Nature is ingrained in our primal beings. We feel the intrinsic pull to be out into nature. Our bodies change with seasons, the rise and fall of the sun, the pull of the moon, and the weather. It is no wonder that city dwelling is linked to a rise in anxiety and mental disorders. We are not meant to be surrounded by concrete, polluted air, and white noise. The Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University in Canada set out to figure out why our bodies respond positivity to nature and can take a detrimental turn in the city. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor the brains of 32 healthy adults.Those who lived in the city had increased activity in the amygdala part of the brain, which controls emotions such as fear. They also noted that people who lived in the city the first 15 years of their life had increased activity in their pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates the amygdala. Those who grew up in the city had a greater sensitivity to stress. Of course, there are other factors that play a role in the amount to stress and anxiety in ones city living life. It depends on the individuals ability to cope with city life and have control over their internal responses to external circumstances.
This is where nature comes into play. If a city dweller has access to nature they are less likely to develop mental illnesses and anxiety. A published research study found that people who took a 90 minute walk in nature versus a walk in the city showed lower levels of rumination. It also showed reduced neural activity in the subgenus prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain linked to risk of depression and anxiety. Other research shows that even viewing images of nature activates the brain associated with empathy. People would start to care more about others and the world around them versus viewing urban scenes which triggered blood flow to the fear associated amygdala. This fear causes anxiety and an emotional vortex.
Taking a quick nature retreat may provide physical and mental reprieve from the hectic urban settings. Another study (International Journal of Environmental Research and Publish Health) focused on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. These systems handle the stress either triggered by “fight or flight response”, or by enhancing feelings of calmness. Sensors were worn to track their heart rates and other functions when viewing green images or urban spaces. The images were shown before and after a difficult math exam, designed to raise stress levels. When green images were seen after the math test, the parasympathetic nervous system was activated and lowered the heart rate.
Of course there all the other benefits of nature I have mentioned in past blog posts. When anxiety is decreased then our physical bodies benefit. Nature improves focus, boosts creativity, leads to better workouts (levels of the stress hormone cortisol are lower when exercising outdoors verses indoors), and less pain and better sleep. Without good sleep our brain and body begin to shut down and are dysfunctional. When we are dysfunctional, anxiety will build due to poor performance in our work, studies, and personal life.
Okay ladies, lets be real. If I earned a dollar for every time I heard a woman give an endless string of reasons why she shouldn’t do a boudoir shoot, I wouldn’t even NEED to be a photographer! I would be rich just off those excuses! I am going to break down the top reasons why women don’t do a boudoir shoot and why it’s all bullshit in my opinion.
Number one reason, “I need to lose weight first.” I get it. Believe me. Before my very first boudoir shoot I went to the gym every day, drank lots of water, ate healthy, the works. And you know what, I looked amazing in my images! But that didn’t keep me from scheduling my shoot to begin with. It gave me something to look forward to, to work towards. It was a good goal to keep me motivated to stay healthy and work out. Besides all that, there is something very beautiful about being okay with where you are at right now, still striving for healthier choices, but also having an acceptance with your body right this moment. It is all on you for self-acceptance. It is my job to document it so you can be reminded of who you are in this moment. And that is beauty, ladies.
Women think they need a special reason for a boudoir shoot. Let me share a secret, YOU DON’T! Boudoir is for YOU and you only. Sure having a spouse or significant other to share those images with is nice, but this shoot is for you! Let me take you back to why I chose boudoir, OUTDOOR boudoir, as my niche! Boudoir images are a tool. They are an end result to remind you of something, to remind you of your experience. I use nature and boudoir as a tool for women to be more present in their lives, to learn their purpose, and start living with intention. Being surround by nature, quieting the mind, helps with that. These boudoir images are a simple beautiful piece of art work to remind you of your purpose and the beautiful person you truly are. It is an experience all on its own and you do not need an excuse or special reason to book!
Here is another one I hear all the time, I am not sexy or I am more of a tomboy. Hey guess what, I am a tomboy too! Like I said above, my type of boudoir isn’t necessarily about being sexy in lingerie or putting your ass in the air to seduce the viewer. It is a tool. It is a tool used to portray you! Whether you are typical sex pin-up vixen or the girl who feels more comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, a boudoir shoot will uncover aspects of yourself that will surprise you. Women are multifaceted. It is life changing. You will see yourself differently. You will be more courageous, more bold and THAT is sexy! Plus, who said that lingerie was the only thing that looked sexy? Wear your favorite white t-shirt and jump in the springs! That leather jacket you love to wear, the one that makes you feel like a total badass…. Wear that!
Here is a reason I can greatly sympathize with. I can’t afford it. Like most people I can definitely relate to having a budget. Many boudoir photographers will say this is a luxury service and not a necessity. I disagree. Boudoir is a transformative experience all on its own. Now boudoir in nature, that is life changing. Combining the healing powers of nature, it’s special power to calm the mind and bring self-awareness with the confident vulnerability of having your photograph taken is altering. It can alter your career, your world outlook, your relationships, your purpose in this world. Outdoor boudoir is a form of self-love and SELF-LOVE IS A NECESSITY. We are often stressed, juggling multiple things and with that stress comes unhealthy habits. We get stuck in a fog, a vortex of to-do lists, never slowing down. It can start to affect our health. Get back to the basics of nature and listen to what you really need. If a life-altering, transformative experience is a priority to you, if your health is a priority to you, then you can most definitely afford it.
Some women are fearful of what others will think of them if they do a boudoir shoot. You have to ask yourself, Who is this experience for? A confident woman is not worried about what others will think of her. An inspirational woman is a trail blazer. She is a leader. Whether she is a CEO or an inspirational leader to her children at home. Sure there are fears, but feel the fear and do it anyway. Fuck what others will think! Because you know what? They don’t have to know about it! This is 100% your own experience. You do not have to share it unless you want to. I will not share it unless you sign a consent form. This is yours and yours only.
Below are just a few more reason I hear:
I don’t know how to do my own hair and makeup. The answer is simple, hire a hair and makeup artist!
I don’t have anything to wear. Jump in the spring with your plain white t-shirt! Wrap up in a fuzzy blanket. Pair a lace tank top with undies. Or the cheapest outfit of all, go nude!
The point is if you are truly interested in this experience, then you will overcome any fears and excuses you come up with. Break through the bullshit and do it for yourself!
Ready to experience something for yourself?
There is something that sparks deep within me after that first yoga class. After a long period of binge watching Netflix during the winter and eating all the comfort food, my body has an urge to move. It activates into go-mode to feel healthier, to hit a hiking trail and soak up the sun, to jump into a spring and wade in the cool water. Movement is not only great for you physically, but brings mental clarity and inspires great things in my career and life! It re-calibrates my brain to focus and brings awareness.
I have learned over the years the time points in which my daily workouts begin to fizzle. It gets easier to miss a workout and then before I know it, its been weeks and even months since I hit the gym. Now that doesn’t mean I stopped taking daily neighborhood walks with my dogs. I would still let my dog, Lila, free to roam in a big field to explore, but my physical and mental body just wasn't feeling that healthy and inspiring glow as much as it was! I have also learned that I tend to set very high expectations of myself. I go balls to the wall with weights, cardio, yoga, diet, etc. No wonder I fizzle out! I began to think about what would continue the motivation and momentum for movement:
Set Realistic Expectations and Quit Beating Yourself Up
Women already have their hands full and moving our physically bodies should be a type of self-care, a feel good activity. So when we don’t keep up with our own expectations why are we making ourselves feel so bad? We first need to start with loving ourselves enough to not feel guilty if we miss that 5:00 am run. Pick one physical activity a day and be happy that you did it! I like to mix in high intensity with lower intensity exercises. One day hit the weights hard, the next take a stroll on a nature trail. The point is to just move and FEEL GOOD. Feeling good sparks healthier habits and inspiration in our daily lives.
Look Forward to an Event
Out of all the times I have actually kept up with my goals was when I had a certain event to look forward to. Believe it or not one of those events was a boudoir shoot. I wanted to look and feel my absolute best during my photo shoot. To dance to the music in my underwear, to be posed without feeling any shame of my body. I wanted to enter those doors proud and strong of what I accomplished and those photographs are proof of that accomplishment! A big event and attaching that event to HOW I WANTED TO FEEL kept the momentum going.
Accountability of My Dogs
A huge reason I keep moving physically outdoors, even during the winter months are my 3 dogs. Each one needs a walk every day, even a good run. They count on me to let them out so they can also be THEIR healthiest selves. Also their excitement is priceless. Their happiness brings me happiness and laughter. They prance, walk briskly with their noses to the ground, tail wagging, and look back and me smiling.
Sit in the Sun and Breath in the Day
This may not be physical movement, but sitting silently outdoors and just breathing is super beneficial to our mental health. It calms the mind and inspires us to get up and go! Plus soaking up all the Vitamin D balances hormones in the body. When your body is in alignment you have more energy! Read more about it HERE.
I would love to hear how you stay healthy and inspired!
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As a woman in the second half of her 30th year, I thought the other day how I have remained the same size for the last 10 years. Now hear me out before you call me a skinny bitch and close your computers down! Before you hate on me, I owe nature for still being able to fit in the same jeans. I love being outside so much that I built my whole business around it and am teaching others the healing powers of it! Today this blog post is about how nature helps you lose weight, or in my case stay healthy and the same size.
Nature has a special way of reducing stress and making the body relax. When you relax, much like sleeping, your body has time to recalibrate and heal itself. When your body has time to do this, you immediately begin to feel better, lighter, and with more energy. More energy leads to more physical activity and more physical activity leads to a healthier waistline.
Soak up that sunshine and vitamin D! Vitamin D is a master hormone and helps all the other hormones in your body function properly. If you are experiencing mood swings, fatigue, general muscle pain, weakness, headaches, restless sleep, or poor concentration it could be the lack of Vitamin D in your life! Of course, consult your doctor and get your blood tested before you webmd diagnose yourself. When your body is out of alignment it has to work harder to function and keep a healthy weight. So step outside and soak up 15-20 minutes of sun every day!
Nature regulates your hunger. When you are busy soaking up the trees, you aren't thinking of your next meal or mindlessly consuming potato chips at your desk. Your natural hunger will kick in telling you when your body needs fuel. Even if you do not eat right away, your body inherently knows to take fuel from your fat storage. Being outside makes you more aware of your body and mind. You can really ask yourself, am I hungry or am I just bored? When you figure out this distinction, you begin to live a healthier lifestyle.
Nature provides the greatest gym ever! When taking a hike, you are walking over raised tree roots, big rocks, hopping over water streams, and building those glutes while going uphill. You use muscles that are rarely used in every day life. By building these muscles you gain better balance and posture, which will keep us more active in our older years. A hiking trail is also random. Your body can easily start to recognize the movement you make while on the treadmill, but on a hiking trail it is always guessing and uses more energy to keep up with the constant change, which helps you lose weight.
Take a big breath of fresh air! If you are constantly surrounded by concrete and car fumes, your body is working hard to fight off all the toxins in the air instead of maintaining a healthy weight. Not only does breathing fresh air calm the mind and uplift your mood, it can recalibrate your body. Also with a more uplifted mood you have more energy to be active!
Increasing serotonin with nature instead of drugs. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain and is responsible for regulating mood, hunger, sleep, memory, and learning. A lack of serotonin plays a role in depression and depression can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain. Serotonin also talks to a separate part of our body, our gut, which has 7 serotonin receptors. This can account for having an upset stomach if you are nervous or have anxiety. When you are surrounded by nature you begin to relax and your body can replenish its serotonin levels, balancing your mood and stomach!
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