Inspire

A friend of mine sent me one of the most amazing text messages earlier this week. It started, “Thought I’d give you an update since you inspire me to achieve my goals…” Then she went on to tell me about the awesome achievements she recently accomplished and the new goals that she hopes to achieve.

My first thoughts were of giddiness…aw, she thinks I inspired her!

My second thoughts were of honor…how honored I was that she chose me to share her news with.

My last thoughts were the most important. Pretty darn revolutionary.

You see, the past two months or so (since my 50K in November) I can count the number of times I’ve ran on one hand. I needed a break from running…really, I needed a break from everything…so I took one. This break lasted quite a long while with many hours spent watching the love tangles between Nathan, Lucas, Peyton, Hailey, and Brooke…snuggled up on my couch with a bottomless cup of coffee in my hand. Let me tell you, the drama from those twenty-something-looking characters at Tree Hill High is really captivating. Needless to say, I started feeling lazy…

…and lumpy.

My body-image slowly started becoming less positive, and before I knew it, I was feeling guilty about my time resting. Although I knew realistically that my body had not physically changed (other than losing some endurance), my mind was starting to tell me otherwise. Crazy pink elephants.

Then I got the text.

I realized that I needed to shut off those crazy thoughts in my head and start going after my goals again! And it’s okay that my goals are less fitness-oriented right now, and it’s okay that they may be more involved with finding out who Lucas Scott really ends up with in the end. And it’s okay that I may not run a marathon this year, especially if that means that I get to start working in the career field that I’ve been working so hard for.

Nursing Group

Just as long as I’m happy.

So, what I’d like to say now is…

Thank you Katrina, for inspiring me to remember to be happy and to stay positive.

ang

The Day My Dress Pants Didn’t Fit Very Well…

…happened to be yesterday.

Don’t you despise those mornings when you pull out the pair of pants that have been sitting in your closet for forever, put them on, and then cringe as you button them. I know, me too.

It was kind of a strange moment for me. The pants fit fine, they just did not very comfortably. Funny how a pair of pants can make a girl feel so many emotions at once. I was confused at first. I know I have been pretty much the same size for, let me think…the past eight or so years! The last time I wore these pants was probably a little more than one year ago. Same size. Huh. Conclusion? The pants shrunk in the wash the last time they were washed over a year ago. Sure. That seems reasonable.

Then I felt kind of sad. Why don’t my pants fit? Sad face. (Or more like pouty face.)

Then I felt ugly. Yes. Ugly. If my pants aren’t comfortable then my hair doesn’t need to look good either. And who cares what my shirt looks like, because I’m sure everyone will just be looking at my hips and gooloo squeezed in here. (Overdramatic, yes. And definitely not reasonable.)

It was definitely a reality check. It reminded me that I need to mindfully play an active role in maintaining a positive body image. Those negative voices can creep in at any time and try to make me falter. My voice is louder.

Then I remember who I was, and I remembered that clothes don’t make or break me. So what they weren’t the most comfortable things in the world, I still looked good so I should feel good. I’m still a confident person. I still love myself just the way I am.

And, of course, I still think I’m beautiful.

🙂

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me all my life and as of lately. I can’t tell you how much your encouraging comments on my blog about balancing school and everything else helps me to keep going. The e-mails I receive asking me how things are going in my life always cheer me up a little…and oddly enough, they always arrive when they are most needed. Every little text, word, smile, hug makes my heart all warm and fuzzy…I’m truly a blessed gal. Thank you.

ang

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

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.

image

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?

🙂

ang

Jeans Shopping

This weekend when I saw my mom she asked me what my plans were for the weekend. I told her I was going shopping and that I needed some new jeans. Her first response was to my husband standing next to me, “Oh dear, are you the poor soul who has to go with her?”

My mom took me shopping for my twenty-fifth birthday a little over a year ago. What was I shopping for? One pair of nice jeans. Since this was for my birthday, I was ready to splurge a little bit and pick out a pair that was maybe slightly more expensive then what I’d normally pay for a pair of jeans. However, since they were going to be expensive, I required that they fit perfectly.

We went to store after store. I tried on probably a hundred jeans. In one store there had been a sales associate helping us who kept bringing different pairs of jeans for me to try on. After being less than impressed with most of them, we ended up leaving the store not having purchased anything. As we were walking out the sales associate (who happened to be of the male species) says, “You’re telling me that you didn’t like even one out of the eighteen pairs you tried on?”

The hours passed by, and as we approached late afternoon I was feeling discouraged…as was my mom and sister and grandma that had tagged along for my birthday. What did I do next?

I cried.

Which then made my sister cry…and my mom might have cried, too. My grandma…well, she didn’t cry…she’s usually off in her own world! In the end, though, I ended up finding one pair that fit well at the very last store that we went to. Long day, but a semi-success.

This year ’round I went into this process of jeans shopping with a different mentality. I would definitely say that I’m in a much better place in my life as far as body image goes, and I armed myself with a few “rules” for jeans shopping. (These are just rules that work for me, I’m not saying that they work for everyone. We are all different!)

1. Don’t let the size mess with your head. So many different brands run small or run large, so there’s really no telling which is right. And do you know what? It doesn’t matter. I am not a number and you are not a number. I think in my closet right now I have pants ranging seven different sizes.

2. Don’t go shopping when you are emotional. I’m not an emotional shopper by any means, and I’m not going to go out and spend a bunch of money if I’ve had a fight with my husband. However, I do know that when I’m feeling down, or stressed, or anxious, or angry, I am much more likely to have a negative body image.

3. Don’t buy a different size jean just because you think they might fit you in the future. I know this works for some people, but I am now a firm believer in buying clothes to fit you comfortably today. There are not many things worse than having a pair of pants in your closet that you hope to fit into someday. If you do lose weight then you can donate your old jeans, and then buy new ones for yourself again! Double score!

4. Take your time. Saturday wasn’t my first attempt at this jeans shopping extravanganza. I have actually gone out a few times in search of jeans. Saturday was just the first time I found some that I loved.

5. Don’t panic. It’s okay if nothing is fitting right. I’m pretty certain that less than 3% of all jeans are made to fit someone like me (and I bet we all feel that way!) If they fit my waist then they’re too tight in the thigh, or they it fit my thighs then they’re too big in the waist, or if they seem to fit perfectly then they’re actually too long, or I look weird in skinny jeans but stumpy in wide leg jeans…blah, blah, blah. It may take awhile…it may take trying on over a hundred pairs…but there will be a pair for you.

6. Remember that being a beautiful person doesn’t have anything to do with what is on the exterior. Yeah, yeah, it’s cliche, but it’s so true. When you are feeling discouraged, just remind yourself this.

7. When you find them, buy them! Or two. Or three!

(See, I told you they’d be too long! 🙂 )

Do you have any “rules” of shopping?!

ang

Fitness, Mood, and Body Image

I have come to realize a few life facts…

is directly related to:

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:

is directly related to:

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

Girls on the Run and a Giveaway!

As my marathon training is winding down, so is my fundraising. There are only eleven days left for me to raise money for Girls on the Run (and I desperately need your help!) If you still are not familiar with the organization, that is perfectly okay…I will explain why the program is extremely beneficial to young girls, and why it holds a place near and dear to my heart.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization devoted to inspiring young girls and teaching them self respect, self esteem, and self love through a fun curriculum that incorporates running. The goal of this program is the reduce or prevent to occurrence of eating disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts, or other potentially harmful behaviors in youth. This is extremely important for this age group (eight through thirteen) because this is truly a time when young girls are really growing up and coming into their own.

I can remember back when I was this age, and I do not think I even know what body image was. I didn’t have a negative body image back then, which is a definite plus, especially considering the heartbreaking fact that eating disorders sometimes start in children so young. However, I didn’t know what it meant to have a positive body image and the importance it would have as I got a little bit older.

I also didn’t realize how fun running can be when I was younger…I mostly dreaded running as conditioning for all the other sports that I did. It’s funny the things you learn as you become an adult! 🙂

Now, with only eleven days left to raise money for this amazing organization, I am making my final push to get as close to my fundraising goal as possible! You can make a direct donation here, or I am also still offering that seventy percent from notecard sales from angheartsdesign will be donated to Girls on the Run. That means $7 of the $10 for each set will go directly to GOTR (cash or check only).And last but not least I am offering a giveaway!!! For every $5 you donate between now and August 27th you will be in a drawing to win three bars of from Soap It Up, Gourmet Soaps by Di and three notecard sets of your choice from angheartsdesign (you can see all the design choices here), and possibly some other little goodies! 🙂 That is a $39.75 value!

To enter:

1.     You first must make a donation of at least $5 directly to my fundraising website. If you donate $5 your name will be in the drawing once. If you donate $10 your name will be in the drawing twice. If you donate $15 your name will be in the drawing three times…and so on and so forth!

2.     Then please leave me a comment telling me that you made a donation (even though I will be able to see it from the website…this will just make it easier when it comes time to draw a winner!)

3.     Once you’ve made a donation and left me a comment you may be entered again into the drawing if you leave me a comment telling me which scents from Soap It Up that you’d like the most and which notecard designs are your favorite (and why)!

4.     Once you’ve made a donation and left me a comment you may be entered again into the drawing if you tweet the giveaway! @MyPinkyToes is having a giveaway to raise money for GOTR! For every $5 you donate at http://www.active.com/donate/SoleMates2012/AngFundraising you will be entered to win!!! Leave me a comment telling me you did!

5.     Once you’ve made a donation and left me a comment you may be entered again into the drawing if you “like” angheartsdesign on Facebook. Leave me a comment telling me you did!

Once again, thank you everyone for all your support so far, not only for fundraising, not only for encouraging me for my first marathon, but for being so kind and supportive of this blog. I love everyone of you!!!

ang

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

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. 🙂

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

I Heart Strength Training

I heart strength training. I really, really do. I never thought I’d say that in my whole life.

When I think back to my freshman year of high school, I give some of the unfortunate credit to my negative body image to strength training. Obviously this makes no sense at all, but let me explain.

I had to participate in weightlifting workouts in order to participate on the volleyball team at my school. I love volleyball, so I did what I had to do. I lifted weights…and I hated it. First of all I found it intimidating. Being in a room full of sweaty boys and grunting and yelling is not really my style.

Secondly, weightlifting made me get “bigger”. I had always been very petite and the smallest girl my age, so when that wasn’t the case anymore…it scared me. (I didn’t take into consideration that I was having a growth spurt, and that it isn’t that common to go into ninth grade being a twig standing at 4’9″.) So in my skewed mind, weightlifting equaled getting bigger, and getting bigger equaled getting fatter, and getting fatter was just unacceptable.

Now fast forward to today.

I cannot wait to get in my strength training workout today. I have been craving strength training, especially since I missed it earlier this week. Since I started half marathon training in January, I incorporated strength into my routine consistently for twice a week! I started out with hesitation, but I soon fell in love. After my half marathon, I made sure that I included strength training into my full marathon training plan as well!

What made me change my mind? Why do I love strength training now? Well, I’d love to tell you!

Strength training has made me bigger.

Wait? Wasn’t that what I was afraid of in the first place? Yes, however, weightlifting has made me get bigger in all the right places! I have never had biceps before…until now! (Even though I still max out on twenty pound curls!) Now I can’t wait for the unlikely opportunity to come up where I need to flex for someone!

curlsI have always been self conscious about my legs…my thighs to be more exact. I’ve always just felt like they were unproportional to the rest of my body. But this summer when I was at the pool with my sister and she told me that my legs looked strong, I was actually flattered rather than embarrassed. A huge accomplishment if you ask me!

Strength training has helped me with running injury.

I’ve been having some pain in my knee (which is a pain in my gooloo) for awhile now, and I’m not sure why. However, whenever I strength train, my pain almost instantly goes away. I can’t explain the physiology of it, except for the muscles around my knee must be getting stronger to support the pressure running puts on my knee. Whatever the reasoning, I’ll take it!

Strength training has made me taller.

Since my sophomore year in high school, I had always been somewhat embarrassed to list my height on all the volleyball rosters. I love love love volleyball, but when you see all 5’3″ of me, it’s not very scary. I’m sure the other high school teams would check out our roster and say, “Oh, we better watch out for that number 4…she’s five foot three! Keep the ball away from her!

The truth is, I haven’t measured my height in a long time, so I can’t say for a fact that I’m actually taller. However, I feel taller. I’d be confident listing my height at 5’4″ if I was ever on a roster again. I credit this to strength training because I stand up straighter now. I walk around with my shoulders held further back and my chin lifted slightly higher. Which brings me to my next point.

Strength training has given me confidence.

I can’t explain this one. I just know it is true.

Strength training makes me happy.

I think that everyone knows that exercise improves a person’s mood. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, and it makes you feel all good inside!

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to strength train?! (I think it should go without saying, but this is based on my own personal experience. If you haven’t weight trained before, make sure to do it safely and correctly with the consent of a doctor.)

Do you heart strength training? What do your weightlifting workouts look like? What makes you feel all happy inside?

ang