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Breaking Up With The Scale

“Only when you are aware of the uniqueness of everyone’s individual body

will you begin to have a senseof your own self-worth.”

Ma Jian

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You may have guessed from the title of this post that the Get Fit Challenge has officially ended (YEA!!!!!!).  That means no more weigh ins!  As you know, I didn’t particularly care for the scale; so I am pretty stoked about our official break up.  Our last challenge was to improve our results from our initial fit test.  We got one point for completing it, and one point for each exercise we improved.  I was a little worried about being able to beat my previous totals since I blasted through the first time… and biked over 23 miles at spin before arriving to take it… oh, and ran over 7 miles of incline… and swam a mile…  Okay so I essentially did a whole triathlon prior.  Good cause for concern, right?

Well surprisingly, I sailed through the push ups, sit ups and squats- surpassing my previous totals on all of them.  It was the having to run farther than 1.68 miles in 10 minutes at the end that nearly killed me!  All I could think was “why did I run so fast the first time?”, and then I remembered it was because I had been racing the hubs.  This time around I was not in a racing mood.  I just wanted to survive it!  Luckily, I managed it with a second or two to spare.  Then we had our final weigh in, and I came in at my highest weight since our initial weigh in (which was both humorous and irritating, but not at all surprising given how bloated I was from finally getting my “visitor”… it would figure that she would disappear for weeks on end and then show up that week!).

Regardless of my epic fail at weight loss (a side effect of not actually needing to lose weight) the hubs and I still came in 3rd place overall, which means we get bragging rights and $25 each to spend at the gym on exciting stuff like protein shakes and gatorade.  Despite my loathing of the weigh ins, it was actually a worthwhile experience for both of us.  Of course now that it is over, I have not had much success in getting the hubs to the gym with me… or the pool… I think he did make one spin class last week.  In his defense, they just switched his shift again at work.  I think he may get back on track when he gets used to his new schedule.  Presently he spends most of his down time sleeping.

I, on the other hand, am really proud of myself for not only continuing to kick butt at the gym (I am soooo close to doing a real pull up!!!), but also sticking to my mileage goals for the year.  To date I have managed 335/1000 miles for the bike, 146/500 miles for running, and 17/50 miles for swimming.  I even forced myself to ride the bike trainer for an hour twice this week (even though it is even more painful and boring than running on a treadmill).  To keep motivated I wear my Tough Chik jersey and remind myself that it is mental preparation.  I also remind myself that I need all the help I can get with cycling… like even more than with swimming, and that is saying something!

All that biking, running, and swimming has meant lots of time at the YMCA.  I prefer to run there when I use the treadmill because they have fancy ones that go up to 30% incline and will even decline up to 3%. The past few weekends I have dedicated my Saturday mornings to doing the 7am spin class, followed immediately by a very hilly run on the treadmill, and then a swim.  My goal is usually to do an hour of each in a row, however this generally gets adjusted based on how great or awful I am feeling that day.  Yesterday I only did a 4 mile run because my legs were fried from all the miles on the bike trainer but then did an almost 1.5 mile swim, which is a new distance record for me.

Surprisingly, I have gotten to the point now with swimming that I actually look forward to class and going on my own.  Saturday mornings have become my “quiet time” swim where I can plug in my headphones and tune out the world.  I purposely brick my workouts out of order and swim at the end because I know the pool we be empty and my body will feel refreshed after the beating its taken all morning.  I consider it an active recovery.  Plus, it just seems really inefficient to shower at the beginning and end of your workout.  This way I only need to shower once at the end.  That means I’m saving water and the environment in addition to kicking ass.

I have to say that triathlon training in general has been a life enriching experience.  It’s exposed me to a new sport (swimming) which I now LOVE and continually forces me to live outside of my comfort zone.  I have become not only stronger, but more confident and self assured.  There is nothing like regularly seeing yourself in a sport swimsuit (and letting the public see you in it) to force you to get comfortable in your body.  I’ve gone from a point of being modest (and at times embarrassed) in the locker room to feeling proud of myself every time I put my swim gear on.  I worked my way up from not being able to swim at all to swimming for over an hour straight with minimal rest.  In fact, I can even swim three different strokes now (though I still look… and feel…like I’m drowning on breast stroke… who deemed it a recovery stroke anyway?)  Last week I even got a compliment from Coach M –which I took as high praise considering how hard they are to get from the epitome of swimming perfectionism– that I had a “nice long stroke.”

So instead of seeing a deer in headlights or pile of body imperfections when I suit up, now I see hard earned muscles, confidence, and a smile.  I see someone who is looking forward to her swim and embracing the sport. I can truly say that now I feel most badass when I wear my swimsuit and cap.  It takes more guts to swim than to run- for me at least! That is what I appreciate in the person looking back at me.Image

Which is why I don’t care about the number on the scale or the size of my clothes.  I know my body is healthy and strong. I also know that I am doing my best, and that is all anyone could ever ask of me- including myself.  My favorite pair of workout capris are bright orange with polka dots and they highlight the cellulite dimples in the back of my legs.  Guess what? I don’t care. I still wear them because I love the color.  Plus, I am pretty sure no one else is going to notice, and if they do they should probably be more concerned with their own workout anyway.  I have become aware recently of how much more obvious our imperfections look to us than they do to others, and I am making a conscious choice to not let my insecurities dictate how I feel about myself or the way I look.  When I wear my orange pants I am proud that I am not covering up my flaws.  Instead, I’m saying this is me; and I am confident, strong, and happy with my body.  I am also saying “You should be too.”

Do yourself a favor and love your body today.  Appreciate it for everything it has done for you, and marvel at what it allows you to accomplish.

PS. You still have a few days left to enter for a Free 2014 Spartan Race Entry!  You’ll have a a whole new appreciation of your body after completing one!

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Insecurities

“Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.”

Clark Moustakas

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****DISCLAIMER****

This blog is directed at the female population, not because I don’t believe men also suffer from insecurities (or because I don’t care that they do), but because it was in honor of Intentional Women’s Day.  As such, I wanted a post something to make women feel empowered.  It was not in an effort to make any of my male counterparts feel slighted, and I do genuinely appreciate all the gentlemen who stepped up to comment!  If you are a man and you happen to be reading this, I do believe the core message here still applies to you, so feel free to substitute “man” for “woman” and “handsome”, “hot”, “sexy” or whatever other term you’d prefer for beautiful. Ultimately, I believe EVERYONE: man or woman deserves to be happy, and that starts with loving and accepting yourself.  

I started this post yesterday in honor of International Women’s Day.  I thought it would be a topic we could all relate to, and a nice break from discussing my daily workouts.  Apparently, I was not the only one with this idea because when I pulled up Facebook this morning, there was a bunch of other chatter about this very issue. 🙂

We all have them.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2, 10, or 20- if you’re a super athlete or super model- there are things you are going to feel self conscious about.  Sometimes it’s things you can change like your waste line or thighs; and sometimes it’s something your stuck with (unless you opt for surgery…) like stretch marks, loose skin, or even a less than perfect nose.

I’m not sure why as a society we tend to value the appearance of beauty more than beautiful character (and diversity!), but it’s clearly something that impacts all of us.  I’ve never been a “pretty, girly girl”, but I do have a lot of personality.  I am also caring, warm, compassionate, and have a big heart.  As you can imagine, I’m not the lady getting the most attention from the opposite sex.  At least, not at first glance.  I’m one of those people who becomes more attractive the more you get to know me, and I’m okay with that.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that when I go out with all my gorgeous friends that I don’t get self conscious.  As much as I appreciate being the girl with the personality and not the killer looks, it can still be difficult- at times– to live in a society where the latter is more prized.  After all, everyone wants to feel sexy and beautiful every now and then.

That is where working out comes in for me.  While I can’t go out and make myself as stunning as some other women (ok maybe I could, but it would be extremely expensive and likely violate my low maintenance nature), I can work hard at being the best version of myself.  That means making myself as fit and strong- mentally and physically- as possible.  Working out can boost your confidence and give you more energy to conquer your day.  Let’s face it, endorphins make you feel good in the moment, and getting results will make that feeling last.  Plus, THERE IS NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL OR SEXY THAN A WOMAN WITH CONFIDENCE- ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE TAKES CARE OF HER BODY.  Go get that PR you’ve been working on and then tell me you don’t feel good about yourself.

All that being said, even a person like me- who works out like a nut– can still have body image issues.  Even getting in great shape won’t take away all your insecurities.  For example, when I was training for the marathon and lost weight no matter what I ate, there were still days I felt fat (stupid hormones!).  The image of myself in the mirror was dramatically affected by my mental image of myself, and it wasn’t until Adam took pictures out on the boat one day that I realized just how thin I had gotten.  I immediately asked him “Why didn’t you tell me I looked like I needed to eat something!?”

Even now,  I sometimes have a hard time adapting to a more muscular build than I am used to.  Runners normally have very lean muscles, but since I started doing so much cross training, my calves and quads have gotten huge (not really huge- ok maybe my thighs are huge. And my butt! lol).  I know in my head that I am still thin.  I fit in a size 2 for Pete’s sake!  But, it’s something I have to remind myself of on a regular basis when I look in the mirror and see a “stockier” version of myself than I am used to seeing.

I also remind myself that I am a STRONGER version of myself than I used to be, and THAT is well worth the trade off.  The truth is that the more I strength train and run, the more my muscles will become lean and stronger.  Besides, there is nothing wrong with the way I look now.  Every time I feel that urge to pick myself apart I remind myself: 1) I have WORKED HARD for this body.  I earned every muscle through sweat and determination. 2) This body has carried me through a Tough Mudder, a marathon, several half marathons, hundreds and hundreds of miles of training runs, and numerous insane workouts (with minimal injury!).  It is strong, and THAT is beautiful. 3) My body is a work in progress.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  My flaws are part of me and I like who I am.

Every woman is beautiful.  No matter what shape, size, race, or background.  No matter where you are in your journey:  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.  Your flaws are part of what make you, and you are exactly the way you were meant to be.   Perfect is boring and unoriginal.  WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT.   Everyone has insecurities no matter how perfect or put together they seem.  Not everyone makes the choice to get over them.

I spent over 5 years of my life with a person who picked me apart on a daily basis, pointed out every flaw, and continually tried to convince me that “[I] make everyone around [me] miserable”.  It took a LONG time to let go of any lingering belief that it was true- especially the last part, but I did and life is better now than it ever was before.  If I could learn to love and accept myself again- after all of that– then there’s no reason you can’t too.  No one has the right to pick you apart- including you!  You deserve better than that!

LOVE YOURSELF!