Her lean legs are not like mine.

I have done a really good job being happy and trying not to get down about myself or how my body looks in the last year. However, I do still struggle. As I said a couple days ago, I made a new year’s goal to continue to seek out my happiest self. I also made a New Year’s goal to run 1000 miles this year, nothing to ambitious, but something I would like to do. On New Year’s Day I woke up with my hips aching, which caused numbness in my thighs. I think it spawns from a spine deformity I have, but I am not sure and I feel like, though I could run, it would make things much worse. So on day 3 of the New Year, I have already slipped up on one goal. But this morning, after breakfast I slipped up on another one.

As I mentioned earlier, I still struggle. I don’t think about some things I used to struggle with as much. For instance, when I started eating more, I would panic each time I went to Einstein Bagels because I was so used to only get a fruit cup and coffee/ latte there (what used to be all I ate the first half of the day). But now I barely think about it when I order a bagel with cream cheese or a breakfast sandwich.

But there are other things that get to me. They get to me when I feel like I am failing or am anxious. I was feeling like a bit of an anxious failure this morning, because I was overly upset about not being able to run and because I am so anxious over my professional exam that I am taking Friday.

So as I was walking out of Einstein after breakfast, I saw a long lean girl in runner’s clothes. She had the ultra slim legs that I used to have. She may naturally have a slim figure like that, but I know I had to nearly starve myself to achieve the look. Either way- I was instantly aware of the size of my legs. That they have grown. That they are not sticks. That they have fat on them.  And as I passed the girl, she looked at my legs.

And for a moment, I was so ashamed. Why did I let my legs get so big? Why did I eat that breakfast sandwich? Why did I not run this morning? One irrational, angry question came flying into my mind, accusing myself for being healthy.

So I stopped it. Something I was never able to do a year ago and something I am very proud of. I turned the point of view from me to that girl.

What if she was looking at my legs out of insecurity? What if she struggled with what I used to? So I re-evaluated the situation, smiled at the girl, and walked out with my head held high.

What did that girl see? She saw a confident woman, with long non-stick legs, smiling and happy with all life has to offer her.

Her lean legs are not like mine. We are different. I am proud of who I am. And my legs are part of me, so I am proud of them too.

It’s okay to struggle, but don’t forget to stop and remember all the blessing in the life. Put your health and happiness first. And don’t forget to smile.

“A Smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.”

A Recap Of 2014

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A little recap of the time between Jan 1st (left picture) and December 21st (right picture):

On January 1st, I made a 2014 goal to be happy. To actively pursue happiness. Things didn’t always go my way this year, but I was happy. Really, really happy.

I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve changed in the last year. At the beginning of the year, I was still working on getting myself to an appropriate amount of calories. I had already made the big jump to the 2000s and was gearing up for 2200+. Of  course my ultimate goal was to stop counting, but that was something scary to be conquered later. Today, I am no longer obsessed with numbers. I eat what I want, when I want- while emphasizing a healthy balance.

In the left picture, I worked out about 5-6 days a week. I ran some days and was really making huge progress with my weight lifting. I haven’t been working out a whole lot lately (seriously, only about 50 body weight squats a day) and that’s okay! I know I need to start working out again, because I feel so much better when I do, but my focus the last couple weeks have been to study and when I have a free moment, to spend it with family and friends.

In January, there were so many things I wanted to change about myself, but more than anything, I wanted to learn to love my body. Today, there are things I want to improve on (such as entering the gym again), but I’m also very okay with who I am.

In January, my body image was terrible on days I went off my macros or didn’t go to the gym (see the banana incident here), but I learned from those days (see pretty much any of my prior posts). Now, I have bad body image days, who doesn’t, but when I do I certainly don’t starve myself or take any extremes. In fact, it has been 1 year and 9 days since I intentionally went to an extreme just because of a bad body image day.

I transformed more mentally this year than ever before and for that I am grateful.

I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my happiness.

And I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life that have supported me throughout this journey to regain my health and who I am (I am looking at all of you awesome people!).

2014 really wasn’t about the physical changes, it was about my mental transformation. A transformation I plan to embrace and adapt with for the rest of my life. If my goal for 2014 was to be happy, then my goal for 2015 is to stay happy, to spread happiness, and to continue to seek out what it means to be the best version of me.

2% Milk and the Little Victories

If you follow my Instagram, you may notice something missing from it lately- pictures of myself. I have been in a bit of a rut lately. I have bogged down by a busy school schedule, back-to-back-to-back injuries that prevent me from running or doing leg workouts, and now I have been sick for nearly two weeks. I may just be making excuses. I honestly can’t tell. My anxiety has been at an all-time high and I cannot seem to identify the source. Nevertheless, my body seems to be aware of the rut and now whenever I look in the mirror I just think- “meh.”

But I know I can’t do this to myself! I need to step back and do some re-evaluating and I seem to do that best in the form of a blog post because I feel the need to be as honest as possible on here.

I live an extremely blessed life. I am doing well in my master’s program because the material is just coming easier to me than any school material has in years. I have an incredibly supportive family and boyfriend. I have a job waiting for me when I graduate. And yes, I have had some unfortunate circumstances regarding my physical health recently, but it isn’t anything permanent and although I am not pleased with my body, it still by no means looks bad. I have not gone back to any restrictive eating habits (even though in all honesty I have thought about it), in fact I even conquered a food fear I did not realize I still had—2% milk.

Do you ever think about how we strive to improve and then slip into a comfortable habit once we have seen a noticeable difference? Well that little realization smacked me flat in the face when I was at Starbucks last week and ordered a nonfat latte only to hear, “We are out of skim milk—is 2% okay?”

I froze. Anxiety flooded over me. You would think someone just stripped me of my clothes and asked me, “You are going to have to run across campus naked to get your clothes back—is that okay?” All this over MILK. Really?! After a several second pause where I considered just walking away, I finally said that 2% was just fine.

I sat waiting for my latte and realized I hadn’t had 2% milk since junior high. Not in a milkshake or coffee drink. Nothing. Unless it was unknowingly baked into something, I hadn’t drunk it. I began to feel a bit proud of myself because there was a time when I would have walked away, but instead I just accepted it and moved on. I know the whole ordeal was silly, but it was yet another reminder that is always important to strive to better yourself and take time to reevaluate where you stand.

The point is I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and entirely appreciate of the beautiful things that surround me. So here’s to going out there, living life to the fullest, and celebrating the little victories!

It’s Better on the Other Side

I can’t tell you how to get better. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, I can’t tell you how to overcome it. I can’t convince you to stop your unhealthy habits- that’s all is up to you. What I can tell you- is no matter how hopeless your situation seems or how much it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble to “get better”—it is better on the other side.

That being said her is a little recap of my past couple of years:

I am naturally thin but my weight has gone through a 25-pound yo-yo since I was 16. The lows and the high within that range were usually when I had some pretty unhealthy habits.

[October 2012] Almost two years ago, I hurt my knee and without running and other high-intensity cardio, I snapped. It was not just my inability to run though—it was that I felt lost. I had friends and a job and I have a great family. But I did not like who I was. I have always disliked little parts about myself (sometimes I disliked myself more than other times), but something in me just boiled over and everyday I began to loathe myself more and more.

I started to become obsessed with getting smaller. I began to crave the feeling of hunger, it was like some challenge that kept me engaged in my life and before I knew it I had dropped down to the size I was when I was 14/15 (I was 19 at the time).

I knew what I was doing was wrong, but part of me just didn’t care. Part of me was proud of how I could shut up my voice of reason for the sake of being skinnier.

People say that this kind of obsession is about being able to control something in your life, but I think its the opposite—its about surrendering control of your life to an evil little voice in your head. I think because I always felt like I had to be in control that I just wanted something else to “take the wheel” for a while.

I relinquished my emotions- I smiled, but I wasn’t happy. Bad things would happen, but I Wasn’t fully sad. I was kind of just numb.

[January 2013] I got to a point where it is not an even a debate of “should I eat this”, because that voice had already told me “no.”

I remember not wanting to gain control back over my health and happiness because it was so much easier being wrapped up in the sick numbers game of “how low can you go.”

[May 2013] But then there was the “bright light” in my life (here I get a bit cheesey)—my boyfriend. I had been dating him for few months and began to fall for him more and more. He made me feel like there was so reason to care. I didn’t want him to worry about me not eating enough or not being able to enjoy the little things like splitting a sundae.

I started to see that there was to life than being numb to the world. Did I really want to be so cold all the time? Did I really want to have inverted boobs? Was I really okay with letting my body waste away?

I wanted to be happy. I was with someone who actually made me forget about the little voice in my head and I was ready to take advantage of that.

[October 2013] Skip to last October, I had gained some of my weight back and was starting to get a little bit healthier physically and was starting to gain more control mentally. I found all these girls on instagram who had changed their life for the better by restoring their metabolism through reverse dieting. They all seemed so happy and I wanted to be like them. But I was scared. I did not lift weights, I ran. And Lord knows I was not comfortable with eating more than 1500 calories a day (still an enormous leap from my 600 calorie days). I tore three muscles in my right quad and decided that was a sign to turn to weight lifting and to begin my reverse diet.

[December 2013] The first couple months were a struggle, but around Christmas time it hit me—I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with memories of how I dreaded holidays because I had to avoid all the food and questions from my family. That is not how you make good memories. And starting that Christmas, I started to feel free.

[February 2014] I stopped counting macros in February. I made the conscious decision to focus on all the wonderful things in my life. Sometimes I would still stress about hitting my untracked macros and some days I would track again- but it slowly became less and less important to me.

[October 2014] In the last 8 months I have changed my workout routine more times than I can count. Sometimes I work out a lot and sometimes I workout a little.

I no longer fit in the same clothes I did when I was in high school, but I am okay with that because I am happier and healthier than ever.

I realized there are so many wonderful things in life and there is no way I am going to let a voice diminish all the wonderful experiences I will have.

I know I could never let a voice of negativity take over my life again and that is a feeling of happiness and a freedom that I wish anyone who feels trapped in an emotional, or otherwise negative, situation could feel.

If you feel you aren’t worth the change for the better- trust me you are.

If you think it isn’t worth the fight for your happiness- it is.

We all struggle through things, but it is through those struggles that we can appreciate the greatest happiness.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

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Setting Priorities and Enjoying Vacation

This will probably be a part 1 of 2 thing… BUT here it goes!

In three days I leave for a cruise to Mexico. In order to prepare, I have admittedly been eating less processed foods and working out a bit more than I had been a month ago. I was just trying to peak on my confidence in a bikini. I wanted to be as “firm” as I could when I went on vacation. And this thought has me torn. Do I not think I look good enough in a bikini now? Is it some crime against humanity to have a little meat on my bones? Why did I instantly think “vacation- oh better slim up”?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with what I was doing physically (If you want to eat a little healthier to firm up a bit before a beach vacation then great- just don’t kill yourself doing it), it was more of the mental pressure I was putting on myself. I hit a breaking point when I went bathing suit shopping and all the bathing suits didn’t cover any of my butt and pinched at fat I didn’t want to believe I had (seriously though, why is the bathing suit trend to have 75% of your ass hanging out? I don’t get it…) and I started crying. In a target dressing room. Definitely not my proudest moment. 

So I called my boyfriend that night and let it all out. I said I hated that nothing fit and that I work so hard and my hard work just doesn’t show. I said I was dreading getting in the bikini and that I had initially wanted to get a “cute poolside bikini picture” but now that was out of the question. And here is what he told me: “Do you think Beyonce or J Lo fit in those itty bitty size bikinis?! Do you think they can get just any old pair of jeans or bathing suit bottoms? They are not the smallest women, yet they have some of the best bodies in the world! They have fat and muscle and look AMAZING! And so do you. Plus who says you have to be an extra small or a small to wear a bikini?! Just go up a size! You look incredible and you are healthy.” My rebuttal was that he was right, I just wished my size was more muscle and less fat. 

Less fat for this vacation. Looking firmer for a picture. Becoming “bikini ready”. And now I am sitting here thinking, “who the heck am I trying to impress?! Am I trying to get an effing swimwear modeling contract on this boat?!” Uh no…

So now I am re-evaluating and putting things in perspective. I have fat, but really nothing even close to excessive… just a healthy amount. I am also happier than I have ever been. I also am going on this vacation to have fun with my boyfriend, who thinks I look great in a bathing suit. And why did I want a poolside picture? To post on Facebook/ instagram- BUT WHO THE HELL AM I TRYING TO IMPRESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?! Nobody. That’s who. I need to not focus on impressing others and just focus on having a great time.

The only reason I want pictures now is to remember this amazing weekend. And if I post them awesome! If I don’t who cares?! I am happy, in love, and going on a cruise with my favorite person… that’s a whole lot more important than having a poolside pic that shows off a six pack (that I most likely will never have-but I am cool with my tummy as is it because it isn’t half bad).

NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID, this is how I plan to enjoy my vacation:

Phone off and away

Working out ONLY if I want to

Eating what I feel like (without over-doing it- no tummy aches from over-eating!)

Enjoying poolside drinks

Dancing my heart out at night

Putting away school work 

Not giving a flying f*ck what anyone else thinks (except my boyfriend, but he loves and supports anything that makes me happy- so I don’t need to worry about that)

ROCKING THE HELL OUT OF THE BIKINI BECAUSE I SAY SO AND NOT BECAUSE I FIT SOMEONE ELSE’S STANDARDS

I gained my life back.

In the last year I have gained about 20 pounds and several pant sizes. And I am proud of it. When I tell people how much I have gained, they usually say something like, “Oh- but you are still skinny!” or “Don’t worry, you still look good!” What they don’t realize is I know I look good and I know I look and feel better!

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Here I was on April 29th, 2013, just a few pounds above my lowest weight and I was trying on a bathing suit at Target. I thought I looked fat. The bandaid on my arm is from donating blood a few days prior. They took my ½ the blood they normally would have because of how thin I looked. And even with them only taking half the blood, it took so much out of me that I nearly passed out and had to go to sleep at 7 that night because I felt so sick and tired. What else would you expect when eating significantly less than 1000 calories a day?

My rib cage stuck out without me sucking in. My lower tummy popped, not because of a food baby, but because of lack of nourishment. My skin clung to my shoulder blades and collarbones. There was no muscle, no color to my skin—I was wasting away. This is the most revealing picture I have of me near my low weight and I hate seeing it, but it also reminds me of everything outside of the number on the scale that I have gained.

Now here I am today:

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I have gained 20 pounds, but I have also gained confidence, a butt, boobs, my health, my happiness, my life back. I no longer walk around looking like a ghost. I no longer look in the mirror and see nothing but flaws. In fact, I am starting to really like what I see! Despite the areas that have more fat or when I have a food baby (which I proudly rocked this morning after all my post-graduation burgers and Sprinkles cupcakes)—I know I can flex and feel strong. I really am proud of who I have become. I feel like I am myself again. It has been years since I felt this happy. And it all happened because I decided I was no longer going to teeter between healthy and skinny. I fully dedicated myself to being positive and eating enough to fully sustain and nourish my body. I have never looked back. My progress over the last year has taught me I can never give up. Anything is possible with the right mindset! Love yourself and believe in all the things you can achieve and great things will happen.

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Life is meant for LIVING.

“Don’t exist.
Live.
Get out, explore.
Thrive.
Challenge authority. Challenge yourself.
Evolve.
Change forever.
Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.
Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What have you done today to matter? Did you exist or did you live? How did you thrive?
Become a chameleon-fit in anywhere. Be a rockstar-stand out everywhere. Do nothing, do everything. Forget everything, remember everyone. Care, don’t just pretend to. Listen to everyone. Love everyone and nothing at the same time. Its impossible to be everything,but you can’t stop trying to do it all. Make this moment your reckoning. Your head has been held under water for too long and now it is time to rise up and take your first true breath.” -Brian Krans
I have done some incredible things in my life. I have been to more countries than I have states, which has resulted in endless adventures. I have sky dived, cliff dived, been on a canyon swing, climbed Mayan Pyramids, and even swam in the Blue Grotto!
This past summer I backpacked through Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Spain- an experience that SHOULD HAVE topped them all. I don’t want to live my life with regret and though there are a few things I have done that I am not proud of, I also feel I learned a lot from them. My back packing experience, however, is probably my greatest regret.
I saw some of the most incredible cities and sites but I did not care- I let my anxiety take over my trip and I severely diminished the experience for both myself and (for the real reason I regret how I treated the trip) my brother. Even if part of the experience involved bad luck, I can not deny that the real problem was my bad attitude.
The previous summer I studied in Florence, Italy and had the best six weeks of my life. I had a very anxiety filled year leading up to that experience, but I still allowed myself to let loose and enjoy every moment of my trip. The attitude I upheld during my study abroad experience is the one I will carry with on all my travels from here on out. I want to live, experience, and thrive.
Life is too short to hold back and be bitter. There is so much to see and learn in this world and you simply will put a hindrance on living if you let a negative attitude determine your outlook. Smile and experience all that you can! Take risks, be bold, travel, and try to discover all you can about yourself and the world around you because chances are, you will like what you find!
And a quick montage of my travels the past few years (I don’t have many pictures from my back packing trip because my camera broke on the third day):
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It didn’t quite go as planned.

“I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside.”

Today I woke up early, went to a group weight class at my gym at 5:30, went to my three back-to-back classes starting at 7:30, got out at 11:45, went to work, and I had planned to come home and run 6 miles.

Well that didn’t quite go as planned.

I tweaked my knee 8 days ago after my first 8 mile run in over 3 months. Since then I have worn my knee brace, slowed down my running pace, and taken it easier with my leg workouts. Last night when I arrived at the gym I realized I had forgotten my brace, but I completed my interval-training workout on the treadmill anyways. I tried to complete a leg workout after, but my knee was in too much pain so I left.

This morning, my knee was aching throughout the weight class even though I was wearing my brace, but I was still determined to run tonight. I got home from work and confirmed my plans to run with my friend. As the run approached, I asked myself why I was so determined to run despite the pain. I immediately thought “because I am eating so much.” And my reaction if I didn’t run? Eat less at dinner.

I kid you not, those were my immediate reactions. And I thought I was doing so well.

At 2200 calories a day, I am still eating below a maintenance level for my height, weight, and activity level (assuming my workouts are 60 minutes long I should be eating almost 2400, but in reality my workouts are usually at least 90 minutes and I am still working on increasing calories). I worked out for an hour already today. Yet I still felt the need to either run or eat less. Old habits die hard.

But if I have learned anything in the last few months, it is that just because I can’t control what goes on around me, doesn’t mean I can’t choose how I handle it. Last year, if I hadn’t been able to run, I would have had lettuce and salsa for dinner. Tonight I didn’t run and I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey tacos, rice, beans, and veggies all topped with a little bit of lettuce and followed up with a tasty treat!

Things will not always go the way we planned— whether they be small things like me not being able to run today or things with a greater impact—but we control how we handle those changes. I know now, we can choose who we want to be. I choose not to be a slave to calories consumed and calories burned. I choose to listen to my body. And I choose to be healthy, happy, and to properly love and nourish myself.

 

 

 

Post script: this is not my original draft. The first time I wrote this my computer deleted it all. I literally wrote a post called “It didn’t quite go as planned.” And it got deleted. I don’t like this version quite as much, but I am not going to let the little things get me down. I did my best with the rewrite and I hope you all enjoyed reading. 

Forgiveness

“People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.”

I was writing an email to a friend that I met through my “fitfam” talking about my experiences the past few months and I realized what has pushed me forward the farthest was forgiving myself.

Growing up, we are taught the importance of saying, “I’m Sorry” and forgiving those who apologize to us. With all the anxiety and crazy emotions that have followed me around for last five years and even more amplified in the last year, I did my fair share of lashing out. And I have had to ask for a lot of forgiveness from those who were at the other end of it (most frequently my incredible and endlessly supportive boyfriend)– forgiveness was always granted to me.

But each time I lashed out, I disliked and blamed myself that much more. 

The moment I knew I had moved into the “next chapter” of my life that I life to refer to, was the moment I told myself, “It’s okay.” Because sometimes we are ready to be healthier and stronger than ever, there is just that one final barrier. This was mine:

It’s okay that you hurt yourself. It’s okay that you tried to recover and failed once, twice, three times, or more. It’s okay that you let your fears define your social life for months or years. It’s okay that you became so self-centered that you didn’t realize how your actions affected others. It’s okay that you are scared of the future. It’s okay that you fear things that are really so small. It’s okay that you hurt people around you. It’s okay that you lost sight of what’s really important. It’s okay. It’s not good, but it’s okay and I forgive you.

I was so sorry that I had done everything I had done, but I never actually forgave myself. And that was my liberating moment. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, especially when we are strong enough to forgive ourselves for our own wrong doings. The past is the past- it will always be a part of us, but it should not stop us from defining our own bright future.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”