Fitness, Mood, and Body Image

I have come to realize a few life facts…

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When I’m focused on fitness and loving what I’m doing, my mood is great. I feel strong and empowered. When I no longer have a fitness goal, my mood is no longer so stellar.

I’ve also learned that:

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When my mood is amazingly happy (like when I finished my marathon!) my body image is awesome. I can actually say that recently I’ve looked in the mirror and thought Wow, there is nothing here I’d want to change!

But when my mood is not so amazingly happy (like three weeks post-marathon) my body image is not quite as awesome. I find myself getting caught up in the comparison trap every now and then.

The funny thing about this, though, is that marathon training actually made me gain a few pounds. (I do not weigh myself regularly, but did so every few weeks throughout training.) And now, with my appetite being back to that of a normal person and not someone running thirty to forty miles per week, I’m actually back to a more “normal” weight for myself. (Again, I do not weight myself often <Mom>…marathon training was a long process.) Obviously a few pounds more or less on me is not going to make a physical difference…this is just an observation that proves the irrationality regarding body image.

But I can’t rely on the highs from marathon training to provide me with a positive body image. I’m not going to be going on twenty mile longs runs anytime soon, and ultimately that is not a healthy way to solely achieve some kind of happiness.

I need to learn:

I need a solid balance between fitness, happiness, mood, and positive body image. That is my mission!

What are your tips for achieving balance in life?

ang

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It’s a Thin Line

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be talking so much about running.

Obviously running is one of the top things on my mind lately with my first marathon only fifteen days away, but I also feel like I’m walking a thin line. Let me explain…

I write this blog a lot for myself. I know that in a way that sounds selfish, but over the past few months I’ve realized that blogging has made me a happier person! I have also found that by writing honestly about my feelings and reading other bloggers do the same that I have really overcome this body image issue.

However, I know that other people read what I write, and I don’t ever want to send the wrong idea. I want the people who read my blog to feel empowered, feel inspired, forget about negativity, whether it’s negative body image or guilt or disappointment…I just want them to feel happy!

Whenever I have given recovery speeches in the past, I haven’t mentioned the fact that I have new (positive) goals of running half marathons, full marathons, and maybe someday a triathlon (can someone teach me to swim and bike please?) I feel like that might send across the wrong message…the wrong message that in order to be recovered and feel okay about my body I need to dive into training plans and long runs. That is definitely not the case, but I could see how it might appear to someone who doesn’t know me.

I don’t want people to think that running five, ten, even twenty miles is normal. It isn’t! It’s part of a plan for something bigger. But I can tell you that the plan wouldn’t be possible if I weren’t in a good place, a healthy mentality.

It’s a thin line that I walk…or run. It’s a little bit of a balancing act. If the scale tips to one side and I find myself not running with healthy goals in mind, and instead running as an unattainable quest for self acceptance with my body and weight, then I would stop. I don’t run to burn calories or because I think I need to lose weight. I would definitely hate (like, really, really, really hate) running if those were my intentions. I run because it’s “me” time. I run to challenge myself. I run to have a healthy heart.

I run because I enjoy it.

ang

Pink Elephants

I’ve always known that there was some truth to the power of positive thinking…but I guess I never really knew just how much.

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I strongly recall one group therapy session that I took part in that had a big impact in my recovery (and my overall thinking). I, along with several other girls, had different stations to go to and complete an activity. All of the activities were based around body image, a topic almost all women could gain some improvement in.

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I remember this one particular station like it was yesterday. It had kind of a silly activity. Our directions read, “Close your eyes. Imagine a pink elephant for thirty seconds.”

I can picture myself perfectly…sitting in that chair staring at the clock. {Okay, here goes} I closed my eyes and thought and thought and thought about pretty pink elephants (not scary pink elephants like in Dumbo…as I was googling pink elephants, all those scary elephant pictures came up…don’t think about that kind!).

After thirty seconds was up, we were directed to open our eyes. Then we were told, “Now stop thinking about pink elephants.

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Uuuummmm…what? Stop thinking about pink elephants? How can I stop thinking about them now that they are engraved in my brain?! Now that you have told me to stop thinking about them, I’m thinking about them even more! Now I’m imagining pink elephants with cute, fluffy tutus on and red lipstick and big yellow, polka-dotted hairbows! Now I’m imagining them talking to me…no, singing to me Somewhere Over the Rainbow…

…way up high, there’s a land…

Okay, get it together Angela! } The point to this story? When you think about something for so long (uh, 30 seconds?) it is too hard to just un-think it.

And how does this relate to body image?

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If you keep telling yourself that you think you need to lose weight, or that you look fat, or that you wish you were skinnier, (guilty, guilty, and guitly), then you will not be able to un-think those thoughts overnight.

Learning to accept and love yourself unconditionally is truly a journey.

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Like I admitted before, I have been guilty of all those negative thoughts before. But I can honestly tell you, since I have started blogging I’ve truly been filling myself up with other bloggers positive words, and I’ve been putting every affirming word I can into my own posts. I’ve only been blogging for two months now, but I feel like I am noticeably happier. Not that I wasn’t happy before, but I was guilty of having icky “fat” days or just feeling “down” for no reason (and I’m not perfect, I still have those types of days, they are just not as frequent!)

On television recently, as I was skipping through channels, I heard something called the “thinking diet” (or something along those negatively-diet-y lines). Someone stated that this new “diet” works by just thinking that you are full so you will ultimately eat less.

Stop! DON’T DO IT!

I know it is easy…to get pulled into. It seems so easy…let’s just think ourselves skinnier. NO! We need to change this dialogue with ourselves { I know I’ve said this before, and now I am preaching, but I just feel so strongly about this! } We do NOT need to change the way we look, we need to work on living balanced lives, and we simply need to change that way we feel about ourselves.

Try this with me. Close your eyes, and for thirty seconds think to yourself:

I am beautiful inside and out. I am amazing. I am stunning. I am perfectly imperfect just the way I am. I love myself. I love my body. I adore everything I am capable of. I am deserving. I am happy.

Did it work? Practice makes perfect, so do this everyday!

My friends told me that they have noticed since I’ve been blogging that I am beaming. Glowing, even.

So, now I look at learning to love myself as an adventure!

ang