Progress And Improvements

It seems when it comes to the subject and actuality of weight loss and health improvements there is a common thought that it should be big, bold, and dramatic to be counted as worthy and notable.

What? You only lost one pound this week?

Throw in the towel.

Have you ever seen one pound of fat? You may rethink that idea.

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Yet, we approach our attempts to lose weight and get healthy like that, we dismiss the seemingly not so important looking for something bigger and more grand.

We want that dramatic 5lbs gone in one week like the ad on social media promised. We want to be able to run faster and longer after just a month of starting to run. We think we can lift heavy like the guy at the gym ( only he’s been at it for a lot longer so he can lift more than you)

Stop being dramatic

I really write that in a joking way, but really, stop looking for the big and dramatic as “proof” there’s something going on for all your efforts.

When you or I or anyone decide we are going to take steps to start changing our lives, our bodies, or our mindsets, it will take time.

You don’t want some of those “instant” results. They just don’t last.

Progress IS progress.

Why have we been trained to think if we don’t always have big impressive things going on, it’s not worth our effort?

I was out on a ride a few weeks ago thinking about how I have to work my way back up to a level that I had last year before the duathlon. Sometimes I think it’s “unfair” that if I back off ( as I have to at a point ’cause I can’t stay in peak forever ) that I have to begin to build back up to that level of fitness again.

Like, why can’t it just permanently stick?

Ok in all fairness, even in my not “peak” condition, I still have a higher level of physical fitness than someone who doesn’t work out, but I also have tons of room for progress and improvements in my game.

This was brought to my mind a few days ago in a new way as I took on a fairly huge hill, scaling it quickly and barely being out of breath that I had made progress since I started getting back at it a little over a month ago.

Building up your fitness level takes time, consistency, and uh, some more time.

Trust me, I took a brief moment to celebrate that victory at the top before I was plunged down the backside of that hill at full speed, before I turned around to head back up.

I was making progress.

The self improvement game

Maybe my progress is more than you want to think about or nothing you’d ever do. But you’re still gonna have ways of assessing how you are doing when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

We need to stop dismissing small victories as if they are nothing, when the reality is, they lead to larger victories.

Trust me, it took lots of smaller hills and lots more miles before I got to the point I am today.

If you start to focus and pay attention to those small things you will not only feel more grateful for what you are doing but you will appreciate reaching the bigger goal even more when you get there.

It’s such a journey for me to mentally look back at what I’ve had to do, to get to where I am today. I can see those smaller things so much more clearly as learning opportunities.

As you move forward whether it’s a process of losing weight, training for an event, or just wanting to be able to do something new on your own, be aware of those small steps leading you there.

What does progress look like ?

Each of us could answer that in a hundred different ways.  But overall, progress should involve a forward movement towards our specific goal.

Let’s consider losing weight. Setting aside the scale, or clothes fitting looser, which is everyone’s overall idea of “success” and “progress”.

Maybe there are other areas you haven’t considered….

Have you learned to listen to your body better and eat when you’re hungry and not just bored?

Or learned to eat enough to satisfy you without being self indulgent?

Did you bypass the fast food place on the way home for a “snack”?

What about making better food choices over poor ones you used to have?

Are you learning to speak kindly to yourself if you are used to speaking negative self talk?

Have you learned more to value and appreciate your body even if you don’t like something about it?

Do you celebrate more moments of self awareness and stopping yourself from impulsive choices?

Can you step on the scale and see a pound lost and celebrate that as being a bit closer to losing a 5 lb. goal?

Have you let go of old, tired food “rules” and “guilt” to embrace living and enjoying life, which also has food as a part of it?

Have you learned to see food as, food? And not label it “good” or “bad”?

What about in the ways of physical fitness?

If you couldn’t even get the desire to get off the sofa before but now you are at least going for an evening walk, do you see that as progress?

Do you see overcoming obstacles that challenge you and you push through as progress?

If you could hardly walk a mile when you started but now are doing 3 and considering signing up for your first 5K, well yeah, I seriously hope you see that as… progress 😉

Do you do strength training? Can you lift things now that used to feel like you could barely squeak out 5 reps before you fell apart?

Do you feel stronger?

Can you lift more, go longer, push through things you previously didn’t?

You my friend, are making progress.

Of course we don’t want to dismiss things like…

good lab results at the doctor as evidence of changes going on in you from the choices you’ve been making.

Or the fact you have better mental clarity, feel less anxious, are more focused and perhaps are sleeping better because of choices you’ve made.

Perhaps you’ve gotten your relationship with food in order. Maybe now you have it in the proper place it belongs and you call the shots, not food.

And ok, yeah, it is cool when you’re jeans get looser, let’s be honest.

So many things we do are actual steps to progress and improvement with our health and fitness. We just need to learn to appreciate them and not minimize them as not as important as “just” losing weight.

If we take a careful look at all we do, it can encourage us to continue to press on in our journeys and not become weary and frustrated and make the ( not best) choice to give up and go back to our old, unproductive, unhealthy ways.

Choose to see progress and not instant results. It will make your journey far more enjoyable.

Tell me. Do you look for progress in yourself, or do you want to jump right to the end results quickly?

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That Whole Body Image Thing

Ok, I’ve had this idea rolling through my head for a couple weeks on body image. All kinds of topics spring to my mind… can I say sometimes it’s a very busy place in there ??? 😉

Lots of times, those ideas come from all of you. You ask questions, you have concerns, you want to learn, and it gives me opportunities to share and hopefully encourage you.

Now onto the most recent thing taking up space in my head…. body image.

I’m gonna straight talk here, as I always do.

I was flipping through a fitness magazine at the store one day while waiting to check out ( I know, this comes as a total surprise to you;) and one of the titles on the cover really grabbed me… and not in a positive way…more like…it bugged me sorta way….

The title said “Banish Your Thunder Thighs Forever”.

First of all, what I thought was…. “OMG, that sounds like something a middle school boy would say”

I mean, really ? Thunder thighs ? On a major magazine cover ? Is that how you’re teaching women to talk to themselves ?

I did flip to the article which promised if you did all these moves you could have slimmer, leaner thighs. Now hear me out …. why is a girl who’s all about fitness bothered over this ?

Perhaps it’s that whole body image thing.

Having these ideas thrust at us that can affect how we feel overall about ourselves…. “you must look like this, be like that” to be happy with yourself.

First let me say, we all know when we are…well….fat.  Yes, I said that.  We know when our bodies have more on them than needed. We really do. As women, this is definitely an area where it can hang out (thighs).

I know, personally, for my entire life I’ve never had “skinny/thin” thighs. Never had the elusive “thigh gap” ( and unless you are built a specific way, you never will either, as if… that matters…. )

If you asked me a few years ago I would’ve had that on my list of what I hoped to achieve someday for myself…. glorious skinny thighs…. in todays terms… “fat-free” thighs 😉

But lets be honest…as women…. we are wired by God to carry a little extra fat through our lower body cause we have the privilege of carrying children. It tends to land anywhere from our waist/lower belly/hips/thighs…. we are all different in how it may be carried on us.

So what troubled me ? Maybe the title ? Maybe the implication that if you don’t have skinny thighs you have a perceived issue ? You’re flawed… lacking some value? You’ll somehow be better WITH less thighs ?

Let’s face it….you don’t have to look to long or hard at magazines to see “ideals” of what someone thinks you should be… ( and guys, I’m pretty sure you struggle with this stuff too… arms not big enough? want your chest/abs more ripped? less belly? it just seems to not be as shoved in your face. Please give me your male opinion if you feel so inclined;)

But if you are a woman….
breasts…. the bigger the better…. ( I’m just gonna be outspoken here and say…. they are over rated ….one benefit of losing body fat 😉  … I don’t mind not worrying about them exercising 😛

So you need large breasts, skinny thighs, curvy hips but not TOO curvy…. chiseled abs… ok you follow me….you’ve seen the covers… and if you don’t have that… you might be inadequate in some way. These “ideals” can subtlety make us unhappy.

When I started my fitness journey a few years ago I was like a lot of you……mad/annoyed/frustrated/irritated that I was in the place I was. I wanted to be thinner, overnight. I remember one day, looking in the mirror and talking some trash to myself (Please…don’t do this!) and God sorta brought me up short by reminding me that, yes, I might have some extra weight, but I did have a healthy body and should give thanks for it every day….love it… even if it needed to slim down.

It was convicting. I immediately did a head to toe “thank you” for how each part had/did faithfully serve me. I didn’t need to beat myself up. I needed to love and appreciate what I had been given, right where I was at and then, get on track to take care of it. That was a huge turning point for me. God loved me. I needed to love myself. And that meant honoring what he had given me by loving it and taking care of it.

Now, about those thunder thighs…….. Somewhere along this journey, my perspective changed… my perception of body image started to change….

Being strong and healthy began to take importance over being “skinny/thin”. Having muscle was more appealing than the ideal of just being “thin”.

You know what? My thighs have gotten thinner and leaner. Fat has been replaced with muscle. But get this…. I still don’t have “thin” thighs…

Leg pic My legs have gotten heavily muscled…..which makes some of my jeans fit really tight through that area now….I love my big strong muscles…. they have come from miles of pounding the road and running hills and hours of work with weights. Those legs continue to allow me to run long distances, and hopefully, they will for a long time. They let me tirelessly run after a 2 year old grandson 😉

Shhh…. you wanna know something ? I still have fat on my upper thighs…..and I might always….and it’s ok…..perhaps some might even think “thunder thighs”….. I don’t really care… ’cause I just want to be the best “me” that I can…. and at this point in my journey, I’m more concerned about how everything works and performs.

***pay attention here ***

the journey is about getting comfy, content, and confident in your skin…not living into societies “ideal”…. being happy with who you are… not trying to live up to someone else’s ideals. Know what YOU want, know your own personal goals and things you want to achieve…. and go for it.

Don’t worry about others …tend to you… love yourself….focus on being the best “you” that you can achieve.

Don’t be in denial over your reality….if you need to drop a few pounds… get real with it… take care of business. Seriously, foremost, for your health, do it and then anything else is a bonus.

But… while you are on your journey…love and appreciate the body God has given you… warts and all…… after all… there is no one else quite like you  🙂

Approval Not Needed

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So with the big hoopla in the media this week about Kelly Clarkson and her (gasp) weight (is it anyone one else’s business but hers?) it really stirred up a topic that’s been rolling around in my head for awhile to write on and this was just the catalyst to let it out.

No, not her weight. Not yours or mine or the family dogs. Actually, this has nothing to do with that topic.

I was more impressed and high fiving her for her ” I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks, I’m awesome” attitude and comment over that issue.

Approval. She pretty much thumbed her nose at the idea she needed someone else’s approval to be happy and be herself. Kudos to you Kelly.

Approval.

We come into this world almost wired for it. In the beginning it’s our parents/ family, we get in school it becomes our peers, later it becomes our boss, co-workers, friends, still family, sometimes even perfect strangers.

If we’re fortunate as we grow up and mature becoming more comfy in our own skin and who we are, we become less concerned over the need for approval of others.

I mean really, at the end of the day, approval given is based on personal opinions, values, beliefs, how we were raised, and even what our personalities are.

I was recently chatting with a young friend who was expressing to me the idea of doing something and I said… “well, just do it”.

His response was… “yeah, but I just worry about what other people are gonna think”… I laughed and told him I didn’t care anymore….

He responded with… ” yes, but you’ve had more life experience to get to that point” and he’s right. I have lived enough life to get to that point. I’m grateful for that ’cause honestly, it’s total freedom.

My “approval needed” list is tiny, one digit, small now days.

I reminded him that approval can be subjective, or it can be a “control” thing with some people. Withholding approval, not giving it, can often be a silent way of expressing personal displeasure, which is then projected onto the person.
Basically, their way of saying they don’t like what you’re doing or have done or that they wouldn’t do it . As stated above, that would be based on personal feelings, beliefs, values, etc.
I reminded him that it can be those closest to us who might withhold it but if he wanted to grow and move forward, he’d need to live his own life and pursue his own dreams.

It can be a hard step to move into. But it’s also seriously freeing. You have your own life to live….. to be yourself.

You don’t need approval to embrace your life and live it to the fullest being who you are.

So hat’s off again to Ms. Clarkson for reminding the rest of the world to smile and say “I don’t care what you think, I’m awesome”

You…. go be awesome.