Tag Archives: body image

Life’s a Beach

May 13, 2015 by
Photography by John Gawley

This article was published in Omaha Magazine’s May/June 2015 issue.

A day at the beach has a different meaning for Lauren Sieckmann than it does for most folks. For the majority it conjures images of sun, sand, and fun; vibes of recreation and relaxation. But for 21-year-old Sieckmann—college student, sports and fitness model, and pro volleyball player-in-training—the beach means all work and all play.

“Everything I do with school, training, and modeling, is fun for me,” says Sieckmann. It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s just what I do. It’s a way of life.”

Sieckmann, a University of Southern California junior, grew up in Elkhorn and began playing volleyball around age 12, late for those who aspire to greatness in the sport. She quickly drew many accolades, including a national title with the Nebraska Elite 121s club team and being named Nebraska High School Gatorade Player of the Year after leading Marian High to a 2009 Class A state title. Sieckmann transferred to Elkhorn South to graduate a semester early and kickstart her career at UNL. But after a semester in Lincoln playing indoor volleyball, she decided that what had been her dream wasn’t the right fit.

“I really wanted to try beach volleyball and venture out, so I decided to come to California,” says Sieckmann, who’s embraced the transition.

“It’s more ‘me’ than indoor and I love it,” she says. “You do it all in sand volleyball. It’s 2-on-2; you’re covering the whole court. I like the competitive nature, the atmosphere and environment and to practice at the beach all day…I can’t complain about that!”

Sieckmann played for USC last semester but now trains professionally in lieu of the school squad.

“Now I practice at the beach and train with Misty May,” she says.

That would be Misty May-Treanor, the retired pro beach volleyball player, three-time Olympic gold medalist, one of the most successful female players of all time, former volunteer assistant coach at USC, idol of volleyball girls everywhere—and now mentor to Sieckmann.

During offseason Sieckmann trains about twice weekly each with May-Treanor and other pro players with whom she scrimmages—which means hitting the beach four times weekly, in addition to school and her budding modeling career. Sieckmann recently signed with Sports Lifestyle Unlimited and had her first booking and shoot in February. Most recently she signed with modeling giant Wilhelmina International.

“[SLU] does lots of sports and fitness, lifestyle, and some fashion. It’s a bit of everything, and seemed like a good fit for me,” says Sieckmann, whose mother, Deb, was a fashion model.

In addition to volleyball aspirations, Sieckmann dreams of following in her mother’s footsteps.

“I always thought I’d get into [modeling] eventually,” she says. “One of my biggest goals with it is to represent being strong, fit, healthy, and beautiful—not just excessively thin.”

Sieckmann says she’s witnessed negative effects of body image issues and hopes that her work promotes a healthier body image among young girls.

“I want to make an impact with my modeling,” she says. “That’s why I’m going in the direction of sports and lifestyle work—to show girls that being strong and healthy is beautiful.”

LaurenSieckmann1

Body Image

June 20, 2013 by

Q: My teenage daughter is trying to diet because all of her friends are on diets. I’m worried she’s developing an unhealthy attitude about her body, as well as food, and I don’t want her to starve herself. How can I discuss my worry with her and get her to think more positively about her body?

A: Your relationship with your daughter will affect your approach. When you have a good opportunity, try mentioning to your daughter that you’ve noticed several of her friends are dieting. Ask her what she thinks or how she feels about it and give her time to answer. If she mentions feeling bad about her body, try asking how long she’s been feeling that way or if she can tell you about when it started. Pay attention, be interested in her responses, and stay neutral. If your daughter feels like you’re judging her or her friends, her defensiveness could lead to an argument, or she’ll simply be done talking.

Depending on the situation, some of the following ideas may be applicable:

  • If your family meals or eating habits really could use a makeover, approach it as an entire family without singling out your daughter.
  • Work on body image together with your daughter, keeping each other accountable regarding negative body image statements.
  • Write a note for your daughter sharing what you’re feeling. Be positive in the words you choose and let her read it on her own time.
  • Affirm your daughter’s strengths and her beauty. Be specific so she knows you’re sincere.
  • Avoid putting value on food. It isn’t good or bad; it’s just food. And she’s not good or bad based on what she eats.
  • Finally, what is YOUR attitude toward food and your body? Don’t underestimate the influence you have on your daughter. Think about how your answers to the following questions affect your daughter’s self-image, as well as your own:
  • Do you think and speak positively about your body?
  • Are you critical of other women’s appearance or of what/how much they eat?
  • When you receive a compliment regarding something appearance-related, do you disagree, and then start pointing out other things you don’t like about yourself?
  • Do you make negative comments about a body feature you share with your daughter? You may realize that this is a great time to work on your self-image as well.

Deb Fuller is a mental health therapist with Real Life Counseling in Omaha.

Feeling Young on the Run

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tori Young, 40, was on the drill team in high school. She never considered herself an athlete, and she spent most of her time eating whatever she wanted. But, as it always does, metabolism caught up with her. “I heard from my friends that things get more challenging when you hit 40,” she says. “They weren’t kidding!”

Although she doesn’t feel older, Young realized her body required more attention than it did back in her carefree high school days. She tried lots of things to get back on track—Jazzercise, tracking meals on the MyFitnessPal app, Kosama, running on the treadmill, P90X, yoga, dancing videos, Kettlebell workouts—but she always found it hard to stick to those programs.

She admits most of the problem was her hectic lifestyle. “I started each week with the best intentions…but like everyone, when we’re busy and on-the-go, it’s easy to make poor choices.”

As a technical recruiting lead with Client Resources, Inc., she’s constantly running around town and treating candidates and consultants to lunch, which makes eating well difficult. And then, of course, she didn’t want to cut into her family time with husband Chad, a teacher and football coach at Millard West High School, and their four kids—Elli, 12, Beau, 9, Leah, 6, and Reid, 2. “Having four kids is absolutely crazy, but it keeps us on our toes,” she adds.20130420_bs_8210 Medium Copy

But an opportunity appeared a few years ago when Young’s oldest daughter, Elli, told her about a school program for third through fifth graders called Girls on the Run. “It’s so cool,” Young says. “It’s all about girl power, being a good friend, and being encouraging and supportive of others while training to run a 5K.” She adds that the girls often included their moms in this program.

Elli, who was in third grade then, didn’t want to do it. “She said, ‘That would be like having gym class even more often!’” Young laughs, explaining that it was probably for the best anyway because she was pregnant with her youngest son, Reid, at the time and wouldn’t have been able to run.

“We did feel like we missed out though, so we signed up the next year. I printed off a Couch to 5K training program online and was able to get to the point where I could run four miles without stopping.”

During Elli’s fourth grade year, they both ran the program’s 5K. “I had to walk twice during that run since it was mapped out on their grade school playground, and it was 30-some laps around the blacktop, down a hill, around the playground equipment, and back up the hill,” Young says. “The hills kicked my butt!”

Although Young stopped running regularly after that 5K, she ran again with Elli in the fifth graders’ 5K. Later, they signed up for a Siena-Francis benefit run. “It was nice to do something that we could do together that was good for us but also benefited [Siena-Francis House],” says Elli, who’s now in middle school.

“I know I have to be aware of how I talk about my own body and my feelings about how I look. We’ve had conversations about not focusing on how many pounds we weigh and comparing that to others, but instead on how we’re treating our bodies and what we’re putting in them.” – Tori Young

Since then, Young and Elli have been participating in all the runs they can. They even participated in Papillion’s Half Marathon events this May; Young ran the 10K while Elli ran the 5K. Both agree that they really want to run The Color Run and Color Me Rad 5Ks, which they look forward to trying in the future.

Young finds running with her daughter to be an inspiring way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I love when we practice and go to Zorinsky [Lake] together…We set some goals, like being able to run farther, and it’s fun to meet one and then set the next one.”

But it’s not just all about the run; it’s also about the time she gets to spend with Elli that keeps her going. “With four kids, I wish I could give them each more one-on-one time, so I really love just talking with her [during our runs].”

“We get to have an uninterrupted conversation and talk about my school, her work, our friends, and random stories,” Elli adds. “We also talk about our goals for the future, like other runs we’d like to do [and] ways to eat healthier.”

“I dislike the body issues that come for most females,” Young says. “I know I have to be aware of how I talk about my own body and my feelings about how I look. We’ve had conversations about not focusing on how many pounds we weigh and comparing that to others, but instead on how we’re treating our bodies and what we’re putting in them.”20130420_bs_8226 Medium Copy

Seeing Elli improve makes Young think they’re headed in the right direction, too. “She was born with a cyst in her lung, which resulted in a 12-day stay in the NICU and a surgery for her right after birth…they removed the top lobe of her right lung. Her scars are faint, her lung regenerated, and the only real lasting effect is some asthma.” Young adds that Elli has gone from feeling like she “can’t do it” and using asthma as an out to pushing herself harder.

Young believes it’s important for parents and their kids to be physically active together. “It’s so easy to get caught up in television…We have so many devices that capture our attention, and it’s hard to break away from e-mail, Facebook, and Instagram…Making time to be physically active together provides the opportunity for quality time and setting goals that we can work toward together.”

Because Young and Elli have been running so much in the last few years, it’s really started to rub off on the other family members. “My husband has been running more lately, and even recently admitted that he pushed himself faster on the treadmill than [me] because he didn’t like the thought of me outrunning him!”

Most importantly, Young feels healthy and happy right now. All she cares about is feeling good about herself, being a positive body image role model for her daughters, and having the energy to keep up with her job and her kids.