Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who I want to be when I grow up...

Astronaut. Lawyer. Comedienne. Teacher. Dancer. Veterinarian. Seamstress.

All occupations I thought I wanted to be at some time in my early years. Some of them are quite laughable. Seamstress? I can't even sew on a button nor do I have a desire to do so. Astronaut? Please. I hate heights and have no interest in space. Dancer? Only at a lively wedding dance.

It's a question that I never think I will fully answer. My inclinations change with time and life experience. This week I found myself asking not what do I want to "do" but what do I want to "be"? Or rather, how would I want to be remembered? If something tragic were to happen tomorrow, what would I want my legacy to be? And does the way I spend my time and energy on a daily basis reflect who I really want to be?

I spend way too much time worrying about the reflection in the mirror or the weight on the scale.  I spend so much emotional energy beating myself up over eating a Kit Kat or missed workout when in the scope of life it doesn't even matter. If I were to die tomorrow would I want people to say "She never missed a workout?" or "She never missed a chance to ask how I was doing?" When I look at the women I consider beautiful it has absolutely nothing to do with the size of their waist and everything to do with how they interact with the people around them. And I want that to be where I focus more of my energy.

That doesn't mean I'll stop placing importance on exercise, but now exercise is more about what it can do for me mentally and a chance for a little me time. It's about being able to be active as long as possible and to be able to do my job without needing an oxygen mask. It doesn't mean I'll stop trying to have lots of fruits and vegetables on my plate, but it will be because I love my body and want to feed it, not because I hate by body or want someone elses. (PS-this will never stop being an inner struggle, I'm sure).

And there are so many other things that I need to remind myself:

It doesn't matter how fashionable my shirt is, but it matters if I would be willing to give it to someone else who needs it more than me.

It doesn't matter how new or clean my car is (thankfully), but that I would be willing to help someone with their transportation needs.

It doesn't matter if I bring a simple meal or a gourmet meal to a family experiencing a hard time, but it does matter that I cared enough to bring them something edible.

It doesn't matter how clean or fancy our home is, but it does matter that I make it a priority to make others feel comfortable and welcome in our home.

I want to BE someone who is able to keep the right perspective in life. To recognize the things that don't matter 5 years from now (like if there are dirty dishes when an unexpected guest drops by), and to be able to see the things that seem insignificant but have long term benefit, like taking the time to play a game with my kids.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Body Envy

I spent most of my life in the plus size section. In my head anyone who was a smaller size was automatically more beautiful than I was. I thought if I could just be smaller I would be beautiful. Even though I could look at my fellow plus sized sisters and see their beauty, I could never see my own. I felt that there was no possible way I was attractive. It also spilled over into other areas. I didn't have the confidence to run for student council because I thought people wouldn't vote for me due to my weight. If you have a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you've been there too.

Then I lost weight and gained some and lost some and gained some and finally was able to get down to a healthy weight. I've been there for almost a year. And you know what, that assumption that if only I were smaller I would feel more beautiful was false. I see that even people at smaller sizes are dissatisfied with how they look or feel in their own bodies. I think most of us do. And for so many reasons.

January 1 is a prime time for us to be assaulted with images that lead to body envy. Exercise programs that promise ripped abs and a firm bottom. I started the year working out with a knockoff of the P90x system (I knew that P90x was going to be too hard on my body and wallet). While I loved the workout, I found that deep down I was disappointed that I was looking nothing like the ripped, scantily clad fitness maven. The only lines you'll see on this midsection are stretch marks from years of losing and gaining.

And it's so easy to get stuck in that icky place of body envy. We are assaulted by genetically gifted, air brushed fitness models from the magazine racks in the checkout aisles (just buying and reading the magazine won't make our bodies any me, I tried). We are promised a quick, easy routine on Pinterest that will melt away the baby fat. And while I'm a huge fan of exercise for your health and as an aid to losing weight, we have to realize that for most of us our expectations for what exercise can do in relation to our waistline is not really close to the reality. So for myself, I had to step away from some of the exercise videos and magazines and websites that were causing me huge amounts of body envy...leading to my own body hatred. I've started to embrace exercises and routines that not only give me a great workout but leave me feeling better about myself (not disappointed that I don't look like the genetically gifted, super healthy gal on the screen). I try to make myself more knowledgeable in areas of health and fitness so I can better create realistic expectations.

I'm sure I will always look in the mirror and want to change something (or lots of things, depending on the day), but I'm learning to be thankful for each and every beautiful flaw. That excess weight? It means I'm blessed enough to be living in a time and place where food is in abundance. By the grace of God I haven't known the heartache of seeing my child go hungry. Those stretch marks? Some of them are from the time I carried my two beautiful children. Those sore knees? It means I've had the ability to go out and be active for most of my life. That zit on my chin...okay, I'm still working on embracing all of my flaws.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The switch

In the past month I haven't posted a single blog post. I've written probably 100 in my head while driving, exercising, or laying in bed at night. I just haven't had the inspiration during the times I actually have a free moment at the computer. My last post was about the status of my post-holiday scale. I sounded so positive, so ready to return to my healthy eating...and yet a month later I stood and saw the same-ish number on the scale. Discouraging.

And maybe that's where you find yourself. Maybe a month ago you had big goals to eat healthier, exercise more, or get your finances in order. Yet as the cold days of January passed (three of ours were without heat) it seemed that you weren't able to make any progress on your goal. The Christmas cookies were replaced with other temptations. The weather made your bed way more tempting than your desire to lace up your sneakers. Your budget was broken with an unexpected expense (hello new furnace). And that's just been me. And that's just been January.

It's easy to just think "it's not going to work. I'm not going to be able to get back on track so I might as well be satisfied with being close to the track."

But for me, two days ago a switch flipped. I can't describe it, and I wish I could give you a formula to replicate it for yourself. I went from "I want to do all these things" yet not fully being able to follow through to "That's it, I'm going to do it. No excuses." And it's not just words, it's what I feel down in my gut. Like suddenly that Hershey's Bliss in my cupboard is not nearly so tempting. The knick-nack at the store isn't worth messing with my budget. It's the same mind change I had a little over a year ago when I was finally able to lose about 40 pounds. On Monday morning  (I know, all of 2 days ago) I felt that switch flip on again. It was probably the post-Super Bowl bloat that pushed me over the edge.

So for now I'm just focusing on my nutrition. If I get that back in check it seems everything else eventually follows. And it isn't easy. Just because my mind suddenly decided that snitching chips isn't worth it doesn't mean that I haven't had times the past two days where a part of me wants to slip back into some sort of high calorie snack (that's my downfall...snacks). And there is always a part of me that says "it doesn't really bite won't hurt." And if I could just take one bite that would be completely true. But for me, one bite isn't enough. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. And for some areas of life that is awesome. When it comes to chocolate, not so much.

Shake off the discouragement of the hopes you had a month ago. It's a new day...even a dreary, cold, windy day in Illinois can be a day for a new start. A day for you to flip a switch and say today is the day I ___________________.