The world puts unnecessary pressure on looks – especially for fitness enthusiasts across the globe. Whether you are an athlete, dancer, fitness competitor, fitness professional, aerobics instructor, crossfit gamer, gym member or life-long dieter, you may not see yourself as others see you. You may look in the mirror and see Fat, Thick and Out of Shape, while others see you as Fit, Trim and Healthy. In today’s blog I get super personal and tackle a sensitive topic of an unhealthy body image and Body Dysmorphia.
When I was in the doctor office earlier this week, I was talking to my girlfriend (Dr. Jennifer Stepanek) about my struggle with not being able to workout right after my vacation. Like I said in my last blog, there’s nothing like being off your diet and workout program, and then getting hurt and you can’t exercise. I confessed that I felt so fat. I honestly think I told her that because she was about to hold onto my body and manipulate my back, and the last time I saw her it was close to my competition and I was super lean. I honestly know that the last time I saw her I was too lean. Meaning, it wasn’t healthy lean – it was pre-competition lean, but it didn’t change the way I felt.
Her compassionate and concerning response was “you know that’s not right? That’s really a sign of body dysmorphia”. I was taken back a little. She followed with explaining how she dealt with that as a dancer, and watched many girls put excessive pressure on themselves for how they looked and what they weighed. She continued to encourage me and I continued to confess that this was an area I’m working on as I try to find balance in the crazy fitness world.
As a fitness professional, I probably have unreasonable expectations I put on myself to look, and live, the part. Steve warned me about this as I prepared to compete this year. He encouraged me to allow myself to gain some weight back and not freak out. I also now understand why we whines about feeling fat even after one big meal. There is something that happens to people who compete, or get really lean (like for modeling jobs, performances, competitions, TV, etc), that raises the bar too high – and it messes with your head.
While someone else’s “best” is closer to a normal healthier weight, my perceived “best” is not a healthy weight. That is why, when I weighed in on the inBody machine (our comprehensive body composition machine) close to competition, it said I needed to gain 11.7lbs of fat. I look at that and think that’s ridiculous, that’s a LOT of fat! But, that is what is considered a normal healthy weight for my age, my height and my muscle mass.
OK, so back to the day of that doctor’s visit. Later that day, Steve took this picture of me holding an Atkins frozen dinner for a campaign I’m working on. He snapped a few pics and I ate my meal and didn’t post the pic until later, after Steve left. I hadn’t even looked at the photos yet, but when I did, I was surprised. I looked thin. Not super-fit thin, or really lean or anything (remember, I have been off my diet for a bit), but I didn’t look as fat as I felt (and I REALLY had been feeling super fat). Please bear with me here. You maybe thinking this is ridiculous, or that I’m crazy, and I’m writing this to say “yes, it IS ridiculous and yes, I AM crazy”. lol That’s why I’m sharing this with you. Maybe someone else will benefit from my own struggle and discovery.
As I looked at that picture and reflected on what my friend said, I thought about the seriousness of not having a true concept of what I really look like. I waited until Steve came home and said “can I ask you a question?” Of course he said “yes” and I proceeded with opening my phone to that picture and asking “do I look like this?” He laughed (not understanding) and I explained “do I look heavier in person than I do in these pictures, because I feel like the pictures makes me look thinner than I actually am”. He responded with “no, you look much fatter in person” and then laughed (totally teasing me). He of course said that was what I looked like. That I was thin. That just baffled me!
I explained that I thought maybe I was dealing with body image issues. He said “duh, yes, you most definitely are dealing with dysmorphic issues. Most competitors do”. Hmmmm I thought. Dang it. I don’t want to be like ‘most people’. Ha! So I decided to do some research to learn more about this disorder.
I found an online test and took the test to see where I stood. I actually thought the results would show traces of BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder) – and was expecting the results to basically say “yes, you have some of the symptoms, but it’s just a mild case”(and I was even conservative with my answers!! haha – but instead, the results screamed ‘you gotta get this under control girlfriend!”. lol
CLICK HERE to view the questions or take the test (the answers will be emailed to you).
Spoiler Alert – you can skip the test and just use me as the guinea pig! lol Here is the “answer key”
* 1 to 3 test items checked: There is a low probability that you have BDD.
* 4 to 7 test items checked: There is a medium probability that you have BDD.
* More than 7 test items checked: There is a high probability that you have BDD. I checked 14 freakin’ lines! FOURTEEN! OMG! Ok, so I’m going to be so super honest here and share my thoughts on each symptom. Lord, I hope this helps someone because this is sorta embarrassing.
Getting Personal: My BDD Test Revealed
Test questions are in light grey, and my answer and thoughts follow.
- I excessively worry about my physical appearance. YES. I didn’t think I did until I reeeeally thought about this hard. I ended up checking yes because, realistically, I do know I stress about how I look more than I should.
- I often check my appearance in mirrors or other reflecting objects (i.e., windows, car bumpers, spoons, etc). YES. I don’t typically have long gazes in the mirror or window as I walk by, and rarely do it if anyone is watching, but if no one is around – yes, I totally do. I just have the prudence (or pride) to hide it well because I see others do it in public at the gym and realize it looks self-centered and is unattractive.
- I frequently avoid mirrors and other reflecting objects. I checked NO. Ironically, I used to always be in the back of an aerobic class because I didn’t like to see myself in the mirror. I used to tease that I hated seeing my long limbs flying around and how awkward I looked. But other than that, I want to look in the mirror so I have a chance to improve a flaw (like messy hair, shiny nose, etc).
- I excessively perform basic grooming activities (i.e., washing skin, combing hair, brushing teeth) related to my perceived flaw. I said NO to this one. I don’t have any excessive grooming rituals. I mean, I do have a skin regimen I have to do or I’ll be one big walking zit, but I don’t think I desire to wash my face 15 times or brush my hair 100 strokes. I do have to wash my face really good to get all the pounds of make-up off it since I use so much make-up to cover my yucky skin from my teenage acne years. Who am I kidding?! I never stopped having acne! ha!
- I often use make-up or clothing (i.e., hats, scarves, long sleeve shirts, long pants, etc.) to camouflage my perceived flaw. A reluctant YES. I never leave the house without make-up. I’m a little better now. I sometimes do run without it, but most of the time I have SOMETHING on my face (foundation to smooth out my freckly uneven complexion). I also definitely change the way I dress depending on how fat or fit I feel. I think this is normal to some degree, but I definitely need to consider this as an issue I need to work on.
- I frequently attempt to hide my perceived flaw by using my hands, by sitting in certain positions, or by staying in places where I believe the flaw will be less noticeable by others (i.e., a dark corner in a theatre or restaurant). Another reluctant YES. No, I don’t hide in a dark corner when going out, but I do tend to try and hold myself in certain positions (especially on the beach or in tight fitting clothes) so fat rolls don’t show, etc. Again, probably somewhat normal, but borderline obsessive. I have been known to wear my hair a certain way to hide a blemish and I can’t just stand normal in a photo without wondering if I’m in a “fat position”. LIke anyone cares what I look like in the dang picture! lol
- I regularly scrutinize others’ appearance for comparison. NO. I might admire someone else, but I don’t scrutinize others. I’m too worried about my own flaws. lol
- I sometimes discuss my perceived flaw with others, or ask others to verify my perceived flaw. Well, I can’t say that I would have answered YES to this before, but after my talk with the doctor and Steve today, I couldn’t answer no. ha!
- I often seek reassurance from others about the appearance of my perceived flaw. I had to check YES on this one too. Although I don’t feel I seek reassurance from others, I do seek it from Steve. I may complain about being fat, but it’s not to hear “you aren’t fat” – it’s more of an admission or confession. As if I feel the other person is already thinking it, so I might as well say it. However, with Steve, I do seek his reassurance because he’s really the only one I care about.
- I often touch, pick, and/or measure my perceived flaw. OK, this is getting personal here but I am SUCH a picker!! I admit it! All the dermatologists and aestheticians in the world will hate this but I touch and pick at my skin a lot. I can’t STAND having a blemish. I want it OUT and fixed – and I’m no different with any flaw. I don’t have a lot of patience with flaws. If I notice a new flaw, I want to fix it right away, even if I have to cut it out, cut it off, dye it, exercise it off, glue it, paint it, cover it, medicate it – whatever the fix is, I almost can’t even work or do anything until I first deal with it. So YES was the answer to this one. I always thought that was my perfectionist side, but I now realize it’s more than that and I need to work on this more. I also weigh myself daily to “measure” how I am really doing with my weight/body.
- I diet and/or eat only specific foods related to my perceived flaw. YES. One of my percieved flaws is body fat. So, yes, I do diet and eat specific foods that would help that area. This would be OK if this was the only line I checked YES on, but considering I have a whole host of issues, this is just another area that could get out of control if I don’t learn to maintain balance.
- I excessively exercise and/or lift weights in an effort to alter my perceived flaw. YES. Duh! lol Oh boy. I don’t even need to explain my thoughts on this one. Again, whether this is healthy or not comes down to balance in all areas.
- I avoid certain places and/or activities (i.e., parties, dating, swimming, restaurants, theatres, etc.) because I don’t want others to see my perceived flaw. I answered NO on this one. However, I will try my darnedest to stay home if I feel ugly, and I most definitely won’t put on a bathing suit if I feel fat – but I typically don’t let it keep me from going places and having fun.
- I generally avoid having my picture taken. NO. I’m learning to be OK with ugly selfies. I have to take pics for brands. I used to take a million pictures to get just one OK one, but this is actually an area I’ve improved on. I’m more OK with less than perfect photos. #workinprogress
- I have undergone cosmetic procedures to correct my perceived flaw (i.e., plastic surgery, hair replacement, skin bleaching, etc.). Let’s just say I used to work for a plastic surgeon’s office when I was in my twenties and I had every skin peel there was to improve my skin, I’ve had various un-invasive treatments to improve skin texture and color, and used bleaching creams to improve acne scars – and STILL use 3 different medicated treatments from Vein Therapies (Dr. Beckett’s office) to help my skin. It definitely did give me more confidence and improved my skin greatly. I also have permanent make-up because I couldn’t stand the way I looked without eyeliner. My face just disappeared. I have to admit, that was WAY worth it and definitely helped me feel better about myself since I loved the water and sport, etc. Obsessive? I don’t think so, but the answer still is YES.
- I am dissatisfied with the outcome of these cosmetic procedures. Well, I had realistic expectations of each procedure so I can’t say I was dissatisfied. Do I wish my skin was even smoother and clearer? Yes, but I answered NO on this one because my skin has definitely improved.
- I am planning or hoping to have cosmetic procedures to alter my perceived flaw in the future. I would LOVE to have laser on my face and go on acutane. I always thought I’d grow out of acne, but it never happened. I have pores so large you can swim in them and acne scars that have destroyed the texture of my skin – and now I have wrinkles too! ha! It’s always been a dream of mine to get laser to improve my skin. It’s a pretty big procedure (lot of down time and painful from what I understand) but I’ve seen how baby smooth it is after it’s done. Someday! I answered YES, because if I had the time and money, I’d do it in a heartbeat – complete with a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery to fix my old wrinkly eyes).
- I am often anxious or depressed thinking about my perceived flaw. YES. Sadly, I worry about my weight way too much. I get really depressed when I gain even 5lbs. It’s not right, I don’t condone that, but I’m just being honest. I know it’s not healthy and it’s unnecessary.
- I am often late for activities due to performing behaviors related to my perceived flaw. I am much quicker to get ready now, but I have a hard time “stopping” the perfecting process. I’m always running late because I change my clothes 5 more times in search for something that looks better. Or I curl a few more chunks of hair, as if that will make all the difference. I fix, fix, fix and re-fix, when I should just say goodbye to the mirror and be OK with everything the way it is – even if it’s less than desirable to me. Lately, I’ve been working on this. Even though I have a bad attitude about it, I will say “forget it. that’s just as good as it gets” and will flip the light off and walk away. It’s a step. The next step is smiling and being OK with it. So, YES.
- I often believe others notice my perceived flaw and/or are thinking negative thoughts about my perceived flaw. This is a big one for me. YES. I totally think people look at me and think “boy, she’s gotten fat”. Sadly, people have said stupid stuff like “you don’t look like your pictures now do you?” I never forget my mailman pointed to a poster of me and said “you don’t have those abs now do you?” It crushed me. I was like “No, it’s freakin Christmas and I’m not training for anything. I’m trying to enjoy my life, but thanks for reminding me of how fit I was a few months ago. So, yes, I do fear people whisper about me if they feel like I’m not as thin or muscular as I can be. I wonder if my enemies enjoy seeing me a little fuller or if people judge me. I don’t know why I even care, but maybe it’s just being a fitness leader. I want to practice what I preach and I desire to be a good example. I don’t like letting people down. Another unnecessary pressure I put on myself. I know. Another big one to work on.
- I am significantly distressed about my perceived flaw. YES. I rarely am free from this, unless I’m really lean and have been dieting hard for something. I stress out way too much about this. I can even realize that there are obese people who would love to be my weight, even at my heaviest. However, it still doesn’t change the way I feel in my own skin.
- I often believe others are discussing or commenting on my perceived flaw. This goes with the earlier question about feeling like others think negatively about your perceived flaw. YES, sadly, I think there are catty women who love to see you at your worst. I think people enjoy putting others down in order to be lifted up. Shute, there are some people who look down on us BECAUSE we workout and because I have muscle (because they perceive that to be unattractive, un-womanly, self-centered or showy). I always think people see my flaws more than my strengths, but I don’t feel that way about the people I truly love and who truly love me.
- My concerns about my perceived flaw are interfering with my relationships and/or with my academic or professional functioning. NO. I think they probably take up too much time, thought and emotion, but no, I don’t let them interfere with my life for the most part.
So there you have it – an up close and personal peak at my warped brain! Now on to making a change!
Disorder or Dis-Order?
Medical Definition: a derangement or abnormality of function; a morbid physical or mental state.
While I’m sure many psychiatrists would disagree with this statement, I still will say it. I will not label myself as having BDD just because I scored poorly on this test. (Granted, if you have severe depression or suicidal thoughts related to these symptoms, I do recommend seeing a professional please!) But, in my case, I will address each concern and work on it.
I will not use it as a crutch or an excuse to continue BDD behavior. This test simply made me aware of areas I need to work on. Whether you or I are clinical or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I can improve and so can you! In many ways, I have improved (like with my skin). I might be worse temporarily with my body after experiencing competition weight, but I’m not going to settle for this emotional state – and, if you struggle with this too, you should not either.
I look at it this way. I can either say this is a disorder, or I can realize these symptoms are a result of dis-order meaning things (life) out of order (not in premium working condition). As I attempt to put my life in the right order – putting God first, Steve/family next, others next, etc. my focus will slowly shift off myself and onto others and more important things than the way I look.
The OCD Center of Los Angles says “From a mindfulness perspective, much of our psychological distress is the result of trying to control and eliminate the discomfort of unwanted thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. In other words, our discomfort is not the problem – our attempt to control and eliminate our discomfort is the problem. For an individual with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, the ultimate goal of mindfulness is to develop the ability to more willingly experience their uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges, without responding with compulsions, avoidance behaviors, reassurance seeking, and/or mental rituals.”
So, if I want to improve in this area, I need to purposefully allow myself to experience the “perceived flaw” without always frantically responding to it. This means, I should start running without makeup more so I get used to being out in public with no make-up. No one in my neighborhood cares or notices anyway! I used to think I just did this to make myself feel better (and I do believe that is the main reason), but maybe I am fueling the fire and creating a habit that is hard for me to break. So, as a result of this test, I plan on “exercising” this area of my life.
Another thing I have already started “practicing’ is wearing loose clothing. Why not be more comfortable right? I always think of loose clothing as sloppy and making me look fat, but it is more comfortable, and it takes my eyes and mind (as well as others’) off my body. This is especially important to me when I’m close to a competition. Many people get skimpier and skimpier the leaner they are (to show off their progress or just because they are more comfortable exposing skin). I was convicted earlier this year, I should do the opposite. It’s one thing to wear fitting clothes to the gym, but when I’m out and about (at church, shopping, etc), I should really dress more conservatively and cover up more. It’s less pressure on me, and is better for me to take the focus off my body and more on other important things.
Practice Makes Better
You might have heard the saying, “the first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem”? Well, I do believe the first step is admitting you have things to work on. Now it’s up to me to WORK on them. I will not suddenly be OK with my body or skin, but I absolutely can practice changing my mindset. I can take less time getting ready. I can refuse to change clothes 10 times on fat days, and just shoot for 1 or 2 times. I can wear less make-up when it doesn’t matter and I can walk the beach in a bikini on my fat days and remind myself that no one cares if I am 5lbs heavier than I want to be. I can choose to smile and not complain about how I feel. That is a choice, not a reaction. I have full control. i just have to practice more control.
The fact of the matter is that I know I am being unrealistic, so I can let a lot of this go – BUT, it will be a daily dying to self (not letting my body rule me, Romans 8:13) and practicing a healthier ORDER to my life. How does God see me? Righteous and redeemed! (1 Corinthians 1:30)
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Learning a Healthy Balance:
#1 Do not worry – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 How often do we worry about things that have nothing to do with eternity or to do with anything that TRULY matters. It’s a waste of time and energy. We must practice NOT worrying.
#2 Focus on what is most important – I need to realize being fit has some value, but it falls below godliness. I should spend way more time on working on my heart, than my physique.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
#3 Actively work to re-prioritize your life. The world can knock our priorities out of order. Work may require us to work later, and miss time with family. Stress may force our eyes of other important things. We don’t set priorities and call it a day. We set them, and then spend the rest of our lives re-prioritizing them – putting the important things back in the right order and pushing other stuff out of the way. A life without purposefully reordering our life, is a life completely out of order. This is how the world conforms us if we let it. It is only by being proactive with our thoughts, relationships and priorities will we be transformed by the renewal of our mind like this scripture says.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
We can’t let our thoughts go wild. We have control over our mind or God would never tell you to “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) because He’d never tell us to do something we couldn’t do. God is telling us that we can change our mind, and set it to more important things than worrying about how we look or feel. Again, practice makes better.
I hope this super long blog helped, or encouraged you. If nothing else, if you struggle with these things, you now know you aren’t alone. We all do to some degree – just some of us need to work on them more than others!
I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Up
When I talk about fitness and dieting, I often refer to falling and getting back up again. Maybe it’s because I’m a clutz and relate to falling, or maybe it’s just because falling is a part of life.
We’re human and it’s inevitable that we will mess up – and there is no truer example than with diet and fitness. However, I don’t think it’s all about just preventing the failure, I think the most important action is what we do after we fail.
I think it’s healthy to allow ourselves to cheat occasionally. It’s almost like planning a controlled fall. Stunt men do it all the time. They learn how to fall without getting hurt. We all know eating certain foods aren’t healthy, but we “allow” ourselves to have them. But, if we don’t plan it carefully, and practice safety measures, we can find ourselves in big trouble quick.
While some people planned their Thanksgiving cheat meals out carefully, there are others that just threw out all the rules, and dove face first into every dish that came their way. Whether we convinced ourselves that “we deserved it” or acted like we really didn’t care, eventually our bad choices catch up to us. The feeling of disappointment and guilt might hit us as soon as we finish the last bite, or it might take days of repetitive bad behavior to finally get us to the point of being sick of how those bad choices make us look and feel. However long it takes us to reach that point, when we finally get to that point, it’s time for damage control.
It’s time for you (and the scale) to face the facts.
Some people are quick to jump back on the scale and boldy face reality. One thing I can guarantee is this: You WILL eventually deal with all this. You can deal with it now or later – the choice is yours.
3 Post Holiday Scenarios: Which One Will You Choose?
1. Stay Knocked Down. This is what most people do after a Holiday – especially when there is another excuse (like another Holiday) right around the corner. They decide it’s going to be impossible to fight, too hard to manage, not enough time, no fun, or not worth the effort. So, they just give up and pretend they can continue through the Holidays without repercussions. The problem with this is, if you do this often enough, it becomes a pattern. Weight continues to creep up on you – and before you know it, you are in way over your head, and you may be tempted to quit for good.
2. Get Back Up – slowly. This person waits for the ref to count all the way to 9 before they get back up again. They are procrastinator, slow learners and naturally lazy (like me – yes ME!). Sometimes it takes a friend (or dog!) to drag them back to the gym. But, most of the time, this person will try everything under the sun before doing what they know they need to do. They’ll cut everything out they don’t mind forfeiting and try making “their way” work by finagling diets and fitness around their lifestyle. Then they will complain when they fail. They will justify their actions, make a million excuses, and, finally, at the very last minute (when they just can’t take it any longer), they will stand back up and get back to what they know works.
3. Bounce Back Fast – The person who is fast to recover and quickly gets back on their feet, accepts what has to be done and doesn’t waste any valuable time. They get right back on their diet, and get right back in the gym – as fast as they possibly can. They may dread it, they may not want to do it, but they do it anyway because they’ve either learned the hard way or they hate feeling fat and unhealthy more than they hate the work it takes to stay fit. They could easily wallow in their sorrows and beat themselves up while their down, but they don’t. The get over it. They move on. They get back up on their own two feet – and fight it back out.
So, you ate like crap – get over it, it’s time to get back up!
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There are many reasons people are motivated to get fit. Some people are motivated to start working out because they want to look better. Other people are motivated to exercise in order to feel better. No matter what motivates you to start a program, the key to success not just figuring out how to GET motivated but how to STAY motivated.
Too many people let their past failures define them. They dieted before and failed, so they believe they are doomed to never lose weight. They joined a gym before and quit going, so they fear they’ll just waste their money again the next time. They have a tendency to be lazy, selfish, and lack self control, so they fear they will always be lazy, selfish and lack self control. This type of thinking uses past failures to sabotage tomorrow’s successes.
My grandmother once quoted Barbara Johnson, an encouraging author known for helping women have hope and joy in discouraging times, saying, “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” Focusing on past failures causes us to worry about continuing to be a failure, and Barbara reminds us worrying wastes time and interferes with tomorrow’s opportunities.
Free From Failure
What we think about is a choice. We have the choice to think about all the mistakes we’ve made, and what mistakes we could make in the future OR we can think about changing our actions, breaking the cycle, becoming the person we want to be, learning from our mistakes and succeeding. Sure, it’s easy to look at the facts. Believe me, I know about failure. I remember paying for a gym membership for 2 years and never going. Did that stop me from joining a gym again? No. The next time I went a little more than the first. I continued to join gyms until I found the one that kept me going, and I learned to make working out a part of my life, and not an option.
Of course, this is just one type of failure. There are much worse failures than just wasting a gym membership or quitting a diet. However, the application applies to all failures. Just the same way you can list off all the good reasons you’re sure you could fail again (where statistics could help prove your point), I can shoot off some statistics of my own that prove you could succeed.
Aim for Success
I have countless encounters with people who have never had weight loss success who joined our gym, or did a boot camp, and got the results they wanted after many failed attempts. I could remind you of all the failed relationships who decided to never give up and who made it – stronger and better than they ever hoped. We can look at all the countless men and women in history that led lives of failure, but are remembered for their great successes because they didn’t let their failures define them or stop them from continuing to try to become a success.
No matter what your struggle is today, decide now to accept your failures as HISTORY. You can be a failure yesterday and be a success today. Be a success for several days in a row, and before you know it you ARE a success.
No matter how bad you were on Thanksgiving, no matter how much you’ve let your workouts slip, no matter how many poor mistakes you’ve made with your finances or relationships, decide to stop making the mistakes that haunt you, decide to think about the possibilities if you succeed, and and decide to make this week a successful week!
What if he quit trying?
“This was a man who failed in business at the age of 21; was defeated in a legislative race at age 22; failed again in business at age 24; overcame the death of his sweetheart at age 26; had a nervous breakdown at age 27; lost a congressional race at age 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed in an effort to become vice-president at age 47; lost a senatorial race at age 49; and was elected president of the United States at age 52.”
This man was Abraham Lincoln.
“I have failed over and over, and that is why I succeed” Abraham Lincoln.
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What is fitness to you? I think when people think “fitness”, they think “exercise”. They think of running, lifting and sweating. They think of Fitness Magazine, with fit bodies and flat abs – but I think most people go down a LONG list of other things and activities before they get to diet, water and sleep.
Fitness isn’t an exercise. It’s a lifestyle. Fitness is truly a way of life, it’s not just what you do in the gym. This includes how you eat, how you sleep and how you move throughout the day. ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) describes fitness as a 5-part package. In order to be fit, you should be able to check off all 5 elements of fitness:
- Cardiovascular Respiratory Fitness
- Muscular Strength
- Muscular Endurance
- Good Flexibility
- A Healthy Body Composition
How do you stand up to the ACSM guidelines of being fit? I’m 4 out of 5 (flexibility being my weakness – but I’m working on it!).
I’ve seen a lot of body builders who couldn’t run a 1/4 mile and runners who couldn’t lift a weight. I’ve seen fit looking people have heart attacks because their bench press was more important than their heart’s health (and their love for unhealthy food was untamed). I encourage you to LIVE fit to BE fit.
As you work hard to get fit and stay fit, you purposefully do things to improve these 5 elements of fitness. This means you stop looking for the easy way to do things and look for ways to fit more healthy activity and fuel in your day. You go to bed earlier, you stay more active, you stretch, you drink a lot of water, you eat healthy, you manage your weight and you challenge your body’s strength, stamina and muscular endurance. You don’t just exercise – you LIVE IT!
“Why her? Why does she look so good? Why does it seem so easy for her? We do the same workout and she drops fat like it’s nothing. I workout harder. I’m stronger. I’m faster. I’m better. Maybe it’s her genetics. Maybe she has a faster metabolism. Maybe it’s her supplements. Do you think she is doing steroids? Do you think she has “help”? Maybe the doctor is giving her something to help her get faster results. Maybe I need to see my doctor. Maybe my body just doesn’t work like hers. Maybe it’s my thyroid. Maybe I’ll never be able to look like that.”
This is one downward spiral fueled by an unrealistic negative mindset that is focused on blaming on ANYone else but yourself. We can’t judge a person by what they do in the gym. It’s an hour a day. Have you ever thought that it could be what she is doing the other 23 hours a day that’s getting her the results you want?
I see this in boot camp all the time. People do the same exact workout. They get the same information, yet one person loses 30lbs and gets shredded while their BFF leaves the same weight as they started. Did the BFF lose fat and gain muscle? Probably. But did they radically change like their friend? No. Why? It wasn’t what they did in the gym. It was what they weren’t doing when they left.
Think of it this way. We all know going to church won’t get you to heaven. There have been plenty of criminals who have gone to church. They might have even served as a deacon. They could have had the best intentions. They might have gone down to the front, or raised their hand, to say they wanted to change. They might have cried buckets of tears in complete misery with how they were living life, begging God to help them to change. They could have attended every service, gone to every Bible Study, and did everything other church members did, but their life would NEVER change if they didn’t change the way they lived OUTSIDE the church. That would require surrender. It requires discipline. It requires perseverance. It requires a lifestyle change.
Transformation requires DOING not just HEARING. We teach our fitness competitors the SAME stuff we teach our boot campers and clients. Some reach their fullest potential and some never even scratch the surface. Why? Like with church, the “message” is the same. My pastor is giving the same message to 4 different services, and hundreds of people. Each time his words penetrate our hearts and we take it home and practice it (practice also means we try and fail, and we keep trying anyway).
Our life is not the same as it was the first time we showed up. Our lives are being transformed – and we are not alone. I’ve seen radical life changes – HUGE transformations. So why isn’t EVERYONE that goes to our church having these same awesome experiences as we are? Because the keep going right back to the same way they are living, without applying what they are hearing. They expect to magically be transformed by the one-hour spiritual workout a week – and they fail.
I’ve gone to church all my life. I failed in life when I quit applying what I’ve learned at HOME. It’s not what I do at church or the gym that transforms my life. My workouts are almost the exact same now as they were when I was 20lbs heavier. What changed is what I was putting in to my body on a daily basis. It’s the consistency of eating clean and denying the flesh what it craves (chips and salsa, cookies, overeating, snacking, etc). If I eat junk, I’ll look like junk. If I eat too much, I’m going to weigh too much. If I eat clean, I will look lean. If I eat healthy, I will feel healthy. What I put in my body (and soul) absolutely has a radical affect on my life.
If you want to transform your life – whether physically or spiritually, you have to quit feeding your flesh (quit literally feeding your body the things it wants opposed to the things it needs – both physically and spiritually). You need to do more than rely on a Sunday message or a motivational mantra. It takes more than “good works” or a good workout. It takes a life change – 24 hours a day. Will you fail? Heck yeah – and you will STILL be SO much better off trying.
No more complacency.
No more pointing the finger.
No more excuses.
I don’t look at the body as a sex symbol or in vanity. To me, the body is like a clump of clay that can be sculpted into different shapes by applying science – and, like clay sculpted into a pitcher, our body is better used when it’s in good shape. A potter will cut away the excess, dig out the junk and squeeze the clay until it takes shape. If clay could hurt, it probably wouldn’t like the process very much. It would likely say “OUCH!”
In fitness, calorie management and training are the sculpting hands and much work is required to mold you in the best shape. One of the things I’m enjoying most, is one of the things I hate most – learning to set limits, stick to a plan and remain disciplined when I normally would cave. We live in a society where no one likes restrictions. People eat what they want to eat, buy what they want to buy and do what they want to do. When did restrictions become a bad thing? We need boundaries. We need to practice more self-control. It’s healthy and it makes us strong.
I’m loving living with more limitations, forcing myself to do what I don’t want to do to get to where I want to go. It’s hard work, but it makes me proud. I’m learning to control my flesh and not let it control ME! I’m learning I can do so much more than I thought I was capable of.
You may look at my suit and think WOW, that’s beautiful!! A bikini contest must be like a beauty contest, but it really isn’t. It’s more like a science fair. I am nothing more than one big science project.
I’m not competing to win a trophy, because I think I have a good body, or because I want to be on stage. I might not even PLACE! I can’t go on stage hoping to win a $40 trophy, or seeking praise from people. That is not what makes me who I am. A trophy can’t define me. It mustn’t. It’s the training, the self-discipline, the process and what God teaches me along the way that means more to me than a bronze sculpture or a medal. It’s finishing what I started to become the best version of me I can. That’s what will make me a winner, trophy or no trophy. It’s me against me – and I plan to CRUSH the old me!!
The truth is, I really don’t want to compete. I don’t care about the stage (terrified of the stage is a more accurate description lol). I am not comfortable being in a bikini in front of hundreds of people – I don’t even walk to my car from the beach without a cover up on! I dread standing next to a bunch of other girls to be “judged” – don’t we get judged enough every day? Lord knows, I know ALL of my flaws already and could just slip the judges my own list of all my shortcomings and save them time.
I’m competing, first, because my husband has been dying for me to do this with him for years – and I admit, dieting and training together has been a lot of fun. Second, I am competing because it’s forcing me to break through plateaus, push my limits, reach my goals, and step out of my comfort zone. It’s an incredible amount of work and a time where God is growing me in ways I never thought possible. The same way your muscles can’t grow unless you put them under pressure, I personally can’t grow if I constantly am avoiding the challenges of being under pressure.
My body is NOTHING – it will fade away like a dying flower. Learning to not be controlled by it is teaching me so much about myself and about how much more we need to let God be in control – not out stomach, not our laziness, not our selfish ambitions. Learning to die to flesh and live in the spirit both require a lot of discipline – and I plan to run this race of life to the best of my ability!
“…I discipline my body and bring it to submission, so when I have preached to others, I myself should not disqualified“ 1 Corinthians 9:27
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Want to lose weight? Are you the kind of person who would just do better if someone else would cook for you, or at least just tell you what to eat? You aren’t alone. It’s called being lazy – and we ALL have a lazy bone that wishes dieting could be easier. Are we really going to let laziness rule our life? Seriously? We KNOW the reward is great, so why would we let a few food prep and calorie-logging steps get in our way?
We are lazy creatures. We want to be spoon fed. We don’t even want to read information now – we want to hear it or watch it on TV, because reading would take too much effort. We prefer to be forced to do the right thing because making the decision to do the right thing on our own would also be too much work. Even people at church want to be given a really good word from the pulpit to last them all week because they are too lazy to open the Bible and actually get a word from God themselves. Here are 4 ways laziness gets us in trouble.
1. We do not apply what we learn. We constantly seek more information, when we aren’t even applying what we have already heard. James 1:22 says “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Of course it’s talking about the word, being the Bible. However, I believe we can learn from this and apply it to many areas of our life. How often are we searching for new recipes, new workouts and new fitness toys when we already know what to eat, know what to do and have enough fitness tools to do it? Normally, the difference between someone who is getting results and someone who isn’t is the person getting results is actually applying what they have have already learned. While the person who isn’t getting results is only applying SOME of what they’ve learned, and still in search of an easier route or a shortcut.
2. We have selective hearing. When we choose to have selective hearing, and only apply what we like while ignoring the stuff we don’t like, we are deceiving ourselves. We live life pretending we are doing everything right, because we are doing some stuff right. This is a VERY bad habit. Why? First, you begin to believe the lie that you are doing “everything” you can. That’s not true. You are doing everything you WANT to do, but not everything you SHOULD do. Second, as we decide to pick and choose what we want to apply, we become more susceptible to false teaching and gimmicks. This applies both to our fitness and diet, as well as our spiritual journey. You don’t get to pick and choose truth. Truth is truth and if you ignore the truth long enough, you will begin to fall for any lie. You must apply all the principles to get the results you want – not just some of them. However, many people find themselves working hard in the gym (because they don’t mind that part), yet ignoring calories (because that is too much work) – and they wonder why they can’t lose the weight. If you want to succeed, you have to decide to apply EVERYTHING you learn, not just some of it.
3. You never really learn what is necessary to make fitness a lasting lifestyle. If you take short cuts, you are missing out on gaining more knowledge. Eating Lean Cuisines instead of learning out to prepare and weigh food, and count calories keeps you in bondage to boxed foods. As soon as you are left to cook or eat out, you will be lost. There is a certain amount of “homework” required to the fitness lifestyle. You must make the extra effort to measure food, weigh it, research foods, count calories, look up healthy recipes, study workouts, learn proper form, research supplements and study nutrition if you really want to KNOW how to live healthy. Sadly, people don’t want to know anything. They want to get healthy with limited knowledge. This is why people say “just tell me what to do” or “tell me what to eat”. Just telling someone what to do or eat sets them up for long-term failure. The best way to make fitness a lifestyle is to invest time in gaining the knowledge you need to KNOW how to live healthy (not pretend to live healthy). Think about how much time you waste surfing facebook or watching TV, where you gain NO knowledge. Don’t you think you are worth the investment?
4. You make life harder than it has to be. ironically, we waste more and energy time trying shortcuts than if we did everything the right (and often longer) way. Proverbs 12:24 says “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.” I think this passage is interesting because what it tells me is lazy people will be FORCED to work even harder. It’s funny how easy life is when we suck it up and just do what we are supposed to do. It’s when we try to avoid work, we often have to work much harder. I’ve personally experienced this time after time – especially with home improvement projects. I can’t count the number of times I had to either completely do something over again because I was trying to cut corners.
What this scripture also tells me is that I will be more in control if I am diligent. How many of us want to be in control of our lives? Of course our life really is in God’s hands, but there are many things we can control – and exercise and diet falls in that category. Do you really want to be FORCED to labor – possibly doing what you don’t even want to do? Or do you want to take control and choose what you are willing to do? Unfortunately, many people wait until it’s too late and the doctor tells them they need to make changes or they are going to die. You can decide now, or someone will decide for you later. Either way, we really can’t avoid work. It’s a part of life – so you might as well take control now.
Have you been guilty of trying short cuts, waiting on an easier way or only applying some of what you have learned? Save a lot of time and energy, and each your goal faster, by doing fitness the right way – applying what you have learned, and continuing to learn something new every day! You will be SO glad you did!! Your only regret will be that you wish you did it sooner!!
Recently I was listening to a message about Joseph, the coat of many colors guy who was sold to slavery and raised up to leadership. He was a loyal worker, and had great favor where ever he went. It also said he was EXTREMELY handsome. As a result, his boss’s wife tried to seduce him. His response was “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God“. This may not seem like a big statement here, but how many times do we respond to doing something wrong with calling it what it really is?
Joseph not only saw it wasn’t right, but he saw just how seriously wrong it was – not just that it wasn’t right to do to his boss, but he saw how it wasn’t right to do to God. Talk about taking things up a notch!
What if we were to be more truthful with our struggles, thoughts and actions? What if we started being more honest with ourself and with others? I believe in my heart, we let things (problems) linger in our life because we never really truly address them in truth.
There needs to be a time when we all look in the mirror and we face the things we try to run from. Here are a few examples:
I can’t lose weight.
Am I really doing everything I can do?
I probably should cut back the wine.
Am I an alcoholic?
I need more time and money.
Am I using my time and money wisely?
I don’t want to join a gym.
Am I letting my pride get in the way of my health?
I just really like her/him a lot.
I am married and I am fighting an attraction which is wrong and will never be right.
I eat really healthy.
Could I still be eating too much?
I love food.
Am I letting food control me?
You fill in the blanks…..
We all have our issues and our demons we must face. For Joseph, it was a constant pursuing of his boss’s wife – even when he was doing all the right things. BUT, he never gave into temptation because he never stopped seeing it for what it was.
I challenge you today to face your struggles head on, write them down, talk about them with someone you love and trust. You can never win a battle you never admit you are having.
People do NOT like the word diet. It’s like a bad 4-letter word that’s offensive in all countries. Everyone has a different definition of diet. I admit I use the word all the time, but I never think of it as a bad thing. To me, diet means results. It means healthy food, smart food. It means perfect portions, not overeating, not eating junk. It means practicing self-control and it means feeling great.
When did practicing self-control become so scary and bad? God ENCOURAGES us to practice self-control. There are countless scriptures on the importance of controlling our body, cravings and desires.
As you know, I like chips and salsa. I can’t eat it every day (but I WANT TO), but I do eat it. What if you let your kid eat whatever they wanted to eat every day? That’s a scary thought right? Well, it’s not too much worse than a grown adult eating whatever they want to eat every day. It might “look” healthier than PopTarts and Happy Meals, but it’s not much different when it comes to self-control.
Stop looking at dieting (or practicing self-control) as a horrible thing. Instead, look at it as empowering! Every time you resist your favorite cheat food, you are reminding yourself you are strong, you are one step closer to your goal, you are in control, you are not letting food rule your life, you are bettering yourself, you are doing the right and healthy thing. Every time you are eating healthy, you’re fueling your body with the foods it needs to help you reach your goals. Be proud, be excited!
Self-control requires sacrifice. Sacrifice requires being uncomfortable at first, but pleasure follows. Lack of self-control is the other way around. Pleasure first followed by discomfort that typically way outlasts the pleasure. Dieting (eating right, practicing self-control, managing calories) is investing in your future – and it’s SO worth it!!
Download the LoseIt app today and start taking control of your eating – and your body!