that I will again), I've learned that you will always know in your heart who to trust and stake value in, and who is merely an aquaintence or a short term and casual companion. Don't ever mistake one for the other. This is SO important, because whether it's an intimate relationship or a friendship, the people you give your love, trust, and support to should be deserving of it. Again, I reiterate that the most important thing you can give anybody in this life is your time. If they don't value your time as much as you do, then it's time to pluck some weeds from your garden. Remember, the concept of "time" encompasses love, trust, loyalty.

I may be a little more spiritually stanced (not in a religious sense) than some people would like, but I do place great faith in surrounding yourself with the best people for you. As my friends know, I've slipped up, and more than once at that. The lesson to be learned here is that "my friends" know I've slipped up, and they're still my friends. They supported ME always (not necessarily my bad situations), kicked my ass when I deserved it, and helped bring me back from many a disastrous circumstance, and I've done the same for them, because that's what the job entails!

At the end of the day, know who's going to walk towards someone who hurt you instead of having your back, and don't mistake some alcohol infused good times for a bond. I personally hate the term "bestie", it implies a temporary, tight "friendship" that will eventually fade. Look for your best friends in life, not your besties. Again, this is a process that should take a quite a  few years to sort out, just like the process of determining a partner for life. See how they're such similar processes?

Here's where all those slightly less than informed decisions (again, friendly or intimate) compile to form a strong, empircally supported, sociological statistic: Love is a lease, so is friendship. There's such a widely accepted stance that marriage is temporary, that it's beginning to be the foundation of how we enter into one. We, as a society, are spending upwards of 45-60 thousand dollars on a marriage that, in the back of our minds, we're "okay" with settling on the strong possibility of it failing. We're entering into a union that is supposed to be honored until death, under the premise that it probably won't be. Terrifying, both for our wallets and our well being.

Of course, I'm not saying that we should abolish divorce, in a wealth of circumstances, it IS the best choice for the health of both partners, and that's just the nature of our societal beast. I am in total support of happiness and self fulfilment. What I am saying, is that there's something to be said for situations which shouldn't be treated as spontanious whims. A marriage should support the self fulfillments that you've determined for yourself, it should support the philosophies and ideals which you've taken as values in your life and a potential spouse should compliment those ideals in a very deep, and meaningful way. There is so much value in finding yourself, knowing yourself, and loving yourself before you take someone else into that equation for life. Personally, I don't think that's a decision we can make in today's world in our early twenties, and you ALL have a right to disagree with me on that point. But, whether you see yourself taking vows before some "God", or simply vows sworn in spirtual homily to each other, the significance of those vows shouldn't be taken lightly.

As another twenty something lost in these strange societal shifts, I have to admit that there was a very solid period from the age of 17 to almost 22 where I had stricken the possibility of marriage and children from the books, and my friends can attest to my strong opposition to both, but I digress. Lately, whether it's the early tickings of my biological clock, or a restored faith in genuine love and romantics, I feel like opening the window of my soul, just a tiny crack, to the possibility of both...maybe...sometime in 8 years or so. Again, for those of you who know me AND my past relationships, you're probably wondering how I of all people have a "restored" faith in love. Pick your jaw up off the keyboard, and keep reading, because I'm almost done.

That period where the utterence of "marriage" was only comparable to saying "Voldemort" in Hogwarts, was so influenced by the belief that "marriages just don't work" which was in turn fueled by all of the ones that failed largely in part because the people involved just weren't ready or compatible for it.This is both the nature of the statistic AND the fearful example of marriage that we're setting for current and future generations. Remember the days of six or seven year relationships, followed by two year engagements? I'm not suggesting that every relationship is as cookie cutter as that situation, but you get my point.

There's such a loss of respect for relationships in their early stages today, so how can you expect to hold any viable faith in a lifelong one? Intimacy and commitment just don't mean what they used to, and that's why now more than ever we need to be so careful to adjust to this new reality by making informed decisions about who we spend our lives with. Infidelity is one of the most popular items on the menu of a relationship, and if you think you're immune to the possibility that your partner or you may order up a heaping side dish of an affair, or have a slice of encounter-on-the-side for dessert, then you're immune to reality, too.

Well friends, fear not, because there is a natural (albeit scientific) guideline to help you sail through the rough waters of love and friendship. It doesn't guarantee that you'll emerge unscathed or without a scar or two (or ten), nor does it guarantee that you'll stay on the same relation"ship" forever, but it does have a little life secret to unlock for us all. Take enough time in this life to get to know yourself, and I mean REALLY get to know yourself, especially before you make imperitive decisions.

You'll grow and change for the rest of your life, but there is that time between eighteen and thirty where the waves of change are unyielding in the process of establishing some steady equilibrium.Know what's important to you (you may not ever want an equlibrium!), know what you want in someone who you'll spend the rest of your life with, make a list, even! Be totally open and honest with those you spend your time with, especially if you're planning on staying on their ship for the rest of both your lives. Don't take for granted the lessons you learned on other ships either, they're the building blocks of all the life you're living, and don't forget to spend some time alone on the water just enjoying your journey, too. One last "ship" lesson, if you're thinking of jumping ship, make sure the impending tragedy is as serious as you think it is, and give that left hemisphere some time to chill out and rationalize before you put on your life jacket and man the life boats.

Love is out there, and whether it comes in waves forever, or finds a calm in the storm of life, you deserve the very best of the love that YOU experience.

So what do you all think? Am I alone in my "I'm scared for all of us AND our relationships" point of reference, or have my immensely over-thunk-thoughts finally aligned to form some path to rationality?

You be the judge, I'm just here to inspire your thoughts!
Sincerely yours,

A Fabulous State

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A More Affordable Fit: Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle That Won't Leave You Broke!

Today, I read a local fitness icon's response to someone who had written him to say that they were excited to read that a program such as his existed, and that they felt a strong spark of motivation to change their own lifestyle, but that unfortunately they couldn't afford the $500 fee that the program boasts. His response sounded more detrimental than encouraging and that was disappointing to me personally, as I know a lot of friends of mine have availed of his programs and the motivational group dynamic which accompanies them. Most of these people have achieved great personal results and successes from following the basic principles of healthy nutrition and exercise which underlie all of the programming.

After highlighting and thanking the strength coach for the good work he does, the person signed off by wishing him the best of luck and by noting that if his programs could be availed of on a payment plan or more affordable basis in the future, to please let them know.

The response posted by the fitness coach unfortunately came across as having a flat bench "no money, no change" attitude. I would have to resoundingly disagree. While he did wish the writer the best of luck in their recently undertaken health transformation,  by assuming the writer had a $100 cable bill, brand name clothing, and frequently ate out as fictitious, unfounded reasons why they couldn't afford his programming fee, the health coach placed himself in a less than positive category, for me at least.

As a recent university graduate who worked full time throughout my degree to afford a modest lifestyle, I know what it means to have a tight budget sometimes, and bills are necessities that simply don't pay themselves. It is only fair for me to point out that one of these bills that I've made a necessity is my Goodlife fitness gym membership which has been affordable to me personally at a rate of $25 every two weeks. However, as a bottom line, it's not unreasonable to understand that some people just wouldn't have that $500 to spare upfront.

This person wasn't implying that they weren't ready to make a healthy lifestyle change, which was the tone undertaken by the health coach in his response, in fact they were pointing out that they had started to take all of the initial steps in that direction with healthy nutrition and a weight loss. Instead of pointing toward a 10lb weight loss achievement as being temporary, I feel it should have been celebrated and encouraged especially by someone who has dedicated their life to helping others establish and maintain healthier lifestyles.

To the person who initially wrote the fitness coach, I really wish that I could ensure you read what I'm about to say, because I feel that you and many others NEED to know that you don't have to pay someone $500 to get you started on living a healthier life. The principles of nutrition and exercise that are marketed by programs such as the "Ripped" series are NOT new discoveries. This is a wealth of information that can be accessed absolutely free via websites like www.bodybuilding.com where literally ANYBODY can find a healthy diet and exercise plan, compiled by world renowned, accomplished,  personal trainers/fitness models like Jamie Eason.

 I personally undertook her "livefit" plan and all of it's accompanying clean nutrition, exercise, and supplementing advice to radically change my own lifestyle and become a healthier, stronger person. I'm happier mentally and physically, I've exchanged fat for lots of lean muscle, and I feel fabulous! It was one of the single best investments of time and dedication I could have ever given myself, and it's certainly a gift that keeps on giving with each workout I complete, and each goal I accomplish.

In addition to the available fitness plans, bodybuilding.com has an ENORMOUS forum full of clean eating recipes, workouts (and videos demonstrating EVERY possible exercise you could imagine), supplement information, and motivational groups where millions of members come together to help each other achieve their goals from around the globe. You can even create your own personal profile on the site, and track and share your progress with others, it really is an invaluable resource when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

Initially, of course the thought of a total transformation and all the steps that must be taken toward it are scary. Processing all the information takes awhile, as does learning the exercise routines, and learning the principles of healthy eating. Honestly though, what worthwhile, significant change, comes without a little fear and anxiety at the start? A little education never hurt any of us, especially when we undertake it ourselves. I was walking blindly when I decided to educate myself on a good fitness and nutrition lifestyle, but learning myself was an accomplishment in itself. Now, it's a lifestyle I live daily and one that I appreciate, and I'm responsible for taking it on! Little old me, all by myself! I did lots of reading, lots of writing, asked questions at the gym, and got the answers I needed. Now I'm happy to share all of these ideals with anyone who wants to learn them.

You can make revolutionary mental, emotional, and physical changes to your life if you are committed enough to educating yourself and putting in the time and effort that is required to make such changes a reality.

Of course, one thing that the website cannot give you, is the power of a physically present group dynamic which is what some people claim they need to be successful . The answer is to establish your OWN personal or group dynamic. One that suits you and keeps YOU motivated. Remember that after a month or two months of a group based program, it is still on your shoulders to keep eating nutritiously and exercising regularly to maintain and improve the results that you've worked so hard for. So whether that means you putting together a group of your own friends who are all ready for a change, tagging along and training with a friend who has already made the change and who can show you the ropes, or finding the motivation to fly solo, there is always a solution.

Finally, I need to point out that this post is in NO WAY meant to attack the "Ripped" programs or the hard work and dedication exhibited by this body transformation expert. He is doing GREAT work for the people of this city at his facility, and any program which teaches fundamental health and nutrition practices and functions to help us become a healthier population as a whole should be celebrated and commended for its undertakings and successes. He knows his stuff, and from what I can tell he's dedicated to continually learning so that he's always on top of his game in being the most informed to help his clients. If  you can afford the $500 and you think the program is for you, then by all means I wish you a world of success in becoming healthier from the inside out, but if you want to save a little money, or you can't afford the fees, I want you to know that there's a very accessible and equally successful alternative available to you.

 All I'm hoping to accomplish here is to let people, like the person who wrote that they couldn't afford the "Ripped" programs, know that YOU are the driving force in changing YOUR life and improving YOUR health to the standard that YOU want. We are all individuals with our accompanying differences but "where there is a will, there is a way" and YOU can find your way just like I did.

Until next time,

-A Fabulous State