“Earlier, watching her apply mascara with ritual concentration, he’d wondered just how beautiful a woman had to be before she believed it.” ~ Alison Fell
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A couple of months ago, life offered a turning-point of sorts and along with it, recommended reading from a friend
“I knew I’d never treat a friend the way I’d treated myself; without mercy or kindness” ~ Tara Brach
Changing one's mental tape-recorder? Turns out it isn't a job for sissies. Therefore, I've placed sticky notes in strategic locations; reminders to take inventory “Are you moving through your day with a spirit of kindness?”
The most problematic? The bathroom mirror
“Hey, cool t-shirt” (“Idk, it's looking a little tight around the arms. Maybe I should put on another”
Scratch that.. ) “It makes you look pretty. Good choice”
“Yay to a clean house on Monday mornings!” (“The grocery, you didn't make it to the grocery. If you had, there wouldn't be errands to run today”
Scratch that ..) “Thank-you instead for making (and taking) dinner to a neighbor who wasn't feeling well”
I think of this often. How many times have I remarked on a friend's new dress, or their ultra-chic hair cut, but didn't tell them that I think they're big-hearted? How many times am I with my family or my husband, and don't say out loud that I think they're amazing people? Complement their character?
Complement my own?
“Every time they say ‘Roll the clip' I think, Oh God, what size am I going to be?” ~ Oprah
Throughout my forty-five years, I've been fat, thin, fatter, and pretty much every size in-between.
I think back to my twenties and thirties. The decades I thought I could (and should) be everything to everybody, and hustled with everything I had. The decades I ate my way through pregnancies, unfortunate marriages, addicted and wayward children, finishing college, building a career, building a house. Never fear, I had a reliable bag of tricks when I needed to drop a few pounds
And then, somewhere around forty, a curious (and somewhat alarming) thing began to happen
All of the tricks that used to work; suddenly they didn't(!) I found myself in uncharted territory, not only with the size of my jeans but the size of my life. Desperately I searched for my next bag of tricks, only to realize that maybe it was
time to stop
Instead of quick-fixes that only lowered the number on the scale, what if I shifted my focus ever so slightly? To be the healthiest me with an awful lot of happiness along the way
“And this is the gift of mid-life. The gift of mid-life is ‘something’s gotta go, and for the first time in your life you’re like .. and it ain’t gonna be me’ ” ~ Brene Brown via Chase Jarvis Live
“After all of your experience, what's still vulnerable for you?” ~ Brene Brown
“Weight. Discussing weight. Not having conquered the whole weight struggle. Figuring out what to eat next and what not to eat. The whole balancing what it means to be a strong, powerful woman in the world juxtaposed with trying to control what you're eating. That's still a vulnerable space for me” ~ Oprah Winfrey via Living Brave with Brene Brown
To the tape recorder. The little voice who is as sly and slippery as they come. The one who tells me I would be valuable if I were thin:
We've been constant companions over the years, you and I, although I'm trying my level best to change all that. Did I mention I'm on a quest, not only for my health but self-kindness as well? While I'd never admit it to you, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done.
Most days, I feel as if we're passing each other at the grocery. We're going opposite ways down each aisle at an oddly even pace ,and we keep meeting halfway down each row. Finally, we've stopped in front of the meat counter, and over the hum of fluorescent lights you brazenly say
“You would be pretty if your face weren't so puffy. Oh, and those jeans? Let's just call it for what it is: muffin top city. Sweetie, stick to the yoga pants.”
You wag your finger so close to my face I see double, but I know you're pointing at me. Amid the puffiness, one of my favorite things about myself? My laugh lines. In fact, they're probably more pronounced because my husband had me nearly doubled over at breakfast with one of his customary one-liners. He makes me smile every day. I've earned those lines.
Come to think of it, the extra puff in my cheeks? It's probably because we were invited to our neighbors for dinner last night. The main course? Pork. It's a highly inflammatory food for me and causes me to gain five pounds overnight. I'm not even kidding; I blow-up like a pufferfish
The muffin top? I'm betting it's more pronounced because the stories they told made me laugh so hard my ribs hurt. I'm compensating today with a little bit of a slouch.
I'm the eternal optimist, I realize, so bear with me.
There are a few reasons I'm guessing you might have decided it was your place to tell me about my body
You appear to be several years younger than me. An age sweetheart, when losing weight is truly a breeze. Your metabolism is humming along, you have all the time in the world to exercise, and can eat that chocolate cake without the slightest worry
Maybe you're speaking from experience. Perhaps you too were overweight at some point in your life.
Perhaps you too have been called names, teared up when people made fun of you, hid whenever a camera appeared, been dateless for the dance, or had someone pinch your muffin top in jest. Perhaps you allowed yourself to believe the lie that someone would love you more, if only you were a size smaller or the scale read a lower number. Perhaps you acted on it, shed a few pounds, and feel like you've got the world by the tail
Here's the thing. I'm older, and honestly at times terribly naive. Maybe I'm not jaded enough to know that you might just be right (according to most people's reasoning). Or perhaps someone convinced you that in order to be beautiful you had to be perfect.
If that's the case, then I'm terribly sorry to be the one to break this it to you. You've been misinformed
My body is nowhere close to perfect.
In fact, I'm far from anyone's standard of beauty. But I consider myself lucky because most everything works and I'm able to go about my days
I have scars along my back because it was broken in a car accident when I was a teen. Most people pause when they see them; to me, they represent living life to its fullest (it's so terribly short). I have a horrible tendency to slouch, which gives me something to work on at yoga class
My legs are far from symmetrical and look a bit funny in a skirt. After the accident, I was in a hospital bed for a long, long time, and blood clots damaged a vein deep inside my left leg. The lymphedema makes it swell, sometimes a lot, but I'm not complaining. They allow me walks with the puppies, kickboxing at the gym, and races at the park with my grandchildren
My eyes are blue, like my family's. I look at my children, and I see myself reflected in them. I hope they never think of their intelligence, integrity, or curiosity are less important than how they look in the mirror
My tummy isn't flat, nor will it ever be. It's often queasy when I'm nervous or under a lot of stress. There's a bit of sag and quite a few stretch marks. It's allowed me to birth babies, hold a plank for minutes at a time, and be a pillow for Harry when he's worn out from an afternoon at daycare. Within lies that inner voice ..
the super smart one that I've learned never to ignore
As we head into week two of the Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge, my tape recorder and I are in daily conversation. Certainly, there are challenges for activity and weight loss, but I have to wonder if there isn't a bigger story missing from the mix.
How amazing would we be if we took Tara Brach's words heart? If we approached this challenge (or any other) with the commitment to treating our journey with the same level of kindness, we extend to others on our team?
If we could try on a new filter? One that lets us see our bodies as a vehicle for our unique human experiences, instead of something to be hated? To stop precariously balancing our worth, starving ourselves to perfect, and spending time finding new and inventive ways to cover.
To see our bodies as strong. Offering us opportunities to explore, to learn, to grow, to connect, and to reach out. To once-and-for-all change the tape.
Because the truth is, we are enough. Without covering anything up, without starving ourselves or obsessing over one too many cookies. Without the never-ending sea of diet plans. Without pinching at our muffin tops, or squeezing into jeans one size too small.
Our worth isn't found in the latest pill or potion. We won't find it behind the Spanx at Target, or on the shelf at the health food store. Instead, as I'm slowly discovering, it's tucked gently inside of your humanity ..
just waiting to be discovered
My progress report after week 1?
Total minutes of activity = 635. It adds up quick! (a combination of walking, yoga, resistance class, and weight lifting)
Total pounds lost: 4.2
( .. to be continued .. )
— — —
A smoothie recipe today that's a great breakfast or snack.
Apples sautéed in butter and spices. Topped with a creamy yogurt smoothie and a sprinkling of granola. It's apple pie in a glass
From the look of the three-layered smoothie, it may seem a daunting task. Never fear it's (at most) a fifteen-minute job
~ Adapted from Green Kitchen Smoothies by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl
You’re The Apple of My Eye Smoothie
- Sautéed Apples
- 1 Tbsp clarified butter (or coconut oil)
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into ½" dice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- Yogurt Smoothie
- 1 apple, cored, and rough chopped
- 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- scoop of protein powder, optional (my favorite is from Dana James)
- nut milk to thin, if necessary
- Granola, for serving
- Sautéed Apples
- In a small to medium size sauce pan over medium heat, melt the clarified butter
- Add the spices, followed by the apple pieces. Sauté for about five minutes, or until they're golden, tender and fragrant
- Yogurt Smoothie
- To your blender add the chopped apple, yogurt, and vanilla.
- Blend on high until it's completely smooth, thinning with a splash of nut milk if the consistency is a little too thick for your liking
- Assemble and Serve
- To assemble, divide the sautéed apple pieces between two glass jars.
- Pour the yogurt smoothie over the top; finish with a generous shrinking of granola and serve