Your Body Perfectly Imperfect

body 1

The perfect body. The right look. The best abs. The right “booty”. Sculpted arms.

The perfect “everything”.

Men and women are bombarded today with images and news stories that the media or fitness world tries to convince us that we should look like.

It might bring you down before you even get started. The seemingly overwhelming and impossible task to look “perfect” without living a restrictive diet and hours in the gym.

Does the average person even have time for it, if perhaps, that was their goal?

And let’s be honest, what’s perfect to one, will not always be perfect to another. It’s a very illusive pursuit.

Let’s also not forget how much genetics will play into our bodies and how we can shape them. If you have your moms  wide hips you might be able to slim them down or tone them up, but you most likely will never have a small round bottom like you admire on your fit friend.

You might want long lean cut abs, but again, depending on your body type and structure the look you want might be harder, if not impossible to achieve.

Besides a good disciplined exercise program, your nutrition needs to be on point the majority of the time to lose the fat and build some muscle.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I thought I wanted the past few years I’ve been on my health and fitness journey. I’ve learned more about what matters, or what is important to me.

Learning what I wanted

In the beginning, I thought just being “thin” was the goal. Just get “thin”.  I really had no goal beyond that and looking back now I wonder what seemed so desirable to me about just being thin ( as a goal) Of course I needed to lose some fat.. that was important. And I did get thin.

But I was still learning…

Once I had lost weight ( I was exercising along the way too) I started to see how exercise and some weights were shaping me differently. I had picked up running and it was during the time of really cutting calories and more exercise I realized I had abs.

Ok…so… that’s cool… well at least to a middle aged woman who had never really had defined abs or a strong hard core before. Age is not a limiting factor to changing your body composition, by the way.

When I got injured and couldn’t run for over a year, I picked up cycling and did a lot more weight training. Not running 55-60 miles a week, it allowed a little weight back on me that was being reshaped into a stronger more powerful body.

Embracing my body. This is where I got it.

This is where I started to appreciate exactly what my body could do even if I wasn’t a perfect fitness model for a magazine or even if my body parts never shaped up like the articles I saw in magazines.

It didn’t matter and I didn’t care.

The important part?

In all my training and various activities, my body performed for me. It was strong. It was powerful. It adapted to my training to allow me to do more. It made more blood, grew more vessels, learned to deliver oxygen in a more efficient manner during my strongest workout sessions, it grew new cells and more mitochondria ( the literal powerhouse of the cells) it grew my heart and also made it more efficient by giving me a super low resting heart rate so it doesn’t have to work as hard. The other side of that is having a faster recovery heart rate. My muscles grew and got stronger. I was able to run longer, faster and with more ease. I could lift more weight and do more reps.

body 2

Do we ever stop and ponder how totally adaptable and changeable our bodies are? What amazing machines they can be with the proper care and fuel?  The glorious things you can do with them with some investment of time and proper nutrition  to train them to be stronger?

Do we value them as they are, where we are, at this moment in time?

We live surrounded by media and the world that would constantly convince us we are not there yet, that we are lacking, that we aren’t “enough”.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, be patient with yourself and embrace what your body can do now. Know that as you lose weight and exercise you’ll become more fit and definitely more healthy.

If you’re already working out, stay the course, appreciate where you’ve come from and that if you want continued change, it’s possible for you.

But no matter where you are on your journey, never lose sight of the amazing, adaptable gift your body is and all it’s capable of doing for you.

As you move into this year with new goals and plans remember this: Love and value your body, it’s the only one you’ve got. Remember you are “enough” and don’t shrink from all you’re capable of being and all you’re capable of doing.

Have you learned to embrace yourself ? Do you appreciate your body for all it can do for you even if you may not have achieved certain goals?




Body Recomposition

Ohhhh she’s using big words today haha 😉

In yesterdays post I mentioned seeing my doctor and that it was one of my two weigh-ins that I typically do in a year.

The cool thing ? It really only ever bounces around a couple pounds in either direction… especially depending on where I am in my training.  I am less concerned today about those numbers than I’ve been in  my life. Mainly ’cause I’ve learned there’s way more going on in my body besides what those numbers spit up.

Oh, at one point I was like any other woman when I was needing to lose. I consulted the scale for proof of my efforts for the week. If I’m honest ( and I know you do this too) you do everything the exact way… for me… early morning.. no clothes…hold my breathe… pray for good numbers… like you’re a prize in Vegas or something…..

As I lost weight and eventually got to a place I was comfortable with I became less concerned , not careless, I had just developed a plan that worked for me to keep me in the place I liked. If my small clothes continued to fit comfortably I knew I was where I needed to be.  My exercise was strong, steady, and a sustainable habit so that helped keep me there too.

Those beginning years of my health and fitness journey I was focused on weight loss, learning better nutrition and getting my exercise where it needed to be.

** Ok, and hang with me here. I am my own guinea pig, I have no other person to use as an illustration, although I wanna hear from you guys if you have something to say on this or where you are in process. **

In time though, something interesting began to happen. As my body fat dropped, muscles began to be more obvious that had been hiding under it.

My body started to take on a different shape…leaner… more cut and defined. It wouldn’t be till many years later that I’d learn about something called  “body recomposition”.

Basically, it means the way the body is composed. So… recomposition is a restructuring of the body and what’s in it.

In physical fitness it usually means the amount of fat mass and lean muscle mass. Fat mass is literally, all fat in your body. Lean muscle mass means all the other stuff 😉 after long periods of ( nutrition, exercise and  fat loss) you can “recompose” your body ending up with more lean muscle mass than fat. I think it’s a pretty good trade off for hard work, right ?

You WANT more muscle than fat. First of all,  for your health, it looks nicer, and finally it metabolically burns about 6 calories per pound at rest, compared to the 2 calories a pound of fat burns.

It can dramatically change your appearance…  and it can also sneak up on you. At least, it’s how it felt to me. None of that was on my mind when I began my journey.

When I hear women say they want to get “toned”, they really mean, they want some muscle because the muscle is what gives shape and that taut look. This happens when body fat drops and muscles that are being built become visible.

It’s a process of intentionally eating well and lifting heavy things, building muscle, and losing body fat that leads to these changes.

.You are essentially, trading fat for more muscle. ** Please note: you can’t turn fat into muscle or muscle into fat. They are complete separate things. **

It’s a slow process that can take years. I think it’s really important when I talk to (women) but it’s the same for men too, I didn’t build this overnight, no one does.  I consider it still an ongoing work in progress.

The danger today is that people want fast, instant gratification on things like weight loss and body change but the reality is, it takes time! I’ve been at it for 7 years now. Remember, in the beginning, I was out to just lose weight. When my body started looking so different from what I was doing, it became an interesting science project to press on with 😉

It’s also interesting to note that in the past couple years, my weight has stayed pretty much within a couple pounds in either direction, yet amazing changes still were taking place. Muscle made me look leaner even though the numbers didn’t drop. I’m no longer really assessed with a BMI but more on body fat percentage. In December I had gotten to about 13%.

Now you….tell me where you are on your own fitness journeys. Have you had body changes after years of persistence? Has it been worth the effort ? What have you learned ?

And finally, I’ll add some photos from the past few years so you can see the changes……

April '10 arms
Dec 2010… one of my first pics to do… I thought I was rocking some serious arms 😉
Jan '10 tummy
Jan 2010….I’m really pretty happy with myself at this point. I’ve been on my journey for 3 years. You can tell my tummy has a little definition but still more than enough body fat… hiding my deeper ab muscles.
Fall of 2011.. leaner… but abs still have a ways to go….
Jan '11
Here come those arms… Jan 2011….way less fat allowing muscle cuts to show
Sept '11
Sept 2011…. a bigger change….
evolving arms 2010/2013
evolving arms 2010/2013
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My other professional pic taken for Runners World… this one didn’t get used…this is Sept 2012… the belly has leaned out… some definition showing up
Dec 2014… the front =)
Dec 2014
Dec 2014 back looking pretty defined
Dec 2014
Dec 2014… abs… =)
Leg pic
Dec 2014…. strong legs…lots of muscle

Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014
Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014