Tag Archives: balance

Chasing Beauty: The Balancing Act of Being Healthy and Fit

29 Aug

I am the first one to post quotes on Facebook like: Never Give Up, You Only Achieve What You Think You Can Achieve, and Get Fit-Yes You Can.  I take pride is pushing myself in every realm of my life in an effort to achieve the goals I’ve set and help others.  With that though, I often also experience the “it’s never enough” feeling. I know there must be many people out there that feel these same feelings.  You set a goal, work hard, achieve it, and then immediately begin to compare yourself to those around you who are one step farther.  You pay little mind to the external factors that determine why, you just think you need to do more.

This feeling, at least for me, is often illustrated in the realm of fitness and body image.  I think back seven years ago to my initial goals of losing weight and feeling healthier.  A size 14 at the time, my dream was the buy a sleeveless dress and feels good wearing it.  I wanted to wear a bikini at the beach and feel comfortable.  Slowly over time I dedicated myself to the goal and got there.  I was temporarily happy, yet quickly set a new goal.  I can be leaner, maybe a size 6 would be nice, maybe I ought to be a little more toned in my upper body and that will be perfect.  So I worked at that, got there, and then revised again.  Some of my revisions had a lot to do with career goals I was chasing and other’s opinions of me.  I let that guide me to some degree.  I am acutely aware of the societal pressure that exists to look a certain way to be accepted.  I know the stigmas attached to beauty.  Working in the modeling world, I certainly feel a tremendous amount of pressure in this sense.  Sometimes I get so confused I am not even sure what the ideal is anymore.  When this happens I go right back to this: The ideal is feeling healthy and being balanced.  I can’t say I think that’s always the ideal in other’s minds, but for me it is.  I’d go crazy trying to achieve an unobtainable goal if it wasn’t.

As I work to take the next step in my career, I’m strongly dedicated to improvement but firmly committed to balance.  Having been at every spectrum of the health, weight and image scale I know exactly where I am happiest.  I know that there will always be things about my physique and my looks that are not my favorites.  I often look at the girl next to me and think “she’s got it all” when in reality there are things she struggles with as well.  We each have a unique beauty about us, it’s most noticeable when we strive for health, when we chase the goal and not the image and when we accept that there are things about us, no matter how hard we try to change them, that just are. Beauty is most obvious to me in people who smile, who are self-confident and who are grounded.  I’ve noticed I find those qualities to be the most attractive part of a person both physically and spiritually and that’s the goal I want to chase.  I certainly want to be an athlete, healthy, fit and strong, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to change the smallest of things, to achieve a goal that really will not matter much as soon as I check it off the list.

At the end of the day, I remind myself to define my health and fitness journey by how I feel, not by how others think I look.  I know where I need to be.  It’s a place where I am physically, mentally and spiritually balanced.  I am not starving, I am respecting my body, and I am pushing my physical capabilities at a reasonable level.  Wherever that takes me is where I’ll go and I’ll be content there.

The Stay-at-Home Work-at-Home Mom Dilemma

1 Mar

My husband likes to say he married me with the intention that I would make the money.  Shortly after we announced our engagement I made the decision to attend graduate school, and the images of having a steady job went out the window.  Being that I was driven in college, he figured I’d be a working wife, and someday a working mom, which pretty much is what happened.  Until which point I had two children.  Up at 5:00, out the door by 6:00 to get to work by 7:00 to leave at 4:00 to get the kids at 5:00, and heaven forbid if some was sick.  That was a major problem.  By the time my children were 2 and 4 I was exhausted and literally falling asleep standing up.  One day I said, “I want to quit” and I did.  We had no idea at that point how we would financially handle the loss of my income but I hoped we would figure it out as went along.

Being a stay at mom was no easy job though.  The allure of enjoying my house, baking, taking the kids for walks on sunny days quickly became two-year-old tantrums, constant messes being created, meltdowns in Target, and dinner sitting cold on the table when my husband was late from work.  I’d find myself talking his ear off as I craved the an adult conversation.  Barney, as it turns out, can only hold your attention so long.  The days were long, and somehow looking back, I remember then with nostalgia.  I know that in those moments there were times when I basically wanted to jump of a bridge some days.  “Please”, I’d tell my husband at the end of the day, “make him stop talking”.  My little one talks incessantly. “Mommy, mommy, mommy”, all day long.  I’ve since been told the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I’m not sure that’s really a compliment, but likely true.  Our children reflect us in many ways, and sometimes it’s like looking through the mirror and seeing yourself first thing in the morning.  You jump back in shock, that can’t possibly be me.  But it is.

I hold the many years I stayed home with my children very dear to my heart, something I personally wouldn’t change; however, when I initially quit I knew there would come a time when I’d go back to work, if for nothing else than financial reasons.  After all, my husband aims to retire at 75 at this rate.  I remind him he doesn’t like to be bored so why retire.  He’s not really buying it.  So when the time came last year for me to pursue a career, I jumped on it.  I think I surprised some people, but it’s something that I’d been thinking on for some time, and once I make a decision, I just do it.

The return to the work force has been a difficult one.  Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I now sit on the stay-at-home, work-at-home mom fence.  It’s kind of feels like barbed wire some days.  Having been home for so long, my kids have expectations of me.  To carpool, sit and do homework with them, volunteer at school, play games, and fix dinner.  With the introduction of working, things balance differently.  However, not having childcare before or after school, or breaks for that matter (note to self, one week till spring break) means many of the parenting duties still rest on my shoulders.  Fortunately, my husband is a big help in this, but it’s forced me to truly examine and digest societies interpretations, and because I care deeply what about what people think (knowing that please refrain from sending me any hate mail if you don’t like my blogs), this matters to me.

The bottom line, I really do feel like women are expected to be super people.  There are a million amazing dads I know, trust me, but there is the feeling among working moms, myself now included in that mix, that despite the fact that we are legitimately trying to work, whether it be for financial reasons or personal reasons, we are still expected to take care of things at home.  People notice when I am not around.  I don’t think people do as much with my husband.  The welfare of everyone  feels like it rest on my shoulders, so I frantically fly around the house getting things done so that everyone is happy, and when I pass off some of those duties, I feel judged at times.  Part of me thinks, all things considered, why exactly am I trying to work at all?  Obviously money is a factor in that, because it does cost to live and my family has a unique way of running up medical bills…I have three specialists on my speed dial, need I say more!  More importantly though, I want to be an example. I want my children to see a mother who doesn’t give up on her dreams.  Who works hard at finding her passion.  I want my husband to have a wife that feels fulfilled.  I want him eventually to be able to take a step back after building his career and let me build mine.  That’s was always the deal, after all.  I want more, it’s time now.  Maybe things will change eventually and I’ll decide to take more time off, or maybe God willing if I can ever pull in enough money my husband will have that opportunity. Who knows?

For now though, my decision has been a stark reminder that women wear many hats.  In this day and age, we work, and we parent, and we often do it at the same time.  My husband came home the other night to find me carefully examining the screen doors.  He looked down, “wow, how did all that build-up get in there, no wonder nothing opens and shuts lately”.  I looked at him with a smile, and gently said, “Remember all those stay-at-home mom days?  Remember when I said if I try to work something will have to give”. To which he replied “yes”.  “Well, this is what I used to do all day…clean door frames, scrub finger prints marks off the walls, soak dirty clothing, clean garbage disposal, power wash the house, vacuum up crumbs, dust the patio furniture, organize the refrigerator, and the list goes on”.   Our house is a bit of a wreck lately, but we are getting by.

You can’t be everything to everyone all the time, but you can be someone important to some people some of the time, remember that you know what is best for you and your family.   The best moms are those who work hard day in and day out to achieve some sort of balance.  That’s the goal.  Balance provides perspective, it’s the leveling force in life.  When things are out of alignment you struggle.  With that, I’m off to start the day. Two hours of work done and it’s still dark out, off to get the kids up for school and the day begins.  Right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Want some fun reading on the decisions smart women make about whether to stop working after children, check out Meg Wolitzer’s novel The Ten Year Nap, and excellent read!

Just Eat Already: How Eating Regularly and Picking the Right Food Combinations Aid In Weight Loss and Fitness

27 Feb
The Farmer’s Market! A great place to stock up on tasty fruits and vegtables.

I’ve been everywhere in relation to food over the course of my life. I’ve eaten too much, I’ve eaten too little. I’ve eaten without regard and been completely mindful. It’s come down to this. If you don’t eat food, it will eat you! Food and health is all about balance and feeding your body the right foods at the right time is paramount.  If you do this, you will naturally begin to crave these foods and you will be better able to maintain weight. So, here’s what that means to me.

1) You need to eat. I cannot even tell you how many people I know who skip meals. I know, you get busy, you travel, you’re in meetings, I hear it all. You just have to decide you are going to be prepared, pack food if you need to, and take 5 minutes to eat. Wake up, eat breakfast within 30 minutes, and eat every few hours. Let your hunger dictate some of that. Do not allow yourself to get too hungry! As soon as that happens you will find yourself in a bind because you will eat the closest thing you can get your hands on.

2) You need to think very carefully about what you are eating. Your ability to combine the right foods at the right time is important. I used to believe as long as I was eating something healthy I was doing well. Not true! Steel cuts oats are great, for example. Should you have just that for breakfast in the morning? No. Consider these combinations as better options.

A serving of steel-cut oats, 3 egg whites, a few slices of avocado

A serving of steel cut oats, one serving of nonfat Greek yogurt, a small handful of natural almonds

A serving of steel cuts oats, 1 scoop of protein powder, flax seed and one serving of berries

3) You need to hydrate yourself. Thirst often masks itself as hunger. Drink water throughout the day. The side effects of hydration are numerous and sometimes we don’t even realize that we are dehydrated. What helps? Invest in a water bottle or cup with a lid and straw.  Keep that with you and fill it up regularly. Every time you find yourself in a place that serves or offer you water take it.

4) Include vegetables. With your snacks include a vegetable. Carrots are easily able to be packed and add a crunch to your diet. Snap peas are tasty. Adding things like bell peppers and mushrooms to your breakfast isn’t that hard. You can also throw spinach in smoothies and sometimes not even notice it’s there. Veggies help you fill up and offer a wide variety of nutrients.

Focusing daily on eating regularly and combining the right foods will help curb your cravings and prevent you from eating foods you will later regret.  Please feel free to share combinations of foods that work for you.  I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate in my diet!

Finding Balance: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

10 Nov

What qualifies me to discuss the ins and outs of fitness, diet, and nutrition?  I’m not a dietician, nor a nutritionist.  I’ve done a lot of research and reading on many aspects of diet, but no agency has certified me as an expert.  What I am is a real-life test case.  A wise mentor of mine said recently that sometimes living through something gives you the best perspective.  It’s much like parenting, once you live it, you feel like you have some helpful advice to offer on the subject.  Your thoughts don’t apply to everyone, but they might help someone.  With that, I’ll share my thoughts on health as it pertains to body competitions.

I wholeheartedly endorse the concept of pushing yourself.  Putting yourself in a situation where you are challenged, both physically and mentally; it is where you find growth.  It teaches you about who you are and for what you stand.  I put myself in that situation when I decided to participate in bikini competitions, and here is the most important thing I am taking away from it.

 The mind is as much a temple as the body.

I’ve come to believe that each person has an “optimal” health point.  This is the place where you push yourself hard and you hit a point where you mind, body, and soul feel complete.  Physically you have eaten right, appreciated food, and come to understand what your body needs to work most efficiently.  Your excellent health reflects in your attitude.  Your mind is in a good place, thriving off positive energy and peace.  The food and exercise that fuels the body allows you to handle what the world throws at you .  Your soul understands the depth of how these pieces are intertwined.  You feel invincible.  This is a place where people strive to be. 

This road should be carefully navigated though since excess in either direction can interfere with achieving your goals.  Much like a person carrying a lot of internal baggage and struggling to lose weight, being too thin and/or exceeding your physical limitations can be equally detrimental.  You may get a lot of positive feedback as your success is judged on looking good physically, but what if someone were to look internally and grade your mind?  Do you feel good inside, or are you empty?  Are both your mind and body in a healthy place, or are they unbalanced. 

Food fuels the body.  Eating right for your specific needs allows you to find the optimal spot where you thrive mentally and physically.  Paying attention to your mind and body as a guide to fitness and nutrition is paramount.  Much like the universe is balanced, so are we.  Think carefully as to how you navigate your health and fitness goals.  Push yourself hard physically but be vigilant about protecting your mind and spirit.

I recently asked a friend about her experiences running marathons and what she has learned over the years.  “I always remember going in that my body starts the race but my mind finishes it”, she said.  ” True grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals and the motivation to achieve them”.  This personality trait is what allows us to push our bodies far beyond normal levels.  It’s important to rely on our minds to help us realistically determine how much of that is healthy.  We should pay careful attention to how our fitness and nutrition goals allow us to achieve balance. While we rely on experts and coaches to help us, we should learn to trust and rely equally on our own intuition to make decisions based on what our minds and bodies tell us is right.  Push the limits, but don’t push so far that you lose yourself as a result.