Learning to Love Yourself

You wouldn’t know it by the weather this week, but summer time and bikini season is looming.  Usually, I’m always amped to throw on a swimmy suit and hit the beach or the pool, but this year, something is different…..

I think I’ve given myself unrealistic body goals.

I believe the root cause is in the fact that I sort of inadvertently lost so much weight last summer.  While struggling with and trying to get my anxiety and panic attacks under control last summer, I basically quit eating.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be eating, I’m not one of those girls who doesn’t eat…..food is always my jam!  I was just way too worked up all the time.  Eating just a couple bites of anything would just make me feel sick and nauseous.  I remember distinctly sitting at work trying to eat a cliff bar…..it took me 4 days to get through the whole bar!!  During this period I was also working out a ton, because ya know….that’s what they tell you to do when you’re stressed.  Run a bunch, lift all the heavy things and put them down, and get those happy endorphin feelings flowing!  I’m not sure how exactly I managed to function, but apparently anxiety gives you super powers….just not the sort of super powers anyone really wants or should have.

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It turns out that loosing 15 pounds in two weeks has a dramatic effect on your muffin top.  It also has a dramatic effect on your psyche…

I know that I only achieved my slimmed down self because I was unhappy, and that unhappiness and stress changed my body in ways that I normally cannot and would not do.  The worst part though….is that I felt so accomplished.  Maybe it was just the sense of control I had over things.  Nothing felt good, but I had finally achieved the look I had been craving since high school but never had.  It was the one little thing that seemed to be going in my favor.  I finally had reached a point where I didn’t have to squat stretch out my freshly washed jeans, I could throw on anything in my closet and there wasn’t a lump or bump to be found, and I think it just gave me this inflated and superficial sense of self-esteem…..which when you talk about it sounds super awful and unhealthy……BECAUSE IT WAS!

My body is obviously not meant to existing in a muffin top free state….I’m honestly not sure that even the strictest diet would have kept me looking that way.  Once I started feeling better the muffin top slowly but surely started making a come back.  I’m naturally curvy and just tend to carry and collect all my weight generally on my love handles and around my belly button…..a spot I’ve nicknamed “The Doughnut of Awful”.  I’m right around 5’10” so I’m overall very proportional and quite a healthy weight for my height.  I’ve never been told that I need to loose weight by any of my doctors, and even in high school at my most active, swimming and dancing for several hours everyday, I still was no where near as slim and lean as I was last summer.

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…..this photo stresses me out…..as much as I hate to say that and I want to rise above it all…..it still does.  I know that it’s only 12ish pounds and some summer time tan, but I’m not sure that this picture makes me feel as happy as the other one, which is my continual struggle.  There’s some muffin top and tummy squish, and my ribs and hips aren’t poking out of my body.  Idk….it’s not bad, I can rationalize that, but at the same time I don’t exactly feel good about it either.

Lately, I’ve been trying very hard to convince myself that a slightly squishy Miss Happenings is a happier Miss Happenings.

  • I try and remind myself that I’m in a happy relationship, and if I eat out a bit more or drink a bit more now than before it’s because I’m with someone who wants to spend time doing things and having fun with me.
  • I should be happy that my brain finally realizes that skipping a workout to have lunch with friends IS NOT AN ANNOYANCE OR AN INCONVENIENCE!!!  That’s just how my anxiety made me feel about it all the time.  It’s a rare chance to spend quality time with some of my favorite people.
  • I should realize that I rarely hang out in bikinis alone, so even if I’m looking slightly squishy in a bikini I’m still surrounded by people who love and care about me regardless of my muffin top.

I do honestly remind myself of all these things and more when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see.  I suppose that I probably will always occasionally struggle with my weight and how I look.  I always have from time to time, so it doesn’t make sense that it would mystically go away anytime soon.  The most annoying and hardest part is the small little diva voice in the back of my mind that sometimes quietly whispers that if I just stopped eating for a couple weeks I would slim right down again.  Ugh….go away crazy diva voice…..I have burgers and shit to eat, new beers to try, and things to do that have nothing to do with you!

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Going forward, the best I can do is continue to work out, maybe reign in the diet and kick up the cardio a bit, and just generally live the best and healthiest life I can live!  You only get one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.  I refuse to believe that anyone looks back on their life and regrets the fancy desserts they ate, or the summer time patio drinks with friends they drank.  That simply can’t be reality…..and if it is, I don’t want it to be my reality.  If I had continued on the stressed out path I was on, I know looking back that I would have regrets.  I already regret the things I did or didn’t do because my anxiety controlled my life.

I lived that life once, and I refuse to go back there.

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This summer, in the same jeans as last summer.  A little bit squishier than last summer, but I’m happy!  Ignore the sass face, The Engineer was mocking my photo skills….but he’s just jealous of my shooting skillz!

Happy is healthy….and that’s all there is to it!

 

The Thing You’re Maybe Not Supposed to Talk About….but I’m Going To!

Since Monday the 10th was World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d talk about something that you maybe aren’t supposed to broadcast to the world……

I, like a ton of people I know, struggle with my mental health.

I don’t mean that I struggle in that…..things don’t always go my way and it makes me sad.

I mean I struggled to the point that it started effecting my ability to function in my everyday life.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that my family and I have been through our share of struggles.  Beyond the struggles I’ve written about, there are other struggles I’ve dealt with that I’m choosing to keep private for the time being.  As my Momma said the other day, in reference to someone else’s blog, “You don’t have to broadcast everything.”

I know that this is an issue that many people would keep private.  I’m choosing to share because talking to other people is what finally convinced me that the way I was feeling wasn’t normal, it wasn’t ok, and I didn’t have to keep doing it.  If I hadn’t opened up, or had someone tell me I could do something about it, I don’t really know what would have happened.  I don’t mean that cryptically, I just needed some reassurance to take the steps I needed to to help myself feel ‘normal’.

The people who know me best would probably describe me as high strung.  I tend to operate best under a slight veil of panic, sometimes of my own creation because of laziness, but other times because it helps me focus.  My panic/anxiety used to be a tool I used to get things done.  It was what allowed me to power through all night study sessions and essay writing nights in college.  It helped me focus when times got stressful, and I was always the girl you could count on to be standing tough no matter what was happening around me.  I remember my ex being almost stunned when I sat through my father’s funeral dry eyed and stoic.

It’s just how I was…..I wore my panic like a badge of pride.  No matter what was going on around me or how I felt inside I could focus my anxiety into something and that felt like it made everything ok.

Eventually, and slowly, the panic and anxiety started to become something different.  It started to become something that made me fixate on problems and grind away at solutions that were never going to be found.  It made me irritable, and even the smallest inconveniences or issues became the causes of explosive fights or full on melt downs.  I had had phases like this before, so I didn’t think much of it, and just waited for things to get better.  They always had before, so it made sense to wait and that they would again.

Except that this time, they didn’t get better, they got worse.

My panic and anxiety got so bad that it was literally every once of my mental strength everyday to get through the work day without screaming or curling up in a ball and crying. Most of my time spent at home was spent being totally exhausted and drained, and it got to the point that I was having at least one full blown panic attack a day.  I would often cry so hard I would hyperventilate and pass out.  I usually woke up with poor, little Scout standing next to me or licking me, looking very concerned that her momma was being a huge pile of snot and tears all the time.

Food sounded disgusting, so I basically quit eating, or ate very little.  This isn’t at all normal for me….I LOVE ME SOME FOOD!  My rational self knew I needed to eat, but a couple bites of something was all I could stomach at a time.  I kept working out…..at a manic pace…..because that’s what they tell you to do when you have anxiety.  Workout, release the good endorphins, channel your stress into lifting…….we’ve all heard this sort of advice, and generally I’m a bit fan.  Sometimes though, that isn’t enough.

I finally went to my family practice doctor after several conversations with the Chemistry Bestie about my symptoms and the way I had been feeling.  Apparently, my symptoms were classic panic and anxiety….which can be brought on by a number of things.  In my case, they don’t really know why…..and that’s ok.  I was checked for thyroid issues, which can sometimes be the cause of anxiety and weight loss, but everything came back normal.  Apparently, panic and anxiety disorders can reach their apex when people are in their mid to late twenties…..it’s just a thing that can happen to people.

I was put on a low dose of Lexapro, and I have to say that I’m feeling much better.  I feel more like myself, only maybe a better version of myself.  Things don’t stress me out they way they would have before.  I don’t mean that I’m wandering around like a drugged up zombie…..I still have feelings.  I still get sad, happy, angry, frustrated, ecstatic…..everything you want to feel, and somethings you don’t want to feel, about life….I still feel.  I just feel like my lows don’t take me as low, and I feel like I recover from things faster.  When I get annoyed or frustrated with something I still feel it, but it doesn’t ruin my whole day.  Also, because I’m a bit calmer in general, I’m better able to respond to the things that make me frustrated.  I work through challenges better because I’m not always so worked up.

The moral of this story is that admitting you need help, and then getting that help don’t make you a failure as a person nor does it make you any less yourself!  You don’t need to feel like you have to just suffer through things.  You might be surprised who around you is working through their own struggles with mental health, and how much talking about these things can help you.  There’s no reason to hide your feelings.  Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that talking out your feelings and issues is enough, and if it’s not….always remember there are other options to get you back to feeling like yourself!

Trying to Think Happy Thoughts

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been feeling very squishy and down on myself.  Usually, I’m pretty confident about myself and the work I put into looking and feeling the way I do.  One of my first posts ever  was about appreciating the body I have!!  UGH….  Lately though, I’m not sure if I’m regressing, or just not making the gains in strength I feel like I should……but I’m feeling super blob-tastic.

 

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This is a Heffalump……I’ve really been feeling lately like I’m one with the Heffalumps.  Plus side, at least Heffalumps are adorable!

 

I almost feel like I had a better relationship with my body and the way I looked BEFORE I started working out and focusing on cleaning up my diet and lifestyle.  I used to be really proud of my “non thigh gap” thighs and my cute “I used to be a ballerina” butt.  These ads used to make me feel like it was ok not to be stick thin, but lately they just haven’t had the same effect.

 

….now I just feel like the time and effort is all for nothing.

I have never….ever……in my whole life……at my squishiest…..had any qualms about jumping into a bikini and chilling by the pool or on the beach.  Now, with a vacation scheduled with the Main Squeeze in July, I suddenly feel like I need to eat carrot sticks, celery, and water until we leave.  It’s all totally ridiculous, and I know that.  I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m not looking my best.  Also, the more I think about these things, plan meals, schedule workouts, and generally bust ass trying to get my ass rounder, my stomach flatter, and my arms buffer……the worse I feel!

I ordered a new swim suit for the vaca, and it was just a total let down.  Probably due to the fact that bikinis look much better with a tan….which the SoDak winter doesn’t really allow anyone to have.  Also, I had been feeling like I was looking really good, until I realized that my butt doesn’t look like an Angel’s butt.  I felt like I had been living with delusions of skinniness, and they all came crashing down.  In my brain I was quite sure that my butt looked just like theirs, until I turned around and saw it in the mirror.

So, this is my new plan.  I’m going to chalk my March mind set up to a late onset case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and start fresh in April!  I’m gonna focus more on making myself feel better, and get back to being confident in myself.   Being me is pretty awesome.  Look at all the things my body has and will continue do for me!!

I can make my body do all sorts of things that some people only wish they could do.  I need to learn to be more grateful for my body….which includes it’s flaws.

When all else fails, sometimes it’s nice to look back at old pics.  It’s nice to see how far you’ve come.  I find it especially helpful, because it reminds me that I’ve always been comfortable and confident in my own skin, and nothing, not even being pasty white in a bikini, should change that.

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Florida 2011….my at my squishiest

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New Years Eve 2012 with the BFF…..and Spanx

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Halloween 2014….same dress, no Spanx

 

To start April off on a good note, I got to spend the weekend with my Main Squeeze, some bull riding, and homemade pizza night.  Ringing in the month with dinner with Momma and the Squeeze and a couple PBRs guilt free felt like a really good start to getting back to my old self!

Chapter 2: The List

Tonight we add another chapter to the saga of The Men I Could Live Without.  This post isn’t about a specific guy rather it covers the various criteria I look for in men and plethora of reasons I’ve been told I should abandon these criteria.  Writing this blog will of course require some liquid excitement and tonight’s booze de jour is Ole Smokey moonshine cherries and Diet Coke.  Drink up me hearties….on to The List!

I’ve always been a pretty indecisive person.  Very few things ever seem worth the trouble of forming a solid opinion and holding my ground.  Trust me when I say that when push comes to shove and I need to stand my ground I’m perfectly capable of doing so.  Generally, I’m just pretty agreeable to most things.  I bring this up because people always ask me what I’m looking for in a guy.  I’ve never been able to give anyone a solid answer to that question.  If anything, my previous dating experiences have established a pretty firm list of qualities I’m hoping to avoid in the future but nothing has ever really helped shaped a list of qualities I want.  To help direct the struggle I created a checklist of qualities which seemed like a good basis to go on:

  1. They should to be taller than me.
  2. They should have gone to college….any college and any degree is acceptable.
  3. They should be preferably not be a divorcee and at the very least childless.
  4. They should drive a truck….preferably a big, black one.
  5. They should own a Harley.

There are also some basic understood generals:

  1. A job
  2. A general lack of felony convictions
  3. No tattoos visible from the neck up

THAT’S IT!!  5 tiny little personal preferences and just some overarching life principles!  It really doesn’t seem like those should be hard qualities to find.  I’d even get updates from friends on guys they would find out and about town.  It wasn’t a rare occurrence that I’d get texts like, “Meet one of the bartenders he meets 4 criteria!” or “There’s a guy at work who is a 5 out of 5!”  I’m not even that picky about how a guy looks.  Blond hair…..fine, dark hair…..great that works too.  I’m just a pretty equal opportunity dater.

In some regards it is becoming a bit hard to find all 5 criteria.  The older I get, the pool of men who have never been married or don’t have a kid running around seems to get smaller every year.  That isn’t a rock solid rule.  I would date someone who’s been divorced; I mean life happens to us all.  When kids are involved that just makes things trickier and way more complicated than they already are.  College degrees can also be a debatable item on the list.  I’ve just discovered that guys with degrees seem to appreciate my intelligence more.  My Grandma B had a little wall hanging that said, “I didn’t get this far by just looking good.”  You can like because I’m pretty, but you had better understand that I’m not just a pretty face you can boss around.  I have a brain and I know who to use it!

It turns out that this list, while fine in theory is horrible in practice. Jerks went to college and own trucks, the world is full of tall assholes, and motorcycles are not good judges of character!  My last serious relationship was with a guy who (I thought) was everything I wanted.  He fit everything on the lists I mean I didn’t think it got any more promising than that.  Even the best list and an overall go with the flow attitude won’t make someone respect you and it won’t make clashing life ideals go away.

After spending basically a year in a fundamentally flawed relationship, I had to spend some time re-evaluating my life choices.  Talking to some friends who are married really shed some light on my situation.  One of my guy friends told me I had to find someone who was my best friend.  He said I could hold onto maybe one other criterion but that regardless of what happens that person has to be my best friend first.  I’ll give you one guess as to which criteria I’m clinging to for dear life….if you guessed height reward yourself with a victory drink!  My bestie, who is married, likes to remind me that if the right guy drives a car I can probably suggest he up grade for a truck.  Option B is that I just buy myself a truck and harley….frankly that works too.  My mother informs me that it’s cheaper to find a boy….but sometimes a girl just needs to do things for herself.