Monday, July 30, 2018

On Health, Happiness, and Body Positivity

When you woke up in this morning and looked in the mirror, what did you think? If you're like me, it was probably along the lines of Yikes, I have bags under my eyes or My diet has to start tomorrow. Am I right?

I've sat down to write this post at least 10 times but it's such a personal one that I've been hesitant to share. I've had a few conversations with friends as of late who seem to feel the same way so I can only imagine how many of us argue with ourselves, with our bodies, and with our self-esteem on a day-to-day basis. Before you start reading, this is not a post focused on being thin or fit. Instead, it's a post dedicated to being the best version of yourself, of loving your flaws instead of focusing on them. 

My relationship with my body has not always been the best one. Growing up, I was a dancer, so I constantly looked in the mirror and judged how thin my arms looked or if my thighs needed to be a little skinnier. Once I was in college, I surprisingly lost weight my freshman year due to adjusting to being away from home, competed for Miss North Carolina my second year, and by my junior year, finally added a little of that college weight that every girl gains at some point. I can honestly say that I was in the best shape I've ever been in once I graduated college as I was working out with a personal trainer whose goal was to make me fit instead of skinny.

I could document the yo-yo that has been my fitness journey to this point in my life, but to keep it pretty simple, I've gone through the working out and eating healthy phases followed by eating all of the fries and cake in sight. And half the time, it's one extreme to the other with no real balance or moderation for either. And with that comes the yo-yo of confidence - or a lack there of.

The little bit of "happily married weight" that I've put on in this last year is something that has affected me in more ways than one, and I'd say it has a heck of a lot more to do with how I feel than how I look in a mirror. But the lack of mental clarity in turn affects how I feel about myself as a whole - there have been multiple times in this last year where I've looked at a photo that lots of work went into and decided not to share because I was so critical of how I looked. When I would get dressed to head to the store, I would stand in front of the mirror and pick out everything I needed to change. I would not feel confident in myself at all - and that's an environment where I need to feel my best.

I share all of this for several reasons, the first being that I've felt sub-par in this last year and I know it all comes down to how I'm treating my body. Instead of waking up and fueling it with the things it craves (water, nourishment, protein and love), I give it the sugar, junk, and self deprecation that has often accompanied my mood as of late. I feel lethargic, rely on cups of coffee throughout the day, and don't make physical activity the priority that it once was. I let the cookie or croissant I eat mid-morning affect how I treat my body the rest of the day instead of understanding that it's okay to splurge and treat yourself, but all in moderation.

Secondly, I share all of this because of a book I just read, Girl, Wash Your Face. This book hit home with me in so many ways - as a woman, as an entrepreneur, and as a person just trying to succeed. This book is about so many things and I love that she addresses the things that women face every single day. I love this quote about health:

"You need to be healthy. You don't need to be thin. You don't need to be a certain size or shape or look good in a bikini. You need to be able to run without feeling like you're going to puke. You need to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. You need to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every single day. You need to stretch and get good sleep and stop medicating every ache and pain. You need to stop filling your body with garbage like Diet Coke and fast food and lattes that are a million and a half calories. You need to take in fuel for your body that hasn't been processed and fuel for your mind that is positive and encouraging. You need to get up off the sofa or out of the bed and move around. Get out of the fog that you have been living in and see your life for what it is." 

The third reason is that the comparison game when you're a blogger, or an entrepreneur, or just a gal trying to navigate life is v. v. strong. Am I right? I hop on Instagram and see "legs for days" or #abgoals (half the time, I'm commenting those things) or all of the other craziness that we somehow begin to equate our success to, and next thing you know, I'm wondering if I should post the pic of the super cute dress we got in at ZIA or not. That's why another poignant quote by Rachel Hollis may hit home for you just like it did for me:

Comparison is the death of joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday."

THIS. This is what we need to think about. Instead of thinking, "Why am I not as fit as that person" or "Why is my business not as successful as hers," we need to change the narrative to this: "How can I treat my body better today? What love can I pour into my business or career or passion so it's a true reflection of the goals I set out to achieve in the first place?" And I can assure you, friends, that this narrative needs to change in me as much as it does anyone else.

So what's my game plan?  I've got three goals that I'm going to work toward daily and they're pretty simple.

  1. Words of Affirmation: Instead of waking up and picking myself apart, choosing a positive thing about myself will better set the intention for the day. The bags under my eyes are a sign that I've been working my butt off and the extra few pounds I've put on this last year represent the fact that Steve and I have loved trying new restaurants together in this first year of being married. There's no sense in beginning the day negatively, despite how easy it is to do.
  2. Planning Ahead but Being Understanding: If I grocery shop and pack my lunch, I'm less likely to head through the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru for a cheese croissant (my fave) or order Jimmy John's (also my fave). But aside from that, it's important to be understanding of myself if life gets crazy and I just need to get that delicious fast food. And if I just want to have a taco night with all the queso with my gal pals or my husband, there's no need to apologize for that either. 
  3. Scheduling a Workout or Just Time to Breathe: If I have a meeting or a lunch date with a friend, I'm not quick to cancel. But a workout? I'm too tired or I'm too busy tends to be the excuse. I'm going to work toward scheduling them into my day just like I would another priority so that a workout is less likely to get skipped over. And if I just don't want to make it to the gym, it's so important to just schedule a little bit of personal time - for me, that's diving into a great book. Sometimes mental rest is just as important as making it to the gym.
Those goals seem to be fitness oriented, but that's because for me, as much as I don't love working out, my mind is always so much sharper afterward. And I don't mean an hour of kickboxing - it could just be a quick walk around the block with my dog.

Basically, my point is this - we need to be better about loving ourselves. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that we spend more time pouring into others that we do ourselves. So how about you? How will you treat yourself this week, this month, this year? "Friends, it's not about the goal or the dream you have. It's about who you become on your way to that goal." - Rachel Hollis
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