Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

If you know me directly, you know that I love music.  I always have my ipod, especially for my workouts.  I also, hate sitting in a car and is dead silent.  I have to have music.  I’ll admit, I’m not a huge Selena Gomez fan, however, I heard her song one day.  I tapped my toe to it, but as I listened to the words, I thought they were AMAZING!   I want to post a couple of her lines below and I’ll explain my reasoning following:
Who says you're not pretty,
Who says your not beautiful,
Who says?
Who says you're not star potential,
Who says you're not presidential,
Who says you can't be in movies,
Listen to me, listen to me,
Who says you don't past the test,
Who says you can't be the best.
Would you tell me who said that, who said?
These words really hit me.  Having struggled with my weight my whole life, I’ve always told myself that I wasn’t beautiful or pretty.  I believed that because I was fat, that no one would love me (even though my family told me they loved me every day).  I always would be the first one to make fun of myself because I was so overweight.  I viewed it as: “If I can make fun of myself first, no one else can”.
BUT, this is my struggle now.  Losing 90lbs in the last 2 years, I still see myself as the 'old me'.  When I go shopping, I still go to the plus sizes.  I always look for the extra larges in all clothing.  I automatically assume I can’t wear OR won’t look good in something because “I’m fat”.  I still tell myself “I can’t, I’m fat”.  However, this is not true.  I can!  I "can" run farther than a mile- I've done a 1/2 marathon! I’m not even considered “overweight”.  I’m right where someone my height and age should be at.  My goal now- toning my body. BUT, even more work needs to be done on the inside of me… This is why I like the question in this song.
The ANSWER is “I SAID”.  I SAID” I couldn’t do something because of my weight.  I LIMITED” myself by eating my feelings when I was sad.  “I’M” the one who has believed the lies I have told myself and I have done such a disservice to myself.  REALITY IS: I’m worth something! AND SO ARE YOU!
Genesis 1:1-26 I’m “made in God’s image”
John 3:16 “God gave up his one and only son to death on a cross” for me.
Life isn’t measured by how much we own or obtain.
Luke 12:11-21 
Walking into the gym every day and facing mirrors is still intimidating.  I still view myself as I had been the previous years.  I catch myself taking a double take in the mirror as well as looking at recent pictures and asking myself if it is really me?  I still have a very hard time taking a compliment when someone tells me I look pretty or that I’m small and petite.  These are words that hadn’t ever been used to describe ME. 
BOTTOM LINE: I’m learning treasure myself.  I encourage you to do the same.  You first have to have a sense of self-worth before you’re ever going to be able to push yourself on your weight loss journey.  Overweight or not, know that you are loved.  Know that you are beautiful & should exercise and eat clean because you owe it to your body. Only you can do this though... I encourage you, you are worth something.  I love you and so many others do too. We were given one body; let’s take care of it mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Your challenge and task: Know your worth
My week’s Success: Accepting the person looking back at me in the mirror.  It's a process~

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GymMembership vs. ChurchMembership

Discomfort… Not a word any of us really care for.
Uncomfortable… another, we don’t care for.
These two words come to mind for me in the last week. It applies to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as life in general.
I’d like to give you my latest scenario.  This last year I’ve substitute taught at a rural elementary school.  The school year ended, and I started my new job in retail with the Buckle. Going into it, I was scared. However, I packed up my things & took a chance. Two days in, glad I did!
Then… My gym membership… Those who have their workout patterns know what I’m talking about when I say you have everything at the gym marked.  You know the gym like the back of your hand because a lot tears and sweat have gone into that place. You know who uses what and when.  The down times to go. Who’ll be there and when. Who to stay away from and so forth. And walking in, I was scared.  Scared of where to go when I want to do weights or cardio.  Scared because my personal trainer wasn’t with me.  Suddenly I forgot how to even workout! Ha! I was scared that I didn’t know the proper gym etiquette.  EVEN more… I wanted to do group classes!
BUT which ones?
I decided to branch out & try my very first spinning class.  I had heard they were great! I arrived early and actually put time in on the treadmill before class to warm up.  I met an older lady who guided me in the correct direction. I asked if there were bikes that were ‘spoken’ for & she smiled and said no.  I climbed up on a bike and waited for the instructor.  As I sat their peddling, an older couple walked in and the one particular lady stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me.  I looked at her, turned away, looked back, and she was still staring at me.  I quickly said, “Is this your bike?” She said, “Well yes”! I volunteered to move and did so quickly.  I thought, wow, how rude. I was ready for some spinning! However, class got started, I cooled off (my temper anyways). Haha
Thinking back on it though, this thought occupied my mind…
 Gym membership is no different than a church membership.
  In churches, you have the same people who have been sitting in the same pew for 30 years.  They show up, put their time in, and leave.  They don’t do anything outside of the church to glorify God; they just come and put their time in.  So I ask; what are you getting out of being a member of Christ’s body?! Same goes for the gym… Are you showing up and just putting your face time in? Are you giving your full effort? Being a Christian and being Fit have huge parallels. 
You have to be UNCOMFORTABLE where it causes you to act.  You’re never going to accomplish your fitness goals if you don’t reach being UNCOMFORTABLE.  You have to Act.  Action meaning… you have to push through. It becomes easier once you do. 
Same for a Fit Christian life. You have to push through.  Times WILL be hard.  There will be tough days.  There will be days that you don’t feel like even getting out of bed. That you don’t want to deal with this person or that situation- but you do.  You do because you want to get stronger.  You want to push through.  And when you do, it actually gets easier. 
When I first ran a half mile, I thought I was going to die.  Now, I get to mile six and think- I got this.  Same in your life situations.  When you push through those struggles, later, they’ll become like a downhill peddle (because you’re stronger).
This week is a Success because I did something new.  I changed it up and rose to the challenge.  I had fun and continue to have fun.  I encourage you- rise to the challenge. Don’t let life (or a bad workout) get you down. Re-evaluate your goals and how you’ll achieve them.  Make a plan and be determined enough to follow through. You got this, hang in there.
>Lastly, encouage & help the *newbies at the gym... They'll be forever grateful :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Eating Disorder, Overcoming

Eating disorders.
There are many different types.  When I was younger, I categorized eating disorders as “Anorexia”, “Bulimia”, and “Binge eating”.  However there are others.  I’d like to touch on the one I struggled with all through my childhood, teen years, and college years. 
Over Eating.  “It’s a compulsive excessive consumption of food (bingeing), often thousands of calories at a time. People with Compulsive Overeating have what is characterized as an "addiction" to food. They often use food and eating as a way to hide from their emotions, to fill a void they feel inside, and to cope with daily stresses and problems in their lives. Common reasons for overeating include:
Emotional Comfort. Eating too fast. When eating out, “getting your money’s worth” mentality. “More is better”. Not paying attention while eating”. (Source: www.eatingdisorders.com)
This description defines me to a T.  I loved & craved salt, fried foods, and greasy foods.  I loved to drizzle and dunk everything from fries to pizza and sandwiches in ranch dressing.  Anything out of a box was ALL me.  I’ll admit that when I was in elementary school, I’d come home to an empty house where I’d make Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Mac N’ Cheese, and Fried Chicken T.V. dinners- I’d sit in front of the T.V. and finish everything I made while enjoying after school sitcoms.  When my parents would get home from work later in the evening, I’d eat again.  Why?!  I was addicted.  Eating made me feel good.  But only for a little while. 
I struggled academically all through school because reading was very difficult for me.  It wasn’t till the end of my 6th grade year when it was corrected.  I had to work very hard in school to get the grades I desired.  I’m a very compassionate person as well.  I care for others before myself and tend to take on more than I can handle.  I’m not good a saying no, and rarely say no.  When I couldn’t cope, I chose food to aid my feelings of anxiety, fear, and sadness.  This all built up to 226lbs.  During that time, I had 2 surgeries to put pins and screws in both my right & left hips.  I was so over weight that the pressure was harming my joints.  I also had my gallbladder out in 5th grade. 
I tell you this to describe how ‘unhealthy’ I really was.  I fought with myself.  In my mind I saw it as “I’ll make fun of myself before others can”.  I hated myself inside and out.  It wasn’t till these last two years where I was able to love myself.  I had my thyroid checked & was placed on medication to manage my thyroid levels.  I changed my lifestyle to Clean Eating and have had great results.
But 90lbs down physically, greater results have come within my heart.  Scriptures tell me “I’m created in his image” (Genesis 1:27), “He clearly has shown his love for us by death on the cross” (Romans 5:8), and that “He knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5).   
>>I am loved and cared for.  “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.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Success has come in learning how to take care of my body.  It needs feed, but not excessively.  It needs food, but food that is nourishing.  And when I’m overwhelmed and stressed, just going for a walk is beneficial-I don’t need food to cope.  We have to remember “our bodies are God's temples and that God's Spirit dwells within us” (1 Cor 3:16).  Honor him by how you treat your body.
For any misconception: I’m not on a diet, I’ve changed my lifestyle.  I’m chasing ‘fit’ not ‘Skinny’.  My prayer for you is that you’ll know how much you are loved.  That we have been given a gift of life, & that you may honor him in word and deed.
Lastly, if you struggle with one of these disorders, seek out help.  We aren’t meant to be on this journey alone.  God is with us, but it’s always better to have a friend- Iron sharpens Iron.
May you #beBlessed this week.
Love -A


My progress so far... (2yrs later)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Women &Group Exercise Classes

Myself & 8 others in TRX Training Class
I remember the first group class I attended.  It was 4yrs ago while at college- I saw an advertisement for Zumba.  It was on Tuesday and Thursday nights & promised great music!  I love music as well as dancing so I ran to my apartment & youtubed it.  It looked like a blast!
I talked one of my friends who was a Spanish major to come with me just in case I needed to speak Spanish!? Haha!
Walking into the group exercise room, the instructor welcomed and greeted us.  We took our spots in the front row because we were the ‘youngest’ and all the oldER ladies had called dibs on the back row.  We got our sweat on while tripping over our own feet.  We looked dumb and laughed our booties off!  We signed up and continued going to classes.  Our group of friends going to the class grew.  However, when graduation came, classes ended.  I did spend my summer in St. Louis, MO where I attended kickboxing, hip-hop classes, & Zumba.  I had really grown to love the group classes so my fear when moving home was that I was going to lose the fun of working out.
BUT I was wrong!  Eva Shurts had recently opened up her gym and was offering group classes for strength, cardio, plyos, Tabata, Zumba, and has recently added TRX training.  I jumped in full force and now plan work and other activities around these classes- I refuse to miss! 
Is it not true that we all desire a place that we belong?  Where we are accepted?  Where we are encouraged?  A place where we feel good about ourselves?  Let’s admit it, its tough being a woman.  We get sucked into the worldly ways of beauty.  That we have to be a size 0 and look like the Victoria Secret model.  I’ll admit it; 90 lbs down and I still gaze at the magazine wishing I looked like the models in the swimming suits.  But reality check!  The difference between ‘skinny’ and ‘fit’ is huge!  We have to go back to the scriptures to find our worth. 
          Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothes yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  THIS IS HOW THE HOLY WOMEN OF OLD MADE THEMSELVES BEAUTIFUL- they trusted God (1 Peter 3:3-6).
I find women of various ages, careers, families, wealth, race, personality, as well as shape and size in group classes.  There is something to be said about the beauty that fills a group exercise room of women.  Each woman has a story.  I listen to their stories, I’ve cried, and I’ve laughed with many.  I see each woman’s beauty.  I hear where they come from and where they desire to be.  I hear their desires to better themselves.  Honestly, it isn’t just about the workout.  It’s about the redefining of who we are as individuals.  That we are weak, but willing to go through the fire to become stronger.  Exercise and eating right starts in your mind.  But loving others is in your heart.  That is why I’ve benefitted more than just physically from group exercise classes.  The love I’ve received has been phenomenal! 
To ALL young and oldER women- I commend you for desiring a ‘fit’ lifestyle.  I also encourage you on your journey.  Fitness is physical, mental, as well as spiritual.  God is amazingly good.
GROUP EXERCISE LEADERS: You are truly appreciated.  You’re making a difference.
BeBlessed -A
Eva & I before Zumba.  Rockin' our Fashion hats from The Closet :)

Out of town classes- Ladies are workin' it!

All ages desire to be fit! :)

Eva, just powering through a workout!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life Marathons

The big question: How was it?!
To be honest, the weather sucked! Haha!  At 4am, when I woke up to get ready for my race, the temperature was 58 degrees- the high for the day.  There was a slight breeze and a 30% chance of rain.  If only I were a meteorologist and could get paid for being wrong! J  The temperature continued to drop after we left the hotel and the lightning put on quite a show.  Then, drop by drop, the rain began to fall.  The race: delayed.
At 7am the gun went off and I started shedding and tossing my layers to my mom who had waited in the rain with me the whole time.  I jumped in and started my race.
The rain poured and the temp continued to drop.  My adrenaline was pumping through my veins with each puddle I trampled through.  I kept on pushing and came to my first hill.  As others were slowing down, I put my TRX training to use and powered up the hill.  I had my trainer’s words echoing through my mind.  “This is it Alison!  Push through it!”  I continued onward and the time flew.  By mile 6, my Ipod stopped working from the rain and I was getting frustrated as my hands went numb from the cold.  I looked to my right and then to my left, as I went to make a full turn to see who was all behind me, I remember the devotion my mother shared with me.  I feel like it applies not just to running, but to each and every one of our lives.
Runners train themselves to be focused on one thing- the finish line.  They have one desire and they are not going to let what is going on in the stands or who is lagging behind to distract them.
Paul had the same sense.  He, too, believed that you couldn’t win a race by looking over your shoulder or glancing to the right or the left.  You can’t see what is ahead when you’ve got your headlight on the rear bumper.
Paul forgot his past, past mistakes, past grief, past everything.  Paul refused to let his past keep him from reaching his goal. 
QUESTION: What are you doing in your race to claim the prize of a closer walk with God?
I had this devo running through my mind the whole time.  The run was a ‘Remembrance’ run.  To remember and honor those whole lost their lives.  But for me, this race was so much more.  This race was a reflection on my past four years of college, this last year of substitute teaching, my cousin that I lost 2 ½ years ago, the 90 lbs I’ve lost, and the many many more lessons learned.  So many people have shaped who I am.  I’m continuing to move forward.  I can’t finish this race when I keep looking at the past.  The past has shaped me, but it doesn’t define me.  I kept my eyes on the finish line, even though the storm was raging before me.  I label this as another #success for various reasons.
My question for you: why are you looking back?  What are you letting define you?  My advice, set your eyes on the finish line and go hard and go strong. 
Finishing Time 2:04

In the storm~

Pushing forward