Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How Do You See Yourself?


I catch a glimpse of my chin in the side view mirror on my car and I wonder if everyone notices my double chin along with the lovely blonde stubble that the PCOS hormones cause to grow there. I make some snide comment about it and how much I wish it wasn't there. My husband turns to me and says, "it is funny how we see ourselves so differently than what others see."  It takes me back and stops my ranting of my flaws dead in its tracks. Does he see me differently than I see myself? I never even considered that idea. It seems so foreign to me.

This man greats me with, "hello beautiful, how was your day?" most days. He doesn't say it because it is how he greats me, he says it because he truly thinks I am beautiful. But that isn't what I see when I look in the mirror. I stare in the mirror and see my stomach and thighs and chubby chipmunk cheeks. I assess how much make up it is going to take to cover whatever acne flaws that the PCOS hormones have caused this week. I am obsessed with my muffin top lately because it feels like all my weight is having a party in my stomach these days. I can see every flaw clearly written and etched on my body from years of neglect, abuse and a health condition that I didn't start to understand till recently.

I am sitting in the gym locker having the debate. Do I change in the bathroom stall or quickly hop into my workout clothes right here? It would be faster if I just changed. It would be simpler. But I look around and notice a few skinny women are changing as well. So I grab my clothes, lock my locker and start the process of changing in a stall while the automatic toilet flushes at least 10 times. This is what I am willing to do to avoid them seeing me naked. There is no way I can change in front of them and have them see my flaws.

I wonder if my mom thinks of me as her daughter with the emotional eating and obesity problem. I wonder if my niece would be as obsessed with health food if she didn't have an overweight Aunt. I wonder how my sister ended up with a completely different body type than me and eating habits than me. When I see pictures of me next to my family members I wonder if they are embarrassed by the photo as much as I am? Do they just see me as the fat one or do they see me as their sister, their daughter, their wife, their aunt, their niece, etc? Do they see someone they love or are they embarrassed by me? Do they see my flaws or do they see my good qualities as well? I notice that my shoulders are broader and I am taller than them. I notice that it isn't just the fat that makes me bigger, I am just a built bigger than them in general. I decide to delete the picture instead of posting it on social media, embarrassed by the size difference between me and my family. Convinced that they feel the same.

My bathroom has so many hair/face/make-up products you would think I could open up my own cosmetic store. I even had to add in an extra shelf. Some of them are samples I get monthly in my beauty boxes but a lot of them are products I use weekly. Each Sunday I spend close to an hour preparing for the week. Hair removal cream, oatmeal face mask, shaving my legs, exfoliating every inch of my body, a hair mask for deep conditioning, leave in conditioner, curl enhancer, lotion and finally bed. These are things I do for myself. Because I feel good when I take care of my body. I don't resent the time I spend doing these rituals and I actually feel flawless afterwards.

I am 16 years old. It is warm and sunny. I am wearing a snow jacket. Why? Because I thought it would be nice to wear a cute tank top and then I thought better of it, because my best friend picked me up and she was wearing a tank top. She was maybe 115 soaking wet on a good day and actually struggled to gain weight (and often ate the most fattening things in order to gain a little extra weight). Seeing her next to me in her tank top made me put on the biggest jacket I had and then I proceeded to sweat the entire day. I was so freaking miserable and you can see it in the picture my aunt took at her house. My hair was died a horrible red. I was wearing a giant jacket. I was not really smiling. I was sweating so darn much. I wanted to feel the sun on my arms. I hated that jacket but I wore it all the time.

I hit the gym at least 3-4 days a week. I am trying to work up to 5 days but I never seem to make it that 5th day. I can feel my body getting stronger. I can feel my endurance building. I can feel my PCOS symptoms easing up on me. But when I work out I always think it is never enough because I still can see the extra weight pooling up in places I would rather not have it gather. I always think I need to be working harder, this progress isn't going fast enough, I need to lose all the weight NOW! I curse PCOS often for making weight loss so hard on me. I have to stop myself and remember that I really should enjoy the process, each non scale victory, each step, each time I up the weights or swim that extra lap in the pool. I am so worried about about how I look to others, I am not enjoying gaining my health back with each gym visit.

I am in my early 20's. I am washing my hair in the shower. I just died it yet another color. I haven't been blond for a very long time and to be honest I have sort of forgotten what I look like with blond hair. This time around it is a horrible copper color. I am trying to hide what I look like in general because I have gained extra weight recently and I am feeling super self conscious. I don't know why I felt dying my hair was the right choice but somehow it comforted me. The only thing I felt I had control over on my body.

My co-worker said something interesting, like me, she is bigger, she used to attend the same gym I did until she decided she didn't want to anymore. When I said I go to the downtown gym she said, "it is a meat market in there, nothing but muscle men and skinny women." So then I automatically started noticing that yes, there was a huge amount of really tone women and very well muscled men. I immediately got self conscious and thought about switching gyms. I don't want all these good looking people staring at me while I am working out. When I said this to my husband, he just looked at me with his eyebrow raised. So I stopped being irrational because I really like the convenience of my gym. The next time I worked out I stopped and looked around me more carefully, there was also older people, bigger people and people who didn't fit into a stereotypical mold all around. Like me, my co-worker didn't see that, instead she saw the people that made her feel the most flawed.

I am getting ready to meet someone new through the meet up site my husband and I joined in order to make some new friends. I am freaking out. I can't find the right outfit that won't show any of my flaws. I am staring at my fat rolls and wondering if they will make fun of me. We are going for a walk and I am so afraid that I will fall behind or sweat, actually I know I am going to sweat because that is what I do, I sweat a lot when I work out. I start thinking I am going to be the only bigger girl there hiking around this pond with everyone and I am going to fall behind. What if my ankles start hurting? I am so self conscious I decide to fake a headache and just not go. I can't go. What if they want me to sit in a cheap plastic lawn chair and I collapse it? What if they notice my fat rolls and decide I am not worth getting to know? What if they start making fun of me? I am so over thinking this, I know, but I can't stop listing my flaws.

I am my own worst critic. I heard a lot of negative words over the last 30 years. Words like fat, bossy, controlling, etc spat at me in a nasty tone. I have been mocked and teased. I have felt ashamed. But how much of it was me? How much of it was things I was saying in my own head? I can tell you that I am terrible to myself because I am. I am my own worst critic. I could have worn that tank top, no one would have cared. I could have changed right there in the locker, no one would have judged and if they would have, who cares? Why do I care? I have spent a lot of time recently wondering that question. Why should I care so much what negative people think? Does their opinion really make or break me? My choice to get healthy had nothing to do with being skinny, it had to do with wanting to feel better. Having PCOS is easier when I am healthier and I was tired of my ankles hurting all the time. In the end I made the decision because I knew that I had one body and I needed to take care of that one body, not hide it or disguise it or be embarrassed by it.

So I recently made a little deal with myself, to get out of my own head and my own way. I am not sure for 100% how the people that love me see me but I am pretty sure I am a LOT harsher on myself than they are. All in all, I need to be a little nicer to myself, we all do. We are doing what we can to survive, sometimes that means eating that bagel or slipping up and having a donut when we know we shouldn't. That is okay. Our flaws make us humans and make us real. My flaws are here to remind me what I am working on, where I have already been and all that I have left to accomplish. As I near my 30th birthday in less than 3 weeks I am working on reflecting on my 20's. What did I do wrong? How did I hurt my own progress? What would make me happy? I do know that I don't want to walk into my 30's cursing my body for not being perfect. I want to embrace myself, flaws and all. So that is the deal I am making with myself, to enter my 30's with happiness at the lessons learned and progress I have made so far. And excited for the upcoming journey of my fabulous 30's. As long as I am moving forward and learning from my mistakes, I am accomplishing something, no matter how small.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Alternative to Coffee and Morning Workouts

Who here loves coffee? My relationship with coffee has always been a love hate relationship. I started out refusing to touch the stuff for a very long time. Then I got one of those grown up jobs that required me to get up in the mornings. Saying good bye to my night shifts that I had been working for years was hard and I found coffee became my best friend. I gave it up for awhile. Then started it back up. Then gave it up. Then started it back up. It drifts in and out of my life depending on how much sleep I have gotten. But recently I noticed that when I drank it, my stomach didn't feel so great. I also noticed I was getting severe 3 p.m. crashes like I have never felt before, with a good nights sleep. Weird. So I switched to ice tea and the same thing started happening. Last week I got so fed up I decided to try something I use to drink in the morning before I had even began this odd relationship with coffee.

Yerba Mate is supposed to be a great alternative to coffee and it comes in handy tea bags now instead of having to drink it as loose leafs, which is how I remember it before.

I drank it all weekend long. I ended up buying tea bags, boiled some water, dipped one in there, added some unsweetened coconut milk and a tiny bit of honey. It tasted actually really good! One of the first things I noticed was that it wasn't necessarily the same caffeine that I normally drink so I got a slight headache the first day. But I also noticed no afternoon crashes and no indigestion. I also don't need a lot of sweetener, which was another problem I was having with coffee, I hated it without a lot of sweetener. Last night, in order to transport it easier to work, I simply made a huge pitcher and iced it. I then placed it in a sealed container to take to work, got some ice from the cafe and voila, iced yerba mate tea. Goes well with my green smoothie in the mornings and I have heard that some people add the leaves to their smoothies as well, hmmmm. We shall see how it goes in a few weeks.

You know what I discovered? I don't like mornings and I don't think I will ever be an exercise in the morning kind of person. This weekend I attempted again to get out of bed, have a green smoothie and then head to the gym. I managed get out of bed, I managed to have a green smoothie and then I failed at the actual head to the gym. Instead on Saturday I returned back to my bed to read my book I was super involved in while the husband watched the new Superman movie. It has been a very long time since I have gotten a weekend completely with no obligations and I have been itching to read this book for months. So I did. I read the whole thing and quickly ordered the second from the library. 

Back to morning workouts, I have heard so many exercise/fitness bloggers/Instagram peoples say that working out in the morning is the best. But I can't get there. I just hate mornings far too much. I am lucky I look so nice at work every day. Hence why I started forcing myself to hit the hay around 9:30 p.m. and create a steady sleep schedule. I still just can't seem to manage exercising in the mornings though. The few times I have done it I have felt stiff and it took me forever to actually wake up. Morning workouts have always just felt horrible to me. So in true FASM style, I did some research on the benefits of evening workouts.

One article listed off many good reasons: 

"You'll make healthier decisions that night. You'll sleep better. You'll have time to decompress" (You can read more here)

Another article talked about burning more calories after a full day of eating:

"One of the best points of working out in the evening is that you can burn more calories, after all the eating that you've done throughout the day." (You can read more here)

But one of the things that really caught my eye was...

"If you've been forcing yourself to wake up in the morning to exercise and haven't been able to keep the routine, it may be time to stop fighting it. The great thing about morning workouts is that you can get your calorie burn done before you even start your day, but if you're finding that you end up sleeping through your early-morning alarm, you'll probably have more success if you can carve out time after work for exercise."

And it hit me, maybe I needed to stop trying to force myself to wake up early and get a workout in if I just wasn't one of those people that actually enjoyed it. After all, I do enjoy planning out my workouts right before I leave for work and then getting to let go of all my stress at the gym each evening. Each of us is different and as long as we are moving, I think THAT is probably the most important part. So I accepted that and nailed two great evening workouts this weekend.

Saturday I still dragged my feet but the husband convinced me we needed it. He was right. Just don't tell him that. 

We decided to do a little extra since we had skipped out on our Friday workout. So I did 20 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical, we did legs on the weights, a 400 yard swim and then did 200 yards of squats/lunges etc in the pool. It was really great actually and I felt a ton better afterwards. The only thing about working out on a Saturday evening though is you get some weirdos at the gym, but even with the weirdos, it was still a great workout. We got home late because we didn't realize how much time we had spent at the gym. So we did a super simple dinner of shredded chicken, a little bit of sourdough bread and a heaping pile of steamed carrots. We stayed up a little later than normal but it was all worth it because we got to watch a killer thunderstorm pass near us. It was actually really beautiful! 

On Sunday we had planned to take the dogs for a long hike but I got side tracked by getting the house clean before the football game. So instead after watching our team lose, we decided to take our frustrations out at the gym.

Have I mentioned how much I love just planning out the workouts? For me, it is almost as fun as doing the workouts. I love looking up new and fun moves. Researching the different machines. I am even learning the names of most of the machines at my gym. I swear it is the reason I head to the gym most days. 

On Sunday we rocked the upper body and abs/core because today we are skipping the gym due to a much needed grocery store visit. I saw this move, where you go from downward dog to a push up position and lower into cobra slowly, holy CRAP that move burns and works your arms/core. 

I also rocked out some planks. Now I can only hold them for like 5 seconds but I have to tell you, I was surprised I was able to hold them at all, considering I wasn't able to for a long time. I was also surprised how easily I was able to hold downward dog and transition into cobra. I can pretty much tell you that swimming has helped my core a lot and my upper body is getting pretty strong as well. Love it!

Looking forward to another week of getting stronger...

What workouts do you have planned? Do any fun strength workouts this weekend? 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014


This morning I woke up itching to step on the scale. I have been consistent with my gym visits and I am tracking my food. I am still sometimes inching over that carb line that I would like to stay under (30-100 grams a day) but the more I workout the less I want to eat any junk food. This week so far has shown that in the healthy choices I have been making each day. It isn't always easy, today at my mid morning break I stared at the ham and cheese croissants for a very long time before settling on a banana. I even made sugar free Jello last night to help with my sweet tooth. But stepping on that scale right now, while I am still working on making this a habit, it could be a bad thing. Sometimes I picture huge amounts of weight dropping off  me while I am working out as motivation. The reality can be a little more crushing.


As I swam last night I struggled to breath at first. My breathing was all wrong and I felt winded. Yes I am having severe allergies thanks to the horribly dry weather. Yes it was probably a bit of anxiety because it had been a stressful day at work. But after a few laps suddenly I felt my lungs expanding and my breathing got deeper. I felt my body relaxing into the swimming motions. It stopped feeling forced and suddenly it felt a little more natural. That made it easier for me to swim harder and efficiently. I felt my body responding to the oxygen. I felt myself needing less breaks. In the end I was able to whip out 700 yards in the pool. It has become my happy place in a world that feels sometimes a little too hectic.

It was a busy pool day. Everyone was lane sharing and we ended up letting a gentlemen share our lane because all he was doing was squats/jogging/lunges in the pool. My first lane sharing experience (with someone besides my husband) went actually pretty great, all we did was swim around him and sometimes each other. Luckily I have become a lot better at steering and managed the laps effortless without side swiping or splashing him too much. I found that with him in the lane because I didn't want to stop to hold up the lanes, I kept swimming instead of taking my 60-90 second breathers after each 50 yards.When I needed to catch my breath I slowed down and I breathed on every other stroke. When I had caught my breath I sped up and breathed on every 4th stroke. I learned last night that I don't need to panic in the water just because I feel a little winded, I don't even need to stop swimming, I just need to slow down and change my strokes a bit. I am gaining ground on my endurance and breathing techniques. That is something the scale can't show.

In the end, I ended up passing on weighing myself this morning. I don't want to lose my momentum because the scale isn't necessarily reflecting what I envision it should be. I would rather just concentrate fully on my non scale victories and making the gym a daily habit. I do want to be below 300 pounds by the time I turn the big 3-0 in October but for now I am okay with slowly making better choices and taking it all one day at a time. This is the best and strongest I have felt in a very long time. Which was evident by my super sore shoulders and arms last night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Emotional Eater Meets the Gym

I usually try to avoid the gym on Mondays because well EVERYONE works out on Mondays. This Monday was no different, the gym was a bit of a mad house and it seemed that everyone wanted to do an arm day which meant fighting for the machines, something I hate doing. As a side note, what is it about arm day that makes me walk around the house flexing for the rest of the night?? Grow baby guns grow. Since I didn't work out Saturday or Sunday, Monday I knew I needed to get to the gym, busy or not busy. I wasn't feeling it though. The lack of sleep made me really sluggish, especially during my cardio. We ALL know I hate cardio anyways but yesterday it seemed so much harder than normal. But it allllll got done and I felt a lot better for it in the end. I had some other free weight arm exercises planned but unfortunately it took so long to fight for the machines I was hungry and needed to get home to the doggies by the time I finally finished on the machines. Sad but there is always next week!

Yesterdays Workout-

20 Minute HIIT Elliptical workout:

3 minute warm up at a moderate pace
30 seconds of 13-15 resistance at a faster pace
60 seconds of 0 resistance at a slower pace
Alternated between the two for 15 minutes
2 minute cool down  at a slow pace gradually getting slower


3 sets of 10 reps each

Shoulder Press
Lat Pull Down
Triceps Press
Triceps Dips
Mid Rows

There was a moment when I contemplated not working out yesterday. The husband knew I was exhausted and offered to just grab a salad so we could go home after work. I thought about it. I pictured my PJ's in my head and imagined how good a hot shower would feel. I saw my soft bed so perfectly in my head. Than I felt a bit of sadness at NOT being able to work out. 

Wait what? 

Yes, sadness at NOT being able to work out. 

Where the heck did that come from?

I have heard urban myths about people using their workouts to help with stress. To me, it seemed like such a far fetched idea, I mean come on, isn't that what cookies and ice cream are for? As an emotional eater, it is easy to fix my problems with ice cream but not so easy to see any other way to cope with stress, anxiety and bad life moments. I have a high stress job. I have a busy life. I have a lot going on at all times. Which means I spend a bulk of my time stressed and fighting strong urges to emotionally eat. So whenever some little bit of stress tips my already hectic scale, I tend to just eat and skip the workouts because why would those help?

But that has been causing its own stress lately. Gaining weight. Joint pain. PCOS symptoms. Turns out emotional eating was causing a lot of stress all on its own.

I have been working on my emotional eating. I have been dealing with it and finding alternatives to emotional eating because when I saw the numbers on my scale blinking up at me, I knew there had to be another way. I didn't realize it till yesterday but somewhere in the last couple of weeks the gym has become that alternative for me. That cringe, that sadness at not going to the gym was because I knew deep down inside that the gym would help. It would help with getting to sleep at a decent time. It would help quiet my mind after a long day of it chattering away and running through a constant lists of need to do's. It has done wonders in helping with the anxiety and panic attacks that nearly crippled me last year.  It helps with the urge to snap and be cranky. It is hard to hold on to the crankiness and wanting to snap at everyone around me when I am pouring down sweat. It is nice to take out my frustrations on the weight machines and feel the burn in my muscles instead of the burn in my stomach after some fast food. It is nice to be able to squash down anxiety with some good old fashioned sweating. 

I have noticed the difference, there are things that working out does for me that emotional eating NEVER did. Working out makes me a more well rounded person. I am able to handle stress more efficiently. I don't freak out as often. After my workout I am even a pleasant person and no longer feel the urge to get snappish. Working out is a good way to get some down time from problem solving and sometimes it even helps with whatever problem I was thinking about in the back of my mind. I am gaining confidence from working out. I am accomplishing things I never thought I would. A month ago I couldn't go one lap in the pool without having to stop to catch my breath, now I can go 300-500 yards before needing a break. Before I could barely stay on the elliptical for 5 minutes, now I am doing 20 minutes of hard HIIT workouts. Yesterday I moved my tricep weights up to 30 instead of my normal 20 (I started out at 10 a few months ago). This is the progress I would never have seen if I didn't head to the gym after a stressful day and instead had chosen to emotionally eat. 

Lately I have been enjoying my workouts. I am even enjoying planning them. I spend a few minutes each day just mapping out what I want to do and accomplish. It gets me pumped for the workout. I still get those few minutes of second guessing, where I don't want to go, especially after working for 9 hours. But I find that those moments only last until I get to the gym and start working out. Once I am in that pool or on that elliptical, I get it done and feel a whole lot better for it. Not to mention I still do squats, incline push ups and leg lifts at my desk through out the day because sitting at a desk sucks otherwise. 

Yesterday I also got my BeautyBox5 in the mail which always makes my day just a little bit better! 

I got to say I haven't gotten a bad box yet this month between Ipsy and now BeautyBox5. More deep conditioner because we all know I love it. A fun looking eye crayon that is like an eye shadow and eye liner mixed into one. Another new nail polish color to try out. Some fun pink toe separators and acne spot treatment. I pretty much just want to try everything like right now!! 

Today is a swim day at the gym. The last couple of weeks I have been doing 600 yard swims but this week my hope is to up it to 800 yards. Now I will be okay with upping it to 650 or 700 yards just as long as I am increasing slowly upwards and getting stronger in my swims. I want to make sure I am always pushing my body so it continues to be a great workout. 

What workout do you have planned? Do you use exercise to de-stress? How have you overcome emotional eating?