On October Seventh…

…at 4:30 in the morning I jumped out of bed, put two long french braids in my hair, and applied two coats of waterproof mascara.

…at 5:30 in the morning my husband dropped me off somewhere in the middle of downtown Chicago and I nonchalantly followed a group of strangers in running shoes who looked like they knew where they were going. As I walked the sidewalks of Chicago I felt so small between the seemingly never-ending streets of skyscrapers. Butterflies filled my stomach, not because of what I was about to do, but because I was here in this big city for the first time in my life.

…at 7:10 in the morning I nervously waited in line with hundreds of other runners waiting to use the oh-so-delightful porta-potties.

…at 7:20 in the morning I made my way to my corral and held my head way up high for having the privilege to be in corral C. Everyone around me looked like pretty serious runners…and there I was…right there with them. And then I started to tear up (cue praises for waterproof mascara). I looked all around me at the people, the runners, the buildings, the skyscrapers. How lucky was I to get to be right there in the middle of Chicago about to run one of the biggest marathons in the world.

I quickly blinked those tears away. I needed to look serious. Focused. Hard-core. (Because hot pink nails, shorts, headband, and shoelaces emit hard-core, right?)

…at 7:30 in the morning I was off! I was running my third marathon in a beautiful city that I had never seen with my own two eyes before.

And this is where my minute-by-minute memory seems to fail me. It’s hard to put this race recap into coherent words in a time-wise sequence. The entire twenty-six point two miles were quite a blur of events, emotions, thoughts, and googly-eyed smiles.

What I do remember is the hundreds and hundreds of spectators screaming, ringing bells, snapping photos, and cheering us all on…from the very second the race started. At the one mile mark I saw one spectator holding a sign that read Only Twenty-Five More Miles To Go! I remember thinking that he must be a real mean guy. I also remember at one mile my Garmin ticking at eight minutes and five seconds. That’s when any strategy of going out slow, conserving energy, or running smart flew right out the window.

That morning when I was getting ready I had plastered the pace tattoo on my right forearm for a lofty finishing goal time of 3:45. I remember as each of those beginning miles passed coming in thirty seconds…one minute…two minutes under pace for that goal.

I remember crossing over each timing mat, thinking about my friends and family who were keeping track of me. I could picture my dad’s proud smile and my mom’s worried face. I wanted to push on to make them proud. And then I remember PRing my 10K time.

I remember running past Elvis singing on stage.

I remember the spectators that had a table set up with cups, orange juice, and champagne. They had a sign that said Stop For Mimosas. I remember really wanting a mimosa.

I remember beaming when I PRed my half marathon time.

I remember one spectator yelling, “Go braided hair girl!” I remember high fiving a row of little kids. I remember all the signs that read Run (insert name here) Run! and thinking that they were all intended for me. I remember running way too fast, but before I could convince myself to slow down I told myself that this could be my last marathon for awhile so I’d better not run with any regrets.

I remember passing the 3:45 pacing crew. Then, somewhere around mile twenty, I remember them passing me back up. Before I let any negative thoughts enter my mind, I reminded myself that I truly was giving it my all.

I remember my pace faltering, ever-so-slightly during those last five miles. But I also remember the energizing salsa music, the smell of deep-dish pizza, the band blaring Lady Gaga, and all the wonderful volunteers eagerly waiting to give me water. And I remember willing myself to continue on.

I remember thinking of my girlfriend who was also running the race. I remembered her telling me that she sings Little Nemo songs in her head as she runs. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Just keep running, just keep running

I remember counting down the last mile. Eight hundred meters. Four hundred meters. I remember that hill, the only hill as I rounded the corner with barely a quarter of a mile left. I remember thinking that it was pure evil. But then I remembered the crowd…the bleachers full of spectators…the fact the my husband was waiting somewhere in the runner meet up area for me.

And I pushed on.

I remember crossing that finish line. My third marathon finish line…on October 7th at 11:23 in the morning. A feeling indescribable. Unworthy of complete sentences.

…and at 11:35 in the morning a nice lady poured my a beer. She said, “Honey, you just ran a marathon and your mascara isn’t even messed up!”

Three hours, forty-eight minutes and thirty-four seconds of heart-filled, gosh darn hard work.

On October 7th, 2012, all the early morning wake-up calls, all the long runs, all the hot pink nail polish and waterproof mascara sure became worth the feeling of 3:48.54.

ang

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Scatterbrained

I am pretty scatterbrained as of lately. I go through my day, come across something that sparks an interest, make a mental note to blog about it (or update my status, or tweet, or instagram about it), then I go on to the next thing and forget. I thought I’d have more time come summer, but so far it is proving the opposite.

So, since I don’t set aside enough time in the day to write a thoughtful, inspiring blog post, here goes a post of random things that have sparked my interest over the past few days.

First of all, did I say summertime? It’s summer! Summer is totally, without a doubt, my absolute favorite season…time for some sunshine and smiles. I love summer so much that I feel like I should have had a grand countdown to its arrival.

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I said that I didn’t set aside enough time to write thoughtful posts, but that wasn’t completely true. You see, I’ve reignited my addiction to pinterest, which means that my blog-writing time has turned into searching for pretty (or yummy) things that I want to make, but actually don’t have time to make.

I love pinterest and I love the creativity it opens up in me again, but like I said before, there is still a love/hate aspect to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop repinning cute outfits, yummy looking treats, or ideas for my dream home someday. However, you will never see me repin a “workout for your love handles” or a picture of a skinny girl as inspiration. A place where people with common interests to share their ideas and what inspires them is a great invention! However, some of these pins are degrading and aimed at making you feel bad about yourself.

But, I did repin this little gem…

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Word.

Did you know that I love Demi Lovato? Even if you didn’t know that, you probably could assume I loved her based on my background in eating disorder recovery and what she stands for. What an amazing (and real, might I add) role model to have out their in celebrity-land. Her song Skyscraper…pretty sure I could listen to it over and over forever and not get sick of it.

So, that’s what I’m doing right now. 🙂

Did you see she was on the cover of Cosmo? Love that. You know what I didn’t love, though? As I waited in line to pay for my groceries, I picked up this magazine (because this is pretty much the only place where I get any reading done) to try to flip through to see her article. I had to flip quickly because it was almost my turn in line, and I opened the magazine right to the article How to Get a Bangin’ Body For Summer (or something along those lines).

You know I’m all about fitness. I love being active, I love running, and I love anything that will give me a good workout. I love endorphins. However, I don’t love all these things because I think it will give me a “bangin’ body.” I love these things because they make me feel empowered. Confident.

Come on world. Come on magazine peeps. Let’s write an article How to Love Your Already Bangin’ Body that God Gave You This Summer. If I saw that article advertised in the grocery checkout line…I think I’d actually buy the magazine. (Cosmo…if you need someone to freelance write that article for you…)

So speaking of fitness, after taking a week off I went for a run yesterday.

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But today, these shoes were made for walking instead. Yesterday I felt fine for about two miles…and that’s when I should have stopped. The ol’ knee started acting up during the last two miles. I think it’s getting better, but I need to stay off of it a little bit longer. Better be safe than sorry. I’ve been hitting the weights hard, though, and I’m absolutely loving how strong I feel. If I see you in person I will probably have to show your my new guns. 😉

Did you like that last photo? Yeah, I discovered instagram. Love it. Find me, follow me.

Hey guess what? Joplin called. The hubs and I are going to jumpstart our road trip vacation by volunteering with Rebuild Joplin in July! Totally stoked. I hope I get to make my daddy proud and wear a hard hat.

And on that note, I think I’ll go make another cup of delicious coconut mocha coffee.

ang

Happy Birthday Pretty Blog!

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Today marks the first birthday of this little blog! I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since I wrote my very first post, ironically titled Yay! My First Post! I have learned so much about myself, met so many creative and inspiring people, gained so many wonderful opportunities, and done things I never imagined would ever be possible…all because I started writing this little blog!

I want to thank you ALL for continuing to read my rambles, for inspiring me, and for always, always, always supporting me. I always say that to overcome an eating disorder, or any other struggle in life, you need to find your voice…your own voice free of negativities and self-doubt…even if your voice is small and stuffed way down deep in your pinky toes. Grab on to that voice; feed it, nurture it, and love it, and your voice will grow.

I love that voice.

ang

Freaking Gorgeous

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I couldn’t be more excited!  One year ago from now I remember I was walking to the university recreation center to get in my daily workout as I was training for my first half marathon. I remember feeling a little bit down, nothing drastic, but I was a little stressed with school and therefore I was having a, dare-I-say-it, fat day.

I walked into the bathroom at the rec center and there were post-its all over the mirror. They each had a different message that made the point that you are beautiful or your are worthy. These messages instantly put a smile to my face. Later that evening I was on my way to night class when I decided to use the restroom before class started. Again I saw post-it notes scattered all along the mirror and on each bathroom stall.

I instantly felt better about myself.

The post-its had a website written on the bottom of them: operationbeautiful.com. I knew I was meant to find this website and discover the world of blogging. This is when the wheels started turning about creating  My Pinky Toes.

In honor of NEDAwareness, I plan on leaving my own little operation beautiful notes in different places throughout the week. (I’m not going to lie…I put the post-it above in my own bathroom!) I challenge you to do the same to spread awareness about the importance of body image, eating disorder awareness, and loving yourself. Or just give yourself an affirmation each morning. Or just remind somebody you know that they are freaking gorgeous…because you know it’s true!

ang

NEDA posted a pretty sweet tweet this morning that I want to share: Most models are thinner than 98% of Americans. Instead of trying to change our bodies, how about we try to change our culture? #NEDAwareness

Worthy to Shine

Saturday was an amazing and scary day all at the same time.

I woke up early, read over my story, grabbed my old journals, and headed out the door. Each mile I got closer to my destination I could feel my heart beating a little harder. By the time I arrived I felt like my heart was pounding all the way in my throat.

On Saturday I told my recovery story at a girl’s church retreat called Worthy to Shine.

I’ve told my story several times before…at the hospital where I was treated…but never to this large of a group, this diverse of a group, and never with a microphone.

When I arrived I was greeted with smiles and a mind-blowing amount of encouragement from the leaders of the retreat. Their support and all their prayers immensely outweighed my fears so I knew I was going to be okay.

I was speaking on the second day of the retreat. The girls and the leaders had already been through an evening of activities on Friday, and one leader, Carrody, was in awe of the honesty and willingness that the girls had already shown. She immediately brought me over to a cross where the girls had pinned up their insecurities…let them go to God.

Carrody told me that when the girls shared their insecurities and struggles as a group…every one of them admitted that they struggled with body image.

Every. Single. Girl.

My eyes welled up when she told me this. This completely scares me…the fact that body image has such a big impact on young girls.

The retreat started up again and I stood in the back anxiously awaiting my turn to speak. Listening to the beautiful worship music and hearing another leader’s remarks of the morning had my tears flowing before I even set foot on the stage. I was finally introduced and I made my way up to the stage, thankful that I had snagged a napkin to carry with my journals to wipe away the tears.

I stood there as I started my story, fumbled with my papers, my napkin, my tears, my runny nose, and what to do with my hands. Finally I just sat down on the edge of the stage…I was going to do this right. I was going to be me and I was going to be honest.

Like I said earlier, I’ve told my story many times before and because I am so used to it, I rarely ever cry. I get immune, almost, to my story…like it’s just that…a story. But Saturday it felt true again. I continued talking, stuttering over my words, as usual, sniffling, sitting on the edge of the stage until I finished. I felt so relieved when I was done, but I felt honored to have been able to share my story and grateful that they all were willing to listen. I sat there staring at the girls all applauding when I looked out and saw one woman standing up. Then two.

I know that each of these girls struggle with body image. I’d guess that almost every girl in the world struggles with body image at some time in her life. I truly hope that each girl listening got a little bit of hope that they don’t have to worry about that anymore. That they should love themselves for who they are.

I felt so darn loved. And I know I am.

And so are you! And you are beautiful, too! I think so, and I know God thinks so!

ang

A Favor To Ask

With the new year comes resolutions. If you’ve read my blog at all this week, or any other blog in the world for that matter, this is quite obvious. Any excuse to come up with some extravagant goals…I’ll take it!

I want to be honest here. I may not have made it known to everyone over that past few years, but losing a little bit of weight has always, in a little-tiny way, been a secret resolution of mine. Since recovery from my eating disorder I have never thought of doing anything drastic…I just maybe wanted to drop a few. Did I need to lose weight? No way…but I just thought what the heck, it wouldn’t hurt.

This is the first year in quite a long time that I’m not even secretly making that goal.

This week as I’ve joined my running gals several times at 5:30am at the local community center where we meet up for runs, the parking lot has been nearly packed full. I think that is great! It may not be the most desirable situation to have to wait for cardio machines or make your way through a crowded gym, but isn’t it great that so many people are there to make a healthy change for themselves? I think so.

With the new year I know that there are a lot of people hitting up the gym with the goal of losing weight, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing…if you need to lose weight to be healthy. However, my concern lies in the motive behind the goal. Are we seeking to shed a few pounds because we think it will make us happier?

Because I will tell you right from my heart…losing weight will not make you happier. It just doesn’t work. (Please note, I’m definitely not a doctor or a psychologist or a nutritionist or any kind of medical professional. I am only sharing my opinions based on personal experience.)

With that being said, I have a favor to ask.

In two thousand and twelve, as we seek to live happier and healthier lies, let’s not focus on the number on the scale, but rather ways in which we can truly make ourselves happy people. Like by …

…finding something you love to do. This can be anything! If you love to run (like me!), run! If you hate running but love to cook (unlike me!), find new healthy recipes to try…or even make up your own. If you love to be around your friends and family, try planning get-togethers, and better yet, plan get-togethers where you all can do something active together. Who doesn’t love a good game of bowling?!

…ditching the scale. That silly thing can be evil. Weight is not the only way to measure healthiness or if you’ve slimmed down, and it’s definitely not the way to measure happiness. It may not be an easy task, so take baby steps. If you are a daily weigher, try every other day or once a week. If you are a random weigher, just ask yourself why you are weighing yourself (a tip I need to listen to more myself). If your goal is to slim down, there are other ways to measure your success. How do your clothes fit? Have you lost inches? A number on the scale can be deceiving, especially if you are getting healthier by fitness or strength training.

…eating breakfast. I know this is my specific goal, but I highly recommend it. Eating a good breakfast makes a great start to the day, and by golly, I feel happier!

…giving yourself positive affirmations. You didn’t think I’d forget to give you your first Friday affirmation of the new year, did you?

…finding a reason to smile every day and take note of it. Did your dog just do the cutest thing (Tia always makes me smile!)? Did you finish a great run at a great pace? Did you laugh at someone’s joke? Did you make a delicious meal? Whatever the reason, remember the little things that can make you happy each and every day.

…eliminating the word “fat” from your vocabulary. You are not fat, you don’t look fat, so please stop saying it (or any other word that has the same negative meaning). It is a mean, mean word, and it should definitely not ever be in the same sentence as the word “happy.”

…being silly. Sing in the shower…or obnoxiously in your care at stoplights without worrying if the car next to you is watching. Dance. Leg-wrestle with someone. Do cartwheels. Have a food fight or throw a pie in someone’s face (as long as you’re sure they will think it’s funny, too!)

…donating clothes that you don’t feel comfortable in. Whether they are too big or too small or just don’t hug you the right way, get rid of them. Donate them. There are not many things more daunting than a pair of “skinny” jeans hiding in the closet. Why not just wear the jeans that make you feel sexy and confident and comfortable right now? Right? So do it!

…reminding yourself that you are beautiful just the way you are. You probably get tired of hearing me say this at least weekly. But it’s true. And if you tell yourself it enough, you will start to believe it. I promise…both that you are beautiful and that you will believe it soon enough.

ang

Starving Secrets Disappointment

Overcoming an eating disorder is a hard thing to do.

I am beyond blessed to have been given the right opportunity to recover and to have so much support on my side. I want to see the day where everyone suffering is given the same amount of support…the same opportunity to be whole again.

As I have been crafting away on my living room floor I have had the television on as noise in the background. Every now and then I’d look up and see what was making all the noise, and then I’d continue to my work. Last week I had noticed a preview for a new television show called Starving Secrets on Lifetime, a sort of documentary featuring Tracey Gold helping people who suffer from eating disorders get treatment. Of course I was more than interested in seeing what this show was all about, so I set my DVR to tape the first episode. I watched it in full last night and was pretty much…

…disappointed.

Before I express my disappointment, I do want to clarify that I totally respect Tracey Gold’s mission on the show and the participants efforts and willingness to share their stories. Tracey, having previously suffered herself from an eating disorder, comes across as truly caring and wanting help for these girls…which is essentially how I would like to come across here on my blog and once I am a nurse. And the girls…it was more than sad to see how much they were suffering and had suffered, but inspiring to see that they wanted a change and were willing to put in the work. I commend anyone who is also willing to put themselves out there, tell their story even though it can feel embarrassing for shameful (although it shouldn’t be), and hopefully help someone else in the process. They are true stories that the other side of an eating disorder…being well again…is completely worth it.

I started watching the show a few days ago, and after only a fourth of the way in I turned it off feeling disappointed. At that time I wasn’t quite sure why I felt this way, but I didn’t have the desire to finish. After some time I realized that I wasn’t a fan of how the show came across. Instead of truly sharing these girls’ stories and educating the viewer on eating disorders, the show was set up to be shocking. There were several images flashed on the screen of emaciated girls, ribs protruding in someone’s back, a girl hunched over a toilet seat, ect. These images were only there for a shock effect. The viewer does not need to see these images to understand that an eating disorder is dangerous.

The images were unsettling.

I decided to finish the episode last night before I went to bed, only to further my disappointment. One of the very few scenes of one of the girls actually in treatment showed her stepping on the scale, and then with very daunting music her weight was displayed on the television screen.

Again, I respect the girls involved in the show for willingness to share their stories. I really, really do. I’m not disappointed that she was weighed in treatment. That is obviously something the the doctors and people involved in her care needed to know. But, when it can be said that one in four girls suffer from some kind of disordered eating, and millions of people watched this television show, and a number is one of the most triggering parts of an eating disorder, I think there is a great problem.

They showed a number.

I do think that there should be educational television shows that people would want to watch regarding eating disorders. It is too often looked at as embarrassing or shameful when it is a true disease, just like any other disease. It should be taught, it should be talked about, and treatment should be supported…in a healthy and un-triggering way for everyone.

ang

Toes

You know you are a runner when you are going to dedicate an entire post to your toes.

I know what you may be thinking…the name of your blog is My Pinky Toes…so, in a way, shouldn’t we expect to see toes in your posts? Well, the answer to that is no. The name of my blog actually doesn’t have anything to do with actual, real-life toes…they are more metaphorical toes.

Metaphorical pinky toes, of course.

If I am totally confusing you, which is quite likely, just catch up here.

The reason I am going to talk about my toes dates back to August. August twenty-seventh to be exact. My favorite day, aside from July nineteenth. It dates back to the day I ran my first marathon.

It still feels awesome to say that.

And I have to put the word “first” in there because there is definitely going to be a “second” coming next spring. But back to the toes…

One of my biggest fears about the marathon was not the fact that I was going to be running for over four hours across an entire city. No. I was terrified of losing my toenails. I heard it from runner after runner…don’t expect to have pretty little toenails after running your marathonexpect blacks onesexpect them to fall off…I’m not sure which is worse.

Obviously, my toenails were painted hot pink when I ran those beautiful twenty-six point two miles…and they remained that hot pink for a week after the big day. I was too afraid to look what was underneath that delightful color. But eventually I looked, and I was pleasantly surprised to not see anything black and to see that they were all intact.

Soon after, I repainted them a new shade…most likely a different shade of pink.

Then like clockwork, a couple weeks later I took the polish off…only to reveal…one toenail a light shade of gray. Tear. Quickly I covered them back up with a brand new color, and two weeks later I took it off again. This time the toenail was slightly lighter than the rest…like a brighter white. This became routine, and each time that particular toenail seemed a little bit different.

And yesterday I took my nail polish off again, three months and one day after my first marathon, and that poor little toenail came off. Part of me felt really sad. What an ugly little toenail. Poor me. Who’s going to love a girl with (or should I say without?) an ugly toenail. Overly-dramatic? I don’t think so.

But part of me also felt accomplished. I’m a real runner. I lost a toenail. I think it’s time to register for marathon number two.

All very rational thoughts, I know.

Luckily enough time had passed by that a new nail had grown beneath it…and I covered it up with a new color this morning. A holiday red with dazzling sparkles combo. I guess you can love me again now. 🙂

ang

Scale Stories

I had a major realization yesterday. It was one that surprised me, then grounded me.

Let’s rewind about six years. I owned my own scale, my gym had two available scales, one in the locker room and one by the weight machines, and the mall where I worked had one of those crazy scales that you put a quarter in to see your weight and your horoscope or something else ridiculous like that.

I visited these above scales, whichever was most convenient, several times a day. Maybe that crazy scale at the mall was on to something, because each time I stepped on the darn thing I found out how my day was going to go. (i.e. A lower number meant good day, higher number meant bad.)

To make a long, sad (but triumphant, yes!) story short let’s fast forward to a few months later…late May, 2006. I’m trying to sound nonchalant by saying “late” May when actually I know the exact date, May 22nd. I know the exact pair of jeans I was wearing, exactly what I did that morning, what I ate, and exactly what I did the rest of that day. I arrived with my mom at the Research Medical Center’s eating disorder unit, and the very first thing we did was an assessment with the nurse which involved me changing into a hospital gown to be “officially” weighed. The funny thing is (not funny…ironic maybe?) I could have told the nurse myself my “official” weight pretty close to the tenth of a pound. Once I was changed, the nurse (I can remember exactly what he looked like and the color scrubs he was wearing) asked me to step on the scale backwards.

Backwards. Hmm.

This became routine every morning in treatment before breakfast. Change into that beautiful gown and step on the scale backwards. At first the sound of the nurse adjusting the scale was daunting. I strained my ears to decipher where…what number…the nurse might be stopping on. However, the more days that passed by and the healthier I became, the less and less daunting it became. It more or less just because a routine thing to do…just another part of the day…and before I knew it, I really wasn’t thinking about what the number was.

When I left treatment, I knew that getting rid of my scale was going to be an important part of staying healthy. I had my mom dispose of it before I got home. However, I knew there’d be other places that would tempt my curiosity…the gym, the mall, and the doctor’s office. But I successfully avoided all of them.

When I’d go to the doctor for an annual physical, check-up, or because I was sick, as soon as the nurse would ask me to come back and step on the scale I would politely decline. Only one time did the nurse ask me why, and I explained and that was the end of that.

I’m not sure the exact length of time that I went without weighing myself or actually knowing the number. It was a long time, though…over a year at least.

One day at another doctor appointment the nurse asked me to step back to the scale. I took a deep breath and I did what she asked. I made the decision to step on the scale for the first time in a long time because I felt ready to handle whatever number it threw my way. The number wouldn’t affect me anymore.

Since then I’ve wondered about what my number was, I’ve stepped on the scale occasionally, but I never let it change my mood or how I viewed myself.

Now let’s fast forward back to this week. Tuesday evening, as I was waiting for my husband to get home from basketball practice I decided to have a late snack. I whipped out a bag of tortilla chips and the rest of my homemade salsa and started munching away. After a few minutes I thought to myself Angela, you shouldn’t eat this late, you have a doctors appointment tomorrow and you’re going to be weighed. Soon I rolled up the bag and put the food away. Yesterday morning my alarm went off early to get in the day’s workout, but I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Quickly I told myself Angela, you need to workout this morning, you have a doctors appointment this afternoon. Once I was in town I called my sister to see if she wanted to meet me for lunch. When I called I asked her if she’d rather just get some coffee instead because I was telling myself Ang, you don’t want to eat too much right before your doctors appointment.

Then it hit me.

I was letting the darned old scale control my actions. I was allowing a number, a number that wasn’t even real yet, scare me.

Silly me.

I went ahead and met my sister for lunch and I ate whatever I felt like at that moment…which happened to be chips and salsa (go figure!) and mozzarella sticks. Then I went to the doctor with a smile on my face, and I stepped on that scale with a smile in my mind because I knew that I was conquering that negative voice inside my head.

The number that lit up on the scale only confirmed the fact that I know I am stronger and healthier than I ever have been in my whole life…and each day keeps getting better and better.

ang

That Nasty Little Word

This blog is by no means “thinspiration.” In fact, I hate even saying that word or having it associated with my name.

This blog is, in fact, the complete opposite of that little nasty word. It is a place to come to hopefully feel loved, to feel love for yourself, and to feel empowered. If somehow you found my blog because you were curious about that word, please don’t be let down because this wasn’t what your were looking for. But still, please read on…

With everything out there in the world, magazines, diet pills ads, television shows, and so much more, it is too easy to compare ourselves to unrealistic, airbrushed images of what the world thinks is beautiful.

Beautiful is that fact that we are all so unique and different. Nobody has the same hands, feet, legs that I do, and I am grateful for that.

Beautiful is the fact that my body can do amazing things. It can dance (poorly!), it can play volleyball, it can run. Pretty soon it will run 26.2 miles for Girls on the Run.

Beautiful is the fact that my body can exist so effortlessly. My heart beats on its own, making sure that every part of me is alive and thriving. I breathe without having to think about it, filling my lungs with beautiful life.

Beautiful is the fact that, even if my hips are set a little wider than someone I might try to compare myself to, someday that will be so beneficial when I have my first baby.

Beautiful is the fact that I can look into the mirror without wanting to change something. I appreciate every part of myself from the tip of my nose, to my stomach, to my knees, and all the way down to my pinky toes. I realize that God made me with a special idea and intention…why would I want to change that?!

In a world full of false images, there is hope that there is more to life than looking a certain way. There is hope that a negative body image can turn into a positive body image with hard work and the power of the mind. There is hope that our struggles are worth all the hard work because there is a world of happiness on the other side. There is hope that one can recover from an eating disorder or any other illness that may be hurtful. I did.

Beautiful is the fact that there is hope.

ang