How to banish self-doubt – in 3 easy steps

How to banish self-doubt — in 3 easy steps:

  1. Put on your favorite workout gear
  2. Grab your water bottle
  3. Get to your favorite gym/studio/home gym ASAP
…and watch that self-doubt disappear, right before your eyes. 

Monday night I was driving home from work, feeling a little – shall we say – puffy, for lack of a better word. I went home, grabbed my workout gear for barre n9ne and ate a quick dinner before the 7:15 barre method class (one of my favorites). I happened to have a new Lululemon top (after stalking the “we made too much section” last week like a total creeper) to test drive (note: this would be step 1, see above) so I promptly put the new top on and off I went (step 2).

All the while? I had these awful, totally illogical and very negative thoughts swirling around in my brain. Something along the lines of this:
….”Does this outfit look ok? I need a second opinion…”
“Hmm. My tummy feels puffy, bah.”
…”Maybe I didn’t need that extra glass of wine on Sunday. Did I overdo it?? (even though I know I didn’t, logically, but in this self-doubt moment, all bets were off)
…”I hate this.Why am I doubting myself???
…”Stop itttt.”

Step 3: I entered the studio, chatted with a few of the girls before class (who I must say, freakin’ best group of women you’ll ever meet…all so sweet and supportive and AWESOME), and next thing you know it’s time for the 7:15 class to start.

Almost literally before my eyes, as I watched myself in the mirror while we warmed up…and suddenly that “puffiness” I sensed earlier was nowhere to be found. My discomfort in my own skin – gone. Instead, I felt strong, confident, and sure of myself  – and I pushed it hard during class. I was in the moment, trusting my body to show me what I was refusing to see beforehand.

This was such a breakthrough for me. I was allowing my body to prove to ME that I do not need to doubt. I do not need to question. I do not need to pick myself apart. I simply need to trust myself.

Kinda like that 5 miler on Thanksgiving showed me that I am more capable than I tend to let myself to believe? This is another instance of that trust issue I’ve been battling lately.

And it’s about time: 
…to (fully) trust myself.
…to stop doubting.
…to just be me.
(in just 3 easy steps…) 

6 months later, a thank you

Tomorrow is November 12th.

Six months starting the barre n9ne 60-day challenge.

Six months that have changed my life in such a profound way that the words “thank you” simply do not do it justice.

In re-reading one of my first posts just before the start of the challenge, I am surprised (though I shouldn’t be) to see that every single one of my expectations for the challenge came true. A snippet from that post:

I’m excited. For change – in body, but even more so in mind. I want this to reset my thinking on what I believe my body is capable of.  Far too often I think I sell myself short in this area. I have doubts. I don’t always trust my body to carry me through whatever challenge it faces. I want to see that end.

…But I’m ready.
To embrace. 
To let go. 
To learn. 
To transform.  

To say that this challenge changed me physically is an understatement, for sure. I look in the mirror now and am happy with the person I see smiling back at me. I’m no longer afraid of the scale, it does not control me.  My clothes fit better – well actually they fit worse, but that’s because they’re all too big! I guess that’s what happens after shedding more than 15 inches (haven’t done the final measure-in yet!) and yes, some lbs too (though that was never a focus for me during this challenge).

But WAY more important to me than how I look on the outside? How I feel on the inside. Transformed

I’m practically bursting with pride and confidence
I trust myself, my body, to do things I never thought it could do.
I finish what I start,  and not with a wimper through that finish line, but with a bang.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been.  

I feel honored to wear the barre n9ne spokesmodel title proudly (I’m even on the website now, check me and my sis out, hehe). I’ve met and hopefully inspired (even if just a wee bit) so many beautiful and wonderful women who are all well on their way to their own refined lives. Paying it forward was such a big part of this experience for me and I love that I’ve gotten to do that through the awesome barre n9ne community that is now bursting with such energy, it makes me smile big everytime I step into the studio.

So today, I sit here feeling so thankfula phrase that *still* doesn’t do the past six months justice. 

Tanya I wish I had other words to use…but this will have to do. Thank you. For helping my sis and I to see what we are capable of. For helping us to recognize that we’re worth it.

If the past six months were this life-changing, I cannot even begin to imagine what the next six months will bring.

6 months later…thank you. 

Community: defined.

Until recently, I never really thought of myself as “community” kinda gal.

I sort of equated anything “community” related as something you feel like you “have” to get involved in, like community service, and stuff like that.

I realize now how silly I was to equate “community” to something so very unappealing (to me).

Last night right before barre n9ne class started, I suddenly recognized that the wonderful, happy, excited, energized women around me is my community: defined.

In the relatively few months that I’ve been part of this community with my sister, I’ve seen it absolutely flourish into an amazing phenomenon. One that I’m not quite sure what I’d do without…it’s become such a passion of mine, not just my own personal growth since starting the barre n9ne challenge in May, but to see other women get involved in the challenge has been nothing short of amazing.

That is community to me. Encouraging eachother to work hard, play hard, and celebrate every single success along the way. Just last night, I was talking to one of the newer challengers who was absolutely bubbling over with pride at the inches she’s already lost just one month into her personal challenge journey. To see her eyes sparkle with pride and confidence and with a huge smile on her face? Awesome.

And then to get a text from my fit friend Steph with her most recent challenge results (which are amazing, she is HOT !!), and my heart soared for her. She finished her text with “happy!” And that made me ridiculously happy for her
…and for all of the women in this beautiful community of ours, who are putting their health and fitness first.
…who are making time for themselves and not feeling guilty for doing so.
…and are becoming confident and happy and in love with who they are today.  Amazing.

So now when I think about “community” — my definition is quite different.  It’s about finding common ground. Above all else. Kind of like this amazing fitness and healthy living community that I am damn proud to be a part of. A beautiful phenomenon…another community where I’ve made friendships that I cherish, with awesome women (and even a few guys!) who I’d never ever have met if not for this blogging thang.

((Community))…it’s a beautiful thing, and something I value so much more than I ever thought I would. 

An open letter to…You.

An open letter to…You

To whom it may concern <ahem, that would be You>:

It’s time to embrace who you are today. Instead of hoping, wishing, can’t-waiting to be *that* someone you don’t think you are today but somehow think you ought to be, in some shape or form, tomorrow, in two weeks, six months, a year…

Take just one minute out of your day – every day – to look in the mirror. Really look in that mirror. Tell the person you see that you love them…and why. If you’re strapped for time, just pick one thing about that person in the mirror that you love and tell them. Out loud. Every day.

Accept the things you can control, and push aside those that you cannot. Quit wasting time letting your mind cycle through those out-of-your-control things and accept who you are, where you are, what you are. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. Learn it.

And above all else? Be your own best friend. Not your enemy. You’d never tear down your best friend. You’d praise them. You’d never judge them. You’d encourage them. You’d never doubt them. You’d have full confidence in them. You’d accept them for who they are, right where they are. Always. 

With much love, 

Things that are humbling

Things that are humbling…
(why do I feel like I’m on Jeopardy with that phrase? “I’ll take ‘things that are humbling’ for $100, Alex”) 

I’m humbled when:

…I’m smacked with the reality of a less-than-stellar run. Especially after riding what feels like a multi-week runner’s high, especially after *just* blogging about a 12.5 mile runner’s high just yesterday. But yesterday was also a day where I faced a way-harder-than-it-should’ve-been run. Almost as if I was running in place, exerting all this energy and not getting anywhere. That “not getting anywhere” feeling lasted pretty much the entire run. But? The silver lining – I did not give up. I did not walk. I kept moving (that favorite running quote springs to mind…”Run if you can, walk if you must, crawl if you have to, but just don’t stop.”) It was humbling. 

…I have a fat day. A “day” or a “feeling” I thought I’d finally banished for good. But guess what? I’m human. I’m not perfect. I still have fat days. Apparently, I didn’t get that memo. Even after blogging about what a difference a year makes. Even after openly admitting that, on my 32nd birthday, I feel good, happy, confident when I look in the mirror. I’m still human. But, as luck would have it, all that “fat day” took yesterday was a double whammy session at barre n9ne to knock some sense into me. After taking a legs express class followed by b9 toned, firm, fit and ready, I suddenly looked into that mirror and did not feel fat. I felt strong again. Confident again. Fit again.<exhale> …but yet? The fact that a fat day can still rear its ugly head from time-to-time? That’s humbling.

…I see someone who is not able, yet still making the most of life.
When I say “able,” I mean – unable to be active, unable to walk, even. It was during that very same run yesterday that Scott and I encountered an elderly woman. Out for her morning “walk” in her wheelchair. By the look on her face, you’d never know she was unable. She was smiling, she was happy – with what she was able to do. While she physically couldn’t walk, she *could* still get out and enjoy the beautiful Indian summer day. Wheelchair and all. That look on her face, the kind words she uttered when we passed by. It was so humbling. Especially considering I was just bitching in my head about how horrendous I was feeling on that run.

“…But at least I *can* run,” I thought to myself.

The difference in a year.

What a difference a year makes. 

This is exactly the phrase I uttered to Scott last night during my birthday dinner (#1, yes there will be more celebrating this weekend!).

I was just totally awe-struck by how I approached this birthday versus previous birthdays. Yesterday was a celebration of life. It was full of experiences. And it did not center on food as the centerpiece of that celebration.

Quite a difference from previous birthdays where that day, nevermind the entire weekend that followed, was an all-out eat-and-drink-your-face-off-its-your-birthday fest. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy some delicious food and an amazing glass of wine or two last night. Not at all. Remember – I’m not on a diet, I’m not dieting, I’ve just made wholesome changes to my approach to eating, that has me swinging back into an amazing sense of happy balance. 

But it’s those wholesome changes that have made an incredible impact on me. Yesterday started with a killer 6.5 miler on the treadmill (my best yet on the darn thing, who knew?). I filled my day at work with healthy, balanced food choices, making sure to plan ahead knowing that I would be eating out and thus, the control I’d have in portion size, how the food is prepped, etc., wouldn’t be mine.

After work, Scott and I went to this awesome little bistro we’ve been meaning to try that’s near our house; it’s farm-to-table style which is my absolute favorite. <sorry, no pictures here, I was too focused on the experience, remember? 😉 >

We started with an antipasto trio – a wedge of blue cheese (which I actually liked, and I’m usually not a big fan); a spring roll (Scott ate most of that one); and citrus marinated olives (swoon!). I also had a small piece of homemade bread that was to.die.for. For my meal? I went with locally caught haddock broiled with a light topping of breadcrumbs; my two sides (which I had the luxury of choosing, love that) were mixed greens and sliced heirloom tomatoes. A-mazing meal. A glass of cabernet sauvignon (and one back at the house!), and my night was complete. There *may* have been a few m&ms to go with that wine back at the house – I chose that as my dessert because let’s be honest, how *good* is wine when paired with chocolate???

It was a perfect mid-week birthday celebration. But more than that? It epitomized for me just how “transformed” I am because of the barre n9ne challenge that began back in May. I have a whole new outlook on life – one that is far more balanced and healthy and happy than ever before. I was talking to a friend yesterday afternoon and she asked me if I can safely look in the mirror and say “I look good.” And I looked at her and said, without hesitation, “yes, I can.”

And to me? That open realization? That acceptance of who I am? That openly confident outlook?

That is the difference in a year. 

So this is 32, huh?

On this day, October 6, 2011 – I’m embracing all 32 years of my life. 

holy sh*t, I’m 32??

But seriously, what have I learned in the past year? It’s a biggie: I’ve learned that I am finally truly comfortable in my own skin, truly comfortable being “me” – and that feels like a huge breakthrough, and something to celebrate, not just the fact that I’m a whole year older. 😉

I obviously credit this breakthrough in large part to the barre n9ne challenge, coupled with my recent running breakthroughs, for giving me this newly discovered confidence and “happy trust” in who I am today. All 32 years of “me.”

But what I’ve also realized this past year? That I have a heck of a lot to be thankful for – most of all, that I’m surrounded by loving, beautiful, exciting, inspiring friends and family.

I have two beautiful sisters that I love more than anything. 

And a gorgeous niece I’d walk on fire for. 

And the best husband I could ever, ever, ever ask for. 

And the best friends – IRL and of the bloggy variety – that support me and my crazy ways, that “get” me, and that are just as beautiful and inspiring as ever. And it’s all of these things, on my 32nd birthday, that I am forever grateful for.

I am right where I belong. Right where I’m meant to be.
…and that feels damn good.

But – you know me, this post would  not be complete without a few declarations of things I want to see/do/experience during my 32nd year. 😉

A few I-can’t-believe-I’m-32 bucket list items, if you will:
…I will face down 26.2 at 32
(or at some point during my 32nd year…)
…I will  make my blog my own (as in my own URL, my own hosted site)
…I will learn to be more spontaneous (weekend getaways on the spur of the moment are in the back of my mind…as in book it on Friday, leave on Saturday morning; SO unlike me)
…I will do one thing that scares me everyday. Big or small, I plan to be plenty scared every single day this year.  

Happy birthday to meeeee (and to my beautiful sisters; I love you both so much)!! 32 is gonna be awesome (wrinkle cream, be damned!) 

Core Fusion: revisited.

So, as I alluded to earlier this week, yesterday *may* have included a surprise visit to Exhale Spa to take a Core Fusion class with the one and only Fred Devito. My sis and I have taken two of his classes before and each time have been totally impressed with his calm, open demeanor and the way he can push you to try harder, focus more, work harder, in his classes.

And last night’s class was no different in that regard.

Fred was great, total class act, and definitely gave us the sweatfest we were looking for.

But what was different for us last night?
Two things, really.

First – how we felt in class. The last time we took one of Fred’s classes was just before we started the barre n9ne 60-day challenge. Both my sis and I were in fairly low places, body confidence wise at that point. Little did we know what the next four months was about to do for us, in us, around us. Transformative. That’s how I’d describe it, as I’ve said about a million times by now! 😉

And last night? We both walked away feeling like we held our own. Like we belonged. Like we did our best to own the barre (trust me, it owned me plenty of times, too!). We felt confident. Happy. Strong.

Second, though? We walked away from class having an even bigger appreciation for the barre. After taking countless barre n9ne classes in the past four months, we’ve grown used to lots and lots of time (literally) spent at the barre. Much more so than what we got out of last night’s Core Fusion class.  I actually (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) found myself sort of bummed when the barre work was essentially over after 10 minutes during Core Fusion last night.

Shocking – we actually LIKE more time at the barre versus less, who knew?? <—do you hear that Tanya? Does this mean I need to brace myself for the next barre fusion or barre method class I take??

In all, I really loved getting back to Core Fusion and having a chance to see Fred again. Especially given how changed I feel today versus the last time we took one if his classes.

What it also reminded me? That I utterly and totally have the barre running through my veins.

Yes, friends. It’s official:

Hi, My name is Jessica and I am a barre (n9ne) addict. 
That is all. 🙂

The day I stopped being afraid.

September 12, 2011. 

The day I stopped being afraid. 

…of numbers.
…of comparisons.
…of the mirror.
…of the scale.

You see, last night I stepped on the scale for the first time in as long as I can remember and I actually looked down at the number.

And was not afraid.

Sure, I had a feeling I might”like” the number I saw glowing back at me given how the  barre n9ne challenge has transformed me – body and soul. And that definitely helped me to surpass my previous fear of the scale (and numbers) in that moment –where it was either look down or look away.

But what I really realized in that moment? It really wouldn’t matter what that number said on the scale. It still doesn’t. What matters is that the scale, numbers, all of it, has zero affect on me. 

I do not fixate.
I do not judge.
I do not compare.
I do not fear.

It’s just a number. Pure and simple.

How I feel today has utterly nothing to do with that number on the scale.
At. All.

I have learned so much in the past four months since barre  n9ne (and Tanya!) came into my life – and none of what I have learned has anything at all to do with numbers.

I’ve learned:
…to be happy and comfortable in my skin.
…that I am confident in who I am and what I am capable of doing.
…what this body is capable of doing.

This much I’ve learned.

And today?
…I am changed.
not afraid.

I am ready to take on as many challenges as I can. Because I now know that this body is capable of anything. Literally anything.

But for now? I’m reveling in this moment.
The day I stopped being afraid.  

Why not say “thank you”?

One of my new years’ resolutions was to finally kick the negative self-talk habit for good. It was my new years’ resolution two years ago as well and while I made good progress that year, it definitely wasn’t a habit I’d successfully broken.

And since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to bash the negative self-talk as often as possible. Nobody needs such negativity in their lives, least of all negativity that comes right from within you and is aimed at you. Duh, how much sense does that make, right??

What’s equal parts interesting and exciting?

ExcitingI think I’ve finally broken the habit.
InterestingI have a hard time outright saying “you know what? I look good.”

The thing is – I feel confident today. I feel so comfortable in my own skin. I feel like the me I’ve always wanted to be – on the outside, but more so on the inside. This is who I’m supposed to be. This is me.

So why is this newly “refined” me having a hard time openly accepting compliments – from others, or even from myself, in my own head where nobody can hear it but me?

I think what it comes down to is this: it’s actually more acceptable in our society to talk ourselves down in front of others versus lifting ourselves up.

But why? Is it arrogant and cocky to look in the mirror and actually like what you see? Is it obnoxious to say “thank you” when someone says they like your haircut, or how your top accentuates your shoulders? Why brush off a compliment that was offered up out of an honest appreciation for something someone else views as beautiful?

Of course, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogant, but I think that line needs to be toed more often. I think we, as a community of beautiful, healthy, strong bloggers need to more openly share the things that we love about ourselves, about eachother.

Because guess what? We work hard to be the healthy and fit people that we ALL are so why not celebrate that hard work we put in to how we look and how we feel (more importantly)?

So this is me – accepting that I am beautiful. That I like what I see in that mirror. And I’m not afraid to admit it.

There. I said it.  

And here’s a picture to prove it…me at my most confident, with my gorgeous husband by my side…

So next time you hesitate when someone tells you how great you look, or how confidently you hold yourself, why not say “thank you?”