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Redefining Beauty

18 November 2013

"TBH I think you look much better and more feminine and curvey in the first pic at 145LBS, 
Your boobs are all but gone and your body looks quite boyish."
-Anne Duffy,,
commenting on this post

Well, Anne Duffy, you get two prizes.  One for leaving the first negative comment I've ever received, and another for being clairvoyant.  How did you know I had a post brewing about redefining beauty?  Thoughts kept floating around inside my head, asking me to write them explore my changing I felt about it, and the reaction of others.  If you thought I looked boyish before, how do you like this picture?

When I started Crossfit, here's what I thought would happen: I'd slowly lose weight, I'd slowly gain muscle tone, and I would eventually reach a point where my body looked it's best.

Never in a million years did I expect to lose weight so quickly.
Never in a million years did I think I would gain muscle so rapidly.
Never, ever, ever did I think my boobs would shrink to the point where I bought smaller bra sizes...twice!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would like working out, and want to do it for its own sake.

Like most people, I started exercising for vanity's sake.  I got the surprise of my life when I learned that I actually really enjoyed working out.  Growing up, I always avoided running and anything else that felt like strenuous exercise.  I'd see my friends running half marathons, or doing pilates, or joining a beach boot camp, and I thought they had some gene that I was missing.  "Good for them," I thought, "but that sounds like torture."  Turns out, I just hadn't found the right form of exercise for me.  Now some of the most enjoyable hours of my week are spent at the Crossfit gym.

I like feeling strong.
I like having more energy.
I like the mood boosting effects of exercise.
I like having a community focused around healthy eating & activity.

But when I look at the picture above, do I think "wow, she's beautiful."
No, I don't.  But I want to.

Truth be told, my body now more closely resembles the bodies of a few girls at the gym that I silently judged when I started Crossfit.  I thought to myself "they look too manly," "their muscles are too big," "their boobs are too small," "I bet their husbands don't like the way they look."  I'm not proud of being such a shallow, judgmental person, but I do want to be honest about it.  I think part of me was simply jealous that they were in great shape and could do things that I couldn't.  My defense mechanism was to tell myself that it didn't matter because I wouldn't want to look like them anyway.

You see, as women, we are trained very early on to have a very limited definition of beauty.  There are some definite constraints that look something like this.

Not only do we struggle to accept our own bodies, but others like to comment on {and silently judge} our bodies as well.
My husband has made comments like "don't get too strong," and "where'd your boobs go?!  (Haha!)

I've heard that I'm....
"too skinny,"
"thin...not skinny, but thin" {is that a compliment?  I'm unclear.}
"looking awesome"

and everything in between.  I think when it comes to body image, people subconsciously project on you.  They project their insecurities, or desires, or hang-ups, or opinions.  It's been an interesting observation, and I'm learning not to take these comments so personally, whether they be good or bad.

My biggest learning {so far} in this process, is that we are all doing the best we can with what we have.  I really believe this to be true.  Strength and fitness and weight loss looks different on everyone.  Some of the strongest members of my gym don't look very muscular.  Some of the people with the best speed and conditioning, aren't as strong.  My ass disappeared as I lost weight...then I remembered...I never had an ass!  Seriously, growing up I never did.  The only reason I got a {small} one in recent years, was due to weight gain...and it was covered in cellulite.  So now my backside is flat again...which is apparently the way God intended it.  I'm doing the best I can with the body I was given. 

My goal is to look in the mirror and be happy and content with what I see.  I think it's a conscious choice, and some days I'm more successful than others.  I want to keep doing the things that make me feel good.  I want to be proud of the outward result of my hard work.  I want to redefine beauty for myself.

Fitness Before and After: 8 Months of Crossfit

07 October 2013

I'm 8 months and 105 classes into my Crossfit journey.  The first four months were characterized by rapid weight loss, noticeable muscle gain & definition, and establishing many personal records (PR's.)  My second four months have brought more subtle changes.  I don't think my body has changed nearly as dramatically, and while I'm still smashing PR's, I can see that I'm starting to find my true max weights for each lift.  To me, this second eight months has been more about an overall increase in fitness, and accomplishing some larger goals.

Before I elaborate, if you missed my posts about starting this fitness journey, and my results after 4 months, you can find them here:

Why I decided to get in shape
My results after 4 months of Crossfit

So let's start with the most exciting stuff first....

I can finally do a pull-up!!!  You'll remember from this post that I'd been feverishly working toward this goal.

I used to have to do pull-ups using a band, like this:

after seeing this picture, I promptly stopped working out in t-shirts.  Goodbye pit stains, hello tank tops.

Now I can do a few strict pull-ups without bands.

I don't have any "real" pull-up pictures from the gym...
so use your imagination :)

My second exciting accomplishment is the progress I've made doing double unders (jump rope where the rope passes under your feet twice in a single jump.)  I made a fancy video for you.

And because it can be difficult to see what's going on, my husband also filmed it in slow motion {how cool!}

Not long ago, I could only do about 5 in a row.  Between practicing and getting some good advice from a Crossfit Los Cabos coach, I've had a breakthrough and my new PR is 30 double unders, unbroken.

Other PR's
Back squat: 135lbs (from May 24)
Bench press: 95 lbs (from Sept 21)
Clean: 95 lbs (from June 10)
Deadlift: 180 lbs (from Aug 19)
Front Squat: 105 lbs (from Jul 23)
Snatch: 65 lbs (from Oct 4)
Split Jerk: 95 lbs (from Sep 18)
Thruster: 100 lbs (from Sept 3)

**we do variations of these lifts, as well as others...but this a good representation.  
also, we don't always lift for a 1-rep max, which is why some of the PR's are pretty old.

Lastly, here's how I look in a side by side comparison.

I think my 4 month and 8 month pics look nearly identical.
So perhaps I should stop doing side-by-sides until I have a six pack..haha!

I feel awesome and, more importantly, I really love it!  I have fun working out and enjoy the variety of workouts that each day brings.  Also, our gym does fun challenges like this month's "No Bread Challenge" to promote healthier eating.

I look forward to sharing my progress in another four months.

Day 1 of our 3,000 burpee challenge.  I did 100 burpees per day for the month of August!

Do you have any Crossfit questions?
Is there anything you'd like me to share?

Review: Rainbow Flip-flops

17 September 2013

My feet are in love,
with Rainbow Sandals.

The love affair got off to a rocky start though, so take this review as a word to the wise.

I'd heard great things about Rainbows from friends,
and I wanted to get some new flip flops that offered better arch support.
So I went with the "Women's Premium Leather Narrow Strap Double Layer"in Sierra Brown.
The double layer part is key, if you want to extra cushion and arch support.

double layer = double awesome

The thing you really need to know about Rainbows is that they will be the most uncomfortable sandal you've ever owned for the first 2-3 weeks of wear.  There will be no warning about this on any of the packaging, but apparently it's common knowledge amongst the old pros.

Here's the deal: I don't have sausage feet.  But the straps of my Rainbows cut into the tops of my feet so badly that it looked like I did.  This went on for three freakin' weeks!  I had to wear them in short spurts because it was painful and it looked pretty silly too.  This is not a matter of sizing, as I went into a store and tried sizes that were too long for my feet, and they still cut into the tops.

I'm writing this review because I want you to know that it's a labor of love.  Once you finally break them in, you'll never want to take them off.  I'll probably be wearing this same pair for the next five years, so in the grand scheme of things, it's all good.  But in the beginning?  I was ready to take them back.   When I bought my Ugg boots, every single salesperson said that you have to buy them a half size small and then they stretch with wear.  Why Rainbows don't come with a similar warning, I haven't a clue.

But trust my minty toes and happy feet that these sandals rock :)

Sadly, I was not compensated in any way to write this review.  
The opinions are all my own.  
C'mon Rainbow--hook a sister up.
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