Sometimes…you just have to look in the mirror

Sometimes…you just have to look in the mirror. 
…and tell yourself: yes, you are beautiful. 

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…even when those mind crazies try to tell you otherwise.

…even when you feel the urge to look in the mirror and critique every last inch of your body.

…even when there is literally no reason to feel down and out, that rat hole just looms and looms and looms.

…until it becomes too much to bear and you stumble head-first right into it.

It’s that moment, that stumble-head-first-into-the-rat-hole-with-no-hope-of-escape. That’s the defining moment when *you* need to be the one to pull yourself out of it.

Because nobody else can, or should, pull you out of it for you. You have to learn to stand on your own two feet, shush those mind crazies all by yourself, pull on those big girl pants and take a flying leap over the rat hole instead.

Yep, that was exactly the talk I had to give myself tonight on the way to the studio. I had one of those moments where I just felt…bad. I wanted to critique myself to death. I wanted to just be my own worst enemy instead of my best friend.

But I knew I had to get OUT of that rat hole and get out of it fast. Thanks to some tough love from the sis and a bestie, I took a step back and looked in the mirror. Thought to myself: ‘shake it off already.’

And said, yes — I am beautiful. 
…in my own way. 
…on my own terms.
…because I’m perfectly imperfect. 

And that’s ok.

Goodbye rat hole. Get the eff outta here mind crazies.
I will *not* let you win tonight. 

#loveletterstoself
#operationbeautiful
#beyourownbestfriend
#insertyourownhashtaghere

Sometimes I wonder…

…if having a “fat day” means I’m just too darn body conscious or if I truly have some trouble areas that deserve attention.

…if friendships should be hard work to maintain (they shouldn’t).

…if marriage should be hard work to maintain (they should – more on this later).

…if I’ve gotten too loose with “eating intuitively” and hence my “fat day” feelings today.

…if I am trying to jam too many fitness goals into my plans for 2011 or not (learning to swim, tackling a tri, running another half…)

…if I am too damn Type A+++ for my own good or is that just me and at the ripe old age of 31 it’s time to either accept that or make some smart changes to get me to Type A- (I think my IRL friends will jump on the Type A- bandwagon pretty quickly…just sayin’)

…what 2011 will bring. I have a feeling that it will be, quite simply, amazing.

…if I need to revisit my series on Operation Beautiful, far too many negative self-doubt creeping into the back of my mind lately.

…why or how fitness has grown into such an integral part of my life. It sort of just happened one day, there was no a-ha moment. It’s just there. It’s defines me.

…where I’m going with this blog post, or any blog post really…I sort of just write and write and write and then I’m done.

Sometimes.

I wonder.

You are amazing…

…just the way you are.

As sung by Bruno Mars:

A little “cheesy” (as uttered by my sis on our drive home from work tonight) yes.

Great message?

You bet your ass (that was also for you, Jo)!

There are few words that leave me with a rosy cheeked (shy) grin on my face.

Amazing.

Sexy.

Beautiful.

Yup, those all do it.

Why? Because they are words that you typically only hear uttered by a loved one.

Who love you for you are.

Just the way you are.

So, why do we find it so hard to describe ourselves that way. Earnestly. Accepting ourselves just the way we are?

This thought popped into mind after my sis and I chatted about it ever so briefly as she dropped me off at home tonight when the song popped on the radio. I said that someone describing me as looking “amazing” sort of stuns me…in a good way, in a surprising way.

Like, whaaa?

You think I look amazing?

Really?

(side note – Jo’s new man, aptly named Doctor Boy if you read her blog – uttered that very phrase on their first date…as she would say “swoon.”)

This all, of course, goes back to my goal of banishing fat talk from my vocabulary (still a work in progress) and accepting myself as beautiful just the way I am (ala Operation Beautiful).

While I try, try, try to get there in my own mind’s eye, this song certainly sends a tingle down my spine every single time I hear it pop on the radio. And reminds me that I am, without a shadow of a doubt, beautiful and amazing just the way I am. Cheesy or not. It does the trick. 😉

(another side note – this post also partially inspired by a recent post from Melissa at Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater; rock on!)

Fat Talk Free Week – readyyyy, set, go!

After reading “Operation: Beautiful” over the summer (you can read my series of posts on what I learned from the book here, here, here and here), the whole concept of banning “fat talk” has been near and dear to my heart.

While I fully admit that I fall victim to fat talk far too often STILL, I feel very strongly about banning it for good in not just my life but my sisters, my friends, my family, too.

I’ve especially been prone to bouts of fat talk since coming back from vacation and fearing that I’d gained a couple of pounds (because *gasp* I enjoyed my vacation, didn’t work out a heck of a lot, etc.). I know it’s irrational thinking and I KNOW that I’m far better than that.

But still, I have trouble with it. I am not perfect by any stretch.

What am I getting at here? That this week is “Fat Talk Free Week” (thanks Meg for pointing it out to me!!).

How awesome is that??

I encourage you all to join the cause – even if just personally committing to avoiding the fat talk trap this week. I’m hoping that by committing to it myself this week that I’ll be well on my way to living fat talk free not just this week but every week (as much as possible, anyway) from here on in.

Let’s start today, shall we? Similar to Tina’s 30 DSL movement, let’s band together and go fat talk free this week.

Start right now: Pick something that you LOVE about yourself and celebrate it today.

Personally, I’m celebrating the major DOMS I have from starting STS yesterday – I feel so alive and so strong, two traits that I fully embrace as a woman.

Why I run: revisited

The second post in a series of observations, thoughts, and pep talks as I near the final days leading into the half marathon. If you missed my first post – check it out here.

**********

On the verge of accomplishing a major feat, and I sit here thinking to myself – what is it about running a half marathon that makes this such an accomplishment?

For me – it’s twofold.

For one – I’ve said from day one that running doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not a former track star. I’m just your average girl who just happens to dig a killer workout – and killer workout describes running to a T.

But also – running used to feel like such an untouchable concept to me. I equated running with elite athletes. But – as I stare down the final days of training for a half marathon – I don’t define myself as an “elite” athlete. I define myself as a runner. A committed one.

But why am I so committed to running, so much so that I committed to running for a half marathon?

Why do I run, now?

Let’s revisit my original post on Why I run, shall we?

Why I run: revisited:

I run because it forces me out of my comfort zone. <—yup, that it does. still.

I run because its an outlet for my mind to wander. <—some of my best thinking through problems comes to me while I run.

I run because it makes me feel alive – those moments when I don’t think I can push  myself any farther and somehow my body just reacts. <—case in point – last Saturday’s 8 mile wall, and I found that “dig deep” moment and got ‘er done. THAT makes me feel alive

I run because I can do it outside, with Scott by my side – some of our best conversations (even if some are one-sided while I’m huffing and puffing!) are had when we’re running together. <—without a doubt. some of our best bonding has been during our runs.

I run because I heart runner’s high. <—who doesn’t?

I run because its hard. It’s painful. It’s rewarding. It’s a rush.<—amen, sista.

New additions to my list?

I run because I’m able to.  And I’ll continue to run as long as my body allows me to.

I run because I crave a challenge – and running will always be a challenge, no matter what.

I run because it gives me confidence and makes me feel strong – and dare I say it: beautiful. (thank you #operationbeautiful!)

I run because it’s who I am: a runner.

And once again – I feel grateful. I feel lucky. I am ready. And I WILL do you proud.

From the trivial to the pivotal

In the final installation of my “what Operation Beautiful has taught me” series, I was totally bowled over by a story I read in the section of the book dedicated to faith (arguably my favorite part of the book). It was about a 21-year old, the typical college student, enjoying life, partying, etc. She soon started to see her weigh creep up and assumed it was simply due to excessive partying so she cut back, hoping that would fix the problem. When the weight continued to creep up, she realized something was wrong (mostly once she also broke out in a nasty case of hives). Fast forward to the doctor’s appointment where she was diagnosed (mid-surgical procedure) with stage 3C ovarian cancer. At 21 years of age. Whoa.

Soon – she was in the throes of intense chemotherapy treatments, fighting to live every step of the way. Soon – those trivial things that used to drive her nuts were the farthest thing from her mind. Survival was the only thing that mattered. The pivotal, not the trivial.

Now five years into remission, she has applied her near-death experience to everything in her life. No longer does she sweat the small stuff – stuck in traffic on the way to an important meeting, a bad day at the office, her jeans not fitting the way she wants – none of this matters to her anymore. She’s alive, she’s beat cancer, she’s in the midst of her own dare to be great moment.

This was exactly what I needed to hear after I’ve lately found myself slipping far too often into focusing on the negative – which is usually very trivial stuff in the grand scheme of things. Putting into perspective just how much greater life could be if we all stopped focusing on the trivial is an amazing thought. The possibilities are endless right?  I’m ready to seek and embrace my own dare-to-be-great moment. Are you?

Relax. (and smile). It’s not that big of a deal.

This last Operation Beautiful message, I caught at the tail-end of the book, also part of the chapter on faith. What I loved about this chapter in particular was how it drove home for me, something I’ve been struggling with for awhile – faith, and making life happen for me, and not to me. Which is a huge distinction. Rather than focusing on those trivial little things that add up to one giant “thing,” I need to focus on faith, because it’s faith that creates happiness. And I’m ready to embrace that – much like I’m ready to embrace Operation Beautiful, “paying it forward” if you will with as many Post-It notes as I can muster.

We are beautiful. Just the way we are.

Note: In case you were wondering, this series is not an attempt to sell more books for Caitlyn Boyle (though I’m sure she wouldn’t mind!), but I seriously hope you all run out and read this book as soon as you can. I was just so impressed and overwhelmed by it that I had to share it with all of you.  It’s an amazing experience and worth every second spent reading it. I fully plan to circulate my copy to my entire circle of girlfriends, it’s already making the rounds as I type this, in fact. 🙂

“Take a diet from negative thoughts. Fill yourself with positive ones.”

“Take a diet from negative thoughts. Fill yourself with positive ones.”

Thought this post-it phrase was an especially fitting part three to my learning’s from Operation Beautiful which I more than plowed through while in Maine this past week.  Why? Because this post is all about calorie counting, food diaries and the “fuzzy math” behind both.

This section of the book hit especially close to home from me – I admittedly used to be “that” girl that knew the exact calorie counts of every single food I ate, putting each item dutifully into my food diary and even went into “points” counting mode ala Weight Watchers for quite awhile. And – while I DO see value in a food diary and in the theory behind Weight Watchers (more on this in a sec), now that I’ve come out of the “fuzzy math” haze and can see the potential damage that all of this hypersensitive focus on numbers can have on our psyche.

But first – the “good” in the “fuzzy math” concept. A food diary is helpful in terms of keeping you accountable and showing you exactly what you’re eating during a given day, and in the same vein, Weight Watchers can be super helpful in helping to identify proper portion sizes. Of course, to me, both of these tools are helpful mostly for those who are truly in need of dropping a few pounds for health reasons but are not long-term healthy living tools (note I did not say for “an upcoming beach vacation” or something with a definitive beginning and an end, I said – for health reasons, because I firmly believe a loss in weight should be tied to a need for better health, not for a short-term goal, alone).

Why?

Because it forces you to constantly think of food, and mostly in a bad context, versus eating more intuitively.

Thoughts like…

“Ohhh, I’m close to my points for the day, I shouldn’t eat that banana – those 2 points could be used for a weight watcher’s ice cream sandwich after dinner.”

Or

“I’m so hungry today but I shouldn’t eat anything else until after I workout. Then I’ve ‘earned’ the right to eat something…”

These thoughts turn food into such a numbers game, and a fuzzy numbers game at that. Food should stand for nourishment. Sustainability. And yes, it can taste good, too. These are all healthy mindsets directly related to food. Food should not equal fear. It should not equal numbers – it should definitely be about quality, above all else. This quality piece is key, to me, especially. I used to eat for quantity (as in I can eat this bowl of cool whip for zero points versus this apple and peanut butter for three points) vs. quality (this bowl of steel cut oats with almond butter is SO GOOD and filling and I have no idea how many ‘points” it is, and don’t care, it feels good to eat it!).

This is not to say that every single morsel of food I eat, I eat for quality. Because we both know that’s not the case either – exhibit A: the flourless chocolate cake!

My point is – food should be a source of enjoyment too. I may sound like I’m all over the place here, but really this all goes back to balance for me, in such a big way. Food is so much about how you feel on the inside that matters most. We need to learn to trust our bodies – if we feel hunger, feed the hunger! Don’t ignore it because you’re afraid to eat more than your “allotted” calories for the day.

Not only is life too short to focus on calories all day long, but it puts us in such a negative mindset much of the day. And this is why we need books like Operation Beautiful to snap us out of such negativity! We’ve grown so obsessed with negative thoughts tied to something that should be enjoyable (as well as nourishing) – food!

Says the blogger as she lifts her wine glass from the table and goes back to her reading…more tomorrow. 😉

30 Days of Self-Love and more learning’s from Operation Beautiful

In yesterday’s post, I got so wrapped up in sharing all of the great things I’ve learned from reading Operation Beautiful that I forgot to mention the 30 Days of Self-Love movement going on over at Faith, Fitness, and Fun. Of course, I joined the cause as soon as I read about it and hope you will, too. Read all about it here and if you’re a blogger like me, add the button to your blog to join the cause. It all starts on September 1 – let’s give it up for some positive vibes coming at ya in the fall!

“Does this shirt make my butt look faster?”

Back to Operation Beautiful…and some thoughts on how to make fitness an integral part of your life but not one that focuses on numbers but one that focuses on working out to feel strong and healthy, not to be “skinny.” The Post-it note phrase above is one that I am obsessed with because it ties so closely to a goal of mine for this fall, as you all know all too well by now…the Wicked Half which is inching up closer and closer by the day (hmm…this could be a contender for my race day tank mantra…). This was a phrase from one of the stories in Operation Beautiful that focused on a first-time marathoner. She posted this phrase on her race-day shirt and it engendered such a sense of community amongst the other marathoners that day. In fact, many of her fellow marathoners loved it so much that they wrote the same phrase on their race day shirts in magic marker.

THIS is what fitness is about:

Community-building, developing your own sense of self, and being proud and strong of you who are, just the way you are, no matter what shape or size you are.

We are strong. We are athletes. We are beautiful.

Focusing on that, and not on the scale, the number of calories you expended during your last workout, or the size pants you wear or want to wear. Embrace you who are, right where you, right now.

On that note…how are those lists coming along??

“Siamo tutti bella. Non dimenticatelo.”

While I was in Maine this past week on vacation, I had plenty of time to plow through Operation Beautiful, thanks in large part to the rainy forecast for the start of the week. Normally, I’d be totally bummed at the lack of lakeside reading, water sports, and sunnage, but somehow this is exactly what I’ve needed after the past few weeks that have felt very stressful and overwhelming at times.

Since I didn’t have Internet access here at the lake, I decided to write a couple of blogs to post over the weekend when I get back to the land of the connected later in the week. Perfectly suited for the mini-series? What Operation Beautiful has taught or reinforced for me, a purveyor of all things balanced and beautiful.

To kick off the mini-series, I thought the first Post-It Note that screamed out at me was the perfect back-drop for today’s post:

“Siamo tutti bella. Non dimenticatelo”

“We are all beautiful. Never forget it.”

So simple, yet so true – and somehow, so easy to forget. We’ve all been caught in that never-ending cycle of self-doubt, negative self-talk and body image issues. I find it so sad that we’ve all been there…life is so short as it is, we’ve been given this one life to live, and yet, we become our own worst enemies. Sad.

I was talking this over with one of my favorites (some of you may read her stuff over at Life by the Day) who visited us in Maine this weekend. She – and my sis, Jo – agreed that we need to stop treating ourselves so poorly. We would never, ever dream of telling our dearest friends that they “look fat”, or “are ugly”, or “how on earth could they be caught in public wearing that shirt, you look awful in it?” Yet, we are more than comfortable treating ourselves like a piece of garbage off the street. We need to stop. Right now. Embrace our beauty as more than just skin-deep. Flaws and all. Those are the things that make us unique – it is these unique traits that make us perfect, not imperfect. Just like no two fingerprints are alike. No two smiles are alike. No two hands or feet are alike. We are imperfectly perfect just the way we are.

We are beautiful just the way we are.

Wow, I have loads more to say on the topic but I’ll stop here for now…until tomorrow’s post, that is!

For today, though, I’d like to leave you all with an exercise to try at home (report back here in the comments section too, if you want!).

Make a list of your positive qualities – both inside and out –and tape that list where you’ll see it everyday. Do not be ashamed to celebrate your amazing qualities. Yes – I know this is hard to do ladies – I’ll post a few here to get you started, and to prove that you can celebrate inner/outer beauty without fear of being called vain, I promise.

Things I love about myself:

  • I’m a committed and dedicated friend
  • I like to think of myself as pretty funny, albeit dorky funny, but funny nonetheless
  • I have strong legs that are going to carry me through that Wicked Half finish line
  • I don’t have six-pack abs, but I do have strong yet womanly curvy abs that I’m proud to call my own
  • I have a crooked nose – it’s one of the unique traits I do not share with either of my sisters, I like to say it gives me character 😉
  • I try to be thoughtful in my actions – towards my friends, my sisters, my husband – to show them I care

There’s a start – now it’s your turn!