Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Be Brave & Let Go : 15 Truths of My Self Confidence and Fitness Journey

Once upon at time there was a girl who was not very comfortable in her own skin. She would hide in bathrooms, not play any games in youth group, and would always have a nose in a book. Actually the book part was something that she fell in love with, but the other two were vices that she hated. She had crazy anxiety although at the time she didn't know that. All she knew was that for whatever reason, she got overwhelmed at church and overwhelmed at other events that she had to take herself out of the equation to get a breather. Sometimes all she needed was five minutes. But other times she would go outside or go to the car for more than half an hour. Maybe that's the reason she always carried a book.

Other than anxiety issues which caused her to not know how to correspond with other people, this girl was also under the belief that she was not very pretty. Maybe that was the reason she had no boyfriend or wasn't very popular - it had to have been. Forget that she just didn't get to know anyone, it had to be because she wasn't a pretty face. Yes, her parents told her it was beautiful, but does that really count?

With these two things pressing on her heart and mind, this little girl turned to books when she wasn't with her childhood friend (thanks LH) and her imagination when books just didn't get her out of her world fast enough. She began to wish her life away. Wish for better hair, better clothes, a better body, wish that she could get her schooling done early, wished for school, wished for travel, but most importantly wished for some man to come into her life, confess his undying love for her, and whisk her away for a happily ever after.

Did you figure out who this little girl is yet?

You're right.

It's me. Or was me.
Looking back at old diary entries I am shocked to see just how low my self esteem was. I don't even understand it really, I grew up in an amazing, Christian, loving household, but somewhere along the way, whether through friends or television, I picked up that there was a certain way to look, you had to have so many friends, and you are measured up by the amount of men who want you.

Sound crazy, right?

Regardless of how I learned all of these things, I chose to cope by imagining and day dreaming my life away. My parents were so encouraging and kept bringing to my attention wonderful opportunities that to this day I wish I could go back and try them out. However, at the time, since I couldn't have the result of those opportunities right away, I just wished for them rather than put the work into gaining them. Some people would call it lazy, and I thought myself lazy, but looking back I was stuck. Stuck in my mind trap of not quite knowing how to get from dream land and back into reality.

As I grew older and got more frustrated with how I was living my life, I began to surface a little into reality and I met some amazing people in the process, my husband included. I didn't get completely out of my dream world until I move away from home though. My comfort zone was gone and I was in shock. I spent a lot of that year sick in my bed with mono, but it was still a year of many firsts. First boyfriend. First time out of the house. First time away in a new city. First job away from my mom. A lot of firsts.

I was talking to a friend about that year recently and she had asked me if I even enjoyed it because she remembers me being so miserable. I was slightly miserable, but I was sad that it showed. It was an incredible year of growth for me. Growth and stretching and, boy, did it hurt. I may not have had the best of time, but I am so thankful for that year. It helped me in so many ways, the most important being 'waking up.'

The first few years of marriage I still struggled with the idea of being pretty and fit and tried so hard to be brave. It was hard and I 'failed' a lot of time, but I also learned a lot in the process. I got to know myself better, my real self, and learn how to be aware of the possibility of an anxiety attack. I learned what calms me down or freaks me out. I got an amazing job at the local Christian bookstore and they ladies there built my confidence up every single day - for which I will always be thankful for you. I had so many wonderful friends who challenged me on physical and mental and spiritual matters which made me really think about what it was that I believed in or how I really felt. I learned that life isn't really black and white, that is just a whole lot of grey. That is about learning, and living, and dreaming, and living out those dreams, and sometimes crying, and sometimes reading, but a lot of smiling, and a lot of loving.

I now have to send a huge shout out to my husband, who has been the most amazing, encouraging, strong man I have ever met. He held me when I needed to cry, he encouraged me to try new things, he stood ground when I was being ridiculous, and he taught me how to dream while still living today. My husband is a dreamer, but he works hard for those dreams and that is how he has lived his life. Together we built our dreams on 'can this actually happen,' rather than 'what-ifs.' We got a wonderful opportunity to work overseas for a little while, which was an amazing dream come true even if it didn't last as long as we would have liked. I got pregnant with Bug, another dream. As each day came to pass, I continued to learn and grow and stretch and be and live life to the fullest, while still being able to relax and watch Gilmore Girls in my pajamas.

Being pregnant with Bug was the most amazing, irritating thing I have ever endured. I will explain further. It was amazing that I was carrying life and that it was growing inside of me. That I could feel her move and kick. That as each month passed along I became more excited and more happy at the idea of seeing her. It was irritating because I couldn't be patient with waiting. I had to see her now. I was also getting irritated with the amount of weight that I was gaining. I know that it was another little human being and that we were both happy, but still the idea of having a horrible number flash before my eyes made me irritable and unhappy.

Ever since having Bug in 2013, I have found myself struggling with my self confidence. Now, I just seemed like a frumpy mom who now had a baby belly sagging. I tried to lose the weight as quickly as possible and tried to be happy and tried to be the best wife and mom ever. I found myself very unhappy very quickly and I sunk into a bit of depression.

Even though I was struggling with my physical body, my self confidence in my social life was rising. I made a great group of friends who are great encouragers, who helped me get out of the house when I needed to, or who came to me if I wanted to stay in. I started to take tiny steps into making my every day life happy and I started to become crafty again. I became more serious about my writing and I decided in 2014 that I wanted to redo my blog and make it something that inspires me on a daily basis. I needed to stop holding on to the "what if" dreams of what my blog could me and make it into something that I actually enjoy. I made a change and it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Along with the change to my blog, early 2015, a friend encouraged me to try a new workout that had started on Facebook called the Bikini Body Mommy Challenge. I figured why not - the workouts are twenty minutes long - I think I can find twenty minutes somewhere. I started the workouts and I loved it. The first thing Briana (creator of Bikini Body Mommy Challenge) stated was that I could not rely on what the scale tells me as success. That even though we want the scales to show us a lower weight, that it is not the true way of measuring how fit or strong we are. With a lot of other great tips at hand, I stopped weighing myself every day and I let it go. I took that 'its important that I weigh and look and act a certain way' mentality and I let it go.

Even though the last month Bug and I have been fighting the weirdest cold I have ever seen, I have become the happiest I have ever been. I am learning to let it go, and it has freed me from crazy standards and ideals that I have created for myself. I am learning to stand up for what I believe in and for myself and my family. I still won't argue with anyone or cause a fight over what I believe in (and I still tend to shy away from topics of religion or politics), however, I will say what I believe in when asked and if I don't want to contribute I will refuse. My opinions, my dreams are important but I still need to feel safe and secure before I just blab out them out. I am learning to seek out the beauty in the day, to turn off all the noise and distraction makers, and just be in the moment - for myself, for my husband, and for Bug. People always say that the years are going by faster and faster, and I really thing the reason for that is from all of the distractions we create for ourselves with television shows, our phones, the computer, games. I am learning to slow down. To enjoy the quiet. To be still.
Okay, so now that you read my story, below are a few things that I personally believe in and what I have learned when it comes to life, self confidence, fitness and everything in between.

1. I believe that the scale should be used as a once-in-a-while tool and not as an every-day vice. Whatever the scale says I weigh is not relevant to who I am, how successful I am, how beautiful I am etc. It is just a number.

2. Act the way I want to feel. I want to be happy and brave. So I choose to be happy and brave.

3. Find the sunshine, smell the flowers. I have always known that I am a lover of flowers so I have started filling my house with them. Same goes for the sun. I could lay in its rays all day, every day, so I open up the curtains every day. Go for walks when I can. Its amazing how much better I feel just by adding those simple joys to my life.

4. Read an encouraging book. The Happiness Project has been a life saver. I have learned so much about myself and it is really helping me to see the everyday joys. I highly encourage everyone to read it. 

5. I workout because I want to, not because I have to. I let go of the ideas of where I should be, how I should look, or how much I should weigh. Why am I putting all of that stress on myself? Let it go. Move. Dance. Get your body moving, but do it because its good for you, and find something that you love to do.

6. Drink more water. Because on days that I don't I feel like absolute rubbish.

7. Turn off the distractions. Read a book. Go for a walk. Listen to the noises around you. Its amazing how much I can fill in one day when I am not being distracted by technology.

8. Stop eating junk food. It makes me stomach feel bad. Every time.

9. Pamper myself. Even a little bit of makeup or a new hair style can make myself feel so great. Having a bubble bath and plucking my eyebrows also make me feel pretty. And thats okay.

10. Have naked face day. Of course this is the opposite of what I just said in #9. however, I need to be comfortable in my own skin, so I need to know my own skin. Not only is it healthy for your face to be free of all the makeup, but its kind of nice not holding myself to the "I need to be perfect, all the time, all day ..." standard. I like being makeup free. I like leaving the house makeup free.

11. Let It Go. Anything negative. Anything destructive. All of the fears. All of the worries. Whatever I cannot personally control, I choose to let it go.

12. Trust in Him. This goes hand in hand with Let It Go. There are still issues and worries that pop up whether its for myself, family or friends. Rather than worrying about it and letting it consume me, I choose to pray, trust in God THE CREATOR OF EVERYTHING, and let it go. I constantly pray without ceasing, but without worrying, because I know that He is in control, He knows whats going to happen. I don't want to live my life in fear or worry, I cannot grow that way. I will stay stuck in a circle of fear, worry, and 'what-ifs' or 'shoulda, coulda, woulda's.'

13. It takes time. I still don't work out every day or sometimes I am sad. That's okay. Its a process and not a quick fix. I once went for all the workouts that guaranteed 6 weeks to become ____ (insert trouble zone here), because I wanted a quick fix and not a solution.  Its not about the fix - its about creating life long goals.

14. As much as it may annoy me, I need to workout in front of Bug. Sometimes I wait until she is having a nap before I put on my shoes, however I think it is so important for her to see me working out. I want her to learn healthy habits.

15. There is no such thing as perfection, just like there is no such thing as failing. Its the journey and the process.

Now. I am not perfect in any of this. But I am learning. learning to be myself, to grow, to let go, to choose to be happy, to surround myself with people and things that I love, and to choose to be happy. I would love to hear what you think. xoxo

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