I have cellulite and stretch marks on my thighs and belly. Those body parts look especially fabulous in a bathing suit.
I have fat upper arms, like my Italian great-grandmother. I have fat knees and tree trunk legs. Shorts run away from me, screaming. I have back fat. Bras and today’s form fitting shirt styles help to accentuate this awesome trait. I am not a good runner. I look like Velma from the Scooby Doo Cartoons when I run sprints on the treadmill. That girl looks like a gazelle when she runs…Velma versus Gazelle…you can guess who will win that race.
I turned 40 recently…that age does wonders for my metabolism. How come that girl can lift so much more weight than I can? Why do I suck at this? That girl has arms that are muscular and perfect…I want to hit her with my big fat great-grandmother arms. I can’t believe I just ate those M&M’s…why did I eat those M&M’s?? I deserve to be overweight, because I do stupid things like eat M&M’s. That girl can eat McDonald’s and Twinkies every day and still resemble a super model. I look at a French Fries and gain 7 pounds.
These are examples of the interior monologues that would race through my mind as I moved through the days of my life. Well, they WERE examples of my interior monologue before doing the SKFitLife Challenge. I have always worked hard to stay fit and eat healthfully, but I have always struggled with my weight, regardless of these efforts. And, as is apparent by the examples above, I have always struggled with self esteem issues, as well. As everyone knows, issues about weight are just as much a mental/emotional thing as they are physical/biological one.
Two of my biggest enemies (besides my own psyche) in the weight loss struggle tend to be the media and (perhaps shockingly) the mainstream medical community. Obviously, we all are inundated daily with images and impressions of how woman are supposed to appear physically, despite the fact that that image is often an airbrushed, photo shopped one that doesn’t really exist in reality. Or, as Stephanie has pointed out, no one walks around looking like they do for a photo shoot, a competition, or a movie roll EVERY day of their life…it’s just not realistic, yet, many of us strive to make that unrealistic goal our Holy Grail.
Besides the media helping to sabotage my psyche, I often feel like quite a failure when visiting my doctor. When I would complain about feeling fatigued, having sleep problems, being unable to lose weight, despite eating what I assumed was a healthy diet and doing countless hours of exercise each week, I got responses like, “well you’re a woman turning 40, get used to being tired and unable to lose weight,” or, “well, you clearly are not exercising and eating right.” Oh, and my all time favorite…”Well, I see you’ve succeeded in losing some weight…now you are in the ‘overweight’ category on the BMI chart…at least you are not in the ‘obese’ category anymore.” How uplifting. These are not responses that a person asking for help wants to hear.
I watched as a good friend of mine completed the SKFitLife Challenge with some great results…such great results, in fact, that she WON the challenge. What impressed me more than how she transformed her body was how she transformed her mindset about food, eating, and exercise. (Although, the way she transformed her body was quite impressive!) I decided that this Challenge was exactly the motivation that I needed to change my mindset about food, eating, and exercise, as well.
I didn’t quite realize until I sat down to write this, how much my mindset about SO MANY OTHER THINGS has changed, just because my diet and exercise mindset has changed! My cognition has changed, my perceptions have changed, my emotional reactions have changed, and my motivation has changed. This is quite a good thing, because….HELLO?!?! Did you read those interior monologues?? All of those areas needed some adjusting.
Another huge realization is the fact that this whole “living healthy” thing is a constant work in progress…just because this 12 week challenge has ended, this entire lifestyle hasn’t ended…this is just an opportunity to pause for a second and look back at my progress. For once, I am not relieved that this diet/exercise program is finished. I don’t want to stop this challenge and go back to old habits…I want to continue to live with these new habits. In fact, I wouldn’t know how to exchange these new and improved habits for my old ones, even if I wanted to.
Why would I want to change these things?
- I love how I constantly feel challenged in my workouts, and how my muscles never quite know what is going to be expected of them next.
- I love how I feel like I did a really challenging workout, but it only took 15 minutes to complete.
- I love the fact that I feel comfortable in my clothes, and am not stressing as much about bulges appearing where there shouldn’t be any. (Back fat, muffin top, etc.)
- I love the fact that I can eat a delicious, yet healthy combination of foods and actually feel sated, and not be craving junk food an hour later.
- I love the fact that I have very little desire to drink a diet soda ever again.
- I love the fact that if I eat that handful of M&M’s, I will not need weeks of therapy in order to get back on track with my healthy eating…I will declare it as my “cheat for the week” and move on.
- I love the fact that I now consider raspberries to be a tastier treat than any type of sugar based candy ever invented. I love the fact that my kids agree with that statement.
- I love the fact that my husband told me he was proud of my tenacity and refusal to stop doing this challenge, even when things got hectic and overwhelming in our lives.
- I love the fact that my husband lost 13 pounds during the time that he “watched me” do the challenge.
- Even more, I love the fact that I am not jealous of him, because I didn’t lose 13 pounds while doing the challenge.
- I love the fact that my kids cheered as their mom cranked out over 25 pushups on her toes in 30 seconds, 15 8-count body builders in a minute, and 70+ mountain climbers in a minute.
- I love the fact that, along with cellulite and stretch marks, I also have 2 surgical scars on my back, and despite those scars, (which are the reminder that I have a titanium cage and screws in my spine, instead of an L4-L5 disc), I was able to complete that advanced qualifier.
- I love the fact that I can go on Facebook at any time of day or night, and find some uplifting, motivating statement from someone in our Challenge group that will make me realize that I am not alone. I love that I have friends out there who I have never even met in person, but are more supportive of me than some of my “friends” who I see on a daily basis.
- I love the fact that I figured out how to cook Tilapia, and that the whole family fights over who gets the biggest piece.
- I love the fact that now, when I start to think negatively about my “fat Italian great-grandmother arms,” I can stop the thought, dead in its tracks…How? Well, this is when the magic of Non-Scale Victories comes in…a few weeks ago, I was at a party, and was wearing a fancy tank top…(not the typical wardrobe selection of a fat upper arm paranoid person, which, I guess is an NSV in and of itself)…ANYWAY, I was talking with a gentleman who said “How do you get pipes like that? What kind of workouts do you do?” while pointing to none other than my “fat Italian great-grandmother arms.”
- I love the fact that when I see a woman with a “great set of pipes,” I don’t have the urge to pummel her, rather, I have the urge to ask her about her workout routine, to see if she has any tips that could enrich my workout routine.
- I love the fact that the girl who can lift more weight than I can asked ME to help HER with her jump roping, because I “look like a professional boxer when I jump rope.” Imagine that…someone thinking that I do something well…I never thought of that possibility.
- I love the fact that I ran hill sprints with my friends and didn’t once picture Velma from Scooby Doo. I just worked hard and had fun…with my friends…even the one who runs like a gazelle.
- I love the ways that I have changed, even if the scale numbers haven’t changed very much…because, I realize now that it is much healthier to have a strong, muscular body that is nourished by real food, and healthy, challenging exercise, rather than a weak, nutrition deprived body that is fueled by negativity, frustration and a desire to look like all the emaciated women in the shiny magazines.
- I love how I can deal more effectively with upsetting situations that used to make me feel worse about myself. For example, the next time I go to the doctor, and (s)he starts to give me the “healthy diet and exercise speech,” (because the BMI chart will STILL put me in the overweight range), I will calmly suggest that the doctor and I have a push-up/8-count-body-builder/mountain climber competition…I wonder who would win?
I love the fact that these are my interior monologues nowadays…it’s a much happier way to go through life.
Thank you, Stephanie Keenan, for making this happiness a reality in my life!