So I get that the end of winter is dragging on and on like a bad house guest who just won’t go home and that is making everyone cranky and whiny and mopey. I get it. Why? Because that is about where I am at myself. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and turn into a big blob for most of the winter, with all the short-tempered, depressed-ness to go along with it. That being said, I’m going to throw off all of that, even when all I want to do is take a nap, to talk about some of the ROCKSTAR things that have been going on in my life recently because gosh darn it, they are worth celebrating!!
#1 – I started a project of learning to love spending quality time with myself, so once a month I go on a “date” with myself to do something I’ll enjoy, without having to deal with anyone else’s schedules or issues or whatever.
#2 – I completed my first half marathon in February for my one year running anniversary at Disney World with my sister and one of my closest cousins. What better way to celebrate an awesome year of taking on new challenges than by doing it up Disney style! (And no, I still haven’t posted about it… I’m getting there! I promise!)
#3 – I knocked out a 51 page group proposal for school that I never thought I’d finish and I am damn proud of the end product. Now, let’s just hope my professor agrees.
#4 – I started seeing a really nice man, who treats me pretty darn well and makes me smile. Can’t ask for more than that.
#5 – Project Girl Get Fit hit 1,500 followers on Facebook and 500 followers on Twitter. What WHAT!!
#6 – This one is kind of shallow and superficial, but hey, whatever. I can officially wrap up in one of the towels at the gym for my shower. That sounds incredibly silly, but I have never (to my memory) been able to use less than two because between my boobs and my stomach, it always, ALWAYS gapped. But I went to take a quick shower after work Friday and lo and behold! One towel baby! Heck yes.
#7 – I was picked to be a race ambassador for not one, but TWO races in Chicago this summer! Yeah buddy! One is the Pretty Muddy mud run and the other is for Esprit de She, which is Lifetime Fitness’ new race series. They cover everything from 5k races to triathlons and since I decided to try a tri this summer, I’m going to be blogging for them about my training and my experience at the race. Can anybody say super sweet?! I’m way excited to be involved in this brand new race series!
#8 – My mom just bought a new house that I am helping her renovate while we sell the old one. Yay for fresh starts!
#9 – In three weeks, I’m flying off to Nashville with some of my best girls to celebrate my 27th birthday! And then when I come back, the family and I are going out to a swanky dinner to celebrate. Read: a new dress may be making an appear.
#10 – I am just all around happy with my life. There are still parts to adjust and things to work on, but I am all around peachy keen.
So, let’s get some love going out there. What are you celebrating today? Tell me all about it!
One of the things that I have truly learned in the past year is how to really love and appreciate my body for what it is and where it is at. If I hadn’t known that already, it would have become glaringly clear this weekend. Wanna know why? Because I, in all my “still getting in shape, but not quite there” glory, ran around Chicago in my underwear. And yes, I mean that quite literally.
As I was prepping for this over the past week or so, one of the things that I heard the most often was, “You’re running in your underwear?! I could never do that!” And I get it. It’s pretty much instant vulnerability if you aren’t a smoking hot Victoria Secret model or a beast athlete. Heck, even then you might have some hang ups about taking off all your clothes and running down the street (not to mention adding in 30 ish degree weather!) and really, who could blame you?
I certainly don’t. To be honest, for the most part, I didn’t dwell too much on the almost naked part. It was a run for charity that I was running with a big group of people, albeit ones I had never met, as well as my sister, so I decided that I was going to knuckle down and do it… Regardless of how cold it was, how outside my comfort zone it might be, or who might be out on the streets to see our mad dash.
The day of the race, my sister got sick. No good! Then, when I got to the bar we were starting out from, one of the first things that I noticed was that 95% of people were skinny, pretty, in shape little things. My first thought was that clearly this race idea belonged to a man. My second was to starting humming “One of these things is not like the others” in my head. I was definitely feeling a little out of place and had some insecurities surfacing.
But then I made myself stop and think about it. I was raising money for a good cause, right? RIGHT! I was in shape enough to complete the run, being a little over a mile, right? RIGHT!! So why the heck should I care what anyone else thinks of my body? I have worked hard to get were I am and I am damn proud of my body, even if no one else is. And to be quite frank, I decided that if anyone didn’t like that I was a big girl running around in my bra, boxers, and knee socks, that they didn’t have to watch and that I just didn’t really care. YEAH!
I ended up having a great time. I met some incredible people, raised money for a great cause, froze my booty off, and most importantly, came away from the experience with new perspective on my own body image. It was strangely empowering by putting me in a significantly uncomfortable situation.
And now for some random fun pictures from the race!
Recently I read a truly inspiring post on fellow SPA sister Lea’s blog, Running for Dummies, where she openly posted about the struggles that she has with having an all or nothing personality. She purposefully stepped out of her comfort zone to throw off the ‘Healthy=Perfect’ mentality that seems to come along with being involved in the health and fitness industry. Truthfully, it is always a struggle to balance between wanting to be honest or upfront with your readers and feeling like you are being a downer or letting your readers down during the times that you struggle. For a day or two? Sure, no problem. For weeks or months on end? Sometimes it hard to not just gloss over the bad parts and write about happy things or things that you think will motivate others, even if you have none yourself. In this post, she also issued a challenge for her fellow health and fitness bloggers to truly open up to our readers and post about what we really struggle with, what we are afraid of. And I’m going to take her up on it.
I struggle with realistically viewing my progress and to some degree, body dysmorphia. Even though I have been working out for a year and know that I am smaller, proof being in all the new clothes that I have had to buy since my old ones don’t fit, that many times I cannot see the difference if I am looking in the mirror (something that drives my friends and family crazy when they know about it and that is difficult for them to not understand how I can’t see what they see). And because I can’t see that difference, some days I find it really discouraging, disheartening, frustrating, fill in the blank to want to keep going and keep working hard. Some days, I struggle not to cry feeling like I have spent all this time and money and worked SO hard, but that I am still not where I want to be. I fight with my internal voice to stay positive and not just start body bashing all over the place, which is why body loving is something that I am so passionate about.
Don’t misunderstand. I don’t hate myself. I don’t think that I am a failure or that I am unworthy of love (most of the time) and I am, by no means, ready to roll over and give up. I know that I work hard. I know that I fight back against society’s pressures to eat junk and do nothing and still miraculously be one of the “hot girls” every day. I push my limits and I have had to find other ways to track and measure my progress, since I can’t just look in a mirror and see it. I have struggled for years to stop hating my body and started learning to love it. But every day I get up, give thanks for how far I have come, for the fact that I have a body that is getting stronger and more capable every day, and for the fact that I decided to take control of my life and makes changes for the better before it was too late to do anything.
It is hard to admit to having flaws. It is hard to admit that sometimes I fall prey to the impossible standards that society sets and that sometimes I love myself just a little bit less for not being able to meet them. It is hard to admit that sometimes I wonder why anybody would love me, want to be a part of my life, find me inspiring, or listen to a damn thing I have to say. But that is my challenge, my fight that I take up every day, determined not only to make a better life for myself, but also for my sisters, my family, and my future kids. Maybe one day they won’t have to worry about what their size, shape, or looks might mean for how society looks at them. I am determined to try to make the future healthier for them, so that they never have to struggle with the self doubt that so many of us have today regarding our bodies.
Are you up to the challenge of baring all for others to see? If so, I challenge you to take on Running for Dummies‘ mission: If you are a blogger, especially a health and fitness blogger, I invite you join in with me on the “I’m Afraid to Post This Blog,” mission. What are you afraid to share with your readers? I think it is important to portray a transparent, real world, real life, fitness journey complete with our faults and struggles. Even the most famous, most fit, most compelling blogger has some areas of imperfection in their lives. When we share our imperfections, it goes a long way in showing others that perfection is not the goal, or even reality. I believe that steady progress, growth, and a well-rounded healthy lifestyle is the goal, complete with all internal struggles that go along with being a human being.
Who is in? I’ll link back to your blog posts here if you decide to share your own, “I’m Afraid to Post This Blog.” Just submit your post to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts recently to the relationships in my life. Evaluting them, deciding which are really positive influences in my life, regardless of how difficult that may be. Today I had coffee with one of my oldest friends and we were able to talk about a lot of issues that have been going on in the past few months. Some were my fault, some were hers, some were just mutual misunderstandings, etc. Though it was somewhat difficult to confront the issue, one of the nice parts about being friends with someone for so long is that you have a pretty good understanding of where they are coming from. After a conversation that lasted several hours, I am really glad to say that we hashed out some of the problems and while not 100% fixed are working to make improvements.
I know that this has nothing to do with fitness, but it is important for a variety of reasons. The main one being that sometimes you have to fight for what you need in your life. Whether that is a relationship, for your health, for what makes you happy. You have to learn to dig deep and find that inner fire. Find what drives you, what is going to push you through those hard times and dark days when you don’t feel like doing it anymore. What is it that is going to make you keep going no matter what?
Regardless of the time of year, I am super excited any time that people I know and care about decide to make healthy lifestyle changes, whether that is starting a new exercise program, cleaning up their eating, or simply getting more “me” time in. As a grad student with two jobs, a raucously loveable family (I may have made that form of the word raucous up. Not sure. Haha.), and a penchant for overscheduling, I completely understand how hard it is to try to work new things into your routine, even if you know how crucial they are. Change is hard. There is nothing new or shocking about that.
Last week, I met up with two of my cousins for dinner down in the city and we got to talking about healthy living over our stir fry and wine. One of them had decided that in light of her recent break up/moving out with her boyfriend that she was going to make some changes and that one was to get healthier. Hooray! I, of course, dived into the conversation, being the health and fitness nerd that I am, to hear all about her goals and how she wants to achieve them. Including only eating 1200 calories a day. GASP! Nope, sorry, I had to cut in here, knowing what I do about nutrition and working out, that cannot possibly be healthy. Especially if you are counting the calories you drink in your wine as part of the 1200! After a long chat about how she came up with that number, how much and how hard she wants to work out, and how good nutrition affects your body, we came up with some more reasonable expectations that make for long lasting healthy living, not crash dieting.
This week, I headed to her house for a one on one consult where we firmed up the specifics of her goals, fitness, and nutrition to get her on a healthy path to losing the weight she wants and hopefully avoiding some of the medical issues that run rampant in her side of the family. We kept the goals manageable so that they are less intimidating and she is working up to running her first 5k race this spring! I love getting people into racing! The more the merrier!
The short version of this semi-long story is that I am super excited for her and proud of her for having the courage to make changes in her life when she wasn’t satisfied with where she was at, both health wise and emotionally. She is taking an active approach to being happy and realizing that she has the power to change her own life, which is more than a lot of people do. If you don’t like the dance, change the music.
Here is my bit of advice for the week: Be nice to the new years resolutioners – whether they are in your gym, at the grocery store, in your yoga class, or maybe stole your treadmill. Everyone, including you, was new at one point and was insecure and uncertain about if they even belonged there in the first place. Don’t discourage them! It may have taken every ounce of will power they possessed to get there in the first place and some crankypants person acting like a jerk because they have to change their routine to make room for new members may be the thing that convinces them to never come back. Now, I’m not saying that it’s your responsibility to hold their hand and make sure they are okay, but for pete’s sake, cut them some slack. It’s hard being the new kid, it’s hard making a decision to change. And so what if they might be gone by February? Maybe they will, maybe they weren’t ready to change, maybe someone was a jerk and they feel like they couldn’t possibly fit in here. BUT what if this time, this gym, this person was ready to make a change? What if they aren’t going to disappear after a month, but are going to stick to it and really make a change? Do you want to be the person that rains all over their parade?
To be truthful, I feel so strongly about this subject because I was a new years resolutioner. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin or if I fit in or if this time was the time that I would stick it out and really make a change. But I can say with certainty that you are so much less likely too if you feel like you’re in a hostile environment. I knew that I really didn’t know anything. I knew that I was fat and out of shape and couldn’t compete with all the pretty little things running around in sports bras. But that’s not the point. The point is that I was made to feel welcome from the first time I set foot in the club and that encouraged me to try and to stay until I did feel comfortable. Until it was my club just as much as anyone else’s.
So for those of you who are fussing about all the new people that come in and make the place crowded, who may or may not be there in a few weeks, I have one thing to say: Get OVER yourself! If you want to workout with no one there to interrupt your routine, buy some equipment and workout at home. Learn to support the newbies so that they can begin their incredible fitness journey and maybe you are one of the people that inspired them to continue. And if you are that jerk of a person that ends up making someone feel unwanted or like they don’t belong there simply because they are new and don’t know what they are doing, you should feel ashamed of yourself and I really don’t want to hear you complaining about how people don’t try to take care of themselves, or have let themselves go, or just don’t want to be healthy. Clearly, some of them were trying and maybe would have succeeded if you hadn’t stepped in and obnoxiously acted like you were better than they were just because you had been around longer.
So again I say, be nice! You never know where it may lead. Don’t be THAT guy (or girl!).
Today is also the beginning of a new giveaway from a company that is near and dear to my heart! I joined Team Tough Chik this past fall and the women in this community are outrageously awesome, not to mention incredibly supportive. So when I had the opportunity to giveaway one of their cool new military caps, you better believe that I jumped all over it! Not only because of that, but also maybe a little selfishly because I love hats and this one just had to have a home with me!
Anyway, this rockin’ hat comes in black with red writing, is super comfy, and really goes with just about anything. I wear it around all the time and can safely say that it is one of my new favorites! So here’s the deal: you have from now until the end of the night on Saturday to enter in to win and on Sunday, I will draw one lucky winner! All the ways to enter are at the link below, but mostly it is all about showing some love for Project Girl Get Fit and Tough Chik! So go hit up her FB page and tell her the Project Girl Get Fit sent you!
Enter HERE to win!!
Earlier this semester, in one of my MSW classes, someone was talking about Stockholm syndrome and it got me to thinking.
For anyone who might not know, Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy, sympathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.
People have the same relationship with their bad habits. They are used to them and change is hard, so it’s easier to maintain the status quo. It is easier to explain away why they can’t change, why they will start tomorrow, why it costs too much, why they are just too busy, why it’s just too hard. And they would be right. It is hard, we are busy, it is a challenge, but it’s not too much and staying the same will not be good for you. It will not make you healthier, happy, or get you to where you want to be.
Now I fully believe that sometimes people just aren’t ready to change and that is okay. I’ve been there. Sometimes you just aren’t at the point in your life where you are ready to commit your time, energy, and everything you have to make a change in your life. But let’s peel aside all the flimsy excuses (And yes, they are flimsy. I know because I’ve used every one of them) and look at what is really behind the reasons not to make a healthy change in your life. Is it because the motivation just isn’t there? Sometimes it’s not and there is no desire to change. Sometimes you just have to get up and go and trust that the motivation will eventually come. Is is because you just don’t want to give up things that you think you’ll need to in order to get healthy? You might have to, you might not. Health and fitness is different for every person, so the journey is different for every person. Some of your favorite “guilty pleasures” you might be surprised to find you can keep. And after a while, the things that you just CAN’T give up, you might find that you don’t really care about holding on to them anymore. How about fear? Is that a reason? In my experience, that is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Fear of failure, fear of looking silly, fear of not knowing what to do, fear of not being enough, fear that what if I do this and STILL nothing changes. They are all real fears and we all have them. Don’t feel bad about that. I still worry about some of those things. The key is to not let the fear paralyze you. Don’t let it stop you in your tracks or deter you from your goals. Take it a day at a time and face down your fears. Not only will you eventually overcome them, but it will make you feel so much more accomplished, so much braver for having done it. And you CAN do it.
So take baby steps. Be realistic. Make a plan. Set goals. Be brave. And take it one day at a time. You can do this.
In every ending, there are opportunities for new beginnings. And this year, middle sis and I decided to start the new year off with a commitment to continue to have a healthy way of life in 2013 by running in Lifetime’s Commitment Day 5k downtown in Chicago. It wasn’t too early in the morning following our New Year’s Eve celebration with baby sis the night before, but damn was it COLD! It was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit when we were out jogging along the lakefront. Brrrrr! Even though I didn’t PR in my race, I did hit my fastest mile pace yet at 11 minutes 30 seconds. Woohoo!
And in continuing on my health and fitness journey this year, it is only appropriate that I set some new goals and challenges for the upcoming year:
What are your goals for 2013?
A year ago, I never would have been able to guess that I would have been writing this post. A year ago my life was completely different than it is today and in my opinion, it has done nothing but change for the better.
A year ago….
I weighed almost 300 pounds and wore a size 26/28 instead of the 14/16 I wear now.
I smoked half to 3/4 of a pack of cigarettes a day instead of quitting like I did the day after Valentine’s.
I got drunk with my friends almost every weekend instead of having a drink or two each month like I do these days.
I couldn’t run more than 30 seconds without getting winded instead of running my 17th race in the morning and prepping for my first half marathon.
I couldn’t leg press more than 100# or chest press more than 25# instead of being able to max out the leg press machine, more than triple my chest press, and graduating to the free weights, which I ADORE.
Truthfully, a year ago, even if I was truly unhappy, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you because I was fairly numbed out to my life. But oh how a year can change you. Some for the good, some for the bad, some easy, others not so much. But in the end, through the ups and downs, the good days and bad, the bitter loss of old friends and the joy of new ones, what I have learned is this: Change is inevitable and you can use it to forge yourself into something better or allow it to change you into something worse. Regardless, there is a lesson to be learned in all of it and in the end, you can’t stop things from changing anyway.
So for tonight, I am not going to speak of new goals or challenges, of resolutions or hopes. There is time enough for that tomorrow. For now, I am simply going to leave you with this: Would who you were a year ago recognize the person you are now?