Side Effects May Include: Being Awesome

Twenty pounds. That’s what I’ve gained over the last few months. That whole saying about it just happened “overnight”….that saying I used to scoff at in my slender little frame? Yeah, well, this shit just happened overnight.

Okay, I obviously didn’t just wake up one day twenty pounds heavier than when I went to bed. But it sure seemed that way. One day I’m running my kids around, fitting in all my workouts, eating in a way that supports my goals, getting all my household stuff done. The next day, I’m still doing everything, but maybe the laundry slips. Then the next everything is done, except maybe we do take out instead of cooking at home. Then the next, I skip a workout. You get the idea? It’s not easy to be living in a perfect little bubble. Things slip up. You don’t notice at first, but the next thing you know, you’re flying through a drive thru, late for some kid practice or another, rushing back home to do 47 loads of laundry because nobody has clean underwear. The only things getting done are the ones that absolutely MUST get done – the non-negotiables. But, your list of non-negotiables shifts the busier you get and suddenly working out doesn’t make the cut. Hell, clean underwear sometimes doesn’t make the cut. It’s just easier to stop off at Target and get NEW underwear instead of doing all that laundry.

You know what Target doesn’t sell? A nice ass. Trust me, I’ve looked. The funny thing is, I care a little less about how I look these days and a lot more about how I feel. I think that break from the gym may have been just what I needed in order to step back and reevaluate my priorities.

My husband and I went white water rafting this weekend. That was some intense shit! I can tell you, not one time was I concerned about what I looked like. I was just thankful that when it came time to paddle, I could do my part. And believe me when I tell you, there was some heavy duty paddling. There was a man in our group that was in his late 60s or early 70s. That dude was paddling like nobody’s business. He was definitely carrying his weight in that raft. I don’t know him personally, but those who do were telling me how active he is. He does all kinds of adventurous things. THAT is my goal. I want to be able to do anything I damn well please when I’m in my 70s and 80s and 90s. I don’t want to be all hunched over dependent on a cane or walker and lose my breath walking to the fridge.

I don’t want to be a body builder or bikini model. I admire those that have the dedication it takes to be those things. I am personally not willing to pay that price anymore. What I want is to dance like a rock star when my daughters get married. I want to be able to take my grandkids to an amusement park and do everything they do. I want to go white water rafting with my husband on our 50th wedding anniversary. I AM willing to pay the price for that. That means treating myself kindly now. It does mean being active, but it doesn’t mean punishing my body. It means eating things that are good for me but also things that taste good to me.

Look, I’m not rushing this whole aging thing. Oh NO! I’m just saying I want to feel kick ass now and 60 years from now. I want to know that even if my running shorts are a size larger than a year ago, I can still run as fast if not faster and farther. I want to be better a year from now than I am now. And a year from that, I want to be even better. If I look awesome as a side effect, then that’s just a bonus. But, I can’t imagine being active and having the mad confidence that comes along with that and not looking awesome.

Back to Basics – Breaking Up With Fitness Mags

Dear Fitness Magazines, I’m sick of your shit. I’ve written before that it seems like the more I learn, the less I know and I feel like I’ve reached the bottom of my dumbing down. Although to say I’m “learning” from you is ridiculous. Oh, sure, back when I had no clue what I was doing, I certainly learned a few things. But now that I do know a few things, I know enough to know most of what you write is total bullshit. Your information is conflicting. You’re funded by advertising dollars from companies like diet pills. DIET PILLS! How can you try to convince me to get in shape when your pages are covered with ads for quick fixes? And I KNOW stuff! What about the poor women out there without the benefit of some basic fitness and nutrition knowledge? Those who feel they have tried everything and failed? Of course they failed! If they could get their shit together by applying what was in your pages, they wouldn’t need your magazines anymore, right?

You try to convince me that I can be long and lean like Gwyneth Paltrow. Guess what? I’m five foot frigging four. There is nothing LONG about me. I can try the Tracy Anderson Method every day for the rest of my life and I will NOT be LONG! The beautiful Gwyneth is five foot nine. Yep, she’s long alright. Regardless of what workout she does, she’ll continue to be long. Regardless of what workout I do, I won’t look like I’m five foot nine.

You try to convince me that something is wrong and unsightly about cellulite and stretch marks by completely removing any evidence of them from your pages. I don’t know a single woman in real life – not a single one – that doesn’t have SOME kind of stretch marks, cellulite, or any other kind of mark proving their humanness.  Guess what? Even my kids had cellulite when they were babies. Gasp! Oh the world would probably revolt if you featured cellulite dimpled women on your pages. But that’s only because you have completely avoided putting them there since the beginning of time.

The “curvy” girls you feature – well, a size 6 instead of a 2 or 4 isn’t really curvy. Kim Kardashian is curvy. You’ve tried to tell me she’s a size 4. I call bullshit on that too. I’ve been a size 4 and she’s at LEAST a 10, if not a 12. (Have you EVER been jeans shopping?! There’s no way a size 4 would fit over her ass. I’ve got all kinds of ass, so I know of what I speak!) There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 10 or 12. Nothing. However, you’ve spent so much time brainwashing me with your photo shopped images that a size 10 seems like something negative. I’d like to know how you convinced me that my current size (an 8 for those of you wondering) is something to be ashamed of. Yep, ashamed. I recently had to go up to a larger size and when I saw the number 8 in the dressing room, I was sick to my stomach. REALLY? Well, I blame you! But I am revoking that power you have over me. YOU don’t get to decide how I feel about my body. Not anymore.

Signed, Enlightened (Former) Reader

PS – If your methods worked so well, why do you have to photo shop all the models on your pages?

PPS – What’s that? You’re confused about what I mean? Well, luckily I have taken a few photos of some of your ridiculous and unobtainable headlines.

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Let me get this straight? I’m going to have a “Hot Summer Body” in 4 weeks? That’s a mighty hefty claim considering you have NO idea where I’m starting. What if I weighed 300 pounds? I promise you, 4 weeks will not be long enough to give me a “hot summer body”. Furthermore, a safe amount of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. At most, I should lose 8 pounds on your 4 week program, not 10. If you don’t think that’s a big difference, just ask those who live by the number on the scale as a result of brainwashing. By the way, “Fast” is a relative and confusing term causing many to give up their fight if they don’t see results in the first week or two.

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Really now? My dream body in just 2 weeks? TWO weeks? Oh please, do tell! Because thanks to your images, my dream body is about 30 pounds lighter with absolutely no cellulite whatsoever. I’m just going to guess that nothing about that dream will come true.

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NEVER fall short of a goal again? NEVER? Well, either my goals will suck, or this is another example of your total bullshit. People fail all the time. By making them think that “failing” is something bad is, in and of itself, a failure. Your cover fell short of its goal to motivate me.

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You. Cannot. Spot. Train.

The End.

Mommy’s Not Fat – She’s Squishy

Fat Bastard (character)

Fat Bastard (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but my vision is pretty horrible. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to pick my own kids out of a line up without the help of glasses or contacts. I can only see close up; and I mean right in my face close up. Anything beyond an arm’s length is just blurred color.

I was at my annual eye exam recently, which is always super fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to go and have air “puffed” into their eye? Just thinking about it now is making me blink compulsively. So there I am, sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor without my contacts in. Honestly, I think they make you take them out for fun just so you can’t see, but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, the doc walks in and it’s one I haven’t seen before. I can tell it’s a woman with blonde hair. That’s it. Oh, she was also wearing a black shirt (although it could have been navy). She was super nice and we did the whole “is this better, or is that better” routine. (By the way, does that stress anyone else out as much as it does me? I mean seriously, that’s a lot of pressure. This will determine the way I see for the next year. What if I make the wrong call? What if 2 really was better?) We talked about our kids and Christmas and that whole routine. Then she gave me some contacts to put in and said she’d be back in a minute after they have time to settle.

When she walked back in – and I could actually see her – she was super cute! I don’t mean cute like a teenager or whatever. The older I get the worse I become at accurately judging someone’s age, but I’d put her around my age – 35 to 40. I just blurted out, “Oh look, you’re so pretty! I didn’t know that before I could see!” (Yes, I’m a dork. I just can’t help myself. If I feel a compliment, I have to blurt it out even if it makes me feel like the weird aunt sometimes.) Her reaction was so sweet and genuine. She said, “oh my gosh, thank you. I needed that!”

She went on to explain that during Christmas her and her family had spent the day in their pajamas. Her six year old son had told her she looked like she had a baby in her belly. Her husband told the son he couldn’t say stuff like that because it basically meant he was saying his mommy was fat. The six  year old said, “Mommy’s not fat. She just has a squishy belly.”

My own children have also made similar observations. Out loud.

“Mom, why does your butt shake so much when you walk?”

“Mom, why do your boobies look at the ground?”

Out of the mouths of babes.

The mom, my doctor, wasn’t mad at her son of course. Kids have a way of pointing out the obvious, even if their delivery is less than stellar. Doc admitted her belly is a little squishy. That didn’t take the sting out of hearing it out loud. You know what else she heard out loud? My compliment. Look, I’m nobody to her. It’s not like I think by me complimenting someone I’m changing the world. But, I can tell you from the look on her face, it did make a difference to her. Did that make her belly less squishy? Nope. It was the exact size and shape it was the day before when her son told her she looked pregnant. However, she saw herself from a different perspective and  it certainly made her feel good. It is possible to feel good in your own skin right now.

Even with a squishy belly, a shaky butt, or downward looking boobies you are awesome. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I Don't Know How She Does It

photo credit: nancycooklin.wordpress.com

Well, she doesn’t. Didn’t you read the book? Granted, I read this book probably ten years ago when it first came out so my memory of the details may be a little sketchy. And I didn’t see the movie because I was certain it would suck. The gist of it is this – this woman is a successful corporate type who appears to have it all. Perfect family, marriage, career, etc. Everyone wonders “how she does it”. The truth is, she doesn’t. Her marriage is falling apart. She suffers from major mommy guilt which also affects her ability to do her job as well as she could. Sound familiar?

I have personally been told, “I don’t know how YOU do it.” I kind of look around and wonder who the hell they are talking to. When I realize it’s actually me, I’m like, “huh?” How I do what? Apparently by appearances I seem to have it somewhat together. I have happy, healthy kids. I have a good marriage. I have a job I kick ass at. I have this blog which I try to write on somewhat regularly. And I have a facebook page that has a respectable number of likes. Well, I should start preparing my Oscar speech now because while I am more grateful for those things than you can imagine, they do not define me as “having it together”.

My kids rock. I wonder daily if I’m effing them up. My husband is a saint (mostly). He’s a far better spouse than I am. My job? Well, I do kick ass at that. But sometimes I could probably do better. Couldn’t we all? My blog and facebook page? Honestly, they stress me out. When I post something, I hover. I wait to see if anyone will read or like it. Or comment. If there’s any comment that isn’t absolutely glowing I freak out and take it completely personally. It feels like a kick in the gut and I think I’m not cut out for this. I’m not cut out for any type of feedback other than “I’m awesome”. Which is really stupid and I know that. Duh.

This idea of perfection – where the hell did THAT come from? I hate it. I hate comparing myself to others but can’t seem to stop. “Oh, SHE dyed four dozen Easter eggs with her kids, huh? Damn, I didn’t even make dessert.” “Oh, look at HER abs.” Have you ever walked into a birthday party and it looked like something out of a magazine? Yeah, we throw pizza and water guns at my kids and pray no one gets hurt. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and suddenly yours felt like it was someone’s first apartment? I’m not super mom. I’m not a trophy wife. I’m not a paid writer. I’m not perfect.

I’m embracing my imperfections. I’m not doing it very well, but I AM working on it. If I miss a school function because it slipped my mind, it’s okay. My kids still know I love them. If I skip a workout because I’d rather be on the couch, well, that’s okay (once in a while). I’m working on finding the balance that works for me. The huge list of responsibilities I have mean that I won’t be great at all of them all the time. Maybe I will remember that my kid is getting an award, but the whites have been in the washing machine for three days now. Maybe I will hit the gym five days this week, but I totally forgot to post something super inspirational on facebook.

Perfection is impossible. I’m working really  hard on living that truth. What are you working on?

Hi. My Name Is Chrystal and I'm Skinny Fat

I’ve shared with you before when I’ve gotten into a slump. A rut. Fallen off the proverbial wagon. Whatever cute little phrase you’d like to use for “got lazy”. I struggle just like anyone else. Although I do have a personal training certification, it’s not what I do for a living. In fact, I really don’t use it at all. I don’t have the time! I’m just like most people out there trying to make everything fit into 24 hours. Kids, spouse, career, house, etc. It’s not easy and a have my share of struggles just like anyone else.

When I’m struggling, my go-to is cardio. I love the cardio classes because I’m good at being directed. I particularly love spin because it pushes me more than any other class I’ve taken. If someone tells me to go fast, I try to go faster than anyone else in the class. If she says to turn the resistance up to a 6, I like to go to 8. I can push in that kind of environment.

Strength training, to me is, well…boring. I know it’s super crazy important but while I’m standing there lifting weights, I’m thinking of all the other crap I could be doing. I’m looking at the people who are looking at me. I’m wondering where the cute blonde chick got her shorts. I’m easily distracted. So, I haven’t been lifting at all like I should recently.

I joined a new gym since my contract was up at my former gym. I was hopeful that a new environment and different classes would be the kick in the ass I need to get back on that proverbial wagon. Along with my new gym membership came a free assessment with a personal trainer and some free sessions. I had my assessment this week and I left there feeling like I was going to puke and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

My cardio health was superior. No surprise there really, after all I spin regularly. My flexibility was very good. (That sort of surprised me because I don’t feel flexible at all.) My strength was good based on a push up test. My body fat…was considered unhealthy. Yes, UNHEALTHY. Now, I knew it would be good. I can tell the difference in my body from just a year ago. But I didn’t expect to hear the % that I did. I am skinny fat. The term used to describe someone who is thin, but has too much body fat. It’s not something you want, to say the least.

And for the record, I will share that insanely high number with you. Just not yet. I’m still processing it.

So, what did I do with this information? Well, I sulked and pouted like any self-respecting girl would do. I went home and told my hubby. He said, “no problem. Just start strength training and you’ll get to your goal in no time.” Hmmph. I prefer to pout. I talked to my good friend Tiffany. She reminded me I wanted a goal and now I have one. To reduce my body fat. Look, I’m glad to have a support system. I realize how lucky I am. I also realize that even though my body fat % is totally out of whack, I’m at a healthy weight and wear a small size (still skinny fat). But right then, I felt like a big fat slob and I just wanted to wallow in it. So I did.

I sulked around for a couple of days. I went to spin class. Then I got called out by another personal trainer. One who has years of experience and loads of certifications. Serious certifcations. He messaged me privately and reminded me that spin class is NOT strength training and I will never reach my goals if I don’t suck it up and strength train. (He said it way nicer than this. In fact, I was totally not offended at all.) That was just the kick in the ass I needed to stop whining and start working.

I plan to increase my lean muscle mass, and in turn drop body fat in the next few months. Like I said, once it goes down a little, I’ll share the numbers with you. I’m just too horrified to write it right now. I’m going to share this journey with all of you and write about what works and what doesn’t and what sucks and what doesn’t. I did do strength training yesterday. REAL strength training. I’m sore today and I feel pretty great about that. It’s on like Donkey Kong! So stay tuned, as a remember everything I already knew and just apparently chose to ignore.

Bad Boys and Chocolate

English: Studio publicity portrait for film Giant.

Image via Wikipedia

Bad boys and chocolate? Say what?

I’m honored to have another post at The Well Written Woman. So what do bad boys and chocolate have in common anyway? Let’s just say you may have to tap into your inner teenage girl to relate.

 

Embrace Your Inner Seven Year Old

Little Girl

In a previous post, I wrote about how we’re all just awesome little kids in grown up bodies. Unfortunately, as we “grow into” our grown up bodies, we lose our child-like zeal.

My seven-year old daughter embraces that zeal. I often catch her looking in the mirror genuinely admiring what she sees. She leans in close and opens her eyes wide lifting her eyebrows up and down. She opens her mouth and inspects her teeth and pushes her tongue in and out of her mouth. She shakes her head to make her hair move all around. She lifts her shirt and pats her belly admiring its roundness. She even turns around and does a little booty shake. Throughout this entire inspection she’s smiling wildly.  There isn’t one thing about her body she doesn’t love.

When does our inner dialogue change from “you are fabulous” to “you are fat” (even when we aren’t)? I’m sure the answer is different for everyone. Perhaps someone else’s voice became louder than your own. It’s time for YOU to be heard again. Your voice should be the loudest of all. You need to be your biggest cheerleader. There should be no room in your head or your life for negative talk. And if you are speaking negatively about yourself, you’ll allow others to do so as well. Can you imagine walking up on that seven-year old girl admiring herself in the mirror and saying negative things to her? Why would you do that to yourself? You are awesome. Embrace it.

Be seven again. Look in the mirror with zeal and LOVE what you see. Maybe even do a little booty shake.

Perceptions Are Cumulative

Children in Jerusalem.

The following was a facebook status on one of the parenting pages I follow. (I know! Can you believe I do anything aside from fitness stuff??):

PERCEPTIONS ARE CUMULATIVE. A child who consistently hears negative messages will perceive himself as bad, incapable, difficult, a trouble-maker, etc.  The longer he holds those NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS, the longer it will take to turn them around and the more ENCOURAGEMENT it will require. Fortunately, POSITIVE MESSAGES are also CUMULATIVE & can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED. This week’s challenge: try to provide 10 positive messages to 1 negative/correcting message to your kids.  Let us know how they respond.

After first considering how I could use this to be a better parent (of course), I immediately thought of how we view OURSELVES. Read the above paragraph again…consistently hearing negative messages will make someone perceive themselves as incapable. This doesn’t just apply to children. This applies to ALL of us. (After all, we’re just grown up kids, right?) So of course I have to ask, what kind of messages are you feeding yourself?

Negative messages? “I’m too heavy to work out ~People will make fun of me ~ I’m not good enough ~ I don’t know what I’m doing ~ I don’t know where to start. ~ I’m not capable. ~ I’m bad because I ate something unhealthy. ~ etc”. If you consistently feed your brain those negative messages, guess what? It will become your truth! Why in the world would you want this to be your truth?

“Fortunately, positive messages are also cumulative and can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED.” You are those things.

You ARE capable. You can do anything you set your mind to. It may require baby steps. It may require educating yourself on new ways of doing things. It may require a thought shift. As Henry Ford says, “whether you think you can or  can’t, you’re right”.

You ARE important. Just ask those that are important to you. They know how important you are. You matter! And you are worth the time to invest in yourself.

Positive messages: “I am smart. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am important.” The Help

You wouldn’t speak negatively to children, friends, or other family members. Why do you think you deserve that? You don’t! Replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. For every negative thought you have, replace it with ten positive ones. You WILL be empowered.

We’re just awesome little kids in grown up bodies. We deserve to feel good about ourselves. We deserve to look in the mirror and LOVE what we see. (Have you ever seen a 5-year-old pick out stuff they hated about themselves?) Perceptions ARE cumulative. So what is your perception?

*Thank you Positive Parenting Solutions for letting me borrow your quote.