Posts tagged ‘body image’
There is a lot about ourselves that we can change – our weight, body fat percentage and to some extent our shape. But there are some things we simply can’t change – no matter how much we try. I will never be taller and I’ll never have longer legs. I will always have a round Eastern European looking face. I will always have blue eyes and brown hair (ok, I could probably change those two with a good dye job and some fake contacts, but you get the idea…). And I can’t change my curvy shape, even at my leanest – I will have round hips.
Regardless though of what we are aiming to transform and what we are stuck with, the first step in having the body we really, really want is acceptance. We need to accept the imperfections, the parts that are too big or too small, the things that are too round or too flat – all of it. The stuff we are working to make different and the stuff that barring plastic surgery, will stay the same. We need to accept the good stuff too – the little parts about us that we do love and that make us unique.
Accepting ourselves – flaw and all – is freeing, and it’s honest. It doesn’t allow us to hide from anything and it doesn’t allow us to be scared of anything. It’s all jus there, waiting for you to love it. Yes, even the bad parts need love too. It’s the only way to make them our friend, our partner in transformation – rather than the enemy. If we come at our parts that need improvement having already accepted them, change is possible. If we don’t, we are constantly generating nasty, negative feelings which do not help us reach our goals.
I’ve realized lately that the body parts I’m not satisfied with are the parts that I obsess about and at the same time ignore. If you’ve been following this blog you know the body part that bums me out is, well, my bum.
It’s the thing that gives me the most angst when I have buy new jeans and it’s the body part I always feel like I need to work on. My bum, or more appropriately my gluts, are also the most ignored part of my musculature. Despite their size, they are weak. I compensate with my hamstrings, low back and hip flexors – letting my gluts totally off the hook. It’s almost like there’s no neurological energy left to fire the damn things cuz I’ve used it all up hating their shape.
Perhaps it’s time to send them a little more love. Or at least stop the constant negative input.
Booty, I love and accept you…just the way you are.
I’m not going to stop working on them. I’m still eating for fat loss and doing my physical therapy, targeting my workouts for glut and quad strength, trying to walk with better form (even when just running around town) and of course, stretching my ridiculously tight hamstrings by doing yoga. But instead of looking in the mirror and feeling dread or reaching down and feeling the roundness of my hips, I’m gonna try sending my bum a better message. Perhaps now we can stop fighting and be on the same team.
There’s inevitably stuff we want to change about ourselves and our body, but whether the first step in change is getting a really honest look at the stuff we aren’t happy with and accepting it, too big or not, flaws and all. Negativity doesn’t melt fat away, if anything it perpetuates the disappointment, upset and downright digust for those parts we just want to change.
Booty, we’re in it together now…I promise to be nicer.
The weight loss game is all about measurements. How much we weigh, our body fat percentage, our hip to waist ratio, and on and on. Fitness acknowledges some other measurements as well, like how much we can deadlift, how many pushups or pull-ups we can do, and how fast we can run. If you’ve ever tried to workout more and eat better to shed a few pounds, you’ve probably charted and tracked many of these measurements – but let’s be honest, they don’t all have the same value.
Think of the last time you really rocked at the gym – you could squat more than the guy who was on the rack before you or you felt the sheer glory of your first pull up. How about when you realized your sprint went from 8.0 on the treadmill to 10.5? You felt great right? You probably even felt great as you were leaving the gym, maybe even for an hour or so afterwards. These are all accomplishments of mine this past year, but their joy was shortlived.
Now think about the last time you stepped on the scale and it had nudged up a pound of two. How about when you put on your favorite pants that looked perfect a month ago, but now feel a little tight through the thighs. You feel terrible. You feel terrible an hour later…and sometimes you feel terrible even days later. These have all happened to me as well this year, and I’m still ticked off.
Why do some measurements mean more than others? How can a perfect pushup give us a high that lasts an hour but a number on the scale can devastate us for a week?
The truth is we’ve assigned these relative values and significance. We’ve made the scale mean more. We’ve assigned a high significance to a tight pair of pants and we’ve devalued being strong, fast and able. I wish I knew why we’ve made it so, but I don’t – I just I know it’s ruined many a day for me.
I’ve been feeling great and had a photo of myself knock me down several pegs. I’ve been thinking I was really making progress only to step on the scale and: nada. I’ve been in my best shape ever and still got criticized. I intellectually know the value in being strong and fit, but like most everyone else, I place a high value on how my body looks.
Like most of you, I’m a mixed bag: I feel good when I eat well and I like that I am one of the strongest women at my gym, but I also feel bad when my stomach doesn’t feel flat or my face looks puffy. I have had a step on the scale ruin my day and I’ve had a glimpse in the mirror deflate my confidence….and most of those last longer than the brief glow I get from a great day at the gym.
I’m not saying how we look doesn’t matter – it does. We all have a clothes size, a weight or a body fat percentage that we feel great at – and this is probably where we should be to live healthy and happy. But weighing X number of pounds doesn’t have to rate a 10 while our other strengths come in around a 2 – we can set the values wherever we want, it just takes a little recalibrating. And no matter what the integer, we shouldn’t let a number zap our happiness.
Pay attention to how you feel after a weight loss disappointment like plateau or worse a weight gain. If it feels somewhere on a scale of disappointing to devastating, stop and take note of some of the good stuff about your body. We need to remind ourselves that there is more to do at the gym than lose weight – we are crafting a healthy body and mind, and that’s worth a hell of a lot.
Watching anyone do anything that they excel at is amazing. Think of watching an athlete at the top of their game – everything they do is skillful, graceful, even artful. Think of listening to someone speak of something they are passionate about – they sound insightful, heartfelt, wise and purposed.
Think of a woman comfortable in her own skin – she is poised, beautiful, confident and calm.
Anyone who’s ever mastered anything will tell you they got there because they had heart and they practiced. They wanted it badly enough that they felt inspired, determined and mindful about it every day. They scarified for it. They couldn’t imagine living without out it. They worked on perfecting it every day.
I get to live with someone that loves something that much. Joe loves comedy more than anything – except maybe me (although I’m sure my lead is a narrow one, haha). He loves listening to it, writing it and performing it. He will give up income, sleep and privacy for the opportunity to tell a great, honest, well written joke on stage. It is his passion so he pours his heart into it. Joe strives everyday to be good at comedy.
And it’s no different if we are trying to make people laugh, shoot 3 pointers or have a good self image – it just takes practice and it takes heart. We need to do our exercises, get coached and work hard to feel good everyday about ourselves, because sadly after years of disappointments, mean spirited comments and failed attempts at this or that we’ve ended up feeling bad. But we can get good at feeling good if we just keep practicing.
Today I am at day 36 of writing daily about my own struggles to feel good about myself and my body. It’s been a daily exercise to slow down, take notice and be good to myself. Writing everyday has been my exercise. It’s strengthened my feel good muscle if you will. Spending an hour each day getting my head right, facing up to a painful memory, transforming a negative thought, reflecting, understanding and paying attention to myself has been a lesson in self love and self acceptance.
Over the past month and a half I have become more skillful at appreciating and loving my body, but I’m not yet a master. If being completely in love with my body and myself is my Olympics, I’ve got still some training to do. I do know that without a doubt, it’s worth all the hard work.
Since November 1, when I started this blog project, I’ve had a lot of travel, my practice continues to grow, my patient’s cases have become increasingly complex and I’ve been asked to write for various other outlets beyond my blog, meaning hours of writing each day. Despite all of that, I’ve found the time each day to reflect and share. It’s been part of my training, part of expanding my skill set and part of mastering the art of self love.
I am aiming to get very good at feeling good about this body I call home. I want to be an expert at taking good care of myself physically and mentally. I want to be the world’s greatest at feeling good about Brooke. That takes practice, dedication and hard work. I can honestly say looking back at November first, it was all worth it.
I encourage all of you to put in the time each day to learn how to be better to yourself – it’s well worth getting good at. Put in the time, get coached on how to do it better (reading this blog is a good start) and pour your heart into it.
Joe’s dad is also a comedian and Megan is a singer/songwriter. Listen to one of my favorite of her songs here, with one of the best lyrics ever: I’ll never waste time being someone I’m not. I’m livin’ this one life cuz one’s all that I’ve got.
Very inspiring, very honest, and very good advice.
Nearly every self help book, every page of a women’s magazine, and even every nutrition plan espouses the following advice: make time for yourself. Make time to rest, to exercise, to cook healthy food, to quiet our harried minds. It seems like the most obvious tip, so why after all this time to we still need to be repeatedly told to do it?
We feel guilty. We feel it’s too selfish. And we feel like we can wait. We’ll take care of everyone and everything else – we’ll get to us tomorrow. Feel like you’ve been waiting for tomorrow for far too long? And we’ll keep waiting until we make ourselves a priority.
No one can – and no one should have to – take care of us the way we can take care of ourselves. When my boyfriend has to remind me to pack almonds on in my purse for a road trip, I’m shocked that as a grown woman (and nutrition expert) I need someone to remind me that I get low blood sugar…honestly Brooke. (Although I’m certain he reminds me out of self preservation – to save himself from the wrath of the Low Blood Sugar Brooke who’s not so easy to be around…Ok, perhaps part of it is that he loves me.)
But how is it that as an adult I can overlook such basic elements of my self-care? I mean eating, how fundamental to my well being is that? How can I not know myself or forget myself this way? What’s my problem?
I come up empty handed as I try to answer these questions. And I feel guilty that I have not mastered the fundamental tenant of being a well balanced, healthy woman: self care. And it’s not just snacks that we miss, who hasn’t been here: tired, hairy legs, chipped manicure and struggling to remember the last moment that was just for us?
Despite all I know, from time to time I simply go on autopilot and totally neglect myself. My patients, my relationships, my deadlines, all get attention – and I get the backseat. I espouse the advice that “you can’t take care of anyone else well, unless you take care of yourself first”, but I don’t always heed it.
How many times do we have to be told? Every woman has practiced this and found the results are always worth it. When we fill ourselves up with good food, good exercise and good thoughts it spills over and we can give much more good back. So why do we need to be told again?
I’m not sure I have the answer to why this practice doesn’t stick. I know I still need to be reminded almost daily to take care of myself first if I have any hopes of taking care of everything else – but I do know feeling guilty about needing the reminder doesn’t help. When we feel bad we can’t take care of ourselves, its almost like on some level we feel we don’t deserve it.
Think of times when you’ve felt your worst – a break up, losing a job – how do you care for yourself? Do you go on The Break Up Diet and fail to feed yourself, dropping self care all together? Or do you call your new friends Ben and Jerry, overindulging because hey, you deserve it? Either way, we end up feeling badly, unnourished and un-cared for.
During these situations I shut down all together. I can’t sleep and I can’t eat. I think this may circle back to my “I’m not good enough story” as I complete fail to care for myself when things go downhil. Things like breakups or other big losses are the extremes of feeling bad, but they can show us our default during our daily, less traumatic lapses.
As for my daily lapses in self care, just like all of you, I am still learning to make myself a priority. It us getting better though.
I’m spending the week in Denver with my brother’s family and my boyfriend. We are in a 1 bedroom condo and although we’re having a great time, there’s a lot going on and no space to be alone. I’ve done my best – and it’s triumph over my past. I am shutting myself in the bedroom for at least an hour to write, I’ve made it to the gym and probably the most desperate attempt at self care was doing yoga in the tiny space between the bed and the dresser. As a result I’m nicer and have more energy – and I’m not wasting time with family being cranky and stressed because I didn’t take care of myself.
I wish I had a nifty 3 step process to teach you, one that ensured you continually care for yourself – I don’t. I can say though, just do it. And keep doing it. Much like cultivating gratitude or inspiration, self care will perpetuate more self care.
Take good care of yourself today, you deserve it.
When I think of the woman I want to be, most days she seems like someone I don’t yet know. A collection of admirable traits that I’ve admired in others, philosophies I’ve collected over the years and a body that’s finally been crafted into perfect shape.
She’s strong, intelligent, kind, creative, fit, attractive and successful. She’s happy in her life and she’s comfortable in her skin. She’s accomplished many of her big goals and is hard at work on a few more. She’s at least in part a stranger to me, but right now I’d say I know her better that I ever have. But she is still out of reach…or is she?
I’m so focused on getting to her that it’s hard to see the glimmer that’s already shown up. When we are in the “working towards”, we can miss the work that’s already been done. And we can see ourselves much further behind than how the rest of the world sees us. This is in part because we are our own worst critics – I am quite certain the flaws I see when I look in the mirror are much more glaring to me than to others, if they even see them as flaws at all.
It is also because we put up a smokescreen – a carefully crafted act for the world so that we don’t get found out. It covers our insecurities with inauthenticites like witty banter, inflated confidence, self deprication or an “I don’t give a crap” attitude.
It’s not really about simply giving ourselves credit, its finding a way to more truthfully acknowledge who we are – and not just focusing on the imperfections. My perfect version of myself could be described with any of the following: focused, strong, self aware, intelligent, accomplished, kind, determined, caring, fun, fit and beautiful.
Well guess what? Those are the words my friends use to describe me now – not in 10 years when I finally get into perfect shape and write a best seller, but now….just as I am. Maybe just as I am now is more than I thought it was. Maybe my truth shines brighter than my BS.
It doesn’t mean we have to settle. It doesn’t mean this is as good as it gets. What it does mean is:
As we strive to better ourselves and our bodies, it’s OK to feel good about all that we already are. This can carry us to the new heights we seek. This is far better fuel than punishing ourselves or feeling bad about our downfalls, imperfections and “not enoughs”.
If we wait to be happy “until”, then life is a struggle. Life happens during the “until”, so don’t miss it waiting for the scale to hit 120 or the income to hit the high six figures, or whatever you’re missing your life for. It breaks my heart to think of what I’ve missed.
Being self aware doesn’t mean we ignore that we’ve let our health or waistline slip, it means that we realize that we may not always be able to see ourselves completely clearly. For this we have our loved ones who love us at a size 6 or size 16 and seem to see us more clearly than we can see ourselves. When the people in our lives tell us we are beautiful or smart, don’t thank them and then immediately discount them thinking, “That’s nice, but they haven’t seen me naked” or “They don’t now how bad I just screwed up”. Let it in. Let it give you the strength to keep on trying to be better.
How does the world see you? If you don’t know, ask! I did. And not one of them said I had a big butt.
I’m happy to report that the calm and happiness that showed up yesterday is still here! When I feel this good after feeling bad it’s easy to be a little nervous that the good feelings are fleeting – but like I keep saying (mostly to myself), if they leave they will return. Trust that.
One of the best things that happened yesterday is I got a flood of emails about my recent posts. The overall theme? That I am brave.
This is funny to me because I had several reasons for doing this blog, being brave wasn’t one of them. I like it, don’t get me wrong – brave is a good thing.
Being brave and fearless just don’t come to mind when I think of myself. I mean I’m scared of carbs for crying out loud.
I am scared of all sorts of ridiculous stuff, like missing a workout. I get scared and freaked out that if I don’t adhere to my schedule rigidly, I’ll lose all the progress I’ve made. Food in general has come to scare me. I used to have a healthier relationship with food – I ate well the vast majority of the time having learned so much about whole foods, high quality (free range, grass fed,wild caught, etc.) proteins, and organic vegetables from being in naturopathic medicine, but I indulged and had a ate what I wanted when I was out with my friends without fear. But as I got more and more entrenched in the fitness world these past few years, my relationship with food has gotten a little warped.
As I tried to live up to the ideal: the fitness model, I forgot much of what I knew about a healthy diet and focused solely on what would drop me the most fat the quickest. Which is fine, so long as you don’t get lost in it – which is very, very easy to do. I became so nervous about eating anything of my super clean plan that when it came time to have a cheat meal or a special dinner out I was scared. Scared of the glass of wine. Scared of the oil my fish was cooked in (And what’s that in the sauce? Tastes sweet, its probalby sugar. Yikes.) Scared of the puffiness I’d see in my face the next morning. Scared that if I reached down and felt the tops of my thighs that I’d feel fat there where my hip bends.
I’m not sure when I stopped being scared and started being brave, but I did. And here I am writing this deranged, albeit inspiring blog.
Being brave is something I’ve aspired to, I just didn’t know I’d arrived there.
About 8 years ago I had to stand up in front of a room of people and sell them on who I wanted to become. I was supposed to give up my “not good enough” act and create a new way being in the world. I declared that I wanted to be “courage, love and inspiration”. Perhaps it was because my voice sounds like a seven year old, but they weren’t buying it. I said it louder. The still weren’t buying it. They weren’t buying it because I wasn’t selling it. I couldn’t sell it because I didn’t believe it.
I believed I was loving – I trusted that if you ask most people in my they’d agree. I was midway through school at this point so I was already seeing patients in the clinic and I believed I could be inspiring. I was also working with clients for weight loss and nutrition at a gym, and I’d been told I was inspiring there. Ok, so far so good. But courage? Nope, I wasn’t that.
They made me say it until they believed it. Truthfully, I think they let me off the hook after a few times, because even if they believed me, I didn’t.
Somehow though, I nailed it…finally. Often we are trying so hard to lose weight, get the promotion, find the perfect relationship or the perfect apartment – to do all the things we aspire to that we fail to see how much we’ve already accomplished. If we can’t see it, we can’t enjoy it.
We deserve accolades for winning the big prize at the finish line, but we deserve to celebrate along the way – even if we haven’t nailed it yet. And you may be closer to the finish line than you think. I will bet that you are closer to your aspirations, hopes and desires than you realize. Take a look, what do you see? Good stuff? Enjoy your progress.
It’s a brave new world I’m living in – and I didn’t’ even know I was here. Where are you?
Ok, I’ll admit – the most recent stretch of this project was a big bummer! I mean, the whole point of all this was to end up on the other side, feeling better about me, my body, my health, right? Well there is no light without the dark they say. I think they are right, cuz here’s what happened today.
Yesterday ended not much better than it started – I was feeling really badly, overwhelmed with depressing, negative feelings. I tried as hard as I could to justify stopping writing this blog. 5 Days of Inspiration…would you all go for that? Can I let myself off the hook? After all it seems I am destroying my credibility one dirty secret at a time here anyway, right?
I couldn’t bring myself to throw in the towel, because after all that would just show I’m not good enough to finish – which is my whole trouble to begin with. So I went to bed.
I went to bed knowing I’d been here before – down in it, not knowing how to get out, not knowing how to feel better. But then I remembered something from last month: that I know when I feel bad, I can trust I will feel good again. I might not know when, but I know it’s coming.
What else do I know? I know that when I was the happiest in my life was when I did a couple of specific practices: setting an intention for the following day before I went to bed (this helped me sleep soundly), either writing or saying what I was grateful for before I went to bed and first thing in the morning (this decreased stress and made me happy), and instead of worrying about how I’d get it all done, holding an positive attitude the morning and letting it carry me throughout the day. This process had brought me a great sense of peace everyday.
Was I using The Secret? Applying the Law of Attraction? Had I mastered quantum physics? Who knows. And who cares! All I know is that it was no secret how much better I felt when I paid attention to what I was thinking, took responsibility for it and choose to feel better.
So what have I been thinking the past few days? Anxious that I’ve divulged too much with this project. Aggravated that I decided to take a month off lifting and just do yoga and see if my neck, shoulder and hip calm down (So far it’s working! But I miss the gym.). Sad that I’m bummed out and my boyfriend who always makes me feel better, is out of town (Normally I love my alone time – not this weekend.). Stressed about the three new patients I had on Monday and all the work I need to do before I leave town Tuesday. All in all, I felt stressed, anxious and bad…still.
Where was the upswing?
I remembered how I’d conquered this jumbled mess of old baggage before and figured, what the hell. I set my intention to feel good today, to feel at peace and inspired by my life. I felt my body relax. Then I got anxious and couldn’t sleep. Rather than be frustrated this made me giggle. I turned on a movie and said, “Oh well.” I finally drifted off.
I woke up more tired than inspired this morning, but I got up and started running through what I was grateful for. I did yoga and although I was running late, I started chopping veggies and hard boiling eggs for my lunch today (All stuff I should’ve done this weekend, but hard to care for ourselves when we feel like garbage isn’t it?). I really felt I had to take care of myself today by eating well. I stopped to be grateful that I know how to eat to feel really good. I checked my blackberry and I had a wonderfully supportive, gracious comment on my post from yesterday and I was reminded that I am being helpful by being this honest. I also saw that my first patient emailed me to reschedule. Normally a late cancel is annoying, but today it gave me another hour to get caught up. I was grateful for that too. Off to get a cup of coffee and write this blog. What’s that? It’s a free coffee! My punch card is full. Sweet.
What did all this show me today?
*Trust what you know. If there are things you do that make you feel good – why aren’t you doing them? Think of people, practices and habits that have worked for you and make the time to do them. We all know how to help ourselves more than we realize, but we let life’s busyness and other nonsense keep us from doing what we need to do to feel good. We end up feeling like we’re on a treadmill, one day just running into the next. Jump off and set a course that moves you to exactly where you want to go.
*Trust that when you feel bad, don’t run from it as it WILL pass. I am happy that I didn’t bury any of the negative feelings I conjured up but dealt with them as best I could knowing they may return but if they do, they will again pass – and each time I face them, I get stronger and they get weaker. When they come up, it’s ok to sigh and think, “Ugh, you guys again?” but look them dead in the face and take their power – they are just feelings after all.
*Be happy. Do whatever you can everyday to make yourself happy – whether you are at your skinny jeans fit or not. You (and me!) deserve to feel good as we work towards a better body, better health and a better life.
*Be grateful. The Gratitude Project I did last month left me feeling happier and more at peace than I’ve been in awhile – starting this Inspiration Project hurled me back into the depths of negativity. How did I dig myself out? By being grateful again.
*Do what works for you. Forget the experts and forget what others think, do what you need to do each day for you – do what works. Over the weekend I talked to my brother about how I was feeling and he said, “You’re finding where your heart and your expertise meet. You are good at both but having growing pains as you find the right mix. It takes courge, but you have lots. Stop trying to win at someone else’s game.” Well that about sums that up.