Race to Embrace

This weekend meeting Taryn Brumfitt, the founder of the Body Image Movement was surreal, amazing and inspiring. Walking into the hotel room I didn’t know what to expect. I was meeting the woman I’ve seen in the documentary, in photos, and in Facebook live videos and many, many #theellenshow dance training videos. She is an amazing, kind, fun loving woman, and who you see online and who she is in person.

You might be wondering why I was in Taryn’s hotel room, well I’m proud to say that I’m a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador (BIMGA for short) and a few local BIMGAs jumped at the chance to join Taryn for the Canadian Girls Night In Online release of Embrace. As ambassadors, we give an hour of our time each week sharing the message of the Body Image Movement and trying to help spread the word about #Embrace (You can watch the trailer here.) and sharing the body image movement with as many people as possible.

Throughout the evening as we welcomed people from all over the country we enjoyed pizza, conversations around body image and laughs, lots and lots of laughs. Taryn was so excited to share the new campaign, Race to Embrace to help raised awareness of the film. While in New York just days before she was standing in Times Square, bombarded with billboards of the new major motion picture releases and needed a way to help spread the word about Embrace. And so grew the idea of the #embraceitforward campaign.

The Body Image Movement is providing people with $10 to download the film, and if they love it as much as we did, then they would pass along $10 to someone else to cover their cost of the downland. You know, it’s like an batton in the relay race to embrace. You can download your #embracebatton here.

https://bodyimagemovement.com/race-to-embrace/

When 1 Million people download Embrace, it will not only change their lives, and the lives of those around them, but it will enable the Body Image Movement to help provide a free study guide and body image education in every school in North America! This is the global change we have all been waiting for, and now the waiting has ended! We can all do our part to help as many people as possible allow themselves to stop, breath and embrace.

It’s our life, and our bodies are the only vessel we have to enjoy all the amazingness the world has to offer. I’m one that had struggled for most of my life with body image issues and finding the movement when I did was life changing. It doesn’t happen overnight, but every day gets a little easier. It’s about appreciating our body for the vehicle of awesomeness that it is!

Are ready to #embraceitfoward?



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Until Now

I don’t know what I feel right now. I keep waiting for this big revelation, but on the surface, it seems like nothing is happening. That’s why a seat at the keyboard is needed, to take some time to reflect and appreciate the journey.

I had another knee surgery last week, with procedures similar to the previous work done on the left knee in June. The feelings this time are different, there is a calmness compared to the days that followed last time. Perhaps it’s because the fear of the unknown is gone, the fear of what’s to come is no longer a fear but more curiosity.

Wednesday was the first trip out of the house, heading back downtown for a post-op follow up. Before this visit, plans were starting to form for a return to activity, ok honestly, even before surgery next season plans for exercising and training were already brewing. Bouncing between what 2017 would hold, post-operative care and rehab and what the long term picture looked like kept my mind busy, but I’m used to this.

For the past three years, there have been appointments after appointments after appointments. I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money treating my knees and then torn hip so to have my knees top of mind and feelings of being held back became the norm. And my question to the doctor about “what do I do now for the long term” seemed necessary. He teased me a little a first, as we have a good rapport, but in seriousness he suggested we give it three months and go from there.

I looked away. What!? Go from there? See you in three months, let’s see? What about patella replacements? What about shots of PRP or stem cells? Go from there? I looked back to him and said “Wait, so you’re saying after three years of worrying about my knees, I can stop now? I felt my eyes start to well up, but I forced back any more emotion.

Until now.

tears of joy and relief

For anyone who knows me, really knows me I’m a bit of a steam engine flying down the tracks full steam ahead with no intentions of stopping, let alone backing up. Can you relate to this? So focused on the goal, the finish line the next “whatever” you fail to realize the depth of your accomplishments along the way? You maybe aren’t willing to stop, slow down or even backtrack when necessary? Because taking that step back is not progress right?

Steam locomotive.Hand drawn illustration.
Full Steam Ahead!.

But wait, that’s what surgery and recovery are about. You have to take some steps backward to move forward! I’ve been so focused on the long term and so focus on “what do I need to do next” I hadn’t stopped realize or appreciate that what I’ve been doing were the right things. In my mind, I was just the train flying down the tracks with the final destination in sight ignoring the time spent getting maintenance done or acknowledging the tank was getting refilled.

Until Now.

Rubber stamp with word appreciate inside vector illustration
Appreciate the journey.



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Recovery is not just for the body.

Surgery is considered a “controlled injury” and while I realized it would require downtime and rehab, I hadn’t given this part of the process much thought. The focus had been mostly on the big day where finally a surgeon would “fix” me. haha. What was I thinking?
“Recovery” mentally feels like you are being held back by a giant rubber band, trying to run forward but that band keeps you from going too far, too fast. Picturing a rubber band feels better than imagining being on a leash and believe me there are enough people who could be holding the other end. I wouldn’t stand a chance in breaking free and taking off and as an “A-type” this is hard to take. Week after week, the resistance will weaken giving a bit more distance, ah, another life lesson in patience.
focusonlife
It was around day seven things were starting to sink in, the reality of recovery was becoming more and more apparent. While looking for some inspiration online, this quote was among the first few results, “Focus on what you want your life to look like – not just your body.” OMG! That’s when it hit me. Coming across this quote was like finally finding the light switch in a dark room. I’d been feeling around in the dark, grasping for something to hold on to, but looking in all the wrong places. All these years, I spent consumed about my body size, shape and the number that appeared on the scale. I never sat back and thought about what shape I wanted my life to take; I was too busy being obsessed with my body weight!

Over the past few months, I’d been trying to focus on making better decisions rather than buy into another plan. Because I honestly can’t take the thought of worrying or talking about my weight ANYMORE. I AM DONE! I am sick and tired of this conversation, with the feelings that come with it. I want to talk about how to get out of it, rather than about being in it.

So while I’m laid up, the focus turns to strengthing this beautiful body that has already accomplished and given me so much! Now is the time to slow down and take care of it, nourish it, love it and help it come back stronger than ever while pondering about what the future holds.



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The little things and the clarity cardio brings

The little things are what’s important in life and yesterday was a big reminder of just that. It was a morning like so many I had in the past, times I took for granted but with being sidelined for so long, it felt like such a treat. It’s almost funny how something as regular as going for a spin gave me such satisfaction. For a couple of hours, I felt like the old me. The girl who was always on the go training for a race, that me. I’ve missed that girl.

It felt so healthy and right, the simple act of getting up early on the weekend, having a pre-workout meal (and coffee, of course, come on who are we kidding) to picking out my bike shorts and packing a gym bag, it felt like old times. As I was climbing on the bike, with my water bottle, and music in hand it almost seemed surreal. I wasn’t there to do anything except ride.

It was an easy but amazing ride that I didn’t want to end. As I was getting ready to leave, my face flush from exertion and my gym bag hanging from my shoulder, it was then I realized it. It was times like these, which made me an athlete. It was that feeling! I stood taller, prouder, and felt good about myself. Any sense of inadequacy, insecurities, self-doubt, shame or loathing, were nowhere to be seen or felt.

Something as simple as a 45 min ride on a stationary bike gave me so much more than I could have imagined. On a day to day basis, it’s the little things. Don’t get me wrong, life is exhilarating and amazing with big things too, but if we don’t stop to smell the flowers once in a while we are missing out on the wonder, beauty and enjoyment the little things provide. A fresh cup of coffee made just right, a big hug from those you love, biking outdoors on a sunny day, or standing under the stars as they shine so bright. These are but a few of my favourite little things.

After being sidelined for weeks now from continuous flare-ups, the simple act of spinning my legs on a stationary spin bike and getting my heart rate up for a while made all the difference. It’s like a mental itch you can’t scratch. Relentless, twitchy, nervous, anxious energy brewing and bubbling within like an overflowing bottle of kombucha, this is how I describe what it feels like to go without regular exercise. Ah cardio, a wonder drug. The satisfaction and contentment cardio provides like nothing else. I was joking with my doctors this week how for me, cardio keeps the crazy away, but really, it’s no joke.

What little things will you do today to enjoy life’s simple pleasures?

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We grow through what we go through.

It seems like everywhere I turn on social media and in-person these days, I keep seeing examples of how our pain, challenges, and life’s adversity can change us at the very root of who we are.

growth

“We grow through, what we go through.” (unknown)

These words, these seven everyday words, said in such a way means so very much, and hold such a strong message. They are a simple truth.

When I look back over the last few years, I realize more and more it was those hardships, the times of struggle, pain, and difficulty that pushed me to my limits and beyond. That is where growth happens. It was during those times where I experienced the biggest changes or shifts in perspective and my outlook on what it is to live this thing call life.

change

I don’t know about you, but my new year begins in September. Maybe it’s from the conditioning of growing up and starting a new school year in September. As I write this and look back to September 2014 to September 2015, I’m not the same person. I was angry, in pain and exhausted both physically and emotionally. Looking in the mirror hurt as much as the tear in my hip and bulged disc in my back. My acne covered face, left me feeling ashamed and embarrassed to the point I didn’t want to leave my house. I felt like a freak of nature. I was depressed, and hurting in every way possible. I wasn’t sleeping. I was cranky and sad all the time, and really, just completely worn out. I hated myself. I was no fun.

nofun

Those 12 months were, without a doubt, the toughest time of my life. I was looking everywhere externally for relief from the pain in my hip and back and the pain I felt when I looked in the mirror. I went from doctor to doctor, looking for remedies while I threw handfuls of Advil in my mouth. I was trying everything to “fix” my skin from diet changes to Chinese acupuncture and herbal remedies to strong antibiotics. What I wasn’t doing was listening to my body, and I wasn’t paying attention to myself talk. I just kept beating myself up time and time again. Of course, it was my fault for having OA, my fault for the torn hip and sore back. I was ugly and hated myself more and more with every new outbreak of acne.

Nearly eight months had passed; I had spent that time spiraling deeper into a state of self-hate. It was around this time I stumbled across the body image movement; this was the wake-up call I needed. Ever so slowly I began to grasp the connection between our self-image, self-talk and self-esteem and our overall health. How we think, feel and talk to ourselves directly affects how our bodies and mind thrive, or how they wither and decay. More and more pictures were popping up on social media about self-love. You know pictures like the one below, they were everywhere in my news feeds. I had even come across an article posted by Eat To Perform, were Paul Nobles Jr. said, “You have to strip down in front of a mirror and have a good cry if necessary…You can’t hate yourself thin.” Hmm, you can’t hate yourself thin? You can’t hate yourself happy, pretty, skinny? Well, Paul was right. I know, I tried that approach for 30 years! You can’t hate yourself and expect to have success, whatever success means to you. What you can do, is hate yourself into a broken, depressed and unhappy state of mind and body.

I starting paying more attention to how I talked to myself and that was when things began to click. That emotional pain I’d been caring around was the source of so much physical pain. You may recall, that little self-loathing body-hating monkey on my back? That monkey was a weight on my shoulders, constantly reaffirming the self-hatred, shame, and worthlessness I felt and he had to go! The only way to get him off my back was through the pain. I couldn’t hate him away; I had to look within and understand why he had been hanging around all these years. I had to learn to love myself as I am right now, not conditionally when I lost x number of pounds or was size x, and not when the acne went away. It was only then when I was able to begin love myself, would his grip loosen enough to let go.

selflove

The monkey still hangs around my ankles these days, but I don’t feel his weight on my back anymore and that, is a relief. Eventually, he’ll be gone for good.

So I wonder, how has the last year changed you? What are those things you say to yourself? Is there love and compassion when looking in the mirror or when you make a mistake? I hope so, but if there isn’t, know you aren’t alone, but you can start to change the conversation with time and practice.



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Taking a fresh look in the mirror

Not quite two weeks ago, I went for an MRI. With that I got a unique opportunity to see my body in ways I could have only imagined. I had always wondered what I looked like under the skin. I didn’t know what I was looking at in terms of the injury, but as I scrolled through the various images, there was one thing I knew what it was when I saw it. There was no covering up with a jacket or adding an accessory to distract the eye from what I saw. Seeing those images I felt disgusted and ashamed, I felt embarrassed when I realized I wasn’t the only person that would be seeing me, all of me. All the more fuel to add to that body loathing fire that has been smoldering for as long as I can remember.

I have memories of feeling ashamed of my body from the time I was a little girl. I remember the family physician telling my mother I needed to lose 10 pounds before I started kindergarten, that’s right, I wasn’t even five years old. I remember feeling ashamed and guilty when my grandmother would see me and say “too fat.” I could go on and on with different memories of how I felt ashamed and hated myself because “I was fat”. These memories formed the basis of my self-talk and have been a monkey on my back for as long as I can remember.

I’m nearing 35, and I am tired. I’m tired of belittling myself for still being fat, not looking like the women in magazines and movies, and for feeling inadequate and unattractive. I’m tired of not loving myself, my whole self. It’s time for me to take a different look in the mirror.

So last week on my country road commute, besides finally waving the white flag, something else happened that I wasn’t ready to share at the time. No, I didn’t hit deer or anything like that, I had TWO epiphanies that day. As it said, it was a great drive, and my mind has been spinning since then. The second realization I had was about body image, or what I should I say is the lackluster relationship I’ve had with my body. I realized how I’ve been treating myself, wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

logo-Body-Image-Movement

Thankfully, I recently stumbled across this website, http://bodyimagemovement.com.au/. I think it appeared in my Facebook feed, and it showed up just at the right time! I’ve started reading the bodying loving guide, and I ordered her book. If any of this resonates with you, you are not alone. I urge you to watch the trailer for Taryn’s documentary to help spread her message about embracing our bodies and loving them just the way the are!

20150518_092429 So in the spirit of embracing my body, all of it as it is today. I am doing something that scares the crap out of me. I’m going to share a picture I snapped while away on vacation a few weeks ago. The very thought of putting up this photo here makes my pulse quicken, and I can feel the anxiety creeping in. But isn’t that all the more reason to do it?

Changing how I feel about my body isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s starting. This is the hard work, the dirty work, the scary work I have been avoiding over the years. The time has come to quiet that mean little voice in my head, to take the control back, and give my body the love and appreciation it deserves.



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