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seriously?!

Can we have a real conversation for a second?
Does this picture honestly make you want to hit the floor and start crunching your midsection?!

It makes me want to spit tacks. I stumbled on it the other night while on a very popular social media website, and my face immediately turned red with anger. It makes my heart hurt to know that women and men in our society are exposed to things like this.

I’m not ranting…
I’m writing to say that I DON’T support this.
And you shouldn’t, either.
There’s a difference between being healthy and being obsessive.

If you follow my posts, you’ll know that I lost a LOT of weight as a teen (130 pounds, give or take the year). Stuff like this NEVER motivated me. It belittled me and made me feel like no matter what I did, it was never enough.

The truth is I have loose skin on my stomach that likely never go away without the help of a surgeon’s careful hand. That means that no matter HOW many times I “hit the floor” like this crazy sticker tells me too, it will NEVER BE ENOUGH. (I will also look very silly and cause a lot of that “coffee circle gossip” if I’m constantly seen on the ground doing crunches.)

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey: You MUST accept yourself. Right where you’re at. Right now. Let your healthy mindset be fueled with positivity- you’re eating healthier and moving more because you love yourself, you want to feel better, and you want to live longer… not because you hate the person you see in the mirror or you want to look like the blonde twig that walks the runways.

I used to think that the answer to all of my problems was losing weight. That when I was a “normal” or “acceptable” size, I would automatically be happy. All the time. I would never struggle with anything, any more. Life would be perfect.

Can I be honest with you? It hasn’t gotten any easier; I’ve been faced with a whole new set of challenges. I get to make a choice between being angry and bitter or face each one with a smile and determination. I will do my best (or close) each day and be ok with where that is at. I will work to improve my health because it helps me feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.

But the amount of exercise I do, the size I wear, and the foods that I eat don’t get to be the things that define who I am.

I’m a funny girl. I am smart- I made it through ALL THAT DREADED chemistry! I am a good and loyal friend. I sensibly live within my means. I share the God-given talents that I have been blessed with as I am able. I love my job, and like to think that I give it my best and do well. I try to share my smile with the majority of the people I meet.

When I live this way, I feel a sense of purpose. That gives me the energy and confidence I need to (continue to) make positive and thoughtful decisions.

Do me a favor:
Stop letting things like this picture have a place in your day, your heart, or your mind.

You’re better than that.

You’re smarter than that.

You’re worth more than that.

Be healthy… not obsessive.

You are You and I am Me.

How many times today did you see someone and think, “Why can’t I be like her/him?Seriously.

You’re at the gym, and you start to feel all self-conscious when you spot a stick figure next to you on the treadmill just jogging away effortlessly. (Cue the imagination:) She probably gets to eat chocolate cake and ice cream and chips and pizza without any regret. And she probably only works out once a week- that’s it. And her social calendar is full of fun things she’s doing with fun people. Of course she has an amazing boyfriend that worships the very ground she walks on. And no way does she ever have  to study, yet consistently gets high scores in school and easily achieves everything she sets her mind to… Whoa, Nelly!

Do you ever do this? If the answer is yes, my next question is: WHY!?

I’d like to remind you that God made each one of us a little bit different. Or a lot a bit different. There’s a reason that we don’t all look the same, sound the same, act the same, think the same, and believe the same. You do yourself a great disservice when you try to fit the model of another person.

I read an article about body types recently, and it brought back a memory from high school. I have a friend that is naturally thin, no matter what. She has tried to gain weight before (I KNOW!) and just couldn’t (I KNOW!)And it drove her nuts. The majority of women I meet strive to be thinner. Most men I meet desire to be more sculpted, bulky, and ripped. Either way, we are never good enough.

What if we all pledged to treat our bodies right and accepted ourselves right where we’re at, and we do this all as an act of love? Perhaps we change our motives: because we love who we are, and we believe in the importance of  sharing our light and talents to others in the world.

How many days have you wasted this week thinking about how you wish you were different? How many people have you wished you were instead of the person you are?

I think that it’s ok for us to think about those things at times, but with a realistic and purposeful mindset: If you wish you were someone else because he/she travels the world… maybe it’s time for you to start putting money away little by little and planning your next vacation (no one is stopping you). If you wish you were someone else because he/she writes beautifully… maybe it’s time that you pick up a pen and a fancy notebook and filling the pages (just let your thoughts flow, you have beautiful music inside of you). {Side note: this applies to whatever it is that interests you. Today is a GREAT day to start.} If you are jealous of someone because he/she has sculpted arms and legs… maybe you should stop avoiding the weight room (and find a friend who knows what they’re doing to show you the ropes).

The bottom line is that you have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for. It’s important that you don’t spend each day living for “some day” or “the perfect body” or “certain circumstances.”  

You get today.

You get right now.

You are you and I am me.

Embrace your circumstances with thankfulness

now go out and create some magic.

From a place of…

Let me ask you a couple of serious questions:

When you look in the mirror, what do you think? What do you tell yourself?

When I was 300 pounds, I would look in the mirror and tell myself that I was ugly, huge, and blobby. I had red stretch marks that mirrored a woman’s pregnant belly. My legs sported varicose veins much like my parents. (Need I remind you I was 16 years old?)

As I lost weight, my loose skin started to appear and sag. And sag. And sag. Stretch marks faded, but were still an obviously visible  nuisance to me. My bones started to protrude more, and I could pick out specific areas to beat myself up over. My new body was supposed to bring me instant happiness. Instead it left me frustrated and self-conscious.

There are so many media influences out there trying to tell us how we should look if we want to “feel good” about ourselves.

Wait, who are THEY to tell us anything? And… who are THEY, anyway?

If you are starting to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle, can I ask you to make a pledge to yourself that you do it for the right reasons? Exercising and eating right helps you to feel better inside and out. But if you are going to do it from a place of self-hatred, you will NEVER feel content. No matter what size you are.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my “trophies” from weight loss: my varicose veins stick out more, but it’s because my legs are skinnier. I have loose skin on my stomach that I can sometimes get into a ponytail. I call it my bread dough. I have “bye-bye” arms, too. They keep moving long after my arm does. Oh, and I can stretch the skin out. I actually encourage people to give it a shot if they’re curious.

I’ve been told countless times that I should lift weights to help with the skin. (I’ll tell you more about that later.) I’ve also read that certain factors, including losing over 100 pounds and losing a lot of weight quickly (I did it in 2 years) will make it harder for the skin to “go back.” I’ve even looked into one of those skin removal surgeries out of pure frustration, but the danger of the surgery far outweighs some droopy skin and raised lines.

Do I love my body every day? … No. But if I’m upset about something on my body, I try to find something else that I’m happy with or proud of. After all, if you don’t even love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

God doesn’t make mistakes. And I truly believe that everything happens for some reason in our lives. He’s not trying to torture us with a serious of challenging trials; He’s helping us grow into the person that we’re destined to be.

So as you begin or continue your healthy lifestyle, make a conscious effort to do it because you love yourself and you want a better quantity or quality of life. You will probably never look like another person (unless you have an identical twin, undergo a lot of surgery, and buy some inSANE makeup), but isn’t that a good thing? Kind of a relief to accept that truth remove the extra pressure!

I challenge you to switch out negative self-thoughts with positive ones. Cheers to you for making better decisions about how you live. Love yourself for that. You are a lovable person.

There was a rockin’ video I stumbled upon a few weeks ago, and I’ve been itching to share it with all of you. Enjoy!

It’s your TURN! Get ready to play Pursuit of Wellness!

Pursuit of Wellness is coming to the UND Campus for the Spring 2012 Semester. Students that play Pursuit of Wellness will have an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a Grand Prize (TBA).

What is Pursuit of Wellness?

Pursuit of Wellness is a 7-week game designed for all UND students to learn firsthand the correlation between wellness and academic success. Students will be encouraged to participate in a variety of existing campus activities, all of which connect to at least one of the 7 Dimensions. The official game play starts on January 16th. The first task that students will need to do is complete a game entry survey.  Students can continue to play the game at their own pace by picking what days and what activities they want to participate in.

Incentives will be placed throughout the game for encouraged participation among UND students. At each activity, students will receive a Wristband of Wellness, referred to as a WOW, indicating that they fulfilled one of their 7 Dimensions (e.g. Red WOW = Physical; Yellow WOW= Intellectual; Green WOW = Environmental; Indigo WOW = Social; Purple WOW = Spiritual; Blue WOW = Occupational; Orange WOW = Emotional). There will be several chances to earn a WOW from each of the 7 Dimensions, featuring an activity from a different dimension every day, of each week. Students that complete the game entry and game completion surveys will be entered into drawings for a variety of prizes.

Students that Collect all 7 WOW’s during the 7 week game can play the Ultimate Pursuit of Wellness and be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. Winners will be announced at the Wellness Expo at the UND Student Wellness Center on March 7-8.

If you would like to add an activity to the Game Board, visit the Pursuit of Wellness webpage (http://und.edu/health-wellness/pursuit/) and fill out the submit your activity form.

UND Students – are you ready to play Pursuit of Wellness???

For this, I am Thankful.

 

I have started making more of an effort to stop each morning and give my day to God, asking for help in living a life of love for others (actions, words, and thoughts). I also take a second or two to give thanks for something (or many things) as I wake up each day. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I challenge you to try to do the same.

There’s something about that silent stillness before the chaos of the day that is so peaceful, so beautiful, and so necessary to start the day off right. When you spend a few minutes thinking about the good things in your life, it’s hard to look at the day with anything other than gratitude and happiness.

I admit that there are days when it’s hard to feel thankful for anything- the times when you’ve gotten little-to-no sleep, when your alarm didn’t go off and left you late for everything, when you look out the window and see a ton of snow or pouring rain (or just cloudy skies), when you ended up getting into a fight with someone you care about, when you get news you didn’t want, when a week of hard work at the gym and healthy food choices don’t give you the results you want, setbacks, death, accidents, etc etc, etc… Things happen. That’s life.

Enter: resiliency. We all face challenges, but we get to decide how to react to what is happening. You can either complain about going to the gym or be thankful that you can physically do so. You can either be upset that “healthy food is expensive,” or learn to budget and be resourceful because your health is important to you. (By the way, it’s just as affordable to eat healthy. Trust me. I know.) You can be overcome by disappointment if you don’t get a certain job or promotion that you were hoping for, or you can appreciate your current situation and look forward to better things coming your way. It’s all about your outlook. 

A funny thing happens when you look at life with gratitude instead of entitlement… the skies seem a little brighter, the challenges seem a little less daunting, and life is more of blessing and less of a curse.

Give thanks for something today. And if your day is especially challenging for some reason, write out a list of the good things in your life. Then think about those things and see how your day transforms.

 

http://www.wallpaperbase.com/landscape-sunrise.shtml

Somebody’s Someone

Who was the last person you interacted with?

Was it positive or negative?

Being made fun of is an unfortunate reality for too many people in this world. I’ve heard that mean words are like papercuts: even though you can’t see the damage they cause, there’s a lingering sting.

Thinking back to me days as a “fat kid,” there are 2 events that really stick out in my mind:

The first put me into counseling. I was riding the bus to help with church choir practice, just another Wednesday. Two boys who were in the class above me often made it their mission to try to break me. Because I don’t like to “lose (or show weakness),” I put on a stone face and just took whatever they dished out. Day after day, they would torture me with comments about my weight. That day, it happened to be “Could you please move to the middle of the bus? You’re weighing us down.” I broke. I called my mom and told her I was absolutely at the end of my rope. Shortly after I started to see someone who introduced me to the idea of writing my thoughts down on paper.

Fast forward a few more years. I was a sophomore in high school and nearing my highest weight of 300+ pounds. I wasn’t the only person that was picked on at school; there were a few other “targets.” I remember that I was having a pretty good day, and it was just after lunch time. (At my school, people sat in the hallway to wait for the bell to ring, so they were often people-crammed by the time our break was over.) I walked towards band, past all of the juniors and seniors, and heard, “Jeepers, is it thundering outside?” I closed my eyes and hoped I had heard that wrong. When I turned around and saw everyone laughing my fears were confirmed. I…was… deflated.

With the advancements in technology, torturing another person has become easier and easier… people can be anonymous. And so hurtful. A part of me gives thanks that I was able to lose weight before things like Facebook were invented.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ve always been the nicest person to the people I’ve met. I think that at some point we’ve all been guilty of forgetting that every person is “somebody’s someone.”

The power of a kind word has played a major role in my (continued) success, in any area of life. Not only words, but a smile. It’s the easiest, simplest, cheapest way I can think of to build a person up.

As you go about your day make it your mission to be a light for others, even if you are having a rough day. “It is in giving that we receive.”

My Own Friend

There are so many things I could say about today. Normally I try to be a very positive person, although from my last few posts you might wonder what my problem is. Well, have you ever had one of those days that turned into one of those weeks? Good. Than we’re all on the same page.

I am so thankful for the good in my life this week. The good that has picked me up, inspired me, encouraged me, and made me smile when it was hard. Things on that list include: friends, family, prayer, and the wellness center. No joke. These things are the only reason I haven’t just decided to crawl into bed for the last 1/2 of the week.

Today I learned the importance of wearing a seat belt and being your own friend. While driving on a road that I’m not completely familiar with, I missed a stop sign and T-boned another car. I was in shock that it happened. Both of us were fine (thank GOODNESS), but I immediately started beating myself up for not seeing that darn sign. I kept going over all of the “What if’s?” and “WHYS?!” of the situation. Did it fix anything?Absolutely not. 

For pretty much the entire afternoon I felt like an idiot. I was so busy filling my head with negative thoughts that I heard very little of the kind and caring words from those around me. I was also missing successes at work. All of a sudden, something clicked. I decided that my friends and family were right; things happen, and people make mistakes. My attitude wasn’t helping. So I changed it.

When I dropped my car off at the collision center, I was more than excited to find out they were possibly going to upgrade me to a minivan (with a party light and EVERYTHING)… see? My day was looking up!

I chose to try a new class tonight: CardioKick. I walked into the room and was immediately taken aback by the tiny and extremely TONED instructor.The man was RIPPED! And he meant business. He said, “You get 2 breaks!” And a girl looked at me and just laughed while shaking her head. The class was challenging- the kind of challenge that you get a t-shirt after completing a certain number of classes. (Side note: It’s nice to see that you win t-shirts for moving your body  too, and not just eating wild/crazy foods.)

Anyway. I made it. Again. There were a few times that I wanted to just leave and be done with the class because I looked like a fool or felt like I was at the end of my rope. But when the whole rest of the class is cheering you on, and you get the opportunity to kick/punch someone as hard as you need to can, that little person inside of you screams “KEEP GOING!”

There were a quite a few new people in the class, and he said that we lasted longer than most other newbies. (insert big cheesy grin here) If you were in that class tonight, and made it to the end, AIR HIGH FIVE!!

And guess what? That same little person heard about the t-shirt and is already calculating trips back for the class.

Have you tried anything new this week? 

Oh… and ps…. Please be your own friend today. You’re worth it. ;)

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