Posts filed under ‘self image’

Girls on the Run

When I was a kid, I didn’t have good self-esteem.  Well, I did when it came to school; I was smart and liked school.  But, socially, I did not feel good about myself.  I was fat and ugly.  I was literally the Queen of the Misfits.  Those at school that didn’t fit in with any other group hung out with me.

It didn’t help that I was not athletic, or at least I didn’t think I was.  I didn’t feel comfortable running around chasing after balls, and because I was fat, I never got picked for anything other than anchor for tug-o-war.  Oh… wait… I did make the bowling team.

One of the most exciting things about my transformation is the fact that I am now physically confident.  I believe in my body; I recognize and appreciate its strength.  I’m now willing to try new things, even if I am likely to fail.  In the past, failure was always due to my weight.  I was sure people were laughing at me, thinking that I was too big to do anything with my body.  Now, if I fail, I don’t indict myself for it; I don’t see it as my fault.  Now, if I fail, it’s merely because it’s new to me, or I need to strengthen that body part.

This new-found confidence and attitude has allowed me to try all kinds of wonderful activities: sailing, zip lining, pole dancing, boulder scrambling, free climbing, rope walls, mountain biking, and more.  It’s been a joy.

All through this process, I’ve thought that I should share my experience – my story – with others in some way.  The transformation shouldn’t go to waste; it should ripple out to others who might need inspiration and encouragement.  Up until recently, I hadn’t found the avenue to accomplish that rippling.  Now I think I have.

Through my Leadership program, I learned about an amazing non-profit organization called “Girls on the Run“.  It’s a program dedicated to developing self confidence and healthy living skills for girls ages 8 through 13.

“The programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development.”

As soon as I heard about this program, I was certain I needed to be part of it.  There’s no council here, so I looked into starting one.  In the process of doing that research, I discovered that another woman had already assembled a team to bring this exciting program to our neighborhood.  I emailed her, and earlier this week, we had a first meeting.

On the way to the meeting, I heard Paula Cole’s “I don’t want to wait”, a song that I haven’t heard in years… and one of my anthems when I splitting up from my first husband.  It was incredibly apropos to hear that song on my way to this meeting.  At the time it was popular, I was finally admitting to myself that I didn’t want to wait anymore to live life.  I didn’t know what was ahead at that point, and I could never have foreseen all the wonders that I’ve experienced in these last couple of years.  Specifically, I could never have foreseen joining up with a group of runners to help young girls prepare for a 5K!

We have a great group, filled with knowledge and expertise, and I think we’ll be able to conduct our first training in the fall.  I am thrilled that I might be able to help at least one girl avoid being ashamed of her body, that I might help one girl learn to love to move and feel that amazing sense of accomplishment when she achieves something physical that she didn’t think she could do.

April 28, 2010 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

Muddy Buddy 2010

Earlier this month, I did something unprecedented: I competed in two athletic events in less than a week. Me! The girl who was only ever picked to be anchor for tug-o-war!!

The first was the Muddy Buddy Race.  Teams of two traverse a 6-7 mile off-road course and 5 obstacles.  At the start of the race, one team member runs and one rides the bike. At the 1st obstacle, the rider drops the bike, completes the obstacle, and begins running. The runner arrives, completes the obstacle, finds their bike and begin riding. Teams continue leapfrogging each other through the entire course. At the end of the race, racers crawl through the infamous Mud Pit crossing the finish line together as official “Muddy Buddies”!

It was one of the most fun and exhilarating things I’ve ever done, and I’m still in awe of myself for finding out about it, finding a partner, and doing it… all within the space of three weeks.  Something brand new and daunting… but I didn’t let that hold me back.  I just did it!  I’ve become my own Nike commercial!! LOL 🙂

   

   

March 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Soldiering On…

My Honey and I had a fabulous homecoming from his disappointing and scary motorcycle race, and my mum’s husband is out of the hospital and doing well.

I started an intense and highly selective leadership program, and we just returned from a very fun camping trip with friends… our first camping experience as a married couple and in the rain.  Nothin’ like snugglin’ up with your man while the thunder booms overhead and lightning flashes through the mesh windows.

I enjoyed the healthy stuff I brought for the trip, but I also indulged in some goodies brought by others: Oreos, Doritos and homemade s’mores, which we managed to cook over a damp fire in between rain showers.  I talked to my girlfriend a little about my weight gain and how I’ve been struggling for several months being 7 or so pounds up.  She said she couldn’t tell, which was nice… made even nicer by the fact that she’s extremely direct and would tell me straight up if she felt otherwise.  It was nice, along with being away from the computer and cell phone access, not to have a scale around and not to keep track of every morsel.  I felt free to just be me and do what I wanted to do with some moderating.

Returning to the real world this afternoon, I picked up the mail and found the latest issue of “More” magazine.  Candace Bushnell’s column really resonated.  Titled “Why I’m a beauty scrooge”, it details why she is against cosmetic surgery.  She relates a story in which, earlier in life, she’s offered a half-price boob job. Even with a huge discount, she couldn’t afford it, and she realized she was “…just going to have to soldier on” with her “…grossly imperfect body”.

That is EXACTLY how I feel on most days: that I am soldiering on with a grossly imperfect body.  It was wonderful to read that Candace Bushnell, an extremely successful writer and a “cougar” with a much younger boyfriend, has felt this way for years.  As she says, the message is “change your looks, and you can change your life”. 

Here’s the funny thing, though.  I have done that!  I have drastically changed my looks, and I have drastically changed my life.  It’s actually pretty darned amazing.  The life I’m living now is one I never even dreamed of.  It’s miraculous to me.  I am doing things personally and professionally that are exciting and challenging and notable.  I am making a difference in my community, and going on adventures, big and small, with my new husband.  My life has a surreal quality. 

Yet, I am still “soldiering on” when it comes to my looks.  There are days – after I see myself on TV or after I see a Facebook picture of a friend in a bikini who never let herself get fat and then had to fix it – that I am utterly devastated by what I see in the mirror… so much so that the urge to hide in the closet is nearly irresistible.  But, I soldier on, knowing that I cannot discount the love of my man by dissing what he sees as beautiful… knowing that my contribution to work is based on my skills and attitude, not my face or body shape… knowing that my support and appreciation of my friends and family has nothing to do with the size of my jeans. 

I hope to get past the soldiering.  It’s admirable but tiresome, and in my case, it’s wasteful of valuable energy.  It helps me live life fully, bringing me a kind of stubborn resolve to try that new thing “in spite of”, but it takes a toll at the same time, leeching joy and peace.

Instead, I hope to be able to truly embrace my transformation and appreciate its significance now… and what it will lead to in the future that I can’t yet see.  I guess I’ll keep soldiering on toward that goal.

September 21, 2009 at 4:10 am Leave a comment

Are we ever “cured”?

In September, I will have been doing my lifestyle change for seven years.  That’s a long time, and it seems like it should have gotten easier.  Unfortunately… not so much.

I have been struggling for the last few months with a 7-pound weight gain.  I know why: I’ve got a huge amount of stress in my life right now.

1) I’m planning a wedding.  Even though it’s an untraditional wedding, low-key by wedding standards, it’s still a big event, and big events require a lot of work.

2) I’ve branched into doing TV for my work.  It’s extremely difficult to see myself on television.  To me, the flaws are glaringly obvious and exacerbated by the medium.  I’ve been fighting not to get depressed over it, but it’s tough.

3) I’ve been doing a lot more public speaking on evenings and weekends.  I am so excited to be doing this outreach because it’s critical to get the consumer protection messages out there.  But, there’s a lot of pressure when you’re dealing with people face-to-face who’ve been victims of fraud or are losing their homes.  They want answers, and they want those answers from you.  It’s also tiring to prepare and to work the extra hours.  It’s definitely worth it, but it takes a toll.

4) My fiance and I have been doing a lot traveling, off-roading and camping with various mishaps occurring along the way like wheels falling off vehicles, getting lost, flying at weird times of day, etc.  Lack of sleep and anxiety bring out my desire to munch.

Most of my stress is “good” stress, coming from positive events in my life.  But, when I’m stressed, no matter where that stress comes from, I want to eat.  When I get tired, I want to eat.  At times, that urge to eat is nearly irresistable.  In fact, it’s proven to be irresistable for me a lot recently, which is why I’m up seven pounds.

Do we ever get “cured” of overeating?  Will I ever be “normal” in how I approach food?  I don’t think so; I think I’ll always have this yoke around my neck.  It will be lighter sometimes, but it’ll always be there.

It’s an issue that obesity researchers continue to explore.  Irene Rubaum-Keller’s article “What is recovery from addiction?” asks, “If you are an addict, can you ever really get well or are you just destined to manage your tendency to be addicted to things/people/substances forever?”.  My experience tells me I will not “get well”, that instead I’ll just be managing the situation for the rest of my life.  And it bums me out that experts, people who’ve been researching this problem for years, don’t have any answers for me.

Rubaum-Keller says:

The bottom line is; we don’t know the answer to that question. The definition of recovery the committee came up with was this “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.” It involves trading the easy drug/sex/gambling/food/shopping/alcohol high, with something more difficult to attain that is also more meaningful and lasting. Recovery does not just mean sobriety. It is a more holistic experience that involves improving one’s life in various ways.

I am committed to the path I’ve chosen, and for the most part, I’m glad I made the choice.  But voluntary maintenance is HARD.  I keep expecting it to get easier, and it just doesn’t.  That’s my reality.  For now, I can’t change it, so I’ve got to be aware of it and work with it the best I can.

In my current situation, I’m trying to focus on the fact that all I’ve gained is seven pounds.  I’m also proud of having taken on a very intensive exercise program with P90X.  My body is really strong; all my clothes still fit.  I’m having the adventure of a lifetime.  I’m managing the food situation successfully for the most part.  That’s the best I can do, and it has to be good enough for now.

July 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Week 2 of P90X

I’m halfway through Week 2 of P90X.  It’s a terrific program.  So challenging.  Ab Ripper X, which I did tonight after doing the shoulders & arms workout, makes me use LOTS of foul language.  It’s tough, man!

The hardest one for me, though, is Yoga X.  That’s the one I have to do tomorrow.  I’ve always found yoga hard.  The longheld poses that seem to stretch the muscles endlessly kill me.  It will take everything I’ve got tomorrow to stick with it.  I can do kick-ass cardio and multiple weight reps forever (well, not really forever, but you know what I mean), but yoga… yowsa!  Sheer determination is the only thing that gets me through.

And, it’s a bit of a shame that it’s so tough for me because yoga is extremely good for you.  The whole mind-body thing is very important to good health and battling illnesses and stress.  I need to do yoga, even if I don’t want to.  As much as I recognize the importance of mind-body workouts, I have trouble making myself do ’em.  I need to work on it, and this is an unexpected benefit of doing the P90X program.

I wonder, will I get “ripped” like the people in the ads?  I have some muscle definition, but it’s hard to imagine myself all cut like “those people”.  Supposedly it’s possible.  I just want to complete the program and lean out.

I’m a little apprehensive because we will be traveling on workout days over the next several weeks, so I will not be able to do all the workouts.  I will bring DVDs with me and do the workouts on the computer when we go to San Diego next weekend.  But, the week after we’ll be camping on the Grand Canyon, and I doubt we’ll bring the computer with us.  It’s a constant challenge with the life I lead with my fiance to stay on track.  There are ALWAYS special circumstances.  In fact, it’s really more of a special circumstance when there aren’t special circumstances.

I should give myself kudos for being able to adapt and adjust, but instead I usually feel frustrated and like I’m doing it half-assed.  Bottom line: I can only do what I can do, and clearly it’s worked for the most part.  I keep having to tell myself that!  Boy, it takes some of us a long time to internalize the message, eh?  🙂

Anyway, I’m really enjoying P90X so far.  It’s great to be so challenged and to know that after another week, new challenges will come.  It’s great to save some money and to be home at night where I can do laundry or other things while working out.  P90X rocks!

June 11, 2009 at 3:03 am 3 comments

Staying young by weighing more?

“Showing your age”, a slideshow on MSNBC, features photos of twins from a study on how we age.  The sub-head reads: “A new study finds that lifestyle habits affect how you visibly age”.  When I read the words “lifestyle habits” in conjunction with the words “visibly age”, I think of eating bad food, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and smoking. Given that preconception, I was surprised by what I learned when I delved into the article.

In all cases except one, the younger-looking twin was heavier.  Sure, a couple of them took hormones, and one was a non-smoker.  But, in nearly all the cases, the common element among the more youthful twins was the extra pounds they were carrying.  Fascinating!

I have been thinking about this as I hover around my ideal weight.  Depending on the day, I want to lose 3 to 7 more pounds.  Every now and then, though, I catch a passing glimpse of my face in the mirror and worry that my face may be a tad too thin, thereby aging me.  It has occurred to me that I am good right where I am because my face and body are nicely filled out.  Another area I’ve noticed this having an impact is in my upper tummy.  My literal transformation didn’t address the upper area, and if I get too thin, the skin there will sag unattractively. It needs a bit of fat to stay plumped.

As with the revelation that we need only 7 minutes of vigorous exercise a week to stave off Type II Diabetes, this gives me permission to ease up a little on myself.  Of course, it only seems to relieve the pressure for a moment, and then I’m back to feeling anxious about not exercising enough or about carrying two or three extra pounds more than my lowest number on the scale.  Maybe if I read enough of these reports, it’ll finally sink in, and I’ll be able to relax into the me that I am now without fretting.

February 6, 2009 at 4:58 am Leave a comment

The body that could have been

Today I did something bold, something brazen, something I have never done before: I wore a cropped top that bared my midriff in public.  Yowsa!  It was an angst-filled experience yet enlightening, too.

After undergoing a literal transformation – as well as the more metaphorical one I’ve been undertaking since I began my lifestyle change 6 years ago, I have opened myself to the possibilty of showing my tummy for the world to see.  I recently found a TapOut cropped exercise top at the Ross, and I bought it.  I decided to wear it to my next series of classes at the pole fitness studio, and today was the day.

I couldn’t bring myself to wear it without a light jacket when walking to and from the car, but I went full midriff exposure in the pole studio.  When I walked into the room, it felt like everything was happening in slow motion: putting my handbag down up against the back wall, shrugging the jacket off, turning to face the mirror as the jacket came down my arms, glimpsing my tummy in all its mixed glory reflected throughout the studio for the instructor and the students to see.  I waited to hear that quick intake of breath, to see the furrowed brows indicating displeasure.  I held my breath and… nothing happened.

No one yelped in horror at the sight of my imperfect belly.  So, I looked at it, really looked at it, and it was… okay.  I watched it as I sweated my way through Booty Camp and spun through Pole Tricks.  Most of the time, it didn’t look half bad.  Other times, though, like when I was in Downward Dog, the extra skin that remains hung in less-than-glorious teat-like folds. 

While the experience was mostly encouraging and freeing, I was overcome with emotion at the end of my classes.  I realized I was mourning the loss of the body that could have been.  I was grieving for the physique that robbed myself of by overeating from the time I was nine years old.  It was very powerful, and I had to fight to keep from crying as I left the studio. 

When I see young girls now with their unblemished skin and lovely figures, I want to tell them to be good to themselves, to eat properly in moderate quantities and exercise, because they won’t be able to get it back, no matter the promise of cosmetic surgery and pharmaceutical treatments.  I have pretty much done all I can to restore my body to what it could have been, but the stretch marks linger, and my lack of elasticity shows, depending on how I’m positioned.  The body that could have been is gone forever.  It will never be mine, and I’m angry and disappointed and sad about it.  I did this to myself, and there’s only so much I can do to fix it.

On the other hand, I’ve worked my ass off (literally and figuratively!) to get where I am today, and it’s pretty damn good overall.  My skin is generally quite nice, smooth and clear.  I am muscular with a pleasing, curvy shape.  I have endurance and stamina to rival many twenty-year-olds.  I move well and continue to challenge my body in new ways. 

But, until I get through the grieving process and release the body that could have been, I won’t be abe to embrace all the wonderful qualities of the body I’ve created now.  Thus far in my lifestyle change, I have not allowed myself that mourning period.  Based on my experience today, I think it’s time.

January 20, 2009 at 6:18 am Leave a comment

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