Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Embracing The Journey

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Sugar coating my story may make it more comfortable to read and digest, but then what point would there be in sharing it?

Like many girls, I grew up in a home that idealized the “model” body and so perpetuated that as what was beautiful. This meant that from a very young age, when I hit puberty to be exact, I began to hate my body. This hate created a cycle of criticism and degradation.

I’m sure I’m not the only girl who stood in front of the mirror and said to herself,
“You’re fat.
“You’re ugly.
“You look like a boy.
“You should starve yourself.
“Or throw up your food.
“Your thighs are too big.
“Your hips are too wide.
“Your arms are too flabby.
“People are disgusted by your presence.
“I’m sure they can’t even look at you.
“Or they make fun of you behind your back.
“Why don’t you look like her?” and the list of criticism never ends.

My family perpetuated it. I remember my mother telling my sister she couldn’t have any new clothes until she lost weight. And when we would workout, the family would stick around and poke jokes at us and make fun of us. Laughing at how we jiggled as we exercised or making running commentary and criticism at whether or not we were following the video workouts correctly.

It’s no surprise, I developed a very bad relationship with my body that resulted in no self-esteem to speak of and a total of zero on the self worth scale.

At the age of nineteen, I moved out on my own. I developed the vicious cycle of dieting, working out and binging.

The goal was always to become skinny.

Oct 2016

My relationship with food was one of reward and then punishment. I’d look at people who were skinny because they had eating disorders and wished I was one of them, not realizing the severity of those disorders or the fact that I may already have one.

To top it all off the self degradation continued around the clock. It led me to date a man seventeen years older than me- who I had no attraction to- just because I believed I didn’t deserve better. It led to wearing clothing I hated because they covered all the body parts I despised. It led me to seclude myself from others because I was sure they saw me through my eyes as well.

Shopping focused on how much the outfit covered because I didn’t want people to look at me and gawk at my fatness and my cellulite. I’d wear pants with a knee length dress over it because I hated my knees and thighs. Shopping led to more binge eating because it was such a miserable experience and I’d go home thinking there was never an end to this misery and so who cares anymore?

I considered suicide multiple times. Often while driving I would think to myself that I could just drive off the ramp, or into that tree at top speed.

Oct 2016

The degradation didn’t stop at my physical appearance, but seeped into my emotional and mental state as well. My life felt pointless. I mean, who feels purposeful when they can’t stand the body they are born in; they can’t stand the mind they have; they can’t handle the emotions they feel? All of which put them in a cycle of self loathing.

Now that I think on it, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I started to turn things around. A number of things happened in my life that began to show me that I was worthy. Body Positive memes, pictures of beautiful plus size models, learning how to wear makeup, finding one or two outfits that made me feel good, starting a romantic relationship with my crush. All these things gave birth to the faint whisper in my mind, “Maybe you aren’t all that bad.”

Four years pass. I broke up with my boyfriend who had been my crush all those years ago. I no longer had a man who complimented me and loved me even when I felt fat and ugly. I no longer had my rock to keep me from diving into the deep end of my pool of self degradation.

April 2016

I joined a crossfit gym.

It had a six week introductory program that held their members accountable. I still wanted to be skinny. I still looked at the other women in my program and wished I looked like them. It was something to do. To keep me distracted from my personal life that was falling apart.

Joining this gym exposed me to women who were muscular and strong. They flew on the bars and lifted weights I never imagined a woman could lift. I remember staring, wide-eyed at these women. They were beautiful. Not Victoria’s-Secret-model-skinny-beautiful. But strong-fit-kickass-beautiful.

I believe that’s when I started to shift my views on what beauty I wanted to embody. I don’t think I’ll ever not want to be skinnier- that’s imprinted into my psyche so deeply it’ll take a lot more time and effort to be rid of that, but I now want something more- I want to be strong.

With this mindset my dedication to Crossfit was iron clad. I started off working out three days a week. After the six week program was up, it became 5-6 days a week. Crossfit showed me how to measure my progress beyond the numbers on the scale and I became addicted. I created a spreadsheet of all my personal records or PRs and consistently updated it, seeing that I was getting stronger and the weights kept getting heavier. Before I knew it, I had also lost over twenty pounds. Though the scale was a victory, the other measurements of my progress were my focus.

Summer 2016

As time passed, I saw my friends and coaches constantly getting injured at Crossfit and this scared me. I didn’t want an injury that would force me to stop working out for weeks at a time. I couldn’t go back to my life before this. So, I varied my workouts with weightlifting and yoga.

Creating a variety of workouts and programs for me to choose from was possibly one of the best things I did to keep me motivated and dedicated. I would assess my energy level and my needs for the day. Did I want to be part of a class and workout with others or did I need the solitude with music as my company instead? Do I have the energy for a vigorous workout or do I need to focus on strengthening and stretching? The answer to these questions provided the workout I would do that day.

I fell off the wagon. A number of times. Usually before this point, if I fell off, I never got back on. If I binged after a week of healthy eating, I’d say “Fuck it, I just ruined the whole week. I’m not strong enough to control myself. I love food.” Or if I went a week without working out I’d tell myself, “You weren’t making progress anyways. It’s too much time and you don’t have it.”

April 2016

This time my focus wasn’t on punishing myself. It was on the rewards of getting stronger. So I would miss a few days and I’d tell myself, “I need to get back so I don’t lose all the progress I made. I need to get back so I can keep getting stronger.”

A few weeks ago, I had a friend visit me from out of town. I worked out three times in two weeks. And I missed it. It took me another two weeks to get back on the wagon. But it’s so fulfilling and satisfying to be back and so I refuse to beat myself up over the four weeks of rarely hitting the gym.

I quit crossfit.

It was perfect to get me the motivation and dedication I needed in making an active lifestyle a habit. But I realized I preferred working out in solitude and weight lifting was that for me. I won’t stop there though, because I don’t want to end up getting bored and falling off for good. I plan on getting into boxing and taking martial arts.

Variation is key. A healthy mindset is key. A good relationship with food and and an active lifestyle is key. A good relationship with your body is key.

These are so much to juggle all at once. For me, developing a healthy mindset and building a better relationship with my body were the first things I focused on (following healthy, body positive, plus size models and people on Instagram and Pinterest helped immensely- they were unapologetic of their existence and up until that point my life was one big apology). Then I developed an active lifestyle that became an integral part of my day. My relationship with food followed. I refuse to diet, but I do try to eat healthy for the most part and I am aware of my macros even if I don’t quite track them anymore.

Oct 2016

This doesn’t happen overnight. I haven’t reached my goals yet, but I’m more focused on the journey as opposed to the end results now. I’m embracing every change and every progression I make mo matter no small or insignificant.

This struggle is real. It’s tangible. It’s being felt by more women and girls than we think. Let’s share our stories. Let’s help uplift and support one another on our individual journeys. In the end though, to make any lasting change in our lives I learned that we must find the strength and motivation from within.

My brilliant photographer (IG & Facebook: Sierra Prime) asked me to write a piece about my transformation. This was the result of our colaboration.

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Beauty Standards

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Beauty Standards

Like many girls, I grew up wishing I was skinny. My parents helped destroy my self image by praising the sisters who were skinny and criticizing the sisters that were the least bit overweight. As a kid that grew up in the 90s, the images I was surrounded by were of tall, lanky, athletic (verging on anorexic) models and this became my ideal of what is beautiful. 

I am the complete opposite of these “beautiful” people. I wasn’t exceptionally tall or lanky and my curves were anything but athletic. Sure I have a smaller waist but my legs and thighs are massive in comparison.  And so I developed an unhealthy dislike towards my body. I knew deep down that no matter how much I worked out or denied myself foods, I would never be as “beautiful” as those models. 

Now, I’m seeing a shift in what society considers “beautiful”. It’s all about the hips and the big asses and boobs. It’s all about the curves, as long as they’re in the right places. The ideal beauty now has an incredibly small waist and encredibly large breasts and bottom. And though I fit more under this ideal than the ideal of the 90s, I still find myself hating my body. 

I truly believe that the “beauty standards” of the world have nothing to do with making women feel beautiful and empowered, but more to do with making us feel like we’re rats in a maze always out of time trying to find the prize that is a skinner and prettier you. 

These unattainable standards are destroying women. We have grown mistrustful of one another- she’s prettier or uglier than me. We’ve become more critical- what the hell is she wearing? We’ve become too judgmental of one another- she’s a slut!

I know of many women who don’t tend to have close female friends because they’re too “catty” and “full of drama”. I wonder if our beauty standards have any role to play in this phenomena. 

I really doubt I’m the only one who’s had these thoughts. And I feel that if we don’t do something now, we’ll continue on this women hating trajectory to the point that our daughters daughters will all but hate and mistrust one another. 

I refuse to believe that women have always been this way. 

And it’s not just about the weight or body type that we obsess over. It’s also our hair, our skin, our features, our voice, maybe even our thoughts. Are we, as women, just highly conscious of our beings or was this implanted into our psyche through our environment? I have no idea. And to be honest, it’s really wearing on me. 

I spent the better part of today, refusing to allow myself to think negatively about any aspect of myself. And it’s hard. And I Just barely succeeded. It doesn’t help that I’m back to my heaviest weight, my hair won’t grow, I’m bloated and have broken out in zits all over my face and chest. But I refuse to allow myself to obsess over any of this. I’ve had enough. I have to accept my body, the sensitivity of my skin, the stubbornness of my hair and the fact that as a woman my body likes to do crazy things like get bloated.  

I have to live in this body for the rest of my life. It’s time I treat it like a friend and not a prisoner. 

We have to interact with one another keeping that in mind. We didn’t choose our body shapes, we didn’t choose our skin or our hair, we didn’t choose our physical features. We decide what is most important to us and go about our lives focused on that (whether it’s our beauty, careers, families or a mixture of all). It’s time to be more accepting and loving towards our fellow women. Kick the judgement, the criticizing, the mistrust, the hate to the curb. 

The Gymer’s Struggle

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The Gymer’s Struggle

Before going to the gym:

  • I’m so tired.
  • I have a million things to do like wash dishes, do laundry and clean out that bottom drawer in the fridge- something is growing in there that isn’t supposed to.
  • It’s been a long day.
  • I can workout tomorrow.
  • I have to prepare for work tomorrow.
  • I have to cook dinner or grade papers or shampoo the rug.
  • I think I left my laptop plugged in.
  • I’m hungry.

On the way to the gym:

  • I really don’t want to do this.
  • I can turn around now and just go home.
  • Did I forget something?
  • Did I leave a light on, or the stove? I should just go home and check on that.

While parked outside the gym:

  • Do I have to go in?
  • *Checks email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, looks up sports bras at Victoria’s Secrets, checks the weather, bank account, and creates a meme about going to the gym*

While at the gym:

  • I am already out of breath and I just walked in.
  • Does that count as a workout?
  • I miss my couch.
  • Ok, ok! This isn’t so bad.
  • Sweating actually feels good.
  • Just one more squat. Ok, now one more.
  • I can do a few more minutes on the bike.
  • My legs feel like jelly, oh yes!
  • Stretching is heaven.
  • Am I already done with all my workouts?

After the gym:

  • I feel so good!
  • That wasn’t so bad.
  • I’m so full of energy now.
  • I love the gym!
  • I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.
  • Why did I not want to come here to begin with?