Monthly Archives: November 2014

Let’s Get Personal

The latest trending topics online funneled through my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds have been thought-provoking: namely, an article on “modesty” online, followed up by the “news” on Kim K’s recent exposure in Paper magazine.

While Kardashian’s shiny butt photos thankfully dropped today from top trending twitter news in favor or #rokerthon (Al Roker’s marathon attempt to break the Guinness world record), and the modesty article has also faded from the forefront of my newsfeed, I’ve been thinking about giving them some further airtime.

In my opinion, both articles subtly or not so subtly bring to light a very interesting question:

How much is too much skin?

 

This question begs others, such as:

  • Is your level of public exposure evidence of insecurity?
  • Is this a black and white issue… or a personal one?

Let’s explore these questions and their implications, as well as some of the psychology and assumptions behind them.

 

IS YOUR LEVEL OF PUBLIC EXPOSURE EVIDENCE OF INSECURITY?

In the first article, the writer claims that

“The psychology behind your behavior in taking these 

nude pics is very straight-forward: you’re suffering from a lack

of self-esteem and are looking externally to make yourself feel

good about you. But you’re kidding yourself. It’s called self-

esteem because it emanates from the self”.

Essentially, this writer is claiming an omniscient assumption over the motives, character and psychology of anyone who posts “nude” pics (this term itself being very loose because she also references lingerie in her article… and nude certainly implies full exposure).

The sheer ARROGANCE and HYPERBOLE in this article blew me away.

There is no documented psychology behind the mindset of every single individual who posts lingerie pictures, or nudes. There is no documented, fully inclusive psychology on men and women who pose fully clothed or butt-ass naked, from Old Navy to Playboy.

The older I get, the more I realize how immature it is to project your own thought process into the motives of others. For example, a few years ago, I would’ve never even dreamed of taking this photo:

 photo2

The “me” I was then had not yet emerged from abuse and neglect and betrayal and abandonment. That “me”, many years ago, could never have had the security to show my body in any way. I hid behind baggy sweatshirts, long runs, and sleepless nights covered by ball caps, pulled low. I hid everything: my emotional pain, my destructive and crumbling marriage, my fear and confusion.

My slow emergence from that time period was marked by an increasing willingness to proudly demonstrate my hard work through more exposure AND motivate other women who had been through similar situations, or who were mothers trying to “reclaim” their bodies and confidence. My INCREASE in confidence was what motivated this photoshoot. Not a lack of it.

 photo1

However, many people jumped in and assumed that I felt I had to show this to get attention. That my joy in the body I recreated and the life I was reconstructing were actually pure insecurity and a plea to “feel better about myself” through “likes” on Instagram.

Note the case, but perhaps, it would’ve been for them.

Take a friend of mine, whose ex-wife was constantly looking for attention from other men. This woman was known for inappropriate flings and infidelity. She got a boob job with his money without him knowing. While I cannot judge her motives, her character as evidenced by repeated decisions to dishonor her marriage and degrade her integrity beg questions about the reason for her breast augmentation. Perhaps for her, her lewd displays online and self-enhancements WERE motivated by insecurity and a lack of moral integrity.

BUT…

(And THIS is why it is in caps and bolded) I AM NOT HER JUDGE, HER GOD, HER GUIDE, NOR HER CONSCIENCE. This leads into the second question:

IS THIS A BLACK AND WHITE ISSUE… OR A PERSONAL ONE?

Let’s explore this woman’s background, from what I know of it.

Raised in a broken home where her dad abused and mistreated her mom, and then abandoned them both, she constantly lived in the shadow of her mother’s depression, alcoholism, and constant run-through of men of all ages and types. This was her example growing up, from infancy. Her mom refused to show her love or affection, and blamed her for her dad’s abuse and abandonment. From a young age, she desperately wanted to be loved and cared for, and her mom refused to give that to her, after her dad had already abandoned her. She felt unwanted, used, hurt, unworthy, not good enough, and essentially, invisible.

Does this excuse her infidelity? No. Does it lend sympathy toward why she made the decisions she did? It should.

This girl needs a lot of help to turn off of the path she has already run down. But while I have no desire to befriend her, I have no desire to malign her OR to judge her.

I am of the singular opinion that YOU NEVER COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND WHAT SOMEONE HAS BEEN THROUGH, AND YOUR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE SHOULD KEEP YOU FROM RAMPANT JUDGMENT OF THE THINGS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

In highschool, I judged everyone left and right. The culture I grew up in promoted this. Roll your skirt? Detention. Kiss a boy? Sexual immorality, indicative of a lack of repentance and a desire to be sexually promiscuous, which probably meant you were hell-bound. I judged anyone who looked sideways at a man or a woman, who watched movies not rated G without “skipping” over the “bad scenes”, who wore spaghetti strap shirts or midriff tops, or who slept with someone and didn’t marry them.

And you know what? It’s exhausting. Because it’s not my job.

And the older you get, the more you should realize you have better things to do with your time and energy.

So to all of the girls posting scandalous selfies online:

You do what you fucking want.

Just make sure that you are doing what is best for you.

I don’t know your journey, I don’t know what makes you tick. I refuse to project what would be a bad choice for me onto your choices, UNLESS what you are doing is directly harmful to another person.

I loved this portion of the second article on Kim’s “shocking” nude photos:

“On the flip side – those of you saying that Kim

Kardashian needs to put on some clothes simply

because she is a mother also need to sip a

big champagne glass of “Girl, Bye!”

Because this antiquated idea that mothers are

not allowed to celebrate their sexuality is

ridiculous and naive.

I’ve never been a fan of

policing other women’s bodies,

and I’m not about to start now. Ya’ll can have that.”

 

Take the time to focus on yourself. Do not make swift judgments about the motives of people you don’t even know, or even those you do. Allow everyone the privilege and right of policing their own bodies. Remember you do not get to dish out consequences. Don’t degrade yourself by maligning others.

Take a second to recognize that you aren’t God.

You’re just another effed up human like the rest of us.

With strengths, weaknesses, and personal battles.

Leave everyone to their individual journey,

And focus on the road in front of YOU.

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My Fitness Journey

Let me tell you a little about my fitness journey. Actually, let me preempt that with a few things. First, this is in no way to bash or degrade those who, by association, may have had a negative or positive impact on this journey. Second, please know that the intent of this post is to illustrate ups and downs and learning curves, and to humanize myself to those who know little about me. Third, it is to share the intrinsic power of health and strength and finding yourself amidst suffering.

Part 1:

I grew up playing sports. Lots of sports. Mom made me play sports. Some of them, I liked. Some I did not. I played anyway.

I wasn’t really ever any good at much, I was in the mediocre pack in volleyball, softball, swimming, you name it. But I was persistent, loud, encouraging to my teammates, and tenacious, so I was usually team captain.

Sports kept me in shape until that awkward prepubescent stage around 14.

I fluffed. It was ugly. There is photoproof. Add 15 lbs of fat to my current frame and glasses, stringy hair in my face that I brushed into a poofball before I knew it was curly, and braces.

It’ll cause a shudder or two.

At this stage, my kind and loving mother put up with me being an asshole and made me run with her (I used to yell “I hate you!” on these runs), simple 10-20 minute walk-run trips.

At some point, I noticed how I felt in my clothes, I noticed more stamina, and I started getting that “runner’s high”. I got addicted.

Part 2:

Enter the obsession. From about 15-20 something all I did was cardio and sports conditioning classes and more cardio and sports and more cardio. I counted calories like crack and consumed them sparingly. I dropped to 104 lbs at my lowest. Some of this was due to Lyme, some to a form of an eating disorder, “exercise bulimia”. I would “work off” every calorie I ate, and then some.

I remember constant exhaustion and fighting through various stages of hunger. So unhealthy.

I was “skinny fat”. My mom used to be so concerned about me, she would weigh me and then make me eat. I snuck ankle weights on my legs under sweatpants sometimes to try to up my weight on the scale.

Eventually, she made me go to a therapist. I’m glad she did.

Part 3:

At this stage I learned I had an unhealthy body image. I began spoon feeding myself almond butter and carbs. I would feel so sick from eating that I would occasionally throw up or make myself throw up. I was genuinely not bulimic. I had developed tons of stomach issues from antibiotics for Lyme and eating lots at once made me so sick. It was easier to do my best, but sometimes throw up when it hurt too much.

Once my PICC line was in, I really got nauseous very often, and would have days where I didn’t eat or ate too much and was sick or forgot to eat and forced high carb low protein meals in at the end of the day.

I hated my body unless I was skinny, and when I was skinny, I felt unhealthy. At this point, I really was trying, but even as a trainer, I knew so little.

Part 4:

After my marriage to my now ex-husband, I went into remission from Lyme. This was about 23 years old, by now. I was able to eat what I wanted (apart from a gluten and dairy intolerance), and rebounded into weight gain. Then I got pregnant, and got skinny. After my delivery, I ran and ran and ran and did light weight work to get “toned” and “slender”. I felt fluffy, “skinny fat” again, but I wasn’t calorie depriving or doing as much cardio as I did in highschool. I didn’t really know what I wanted from my body (it’s hard after you have a kid… dafuq these hips come from?!).

Part 5:

Bored at home, in a bad relationship which was quickly worsening, I fought for something to aim for. A goal. I was new to Instagram and browsing one day and discovered bodybuilding pictures. I had never seen bikini fitness athletes, even as a trainer of 6+ years at that time. I was about 25, almost 26 by then, post pregnancy, tiny, no muscle, and eating snacky low protein high “healthy fat” and carb meals 4 times a day, about 1400 calories.

I contacted a random trainer through Instagram, paid her a minimal fee, and freaked the fuck out when she gave me 5 days of weights, 2 rest days, and NO CARDIO.

Oh, and 2400 calories. More than I’d ever eaten in my life.

It took me a while to trust and wean off of the cardio. When I did, I dropped 7% bodyfat in 4 weeks. My body was STARVING. Muscles were growing, I felt tight, and hard, and strong, and healthy. My skin improved, nails, hair, energy, sleep… I was increasingly empowered to stand up to my (now ex) husband. I started to put up with less, and to dream more. I was a better mom, a stronger person, and slowly realizing I needed to get out of my marriage, and should’ve long before.

Part 6:

I picked a show date and switched to a bodybuilding team (which I am no longer with). I competed 12 weeks later, placing 3rd my first show and 2nd my second show, in New York and LA. Big shows, amazing competition, completely shocked at my placing both times.

I was the sexiest I’d ever felt in my damn life. The simple discipline of competing made me feel like a badass. I loved it.

By this time, I had left my (Ex) husband and was trying to start over.

At this time, my body went into shock. Between the transition into providing for my son and fear of the future and divorce and nasty encounters with my ex and knowing absolutely nothing about reverse dieting, I gained 22 lb in the first few weeks after my show.

TWENTY. TWO. POUNDS.

I was miserable. I had never felt so fluffy. At least when I was “out of shape” before, I was tiny.

My metabolic compensation was extreme. No one had told me about off-season, tapering my calories up slowly, or tapering off of extreme amounts of cardio.

I knew nothing. I was floating and lost and miserable and didn’t want to talk about it.

It took me a solid 9 months to recover. I had to do crazy research to know WHY I ate like I did as a competitor, what I should eat now, how to recover from a show with metabolic compensation and water retention…

I bounced all over the place and finally discovered that carb cycling helped, a little. I was still struggling.

I couldn’t believe how I could go from feeling sexy and powerful to miserable and alone.

Part 7:

I figured the best thing to do next, since I was already nationally qualified, was to get ready for a national show. I prepped with the team and was informed that I had a LOT of weight to lose, and that I needed to slim down my legs and run…. A lot.

I took it to heart and pushed like the devil.

I completely depleted myself. I lost 18 lbs in 5 weeks, and wound up in urgent care 3 weeks later with extreme muscle pain. I thought I had rhabdomyolysis.  I thought I was going to die or be on dialysis. I was in pain and exhausted and hurting. I hated prep, I hated competing, I NEVER wanted to do it again.

Part 8:

I was lucky enough to know more, this time around, so it took me about 8 weeks to put on 6 lbs. I stopped there. I was reverse dieting and slowly tapering down cardio.

I was incredibly, incredibly lucky during this time to stumble across some conversations with Kyle Rogers (@kyle619pt). Kyle made me want to compete again. He explained a ton to me, talked about strengths and weaknesses, and suggested plans which weren’t generalized and some very specific attention to make sure prep went smoothly.

He wanted to train me during my OFFseason. WHAT?! Yes, because he knew that’s where it MATTERS. That’s where you improve, and grow.

For the next few weeks, I “bulked”. I grew more than I ever had in my upper body, and my legs tapered down WITHOUT CARDIO.

I am currently elated. Proud of myself, excited to compete again. I don’t feel like I’ll be completely lost on the other side of it. I’ll know what to do, I’ll have help doing it, and I’ll rock it and maintain a healthy, strong physique that I’m proud of, with healthy eating habits and informed perspectives.

I’m proud of this journey, and can’t wait to hit the stage again in the spring.

#Follow me on Instagram! @sportyspicefit

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