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Five Ways To Fall In Love With Your Body

….That Have NOTHING To Do With Your Size

(Note: Today’s post is a guest post from Amanda Fisher. Once you read this fantastic piece you will see why I wanted her to share her story on ZenBarbell. Info on how to find out more about her and read more from her is after the article. Enjoy!)

I have spent a lot of time and energy being at war with my food choices. And a lot of time and energy being at war with how I moved my body.

Each “way” of eating, or plan, or strategy, or concept that I was following surrounding food were all focused on one thing…..small.  Getting me smaller.  A certain weight.  The next size or two down in jeans.  Shrinking.

And my exercise was no different.  For awhile I was the Cardio Queen, frantically signing up for 5ks and road races to “hold me accountable.”  Then I started lifting, but spent a lot of time living and dying by my heart rate monitor….if I didn’t burn 800-1000 calories per session, I finished off on the treadmill.  Smaller was the theme here as well.  Burn calories, work out like a fiend, all on the path of looking towards smaller.

Looking back, I spent most of my energy working and wishing for a destination.  I put all my eggs into one basket, and banked on the fact that life would be better if I was smaller.  That I would feel better if I was a certain size.  I saved my money for the designer jeans that I would only allow myself to buy if I got down to ‘x’ because I couldn’t possibly buy them now, being the size that I am.  I lived in a bubble of “when I am smaller……” and taught myself that I wasn’t good enough in my present state, I was only good enough “when.”

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.  When I was younger, I didn’t live “small.”  I liked to play basketball, and jump for rebounds.  I played piano and liked playing pieces that were big and loud and sometimes aggressive.  Why in the world, then, when I approached how I fed myself and moved myself and thought about myself…..was it with a mindset of small, smaller, shrinking, and the like?

Maybe I got older and wiser.  Maybe I finally spent enough time lifting some iron and realizing “Hey, I cannot possibly force smaller upon myself when muscles and strength are clearly what I love.”  But, after a long time, and after learning lots of lessons (sometimes I need to learn the same lesson multiple times), I feel like I have a good handle on detaching my self worth from my size.

My self worth has nothing to do with what size I am.  It no longer is dictated by the tag in the back of my jeans.  Or if my eating is “on” or “off” plan.  I am no longer holding off on happiness until “when” happens.  I like to think I am a big personality.  With big opinions, and big thoughts.  I like to think I am powerful, and take up space proudly, however much space that is.

To be fair, I should also tell you that this is a practice, and that some days are better than others, and that I happily spend a fair amount of energy on checking in with myself, self-care, and flexing in front of the mirror to practice body positivity.  Some days I don’t want to do those things, but those are the days I NEED to do those things.  This stuff takes work!  Some days, I think this practice stuff takes more work than the actual deadlifts that I do in the gym.

So I’ve come up with five things that REALLY help me shift my focus to “Dang, my body ROCKS!” that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my size. I want to share them with you, in hopes that one or two stick and resonate and make sense for YOU!  Here they are:

  1. Move in ways that YOU enjoy!  For me, there is no better reminder that my body ROCKS than using my legs to drive a HEAVY deadlift (is there any other kind?) off the floor.  Lifting is how I love to move.  I continue to lift and pursue strength because I enjoy it, and I enjoy coming back for more.  I didn’t learn that in 15 minutes though, I had to try a bunch of different movement activities first before I found what made sense for me.  So, try a bunch of different ways to move YOUR body.  Find one or two that you enjoy, and go to town.  Incorporate them into your exercise regimen, or MAKE them your exercise regimen.  Let your body show you how cool it is!  Sometimes, when I need to feel crazy powerful, I lift.  Some days, when I need to quiet my mind, I do an activity that reflects that quiet.  Movement helps me center myself…..and that includes the structure of a progressive strength training program, as well as hanging out on my living room floor flowing through a few yoga poses and resets, or taking an easy walk.
  2. Eat food that you ENJOY and in a way that makes you feel energetic and fabulous for your movement sessions AND for your everyday life.  Take the time to feed yourself, in a way that feels good, because YOU are worth it!  I feel like this one can get tricky, because many of us have been on a diet for the better part of our lives.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel good when I’m on a diet all the time.  I feel GREAT when I spend the time putting together my plates with protein, veggies, carbs, fat and eating at regular intervals.  You might feel good eating mostly plants, or more fat than carbs, or whatever.  But feed yourself in a way that works for you.  Yes, there are times to enjoy treats.  Yes, there are times to eat a little leaner if you want to.  But, realizing that YOUR amazing body feels awesome when you are feeding it appropriately is a great reminder that YOU are worth the effort.  If you are a mom/wife who does that food shopping in your household, make sure you put stuff that you LOVE on your shopping list and in your food budget.  YOU are worth it!
  3. Prioritize quiet time.  Each day, I spend a few minutes with just me in the quiet.  Not necessarily praying or meditation, although I do those things too.  But just sitting in the quiet.  Life is crazy, and shutting down for just a few minutes helps me get back to what is important and what matters for the long haul, not just what matters right now.  A quiet and calm brain helps me make better decisions for me and my family.  I can tell when it’s beginning to get too cluttered and noisy in my head, because my thinking isn’t clear and I can’t find my priorities, or I get muddled up in minutia of things that don’t matter 10 years from now.  I am worth that quiet time.  So are YOU.
  4. Shutdown screens.  Technology is fabulous, but my life isn’t enhanced by scrolling through feeds all day long.  This is a work in progress for me, and probably for many of you.  It is easier to talk via text than it is in person.  Make an effort to connect with friends and family, and shut off the phone!  Again, I am worth that.  So are YOU.
  5. Find a tribe.  Tribes are the cat’s meow.  Surround yourself with people who enhance your life, not drain the energy right out of you.  It is ok to move on from people in your life that maybe don’t add anything but negatives or allow you to fall into bad habits of your past.  This is a difficult thing to do!  But keep adding those that really build you up and help you be better.  Spend most of your time there, and let new people in along the way.  You will be surprised in a few months or years how many cool people you are surrounded by, and how incredible that feels.

Fitness, nutrition, mindset…..they all fall under the “wellness” umbrella.  Each one is just as important as the other, there isn’t ONE that stands out more or needs more attention.  At the end of the day, our deadlifts should enhance our life….not be the sole focus of it, you know?  Eating meals with family and friends should be enjoyable, and not stressed about or eaten out of separate tupperware than your loved ones because it’s “on” plan.  Of course, these are my views, and there are always exceptions to every rule.  But the big picture here is what matters.  Can we still do this all in 10 years?  20?  Will it still be amazing?  Will it make us better?  These are the questions to be asking ourselves.

So, to recap, I would love for you to take the time to do some investigating on what YOU love.  What ways of moving feel great for you?  What food makes you feel like a boss?  While you are at it, maybe head to your mirror and take a peek into it and point out all the qualities about your body that YOU love.  YOU are worth it.

Amanda Fisher loves to blog about lifting and sass at toughmuddette.com.  As an RKC, Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coach, she also loves teaching people THEY CAN move and THEY CAN eat what makes them feel awesome out of her lovely little gym, TM Wellness Revolution, in Arlington, MN.  

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I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

I am constantly in awe of the group of people that I have around me that I call friends. I treasure and savor each one. Recently as I have stumbled, been down or not showed up in the ways that I want, I have been reminded of how big their shoulders are, how strong they are, how generous their hearts are and how open their ears are.

In the moments when I don’t feel very good about who I am, I look to the people who surround me and see how amazing they are and the qualities that they have that I love and it keeps me moving forward because I must have some of what they have even if I cannot connect with it in the moment.

My friends make my life better. My friends make me better. Big gratitude every damn day.

Friends make us better
From the book “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose.” Photo credit Gary Owen

Five Ways to Show Your Body Some Love Daily

The path to peace with ourselves is paved through the behaviors and habits we do every day.  The big insights and ah-ha moments are important for sure, but change takes action.

Maybe you decided to try offering yourself some compassion. Maybe you have decided to begin a relationship of peace with your body and finally end that damn war. Maybe you realize that in constantly being mean and angry with yourself, there possibly might be another way.  But you don’t know where to start.

Here are some ideas for daily action to start showing some love to your body.  You might not feel the love right away but as they say “Fake it ’til you make it.” Soon your brain and heart will pat attention and get the message.

  1. Pay attention to your body.  We live so much of our lives in our heads, lost in the constant narrative in our brains. Turn your attention a couple of times a day to your body. Do a gentle body scan? How do your feet feel right now? Can you feel any sensations of wind or tempature on your skin? What is happening in your hips, stomach, shoulders? Where is there tension? Where is there ease? You can do this when you first wake up, or when you are laying down to go to sleep. One of my favorite times is pausing for a moment to check in with my body before I eat.
  2. Move your body. Our bodies actually love to move. We are built for it. I have been loving doing a five minute movement flow first thing in the morning (Thanks to Max Shank for that idea!!). It gets my body set up well for the day. As you already know from reading this blog for any length of time I also get lots of strength training.  Walking is great. Yoga is great. Dancing is great. Doing what brings you joy in movement is great.  Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.
  3. Fuel your body.  Nourishing food allows us to live our lives to the fullest. Too little and we have no energy to do what we need to do. Too much and we don’t feel well to do what we want to do in life. Finding the right amount for you to fuel what your life brings for you. Finding the balance and variety you need to feel awake and alive. Savoring the precious meal in front of you – slowing down and allowing yourself to have it and enjoy it.
  4. Rest your body Busyness and sleep deprivation are common practice these days. If there is a magic pill at all, sleep is it. It is our reset and our renewal.  Prioritize good sleep and it can turn your world around.
  5. Choose kind words when thinking or talking about your body. You may not have a magazine cover body like you think you want but it is no reason to be mean to yourself.  Your body is an amazing machine that goes through zillions of processes on a cellular level all the time just to get us up and running every day. Are you breathing well today? Did you get up out of bed? Are your legs carrying you around? Are your arms helping you with things you need to do? Are you hearing the birds outside? Are you seeing the sun, your family and friends, facebook today? Then you have plenty of reasons to find kind loving words to yourself and the amazing body you have. The more you practice this, the easier it gets.

Show yourself love every day. Life is too short to do anything but love who we are and this body that we have.

OK to Be

It is always interesting for me to observe when I bump up against the ideas of “I am not ok” or “I shouldn’t do this”.

Some recent examples:

“People are usually younger when they get tattooed.”

“You shouldn’t lift any heavier”

“You can’t wear that when you are middle aged.” (I won’t even go into my feelings on the term middle aged!)

“Are you coloring your hair blue to seem younger?”

It has taken me a long time to figure out who I am, what I like and feel comfortable stepping into that. I want to wear what makes me happy, even if I get strange looks.  I want to have big beautiful tattoos even if others don’t like them or think I am silly.  I want to have blue in my hair because it makes me happy and I love the color.   But my first thought when I hear those things, is to get protective and defensive. I’ll think “Maybe there are rules that I need to be following? Maybe I don’t get to do these things? Maybe I am not brave enough to a little different ? Maybe they are right and I am silly/stupid?”

I try to pause and breathe.

I try to pause breathe and remember there are no rules. I mean yes, in general I want to be a good standing member of society so I won’t kill, rob, or pillage. 🙂  I will pay my taxes. I will be kind to others because I want to be and it helps make life better.  But there are no rules in being who you are.  I can be myself in all of that in any way I want to express it.  Even if others don’t like it. Even if others roll their eyes and judge. Even if people don’t think its appropriate. I love who I am and what I put out in the world.

Do you? Where you do feel you get the most feedback? Does it bother you? How do you handle it?

 

2016 Check in on my goals

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions but I do deliberately sit down and choose some focus areas for the year.  For this year and the previous one, I have mostly just selected themes that I want to learn around, spend time in or use as guiding touchstones for my life.

On my whiteboard in my office
On my whiteboard in my office

I thought since Q1 of 2016 is complete I would do a check in to see how things were going so far for me in these areas.

  1. Be passionate about life. Yeah, my guiding principle. Not sure if I have played bigger in this space or not so far this year. Worth pondering.
  2. Swole and Flexy – Very consistent here. I have done ROMWOD every day since before Christmas for the most part and I have been doing only CrossFit for my training since before the end of the year.  Getting swole and getting flexy.
  3. In service to others – An important value to me.  I do have a couple of volunteer activities that I support.  I also took on a speaker coach role for the TedXRVA event this year which was a ton of fun. However, I also want this theme to show up for me in the lives of those that I am around all the time.  For my family, for my friends, for the other members of my gym,
  4. Don’t Bitch out of Habit – Sometimes I find myself just complaining because I am used to it or maybe because I need something to do. LOL  You know those things like the weather, a long line, traffic when really none of these things are that much of a big deal.  I want to bring more attention here and listen more to when I am complaining about something  – why am I doing that? What do I need to be doing instead? Is there something to be grateful for here?
  5. Be with what is.  Oh, the big practice of life. It is and will always be a big practice for me. Sometimes I am great at it. Sometimes I completely forget about it but I do try to keep practicing.

What about you? How is 2016 shaping up for you? Are you living the life that you want to lead?

 

 

“Time is the new I love you.”

I just heard Brene Brown say “Time is the new I love you.”

I love that. I totally get it. I am so appreciative when I get time with someone. Especially when it is undivided attention. Phone free, focused time. It could be a few minutes or a few hours. It makes me feel loved because I know they are choosing to be here and be with me. It makes me more aware of how I want to show up with others.

How do you feel about time or undivided, focused attention as an expression of love?

Shouting Love

I get exuberant with love sometimes. It spills out of me in ways I can’t always control or perhaps I just don’t want to.  My husband tells me I shout at the cats for love. I am not yelling at them per say, I am just wanting to snuggle with them enthusiastically.  I silent shout “I love you” to my sleeping husband when I leave in the mornings to go to the gym.  I am a big hugger. I get excited about seeing my friends. If I am in a connected flow state, watch out! I will be shouting love. Reminding those in my life that I love them. That they are awesome. That I am grateful that they are in my life.

Honestly, I savor these moments in time where the passion for the people, animals, things, circumstances, events, connection in my life just spill from me.

Do you ever “shout” love to those in your life?

Perfect isn’t the goal

Sometimes I forget. I forget that perfect isn’t the goal. I don’t make perfect food choices. I don’t have perfect workouts. I don’t say the perfect things. I don’t have a perfect body. I don’t have a perfect life.

When I forget that perfect isn’t the goal, I make myself unhappy. I am not very nice to me.

But then I breathe and remember. I bring my best when I can but it’s not perfect. I goof. Sometimes good enough is enough. Sometimes that is excellent. Life is messy and beautifully imperfect. And I love it that way. 

Then I save the word perfect for things like:
– a day laughing and snuggling with my husband. Perfect day. 
– an Americano with the right amount of half and half and exactly the right temperature. Perfect coffee. 
– meeting someone else who is a great hugger and thrilled to be together. Perfect hug. 👩👩
– a workout when my back felt great and I gave all I could. Perfect workout. 🏋🏼
– a conversation with a friend where everything drops away and it is just me and them. Perfect chat. 👭
– being in the moment and awake and alive to all that is going on. Perfect moment. 😊

How does perfect show up for you? Do you allow for yourself not to be perfect but just show up with your best in the moment?

Searching for Clarity

You know how if you are hung over you keep searching for that right thing to eat or the right position on the couch that will make you feel instantly better?

That is how I am feeling today EXCEPT it’s around trying to get clarity on something I am dealing with in my life. I keep feeling that if I think about the right things, if I bring myself to the present moment, if I do the right actions that I will get clarity. Instead I am finding myself on the ups and downs and all around of the mental gymnastics that happen when ever we face something in our life that we are struggle with. 

And much like relief from a hangover, clarity will come when ever it comes. Until then I will just try to be here now.

And maybe I should go have a drink!

What do you all do when seeking clarity on something ?

What do you do when you are looking for clarity?

Be Here Now

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(photo credit: Be Here Now Film)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moment I saw this tattoo it caught my heart in a way that made me gasp.

It belongs to Andy Whitfield the actor who originally starred in Spartacus. There is a documentary coming out about his life and his journey around cancer called Be Here Now.

“Be here now” has become my mantra in the past few weeks. I used it when my Dad was in the hospital recently. I used it just sitting on the couch with my husband. I used it when I have gotten so wrapped up in my thoughts I hardly know where I am.  I use it when I am happy. I am use it when I am overwhelmed.  

Powerful.

What a reminder – just show up in this present moment. Don’t get caught up in all of your thoughts, stories, future, past. Be here now.

Simply beautiful and probably the great lesson in life.