What’s Your “Why” For Good Health

 

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What’s your why?¬† Why do you do what you do? All of us have “whys” for things we do in our lives.

Let’s take that to our health and fitness goals.

Why do you want to do it? Or why are you out there every day going after it ?

More energy? Better health? To do something you’ve never done? To build your confidence? To daily activities easier? To be strong and empowered?

If you are like many I talk to, they want to but haven’t nailed down their “why” for getting fit or losing weight.

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I think, it’s a reason many people start, stop, and quit.

I was talking to a young woman the other night. She’s half my age. The conversation started that she didn’t believe I had ever been¬†heavier or not fit. ( my daughter had informed her of that ūüėõ )

I’ve taken pictures since I started my health journey because it tells a much bigger story than numbers on a scale.¬† I showed them to her.

8 years ago I was a much softer, fluffier version of me. I was also quite a bit heavier.  My arms were soft with no muscle definition as were my legs.

I hadn’t looked at the photos in awhile so it was like a rapid fire look through my transition of the past few years.

Change definitely takes time.

Then she asked me..

“So why did you do it? What made you start?”

I have my own “whys” for getting started on my health and fitness journey.

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My check up with my doctor that year was my turning point. It became my “why”.

I knew I was packing pounds I didn’t need, and I knew I wasn’t getting the exercise my body needed.

I also knew my family history and that my mom and grandmother were both obese and had many health problems associated with being to fat. My grandmother had a heart attack at 50.  Her and my mom had high blood pressure and diabetes. My mom eventually developed kidney issues, having two transplants and ultimately being on dialysis. My father, although having really no contact with him, I knew he was overweight and had diabetes. He ultimately died of a heart attack.

I was 46 the year of that check up.

Knowing I was still healthy and had the power to change things settled on me.

My “whys” became so I didn’t walk the same paths as family members before me. To be healthy for myself and for my family.

My “why” for starting was fairly simple and uncomplicated.

Lose weight. Stay healthy.

I had no idea the journeys I would go on in the upcoming years.

I guess the rest, is history. I made the choices I did and in that I found activities I love and have become passionate about.

Never, ever would I have thought I’d become a runner. Or a cyclist. Or that I’d be pursuing both at the same time for a race.

I’ve learned to eat more good foods than not. It’s all worked together.

My “whys” turned into, “why not’s”.

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She started telling me her story, one that is familiar to me now as many people have similar ones.

She just wanted to lose weight.  She wanted to get back to working out.

So I asked her… “Why? Why do you want to?”

One of her first responses was “well I want to get back to the weight I was in high school”

I told her that was great, but what was so wonderful about that weight?  Did she think it would make her happier or more successful? Why did she think that was a reason for getting started?  (And for the record, your high school weight was great when you were 17 but it might not be where you need to be today in the body you are in now)

Talking it out for a bit she finally admitted “well I know I was pretty thin and wasn’t taking care of myself like I should”

Maybe that isn’t a good why reason.

We kept talking and she said “well I would like to lose weight because I’ll just feel better about myself, and doing that makes me feel more confident”

Ok, good reasons. Now we were slowing getting somewhere.

She talked about her son and how she wanted to be healthy for him and how she wanted to be able to do things with him. She mentioned how she bought him all these healthy foods and she didn’t focus as much on her own nutrition.

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I asked her why she thought taking care of herself wasn’t a priority. (note… you get no bonus points in life for putting yourself on the back burner)

We continued talking and brainstorming as I listened to her share her story with me.

She finally admitted she needed to consider her health as a priority as much as her sons was.

Now… now we were getting somewhere.

She was getting to her “why” for wanting to¬†do it. More than just a vague acknowledgement of wanting to lose weight.

We all need to come to the point where we can answer our own “why” for wanting to lose weight and get fit. Then we must begin to remove the excuses that keep us from moving forward to our goals.

It might be fun to think of getting to your high school weight or losing 10 lbs before a class reunion but is that going to be enough to get you going?

To keep you going ?

You have to examine it beyond a surface thought of “I just want to lose weight” to a deeper level that will keep you motivated to reaching your goals.

Making your own list of why you want to get healthier and fit is a good way to move towards making it happen.

As you make a list think of how losing weight will help you. How will you feel? What will you be able to do easier that you can’t now? What health needs do you need to address? How will losing weight improve them? How do you feel about yourself right now? Would losing weight help you with a more positive attitude about yourself?

You can apply similar thoughts to getting fit and eating better.¬† Losing weight doesn’t just change our bodies, but it changes how we feel about ourselves and that in turn affects the rest of our lives.

Getting to your own reasons for why you want to lose weight, get fit or stronger and healthier is a key step to actually accomplishing those things in your life.

What was your “why” reason for weight loss and getting in shape?

 

 

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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 ‚Äď 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conformity Won’t Know What Hit It

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Sorry… this just made me laugh.

 

Conformity ~

Compliance with standards, rules, and laws. Behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards.

Conformity involves changing your behaviors in order to “fit in” or “go along” with the people around you.

Ahhhh conformity. We are all bound by it to some degree or another. Some of us willingly and unflinchingly go along with things even if we might have other ideas in our heads. Conformity silently and effectively directs our paths, thoughts, and ways of doing things.

Now hold on…. I already sense some of you might be thinking…well… you can’t just do what you want all the time….

So true. Catch the first part of the definition. To me it applies to the things in life that are kind of non-negotiable.

You have to follow laws and rules of government. You have to respect signs when you’re driving, you have to act like a respectable, decent citizen, you can’t just go blazing your way through the day and have no regard for the “structure” that we all operate in… and we have that for order and a lack of chaos.

Although… sometimes… when I get mail that states “Open now! Urgent! Open immediately!” I love just shredding it and ignoring it’s demands to do what it says. The bulk mail stamp gives it away as “junk mail”

I’m such a rebel. haha

Anyway, I digress. Now that we’ve established my post isn’t about disrupting world order by not conforming….

Let’s address where I’m coming from. The second part of the definition…

behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards.

I like how Webster’s defines it :

Simple Definition of conformity

  • : behavior that is the same as the behavior of most other people in a society, group, etc.

  • : the fact or state of agreeing with or obeying something

 

Again on some levels, we will all conform. We do it most likely, unknowingly at times. Other times, we move along with others to just not make waves, stand out, or be different. We don’t want to cause “conflict” or have others think of us in a different way so we just blend in.¬† We keep out thoughts, opinions, personal likes/desires to ourselves as if being different was… a bad thing.

Having a daughter in high school, that theory is very much alive and well. I’m always telling her not to be a “sheep” following along with everyone without thinking for herself and doing what she wants. I might be having a margin of success with this but I fully understand it can take some maturity to get to that point too.¬† When you are in high school you simply must do what everyone else does.

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Like sheep, we often go along with the herd. It’s comfy, right? You’re all alike and have the same focus and it requires no effort. Trust me….I’ve been a sheep too. I still am in¬†many situations. Sometimes it’s ok to just be in the herd and hang out in the safety of all being focused in the same way.¬† Sometimes… for me… it’s easier to stay there because it requires no effort to push me out of the fold.

But…. even then… my sheep mind is very, very active. And really, I wanna be the different sheep.

I guess with age I’ve learned some things. Yes, my mother taught me well to be polite, respectful, courteous, pleasant even in the face of difficulties,¬† to respect those older than me,¬† and to obey appropriate laws, rules and authority.

But…. I’ve also learned it’s ok to be… me. To think for myself, have my own take on things even if it doesn’t mesh with those around me or even closest to me.

It’s ok to not conform to an “expected” social norm. I make jokes about there being some societal “rule book” but who the heck wrote it ? and why am I supposed to blindly follow along with it…like a …sheep ?

As stated, getting older and understanding myself better and really at some points being unwilling to stay in “the box” it¬†has allowed me to move into some areas of life where I freely, and unapolgetically feel no need to conform for anyone.

For instance, years ago when getting multiple ear piercings got boring, I had my nose done ( and yes it made my eyes water some ha) I still have it. I love how fun and carefree it is. I remember standing¬† in line for coffee one day when a man asked me if it was just “stuck on”. I gave him my best smile and said… “nope, I have a hole in my nose” … the look on his face…. I also got a couple other unique piercings after that one…simply because I wanted to, and why not?

Or the fact I’ve been around people with tattoos for years. I have admired the art work and reasons each person had for doing it. I never felt led towards getting one… just to “get one”. To me, that is one of the most personal and almost intimate things a¬† person does with themselves so I just wouldn’t do it to be “trendy”.

Until a specific thing began to get very real and very personal to me… enough to move me into the commitment to get my first one. And if you’ve read my other posts, you know I collected a couple more tattoos¬†since then, pretty much a half sleeve worth. Each one with meaning and importance to me.

Maybe it’s¬†not what a lot of middle aged women are doing…but then as mentioned… I’m not interested in conforming into a societal “norm” of what everyone my age is supposed to be doing.

I want to be out of the box… I don’t mind pushing back against the status quo…I want to experience things and don’t want to be forced to conform to expectations that are blindly followed by the majority.

“You are supposed to do this”, “You can’t do that”, “You must act this way, not that way”…

I don’t want to “conform” to those patterns. ¬†Does that make me a bit of a rebel? Maybe.

I’ll take that chance.

Or maybe it just makes me free to be who I want to be without worrying about someone else’s thoughts or opinions… to be free from staying in the box of conformity…..

To voice my own thoughts (respectfully) but be able to speak them and not¬†feel like… I can’t or shouldn’t…because those around me don’t feel the same… to view the world through my own eyes and not someone else’s….to find beauty in things others don’t… to live out loud….¬†to embrace my own style through how I dress and ways I¬†express myself.. well.. it’s hugely freeing.

There’s nothing I love more than encountering people who march to the beat of their own drum and who are¬†doing it quite unapologetically. ¬†Inevitably, these people resonate with me.

In this world, we will all share many common things that do conform us. It’s a natural, and in¬†some¬†way, a¬†necessary¬†part of society.

But don’t forget, you, are still a unique individual designed and purposed to stand out on your own… let that shine ūüôā

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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 ūüėČ

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.

 

 

 

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” ūüėČ
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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…. ūüėČ 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 ūüėČ

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.

swim 4
Mine is styled much like this, just with colored polka dots ūüėČ

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.

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

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

Love Yourself And That Whole Self Esteem Thing

Love yourself.

Yes, I went there with that.

And no, I’m not talking about it in a narcissistic way, but a healthy value of who you are and what you bring to the world.¬† Confident in your skin and loving yourself, warts and all. However, we can often be our own worst enemies when it comes to valuing who we are.

You don’t have to look far today to be inundated with magazines and the internet showing you pictures of “how” you should look and what the “ideal” image is. Media seems to scream at us from all angles.

It largely seems directed towards women, but I know you guys get it too.

Almost seemingly, perfect, flawless, toned and non-defective bodies glare back at us.

No stretch marks. No loose skin. No scars, blemishes or imperfections. Thighs with space big enough to drive a truck through. Large breasts, tiny waist and equally balanced hips are offered up on the body buffet challenging us to up our game to reach that goal.

Guys, you might deal with the perfect 6 pack abs,¬† (big) strong arms and shoulders all the while being challenged to not have an ounce of extra flesh around your waist… you have your own challenges too… I get that…. and don’t leave you out of this equation.

Honestly, it can mess with those of us who have the best self-esteem and confidence levels.

How does one achieve such standards of perfection? More importantly, does it even exist ? And bigger question yet, do we want it ?

A few things that are obvious and clear but I’ll go ahead and state. These people often make a living by their bodies and what they look like, they have been in fitness/health industry awhile so it’s important to maintain a standard. They have¬†to absolutely live a particular lifestyle to maintain their bodies and what they’ve achieved.

Nothing wrong with that, it’s just a higher calling than most of us will ever embrace.

Ok, and then, let’s not forget, photo shop does a pretty good job at shaping things up too before our eyes view it.

Whatever…. we see it. And it can leave us feeling defeated before we leave the starting gate.

Getting comfy in your own skin really does let you appreciate others beauty without crippling your own self-esteem. That is a process that takes time and certainly not learned over night.

I think in life lessons learned it’s important to get ok with who you are. Your flaws (real or perceived) imperfections, or other things that make you feel “less than” valuable or worthy.

Please pay attention:¬†none of those things¬†make you broken…. or lacking…. or flawed.

It does reflect your life and what you’ve lived and gone through.

Your story. Your own one of a kind story.

Every mark or scratch, scar, birthmark, the way your body is shaped, the angle of your jaw and set of your eyes…. all those things make you uniquely you.

Yet… we can struggle in it.

Watching my teenage daughter grow up is vastly different from having teenage sons. Body image is obviously huge among these young girls trying to grow into their own confidence and budding self-esteem which is often at an all time low.

If there is one thing I want for her is to teach her to love and embrace herself and not fall into the comparison trap, the trap that leaves us feeling like we aren’t good enough, adequate or whatever,¬†although I know it just goes with the teenage years, heavily.

Opportunities can abound in daily life for teaching…for instance…. one day we are driving along and she says…

“Do you think my thighs are big ?”

It is the moment in life when you think… “OMG do I have to answer this?” and for a brief moment I feel pain for all the dudes who have ever had the female in their life ask them “do these pants make my butt look big?” and they get that deer in the headlights look about them….seeking escape….

But I’m driving…and can’t escape….

I take the easier way out…. and say… “How do you feel about them? And why would you say that?”

She launches into how her friends have thinner ones and one had commented on hers…. the reason now for the question… the question that has caused her to view herself in a different light.

I ask her if her legs let her dance, kick and jump? run? walk? Were they strong for the things she did in her life?

She answered yes….

I reminded her I didn’t have “skinny” legs but I was ok with that…. they were strong and muscled and had carried me many miles running and done several long distance races. They were big, but powerful, and I liked the strength they had. She has always been proud of my running accomplishments and immediately got what I was saying.

I told her she needed to be proud of her strong legs and know that all of her life she’d be seeing women who would be shaped in different ways and that she couldn’t compare herself and decide she was “lacking” in some way. She needed to love herself and appreciate her own unique beauty of who she is.

I can admire another woman’s beauty, without compromising my own self esteem or feel like I’m inadequate.¬† I can appreciate the gifts she’s been given while not devaluing my own.

I want my daughter to be able to do the same. To  know her own beauty and worth because when she does she will be able to build other women up and not tear them down. To love herself means she will be able to love more fully.

The same goes for you, my faithful reader.

I personally believe I have a Creator.

I love a particular verse in the Bible that says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”

I take that to mean…. I’m just rather cool and awesome how I’ve been put together….. and so are you.

Be comfy in your skin…. love yourself. Maybe you’re on a journey with some specific goals…it’s ok… love who you are¬† and where you are right now as you travel along.

Have you ever struggled with these issues? Do you now ? How do you deal with it ?