Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love Your Body... Challenge

I've been thinking about this post all week, prompted by a random friend of a friend who posted on Facebook about her and her sister discussing how all women hate their bodies and wondering how to turn it around with their own daughters who, when asked, couldn't come up with a single thing they loved about their bodies.  So, this week became the Love Your Body Challenge Week - you know, like when something makes you think and then you can't stop thinking about it?  And then it takes on the all capitals version in your head?  Yeah, like that.

First, the good news - I asked Big Sister the question and am very happy to report she had a long list of things she liked about her body which included legs and stomach and all the things that most women wouldn't love.  I was worried she would, at the tender age of nine, already have a complex about all sorts of things.  Especially since just last week she said "I'm fat, Mommy" while patting her lean little - extremely flat - dancer tummy.  Yeah, right... NOT!  Which prompted a twenty minute discussion about how just because other girls at dance have different bodies and shapes she is definitely NOT fat.  I didn't even have to resort to Google to find images of obesity to illustrate my point.  Thank god! *shudder*  We do watch Biggest Loser after all, maybe that is helping?

But then I started thinking about my own body.  And how I don't really love it.  And how obsessed I am about changing practically everything about it.  And how I've basically been on a diet for the last twenty years.  It WAS a challenge to find more than one thing that I like about my body.  The first thing was easy:  I. LOVE. MY. RACK.  Yes, that rack.  I have an awesome rack and even after two babies it still kicks ass.  But beyond that, what is there really to love?  I don't have a flat stomach - yet.  I don't have lean and amazing legs - yet.  I don't even have great shoulders or upper arms - yet.  But all these things I hate are getting better slowly and I have no doubt that at some point (hopefully in the near future) my efforts at the gym will transform everything about my body that I still don't completely love.  See, that list was effortless - which is kind of the point.

So, here are all the things that I DO love about my body - which will take you moments to read and which took me an entire week to come up with, which is kind of pathetic but hey, a step in the right direction, right?

1.  I have amazingly strong legs.  Legs that can run for 10 miles on any given Sunday and (at least once) 13.1 miles of a half-marathon.
2.  I have beautiful green eyes.
3.  I have awesome and thick naturally curly hair.  The fact that my unruly curls are in the love vs. hate column is a miracle in itself.  I spent 36 years straightening every day and loathing everything about my hair.  Now, I have embraced my curls.  I even appreciate how my long dark locks curl on their own with no effort on my part.  It literally takes me 5 minutes  in the morning now that I have found the right combination of NOT combing after the shower and the proper hair products.  It's also a perk that my hair is thick and "big" enough with the curls that I can run 5 miles, look like a sweaty pig, take the pony tail out, shake, and go.  Voile! All the bigness covers up the inch of sweat at the scalp.  Beautiful!
4.  I have cute ears that don't stick out.
5.  I have great lungs - hey, that's part of my body, right?  And without them, I couldn't run so they count.
6.  I have a nice nose - which knowing that I'm Italian and could have gotten Dad's shnoz is much more of a perk than you might think.
7.  I already mentioned the rack, right?  My all natural D's should be at the very top of the list but I don't want to seem like an obsessed porn queen.
8.  I have great eye lashes - long and thick and dark.
9.  I have great lips - not too full, not too thin, and great for kissing.
10.  I have great proportions to my body.  When I tone it all up, it will be amazing.  My torso is the perfect length, my shoulders are narrow, I'm not too tall and not too short.

I challenged myself to come up with ten things.  Some are smaller things than others and I wish I could go on and on about all the great parts of my body but most of them are still covered in a thin layer of fat which has me still not loving them.  But, underneath that last twenty or so pounds my muscles are getting stronger and more defined and hopefully by summer swimsuit weather I will have a much longer list of things I love.  It is getting easier to look appreciatively in the mirror and notice the results of my efforts.  And, it's already time for new jeans since all the ones I own are getting saggy in the butt.  And I had to tighten the chest strap on my heart rate monitor last week because it wasn't working anymore.  Some days the proof is in the pants, some days it's in the chest strap.  I'll take whatever proof I can get.  The scale is still just a number that doesn't define me - I want to be fit and muscled, not thin and waif-y after all.

So, what do you love about your body?  And if you have an easier time listing the things you hate, I challenge you to find ten things you love.  Yes, your eyes and toes can count!  Here's to focusing on the good in all of us and leaving the super model ideal to the professionals - there are only like nine of them in the world after all so why would that be considered the norm anyway?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Serves you right!

And just like that, we're back to bitchy...  Last week I had a passive aggressive episode in the gym that got me thinking.  My life is so crazy that it takes having a membership at two different gyms to make my commitment to training actually workable.  Half the week I'm at THE GYM (queue angels singing) and the other I'm at the fitness center at work.  Luckily I have both, but the mix of people at work is... well, somewhat different.  There are a lot of people who only use it for 15 minute increments while on their break and still in their work clothes.  I understand that it IS better than nothing but it is a very different commitment level than those who make time to do a full workout including sweating enough we need to change clothes. I mean, it's one thing to go for a walk during your break but to have an entire fitness center on the premises and not utilize it fully?  What a waste!

I admit I get a bit of entertainment watching them come and go on the treadmills and elliptical machines and there's one... um... girl... in particular who stands out among the rest.  Why?  Because she comes in every day, dressed in her skirts and knee-high boots AND jacket or blazer - crazy enough by itself.  But what's more crazy is the choice of television while she's at it.  At a glance I'd say she's in her twenties - early to middle - and yet she's watching TV that my nine year old likes.  We're talking Nickelodeon and ABC Family and even the Disney Channel.  Laughable really and at times I find it hard not to do so out loud. 

So back to last week's episode... I'm on the treadmill sweating like a pig, jamming to some Marilyn Manson doing intervals: two minutes of "normal" running followed by a minute of sprinting.  Because I have my iPod and there were only iPod-ers there when we started I turned the television off (yes, people, there's an off switch on those things!) and dropped the remote into the cup holder on my left.  Half an hour into my workout, teeny bop girl walks in and climbs on the treadmill to my immediate right and starts looking around for the remote for the TV hanging directly above my treadmill.  I'm watching out of the corner of my eye and I know exactly when she finds it.  Even if I hadn't been watching, I would have known because at that point she started STARING at me.  Like craning your neck and staring at me from just within my peripheral vision is the same as asking for the fucking remote?  Seriously, it was creepy and it went on for the entire time she worked out.  I kept thinking she would ask me and after a while it became apparent that she wasn't going to and I thought 'Oh, you think I can't outlast your childish stare down?  You are wrong chicky!'

Like clockwork, ten minutes later she turned off her treadmill and headed back to her time-clock punching job (God I'm glad I don't have to do that!) until the next day.  I'm sure she was totally pissed that she'd missed out on her tween show while she went for her leisurely stroll but here's the kicker - I would have gladly given her the remote if she'd just opened her mouth and asked me for it.  I even gave her an opening when one of my friends got finished with her cardio and headed for the locker room as I turned and said goodbye - after she'd gotten my attention from my tunes that is.

The snotty bitch in me gloated that I had outlasted the childish stare down after I got over how creepy it all was.  But then I started thinking about the greater tragedy of the whole thing.  You see, that girl is in her twenties and still doesn't know how to ask for what she wants.  Not the remote in the gym, probably not with her job, most likely not even with her friends - and God knows how unhappy she probably is in the sack!  Tragic, really but until she learns that life lesson she will continue to be frustrated everywhere she turns.  Unable to voice her own desires, she will continue to be thwarted in all she does - usually by bitches like me who know exactly what we want and aren't afraid to ask - no, DEMAND - what we want both in action and in words.

I made sure to rush home and work this life lesson into a conversation with Big Sister so she hears at an early age how important it is to stand up and ask for whatever it is that you want most.  This is something big enough not to be left to that old 'lead by example' bullshit.  There's too much objectivity in that approach to be trusted implicitly in all things.  Although, I have no fear she will see it enforced daily through my actions.  Later she will thank me when she has a life that she wants and everything as she likes it with her husband and her own children.  And if I see the Disney chick attempting the stare down again, I might just tell her "it serves you right for not asking!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Friends and balance

You've heard it, I'm sure - the old adage that true friends are hard to come by, usually followed by some flowery stuff about holding onto them and how you must forward this on to prove you have them blah blah blah.  (Who ever thought up the idea of email chain letters seriously needs to be shot!)  I may not be that sappy, or gullible, but I do know the value of a true friend.  One who let's you say whatever you are thinking - even the most bitchy of comments - and they are sitting there nodding their head in agreement or better yet saying the same thing at the same time.  Or if they didn't say it, they love that you had the audacity to say it for them.  A friend who is as good to you as you are to them and who you can count on for anything you need, whenever you need it.

I've been thinking quite a lot about friends lately.

I have a ton of friends, in lots of different categories, that I've picked up along the journey of my life as I'm sure everyone does.  The friends from work who fade away when you no longer work together who you kind of recognize while you're out at lunch in the area; but the more time that's passed the less likely you are to say hello and then even when you're tempted, like yesterday, you don't because you can't remember their name.  The friends you do things socially with which also changes over time since people mature (or don't), get divorced or married, have kids (or don't) and the things you do socially changes.  The crazy loons I used to hang out with in my twenties wouldn't last two minutes with me now but I thought they were fun back when I didn't know any better. Childhood and high school friends - mostly made possible by Facebook for me.  While I don't actually see them often outside the realm of FB I do get to see them living their lives and even sometimes comment and share old memories.  Neighborhood friends, book club friends, writing friends, running friends - all sharing common interests and daily life happenings.  True friends - those who no matter how long between spending time together never miss a step.  I have a handful of these and I cherish the stolen cups of coffee bitching about life and work, cleansing lunches venting away all our troubles with our common views of life, annual poker games, conversations where we check each others sanity just to be sure it is still intact, phone calls staying in touch over the miles that separate, etc.  My favorite are the ones who serendipitously enter your life - the parents of your kid's best friend, neighbors with so many things in common it's like they are clones of you, and people collected along the way who, when pressed, you can't even remember how you became friends because it feels like you just always have been.  My very best friend is Hubby - and even if I had no other, that would be enough for me.  Luckily, I also have siblings and parents and sisters-in-law I count as friends and who I couldn't live without.  I even have friends who I didn't really want: the wives of hubby's buddy's - some who I had to endure through countless nights of not being able to hold their liquor, parents of Big Sister's friends at school who play-dates must be coordinated through, fellow dance mom's thrown together because our kids dance on the same team - although some also fit in the other categories after the fact, too, and the list goes on and on.

I'm particularly excited for an upcoming reunion with the three friends I hung out with the most and the longest in school.  I haven't seen any of them in years and one I haven't seen since graduation who is returning home for a visit.  We're getting the gang back together to catch up - fitting since I don't believe any of us made it to the twenty year reunion last summer.  Again, thank you Facebook without whom it wouldn't be possible!

So with all these friends, the questions of the week are:  1) why spend time with people who I can't really be myself with?  And 2) at what point do you just say 'No, thank you' to invitations and never give it another thought? 

Here's a revelation about my true nature:  I am a home body if left to my own devices.  Seriously, I hope this doesn't surprise you.  I work eight hours a day Monday through Friday and have to come home to be Mommy - another full time job. I run around most nights driving dance studio shuttle while juggling our social life and a toddler, I work out six days a week between the fitness center at work and our amazing gym, I have a book club and a writer's group that meet regularly, I have two different groups of women friends who make it a habit of getting together for dinner on a regular basis... you get the picture, right? And when I have a free evening or weekend what I really want to do - almost 100% of the time - is stay home with my husband and my kids AND DO NOTHING.

Lately, I haven't had the opportunity to do this much and it's starting to wear on my nerves.  My life is so out of whack that my kid is wearing clothes from the very back of the closet because I simply don't have time to get the laundry done on a regular basis.  We are talking the shirts that should NOT have made it through the last clean-out but were saved either at her pleading or because she might be able to wear it camping instead of ruining a nice shirt. With no time to recharge my own inner self, I can barely communicate effectively with Hubby and I am short with my kids way too often.  So, starting today, this minute, I vow to start spending time with my favorite friend - myself - and not feeling bad about turning down invitations.  Because when I try and spread myself too thin I only wind up hurting myself and those I love.

As for people who I have little in common with, just because they are nice and around doesn't mean that I have to spend tons of time with them.  Because for me, to find myself just going through the motions of enjoying myself and then bitching about the loss of time that I could have been doing something I really WANTED or NEEDED to do later just because I didn't want to say "No" one more time is so not worth it.  The bitch is rearing her ugly head and screaming "NO MORE!"  Do I care that I will sound like a broken record that "sorry, we're busy"?  Not for one second because guess what?  I am! Always!  Does this mean I won't ever spend time with people in this category who want to spend time with me?  No.  It just means I will be more selective in accepting invitations from now on.

I consider this new commitment as my way of staying sane trying to keep up with doing everything I've chosen to cram into my life in order to make it a full and fulfilling one while staying balanced within myself.  Call it grounding, if you will... I'll be finding more time for doing nothing which will make me so much happier while I'm doing everything else!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Baby Sister on her first birthday

Dear Baby Sister,

Please read this and know that I, in fact, DO love you as much as your older sister even though you did not get even an attempt at a baby book documenting your first year, I have not scrapbooked a single page about your life, and I only got your pictures professionally taken once after that initial shoot at the hospital this past year.  I know that in the angst of your teen years you will look back on these facts - facts which I do not dispute - and somehow use them against me as proof that your Daddy and I don't love you.  Here is proof that it is not true that I can then throw back at you - although if you remain as much like me as I fear, it won't matter anyway. 

When your sister was born we didn't really know what we were doing.  So we did all the things that "people" said were important and looking back were kind of a waste of money in most cases.  Your sister, yes, has a baby book but it isn't even filled out all the way.  Don't believe me? Go check.  Your sister, yes, had her photos taken at Kiddie Kandids like every three months but they are all still sitting in the envelope rotting away since we always bought way too many.  I was a photographer for many years, your snapshots ARE professional photos and there are tons of them.  Your sister, yes, has pages in a scrapbook with things that happened but it ends at about 9months old when I decided it was a losing battle to learn to love doing it.  And you know what?  We didn't actually do as many things back then as you are getting to do.  You see, both of your parents are older and wiser and have figured out what is important in life.  So now, instead of sitting around eating processed food and watching life go by while you smile pretty for the camera and play nearby while I scrapbook, we are doing things as a family like going to the gym, hiking, taking trips to visiting family and see the country.  And even better, we are playing with you on the floor because we can.  So hopefully you will understand and look back on the memories we are making together as a family and cherish them as much as I do.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When Mommy's sick, ain't no one happy!

There is nothing worse than being under the weather and unable to do everything - especially for me!  (I wonder how many sentences I've ever started with those words "there is nothing worse"...  I might have to add the label over-exaggerator to the list I've given myself!)  I'm typically a very healthy person.  Even when Hubby gets sick I avoid catching it.  When the kids get sick, I avoid catching it.  But, the last three weeks I have succumbed - over and over again.  First a bout of pink-eye that started on Saturday morning three weeks ago and was quickly bad enough that I spent Sunday morning in the urgent care getting eye drops and suffered with no make-up in public for another week.  The very next weekend - a day after I returned to the land of make-up, I spent Sunday with a 24-hour stomach flu - I'll spare you the gory details on that one!  And now, I have a chest/head cold that started last Saturday - the very next weekend.  I'm hoping I will be better soon but who knows how long it will linger. 

While all this sickness is bad on it's own, it is doubly bad - at least for me - knowing that Sundays are my treasured long-run days.  The one day a week that Hubby has the kids and I get at least two hours of uninterrupted bliss with nothing but my running shoes and an iPod play list where I get to de-stress from the week.  You can imagine how shitty life is when Mommy doesn't get her de-stress day three weeks in a row!


I'm downright frightful in my bitchiness... just ask my poor family who I'm sure are hoping I get to run soon if only for their own sake. 

I guess on the bright side: no one else got pink eye; the stomach flu quickly made it's way through all of us with little lingering effects; and a cold is somewhat easier to handle if I spread it to more than just Hubby who is currently suffering with me.  Here's hoping for healthy days ahead full of running and sanity!  God knows I need it!