To the Women I Admire: The New Fitness Models

I managed to drag myself into the gym this weekend even though I've been struggling with some constant queasiness lately. I like weekend workouts because the gym is almost empty and I can just get inside my head and do my thing.

I noticed, as I'm sure everyone did, an extremely beautiful, young and seemingly perfect looking girl walk into the gym about halfway through my workout. Her shorts perfectly hugged her butt cheeks and ended just right under them. Not a lick of cellulite. How is that possible?! She began her workout that consisted mainly of strength. I've always envied these girls. The ones who appear to be naturally thin and can focus on putting on muscle mass to make their already flawless looking body into works of art for all to admire.

Some girls really can turn themselves into walking works of art. You can't help but stare at them.

We see them on Instagram. We occasionally see them in the gym. I've walked in on a few taking selfies with their shirts pulled up to show their perfectly chiseled abs. Their smooth, flawless skin. Their dimple free legs. Their butts that seem to defy the laws of gravity. They pull their hair up without much thought into these buns that somehow manage to turn out looking like a hairstylist worked for an hour to achieve the perfect "I didn't even try but, yet, here I am looking perfect" kind of look. We follow their pages in hopes that some of their perfect gloriousness will rub off on us. We cringe when we realize our boyfriends and husbands can see these girls too. 

I, on the other hand, wear capris when I work out because my cellulite covered thighs jiggle. I quickly pull my hair up in a bun when I'm in the midst of a gruelling workout, only to be mortified when I find a mirror and realize I look like a haggard, slightly melted Dr Suess character. My butt is trying it's best to defy gravity but, no matter how hard I try, it will never ever have that flawless, perfect round look. My abs are very strong and, when I pull back the layer of fat, I can see my own six pack chiseled beneath. 

But, then I ask myself, why do I care so much? 

I've been asking myself this for a long time actually and the answer is changing as time goes on. My desire to be perfect and to be admired has faded and given way to a desire for something more substantial and long lasting.

I want to take a moment to clarify, this is not a post bashing those women who are currently focused on appearance more than anything. You know what, I don't blame them! I've actually come to appreciate my physical imperfections because, if I looked like them I think I would be completely focused on the same things they are. It must be intoxicating to be that special looking! 

But this is the body life has given me and I am thankful. Attention is nice and, I won't lie, I've had my fair share since I lost weight. And I also won't lie when I say it feels good. However, the feeling quickly fades and you either need more of it or you realize that you need something more "real". 

There are so many areas in life this feeling can be found: family, spiritual growth, giving to others, etc. However, to stay on topic, I want to focus on fitness. 

I used to do a ton of butt exercises because I wanted my butt to be larger and more round. Once I accomplished that, I noticed that it kind of creased at the bottom so I wanted to get rid of that. I created some rather painful muscular imbalances in the process. I've always been self-conscious of my arms so I used to do a ton of bicep and tricep exercises to try to bulk up the muscles in an attempt to reduce the flab. I ended up developing some painful elbow get the idea.

Now my workouts are to be as strong and functional as I can be. I do exercises that would allow me to pick something heavy up off the floor and set it up on a shelf without hurting myself. To pull myself onto a high rock when I'm exploring new terrain in the run from a bear (okay, that one may never work but I'd like to at least try).

All of this has led me to notice a new kind of woman in the gym. You would be hard pressed to find Instagram accounts for these women. You might not even notice them at the gym, especially if they're next to a dimple-less beauty in booty shorts. 

The red faced woman who has been 25 pounds overweight ever since you joined the gym a year again...but is still there three times a week anyway. The woman who wears the same basic black basketball shorts and oversized tshirt almost every workout and keeps her head down because she's shy. The 70 year old woman in Zumba who is having the time of her life, even though she can't do the jumps or fast turns. The other woman in Zumba who always stands in the back because she has zero rhythm and coordination.

EVERY. SINGLE. WOMAN who embraces fitness for fitness sake and nothing more. The women who don't have the promise of the energy that comes from admiring looks to fuel them through their workout. The women who know that they are going to work their butts off every day for yet another winter and know that they still won't feel like or look like a VS model in a bikini next summer. You are all my new fitness models!

I guess I fall somewhere between these two spectrums of women. I will never be the fitness model. However, I would be a complete liar if I said that the goal of someday feeling confident in a bikini wasn't somewhere in my mind. 

No matter where our fitness goals and motivations fall on this spectrum, we would all do well to remember this: fitness should always be a journey, not a destination. And, exercise for the sake of exercise and nothing else, is the safest path to take to ensure that not only do we stay safe and healthy but that we ALWAYS have motivation to work out. Even when no one is looking. We do it because it feels good and it gives us the power and energy we need to live our very best lives!

Organizing Your "Weigh" to Weight Loss

Once upon a time...I was a complete slob. I seriously was horrible. As a teenager, my friends would clean my room when we hung out because, even as inattentive teenagers, it was literally so out of control that even they noticed.

I remember always feeling like organization and structure or even "wasting" my time cleaning would box in my soul and kill my free spirit.

In my 20s, I did slightly better. My complete chaos turned into controlled chaos. But I still abhorred structure and suspected it to be the death of free thought.

Now, at almost 40, I suddenly realize that I feel very different! I can't pinpoint exactly when it came about but I've realized that I have, over time, done a complete 180! I have gone from refusing to plan or organize to refusing to walk away from any of my spaces without leaving it clear and perfectly organized...generally with a list sitting out in clear view of what I plan to do the next time I return to that space.

Here's the crazy thing. THIS HAS SET ME FREE!! I feel more stress-free than I ever have before. I feel in control. I never intentionally did this to control my weight but I've also noticed that I can control my impulses much better when I feel in control of all controllable areas of my life (because, let's face it, there will always be things that even control freaks like me can't control).

This was all something I've realized on some subconscious level for a while now. I've even written past posts about "what I have control over" and how it has helped changed me. But it really hit me on a more aware level just yesterday as I listened to an audiobook called "Willpower". What is very interesting about willpower is that it's not really something we have much control over. We have a certain amount of it each day and it varies based on not only how much sleep we've had and how much we've used our willpower that day but also on our socialization, as well as just our genetics!

It's almost kind of depressing to realize that we can't really improve our willpower that much. BUT what we can do is conserve and optimize it! One great way to conserve it is to control the world around us as much as possible. Anticipate variables and unexpected things. This can be accomplished by creating budgets, lots and lots of lists (otherwise it will be floating around in your head, taking up space, until it's settled...and you could STILL forget it when you need to remember it), hanging keys in the same spot every single time, planning meals including bringing extra healthy snacks on particularly stressful days. Doing all of these things can help calm our brains as well as avoid a lot of stressful situations.

Oh! And oddly enough, practicing good posture has also been shown as one of the only ways to possibly improve willpower.