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

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Crazy, Stupid Thoughts

I love it when my husband reminds me that I’m being stupid.

If you know me at all, you know that I write just like I think. Looking at the first sentence of this post I can see how it can be taken the wrong way. Very wrong. You know when you are texting someone and they text you back with a response, and to you that response sounds really malicious? When, in all actuality, their response was innocent. Without a tone of voice, many things can become misconstrued. Case in point, my first sentence.

My husband doesn’t think I’m stupid. He just reminds me when I am being stupid.

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Still not working. Let me set up the scene:

The husband and I are both getting ready to go somewhere. I’ve already fixed my hair and put on my makeup and I’m in the process of getting dressed. I put on a pair of jeans, then change them. I do the same with my shirt, and then with my shoes. I then make my way into the bathroom to check everything out as my husband does his finishing touches in the bathroom mirror.

“Do I look okay?” I say.

“Duh, you look beautiful,” he responds.

“You didn’t even look at me!”

He looks. “You always look beautiful.”

I push my way to find a spot in front of him to see myself in the bathroom mirror. I check out my behind. I leave. I go to the kitchen to check out my gooloo in a different mirror from a different angle. I sigh.

One minute later I return to the bathroom, shove my way in front of the husband again, and check out my behind…again.

“Why do you keep looking at your butt?” he asks.

I sit down on the toilet…not to use the toilet, but just as a place to sit. “I haven’t been working out as much, and I think my butt’s getting bigger,” I confess.

“You’re crazy.”

“I know, but I really do think it’s getting bigger.”

“Well, it’s not. Lots of people don’t work out all the time and their butts don’t automatically get bigger. You look beautiful.”

“Thank you. You’re pretty sweet. And smart.”

End scene.

I’m not dissatisfied with my body in any way, but crazy, stupid thoughts like that come creeping in my mind every now and then. It’s awfully nice having the perfect person there to remind me when my brain is being irrational.

Now does my first sentence make sense?

ūüôā

ang

Oh Lovely Pinterest

About two weeks ago I made a discovery that has changed my life.

I have spent hours exploring this discovery, and yet I still don’t really know what I’m doing. It has jumpstarted the wheels in my creative head spinning, so much so that everyone in my family should expect homemade Christmas gifts this year. I have ideas exploding in my head, yet I haven’t put many into action yet. It has made me become even more unproductive than I was before.

If you are at all familiar with it, I’m sure you have already guessed…

…and if you are not already familiar with it, get onboard! Join the bandwagon. You won’t even miss all the wasted hours browsing other peoples boards!

I like to think of Pinterest as a tool to create online inspiration boards. You can “pin” photos of absolutely anything to boards for your own personal account. Currently I have several boards…one for products I want, one for what my dream home might look like, but by far my favorite board is for things I want to try to make! (If you’d like to see my boards, just follow me here!)

Pinterest inspired me to get out a needle and thread yesterday and cut apart a couple of t-shirts. While I do consider myself a creative person, I definitely would not say that I’m handy with a needle and thread. Just ask my mother-in-law who I ask to sew anything and everything that needs fixing that comes from my home. (This would include sewing a button on a pair of pants…pathetic, I know. In fact, so pathetic that my husband decided to learn to sew a button himself, and he ended up fixing the button on my last pair of pants!) It’s not so much that I don’t know how to sew…it’s just that I don’t want to.

Or rather, that I didn’t want to.

But, Pinterest made me want to! The proof…

I made this scarf! The directions for this scarf did, in fact, require a sewing machine. I didn’t want to wait to find someone with a sewing machine and then have to drive to their house (which would at least be an hours drive from where I live), so my impatient booty threaded the needle and went to work!

I think it’s rather cute. (So family and friends, which of you would like a scarf like this one for Christmas?!)

But…I discovered something about this lovely website yesterday that made me think of it as not so lovely. I realized that you can search pins by categories. One of the categories that caught my eye, obviously, was the fitness category. Fitness equals loveliness in my book. So I clicked on it and began browsing. I found many lovely pins…many of which were inspiring phrases. I found this lovely pin called a runner’s prayer…

Lovely, right?

Then I found other images that I’d fit into the “thinspiration” (gag) category…images of women who do not look healthy or fit. I found phrases that expressed negative words about being “fat” and about what foods should be eaten (or rather, not eaten). There were phrases designed to make someone feel guilty about themselves.

Not so lovely anymore.

I do understand that on Pinterest, people can “pin” literally anything in the cyber world that they want. Therefore people can share these more or less tough-love (er, no love?)type of images or phrases. But how is the idea of thinness equals beauty ever going to change when so many people believe in it? How will this ever change?!

Little by little, it can change. We just have to believe in the good things. We have to remind ourselves what real beauty is. Not numbers. Not weight. Not what you look like.

Then, my faith was reignited in Pinterest when also in the fitness category I found this little gem…

(Image pinned from Operation Beautiful)

There is always going to be some negativity coming from somewhere in the world. It is just up to us to ignore it and look to the positive.

ang

My Pinky Toes Take on Weight Stigma

I’ve always wanted to be Miss America. Like really, really, really bad. However, since I am a married gal now, I will never actually have the chance to actually be her. Is there a Mrs. America? Please let me know, because I would like to try out. ūüôā

Miss America Crownsource

I’ve thought about it a lot over the years (okay, I’m a dork) about what I would do if I had the opportunity. I know I would have advocated for eating disorder awareness and promoted a positive body image. And even though I am not Miss America, and never will be (tear!), I am still trying to do everything I can to fulfill my Miss America mission.¬†That is why I was so excited to find out about the blog carnival about weight stigma hosted by Kendra over at Voice in Recovery.

Before I get into my thoughts on weight stigma, I first just want to say how refreshing it is to read Kendra’s tweets throughout the day. If you are ever in need of an uplift, you can always find it from her. Thank you pretty.

Weight stigma. Yuck.

Let’s travel back, oh, about seven or eight years ago. School just got dismissed and I am walking through the hallways of my high school trying to gather my things to get ready to go to diving practice. I had been burying myself in many negative eating disorder habits for awhile, and for a split second I decided to ignore that voice and go ahead and eat a poptart. I know poptarts aren’t the healthiest or best food to eat, but it was what I wanted at the time, and I needed some food.

I pop my change in the vending machine, quickly open the plastic package, and start to devour the delicious little poptart. Strawberry favor with little sprinkles.

My friend comes up to join me in the hallway. He says,

Oh.

So, that means divers are supposed to only eat healthy.

So, that means divers are supposed to be skinny.

So, that means the world has this idea of what I should look like.

So, that means that I must not be good enough.

Right?

Fast forward to now. I don’t blame my friend for saying that or for the after effects of a negative body image. The truth is, that is what “the world” has taught us…that certain people should look a certain way. Weight stigma.

(quote from “Who Calls Me Beautiful” by Regina Franklin)

What if we lived in a world where everyone rejoiced in our uniquenesses? No one should have to think poorly about themselves because they don’t fit into the cookie cutter image that the world has created for them.

What if the norms of “the world” were positive affirmations rather than put downs and negative self talk.

Let’s make it happen…

…starting today!

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

I Am

I am a wife. I am loving. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a dog-lover. I am protective. I am loved.I am a student. I will be a nurse. I am caring. I am brunette. I am brown-eyed. I am a salsa-addict.I am an athlete. I am a runner. I am a half marathoner. I will be a full marathoner. I am determined. I am a SoleMate. I am a blogger. I am strong. I am an artist. I am a designer. I am creative.
I am a friend. I am dedicated. I am a recovery speaker. I am a perfectionist.But I am NOT a number.

…and neither are you!

ang

Come On! Feel Amazing About Yourself!

Step One: If you are tortured by sizes…forgetta’ bout em!

Let’s face it. Sizes mean practically nothing. A size four in one store is equal to a size ten in another store. Simply cut that trouble out of your life. {Snip snip!}

Step Two: Ignore the media…seriously…almost¬†all¬†media. It really breaks my heart that almost every commercial I see now is about losing weight. The media presents us with the message that taking a supplement will equal losing weight which equals looking good in a bathing suit which equals being happy. Even “good” products that are healthy for you are being promoted for their weight-loss capabilities. I know the reason why, though…it’s because we are buying into it. We believe that weight loss will create happiness. What happened to eating Cheerios because it’s good for your heart and cholesterol? Well, not many people are concerned with how their heart is functioning…we’d rather just make sure we were losing weight. We have to change this!

Not only are we being bombarded with weight loss supplements and products sold solely for the purpose of losing weight, but we are also hearing about all the celebrities who have been slimming up. Mind you, these are celebrities who were already thin to begin with.

Step Three: Get moving sista! Find something active that you totally love to do…and do it! This doesn’t have to be running or spinning or something really vigorous (although it can be!) This can be anything as little as taking your dog for a walk (which I need to do more of!) or gardening. Whatever it is that gets your heart pumpin’ and puts a smile on your face…do it!

Step Four: Wear clothes that you feel completely comfortable in. Why wear something that makes you feel bad about yourself? Clean out your closet and donate your invalidating clothing. Just think, this gives you an excuse to buy new, confidence-inducing clothes! I have my own special pair of go-to pants…not only do I always feel comfortable in the way they fit (they are a cute wide-leg denim trouser), but I also feel empowered and sexy.

Step Five: Give YOURSELF affirmations. Compliment yourself for something about you on the inside, and compliment yourself for something about you on the outside. You are smart, intelligent, and determined. You are also gorgeous and you deserve to know it!

ang

Because We Are

There are so many days when I am lounging around the house, wearing sweatpants and a baggie t-shirt (usually belonging to my 6’8″ husband), my hair wet and frizzy thrown up in a sloppy bun, no makeup on my face, dark circles around my eyes…and my husband will still come home and tell me how beautiful I look.My initial reactions usually sound something like this:

“You are crazy!” OR

“No I’m not!” OR

“You are just biased! You have to say that because you married me.” OR

“Yeah right!”

Then I have to remind myself…he really believes I’m beautiful. I should just be thankful for that! I wake up in the morning sometimes with puffy allergy eyes and crusty slobber dried up on my face, and he still thinks I was beautiful (he tells me all the time). How lucky am I?!The thing is…I think many women have a hard time accepting compliments. ¬†I know I do. I have to remind myself to be grateful for compliments and to try to accept them with grace and elegance…with a nice thank you. If someone is telling you that you look great today, or that you are incredibly smart, or that new recipe you made tastes great…then it is true!!! By golly, be proud of it! (Yes, I just said by golly!)

I will admit it…most days I don’t feel beautiful when I’m not wearing my makeup…or if my hair is not fixed. I will also admit that I do not have a positive body image every single day. And some days are…dare I say it…”fat days.” This has to end. Along with having a hard time accepting compliments, I feel like many women also have a problem with their inner dialogue. How many times do you look in the mirror and think, “Man, I look fat in this.” This is a problem that I need to work on…that all women need to work on together. The word “fat” should be eliminated from the dictionary…from all our minds.

I read a wonderful book called Who Calls Me Beautiful by Regina Franklin, and one of my favorite quotes from the book is, “The key to finding my beauty is not in the transformation of my body, but in the transformation of my mind.” (You can find another one of favorite quotes from this book here.) This is so true! Let’s start telling ourselves that we look¬†beautiful…gorgeous…exquisite…EVERYDAY!

So…I was having a couple of these so-called “fat days” earlier this week. (Don’t worry, Mom!) I’ve come to realize that these days mean nothing to me anymore. I know that I am not fat…and I think I’ve come a long way to be able to admit when I am having one these days. However, reading another blogger’s post yesterday inspired me to overcome it. I was intrigued when she asked the question, “What do you love about your body?”

I thought about it a little bit, and there are actually soooo many things that I love about my body. It is able to do SO much!

The best answer I could think of at the time was that I love my back. It is a part of my body that I do not see very much, and honestly it doesn’t get very much attention. I can turn and twist my neck to try to view it in the mirror, but for the most part, I don’t know very much about what my back looks like. I do know that, as I have started lifting weights this year, my back is getting stronger and stronger!

However, I feel as though my back is probably very beautiful.So, I am posing a challenge to myself and to other women out there. Let’s put an end to these “fat days” and fat talk, and let’s work on transforming our minds so that we can believe it when someone calls us beautiful…

…because we are.

ang