Dirty Little Secret

Swim Suits, Bathing Suits

There is a picture of me floating around in a teeny weeny polka dot bikini. I know, because I posted it myself. It’s from a few years ago at the beach. If you dig around a little on the Facebook page you could pretty easily find it. I’m not posting it here because quite frankly, the photo makes me sad.

Can I tell you a secret? Here’s the thing, that was never ME in the photo. Well, okay, it was me. My husband took the photo and as soon as it was taken I grabbed the camera to review (and probably delete) it. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The person in the photo looked pretty damn good. I was amazed at how the light had somehow made me look like I had killer abs. I kept making excuses for why I looked so good in the photo and how that’s not what I look like in real life.

What?

Yes. I studied that photo like it was my job. I picked apart every single flaw I could find (real and otherwise) and rationalized that it had to be the result of the light reflecting off the water. That was definitely not the person when I saw in my mirror. I became a little obsessed with this photo and even ended up posting it on the Facebook page. A lot of you commented on it, even saying how I inspired you. I didn’t get it. No matter how long I stared at it, I just didn’t see what everyone else did.

As you may know, a few years ago I lost around 30 pounds. I lost it through portion control and exercise and it came off pretty quickly. Even though I did it the “right way” (by not doing any quick fixes), my brain took a while to catch up to my body. In fact, I’m not sure it ever did catch up. Which is exactly why I didn’t see the same thing everyone else saw when they saw the bikini photo. I didn’t have the confidence that the girl in the photo should have (and looked to have). If people were looking at me because I looked “good”, I was convinced it was really because I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe or my pants were unzipped. I never really settled into that body and I sure didn’t love it. I still picked my body apart with the same vengeance as I did when it was heavier.

And now I’m a statistic. After keeping the weight off for five or so years, I’ve gained it back. Almost all of it. I’m no longer wearing a bikini. The funny thing is, I’m finally okay with that. I would much rather love the body I’m in than have it look a certain way if that meant I couldn’t appreciate it. I would much rather love myself with a few extra pounds than hate myself while fulfilling some ideal of what “hot” is supposed to look  like.

What? You thought that when you reached that number or put on that bikini you’d be done? Oh, if only it were that easy. The work that needs to be done isn’t just on the outside. In fact, that’s the EASY part. The real work is in your mind. You have to start believing that you are worth it; that you are beautiful regardless of anything else.

Girl in Green Swim Suit

I don’t know if I’ll ever wear a bikini again. Maybe, maybe not. For once in my life, a certain “look” isn’t my goal. If it comes down to body image or bikini shots, I’ll take positive body image any day. Bring on the sarong!

Fitness Freaks That Freak Me Out

I started my fitness facebook page in May 2011. I was bursting with enthusiasm and had all these fabulous words of inspiration rolling around in my head. However, I was certain not all my friends wanted to hear about it on my personal page, so the fitness page was born. (I even got complaints when my Nike+ updated that I went for a run. Some thought I was “showing off”. Well, duh!) The numbers of fans started creeping up slowly and people I didn’t even know “liked” me. It was exhilirating and I was throwing out little nuggets of wisdom like it was my job. I was inspired by the thought that I might be inspiring others.

I posted a contest – working out for 30 days in a row. That’s when it hit me. I was a fraud. All these people who had “liked” my page were checking in every single day telling me their workout and they really did workout 30 days in a row. I did not. I totally flaked out. But I didn’t feel like I could tell them that. I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me since I was the one that was supposed to be inspiring them. I continuted to be their biggest cheerleader and just avoided posting anything about my own workouts. It made me miserable.

I finally gave in and confessed. I got tons of support from the little facebook community that had been built. I also confessed in my blog about falling off the wagon (several times). Ironically the posts where I open up about my own struggles have been some of my most popular. It’s so exhausting being perfect. So, I stopped pretending to be.

I follow a lot of seriously amazing blogs and facebook pages that are related to fitness and nutrition. There are a few that project this image of perfection. And you know, I get that. We are branding ourselves and it’s hard to be vulnerable enough to tell a big group of strangers that you skipped your workout in favor of your DVR and a 5 gallon bucket of ice cream. Besides, no one wants to hear us complain. Here’s the problem…it gives the reader a totally skewed view of reality. I’m pretty confident that every single person on this planet has had a bad day, a set back, fallen off the wagon, ate a big bag of sugar, or something not otherwise considered healthy.

Get the inspiration you need from these people but understand they are human. Just because we as writers, bloggers, and facebookers are able to project a certain image it doesn’t mean we can be or are that way all the time. I’ve caught myself reading certain updates or posts thinking, “man, she’s awesome. I suck.” Guess what? She IS awesome. But I do NOT suck. No one is perfect even if they seem to be. That is a public image. Don’t let these fitness freaks freak you out. And for the love of fitness, don’t get caught up in thinking success lies in perfection. It lies in persistence.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

makeavisionboard.com

If you follow my facebook page you know vision boards have been on my mind lately. As someone who is totally motivated by visual cues, I can’t believe I’ve never done one before! A few people posted theirs on the facebook wall and they were fantastic! So, I started thinking about what mine would look like. Of course fitness, nutrition, family, simplicity…the usual. But if I dig deeper, what would be on there? What do I want to do outside of what I’m already doing, if anything? I’ve mentioned that I love my “day job” so I’m good there. What do I want to do with my personal trainer certification? It’s up for renewal in March. Have I learned enough to satisfy my curiosity? If I do renew it, do I want to get more into the fitness industry? I’ve stuck my toe in the water and felt overwhelmed enough to give up some clients and slow down on my facebook page (I even have facebook-free weekends). So, now what?

Does that mean I don’t have a vision for myself? I hope that isn’t the case. I’m sure these questions are all just a part of starting my vision. If I don’t think about where I want to be in a year, five years, or ten years then how could I possibly map it out on a vision board?

Here’s what I think it comes down to. We settle. We get caught up in the day to day and forget all about how exciting it was to be a kid and wonder what life would be like when we got older. Our mind was full of hopes and dreams and plans. Absolutely nothing was out of reach. Now, our minds are more likely full of carpool, work, dinner, household chores and trying to fit in some time for ourselves.

 I am truly happy where I am. But the whole point of a vision board, in my mind at least, is the potential. MY potential. Am I right where I’m supposed to be or could I be doing more? Not more as in “running myself ragged” more, but more as in my “calling” if there even is such a thing. If I sit down and really, selfishly look at what I enjoy and what I’m good at what would happen? Would things change? Would it be something so amazing I would shift other things around to make room for it? Is there something I could be doing every day that I would be so passionate about I wouldn’t even be able to sleep because of excitement? How do I know if I never even try?

Do you have a vision board? Did it turn out the way you expected or did you learn somethinng new about yourself? Feel free to share photos of your vision board on the facebook page. I would LOVE to see them!

I’m definitely making one. Who knows what will end up on there! Heck, after writing this I’m not even sure I know what I want to be when I grow up anymore. The possibilities are endless!

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. — Marsha Norman

The Weekend I Gave Up Facebook

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

I am obsessive. There, I said it. That line I’ve written “when I do something I go all in”? What that translates into is “when I do something I am totally, completely obsessed with it”. I live, eat, and breathe that “thing”. Whatever my “thing” of the moment is. It usually doesn’t take long until I move on to a new thing. Being obsessive is exhausting, after all.

My latest obsession, fitness, has outlasted all others because there are so many different facets to be obsessed with. First, I found the Couch to 5K. So, I read everything there was to read about running, shoes, clothes, safety, gait, training methods, etc. Then I moved on to food, learning what each food and macronutrient did to or for my body. What super foods were. If it were a hoax. Foods to speed up my metabolism. Foods that slow it down. Next up was fitness, learning how different exercises effected the muscles. What type of training was most effective; cardio, strength, both, HIIT, group classes, etc. I got certified as a trainer, I started a facebook page, I started this blog. See what I mean? Obsessed.

Then I hit a wall. I was doing too much; spreading myself too thin. I was spending more time on the computer than I was with my family. It was no longer fun. What the hell? It’s not like I’m getting paid for this. I write because I love to. I do the facebook page because it seems to inspire people. But, if I’m writing out of obligation, you aren’t getting a genuine representation of me. When I’m facebooking out of obligation, you aren’t getting the right kind of support. I have a desire to help people so obviously I don’t want to stop. But something’s got to give. What’s an obsessed person to do?

I’ll tell you what this obsessed person did. I gave up facebook. For three days. It was uncomfortable at first. Facebook is like my pacifier. I go to it if I’m bored, need a distraction, sitting at a stop light too long, near a computer…you get the idea. I would pick up my phone out of habit. I would sit at the computer and start logging in before I even realized what I was doing. But, I stopped myself. I didn’t peek or cheat. After the first day, I was less curious about what was happening and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. By the third day, it was complete relief that I didn’t have that constant itch to check it. In fact, I was supposed to go back on Facebook on Monday. When I logged in I quickly decided I had other things I should be doing and just logged right back off. I felt relaxed. Whatever was happening around me (in actual real life), I was a part of. When absolutely nothing was happening, I was a part of that too. There are times when I need nothing to be happening.

I did get on facebook today. Heck, someone even said they missed me on the fitness page (woo hoo, thanks!!). But, I realized the expectations I’ve set for myself are only expected by me. I’m pretty sure no one logs on facebook specifically to see what I’m doing. I seriously doubt anyone skipped a workout because I didn’t offer any “motivation”. (Well, except for maybe one person, but let’s be honest Aimee, that was just your excuse.) I’m also pretty sure my daughter appreciated having my undivided attention instead of me half listening, half looking at the computer while she’s trying to show me the latest dance move she’s created.

So, what’s the moral of the story? There’s life away from your computer screen (or phone). I promise you if something major happens, you’ll find out about it. (Although I did find out my brother got married on facebook, but my sis-in-law was calling me right as I read it.) That particular obsession, or distraction as it really became, was causing me grief. I was losing way too much time on the computer over something that really wasn’t that entertaining. Is it fun to go on? Sure, sometimes. But is it necessary to stalk my own posts to see if everyone else thinks I’m as funny as I do? Nope. If the only place I’m funny (or have friends) is behind a computer screen, I’ve got problems.

What distraction can you give up, or spend less time on, that would enable you to do more things that matter?