The Pursuit Of A Dream Body

I was updating my Instagram account recently and after I had finished was just randomly scrolling through different accounts. I follow so many people who are strong and active. They are amazing athletes and their physical bodies are carved from the work they invest to their sport.  They do big things that encourage and remind me I can keep on shooting for the stars when it comes to pursuing bigger goals.

Then there are the accounts that are almost **yawn** same old, same old,  women posed into a mirror, butts popped out ( the bigger the better now days, right?), tight shirts with artificial breasts spilling out, zero body fat, lean abs, plenty of makeup…. you may have seen pages like that. Many proclaim to be fitness trainers, personal trainers etc

I’m not like, being critical here, I’m just saying my goals and efforts are aimed in a different direction. What I choose to follow reflects my pursuits.

I want to be out working hard and looking like a hot mess with no make up, sweat flying every where as I crush another workout…or it crushes me… haha

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My oh so glamorous IG photo 😛

 

As I glanced at one of these accounts one of the captions jumped out at me.  I’ve seen it before in various places…

“Contact me to help get your dream body today!”

Listen, the amount of fitness “coaches” on IG is as plentiful as flies at a summer picnic on the potato salad.

Some are most likely legit, others, well the jury might still be out.

That being said, no one will help you get your dream body but you and few will achieve it.

Ok, so why won’t they?

When I got my Charger R/T Max 2 years ago, I was a happy camper. ( I still am) Aside from looking like it can eat your lunch, I can hit it on the highway in mere seconds to head spinning speeds ( hubby loves it when I tell him that…. haha… not.)

Not to mention it has tons of other super cool features too it but this isn’t a car and road post so I won’t bore you 😉

The car I would’ve LOVED to have scooped up if ya know, the money thing wasn’t an issue, would’ve been the Charger SRT Hellcat.

Hello 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds which makes my 0-60 in 8 seem…slow….

There are limited editions made each year and they also go to people who bust their butts and work for them. The people who own them have had to invest a lot to get that amazing car. They don’t have it without putting in the work for it.

You following me here?

People who have amazing bodies or maybe their “dream” body, have had to bust their butt and work for it. And they have to work hard.

Well what does that look like, the illusive dream body?

Well, that of course could vary person to person. So many women today seem to want what’s pushed on them through social media or what they see in magazines.  I guess it would be a similar thing for guys too.

I mean really, when I started on my journey 8 years ago if you’d asked me I would’ve said my dream body would be strong, functional and most of all healthy. It’s still at the top of my list now, even more so.

I’m not overly hung up on having my body try and look certain ways.

Abs though… ok… well maybe those are up there… 😉

There’s just something about those lines and ripples that I kinda dig. And being that I’m getting closer and closer to my Senior citizen discount breakfast, I consider it a victory of sorts.

But that doesn’t come without work and effort. And sometimes I’m more cut depending on my training and how lean I’m getting. It’s a process I’ve learned to roll with

Really though, my goals are to keep my body strong and healthy so I can do life and do my athletic stuff for a long time. I don’t need to try and shape myself into the current “trend”. I have though, been shaped by the very activities I enjoy doing so it’s almost a side effect, my changing body composition, to what I do.

It’s ok though to have your own personal goals or perhaps “image” of what you want to strive for. In fact, it would be helpful pursuing it if you did know what you wanted.

Maybe your ultimate dream body would be losing weight and being 50 pounds less.

Perhaps you want to strive for a weight you were when you were younger ( not always the best sometimes) the weight you were when you were younger might not be as suited for you being older when 5 or 10 lbs would be more flattering

You may want to have a body with more visible muscle or maybe you want a body that can go run a 5k. Maybe you haven’t been able to run and it’s a dream of yours.

But for the illusive body of strong muscled proportions with low body fat and seemingly perfect appearance, like the Hellcat, most will not invest what’s required to make it happen to own it.

It’s that discipline thing

We aren’t given things in life, for most of us, we have to work for them. The same goes for our bodies.

When I see someone who’s really fit, and yeah they stand out, it’s hard for me to not admire them. And I don’t mean in a weird way, I admire them for what I know it took them to get there, I admire the discipline I know is a part of their life because that’s the major thing to starting towards any goal.

It takes discipline to get out the door, to the gym, to run, to cycle to intentionally go lift really heavy things. It takes discipline to go to Crossfit or those nightly classes for strength. It takes discipline to eat well and past on foods or drinks that don’t support those goals.

But we want the easy way sometimes, right?

Nothing makes me feel more sad than to see smart people commenting on weight loss posts clamoring at the latest “miracle” that will quickly help them lose weight and get their dream body. The sad fact is, all they will lose is their money and even if it did work, it certainly wouldn’t teach them the discipline and drive needed to be successful at it, and keep at it.

The bottom line is, people just don’t realize how hard it will be.

All the other factors

there are so many other things that will hinder someone from the pursuit of their “dream” body.

  • Procrastination. Stop putting it off till “Monday” or after a “holiday” or whatever, just start. Procrastination is the killer of dreams.
  • It’s hard! Understand changing your body won’t be easy and but when you get that, you’ll be in the right frame of mind.
  • No room for error is allowed. There will be a day you just want a cookie, or two. This is not a reason to throw in towel and go on an all out binge or think you’ve failed. . Those cookies won’t take down your hard work, but a food binge will make you feel bad physically and mentally.  Eat it and move on.
  • You’re hungry. Eat adequate food, enough but not to much and make sure each meal has plenty of protein, that’s your friend to keep you from getting hungry.
  • You workout hard, but eat harder. Don’t use your workouts to justify eating more food.
  • You drink a lot of calories. Seriously, all those sugary drinks whether coffees or sodas, smoothies, shakes, all those calories add up and liquid calories also leave you hungry sooner. Watch your consumption of those things.
  • You over complicate things. Really, losing weight is a pretty straightforward process. If you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. If you want to gain some muscle, eat more and lift heavier weights. Don’t get caught up in all the trends… “don’t eat dairy or grains or whatever”, “don’t eat after 7″ ,”eat 6 meals a day” “eat all the fat!” etc etc. Don’t complicate the system.
  • Understand friends or family won’t always cheer you or support your efforts. Focus on you and don’t worry about the rest.
  • Calories matter. I’m not a calorie counter but I do understand my body has a specific amount it can operate on to support my life and activities, more than that I gain weight, less I’ll lose. Same for you. Know what you need and learn to operate in that zone.
  • You aren’t motivated enough. We all have our “thing” that can drive us. Find what motivates you to chase after your goals.  Without motivation, you aren’t going anywhere.
  • You only think in short term limits.  30 days out, 60 days out. Most “plans” only make you think that far like you aren’t going to want to keep going or need direction past that. You need long term goals as well. Your body goals won’t be accomplished in a matter of weeks or a couple months. Where will you be in a year or two?
  • You weight yourself to much. Really, stay off the damn scale! It will only side track you and make you feel like a loser on some days when you don’t need to feel that way. The scale doesn’t measure you’re overall “worth”, those numbers don’t define you or make you a better person. AND it certainly isn’t an indicator of your total health. If you absolutely must, once a week is adequate. ( find my posts on the scale here….) https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/03/29/why-ive-given-up-on-the-scale/   https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/08/27/the-scale-experiment/    https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/03/12/that-stupid-scale/
  • You are always comparing yourself to others or worse, Hollywood stars or your more fit friend.  Stop it. You are you. You won’t look like them or be shaped like them. You have a different muscle structure and body size.  Learn to appreciate every single inch of who you are. Looking at others and comparing will only make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t let someone tell you that you look “okay”. Really. Why would anyone ever discourage someone from improving themselves by saying they look “okay”? That’s a key word for just stay as you are.
  • You don’t even have a solid idea of what your “dream” body is. Without some concrete ideas, you will be spinning your wheels. Have ideas of what you’d like to work towards or achieve, it will help move you to your goals and know how you need to plan.
  • You haven’t visualized how awesome it will feel to have your body the way you want it.  Like anything that takes hard work and discipline, building your body or changing it will take a lot of work but it’s totally possible when you make a commitment to it and discipline yourself to do the things that will get you there.

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That discipline word…

I enjoy helping and encouraging others on their health and fitness journeys. I’m certainly not an “expert” but I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. The biggest thing I had to remind a young woman of the other day is that right now, where she’s at, she is building the discipline of taking herself out each day for her exercise.

Discipline is crucial for her long term success.

It’s great to think you’ll always be motivated with the idea of pursuing your dream body, your goal weight or your muscled arms. The reality is you won’t, I won’t ,no one will always be motivated to get up and do the work required.

When you’ve been consistent and have built daily discipline through your fitness routines, you will fall into that when motivation is lagging.

There are days it is purely my discipline that gets me out on the road. I know that once I’m out there, I will then do what I’m there to do. Some days might be stronger or faster than others but the fact remains, I got out there. I didn’t make an excuse to not go get it done.

Our goals are often lost in our excuses of reasons why we “can’t” do something.

Know what you want and go for it.

Understand that having a different body will require work, effort, and a ton of self discipline to build it. No one will do it for you. No one will be pushing you ( unless you get a tough personal trainer) but at the end of the day it will come down to the effort you put into your eating and exercise.

Get real with your ideas and goals, determine what you need to do, don’t procrastinate and start taking steps to making it happen.

Do you have an ideal “dream” body? Do you have goals you want for yourself? How attainable do they feel to you?

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Food The Socially Acceptable Drug

Hello world! We’re back on regular scheduled topics today. Thanks for letting me share and talk about my newest hobby/ adventure on flipping vintage and antique furniture in my last few posts. I appreciate your feedback on it and I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to find some of my current projects on my Monday Musings posts.

If you missed the furniture posts you can find them here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/22/the-art-of-flipping-furniture/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/23/steps-to-transforming-vintage-furniture/

Todays topic though, we’re gonna get a little more serious and talk about something that we all need and use every day.

 

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Food.

We all like to eat, right? And we need food at it’s basic level for fuel for our bodies to run on and to have energy for all our daily tasks and work.

Factors like our age, sex, body type, and activity levels, will largely determine how much food we need for optimal health and performance in our day. No one is the same in their needs.

Don’t eat enough for your body and activity level, you’ll lose weight.

Eat to much for your body and activity level, you’ll gain weight.

For many though food poses a harsher darker side. Food is as addictive and pleasing to the sensory part of our brains as drugs and alcohol are to others.

Food though. is completely and totally acceptable. No one considers it a form of medication to our deeper needs like we view alcohol or drug abuse.

Medicate me please….

We don’t really like to consider that we may use food to medicate deeper needs within ourselves.  We don’t (maybe)want to get that real and personal with our pain, our anxiety, our hurts or fears.

Emotional eating is as damaging to our bodies as other forms that are used to make people feel better. I wrote an entire post on emotional eating that you can find here…

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/08/09/understanding-emotional-eating/

All of us emotionally eat at any given time. It’s not all “bad”. We can eat for celebrations and enjoying time out with friends, we can get ice cream just because we “feel good”. I mean really, who is ever hungry for cake? It’s something we do because we enjoy it and that’s ok ’cause life is meant to be enjoyed.

However….

Habitual overeating can lead to obesity or eating disorders like bulimia. Obesity is becoming more and more of a health issue and causes many chronic ( preventable)  diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Foods people use to medicate can simply vary by individual. Everything from sweets to fried foods or maybe a certain style of food.

The act of eating  soothes that “thing” within that troubles us. It can momentarily make us feel better and give a sense of comfort or peace. A false sense.

That type of behavioral  eating also broods other negatives as in self loathing or negative talk over what was eaten as the person feels guilty for doing it.

It can then lead one to other extreme behaviors of perhaps, restricting or cutting back on foods, withholding food, crazy “miracle” diet ideas, or cleanses or detoxes as a way to “negate” or get rid of what’s been done.

You cannot “undo” what has been done. You can choose to change the next behavior or choice.

it’s a whirlwind of self destructive behaviors while never possibly grasping the “why’s” of what’s being done.

It’s a process of understanding and learning why we do what we do and what triggers us to make those choices to medicate ourselves with food.

How can we counteract this?

People often dismiss the overall benefits of exercise. They often associate it as something you do to “lose weight” or to stay in good physical shape. They make jokes about it or moan about “having” to do it.

I get it. Been there done that. Exercise IS hard work and does require a healthy amount of discipline up front to make it a “habit” that you want to stick with.

I always tell people if they will just start, make that commitment, and give it a few weeks to begin to feel like a new habit it will be easier and really, they will begin to anticipate it.

Where both of those are true and helpful ( weight loss and staying in good shape)  exercise has far more wide reaching benefits to our body and mind.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.

Exercise has shown to help/improve mild to moderate depression without the side effects of medication.  Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.

Stay focused on what you are doing instead of zoning out. Think about how your body feels, how you breathe, the feel of the wind on your skin and things like that.

There’s nothing I love more than being out on the road for a run, hearing my feet hit the road, the sound of my breathing, maybe the wind blowing and nothing else that is a calm to my mind and soul.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

There’s a lot of other benefits too…..

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

You may be thinking you don’t have the time or it seems daunting to even start the process. The good news is that really, even a good 15 minute brisk walk every day can help boost your mood.

Let’s face it, everyone has at least 15 minutes, right?

Of course you’ll want to build that time up to reap bigger and better rewards not only mentally but physically too.

Overcoming obstacles

even intellectually knowing and understanding that exercise can help you mentally, it’s just not often that easy to jump into it.

Exercise obstacles are a very real thing.

For example:

Feeling tired. It’s hard to imagine going for a walk or whatever activity you’ve chosen if you feel like all you want is a nap. Studies show that exercise greatly reduces fatigue and even telling yourself just a 5 minute walk will most likely lead to a longer one.

Feeling overwhelmed. With all of life’s demands and things expected of us plus dealing with mental health issues, the idea of adding one more thing to your plate can seem daunting. Begin to think of it as a priority and you will find ways to fit small amounts into your schedule.

Feeling bad about yourself. We are and tend to be, our own worst critics. Embrace where you are and determine to think in positive ways about yourself.   No matter your age, size, fitness level etc there are people everywhere like you who are on the same path to wanting to get fit. Appreciate your body for what it can do for you and celebrate ways you are learning to take better care of it. It’s really ok to love yourself.

Starting small is the first important step and it’s really ok to start small. You don’t want to do to much to soon. Consistency will be the key to long term success. Commit to do something daily, no matter how small, and build on that.

Getting started in an exercise program is a good step towards having a healthy mind and spirit, to reduce stress and anxiety and maybe even, counteract negative behavior patterns with food and eating.

 

Eating Disorders And The Dark Side Of Food

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I was reminded of something again the other day that I hadn’t thought about in awhile. It’s something I’ve largely walked away from but it can, at times, still have it’s lingering claws sunk into me.

Disordered thinking about food and eating.

I guess on some levels, we all grow up with some kind of disordered thinking when it comes to eating and feeding our bodies.

If we’re fortunate we live in a family where balance and health is taught. We may or may not be so fortunate.

Food was always important in our family. Holidays, celebrations, birthdays, big Sunday meals, food was a part of everything.

That’s not inherently, bad. Food is a part of life and a part we should be able to enjoy and have fun with. Food nourishes us and gives us life. Food brings us together.

Unfortunately, food can also become as much of an addictive, powerful, and deadly force in our lives as drugs or alcohol.

My grandmother and mom were amazing cooks. It’s where I learned that nothing compares to homemade baked goods. They taught me how to read recipes and be inventive. I totally acknowledge I learned all I know about food and cooking from them.

Both of them, were also morbidly obese.

More was always better growing up. Clean your plate. Leave nothing behind. Seconds, well, of course you should have them. Eat until you felt your stomach would come through your skin.

That is such a gross feeling. It’s one I haven’t experienced now in so long I can’t tell you… I haven’t eat like that in more years than I can count… and I don’t miss it at all.

I’m not beating up on my family.  It’s just the truth of my reality.

It wasn’t till I was a full grown adult that I could really see much more clearly the impact food had on my family… in a negative way. Besides my grandmother and mom having all kinds of health problems from being to fat, there was the emotional aspect of food and eating that I could identify much more clearly.

Food was comfort. Food met unmet emotional needs. Food was love.

I was in a family of overeaters and binging on food was quite common.

Eating disorders at it’s finest.

Thankfully, as I began my health journey and started getting a handle on my weight and where I was heading, I also had eyes that started clearly seeing what I had grown up with thinking it was normal and ok.

It wasn’t. Overeating and binging on food is never ok.

And I’m not talking about, you know, Christmas dinner where you have an extra roll and potatoes. Those are special occasions where you might be tempted to eat a bit more than usual. I’m talking about it as an unhealthy lifestyle.

The other ugly end of the spectrum  of course, is not eating or withholding food. Anorexia and bulimia,   two major eating disorders wreak as much havoc on people as eating to much food.

All of them, incidentally, are listed as mental illnesses. Did you know that ?

All of them in their own ways, destroy the body. Food is one of the few things we have power over in our lives…what we eat…how we eat.. how much we eat…we have exclusive control. In a world that we might seem to have no power… we have power over our food intake…or lack thereof.

Consider a few of these stats:

One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia.  2-3 American women suffer from bulimia.  An additional 10% of women report symptoms consistent with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge disorder eating leaving the numbers at a staggering 75% of American women who endorse some unhealthy thoughts, feelings, or behaviors related to food or their bodies.

Of course these numbers don’t reflect men who suffer from these diseases as well.  The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders states approximately 8 million Americans suffer with eating disorders. There are indications from other forums that those numbers are actually, higher.

Those are staggering numbers.

Eating disorders — such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males

 

Now back to my opening line of thoughts that still sink their claws into me…

No, I don’t believe I ever had a full blown eating disorder. Well, I know I didn’t.

Disordered thinking regarding food, absolutely.

There were times, certainly, when I was pretty thin. After all, isn’t that what’s pushed at us?

Be thin. Thinner is better. Except during those times I never viewed myself that way… I didn’t see myself as I really was…mentally I thought I was heavier… but the world saw a very tall thin woman.

 

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I ran the gambit of things growing up and well into adulthood.

Skipping breakfast, not eating till dinner, eating ridiculous small portions that weren’t enough food, pushing a lot of water, chewing gum to try and ignore my hunger, frequent check in’s with the scale, crazy fad diets.. yeah…disordered at its best. Thinking about food all the time or when I could have it (weird how when you are in those places, food can dominate your thinking, especially when you keep yourself hungry all the time) then when I finally allowed myself to eat… of course.. it was inhaled because I was so hungry.

Those thoughts can sometimes still creep in…

Like thinking about the calories of something when I know I need to eat…like after or before a workout.  Thankfully, I view food more as fuel for my body and a way to nourish it now days but sometimes I find myself thinking… maybe I don’t need that…

Maybe I should skip a meal.

Maybe I don’t need a pre-snack before a long hard workout.

Ignoring my hunger when I know I need to eat.

Sometimes not eating enough food.

 

However, those thoughts are rare now, and I think I have an overall healthy attitude with food and keeping it in a proper place in my life. I know eating well not only fuels my daily activities but what I enjoy doing physically.  I’ve learned eating three (healthy, nourishing meals) keeps me from being hungry and not thinking about food all day.

Not only that, good nutrition and athletic activities have given me a strong, powerful body that I prefer now over the vague quest to just be “thin”.

Some of you reading this might struggle with that very thing: keeping food in a proper place and relationship for what it is. Maybe you struggle with your perception of yourself.

Perhaps you’ve been there but have it managed now.

Food is, and will be a huge part of our lives. Understanding how we relate to it and the role we allow it to play in our lives is huge.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, it can also be a “power” issue.

The power to choose. The power to withhold. The power to overdo. The power to eat and hide it. The power to secretly eat to much and throw it up.

This can give us a sense of “control” when our worlds might be, or seem, out of control. Unfortunately, for some, these diseases can become what controls their lives.

These are such deep, broad issues that I’ve barely touched on. The reasons why someone struggles with it is wide and varied.

Eating disorders have no economic or social boundaries. Both sexes can struggle with them. Having an awareness of the issue is the first step to wellness and a healthier relationship with food.

For more information or help visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautifully Flawed

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I spotted them immediately. Actually, I know where their stalking spot is, but I still have to walk by it.

It makes me feel like a character in Three Billy Goats Gruff where the goats have to get over the bridge or get eaten by a troll.

These… are the modern day trolls.

Who, you might be wondering, do I speak of?

The “skin care” people staked out in kiosks at the mall eager to push on you all of their products. They can be unrelenting in pursuing “customers”.

To get to my favorite stores, I have to be able to successfully navigate through them, much like the goats crossing the bridge in Three Billy Goats Gruff….

It was a lovely day and I was out shopping with my daughter. We had successfully made it through but it was on the way back I got caught by the um… troll ?  All I can say is, I wasn’t fully on my game that day, perhaps I was distracted talking with my daughter but regardless….

He quickly handed a sample off to me and turned around telling me to wait.. and in my head  I’m yelling… “they always, and only, give you one sample… run!”

Yet, somehow, before I knew it, I was planted in his chair listening to him talk to me in some exotic accent as he applied some cream all under my eye proclaiming how it would “help me”

He then produced a picture of a woman, that I kid you not, was in her 80’s with deeply lined wrinkled skin and huge puffy bags under her eyes.. he waves it in my face…

“Do you see this? ” he proclaims…

I choke out.. “are you saying I look that BAD???”

He tells me “no” he’s only trying to show me a “results” picture for his product.

Like, why wouldn’t he show me something I could relate to better ?

Anyway, he keeps babbling on and on about his amazing product and how I’m going to love it…then he says… “Now, I’m going to let you look in the mirror. Please don’t scream.”

I ask him… ” Why? Am I going to look as bad as that woman you just showed me ?”

He tells me no, I will look much better… geez… I left the house that day thinking I looked pretty good….all the sudden I was wondering if there might be a bag I could drop over my head… like I was out in public looking like some gargoyle.

He shows me the mirror and honestly, I can’t tell a huge difference.

I didn’t scream. I did feel like I had someone constantly pulling at the edge of my eye, which was annoying.

He then says proudly, “AND you can use this and not have to use Botox!”

I looked at him and said… “never, in my life, have I considered doing that”

He looked stunned. He looked …well… shocked… he sputtered out… “Really? But don’t you want to look better?”

I told him I wanted to be me, and really, all I honestly wanted was to age gracefully.

No Botox. No surgeries to change my face. No weirdo stuff.

I listened for a bit as he went on … his whole speech really designed to make me ( or anyone ) in his chair feel bad about how they looked… and that using his product would fix me and make me “better” ( his words… “oh, you are a very lovely woman, but I can make you look so much better!”)

He asked me what product I wanted to buy… the one for my face or the one for my hands he had used.

I stood up and told him neither… I hadn’t gone out that day needing any of his products to make me “better”…. and I left.

So let’s get to this … this whole belief right now that seems to permeate so much of the world….all kinds of things from small to extreme in a quest to “stay” young or look it… the attitude that says age and maturity are not “good”, and that you aren’t good enough or you’re somehow “flawed” if you have signs of living life, or the things that make “you” who you are mean you’re “flawed” or you need surgeries  to fix all of the things that are somehow wrong with you…… seriously.

First, I will straight up say, I do what I can to maintain my body and my health. Of course I want to look as good as I can “for my age”. Who shouldn’t or doesn’t want to ?

I have a young, energetic attitude and personality and don’t intend to give that up any time soon…

I’m also smack in the zone of “middle aged womanhood”.

I don’t need to look 20ish… I’m not. I’ve had lines on my forehead for my entire life that are genetic ( mom, grandmother, and I’m sure my great grandmother) probably had too. I don’t need a cream to make them go away… it’s a part of who I am….

Those small laugh and smile lines? Why would I want to hide the years in my life of laughing,  smiling, joy and happiness ?

Why was I listening to a total stranger try and convince me I’m not good enough as I am??

Why do we listen to society or let current beliefs try and convince us we aren’t good enough ? Worse yet, why are we left feeling like we need to apologize???

This is so prevalent in the world today.  You don’t have to look but as far as the nearest magazine or internet story to see all the ways you can get fixed or be made “better”.

I’m not talking about things like… if you need to lose weight to be healthy or do things to keep you well… those are health issues… not superficial issues….

Do the things you like that make you feel good about yourself, there is nothing at all wrong with that.

There’s a big difference in doing things for yourself that make you feel good, or doing things because someone has pointed out you have “flaws” that need fixed.

Take care of your body, maintain your health, physical, spiritual, and emotional. We get one body to use in this world so we need to care for all aspects of it.

Aging is a part of life. How we embrace it and approach it largely depends on each of us.

Yeah, I’m 50ish, yeah I’m perfectly good with it. I’ve lived life and I’m grateful for such a gift.

Whether or not some stranger thinks I have something that needs to be made “better” is totally irrelevant to me.

There’s a lot more to who I am … and besides…. I can still rock the heck out of a little pair of shorts and a tank top so I’m good with that 😉

The whole “you aren’t good enough the way you are” is nonsense. We aren’t flawed or lacking or inadequate.

Stop listening to lies.  Live empowered.

 

 

 

Learning To Embrace Yourself

Last week while I was being busy droning around the house doing those varied and multiple tasks that need to be tended to, I heard a story come on one of those entertainment shows that happened to be on, ( let it be noted my tv “viewing” is more often listening while I’m doing something else haha)

Anyway, it was a story about Kate Gosselin, and how she had this incredible bikini body. You may or may not remember her claim to fame was being pregnant with eight babies at once, which then turned into a reality show for awhile. Honestly, I have no idea what she’s up to now…other than rocking it on a beach somewhere in her bikini.

So I did watch with some fascination and agreed, yes, she looked awesome. But then, hey, couldn’t every mom who’s given birth if they had a team of plastic surgeons nipping, tucking, shaping, lifting and “enhancing”?

Please, hear me out.

I’m not being snarky. I’m not bashing. I firmly believe that women need to build each other up and not tear down based on insecurities. I admire women and my goal is always to be encouraging and supportive.

I just don’t know that it’s a real honest assessment… like she’s busted her butt forever and got that  body… to hold that out to the average woman as something she can achieve.

I’m sure she works out… I mean… I don’t know for a fact… but it’s a strong probability.  I just don’t know it’s fair to hold that image out to women like “hey, after all those babies she can look like this and you should/can too!”

I mean, that’s Hollywood and unrealistic expectations for the rest of the world, right ?

We don’t have 24 hour personal trainers.

We can’t afford plastic surgery even if we might want to.

We don’t have personal chefs or nutritionists that plan and cook our meals.

We don’t have time to devote half our day to our bodies.

We work, have kids to chase down, homes we have to take care of and all that goes with it,  projects to do, meals to cook, etc. etc.

And somewhere, in the midst of all that, we try and carve out a little time to take care of ourselves ( hopefully you do)

And I hope, you have a positive, loving attitude about that body of yours. It makes me sad when women ( and maybe guys do this too) are critical and harsh with themselves.

Supposed “flaws” are singled out. Comparisons made to other peoples bodies. Self-defeating talk. Magazines with airbrushed seemingly “flawless” bodies that can leave us feeling inadequate.

Why are we so critical with ourselves? And why do we often miss how self-defeating that is.

No. Most of us will never be shaped, enhanced, or lifted to fix our “flaws”.

But hey listen up, there’s nothing wrong with you and it’s ok to embrace yourself as you are.

Working to lose weight? Be kind and patient with yourself as you move through the process of becoming a stronger, healthier, more fit you.

Maybe you’re at the weight you want to be but you’ve been working on that “thing” ( seriously will that loose skin EVER tighten up ??)

Perhaps you look in the mirror and hate your ( fill in the blank).

Stop it.

Learn to embrace you and love yourself. Understand some things will never change.. be ok with that. Know that many things CAN change… you need to determine if you want to work for it to make it happen.

My body has changed dramatically from my mid20’s when I was having babies, to my 30-40’s, to now.

Physically, I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been. I’m stronger, pack more muscle, and can do more athletically than when I was younger. I love that.

I’ve also carried to term, three beautiful sons.  My body miraculously housed and then delivered big, strong, healthy boys. No matter what exercise I do, I will still have marks from carrying them and skin that isn’t perfectly tight.

My turning point was a few years ago when I just decided to own every aspect of myself, and that meant not worrying so much about my perceived “flaws” and focusing overall on having a strong, healthy and fit body.

I did rock a bikini at the beach. I was more confident and proud of those muscles in my tummy that I had built than skin that wasn’t entirely “perfect”…. but even now I’d have to say…by whose standards would that be determined… “perfect”?

I simply learned to embrace myself… no excuses or pardon needed for anything.

There is a tremendous amount of freedom when you do that, learn to embrace yourself, and be truly comfy in your own skin.

Now I’m not saying you should dive into a bikini if you’re not comfortable with that… be you…  always be who you are…. but don’t hide behind something because you think you have to.

Don’t make apologies for yourself. Don’t look at yourself as flawed.

Embrace the beauty of who you uniquely are…. and hey…. we might not look as reshaped as Kate… but if you wanna rock that bikini…. go for it 😉

 

 

 

Taking Up Space

This post is for every woman who has ever thought she has to move through this world shrinking, and not taking up space. For every woman who has thought if she were somehow some perfect small size her worth and value would increase.

Society pushes it at us.

Smaller this. Lesser that.  Just ….be….less…..

I guess for years I chased that ideal.

In my youth, I had hit my height of 6’0 sometime in middle school. Not cool. Boys were a long way from appreciating long and leggy at that point in time.

I was as tall or taller than boys pretty much through high school. Did I mention how awkward and difficult that was at times ??

I longed to be like some of my friends who were 5ft something and 110lbs soaking wet. My mom would constantly remind me to stand up straight… keep my shoulders back… I wasn’t overweight by any stretch….

I just wanted to take up less space.

Once out of school in the real world I realized being tall wasn’t a liability. As I got older I appreciated it more and more.

After settling into life, marriage, and having babies I had gotten “comfortable”  (which is my nice way of saying I had put on extra weight I didn’t need to have).

I was definitely… soft and fluffy.

Eight years ago I started on my health and fitness journey.

My goal at that point? Smaller. Take up less space. Shrink. Be less.

Being less meant being more, right ?

Now hear me… I knew for my health I needed to drop some pounds. I trust that you, my reading friend, know if you need to take those same steps…for your health.

And I did… I lost weight.. dropped sizes… lost inches. I got smaller. After all, isn’t that what the world tells us we should strive for ?

The scale, my judge and jury, applauded my efforts.

However, along the way, after I had lost the weight I desired and started building muscle I realized I liked having a strong, solid, powerful body and taking up some space.

I stopped thinking about numbers and what the scale said ( if you haven’t, be sure and check out my Scale Experiment post on that topic)

Until recently…. I had to start thinking about numbers and sizes and all things related as I prepared for my sons wedding.

I had found the “perfect” dress.

Seriously. Perfect.

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At the wedding with hubby on left and my brother on right… and “the dress” 😉
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A peek at the back during our mother son dance. Such a sweet moment that almost killed me.

If I wanted to make sure it was an absolute “fit like a glove dress”, I could send them my measurements and have a dress custom made for me.

That seemed like a plan.  So there I was after ( forever long) of not thinking of sizes or numbers, getting my measurements for the dress.

Ok this isn’t a blog on the perfect mother of the groom dress ( although…. 😉 I might not give any thought to what my current pant size is ( ha what is it??) or my measurements,  but more about  what numbers do matter to me now…..

How many miles can I run ? What pace can I push and for how long ? Riding my bike, how many miles can I get into a ride? How fast can I keep my speed? Lifting weight… what’s the heaviest dead lift I can do? How many squats will my body handle before it says “enough!” ? How many reps can I do working my core with several different exercises? How many push ups? How long can I plank ?

Those numbers matter to me now.

Ironically, so many of the exercises I’ve been doing are building me and pushing me out of certain clothes… but I’m really ok with that.

I can take up my space in this world and don’t have to make a single apology for it.

Neither do you.

Be healthy. Be strong. Take up your own space.

What do you think? Have you ever felt like you needed to be “less” to be “more”? Have you had any struggles with that? Or have you moved through a point where you comfortable with taking up your own space in the world?

Share with me.

Swimsuit Season Is Upon Us

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It happens every year as stealth as a SWAT team going down on a crack house.

Swimsuit season arrives. You wake up one morning and it’s just….here.

Oh, you know it’s coming and you ponder it and you think of the mission of heading out to buy one. You wait for a note to be secretly delivered to you as in Mission Impossible kinda note…. this is your mission if you choose to accept it….

You set a date. You go armed feeling your best. You troll through endless arrays of swim wear. You immediately mentally discard the mass amount of pre-pubescent garments. You keep walking by the  screaming “I’m a floral arrangement” ones. You eyeball the barely there string cut ones and ponder if even a Victoria Secret model could pull it off.  I personally, keep moving right past the skirted ones and ones that offer more bra than I even wear on a daily basis.

Guys….sometimes I’m jealous that you just wander in and buy some board shorts and scamper on your way 😉

My selection levels drop greatly and from that point I begin my process of searching out a style I like, and locating the proper sizes.

Ok… the reality is this. I love bikinis. I do. No apologies whatsoever for that.

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First, I’m rather long and those one piece things never quite fit just right. And really, having a wet clammy swimsuit on my belly just isn’t where it’s at for me.

I like having my tummy tanned… maybe it’s shallow but I don’t really care. I love how free it feels to be in one.

This is my personal view point. What I’m comfy with. What I like.

That being done… it’s time… time to head to the dressing room. You know the dressing rooms I’m talking about, right? The ones with carnival house mirrors that distort you ( at least…you think…it’s the mirror;) and ghastly lighting that makes you look all white and pasty ?

This is where you find yourself pondering… “do I look this horrible in real life?”  and you have to resist the urge to bolt and run out the door…..

You… when you go on your hunting expedition should have in mind… what defines you…what you like….Obviously, you will pick something you feel comfy in ( as you should) and I hope you pick something that you can go out and rock in confidence.

That is key to anything you venture out in.

Own it. Nothing works better than confidence.

I know you’ve seen an overused slogan by fitness pages and diet machines asking “are you bikini ready?”  “do you have a bikini body?”

Here’s my take on this…. I don’t think a bikini or some fun suit should be relegated to a select group and that is all. However, please, no matter what style, bikini or otherwise, make sure you get a suit that fits well… that covers the right areas in a flattering way.

Meaning not to small. I always size up when I buy swimwear… and really…who knows…or cares…. if you did? What is more noticeable is if it doesn’t fit properly.

But let’s be honest… it’s hard to slip into something barely there and then wander out for public display. We are more than conscious of our body than anyone else and that’s a really vulnerable place to be.

Remember my post on body image? I, like all of you, have worked to embrace who I am in my own skin. The reality is, I’ve given birth to three beautiful sons. The reality is, I wasn’t blessed with skin that looked like I was never pregnant ( mad props to the few of you who got genetically blessed with that) I have some stretch marks and some loose skin no matter how much I’ve worked out or how good my eating, still remain. Honestly, being transparent with you, there are times it can bug me.

What I try and focus on is the positive… how my body has changed in such positive ways, how strong it is, the muscle I’ve built, the fact I have better abs now than when I was in my 20’s, and let’s not forget that my body can run for miles…. lots of positives to focus on.

And with those things in mind and a crazy dose of confidence, I bought a new one today.

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Mine is styled much like this, just with colored polka dots 😉

I saw it last year but it had sold out before I could get my hands on it. It’s mine now. It’s cute. And fun. And I don’t really care what anyone else will think.

I’m gonna rock that sucker for all it’s worth.

Let me remind you, summer fun and pools and beaches aren’t just for the cute, seemingly “perfect” group.

Life is meant to be embraced and enjoyed no matter what size or shape you are…. you don’t need some random person or idea to tell you that you can’t go enjoy your life. Get out there and do it.

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Obviously, girl on left is what society/media pushes today. Girl on right is definitely more mainstream….. yet she’s rocking a 2 piece 😉

Now tell me. Do you have a swimsuit horror story ? Do you struggle with buying swimwear? Is it something you enjoy or dread ?