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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.

Crossfit Goal: The Pull-Up

16 September 2013

Why are pull-ups so hard?
I mean, yes, you are lifting your entire body weight with just your arms...but still!
I'm getting close to 8-months of Crossfit, and I still cannot do an unassisted pullup.
Eight months.
We do pull ups all the freakin' time at Crossfit, but I always have to use a band to help.
And while I've certainly gained a ton of strength and range of motion, I didn't feel like I was making enough progress on pullups.
So I bought the fancy doorway pull-up bar for our house.

It's pretty much the latest household fashion trend.

I also found a website called:
Pullups for Total Beginners.
Naturally, this sounded like a terrific place to start.

So for the past month or so, I've basically been following his routine.
Okay, not to the letter of the law, but only because I'm also doing Crossfit classes,
and sometimes I just like to do things my way.

I'm getting so, so close to being able to do an unassisted pullup.
Right now, I can do a strict pullup with just an orange band (15 pounds of resistance.)
That means I'm lifting about 120lbs of my own body weight, and just have another 15 to go.
So close!
I think within a couple of weeks, I'll have it, and will be excited to share the good news with y'all.
In the meantime, think good thoughts for me!

What are your fitness goals?

I Miss My Husband

06 September 2013

I took your car to have the bubbly tint removed from the back windshield.
Somehow, having your car gone made more sense in my little world.
I was glad to have a brief reprieve from the little joy I feel every time I arrive home and see "oh, yes, my husband is home!", only to be hit one second later with the realization that you're not home.
In fact, you're very far from home.
And although you haven't yet returned, your car has.  Minus that annoying tint.  So at least there's that.

I enjoy doing special errands for you while you're gone.
Especially the stuff I know has been bugging you for a long time.
I guess it makes me feel closer to you in a way,
like if you're not here, at least I'm still serving you and helping you from a distance.

I miss you.
I miss you like crazy.

It's been so hot here, it's hard to believe.
I talk to you about the weather when we have a few, brief minutes to catch up on FaceTime.
In this heat, even cold-blooded me has been waking up in the middle of the night...too hot...too sweaty.
We'd be miserable sleeping next to each other.
Yet, we'd be perfectly content sleeping next to each other.

I long to hear your voice, to feel your presence in our house.
I'm glad for our video calls, but they are a poor substitute.  We can talk about our days and we can talk about the weather and we can profess our love to each other, but it's a poor substitute.
I want your here and sometimes our calls just remind me of how far away you are.

Why is it that you're gone for three weeks?
Three weeks when we had a holiday weekend, and out of town guests, and then my best friend is gone on vacation.  Three weeks when I don't have much going on in the evenings.
And then as soon as you return home, my evenings are booked with work events, until I take off for four days in Mexico.
What's up with that, scheduling Gods?!

It's not all pity party around these parts.
I know you're learning a lot in China, and I'm really proud of you for the work you're doing.
I'm making the most of all this alone time, tackling all the crappy items that have been sitting on our to-do lists for far too long.
Maybe I'll even be able to do a pull-up by the time you get back.
Hey, a girl can dream ;)

I miss you babe.
As independent as I can be, these times apart make it glaringly obvious that my life is far better with you in it.  You make me a better person and you make my life so much more joyful.
I guess I don't mind the codependence.

Love, love, love you!

Summer Whirlwind

26 August 2013

The past month and a half has been such a whirlwind!  My poor little blog has been terribly neglected, despite receiving a major facelift {thanks Laura, for the fabulous new look.}  Here's what's been up:

Jul 12-17: Michigan vacation
Aug 1: the day Jeff returned from MI and started his new job
Aug 2: my sister arrived in town
Aug 3: my dad arrived in town
Aug 4-10: annual weeklong meditation retreat
Aug 13: Dad returns home
Aug 14-21: our 15-year old niece arrives for her first ever solo-vacation--lots of touristy action ensues

Needless to say, the past few days have been spent trying to catch up on neglected work and getting our house back to some semblance of normal.  Also, we found out that Jeff has to leave on Tuesday to go to Hong Kong for a couple weeks, which means I'll take my snuggles and quality time while I can get it.

This post is making me tired just recapping the flurry of activity!  As an introvert who loves quiet time, I feel like I'm living a movie scene where all the party guests leave and the hostess just collapses in the middle of her messy house.  {And, yes, I'm being dramatic. Ha!}

I must say, it's a pleasure having so many loved ones come to visit, and I'm very grateful for it.  Without further ado, allow me to share the photographic evidence of all the good times.

my sister and I enjoying the rose garden at Lake Shrine

hanging with some Australian friends who were at the meditation retreat--I cannot believe it's been over a year!!

our niece's first trip to Starbucks(!!!)
she lives in a small town in MI

we took the Warner Bros tour--here we are in Central Perk from the "Friends" set

I thought it would be funny to fake-strangle Jeff
{and the photo quality is crap because it's a picture of a picture}

we are doing a 3,000 burpee challenge at my Crossfit gym,
and part of the silliness is to take burpee photos in odd places.
sort of reminiscent of planking, no?
and another, this time at The Getty Center museum

I hope you're all having a great summer!

Crossfit Milestone: Handstand Push-ups

02 August 2013

still very confused about how to take a decent selfie

Just before my trip to Kansas City, about six weeks ago,
I achieved a major Crossfit milestone...

my first handstand push-up on the wall.

Words cannot describe what a great feeling it was to perform a movement I thought I was months away from accomplishing.  When I arrived at the gym, I was fully expecting to do a modified version of the handstand push-up, which is done with your knees on a box.  It's the way I'd always done them.  However, that day our coach said "everybody is getting on the wall."  We spent about ten minutes going over the technique and practicing.  There is a special setup with resistance bands to get you on the wall before you have the body strength to do them unassisted.  It looks something like this:

img src

On that glorious day, I knocked out eleven in a row on my first attempt,
and proceeded to do many more during the workout.
You know how sometimes your mind tells you that something was a fluke?
Well, that's a little how I was feeling.
Like maybe that first time was just luck, or special effort from the coach that made it happen.
So doing them today made it feel real.
As though, wow, this is something I can actually do now.

With time, I'll decrease the amount of resistance provided by the bands,
until eventually I can do them on my own.

While we're on the topic of Crossfit, let me also state that I'm going to start making some major effort toward accomplishing one of my goals:
doing a strict pull-up, unassisted.

It seems so simple, but alas, after five months of crossfit I still cannot do a pull-up.
So I ordered one of these bad boys....

Maybe I can be motivated enough to practice at home???
Only time will tell.

In other happenings...

  • my husband just got home this morning after two weeks apart {and he started his new job today!!}
  • my sister flies into town tomorrow night
  • Sunday kicks off our annual, week-long meditation retreat
  • I pick up my new company vehicle tomorrow {hello, Nissan Murano}
  • Today marked Day 1 of our gym's 3,000 burpee challenge--I did my first 100 not fun

I hope y'all are enjoying summer.
It's going by way too fast!!!

Lake Michigan Family Vacation

23 July 2013

Five days of pure heaven.
Yup, I think that's the most appropriate way to describe my family vacation in MI.
There were so many moments when I was just drinking it in,
thanking Divine Mother for the beautiful planet she created,
thanking her for my wonderful family,
and for the precious time we got to spend together.
Feeling gratitude for the tradition established by my parents 24 years ago,
when they first took my 5-year-old self to this magical vacation spot on northern Lake Michigan.

I knew how special it was to have both my sisters and all their boys on vacation together.
As adults, all living in different states, the complexities of making this happen were not lost on me.
A huge debt of gratitude goes to my mom, who really used her force of will {and her airline frequent flyer miles} to make it happen this year.
It's a thing to be cherished.

I enjoyed the chaos and laughter and endless requests for ping-pong matches.
I cracked up at the hilarity that flows from the mouthes of my nephews.
I relished in the one-on-one time with each sister, and each nephew.
I indulged in the original cookie butter flavor of windmill cookies.
{Seriously, peeps, the first time I tried Trader Joe's cookie butter, I named it "windmill cookies in a jar."}

my drink-drank

me & my mama!

watching the sunset with my handsome man

how cute are my parents?!

The boys seriously loved spending time with their Uncle Jeff.
It was completely adorable.
Jeff wanted to watch the Home Run Derby and the boys were just glued to his side,
excitedly counting how many home runs each of the contenders amassed.
The following day, I overheard Jeff explaining the concept of the All-Star Game to Julius:
"It's all the best players from each team that come together to form the All-Star team."
"What?!?! That is amazing."
Jeff, with the same child-like enthusiasm replied, "I know!  It's the best."

no vacation is complete without some s'mores & bonfire action

Is that a Reese's Peanut Butter cup in that s'more?  Why YES it is!  Delicioso!

sister love

ignore my face and check out my cool Michigan t-shirt

Here's to family,
here's to nostalgia,
here's to making new memories,
here's to tradition.

Hope to see you next year, Lake Michigan!
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