The One About My Weight Gain & the “Bulk” Fear of Women vs Weights

15 Fri, 2011 § 12 Comments

Do you have a number?  There is not necessarily a good reason it exists in your mind at all.  It is likely arbitrary, but there it is: the number you envision slim, attractive women weigh.  Or perhaps strong, masculine men, if you are a guy.

I have my own number.  Even now, though I rarely step on the scale & am not even worried about being at this number, it still floats around in my head.  Honestly, I am not sure if I have ever really been at this weight; at times I have been far too under it or uncomfortably over it.

I do not own a scale.  I stopped weighing myself in high school.  Actually, it was in jr. high I learned weight is relative, dependent on muscle gain & such.  I began to gauge my…body composition (though I didn’t know to call it that then)…by how my clothes fit.  Usually I only learn my weight when I visit the doctor’s office.

When I was in Albuquerque in February, I spotted a scale at the gym.  I was curious.  I stepped on.  Honestly, my first thought: “huh, must be muscle gain.”  I weighed a good ten pounds over “my number”.  I had gained a few pounds since my last weigh in.  I was ok with it.

I was feeling my best, my clothes still fit — if anything, they were looser — & I was maxing out on pull ups, chin ups, push ups, etc.  I knew I was strong.  Maybe the scale wasn’t showing my “ideal” weight or even my happiest weight.  This was a temporary price required as my body was subtly changing & becoming stronger.

That moment on the scale, there was no judgment & no criticism.  I was excited to see where my body was taking me; I was enjoying the ride.

[photo by David Finch]

Lifting weights makes women bulky.  At least that is what I hear over & over again.  Many women are terrified of weight training.  They all say the same thing: “my body is different; I bulk up.”  Maybe initially this is true, but even during my weight gain, I wasn’t actually bigger.  I’ll be honest: sometimes I feel like my arms are “bulky”; I want more “tone”.  Dave is often my grounding force to reason, almost rolling his eyes as he assures me they are not bulky.  Maybe as women, we have this I-look-like-a-dude panic whenever we build a little muscle.

If you have more body fat, you might experience initial bulk.  Usually women succumb to the panic & stop all strength training.  DON’T.

You have to push through…because it’s about to get so good.

When you gain muscle, your resting metabolic rate goes up; though by how much is debated [source].  Does it really matter?  Your body is getting stronger & healthier.  If your goal is to slim down, you’ll reach it more quickly by gaining muscle.  Now, my goal isn’t to lose weight but to change my body composition.  I am training to gain strength, & honestly, build lean muscle.  I always think “build lean muscle” sounds kind of weird.  What I’ve really done is build muscle — perhaps even a little “bulk” — & gain strength, then let me body find its balance through all of the other activities I love like climbing, cycling, swimming, interval training, etc.  I’m no expert, but this seems to be working for me.

Curious again, I stepped on the scale at our gym recently.  Without trying, I have lost 6 pounds since Albuquerque.  Because I have added more muscle, definition & strength since then, I know it’s the kind of loss I want.

I do not obsess over the number on the scale, but I don’t mind seeing it go down right now as long as I stay strong & energized.  If I weigh less while maintaining — no, increasing — strength (& stamina), my weight-to-strength ratio will be in my favor.  As a climber, pulling myself up the wall or boulder, this is optimal.

I am trying not to dwell on where I want to be but just embrace the process as it is happening.  I do this by climbing harder & tracking progress in the gym with a workout journal.  Like I said, I’m just enjoying the ride.  Of course I want to be stronger & use my passions to challenge myself & push farther, but I don’t let the little hater inside tell me I am not good enough yet.

I am.  You are too.

If you only take a few things away from here, I hope you’ll believe the following:

  • The ### on the scale is relative.  I weigh more than many of my friends who are similar in size.  Muscle does not weigh more than fat.  A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat; but a pound of muscle takes up less space.  I won’t be weighing myself regularly.  It works for some people, but I prefer to gauge my progress by how I feel, how my clothes fit & how I perform.
  • Girls have muscles too.  Some might not like the way this looks.  To each his/her own, but I don’t get it.  I love strong women — I love strong people.  Being able to do a pull up or even a push up is empowering.  I would rather be motivated by strong people than torture myself & get sucked into the realm of “thinspiration”.
  • Make it about more than the number.  I know I progress not because the number says so but by my performance.  Am I climbing harder?  Running farther?  Biking faster?  Squeezing out one more rep?  Adding another plate to the rack?  Find something you love, make your body good for something (not just pretty) & treat it like it is.


FEEDBACK!  I want to know what you think about women lifting weights, muscle gain & the scale.  As you can tell, I’m a little passionate about this — I know you are out there, so please share your insights!!!

Love My Body part II

19 Wed, 2011 § 4 Comments

Not long after the Kate Moss quote incident I came across an equally powerful single word at Gracefulfitness.  When Faith began to introduce Wantpower versus Willpower & where she found this idea, honestly I thought “oh no, is this more superficial thinspiration?  I want that body…I want to be thinner…”  Not at all — I should have known better; this was coming from Faith after all.  I read on as she beautifully conveyed her message:

“Think about it, for me ‘willpower’ conjures images of depravation and steely, possibly uncomfortable,  determination.  ‘Wantpower’ makes me think of my goal, it helps me visualize the outcome and what I WANT rather than what I ‘can’t have’.”

I encourage you to read the rest of her message.

This is what I needed to continue my paradigm shift back into healthy ways of thinking about & seeing my body.  She is only one role model among many I have encountered, especially recently.

In December, Faith established “comment commit”: a place where we could commit to moving our bodies & encourage others to do so.  One of my favorite blog sources for specific workouts [] constantly drives the point bikini season is fast approaching; but here, with Faith, we simply & lovingly reminded  new friends & ourselves how much better we feel when we keep our bodies active…as well as shared reminders to listen to our bodies & rest when needed.  This support was centered around love & motivation.

[photo by David Finch]

I realized I am surrounded by this.


Whether we are talking body image, lifestyles or simply sharing stories about our pups, conversations with one of my best friends, Natalie, only leave me happy, uplifted, & it seems we are usually always on the same page.  This woman pushes herself hard, obviously out of true appreciation for what her body can do!  Every post on FollowMyFitsteps offers helpful, daily tips which never enter the realm of obsessive behavior; rather, they are accessible tools for helping anyone instill healthy habits.

Every time I visit Holly’s blog, the first two words of her title always strike me.


Could it be more perfect?

Julia’s excitement over new adventures like, rock climbing, kindle greater spark in my own passions…

& once upon a time in SLC a close friendship formed in a climbing gym which has only strengthened though we are now mountains apart.  Ashley’s encouragement & support never falter, & her beautiful words — whether written or spoken — inspire me still.

Who am I forgetting?  My husband!  Though our long-walk-talks might initially be filled with some tears [mine not Dave’s ;)], by the end I feel empowered & reassured in our make-your-body-good-for-something mentality.  A common remark from Dave is “yeah, you could just be skinny, but what would you DO with it [your body]?”  What do you want to DO with it?  Give your body a purpose & make it good for something!

Internet, magazines, the media, etc can be such toxic places [to borrow Natalie’s word], & it is easy to feel inundated by certain arbitrary pressures.  This post was partly to gush over some of you 😉 but really I wanted to point to what/who has truly helped me reach a healthier, happier place once again.  I wanted to share this in case any one else out there needs a little nudge in a similar direction, creating your own paradigm shift to truly loving your body.

[photo by David Finch]


What do you want to DO with your body?  What is it good for?

Where do you find inspiration & motivation? [the healthy kind]

“Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Skinny Feels”

16 Sun, 2011 § 14 Comments

Love My Body part I

I had already felt like crying the day I read that quote.  Its endorsement nearly pushed me over the edge.  I had been looking for motivation…but not of this genre.  My favorite workout blog had been back up & running for awhile now; I was shocked it had taken me this long to check out the new layout.  This counsel from a fellow follower threw me deeper into the shallow body image paradigm I was struggling to overcome.  She attributed the quote to Kate Moss.  As a responsible blogger, I should verify; but I just cannot bring myself to read anymore concerning this mentality.

I had worked so hard to establish & feel good about my body.  Recently, I had started falling into old habits, such as comparing.  I won’t be fit until I have abs like that.  My arms aren’t good enough until they look like hers. I went online looking for motivation & was hit with self-deprivation.

I continued to browse over workouts & new features, like photos & posts from followers about their progress.  One woman shared her amazing journey, then nearly negated everything she had accomplished by focusing on what she “still needed to get rid of” [her lower tummy pooch].

I wanted to hug her & shake her & tell her to not be self-deprecating & disempowering.  Be proud of what you have done!  Be proud of how strong you are! I scanned comments & though she received a lot of congrats, the only mention of the tummy pooch comment offered her “the trick”.

Only one half serving of fruits, no sugars, no grains & no breads per day.  Try this for a couple of weeks religiously, & you should see a reduction in “puffiness”.  If you keep going, maybe you can kill off the pooch.

I understand limiting sugar & processed grains, but all grains & almost no fruit?  As someone who relies on crucial energy to do what I love to do, my body needs these foods.  Isn’t it more important we eat a balanced diet, nourishing our bodies?

Needless to say, I needed to switch paradigms…before I got stuck in a place I did not want to be…a place that makes me very unhappy.

So what to do?  For me.  Right now.


Focus on appreciating how strong & healthy my body is.  Appreciate what it can do.  Commit to making it stronger.  Treat my body lovingly.  No deprivation.  No comparisons.  Remove the focus from how I look to what I can do.  Some of the strongest, most athletic people do not have the “perfect body” look.  Our bodies are amazing, capable of so much.  Why do we struggle with feeling the need to perfect our bodies through appearance?  Why not through performance?

[We did not get any photos this weekend but decided to return here to work this traverse since it was one of the driest areas.]

With the cold weather & the snow [& an over-priced climbing gym], climbing has not been possible the last couple months.  My body & mind have missed it.  With 40 degree days, we jumped on the chance to touch rock this weekend.  It felt good to test my body & connect with the earth.

It felt just as good to nourish it rather than deprive it.

I started my days with fueling foods,

like barley & lentils mixed with Natalie’s Spicy Thai Chili, which is delicious & packs some heat!

I listened to my body’s cravings; Uncle Sam cereal with raspberry kefir & a sprinkle of cacao nibs was one of these.

I kept it going while out & about with even more random creations.

[I will share more of these little guys tomorrow.]

I feel like I nearly sunk into a superficial pool but was able to wade to the shores of a healthier mindset.  Did I make it on my own?  No.  I will share more of that tomorrow as well. 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed your weekend as much as I have.


Are you happy about your body?  Is your own body image paradigm a healthy one?

Love My Body

21 Thu, 2010 § 6 Comments

Yesterday was National Love Your Body Day [there is a “national” day for everything, isn’t there?].

I have been thinking about my body all day.

I love my body.

I still struggle with body image just like anybody else — some days more so than others — but why would I ever want to do anything unkind to my body which is so incredible?


I love my smile & how my whole body feels when I laugh.

I love how my eyes can sparkle — how do I make that happen more often? 😉

I love my scars — they are proof that I have lived.

My body is strong & capable of taking me to amazing & beautiful places.

My body went from not being able to pull myself up the easiest climbs to projecting difficult slabs.

My body’s intuition is amazing — it always whispers when something is not quite right — I just have to listen.

My body is amazing at healing itself when sick or injured & works its hardest when I am not — when I am sleeping!

My body adapts to whatever I throw at it.

My body is so much stronger than I think it is — it always pushes out one more rep or one more move or one more mile when I think I am spent.

I feel my body’s love, even if I have not always loved it.


Tell me why you love your body!

Cycling: Reconnecting to My City & Myself

19 Thu, 2010 § 5 Comments

I first began driving less & bike commuting as another means to stay fit while saving money & decreasing my carbon footprint.  This simply seemed practical as biking is the most “fuel” efficient means of transportation; I did not understand the recreational joy cyclist found on the road.  One ride later, I got it.

Few things feel as freeing as being out on the road…open, exposed…feeling the air…my own body propelling me forward.  It is a time to slow down & really see the world I live in.  I have developed a deeper connection to the city.  I notice places & people that are otherwise a blur as I zip by in a car.  I am able to explore & feel more at liberty to randomly take a side street I have never ventured before.  I have found quaint neighborhoods this way & small, local shops that are usually overshadowed by massive conglomerate chain stores.  I am able to enjoy where I am.  Ok 😉 not always, but I try.

I have talked to many people who would love to trade in some of their car commuting for biking, but are deterred by the process: “it takes more time”, “too much planning is involved”, “route finding seems overwhelming”, “too many possible obstacles”, “need an ‘expensive’ bike”.  It seems unrealistic for them to pedal rather than stick to their vehicles on roads with which they are familiar.

You know those dreaded backed-up intersections & traffic jams that make you cringe as you approach?  I generally coast right through or easily find a detour.  That travel time people are so concerned with stretching?  Mine is not lengthened by much: my 15-20 minute vehicle commute to the office becomes only a 20-30 minute bike commute depending on traffic lights.  Plus, I have already sweated at least twice for the day.  Not much more planning is involved, & I become more efficient & effective with my time [truly productive rather than just busy].  As with anything new you endeavor, that overwhelming sense is soon replaced by familiarity & assurance.  Obstacles do arise, like flat tires, fallen chains, etc., but I know many bikers who can take care of these & be back en route in mere minutes.

You do not need an expensive bike.  I started commuting on a mountain bike & soon added road tires [made such a difference]; eventually I landed a vintage Schwinn road bike for $5 that took only $70 to fix up [made an even bigger difference]; finally, after the Schwinn was giving me more grief than not, I seriously upgraded to Cannondale’s Synapse Feminine 5.  Yes, of all my bicycle flings, my new Cannondale takes the cake, but I managed without it for quite some time — years in fact.

Biking has not been restricting.

Biking has been LIBERATING.

I can slow down & really see things, or I can push it & fly.  Initially a road snob, I am now anxious to experience more freedom on my bike & have been drawn to the trails more & more [though I am still adjusting to the technical aspect of mountain biking].

Not only has biking made me more socially connected to the city & nature, but I have also realized an incredible sense of social RESPONSIBILITY.

On a bike, exposed, I am not privileged to the anonymity which motorists often take advantage.  In a car, if I blow through a red light or cut someone off, will this person ever see — or recognize me — again?  Likely not.  On a bike, I stand out; I am probably seen by the same people almost daily.

I have also realized a couple other facts people seem to glaze over once familiar with driving.  1. Driving/cycling requires constant attention in order to react immediately to changing variables [ie. road, weather, other commuters, animals, pedestrians, etc].  2. Vehicles = 2 ton Death Machines [& there are a lot of them out there].

While texting, applying makeup, changing the radio, talking on a cell, daydreaming, etc., people seem to forget the average car weighs 3,000-4,000 pounds; & trucks — which scatter much of SLC’s roads — range from 7,000-13,000 pounds.  Just because many of us have been driving for years & can now do it on auto-pilot does not mean that we should.  Seeing this from the standpoint of my bike saddle has made me truly grasp the potential damage — & mortal consequences — vehicles can inflict.  Biking has made me a more alert, “aware” commuter — on my bike as well as behind the wheel.

In the saddle, because I am more aware of my surroundings & others, we connect.

I do not know what it is, but you cannot not wave, nod, simply smile or otherwise acknowledge other cyclists as you pass.  When was the last time you found yourself smiling at a fellow motorist simply because you shared your automotive ways?  😉  What about making eye contact with a passerby walking his dog?  It just does not happen.

I also connect with local business, many of which even give support by offering cyclists special deals & discounts for bike commuting.  Check out for participating vendors in your city. 

Most of all, cycling is empowering.

Each pedal stroke…each breath…every twitch of my muscles…brings me closer to my destination.  I value  my body even more as it drives me forward.  🙂  Am I slimmer, more toned since I have been biking?  Probably.  Photos seem to suggest this, but I am not obsessed with these aspects.  My focus is on how my body feels:

Strong & Capable

Do I love every aspect of commuting on my bike?  Not always.  For instance, the curse of the headwind, which I always seem to have even if I was just biking the opposite direction only an hour ago.  Is it difficult to find the motivation when it is cold?  Yes.  When my whole body is tired?  Oh yeah.  When I have 8 sets of sheets to carry?  Uh, yikes.  Some days it is not feasible; most, it is.

Anything challenging is worth putting energy into; from it, I reap even more.


What do you love about biking?  Do you have struggles or hesitations?  What other ways have you connected with your city/surroundings & your own body?

Move…Every Day

15 Sun, 2010 § 2 Comments

Biking! Chasing! Jumping! Climbing!

Throwing the ball! Swimming in the canal!

Rollerblading! Tubing! Scrambling!

= Fun as a Child

Fun meant exerting ourselves.  Fun meant moving.


This need-to-move (ie exercise) & I have had a long-standing, if not always smooth or consistent, affair.  Even as a young teenager, I would de-stress by taking a quick jog around town.  My flirtation with working out continued through college, constantly evolving & changing as I learned more, tried different activities/practices & became more comfortable with myself.  Once plagued with anxiety & depression, I realized how much better I felt when I exercised.  It amped up my energy levels & stomped out exhaustion & insomnia I had been battling.  Someone once told me to get energy out of anything; you first have to put energy into it.  When I put energy into exerting myself & pushing my limits, I gain exponentially physically, mentally & emotionally.  Simply, exercising makes me happy.  🙂

It is no secret that frequent & regular physical exercise boosts the immune system & helps prevent the ‘diseases of affluence.’  We have all heard that exercise increases levels of both serotonin & endorphins; but did you know these levels can stay elevated even several days after exercise is discontinued?  It is no wonder that physical activity contributes to improvement in mood, increased self-esteem & health management.   Dave has commented that he can usually gauge my mood by whether or not I have worked out that day…to what extent…how it went… 😀

Considering all of the benefits & chemical reactions that it produces, how can exercising not make me happy?  How can I not move every day?!

If you are not moving daily — or even if you are — here are some discoveries I have made throughout my own “love affair”:

Enjoy “Exercise”

Are you having fun yet?  Who says you have to be a runner?  Maybe yoga bores you.  Do you have to sweat buckets & feel like puking by the end of your workout?  You determine what is worth it & enjoyable to you, as long as you are sweating & raising your heart rate several times a week.  There are countless ways to get out there & move, so the excuse “I just don’t like exercising” is lame.  Rock climbing completely changed my body without feeling like a workout.  Maybe you are the social type & need the motivation & support of a Zumba class; or the solitary part of you likes hiking with only nature as your companion; perhaps you are in the zone when pumping weights; maybe you love racquetball, but have yet to try it; or thrive off of training for a triathlon.  If you are not having fun, you just have not found it yet.  [This following week, I am excited to share the activities I love & why.]

Determine Goals & Make Your Body “good for something

Our bodies will change; this is inevitable.  If we base our bodies’ worth solely on appearance, I am afraid only frustration & disappointment lie ahead, especially as we age.  Does this mean we can’t want that six-pack?  Of course not; but what good will it do you?  It might be pretty, but is it useful?  I want lean muscles, because they enhance my climbing.  Do I also like the way my arms & back look?  Yeah; it is a nice biproduct of striving for my own performance goals.  This is what really enhances self/body image: when you focus on more than just “looking good”, you actually connect with your body’s worth & ability.  “Looking good” just kind of follows…without obsessing over unrealistic “perfection”…without the need to compare your body to others.

Stay Motivated

Having goals will help keep you motivated & focused.  I mentioned in a previous post, I do not necessarily think “numbers” are the healthiest gauge of health.  While suggested “healthy” weights can be a good guideline, it is easy to fall victim to chasing after arbitrary numbers.  If you need a number-based-focus, I prefer body fat % over weight.  Still, rather than stressing where the scale stops when you are standing still, focus on what your body can do when you are moving!  Appreciate it, find others who embrace this & enjoy being active together.  It is much more uplifting than petty competitions over who has the tiniest waist.

Crunched for time?  How many activities in your day keep you “busy” without actually being “productive” or necessary?  What makes you happy & healthyThese are necessary.  What is not?  Be honest with yourself & establish priorities.  My body weight interval training takes anywhere from 12-30 minutes & requires little to no equipment.  I often bike instead of driving.  I used to practice yoga or take a quick run on my lunch or class breaks.  I have even sneaked a quick workout in at the airport while waiting for our flight.  Tell me you can’t squeeze that into your day?

Cross Train

I have found cross-training is crucial for injury prevention as well as balancing my body.  I often use specific training, such as weights & pilates, to strengthen weaker muscles [those I do not use as often &/or those asked to carry a heavy brunt of my activities].  I have been climbing less often this season & knew I was destined to lose much of my strength.  However, because of the type of cross-training I am doing [including High Intensity Interval Training], I am bouldering harder than I ever have in the past.  Also, because I am not constantly straining the same muscles with overuse, I do not feel as close to injury as I previously have felt.  I like switching up the activities I do; so, while I may not excel at any one of them, my body feels healthy & balanced.


Our bodies need time to repair & recover from the stress we exert on them.  As I have read articles by “maturing” athletes, I have found it interesting how much their training differs from their “younger” days.  They seem to realize how crucial it is to incorporate rest days for recovery, as well as cross-training.  Yes, as our bodies age, they will require more time to recover; but wouldn’t you rather remain injury-free during your younger years so you can do what you love longer?

Embrace “active rest days”, meaning you do not spend your rest day sitting on your butt, vegging in front of the television.  You still move on these days: enjoy an activity you love like kayaking; stretch & de-stress with yoga; weight train opposing muscles that are neglected during regular training; simply walk.  Moving increases blood circulation which will speed recovery by bringing new blood to muscles as well as flushing out metabolic waste products [biproducts of exercise] which cause soreness.


Though I am happier with this past week’s activity level, I wanted to show the PREVIOUS WEEK; because, even though issues with my left calve kept me from being as active or intense as I would have liked, I was still able to move every day*.

Monday ~ Active Rest Day [Sore from Sat. hike & Sun. bike ride]

  • laps at the pool

Tuesday ~

  • a.m. Yoga Class, focusing on “wheel”
  • bike commute 8 mi each way split up by bodywork session [releasing fascia of the left calve & mobilizing my right fibula]
  • weights with Dave: rotator cuff & shoulder muscles, core

Wednesday ~

  • a.m. HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training]
  • midday laps in the pool with Dave [only 15-20 minutes before a light thunder storm hit]

Thursday ~

  • HIIT

Friday ~

  • a.m. Yoga/Pilates Class, “shoulder stands & core”

Saturday ~

  • ran 1-2 mi around the lake in a.m. followed by short workout [hold chaturanga dandasana w/leg extensions, mt. climbers & elevated push-ups] & walk with Eisley & Dave;
  • a little kayaking at Payson Lake with the family

Sunday ~ Dave & I desperately needed to sweat out our less-than-active & oh-so-delicious weekend 😛

  • 14 min-evening-run followed by Dave’s boot camp playground workout [I thought I was going to vomit]; to cool down we practiced Qigong, walked home & stretched.  I also worked on static handstands after balancing with Qigong per Dave’s suggestion — it made such a difference!

*Also walk Eisley every morning & evening before her meals & as much as possible throughout the day.


Tell me about your own relationship — highs & struggles — with exercise.  What is holding you back?  What keeps you moving?

Breaking Through the Facade

18 Sun, 2010 § 4 Comments

Without those lingering Demons, I feel like I can breathe.  The picture is clearer: I can really see my body; that “perfect image” I’ve pursued for so long doesn’t exist, & that’s okay.  Now that I’ve let go of harmful, unrealistic expectations that keep me down, I can focus on Strengths & put my energy into making Realistic goals.  Rather than stressing over getting to point B [my ideal] the fastest, I enjoy the daily steps that lead toward a healthier life:

  • Move Every Day.  Have fun & stay excited.  Not having fun yet?  You just haven’t found it yet; keeping looking.  Be adventurous with workouts — I love to challenge myself — & cross-train (for balance & injury prevention).
  • Listen to My Body — Love, Value & Nourish it.  My body does amazing things for me daily; appreciate every aspect of it & do only good things to & for it.
  • Eat Real Food.  Primarily eat plant-based foods, in their whole, natural form.  Stay away from processed & refined foods with additives.  Enjoy what you eat; this is crucial when developing good eating habits. Follow a healthy eating habit not a diet.
  • Do Not Compare Other Bodies.  I have just spent all this energy accepting my unique, realistic body; I don’t want to blur this image.  Every body is different.
  • Do Not Stress the Numbers: calorie counting, sizes, the scale, etc.  These are not true measurements of health.  Embrace the concept of Size “Healthy”.
  • Make my Body Good for Something [as Dave likes to phrase it].  “Actual capacity strengthens confidence; a facade is merely physical.” [Mark Twight]  When your primary focus is to be strong & fit — to be able to truly use your body — rather than just look good, your entire perspective & body image shift.  It’s beautiful.

Obviously, these expectations are specific to my approach, but I’ve tried to add general points that may be motivating to others.  I hope it makes you want to love your body & move it! 🙂

Be Realistic with your own Expectations.  Include your list in the comments below or on your own blog & link here.

Which Demons Sabotage Your Self Image?

14 Wed, 2010 § 1 Comment

I am ready to let go of mine.

Since my “Lat Episode“, I’ve been mulling over the expectations & standards I hold my self to & by which I judge my self image.

If only the media would back off…if only guys didn’t oogle over swim suit models…if women didn’t swoon over muscles…if someone hadn’t placed arbitrary numbers & sizes in our heads…We wouldn’t have to look a certain way.  What other excuses do we cling to ferociously?

There are always excuses though, right?  Someone else to blame for the way we view our bodies?  It is not my fault my self view is what it is.  Sorry.  It is; that’s included in the definition of self image.  We cling to these excuses & hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations.

I’m letting go.  Yikes.  Really?  It means I’m going to have to swallow a few things:

  • Mirrors are deceptive; my mind can play tricks.  I should never base my mood by the image I “see”.
  • My waist, from ribs to hip, is about 2 inches in length; that’s it.  No changing nature’s design.
  • I have a back baby–it’s strong–but combine that with narrow hips = broad upper body.  But it means I can do a pull up…& climb.
  • My arms may never be as slender & sculpted as I’d like.  I have muscle; I’m no twig.
  • I am small busted.  Period.  (What I can see is muscle & not rib though.)
  • Some endeavors are tough: revealing my six pack will take time & effort.  My core is strong, but my waist (& face) is the first to store & last to lose fat.  Just fact.
  • Dietary needs are transitional;  they change with season, age, activity level–even the day.  It is not reasonable to restrict myself with labels, but rather, listen to & provide my body with present needs.
  • I am not a predetermined-calorie-intake-machine, & I like food!  It’s absurd to think we come with a fixed, pre-specified, daily calorie limit; my caloric needs change day to day according to various factors such as activity level.  Besides, not all calories are created equal 😉

Now that it’s out there, I’m left with fewer excuses to cling to unproductive delusions & can accept realities.  I have only myself to hold me to these.

Your turn.  What unrealistic expectations are you holding?  Let go.  Post your own list below in the comments section or create one on your own blog & link it here.  I know it seems scary, but it’s liberating!  We’re one step deeper into loving ourselves.

My Lats Say Hello

12 Mon, 2010 § 4 Comments

9 a.m., I’m moving through Sun Salutations in one of my yoga classes.  I’m focusing my breath, my mind…I lengthen my arms to the sky & suddenly glance in the mirror as I begin to fold forward.

“Hey!” my Latissimus Dorsi shouts back.  For those of you wondering, this is the muscle that wings out on each side just under the arm.  It’s usually prominent on body builders, not women in yoga class.  This is confirmed as I quickly scan the room using the mirror.  No other Lats to be seen—only beautiful curves of the female form (no men today).  As we raise our arms, I check mine again.  Yep, the outline of my curve = Lats, not breasts.

I gently nudged the thought from my mind & returned focus to my breath.  Obviously, that thought never completely left.  It’s been lingering in my subconscious (& not-so-subconscious)…toying with my self worth.

My body is strong.  It is becoming stronger every day, which in turn, has made me start to truly love my body for the first time.  So what happened in yoga the other day?

My Ego.

It emerges by first planting seeds of doubt & insecurity; then, it judges others to build itself back up.  “Yeah, but I bet they can’t do a pull up.”  Whether this is the case or not, it has no relevance to me & my body.

When self worth is pursued by the ego, it breaks only to be pieced together again through comparison to others.  Seemingly whole, but ultimately fragile with cracks of external, superficial assurances.

How do we overcome the ego?

Let go.

Let go of comparisons & judgments.  Let go of personalizing.  Let go of external identifications.  Let go of reactions.  Let go of attachments.  Let go of excuses.

Be Here Now.

Don’t complicate things; stick with the facts.

My name is Allie.  I can do a pull up.  My “curves” are my Lats.

What insecurities have you learned to love about yourself?  Are learning to love?  Are going to start loving? 😉

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