While in the picture on the left, I was 29 and was doing significantly better than I was in my early to mid 20's, I was still not living my life authentically in many parts of my life, I did not have the healthiest relationship with working out and eating, my body image was not the greatest, and I was right in the middle of my 5+ year battle with my full body issues/dysfunction (severely misaligned ribs that went undiagnosed for 5 years) so I was in a constant state of physical discomfort. I was also dealing with a significant amount of physical, emotional, mental, financial, and social stress that stemmed from these issues.
I know that not everybody prefers muscle, and at first glance, some people might think that I looked great, or better than I do now (I certainly don't and that's the most important thing), but I felt absolutely atrocious physically and mentally, and my body was a reflection of this. I was weak and frail, both physically and mentally, I was dealing with an endless array of pain and other symptoms 24/7 that persisted for years, and I was living a lifestyle that represented everything I am against now. This lifestyle was physically and mentally exhausting, and not ideal for achieving optimal mental and physical health, performance, and feelings of confidence and empowerment.
In 2010, right when I was in the midst of my struggles, I actually took a measurement of my thigh and it was 17.5 inches. A few months ago, I took the same measurement and it is now at 21.5 inches, so I have gained 4 inches in diameter in my thighs, and I couldn't be happier. Since I have been striving to make myself more, I have noticed a tremendous difference both physically and mentally. I am all about making myself more, not less, and this mindset/mentality has dramatically improved all aspects of my life, including my overall sense of self worth, my feelings of confidence and empowerment, my ability to have healthy and meaningful relationships, and the relationship that I have with my own body.
To compare and contrast, this is the lifestyle I was living in the ''before'' picture, and then the ''after'' picture.
Before: June 2010
During this time of my life I had a very poor body image and relationship with working out and eating. While I was still playing soccer at this time (popping 4-8 Ibuprofens before each game just to make it through) and was working out, my workouts were extremely ineffective and were not conducive to achieving optimal results, optimal health, or a positive body image. Yes, my body was completely shattered from the severe dysfunction and issues that I had been dealing with for a few years (from the bad car accident I was in a few years back), and I was not able to train properly, but like many women, I had been brainwashed into thinking what I should look like and what I should strive to be, so I don't know if my workout habits would have been ideal even if I had been healthy. Then throw in the fact that I was still using my workouts and eating to control the huge part of my life that I felt totally powerless over, the part of me that I very recently said ''fuck it'' and made totally public. It was a recipe for disaster.
I was fixated on the scale
I did endless steady cardio
I was obsessed with burning as many calories as possible
I did limited strength training and what I did was very ineffective. I performed mainly isolation exercises, did very few compound movements, and used very little resistance
100% my focus was on aesthetics
I cared way too much about what others might think of me and also my body. This is not the way to live
I was fearful of getting bulky
I was incredibly restrictive with my eating and deprived myself, until I gave in and binged
My workouts were incredibly boring, and were very mentally exhausting
Current: Taken yesterday (July 30, 2016)
This is a body that feels healthy and strong. I feel better mentally than I ever have, and my lifestyle is easy, enjoyable, healthy, empowering, and sustainable
My workouts are fun and make me feel free, both mentally and physically. I consider much of what I do play
I do not focus on aesthetics at all. All of my goals are performance and health oriented
I love my body for what it is capable of doing, and for how healthy it feels. I no longer care what others might think and this is incredibly liberating and empowering
My main focus is on proper strength training. I do 4-5 strength sessions per week
I am not afraid to lift heavy weights. In fact, I love it!
My goal is to continuously improve my strength, overall conditioning, athleticism, health, and to make myself well rounded. I don't want to be a one trick pony :)
My focus is on conditioning, not calories burned, and I do 3-4 conditioning sessions per week that are between 15-30 minutes in length
I play soccer again
I do not weigh myself
I do not count calories
I eat foods I enjoy, that make me feel good, and give me energy
I practice moderation, not deprivation. Nothing is off limits
1) Authenticity is everything. I respect and admire this quality in others as it takes a lot courage, and I now demand it in myself. To live an unauthentic life is not one worth living, and I will be true to myself no matter what.
2) I now have a tremendous appreciation for simply feeling good, being able to live an active lifestyle, and pushing my body to its limits, but in a healthy way.
3) I no longer take my health and athleticism for granted, as I was most definitely guilty of doing that in the past. Health, and the ability to be physically active is a gift, and I will never forget this for as long as I live.
4) I realize how important it is to invest in my overall health and well-being, and I make a point of doing so on a daily basis, no matter what. I am also aware that taking the time for me will benefit all other aspects of my life.
5) I have gained a huge amount of empathy and compassion for people who are struggling to feel healthy, perhaps due to an injury, or who are living an unhealthy lifestyle and are struggling with body image issues. I can relate.
6) I am so acutely aware that when you work out, it is all about quality over quantity. More isn't better, better is better. I try to reinforce this concept with my clients on a daily basis.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. This post is definitely longer than I had planned. Perhaps the beer I had earlier this afternoon when I was hanging out with a friend played a role in this :)