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Trust

Trust is that feeling that allows me to let down my guard, to forego fear and to proceed into the unknown with a feeling of confidence that I will be OK. Trust is the foundation of what allows me to become vulnerable; allows me to welcome new experiences.

I always thought of myself as a trusting person. I generally meet people and start with the assumption they are basically trustworthy; subsequently allowing the cues they give off to guide me.

So why am I so distrustful of new fitness experiences?  Why was starting a new fitness adventure challenging my ability to trust at first sight?

The stakes are higher in a way:

I make time to train but that time is limited. I do not have time to waste and still meet my goals.

I fear injury. What if I get hurt and my fitness journey is interrupted?

Frankly, I do not want to embarrass myself. I said it — I do not want to look weak or uncoordinated.

“Word of mouth” is the primary cited reason someone goes to a particular gym. And I can see why!  The first thing I did when I needed a new place to go was to ask my friends for advice. I said I want a place with an effective work-out. I want to have fun. I want to be challenged. But bottom line, now I realize what I really wanted — I wanted to trust this new place.

Based on the recommendations of friends, I have now tried CrossFit, yoga, primal movements, boxilates, spinning, pilates, boot camp and boxing. During all these experiences, I try to consider — what makes me trust?

Some of the reasons seem silly — professional signage, music playing, a clear indication of where to go once I entered, where do I put my shoes, who can I approach with questions. Some of the reasons were unexpected — did other gym members make me feel welcome? Did members guide me about where to stand, what equipment I needed, what to expect.

For me, the primary factor in establishing trust was the class instructor. Was the instructor confident, providing clear expectations for the class early on. Did the instructor communicate in some way that I will be able to do this? Is this class achievable for me? 

This has been a learning experience for me — being attentive to what it takes for me to trust when I take a new class. But I wonder still, what do others need? Can you identify what it is that bolsters your trust in a new experience? Help me understand what helps you trust and what interferes with establishing trust.

Furthermore, I challenge you — once you identify those factors that help you to trust a new experience, can you use that knowledge to help someone else find their way into trying something new?  As one of my friends said to me, “sometimes the most worthwhile influences we have on others come in non-obvious ways and everyday interactions.”  Let’s help each other find trust.

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I’m a bully!!!

I’m a school teacher – we hear so often how bad bullying is…it makes kids unable to focus, challenges their desire to come to school, makes them feel worthless – the list could go on and on and it’s true!!!!!

Well I realized I am a BULLY!!!!!  I’m a thigh, butt & belly BULLY!!!!!  I say and think the most dreadful things about those parts.  I stare at them in the mirror, I pinch them and say “ugh why are you so jiggly, why do you have those pockets of cellulite” etc…. Well guess what – they don’t LIKE that!!!  Just like a child that is bullied I think those body parts feel the same way – worthless, under appreciated and not loved – so why would they want to work for me?  Why would they want to be the best they can be if no matter what I say/think bad stuff about them?  And thinking of it this way it has helped to change my self talk, helped to make me appreciate those parts more, to recognize they need to feel good too and when they do finally feel worthy and appreciated I’m willing to bet they want to be the best they can be (which by the way they may already be – I just have been unable to appreciate them!!)

So are you a bully?  What parts of your body feel bullied?  Can you imagine being them for a moment and just try to change your perspective and approach and see if you all can be happier living in your body together?

What do you think…..

Bad Ass or Even-Keeled

If you are on social media, you have seen the following:

I’m so hardcore, my workout should come with a cape.
You may see me struggle, but you will never see me quit.
Winners do what they fear.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
You don’t find willpower. You create it.
Better sore than sorry.
Eat. Train. Sleep. Repeat.
Exercise: First you feel like dying. Then you feel reborn.

Think about your reaction to those quotes. Do they make you feel like jumping up and exercising? Or do they sound intimidating? Does it make you feel inspired? Or just a bit irritated? Do you fail to see the wisdom in these little quips? Or does it fill you with the desire to train harder?

I have a funny reaction to these quotes. The truth is, I love memes with photos of strong women with NO FEAR. NO LIMITS, NO EXCUSES, in huge block letters. These memes do make me want to plan my next training session.

The reality is, the content in these memes is not why I train. I don’t exercise to look like a bad ass. I don’t practice a combination repeatedly to sculpt my shoulders. I certainly don’t plank for a 6-pack. I do it because I need exercise to FEEL like a bad ass — to feel strong and confident and steady, all at the same time. My journey with exercise started with a desire to reshape my body. But it quickly evolved into a quest to improve & maintain my mental health.

So maybe my motivational quotes should look more like this:

Exercise is key to mental health.
Warning: Exercise has been known to cause health and happiness.
Exercise: The prescription for depression, anxiety, stress and more.
Let exercise be your stress reliever.
Exercise to have fun and be healthy, not just lose weight.

Not as exciting. But far more accurate for me.

So for now, I will Sweat, Smile and Repeat.
How about you? Can you share a meme that speaks to you and the way exercise makes you feel?

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The More I think…the More Confused I get!!!!

So much talk about acceptance and embracing who we are…talk of not judging ourselves and others that now I am confused!!!!

Here is what confuses me…I like to be fit, I like to look fit – I push myself, weigh myself, critique myself because that is what I like…but do I?  Why does the thought of gaining 4 pounds on a 4 day cruise make me look in the mirror and see a totally different body than before the cruise?  I can say the words “be comfortable with who you are today” and I mean it….for other people!!!!  So is it ok to like to look fit or want to “dream” of having a six pack”?  Or am I supposed to be willing to let go of it all and just see what happens…

Do I feel this way because of all the social pressures and advertising?  I don’t think so…I can look at a woman who is not what I strive for and think she is the most amazingly beautiful person in the room and I will have no bones about telling her!  So why?  And is it ok? And how do I say out loud to people “embrace who you are” if I am not able to…or, have I embraced that I want/need to look fit?

See, see what I mean, I’m confused…

 

I Can’t Write

“I am not good at…” Do you have a list, short or long, of things you cannot do? There is an interesting thing about the phrase, “I can’t.” I would contrast it with the “I don’t like to” and “I don’t want to” phrases. You see — when I say “I can’t…”, there is a bit of me that longs to do that thing or wishes I could be good at it. Maybe there’s even a part of me that would take that risk to try.

I listen to friends say, “I can’t paint, cook, dance, perform, teach, write…” I often reinterpret their “I can’t” with “I don’t know how” or “I choose not to learn how.” Afterall, these are my friends — capable, smart, talented people. Of course they can — given the desire, time and space. And sometimes I simply think they are wrong! No offense, but I know some of you are good at things you do not give yourself credit for. Perhaps there was a time when you were made to feel that painting was not your thing, so you created this assertion — I can’t paint. You may have created this obstacle to achieving, without even realizing the limit you placed on yourself.

My strongest memory of an “I can’t” is public speaking. From assignments at school when I had to stand up in front of the class, to invitations to read scripture out loud at church, I was terrified — shaky voice, dry mouth, racing heart terrified. I was filled with self-doubt & fear of embarrassment. I cannot identify where that fear originated, but I later learned that I was wrong to think I could not speak in front of groups. At the age of 22, I was in a place where I found a passion, a strong desire to share with others what I had discovered. I embraced the fake-it-’til-you-make-it method of learning to speak to large groups of people. You see, the “I can’t” was overpowered by my desire to connect people with one another.

25 years later, I have new passions; a strong desire to share new information and start a new conversation. But alas, my current obstacle is “I can’t write.” But here I am writing a blog. What?!? Honestly, this required a bit of coaxing from a trusted friend. I had to be reminded that I am capable, smart and talented. I can learn, if I just give myself the time and space. I will fake-it-’til-I-make-it. And perhaps, if I am patient with myself, I will grasp that I could write the entire time — I just need to believe.

So what is your “I can’t…”? Think about it. Is it true? Is it just that someone, somewhere said you could not, so you believed? Is it possible you placed that limit on yourself? Do you think you could try something you believe you are not good at? More importantly, is there a part of you that wants to try that thing?
I would love to hear what it is that you feel you can’t do. And tell me — do you want to take that risk and try?

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Sisterhood

I grew up a tom-boy…played sports with the boys, related to the boys, enjoyed time with the boys.  Don’t get me wrong I had a couple good girlfriends as well to enjoy vacations, sleepovers etc but I felt more at ease with a group of boys.  Then comes that awkward shift – when boys and girls start to notice each other differently and as much as you try to just be buddies it almost always came with some kind of complexity…the boy liked you in a “different’ way or you and your girlfriend both liked the same boy.  I think that is when life started to take different shape.  Instead of giggling with your girlfriends that catty chat (interestingly this relates back to my first blog 🙂 ) began.  The start to the end of Sisterhood.  Now the claws were out, you had to wear the “right” cloths, act the “right” way, be smart but not too smart, be athletic, be something or somebody that likely was not our authentic self.  This is when we started cutting other girls down that threatened us or made us feel uneasy for some reason.  I will say, for me, that practice continued into my 30’s, it lessened as time passed, but happened (and I would be lying if I said I don’t still have my moments!) BUT around mid 30’s I think I started “finding myself” and with that came more space for women in my life.  I have increasingly grown my circle of sisters from that moment on and it has been amazing!  Ever take a “GIRLS ONLY trip”?  If you have I am guessing just reading that made you smile, made you remember the fun you had with your girls, the laughs, the tears, the connection.  There is something different about being with a group of sisters, something that is hard to explain, something that makes you feel whole, accepted, inspired and empowered. Don’t get me wrong, I love time with the boys in my life too (I know my hubby will read this and wonder about his shout out!! 🙂 )…but man do I look forward to my sister time.  

Here’s to you and your Sisters!!!!  Tag them on this post to let them know how important they are to you – even if you don’t get to see them often! 

Much Love!

The Shape I’m In

In February, I wrote my first blog From Thunder Thighs to Athletic Thighs. I wanted to focus on perception — the transition from body loathing to the power of body acceptance and body love. Many of you reached out to me to dive deeper into the topic and I appreciate both the support and the perspectives you offer. You challenged me to consider what I think of as body respect — that link between loving my body for what it is and honoring it for what it can be.

I was 27 years old.  I was a few pounds overweight. I was unhealthy and out of shape. Eating out almost daily.  Living on soda to keep me awake while I worked 80+ hours per week. Low on sleep; high on sugar & caffeine. I did not enjoy going to the gym, so you know what? I didn’t go. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without huffing & puffing. My arms burned carrying groceries from the car up to my second floor apartment. I was soft. I did not like the way I looked nor the way I felt. But I believed this situation was temporary. I was training in a career I believed in. Things would get easier when I started my career, right?

I was 29 years old and still training for my career. I was fatigued & depressed. I felt like crap and I was tired of feeling this way. I found a karate dojo, where they offered kickboxing classes (the courage needed to walk into a classroom filled with super fit folks, is a whole other story). That was my introduction to group fitness. I was immediately hooked by the release of stress, the adrenaline high and the motivation that came from exercising with others. Eventually, I gained stamina & strength. I could feel the difference. I no longer struggled to walk up stairs or carry groceries. I could play with my nephew with abundant energy. And where was I with nutrition? I naturally changed the way I ate. The desire to feel strong directed me to more nutritious foods.

I am 47 years old. I am a few pounds overweight. I am healthy. I am in good shape. I can play with my children and race the dog in the backyard. I exercise with friends and family, challenging myself to try new things. I honor good nutrition & sleep to support my body. I recognize that life does not get easier. Rather, I believe life FEELS easier when I respect my body for the strength it possesses and the potential it has.

Am I working on believing I am beautiful just the way I am?  Yes — I truly am. But there is also an intention to respect my body –  respect my health & my potential. For I am happiest when I can DO – when I can interact and participate without feeling limited by my physical capacity. I know — If I want to love the shape I am, I need to feel good about the shape I’m in.

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Man it can be rough to look in the mirror!

“Oh my god – did you see what she is wearing?”  “Ya – she clearly didn’t look in the mirror before she left the house!”

“Why is she cheating on her workout?  There is NO way she did everything she was supposed to!”

The list of things I have said out loud or thought to myself could go on and on. So many conversations with friends have hinged on this kind of chatter and for a long time I didn’t think twice about it UNTIL I was challenged.  Challenged to think about what I was doing to others, what it meant, and why I felt the need to judge others and myself so harshly.

Someone very dear to me said “when we are judging others it is just a mirror or a reflection of our fears!”  BOOM – ran right smack into that mirror!!! OUCH!  We talked about the “Cheating at the gym” judgement and what that meant and why I cared.

I said “well she’s taking short cuts, she’s not working as hard as she can/should be”

I was met with what you would expect…”how do you know she’s not working as hard as she can?”  and then the mirror cracked…

I was asked “if you could buy a gadget that helped you do a house chore easier would you?”

Me: “YES of course”

“Oh so it is alright to take short cuts or “cheat” there?”

Me: “Ummmmmmm”  no answer!  And believe me, leaving me speechless is not easy!

So now I have to begin to look into that mirror – figure out what belief is that I have had (or been given my society, family, friends etc) that I have to now question…is that really my belief or what am I fearful of?  This is SCARY!  We all know judging others isn’t good but not doing it is hard especially when we feel like it is with good intention.  But who am I to judge someone else’s experience?  Who am I to think my way is better?  Who am I?  Well I don’t know the answer to that yet.  I know I am looking deep into that mirror everyday, with my thoughts, my actions and my words and trying to figure out what my real beliefs are.  Trying to figure out how I can be less judgemental of myself and how to create a community of people (particularly women, I find I am WAY harder on women then I am men) who stop judging each other and instead support and help each other.  Lift each other up instead of taking each other down.

So I challenge you:  When you notice a judgement creeping up in your head (maybe of yourself or others) I want you to notice it, look into the mirror and think about what it is saying about your fears or beliefs.

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From Thunder Thighs to Athletic Thighs

I was in 4th grade. It was a hot spring day at elementary school. We were trying to remain as cool as possible in the heat of the classroom — wearing light t-shirts and shorts. Working together on a school project around a large table. That was when I heard it. “Thunder Thighs.” It hit hard. And then the boy’s laugh, followed by giggles from the others around the table. Yah – they were laughing at me. At my thighs.

I don’t think I need to describe what that kind of name-calling feels like. We have all been there. Right? But name-calling is not the point of this writing. Rather, this moment defined the beginning of my shame about my legs, especially my thighs. As silly as it sounds, this moment was why I refused to wear shorts to school, no matter the temperature. This is why I hesitated to join the soccer team, because the uniform required us to wear shorts. This was why I asked my Mom to buy the book, “Thin Thighs in 30 Days.” This was the source of my absolute joy when long Bermuda shorts were popularized in the 1980’s so I could cool off again!

I was in my second year of college. It was a hot spring day. I was lying on a blanket in the grass with a boy I had a crush on. The sun was shining. We were getting to know one another. I was wearing long shorts but because I was lying down, the shorts had slid down without me noticing. My thighs were showing. He pointed to my thigh, just above the knee, where the quadriceps muscle makes a nice curve from the outside of the leg toward the knee. “Look how strong your legs are!” I was mortified and flattered at the same time. I had spent years trying to hide my thighs from people. What? Are you kidding me? How can thighs as huge as mine be anything to be proud of?

I was living in Michigan with the man I would one day marry.  It was a gorgeous, sunny spring day. Jim and I were buying a set of mountain bikes. I took off on my bike to try it out. Riding out of the parking lot, heading straight to a little hill nearby — my favorite riding is UPHILL. The bike shop owner said to Jim, “Those thighs were made for biking.” He was impressed with my athleticism.

So here I am at 47 years of age, wondering about my thighs. Are they beautiful? Are they powerful? Are they attractive? Do I love them? Is it ok to let my thighs show either way? Why do I care? And why on earth did I allow these 3 different boys/men define the value of my thighs for me? Sounds ridiculous, right? But that is exactly what I did.

I wish I could wrap this up with a brilliant explanation to help all of us who struggle with our body value. I know this: When I am with people who love me & make me laugh, when I am training with my friends & we are encouraging one another, when a stranger reaches out to me, when I FEEL strong and confident — it just does not matter.

I also know this: For those who know & love me, your natural instinct will be to reach out and tell me that my thighs are beautiful. I love that about my friends. You help my eyes to see — thank you for that. I hope I can do the same for you.

It took more than 30 days, but I am transitioning from Thunder Thighs to Athletic Thighs. I accept the great challenge of moving toward more body acceptance & love. And I am prepared to support those around me who are on the same journey.

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