Monthly Archives: January 2015

Body Positive

Okay. Let’s talk about this. It’s a hand grenade- I KNOW.  (Blame my friend Rachel, she opened up this can of worms.)

Let me first take us through an exercise. Please raise your hand if you think you’re body is just perfect exactly the way it is. Nice and high. (Look, I know you’re reading this in your office- you don’t actually have to raise your hand. This is just a joke.)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that approximately zero of you agree with that statement. Or, if you do, you didn’t always. However, allow me to enlighten you on something- I think your body is perfect. Really. When I meet you, of course I notice how you look. I notice if you are tall or short, if you have on cuter shoes than I do, if your top knot makes me jealous or reminds me why I’m glad I cut my hair (sorry). I also notice your weight- are you skinny like my friend Amanda or are you curvy like me? This is mostly to determine whether or not you might let me borrow that sweater you are wearing sometime.  (Allow me to just say here that if you are black or Hispanic or Chinese, I will notice that too because I’m not a freaking idiot and people who say they are “color-blind” are showboating. That’s a conversation for another time.)

You know what I never think about you? You’d look better if you lost a little weight. I’d like you more if your arms were toned. I bet you really let yourself go after high school. That joke would be so much funnier if your thighs weren’t so thick.

That is absurd.

And yet . . . these are the real things I worry that people think about me. My boss, my best friend, my old high school crush- You must just be barely tolerating me. You must be saving some of your affection for me for when I lose weight. 

I’m embarrassed to admit this but I think you (yes, you) don’t love me as much as you would if I were thinner. (Cheeks get red, neck gets hot, prays to Jesus to strike me down dead.) When people take a chance and get vulnerable with me, I am so deliberate to communicate with them “There is nothing you could ever do that would make me not love you” but I just can’t let myself believe that would be true in return. Ouch.

I casually keep up with Donald Miller’s Storyline blog. You might know him from Blue Like Jazz. In the middle of a series called “Start Life Over,” he wrote a post called “You are in a Relationship with Yourself, Make it a Healthy One.” It’s worth a read. In it, he profiles his friend who he admires. He says:

The reason I respect my friend so much is because he does respectful things. . . So I began to wonder, if I do more respectful things, perform more generous actions and, well, dress a little better, will I actually have a little more self respect?

So I made a list of the qualities I respect. (I actually did this. Grabbed a legal pad and made a written list.) Here’s a sample:

A sense of style (decor and personal)
Authenticity
Humor
Integrity
Good taste

Spoiler alert: No where on that list is “thin.” You don’t even find “healthy.” I searched myself and I realized, I couldn’t even jot down, “Was overweight, worked really hard, self-actualized, and got fit.” I think people who have overcome health struggles are freaking awesome. I’m so proud of them. But, I don’t really respect them more because of it. So why do I think I would respect myself more if I do?

Let me be clear: I am making an active attempt to lose weight right now. I am doing that for a litany of reasons- some we’ve already covered and some we will get to. But it is a mistake for me to think that in succeeding, I will respect myself more. (This becomes more crucial still if I am less than successful.) A big part of this journey for me is getting out of my head and building habits I don’t have to think about, don’t have to have feelings for (more on this later.) But another part is cultivating a sense of adoration of myself and the way my pieces are put together.

Did it ever occur to you that I’m a good writer because I have busted the thighs out of every pair of jeans I’ve ever owned? I’m just saying, neither one of those things has ever existed without the other. Correlation as causation?

Rachel, in her constant encouragement, directed me to a couple blogs and I want to share them with you as well- Brittany, Herself and The Militant Baker write great body positive blogs with heaps of perspective.  I’m personally pretty obsessed with GabiFresh (her Instagram is v. on point.) And while you’re on Instagram, go ahead and give a follow to Ashley Graham, Girl with Curves, and Mercy Watson. These are women who simply do not mess around with being anything but themselves. They just don’t have time for that.

Maybe you are struggling with some of this (at any size, ladies be trippin.) Or maybe you’ve been with me in the pit before and really want to cheer me on to the other side. (I want this too.) I’m taking the time to dig out these feelings and examine them. Do they feed me? Are they life-giving? I’m cleaning house y’all. I don’t have space for anything that doesn’t serve me- including that voice that says, Yes, but if you were only thinner…

10 More Pounds

Last summer I was kind of freaking out. Brett and I had pretty much decided we were ready to start a family which is great, fine, whatever, but I was having a serious moment because “baby weight” was just not something I could afford to gain. In addition to the initial appointment with my physician, I scheduled a session with an acupuncturist who I love and adore- Holly at Kirksville Family Acupuncture. Holly is some kind of wizard or something and I wanted her very sound advice about (I’ll just be honest here) whether or not I was too fat to have a baby.

It might surprise you (as it did me) to know that Holly’s answer was something along the lines of “OK GOOFBALL COOL YOUR JETS.” (This is a more or less acceptable answer to most of my concerns.) But really, Holly said, “You’re okay. It’s okay. Let’s think about some of this stuff.” I had reached what I felt to be my breaking point. I needed to lose weight immediately if not before so I could be in the best shape physically, mentally, and emotionally before getting pregnant.

Since that time I have not gotten pregnant but I have gained another 10 pounds. Yep- you heard that right. I gained 10 more pounds after reaching my breaking point. The problem with my “breaking point” is that I’ve always been past it. When I was 17, I weighed 175 pounds and was, in my very humble opinion, a stone cold fox. At that time, I thought “If I ever weigh more than 200 pounds just put me out of my misery.” Mercy. (Anyone else wish they were as “fat” as they were at 17? SAME.)

I am at the strangest point in my life now, however, where I am grateful for those 10 pounds I gained. Those 10 pounds brought me to this space. Those 10 pounds came with me to a conversation in my kitchen with my husband who said “I love you just the way you are. You are smoking hot. But you are hurting and I think you should get some help so your heart can have a break.”  Those 10 pounds hauled my ass to spinning and got in my way at yoga. That scale can always go up. It can always go down. But this getting in shape physically, mentally, and emotionally? It actually takes giving attention to each of those pieces in order to reach a place of wellness. Ho boy, do I want to be well.

I have approached my health from an emotional angle my whole life. Last summer, it was fear. Often, it’s shame. I could not will myself out of that space. But fear and shame aren’t part of my spirit. And when you aren’t living in your spirit? Well for me, that’s a recipe for disaster. I’m reading a lot lately and talking more and reaching out for that encouragement and that joy that helps me live in my spirit. In fact, I’m so optimistic about my direction that I think I’d like to keep these last 10 pounds and just lose all the rest.

Oh gawd kidding. Get out of here 10 pounds!

xoxo

Y’all. I had the most real thing happen to me at yoga. It was so tangible and absolutely moving.

(Disclaimer: If you’re new here, I want you to know something- I promise I’m not grandstanding. If you’ve ever had a few drinks with me or been my husband, then you know I talk like this all the time. It’s true, I really do.) 

You guys, I tried to go to class with an open mind and an open heart and no expectations. So of course I walk in knowing and expecting to be the most ridiculous person there. And we are moving through the positions and I am struggling. I’m so new to my own practice but I’m feeling so shaken- not by the lack of fluidity to my moves but the presence of my own body. If yoga is good for one thing it is making you hyper-aware.

So I’m wiggled down into pigeon pose and I just can’t do it. My boobs and my tummy are literally in the way. They are getting in the way of the rest of my body. I’m a mess. And I start thinking about how I’m the fattest person in the room which I noticed approximately .06 seconds after walking in. And this thought forms- Damn it. I’m always the fattest person in the room. Even when I was thinner, I was still fatter than everyone else. Damn it. I’m not proud that I have those thoughts but I don’t want to mislead you. And as I’m sitting there putting out a seriously weak fire log pose, I think, my next post is going to be about body shame. And I’m going to have to admit that I don’t know what to do with it. We move into my favorite part of the class- the end. Savasana (corpse pose) is my jam. (Click on that link and look at all those people just laying there like they’re dead. Ha.) Relax your body, soften your mind. 

THIS IS WHERE SH*T GETS REAL.

As I’m cooling my jets and trying to remind myself that it’s ok if I never ever do a headstand at the peak of a mountain, in my head pops up so distinctly-

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Look, I don’t know where you stand spiritually. Maybe you are a Jesus-lover like me. Maybe you sense infinity when you go on a hike and you see a pine tree that is just too legit. Maybe you believe in the goodness that is your best friend from the second grade knowing exactly the right time to bring you a 6-pack and a really delicious block of smoked cheddar cheese. The world is just full of beauty.

Side note- If you don’t think the world is full of beauty, get with me. I wanna hear you out. We can go out to my dad’s farm where I spent the worst and some of the best years of my life; there’s this cement pad where a grain silo used to be that overlooks the river bottom and that view is just overpowering. That tree line has seen me through a lot of life. I want to know your story. 

I heard that verse in my head (Jeremiah 29:11) and it told me so many things I need to hear right now. I am overwhelmed with the sense that I have purpose and that I am known. I’m beginning to understand that this is where God wants me to be. It isn’t even about progress or growth. The reason I am at my current weight, and bad at yoga, and scared of spinning is because it’s the place where I am supposed to be. It isn’t “be bad now so you can be good later“. It is “be bad now because that matters today.” You can be someone’s friend because your chair pose twist is a joke. You can serve someone because you’ve decided to start walking on your lunch break once a week. (You is me, in this scenario… Are you following along?)

However you hear the universe speak to you, I want you to learn this lesson with me. You are not a mistake. You are not put together wrong. Today is a part of your story and it matters. And it doesn’t just matter because it’s going to hang a lantern for tomorrow’s story. If tomorrow never comes (bless you Garth Brooks. Bless.) the You as you are today still mattered. As a perfectionist, I have struggled with this my entire life. Today, I want to start letting it go. (Prayer hands emoji)

A hysterical but also somewhat sad realization I had when picking this blog back up was that I had transitioned in and out of an entire job in between posts… Wowza. My “About Me” page was about a year and a half out of date.

I say this not because I think there’s anyone reading this who doesn’t know that I’ve changed jobs, but because it gave me significant pause. Whenever I’m faced with a decision, I usually get griped with panic and think “HOW COULD I POSSIBLY DECIDE I’VE NEVER DECIDED ANYTHING BEFORE IN MY LIFE HOW DOES THIS EVEN WORK?” I spend a lot of time reminding myself that I’ve actually navigated in and out of plenty of situations and I am, in fact, capable of doing so.

The job that went un-blogged was a position at a landscape company owned by a couple of my very good friends. I accepted the position thinking it would be great experience in the private sector that would inform my career in the nonprofit sector. Midway through I was drinking the water and was pretty married to the idea of sticking around long term. 15 months in, I put in my two week notice and I was unemployed for a month before I started my new job. It’s easy to feel like I made a mistake in accepting that position because my time was pretty short-lived. But the lessons I learned in that year were transformative. I want to put some of them out into the world because I want to remember them and I want them to be as helpful as possible.

1. There’s no such thing as bad experience. Really-I believe this. My time at a landscape company seemed like a serious detour in my career and when I was interviewing, I thought Man, how am I going to spin this? But it wasn’t spin. I learned so much about time management, customer service, attention to detail. Turns out- that is relevant everywhere. And honestly, what is the difference between spin and presentation? It is important to know how to tell your own story and communicate effectively about your experiences. Internships, years spent studying abroad, a stint at a fast food restaurant- the only mistake in taking these opportunities (risks) is if you don’t bother to reflect and learn from them.

2. Work with your friends, but not for them. This is important. Definitely work with your friends. Your friends are so smart, and creative, and they can problem solve things in ways you would have never dreamed. (At least mine can.) Work on volunteer projects, plan events, start a nonprofit. Go all in. I think your friends can be your best partners. But don’t work for your friends and don’t let your friends work for you. I’ve seen it work best when both parties have an equal share of the pie. It encourages kindness, patience, and some incredible communication.We should all be working on our management skills and things can get hairy when its time for performance evaluations or corrective actions. You’ve got to be bad at something before you can be good at it, including being a boss. Don’t let your friends be your guinea pigs.

3. Be your own advocate. There is one person who shoulders the responsibility for looking after your best interests- you. It is no one else’s job to take care of you. Whether you realize it or not (spoiler alert: I didn’t realize it) you’ve got instincts and they’re worth listening to. I can’t tell you what that process might look like for you, because I’m still learning what it looks like for me. I often struggle to determine the difference between “is this Work (with a capital “W”)” or “is it just this work?” What I will say is this, while there is little that will make a bigger difference in your work satisfaction than a great boss- it’s not your boss’ responsiblity to look after you at work.  If you are in the wrong field, it’s up to you to branch out. If you are getting underpaid, it’s up to you to negotiate for a better salary. If there’s no upward mobility, it’s up to you to find a position where you can shine. Be your own best influence.

Look y’all. I’m a mess. I am in the infancy stages of my career and the world can seem like a big bad place sometimes. But I’ve been just blessed by great bosses, trusted mentors, and colleagues that I knew could totally hang if things got rough. (They can and they did.) I think there is so much value in getting vulnerable and being real with your people about what scares you, what motivates you, what makes you feel alive. Find your people (I’ll be one!) and be brave. This is definitely the right thing.

Spin Report

And I really liked it! The end.

Kidding, obviously. Of course I’m going to elaborate.

There’s a lot to like about spinning. If you are as (ahem) blessed with curves as I am, spinning is the clear winner for cardio. Chub rub is at a minimum which is great because I’m working with plenty of thunder. A decent sports bra will keep the ladies where they ought to be and impact is low. Look, dealing with some body shame is definitely going to be part of this journey so if we can keep the jiggling contained until I’m more self-actualized, I am so good with that.

In addition to keeping all my bits where they belong, spinning really is self-paced. Resistance and speed can be dialed back at any point. And you don’t look stupid when you’re on the struggle bus (THE ENTIRE TIME).

The studio at my gym is dark and the music is loud and the class is at 5:15, right after work. This is a brilliant schedule because for me, it means I just slide from work to workout without my couch and monogramed sherpa blanket interfering with my plans. Attending is of course not a habit yet, but there’s nothing about the schedule that is going to prevent it from becoming one. Low hanging fruit.

There was no way I was going to write a post about spinning without mentioning that I could CRY OUT IN PAIN my rump hurts so bad. Does that ever get better? I can only assume no. Another weird thing that happened to me- my toes went kind of numb. Does this happen to anyone else when they workout? My shoes aren’t too tight- I keep them untied. Any advice? It was bizarre. Distracting.

I was right about my prediction the class would be attended primarily by triathletes, but there were only a half-dozen of them. I don’t think there was a beginner in the room. Bless my workout buddy. I could not have gone without her. One of the worst parts of my personality is the immediate and visceral way in which I judge everything, everybody. (I’M WORKING ON IT) This makes new situations (particularly ones in which I am wearing stretchy pants and sweating) a source of anxiety for me because if I’m doing it- so is everyone else. Luckily for me and my thunder, last night’s class was small enough and gave off generally unconcerned vibes about the imposters in their ranks, so when we left we decided, “Yeah- let’s go back next week.”

Is this THE SUMMER OF GEORGE? It very well might be.

xoxo

Because I am compelled to talk about myself, and maybe because it’s a new year and I’m feeling reflective and ambitious, and certainly because I’ve had a lot of heart movement in the past few weeks, I’ve decided to start writing here again.

I need to get some things out of my head-space. I need to be expressive and vulnerable and even though I am a notorious over-sharer, sometimes I need to just get real. I went the entirety of 2014 doing that in real time and that’s ok- but now feels like a good time to be more expansive. And that’s ok too.

I ordered some journey-making materials today- Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst and a couple Moleskine notebooks. I’m more than a little discombobulated by my weight right now. I thought by 26 that I would have it mostly sorted out. I’ve certainly expected myself to reach some sort of balance about it by the time I was ready to start a family and by the time I would measure myself as a “grown up” but I’m at that intersection in my life now and I’m so not sorted out. 

I’m frustrated about the amount of time I’ve invested in this particular issue of my life and the lack of any real movement. When I consider other areas in my life, I can track real growth. I fight more fairly now than I did 3 years ago. I’m clarifying my own definition of discipleship daily. I’ve learned new crochet stitches, for pete’s sake!  But I weigh more, worry more, and have less answers about my own health than ever before. I’m fussing over some real issues and some silly ones. No where else do vanity, wellness, spiritual awareness, pop-culture, and psychological coping mechanisms meet up quite so forcefully than when I think about my weight. I am not my weight. I am smart, I have good taste, I tell really funny jokes, I plan good parties. But that stage on which I am a player is heavily influenced by my health and my weight is a part of my health. It’s a big part. And my weird psycho hangups about my weight are part of my health, too.

So back to the journey. I’ve heard great things about Made to Crave. I’m eager to be influenced. Bless Amazon.com- I ordered this morning and it shipped this afternoon. The Moleskine is to start a daily affirmation journal. I’m going to make a sincere attempt to take a daily vitamin and when I do, to document one thing I appreciate about my physical body. Maybe it will evolve to meet a greater need down the road or maybe it will never be less superficial than “I’ve got nice nail beds.” (I do.)

I have 2 goals for this year: Lose 5 pounds a month and eat less fake food. One very outcomes oriented goal and one that’s more purpose-driven. I hope together these are baby steps towards something transformative. I’ll almost certainly be re-reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan.

All of this is to say I’m evaluating. If you know me at all, you’re thinking, “duh.” This is the thing I do. It’s not a season in my life, but a habit. It’s how I move about my day. I’m taking a spinning class tomorrow night. I’ll have some things to say about that for certain. I’m thinking about trying to find a church home again. I’ll probaby hash some of that out here. I’ve got serious Instagram-envy for a girl I don’t even know. Yeah. That’s happening.

Thanks for being on my team. Stay tuned for more.