The Body and the Image

When it comes to body confidence, swag and the ability to even attempt to cultivate a style of any sort…the body image you hold as a direct result of your relationship with your body plays a large role.

There is a lot going around about body image, embracing your curves, we’re all made different, etc. Just as many posts about easy diet fixes, magic pills and the top ten moves to get you JLo’s booty are rampant as well. It’s no wonder we spend most of our time longing for immediate results, while the rest is spent in a lackluster daze after the energy expended on chasing after perfection. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! And that leaves very little time and energy left for the actual living of a healthy lifestyle.

Need a little direction to come to peaceful terms on the war zone of your body image? I thought you’d never ask :)

  1. Realize that perfection is unrealistic and, quite frankly, boring. Can you imagine if we all had the same measurements?!? I mean, look at the pins you post of hottie celebs (you know you do it). Are they all exactly the same? If it’s only one person, you may need an intervention… Seriously, it’s our nuances that make us each unique. For example: I am straight waisted and for years I hated this rather “boyish” figure. In reality, nobody has EVER confused my figure with a boy, but I digress. It is this slight difference that helps me be unique in my field. Silly, but true.
  2. There can be too much of a good thing. Just like you can ingest too much chocolate and wine (I intend to fully test this theory!), you can also work out too much. Instead of focusing on how many minutes you log on the treadmill, how many classes you attend per week, or how many reps you crank out per day, think about simply moving more. Set the alarm on your phone for 30 minutes and every time it goes off stand up and stretch or take a quick bolt to the bathroom. I’ve stretched in many meetings and have yet to be carried out by security.
  3. Drink up. Yeah, I’m going to preach the goodness of water once again. If you’re prone to headaches, muscle soreness, bloating, fatigue, restless legs, anxiety, or just the blahs…drink your water.
  4. Stop the madness! It’s human nature to compare. Really, we don’t leave the house searching for people to compare ourselves with, it just happens. The problem is that now we don’t even need to leave the house. There is serious danger in comparing your body/skin/face to pictures in magazines and online. I am not against Photoshop, as I enjoy pretty pictures and would be less likely to purchase that bikini if the model didn’t look so darn good in it! However, comparing myself to genetically blessed and professionally enhanced photos is a habit I had to break. Enjoy the photo for what it really is: a piece of art. Then move on.
  5. Set dates with yourself. As corny as it sounds you really do need time to simply chill with who you are. Set aside some time for a beloved activity that you can do alone. Paint your nails, soak in the tub, read a cheesy magazine that you cannot possibly glean any useful information from, write the things you are grateful for, watch that movie that you truly love but would be mortified if others knew you watched it… get the point? Be you, pure and plain and weird all rolled into who you truly are.
  6. Stop with the mirror obsession! OK, I’ll admit that I love mirrors. I own several all over the house and look at myself more than I should. It’s usually to check for food anywhere or to debate the current color of my hair (I have issues), but if I find myself checking for miniscule dimple patches I cut myself off. If you’re always judging your appearance, limit your mirror time and make peace. I do however beg that many people stop and check the mirror before venturing out into the world with pj’s and slippers. You may not care, but why punish those who actually have to look?
  7. Let them eat cake! By “them” I am referring to the voices in your head that want cake, or chocolate, or salty popcorn, or Twizzlers (I love those things for some strange reason). Don’t survive on these foods, but don’t deprive yourself either. It is my firm belief that deprivation leads to wrinkles and that’s just another thing to worry about in the mirror.
  8. Practice acceptance. So, maybe you used to be able to run 5 miles a day and now you can barely crank out 2. Or perhaps you could bench 150 and now you’re on 10 pounders. Life changes. Our bodies adjust and we, as humans, are incredibly adaptable…but only of we allow that adaptation. Don’t hang on to your glory days. Let go and accept right where you are. Have 50 pounds to lose? Accept that fact and work at it in a holistic manner. Don’t kil yourself trying to beat it off. Dealing with an injury? You won’t recover by continually pushing past your limits. Accept where you are in order to move forward.

Hopefully, this will help get you headed in the healthy direction :)

Michelle

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The Bikini Body Equation

OK, I have to admit that I am no mathlete….however, my parents were totally right when they told me I would use math every day.

Don’t let the title fool you, you don’t have to be set on wearing a bikini to feel better all over. What I really want to talk to you about is a feel good formula that is often overlooked today.

The 80/20 Rule

It’s actually pretty basic. For 80% of your time, try to keep 80% of your foods as close to nature as can be. Eat real food people! Don’t give me that bull about it not being convenient. Really, peeling a banana is a huge inconvenience? Perhaps washing that apple just takes too much energy….yeah right. Eating healthy is easy and affordable, so long as you stick to the basics.

Produce:

Pick the cheap stuff! When produce is in season, it will be marked cheaper at your local market. Ears of corn 10 for $1? SCORE! Grab them up and roast, grill or even microwave them. During the warmer months, citrus fruits and lighter veggies are all in season. Pick mindfully and enjoy abundantly.

Stock up on frozen veggies. Vegetables are usually picked at the peak of freshness and then flash frozen so they do retain nutrients. If the produce aisle is looking ragged or they don’t have what you need, consider stocking up on frozen ones instead. Bonus: if you always have some veggies in the freezer, you can always have veggies on hand.

Grains:

Keep them whole and close to nature. For abounding energy and overall health, plus the addition of a flatter belly, try ditching bread 80% of the time. The whole yeast/gluten/sugar combo (even in whole grains) can wreak havoc on the digestive system, therefore affecting the metabolism. When choosing grains, head for quinoa, brown rice, oats, bran, millet, barley, etc. These are utilized more readily and assimilated for energy easier in their closer to nature states.

Proteins:

Keep them lean and try to have them later in the day. Fish is an excellent source of protein for overall health and you can consume it several times per week. I eat fish almost every day from a variety of sources, as variety is key to a healthy diet. Turkey, chicken and lean red meat and game are also good sources of animal protein. Plant protein can also be consumed in tofu, tempeh, hemp, brown rice, etc. Know what works best for your body and vary it up.

Fats:

I actually eat lots of healthy fats. I mean, if eating an entire avocado a day is wrong, then I don’t want to be right! Stick to healthy, close to nature fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, natural nut butters (especially almond), etc. These help to keep skin hydrated and supple, just remember that portions should be smaller.

The final key to being ready to strut in your bikini (or shorts, jeans, dress or suit)….

Confidence:

I encourage this 100% of the time. The people who make an entrance, make an impression and ultimately make an impact have confidence, not perfection. None of us have a perfect body or skin. Even super models (as blessed as they are) do get air brushed. Considering the fact that we don’t walk around with portable airbrushing machines, let go of your insecurities and hold your head high. The number one way to do this is to stop comparing yourself to others. The second way to this is to stop judging others. When a judgemental thought about someone else pops into your head, send it packing! When we judge others, we tend to feel judged as well.

Here are my top tips to boosting my own confidence. Hey, I speak in public for a living and spend loads of time in spandex :) Steal what works for you!

  1. Try on EVERYTHING! I actually still shop for clothes in person, not online. Even the same company can make jeans that fit totally different. Don’t tie yourself to one size, think more of fit.
  2. Throw away the scale. I’m tired of this fight….let it go, you’ll feel better once the withdrawal lets up.
  3. Adopt a personal mantra. Mine is a powerful Bible verse: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
  4. Workout to feel good and increase, not decrease, energy.
  5. Eat foods that nourish your body and your body will return the favor….just give it time :)

Hopefully these few tips will help you on your road to health and wellness. Beware of quick fix detours and remember to never give up!

Michelle

 

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What If We Really Were REAL…

I’m coming off a testing and rewarding trip to the She Speaks Conference in Concord, NC. The whole trip up there we had tunes from Chris Tomlin, Britt Nicole, Lecrae, Toby Mac, Jaime Grace, and Mandisa. The song What If We Were Real, by Mandisa, kept playing over and over. If you haven’t experienced it, check it out HERE. This song became the theme of the trip and opened up some tight spaces in my own mind.

It made me beg the question, “What if we really were REAL?”

Do you understand the weight of that question? You see, I was at a conference for Christian speakers and writers, all women. In fact, 650 women. That is a LOT of estrogen in one venue! My first morning was challenging to say the least. I entered with the anticipation of a school girl. I was ready to open up and make new and lasting friendships. This anticipation was quickly met with glares and stares, followed by shuns when I attempted to speak. Was it in my head? I would have thought that except when I placed my back down next to another woman in the foyer and said, “This looks like a great place to dig through our goodies”, to which she responded, “Sure”. Then she promptly packed up her bag and walked away. I found her at a chair in the back of the hotel. Not in the mood for making friends I assume.

So what was the deal? Was it Satan himself making me feel as though I didn’t belong? In reality, I don’t think Satan even has to try in this arena anymore. Women are so full of insecurities and judgement that it frees up the darker forces to focus on bigger things… What if that could change?

So, what would real look like? I spoke with a publishing agent at the conference and at the end of our brief time she thanked me for being willing to be so transparent. She stated that she had not seen that kind of real transparency in a long time. Being real takes a level of vulnerability that most of us are unwilling to tap into. We carry the weight of the world and the expectations of perfection on our shoulders to the point where we couldn’t point out real if it was on our nose! We live pre-rehearsed lives, always thinking of our reactions and the worst case scenarios. What is real?

What would happen if we were open to admitting our insecurities? What if we fessed up to feeling less than stellar? What if we chose to state that we are intimidated? What if we admit that when we see a beautiful woman who seems to have it all together, we feel less about ourselves? And, what if we confess that when we see that same woman with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, we feel a bit better?

I have found in my short life that women can hold other women down far better than any other force on Earth. Think about grade school and junior high. OK, stop crying, it will be ok…. :) WHat if WE could initiate a change in the world? What if we all woke up one day and began behaving a little differently? What if we let the real shine through?

My daughter had to deal with her first run of female competitiveness and nastiness this past school year. I had to lay the harsh reality that it does not end after school is over. Think about it: why is it so important for females to have a gaggle of friends? We NEED teammates!!!! We need to know that we have some double X’s on our side. Why do we struggle against each other?

Perhaps it is the innate and primal need to be loved. I have a little eye opener on that one: there is NOBODY and NOTHING on this Earth that can love you more than your Heavenly Father. Seek FIRST, then everything you need will be added. It took me several decades to learn that. So, why do we as women judge harshly? Philippians 4 gives us the instruction on how we should speak. We are to let no harmful speech escape our mouths, but only that which builds others up. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. Why do we struggle?

Now, I know you’re probably saying that you do build others up, but my question is this: do you build up those outside of your circle? Better yet, do you build up those you differ with? Even more, do you build up yourself?

I know I have given a lot of food for thought here and I promise it will not go unanswered. Throughout the following weeks we will be looking into our hearts and starting our own revolution. This will be a revolution to end all revolutions in my opinion. It is time to put down the fiery words and pick up our inheritance that is promised. It is time for a true change that rips throughout an entire generation. Are you ready to change the world? It starts in the heart of each of us.

Michelle